The Importance of Boredom and How We’re Missing Out

We all know what boredom feels like. It’s sitting on the sofa on a Thursday evening when all your friends are busy, there’s nothing on TV and it’s raining outside. It’s waiting for your train that is 30 minutes delayed on a Tuesday morning. It’s reading 8 30-page articles for that essay that you really don’t want to do. We often define boredom as having ‘nothing to do’, but thinking about it, being in a situation where there is not a single thing you could physically do is quite difficult. Rather, being bored is the feeling of having many potential things that you could be doing, but not being particularly interested in doing any of them. And this quite often leaves us feeling unhappy, frustrated and lethargic.

Because of this, boredom is generally considered to be a negative feeling in our society. We are usually encouraged to find a solution to our boredom – to get out of the house or do something productive – but what if being bored is actually an important part of our lives?

Psychologists think that when we lack excitement in our surroundings, our focus turns inwards and we turn on what is called ‘the default network’; that is, the state your mind naturally returns to when lacking external stimulation. We more commonly call this, daydreaming. Daydreaming is thought to have a whole host of knock-on effects. Some researchers think that daydreaming is a coping mechanism that helps us deal with the tension caused by feeling bored. Others think that it gives us an opportunity to re-evaluate old experiences and memories allowing us to problem-solve and to be creative in our reasoning. Daydreaming can bring together unrelated facts and thoughts and is often linked to that ‘Eureka moment’ when we finally come up with a brilliant new idea or new way of seeing things.

One particular study found that giving people a boring task to do helped them to be more creative in their responses to another task immediately afterwards. Participants were asked to spend 15 minutes copying out phone numbers from a phone book before being asked to come up with as many ideas as possible as to how use two paper cups (who comes up with this stuff?!). Participants who did phone number copying first gave way more ideas than people who only did the cup task. The researchers suggested that 15 minutes of boredom ‘turned on’ the creative thinking part of the participant’s brains as they started to daydream, so that when they were given a task in which they had to think outside the box, they were more likely to think creatively about their answers. Interesting, huh?

However, the time we spend ‘being bored’ is becoming less and less frequent. More and more we are filling the little pockets of unused time in our lives scrolling social media, checking emails, online shopping; basically, being on our phones. I know I often find myself on my phone in situations where I usually would have been doing ‘nothing in particular’: waiting for a train, walking between meetings and even in the bathroom. But what happens when we do this? Those little pockets of time we had to plan, to daydream, to make connections between ideas and experiences, are gone. And what is worse, we’re filling that time with images of unrealistic beauty, stresses about work and desire for new things. We’re shutting off our brains and not engaging with our thoughts.

And there might be another problem with our frequent phone-checking. Every time we turn our attention to a new task, opening a new app on our phone for example, we are using up energy or ‘mental resources’ in our brains. Mental resources are limited and tiring them out has been linked to all sorts of phenomena including increased mistake making, reduced willpower and mental fatigue. A decade ago, we shifted our attention at work every three minutes. Now we do it every 45 seconds, and we do it all day long. The average person checks their email 74 times a day, and switches tasks on their computer 566 times a day. Every single time you make a switch, your brain uses us more and more glucose; no wonder we feel so mentally exhausted after a day at work.

So, I challenge you, the next time you’re waiting for a friend for lunch, or you finish your book 15 minutes before getting off the train, keep your phone in your pocket. Relax into yourself and let your mind wander. Don’t fight boredom, embrace it. When we are bored is when we are at our most creative and our most open. Next time you go to check your phone, ask yourself: ‘What am I really looking for?’ If it’s to check email, that’s fine — do it and be done. But if it’s to distract yourself from doing the hard work that comes with deeper thinking, take a break, stare out the window and know that by doing nothing you are actually being your most productive and creative self. It might feel weird and uncomfortable at first, but boredom really might lead to brilliance.

 

Inspired by the 2017 TEDtalk by Manoush Zomorodi, ‘How Boredom Can Lead to Your Most Brilliant Ideas’. Watch it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/manoush_zomorodi_how_boredom_can_lead_to_your_most_brilliant_ideas

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Apple Pie Waffles

I absolutely love the flavours of autumn and winter  – pumpkin, apple pie, cinnamon and nutmeg – and now the weather has turned colder, those flavours are all I’m thinking about. There was nothing else for it but to make these Vegan Apple Pie Waffles to satisfy my craving!

