Why Having A Planner Has Changed My Life

Disclaimer: this post features links to a PR product that I was sent to review. I do not get payment for you clicking on the links; I’m sharing, as it’s something that I genuinely enjoyed using, and think you will too.

I’ll be honest. Having a planner that I use on a daily basis has been a relatively new addition to my life. It’s only when I thought that my mental and emotional well-being were suffering that I started to really get into the habit of putting pen to paper.

When I was coming out of my marriage, I was feeling lost, and got into the routine of watching rubbish morning TV, or even worse the news, whilst I was getting ready for work. I could tell that it really wasn’t serving me. My thoughts were given too much time to fester, and I knew that I had to do something about it.

Planner with an inspirational quote on
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This started with cultivating a better morning routine for myself. I’ve posted before about how to create a powerful morning routine, and that has always included writing of some kind. Getting my thoughts, ideas and plans down on paper has become one of the morning rituals I look forward to, and get the most out of, partly because those festering thoughts are given space to breathe.

It might sound a little dramatic, but I do think that having a planner has changed my life for the better. I’ve tried a couple of planners and journals so far, all with similar prompts and benefits, but I wanted to share with you a daily planner that is fast becoming my favourite. Here’s why:

My Daily Goal Setter

The Mal Paper Daily Goal Setter
The Mal Paper Daily Goal Setter

I was sent Mal Paper‘s latest planner to try, and I couldn’t snap it up fast enough. Their daily goal setter encourages you not only to nurture morning and evening routines that are good for your mental well-being, but is also structured in a way that will keep you moving forwards with your goals. Both of which are exactly what you need when you’re trying to navigate through a big period of change in your life.

It Keeps Me Focused

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One of the plus points that I’ve always found with having a planner or journal is that at the very least it keeps me focused for the day ahead, and at most, the month ahead.

The daily goal setter has sections at the beginning for you to write down your long, medium and short term goals. Although I’ve had goals floating around in my head of things I want to do and achieve over the next few years, I was actually surprised that I hadn’t formally written them down before.

I really liked how the structure of the planner then encourages you to review the month, and subsequently week ahead with those goals in mind.

I Can See My Progress

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When I sat down at the end of last week, I shocked myself with how much I had actually achieved towards my goals, and I definitely think the planner had something to do with it. It was a great way to end the week too; I felt so proud of myself.

In the past I’ve often set myself up with too many tasks on my to-do list for the day, and end up overwhelming myself before I even got started. By using the handy ABCDE method described in the planner for prioritising my daily tasks, it prompted me to think about which were the most important tasks, and to do them first.

It sounds simple, but I’ve realised that that when I’m feeling most overwhelmed, or having a self confidence wobble, that I’ll focus on the the little bitty tasks that feel easy, but don’t actually move me any further forwards, rather than the bigger, scarier tasks. That’s because those bigger, scarier tasks feel like too much of a step outside of my comfort zone.

Using the daily goal setter is helping me to get out of that bad habit, which is empowering. For the first time in a long while, it’s starting to feel like my goals are actually achievable, and it’s so satisfying to see the progress I’m making.

It Sets An Intention For The Day

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I shared over on my Instagram recently that I’ve become a fan of mantras in the last couple of weeks. I’ve also written a blog post about affirmations, that you can read here.

The reason why I think mantras and affirmations are so great, is that when they’re written or said in the morning, they can set a positive tone for the rest of the day.

Starting the day with a positive intention makes it that bit easier mentally to face what’s ahead of you, and each page in the daily goal setter includes space to write an affirmation for the day. One of my favourites that I’ve written for myself in the last couple of days is “I am excited for what is to come. I am allowing success into my life”.

It Encourages Gratitude

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If you’ve ever read anything about the law of attraction, you’ll know that our thoughts can be a lot more powerful than we think. The basic premise is that, what we think about, we bring about.

With that in mind, it makes sense that by being thankful for things that are already in your life, more things will come into your life for you to be thankful for. Noting down some of the great things in your life can give you a boost on days when you’re feeling a little ‘meh’ too.

The planners that I’ve had in the past have all incorporated sections at either the start or end of the day to write down a gratitude list of 3 things. The daily goal setter is no different, and it’s a habit that I’ve enjoyed keeping up with. One of the things that I wrote down that I was grateful for this morning was my health; I’m stronger than I have been for a long time.

