mindfulness

Last year I broke the habit of a lifetime as an English literature student and got seriously into non-fiction, self-help books. And now I bloody love them. Even after reading a chapter you come away feeling positive and inspired. Here are my top three, if you’re wanting to get 2017 off to a motivated start then just get reading. 

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I might have read this a couple of years ago now but it’s one I always revisit. If you want to make 2017 a happier one in which you stick to a few more resolutions, it’s definitely for you. Gretchen Rubin presents you with an almost-diary documenting her 2009, the year when she implemented her happiness project taking on challenges each month to improve different areas of her life. It’s part autobiographical and part self-help guide, but I love that Gretchen never shies away from showing you where she failed or perhaps had to readjust. Honest and relatable – she focusses on mastering the little things and shows how you can do it too.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is such an inspiration, an incredibly successful woman but one that prioritises her life over her career after she collapsed from exhaustion back in 2007. And in this book she teaches us all how we can begin to balance it. If you’re one of those committed #girlbosses, that’s great. But you probably suffer from a bit of burn out too, this book teaches you to listen to your body and focus on you. Again, part autobiographical, part self-help, it also touches on my favourite theme of mindfulness. Most of us want to get a bit of career success and have a fulfilled life too, but most books only focus on one or the other – this is the perfect combination.

Into the Heart of Mindfulness by Ed Halliwell

You can see how loved this is from the photo above – I’ve definitely used and abused this book. You might sense a bit of theme, but once again this is part autobiography, part self-help. I just feel these sorts of books are more practical and inspiring than ones that are purely self-help. Ed used to work at FHM, but after suffering from depression, he chucked it all in and found a new focus – mindfulness. I’m desperate to add more meditation into my life and Ed’s book gives you practical exercises as well as insights into how he made it work and how he found his way through the maze of life. Working in the same industry as him originally, but having a fascination with mental health and mindfulness, this book was way up my street and I still refer back to it many months on.

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Like me, I’m sure a lot of you are clinging on to the end of your last day of the Christmas holiday and getting that familiar sinking back to school feeling. It’s like Sunday dread times 16949727. So to get us all through it, I’ve put together a little survival kit. I’m thinking of making this a new blog series for 2017, rather than getting down about tough situations let’s just prepare better!

Bottle, bath, bed

A little twist on your average toddler’s nighttime routine, make tonight the night you bottle it (a glass of wine, the last of the New Year prosecco, beer, or the biggest, most decadent hot chocolate if that’s what takes your fancy), have the dreamiest, most relaxing bath complete with candles, book and bubbles, and get that early night.

Prepare

The morning is always a panicked rush, why not change the habit of a lifetime for 2017? A little bit of preparation, deciding on an outfit and laying it out ready, pre-making a yummy breakfast and packing your bag can make the day all run a hell of a lot smoother.

Have something to look forward to

Make sure you’ve got something going on to reward yourself for getting through that first day back. Whether it’s a takeaway, an episode of your favourite boxset or some chocolate waiting for you at home, there should definitely be something sitting on the side ready for your Tuesday evening.

A yummy lunch

Why not make Tuesday ‘treat yourself to lunch’ day? Whether you can feel proud of yourself because you’ve prepared a delicious healthy salad which is going to make sticking to your resolutions so much easier or whether it’s the one day you treat yourself to the local pasta place. Lunch will cut your day in half and make everything else so much more bearable.

Diary it

It’s not just about that first day back, the rest of the week might not be so easy – hey, at least it’s only four days long. So get those January plans in the diary – it might be finally visiting some friends in another part of the country, a Sunday roast with the family or a shopping splurge. Fill that weekend with some wonderful things.

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I’m writing this sat snuggled up next to the fire, fresh from a winter walk on the beach (see photo evidence above – me and my little sister). I’m just thinking about how I’m going to get my post-Christmas body into action tomorrow so it can look half decent in the slightly risqué gold bodycon dress I’m wearing on NY Eve – eek! I’ve had the best week of downtime over Christmas, I’m really sad it’s at an end but whilst usually I’d be crying into my cornflakes about it, I’m actually feeling kind of positive and ready to hit January and 2017 hard! 

