I’m actually having a pretty good day today. I’ve had a nice string of them recently. However, on good days I often think about bad days. Not in a way that makes me sad. But in a way that makes me smile. Any bad day you have will eventually lead to a good day. I like to be thankful that I’m experiencing a good day. And whilst I know I’ll have more bad days in the future, I try to push that from my thoughts and just live in the present. Don’t question it. Good days also make me respect the bad days. Because sometimes they are needed. Sometimes we need to completely reset and the only way that happens is by having a truly rubbish day. So I want to focus on that day. Because I think on those days just being by yourself and having a good cry can be really healthy. You should never suppress tears. You also don’t need a reason for crying. People will tell you the opposite but they are wrong. If your body and mind are telling you that you need to cry then do it. If you are able to release something, whatever it is (maybe a bit of stress, some anger from something that’s happened that day, or maybe you just feel like you’re drowning a little less today), then you’re that little step closer to having a good day. And a good day doesn’t have to be the goal, working through the bad days step by step is impressive enough. But having that little inkling of future adventure or warmth or contentment might just push you forward. So to help you on those bad days I’ve compiled a playlist of 100 songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To. Because we all know there’s no better combination of sadness and slow, atmospheric, acoustic music. So close your door, ignore your notifications, lie down and just breathe. Maybe you need to get up and dance when the moment takes you. Maybe you need to thrash your head to get the energy out. Maybe you fall asleep as you listen and feel refreshed when you wake. Whatever it is, these songs are here to help you. I hope you find some new favourites. Personally, the only two songs I might possibly ever need to live are I Shall Cross The River – The Black Atlantic and Human – Of Monsters And Men. They allow me to breathe. I’m sure you have some of your own. I hope this playlist does something for you. Moves something in you. And then who knows, maybe tomorrow will be better.
We’re all struggling for money, am I right? Some, of course, more than others. But who isn’t forever waiting for payday? If not, I wish you well, you must either make a killing or budget and save a heck of a lot. But the rest of you out there? The rate of inflation, compared to the increase of wages is no joke. However, we can’t live life letting money control or consume us. We have to live. We have to laugh, have dreams, have adventures, have fun, breathe. So to help you do that on this Self-Care Thursday, without breaking your bank, here are ten ideas to help you escape the monotony of your average day. These activities I have labelled as free but some will require a previous purchase (ie. a bike) so I apologise if they aren’t accessible to you. I hope you can find something else to satisfy your hunger for adventure on this list!
In the U.K. we’re fortunate enough to have access to thousands of free museums and art galleries. We also know it rains no matter what the season. Go and educate yourself on a new topic or take in an art exhibit.
If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast, go and explore your coastline. Whether that’s pebbly or rocky or sandy! A brisk walk on the beach is perfect any time of year; it’ll fill your lungs with fresh, ocean air. You could also substitute this one with a canal, a lake, a pond.. any body of water really!
I love owning books and building my collection but I think sometimes I forget how excellent the library is. I spent hours there as a kid perusing the stacks for my next read. Another perfect rainy activity! Why don’t you buddy read a book with a friend?
Have a staycation in your garden! Too hot in the house but don’t want to see any people? Set up camp with a good book on a blanket with a nice ice cold beverage.
In Liverpool, we have endless festivals going on year-round but often in summer. The best part, a heck of a lot of them are free to attend! My favourite is an African music weekend that takes place in Sefton Park called Africa Oye. Take a deck chair and some snacks and you’re set up for the day. I’ve also attended a folk festival where I saw a group perform sea shanties!
There’s something about being surrounded by flowers and plants on a gloriously sunny day. The bright colours literally command your brain to be happy.
Going for a bike ride is an excellent way to collide pleasure and exercise. Whether you’re cycling in circles, to the shops or to the park for a picnic, you’ll always feel better afterwards. I guarantee it.
Come on, think how many things you can do in the park! Go for a stroll, take a frisbee, skip pebbles in the pond, sun bathe, take a football, go for a run, read, photograph flowers, write a novel, or all your most desperate dreams. Just get out into some greenery.
