20 Spring Self Care Ideas

Well here are, reunited with my good friend Spring. I love the spring months and all they bring; they are a welcome sight after the dark months of winter.

The beginning of a new season is the perfect time to change up your self care routine. This is especially the case with Spring, as it is a season which embodies the ideas of new beginnings and growth. If you're not clued up with what I mean by self care, it is simply the things you do as part of your lifestyle to maintain and improve your mental health and wellbeing; the ways you take care of yourself.

Here are twenty ideas for self care practices you can add to your routine in Spring:

1. Create a playlist of upbeat music to motivate you through the season.

2. Take yourself out for a walk in nature. You could take photos of some of the beautiful spring flowers or just use the walk as a chance to think deeply.

3. Change your bed sheets for something clean, light and spring-themed. I'm a sucker for a good floral duvet cover!

4. Make a fresh fruit smoothie or juice.

5. Book in a yoga session.

6. Write a gratitude list. The regular practise of gratitude can foster positivity in your life. I share my weekly Wednesday gratitude lists on my instagram (yourschloex) if you fancy a peek.

7. Sit outside and do some mindfulness colouring.

8. Give your home a little spring clean. A clean space is a clean mind.

9. Unplug and have a digital detox day.

10. Buy yourself some flowers or a new plant to brighten up your living space.

11. Cook a nourishing meal from scratch.

12. Do something creative. Craft projects can work wonderfully at calming the mind.

13. Wake up early and let yourself have a slow morning.

14. Drink lots of water. It's a simplistic practise but an important one.

15. Diffuse some essential oils. Lavender and citrus aromas such as lemon and grapefruit are perfect for the spring months.

16. Listen to a new self-development or wellness podcast. I shared five of my current favourites in a post back in November, you can read it here.

17. Create a vision board.

18. Read a book, be it an old favourite or something from your to-read list. I love a good romance novel in the spring months.

19. Sit outside for a while, listen to the birdsong and practise some deep breathing. 

20. Open up your windows and air out your home.

Let Spring be the month you truly look after yourself and let yourself bloom.

How do you practise self care in the spring months?

5 Apps I Use To Support My Mental Health

We are a society all-consumed by technology; our screens barely leave our side. There are countless articles damning this over use of technology, calling for a return to a more 'switched off' lifestyle and noting all the potential harmful effects, but with the way society is evolving this seems unlikely to come any time soon.

Rather than 'switching off' completely I think it is important to alter how we use technology; to start to use technology in a positive way and harness our screen time to make our lives better.

We're lucky enough to have some pretty fantastic mental health and wellness resources in the palm of our hands - quite literally. There are apps which encourage healthy habits, support self-care, encourage productivity and just generally nurture your mental wellbeing. Although no app can fully replace genuine therapy and medication, they can support treatment and nurture you mental wellbeing on a day to day basis.

Today I thought I'd share just five of the apps I use on a regular basis to look after my mind, in the hope that you find something which you can download to support you and your mental wellbeing.

Headspace is a meditation and mindfulness app which has become my new best friend as of late. It can provide a fantastic introduction to the world of meditation, if you're new to the meditation game, guiding you through the process and getting you used to clearing your mind and taking a few minutes out of the hustle and bustle of life.

They have a whole range of meditation courses available to you, starting with an introduction into medication and then branching out into lots of different categories of meditation focus such as  personal growth, student life, productivity and parenting. You can choose if you want your meditation to be lead by a female voice or a male voice and they also have a whole section dedicated to 'sleepcasts' which are fantastic if you're someone who struggles to fall asleep because they're mind is working overtime.

I was a little unsure of whether or not the cost of the subscription (£9.99 a month) would be worth it but I've been using Headspace daily and the benefits it has had on my mental wellbeing are worth way more than a tenner. I've also done by research and found out that if you have Spotify premium you can nab the Headspace subscription for half price!

Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is another guided meditation app run by a non-for-profit organisation which aims to make mindfulness meditation accessible for all.

The app actually asks you how you feel (in terms of happiness, contentedness and alertness) before you start your guided meditation and after you finish it, which is a real positive element that I haven't seen before in guided meditation apps as it allows you to see how the meditation effects your mood in the moment.

My Water
My Water is a fantastic app for logging your water intake throughout the day. Whilst this may not seem like the most obvious mental-health app, I find that drinking lots of water is a really good self-care practise for me personally. Tracking my water in-take in this way helps to encourage me to drink water regularly as the app sends your phone regular notifications to encourage and remind you. I also like to use calming natural 'rescue remedy' drops in my water on particularly anxious days and logging my water helps me to make sure that I'm using these drops to their full potential.

