How To Survive A Blood Test When You Have A Needle Phobia

There are obviously big trigger warnings that come with this post – I am going to be talking about needle phobia, injections, doctors and blood tests. If, like me, these things trigger a panic, please feel free to leave now! However, I would also like to encourage you to try to read what you can. Take a deep breath, take your time, and see if any of these tips can help you.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hi. My name is Sammy and I have an almighty phobia of needles. That phobia extends to blood pressure cuffs, doctors, nurses, hospital waiting rooms… you get the idea.

The last time I was asked to go for a blood test, I had a panic attack in the waiting room, started crying in the chair, and got sent home before any blood was taken. Not my finest moment.
So, imagine my horror when I was told last week that I had to go for – you guessed it – another blood test!

I instantly panicked. And it’s okay if the thought of a blood test or an injection does that to you too. There are loads of people who suffer from the same fears and phobias that we do, and I promise that you can get through it.

I’m no expert, not by any means. But, on this occasion, I was able to implement a few tricks and techniques that helped me to have a blood test with minimal stress, and I’d like to share them with you. I know when I was searching for tips on dealing with needle phobia, I struggled to find anything very helpful in the short-term, that wasn’t just suggesting expensive phobia therapy. Speaking to a professional is obviously the best option, but if you need some tips just to get you through that appointment next week, hopefully these five tips will help.

Photo by Paula Schmidt on Pexels.com

1. Limit Your Waiting Time

I think I have mastered the art of arriving perfectly on time for appointments! Waiting rooms can be really stressful places if you have a phobia, so it can be good idea to avoid long waiting times. Obviously, you don’t want to be running late and stressed, but I’d advise getting to your appointment with just a few minutes spare. This avoids that long panic-inducing wait, meaning you don’t have too long to get worked up before you’re called in.

2. If You Have To Wait – Have A Distraction

Always have a distraction. You could download an episode of your favourite comedy onto your phone, or have Youtube ready to play a new relaxing vlog. Take a book or magazine, or even a handheld games console to distract yourself. I love to read, but find that I can’t concentrate on a book while I’m panicking, so I have a few ‘waiting room’ TV shows downloaded on my phone, ready to watch if needed. If you’re like me and want something to listen to/watch – don’t forget your headphones! And on that note…

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

3. Play Calming Music

If you suffer from a needle phobia and need to have a blood test, I really recommend finding some music that helps you to feel calm. Then, all you need is one headphone in, and you can instantly feel a little more relaxed. You will probably need to keep one headphone out, in order to speak to your nurse or doctor, but you might be able to ‘plug in’ completely once they start the procedure. Play whatever keeps you calm – it doesn’t have to be spa music or whale song! For me, it’s Neil Diamond, for you, it might be Iron Maiden – whatever works!

4. Take Someone With You

If possible, take someone along to support you. My first question when I had to book my blood test was ‘Can I book it for next week?’ – because I knew that was when my husband would be available to come with me. If you have an understanding partner, parent, sibling or friend who can accompany you to an appointment, ask them if they could come with you. It helps to have someone to talk to, plus it can alleviate some of the panic associated with fainting or needing to leave, as you will have someone there to help you at all times.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

5. Lie Down

My last tip is the most simple, but possibly the most effective, if you are going for a blood test. Ask if you can lie down. I have found that this, without fail, is the easiest way for me to stay calm when having a blood test. Physically, it keeps your feet higher off the ground, so can stop you from feeling so faint. Psychologically, I know that if I do faint (a big worry-trigger for me), I’m already laying down – so I can’t fall!

I have had nurses tell me in the past that I can’t lie down. There is no reason (physically speaking) for you not to, so if that’s what you need, don’t be afraid to be a bit assertive. (Try channeling in your inner cat, like in my last post!)

I hope these five tips can help you, if you are scared of blood tests or needles and have to go for a blood test or injection.
And just remember – it will all be over in a matter of minutes. You’ve got this.

May Favourites

I’m going to do it. I’m going to start a favourites post by saying ‘How on earth did it get to June already?!’ I’m one of those people.

But, seriously. It’s June??
May has been a really busy month for me and I’ve honestly just felt like the whole month passed me by without me noticing. However, there have still been quite a few things that have made me smile this month or captured my interest.

Darkmilk bar, ginger shampoo and a book flatlay

Let’s start with one of my favourite ways to wind down in the evening – TV!

Game of Thrones

Yes, it was controversial. No, it wasn’t perfect. But I really loved watching the final season of Game of Thrones. I won’t spoil it for anyone (but seriously – have you not watched it yet??) so all I say is that although I wasn’t a huge fan of the final episode, the rest of the series really impressed me. The cinematography was incredible, the cast were amazing and I think for the most part the show was wrapped up well.

