Habits for My Wellbeing

2 days in to reducing my antidepressants and I felt irritable, angry, just generally het-up. I’m not sure if it was the medication change or just other stuff. The news for example. Trump – say no more. Brexit – what a bloody cock-up. Theresa May makes me feel sick. Trump makes me want to hang my head in despair.

Was it other factors? We were all tired and run-down and Mister had a horrible cold. Girl child is not going to bed when we want her to and basically runs rings around us all day long (so it feels sometimes).

Am I missing some other purpose? My voluntary role has been pretty all consuming for the last year, but recently, things seem to have finally fallen into place. I have an enormous sense of satisfaction from this, but now that we don’t have weekly (daily…?) crisis meetings about one thing or another, I feel a bit bereft. I miss my committee buddies, and my messenger app pinging all day long and the sense of camaraderie that brings.



Aside from these more general observations, there are four areas I have decided to prioritise.

Meditation & Mindfulness

I have practised these on and off over the last couple of years, but I know that to get the most from it, I need to practice everyday, so I treated myself to a Headspace subscription while it was on special offer. The mindfulness practice fell by the wayside in a sense, as I wasn’t scheduling, or following a program. Yet, I realised recently, that I do practice it. It’s just more spontaneous, more nuanced than following a set of instructions. I’m quite pleased to think that it has evolved into one of my little coping mechanisms. If I feel myself getting monkey-minded, I’ll focus on my breath for a minute, or watch the birds in the garden, or just close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me. Funnily enough, I’ve spent a lot of time since my mindfullness program, wondering how on earth to incorporate it into my life as a Mum. But the truth is, it’s tiny fragments of mindfulness throughout the day, rather than a big set aside block. And thats actually more beneficial for me.



Really, really, really, trying not to go to sleep during the day. I know lack of sleep (at night) exacerbates my low mood. However I am also guilty of confusing tiredness with low mood and heading for a lie down, thus beginning a vicious circle. My current experiment is to try and stay awake during the day, with gentle pottering and faffing. In CBT terms this is the thin edge of the ‘behaviour activation’ wedge. I think. I’m no pro…


When a friend was having difficulties last year, I suggested we go for a walk, because I knew that the fresh air, the exercise would help her to feel better. In doing this I realised that I NEVER practice what I preach! Its so hard to motivate myself. That is my biggest challenge when I feel down. Several times a year I “resolve” to be more active and really make exercise a habit in my life. If I’m honest with myself though, what have I really done? I haven’t really made an effort. I have not made any sacrifice or overcome any hurdles to make it happen. I allow the barriers to stay just that, and make no attempt to break them down. I know from my CBT that the motivation does not come first in depression. You have to act first, even if the motivation is not there.


Writing it Down

Hello WordPress. Hello lovely notebook. Hello note taking app. By the end of my recent therapy sessions, I came to the conclusion that it was essential for me to get my thoughts and feelings out of my head. Talking therapy is great, but comes at a cost. If I could afford it I would just go once a month and just have a big brain dump on somebody, but I can’t, so I have to re-commit to regularly writing things down. I’m not going to worry about where, or how good it is. I’m just going to do it. I KNOW from past experience that writing it all down, helps me to detangle and see things as they really are.


Wish me luck!

p.s. Sorry for the crap title….

…..and the mixed-up tense’s…..

….and any spelling mistakes…..


5 reasons I’m sticking with running.

(For now at least) I’ve tried running lots of times, and I haven’t really got on with it.

People, I’m proud to say I have been running regularly since January! Apart from being active (walking or cycling most places) it’s the longest time I’ve stuck to cardiovascular exercise since leaving school. Hurrah! So, here are the secrets of my (so far so good) success!


1. I have a coach.

Of sorts. I’m using the NHS Couch to 5k program. It gradually builds stamina week by week. It’s simple – the podcast tells me when to run and when to walk. Crucially for me, the gentle start over the first 3 or 4 weeks has enabled me to form a habit of getting out and doing it, and has boosted my running confidence. Without the hideous, off-putting muscle soreness that I previously experienced with pushing myself to fast too soon.

