How To (And Why You Should) Live More Cat

Why you should live your life a little more like our feline friends… and how to make that happen.

Photo by Krysten Merriman on Pexels.com

If there’s one thing you should know about me (apart from my serious book-buying addiction) it’s that I seriously love cats.
A lot of people say you’re either a dog person or a cat person, and I am 100% a cat person. I love their fluffiness, their grumpiness, their fierce independence, and the fact that when I get home after work, there is always a furry friend waiting to cuddle me and keep me company.

(For the few of you who are cat-obsessed as I am and are now desperate to know – I have a very large, very vocal, black and white cat called Felix. We rescued him when he was 7 years old and very overweight, and I love him possible more than I love my own husband…)

Anyway – cat person, dog person, reptile person – everyone is welcome here! And you don’t have to be a cat person to learn something from this post, I hope.

I believe that we could all benefit from living more ‘cat’.

Let me explain. There are a number of qualities and attributes of our feline friends that I think us mere humans could learn from. Things that could improve our work lives, make us feel more confident, and ultimately improve our wellbeing. (There are already a few books written about this, so if you find this post interesting, you could always read more. For example, ‘How To Argue With A Cat’*.)

Photo by Alice Castro on Pexels.com

Here are four ways tp Live More Cat:

Be Assertive

Cats are never afraid to say what they want. In fact, my cat is currently shouting at my husband downstairs, because he knows it’s dinner time! He knows exactly what he wants, and he will tell us straight. Time for dinner? Tell the humans. Want a cuddle? Tell the humans. Want to be left alone? Definitely tell them!
Now, I’m not saying you should start hissing at the next person to annoy you in a team meeting. However, couldn’t we all benefit from being a little bit more assertive? As tough as it can be, especially for those of us with anxiety or similar issues, it is often well worth saying what you need. That could be to your boss, a colleague, a friend or a partner. Try it, and see where it gets you.

Be Wary, But Loyal

Perhaps I don’t mean ‘wary’ – that sounds a bit negative. What I mean is, trust carefully when you need to. It’s not healthy to be paranoid and think the worst of everyone you meet, but it also isn’t always a good idea to fully trust everybody straight away. Hold off a little, let people earn your trust, but then be loyal to your friends.
Many people talk about how loyal dogs are, but actually many cats are too. Once you’ve developed a good relationship with your cat, they will stick with you. Isn’t that the kind of friend we all aspire to be?

Always Be A Bit Kitten

So, I’m telling you to be more cat – but what about kittens? Cute, fluffy little balls of absolute crazy! They love to play and just have fun! They don’t mind a bump here or a scratch there, they just want to play and have fun and enjoy themselves.
If you have a cat, you’ll be aware of the ‘crazy hour’. If you’re unfamiliar, essentially it is this: Just as you want to go to sleep, and the house is serene and quiet, your cat will go bananas. Your 9 year old tired tabby suddenly becomes a kitten again, and wants to play with you all night long!
Letting a little kitten energy into our lives could do us all a lot of good. Have a play, have some fun and let out some energy. Maybe try a new sport, or simply let yourself really let go and laugh at your favourite comedy. Have fun and act like a child, just for the sake of it.

And finally…

Rest

Cats sleep for an average of 15 hours a day. Admittedly, they don’t have jobs to hold down or blog posts to publish, but that’s not to say we can’t take inspiration from them here too.
Cats know that rest is important, particularly if they’re going to enjoy an enthusiastic crazy hour!
Rest is so key for humans to. You know the saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup‘? So true. Your work will suffer and your relationships will suffer if you are not able to properly rest and recooperate ono a regular basis.
I don’t know what that rest looks like to you. Perhaps it’s an extra hour in bed on Sunday, or maybe it’s your weekly yoga class, or a solo coffee date on a Saturday morning. Make sure you have enough rest to let your body – and mind – recover from your busy schedule.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

That was just four quick ideas of how you can introduce more ‘cat’ into your lifestyle. If you have any more ideas, or you know how you’re going to incorporate one of these into your week, please do let me know in the comments below. 🙂

A purple outline of a sloth hanging from a branch

My Self-Care Wishlist

Self-care should be, and most often is, completely free and accessible to anyone at any time.
There are plenty of activities you can do for free that might help pick up your mood. However, sometimes there are some small (or not so small) things that can help us to calm down, relax or feel better.