Are you a fan of using a planner?

If you want to get your hands on a daily goal setter too, I have a special treat for you! Use the code BRSPECIAL15 at the checkout to get 15% off yours!

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4 Reasons Why You Should Make Self Care A Priority

As I spoke about in my last blog post, when you’re feeling lost, or facing a massive curve ball in life, it’s more important than ever to practice self care. Trying to navigate a challenging time is exhausting, so it makes sense to make looking after yourself a priority.

I think that there’s a lot of confusion as to the definition of self care, especially as it’s a phrase that’s thrown around a lot these days. What I do want to stress is that self care can mean different things to different people, and so doesn’t always have to include the obvious ‘pamper’ activities.

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What Is Self Care?

As I’ve already hinted at, self care isn’t all about bubble baths and face masks; although it can of course include those things if you want.

Self care is any activity that preserves or benefits our mental, physical or emotional well-being. Which means you don’t have to be sat quietly in a corner to practice it either!

Mental Well-Being

Self care activities that benefit your mental well-being can perhaps be best described as anything that helps to de-clutter your mind and reduce your stress levels.

As I’ve already talked about, this will look different to different people. To look after my mental well-being I prefer to do things that promote a sense of quiet. But hey, I’m an introvert and that’s just me.

Self care ideas that you can use to look after your mental well-being are reading, tidying up your home, doing a creative hobby, unplugging from social media or going for a walk.

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Physical Well-Being

Like the word suggests, self care for this type of well-being is anything that benefits your physical body. Although a lot of the examples that I’ll share with your may sound obvious, they are often the easiest to overlook.

Self care ideas that you can use to look after your physical well-being are staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, moving your body in a way that feels good to you, or fitting an extra portion of fruit or veg into your daily meals.

Sleep is something that I’ve been very up and down with throughout this pandemic, and I’m currently working on a routine that will help me wind down into an uninterrupted sleep.

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Emotional Well-Being

Going through a big change can impact how we view ourselves and our place in the World around us, and practicing self care for our emotional well-being can help us explore and come to terms with that.

Self care ideas that you can use to look after your emotional well-being are journaling, meditation (you can read my beginners guide here) and making time to talk through what’s going on with a trusted friend or family member.

I’ve done all of these things to differing levels myself, and know that I still need to work on opening myself up to others more rather than carrying the burden of what I’m trying to cope with on my own.

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Why Prioritise Self Care?

Being able to move forwards out of a time of big change or feeling lost takes so much energy, and you need to replenish that energy in order to keep on moving forwards into the future that you want for yourself.

I’ve found that sometimes devoting full days to self care can feel like an impossible task. Like any habit, in order for you to get into a routine with self care, you need to be able to fit in time to do it consistently.

With that in mind, I dedicate around an hour to self care each day. This is mainly made up of journaling, reading, meditation and exercising in the morning, and a soak in the bath with a book most evenings. I realise that isn’t realistic for some people, but I would definitely recommend carving out at least 10 to 15 minutes at the start and end of your day for your self care, and here’s the reasons why:

To Maintain A Healthy Relationship With Yourself (& others)

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One of the great side-effects of spending time looking after your emotional well-being is that you get to know yourself better. You begin to understand what makes you tick, how you react in certain situations that isn’t serving you, and what brings you joy.

If you understand yourself it makes it that much easier to trust that the decisions you’re making are the right ones.

It Boosts Your Confidence

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It makes sense that if you doing the things that attend to your well-being needs, that you’ll feel good. And when you feel good about things it boosts your confidence.

Knowing that you can navigate through a tough time mentally, (as feeling lost often is) and still show up for yourself on a daily basis, breeds a positive mindset too.

To Help Deal With Stress & Anxiety

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Again, it should hopefully make sense that if you’re doing activities that benefit your mental well-being on a regular basis, you’ll feel stress and anxiety begin to melt away.

You’ll also be better equipped to deal with periods of stress and/or anxiety when they crop up again in the future. (because let’s face it, they do) Knowing that you have a toolkit of actions you can go to when you feel the overwhelm creeping in will feel empowering.