2. I’ve changed my mindset.

I had one day in January, where I longed for hills and fresh country air and camping under starlight and adventures. I couldn’t make that happen in time to stop me going stir-crazy. One particularly blue day, I found myself sobbing for no reason on my way into town (“why is everything so dark? And cold? And where IS everybody? *sniffle sniffle*) So I made a split decision to go running. That night. In the freezing cold. It wasn’t about changing my body, there was no big build up or fanfare or drastic health kick. It was, and it is about getting out of the house by myself, breathing hard and deep, looking up at the stars and feeling alive.

3. I’m multitasking.

I began meditating last year, but since Christmas, I’ve found it difficult to fit in along all the other bits and bobs of life. But I know I feel better when I do it. So now, I meditate while I run. Either by watching the breath – listening to it’s rhythm alongside the pounding of my feet on the ground, or just feeling the air moving in and out of my airways. When my body starts to ‘hurt’ I start a body scan. Not only does the time pass really quickly, but I realise my body doesn’t really hurt, but my muscles are working hard and I feel alive.

4. Speed and affordability are King.

It probably takes me 45 – 50 minutes from the start of getting changed into my running gear to getting out of the shower. Decent trainers and sports bra are my only essentials. My running outfit is a ridiculous combination of holey old leggings, dayglo running top, and Girl Guide fleece gilet with “GuidesMaids” written across the back in gold glitter. From a hen do. If I start to struggle, I think of how silly I look and imagine my university mates having a good laugh about it and that makes me giggle as I’m running along. You might say thats my extra 1%. Thanks Crazies 😉

5. I let myself off the hook.

In the past, if I’ve have a week of illness or just scheduling clashes that meant I didn’t get out for a run, I tended to have unhelpful thoughts like “I might as well give up if I’m going to have to start from scratch again”. This time, I just pick up where I left off. Yes, it feels a bit tougher, but I get over it, and then wonder why on earth did I make such a fuss about it before? Duh.


Overall, I’m feeling good about it. I’m not as evangelical about it as I can be about some things – I feel quite calm about it. It’s just something that I’m getting on with and I don’t really think about it until I’m doing it, but I always feel great afterwards. Mentally and physically.

Now, where did I put that foam roller…?

Have you set to any big exercise goals this year? How is it going? What has helped you to stay on track? Leave comments below, I’d love to hear your experiences too.

Mami 2 Five

Restoring the balance.

I call them ‘Reset Days’. You know the ones? Days following on from holidays or illness or just crazy times. Days where you just need to clear the diary and stay at home. Clear the back log of washing, tidy away the little piles of junk. Rid yourselves of the clutter around the place. Open the windows, book the window cleaner and let in some light. Create space to breathe.  Days where you reconfigure your brain, your lists. Days where you plan to eat clean, you get out the yoga mat and stretch again, feel yourself being alive in the simplest way. Drink hot tea in the garden. Days when you don’t make plans or maybe you do, but you break them with utter confidence that it was the perfect thing to do. And you feel no guilt. Day’s when you resolve to just be. DSC04773 Do you have a way of resetting your mojo after a spell of illness or such? Leave comments below, I’d love to hear from you.


Mindfulness and Me.

I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve been undertaking an 8 week mindfulness meditation course. It seems to be making a real difference and I will confess that I am feeling a bit evangelical about it at this point (almost 6 weeks in), so I wanted to share my experiences.

Life, eh? It gets crazy sometimes. Even when the outside stuff of the world isn’t too bad, the mind can be like a chaotic and colourful circus that can fool you and draw you into it’s high drama’s and bitter tragedies. In a nutshell, I was getting fed up of feeling bad-tempered and impatient and was caught in a trap of beating myself up about it. Though the Chicken was sleeping a lot better during the night, when she did wake I was really struggling to deal with it compassionately. Don’t even mention naps. I felt like she was doing it all on purpose. Which is clearly not the case, so I needed a dose of perspective, and something practical that was going to help me deal with the reds when they arrived. I needed to reclaim my role as ringmaster in the circus of my mind… or something. I was already doing an online CBT course which was helping me to understand how I arrived at that point – you know the one – where your inner teenager rears her tempestuous head and you just want to storm off and slam doors and you don’t even know where it all began? So anyway, mindfulness.