I always make the longest list of new year’s resolutions and every year I barely make it to February still remembering what they are, let alone putting them into action. But I weirdly enjoy making them anyway, it makes me feel all positive. This year, to try and have a higher success rate I’m making my resolutions a little more general, things to work towards throughout the year that I can’t really fail at. So instead of ‘lose 3lbs’, I would say ‘try to eat healthily’, that way you can keep going with it way past January 30th. Here are mine, let me know if you have any and we can inspire each other throughout the year. That’s the other thing – I’m going to check in every month to see how I’m doing. Wish me luck! And sorry for the essay coming your way…

My 2017 resolutions: 

Exercise – I started a weekly Pilates class in 2016 and loved it. This year I need to do more but the key is making it something I enjoy. So I want to continue with Pilates and also do classes in things I’ve been meaning to restart forever – yoga and dancing. I’d also like to keep trying to walk 10,000 steps a day now I’ve discovered the Health app on my iPhone. 

Mindfulness – I’ve wanted and been advised to do a mindfulness course a million times – I worry too much and this is supposed to be the perfect antidote. Now I’ve been sent a mindfulness course I can do at home so I can stop using money and time as excuses. Whilst I’m doing that I also want to introduce meditation into my every day, hopefully on my commute like I used to. 

Self care – I always leave self-care off my list but it’s so important for me. This year I’m going to schedule in more time for me so I actually keep to it every week without fail. I’m going to write a blog post soon on things to include in my self-care time – things like baths, reading fiction and watching endless Netflix without feeling guilty! 

Getting my business going – Me and the boyfriend have had a business idea for ages now and we just need to get going with it. We’ve done all the research and we’re ready to hit the ‘Start’ button and hopefully make the dream a reality, I’m sure I’ll bore you all senseless with blog posts on this throughout the year. I just can’t wait, I’m so excited about it and have so many ideas. 

Novel – Another one that’s been on my to do list forever. This year is going to be the one that I start writing my novel, no pressure to write a certain amount of words a day or a month but I’ve got an idea and now I just need to get going with it. I love writing fiction so much and this is another perfect one for my commute.

Water – It’s on my New Year’s resolutions list every year but I need to start drinking 2 litres a day. I suffer from headaches and life would just be better if I did a bit more sipping, come on Kerrina! 

Blog – This year I don’t want to go on a blog hiatus, I want to keep writing every week. I can’t promise it will always be regular but I just don’t want to give up with it. I’ll attempt to blog 2-3 times a week and I really want to find the courage to start up my Instagram again. I enjoy it and I think I could do well with it, if I was just a little braver. Hopefully I’ll also get a few more readers, improve my blog photos and work with a few more brands.

Travel – Read this post for more, I have so many big travel plans this year. Japan, Budapest with friends, travelling alone, come at me! 

Volunteering/Charity – I would love to do more for charity this year and perhaps volunteer too. It’s a cliche but it feels so good giving back and I feel the world needs a bit more love in 2017. 

Food – This year I want to do the opposite of most others and actually eat a bit more! Only of the good things though – I want to make sure I eat three good meals a day and healthy snacks too. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to do this but hopefully I’ll work it out. 

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I really can’t believe we’ve nearly made it to the end of 2016. It feels like time is flying by and when I wake up it might just be 2060, rather than 2017. It’s been a year of ups and mostly downs for the world and personally it’s been a very mixed year too. I guess most years are though. Going back through my iPhone photos (I’ve now got a ridiculous 10,559!), I quickly realised it’s been a year characterised by my new job and a lot of holidays. So without further adieu, here’s my favourite things from 2016. 

  • Christmas

I couldn’t not include the festive fun in my round up, every year it’s a highlight for me. Lots of family time, board games, eating and walks on the beach. I feel so sad I’m not getting anymore for a whole year.

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  • Meeting famous people at some amazing events 

Through my job I’ve been to some incredible events this year – the BAFTAs, the Pride of Britain Awards, film premieres for Fantastic Beasts, Girl on the Train, Finding Dory and Bridget Jones’s Baby, amongst many more, and I’ve met some amazing people too. My highlight? 100% chatting to Leonardo DiCaprio after he picked up his BAFTA. It’s not all glam though, I’ve got rather cold on a few too many red carpets. But the best bit has been being able to occasionally bring along my favourite people and to give them amazing experiences. 

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  • Holidays

This year I’ve been insanely lucky and travelled to Geneva, Copenhagen, Sorrento, Cornwall, Croatia and Baden Baden. I’ve discovered some incredible European cities, fallen in love in particular with some of the colder parts of Northern Europe and had the most amazing two weeks travelling around Croatia. And I’ve gone with lots of the best people in my life too. 