Chernobyl

So I’m not up-to-date with this one yet, so please no spoilers!
About a week ago, Mr W and I sat down to watch Chernobyl because we had heard so many people saying really great things about it. They weren’t wrong!
This show is so atmospheric, so tense, and just utterly heartbreaking. It is a fascinating drama based on the true story of the nuclear power station accident in Chernobyl in the 1980s and, although I don’t know an awful lot about the real story, I think they are doing an amazing job of telling it. Some of the characters make me so angry! It really is a heartbreaking story and, at times, quite hard to watch. But I would highly recommend it, it’s some of the best TV I’ve seen in a while. (It’s on Sky Atlantic, available via Now TV)

Cadburys Darkmilk

Cadbury Darkmilk

Yum!
Not much to say – it’s a really nice bar of chocolate! But I’m a huge chocolate fan, so I thought I’d give this a mention. It’s a mixture between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. I wasn’t sure if I liked the sound of it, but it’s really delicious. The perfect choice if you want something that is a bit decadent, not completely dark chocolate…. just, yum.

Vans (finally!)

white canvas pair of vans with a bow

I have had my eyes on many different pairs of Vans over the years, but I’ve never been able to justify the cost of buying ‘branded’ shoes, unless they’re for running. But a couple of weeks ago, on the hunt for some decent shoes to replace by old New Look slip-ons, I finally bit the bullet.

I love that the colour of these Vans go with everything but the bow detail makes them just a little bit quirky. They’re really comfy, although I do need to get some new little slip-on socks to wear with them, to avoid blisters. I really hope these are going to last me a long time.

The Body Shop Ginger Shampoo

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This is honesty one of the best shampoos I’ve tried in years – I’m so glad I picked it up!

It’s actually an anti-dandruff shampoo, which I bought because I have been experiencing a really dry and itchy scalp recently that was driving me mad! So far, this shampoo seems to be doing the trick, and on top of that it makes my hair feel really shiny and healthy. I love The Body Shop and this is definitely going to be one of my new go-to products from their range.

And last but not least…

Hive

Hive the Game

Me and Mr W love a board game. Some of our favourites for two-player games are Forbidden Island, Pandemic and Plague. I might do a blog post soon about our favourites and why they’re so good!

This month we were in Waterstones and we picked up Hive.* I’d heard of it before but didn’t know much about it, but we played about 10 rounds of it as soon as we got home, and now we’re hooked!

It’s a two-player game, so perfect for couples looking for a new game to play. The idea is to use your pieces to surround the other person’s queen bee. Each piece can move in a different way, and the whole gameplay area becomes the ‘hive’. It’s really easy to pick up, quick to play, and comes in a really handy travel-sized bag that is definitely coming on honeymoon with us!

So they were some of the things I’ve been loving this month. More than I thought!
As always, you can see what I’m currently reading or watching all through the month here.

I really enjoyed writing this post, I hope you enjoyed reading it just as much!

Let me know what you’ve been loving in the comments 🙂

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*Please note – any Amazon links are affiliate, which means they won’t cost you any more, but I might earn a small commission if you buy the product

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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30 Free or Low-Cost Activities for an Empty Day

Although I love the idea of an empty schedule at the weekend, the reality is that I usually end up feeling a little lost when I have nothing to do.

This is where I found myself this weekend. Up bright and early, having completed my Saturday morning workout class and met a friend for coffee, I was then left with a long stretch of Saturday ahead of me, with nothing to do. Sometimes, that sounds like bliss. On this day, however, I just felt a bit lost.

I didn’t want to sit in the house all day, I didn’t want to waste a whole Saturday, but I didn’t have any plans or ideas that weren’t going to take a chunk out of our savings. We’re always trying to save money, as I’m sure you are too, therefore a Saturday afternoon window shopping or going to the cinema was out of the question.

book in the girls hands
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

It occurred to me that I can’t be the only person who, even as an adult, finds themselves crying out ‘I’m bored!’ on those empty days, but curses their lack of funds to go for a fun day out. So, here are 30 ideas for either totally free, or very low-cost, activities for when you’re just, well, a bit bored…

  1. Read a book.
    Of course this was going to top my list! Nothing beats curling up with a good book for an afternoon. In the winter, grab a blanket on your sofa. In summer, grab a blanket and spread it on the grass! Lose yourself for a few hours in a good book. (If you need some recommendation, try this post.)
  2. Browse your local library.
    Similar of course to number 1, but good for more than just one read. Find a topic to learn about, browse the magazines, or find a new fiction read. Libraries are a great place to lose a couple of hours! They need your support and they’re totally free – bonus!

