Category Archives: Lifestyle

Podcasts: Part One (Wellness)

coffee-1128140_1280(Photo Source: Pixabay)

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see quite regularly on my stories that I’m posting about podcasts. I listen to them on my daily commute, around the house when I’m cleaning or when I’m on a solo gym session or run. They play a huge role in my life and in one of my recent posts when I talk about personal development tools (which I’ll link right here) I note that podcasts are one of those tools for improving yourself.

This post is Part One of Four for my podcast series; this post will concentrate on the wellbeing conversation, Part Two will focus on the more in-depth conversations of chat, Part Three will be miscellaneous podcast series that don’t fit the other categories and Part Four will be hand picking some of my favourite podcast episodes. 

We can use podcasts for many reasons and for me; I use them to listen to those I follow online for a more in-depth conversation, to indulge my interests and lifestyle choices more and to further develop myself. 

There are many podcast applications out there both on Android and Apple but for me, I use Podbean which I’ve been using for a few years now. It’s a really handy app that facilitates loads of podcasts so I can have them all in one place and it even tells me which ones I’ve played already played. However, Spotify have been adding more podcasts to their platform so the ideal situation would be to move all my listening to there but at the minute, I do like keeping that separate for my music. 

her-rules-radio-support-and-inspiration-to-help-wo(Photo Source: Her Rules Radio)

Her Rules Radio 

Alex’s podcast was one of the first podcasts I ever listened to before when it was called “The Crave Cast” so I’ve been a huge fan of Alex’s message and philosophy for such a long time. Her podcast is mainly focusing on wellness but she talks about a range of topics including self-love, cravings, sex, relationships and personal growth. What I really love about Alex’s podcast is that I can feel connected to any episode even including the episodes that wouldn’t necessarily fit to my lifestyle; there are episodes concentrating on pregnancy and others that look at money, two topics I have thought about but not necessarily something I am solely looking at in my life at the minute. In terms of guests, Alex talks with authors, dietitians and wellness experts (to name a few) as well as hosting solo shows too. I love when podcasters host their own solo shows because especially if you don’t know the host, those solo shows give you a better insight into who they are as a person especially when they’re having to talk on their own for an extended period of time. 

Chasing Joy(Photo Source: The Chasing Podcast)

The Chasing Joy Podcast 

I can’t remember how I was first introduced to Georgie Morley but I have been in love with her podcasts ever since. Her podcasts are focused on sharing “meaningful conversations about wellness that will bring energy and joy into your life”. She covers absolutely everything from diet culture, body acceptance, self-awareness, creativity and manifestation; that’s naming only a few subjects, there are so many! No two podcasts are the same from Georgie and very much like Alex, she hosts her own solo episodes too, which adds a balance. I’d recommend Georgie’s podcast if you’re interested in a more in-depth look into the wellness world but you’re not sure where to start. 

Coffee Talk(Photo Source: Kalyn’s Coffee Talk)

Kalyn’s Coffee Talk 

If you don’t know Kalyn Nicholson, she’s been a YouTuber for quite a number of years but more recently, she has started her own podcast which I was so excited about. Having moved away from beauty YouTubers in the last few years, Kalyn has moved from the beauty side into the wellness, spiritual and motivational side of the platform so her content is absolutely perfect for me. I was genuinely really happy to see her start a podcast because she has one of those voices that you could listen to all day (plus she’s Canadian and who doesn’t love a Canadian accent?) and even though we’re around the same age, it’s comforting knowing you are listening to someone who has been through a similar experience as you or is opening up about their struggles and how they moved through them. As I mentioned, Kalyn is new to the podcast game so she doesn’t have lots of episodes yet but some of her episodes include subjects like the truth of social media, being a beginner, putting too much pressure on yourself and learning how to trust yourself. Kalyn records her podcasts on her own but that doesn’t take away from the content that she creates, she’s a very easy listen even on her own. 

