7 Ways to Find Calm (when your schedule is hectic)

Pictured: ‘Luxe’ bath towels, bath mat and face towels c/- Christy // apothecary cabinet // H&M copper basket // Windle & Moodie hair masque c/- // Leonor Greyl shampoo & conditioner c/- // Fresh lychee shower gel // Aesop rose body wash // Aerin vanilla body wash.

Between my day job, blog, and an always hectic schedule, I hardly ever get any of the downtime I desperately crave in order to recharge. So this month, when my diary is even busier than usual with a flurry of holiday events + looming end-of-year deadlines and I’m on the verge of feeling overwhelmed by the stress of 2016 (seriously, what is with this year?!), I’m making a conscious effort to carve out a little quality ‘me’ time whenever possible this month.

If, like me, your schedule is threatening to trigger an anxiety attack, here are my seven easiest hacks to get you through to the end of the year in a state of merriment rather than stress:

1 // Make the everyday a little more luxurious

Until the day I can hire my own team of assistants, I have to the same mundane tasks as anyone. And while we can’t avoid doing things we don’t enjoy, we can make them feel a little less boring. Blast your favourite tunes and the morning commute feels suddenly more pleasurable; burn a scented candle and household chores feel less tedious; swap your tired old bedding for a delicious new set and bedtime feels like the ultimate treat.

2 // Choose optimism + practice gratitude

Instead of worrying about every little thing that stresses or annoys me each day, I’m trying to focus on that which I can be grateful for. I’m not talking about ignoring injustice or the issues that really matter (which most definitely deserve my attention), but rather not letting those little things – which in the scheme of things are insignificant – mount up and ruin my day; my train running late, someone making a hurtful comment online, or a rude stranger. Instead, every time I start to get stressed at something I can’t control, I try to shift my thinking, take a few calming breaths, and actively focus on what is making me happy instead (‘I’m going to be home an hour late, but I can use this time to catch up on my emails and message my sister, and there’s a cosy bed waiting for me at the other end’). 

 

Pictured: ‘Luxe’ bath towels, bath mat and face towels c/- Christy // apothecary cabinet // H&M copper basket // Sisley radiance face masque c/- // Estee Lauder cleansing balm c/- // Estee Lauder treatment capsules.

3 // Turn your bathroom into a spa

Instead of just quickly hopping in the shower and racing through your beauty routine as quickly as possible, carve out a little extra time a couple of nights a week to treat yourself to some pampering. Leave your phone in another room, play some calming tunes (I’m all about the ‘Nutcracker’ score at the moment; everything feels more festive and wonderful when accompanied by the ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies’), light a couple of candles, put on a hair/face masque and run a bubble bath. That’s at least 20 minutes of peaceful ‘me’ time. If all else fails, the most luxurious towels and body products will make even the most hurried morning shower feel a little more indulgent.

4 // Wind down each evening

Instead of just coming home exhausted, parking yourself in front of the tv, and then falling into bed exhausted, carve out a window before bedtime to de-stress and wind down from the day. I like to make a cup of tea, dim the lights, climb into my pyjamas and escape with a chapter of a feel-good book (when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, I actually prefer to re-visit an old favourite like Breakfast at Tiffany’s or Harry Potter that I know will bring comfort). Those relaxing moments help quieten my mind before bedtime and stop me running through a million things I’m worrying about/have to do when I should be going to sleep.

Pictured: ‘Lilian’ bed linen c/- Christy // mirrored bedside drawers // bed // West Elm lamp // F. Scott Fitzgerald books // Warby Parker glasses // Clarins candle (large) c/- // Diptyque candle (small) // John Derian glass dish. 

5 // Prioritise health + sleep

I confess this is the one I struggle with the most; when things are especially hectic and I’m trying to squeeze too many things into a day, making it to the gym and getting a good night’s sleep are often the first thing to go and I find myself having to scrape by on 4 hours sleep more than I care to admit. But no good ever comes from that, and it makes the following day feel unnecessarily like a struggle (and it’s so much harder to feel cheery when you’re sleep-deprived). While a full 8 hours’ sleep is not always possible, at least try to aim for the best quality sleep possible. Invest in the best quality mattress, pillows and bedding you can afford, ensure your bedroom is a sanctuary and take care of yourself as best you can.

