5 Things I’m Grateful For This February (2021)

As usual, here’s my monthly gratitude reflection!


Walking

This month (well, halfway through the month), I set myself the goal of going for a daily walk at lunchtime. It’s a good way to get myself out of the house during the week, plus it drags me away from screens for some much-needed nature time. I’ve been really enjoying these 30 minute walks because I put in earphones and motivate myself with upbeat music. I feel like it brings back a bit of my independence that I feel I have lost since lockdown and moving back home, so it’s nice to get out there by myself and just bask in the fresh air.

Embracing Relaxation

As you may have seen in my post a couple weeks ago, I used to feel guilty about relaxing. This month I’ve really let myself enjoy the weekends and not feel bad for just sitting on the sofa and watching TV! I’ve been laughing over Parks and Recreation, which I can’t believe I haven’t watched until now. Plus, I’ve been loving Emily in Paris and This Is Us. Let me know what you’ve been watching in the comments!

Yoga

This month I started a 30 day yoga challenge with my Mum. It’s from the YouTuber Yoga with Adrienne and each episode is titled with a different theme, all aiming to focus on the breath. Although we have, admittedly, missed quite a few days, it’s been amazing to get some good stretches in almost everyday and it’s helped me enter relaxation mode after work.

Starting A New Job

This month I started a new job which is always a new learning curve, especially in the current lockdown environment! I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to work in a completely different industry and to challenge myself to take on more responsibility. It’s always interesting translating skills from past tasks to the new situation at hand.

Interesting Books

Although I haven’t read as many books in February as in January, I’ve read a really interesting self-development book. It’s called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers and I’ve been reading a bit each day for a bit of positivity! It’s a really enlightening piece of work on how to overcome fear – how we can experience it from either a place of pain or power, and how that’s totally up to us to choose! I’m really grateful for books like this that change my perspective on life and encourage inner work.

What are you grateful for this February?

Let me know in the comments below.


5 Things I’m Grateful For This January (2021)

Starting the new year off with my monthly gratitude!

Let me know what you’re grateful for in the comments below – this is a time where it’s so beneficial to connect and join together to share the small yet meaningful moments in our lives.


Moments of Calm

I’ve been focusing a lot on promoting moments of calm this month. I think when we’re rushing about, doing things, we don’t really tune into our bodies. Sometimes, in our minds, we’re at peace, but in our bodies we’re still feeling the consequences of past stress, whether it’s tension in our shoulders or a racing heart. This month I’ve been trying to pay more attention to the way my body is reacting to stresses that have built over time and making sure I take those quiet moments to release myself out of it, whether that’s through yoga, meditation or simply sitting and living in the moment, without the need to get up and do things. And I think it’s a constant journey, but I feel like I’m getting somewhere, and I’m grateful for that.

Connecting With Others

This month I feel like I’ve made more of an effort to reach out to friends and video call which has been really lovely. My friend and I did a virtual baking session together where we picked the same recipe, gathered the ingredients and made it together over video call (and then ate it over tea afterwards!), which I really enjoyed. We’ve also recently started a family quiz which has been fun (although my brother and I are still yet to win!). I think lockdown really does encourage you to get creative in terms of how to connect with people whilst making it more of an exciting experience.

The Act Of Goal-Setting

I started 2021 with a list of goals I wanted to achieve this year. My Mum and I sat down and discussed it, sharing our thoughts, and we are planning on reviewing them on the last day of every month so that we stay accountable. I’m really grateful for the act of goal-setting because I think it’s really helped me this month, knowing I have them at the back of my mind. Some of them have already been put into action in various ways, from using my phone less, to getting a job offer, to prioritising relaxation. It proves that mindset can have a huge difference on the opportunities and experiences you attract in your life. I’m grateful to everything that lead me up to the point of realising this.

Snow Day!

In England, we get used to seeing weather forecasts and not believing it, because the weather is in constant fluctuation. However, last week we were told it was going to snow and, surprisingly, it did. It’s the most snow we’ve had in years, and I think it was perfect timing to cheer everyone up during lockdown. I went out to the forest with my Mum and it was really beautiful. It honestly felt like something out of a film!

Goodreads Challenge

At the start of January, I chose the number of books I wanted to read for 2021 as part of the Goodreads Challenge. I wanted to make it a little higher than last year, so I can try to improve, so I’ve chosen 45. This would be around 3.75 books a month to stay on track. However, I’ve surprised myself and read 5 this January, which is probably the most books I’ve read in a month in a really long time, if ever (although, arguably, one of the books was quite short). I’m hoping to keep up the good pace next month and get through all the books on my shelves!

What are you grateful for this January?