It Promotes A Sense Of Balance

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By carving out time each day to take care of your self care needs means that you can take a step off the treadmill of ‘busy’ that life often becomes. I’ve been there myself, and it can be so easy to neglect your own needs when things get full on, when it fact it’s the time you should be looking after yourself most.

In doing small acts of self care on a daily basis, there begins to be a separation between the times when you’re serving others and when you’re serving yourself.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; you can’t give from an empty cup, especially when you’re trying to figure out a way to pivot through something unexpected that life has thrown at you. You need that extra energy to be able to move forwards, never mind the fact that you definitely deserve it.

Could you do with fitting more self care into your daily routine?

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5 Ways To Transform Your Life When You’re Feeling Lost

When life throws an unexpected curve ball your way, it can lead you to feeling lost. When everything you once knew is shaken to the core, it’s natural not to know how to move forwards.

I’m speaking from experience, because I’ve been there. When my marriage fell apart, I lost my sense of self. I had been one half of a partnership for so long (the best part of a decade) that I’d forgotten who I was outside of it. The future that I thought I had was taken from me, and I had no idea how to move forwards.

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More recently, my role at work was made redundant. (you can read all about it in the post I wrote here) Again, my preconceived ideas of what my work life would look like over the next few years was stripped away, and I wasn’t sure what the best way of moving forwards would be.

So, what do you do when you feel lost and confused in life? The 5 tips that I’m about to share with you below are based on what’s worked for me, and are a formula that you can return to again and again if you need to. After all, life does have a habit of keeping us on our toes.

I want to preface this by saying that I’m not a Doctor, so if these tips feel like too much, or you sense that there is something much deeper behind you feeling lost, please go and see a professional to work through it.

1. Focus On The Things That Bring You Joy

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When you’re feeling lost, it makes sense to return back to things that make you feel good. This is more than just self-care; it’s consciously seeking out opportunities in your day that bring even the smallest smile to your face.

This is a concept I first read about in the book, Light Is The New Black by Rebecca Campbell. This book is quite spiritually lead, but essentially focused on doing the things that ‘light you up’. (or bring you joy) For me, when my marriage was falling apart, the things that brought me joy were filling my bedroom with flowers, fairy lights and photos of the people I loved, and going to dance class to really let loose.

The things that bring you joy don’t have to just be activities. Like in my example, they can be things which bring you joy in your own home or space, and make it feel more like ‘you’. If you’re feeling so lost that you’re not even sure what might bring you joy any more, use Pinterest or Instagram as inspiration and try a few things until you find what the magic combination is that lights you up.

2. Use Your Support Network

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When things were starting to get rocky within my marriage I’m the first to hold my hand up and say that I buried my head in the sand with it all; which just made me feel even more lost.

If I didn’t acknowledge that things weren’t very good, or that I wasn’t happy, then I wouldn’t have to admit that it was actually happening. I kept my group of best friends in the dark for so long, that when I did eventually speak to them about it, they were surprised that I hadn’t said anything sooner.

When you’re feeling lost, it’s the time when you definitely need to be leaning on your friends and family most. They love you, so will be more than happy to be a shoulder to cry on. Ask them questions, listen to their advice, and make sure you schedule in time to spend with them either in person or virtually as much as you can.

They’re likely to be the people that know you best, and the more time you spend talking about how you feel with them, the more you’ll start feeling yourself again. They are you’re biggest cheerleaders after all!

3. Trust What Your Body Is Telling You

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My body has the habit of forcing me to submit when it’s trying to tell me something. When I was super stressed during my divorce process, it forced me to step away from things and rest by giving me a nasty viral infection that left me exhausted for weeks.

Even now, I know that something isn’t right when my period is off. Basically I bleed when something big in my life is off-kilter. Getting this in tune with my body has taken years of practice though.

After you’ve started focusing on the things that bring you joy, you’ll start to know better what feels good and what doesn’t, rather than every day feeling like you’re stuck in a fog.

I’ve said it before over on my Instagram, but don’t be afraid to feel all the feels. If you’re noticing that you’re not feeling good; having a bad day or week, lean into it rather than fighting it.

By embracing your feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger or grief, and doing the self-care activities that make you feel better, you pave the way to eventually let them go and start moving forwards. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a good cry. You’ll feel better for you – I know I do.

