a life update, but not just the highlight reel

2021, lifestyle

Hello!

I wrote a few weeks ago about going through a creative block with my blog, but I thought I’d climbed over that hurdle… and then I’ve been stumped every time I tried to write this week.

I don’t know if it’s an anxiety thing or if I’m just a little too close to burnout for comfort but I felt like I couldn’t read the words on my screen, let alone write anything cohesive. To throw an extra spanner in the works, WordPress has updated it’s user interface and the post writing section is completely different – as someone who doesn’t like change, I hate it.

Like, I know I’ll get used to it and then they’ll change it again and I’ll wish it was back like this but still… Give me my old editor back please!

On Tuesday I tried to write another book themed post about how I organise my ‘to be read’ books, but the answer was as simple as; I organise them in alphabetical order by author’s surname because it shuffles them enough that nothing’s too similar but I don’t have to make any decisions about what I read next because the order is already planned.

There wasn’t much of a way to extend that beyond one paragraph without it being really boring and unnecessary, so I decided to stop beating myself up and just let that one slide.

Then Friday night’s post was meant to be all about trying to move house in a pandemic, and whilst we have applied for a house and been approved to move in two weeks (hopefully), 1) We haven’t signed a contract yet so I’m still a bit dubious and 2) It’s actually been okay – we started looking at rightmove and booking viewings a few months in advance of when we wanted to move and we didn’t hand our notice in till after we’d found somewhere so we didn’t have any deadlines, the only thing I’m nervous about is the contract falling through but the national lockdown rules ease by the time our provisional moving date is so we’ve roped a couple of friends in to help (all legally).

And again, that’s the whole story in one paragraph!

So I thought I’d write a kind of diary/update post – because that’s essentially a taste of what those two other posts would have been anyway!

My whole life at the moment feels like work and trying to not be tired – my mental health is in a weird state where sometimes I spend ages staring at screen taking three times as long to do a task as I should be, and sometimes I feel really present and efficient and excited about what I’m working on. Finding a balance within all that is okay, I’m learning to work with my mental state rather than working against it and getting frustrated, but it’s annoying when the to do list just keeps being postponed to the next day and everything is building up.

Outside of work I feel a bit restless – I know I want to be doing something but I don’t know what. I’m starting a new creative writing project in April but I don’t have the words to write right now (though the stories are developing in my head), I can’t comfy enough to read (I’m too young for everything to ache this much, right?) and knitting watching my fiancé play video games is not top of my list. I’m trying to tune into what my body wants and needs but I’m exhausted a lot of the time no matter how much sleep I’m getting.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – though tired, I am really enjoying my work and I love working with creative people, feeding off their energy and ideas and feeling valued when I share ideas of my own. I’m planning to have a weekend of sewing and packing which I’m excited about – watching YouTube or turning some music up loud and having some off screen time to potter around the house.

I love mundane tasks like tidying and organising (not cleaning so much, which isn’t ideal), I love listening to music and pretending I’m the main character in a film (I know it’s weird, let me have it) and I’m excited for what feels like ‘the next step’ for my partner and I, moving into a more ‘grown up’ house.

Things are up and down, but as I recently described it to a close friend – ‘I’m alright, ups and downs, in a bit of a down at the moment but knowing it won’t last forever is a big step in itself’.

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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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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February Goals

2021, goals

Hello!

I’m really excited for my monthly goals this year – when I made my yearly goals I accidentally planned out which goals I wanted to achieve each month so that I had a plan for consistent progress (which sounds much more organised than I feel).  So I don’t get the same sense of a ‘fresh slate’ each month, but I love anything where I don’t have to make decisions so knowing that most of my goals are planned for the year is exciting!

The way I’m planning my monthly goals is in alignment with my yearly goals – I’ve picked one from my professional goals, one from my personal goals, one from my home goals and one from my ‘bucket list’ goals – so I’m making progress in each category of my goals (if I want to) and I’ve got one monthly goal left (because 5 is a nice round number) for if there’s something more relevant I want to include. I don’t know if mentioning all my categories is more confusing (it’s very personal), but that’s how I do it!

Here are my February Goals!

