easy crafts for beginners (who want to spend more time offline)

2021, crafting

Hello!

After a year of lockdown after lockdown (after lockdown), everyone’s coped in their own way – whether it’s fitness, writing quizzes or a new hobby.

I’ve seen more people learning to craft than I ever would have expected – I’ve found a collection of people who love cross stitch, I’ve seen so many Instagram profiles for new Etsy candle businesses and air dry clay earrings have become surprisingly popular (let’s not talk about the banana bread or the sour dough, okay?).

Crafting is a popular activity for a reason – it’s so broad, it’s so relaxing and it’s a relatively easy way to start a side hustle too. Whether it’s sewing face masks or digital drawings, I’d love to see the statistics on new Etsy shops that have been set up in the last year. I’ve really gotten into crafting myself – cross stitch, knitting, sewing, paper craft, anything I could get my hands on over Christmas! So I thought I’d write a ‘beginner’s guide’ of sorts (as I am still very much a beginner myself) to some of the easiest and cheapest ways to get into different crafting skills and spend less time scrolling twitter.

  • cross stitch

The entire reason I got into cross stitch was due to the little kits available to buy on Hobbycraft – I messed the first one up big time but I found it so therapeutic. Knowing how precise it all is without even trying due to the aida cloth (the one with holes in it!) and how it looks so cute and pretty but really homely – and such a thoughtful gift that shows how much you care!

I also realised cross stitch is like sewing in 8-bit which was really fun.

To start off with, I recommend these little kits from Hobbycraft – they’re really easy to follow and come with really clear instructions (if the link doesn’t work, look for the ‘mini’ cross stitch kits, less than 10cm). I then stepped up to a larger cross stitch kit from Etsy – you can pick any design you like, buying a kit means it comes with all the materials and generally very well laid out instructions, but a bigger project feels more advanced. Then, if you really fancy it you can buy your own aida cloth, a selection of embroidery threads and you can even make your own design on websites like stitchfiddle!

  • knitting

Knitting feels intimidating – the big needles and all the different kinds of stitches – but if you want a soothing, repetitive activity to do while you’re watching some background telly (that doesn’t count as screen time, does it?), then knitting can be just the ticket.

I started by knitting ear savers – my mum sent me the pattern and it was a small little project to get me into knitting. I was watching a new Youtube video for every kind of stitch in the pattern but there are so many brilliant tutorials that I could comfortably knit one ear saver from start to finish in about half an hour (not including sewing on the buttons).

From there, I tried to advance the skill but I found it was just a little bit too stressful and that’s not what I wanted! So I took my needles and a ball of wool (I like to call it a loaf) and just sat and knitted row after row. I find the repetitive motion very soothing and a great relaxing activity for me. If you did want to advance this skill, there are loads of patterns available online and buying wool is definitely something I can see becoming very addictive!

  • sewing

After making the ear savers, I figured it would make sense to try and make the masks to go with them! I lovingly cut up an old duvet into small squares (r.i.p space cats sheets) and found a pattern and I was off! The first pattern wasn’t ideal – it was too big to be an effective face mask and it was a lot of work to sew it by hand. I then bought a kit from Hobbycraft (don’t ask me how much money and time I’ve spent in Hobbycraft in the last year) and I found that pattern was better to use and included the metal nose strips that help your glasses not to fog up (in theory).

I have since found another pattern that uses a rounded shape which is easier to sew and looks better. I was very lucky to get a sewing machine for Christmas (thank you mummy <3) and it’s made the face mask sewing process both quicker and slower – quicker to sew, but slower because I’m learning how to use a sewing machine too! I’m absolutely adoring my sewing machine – I’ve taken in a skirt that was too big for me and I’m hoping to learn to make bunting this month! One day I’ll brave making my own clothes but for now that feels intimidating and fabric is expensive.

  • paper crafts

It sounds silly to include paper crafts on the list, but I made a cotton wool ball snowman at Christmas, a 2021 vision board and some spreads in my bullet journal and rediscovered a primary school-level love for cutting and sticking. It sounds silly, but it brings me joy, so I will talk about it!