Let me know in the comments below…


5 Things I’m Grateful For This November (2020)

It hasn’t been a typical month for a lot of us, due to lockdown, but I think that’s even more reason to focus on the parts of the month that did go well. So, as usual, here’s my monthly gratitude reflection!


Books

I watched a video earlier this month that completely changed my perspective of an overflowing bookcase… it said that the positive to buying too many books is that the possessor is simply a curious person who just wants to absorb more knowledge about people, the world and everything in it.

I really like this perspective and I think it’s one of the reasons why I love reading, but it definitely made me feel less bad about having a never ending to-be-read list!

This month I’ve got through books a lot quicker than usual and I’ve really appreciated those moments of downtime. I’ve experimented a little with speaking my thoughts out loud in a podcast format, which I might not do anything with, but it was fun to try something different.

Walking to a Podcast

This is something I used to do ALL the time at university, but I seem to have got out of the habit since graduating. Admittedly, this is likely because I’m not walking as frequently during weekdays (which I want to improve!) or I’ve been walking with others and chatting instead.

However, during lockdown I’ve been going out for more independent walks which has been a lovely way to get fresh air, admire the scenery, all whilst listening to something productive that I can learn from.

Music

Music has always been a huge part of my life, whether it’s playing instruments or simply listening to a song. I always find it helps me in times that are difficult because it instantly boosts my mood and just makes me feel super happy.

This month, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and my favourite thing to do is to combine this with music, playing it loud on my speakers and singing along (if no one’s listening!). It’s definitely helped increase my energy in those classic lockdown moments when I’ve been stuck indoors for too long.

The Build-Up To Christmas

Yes, it is only November, but the combination of seeing Christmas adverts everywhere and working on Christmas content for work has made me feel like it’s December already. Something I really love about Christmas is buying presents for family and friends, so I’ve been scouring the internet this month to find the perfect gift for everyone and (admittedly) I may have actually wrapped them already…

Meditation

Meditation is something I always seem to dip in and out of at various moments in my life when I feel like I’m craving that space and inner-reflection. I think, particularly during lockdown, it’s important to have these moments with yourself where you can tune into how you’re really feeling and work to overcome any emotional blockages you’ve unintentionally stored up.

It’s never an easy process. A lot of the time I sit there with my thoughts placing way too much emphasis on my pounding heart and it’s like suddenly all that restlessness arises to the surface. But I think that’s also the point – to be aware of what’s going on. It may not always feel great, but it’s about learning to accept and lean into the feeling.

What are you grateful for this month?

Let me know in the comments below!


4 Wellbeing Tips To Help You Through Lockdown

For those of us in the UK, we are now in a national lockdown. We’ve been there before, we made it and we can do it again, but that doesn’t always make it easy. I thought I would put together some tips to help any of you struggling with your wellbeing, and to remind myself of the ways I can stay in a positive mindset too!


Find a Purpose

When we think of finding a purpose in our lives, it can seem super daunting. We think of it as this giant thing looming in front of us, trying to work out what it is that is actually driving us forward. However, finding a purpose doesn’t have to be some “big goal” – it can be as little as playing your favourite song each morning.

I found that, during the previous lockdown, finding a purpose was what helped me each day. It took me outside of the situation and helped me focus on a project, rather than think about the uncertainties of the future. For me, this was finally writing the first draft of a book. For others, it may be an exercise regime. For some, it could be starting up a new hobby, like cooking, or art, or starting a blog! Find that little something that makes you excited.

Embrace the Quiet

Lockdown gives us a lot of time to sit with empty space. I think this is one of the reasons why it can seem terrifying; when we’re busy with our lives, we often don’t give ourselves time to think, and it’s only when we think that we face emotions and circumstances that perhaps we were trying to avoid.

As a result, this time is necessary. For some it may be uncomfortable. Emotions may rise we didn’t know we felt. It teaches you how to breathe when there is only the present moment, and I think that is really powerful.

Get Moving

This is undoubtedly an obvious tip, but I find that it’s so easy to let the days pass and forget to go on that walk that I’ve been planning to do all week! And during lockdown, it can sometimes feel like the world is on a go-slow.

Getting moving doesn’t have to be about doing a 10 mile run. It doesn’t even have to be about leaving the house if you don’t want to (although fresh air helps). It can be finding a YouTube workout, or dancing to your favourite music, or walking up and down the stairs before lunch. Just a little something to get your heart rate up and release positive endorphins.

Stay Connected

In an age as technologically advanced as this one, it should be easy to stay connected, but sometimes it can be a little challenging. Keeping up with text messages, wanting to reduce screen time, not feeling like it’s quite the same as in person – however, it is so important for our wellbeing.

