A Twenty-Minute Morning Ritual

I’ve become a firm believer that one’s actions upon waking are a fundamental element in setting oneself up for the day ahead.

Once upon a time my morning routine consisted of snoozing for three or four ten-minute intervals, getting up at the last possible minute and a mad dash around the house trying to get myself together. Mornings were a hectic, stressful blur, and the act of waking up became a chore. I had no time to set myself up for the day and I’d frequently leave the house in a blind panic that I’d miss my train and be late for work.

Soon enough, enough became enough (I love this sentence). I realised that my frantic mornings were playing havoc with my mood, their effects leaking into the following hours and marring what might otherwise have been an okay day. I needed a morning-overhaul.

I’ve now found myself in a comfortable groove in regards to my morning routine, having adopted a few personal rituals that set me up for a productive, successful, happy day. And the best part? These add-ons only take about 20 minutes in total to complete, meaning I’m not sacrificing too many precious moments with my head on the pillow.

My Twenty-Minute Morning Ritual

I set my alarm for an hour and ten minutes before I need to get up. The hour is for my entire morning routine (the following rituals plus showering, getting dressed, sorting my bag etc.), and the ten minutes for snoozing. There is nothing better than turning back over for a little extra shuteye, so I plan this in so as not to let it infringe on the rest of my morning.

After I’ve taken my extra sleep, I get up and head straight to the kitchen, grabbing my phone, headphones and gratitude journal from my bedside. Here I set about making my morning coffee in my stovetop coffee maker. Instant is fine, but there’s something so much more mindful about spooning out the ground coffee, filling the base and waiting to hear the soothing sound of bubbling water.

Whilst I wait for my coffee, I move to the sofa and start filling out the day’s gratitude journal entry. Noting what I have to be grateful for is such a heartwarming way to start the day. It refocuses me on the positives in life, rather than anything that might be worrying me or causing negative feelings. As well as the given headings I may also scribble down how I’m feeling that day to give each entry a little more context.

My coffee is normally bubbling away just as I’m writing my last couple of sentences so, as soon as I’m finished with journalling, I step back into the kitchen to take it off the stove. At the moment my chosen way of drinking my morning joe is in my mini Duralex glasses, poured over ice with a splash of milk.

With coffee in hand, I move back to the sofa. Here I grab my phone and load up the Headspace app. I’ve taken to switching my phone to airplane mode at night so that I can control when I start to see notifications, so I’ll usually have a couple of Headspace packs downloaded to my phone so that it’s ready to go without me having to connect to the outside world.

At the moment I’m focusing on the Productivity pack, but if I feel a particular need for something different that day I might choose to do one of the single sessions, a mini or even an unguided meditation should I want some real quiet, reflective time. A great tool within Headspace is the ability to change how long you want each session to be – my sessions are currently set at ten minutes, so I can squeeze them neatly into my morning.

After my meditation is complete, I like to go back to my gratitude journal and jot down in the margin any thoughts that might have been sparked by my meditation session. These may be hints and tips discussed at the beginning or end of each Headspace session, or anything that particularly worked for me that day. Keeping this kind of meditation diary helps me to internalise what I’ve learnt, to grow with each session, and I love how it’s all combined into one space with my gratitude journalling and emotion-tracker.

From this point on, I carry on with the normal morning bits and pieces – showering, dressing and getting ready to leave the house.

Since making this time for myself, just twenty minutes each morning to refocus, breathe and prepare my mind for the day ahead, I leave the house much calmer and put together than I’ve ever done before. I’m learning that focusing on self-care is of the upmost importance – previously I would have said that I didn’t have enough time for things like this, that sleep was more important, but forming a morning routine around these quick, simple rituals has made it so easy to prioritise my own mental health and happiness.

After that, the rest just falls into place.

A Love Letter to The Ocean

A Love Letter to The Ocean

Once upon a time you would have heard me confidently stating that city life was the life for me. The activity, the lights, the constant movement and opportunity. You might also have heard me announce my disdain for the seaside.

I can’t place my finger on the root of it now, but I just remember it putting me on edge. Perhaps it was a fear of the water, or dislike of beachy decor, I don’t know. But it got to the point where I’d even avoid books or films set by the sea, so as not to subject myself to the mention of it.