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Ingredients (to make 3 waffles):

  • 1 medium sweet apple (I used a Jazz apple)
  • ½ cup wholewheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp vegan protein powder (optional)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water

Method:

  1. Preheat the waffle iron
  2. Grate the apple (skin on) using a handheld grater or food processor and transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl
  3. Add all the other ingredients to the bowl and mix well
  4. When the waffle iron is up to temperature, spoon in about 3 tbsp of mixture per waffle (I was able to split the mixture into 3 waffles with a little left over)
  5. Cook for 5-7 minutes; until waffles are darker brown in colour and starting to get crispy
  6. Serve with soy yoghurt, peanut butter, chopped almonds, and any other toppings you fancy!

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Buckwheat Pancakes with Miso Date Caramel and Soy Coconut Chips

Today, I made possibly the best stack of pancakes I have ever made and I NEED to share them with you. The pancake recipe itself is fairly standard and is my go-to for thick and fluffy American-style pancakes. I use buckwheat flour in this recipe but plain flour and wholemeal breadflour work too – if you try any others, I’d love to hear how they go!
Okay so pancakes are good, but the real kicker in this recipe were the toppings. You may have noticed on my Instagram feed earlier in the week I posted the recipe for a miso-chocolate smoothie bowl (yes, I repeat, MISO AND CHOCOLATE) which I absolutely fell in love with. And that creation led me to this one – MISO DATE CARAMEL. Now, stay with me…
Miso paste is a probiotic, which means it promotes a healthy gut. Coupled with the fact that is has subtly salty umami taste means that I add it to lots of my meals. It’s great to add to soups and savoury sauces for depth of flavour and to add creaminess. And I have now discovered that adding it to sweet dishes produces meals that are just as good, if not better than their savoury counterparts.
The finishing touch are soy-flavoured coconut flakes which are super speedy to make and wrap up the whole thing into this oriental-sweet-but-salty dream boat of a breakfast. Keep scrollin’ to find out the how.

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Buckwheat Pancakes with Miso Date Caramel and Soy Coconut Chips

Ingredients

Pancakes
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ cup non-dairy milk
½ cup water
Non-dairy butter
Miso Date Caramel
5 medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp brown rice miso paste
1 tbsp brown rice syrup
Pinch salt
¼ – ½ cup water
Soy Coconut Chips
¼ cup raw coconut chips
Few drops soy sauce
Method
1. In a large bowl, use the back of a fork to mash the banana until creamy and lump-free
2. Add the flour, baking powder, milk and water to the bowl and whisk to combine
3. Heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and use a small amount of non-dairy butter to grease
4. While the pan is heating, add the date caramel ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth, adding more water to reach the desired consistency
5. When the butter has melted, drop about 2 tbsp pancake mixture into the frying pan and use the back of a spoon to gently flatten into a circle
6. Cook for about 3 minutes on this side, or until little bubbles start appearing in the middle of the pancake
7. Use a spatula to flip and cook on the second side for a further two minutes
8. Remove from the pan – you can keep them warm under the grill or in the oven if you  like
9. Repeat with the rest of the mixture
10. When all your pancakes are cooked, use the same pan to quickly dry-fry your coconut chips with a few drops of soy sauce – they will only take them a few minutes to crisp up so don’t leave them unattended!
11. Serve pancakes on a warmed plate and top with soy yoghurt, caramel and coconut chips

I absolutely love this combination of flavours and I would love to know what you think! Comment below or drop me a message if you try them out.

All my love, C

 

The Sentence That Changed the Way I Think About the World

I recently finished reading an incredible book called ‘Rising Strong’ by Brenè Brown. This book is about challenging self-doubt and fear, about being curious of the stories we tell ourselves about how the world works and about picking ourselves up after a disappointment, loss or mistake. Reading this book has revolutionised the way I think about and respond to my emotions and my thoughts and I highly recommend it to every single one of you.