Here is my wishlist of items that I would like to help me with my self-care. (Full credit goes to Mommin In The Real World who I originally saw post this style of list.)

  1. A gravity blanket

    This is the big one – I would absolutely love a gravity blanket. I do find that my reactions to my anxiety are quite sensory-based and that I react badly to noise/light/smells when I’m anxious. On top of this, I do find pressure helpful. I think I would be able to relax so much with a weighted blanket but the gravity blanket itself is just so expensive!

  2. The Lush ‘Comforter’ Bubble Bar

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    Self-care isn’t always about a bubble bath, and I’m not much of a bath bomb person usually – but I make a huge exception for the Comforter bubble bar! It’s not a glittery bath bomb and it lasts for multiple baths, so it’s just a bit more me (and a bit more budget-friendly). It has a marshmallowey scent that I find so comforting – hint the name, I suppose! I really want to treat myself to another of these soon.

  3. A Good Guided Journal / Gratitude Journal

    Last Summer, I started getting into journalling and I did see the benefits for a little while. However, I found that I just didn’t want to spend lots of time journalling, and didn’t really know where to go with it. I’d love to start it up again, because I know how many people swear by it, but I think I need a good journal to use. I’ve seen a couple of ‘guided’ journals with templates and prompts, which I think I might give a go.

4. Decaf coffee

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Something we’ve recently run out of in the house and I keep forgetting to stock up on – decaf coffee! I love the comfort of a hot drink and I love the taste of coffee. However, it’s not always practical or sensible to be having a big dose of caffeine when I’m feeling anxious. This is why going decaf is such a saviour for me! I like the Douwe Egberts decaf coffee but there are loads of great options out there so you can find one to suit your taste. Of course, hot chocolate is always a good option too!

5. A Foot Spa

 

How decadent would it be to have a proper foot spa at home? At least I feel like it would! I would love to sit with my feet soaking and being massaged while I blog or watch a film… I just feel like that would be the ultimate in indulgent low-energy relaxation!

This was a short and very varied list, but I hope you’ve been inspired a little bit to indulge in some self-care and perhaps even treat yourself to one of these items! I am definitely going to keep squirreling away my spare cash to get a gravity blanket.

What would you add to this list?

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What Self-Care Looks Like To Me

Well, it’s been a while!

I haven’t written a post in quite a few months, which I’m sure not many people have noticed, but I wanted to get back into the swing of things and start blogging more frequently again.

So, this #SelfCareSunday, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what self-care looks like to me…

Preventative Self-Care

barbell on the floor
Photo by Leon Martinez on Pexels.com

I’ve been trying to put more of my time this year into preventative self-careThat is, taking care of myself to keep my body and mind healthy, to avoid any down-turns in my mental health, rather than waiting until I feel the need to use self-care to recover.

One of the main ways I’ve been doing this (hint the picture above…) is heading to the gym. I have a real love-hate relationship with exercise on the whole, but I do know that if I drag myself out the house and go for a jog, or sweat my way through a gym class, I do feel better. This works if I’m in a bad mood, but I have also noticed that on the weeks that I put the effort in to work out more often, I feel better on the whole.

I also like to make sure that I am always getting enough sleep. I am someone who needs plenty of sleep to function properly! I know this fact about myself, so why starve myself of sleep? For me to feel calm and prepared for the day ahead, I need to have had a good night’s sleep.

Self-Care First Aid

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Photo by Jaymantri on Pexels.com

Sometimes (frequently) you have a bad (awful) day, filled with stress and panic, and you need some serious self-care time that evening to recover.

