How To Take A More Mindful Lunch Break


Do you eat your lunch at your desk? Whilst answering emails, checking Twitter, Instagram or doing your weekly online food shop? Are you really taking the time to take a true break and make sure you're actually witnessing your food and enjoying it? 

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

We all do it! I have to physically restrain my hand from reaching for my phone whenever I sit down to eat. It seems like a reasonable thing to do, and a good point in a busy day during which to multi-task and get more done, or to catch up with the outside world. But it's a really bad habit that the majority of us have gotten into. If you put just a little thought into taking a considerably more mindful break, the impact over time can be incredibly effective, especially when it comes to managing stress levels and maintaining a greater sense of calm and wellbeing.

So here are three super simple things to do next time you sit down to eat a meal, especially your lunch during a busy working day. Try them out, give them a little of your time. If you're not convinced don't give up straight away. Over time the impact of such simple changes can really make a considerable difference.



1. Step Away From Your Desk. Get some fresh air and find a quieter place, or at least a change of scenery, well away from your computer screen at which to eat your lunch.

2. Put Technology DOWN! And I really mean put that phone or tablet down. Push technology aside. Put your phone away. DO NOT spend your meal time browsing social media. This, for me, is one of the biggest challenges, my hand reaches for the phone and starts scrolling before my brain has even clocked what it's doing. But persevere. Resist the urge and concentrate on clearing the mind, breathing and reconnecting with yourself for a moment or two. Remove distractions, rather than add them.

3. Slowly Savour Those First Three Forkfuls. Generally we all need to take time to eat slower and with more thought. This is a great way to start but you'll be surprised how easy it is to forget to take time to notice those first three bites! This was one of the tasks we were set on the Search Inside Yourself Course back in February. If you can get into this habit, savour those first few moments at least, really take in the flavour, the texture, the temperature, everything that relates to what you're eating, it will help to calm your general approach to your meal. It's also vital for helping to understand when we're full to prevent us from over-eating. On another recent course I took part in, nutritional therapist Eva Kalinik discussed the fact that we should chew each bite a minimum of thirty times. Now this might sound extreme, but compare that to how you may be wolfing down your food in a rush right now and you may see that you need to strike a better balance. 

FURTHER READING: Mindful Eating: 5 Easy Tips To Get Started via Huffpost Healthy Living.


So what will you do this lunchtime? Why not take the time to appreciate that break and do something to really help bring those stress levels down. Trust me, the afternoon will seem a lot more bearable if you do!



Stationery Love And Dream Office Spaces!


This week marks National Stationery Week here in the UK. A week to celebrate the glory of all things stationery and also to highlight the importance of the hand written word - the fact that writing matters. In fact there is a huge connection between the act of handwriting and the influence this has on the rational adult mind. Anyone who journals will probably know how beneficial they find this for their wellbeing and for dealing with anxiety and stress. As a generation we all wrote so much as kids but now all we do is tap away at a computer, and future generations will likely not take pen to paper very much at all. This in itself is such an interesting topic and I for one still believe in the power and the benefits of the written word. Yet like so many of us, I now struggle to put to pen to paper and actually write more than just a few scribbled words on my shopping list! 

Interested in this topic? Read more here: Handwriting vs typing: is the pen still mightier than the keyboard? via The Guardian.

Paperchase Blogger Event April 2016 Flat Lay

But the subject of writing and of journalling is one I'd like to come back to at another point in time! For today I'm thinking dream workspaces and the beauty of stationery, how it can make our spaces come to life and give us the inspiration and motivation that we need to get us through the day.

In fact just this morning as I walked across London with my other half we got to a discussion about the pros and cons of the current craze of hot desking or 'activity based workplaces' and it occurred to me that this too has a link to today's post. While many employers may be moving to embrace the hot desk mantra, often employees in this situation are left feeling disconnected at not having their own space in which to 'nest' and call home during their working day. Time and again I'm struck by how important the right space is for our productivity as well as our wellbeing at work.

What are your thoughts on the hot desk trend? Read more here: 'Hot Desking' Is A Big Trend - Here's Why A Lot Of People Hate It via Business Insider.

Last night I was pleased to have the opportunity to assist in leading a blogging event with Paperchase held in their flagship Tottenham Court Road store and we got ourselves involved in doing just that. Creating beautiful 'dream workspace' layouts, flat-lays using gorgeous stationery, motivational quotes and fun but functional office based essentials in a way that showed how creative and inspirational we can make our workspace. I was really impressed by the creative compositions that the bloggers so swiftly put together so I thought today I'd share some of my own thoughts on what makes a working space great. If you missed it you might also find my recent post on how to create a healthier workspace useful too.



1. Embrace Your Workplace Style

  • Decide what you want and need the space to do for you.
  • Consider what sort of style and trend appeals to you. Perhaps industrial, country, modern, classic?
  • What are you trying to achieve in your space? Are you in desperate need of a constant supply of inspiration, motivation, productivity? How can you bring this to the space?
  • Finally have a good think about the essential key things that you need to get the job done. Notebooks? Pens? Staplers? Paperclips?! How can you incorporate these in a fun but functional way?

2. Storage Matters

  • Bear in mind the practicalities of the space in which you're working. How can you style a smart, fun but also functional space? What storage might you need?

3. Consider Your Own Work Wellbeing As Well As Productivity Boosters

  • Keep clutter to a minimum, maybe implement plants for greenery (bring the outside in for wellbeing), keep things light and bright, will you need a clock for timing and ensuring you take regular breaks etc?