Fast forward to the present day, and my feelings about the seaside have changed. My love has flourished. This city boy, who once proclaimed that he’d never move from London, has fallen head over heels for the coastline. I’ve even started to find myself daydreaming about, someday, moving to be closer to it.

When I think about where I’m happiest, it’s by the ocean. Of course it will be mixed with the feelings of getting away, away from work and from responsibility. But I can confidently say that some of my most cherished moments happen to feature a sweeping expanse of salt water as their backdrop.

A Love Letter to The Ocean
A Love Letter to The Ocean

A recent adventure to Brighton (write-up coming soon) with my boyfriend, exploring and refreshing our batteries. Dreamy days and vibrant nights at the very tip of southern Spain with my best friends. And, way back, family weekends in Rye, Winchelsea and Hastings, sitting on the beach with my Grandma, sifting through the pebbles, rocks and stones, collecting our favourites.

These are my happy places, the memories that I hark back to when I’m anxious or stressed, when I need to be lifted and reminded of the good times.

That great expanse of ocean, stretching as far as the eye can see, kissing the sky at the horizon, is utterly grounding. It’s an endless pool, rolling on forever. It stretches on to new adventure and down into depths that are beyond the capacity of our imaginations. It soothes, refreshes and cleanses the soul. It has provided for us, in so many ways, for so many centuries.

A Love Letter to The Ocean

I guess this is kind of a love letter to the sea. And it’s far from complete. I imagine that my love will continue to grow as the years go on. Perhaps I’ll live beside it one day, greeting it each morning with a casual glance and a smile. Or perhaps my path will take me elsewhere, my meetings with it fewer and further between, each visit being a happy reunion with an old, deeply missed friend.

Whatever happens, I’m glad to know that it’ll always be there, constantly reaching out to shore, unceasingly running back to the horizon.

That, at least, is some comfort.

How to Deal with a Flaky Friend

We all have that one friend. That friend that always seems so up for brunch or a movie or a great night out. Who gets you all excited for a great time by planning every detail of your excursion. Who then, just hours before you were meant to meet, almost without fail, sends a quick text to say that they’re sooooooo sorry, but they have to cancel.

Once again, you’ve trustingly set aside your time for this person and they’ve let you down! How dare they?! You vow to never make plans with them again, to remember how bad this made you feel, and yet, the next time they text, you inevitably start the whole process again until eventually you’ll hit breaking point and decide to throw in the towel completely.

It really is tempting to say ‘f**k it’, when it comes to flaky friends. To give up and decide that it’s just not worth investing your time in them anymore. And, if that’s true, if you genuinely feel that they’re adding nothing to your life other than consistently bursting your bubble, maybe now is the time. Maybe you do have to make the decision to set them aside.

But if, once you’ve weighed things up, you come to the realisation that you do still want them in your life, you’ll need to find a way of confronting and working around the issue so as not to let it keep negatively affecting you and your friendship.

A pinch of salt

The best way to avoid setting yourself up for disappointment with flaky friends is to take your plans with a pinch of salt. If their track record is that they end up cancelling 85% of the time, then you need to go into this with 85% dubiety. Instead of letting yourself get super pumped up for a fantastic time, come to terms with the fact that things may not end up working out and prepare to not be too shocked should this be the case. Perhaps form yourself your own personal plan B – a chilled night in with a glass of wine and a bath, for example!

Your mind frame should be ‘if this happens, it happens’ and not ‘if this doesn’t happen I’ll be mortified’. Of course, making plans that may never come to fruition isn’t exactly a fun or productive use of your time, so the next step might be a touch more agreeable…

Don’t make flaky friends the focus

Try not to make this person the focus of your plan. If possible, see them in a group setting rather than alone. This way, there’ll still be people to enjoy your time with and you won’t have lost out on a slot in your diary in which you could have made other plans. One word of caution though: be aware that group dynamics change when certain people are missing. If the flaky friend also happens to be the glue that holds the group together, things mayn’t turn out as fun as you were originally hoping. Make sure to choose a group that’ll still be able to enjoy themselves whether this person is there or not.

