Sunday, 2 December 2018

Four things I want to focus on this December.

I really can't believe that the last month of 2018 is here. It's weird because these past twelve months seem to have flown by, but so much has changed this year, it also feels like January was a million years away. And now, we're in December and my social plans for the next three weeks are fit to burst, before I head away for a Christmas getaway at Center Parcs' Longleat Forest (and I'm soooo excited to spend the festive period in one of my favourite places!).
With the last month of the year underway, I always like to reflect on what this year has taught me, what I've experienced (both highs and lows), and I like to look ahead to the next year and my goals for that too. However, we still have 30 days of 2018 to contend with, and I'm determined to spend them with some focus.

Looking after myself

December is always a fun month filled with festivities, social events and family time, and I'm so looking forward to it. I've got my work Christmas party this week, festive nights out next week, and I'm heading home closer to Christmas Day to see friends and family before I go away for a few days. It's so fun, but I do often find it quite overwhelming and the lack of routine can sometimes send this planning freak into a frenzy. I've also had a pretty tough last two weeks, with things going on back home that I haven't been able to help with, as well as work being a bit mad in the lead up to Christmas. It's actually been really tough, and I've found myself feeling absolutely exhausted as a result. 

I'm determined to look after myself this December. Last year I partied/shopped/did everything too hard and wound up with the flu. The year before I remember feeling like a beached whale after eating everything in sight. It seems I "go hard, or go home" over the festive period, and this year I am absolutely intent on looking after my body and mind, by scheduling in some down time and striking a balance between going out until the early hours, and staying in with a box of Quality Street and a good Christmas film.

Spending time with those who matter

This is, for sure, everyone's favourite thing about the festive period. I love catching up with my family and seeing friends I haven't seen for months whilst I'm back home in West Wales. It can often mean that you're double booked when it comes to social gatherings, but I think making a choice to spend your time with those who matter the most is so important. 

Keeping on top of my workouts

I mentioned earlier about how sometimes (okay, most of the time) I take it way too far when it comes to embracing that festive spirit, aka. eating whatever I can, whenever I can. Then January rolls around and I find myself feeling pretty gross, and in desperate need of a detox. Well, not this year. Last year I kept to my strict gym regime and tried to eat as healthily as possible, and this year I'm going to do exactly the same. 

I just feel so much better after working out, so a big "bore off" to those who scoff at people who still take time out of their day to work out over Christmas. Is there really anything wrong with wanting to look after yourself at a time which can often be quite destructive to your health?

Not worrying about things I can't change or control

This isn't really something Christmas related, but it's definitely something I really need to work on, and why not choose the last month of the year to do just that? I hate making mistakes and something, which is so minor in the grand scheme of things, has really been eating me up lately. I wish I didn't let things worry me so much, but I genuinely do care and always strive to do my best, so find myself fretting about things which are often too far out of my control or cannot be changed, and I am trying really hard to change my thinking. 

I do think that as human beings we are so hard on ourselves, always striving for perfection and we see things completely differently to how others do. While I'm still worrying about something that happened last week, it was barely noticed at the time and everyone has now moved on from it completely. Mistakes happen to everyone, and I want to spend the next few weeks focusing on not worrying about things that I have no control over, especially things that in years, or even weeks, to come will not even cross my mind. It may be easier said than done, but I feel just admitting to myself that things need to change is a start.

What are you focusing on for the last month of the year?
Lots of love. xoxo

Friday, 23 November 2018

Tips for embracing your own company.

One thing I always worry about is feeling lonely. It's weird because I am quite an independent person. I like my own space and love living alone. I really enjoy time to myself and actually look forward to my Friday evening rituals of gymming and having a pamper night whilst watching trashy TV in the flat. But one thing I have struggled with in the past is loneliness.
When I first went to university, I was seriously homesick. I felt so lonely, I was completely out of my comfort zone, and looking back now I believe I was depressed. I would spend my days counting down the minutes until the end of the week, the end of the year, the end of term. I'd either be going out on nights out and getting obliterated in a bid to make myself forget about the homesickness, or I'd be a bit of a recluse and would sit in my room alone.