On those days (and there are plenty of them, believe me!) I like to take time to myself to calm down, relax and repair. This will look different all the time, but it usually involves some of the following:

  • Climbing into bed early.
  • Curling up with a good book. (Have you read my post on The Best Book Genres for a Cosy Night In?)
  • Watching Netflix. (I might write a Netflix recommendations post soon, if you’d be interested in reading that then please let me know in the comments!)
  • Cuddling my cat.
  • Cooking up some delicious comfort food.
  • Taking a bath with lots of Dead Sea salts.
  • Stretching/attempting some funny-looking yoga.

 

I have found that doing some more pro-active and preventative self-care has lessened the frequency of those ‘first aid’ days, but sometimes you just have to spend a few hours recovering.

What does self-care look like to you?

 

If you want to read more about my self-care habits, I have written posts before on winter self-care ideas and low energy self-care activities.

 

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What I Learnt from Being Stuck in Bed for Four Days.

Grab a cuppa – this is a long one! 🙂

About a week ago, I was more ill than I have been for ages. (That is an occupational hazard of teaching though – a lot of sickness bugs get shared around the school!) I had some kind of bad cold/flu that knocked me sideways for most of the week. I fell ill on the Saturday afternoon, and by that night I was feverish, coughing, and generally just feeling pretty awful. I stayed in bed all of Sunday and then, quite reluctantly, dragged myself to work on Monday. That was a bad idea.

I struggled through Monday at school, feeling lethargic and low in energy. I was coughing and wheezing through all my lessons, trying desperately to seem upbeat and positive. By the end of the day, I felt 10 times worse and my line manager promptly sent me home under strict instructions to get better.

So, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at home. In bed. Feeling utterly useless.

And here’s what I realised – although I knew that I needed to rest, and I would be advising anyone in the same boat as me to do exactly that, I felt incredibly guilty for taking two whole days out of work and out of my routine just to rest. I tried to go ahead with a personal training session but was luckily told by my trainer not to turn up at the gym, I felt awful for ‘making’ Chris prepare dinners and sort out the house, when actually it was totally his choice. I really didn’t know how to handle being this ill or, more accurately, how to hand over the control of my life to other people. I felt lazy and was itching to get back to school so that my colleagues wouldn’t think the same. (Spoiler: They are lovely, caring people who would never say that about anyone who was ill.)

So why all the worry? Why did I find it so hard just to rest and recover?

I suppose I’m just so used to being busy.
My job means that I’m on the go all day, often taking work home with me as well. I work at weekends, go to the gym when I can, wake up early to fit more into my day and spend my evenings wedding planning. I love being busy and it’s just become part of who I am. However, the shock to my system when I was forced to give all this up for a few days was unbelievable. I couldn’t adjust to suddenly feeling helpless and out of control. All I had was a cold, why on earth couldn’t I just get out the house and get stuff done?

Then I realised – I needed the rest.

My body needed to rest. It was unwell and it was never going to get better if I forced it through a school day, a workout and a few hours of admin. I needed to sleep, relax and recover.

Once I found peace with that, I coped a lot better.

I’m interested to know if any of you have been in the same situation – I’m sure that any of you who, unlike me, are self-employed or work from home, have certainly felt this guilt when you can’t do anything. But it is so important to give your body what it needs. Whether that is good food, lots of water, some exercise, or just complete rest. I got back to work on Thursday and now feel pretty much back to normal. If I hadn’t let my body recover for a few days, I’m certain that right now I’d feel just as awful as I did last weekend. If not worse.

Next time you’re ill and stuck in bed, try to see the upside. If you can, read a book. Or watch Netflix, or listen to a podcast. Enjoy whatever hobbies or relaxing activities you never normally have the time for, but can do with very little energy. Have a bath, curl up with your pet, eat comfort foods and drink Lucozade. When you decide to see this as a self-care opportunity rather that forced bed-rest, your mentality shifts to one of positivity and health, rather than negativity and sickness. (Remember, self-care doesn’t have to be really indulgent, sometimes it’s 100% necessary to just include low energy options to make you feel better.)