Minimalists(Photo Source: Minimalist Podcast)

The Minimalists Podcast 

I wasn’t too sure what category to put this podcast into because minimalism deals with every aspect of your life but I thought it fitted well within wellbeing. Ryan and Joshua host the Minimalist Podcast which started after their successful first book launch and before their first feature length documentary, “Minimalism” which covers all aspects of minimalism. This includes education, religion, hobbies, collections, mental balance and parenting. Again, just like Georgie’s podcast, there are so many subjects Ryan and Joshua cover that you can deep dive into any of them. I’m not a huge fan of their live podcasts; I prefer listening to a studio environment podcast but that’s personal preference for me but in those, they have much more of an audience connection than they do in their regular sessions (obviously because they don’t have an audience in the studio) so if that’s something that interests you, then I would check those out. Minimalism is something that seems quite scary to people and these guys do a perfect job in breaking down the barriers to helping you understand it more. 

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; as I mentioned at the beginning, I love podcasts but I’m always looking for new ones to listen to so if you listen to any wellness based series’ that I haven’t talked about, please let me know. New podcasts are my favourite thing to explore these days. Thank you again and have a great day!

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Headshot Photography with Jess Lowe.

Over the last few months on the blog, you might have noticed some lovely on-location photographs of me pop up but I haven’t talked about them, until now (I was meant to write about this months ago but it completely slipped my mind). Today’s post is all about when local photographer Jess Lowe invited me on a one-to-one on location shoot in November, which ended up being my first ever photoshoot.  

Disclaimer: Before we begin, Jess offered me her “Time is Money” session at a discounted price but this, of course, doesn’t take away from her work and all my opinions are one hundred percent honest as always.  

Jess Lowe.

Jess Lowe is a local photographer based in Belfast who specialises in headshots and has a background in wedding photography. When it comes to headshot photography, she describes her style as “laid back and relaxed” while using natural light to create “a fresh, modern and genuine photograph that will enhance your personal brand and make you stand out from the crowd.”

Having worked in the media industry for three and a half years and studied media for an additional four years, I am very familiar with being both, in front of the camera and behind it. I wasn’t on screen during my college years but within my job, it’s become a regular occurrence. Presenting a children’s TV show and interviewing for our local interest programmes and nightly news programme are a small number of roles I take on but I would say I have relaxed being on camera over the years. You would think being in front of the camera for a photographer would be a slice of easy peasy pie, right?

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I was incredibly nervous beforehand, I’m not too sure why because I didn’t have anything to worry about but because it was a new experience so first-time nerves are understandable. I wore one of my favourite blouses; it’s a white blouse with gorgeous red roses all across it and whenever I wear it, it really stands out and that’s what I wanted to do across the shoot. I wore a simple pair of jeans and my converse because at the time, I wanted the photographs to reflect my personality and my style. I’m very much a jeans and t-shirt girl but on reflection, I wish I had have worn heels or boots, mainly because it gives me that little self-confidence boost when I do. I had had a dramatic hair cut a few days before, so it was nice to still have that “freshly cut” look but because we were outside, it wasn’t as perfect as it was before I left the house, so I was a little disappointed with how my hair was sitting. That was something that I couldn’t change though so I was able to let that go.

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Jess and I met up near Union Street in Belfast, on the outskirts of the Cathedral Quarter. If you don’t know the area, it’s quite a visual area with lots of interesting graffiti. Some would say it’s an Instagrammers dream, so if you’re ever in Belfast and looking for some creative backdrops, head for the Union Street area. To my disbelief, I hadn’t known about all this artwork in the area, despite working quite close so it was really nice to discover something new about the city.

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Jess had a really relaxed approach; being in front of the camera is vulnerable to say the least and the last thing you want to think is that your photographer is judging you so by them having an easy going but noticeably professional manner, it helped put me at ease. She even taught me a few things about posture and how to position my head to get the perfect shot. It’s all about lifting the chin, but not too far and this helps with your overall posture. It definitely took some getting used to but it’s a lesson I’ve taken with me ever since.

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We shot for half an hour and got some amazing shots around the streets and even on the roads. It was quite early on a Saturday morning so we weren’t caught up in constant traffic but there was some running onto the footpath when we saw a car coming but that was warming me up a little, because it was a chilly day. We couldn’t change the weather circumstances (obviously!) but as long as it wasn’t raining, I didn’t mind.

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I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the experience. Speaking as someone who is almost always in control behind the camera, it was nerve wrecking but intriguing to pass that control to someone. I believe I only really have one smile so I was worried I was going to look the smile throughout each photograph but after seeing the results, that wasn’t the case. I’m not a fan of the “serious looking face” mainly because I have resting bitch face and I look really miserable when most of the time, I feel okay so trying to pull off a “serious look” never works for me.