Plan small

Instead of counting on your friend to fill hours of your time, try planning small. Suggest grabbing a bite to eat here or there, or asking them round for a cuppa. It’s easier to fit in these mini-plans, and less devastating/disappointing when they fall through. If this person frequently finds themselves suddenly unavailable then perhaps the way forward is to keep giving them the option of short bursts of time together, in the hope that these smaller plans might be more manageable for them to commit to.

The underlying reasons

If nothing else is working and you’re becoming increasingly frustrated that your friend is consistently breaking plans with you, have an honest conversation with them. Let them know how their flakiness is affecting you and give them a safe space to open up in. There are always underlying reasons why people act the way they do, and it’ll benefit your friendship in more ways than one if these are out in the open.

It could be that they’re struggling with introversion, that something is going on in the family or that their job is working them too hard. There are any number of reasons why someone might be having a problem with committing and, while it’s totally justified for you to be disappointed, a touch of compassion will go a long way to prevent you a) resenting this person and ditching them forever and b) boiling over and letting it ruin your own mood and day.

What are your tips for dealing with flaky friends? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

30 Prompts for Your Gratitude Journal

Prompts for Your Gratitude Journal

Even when buying the Five-Minute Journal, I wasn’t completely convinced that I’d manage to stick with it for more than few days. Whilst I could totally see the benefits, commitment has never been my strongest point, and I could see myself making the effort for a short period of time before giving up and letting the book go unused. However, to my pleasant surprise, I’ve been using it for around a month now and it’s had such a positive effect on my mood and outlook on life. I’m becoming used to collecting happy moments, recognising even the tiniest of plusses and now have a record of what’s kept me ticking each day. It’s a wonderful tool, and I cannot recommend it more if you want to start a gratitude journal yourself.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of this particular journal (or others like it), the premise is that, at the beginning and end of each day, you’re prompted to write about the things you’re grateful for, what you hope to achieve from the day and any amazing moments experienced. To begin with, I found the provided headings enough to get me scribbling but admittedly there are certain days that the prompts given to me by the Five-Minute Journal don’t really spark much inspiration. It’s on these days that I cross out the given prompt, and add my own. Here’s a selection of prompts that I like to use, and that you could add to your own journalling routine.

30 Prompts for Your Gratitude Journal

1. What are your most positive qualities?
2. A small act of kindness to complete today.
3. A favourite quote to inspire/lift/motivate you.
4. A moment that made you smile/laugh today.
5. How could you make a positive difference in the world today?
6. Who are you grateful for in life, and why?
7. Who do you look up to, and why?
8. Something pretty/cool/beautiful you noticed today.
9. A new book/magazine/blog you discovered today.
10. What are you thanking the universe for today?
11. Something new to try today.
12. One thing you can do to be more healthy today.
13. One thing you can do to be more inspired today.
14. Draw a picture of a happy moment from your day.
15. Who are you proud of today, and why (this could be yourself!)?
16. Something you read today that made you think.
17. How will you stay mindful/present today?
18. A song that you loved/danced to/kept you going.
19. A great idea you had today.
20. A fear that you conquered today.
21. Something you did to prevent something negative happening today.
22. How do you feel right now?
23. Something that makes you different, and why you love it.
24. A compliment you received today.
25. How you worked on (insert goal here) today.
26. An amazing quality you noticed in someone today.
27. What made you feel nourished today (mentally, physically, spiritually)?
28. Something you did today that made your life simpler.
29. Forgive yourself for something that made you feel guilty.
30. How will you challenge negative thoughts that may arise today?

What are your favourite gratitude journalling prompts? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Inspiration Vol. 1

Sunday Inspiration Vol.1

If my blog were a day of the week (like one of those really weird Buzzfeed quizzes that links two completely random things – “Have Breakfast For Dinner And We’ll Reveal Which Emoji You Are”), I’d hope that it would be a Sunday. Why? Because Sunday, for me at least, is absolutely the best day of the week. It’s slower and more laid back. It’s a day for recollecting your thoughts, readying yourself for the week ahead and taking some much needed me-time. It’s a day for getting up late, reading in bed and eating brunch. It’s a day for flourishing… and being… get it? Flourish & Be? I crack me up.