MyTherapy is a brilliant tool which is designed to remind you to take any daily medication you're on. I'm prescribed a couple of different medications to support my mental health and I won't lie I'm quote prone to forgetting whether or not I've taken my tablet for the day. This can turn into an unnecessary anxiety trigger so I like to have an app in which I can track when I have or haven't taken my tablets.

You can set the app to remind you at a set time each day to take your medication and you can then 'tick' it off when you've taken it. MyTherapy also allows you to log when you start a new packet of tablets so it can let you know when you're running low and need a new prescription.  

One of my favourite features of the MyTherapy app is the wellbeing tracker. You can set the app to ask you how you're feeling at certain intervals throughout the day and each time it'll ask you to rank your mood out of 5. This is then logged and it's a handy tool for recording 'bad days', especially if you want something to help you show the patterns in your mental health to a professional such a doctor.

Pixel Thoughts
Pixel Thoughts is one of my new favourite apps as it's just perfect for calming incessant mind chatter and persistent negative thoughts. You simply type your thoughts into a star, send it off and watch it slowly get smaller and smaller until it disappears completely into the night sky. This process takes place whilst calming music is played (you have a choice of five tracks, each with a different calming vibe) and you're encouraged to breathe deeply as you watch your worries melt away and read some supportive lines which help you feel calmer and more connected.

Do you have any apps you use to support your mental health?

How To Bring Self Care Into University Life

As we're now well into the new uni semester I thought it would be a good idea to reaffirm the importance of self care for students. Uni can be a really stressful time, especially when you reach your last year (anyone else in this joyous club?) and it's so vitally important that you look after yourself.

Whilst I'm writing this post with students in mind, I don't wish to alienate from the post anyone who isn't currently a student. Self care is of course important for all, no matter what you're currently doing in your life, and all of these practices can be translated into the lives of working people also.

Bring Your Home Comforts To Uni
Student accommodation has a tendency for be very plain; very beige, bare and boring. And I don't know about you, but to me that kind of environment makes me feel quite on edge and uncomfortable. Moving away from home can be a really difficult experience, so it's important to create an environment that makes you feel calm and comforted. One key way to do this is to bring some home touches to personalise your uni room. We're talking photos, trinkets, pillows, blankets; anything that will make you feel at home.

Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and students are a bit of an iffy mix. We either find ourselves getting far too much sleep (ah what blasphemy; surely too much sleep is a myth) or resembling someone from the walking-dead on the way to 9am lectures. Our anxieties seem to have an ability to notice a moment of weakness in us (such as a lack of sleep) and that's when the bad mental health moments pounce, so getting enough shut eye to keep your body in tip-top condition is so important.

Create A Positive, Inspiring and Clutter-Free Work Space
The nature of uni life means you spend an awful lot of time behind a desk, so it's important to make this desk a lovely and positive place to be. Keep it organised (yes this is an excuse to go out and buy trays and magazine files galore) as a clutter-free space helps to create a clutter-free and focused mind. You can also decorate the wall-space around the desk area with motivational quotes and pictures, to keep you going when you reach a mental block.

Learn That It's Ok To Say No
As a university student there's an unspoken pressure to 'live your best life'; to always be out partying, experiencing new things and meeting new people. But this isn't realistic and succumbing to this pressure can do more harm than good. Don't feel like you have to scream yes at every invitation or be at the heart of every social circle going. And don't feel you need to agree to drinking if it isn't something you feel happy with. It's ok to say no; to have a day off. Be it because you just need a break, because it's a situation you don't feel comfortable with or just because you don't fancy it; it's ok. I don't mean this just in terms of not always feeling under pressure to join in with the drinking culture at uni, it applies in all aspects of life. You can expect yourself to be on top form all the time and sometimes we just need to recognise that our body needs a break and a bit of 'me time'. So it's ok to say no, nobody is going to think badly of you.

Schedule In Relaxation Time
Uni can bring a whole heap of academic pressure you have never experienced before and boy can that be a stressful experience. It's nothing to fear, as it simply takes time to adjust to degree level work just like it would have taken time to adjust to starting your GCSEs or A Levels. But this new stress and anxiety means it's especially important for you to schedule in me time; time to relax and de-stress. The kinds of activity which will bring you to a calmer state of being are going to specific to you and it's important to find something which suits you as a person. For me, it's reading, swimming and long bubble baths, so I try to schedule time for these activities every week. Try to find a physical activity which relaxes you, such as yoga, pilates or jogging, as this exercise will also work to support your physical and emotional health.