    blur book stack books bookshelves
    Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com
  3. Watch a TED Talk.
    There are hundreds of great talks on Ted.com that are inspiring and educational. There are also now TED courses where they will suggest a collection of talks, reading, and discussions on a particular topic for you. Well worth an afternoon.
  4. Learn about something new on Wikipedia.
    Similar to number 3, but better for topics like history or geography. Go on a Wikipedia dive, click on anything you find interesting, and see how much you could learn in an afternoon! You could even take notes if you want to preserve what you learn.
  5. De-clutter one room in your house.
  6. Watch educational or interesting videos on Youtube.
  7. Go for a walk.
    An old faithful. No fancy equipment needed and even if you live in the middle of a big town or city, you can enjoy the local views and head out for a walk. Put on your trainers, fill up a water bottle, and just see where you end up. My husband and I talk walking and share recommendations over at our other blog.)
    mrs w walking in woods

  8. Play Pokemon Go!
    Need another excuse to get out for a walk? If you’re a 90s child like me and want some retro nerdy fun, download Pokemon Go and take a friend on a Pokemon adventure – one of mine and Mr W’s favourite pastimes!
  9. Grab an adult colouring book and colour away your stress.
    I’m currently loving this Game of Thrones colouring book!*
  10. Use the clothes you already own to style some new outfits.
  11. Deep clean one room in your house – or do a bit of a Spring clean everywhere!
  12. Visit a local museum.
    Loads of museums are free to visit, so see what’s open near you.
  13. Try some creative writing.
    It could be a blog post, a short story, a poem… No one else ever has to read it, but it will stretch your creative muscles and you never know what you might end up with. 🙂

    Self-care journalling in notebook next to laptop
    Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com
  14. Listen to a podcast.
    I only discovered podcasts properly in the last few months, and I’ve already found loads that I love and that I learn loads from! There are podcasts on any subject you can think of and they’re great to listen to whilst walking or doing other chores. A couple of my favourites are ‘My Favourite Murder’ and ‘No Such Thing As A Fish’, but let me know if you’d like to see a post listing some more of my favourites on different topics.
  15. Drive to a nearby town or village and just explore.
  16. Do some light stretching or foam rolling your muscles.
  17. Follow a yoga video on Youtube.
    Don’t be intimidated by yoga when you see all the amazing yogis on Instagram doing headstands! Try following videos by someone like ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on Youtube for some beginner-friendy light stretching and strengthening.
  18. Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  19. Write someone an old-fashioned, hand-written letter.
  20. Have a long hot bubble bath.
  21. Do a proper skincare routine for once!
  22. See what dishes you can cook or bake from ingredients you already have at home.
    I recently tried out a really easy recipe for blueberry and banana muffins, why not see if you have the ingredients already to make those?
    Banana and blueberry muffins
  23. Look up some journalling prompts online and give journalling a go.
  24. Go litter-picking.
    If you live near a park or natural area that you know gets cluttered up with rubbish, why not incorporate a bit of litter-picking and recycling into your walk?
  25. Make or buy your favourite comfort food.
  26. Have a proper Netflix binge!
  27. Have a movie marathon.
    You could watch a series, like Harry Potter, or a pick a theme such as horror. Popcorn optional.
  28. Spend some quality time with your pet.
  29. Sort out your budget.
    Spend some time sorting out your finances. Future-You will thank you!
  30. Build a blanket fort.
    Trust me, you’re never too old.

Are there any ideas that you would add to this list? What do you on your bored, empty days?

See you again soon!

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* (Please note that starred links are affiliate links to the Book Depository. You won’t be charged any extra for any books you buy through those links, but I will earn a small commission.)

30 Before 30 - goals, dreams and aspirations

30 Before 30

I’m sure you’ve seen posts like this before – I know I have!
I used to roll my eyes at bucket lists, five year plans, ten year plans, and so on… I just thought that, seeing as life never really went to plan anyway, what was the point?!
But the more I’ve got into goal-setting over the past year, the more I have been thinking about where I want my life to be moving over the next few years. This has led me to reading quite a lot of blog posts that talk about a ’30 before 30′ list – simply, a list of thirty things you want to achieve or do before you hit that big 3-0. (I say ‘big’… I’m not sure that it is. But ask me again when I get there!)