Staying connected doesn’t have to mean being glued to your phone 24/7; staying connected means dialling in when it really matters. Schedule in video calls with people you want to see, or reach out and message when you have a free moment. No one is expecting you to be there all the time, even during lockdown, so make sure to give yourself some space amidst it all.

What is your number 1 wellbeing tip for lockdown?

Share your advice in the comments and let’s help each other out!


5 Things I’m Grateful For This June (2020)

Here’s my monthly gratitude reflection!

Completing the first draft of my novel!

Earlier on this month, I finished the first draft of my novel, which is by far the longest thing I’ve ever written! I’m so proud to have actually completed it, even if the words end up being a jumbled mess (I’ll find out soon, when I read it over!)

When I completed it, I was a little disappointed by the fact that it was shorter than I expected it to be (46K), but when I asked for some advice on twitter, I got such an overwhelming response from the writing community and I’m so grateful for all the lovely messages I received.

 

My Belongings

I’ve spent a lot of time this month decluttering my room. This involved clearing out my desk, my clothes and my books. During lockdown I’ve learnt that so many materialistic items we have in our lives are extremely pointless and unnecessary. Why do I have 7 white T-shirts? Why do I need 4 pairs of the same colour jeans? It has encouraged me to reduce the amount of items I own even more, and be grateful for the ones I do own.

If I pass along old books and clothes, someone else can enjoy them in the way that I once did. And I think that’s pretty cool. Let’s recycle a bit of happiness.

 

Seeing Family and Friends

This month I’ve been meeting up with friends to go on socially distanced walks and sitting in the garden on picnic mats in the sun! It’s been really lovely to just catch up on everything, especially since I haven’t seen a lot of my friends since January/February.

I also got a chance to see my cousin and her most recent art exhibition, which featured some of my creative writing! Her paintings are so wonderful and I’m so grateful to have had my writing alongside them. You can check out her website here!

 

Online Resources

I’m thankful to have all the online resources that make learning new things possible. I’ve been working a lot more this month on a Google Garage Course on The Fundamentals of Digital Marketing. It is free to complete, and I’m about 80% of the way through, so I’m looking forward to doing the final test and hopefully getting the certificate! I think it will be super helpful for my future career.

 

Space

When I say space,  I mean living in the present. Over the last few weeks I’ve felt a little detached from social media and the online world. I think part of this perhaps has to do with the Black Lives Matter Movement, and how I wanted to educate myself but equally not let it overwhelm me. It’s hard to put into words how truly awful it is when it’s a lifetime of feeling that I could never and will never wholly feel myself. But it still is very upsetting – it makes me angry and hurt – and these are emotions I wanted to explore offline, through podcasts and shows, rather than feel like I had to live up to the expectations of social media and other influencers.

I think during this time, when I posted less frequently on my blog and social media, I realised how freeing it felt, to not have posts lined up for a while. As much as I love blogging, I think I forget how much time and work really goes into it. It reminded me that nothing awful will happen if I disappear for a while and it’s completely okay to do so. Living in the moment is such an important (and now, rare) thing to do, and I like that time away. I need it and I crave it and I’m grateful to have my phone and blog, but I’m also grateful to just live, and be, and exist. We all need that little bit of space.

 

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What are you grateful for this month?

Let me know in the comments.

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Sign up to my Weekly Wellbeing Newsletter here.

Weekly Wellbeing Challenge: Week 11

The challenge for this week was… Quality Time Together!

Here is a small overview of how I got on with the challenge.

[and don’t forget, it’s not too late to sign up if you haven’t already!]

This week was focused on spending quality time with close friends and family, and I really enjoyed doing that this week!

My favourite activity for this week was something my Mum, my brother and I have only just started doing – Friday Film Night! We set up Netflix on the TV, get comfortable on the sofa, and enjoy a good film together. Because we can never agree on a film, we will take it in turns to decide the film each week (it’s a secret until the night of!). It was my choice first so I chose The Quiet Place – it had a lot of plot holes, but it was very well filmed and acted, and I think everyone enjoyed it so hopefully I made a good choice!

We’ve also been playing a few board games this week. My Mum and I both love scrabble and somehow, every single time we play, without fail, our scores are so close! She’s the perfect component because it’s always a fun challenge to try and win. We also had afternoon tea and cake a couple days ago too (that we put together ourselves), which was really lovely, to celebrate that I finished the first draft of my novel!

I have had a few video calls this week, to catch up with friends and family, which has also been really nice! I’m hoping to try the app Bunch again (where you can play games over video call, such as pictionary and trivia quizzes, etc.) as that’s a lot of fun!