What the funk is it all about, y’all? The 8 week course involves daily meditations (6 days out of seven is recommended), a weekly ‘habit releaser’ as well as some additional mindfulness tasks, such as performing a everyday activity mindfully. The meditations progress gently each week building upon the skills you have acquired the previous week. Some meditations are carried over several weeks, so you get the opportunity to develop.


Shall I just have a nap instead? The meditations are about being aware so on the whole you are instructed to sit unsupported. I tried lying down one day and just fell asleep, which was nice, but not a habit I wanted to fall into if I was to make the most of the practice.

Gimme some space, man. The 3 minute breathing space is introduced fairly early, and this has been the most useful strategy. It can be shorter or longer, but it’s there as a tool to pull out of your hat anytime of day or night when you just feel you need that dose of perspective. I have used this countless times. Usually in the middle of the night when the Chicken is struggling to settle and she won’t let me leave the room! I’ve also done it at random times during the day and I find that helps me to connect with whatever I doing, rather than operating on autopilot.


This ain’t no floaty breeze in the park. Some days it’s been hard to fulfil the commitment especially as the mediations have become longer. My mind wanders a lot. Some days it can make the duration of the meditation seem really irritating and I just can’t get into the ‘swing of it’. I fidget with my position and those pesky thoughts just keep coming, and I just keep following them and before I know it the time is up. Other times, I am just genuinely tired, so it’s hard to focus. I found it useful to jot a few notes down at the end of the meditation, if I could recall where my mind had wandered off to. Supposedly these experiences are useful too, and while I can’t say I consciously understand that yet, I have felt so much better that I just believe that they are and go with it!

Love yourself. There is a strong element of kindness, compassion and non-judgement. Yes your mind will wander. It’s okay. That’s what minds do. The practice is about just that – practice. Training your awareness to notice where your mind wanders off to and gently bring it back to the focus of the mediation (often the breath, but not always.) I read somewhere that those who are ‘successful’ meditators are not expert in emptying the mind, but of starting again. Over and over.

It’s not about tuning out. If escapism is what you’re after, pop yourself off to the cinema or pick up a good book. This is about turning towards yourself. Negative emotions can be pesky and I believe modern media leads us to think that those feelings are not allowed. Other self-help strategies can sometimes promise that you can rid yourself of those emotions – the subtext if you don’t manage that? You’ve failed. You will never be ‘normal’. Mindfulness meditation encourages you to turn towards your feelings and treat them with compassion and acceptance. This part of the practice has been challenging – I guess because it’s the default to turn away from those experiences and be all British about things.


Be Here Now. The flip side of that is that you are encouraged then to experience the present moment. Life is a series of moments and if you can turn towards the beauty of what you are experiencing in this moment, rather than get caught up in what happened earlier, or worries about what may not even come to pass, then you can experience more moments of contentment. “True contentment comes not when the world is quiet and the mind is still, but when we simply accept that this is how things are now” or something.

New habits die hard… I hope. I have done meditation before, but another reason I like this course, is that it requires daily commitment for two months. I hope it is setting a new habit, rather than just being a passing phase. I hope that these 8 weeks are just the beginning. I’m educating myself about how my brain works on my thoughts and emotions. It doesn’t promise that in 8 weeks you’ll be all set. But after only three weeks I had already witnessed enough change to be on board with it. Easy to say now, I know, but I find this approach so empowering because it’s a positive action that I can choose to take.

So those are my experiences so far. I’m definitely feeling more positive, more insightful, less anxious, more patient, more motivated and I seem to have more time and energy. And it doesn’t feel like a conscious effort, it seems to be just there. When I do have ‘negative’ experiences I feel more able to accept them and move on, rather than ruminating and becoming dragged down by them.