Getting your body moving is always going to be an excellent way to spend your time. Yoga sessions don’t need to cost £8 for thirty minutes. Get yourself on YouTube and I swear you’ll never be able to turn away from Yoga With Adriene. She’s infectious. Give yourself a second in the calm summer mornings to wake yourself up.
My last one is simply to pick up a new hobby. I think it’s never not a good time to try your hand at something new. Train your brain to learn new knowledge. This one may incur some costs but a few cheap ideas could include: baking, gardening, jigsaws, a language, reading, journaling.
I hope you have an excellent August!
The Only Thing – Sufjan Stevens
This week’s self-care post is super quick but unbelievably tasty. You guys know how I love a homemade juice. Especially in summer, they’re just so refreshing. I’ve been enjoying the heat we’ve had recently. Coupling an ice cold beverage with it? Perfection! I’ve got two for you. I’d say they cost under 30p per serving. Fuck shop bought. Super simple. Eyeball all the ingredients. Let’s go!
This first one I call Sunshine:
This second one I call Burst:
And there you have it! It’s almost like this post only took two minutes to write. Hehe.
True – Digital Farm Animals
Hey kids! After Tuesday’s accidentally insanely long post I thought I’d keep today’s nice and short. We’re back with another Self-Care Thursday and this week we’re keeping it practical and simple. If you read the self-care posts you’re probably one of these people: 1) WOO, can’t wait to try a new activity, 2) Hmm yeah interesting but I probably won’t bother, or 3) Ew, so boring and cliched. Well! Whichever you are, that’s okay, you do you. BUT. You can definitely do this week’s tasks. I’m gonna give you lots of options of very small things and you just have to choose one! So easy, right? I know you can do it, lazy person, I’m looking at you. No hard thinking involved this week, the key is complete and total relaxation. Whatever that means for you. So remember, you might read one of these and go, urgh, that’s not relaxing. But that’s okay, skip it. It’s possibly relaxing for someone else but we can’t all be the same. And we shouldn’t be. Okay, we’re not idiots, we can read a list. Here we go:
Go for a walk.
Have a cup of coffee.
Light some incense.
Bake brownies. Or cookies.
Have the fanciest bath ever.
Listen to your favourite album.
Have a nap.
Go for a massage.
Change your bedding and put new pjs on.
Try a new lipstick.
Do some yoga.
Go to a museum.
Make a fort.
Go see a movie.
Call your sister/brother/mum/dad.
Go for a run.
Binge a Netflix show.
Cook a new recipe for tea.
Light a candle.
Go for a manicure.
Lie in the garden or a park.
Go and have a beer with a mate.
And there you have it, kids. Now if anyone can get them all done in one week you’d be my hero!
Wherever I Live – Alessia Cara
So I said I’d update you about how my fitness journey is going and we’re almost a month in so I thought now would be a perfect time. Especially if your own motivation is starting to slip. If you need a sign to keep going, it’s this. This post. Go do what you need to do.
Week 4, Run 1. A Tuesday evening. The dreariest of days. Dark clouds and persistent rain that seeps into your very soul. Danny picks me up from work, we’re already in our workout clothes (a great little cheat tip if you think when you get home you’ll just get into bed). We debate the entire way home about the run. We’re both on both sides. No we’ve gotta do it, we’re doing really well. If we stop we’ll lose momentum. We’d have to do two in two days later. Wouldn’t be able to recover. Oh but this rain is horrendous. Christ, those puddles are covering the entire road! Watch that pedestrian! You’re gonna soak someone. Well we could do some yoga instead. Oh look the rain has gone way lighter now, let’s just see what Formby is like. Fuck it, let’s just go.
And we did. We just put our trainers on, started our Nike running apps and got outside. The warm-up walk was, I’m not gonna lie, a bit hideous. Very cold and just huge raindrops dripping down into your eyes. But then all of a sudden we’d reached the park, our favoured location for running and we were told to start our first running interval. And what happened after was magic.
We don’t tend to run next to each other because my pace is much slower so we’ve just been bringing our own headphones and pressing play at the same time. Since the rain was so heavy we decided to leave my AirPods at home, worried about water damage. (Are they waterproof, anyone?) The result of this is that I just had to run until Danny found me and told me to stop.