6 // Schedule some festive downtime

While I love a jolly Christmas party, I also make sure to block out some time in my diary for some festive downtime, just as I would any other event. Whether it’s a Sunday at home wrapping presents and baking gingerbread, a festive afternoon tea with a girlfriend, or an evening spent snuggled indoors + watching favourite Christmas movies, it’s important to take time to slow down, go offline and enjoy the season rather than just rushing through the entire month.

7 // Seek out small pleasures often

I’m a firm believer in seeking out small pleasures that make you smile wherever possible. Wearing your favourite shoes just because it’s December; pausing to admire the Christmas decorations in town, the smell of hot chocolate, wrapping yourself in a fluffy robe fresh from the dryer, or finding a new favourite lipstick that makes you feel instantly more glamorous. It’s all about quality vs quantity (and not ‘saving’ your favourite things for a special occasion).

 

Pictured: ‘Lillian’ bed linen c/- Christy // Yawn pyjamas c/- // ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ book // copper tray // Anthropologie mug. 

How do you find a sense of calm and make time for yourself when your schedule is hectic? Please share your best suggestions in the comments below!

Love, Miss B xx

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This post is in partnership with Christy UK #DreamChristy

How to Make a Sick Day Better

A Girl, A Style _ How to Make a Sick Day Better

As a bona-fide Type A personality, I struggle with the notion of being forced out of action by something as mundane as being sick. But it happens to us all, and sometimes, you just have to admit defeat and call in sick to the world for a day. Here’s my guide to making it as good as can be (NB: none of this is ground-breaking advice, but we can probably all do with a little reminder to slow down when we need to):

1. Ditch the guilt + woe. If you’re anything like me, sick days will inevitably induce feelings of guilt (“but I don’t have time to be sick! There is so much to do!” etc. etc.) or self-pity. Getting sick is your body’s way of telling you to slow down, so listen and do as it says. Guilt-free. (No one will congratulate you for forcing yourself to work when you’re an incubus of germs anyway)

2. Take care of yourself. Your body will be devoting all of its energy to getting better. Help it along by wrapping up warm, taking the medicine/remedies you need and getting plenty of fluids and healthy nutrients. Tea, soup and orange juice were invented for days like this!

3. Get cosy. You’re not leaving the house all day (really, no one else wants your germs), so get comfortable! Fluff the pillows, change into your favourite pyjamas, and fix yourself a tray of healthy snacks, tissues, medicine and supplies so you don’t have to move more than you want to.

4. Rest. You’re home for a reason, so give your body what it needs and spend the day doing as little as possible. Go straight back to bed after breakfast, have a nap every few hours or just rest as long as you need (no guilt allowed).

5. Indulge in a little escapism. There is no point even attempting anything energetic, so spend the day as peacefully as possible. When I’m feeling horrid, I like to escape with a happiness-inducing book, some light-hearted TV or an old-favourite movie (avoid anything too intense or cerebral, or you’ll just fall asleep anyway).

A Girl, A Style _ How to Make a Sick Day Better 2

Pictured: (Top) John Lewis bed // Marks & Spencer lamp // White Company bedding // Diptyque candle // Aerin fragrance // (Bottom) Warby Parker ‘Huxley’ glasses // Anthropologie monogrammed mug (a gift from Nicolette). 

6. Pamper. You’ll probably feel dehydrated, achey and flat, so a little nurturing won’t hurt. I try to take a long bubble bath (the heat eases aches and pains and the steam will help clear your sinuses), slather on a face oil before climbing back into bed (to combat parched, dull skin), and a healing balm to soothe dry lips and nostrils. A spritz of face mist during the day and a few drops of relaxing lavender oil on an oil burner also work wonders.

7. Tidy up a little. No matter how sick you are, wallowing will only make you feel worse. Open the window and spend five minutes collecting all the tissues, straightening your room and washing a few dishes. The outer order will improve your mood, if nothing else.

8. Indulge in small pleasures. Don’t waste your precious energy on anything elaborate, but now is the time to indulge in a few of your favourite small pleasures to cheer you up. I like to light a few candles (even if I can’t smell a thing, it lifts the mood of the room – just don’t fall asleep with them lit!), have a piece of dark chocolate and make a pot of my favourite Laduree tea. Such pleasures certainly won’t cure any ailments, but they will make you feel a little rosier.