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I want to thank Jess for reaching out and providing this experience for me. I am so happy with the results; so much so that I now use the headshots for my blog, my social media images and even on my CV. If you want to check out Jess’ services, you can find them right here and if you want to look at her portfolio, it’s right here. I couldn’t recommend Jess highly enough and you can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

 

Meditation May: A Month of Meditation

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With the start of a brand-new month (Yes, I’m very much into that cliché) I wanted to set myself a challenge outside my three-month goals (which I will link here) and I thought a daily practice with meditation would be perfect so that’s what today’s post is focused on. 

Meditation was a daily practice for me for quite a few months but as my mental health deteriorated, I no longer reached for my guided meditations and this also included my yoga practice. I went to a yoga class religiously on Monday evenings after work and it was fantastic then gradually I started to only practice once a month. The fact of the matter is when my head gets in a bad place, I’m so stuck in my own head that I can no longer feel the benefits of yoga. When I describe this feeling to people, I often describe I like this:  

Imagine you are on a hamster wheel going round and round but at the same time, you’re stuck in a box that you can’t get out of. Every negative thought and every negative thing that has ever been said to you is in the box and you can’t get out, you have to stand there. (If you’ve ever watched the Crystal Maze, imagine all the paper money in the dome that the contestants have to catch, are the thoughts and the words.)

Unsurprisingly it’s a very hard trap to get out of so I had to step back from yoga especially until I get my head and mindset back on track. I’m getting there but it’s still off track sometimes. Gradually over the last few days I have been getting into evening meditations again but I want to take it one step further and give myself that boost to do it daily so that’s where Meditation May comes from. 

Back in January, one of my favourite bloggers Madison started up a meditation challenge on her YouTube channel and Facebook group and it was so comforting to have a support group there who you could open up to about your meditation difficulties. I really enjoyed that challenge and while I didn’t manage to meditate every single day, I got very close. This is another part of my inspiration behind Meditation May because I noticed a massive difference in January with Madison’s challenge. 

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My plan for the month is very simple; I want to practice meditation for ten minutes a day every day and for the first two weeks I’m not going to push myself to practice twice a day, I’ll build that up over time. I’m planning on keeping a journal on the experience to note down what meditation I use, how long for, how I feel before and after and if there is a particular emotion I’m trying to work alongside. At the end of the month, I’ll be posting those journal entries to see how much of a difference it really made and how the month went overall. 

Over the month, I’ll be posting on my Instagram and my Twitter too and I’ll be using #MeditationMay as the hashtag. I’m sure I’m not the only one to be practicing this idea so I’m not claiming it as mine but if you fancy seeing some “live” progress, you know where I’ll be. With the Spring Clean season around too, I’m hoping that this will help me along the “fresh mindset” element of the new Spring time. 

Thank you so much for reading today’s post. Quite a light one today but it’s always good to start the month off nice and light. 

My Unconventional Relationship With Reading.

snapseed-01.jpeg(Lunchtime reading in the office includes fruit with peanut butter and a big cup of tea)

As I grow older and start to think about having children down the line, it’s really important to me to read them bedtime stories and to try and carve reading into their daily lives outside the classroom. For me, I’m not an avid reader but I wish I was. I started to notice a few years ago that there was a problem with the way I read, books specifically so that’s what today’s blog post is focused on. 

I wasn’t an avid reader when I was younger. I grew up in the generation that fell in love with Harry Potter when it was first released but I only started to read Philosopher’s Stone years later. After that, I only read a chapter or two of Chamber of Secrets and then I stopped. As someone who watched younger children around me read these books, I felt embarrassed that I felt like I couldn’t. I didn’t understand the language the author used and I didn’t understand the true meaning of some of the words. I couldn’t keep up with the storylines and the characters, it was too complex for me. This was the same as the Lord of the Rings books too. 

My favourite book series at that time were the “Goosebumps” books by R.L. Stine which I still own to this day. My brother went to the United States when he was younger and he brought back the American covers and I promised myself I would never throw them out or give them away because they were always books that I loved to read over and over again. My first memory of trying to “write my first book” (suffice to say, this never came to anything), it was something that I wanted to turn into a Goosebumps story.  