Have you undertaken a course of mindfulness meditation practice? If you have done the same course as me – which parts have you found most challenging? Maybe you know of another resource to help get people started? Do you practice any other type of mindfulness or meditation? As usual, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment box below.


Gadzooks! & Stuff*

Because I can’t believe it has been almost a month since I posted. And also, I just wanted to use that brilliant word of exclamation. I have been working on some posts – you know, the sort where you start a rambley draft and then before you know it you have millions of drafts and you just want to finish some of them? Well still none finished, so never mind… It’s all about the process, right….?! Plus, I’ve been doing other stuff* and this folks, is my latest slovenly round-up post.

Meditating. I posted a while ago now, about everyday mindfulness and starting Yin yoga. Well, I then went and bought a book. “Mindfulness: Finding peace in a frantic world” by Prof. Mark Williams. It’s an 8 week course so initially I thought I’d probably just read the book and not bother with the course bit (commitment-phobe). But, the Prof (as I like to call him) is quite persuasive so I COMMITTED! It has meant making time for the meditations and other exercises everyday. Sometimes several times a day – which is hard, and yes, it sometimes doesn’t happen at all. But. I. Have. Stuck. To. It.

Mindfulness book

Image source

I have to share this, because it is REALLY making a difference. I don’t know how, or why, and sometimes when I’m actually practising the meditations I feel really irritated, but in-between times, I have noticed less irritability, less anxiety, more focus. I’m only on week three. Maybe it deserves a whole post to itself about the in’s and out’s of why I’m loving it so much, but in the meantime I’ve also been:

Learning. Mainly around my current work activity, which is Pilates teaching. I’ve been accessing some online courses, reflection of my practice, physical practice, testing out some new moves on my client’s, meeting up with my Pilates buddy and practising new stuff together. I have some books and youtube content, but as it’s professional development as well as personal, I also subscribe to Pilates Anytime which is fantastic. I’m looking forward to teaching my classes and I’m having fun doing it.


Yoga. I’m not one of these people who buys into Pilates Vs. Yoga… who’s best? I’m embrace it all. I’m a scanner. Plus, as a physio, I can identify positives and negatives to each approach depending on a huge range of variables like expertise of your teacher and what the participants needs and potential risks might be. Anyway right now I’m finding the Yoga sits really nicely with the meditation, and also, it’s distinct from that which I teach, so it feels more nourishing to me. It’s my time. I’m totally inspired by Yoga with Adriene. Awesome content AND sound/visual quality is great.


Being Quiet. I’ve had the house to myself a few evenings recently, and it’s been brilliant to just sit in the quiet, reading. With no music or TV. Come to think of it, my overall screen time is pretty low at the moment. On those nights, even if it’s just been half and hour, I go to bed feeling like I’ve just come back from a spa. This quietness was inspired in part by the mindfulness course, but also hearing a discussion about what causes stress in the modern world on Woman’s Hour recently. You can listen yourself if you’re interested, but essentially it’s suggested that we are more competitive as a species than we have ever been and we are blindly chasing after an illusion of ‘lifestyle’ and STUFF* (blogs and instagram-world probably contributing to that phenomenon as well, I guess…)


Family Time: Mister has come to end of some reeeeeally busy work stuff, so we are now enjoying our time together. Bike rides, fun in the garden, weekend day’s out, lazy mornings – check check check! Watch this space as we more than likely venture for a second time into camping with toddler territory and seaside adventures. Ahoy!


*I always feel the need to distinguish the benign happenings of everyday life (stuff), from the evil and copious volumes of materials and content our eyeballs are assaulted by on a daily basis (STUFF). Next time you walk down your local high street, just consider all the STUFF in all the shops, then consider that it will probably all be replaced by new STUFF next week. Where did all the previous STUFF go? Maybe here?


There’s probably loads more stuff (see? Nice!) but that’s all that’s pooped out of my brain right now. What have you been up to? Have you managed to find any space lately? Tell me!


Where to start with mindfulness.