9. Do one small task. even though I only take sick days when I’m so unwell I’m physically incapable of leaving the house, I struggle with productivity-guilt if I do nothing with my day. I find it helps if I do at least one tiny task. Now is not the time to do anything requiring sharp focus or decisiveness. Tidy a junk drawer, file a stack of paperwork or clean out your medicine cabinet.

10. Go back to bed! Just when you’ve spent the day resting, go back to bed and sleep some more. Hopefully, you’ll wake up feeling like yourself again (and if not: rinse and repeat tomorrow!).

How do you try to make the most of a sick day?

Love, Miss B xx

Pictures via my Instagram (because who whips out a DSLR when they’re sick?!)

How To: My Favourite Apps and Gadgets

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked by lovely readers is what I use to blog / take my pictures, and how I edit my photos. So here is a roundup to all my favourite gadgets and apps.

To write my blog: I am seriously attached to my Apple MacBook Pro, and my blog is self-hosted on WordPress.org (meaning I pay a monthly hosting fee and built the design from scratch).

On the go: Though I’m really a pen and paper girl (for my endless ‘to do’ lists and ideas), if I’m travelling then I’ll take my iPad (which lives in a Stella McCartney Falabella case) or my new Samsung Galaxy Note tablet (which comes with the snazziest pen for hand-drawing and writing over pictures) for checking in.

Photography: Until this point, I’ve mostly used a Canon 1000d (the perfect entry-level digital SLR camera) for my blog photos, but I’ve just upgraded to a Canon 650d which so far seems perfect. If I don’t want to take a big camera but want something in my bag ‘just in case’, then the Olympus Pen Mini is excellent (it works like an SLR, but is a fraction of the size / weight and you can also add photo filters a la Instagram). Regardless of the camera I’m using, I always shoot on manual so that I can set the ISO higher and the shutter speed lower than it would otherwise be on automatic (to give a brighter, breezier look).

Phone: I am rather permanently attached to my iPhone, and between checking my emails, approving comments, writing from the train, snapping pictures of little things that make me smile, and updating my social media, sometimes it feels as though my blog could barely function without it. My favourite apps are Instagram, Hootsuite to keep up with my Twitter feed (you can create categories and columns, meaning you can just check your favourites or your mentions if you’re short on time) and Dropbox to easily transfer photos between my phone and computer.

Photo-editing: I am really rather low-fi and do as little as possible when it comes to editing (I prefer good, natural lighting to post-processing), but sometimes I do give my pictures a little tweak. Oh my phone, Instagram (I always use the Earlybird filter) is by far my favourite app (I always put my ‘month in pictures’ posts together using the pictures I’ve snapped on Instagram), but I also love the PicFX app for the bokeh effects (that gives the little twinkly lights in the two pictures above) and the rosy Marshmallow filter (also in the two pictures above). For my main (camera) photos, I’ll sometimes use PicMonkey (like Photoshop-lite, but free and online and easy-peasy to use) to brighten, crop or blur photos, smooth out a blemish or add a slight filter (I like a touch of Tranquil for a vintage look). You can also make collages on PicMonkey, but I tend to use either Polyvore for a collection of products (like my ‘monthly loves’ posts) or, for my ‘month in pictures’ posts, literally line the images I want up in a square on my computer’s draw programme and then save them as a jpg file (I told you I was low-fi!).

…And there you have it; all my blogging secrets revealed!

Photos: (top) Apple iPhone, Lulu Guinness phone case, Chanel Malice nail polish, Miu Miu sunglasses, Rifle Paper co. Notepad, Bauble Bar necklaces, Mimco cameo necklace (old), vintage brooch, Mac Ruby Woo lipstick, The Great Gatsby book.
(bottom) Samsung Galaxy Note tablet and Nicholas Kirkwood chevron case, Warby Parker glasses, Mimco pearl necklace, Olympus Pen Mini camera.

Feel free to ask me any more questions, and please do share your favourite apps and gadgets in the comments below.

Love, Miss B xx