4. Make Self Care A Priority

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To say that you’re emotionally drained when you’re feeling lost would be an understatement. Believe me, I’ve been there. Bearing that in mind, it’s so important to focus on the activities that benefit your mental, physical and emotional well-being as much as possible.

Don’t confuse this with my earlier point of doing things that bring you joy; yes there will be overlap, but for you to really feel like you’re getting some clarity, I would recommend that you do both.

Carve out at least 30 minutes a day just for you. If you have a busy work and family life this can feel like a lot to find time for. However, you could break it down into 3 sets of 10 minutes throughout the day, which is automatically more manageable. Plus, you deserve it.

Savour your morning coffee, dance like a loon to your favourite tunes, go for a walk, read, journal, meditate (you can read my beginner’s guide here), have a bath; basically any activity that will replenish your energy.

I add self care into both my morning and evening routines and feel so much better for it. If you need some inspiration for how to build a morning routine with self care that serves you, I have a blog post to help you out that you can read here.

5. And Finally….Set Goals For How You Want To Move Forwards

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The likelihood is, that after after a few weeks or months of consistently doing the 4 things that I’ve already mentioned, that you’ll be starting to feel a little more like yourself.

I want to stress that I wouldn’t advise that you move on to this final stage until you’re feeling stronger and ready to take some steps forward out of your comfort zone. Otherwise, you may well end up feeling overwhelmed.

To be able to set goals for how you want to move forward out of feeling lost means asking yourself some important questions. How do you want your work life and/or relationships to change moving forwards? And, what would having your mental well-being in a good place look like to you?

When asking yourself these questions, be completely honest with yourself. This is your life, and it’s down to you what you want out of it, not any one else’s, or society’s expectations. You deserve to be happy, and that starts with being true to yourself.

After you’ve answered these big questions for yourself, write a big goal (or two) down that will get you there. Even if it feels scary or unrealistic, and a long way from where you are now, go with it. Once it’s written down you can start to figure out the small steps to get you there. Start with small actions that will be easy for you to do consistently on a daily basis and keep on going.

When I was lost and coming out of my failed marriage, my big goal was to develop a relationship that was a true partnership, and to find someone who would love me for all I was, rather than just some of the parts. I realised that in order to expect this from another person, I would need to do some serious work on myself. I committed to getting to a place where self-love came easily, and day to day this looked like listening to uplifting and/or inspiring podcasts or reading self-development books and taking action on what I learnt.

Have you tried any of these tips before when you’ve felt lost? Let’s chat in the comments.

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How To Create A Powerful Morning Routine

I first realised the importance of a morning routine after reading Hal Elrod’s book; The Miracle Morning. It’s also one of the self-development books that’s had the biggest impact on me, which you can read more about in this post.

I’d come across lots of morning routine ideas before then, but nothing really stuck. I’d got so used to the comfort of mindlessly looking at my phone, and watching either the news or morning telly before I got ready for work. I knew I wasn’t doing myself any favours doing this though.

In the years since reading the book I’ve honed the activities that I do in the morning before work (when I wasn’t on furlough) to include slight variations of what he shares. I definitely think it makes sense to set your physical and mental well-being up in way that will hopefully keep you in a positive mindset throughout the rest of the day.

A steaming cup of tea as part of my morning routine
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Before I share with you Hal’s advice from the book, I want to stress the key thing to remember when starting a morning routine is being patient. It may take trying different combinations of the the below ideas, or doing them for a different lengths of time in order to come to a set of rituals that works for you; that makes you feel powerful and ready to face the day ahead.

My top tip with this is not to over complicate it. Go with your gut instinct as to what feels right. Having an approach that is too regimented will make it feel like a chore, rather than self-care time.

Also bear in mind your own specific time constraints. If need be, you can literally just spend 1 or 2 minutes on each of these things, and they will still set you up well for the day. As you will see, I combine some activities together, as I feel that this really makes productive use of my time.

Silence (or Meditation)

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If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ll know from an earlier post that I did on meditation that this took me a while to get in to, but has definitely been worth while for the benefits that I’ve felt. The jumble of thoughts I have lifts, and I can gain a moment of clarity and calm. You can read my beginners guide to meditation here.

At the moment I’m spending around 5 minutes focusing on an affirmation or positive intention that I have for the day, closing my eyes, and breathing deeply. Sometimes I like to visualise how I want my future life to look – I really just go with what feels good on that particular morning.