I have really started to like the ideas of a 30 before 30 list, as a list of experiences, achievements and just general goals that I would like to achieve before I turn 30. For me, this has provided a good opportunity to sit down, reflect, and set goals. However, it has given me the same anxiety-inducing pressure that I have experienced before when trying to create a 5 or 10 year plan. My main inspiration for this post was a post written by the wonderful Zanna van Dijk, who as well as being the same age as me, is one of my favourite Youtubers/bloggers/fitness gurus. As I’m fast approaching 27, now seemed like a good time to take that inspiration and run with it.

So, without any further rambling, here are the thirty things I would like to do or achieve before my thirtieth birthday. Some are huge goals, some are tiny, niggling little wishes, but I would love to achieve them all…

  1. Go camping. (Me and Mr W have a tent and we’re ready to go, we just haven’t gotten round it to yet. I have been camping before, but not for many years!)
  2. Climb another mountain. (Earlier this year, we climbed Snowdon. It inspired me to keep hiking as much as possible.)
  3. Own a brand new, high quality mattress. For all that beautiful, quality sleep.
  4. Perform in a choir again. (This one should be ticked off pretty soon!)
  5. Pay off my credit card.
  6. Have a healthy savings account. (These two are both a little more serious… I haven’t been very financially secure or confident for most of my twenties, so it is important to me to enter my next decade of life with a bit more money behind me, just in case. On that note…)
  7. Buy a house!
  8. Start a family. (I’m broody as anything – but, following the last few goals, we want to be a bit more financially comfortable before we start having children.)
  9. Visit Italy.
  10. Travel solo for a long weekend. (Either on an organised retreat, or just taking myself away to read and write for a weekend in the countryside.)
  11. Write a novel. (The ultimate dream!)
  12. Go on a spa day with my Mum.
  13. Go on a cookery course.
  14. Make gnocchi from scratch.
  15. Make an entire lasagna from scratch, including the pasta.
  16. Clear all the unnecessary clutter from our house so we only own what’s needed.
  17. Study some more. (I see myself doing some more formal study at some point in the future, most likely in Education and aspects of Child Psychology.)
  18. Put more time and effort into my blog posts and accompanying photos, hopefully growing my audience more.
  19. Eat at Dans le Noir in London. (A restaurant in London I’ve been dying to visit for years!)
  20. Make some kind of income through this blog, through any channel, and any amount.
  21. Have a solid, calming, morning routine in place.
  22. Invite friends round for dinner.
  23. Invite family round for dinner.
  24. Finally finish the cross-stitch map of Westeros that I’ve been working on for five years…
  25. Pay off my car!
  26. Take my sister on holiday somewhere, just us two.
  27. Find the perfect winter coat.
  28. Run a marathon. (I’ve done a half marathon, and I’m going to do another this year. I think it’s about time I progressed on to the full marathon!)
  29. Get the two matching tattoos I want. (One with Mr W, one with my sister.)
  30. Secure some kind of extra responsibility at work.

 

There they are – my 30 before 30!

Are any of these the same as your goals? I would love to see some posts from you guys sharing your list as well.

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My Checklist For A Perfect Weekend

Having just thoroughly enjoyed the long weekend, I’ve been considering what a perfect weekend would look like to me…

I do like to have something to do at the weekend, and to be honest I usually have preparation to do for the working week ahead, but to have at least one day that is totally free for me to do what I want with is absolute bliss. When I have that time to myself, these are the things that make it a perfect relaxing weekend:

  1.  A good book

    Reading a book
    This has to be top of the list! The weekend is the time that I get most of my reading done and one of my favourite things is to spend a lazy Sunday morning in bed with a cup of coffee and my book. And on that note…

  2. A strong cup of coffee
    I am a coffee-lover and so my ideal weekend usually involves plenty of cups of the stuff! Me and Mr W love to go out for coffee, but we are trying to save a bit of money at the moment, so we are tending to opt for a cup of coffee at home. We were really lucky to be given some ground coffee by Bill’s when we went there for breakfast after our wedding, and that’s a firm favourite of mine at the moment.

  3.  A workout
    Ask the sloth of five years ago if her perfect weekend would have included a workout and she’d laugh in your face! But now I really love to go and get my sweat on to feel like I’ve used my weekend wisely. At the moment I’m loving either hitting up my local parkrun (I’d really recommend them if you haven’t tried it before!) or going to the gym for a Les Mills class early on a Saturday morning. Getting a workout in early just makes me feel productive and energised for the rest of the weekend.