Jacqueline Wilson was one of my favourite authors because she wrote stories that every little girl of that age could relate to. They were so easy to read too, I felt like I could understand every scenario and it was comforting. 

IMG_20170706_131717_073-01.jpeg(Before I started using a re-usable cup for out-of-the-office tea)

It was a few years ago that I started to realise that something wasn’t right. I would read books but forget what they were about. I would have to go back a chapter each time I picked up the book, even if I had read it the day before. I had no real sense of what had happened and I can’t remember the last time it didn’t happen. I thought it was a silly problem to have and maybe this was a sign that I wasn’t meant to be a reader. A person that isn’t meant to read? Yes, I thought it was a ridiculous statement too which is why I didn’t lean on it for comfort. I looked at how I was reading and analysed it to see if there was anything I could do to help myself. 

I didn’t read out loud.

I read inside because I assumed that was how everyone read material. The only time I had to read out loud was in school when your teacher called on you to read part of the class book, and back then, I was generally a fast reader. I sped through each sentence and before I knew it, I was finished. So naturally, I would speed through a book and I was finished; onto the next one. It was another tick off one of my many lists, but what exactly did I gain from that? 

If I didn’t understand a word, I’d make up another pronunciation or I would skip over it entirely.

I still sometimes have a hard time with words that I can’t pronounce and it’s very embarrassing. I remember one time in college when we were doing a voice over for a class and everything was going perfectly until one of my sentences came up. When one of our team was editing it on top of the video, you could clearly tell it wasn’t the same word that was in the script, and because it was in class, I wanted to ground to swallow me up. When I’m on my own reading, if I can’t pronounce a word or say it wrong then I either glance over it or I mumble something, and I don’t go back to it. 

With those two points in mind, I had to change the way I read which when you say it out loud, it does sound very strange. For me, as silly as it may sound, it was embarrassing and I knew that I was going to be the only one who was going to be able to change it. Now when I read a book (if I’m in my house on my own) I read out loud and because you’re using more energy to do that, it means I become very tired, very fast. Tiredness when reading had always been an issue for me no matter what age I was but when I started reading out loud, it soon became apparent how tired I would get. 

Reading out loud means that I have to say every single word and I become very aware if I say something wrong or I don’t know how to pronounce a word. It means I can’t skip over it and I try my best with it. There have been many points where I have had to re-read a sentence five or six times in order for me to continue. Eventually in your reading session, you get to grips with the rhythm and you tend not to make many mistakes. However, as soon as tiredness hits me and I can’t read a sentence without a mistake, then I know it’s time to set it down for a while. 

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(My current reading material: The War For Late Night by Bill Carter)

At the beginning of the year, I signed up to a subscription to Audible, and if you don’t know what that is (although most people will have heard of it) It’s an audio book subscription service by Amazon where you get one credit a month and you can download almost any book in an audible form. I’ve heard of Audible for quite a few years but in my head, I was reluctant to sign up to it because I thought listening to an audio book was seen as “cheating”. If you didn’t physically read the book, did it count? Ridiculous I know but that was my mentality at the time. However, having listened to quite a few books since signing up, I couldn’t recommend it more. In my latest post about personal development (which I will link here) I spoke about listening to podcasts but I also took the time to listen to audio books on my way to work too. I will be doing a follow up post on the audio books I have listened to so far very soon and I haven’t loved all the ones I chose, so I’ll explain that in more depth soon. 

For someone that found it very hard to read more than one chapter of a book, audio books have been a life changing discovery and I now longer feel like I am cheating by listening to the words rather than reading them.  

I’ve come to terms with how I read now and I continue to read my best with it. I’m not very fast and it will take me a considerable time to read a book but it’s more important to me that I am more connected to a book because of the disconnect I felt before

Thank you so much for reading today’s post. I know it was a very different post to others I have posted about but it’s something I wanted to write about because I searched online and I couldn’t find anyone else who had had the same experience as me. So, if I can comfort one other person and let them know that it’s not as silly as it sounds, then I’ll be over the moon. Enjoy the rest of your day! 

Changing My Environmental Impact With Small Changes.