As I’ve recommended before, you could try a guided meditation on an app like Calm instead. Or, you could try a breathing technique for a minute.

Affirmations

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This is another area that I’ve created a blog post about and if you don’t know where to get started with practising them, reading that is a great place to start.

Affirmations essentially train you to re-frame negative thought patterns that you might have into positive and motivational ones instead; setting you up with a powerful positive intention to start the day.

It’s best to make them as personal as possible, and address the negative thoughts that are really weighing you down at the moment. For example, you could transform the thought of “I’m always tired” into “Today I am full of energy and excited for what the day holds”.

I’ve only just started getting back into practising affirmations again, and I’ve written them out on a sheet of paper. I then read that sheet of paper several times and recite them in my head every morning whilst I’m eating my breakfast. A method I’ve used before has been saying them out loud in the shower too.

Visualisation

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Visualisation is a powerful tool for focusing on your goals, (just ask Olympic athletes) which is why it’s so great to do it in the morning.

By visualising our dreams and goals; how it will look, taste and feel when we achieve them, it motivates and focuses our mind on how we can take the steps to get there. By visualising a scenario in detail including all of the senses we would feel, it tricks our brain into thinking that it’s already happened. That’s why it’s such a great mental tool for athletes.

There are definitely a few ways that you can approach visualisation. As I’ve already said, sometimes I combine it with my meditation, as it always makes me feel really positive about the day ahead.

Another method you could try is creating a slide show of images that fit with how you want your life to look in say the next 5 years. You could then play this slide show on your phone every morning whilst you’re eating breakfast. I’m also a fan of doing this the old fashioned way and creating a vision board out of magazine cuttings, and sticking it up somewhere that I’ll definitely see in the morning.

Exercise

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I have to admit that during my time on furlough, I don’t think I would have had the motivation to do very much at all if it hadn’t been for me exercising every morning.

The Body Coach (aka Joe Wicks) has a whole ethos around exercising for the mental well-being benefits that it brings rather than losing weight. He says that he’s better able to face any challenges that the day may bring because of it. This makes sense because the same endorphins that give you a high afterwards also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp with the tasks ahead of you.

How much exercise you do will obviously be dependent on how much time you have available. If you only have 10 minutes in the morning, you’re not going to want to try to schedule in going for a 1 hour run. As I’m on furlough at the moment, I’ve been doing 20-30 minute fairly high intensity workouts each morning.

When I was working, however, it would have been totally out of the question to exercise for that amount of time without getting up even earlier. Which, as someone who’s not a morning person, wasn’t something I was willing to do. I would just do a couple of simple yoga stretches instead to get my body moving, or dance about to one of my favourite tunes whilst I was making my breakfast.

Reading

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I love reading, and if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I like to do a lot of it. In the mornings I think it totally makes sense to feed your mind something inspirational or motivational rather than the negative stream of stories that are on the news. It just gets you in a better head space to start the day.

At the moment I’m rotating between a couple of self-development books, as well as some anti-racism education for myself. Even just 10 minutes of reading something that encourages me to change my perspective helps me figure out how best to approach my day with that new way of thinking in mind.

Even on a day when I’m feeling less motivated to sit and read a book, I’ll catch up on my favourite blogs, as I find they’re a great way to inspire me creatively. Some of the ones I enjoy are Unexpected Adventures, Nicole No Filter, and Holly Soulie.

Writing

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This is an area that you could approach in loads of different ways. I think the real strength that lies behind writing things down is that it gets in out of your head and physically on to paper, and that can feel like a weight has been lifted just in itself.

Writing down goals and affirmations also helps them to be cemented in your subconscious and therefore that bit more likely to happen.

If you’re short on time I would really recommend starting the day by writing down 3 things that you’re grateful for. These can be as general or as specific as you like. The key is that it then starts you off with a grateful mindset for the rest of the day, and you’ll hopefully be more aware of things that happen during the day that you could be thankful for. I do this every morning and feel like it makes such a difference.

If you have longer, you might want to consider finding some journal prompts online to help you reflect and dig deeper into why you feel the way you do about certain things. I progressed from this into free writing just whatever is on my mind in the morning; things I might be worrying about, situations that have played out, and why I might be feeling how I am about them.