  4. My cat

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    As well as being an avid reader and a coffee-lover, you should also know that I am a massive cat person! I love my cat and the weekend is when I get to curl up and spend some quality time with him. (Usually with my book and coffee too, all in one!)
    His name is Felix and we rescued him last September, at the age of 7. He was seriously overweight and very nervous, but with some love and care, we’ve now got a very loving, friendly, healthy cat who I love spending time with. Self-care = cat cuddles!

  5. Chocolate

    Yep, another food one! Honestly though, who doesn’t love chocolate? Add it to the book, coffee and cat combo up above and you’ve got a 100% perfect Sunday morning.

  6. A pub quiz

    There’s a really good pub quiz at one of our locals every Sunday evening and I’ve recently started to really enjoy going along. It’s a cheap and cheerful night out, a great conversation starter and a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone! If you like learning new things and can get a team together, I’d really recommend seeing if there’s a good quiz near you.

  7. A nap

    Now, I know I’m not alone here – as a grown woman of 26, I can’t explain how much I love a nap on a weekend afternoon. After a long week of work, it’s all I need!

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    Photo by Jaymantri on Pexels.com

 

So they’re my seven ingredients to make a perfect weekend. What would your ideal weekend look like? I’d love to know! Maybe we can all get some new ideas for weekend activities in the comment section?

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P.S – I now have a ‘Currently’ page if you want to know what I’m currently reading, watching and enjoying.

Trying out Baking for Self-Care

Quite often, when I’m having a down day, I find myself drawn to the idea of baking.

Do I ever usually bake? Nope. Have I ever leaned in to this feeling and tried baking myself out of a slump? (Well, the way I’ve worded that sounds painful…) Nope!

The truth is, I’m not a very natural baker, I can’t usually decide on a recipe and when I’m having a bad day I’m far too lazy to shop for ingredients!

But today, I decided to go with my gut and see if it worked. Surely, if my brain kept turning to baking when I was in a slump, it must mean something? It might make me feel much better. And if not, at least I might get some cake out of it!

So I turned to the ever-trusty BBC Good Food and chose this recipe for banana and blueberry muffins. (I’m in no way sponsored or supported by BBC Good Food, I just love their recipes) I won’t talk through the whole recipe in this post, so if you want to have a go yourself then please head over to their website.

Banana and blueberry muffins

First mountain to climb – going out to buy the ingredients.
I really wasn’t feeling like facing the outside world this afternoon, so I asked my fiance to come with me. We quickly had everything we needed (plus a few things we didn’t need!) and I could get home to start baking. Getting out in the fresh air did actually help to pick my mood up, and I found that I starting to feel excited to get back to the kitchen and start creating – maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all?

ingredients in trolley
Ingredients found – and mini eggs to eat whilst baking, of course!

Once I got home, I laid out all my ingredients. In all honesty, I think that going through the process of laying out the ingredients and taking pictures for this post really helped me to see the process through and make sure that I was being methodical about it. (By the way, please don’t expect very professional-looking photos! No idea how you baking bloggers do this!)

banana and blueberry muffins ingredients

The ingredients you need for this recipe are pretty simple and easy to get hold of. Just what I needed for an easy Sunday self-care bake.

The Baking.

This was such an easy recipe. If I can do it, anyone can!

All you had to was mix together the dry ingredients and leave them to one side whilst you mashed the banana and mixed that together with oil, buttermilk and egg whites. The hardest bit was separating the egg whites – look what a mess I made of it!

stages of baking muffins
Nothing looks good before it’s cooked!

What I really liked about this recipe was that it included hints and things to look out for. For example, it warned me that the muffin cases would end up very full with this amount of mixture. This was helpful, because otherwise I would have under-filled them and been left with leftover mixture.

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Ready for the oven 🙂

In the end, I don’t think I did such a bad job. These were tasty, not too sweet, and just the right size for a Sunday-blogging snack.

Conclusions

So… was it therapeutic getting the kitchen messy and making muffins? Actually, yes it was. I can see why so many people turn to baking and cooking to calm themselves down or cheer themselves up. I felt productive, creative and purposeful. I did cheer up and I enjoyed the process. Of course, having delicious baked goods at the end of it is always a bonus too!

I think that I’d always avoided baking or cooking when I felt depressed because I was scared of it going wrong – I’m not a natural cook – and then feeling worse. However, if I give myself a little bit of forgiveness to make mistakes, go with an easy recipe, and just let myself enjoy the process – this could be a good new hobby for me!

I was surprised just how much this picked up my mood on an otherwise gloomy Sunday.
Do you like baking? I’d love to know what you like making and any tips you have for a novice like me.

Banana and blueberry muffins

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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

white bed comforter
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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