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I very much consider myself an emotional person – I feel things very acutely and I think this, in part, accounts for why I can have very long periods of feeling very low – I take bad things that happen to me very personally and so often they fuel my feelings of not being good enough. I have also recently realised that there are some emotions which I don’t do very well. Anger for example: I just don’t really get angry at things. When something happens to me that is unfair, or something hurtful is said to me, I just absorb it. I rarely (I might dare to say, never) get angry at a situation or person. My immediate thoughts are that I have done something wrong, and that I am a terrible person. Usually then in situations like these, I cry (not always immediately, but at some point, there will probably be tears!). Until recently, I had just kind of accepted that this was part of my personality. But reading ‘Rising Strong’ has got me to start to challenge why this happens: to ‘get curious’ about my emotions.

The concept of ‘Rising Strong’ is a process which involves us engaging with our emotions, challenging why we react in particular ways and using this knowledge to overcome hardship. The part of the ‘Rising Strong Process’ that really got me was ‘The Rumble’. The Rumble is where we get really honest with ourselves about the stories we’ve made up about our struggles and become willing to revisit, challenge and reality-check them. So, for me, when a situation arises where I feel criticised, my immediate reaction is to tell the story ‘this means that I am not good enough’. This narrative then begins to seep into other parts of my life. A perceived failure at work makes me start to lose confidence in my competency as a runner, a friend, a blogger and a human being. Rumbling with these thoughts is a chance to challenge them. Our immediate reactions to a situation are often driven by emotions and the immediate need to self-protect. This means that they are, most likely, inaccurate and irrational. By getting curious about this reaction, we can start to ask the questions that can help us overcome it. Brenè lists these key questions as (1) What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation? (2) What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story? (3) What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?

Point number (2) is one that hung over me for a while. My assumptions about other people tend to be that they see me as ‘not good enough’. I don’t know why I think this (I’m still rumbling on that one), but I know that I do, and this makes me very anxious about certain interactions with other people. What usually gets me, are things like having to present my work to my supervisor, meeting people for the first time, trying something new in the gym; I have this overwhelming feeling that I am going to be judged as incompetent or that I’m going to get ‘found out’ as not very good at anything at all. In the PhD world, this has been termed ‘Imposter Syndrome’ – the feeling that everyone else knows what they are doing and you are the only one struggling; it’s only a matter of time before you do something to confirm to everyone that you are actually incompetent and only managed to get to where you are out of sheer luck. So, I’m very wary of judgement by other people. But there is this fantastic phrase in ‘Rising Strong’ that really helped me with this. It’s the one I’m referring to in the title of this post; the one that has made me change the way I view the world. ‘Everyone is doing the best they can’.

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By assuming that everyone is doing the best they can, I could start to grow compassion. I started to challenge the assumption that everyone was judging me, that everyone was ‘out to get me’. I also started to rumble more on that point number (2): what I need to understand about other people in the story. I might not know exactly why someone acted a certain way, but if I assume that they are doing the best they can, that provides me with some kind of relief from the thought that they are doing it just to hurt me. As Brenè writes in ‘Rising Strong’: the world seems like a better place when we assume that everyone is doing the best they can.

This phrase also reminded me of something else: that I am doing the best that I can. I’ve written before that I am a massive perfectionist and this can lead to feelings of never being good enough, of never quite having done enough to achieve some kind of undefined standard. Reminding myself that I am doing the best I can has helped me start to go a bit easier on myself, and with that, comes an increase in confidence and a reduction in those feelings that other people might not think me ‘enough’ – after all, who cares if they don’t? I am doing the best that I can.

I am still rumbling with a lot of things; really understanding our emotions and the reasons for our thoughts is something that might take a lifetime. But reading ‘Rising Strong’ has made me realise that it’s so important. It is so important to challenge our belief systems and to get curious about why we think the things we do. If nothing else, it gets us connecting with our feelings and helps us to better understand what we need. It helps us make sense of the actions of those around us, to look upon other people with love and compassion and it helps us come to terms with our own reactions to adversity.

So, the next time you have a confrontation or an argument with someone, or you find yourself judging other people, or you are feeling bad about how you reacted in a particular situation, start to get curious about what you are feeling. Remember, you are doing the best you can.