As I’ve said before in other blog posts, I find that if I understand myself and my motivations more clearly, then it allows me to show up as my best self. That’s why I’ll always ensure that I make time for writing at the start of the day.

Do you have a morning routine? And has this inspired you to give any of these suggestions a try? Let me know in the comments

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A Beginners Guide to Meditation

I’ll be honest, before I really understood what meditation was, I thought it was a bit woo woo. I thought that to do it you would have to light incense, sit on a special cushion, and start chanting.

That can be part of it if you want it to, but really isn’t what it’s all about. My first impressions couldn’t have been more wrong.

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What is Meditation?

I think Headspace (more on them later) describe what meditation is perfectly:

Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgement. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.

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My Experience

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I’m divorced. [read Everything I’ve Learnt From Getting Divorced here] I was first introduced to meditation when the relationship with my ex was falling apart and my mental health was starting to suffer as a result. I definitely needed a healthy sense of perspective.

My friend recommended an app to me (more on those in a sec) at the time, and suggested that I give guided meditations a try.

I knew that I needed to get a handle on my thoughts, so it giving it a try seemed worth a shot. I struggled with the guided meditations initially though – maybe it was the voices on the app that I was using that I just couldn’t get on board with, or that I was finding it hard to let go into it, I don’t know.

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After that first introduction I’ve then dipped in and out of meditation over the years when I’ve felt I’ve needed it. (which I know isn’t how you’re meant to approach these things)

When lock down started, I knew that meditation needed to be a solid part of my daily routine again. In the first few weeks I found just focusing on my breathing really helped.

That was working fine for a while, but at the start of last week, I felt like I needed to get back into meditation ‘properly’. As well as the mental exhaustion that comes from navigating lock down, I now have the possibility of redundancy thrown into the mix.

I’ve just finished a guided meditation series to help with the anxiety I’ve been feeling, and it’s really helping. Some days it’s easier than others to get in to, but the clarity of mind that comes afterwards is like a fog being lifted.

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What Are The Benefits?

Many people, myself included, start meditation for reducing stress and anxiety and cultivating a more peaceful state of mind.

There’s further benefits though that aren’t quite so obvious. Such as growing a greater sense of compassion, awareness, clarity, focus, and increased mental resilience. All, I think are extremely underrated, but deeply needed in our current society.

I’ve certainly been feeling the effects of the less obvious benefits, and once you get over the mental hurdle required to start any new habit, the results are definitely worth it.

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Where To Start

Find a time of day that works for you

There’s no use meditating at night if you’re just going to fall asleep 2 minutes after closing your eyes. Equally, there’s no point doing it in the morning if you’re rushing around trying to get sorted for the day.

It doesn’t matter what time it is, just so long as you will have the mental capacity to focus for 5-10 minutes

Designate a quiet spot

Ear mark a quiet corner in your house or flat that’s comfortable and you know you won’t get disturbed. Hopefully you’ll have already picked a time of day that means you’re less likely to be interrupted any way. (one thing that used to stop me from meditating was paranoia that my flat mate would walk in!)

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Let go

This is often easier said than done, but in my experience, completely letting go into either guided meditation you’re listening to, or focusing on your breathing, is likely to be the only way you’ll feel like meditation is ‘working’.

If you feel yourself getting frustrated, or like you’re fighting the thoughts that you have, rather than just observing them, try to loosen your grip. This takes patience and practice, (trust me!) but it’s worth persevering for the benefits that I mentioned earlier.

Top Apps To Use

The two apps I hear about most in relation to meditation are Headspace and Calm. Both have similar offerings, so it’s really down to personal preference.

Both also include free trial periods. However, I would recommend making the investment in yourself and paying so that you can access the full library of resources that both of them provide. Such as meditation series for relieving stress, anxiety, mindfulness in daily life, improving self esteem, and feeling more peaceful.

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Calm even has a series based on the Winnie-the-Pooh characters. As I discussed in my very first blog post, the characters relate to common mental health issues, and each character has their own dedicated meditation.

I personally use Calm because I prefer the voices they use for the guided meditations, that, and their sleep stories. Narrated by the likes of Stephen Fry, Matthew McConaughey and Leona Lewis, 9 times out of 10 they send me drifting off to sleep quickly and easily – so much so that I have know idea how any of the stories end!