  • Develop my online portfolio – I just got a job, so having a super duper up to date portfolio isn’t hugely important right now, but I figure if I do the hard work in revamping it now then maintaining it will be easier and when it comes to looking for work again I’ll have it ready to go. The three avenues I want to work on over 2021 are my blog portfolio, my Instagram portfolio and a proper showreel, as most of my showreel is footage from 2017 which was three years ago. This month I want to make a plan to make more specific achievable milestones throughout the year, update my Instagram page because that’s the easiest place to start and start researching free website builders to potentially take my portfolio off my existing website.
  • Find a therapist – perhaps a bit personal, but I think we definitely need to normalise going to therapy. I have a mental health condition! I need help to feel like I can get back to my ‘normal’ and I’m in a position where I feel like I can be in a position to be vulnerable with a stranger and go through the process of finding someone who I think can really help me. It’s going to be a lot of sending emails, booking introductory calls and being brave and vulnerable. I probably won’t share how it goes but definitely going to try and help normalise therapy a bit more!
  • Wedding planning – as I mentioned in my ‘how I planned my wedding planning‘ post, I have a 2021 list of steps I want to take to make solid progress on planning our wedding (which is next year! How mad is that?). This month it’s booking the registrar/celebrant (the person who actually does the marrying in a non-religious service) and finding a photographer and videographer for the day, as they get booked up very quickly. It’s not much but little steps every month will all add up!
  • Start sewing my clothes – I don’t mean making my own clothes! I have a few bits and bobs that I’d like to adapt – a scratchy sweater that I want to put a piece of material on the inside, a t-shirt I want to try embroidery on, a shirt I want to try and take the sleeves up on – little things that I think would help me learn about sewing and give a second life to clothes I otherwise avoid wearing!
  • Use Ring Fit Adventure at least once a week – my boyfriend treated me to the Nintendo Switch game ‘Ring Fit Adventure’ when I started my new job and I used it once and decided I needed a sports bra to commit to it… and I’ve not made time for it since. I need to make more time for exercise and going for walks and I think when it’s a video game that is also exercise it’s definitely a reasonable once a week goal! If I can schedule it for straight after work one evening I can definitely do it.

Then my repeated monthly goals are a date night with my fiancé, read 2 books towards my annual reading goal (I’m on my 5th book in January!) and save my goal amount of money.

I’m feeling really good about these goals – my January goals have gone surprisingly well despite starting a full time job and having significantly less time for personal tasks than before.

The first month of this year has flown by and it’s been weird – it very much feels like ‘2020 Continued’, so I hope you as you’re reading this you’re feeling okay mentally despite the circumstances and you and the ones you love are healthy and staying safe!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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self care tips for when getting out of bed is hard

2021, lifestyle, mental health

Hello!

I’m not qualified to give advice on mental health, but I have been living with a mental health condition that has been somewhat deteriorating as the pandemic goes on, so I thought I’d collate a list of tips and tricks I’ve been putting into practice over the past few months that can make day to day life a little bit easier, when life is already hard enough.

  • if you need to shower, have a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner so you only really need to use one product and it feels less intimidating. It’ll only take a few minutes (depending on how efficient your shower is) and hopefully you’ll feel better for being all fresh and clean (clean, new pyjamas are always wonderful after a shower too).
  • sticking with the theme of washing, doing dishes is one of the things I find so hard when I’m feeling low but the longer you leave it, the more it piles up and the worse it feels. If you do feel up to do anything (no judgement from me if you don’t), fill one washing up bowl, fill it with hot water and some bubbles and make your way through that one bowl. Put on some boppy music, get the washing up gloves on and just get through the one bowl. I find having a definitive end makes something much easier. If you’d rather, set a ten minute timer and do whatever you can in ten minutes – even doing a little bit is better than nothing.
  • You’ve got to eat even if you don’t feel like it, but this one is worth a bit of preparation on a good day in advance – either, batch cook and freeze a portion of something easy that you can defrost and microwave or have some microwave meals or easy frozen food like chicken nuggets in the freezer, that way you know you can feed yourself without it becoming a big hurdle to climb over. If it’s got vegetables in, that’s a bonus, if you just need some oven chip potato-y goodness, you do you.
  • Download a habit app for the basic things – not only will it serve as a physical reminder to do them every day, but ticking it off can be a great hit of endorphins when you really need them! I have reminders every day for brushing my teeth, moisturising and taking my medication and it’s useful not only to remind me to do those things, but it lets me know when I’ve stayed up too late as well.
  • Little tasks like watering any house plants, painting your nails or writing a new to do list are smaller things (at least for me) that feel more achievable and avoid doing the ‘big scary tasks’ for a little bit. If you’re feeling a bit more motivated (or want to do another one of those productive procrastination tasks like making lists) maybe you can take the ‘big scary’ task and break it down into smaller ones to make it feel more manageable. Then if you want, set a timer for an hour or so to work on whatever it is you need to do, but know that end he end of that hour you’ve achieved something and that’s enough!
  • Change your clothes – even if it’s from pyjamas you’ve slept in to clean pyjamas and taking your hair down, brushing it and putting it back up again can make you feel so much fresher.