Have you got any self care advice for university students?

My Affirmation For The Year Ahead

And just like that it's 2020.

The first few days of a brand new year always play host to a flurry of new years resolutions and exclamations of 'new year, new me'. And I often find that this can cause us to feel pressure to self-scrutinise and make all sorts of changes in our lives. But who says the turn of a new year needs to be given so much significance?

Whilst new year goal setting may be a fab practise for some people, personally I know for me they won't be all that positive. I don't want to enter 2020 with a whole heap unreachable goals and quests which may create a lifestyle that feels a little bit like a pressure cooker.

So I've decided this year to take a more positive stance to new year goal setting and focus my efforts on creating an affirmation I want to shape my year around.

In the latter end of 2019 I began to grow my awareness of affirmations and the power they can have in creating positive thoughts and an overall positive lifestyle. If you're not clued up on the whole affirmation malarkey, it's simply an empowering phrase or sentence we repeat to ourselves over and over again throughout the day. Repeating your affirmation regularly works to alter your mentality and trains your brain into believing the statement. It can be anything, from something simple like "today is going to be a good day" to something more significant to you and your current priorities. 

So I've decided to create my own empowering affirmation to set the tone for the year ahead, in line with my continued focus on creating a positive lifestyle that supports my mental wellbeing. 

So what's my affirmation for 2020?

My affirmation for the year ahead is 'I can just let it be'.

This affirmation is one whose roots lie within one of my favourite songs of all time; a song where the lyrics really resonate with me and hold significant meaning in my life. That song? Let It Be by The Beatles.

Basing an affirmation around musical lyrics may seem trivial to some but it is a song which has spoken to me since I was a child and ultimately I believe we should look for a deeper meaning behind music and lyrics and use them to inspire and motivate us in our daily lives.

For those unfamiliar with the history of the song, the lyrics stem from a dream Paul McCartney had, in which his late mother appeared to him and told him that "it will be alright, just let it be".

I have chosen an affirmation to combat this and clear my mind of thoughts which have no positive purpose in my life. Instead of letting myself overthink and dwell on things, I'm going to consciously choose to repeat the affirmation 'I can just let it be' and fill my mind with positive thoughts which can rewrite my mindset.

I am someone who is prone to overthinking; prone to letting my anxieties consume my thoughts. Often the situations we overthink are ones we have zero control over which means that allowing these thoughts to control our mind is a completely futile practise. The affirmation of 'I can just let it be' aims to let me focus my mind on the fact that I can't control these events and that's ok, as sometimes in life we just need to let things be and see how they play themselves out.

Have you decided on an affirmation for 2020?

Chatsworth Christmas Market

Is there really a better way to get yourself in the festive spirit than immersing yourself in a Christmas market?

A couple of weeks back my mum and I visited Chatsworth House (a gorgeous stately home in Derbyshire) to soak up the festive atmosphere at their gorgeous annual Christmas market. It's something I've been longing to go to ever since I moved up north so it was ever so exciting that this year we got to make the trip.

The market took place this year between 15th November and 3rd December and it played host to over 100 stalls selling unique gifts, handcrafted decorations and festive food galore. Set against the stunning backdrop of the beautiful Chatsworth House, you wander around a multitude of wooden chalet stalls which are all decorated with an abundance of pretty lights and trees.

You park a fair way away from the market itself and then jump on a tractor trailer (which is decked out in it's Christmas finery of course) and it whisks you off towards the festivities. It doesn't look like much on the approach but as soon as you stepped through the entranceway, you were transported to a winter wonderland that was buzzing with festivity.

Something you cannot fault is the festive atmosphere. Each of the traders were absolutely lovely and so keen to have a good chat with you. There was live music from some very talented people, including an oompah band who managed to drag people away from their Christmas shopping to watch and join in with their rendition of well known holiday tunes.

One of my favourite things about Christmas markets is the unique shopping opportunities they provide to support local businesses, both through the gifts you buy and the locally made festive delicacies you enjoy. 

I was able to buy a whole sleigh worth of beautiful pieces, from handmade decorations to deck the halls with, to locally made cheeses and brownies. Several items on my present to-buy list were ticked off too, which made it a successful day all round!

Have you been to a Christmas market this year?