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Sunday 22nd April 2018 marks a very special occasion, it’s known as Earth Day and considering I have started to look more consciously of my impact on the Earth; I wanted to write about the things that I have incorporated into my life. 

If you read my latest post on the Low Tox Box (which I’ll link here), you’ll know that I absolutely loved the box and I have used every single product ever since I got it. I’ll try my best not to repeat some of the same points that where in that post, so it’s not too repetitive. 

Using a reusable drink mug 

If you have known me personally for the last few years, you will know that I used to carry around one of my favourite possessions all the time. It was a tea flask, but it wasn’t any tea flask, it was a Dunder Mifflin flask. The Office US is one of my favourite television programmes and Dunder Mifflin was the name of the company. I would guess that I had this cup for about six or seven years, it was a very long time. Unfortunately I misplaced it, I think I might have accidentally set it down somewhere in the city centre and I never found it. Devastated was not the word I would use to describe how I felt but eventually I got over the loss and I was on the look out for a new cup. Being a woman who loves her research, I came across one particular product called a “Keep Cup” and I was more intrigued about the fact that it was glass. I try and not buy impulsively so I slept on it and a few days later, I seen a post by Flow Studio Boutique advertising that they sold them so I decided to buy one. 

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I chose the grey coloured top from their cork series and reading that the cork is sustainability sourced, made that decision much easier. It’s a fantastic cup; I have the large size because I don’t believe in a small cup of tea. My only complaint about it would be that you have to be very careful for the first ten minutes when you’ve made your tea. The water is very warm when you’ve poured it in so the glass is hot as well so you have to make sure you hold it using the cork strip or your hand will be very sore. Apart from that, I would highly recommend it and I’m seeing more people in coffee shops using them, which is even better. 

What makes this change more beneficial in the long run is that more coffee shops are offering a discount for bringing your own cup with you rather than using disposable mugs. So you’re saving money and saving another cup from being thrown away. If you’re looking for an interesting read on the growing use of products like Keep Cup, The Independent wrote an article on the Latte Levvy back in January and went into further detail about the impact take-away cups have and what could be in store for the UK in the future, hopefully following the lead from Australia. 

Drinking Loose Leaf Tea 

Keeping on the theme of tea for a moment, I have been trying to minimise the amount of tea bags that I use and going for the loose leaf tea version instead. I’m not perfect, I still use them sometimes in work but my house is almost one hundred percent loose leaf, which I’m quite happy with.  

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We’ve been told to put our tea bags into the food wastage bin, thinking that they are bio-degradable but I was very surprised to read that there are some brands out there that still use plastic in their bags, therefore not being biodegradable. This article from Country Living gives more details on the brands that do use plastic, the ones that don’t, and more importantly, what the brands that do use it, are currently planning on doing to change that. 

I tend to find that when I drink loose leaf, the flavour comes through much stronger and I know you shouldn’t do this, but I can get a second go from the leaves I used previously. It’s not as strong but it still gives a good flavour. I love this comparison from The Tea Spot on the difference between loose leaf tea bags and traditional tea bags, they go into more detail than I ever could. 

Walking to Work 

It’s very simple really but I know not everyone can do this. Whether that’s because you work further away or maybe physically you can’t walk that far, that’s absolutely fine but this is what I do (No judgement here.) My workplace is a little over thirty minutes away walking or seven minutes on the bus, and it’s much more sustainable and cheaper for me to walk to work. I get my steps up every day and it gives me time to myself to listen to a podcast on the way there. This article from Let’s Reach Success lists a number of good reasons why we should be walking to work if we live within the distance to do so and are (physical) able to. 


Using Energy Efficient Light Bulbs 

For some, this might not be an option and unfortunately, it isn’t for me. Most of my light bulbs are wired into the ceiling rather than being your standard lightbulb so if I can figure out if I can replace them, then I’ll be changing to energy efficient bulbs. The reason I’m bringing this up is when I lived at home, most of the rooms in the house had these light bulbs and I found it incredibly frustrating at times. Mainly because they took longer to light up rather regular bulbs; my problem was my patience and at the end of the day, waiting a little extra time shouldn’t be a reason not to use them if they’re going to make a difference to your energy usage.  

For the statistics, benefits and a more detailed answer, I would recommend this article by the U.S Department for Energy.