This one isn’t quite as much of an offline activity, as for me it started on Pinterest – making a digital board of all the things I wanted to include; the aesthetics, the quotes, whatever you like! I then copy and pasted them into Word (which is probably more hassle than it was worth, but I couldn’t think of an easier way!) and, simple as, cut and stuck them! I have a little collection of scrapbooking bits and bobs that I could use to embellish the pictures – a bit of washi tape, some string and some patterned card to use as backgrounds (though I intend to up my sticker game when the shops reopen). But it’s such a therapeutic activity! Literally just cutting and sticking pictures.

There’s not much of a purpose to it – my 2021 mood board is going to go up in my new office when we move house (I’m getting an office!) and I make little collages at the beginning of each month in my bullet journal but I thoroughly recommend it if you’re feeling a bit fed up – find some pretty pictures, maybe line them up with any goals or resolutions or ambitions you have for yourself and give yourself an afternoon with a cosy movie!


This post is already far too long, but I thoroughly enjoy talking about crafts – I can definitely do more specific posts about cross stitch patterns, learning to use a sewing machine as an absolute beginners and recycling household items in craft projects (water bottles and cereal boxes etc!).

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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a blogging writing block

2021, creativity

Hello!

I’ve been consistently writing blog posts for somewhere upwards of two years now – when I started in 2014 I had no idea what I was doing, in 2015 I did a 365 day challenge (successfully, might I add!), in 2016-2018 I played around with 2-3 blog posts a week and generally was pretty consistent! Then from 2019 (ish) onwards, I’ve pretty religiously written two blog posts a week and rarely missed one, other than maybe posting a day late because I forgot to publish a post.

But in the last month, I’ve not felt the motivation to write – I don’t like the ideas I’ve come up with, I don’t think they add anything to my blog’s narrative and I don’t feel inspired to write anything. Maybe it’s lockdown finally catching up with me – after a whole year I’ve finally run out of stuff to say. Maybe it’s the new job – it’s been two months of being knackered by 9-5 (does anyone ever get used to it?) so by the time the evening comes I want to sit and watch TV or play games with my partner and I wasn’t excited enough about the post ideas I’d come up with to open my computer back up and stare at a screen for even longer.

And I don’t know where this lull in my blogging motivation has come from – as a craft, I love writing, I love expressing myself in words and getting lost in what I’m typing. And I miss it – I miss writing those passionate rambles and creating my own little history book on this website, but I just didn’t see the point in anything I tried to write (and believe me I’ve tried).

But it hit me the other day as I was desperately trying to expand a couple of hundred words into an actual blog post – I’m out of creative energy.

Talking about ‘energy’ at all feels more hippie than I have ever sounded before, but I think it’s fairly common within creative communities and professions that it’s not an endless source to be tapped into. It’s a pool and like any body of water and ebbs and flows in waves – I’m just at the bottom of the wave.

For some reason that thought gave me comfort, rather than immediately catastrophising that after six years my blog is finally going to crash and I’m never going to find motivation again, I knew that this is just a moment and my mojo will come back.

Whether it’s a few good nights of sleep (the fact I first tried to spell night with a ‘k’ at the beginning show’s how few of those I’ve had!), getting that one really big work task finished or moving house (fingers crossed!) to get my mojo back or it’s just riding through this funk till I can surf the wave, I will not feel like this forever.

Is the water analogy going too far now?

Either way, it’s happened before and it will undoubtedly happen again, but beating myself for not maintaining my trivial, self-set deadline of two posts a week isn’t the end of the world – giving myself the space with being okay with deleting that task from my list rather than ticking it off.

This blog is mine – it’s meant to be something fun and lighthearted and when I start to feel stressed by it, I need to listen to what my body and mind are asking for and give it some space.

So I might not be posting every Tuesday and Friday – sometimes it might go up late on Wednesday or Saturday or I might not post anything at all. If you miss me, send me a message on instagram – I’m usually scrolling!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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March mini goals

2021, goals

Hello!

Setting mini goals has been a way for me to keep myself focused and making progress for at least three years now, but in the last few months I’ve been really making sure that my monthly goals allow for consistent development from my yearly goals and already I’m seeing progress and it’s so motivating! Seeing a whole month of goals that I know I’ve solidly worked on makes me feel so good and so motivated to carry on!

To have 100% completed 3 tasks and half completed 2 tasks of my February mini goals, I know I made solid progress! I think, in part, vaguely planning my monthly goals for the year has made this easier because I can make sure I’m allotting enough time for each goal I want to achieve, but I know for a fact that I’m working really hard to make as much progress as I can too!