Bad blog name references aside, with Sunday being a day for stepping back and taking things slow, I thought it’d be a nice time to share the things I’ve been loving (both online and offline) in the preceding week(s). Here I’ll collate the things I’ve enjoyed, discovered and taken inspiration from in a single, concentrated space. So, here you go. Here’s my first list of Sunday inspiration:

Soundtrack: Haim – Want You Back

Online

1. Take some time away from your phone/laptop/iPad/desktop with these five ways to unwind without the internet. I’ve really appreciated getting more involved again in the blogging community recently on Instagram/Twitter, however I know that it’s also necessary to regularly step away from the tech and detach from the world of social media. (Oh My Clumsy Heart Journal)

2. I’m normally pretty upbeat when it comes to work but one day last week I completely lost the will. It was on the way to work that morning that I came across these tips for appearing confident at work when you don’t really know what you’re doing. Though I honestly do know what I’m doing, I sometimes lack the confidence I need to do it, and this pepped me up at the beginning of a difficult day. (Sophie Rosie)

Sunday Inspiration Vol.1

3. I’ve enjoyed the Designlovefest blog for a long time, especially the ton of free downloadable tech wallpapers regularly shared there. These (and an upcoming Instagram post of mine) inspired me to create something similar myself… watch this space! (Designlovefest)

4. What with getting more involved with Twitter again, I’m becoming reacquainted with the people I’m following. One account I’m really enjoying getting to know again is @LondonMindful aka The Mindfulness Project. They’re always posting helpful tips, quotes and reminders to be present, which is much appreciated on my feed! They also hold courses at their London HQ, I actually went to a fantastic mindfulness and meditation session there a couple of years ago, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get involved. (The Mindfulness Project)

Offline

5. I’ve recently gotten into the habit of buying and discovering new magazines, a more recent purchase being Breathe magazine. And let’s just say it’s basically ruined all other magazines for me. It’s a lifestyle magazine dedicated to wellbeing, mindfulness, creativity and the general escaping of busy life… everything I love in one place! If I could put together my perfect publication, Breathe would be it.

6. There are so many habits I’d like to keep up with but a lot of the time I struggle with commitment. Even when buying The Five-Minute Journal I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to stick with it. However, I’ve now been writing in it morning and night for a couple of weeks and I’ve honestly begun noticing a real difference in my mood and outlook on life. Bringing focus to what I’m grateful for and the small-but-amazing things that happen each day has nurtured a much more positive attitude within me and I’m now absolutely committed to keeping the journal as part of my daily routine.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and the week ahead!

5 Crystals for Increased Positivity and Wellbeing

5 Crystals to Introduce to Your Life

Whether you believe in the healing powers of crystals or not, they’re a beautiful addition to your home and general life. Personally, I have to admit that I struggle to get my head around the theory behind it all however I find them fascinating and am totally behind anything that promotes positivity. Whether they’re physically doing anything or not, choosing a stone that represents something you want or need will turn you on to saying yes to the right decisions and opportunities that will draw that particular thing closer. It’s a real, tangible reminder of your goals, hopes and dreams. And, honestly, whatever you find comfort in, whatever keeps you happy and looking forward, is a plus; crystals aren’t harming anyone, so why not embrace the magic? Here are my five favourite crystals, a few of their purported properties and what they are said represent.

1. Clear quartz The master healer. Quartz is one of the most abundant crystals on Earth. It’s ideal for bringing balance to the body and clarity/focus to the mind. It is said that it can help clear emotional detritus from the past and enhance positive emotions.

2. Lapis lazuli This deep blue stone is used to enhance intellectual ability/memory and to stimulate a desire for knowledge and understanding. It is also said to encourage honesty and deeper communication, bringing harmony to relationships.

3. Turquoise For good health and protection, strengthening the immune system and aiding with both physical and mental exhaustion. Turquoise may be used to encourage inner calm by stabilising mood swings and bringing peace to the mind. I love this one for its bright, vibrant colour.

4. Opal A beautiful, cloudy stone with a flash of rainbow within. Use this to provide inspiration and enhance imagination and creativity. As a water stone, like a river flowing over the rocks at its bed, the energy of an opal helps one smoothly move past times of change.

5. Blue lace agate This calming, sky-blue stone is one for bringing tranquility and lessening feelings of anger or nervousness. It enhances intuition and brings tact to both written and spoken communication. Sometimes I like to hold this stone whilst I meditate to help me focus on soothing my mind and being more present.