Meal Preparation 

You all know that I am a huge advocate of cooking in bulk for my work lunches, and if you cook it all at once; then you minimise your time used throughout the week cooking individual lunches, you lower the energy whether that be from the oven, stove or microwave and you lower your stress levels in the morning because you can grab and go rather than panic that you have nothing for lunch. I understand that it may not be for everyone but I urge you to try it for two weeks and I can guarantee you will feel great for it. Speaking from experience, it helps me every time knowing I have everything ready to go. 

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I absolutely loved these blog posts from Project Meal Plan and Engine2Diet who both gave their top tips on being more eco-friendly when it came to meal prepping. If there’s one extra thing I need to do, it’s starting to use more glass tupperware rather than plastic (I reuse it though!) 

My Change of Diet 

I became vegan in January 2017 and I haven’t looked back since. (I wrote a blog post about which I’ll link here) Reducing my consumption of meat, dairy and fish products has made me feel more ethical conscious and while not everyone will want to do that, campaigns like Meatless Monday and Veganuary have had huge success in informing people on the damage that animal products also has does to our environment. I do a majority of my food shopping at a local supermarket but I have started buying my fruits at a local green grocers, and in doing this, you know that the majority of the fruit is coming more from a local area which overall means, less travel from being picked to shop front. I don’t feel like I’m qualified to give you the statistics on the more environmental side so I have found a great selection of articles that will give you a better sense of it. 

One Green Planet is an American company so their statistics are of course, based on the United States but I believe it is important none the less. The chocolate brand (and my favourite chocolate of all time) Ombar have an informative article on three environmental benefits and finally, CNN has a fantastic article from last year talking about the last effects of a vegan diet. 

I think it’s important to remember that even though there is one special day to celebrate Earth Day, we should be taking the initiative to celebrate Earth Day every day. It’s our planet, we have to look after it as best we can, and if you think you aren’t making a difference, look at the little things you do and change one thing.  

Before I finish up today’s post, I want to share some blog posts I found while writing this blog post that I couldn’t seem to fit within each section. 

A Considered Life with Sustainable Living Choices to Celebrate Earth Day. 
Crazy Blonde Life with 12 Things To Do For Earth Day and Every Day! 
Curiosity Stream with Celebrate Earth Day With These Top Five Documentary Picks.  
This Little Blog Of Mind with Plants: Why You Need Them In Your Home. 
Portle Bay Popcorn and The Eco Edit with Roxy Hempel: 5 Ways To Be More Eco-Conscious. 

I hope you enjoyed today’s post; it’s an important one to me and I think we should all be looking at our impact individually by changing our routines gradually one day at a time. 

A Simple Step-by-Step Guide on How To Start Saving.

In my recently monthly intentions (which is linked here) I talked about wanting to create a savings plan for the New Year because while I’m not saving for anything in particular, I do want to have some money behind me in case an emergency pops up. So today’s post is about how I plan to start thinking about my savings plan.

Before we start, it’s important to know that everyone’s situation will be different; the questions that I ask appeal to everyone though so you can still use these questions to give your own answers and see how I’m planning on working everything out.

Decide what you want to save for.

Your obvious starting point right here. If you’re reading this saying to yourself, “I should really save” but you have absolutely no idea why you need to or if you only think it would be a good idea but don’t actually want to, simply don’t. If you don’t want to, just don’t. For those of that do want to save, this is your why. Why do you want to have that spare cash? Is it for a holiday? Is it for a particular purchase? A special occasion perhaps? Mine is an emergency basis. I don’t want to be caught out with just my income in my bank account, so it’s smart to have some money behind you at least, in case anything were to happen.

(My spider diagram isn’t completely organised but it’s a great way to get your ideas out quickly if you prefer something that isn’t in list form.)
Know what your direct debit (or essential) bills are.

For many people, they will know what their direct debit or essential bills are. They’re the ones that come out every month around the same time and you know they’re going to be the same price every month. Mine are my rent, my pet insurance, my TV, my internet, my electric and my phone bill. In terms of heating for example, I have oil so I can’t top up my gas every month on a card, I have to buy it in one big batch which can a big price every few months. It’s the same with food shopping; it really varies so that’s why tip number four will be very important here.

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If you want to save a particular amount.