This is a combination of clever goal setting (knowing that I really want to achieve these goals, rather than feeling obliged to) and having the yearly/monthly/weekly goals and to do lists in place to hold myself accountable. I’m feeling so motivated right now and I can’t wait to jump right in to my March mini goals!

1. Start writing a book adaptation screenplay

I got a taste of screenplay writing for my dissertation last year and I very quickly discovered how much I enjoyed and how much more there was to learn about the art of the writing style. One of my potential dissertation topics was about book adaptations and my final dissertation was all about storytelling, so I thought writing an adaptation would be a good place to start to learn about the style without having to consider my own story as well.

This is just for personal use – I’m not claiming to be an experienced screenwriter and I’m definitely not writing any movie scripts to sell anytime soon. But this is a project I want to finish over the course of the year, so this is just the beginning.

2. Start my first cosplay costume

I’ve been banging on about cosplay for years, but this year I’m going to do it! Another goal that I want to achieve over the year rather than in just one month, but I want to spend this month planning it all – what I want to make, what I want to buy and how I can bring it all together.

I’m creating a Team Yell costume from Pokemon Sun and Moon (to go with my sister’s Marnie cosplay). I’m hoping this will really help me develop my sewing and learn about so many different kinds of crafting outside of clothes to make all the accessories. I think I’ll document some of the process on my TikTok if you’re interested!

3. March wedding tasks!

I said in my ‘how I planned my wedding planning’ post that I’d broken everything down and assigned tasks to each month and so far, it’s working relatively well!

My task for this month is to figure out what wedding insurance is and whether we need it, which I imagine will only take an afternoon really! I also need to finalise booking a photographer and videographer because I did a lot of research about it in February but it was all very overwhelming (and much more expensive than I thought it would be!) so hopefully I’ll be able to get that decision made this month.

4. Develop my 5 year plan

I don’t really like calling it a ‘plan’ because it’s definitely not certain enough to be a plan, but I have a spread in my bullet journal listing the next five years and goals and ideas for what I’d like to achieve in each of them. I’ve not looked at my 5 year plan since I last updated in 2020 (2020-2024) and I really need to start my 2021-2025 one, but that’s what this goal is for!

Rather than sticking with my 2019-2023 plan that I started in my 2019 journal, I like moving my 5 year plan through journals with me because I think it’s a much more realistic way of looking ahead for the next 5 years. In 2019 I never would have been able to predict that I would be where I am at the beginning of 2021 and it would have got really messy with crossing out and changing things, so I prefer the rolling approach.

5. Find somewhere new to live!

Although we have a lovely landlord on our one bed house, we’re ready to find something bigger and move somewhere more relevant to my work (if I ever get to work anywhere other than home). We are on a rolling contract in our current house, so we don’t have a deadline to find a new house by, but the time is right for us!

And to be clear; we’re still renting. We don’t have the savings for buying and we’re only 24 and 25 – I know people who are buying houses, but I don’t know a single one who’s saved every penny themselves and not had a rather large savings account from parents or grandparents. No shade, not judging anyone, just kind of fed up of being asked about it as someone who’s literally only just started their first career job – I have not got the income to have tens of thousands of pounds in savings!

And then my rolling monthly goals are:

  • Read 2 books
  • Put a certain amount of money in my savings account
  • Have a date night with le fiancé

I’ve had a good old ramble this month haven’t I? So I’ll keep the ending short and sweet – I love goal setting! Should I write a post about how I planned all of my monthly goals for the year?

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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my recent craft projects

2021, crafting, creativity

Hello!

I’ve been very vocal about how much I’ve been loving crafts since all of this started with the initial lockdown last March, but cross stitch, knitting, sewing and paper craft have become part of my routine where I try to get away from screens. It’s been lovely for spending more time offline and learning a new skill in the process!

So I thought I’d share with you some of my most recent projects as a nice little diary of what I’m doing, maybe something sweet to look back on!

  • monthly bullet journal collages

2020 was the year of discovering that I still love cutting and sticking things like a primary school art project – call it a mood board, a mind map, whatever! I very much enjoy finding pictures on Pinterest that represent my intentions, my goals and generally a nerdy picture of something Marvel or Harry Potter related, sticking them all together and using it as a monthly divider in my bullet journal.