I hated being forced to rest, until I saw that it was exactly what I needed and that I could draw some positives from it if I really tried. I hope that in the future you can do the same 🙂

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5 Winter Self-Care Ideas

There are lots of things to moan about in the winter – who really likes the dark evenings and stepping in a huge puddle? However, there are also lots of things to love about the winter too. Like the lighter mornings, the crisp, clean feel to the air, and the atmosphere of celebration around the holidays.

The cold weather and the dark can take their toll on your mood if you’re not careful – as can the holidays, which are often difficult times for people, for all sorts of reasons. For these reasons, it is really important to take care of yourself in the colder months. Self-care can be a solution to a bad day or, even better, a preventative measure, carried out little and often to help keep those low days at bay.

Here are 5 simple self-care ideas for you to try out this winter:

  1. Put on clean bed sheets. (Bonus points if they have a wintery pattern, are fleecy, or accompany your change to the ‘winter duvet’.)
    There’s nothing quite like climbing into your bed at the end of the day when the sheets are brand new and super comfortable. If you’re having trouble sleeping, make sure your room is at the right temperature for you and perhaps try a sleep spray or a hot milky drink as well.

    white bed comforter
    Photo by Jaymantri on Pexels.com
  2. Bake a treat for someone.
    Baking on its own is often therapeutic, but why not add on the additional joy of taking what you’ve made and sharing it with someone. Maybe your co-workers would like a Monday pick-me-up, or an elderly neighbour would really appreciate the gesture? If you’re not a confident baker and want to start off with something more simple, the packet mixes you can get from supermarkets that just involve adding water or eggs are brilliant. They are also great for baking with young children!
  3. Wrap up warm and go for a walk.

    a thick scarf and a hand holding a hot drink
    I love to grab my collapsible coffee cup, put on a thick scarf, and go for a long walk.

    This is one of my favourite activities, despite the cold weather. When it’s a dry but cold day, I love to wrap up in my cosiest jumper, a thick scarf and a woolly hat, and head out for a walk. If I’m going by myself, I’ll often take a book to stop off somewhere and have a read, or I’ll listen to a podcast whilst I walk. If it’s me and my fiance walking, we’ll often play Pokemon Go on our route, or just enjoy the time to talk with no distractions. My reusable cup filled with coffee often joins us on the walk too! This activity is great for your mind, as well as getting your legs moving and incorporating a little bit of exercise into your self-care routine.

  4. Read a book in bed.
    Simple, classic, and a perfect activity for a wet and rainy day. Grab a hot drink, curl up in your duvet and appreciate having the time to do nothing except read your favourite book. For winter reads I particularly love horrors, thrillers, historical fiction and crime novels.
  5. Have a totally indulgent hot bath or shower.
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    I know that I’ve said before that self-care is about more than just hot bubble baths, however sometimes that is exactly what you need. Treat yourself to a warming and relaxing bath to escape the cold weather and relax. If baths aren’t your thing, just allow yourself the indulgence of not worrying too much about the hot water bill for a few minutes and whack the heat up on your shower. Choose a luxuriously scented shower gel, sing as loud as you like and feel the tension melt away.

 

What do you love most about the colder months?

Hopefully, if the cold weather has got you feeling blue, there are a couple of ideas here that can help you take care of yourself. (If you think you’re low feelings are more serious, or that you may be suffering from SAD or similar, I urge you to seek advice from a professional.)

Happy winter!

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Buddy Box Lite and contents

Buddy Box Review

Last month, when I was feeling down, I ordered myself a Buddy Box from The Blurt Foundation as a pick-me-up. I totally forgot about it and had a lovely surprise when I picked up this mystery parcel from the delivery office. If you saw my ‘How I’m Dealing With Stress’ post, you’ll know I had been having a bit of a rough time, and my Buddy Box just made my day.

I have followed and loved The Blurt Foundation for a few years and I think they do a great job. Their aim is to increase awareness and understanding of depression, as well as providing support and resources to those suffering from depression. It’s a fantastic cause, and one very close to my heart, and I would really recommend giving them a follow on Twitter or checking out their website.