Once you know what needs to go out each month roughly, have an estimate of how much you would like to save. This really depends on so many factors but because we haven’t looked at ALL purchases, this is just an estimate so I wouldn’t put too much thought into this yet. You also have to think, are you looking at the saving in a monthly term or a yearly? You’ll see it come together faster in a monthly term but with a yearly, if you can’t save one month, you can always move something about and save double the next month.

Keep a closer look at your purchases for the next month.

For those of you that don’t keep an eye on your spending, this will be a real eye opener. I’m not really strict but I wouldn’t just shop and not think about how much something is, and I feel like a lot of people are in that same category. In order to keep track of what you’re spending, you need to write everything down. Yes, even that coffee you bought at lunchtime and even that box of tampons. Absolutely everything and it’s important to do that because you can see what you are buying first hand. It doesn’t take long to do; you can either use your notes app on your phone or you can quickly write it down in a notebook. I tend to write the price too because it makes it much easier to add up at the end of the month. I’m personally not doing this particular process until January because November and December are such expensive months that it doesn’t reflect my true spending habits.

See if there is anything you can eliminate.

Maybe you’ve noticed you buy more coffees than you first thought? Maybe you didn’t realise how many times you were buying lunch during the week rather than meal prepping at home? There could be so many little habits that you pick up on that you didn’t realise that you done. I find it easier to write those habits down again in one list on their own, you can see them a lot clearer that way.

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We’ll take this as an example; I’ve listed my other debit debit bills which include my gym membership, Spotify, Netflix and my Book and a Brew subscription. Out of four of those, only three were important to me so a few months ago, I stopped my subscription for the book service. This meant I was saving myself £13 a month and while this isn’t what I’ve described above, it’s a good starting point before you go through every single purchase for the month. You can really pin-point first hand what you can potentially eliminate.

Plan out treats for yourself.

Treat Yo’ Self. (If you watch Parks and Recreation, you’ll know how boss Retta and Tom are). You have to treat yourself once and a while, and not all treats are free and that’s perfectly fine. You can still go for your monthly eyebrow appointment, you can still go for that monthly lunch date with your best friend. You have to work out what is important to you to take care of yourself so whether that’s your monthly subscription to Netflix or your Saturday morning cup of tea with your current book in your favourite coffee shop.

Take into consideration any special occasions.

Birthdays and anniversaries are occasions that you can’t avoid and you will have to take into consideration. They will come quite frequently throughout the year so it might be better to budget for these each month too.

Re-examine how much you would like to save.

Go back to your estimate and after taking into consideration what you can cut, what you would like to keep, those special occasions and the bills that you have to keep, how does your estimate look? Can you increase it or do you have to decrease it slightly?

How are you going to put it into place?

I wouldn’t suggest an old fashioned money box for this particular task; I personally would feel a lot safer putting it into a savings account and with online banking, this couldn’t be simplier. With some banks, you can even set it up to take a particular amount out of your account on a certain date so if you think you won’t even up transferring it, this might be the perfect option for you.

Decide when you’re going to start.

Normally I’m all for starting right away but when we’re talking about money, it’s always easier to start when you’ve just been paid because you have clear mind to go into saving mode with. Of course, you can start right away or even start the process at the beginning of the month, but I know I just feel more comfortable when I get paid.

These are quite simple steps so it won’t be for everyone but for some people (including myself) it can be hard to save money. Whether that’s not having a large expendable income or maybe not realising how much they’re truly spending. If this helps just one person, then I’ll be a happy woman. I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you think it could help others, please feel free to share it too ❤

My Week Day Morning Routine

Morning routines are a tricky thing aren’t they? Some people swear by them, some people can’t remember the last time they had one and feel like they don’t need one. Each to their own but for me, having a morning routine is vital to keep my mind and my body set up for the day. I briefly talked about my morning routine in my Monday Syndrome blog post last week and I know I post quite early on Twitter so I thought I would talk about it in more details in a blog post of its own.

☀️  Wake Up ☀️

alarm-clock-2115489_1280(Original Stock Image)

I wake up at 4am. No really, I do but I can understand why that sounds quite odd to many people but it’s what now works for me. It didn’t take too long for me to get used to surprisingly. When I was living at home, I was getting up at 6am for both college and work (I had to get the bus at 8am) so there’s isn’t too big of a difference.