My next step is to invest in more washi tape and stickers. Maybe some stamps!

  • face mask sewing

My mum very kindly bought me a sewing machine for Christmas and although it took me a couple of months to find the time (and the courage) to actually start using it, I’m actually getting better at it! Usually if I’m not perfect at something straight away I find it very difficult to want to put the time in to build the skills to get better but already I’ve seen progress.

I’m getting to know the machine by sewing face masks – I’ve been sewing face masks by hand for about six months now, I’ve tried a few different patterns and I got a kit from Hobbycraft that I really liked and I have a few leftover material patterns to practice with.

Now I’ve found a different pattern that I prefer, my mum has sent me a bunch of material samples that I can practice with and I can already see that I’m getting to know my machine better and how it works! I’m going to keep practicing face masks, I’m considering starting an Etsy story but that will be a little while down the line for sure.

  • taking in a skirt

Another thing I wanted to use my sewing machine for was adapting some of the clothes in my wardrobe rather than ‘giving up’ on them and passing them on. I bought this green circle skirt from a charity shop before the first lockdown – it’s from ASOS curve and it’s lovely but I was optimistic that ‘a couple of sizes wouldn’t make a difference’… they did.

I had to wear it rolled up like I was in secondary school trying to make my skirt shorter or wear it with a belt that was very uncomfortably gathered.

But I took it in! It’s not the most professional job and it definitely doesn’t hang quite the same as the rest of the skirt but it now fits me! I’m still figuring out how to style it though.

  • knitting a ‘scarf’

I really like knitting – it’s a really relaxing, repetitive task that I can sit and do whilst I’m watching TV to occupy my hands.

But it turns out I just like doing the one basic stitch that I know how to do over and over again rather than following a pattern and actually making something functional…

So I’m calling it a scarf, but it’s just rows and rows of the same stitch because I find that kind of repetitive knitting very calming and a perfect thing to do just before bed with some evening telly. (and having both my hands occupied makes it harder to snack)

Next month I want to:

  • Start a new cross stitch project
  • Finish my knitting project
  • Sew something other than face masks

I’ll no doubt be sharing what I’m working on over on Instagram because I get overexcited and proud when I finish something, so if you’re interested that’s the best place to get the latest updates!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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choosing relaxing over ‘productivity’

2021, mental health, organisation

Hello!

I am someone who very much values herself over how much I get done – a ‘good’ day is one when I’ve ticked off everything on my to do list, a ‘great’ day is when I’ve started on the next days to do list and a ‘bad’ day is when I have too much to comprehend.

Over lockdowns and general pandemic times of 2020, I learned that crafting is something I really enjoy and find really relaxing – it started with cross stitch, then knitting and sewing, then some paper crafts and scrapbooking, now a combination of them all are integrated into my yearly goals.

So adapting my mentality about ‘to do lists’ and how I equate my mood and the value of my time has been a major priority for 2021 – I’ve been slowly cutting down the number of tasks on my to do list over the last year or so; from 8 tasks, to 6 and now 5.

The main thing I’ve had to adapt is recognising that my ‘free’ time doesn’t have to be ‘filled’ – it doesn’t need to be ‘productive’. Last weekend, I finished my list for the day and my immediate thought was ‘well I could make a start on tomorrow’s list’, rather than letting myself have the rest of the day to properly relax – to let myself knit while watching the last episode of Bridgerton, to practice using my sewing machine; to just sit and scroll mindlessly on the sofa with a packet of biscuits!

Readjusting my relationship with productivity and choosing to stop putting pressure on myself and learn how to relax can only be good for my mental health in the long run, surely? Slowly learning how to get through the day without feeling constantly stressed is probably going to be better for my sleep, my heart rate and even my productivity because I’m putting a new focus on what I’m labelling as a priority.

That doesn’t make it easy – we live in a society where we always want to be busy so we can feel productive and not be bored and have to sit with my own thoughts for too long, I’m always looking to tick off a task or do something ‘helpful’, but I am learning to allow myself to spend time watching YouTube and colouring, knitting and practicing sewing.

I’m really enjoying sewing, can you tell?