What activities have you been doing this week, to spend quality time with people you care about?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön [Book Review]

When Things Fall Apart is a non-fiction book all about Buddhist teachings. I am personally not religious myself, but it’s one of those books that is applicable to anyone, whatever life choices they have made.

It’s so hard to sum up this book because it has so much raw and honest wisdom within it. You kind of go on your own journey of reflective thoughts throughout it, finding yourself as you find your way through the book.

The overall message of the book is how, as humans, we often see pain as fundamentally bad. We hate it, we ignore it, we distract ourselves from it. We do everything we can to feel pleasure, thinking that feeling bad is a result of unfairness or failing in the world.

What if feeling pain is simply a sign of wisdom, of change, of stepping further down the path to the best life we can ever lead?

In this book, meditation is used as an example to practice feeling pain. Instead of running from it, we must let ourselves connect with those deepest parts of ourselves. Only then, can we accept our emotions, and learn to overcome the baggage they store inside of ourselves.

There are so many beautiful and inspiring quotes in the book that I would love to share with you all:

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

“The point is not to try to get rid of thoughts, but rather to see their true nature. Thoughts will run us around in circles if we buy into them, but really they are like dream images. They are like an illusion – not really all that solid. They are, as we say, just thinking.”

“… we have a lot of opinions, and we tend to take them as truth. But actually they aren’t the truth. They are just our opinions. We have a lot of emotional backup for these opinions. They are often judgemental or critical… Opinions are opinions, nothing more or less.”

“We don’t experience the world fully unless we are willing to give everything away. Samaya means not holding anything back, not preparing our escape route, not looking for alternatives, not thinking that there is ample time to do things later.”

“Sometimes we meet someone who seems to have a great sense of wellbeing, and we wonder how that person got that way. We would like to be that way. That wellbeing is often a result of having been brave enough to be fully alive and awake to every moment of life, including all the lack of cheer, all the dark times, all the times when the clouds cover the sun.”

Doesn’t Pema Chödrön just have a way with words?

The only reason why I was hesitant to give this book five stars is because, at times, it can get a little heavy. If you don’t know much about Buddhist teachings, it can be a little too overwhelming to learn, but I think if you are willing to sit down and think, rather than pace through, you will be fine. It can get a little repetitive, but stick with it. I think the overall message is something we can all learn from.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5

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Have you read When Things Fall Apart?

Let me know below!

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud

5 Things I’m Grateful For This May (2020)

Here’s my monthly gratitude reflection!

My University Experience

This month, I sent off my final ever assignment towards my degree! Despite things feeling very uncertain at the moment, I feel so grateful for the last three years. It’s been a journey of many ups and many downs and I don’t think I could have grown this much as a person if I didn’t have the experiences that I did.

A week ago, I shared a post on how many words I’ve written in my entire degree (for a bit of fun!), so you can check that out here. I’m sure I will also share a larger post at some point reflecting on my university experience in a bit more depth!

 

My Blog

Something I’ve realised over the last few weeks, is that I rely a lot on my hobby of writing to keep myself feeling productive with a overall good sense of wellbeing. Without having blogs to write and social media posts to share, I think it would have been a lot more difficult to cope with ending university.

I’m so grateful to have a platform where I can speak my mind and connect with others. I’ve had a lot of really genuine and lovely comments on my blog this month, where I’ve inspired people to make changes to their everyday life, and convinced some to try out a new book! It feels good to be making that kind of difference, even if it small.

So thank you, so much, to all of you ❤

 

Books, Books, and More Books!

Since being in lockdown, books have essentially become my life. There are 3 ways I’ve been enjoying books and I’m super grateful to be able to do all of these:

  1. Reading books – the obvious answer!
  2. Cooking/Baking – I love finding new recipe books!
  3. Writing a book – yes, I’m actually in the process of writing the first draft of my novel! 😱

 

The Sunny Weather

Doesn’t everything just feel that little bit happier when it’s sunny? I’ve loved the rise in temperature and the fact that I’ve been able to sit outdoors in the sun to read, or go on a nice walk. It definitely helps with getting some fresh air in lockdown.

 

Learning to Make Do

I think what I’ve learnt the most during lockdown is to learn to make do with what I’ve got, to make an everyday life and routine out of about a tenth of my normal belongings. I’m sure it’s made a lot of people rethink the amount of stuff they buy because they think they need it, but, in reality, we don’t really need much at all.

I’m really grateful to have the things I do have – a house to live in, food on my plate, books to read, and a family to keep me company.

When I return back home, I’m determined to declutter my room and get rid of all the things that I honestly don’t need!