These are only little things, but on days where you can’t bring yourself to get out of bed till the late afternoon, little things like this can make all the difference. The psychological impact of feeling like we need to be on it 16 hours a day is so damaging and so hard to get out of.

When I drafted this post I wasn’t working a 9 to 5 job from home and now that I am, this kind of self care on bad days is much more difficult to implement. But I think taking it slow, communicating with your managers or whoever when you need to, and just doing what you can is enough to get through it.

Being gentle with yourself is the only way anyone can get through a pandemic – take it one day at a time, do what you can and advocate for yourself when you need to. You can to this – this will end.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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New Year, No Plan

2020, goals, mental health

Hello,

Like many of us at this time of year, December often gets my thinking about setting goals for the next year – call them New Years Resolutions, 2021 goals or anything else, a lot of people really like the turn of a new year to be able to adopt a fresh new mindset and try and make lifestyle changes.

If you’ve read any of my goal blog posts, you’ll know I’m a massive goals person and won’t be surprised that I’ve been thinking about and making notes about what I want to achieve in 2021 for a few months now. When inspiration hits I have to write it down, or I will not remember!

And whilst setting goals and the New Year can be a great new start and a chance to refresh, it can also be really intimidating if you don’t know what the year is going to hold. When I planned this post I’d been applying for jobs with no reply (though I’m now in discussion about potential work starting next year… but I don’t want to speak too soon) and not knowing what could fill each day can be daunting, lonely and hopeless.

And after the year we’ve all lived through, lonely and hopeless have a whole new meaning.

People throw around phrases like ‘it has to be better next year!’ but if we’ve learnt anything is that we don’t know what’s coming and we can’t expect it to be better. 2021 can’t be this beacon of hope where we expect everything to return to ‘normal’ – this week, the British Government have announced a lot more places moving into Tier 3 (very high risk) measures and despite a vaccine being given, there’s a whole lot of talk about things getting worse before they ever get better. So putting too much hope on 2021 is the kind of optimism my realism can’t get behind.

So 2021 is a mystery, like every New Year is, but with the experience of 2020 behind us it feels a bit different this year. Thus, going into the New Year with no plan feels impossible.

Granted, there’s always things to be grateful for – having our health, a roof over our head and food in the fridge has meant so much more this year, being with someone who’s not lost their job and is still working is a privilege and even just living with someone and having company feels like a luxury. But that doesn’t make not knowing what could come in 2021 any less scary.

Not knowing is the worst kind of not having control and for the control freaks among us, that’s where a lot of feelings of intimidation come from. But there are ways to make it easier – I’m a huge advocate for to do lists, setting yearly and monthly goals to help with consistent progress, adapting how daily to do lists are made to suit what makes you feel productive and learning to check in with yourself to learn what makes you feel calmer and happier and working on it.

Looking ahead is always scary, whether it’s a year, a decade or a lifetime, but being able to reign it in, take it a week, a day or even an hour at a time feels more achievable. Working on mindfulness to tune into our psychological and physical needs and intuitively get to know our bodies can be hugely beneficial to our wellbeing. Even things like a skincare routine and a healthier diet are short term things that are worth focusing on.