Mindfulness hit the news recently, weirdly just a couple of days after I decided to start doing guided meditations again. I’ve used these meditations since I discovered them a few years ago and was having some stress and panic attacks at work. They really helped at the time, and even though I’ve not always had time to keep them up since having the Chicken, the technique of noticing the breath is something I’ve found myself doing whenever I need a little calm (Ha! frequently!) I’m yet to learn more about it, but I thought I’d share the things that I’ve found easiest to incorporate into daily life with a baby / toddler (I think she has a foot in both camps at the moment)!


1. Watching my daughter. Not interfering or directing. Just watching her going about her active business, singing as she goes and contemplating, as I do, how much joy she oozes without even trying. I think babies are mindful by nature – they focus intently on their own present moment and have not yet learned to manage their emotions, which they express freely and passionately.

2. Learning from my daughter to stop and notice things. We stop and stroke some leaves and talk about how they feel, what colour they are, if they smell, what do they feel like on our fingers or tongues, how does the light fall on them. Intensely focussed on the minutae of everyday life. It’s really calming.

3. Breathing. Noticing my breath whenever I get a moment to. The rhythm, the sound, the temperature, the sensation in my nostrils, the associated movements of my belly. The effortlessness of it. Just all the details.


Essentially it’s about being in the present – not ruminating on the past and not creating narratives about the future which can lead you to stress about things that might not even happen. I’m very prone to that way of thinking.

Last night I went to my first Yin Yoga class. We held sustained postures while focussing on the breath, which is harder than you think! I can immediately see the value of this when standing rocking a baby/toddler back to sleep at 3am, or when I feel the heat of frustration rising in my chest. I find it really hard to focus on my breath and stay centred and not lose it when every fibre of my body and mind just wants to crawl back into bed! Patience is not one of my finer qualities!

I’m not saying I’ve cracked it, and I definitely do not float about in zen like state of wonder at the universe. Far from it – I’m impatient, I get angry, I’m stroppy and I let all these things get me down sometimes. But I’m practising different ways of dealing with those feelings because I want to relate better with those I love, and I want to “be the change”.

Be the change2

via Pinterest


Do you have anymore tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!



In the moment.

I was going to write a post about mindfulness in everyday life, but I think I will just post this as an example.


Taking time to rest. And be close with my baby. Some say its a bad habit. I say it’s a delicious privilege that one day I will miss so much my heart will ache. So I will be here for the time being.

How are you appreciating the small things today?


Embracing slow & small

I was catching up with some of my favourite blogs the other day, when I came across this phrase “embracing slow” (at Practicing Simplicity). It has been in my mind since then, and of how much mental energy I spend, thinking of all the myriad things that I want or need to do. In an annoying paradox, I often end up taking no action because I can’t have it perfect straight away. Like missing a class because if I leave now I’ll be 5 minutes late so what’s the point? It’s bonkers it really is. There are probably loads more important areas of my life where I could and should apply this mentality, but the most obvious aspect that springs to mind this week is beautifying the house.

Photo’s of happy times AND flowers!

Not that our house isn’t lovely already, but y’know… One likes to fuss and feather and preen and what not. We have been here for a good few years and it sometimes frustrates me at how slow we are at getting around to the bigger projects like decorating. For a variety of reasons: we are not good at making decisions (restaurant menus = nightmare), we are not good at spending money unless we are certain we have exhausted all the free or frugal options first (jumble lover that I am / Yorkshireman that he is). Also, I think we both have a streak of the perfectionist in us. I like the thought of doing a room/the garden/other large project in one weekend, and getting it over with and having the big reveal like on telly. I know. I’m a der-brain. Since having a baby, I’ve had to be more realistic about time, and let go of the idea of everything having to be perfect to be worth making those small changes. Let’s not forget that massive dose of perspective that being a parent gives you, eh?

We repurposed this little shelf so now it just holds things that please us. Functional items are BARRED!