You see all these people on instagram that work 24/7 and they’re ‘hustling’ and they’re posting about what a #girlboss they are and that’s great for them, but that wouldn’t work for me – I’d burn out, I wouldn’t be happy and I wouldn’t get the results I wanted from it. But learning to relax, working on my mental (and consequently my physical) health and giving myself proper time to rest, means I can perform better in my job, and be my own #girlboss in my own way.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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losing my sense of style + my body positivity

2021, fashion, mental health

Hello!

I’ve never been a person who’s confident in their body – as someone who spent their childhood and teenage years prancing round a dance studio in leotards surrounded by stick thin ballerinas feeling inadequate because I had a lil belly and my arms jiggled (I was a size 12, I was bigger but not big) I’ve always felt insecure. As I went to uni and put on even more weight and went from ‘a little bit podgy’ to ‘properly plus sized’ my already minimal self-confidence plummeted further.

And in the last year, I feel all sense of ‘self’ in my outward appearance has completely evaporated. Most of us have spent the majority of the last year not getting dressed ‘properly’ at all – loungewear sets became all the rage, the ‘lockdown pounds’ became a (horrible) thing and many of our clothes have done nothing but gather dust with no reason to wear them.

Don’t get me wrong – I love fashion (in my own way); I like experimenting with clothes and figuring out how to take looks I like from girls who don’t look like me and make them my own. I like giving girly outfits a grungy twist with a leather jacket and Dr Marten’s and pretending I’m more edgy than someone who listens to tiktok songs on Spotify and turns up to video meetings earlier than necessary because I’m scared of being late. I love wearing trousers that aren’t jeans and patterns and colours; cosy oversized jumpers and thinking about curating a wardrobe that lasts rather than buying new clothes on a whim for the short-term endorphin hit.

But every day I turn to a pair of leggings and a variation of a t-shirt and hoodie or a sweatshirt. Now I feel like all of my clothes are too tight and I want to feel like I’m being drowned – like a child wearing their dad’s clothes.

I regret giving my mustard hoodie that was (literally) 12 sizes too big for me to my sister.

I mean, she loves it and wears it all the time so it went to a good home but still.

I feel like I need to ‘reinvent’ my style – put more effort into getting dressed and enjoying the outfits I wear, but those outfits aren’t meant for sitting in my living room on my own working from home 8 hours a day. So how do I get out of this funk? Do I buy myself some massively oversized clothes and see if hiding my body makes me feel better? Do I start chanting some mantras about loving myself as I am (even though I really don’t)? Do I start making myself get dressed and do make up even when I don’t have the energy for it?

I wish I had answers.

One of the options should probably be to do a wardrobe clear out and get rid of the clothes that don’t make me happy. But right now, I don’t think it’s the clothes that are the problem. I think my desire to want to hide in my clothes is a reflection of me and not my wardrobe.

For now, my response is to wear what makes me feel comfortable for the day – if I want to wear a shirt, if I want to wear a t-shirt dress, if I want to pull my hood up over my face and pull the strings tight, it’ll make each day easier. Everyone is struggling right now – no one’s hardships can be compared to another because the universe it throwing us the biggest curveball it can in turning the world as we know it upside down and we handle that how we can. Predominantly with loungewear.

log Forcing myself to feel something I don’t about my body is never going to help me on the journey to loving it – making the effort to eat good food, exercise more than 0 times a week and find clothes that don’t make me feel like a clown are enough to get through one day at a time.

That’ll do for now.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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how am I? | life update

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

My favourite blog posts to write are the long, stream-of-consciousness ones that I don’t have to think too hard about writing, I just pick a topic and see what happens.

Generally these fall into the category of a ‘life update’ – documenting what’s going on in my life and generally making some sort of statement about mental health and/or body image. But I always feel they are the most genuine of posts because they come from the heart (however cringy that sounds). I love writing more than anything else; I like figuring out the best ways to use my words to say something meaningful, whether that’s a blog post or a story, but I also think connecting with someone else’s words is so much easier when you feel they’re genuine.

I also find writing about myself and my experiences really easy, but let’s not look too far into what that says about my vanity.

Trying to figure out ‘how I am’ is an ongoing question – every day I have video meetings on Google and everyone opens by asking how everyone else is and I always say ‘I’m good! How’re you?’ with a fake enthusiasm that I hate even as it’s coming out of my own mouth. But it’s what everyone says, regardless of how true it is and whenever I think about being more honest, it feels like I’d just be attention seeking because I’m not fitting the ‘social norms’ or saying I’m okay.