 

One Week Raw: Part II & Raw Vegan Raspberry Cheesecake Recipe

If you read last week’s blog post, or you’ve been following along on my Instagram, you’ll know that for the last 5 days I’ve been following a raw vegan diet. This has meant eating only uncooked vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and pre-soaked pulses and legumes. I also made my own almond mylk, peanut butter, energy balls and raw cheesecake to see me through the week! The recipe for the cheesecake is at the end of this post.

I started the week by planning my meals and hitting the supermarket. The total shop came to just under £40, which is quite a bit more than my usual weekly expenditure (about £25) and I’m putting this down mainly to the amount of nuts and dates a bought (for raw cheesecake, mylk and general snacking). But, I do have quite a lot of food left over so I’m thinking I might have gone overboard a little bit!

My days generally started with smoothies for breakfast. I absolutely loved these; I chucked in just about every fruit and vegetable I could and would feel so full after slurping it all up. I also felt pretty smug that I’d managed to fit in all 5 of my 5 a day before 8am.

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On the first day, my issues started around about lunch time. My first packed lunch was cauliflower rice (raw blended cauliflower), cherry tomatoes, cucumber, kale and pine nuts as well as an apple and a Nakd bar. But it didn’t fill me up and after trying to fight away hunger all afternoon with bananas, dehydrated vegetable crisps and dates, I was starving by the time I went to the gym at 5pm. And I’m not going to lie, I had an awful gym session. I was lacking in energy, motivation and confidence and after an hour of dragging myself through the workout, I cycled the 40-minute journey home. Normally when I get home from the gym I have a slice of toast with PB and jam, or a small bowl of muesli, but as none of this fitted in with my raw diet, I had some more dates and fixed myself some kale, avocado and red cabbage sushi for dinner. Writing this now, I can absolutely see that this was not enough food. I tried to compensate by gobbling down a slice of raw cheesecake for dessert but I woke up the next morning absolutely wiped out.

I woke up at 6.30am as normal and struggles out of bed to make breakfast. I managed to make and eat my second smoothie of the week but couldn’t get any further with my day before having to go back to bed. I felt horrible. I felt absolutely exhausted and I was convinced that I must have been coming down with a virus or something (typical over-dramatic me!). Anyway, I slept for the rest of the morning, made myself a spiralised veg salad for lunch and spent the afternoon on the sofa reading and trying to get some work done.

At this point, I decided that regardless of whether or not it was the raw diet that was making me feel like this, my body needed fuel. I decided to have a cooked meal for dinner and made a big ol’ bowl of lentil Bolognese (my all-time favourite comfort food). I felt absolutely gutted for having to break my resolve only two days in but I knew I needed to listen to my body. I woke up the next morning feeling an awful lot better and decided to continue to try eating raw but to make sure I was eating a hell of a lot more, and not beat myself up about eating something ‘off-diet’ if I needed it.

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And the rest of the week went really well! I made sure to absolutely pack my lunches with veg, and soaked huge amounts of lentils and kidney beans to have with them. I also allowed myself a slice of toast after exercising to give my body the carbohydrates it needed to refuel.

Carbohydrates are hard to find on a raw diet, and I think that was the main issue for me. I not only love bread, oats, cereal, pasta, rice etc. etc. but I know that my body needs them to exercise and for me to physically get enough calories in my body to account for my active lifestyle.

But, there were a lot of awesome things that I loved about this raw week; so I thought I’d summarise the pros and cons of my raw week here:

Pros

          Encouraged me eat a wider variety of fruit and veg

          Found a load of new recipes

          Encouraged to make own nut mylk and butter

          Encouraged me to make my own raw cheesecake

          Support from raw/vegan/healthy online community

Cons

          Not enough carbs!!

          Felt slightly restricted

          Difficult to eat out

          Hard to maintain, especially when exercising

          Buying lots of nuts and dates to snack on was expensive

 So, to summarise, I am so glad that I gave this raw week a go – it really opened my eyes to what my body needs and encouraged me to make a lot more of my own things from scratch (especially nut mylk, which I’m going to keep going for sure!). I now also have a greater appreciation for the need to eat larger, carby meals, especially after exercising. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with a fully raw diet, but I am definitely going to try and incorporate more raw vegetables into my diet, especially for breakfast.