It was kind of amazing and kind of terrifying. It felt like you would be running for all of existence yet you could be cut off at any second. My conclusion? It was fucking freeing. I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I drank any drops that reached my mouth, actually perfect for hydration. And I quietly muttered words of encouragement to myself. Sounds corny but it really worked for me. I got to appreciate the sound of the rain, the uber greenness of the trees, the intoxicating fresh air. I smiled numerous times on this run, something I didn’t think humanly possible for me. The high fives from Danny each time our paths crossed really helped too!
By the end of the run I’d ran the furthest yet and achieved my quickest pace per kilometre. I got straight home to more water in the form of a massive gulped drink and a hot shower! Isn’t water incredible?
I had an hour or so of sneezes but all evening we said how happy we were that we’d gone and I think that’s all we need to keep pushing ourselves. Each run we’re getting slightly stronger and building a little more stamina. We’re in it for the long haul. If you are too then I hope that story could be a little push for you somehow.
The meal planning has been going okay but could definitely improve. The yoga is virtual nonexistent right now so that’s something I need to work on, for sure. But the running is our success story this month. Let’s see if I can keep it up for another five weeks!
Side note: Laura’s (your lovely Couch to 5k trainer) playlists are giving me life, don’t get my wrong. But I cannot wait til I can run to my own music!
See you in the next update, make good choices til then!
You Get What You Give – New Radicals
This week’s self-care post is gonna get real. Be gentle with me. So I’ve had this shift in my mindset. An epiphany, if you will. I went the doctors a couple of days ago and she told me I was too overweight. Like this is not something I don’t already know. And like, she wasn’t being rude, just harsh. I guess to like shock me into change. And I got to work after and I was like do you know what? Fuck it. I’m literally the only son of a bitch standing in my own way. The power to change is 100% in my hands. So why have I been settling for so long? Why don’t I love myself? Why don’t I care about my body and show it the kindness and gentleness and ass-kicking it deserves? Cos seriously, when is this tomorrow? I’m not sure it exists. And that’s no way to live. I know I put on a lot of weight when my mum died but I need to stop seeing food as a comfort. I need to see it as the fuel it is. Even before then I wasn’t massively healthy though. So I need to stop making excuses. And I need to actually hold myself accountable instead of constantly letting myself off. There’s only so many times you can give yourself a break before you actually admit that you’re being a hinderance to your own health. So that’s going to change. I’ve said this to myself privately so many times that it’s not even funny. My hope in sharing this personal blog post is that I keep myself accountable. But also that my words can maybe give you the push or encouragement you’ve been needing to develop your own healthy lifestyle. Physical appearance is definitely not everything and it’s not what I want this journey to be for myself. But it is part of it. I also want to strengthen my mental health, my confidence, my relationship with food and just my general happiness. I want to nurture some good habits. And I wanna be able to do a legit goddamn push up, sue me. So who’s gonna use the next few beautiful, (hopefully) warm months to start or progress their fitness journey? I believe in you. You are so strong, so beautiful and so fucking cool. Whatever your goal or intention, work hard. It might not be easy but hopefully it’ll be worth it. I’ll check in soon. I’m gonna be working on some healthy meal planning, Yoga With Adriene on Youtube and the NHS’s Couch to 5k podcast. Until then, look after yourselves. Don’t look back.
Homecoming: The Live Album – Beyoncé (Because if this album doesn’t make you want to move your body then nothing will!)
It’s self-care Thursdays, guys. We skipped last week (for my own self-care/getting bevvied with some friends) but we’re back going strong.
I think taking a moment to be mindful each day is really important. That could look like many things. Reading a book. Baking. Having a bath. Staring at a wall. Going for a walk. It could also be meditation. I find meditation takes things a step further than other activities because you are directly focusing on actually exploring what it is to be mindful. Whereas sometimes reading a book is just what you need and it relaxes you but you don’t always get to think about why you wanted to take a minute to begin with.
I mentioned I think it’s something we should strive to do each day. I’m definitely very far off that goal right now. For meditation specifically, I can do a good little four day streak and then I go the pub one day and then I do nothing for a fortnight.
But it’s just ten minutes. Ten simple little minutes is all I’m asking myself for. Which I think is very reasonable. So it’s something I’m gonna be working on for the next few months.