To some extent I am good – I’m so lucky to have a job right now so quickly after finishing my masters, I feel incredibly privileged to be in a job where I believe in what I’m doing, everyone is super friendly and I feel like I’m challenging and developing my skills after only a month in the position. I’m so grateful that my line managers trust me and are giving me valuable work where I can see my contribution rather than being treated as ‘the new guy’ and being given little tasks just to keep me busy.

But I am struggling to adapt to full time work – I’m exhausted, I’m still figuring out how to track all the tasks I need to do and whilst everyone I work with is so kind and friendly, I find it harder to engage with them over video calls and I hate trying to make my home space a suitable work environment.

The UK’s Lockdown 3 is definitely having a huge impact on national motivation; everyone is feeling drained, everyone’s tired of the same four walls and ‘daily walk’ has become almost a joke whilst being so many people’s saviours. Even the introverts miss contact, real conversations and physical presence, though I’m sure we’ll go back to craving our alone time as soon as society returns to ‘normal’. If there’s even a normal to return to, but that could be a blog post of its own.

The main way I judge my own ‘mood’ is generally productivity – whenever my mum messages and asks how I’m doing, a good day will usually be a list of everything I’ve achieved whilst a bad day is a day of feeling like I have cotton wool in my head and I stared at a screen without seeing a thing on it.

My time management of still achieving what I want with eight less hours to play with in the day has been challenging, but I’ve recently started a sleep course to help with (shock horror) my sleep and I’m currently in the sleep restriction cycle, so I’m not ‘allowed’ to go to bed before midnight and I have to wake up at 7.15am. Although this is almost certainly contributing to the near-constant feeling of exhaustion, I’ve got far more hours in the day than when I rolled out of bed at 8.50am for my 9am start!

I’m playing Animal Crossing with breakfast and watching Bridgerton whilst I spend my evenings knitting! On the other hand, I feel a lot of pressure to ‘make the most’ of my weekends and often feel so overwhelmed by not wasting the weekend that I don’t do anything. But in a way, that’s not a bad thing.

So in conclusion, I feel the exact same as everyone else – generally I’m okay; I’m grateful for my health and my job and my partner, but lockdown is hard; my mental health isn’t great, I feel physically and emotionally drained and I’m craving ‘normal’ times.

The main thing is I’m reminding myself that it’s okay; I’m okay – my feelings are okay and they’re valid.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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handling anxiety when working from home

2021, mental health

Hello!

There are so many stereotypes about anxiety but like any other mental illness, everyone experiences symptoms differently. Not everyone’s anxiety is a racing heart and shaking hands. Not everybody’s anxiety is feeling stuck in bed and not getting dressed. It can be completely zoning out in a conversation, looking at a document on a screen and feeling like you can’t see the words or even looking at your calendar and feeling like you have absolutely no time do to anything you need to, thinking you’re a complete failure and wondering why you were ever hired in the first place…

But that’s not true, despite what your brain tells you.

I’ve only been working from home for a month, but starting a new job in lockdown is daunting and scary in completely different ways and even on my team I know I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed by everything that’s going on. So I thought I’d collate a few of the things I’ve tried out in the last few weeks to help ease my anxiety when I’m working from home and need to get stuff done.

  • take a 5 minute break

I have a mode on my phone called ‘Focus Mode’ which disables select apps and notifications during work hours. So if I want to go on Instagram, it asks me if I want to take a 5 minute break and I think this is a great way to have a moment to step back. I let myself switch off for a little bit, I know that I won’t get distracted for hours and the app will automatically close and lock itself again unless you tell it otherwise.

Even just 5 minutes of scrolling mindlessly I find calms me down enough to feel ready to tackle whatever it was that was overwhelming me. It’s not a lot, but just that moment to step away can be enough to re-centre and feel more in control.

  • organised your workload

Whether it’s writing everything out on post-it notes, using highlighters or just making a new to do list, sometimes re-organising your workload can make things seem more achievable and less anxiety inducing.

If you’ve got a really big task or project, write down a step by step guide to define what you need to do to get it done. Put a deadline on each task if you know that will help you feel more comfortable with doing it or if your department needs things by certain times. Put them all on separate post it notes and pile them on top of each other so you only see one task at a time if you think that would work for you.