My main advice, if you’re thinking of giving raw eating a go, is to ease yourself in – try not to go from eating 3 cooked meals a day straight into eating only raw food because, if your body reacts anything like mine did, it might not thank you! That said, this diet works really well for a lot of people; I think the most important thing is working out what works best for you.

 

 RAW VEGAN RASPERRY CHEESECAKE

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Base

          1 cup (about 12) pitted medjool dates

          1 cup mixed nuts

          1tbsp coconut oil

          Pinch salt

Filling

          1 ½ cups cashew nuts

          ½ cup mixed nuts

          1/3 cup melted coconut oil

          1/3 cup carob syrup

          Juice ½ lime

          ¼ cup water

          ½ cup homemade nut mylk

Topping

          200g fresh or frozen raspberries

          1 tbsp carob syrup

          1 tbsp water

 

1)      Add dates to food processer and blend to a paste.

2)      Remove date paste from blender and blend nuts into a flour.

3)      Add dates back into the blender along with the coconut oil and salt and blend until the mixture forms a crumble. To test if the mixture is sticky enough, squeeze a small amount between your fingers – it should stick together well. If the mixture is not sticky enough, add another tablespoon of carob syrup.

4)      Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

5)      Press the crumble mixture into the bottom of the loaf tin and refrigerate while you carry out the next steps.

6)      Add all filling ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth – this will take about 5 minutes. Add more water if mixture seems slightly thick.

7)      Mash raspberries in a small bowl and mix in carob syrup and water.

8)      Remove the loaf tin from the fridge and pour the cheesecake mixture over the base.

9)      Spoon the raspberry mixture onto the top of the mixture and use a fork to marble into cream filling.

10)   Place cheesecake in the freezer and leave to set for at least 4 hours

11)   Once the cheesecake is set, remove it from the tin and cut horizontally into slices. You could cut each slice in half again to make little cheesecake squares.

12)   Store in the freezer. Remove about 5 minutes before eating.

One Week Raw: Part 1

For a little while I’ve been intrigued by the trend for ‘Raw Veganism’ which has been kicking around social media, and so I thought I’d do a little experiment and try it out for one week. In this week’s blog post, I want to explore the reasons for advocating a raw diet and some criticisms of it, as well as my expectations and plans for how it’s going to go. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming your way next Saturday where I will evaluate the whole thing and bring you some raw recipes too!

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Why Raw?

One of the main reasons that eating a raw diet is encouraged is that it is thought to be much higher in nutrients than a standard diet where 60-80% of what we eat is cooked. This is because it is proposed that heating certain foods to high temperatures can destroy essential enzymes contained within them. For example, sulforaphanes (the supposedly cancer-fighting compounds in broccoli) are reduced when broccoli is cooked[1]. It is also thought that certain vitamins, such as vitamin C and folate, are destroyed by heat. Therefore, by eating food raw, it is proposed that the nutritional content is preserved and can be used by our bodies.

The raw food diet is also thought to contain less refined sugar and saturated fat than the typical ‘Western’ diet of fried and processed food. It is also lower in sodium and sugar and often high in potassium, magnesium, folate, fibre, vitamin A, antioxidants. These properties have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Eating a diet low in saturated fat and refined sugar has also been shown to contribute to weight loss. Other benefits reported by people switching to a raw food diet have included clearer skin, increased energy and a boost to the immune system.

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What should I be worried about?

A raw food diet might not be right for everyone. For example, pregnant women and children are among groups where a raw food diet is not encouraged, and it is likely that this is because we don’t yet have enough knowledge about how this type of diet might contribute to human development. Nevertheless, one of the main warnings associated with following a raw food diet is the possibility that it does not provide enough of the essential nutrients we need to be healthy. In particular, it is possible that the lack of consumption of certain food groups might lead to a deficiency in omega-3, iron, zinc and B12. This is definitely something I would consider if I was intending to adopt a raw food diet in the long term, but seeing as this is only a week-long experiment, I am happy to assume that eating a large variety of raw foods will keep me going ‘nutritionally’ for now.