I'd spend most of my days crying, and if it wasn't for the fact that I loved my course and was super determined to fulfil my journo dreams then I would've dropped out and moved back home in a heartbeat. It's a really weird feeling because you know that you should hang around with people in order to make you feel better, but you really don't want to. I think how down and upset I spent the majority of my first and second years at university even now makes me feel really worried about being alone and spending a lot of time on my own. I never want to feel that low again. 

The past two years, however, things have changed. I can't say I particularly loved the time I spent living and interning in London in the winter of 2016, despite the incredible opportunities it gave me, but I think it really gave me that self belief that I could live alone, be alone and spend time alone.  London is quite a lonely city anyway, but I feel like everyone is all together in that loneliness and going out for coffee, dinner, or even for a stroll around the sights by yourself just isn't a big deal. I grew to rather like my own company and the time I spent with just myself.

Then, I got myself a job in Cardiff and opted to live on my own instead of moving into a house share. And to top it all off, this year I ended a relationship I had been in for nearly six years, despite the huge fear of being alone for the first time since I was 18 years old.
It's meant that I've had to get used to thinking of just myself for the first time in my adult life, and while I do often worry that I'll feel lonely, it's safe to say I really have grown to love alone time and the opportunities it gives to better myself. Here are some of the tips I would give to help those who aren't used to it, to embrace their own company and time alone.

Take up a hobby

The one thing I absolutely fell in love with this summer was running. I was training for the Cardiff Half Marathon and it gave me a real focus and soon became my way of embracing the time I had to myself, instead of wallowing in it. It became a hobby that kept me busy and gave me things to do on weekends, or during the week when I had finished work and had no plans for the evening. It allowed me to explore the city whilst exercising and enabled me to fulfil a goal I'd had for two years. Those long runs soon became something I really looked forward to and even craved.

Having a solitary hobby helped me understand that actually spending time on my own is a really nice thing, a really bloody good thing. Selfishly, those runs were my time and I really enjoyed switching off from the world and from other people, taking an hour to myself to unwind and train. As well as running I also love going to the gym and generally being active, and I also love blogging and photography, so I've got lots of things to keep me busy should I be left with no plans on a weekend.

Get creative

The one thing I really love about blogging, and the main thing that keeps me blogging despite all of the changes in the blogosphere, is the creative outlet it provides. I love taking photographs, writing, coming up with post ideas, and the fact that I am always looking for ways to make content means I am always pretty busy, and have something to fall back on should I ever be needing something to do.  It makes me actively plan things to get content, and I'm always looking for new and fun things to do, and places to go, whether that's with people or by myself. The reason I set up this blog was to combat homesickness and to give me something to take my mind off things, so it's great that 6 years on it still provides me with a creative outlet to enjoy.

I'm also quite keen to get crafting, having followed more crafty bloggers on Instagram lately. My plan for the winter, especially January when the social calendar seriously dies down, is to work on being creative in the flat. I want to do some painting and DIY, and want to finish off all the bits and pieces that I haven't got round to doing yet.

Go outdoors

Sundays can sometimes be a bit of an "alone" day for me. While they were my favourite day of the week at home, as I'd spend them with my family, now that I live an hour or so away in Cardiff, they can sometimes be the day of the week I dread for lack of plans. I really like to keep busy, so having nothing to do on a Sunday can sometimes make me feel a little anxious. Team this with the fact that a  lot of my friends in Cardiff spend their Sundays dying in bed with a hangover, while others have boyfriends or family members they want to spend time with, and you see the dilemma.

The last few weeks, however, I've made a conscious effort to get outside on these days, even if that means going for a walk or drive on my own. I'd go exploring by myself quite a lot in London, so it makes no difference doing it in a different city, and I genuinely do feel so much better having spent time outdoors in the fresh air.

Make plans

Living on my own means that if I don't make plans, I will spend the majority of the week outside of work without human interaction. I'm a sucker for a plan and a to-do list anyway, but I usually get my weeks booked up in advance so that I know I have things to look forward to. It can sometimes mean that I burn the candle at both ends, but as I've now figured out what I need to do in order to love my own company, I'm pretty happy to even schedule some me time into the mix now.