I’m not saying this from a position of someone who’s ‘perfected’ any of this – my to do list today is about 14 tasks long because I’ve been feeling a bit low this week and not sleeping well, I’ve not opened my meditation app in months and I 100% do not regularly use any of my skincare products, but I know that when I feel ready, spending time on these things will be good for me. And I will be okay.

New Year’s is a strange time of year – it can be incredibly sad to end, excited for a new beginning, grief for those we may have lost, anticipation of plans for the coming year; a whole host of emotions, good and bad. When I was younger, I hated New Years because I was so depressed I couldn’t see my life getting better, then when I was at uni I worried that things would get worse and the evidence of the passing of time scared me. But now? The New Year is going to come and go anyway, so I’m learning to accept that the year will bring whatever it brings and I can only control what is in my power.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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December Goals

2020, crafting, goals, mental health

Hello!

Somehow we’re on the last month of the year, even though many of us are still mentally stuck in March! This year really has been a whirlwind hasn’t it? If you’d told anyone last year we’d spend half the year cancelling plans, wearing face masks to the shops and constantly being told to ‘think of the NHS’ while the government chronically under funds them and doesn’t value the true key workers in this pandemic, they’d laugh in your face! No way would we believe anything that drastic.

But here we are! The last month of the year; the home stretch!

Personally, I’m still taking things slow – this year has put a massive strain on everyone’s mental health and I need to take things slow for my own sake right now. I’m applying for jobs since finishing my masters and having had the worst luck after my undergrad in 2018 (hundreds of jobs, rejection emails basically every day for months, not a good time) I’m taking a much more gentle approach this time around. Rather than going all out putting lots of pressure on myself to ‘achieve’ by the end of the year, I’m going to try and achieve a better relationship with myself instead!

But as always, I’m setting five mini goals to focus on in December!

  1. Vlogmas! – I started my YouTube channel on December 1st 2013 doing Vlogmas – the challenge of making a video every single day of advent. Many YouTubers make daily vlogs, some do 24 days of content but either way I decided to give it another go this year – this is where it all began for me and I’ve not been making a lot of YouTube videos recently, so I thought a challenge like this will help me figure out what I want the content on my channel to be and can try to redirect some of my creativity into video making. I just published the first video – a little life update – if you’d like to have a look!
  2. Plan New Year’s Resolutions – I love goals and I’ve learnt a lot this year about being flexible with my goals (looking at 1. travel, 2. putting pressure on myself to save money with no income and 3. developing skills I wanted to make myself have, rather than what I’m actually interested in) and I’ve been trying to make much more realistic goals. An acronym I heard a lot from careers departments is setting SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound – to help set goals that are actually a step in the right direction, and not a mountain that seems impossible to climb.
  3. Read gardening books and prepare for next year’s garden – I really enjoyed growing my own flowers this year and my dad bought me some gardening books in the summer that I said I would learn from in the winter ahead of next year’s gardening season! I want to figure out the best vegetables to grow when you can’t plant anything in the ground and go into it with more of a sense of what I’m doing. I might even start a brand new gardening notebook! I’m actually unironically really enthusiastic about gardening!
  4. Christmas crafts! – and from one granny activity to the next, I’ve loved my chilled afternoons cross stitching, knitting and crafting in the last few weeks – from making Christmas presents to fixing some clothes, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making crafting part of my daily routine to make more of an effort to switch off and relax. I want to get some paper chains, I want to sew some festive things and I’ve got a stack of cardboard boxes I saved with intent to craft so I better use them!
  5. Read one book – in the first 8 months of the year I couldn’t stop reading, when my mental health declined I didn’t have the energy and I got out of the habit. Sleeping and my bedtime routine has been something I struggle with recently, so I don’t want to put any pressure on myself to get back to reading every night straight away again, but if I can finish one book this month that would be amazing.

And my other monthly goal is to have a date night with my fiancé at some point! He’s really busy with work at the moment, but hopefully we’ll find some time to get take out and watch a movie or something!

I was really excited about Christmas in November and now December’s here I think I’m more intimidated by the end of the year than I thought I would be. But I’m making the most of not working right now to try and look after myself, any tips are more than welcome!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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