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Their Buddy Boxes are subscription boxes that you can order for yourself or someone else as a sort of care package. As Blurt explain:

Packed full of thoughtful, mood-lifting treats, the BuddyBox comforts, delights and gives you that warm, ‘I’ve been cared for’ feeling inside. In other words – it’s a hug in a box.”

And who doesn’t want a hug in a box?

You can subscribe to the boxes or buy a one-off box. Personally, I bought this box as a one-ff. I bought the Buddy Box Lite, which contains 3 items. The original Buddy Box contains 5. The theme of my box was ‘Become a Rhino-Snore-Us’. Sleep is something I think is really important and one of many things that make me happy! – and it contained some lovely sleep-themed items that I’ll briefly talk about below…

  1. This very cute postcard, that says ‘But first, sleep.’

    I think this is really cute and I might put it up somewhere in my bedroom.
    postcard that reads 'but first, sleep'

  2. The Blurt zine.

Blurt produce this zine that goes in every BuddyBox. It’s full of sleep tips and information.  A really helpful, quick read. This gives the BuddyBox some really beneficial substance that perhaps the products on their own would lack. I think this is a great addition to the box.

Blurt Foundation zine and cat post-it notes

3. To-Do Post-It Notes

Although I do think these have a bit of a tenuous link to the ‘sleep’ theme, I do like them. They’re very cute and I always love a new piece of stationery. Particularly novelty post-its. These are by Gemma Correll and I will definitely be checking out the rest of her stuff if I can.

4. Scentered De-Stress Balm.

This Scentered de-stress balm is a stick of lovely aromatherapy scented balm, which you rub on your pulse points (Your wrists, temples or neck.) to help you feel calmer and hopefully get some sleep. I really like the scent of this and it is really calming to smell when you’re feeling worked up or stressed.

5. Fluffy socks

I’ve saved the best until last in my opinion. Look at these socks! They are fluffy, soft and very, very comfortable. They’re also really long, reaching nearly up to my knees, which I love. These are great for the chilly evenings that are creeping in at the moment and they are my favourite thing from the Buddy Box.

 

So what did I think?

All in all, I really liked the products sent in this box. It really perked up my day receiving the box in the post and the items in it are comforting and great for self-care. My most used item so far has been the gorgeously cosy socks and I have used the de-stressing balm on occasion. Although I liked the post-it notes a lot, I do think there could have been something more relevant to the theme.

Overall, I’d say that if you’re going through a tough time, or you know someone who is, and can afford to splash out a little bit of money (it really isn’t that much actually) to get a Buddy Box sent to your door, it is definitely worth doing. And you know your money is going to a really worthwhile organisation.

Self-care all the way!

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pumpkins and sunflowers in autumnal spread

How to Survive Halloween as an Anxious Person

I love Halloween! I love the spooky stuff, the abundance of pumpkin-spiced-everything and the cold creepy nights. However, as someone who suffers with an anxiety disorder, I do know that not every Halloween activity suits people with anxiety problems. If you find this time of year nerve-wracking, or want to join in with social events but get nervous doing so, here are a few ideas of how to survive Halloween as someone with an anxiety disorder:

Horror Films

Scary films are a huge part of Halloween for some people and something that I often enjoy. However, on a bad anxiety day, they aren’t ideal, and you may well think that horror films sound like an absolute nightmare! (Pun slightly intended…)

The main thing is that you always feel like you can say no. If you don’t want to watch a scary film, just say no. Any real friends won’t mind and will probably change their plans to accommodate you.

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If you feel like you can watch a scary film, there are a few things you can do to prevent extra anxiety. First, watch them at home. That way you can pause the film if you need to, you’re somewhere familiar, and you can leave some lights on too. Also, avoid particular triggers if you know you have them. For example, my anxiety is often triggered by medical scenarios, so I will often avoid films that are set in hospitals or similar. Lastly, have a quick self-check before the film starts. Are you in the right mindset to watch this film? Is there anything you need to make yourself feel more comfortable?

There are also plenty of films that are more ‘comedy spooky’, rather than full-on horror. Think ‘Hocus Pocus’! (Which I’ve never actually seen and desperately want to watch this month!)