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  • Going behind the scenes at Emmerdale and Corrie

Proudest pic of 2016 above! I’ve been a soap lover as long as I can remember, from 7pm our lounge TV is on lockdown as my mum settles down to the trio of Emmerdale, Corrie and EastEnders. And one of the perks of my job has definitely been going behind the scenes at the former two. I even got to pull a pint in the Woolpack! 

  • Changed my blog up

Can you believe I completed my 100 challenges a whole year ago, it feels like so much longer. It’s been a very up and down year here, and I did go AWOL for a while in the third quarter of the year. But I’m proud that I’ve made it through and developed this blog into something completely new. I’ve worked with a few lovely brands too and I’ve done 11 whole posts in December. Hopefully I’ll keep building on this and 2017 will be a big one for this little space on the internet. 

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  • Been more adventurous and carefree

A random one but I think I’ve been much more adventurous in 2016, I’ve let things weigh me down less and tried to keep embodying that childlike spirit. I’ve scaled rocks to watch amazing sunsets in Croatia (evidence above!), I’ve played chase the waves on Devon beaches, and I’ve climbed two mountains in the fog. Sometimes it’s fun to forget your responsibilities and just go for it. 

  • Walked 10 miles with work 

I almost forgot about this one but back in July I walked 10 miles through the streets of London in the dark for Breast Cancer Care. Without any training, it got tough at the end but it was a laugh with my work colleagues. This year I definitely want to do more for charity. 

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  • Wimbledon and the Proms 

These are two places I’ve wanted to go forever and they didn’t disappoint. Wimbledon was such a fun day and we got practically the only good weather of the fortnight. And we saw Jamie Cullum at the Proms, our view might have been a little restricted but we still sang at the top of our voices! 

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Christmas is over (sad face) but you’ve still got that nice long stretch off before you have to face the office again. How do you make the most of that time off? I think this little slice of the year is one of the only times we can truly relax and give ourselves the much needed break before the new year hits with all its demands. But sometimes we end up feeling guilty for not filling the time properly and just moping around in our pyjamas. So I’ve made a little list of ways to fill your time but still chill out and feel refreshed too…

  1. Play board games: I don’t know about you but we only ever seem to play board games around Christmas. And there’s so many good ones out there – Cluedo, that old classic Monopoly, Outburst, Taboo, and millions more. Plan a games night and get everyone involved. 
  2. Write some New Years resolutions: There’s no point tackling all that tricky stuff yet but why not make a little list of aims for next year? All positive, no negatives, and just don’t make them too unrealistic. 
  3. Start a new box set: There’s no better feeling than getting sucked into a brand new story, so dig out that box set you’ve been trying to find the time to start and get sofa surfing.
  4. Have a clear out: If you want to be a bit more productive, you’re going to need to find space for all those shiny new things you got this Christmas so make it out with the old and in with the sparkly new. It’s nice to start the new year all decluttered too, and you can take all your old things to the charity shop. 
  5. Go for a country walk: I love the crisp air at this time of year and this is the perfect way to gently work off all that food you’ve eaten the last few days. I’m heading to Devon for a few days so I’ll be walking on the beach wrapped up in a million layers and I can’t wait. 
  6. Finally get started on that long term to do list aim: Is there something that’s been sitting in those notes on your iphone for the whole year and you’ve never got round to? For me it’s to start writing my novel, I’ve had the idea for months and just never got round to it. This is the perfect time to start, ready to continue into 2017.
  7. Read, read, read: I don’t know about you but I only ever read on my commute. I forget how nice it is to get snuggled up under a blanket in the lounge with just a cup of tea and a book for company.
  8. Have a pamper day/night: Get New Year’s Eve ready with some pamper time, I’ve got a post here which I always refer back to when planning my de-stress time. Just work through this list and ta da! You’ll feel all brand new.
  9. Make fun (but cheap!) plans for January: Get that brand spanking new 2017 diary out and start texting friends and filling in pages. January can be dark and drab so make sure you’ve got lots to look forward to.
  10. Take all your family/friends to do an escape room: I’m obsessed after trying my first one in York last month. They’re all over the UK and they’re the perfect team building exercise and just so much fun!

Have you got any more ideas? I’d love to hear how you make the most of this time.