Something that is helping me with this goal is the app Calm. I love it. I presume a lot of you have heard of Headspace? It’s similar. I think it’s better. It’s a slightly cheaper version (£60 for an entire year, or £24 if you got it on Black Friday last year like me!) and it doesn’t have the voice of a man that unfortunately sounds like he used to narrate the bitesize revision videos on BBC. Do any of my UK millennials feel me there?
Basically the app is hundreds of hours of guided meditations, sleep stories, calming music, ASMR and more. It focuses on helping you with relaxation, happiness, anxiety, stress, confidence and sleep. To name a few.
The function I’ve been using the most is the Daily Calm. Each day the app provides a new unique ten minute meditation that has its own subject matter. Could be anything from trust to business to procrastination to monkeys (seriously, that’s today’s!) I’ve found them a great place to start if you’re new to meditation.
You can choose from many different backgrounds within the app and each comes with a sound, for example light sparkling into the blue ocean with a calm rippling of water accompanied by an almost ethereal tune. This will play alongside your videos for added relaxation and you can even close your phone and go about your day just with this calming background on.
There’s so many features I’m yet to explore! But I’d definitely recommend it for any of you looking to explore mindfulness and meditation.
When you open Calm it has a calming blue screen and simple white text that states ‘take a deep breath’. I find this very soothing and I know I’m in good hands.
Try – Soccer Mommy
Today the weather is lovely. The sky is electric blue and the sun is slowly burning my retinas. I can smell the fresh cut grass, it’s delicious even though it’s making me sneeze. The colourful flowers are making me smile. It’s bank holiday weekend. It’s day three of the four day weekend. I’m drinking beers in the garden whilst listening to Pixies with my boyfriend and my brother. Life is good. Sometimes you just have to stop and breathe. I find today’s song really helps me do that. Simply breathe in and out when they say. I hope you’re having an excellent weekend wherever you are.
Human – Of Monsters and Men
During my holidays over the last few years I’ve tried to decipher what makes an optimum trip for me. I think it’s easy to get overly stressed out on holiday when we should be having fun. Our stress often begins in the packing stages (see last week’s blog post: https://sarahwilliamsandco.com/2019/04/04/minimalist-packing-list/) and lasts all the way to the ignored dirty suitcase two week’s after you get home. It should not be like this, am I right? So here’s a few tips to help you have a boss vacation whilst also remembering to keep self-care at the for front of your mind.
1. It’s super fun to try and pack eighteen different things into one day, and if you’re on a short trip it’s often the only way to see everything but try and be realistic. Timings you plan beforehand will always go awry because tourists. They’re the worst. Also you might want to stay longer at somewhere you like a lot. You’re going to have to prioritise so that if you don’t get everywhere you’ll be happy with what you managed to see.
2. Holiday walking pace. That’s something my sister invented. You have a home pace which involves marching to work, around the supermarket and such but on holiday you’re supposed to stroll. You want to actually enjoy yourself and take things in, not just tick them off a list.
3. Try not to have too tight of a budget. Obviously way easier said than done. But whilst you’re saving maybe try and keep a little bit back that you haven’t assigned to a daily budget. That way if you’re sat by the Seine having the time of your life and don’t want to go home then you don’t have to. Have the extra glass of wine because you will never be there in that exact moment again.
4. If you want to lie in, fucking lie in. I don’t get this whole waking up at eight am on holiday and then running around until you pass out from exhaustion. Don’t forget you’re on holiday. You’re literally supposed to be having a break. When you go home you’ll probably be back to the working life grind. You can get up early then. Remember to relax, the place will still be there when you wake up. Allow yourself to sleep past twelve if you’ve been out the night before enjoying the booze.
5. Make your trip your own. What I mean by that is research the place you’re going to. Don’t just hit the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe. By all means visit them. I’m in Paris right now and I’ve been to all of them! But finds ways to make the city you’re own. I like to find amazing veggie food using HappyCow. I love to find well-known and hidden away bookshops and spending all my money and time there. I love finding any park, locating the fountain (they’ve all got one) and then just sitting there in the sun listening to the water. I’m actually sat in Jardin des Tuileries right now writing this! I like to find alternative bars and an Irish pub cos I just think that’s hilarious. Take the time to do things other people won’t ever do because that’s what gets you up in the morning.