There are so many organisation tips and ideas online, even spending 5 minutes looking for new ways to organise your workload can make it feel less intimidating.

Maybe organisation doesn’t help everyone’s anxiety, but it definitely helps me to feel more in control when I know exactly what I need to do and when.

  • don’t work out of work hours

This isn’t particularly helpful when you’re in the midst of feeling anxious, but I’ve found being very rigid about not looking at my emails after 5pm and not working on anything over the weekend has made it easier to relax in my off time.

This is much easier in some professions than others – I work in marketing so it’s relatively easy to keep work time as work time and my personal time as time for me, but in other industries or other companies that might be much harder; whether you’re working with people that continue to exist outside of work hours or whether your boss is much more demanding and less respectful of your personal time.

For my anxiety, I know not letting myself work on anything whilst I’m not being paid for it makes it easier to look after myself in my personal time. The fact I spend most of my personal time pushing myself to ‘achieve more’ with blogging and my bookstagram account and constant to do lists is beyond the point…

  • treat yourself to a nice drink or snack

Now we’ve all been subjected to the ‘new year, healthy eating’, ‘the diet starts on Monday’ mentality and whilst we’ve been at home, not snacking all the time is a real challenge.

But enforcing this self-set ‘rules’ on yourself when you’re already mentally struggling isn’t going to make anything easier. And if you’re anything like me it just means you think about it more.

Whether it’s a nice homemade hot chocolate, a packet of biscuits or a late afternoon packet of crisps, just letting yourself snack on what you want when you’re anxious can sometimes make the craving go away and make it easier to concentrate.

  • have an anxiety combatting activity to hand

When I had a really bad day a few weeks ago, I ended up sitting with a work conference on in the background and colouring. I was still paying attention to the conference and what was being said, but I was borderline anxiety-attack and I had to prioritise myself for a moment.

I keep feeling guilty about not working 100% in my working hours but 1) 100% is exhausting and 2) if I weren’t working from home, there’d be natural breaks in the day – chats after meetings, tea breaks, day to day desk chatter – this is what I don’t get working from home, so taking a few minutes for myself to sit back and not work for a second is fine.

If I felt anxious in the office, I’m sure my manager would be okay with me taking 10 minutes to calm myself down and feel okay again.

So sometimes, when I feel really on edge, I’ll take a few minutes to do some colouring. It helps clear my mind and focus on one, inconsequential thing for a little while and it can make all the difference.

Anxiety is hard enough to navigate in the ‘normal’ world, but during a pandemic? That’s been going on for nearly a year? Everyone’s feeling the strain but your feelings don’t need to be valued against someone else’s – you are allowed to feel however you feel and handle that however you want to. Give yourself a break – you’re doing okay!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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Our Proposal Story

2021, wedding

Hello!

In a few blog posts now, I’ve mentioned my fiancé and wedding planning but I don’t think I’ve ever shared our proposal story – this is predominantly because it’s quite anticlimactic and not particularly romantic but it does come in three parts and anyone that knows Lucas and I knows it’s so painfully stereotypical of us, it’s almost funny.

So it starts last January…

Part 1 – Deciding the Date

We were lying in bed – I’d just spent the day in London with my oldest friend and we were talking about exciting things like getting married and having babies so it was on my mind. Lucas and I have talked about getting married on our anniversary 1) because we’re lazy and it would be less dates to remember and 2) our anniversary is bonfire night so it makes sense. So out of curiosity, I looked up when our anniversary next fell on a Saturday – and it was 2022.

This is the point where I started referring to us as engaged and calling him my fiancé – it was after this we told our parents we were getting married so this is kind of the ‘official’ proposal.

At this point it was early 2020 – nearly three years away – it felt like a million years. But my mum booked us to go to two wedding fairs and it was exciting to actually start planning… then the pandemic hit and it went on hold for a while.

But that’s how we ‘officially’ got engaged.

Part 2 – My Ring

Lucas made it relatively clear that he still wanted to ‘propose’ in the traditional sense – pre-pandemic he was scheduled to be working in London and Rome for the Euros in the summer and there was plans for me to meet him in Italy but obviously that never happened.

In the end I found a ring I really liked, I sent it to a friend who sent it to Lucas, he then ordered it but had to ask the same friend to pick it up from a store in a different town and he then gave it to me on my birthday.