Books

If you’re desperate to consume some Halloween-y media, but can’t stomach a horror film this year – why not try a scary book instead? The bonus of books is that you can close them and walk away very easily if you need to.

For a traditional ghost story, I would recommend The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and for a superb psychological thriller I love Misery by Stephen King.*

The Haunting of Hill HouseMisery

Horror Mazes or ‘Scare’ Events

There’s a ‘scare village’ event near where I live that I really want to go to this year, but I sometimes really struggle with live-action horror events. Every year, you will see this style of horror event or maze pop-up. For example, the ‘Fright Night’ events at Thorpe Park. I have done these type of mazes before, but I’ve also avoided them before, so hopefully my advice can help you if you want to go to one of them.

First, remember that the actors are not allowed to touch you. You are completely safe and are in a controlled environment. Keep telling yourself that the whole event is completely fake and the performers and organisers are there to keep you safe, if a little scared.

Calm vs Panic signs with blurred beach background

Secondly, remember that you can always get out if you need toI have, on two occasions, left scary themed events early and on both occasions, staff were really understanding and accommodating. You won’t be the only person leaving early and you can always say you feel sick or unwell if you don’t want to say that it’s anxiety. A few years ago, I was in a queue to enter the ‘Chamber of Horrors’ section of Madame Tussauds in London and I just felt like I couldn’t go in. They had a sign that informed you that this was your last chance to leave before entry (check for these points – there may be some times when you won’t be able to leave, and you need to know that) and I decided to leave. I told a member of staff, told my friend, and we went to get some food instead! No one minded and it meant that I could take time to calm down and try a different activity.

You are always allowed to leave. Sometimes just knowing that escape is possible will be enough to calm you down!

Halloween Parties

If you’ve been invited to a Halloween party, then there are two important things to know:

  1. I’m very jealous of you. I love Halloween parties and no one I know ever throws them any more!
  2. You don’t have to go.

Number 2 is really the important one there, of course. If you’ve been invited to a party, you don’t have to go. Now, if you know that you have a tendency to hermit because of your anxiety, and you will actually have fun with your friends if you drag yourself there, maybe it is good to do just that. However, if you’re really panicking, don’t force yourself to go to a big party that scares you. If you do go, make sure you can get home early if you need to. Drive yourself, walk, or don’t rely on a hard party-goer for a lift home.)

Now… love fancy dress so I love dressing up for Halloween, but I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and you might feel anxious about people looking at you. However, think of it this way – if everyone in the room is in costume, and you aren’t – who are people more likely to look at? If you’re not big into fancy dress but want to blend in, I’d suggest something easy and subtle like the traditional witch’s cat. Wear all black, put on some cat ears and make a tail out of black tights and scrunched up newspaper. Done! Also, this would be easy to hide during travel if you need to get public transport – just put the ears and tail in your bag until you get to the party. Similar ideas might be a witch (black dress, hat and broom) a devil (black and red clothes with devil horns and a pitchfork) or a vampire (more black clothes, pale make-up and some fake teeth.)

pumpkins and sunflowers in autumnal spread
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

And if you’re friends really want to celebrate Halloween, but none of these activities are for you, why not suggest one of these:

  • Pumpkin carving
  • Halloween-themed baking (pumpkin traybake anyone? I have to try this one!)
  • Halloween crafts (do you have any young relatives you could do crafts with? most kids I know love Halloween and they don’t do anything too scary!)
  • A board game night with a spooky twist. (I’d recommend Plague Inc. which is a brilliant plague-themed game. You could also play Cluedo for some old-school murder mystery feels!)

And last, but by no means least, keep up your self-care. Perhaps by trying out the #SelfCareTogether challenge that Pigletish is hosting this month. Halloween is a very social holiday and you might be surrounded by triggers for your anxiety for a lot of this month – so make sure you are taking care of yourself, and having moments of calm whenever you can.

Happy Halloween!

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* Please note that Book Depository links in the post are affiliate links. They cost you no extra money, but if you buy a book through my affiliate links I earn a small commission.