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What are you grateful for this month?

Let me know in the comments!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Sign up to my Weekly Wellbeing Newsletter here.

Weekly Wellbeing Challenge: Week 8

The challenge for this week was… reach out to a friend!

I chose this challenge because I think now is an important time to be checking up on people, making sure that the people you haven’t spoken to in a while are doing okay and that they’re not isolating themselves even further.

Sometimes it can be difficult to reach out – especially if it’s someone you’re not used to talking to in a more vulnerable way. It can also feel intimidating, but it’s one of those things that reaps the best rewards, because at the end of the day, you form a tighter bond with anyone who you are willing to open up with, and they are likely to do the same back.

I tried to put a bit more effort into asking people how they are this week, making sure that after I’ve messaged friends about trivial things, I check in and ask how they’re doing in general as well. I saw a few posts on twitter of people feeling a bit down, or needing some advice, so I tried extra hard to reply and help people where I can.

I think it’s difficult to check in with everyone all of the time, especially if you have friends that are dotted about the place – that you’ve met and built a bond with separately, rather than as a big friendship group, which is definitely the case with me.

All we can do is reach out where we can, based on our own energy levels too. Give some love, but make sure you have energy to look after yourself too.

Have you been reaching out to friends/family lately?

Let me know in the comments!

5 Ways to Focus More When Reading a Book

I’ve seen a lot of comments going around of people struggling to focus on reading, particularly at the moment, during lockdown. I remember, during the times of A levels and the beginning of university, I struggled with reading too. It actually induced a lot of anxiety for me and I felt so restless I couldn’t focus for the life of me!

I wish I had someone to give me some useful tips in those times, so now that I have a little more insight, and have overcome these struggles, I thought I would share some advice.

 

 

Practice sitting still

I think one of the main reasons why it may be difficult to read is because most of us are just not used to sitting still! Most of the times we are rushing about our daily lives, constantly on the go, that sitting still is completely foreign to us.

And now, we are perhaps sitting still more, due to lockdown, but at the same time we’re not. Reading a book actually requires all of your body to be completely still (apart from turning the page), whereas if you compare that to working or eating or using your phone, you are moving your hands or typing or doing something at the very least. Watching TV can also be a good way of sitting still, but often you fidget without really realising it. 

Take a few minutes out of your day to just sit, and be, and breathe. 

 

Start small and make gradual progress

Suddenly becoming a master at reading is not going to happen overnight. You can’t learn a musical instrument that quickly, or learn how to play a sport, so don’t put that kind of pressure on your reading skills!

If you’re struggling with reading (even if you used to always be fine), start at the very beginning again. There is no shame in going back and reading for a mere five minutes and working your way up from there. 

Start with 5 minutes, increase it to 10 minutes when you feel comfortable, and keep going.

 

Use your phone less

Phone? What does that have to do with reading?

Scrolling through your phone, flicking between apps and typing super fast is draining your attention span – a lot!! You are so used to picking up information at a fast speed, that when it comes to reading a seven hour book, where you can’t get to the end of the story in two minutes (like a news article), you easily lose concentrate. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

To reign in your impatience, cut out a portion of your phone consumption and try reading instead. You will be irritable at first, but stick with it. And next time you read an article or watch a video, try not to skim ahead to the end (as hard as it is!) because it is teaching your brain to take shortcuts. And, as I firmly believe, skipping to the end of a book is never okay… 

 

Read before bed

From personal experience, this is the method I used to get back into reading. I think that, in the day, it’s easy to get consumed with other tasks and sometimes it’s hard to find time to set aside to read, and when you do, distractions easily fall into place. No wonder anxiety hits. 

At night, just before you go to bed, there is nowhere you have to be. It is your time. So you are less likely to feel the pressure of reading.

Turn off your phone or put it on silent mode and just sit down with a good book. If you’re tired, just read for 5 minutes. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a bit of quiet time, and I find it’s a great way to drown out nighttime overthinking and lull me to sleep, without the blue light of phone screens and TV. 

 

Reduce your overall anxiety/stress

I believe that the overall anxiety/stress in my life was what made reading particularly difficult for me in the past. And I’m sure, due to the current pandemic, that a lot of people are feeling more anxious than normal, which is having an effect on the ability to read.

A while ago, I shared my own goals for reducing stress/anxiety and I’ve found that they’ve helped hugely in my own journey of self-development. You can check out that post here. And maybe try one or two of them yourself!

 

 

I hope these tips will be useful for anyone who wants to get back into reading, but is struggling to find a routine or overcome restlessness. 

Everything takes practice, so go easy on yourself.

You will get there in the end.

 

 

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud