Depression · Diary · Health & Fitness · Lifestyle · Mental Health Awareness · Mindfulness · SAD · self care · Wellbeing

Self Care Sunday 18th February

Where did that last week go? Oh of course, it’s half term, I had most of the week off work, so true to form, the week disappeared in a flash. I really am not ready to go back to work tomorrow. I have been having far too much fun this week.

It has been a fabulous week, with plenty of self-care time and quality time with my husband.

I got off to a good start, Monday was one of my days off work so I made the most of being at home and the sunny weather. After my first kettlebell workout in months I took myself outside for a two mile walk around my Village. I am desperate to get back to the gym and circuit classes and weight training but my ankle is still not as strong as it should be. It has taken months for me to feel confident enough to start exercising. Ligament injuries do not heal quickly. I have been trying to follow the Bodycoach 90 Day Plan but illness has made it almost impossible to stick to any fitness routine. I have felt better this week so I am hoping that this virus that I picked up at the beginning of the year has finally moved on.

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in school working. And I am so glad I picked those two days as the weather was awful. Then hey presto the rest of the week was warm and sunny. It doesn’t normally work out that way does it? Someone must have been smiling down on me.

Wednesday was of course Valentines Day. We don’t celebrate it. If I am honest I don.t really agree with it. But that’s just my opinion and I don’t have a problem with other people celebrating. My husband and I work at making sure we do not take each other for granted. My husband is very good at making me feel loved all year round. It’s the everyday little things that matter to us. We don’t need the cards, flowers, presents or overpriced meal out. So as a way to participate in the day we decided to pop down to our local pub for a drink (the first of many this week). They were holding a anti-valentines night. I was expecting it to be quiet. But much to my surprise the pub was packed and full of middle-aged couples like us. We ended up having a great night chatting and drinking beer with friends. I did, however do a little nod to the day of romance, by adding a bit of pink to my outfit. The flowers in the photo below are very special to me. It is my bouquet, which I made myself, from my wedding 2 1/2 years ago. They take pride of place in my dressing room so I see them every morning when I get ready for the day.

On Thursday we decided to venture out for a spot of retail therapy for the house. I did want to go to Ikea but my husband broke his toe last week so cannot walk too much. So opted to stay local and ended up in The Range, one of my favourite stores for homeware. I picked up a few items for the bathroom, which is nearly finished. I can’t wait to get to the styling stage where I can faff with all the lovely accessories I have bought. We also bought new blinds for the whole house. A bargain though. Three 6 ft blinds and six 3 ft blinds for just over £100. Obviously no shopping trip is complete without a spot of lunch. So we popped into Chimichanga for Burger and Cheesecake. They do a really good lunch menu. Two courses for £10.50. You really can’t go wrong with that. And if you are in a Mexican restaurant it would be rude not to have beer with lime. It took me back to the late 1980’s when I worked in London and our favourite night out was beer and tequila in a fabulous restaurant just off Regent Street called “Break for the Border”. Many a hangover was caused by that place.

Friday night was Date Night. Once a month we try to have a proper night out. Not the local pub. Usually we go out for a nice meal or take a trip to London. This month we decided to use a Cineworld Gift we received for Christmas. A trip to the cinema is a rarity for us, much to my husbands disappointment as he is a big film fan. The reason we don’t go is because to the cinema is because I struggle to sit still in one place for too long. It is a real problem for me. About 45 mins into a film I start to get fidgety and then completely lose concentration, sometimes I even fall asleep (and I have been known to snore – very embarrassing). We tend to try and get to the cinema at least once a year though, but we have to pick the film carefully. To be honest musicals tend to feature very heavily. The last three cinema trips have been to see La La Land, Jersey Boys and Sweeny Todd. And this trip was no different. We went to see The Greatest Showman. Which I have to say was a fantastic film. I was transfixed. No fidgeting or heavy sighing. I stayed put until the very end. If you haven’t seen it I can totally recommend it.

After the film we popped over to one of the nearby restaurants for food and cocktails. How pleased was I to find out that they have a late Happy Hour. So of course I took full advantage. The food was amazing and a great night was made even better when the couple at the next table told us that if we downloaded the restaurants app you could get 50% off the food bill immediately. Bloody brilliant. A three course meal, cocktails and a beer for hubby came to less than £30.

After the excesses of the previous few days we decided to spend a day at home on Friday. Hubby busied himself putting up the new blinds while I spent a few hours trying to clear my ironing pile and writing a couple of blog posts. I also made the most of the sunshine on both Friday and Saturday by getting out for a four mile walk/gentle run. I extended my route to include the local Marina. And made the most of just sitting for ten minutes watching the little sailing boats. I love being near the water. It always makes me feel so calm. Maybe it has something to do with being a water sign.

Saturday Night was another night out at our local pub. We were showing our support for their first ever Quiz Night. And we also love a good general knowledge quiz. I wasn’t holding out much hope of doing particularly well. We went along with three other couples, who like us enjoy a drink. So imagine my surprise when our team or four won. I think it was only down to the fact that they didn’t ask any sports questions or anything about modern music. We won a cash prize too which was enough for a couple of rounds of drinks. We left before things got too messy though. I really didn’t want to be nursing a hangover on my last day off work.

This morning I had a little lie in and enjoyed a cup of tea in bed. I feel completely shattered. We have had such a busy week. It’s rare that I get more than a day or two off work during half terms and when I do I usually just want to curl up in front of the TV. Especially at this time of year, as I am normally feeling low and suffering from quite bad Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms. This Winter has been one of my better years. We went away to sunnier climes at Christmas and this always helps alleviate my symptoms. Despite having an ongoing illness, I haven’t felt depressed or lethargic or wanted to hide away from the world. I have also been taking better care of my mental health, spending more time practising self-care. This may be helping me in some way. I think it has definitely made me more conscious about the need to be kind to myself and take time to enjoy the little things that make me happy. To help me with my quest for a calmer, healthier life, I started reading this book at the beginning of the week. I am really enjoying it. I’m not going to give away too much now as I will write a review when I have finished it and post it on the blog.

Anyway, back to today. When I eventually got out of bed I spent the rest of the morning busying myself with household chores, food prep and getting everything ready for work tomorrow. And after a little pamper session where I had both a face mask and hair mask I am now sitting down for the rest of the afternoon. I am planning on writing a couple of blog posts, doing a little reading and then one of my favourite tasks….meal planning. Later we will have a roast dinner and find a movie on Netflix that we can watch together, although to be honest this normally results in him watching the movie and me half watching the movie while flicking through a book or social media… I do know better though, not to ask what is happening in the film.

I hope you all have had a fabulous week and are enjoying a restful Sunday. I’m trying not to think of my week ahead. The first week of any term is always a little stressful. And its nearly the end of the financial year so I have a mountain of work approaching plus the next module in my School Business Manager course starts tomorrow with a web tutorial at 6pm. This time I will not procrastinate and leave all the studying until the last minute…. Who am I kidding !!

Thank you for reading.

Love

Melanie xxxx

AW Fashion · Beauty · Budget Fashion · Lemonade Lifestyle · Lifestyle · Mental Health Awareness · Mindfulness · SAD · self care · Wellbeing

Self Care Sunday 11th February

This week was one of those weeks. I woke up on Monday morning with yet another sinus infection, this time accompanied by a sore throat. I felt so rotten that by lunchtime I had come home from work and was curled up on the sofa eating comfort food. I always crave baked beans and cheese when I am not well. Usually I would have it with mash but as I have been back on the Bodycoach plan there wasn’t a potato to be found in the house, so I had to make do with toast instead. It’s funny how our body craves certain foods when we are ill isn’t it? My husband is a little healthier than me and will normally tuck into bananas when he is not well. What about you? What is your comfort food of choice?

I have been suffering for about six weeks with ongoing sinus infections and headaches. I think it is a virus I picked up on the plane home from Portugal. As I first got ill two days after flying home from our Christmas holiday. The diffuser and eucalyptus oil I bought in early January has been a godsend and has been working overtime.

Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser and Mystic Eucalyptus Essential Oil both from Amazon

I spent the next two days at home curled up on the sofa. Working, writing up my assignments and watching box sets. My favourite at the moment is Life in Pieces which can be found on Amazon Prime. Each episode consists of four short stories based on different members of one extended family. It is very lighthearted and funny. I can highly recommend it. I can also recommend the remake of Dynasty on Netflix. It is a little trashy but very addictive and it definitely something you can totally switch off to.

On Wednesday I was cheered up when February’s Birchbox arrived. I have only been receiving these beauty boxes since November, when my husband bought me an annual subscription for my Birthday. I have been pretty impressed with the products I have received so far and they have helped me in my quest for self-care. I have only tried one of the products in this month’s 1970’s themed box. The Laqa and Co Blush & Highlighter. I wore it to work on Thursday, not that I needed any additional colour on my cheeks as the sinus infections have played havoc with my skin. But it gave a lovely dewy peach shimmer to my skin.

Birchbox UK Beauty Box subscription £10.00 per month plus delivery charge.

I went back to work for the last two days of the week, even though I still wasn’t 100% as I had a lot of work to do before the end of term. I did manage to escape early Friday though which meant I had time for a mini facial at home using some of my favourite Liz Earle products. I try to have at home facial every week but I have neglected this the last couple of weeks due to spending all my time studying and finishing the assignments for my Diploma of School Business Management. My quick facial routine consists of cleansing with Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish before applying one of the face masks. This week I opted for the Brightening Treatment Mask but I also like the Nourishing Mask too. After removing the mask with hot water and a muslin cloth I wipe my skin with the Instant Boost Skin Tonic before applying the Superskin Concentrate for Night. If you want to try any of these products pop over to Liz Earle. There are always special offers on the website. 

I felt a little better on Saturday morning, in time for a trip to London in the wind and rain to meet up with two of my Instagram friends, Liz & Alex. We spent a few hours at The Ivy City Garden where we enjoyed afternoon tea and champagne. It was lovely and such good value for money. The place is amazing. Definitely worth a visit. We are planning a return trip in the Summer so we can sit out in the garden area.

I made the most of being out out and arranged to meet my husband back in Kent for drinks. It was the first time we had been out of our Village for a night out since the beginning of January,. We enjoyed a couple of drinks and a little boogie and got home just after midnight.

The ruffle jumper I am wearing here is a recent purchase from very.co.uk and cost £14 in the sale. It also comes in red, which I am very tempted to buy.

I woke this morning feeling a little dehydrated but fortunately not hungover. We popped into town early to pick up some shopping and grab a full english breakfast at what I call the “proper” cafe. After a few chores at home I found the time for a little more pampering. My skin has been neglected recently and I am looking about 100 at the moment. I used both of these products, which are total opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of cost. The Elemis Frangipani Body Oil is a luxurious treat for the body. And it smells divine. It costs £37 and can be purchased here. The Lacura Soy Restorative Serum costs only £2.79 in Aldi and is just as good. I first used this serum last Summer when my skin was dry from the effects of the warm weather. When I finished the bottle I didn’t bother repurchasing as my skin was in good condition. But today I grabbed another bottle while I was picking up my weekly fruit and veg shop. I am hoping that it will help restore my skin condition and give me back a little radiance. It just goes to show though that the cheaper beauty products are just as good and you don’t need to spend a fortune.

I spent the rest of the day camped out on the sofa. Although I have struggled to find any me time this week. My husband and I have made sure that we are continuing with our couples self-care. This weeks selection from our Self Care jar was to cook a nice meal together. We cheated a little and bought the M&S Valentines Meal for Two for £20. It didn’t actually cost us anything as we had a M&S Voucher. We have bought this meal deal for the last two years. We never have it on Valentines Day as we don’t celebrate it. We both feel that we dont need one day of the year to appreciate each other as we do it all year round.

The meal we chose was amazing, Restaurant quality. We picked the runny scotch egg for starter and the rump steak with peppercorn sauce and potato rosti’s for main and side. I cooked some spinach and mushrooms which I had in the fridge.

The dessert was out of this world, a raspberry and prosecco bomb. I can’t event describe how tasty this was. One really wasn’t enough. We did leave the little box of chocolates for another day but obviously we managed to polish off the bottle of Rose Cava that came with the deal.

So the end of the week was much better than the beginning. It’s half term this week and I only have to work two days so I am planning on making the most of having some time at home to relax and recharge my batteries. I am planning lots of self-care. A few beauty treats, writing blog posts and reading some of the books I received for Christmas. We have no plans to go out but next week’s couples time is Board Game Night. So we will probably get a takeaway and a bottle of wine for our Saturday night at home. All we have to do now is decide which board game to play…. Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Othello or Monopoly.

I hope you all have a great week and manage to find some time to yourself. If you are celebrating Valentines Day I hope you are spoilt rotten. And for those of you at home with the kids, I hope it is not too stressful.

Thank you for reading.

Love

Melanie xxxx

 

Depression · Lifestyle · Mental Health Awareness · Mindfulness · SAD · self care · Wellbeing

Self Care Sunday 21st January

This week was one of those hectic weeks that quite often lead to me neglecting myself. Work was extra busy this week with government returns to process, a training day and about a dozen meetings. All on top of my normal workload. I also had to commit some time to my studies this week. My assignments are due to be submitted in a couple of weeks and I have three 5000 word essays to complete. When will I learn not to leave these things until the last minute.

Anyway I promised myself this year I would make self-care a priority, even during the busiest times at work.

I started the week off with an early night. I do love the dark Winter nights, it is the perfect excuse to get into my pjs, pop on a face mask and get into bed to watch TV or read something lighthearted such as this book, which is one of those great little inspirational books that you can dip in and out of. Each page has a different quote to inspire you. The book is available at Amazon. I try to do this at least once a week and get to sleep before 10.30pm. If I’m not feeling particularly sleepy I swear by Sleeptherapy pillow sprays from Avon, I have used them for years.

Also on Monday I started the new Bodycoach 90 Day Plan after being offered it for free. Joe Wickes has kindly offered all of those people who competed and graduated from his first plan the opportunity to do his second personalised plan free of charge. Of course I jumped at the chance. I had great success on the first plan back in 2916, losing one and half stone and dropping two dress sizes. I have since put on half a stone and am back to a size 10/12 due to not being able to exercise for the last 5 months following an injury to my foot. I started the workouts on Tuesday morning and really felt the pain later in the day. It’s been a bit of a struggle getting up and down the stairs all week but it has been a while since I did this level of exercise.

The first half of the week was a little challenging at work. I had to deal with a couple of staff issues which saw me having to reprimand a couple of members of staff. Not something that comes easily to me but it’s part and parcel of being a senior manager. I was pretty stressed out and feeling very low when I got home from work Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m lucky that my husband is great at looking after me when I feel down and he took over cooking dinner while I treated myself to a luxurious shower with another product from my monthly Birchbox.

I have to say I don’t think I have ever used such a lush shower gel. It is so creamy and smells divine. My skin felt so silky afterwards. One word of advice if you go and get this product is you only need a tiny amount. It comes out of the pump as a clear gel but as soon as you rub it in it turns to a gorgeous creamy foam. You can purchase this Shower Foam at www.rituals.com

Thursday was a long day at work. It was Spring Census Day. It is the day that all schools have to produce various governments returns and each school has a specific time to run their report and there are always errors and queries to resolve before it can be submitted to the Department of Education. The return is used to formulate some of our funding so it is really important that the data is correct. After such a busy day I didn’t feel like cooking so my husband took me to one of our local pubs for dinner. It was freezing cold so I took the opportunity to wear my favourite big cosy jumper from Next. This really is a fabulous knit at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately it is no longer available online but I have seen it in store in other colours.

Because I had been really good with my diet all week and I had stuck to the no sugar, reduced caffeine rule of the 90 Day Plan all week I decided to have a little Friday night treat. I used the Black Forest Hot Chocolate powder that was in my Christmas stocking, for the first time. It was an interesting flavour and if you are looking for a hot drink which is a little different then it might be worth a try. I can’t find the powder available to buy at the moment, it may a Christmas product but you can purchase Black Forest syrup at Amazon.

My Friday night treat set me up nicely for the weekend. Saturday morning was taken up with normal weekly chores of cleaning and ironing. Normally on a Saturday evening we would either pop to our local pub for a drink or have a Netflix and takeaway night. This week we had arranged to drive across Kent to meet up with my husband’s Sister and Brother-in-Law. We hadn’t seen them since last Summer. We both have busy lives, full time jobs, kids and houses that we are renovating, so we only ever seem to catch up at family gatherings. This time we met up at a lovely country pub in Westerham It was the first time the four of us had been out without kids in tow and we had a really great time. If you are ever in this area check out the Aperfield Inn. Very cosy, amazing food and fantastic customer service. We all enjoyed ourselves so much we are planning to do it again soon.

Sunday is my favourite day of the week. It always has been. When my husband and I were first dating, we would have every other Sunday to ourselves because my children would be at their dads for the weekend. We used to make the most of it by having a lazy day. We would stay in bed all morning, reading the newspapers, eating bacon sandwiches and drinking coffee. The afternoons would have been spent on the sofa watching a movie while a roast dinner cooked.

Today we did much the same, minus the newspapers as they just make me angry now. But we stayed in bed late drinking coffee. Then instead of cooking bacon sandwiches at home we wrapped up warm and walked to the Marina in the sleety snow, stopping at the old fashioned river side cafe for a cooked breakfast.

On the walk home we stopped at the Co-op in our Village square for roast dinner ingredients. The rest of the day will be spent on the sofa under the blanket. Hubby watching movies while I catch up with social media, write a couple of blog posts and indulge in some online shopping, I wont be buying anything exciting… just food and toiletries.

So there goes another hectic week. The week ahead should be a little calmer at work, but I have a lot of studying to catch up on so I’m still going to be busy. I will still make sure that I fit in a little self-care though as I am finding that I really look forward to it now. It is slowly becoming part of my daily routine.

I hope you have had a good week and don’t forget to make some time for the things that bring you joy.

Thank you for reading.

Melanie xxxx

Lifestyle · Mental Health Awareness · Mindfulness · self care · Wellbeing

Self Care Sunday 14th January

How is it already the end of the second week of January. Last Monday I went back to work after just over two weeks off. I struggled to get out of bed and I really didn’t feel ready to face a new term at School. My brain didn’t really function properly and it felt very strange to be back in work clothes and heels. After what felt like I very long day on Monday all I wanted to do was crawl into bed with my hot water bottle and a cup of tea. I have to admit to feeling a little low and had not planned any self-care activity for the evening. But my mood was lifted when I walked through the front door after work and found January’s Birchbox had arrived. It was just what I needed.

I have only been receiving the monthly beauty box since November when I received a one Year subscription for my birthday. I am trying to make the effort to use the products as part of my self-care routine and to give myself a little treat with new products that I would not normally purchase myself.

I opened the pretty flamingo box after my shower and immediately used the Restorative Night Cream. My skin is not looking great at the moment, too much sugar and alcohol over Christmas combined with late nights and a cold/sinus infection has left it looking very red, dry and dull. It says it is the ideal boost for tired skin, so it is a treat rather than one I would use every day. But I tried it every day this week. I’m not sure if it made a difference. My skin did feel a little more hydrated but I had a break-out of spots which could be due to the cream. I am going to keep using it for another week to see if the condition of my skin improves.

On Wednesday I tried some of the new make up that was in this box and last months box. I always wear the same make up because it is just quick and easy in the mornings to just go with what I know works. I don’t have time to test out new products or shades and then risk having to either go to work unhappy with how I look or having to remove make up and start again. But this time I decided to spend a little extra time on my make up and try something new. I was really pleased with the result and I had several comments about my new look at work.

To create this new look I first used the Lord & Berry Blusher Pencil. I received the peach shade and I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t normally wear a blusher because a) I always feel I look a little like Aunt Sally and b) I’m too lazy. This blusher is very easy to use. It blended into my skin well and it left my cheeks with am subtle rosy glow, which I really loved. It made me look a little healthier. I may now be a blusher convert.

Next I used the Marcelle Charcoal eyeliner. Most days I wear a Navy eyeliner as it works well with the colour of my eyes. I tend to wear black eyeliner on a night out but it can be a little harsh on me. So I figured that the charcoal may be somewhere in between. I can’t describe how much I loved this eyeliner. It gave a smokey look to my eyes and made them look really different. I will definitely be using this again.

Finally I used the Pixi by Petra Shea Butter Lip Balm. I opted for the nude colour and it was actually a little more tinted than I expected. This was ok but I would have preferred no tint. I would still use this product though as it really moisturised my lips which are incredibly dry at the moment.

Whilst I was in the beauty treat mood this week I also used a couple of items from previous months Birchboxes. Tuesday was the turn of the Kebelo Clarifying Shampoo. This is meant to be used as a monthly treat to cleanse and rejuvenate hair. My hair re-colour is due in a couple of weeks and it is about this time that my hair starts to feel dry and look really dull. Immediately after using the clarifying shampoo my hair actually felt squeaky clean. And I really mean that when I say squeaky. It was a very strange feeling. I don’t think my hair had ever felt so cleansed. I used my normal conditioner, which is a inexpensive one from Aldi. Later that evening when my hair had dried naturally it felt so soft and silky. I didn’t have to use any styling products or straighteners on my hair the next morning it just fell into place and was lovely and “swingy”. I couldn’t stop touching my hair all day. This shampoo really worked well on my hair and definitely gets five stars.

A couple of days later I decided to use another new hair product. Sugar Texturising Spray by Number 4 (High Performance Hair Care). My hair is very thick but fine. It never has much body and I struggle to get it to hold a style. In the past I have used Seasalt Spray to gain some texture on my layered hair, which is great for those in-between washing days. I thought the sugar Spray would be much the same. But no it was better. I put a slight curl in my hair at the front and side using my Babylis wand and then applied the spray. Usually by lunchtime any style I have done will have dropped out. But not this time, the curl and the texture remained until I got home in the evening. I loved how my hair looked. I may even buy a full sized version of this product purely because it is the first styling product that has actually worked on my hair. You can buy it here at Birchbox.

It was a hectic week at work and on Friday the husband and I decided to pop to our local pub for a couple of drinks. Unfortunately it now turns out that I am allergic to their new puppy. I woke during the night struggling to breathe with blocked sinuses. Fortunately I had my new Aromatherapy Oil Diffuser (featured on my last blog post) to hand and a morning of Eucalyptus Oil misting into the air helped clear my sinuses. By Saturday evening I was feeling much better.

If you read my post last Sunday you will know that my husband and I are using a “self-care jar” this year to make sure we spend quality time together each week. This week we randomly picked out “Movie Night”. So Saturday night comprised a takeaway, prosecco, a box of Maltesers and the movie 9/11 on Sky Cinema.

Today saw the arrival of new book. (all hail Amazon Sunday deliveries). I had been waiting for this book, Happy by Fearne Cotton, for two weeks. I ordered this to compliment The Happy Journal which I received for Christmas. So as you can imagine I am eager to start reading it. I will find the time thus evening to curl up in the sofa for an hour of reading before heading off to the bedroom to watch McMafia on the TV.

Happy by Fearne Cotton currently £3.99 at AmazonSo this week’s self-care revolved around beauty treatments and actually using those products I receive each month in my beauty box subscription. It has really helped give me a boost during my first week back at work. Next week is going to be all about Health & Fitness after a lovely surprise I received last week. All will be revealed on my Instagram account throughout the week and on the blog next Sunday.

Thank you for reading and I hope you managed to find some time for a little self-care this week.

Melanie xxxx