Have you given meditation a try? If not, what’s holding you back?

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You may also like: Aromatherapy: 3 Smells That Will Bring You a Scent of Calm

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Aromatherapy: 3 Smells That Will Bring You a Scent of Calm

With the future still looking so uncertain, I find myself (and I don’t think I’m the only one here) looking for more and more ways to calm the anxiety, which even though it ebbs and flows, I am still very aware of being part of my life.

There are a multitude of ways we all have the power to reach an inner sense of calm – more of which I’m sure I’ll explore with you in future blog posts. After reading a paragraph from Calm by Fearne Cotton, I was inspired by the idea of us tuning into one of our senses to bring about a feeling of calm.

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Are there smells that makes you feel happy? Remind you of a great holiday? Make you feel comforted? Certain scents have a way of making us feel happier and uplifted.

This is because the part of the brain that manages our emotions and memories is stimulated. This then produces the response of ‘feel good’ chemicals being released, which in turn lifts our mood.

It got me thinking exactly what my go-to uplifting scents are….

Body Lotion

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Not just any old body lotion though, it has to be Nivea. This is because when I was a young child I used to watch my Mum get out of the shower and apply body lotion. You guessed it, that body lotion was Nivea. The smell of it instantly takes me back to a time when a big hug from my Mum was all I needed to feel safe in the world.

Sun Cream

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I like the smell of pretty much every sun cream, but the one that sparks the most joy is Nivea. (this post is not an ad for Nivea, but clearly my house as a child was filled with the stuff)

It reminds me of fun family holidays dipping in and out of pools and building sandcastles on beaches. Then, in my teenage years, even more fun filled holidays with my girls. For me, it’s the nostalgic smell of being absolutely care free.

Mediterranean Summer

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To be specific, just one Mediterranean country – Portugal. I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my childhood summers going on holiday to The Algarve.

From the moment I stepped off the plane, I remember a distinct smell hitting me – a combination of native plants and heat that’s almost indescribable. It was the background to so many happy memories I have of those summers. When I smell it I immediately have the feeling that I’m at home.

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I have already started to incorporate some of these smells into my weekly routine so that I can get the uplifting hit and sense of calm that my body craves.

Every time I have a bath, I slather myself in Nivea lotion when I get out. Now that the weather actually feels like summer, I’ve been applying sun cream more regularly (you can guess the brand) before I head out on my walks in the sunshine.

Obviously getting that Mediterranean summer smell will be a little tricker considering travelling abroad is off the cards, but for now I’ll be content with making the most of the sunny days the UK has to offer – at a safe social distance of course.

Aromatherapy

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Another way that we can bring the calming power of smell into our days is through Aromatherapy. I’m not going to lie, I did have to Google exactly what aromatherapy was before I started writing this post, but here goes…

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Basically it’s the use of essential oils to improve mental and physical health. Sounds (or should I say smells lol) pretty good to me!

Essential oils apparently work best when you inhale them or they’re absorbed into the skin. So you can add a few drops to your bath, massage into your temples, or use in hot water for a facial steam. There’s lots of aromatherapy products like candles and diffusers infused with essential oils available too.

Here are the top 3 scents for promoting calm:

Lavender

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Lavender is thought to calm anxiety by impacting the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions, and is probably the most famous smell for being calming.

There are so many companies that offer lavender essential oil pillow sprays for that reason, [like this one from The Body Shop] and it’s something I’m keen to invest in too, as my sleep has been a little all over the place during lock down – as I’m guessing yours has too.

Citrus

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This smell has been linked to stress relief and a Brazilian study showed that those inhaling a sweet orange essential oil scent found that their anxiety symptoms improved.

I have an aura spray (basically a room spray) that includes a citrus smell, and I spray it just before I get in the bath. It definitely has a soothing affect whilst I soak.

Frankincense

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Probably better known for being one of the gifts from the three wise men, it does actually have therapeutic and healing properties. It’s benefits include relief from stress and anxiety and reduction of inflammation.

This is one that I’ve seen included in candle scents before, so I know it smells gorgeous, and after I’ve sorted out my pillow spray, will be next on my list to invest in.

What are your favourite uplifting smells and why? And do you use essential oils? If so, which ones? I’d love to hear – so share in the comments.

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You may also like: How to Keep Calm in Uncertain Times

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