Another consideration I want to make is making sure that I’m getting enough calories. Raw food is much less calorie dense than cooked food and so often we need to eat a much higher volume of the stuff in order to achieve the same calorie input. This can be a benefit to people looking to lose weight, however, being a pretty active person who isn’t looking to lose anything, I want to make absolutely sure I’m getting what I need. Therefore, I am going to be using MyFitnessPal for my raw week to track my calorie input and output and to keep an eye on the macronutrient content of my food (protein, carbohydrates and fats).

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So, how am I going to do it? Plan. Plan. Plan! I’m going to plan all my meals and snacks for the coming week so that I’m not caught out. I’m going to do a massive meal prep on Sunday and spiralise a whole load of vegetables, soak a load of nuts and seeds, make some nut butter and nut mylks and maybe ferment some things too. I’m also going to make sure that I’ve always got some raw snacks on me in case I can’t find anything to grab while I am out and about. I’m also going to keep a diary of how I’m feeling day-to-day and of any problems I encounter on the way so we can get right down to the nitty-gritty of how this diet makes me feel.

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And so, my shopping list for this week is going to look something like this:

Veggies

–          Avocados

–          Beansprouts

–          Butternut Squash

–          Carrots

–          Cauliflower

–          Courgette/Zucchini

–          Cucumber

–          Ginger

–          Kale

–          Rocket

–          Spinach

–          Tomatoes

 

Fruit

–          Apples

–          Bananas

–          Blueberries

–          Limes

–          Kiwis

–          Mango

–          Oranges

–          Peaches

–          Pineapple

–          Raspberries

 

Other

–          Almonds

–          Cashews

–          Dates

–          Dried Pulses and Legumes

–          Peanuts

–          Vegetable/Seaweed/Chickpea Noodles

 

I’ll do a proper breakdown of how much I bought and how much I spent in Part 2 of this post next week. I’ll also be sharing my favourite raw recipes of the week, so stay tuned!

This is going to be quite a learning experience for me and I’m not expecting to get it right 100% of the time (though I am damn well going to try!). If you have any tips, tricks or insights into what I can expect in my raw week then I would LOVE to hear them! Either comment on this post or on one of my Instagram posts next week (which are also where you can keep up with my progress).

Wish me luck team!!!! xoxo

 

 

 

[1] https://www.verywell.com/the-raw-food-diet-89877

How and Why I’m Trying to Fill My Life with Love

Recently, a massive change happened in my life and it made me realise that for a long time, I have not loved myself. Worse, I’ve been actively hating on myself.

 

I am a massive perfectionist; I know it. And for the most part, it has helped me achieve things that I don’t think I would have done without the need to be perfect propelling me forward. But it has also made me focus on all the aspects of my life that aren’t perfect. I have scrutinised my life, my decisions, my actions, my body and my thoughts, day in and day out for as long as I can remember; trying to make every single thing I do absolutely perfect. Because perfection means happiness, right? If I’m perfect then I won’t have anything to worry about – no problems, no stress. But I was miserable. Nothing was ever enough. No achievement was great enough because there was always something more that could be done. I was stuck in this never-ending cycle of always striving for the next thing, the next thing, the next thing and never stopping to appreciate what I had already achieved.

 

My confidence was at rock bottom. I was terrified of meeting new people because I was worried about how they might judge me. I couldn’t work because I was so worried about not getting things perfect first time that I almost gave up trying. I was frustrated because I couldn’t run as far or as fast as I wanted to. I was punishing my body for not being lean enough. I had to make a change.

 

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And so, I started focussing on myself. I cleansed my life of the things that were getting me down; the things that were making me feel inadequate. This wasn’t easy (actually, it was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done), but doing this made me realise just how much harm all these things were doing to my mental health. And all of a sudden, it feels like a veil has been lifted; like I’m finally breathing fresh air. I feel like I’m finally looking at myself and at a life that is full of positivity and potential. Best of all, I feel like I am loving myself again. And here’s what I have been doing:

 

Loving Yourself: Daily Rituals

 

1)      Get out of bed with purpose

DON’T SNOOZE THE ALARM! This has been a major thing for me. Snoozing the alarm gives me time to think about all the reasons why I don’t want to get out of bed and makes me feel so lethargic. By springing out of bed when the alarm goes off you are making a positive choice to engage with the day. Feelings follow actions, so making confident movements first thing in the morning sets up a confident attitude towards the day.

