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

Shop the post:

This post is in partnership with Christy UK #DreamChristy

7 Things for the Weekend

A Girl, A Style _ 7 Things for the Weekend

First things first: a very Happy New Year to you all! I’m just back from Australia (and my Christmas blogging break) and ready to tackle 2016 in style. After a month of lazing about on the beach in the sunshine, it was rather a shock to the system to have to put on a suit and take myself back to work this week (my Monday began with a 4:00am start to head to Brussels for meetings), so I’m ready for a quiet weekend of self-pampering and time spent with friends.

1. It’s scheduled to be raining all weekend here, so I’ll be in fully-fledged hibernation mode. I’ll be making it as luxurious as possible with old-Hollywood movies, a stack of magazines and lots of candles. This Olympia le Tan for Diptyque is my current favourite (it smells like an English garden in spring).

2. Like the rest of the world, I’m trying to be a little more saintly this January (less sugar and coffee, more water and self-kindness). Carrying a bottle of water everywhere helps, and I swear by my weekend barre classes (the instructor plays Motown tunes which makes it feel more like a dance party, and less like the torturous exercise class it actually is). What January-improvement tips are you trying?

3. Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying? It’s a little extreme (I won’t be rolling my underwear or ripping pages out of my books anytime soon…), but the principle is excellent and it really makes you think about everything you own. I’m constantly running out of storage space and have implemented a strict ‘one-in-one-out‘ policy for everything new that I buy, but I’m taking it one step further by organising my entire place this January. Want to get a similar head start on your spring cleaning? I dare you to organise your entire room of your house this weekend! 

4. After said tidying session, go and buy yourself a big bunch of pink roses or spring flowers to bring the outdoors in and make your place feel extra cheery.

5. I always like to start the weekend with a Saturday morning facial + masque. While in Australia, I stocked up on all my favourites from Aesop (I’ve been using the brand for 15 years and it’s still my number 1), which make my skincare ritual feel like a joy. If you haven’t tried the brand before, I’d recommend starting with the divine Mandarin Face Cream and the equally lovely Resurrection Hand Cream.

6. Suffering from January blues? Compensate for the lack of Vitamin D by plotting a spring adventure somewhere wonderful. I’m planning a long weekend trip to Paris with the fiancé in May (nothing makes me happier than Paris in the spring!). This should help with the destination-planning!

7. I love keeping the art of beautiful snail mail alive. Still haven’t sent your ‘thank you’ notes from the holidays? Hand-write some beautiful cards this weekend ready to post on Monday. This chic notecard set should cover all-occasions.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Love, Miss B xx

 

Back to School (for Grownups)

A Girl, A Style _ Back to SchoolClockwise from top: Apple laptop (I just this week replaced my last iPad and MacBook Pro after 5 years of faithful service) // Anthropologie stapler (sold out, but identical version available here) // Kate Spade coaster c/- Magpie Decor // Kate Spade pencil case (also comes in a notebook version) // Rifle Paper Co. notebook + to-do list + notecards // Parker pen // Kate Spade 2015-16 agenda // Teapot c/- Magpie Decor.

Alright, let’s be frank: I’m hardly going anywhere near a school gate this year (I graduated high school – insert scream face emoji here – over fifteen years ago). But regardless of the fact I’m a grown woman in my 30s, I still derive as much pleasure from a few back-to-school rituals and a new set of stationery as I always did.

Although thankfully these days the stationery is from Kate Spade, the new school shoes are replaced by Ferragamo’s and the knee-high socks by Wolford opaque stockings, some things stay the same: I always start each season with a big organising and de-cluttering session (spring cleaning the entire house, making a list of what needs updating, and going through my wardrobe to remove anything worn out, the wrong size or no longer loved), re-stocking the basics and moving the out-of-season supplies to storage.

So whether you’re 15 or 35, the start of new term is always the perfect time to take stock of your progress during the year, set new goals, have an almighty organise + de-clutter session at home, and re-stock your supplies with a few lovely things for the new season. And there’s always room for excellent new stationery. 

A roundup of my favourite back-to-school supplies (for grownups):

I’d love to know: do you still start the new season with a few old back-to-school rituals? What are your favourite things to do + re-stock this time of year? 

Have a great term!

Love, Miss B xx

 

How To Ace Summer

A Girl, A Style _ How to Ace SummerWe are half-way through August, which means there is just over a month left until the end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the best season of the year, so don’t let it pass you by without extracting every last drop of fun from these long, sunny days. Here’s my guide to how to win at summer (even if you don’t have a vacation booked):

1. Have an adventure. Travel to a new place or have a fun weekend getaway with your girlfriends. Explore a new city, go to a festival, spend a weekend on the coast, or go camping in the countryside.

2. Get outdoors. Make the most of these long summer evenings and get outside whenever you can. Cycle to work instead of taking the subway, dine al fresco at sunset, watch an outdoor play, visit an outdoor cinema for to see a favourite movie beneath the stars or listen to a jazz band in the park.

3. Dance all night. Every summer should include at least one extravagant party. Get all dressed up, drink champagne, kiss beneath fireworks and dance until the small hours.

4. Play tourist. Don’t let the tourist have all the fun in your own city. Visit the sights, go to the zoo, take in a show or try the hottest new restaurant or rooftop bar in town.

5. Throw a picnic. I take any excuse to have a picnic outside, but every summer I try to have at least one especially wonderful version complete with the best food, good company and a round of croquet or punting on the river afterwards.

6. Build the ultimate summer playlist. Make the perfect soundtrack to accompany those summer adventures. Mine is filled with everything from the Beach Boys and Brigitte Bardot to Phoenix and Vampire Weekend and evokes fond memories of summer bike rides and beach days (and my imaginary summer in California).

7. Take to the water. Head to the pool to practice your swan dive (or cannonball), rent a rowboat on the lake or, better yet, make friends with someone who owns a yacht and set sail into the sunset.

8. Host an impromptu dinner party. On an evening when you have no other plans, gather your favourite people for a summer party at home. Decorate with bright flowers, put together a make-your-own taco or pizza bar, play your favourite tunes and serve up homemade lemonade or frozen cocktails.

A Girl, A Style _ How to Win at Summer 1

9. Work on your green thumb. Even if you only have a tiny windowsill or balcony, make the most of the sunshine and try growing your own basil, mint or hydrangeas. Guaranteed smugness when you make a salad with your own herbs.

10. Have a beach day. Grab your brightest towel, your strongest SPF and your favourite swimsuit and spend the day splashing about at the sea. Bonus points for beach hair and silly photos.

11. Visit the farmer’s market. Go for brunch at your favourite cafe and then head to the farmer’s market to stock up on summer berries, peaches and the biggest bunch of hydrangeas or sunflowers you can find.

12. Ride a bike. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, rent a couple of bikes and spend the day cycling out to the prettiest spot outside your town (I’m planning to cycle to the Grantchester meadows or the Hitchin lavender farm in Cambridgeshire).

13. Find the best lobster rolls or ice cream in town. I’ve taken this one step further and bought an ice cream maker with my neighbour so that we can make our own ice cream flavours as often as we want (my favourite so far is peach and orange blossom).

14. Make like an aristocrat. Head to the grandest estate near where you like and spend the afternoon strolling the gardens, having tea in the orangerie or playing croquet on the lawns.

15. Spend a day in the park. Feed the ducks, watch the clouds drift by and and make a dent in your summer reading list.

I’d love to know your favourite things to do in summer! How do you plan to spend the rest of the season?

Love, Miss B xx