I feel as though I've made really big progress this year. I've still not mastered everything, and I do sometimes tend to cram in as many activities and social events as humanly possible, as I feel as though I still have that fear of being lonely, anxious and homesick, but I'm definitely getting there. I think getting used to your own company, and really enjoying it, is a wonderful thing, but, for me, I definitely need to have a few little plans in place to allow me to do that.

Lots of love. xoxo

Sunday, 18 November 2018

The best ways to unwind this winter*.

I don't know about you, but as soon as October comes around my diary is completely jam-packed. Every weekend is made up of parties and social events right through November and December, and the craziness only dies down when January's peace and quietness covers the nation like a soft, cuddly (albeit slightly boring) blanket. 
While I do love the lead up to Christmas and all the fun that comes with it, I think it's so important to think of your health and well-being during what can sometimes be a completely overwhelming time of year. It's no wonder that we often all enter the new year feeling completely drained and ready for a few weeks of doing absolutely nothing, when there is always something you should/could be doing as the festive season approaches. 

I headed out for a spa evening earlier this week with my mum for a few hours of pampering, relaxing and seriously good food, and it made me realise the importance of taking time to unwind in the winter months. Lying down in the relaxation room post-full body massage (which was bliss, FYI), I realised I hadn't actually had a completely relaxed evening like this since I went away to Majorca back in June, and I wasn't likely to have one right up until my Christmas break. 

So, here are my favourite ways to unwind and relax in the winter...

1. Book a pamper evening 

Seriously, take a leaf out of my book and schedule yourself in for a spa retreat. I absolutely love going to a spa, and booking some time in to specifically relax and unwind is a surefire way to help you get through the crazy Christmas period. It's also a great way to catch up with friends or family in the lead up to Christmas, and will leave you feeling good and rested, rather than drained after a late night and a few too many drinks. I took my mum out for the evening to the Laguna Spa in Cardiff' Park Plaza Hotel, and we had a fantastic few hours of relaxation and delicious food. 
I was also gifted this gorgeous leopard print contour swimsuit* for the occasion by UK Swimwear, and I have to say I really loved wearing it. I love the bright print, the low back, and the ruffled effect on the front, which added a little fun to the design and helped to cover an area I'm quite conscious of. I'd definitely check out the website ahead of next year's summer holiday season too!

My friends and I bought a spa day as a birthday present for one of the girls back in July, and we're still yet to use this spa evening. The plan is to get it booked in for one evening ahead of our work Christmas parties, and I'll be donning my new leopard print swimsuit once more for a good old evening of gossip by the poolside.

2. Get some zzz's

We're definitely all guilty of burning the candle at both ends over Christmas. I often find myself heading out for drinks or food and having late evenings, and then I'm up early for work or the gym the next day. Last year, this resulted in me having the flu over the New Year, so this year I'm making time for early nights and planning some weekends where I rest and get some decent sleep, instead of going out into the early hours.

3. Schedule in some "me time"

I think actively declining invites or saying to yourself at the start of the week that one or two evenings of said week will be spent doing things for yourself is so important. I try to have two days in the week where I go to the gym and get home to have some good food and an early night, and if that makes me a boring old lady then so be it. I sometimes need time to myself, and I always use the oppotunity to catch up on blogging or to get my teeth stuck into a good book or film, whilst cosied up in a fluffy blanket and surrounded by candles and fairy lights. I just love it.

4. Get your exercise in

Exercise is a huge stress buster for me. It helps me to sleep, it makes me feel good, and those endorphins definitely ease the worries from the day away. In the summer I feel like I exercise all of the time, with the days being so long and sunny, I'm always out and about doing something. In the winter it can be so much more difficult, but I'm determined to stick to my current work out schedule even through the Christmas holidays.

I also underestimate just how nice it is to go out for a winter stroll when the sun is shining before getting home to eat a hot meal in front of the fire. Whether it's a spin class or a lazy cycle through the park, it all helps. 