 

2)      Remind yourself that you’re great

Right after I spring out of bed, I jump straight in the shower and whilst I am washing my poor sleepy face I think about the things that I like about myself or that I’m looking forward to about the day. It might be looking forward to the workout I’m going to do later, or thinking the new outfit that I look hot AF in, or appreciating all the wonderful friends I have in my life. Focussing on these thoughts first thing in the morning stops me getting worried about the little stresses I might have coming up and reminds me that my life is pretty cool after all.

 

3)      Fuel your body

Yeah yeah yeah, we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day but did you also know it’s the most delicious?! I guess that’s kind of personal preference but I can’t tell you how much enjoyment I get out of experimenting with breakfast in the morning. Try really listening to your body and engaging with what it needs; sometimes I wake up starving and really needing a big bowl of porridge, other days I am craving something super nutritious and will make a fruit-and-veg-packed smoothie. I always make sure I have fresh fruit in the house for breakfast to make sure I start getting my 5-a-day in nice and early. If you feel like you don’t have time for breakfast, think about making overnight oats or chia pudding the night before that you can chuck some peanut butter and berries on on your way out the door. Your body will thank you, I promise.

 

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4)      Take time out for yourself

I can often find myself rushing around non-stop during the day, or I end up burying my head in my work for hours on end without properly resting. But REST IS SO IMPORTANT. And I don’t just mean physical rest; your brain needs a break too – a break from concentrating and a break from worrying. Take half an hour to sit down with a coffee and a book, or a cookie and some trashy TV or go for a little walk or paint your nails and pamper yourself or do some yoga or tidy your desk or bake something – anything that makes you forget about ‘the now’ for a while and focus on you. I find the best way to make sure I fit ‘me time’ in and to not feel guilty about it, is to schedule it in. Maybe it’s at 11 o’clock every day, maybe it’s just after lunch, maybe it’s right before bed. Whenever it is, commit to it; don’t check your emails, don’t think about work, just slow down and breathe.

 

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5)      Move your body

Run, cycle, walk, lift weights, swim, go shopping, tidy the house, clean your car, dance to some cheesy music, follow a ‘how-to’ yoga video on YouTube, do anything that gets your heart beating a little faster. For me, exercise makes me stop worrying for a while and focus on how my body feels. Moving my body makes me appreciate everything it can do. I think we often forget about our bodies; they do everything for us, they carry through our lives, they are our only constant homes – doing exercise might help you appreciate yours a little bit more (a few days of DOMS definitely makes me appreciate all the days my body doesn’t ache like hell!).

 

6)      Go easy on yourself

Didn’t get everything done you wanted to today? Made some mistakes? So what. We are all human and almost nothing in life is irreversible. Life is unpredictable, that’s what makes it exciting. Things get in the way. But there is always time to pick up the things that didn’t quite get done. One thing that I’m really trying hard to teach myself is that I can’t expect perfection all the time; I haven’t failed as a human being just because I haven’t ticked off everything on my to-do list. There are more important things in life.

 

7)      Engage with others

Spread love. Meet your friends, talk to strangers, call your family. It’s these interactions with others that give our life meaning outside of what is going on inside our own heads. The more I spend time in the company of others, the more my own worries pale into insignificance – talking things through with my friends, or ignoring them altogether for a while works wonders on putting things in perspective. Also, there is nothing like being stupid with my friends for pulling me out of a bad mood.

 

Doing these few things every day is making me feel like a brand-new person. I am so much happier than I was a few months ago and I’m putting it down to finally giving myself the care and attention I need. Maybe you’ve been doing a similar thing. Maybe you’ve got another way of filling your days with self-love – if so, I would LOVE to hear about it! Leave a comment below or message me on Instagram; this beautiful community is the most supportive I have ever come across, and I can’t thank you all enough for the love you exude every single day.