But was it romantic and emotional? Absolutely not.

He stood up after giving me my presents and said ‘You know what’s next’. I had to ask him to actually make a thing out of it, and he said ‘I’m not creative’.

He did then get on one knee and say traditional romantic things after that but I don’t think he was planning to.

Part 3 – His Ring

I, on the other hand, am an expert in grand romantic gestures.

I planned a homemade advent calendar for Christmas, where each day had a clue to where a little present was hidden and each clue had one highlighted word that read as a hidden message. The hidden message was my proposal and while he was piecing it all together on Christmas day I got out the ring box I’d hidden days before and found out it was too big but then I bought him a replacement one and it was fine!

Now our wedding is less than two years away and it feels like we’re properly engaged! It’s been about a year since we first decided on the date that led to every decision since that we have made.

We’ve booked a venue, I have monthly goals set for the next (nearly) two years and we’re going to get married! It still feels too grown up, but it’s exciting and I love wearing my ring every day and being someone who can say ‘my fiancé’, however cliche it makes me.

And there’s our story! It’s not very exciting, but not many people have a proposal story in three parts.

I’ll almost certainly be documenting more of our wedding planning over the next 21 months and I have a new ‘joint’ instagram (that Lucas isn’t signed into) called mrandmrsrockett (Rockett is a joke surname we came up with because Roberts + Luckett = Rockett) where I’m documenting the wedding stuff! It’s quite sparse at the moment but I’m sure it’ll get busier as the date gets closer.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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how I wrote 30,000 words while working full time

2021, goals, writing

Hello!

When I was in it, it didn’t feel like January was that busy but looking back? I started a new full time job, I did really well with my January Goals, I read 4 books and I even made a more consistent effort at going for walks! As well as finishing a 30,000 word creative writing challenge!

I did my first NaNoWriMo challenge in 2011, where I attempted to write 50,000 words in a month (I managed 15k but I was 15 so I think it was still a good attempt!) and I fell off the creative writing wagon when I didn’t have the same evening downtime when I moved to uni and I’ve been trying to make it more of a habit since NaNoWriMo 2017.

For the last two years or so I’ve been doing writing challenge every few months to keep me writing and give myself a goal, because I find it way easier to ‘write X number of words a day’ than to just task myself with writing.

So this year I planned a 30k writing challenge for January, 35k for April, 40k for July, 45k for September and the traditional 50k for NaNoWriMo in November. I knew I was going to need practice to write daily (or the equivalent of daily) in that quantity whilst navigating my first proper career job and for the first challenge for the year, I smashed it!

Here are some of the things that I really think helped me hit my goal for the month.

Having a spreadsheet with my daily word goal made it really clear what targets I needed to hit when and having this visible when I was writing meant I didn’t spend half my time clicking between tabs checking to see how much more I needed to write (might be a me thing, but I’m always looking to be able to tick things off lists!).

Although it probably didn’t help my sleep schedule, I found going up to bed a little early and writing up there whilst my boyfriend played video games downstairs much easier to concentrate. If we had more rooms in our house I would have worked at a desk or something but currently my options are living room or bedroom! My word target was only 968 words per day (compared to NaNoWriMo’s 1667), so if I was feeling inspired I could write it in about an hour and then I’d snuggle into bed with my book and then watch the Repair Shop with my boy until we fall asleep. Lovely!

I’m not someone who can usually work with music – even when I was studying for school exams, I couldn’t study to music with lyrics because I’d get distracted by the words and inevitably end up singing along and not taking in any of the biology revision I was doing. I’ve gotten worse at multitasking since then and I get very easily distracted now, but I’ve found some brilliant playlists over the course of this month – magical instrumentals, lofi hip hop music – beats on relax/study to and ambient relaxation are great instrumental playlists and my current personal favourite is main character because they’re songs that everyone can pretend they’re in that bit in a movie where it’s a montage of the main character being sad or something. Also most of the songs are used in lots of tiktoks so it’s a lot of ‘oh it’s that song’.

It’s not been easy – there’s been a lot of late night writing sessions and yesterday when I had less than 1000 words to go I really struggled with motivation but I did it and it feels amazing.

I decided yesterday I want to start work on a new original novel for NaNoWriMo this year and I feel super motivated now!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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