How do you enjoy unwinding?
Lots of love. xoxo

* The swimsuit worn in the photos featured was gifted by UK Swimwear. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Why we shouldn't judge those who don't want to always "get mortal" on a night out.

"Down it!" "Let's get shots!" "Shall we go in rounds?"

Three phrases that are enough to make my slowly sipped frozen strawberry daiquiri come right back up again. I can't down my drink because the mere thought of it makes me feel sick. Don't even bother buying me a shot because I'll chuck it over my shoulder rather than down my throat. And hun, I'm tipsy after two vodka lemonades, there is no way I'll be going in rounds.

I'm not even 25 years old and I am just so over getting absolutely plastered on a night out. 

Don't get me wrong, I love getting dressed up in my high heels and sipping on a prosecco as much as the next basic bitch. I love going out and socialising, I love dancing to music, laughing with my friends, getting those outfit pics for the 'Gram, and visiting swanky clubs and bars. But I just like to be home and in bed with some toast and a glass of squash by about 1am if I can help it.

Drinking has always been a weird one for me. At home I don't drink at all. I don't have a glass of wine with dinner on a Friday night, and I won't have some fizz whilst watching a film all cosy on the sofa. I'd rather a treat be a bag of sweets or a slice (or two) of pizza. I rarely drink when I go out for dinner either. I usually opt for a soft drink or juice in favour of saving pennies and driving. I can go weeks, even months, without having even a sip of alcohol, and it really doesn't bother me. But when I go out out, I go for it. I could often take it overboard and I'd spend the next day or two feeling like shit, looking like shit, and annoyingly (mostly for others) treating people like shit too. 

I came to the realisation last year, after another heavy night which resulted in my Sunday morning being spent with my head hung over the toilet bowl, that enough really was enough. I felt as though I was almost making up for the lack of nights out I had in my last two years of university as I was so consumed and focused on my studies, and I really didn't want to become one of these people who lives for the weekend and going out boozing. I decided it was time to stop going out so often, and for the most part this year has been successful, and my weekends have been fulfilling rather than feeling like they've been a waste.

I've also realised that my body hates alcohol, and alcohol seriously hates my body. I had some wine on a night out last weekend, and ended up spending my Sunday morning dashing to the loo to vom. Officially, the worst hangover of the year after months of staying in or opting for "sensible" nights out, which really reiterated to me how glad I am that I'm making these changes. I went out for dinner once this summer and was hungover after a cocktail, and when I go out with friends, even for two or three drinks, the next day I feel sluggish, sick and generally gross, despite feeling completely sober. I really do try my best to look after myself, especially as my immune system is pretty weak, so I hate that you can be deemed "lame" or "boring" for choosing to not get absolutely smashed on a night out. 
So, guess what? Not drinking excessively doesn't make me boring. It doesn't mean I have to be a hermit, or that I don't want to go out ever again, or that I frown upon people who do want to let loose in whichever way they want. You do you, hun. It makes me someone who can socialise without taking it too far for myself and my body to handle, and someone who gets the best of both worlds as I can enjoy myself on a Saturday night and can still feel fresh enough to make the most of my Sunday. It means I can focus on my goals, my work, my creative projects. It makes me healthier, it means I can stick to my healthy eating and training regimes. And it doesn't ruin all the good I've done throughtout the week in one night. 

I think there is so much pressure in the UK to get absolutely mortal on nights out. Whether that's fuelled from reality series like Geordie Shore, or from that "unaaay" culture which sees freshers week and initiations having people sleeping in gutters. There's definitely a social pressure. And I'm so tired of it. How does someone else not drinking, or at least not going crazily mad with the alcohol, impact upon your night? People don't comment on the fact that you are drinking, so what's the issue? Just let a gal be a grandma if she wants to, okay?

This isn't to say I'll never go out and go wild ever again. I've already got Christmas parties planned,  and I'm so looking forward to all of the festivities and donning my sequinned dresses and glittery playsuits for the occasion. But every time I go out and wake up feeling like death the next day it makes me realise that nights out are over-rated, and I'm so much happier with the decisions I've made to say no more often and to think about my health.

What do you think? I'd love to know your thoughts...
Lots of love. xoxo