6. And duh, always remember to have fun! Sounds like an easy thing to do but sometimes it’s not. So give yourself that minute to fume and the person who just pushed in front of you on the metro but then release it and carry on with your excellent day.
Paris (Ooh La La) – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
So for this week’s self-care post I thought I’d do something a little different. One thing I’ve not really spoken about on my blog is minimalism. I’d like to think I’ve been living a minimalist lifestyle for about five years now. I haven’t spoke about it much in my posts because I don’t necessarily think of it as something I do so much as something I am. I don’t know if that sounds obnoxious. What I mean is I live my life always with the intention of keeping things minimal, having things with function. But I don’t sit down and think ‘okay, how can I be ‘minimalist’ today’. Get me? So I’ve seen the huge surge of minimalism and konmaring recently and believe me, I’m all for it, but other than telling you what possessions I own I didn’t see how I could have anything to say about it. But I’m going to Paris next week and I always try to take inspiration from my life for the self-care posts, so then it hit me. I’ll do a packing list. Stick with me here.
I think as humans we can easily get overwhelmed. Often we make problems for ourselves. An area we tend to do this is going on holiday, or moving, or just generally having to look at things we own and decide whether they’re worth putting in a bag. Holidays, for example, are supposed to be a magical time. We’re literally supposed to be having the time of our lives. But who can tell me you haven’t started a holiday in the worst mood imaginable because your partner/dad/mate told you to hurry up, you underestimated how long you take to roll things and now you’ve got a bin bag of wet knickers in your hand luggage that you’re gonna have to dry when you get there and a face like a smacked arse? It should be simple. Hassle-free.
So I’m going to break it down for you.
Everyone’s packing list will be different. That’s the first thing. Because everyone has different priorities. But I presume we all wear clothes and brush our teeth and need passports to fly. So we’ll keep it open.
My first experience of minimalism was probably when I moved to uni with a seven-seater full to the brim of belongings. I also had a room on the third floor with no lift. I quickly reevaluated my life. Slowly I decreased my possessions until third year when I was flying to America for an exchange year. One suitcase and one carry on. That was my limit. This trip was already costing me so much, I certainly wasn’t paying for extra luggage! So I had to really evaluate what I thought I needed to survive. What things did I need in my life to feel safe and satisfied and functional. And so my hard turn into minimalism began. And you know what you instantly find? Fucking hell, is that shit freeing. I felt like I wasn’t being held back anymore. Even now, I feel like at the drop of a hat I could be packed up and ready for an adventure. I know where every possession I own is. Think about that. Cos I think that’s a really important part of minimalism. If you don’t know where it is or what it is then what exactly is its purpose? Do you know where everything you own is right now?
But before this post itself overwhelms you, let’s move on. We’ll work towards that. For now let’s just perfect the packing list because isn’t running away from our problems way more fun?
Sarah’s Minimalist Packing List
Phone + Wallet
Book and/or Headphones (I don’t know your life, though if you don’t go everywhere with a book I do not trust you)
Other electronics (laptop, tablet, camera etc)
Papers (tickets, boarding passes, travel insurance policies, maps, or just you know, go paperless, man)
Water Bottle + Cloth Bag
Small pouch (lip sil, tissues, bobble, plasters, hand sanitiser, atomiser, portable charger, pen)
Bigger Toiletries (hair/tooth brushes, tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, sun cream)
Clothes (jacket/coat x1, hoodie/jumper x2, shoes, jeans x2, t-shirts/underwear xamount-of-days-not-three-weeks-more-than-necessary, hat/gloves/sunglasses/swimwear (weather dependent), pjs)
Anything you need to make you feel human. Maybe it’s a bullet journal, maybe it’s a pair of straighteners, maybe it’s a teddy bear, hey no judgment here. As long as the object is serving a valid function for you and your trip then bring it along. You only need to justify it to yourself. If you come back from this trip and it hasn’t been used, remove it and don’t take it again. You’ll learn as you go. But don’t be breaking your back carting round garbage you don’t need. You’re not a pack mule. Now go and enjoy your trip!
ps. Shot every time I said minimal/ist/ism.
Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men