Having made a few of those small changes here and there has made such a difference, and it reminds me of how lovely it is to see something slowly evolve. My mind can focus on the little lovely things, instead of the big old list of dull-ass jobs that needs doing! Notably though, I have taken on a couple of medium sized projects lately (using the internationally unrecognised system of project-size measurement…?) It’s probably some kind of universal Law of Attraction or some other new-age explanation. That’s cool. Or (more likely) a psychological / behavioural (ie. more scientific and therefore even cooler) reason why the mind works that way. Anyway, even my logical, sceptical brain gets that small changes lead to bigger actions too. And it’s something I am going to continue to be mindful of from now on, because I really like the happy feeling I get from seeing those flowers in that vase I bought from the charity shop.

Mother’s Day flowers in my thrifted vase next to my South African basket. 

What small things can you think of that make everyday that little bit more special?

Happy weekend!


The teachings of the lost shoe.


I planned to write this post as a review of the weeks events (don’t get excited – ‘events’ is really just another word for ‘shit that happened’) The week started with a visit to the GP to check the little Chicken’s chest had cleared up after a week of antibiotics. It had, and gradually she is sleeping better again as the cough subsides. YAY for antibiotics! (This time…)

And then my mind went completely blank… What have I done all week? The realisation that I had lost 50 hours of my memory came on Thursday when it transpired that the Girl’s shoe had gone missing. At twenty-six pounds a pop I can tell you, I needed my faculties to go into recall mode. They did not. I phoned the supermarket – they must have fallen out of the buggy basket while I was hurriedly hauling it out of the boot on Wednesday afternoon. “we’ll call you back when we’ve checked, they assured me” Lucky for me I was too impatient, and walked to the car park myself and had a look, and checked the lost property. The customer service ‘colleague’ (whose colleague? Mine? What does this mean?) smoothed down her blonde hair and her eyes, optimistically encircled with a youthful thick line of turquoise eyeliner, creased up. “PAH HA HA HA!” she hooted as I told her my plight. I couldn’t feel cross with her, I’ve dealt with her before and she’s what some might call a rough diamond, calls everyone “babe” and “darling” and generally sorts shit out with great humour and efficiency. But she found no shoe. Later that night, having searched high and low, and well, given up, Mister came home and I managed to remember that I had taken her out in the garden one afternoon, and we’d come back inside with only one shoe, but I thought I’d found it in the kitchen. A few minutes later, he reappeared with a very soggy £13-worth of Clarks finest.

Still though, I couldn’t help searching my brain for the missing hours. Where else could I have lost it? I have no idea – seriously. What is up with that? I mourned the loss of my pre-baby brain – the ability to reason-in-action, make decisions, remember stuff…

I spent some time checking my social media activity to see if that jogged any memories. No photos on instagram. No irrelevant but possibly mind-jogging Tweets or Pins. Even perusing everybody else’s history didn’t jog any memories… Er…. Hang on a minute. That IS what I have done all week. God, the shame. The rest of Monday , right through to Wednesday 2pm, is lost in a haze of changing nappies, making baby food, and checking status updates whilst trying my best to hide the phone from the Girl. Like a naughty teenager sat at the back of the classroom, writing notes and secreting them inside pencil sharpeners so teacher doesn’t catch wind of the naughtiness.

Only I’m supposed to be the adult. I’m supposed to show my daughter how to be a proper person. And, for my money, anybody who is trying to secretly check Instagram while I’m trying to talk to them or hang out with them, is a really bad mannered person. This is what having children does. You think you’re an okay person, and then BAM! Baby holds up a high definition mirror in your selfish face and shows you who you really are.

So. Moving forwards. I will set the phone aside (the laptop is out of bounds anyway, unless I want to pay for a hefty repair from her pulling the screen out of joint.) I will set the phone aside and just be with her. No, I’m not going to try and meditate with her or anything. But I think even if she’s seeing me just folding laundry or hoovering (cue feminist outcry…) it is better. Those activities are jobs I do within the home – for the family. As opposed to looking at my phone screen all the time which is a form of escapism – I don’t want to escape her. I want to revel in every moment. The phone also serves me as a procrastination tool. I need to stop looking up what we can do or buy, and just get out of the house with her. Days are wasted because of my poor planning and time management, and part of that is down to time-wasting on the phone! Isn’t modern life crazy?!

Watch this space – I will update in a week or two!