🌸 My Meditation 🌸

tea-lights-2223898_1280(Original Stock Image)

I haven’t become particularly religious (in the spiritual sense) participating  in mediation every morning and every night; for example, at the weekend if my boyfriend stays over, I wouldn’t normally stick on a mediation every single time but I know that if I want it to become a priority, I would need to start doing it at the weekend too just as much as the work week.

In the morning I would choose a short meditation, no longer than ten minutes because my mind is just waking up so I don’t want to choose a thirty minute practice if my mind isn’t focused. That’s why six to ten minutes is perfect! However, this is one downside and I’ve fell for this many times; I have a tendency to lie down during the practice and I think to myself “Oh, I’ll be able to stay awake until the end.” Fast forward to waking up again at 5am, and being almost an hour behind schedule. Now and for the foreseeable future (until I don’t fall asleep at the drop of a hat), I sit up in bed for these morning meditations.

☀️ Get set, get ready and go! ☀️

So after the meditation is complete, I get out of bed and get ready to go to the gym. For my morning workouts, I don’t eat anything beforehand. If it was after work, I would defintely need food but first thing in the morning, I don’t feel unwell if I don’t eat. I normally just fill up my water and drink it on the way to the gym.

🌸 Workout 🌸

By the time I wake up, meditate, get ready, grab my bag, fill up my water and say hello the little kitty, it’s about 4:25am giving me perfect time to get to the gym just before 5am. My gym is a half an hour walk away so if I power walk the majority of the route, I get there just before the top of the hour. The walk there is like my warm-up so I never feel the need to stretch before a workout or do a warm-up on a machine because I’ve technically already done that.

IMG_20170806_101629_565(One of the rare times I had a short yoga practice after my workout.)

Talking about my workout routine is difficult, mainly because I don’t do the same thing every day. Some days I choose the “Fat Burn” setting on the cardio machines and blast at those for at least ten minutes; other times I build my own levels by choosing a higher level every thirty seconds to a minute on a machine. (This depends on the type of machine and how long I am giving myself for the machine). Other times I will only choose one cardio machine and do a quick level up blast for ten minutes and move over to the weight machines section for up to thirty minutes. Mixing is up is absolutely key for me because if I get bored, it won’t motivation me to go (Remember we talked about motivation in Monday Syndrome?)

20170815_213730(An example of one of many Instagram stories that are posted on my profile. I find this is a way to keep myself accountable and to show people what I’m doing in the gym that day.)

My time in the gym has slightly increased for the last few weeks, normally I would stay for half an hour but because I’ve started to get up earlier and want to fit in as much as I can, I can spend up to an hour there. I know there are people who can spend three hours there and fair play to them but I find for me if I can get an effective workout done that tires me out and makes me feel like I’m making progress, then I don’t need to spend an excessive amount of time there each morning.

☀️  Breakfast Time ☀️

20170414_134107-02(Please note that I don’t look like this in the morning after the gym. This photograph is after a shower, dried and straightened hair as well as my make-up all finished. However, it shows the exact emotion I feel every morning when I make my amazing smoothie!)

After the half an hour walk home, it’s time for breakfast! If you follow me on Instagram, there will be many days out of the week where I will post an Instagram story of my morning smoothie. I also make two slices of toast with some butter, but that’s not as exciting as a smoothie is it? One thing I would love to start incorporating into my routine is mindful eating; I want to savour and enjoy my food but right now, I just stand in the kitchen eating and drinking while watching a YouTube video.

The rest of my morning routine is quite boring from this point. I go up for my shower so I wash my hair every day (Unfortunately my hair is very greasy and I can’t NOT wash it daily, as much as I hate doing it), I spend about half an hour doing my make-up while watching a YouTube video or listening to a podcast then I fed the kitten while getting my bag ready for work. I thought my activities post 4am up until I make breakfast would be the most interesting to read, but I might consider doing a morning make-up routine in the future if it sparks any interest.

💛 💛 💛

I’m hoping to do a more in-depth blog post on meditation, the benefits for me, what apps I use and the techniques I use, because there’s so much more I want to speak about in terms of meditation, so look out for that at some stage! I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if you have any morning routine posts that you’ve either written or would recommend, send them my way in the comments, my Twitter or over on Instagram.