4. Visual Is Key

  • Inspire yourself with visual props. Perhaps motivational quotes, posters? What will keep you feeling creative? Keep these things in eyeshot to keep you feeling happy and motivated.

5. Play With Pops Of Colour Or Colour Themes

  • Will you opt for a one-colour theme? Perhaps keep it muted but with pops of different colour? Maybe calm? Maybe bright? What appeals to you?
  • Certain colours help with different things, blue is calming, yellow is good for creativity, green is good for longs hours and stress. Perhaps you want to bring this into your space if you have a particular need to address?

6. Personalise With Individual Touches

  • Once you have pulled your main theme together, how will you add in a little bit of yourself and your own personality? Photo frames holding your favourite memories? Your favourite mug for your coffee break? Something fun that speaks to you and makes you feel at home in your space! 


What would you do if you had free reign to be as creative as possible with your workspace? Plus are you a stationery lover too? How do you use stationery to accessorise and perk up your space? 

Let me know your thoughts and happy National Stationery Week to all you fellow stationery fans out there!



How To Make Work-Life Balance Work: TED Talk

Ah the inimitable premise of work-life balance! A topic I've talked about a lot here on this blog and something I've given insurmountable thought to over the past few years as I've watched so many people around me struggle with the hefty pressures of the workplace time and time again.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

Work-life balance is a term that implies we should always be treading some sort of invisible perfect line between our work and our life and that if we aren't getting it consistently right then we're kind of missing out or doing something wrong. Yet we all know that's just completely impossible in the grand scheme and reality of the modern day workplace.

There are other terms for such a subject being debated out there in the big wide world right now that might I suppose be more suitable, the most recent of which being work-life blend which I guess is slightly better - although it's not really a term that I particularly feel all that excited to embrace!

I'm understanding more and more that the idea of balance is deceptive. We are constantly out of kilter in life. There are so many pulls in so many different directions. What's important is how we continue to assess and realise when something is starting to pull us too hard in one direction leaving little time for anything else. If we realise that a certain pull is consequently making us unwell or unhappy then how do we redress the state of things and come back to a place that allows us a little more peace?

It's also important to find a way of working out what really matters. I came across this talk by Nigel Marsh a few weeks ago: How To Make Work-Life Balance Work (embedded below for ease of playing!) and it kind of nicely sums up the realities of the pressures many of us face.

It's not a new talk, it was given back in 2010 and chances are you may have already seen it if this type of subject interests you. But if you haven't then I'm sharing it today because I think it's a particularly concise and interesting listen on the heady topic of work-life balance, especially if you're also trying to juggle the pressures of a young family as well, the added difficulties of which I can't even begin to imagine!

Nigel Marsh is a former CEO of global advertising company Leo Burnett as well as turning his hand to many other creative pursuits. As author of the book 'Fat, Forty and Fired' he has had very definitive first hand experience of trying to figure out what work-life balance actually means! I certainly think it's an interesting listen and I hope you'll also find it worthwhile.

PLUS: I'm intrigued to know what work-life balance means for you? Is it something that you struggle with? Perhaps you enjoy the work-hard, play-hard lifestyle and finding better balance is an idea that holds no real importance for you? Let me know what you think and how you approach your working lifestyle?

I'd love to gather some of your thoughts, especially if you've personally written anything on the subject, for sharing in some upcoming posts on a similar topic. Leave any links in the comments below or Tweet me with your ideas!



Keeping It Simple: Declutter Time, Space And Mind


As I mentioned in last weeks March favourites post, I recently attended a one day course organised by Guardian Masterclasses that was focused on living a healthier, happier life. Something I'm sure we all wish to do in whatever way that may mean for us. There were a number of fantastic speakers throughout the day covering all sorts of useful topics that both inspired and very usefully informed at the same time.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

One such speaker was Juliet Landau-Pope a Certified Declutter Coach and Study Skills Expert. Now I'll start off by saying that I never knew such a role even existed but with my penchant for keeping organised I'm surprised I hadn't picked up on such a job much sooner! Not only that but Juliet is a member of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers in the UK - er hello, how do I join this association please?!

But aside from my marvelling at these very facts, I wanted to share with you today some of the very fine words of wisdom imparted by Juliet on the day. Ways to really think about the clutter in your life and how you may deal with it going forward.

Juliet identifies clutter into three very specific sections: TIME, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL. 

Decluttering your lifestyle isn't just about clearing up the odds and ends on your desktop, it's about really thinking fully about your whole outlook and what you're choosing to allow into your work and life on a daily basis. So with spring firmly within our grasp, here are three great things to think about when it comes to refreshing both mind and space for the new season - and indeed for the longer term future of your overall health and wellbeing.



1. Be Mindful Of What You Put Into Your TIME Not Just Your Space:

We often only think of clutter as physical items, which it is, but clutter can also embody what you cram into your time. Are you filling your diary with unnecessary appointments and adding mounds of jumble to your to-do list just to keep up with modern pressure to always appear busy? 

Quite a while back now I wrote a post about the so called 'Cult Of Busy' and I think this is something that still rings completely true. We live in a society where we somehow feel inadequate if we're not rushed off of our feet every single second of every single day. We add things to our lives just in order to keep ourselves busy and then convince ourselves that these things are just as crucial and important as our truly critical everyday tasks, creating extra stress at every turn.

USEFUL ACTION POINT: Why not take some time this week to sit down with your diary and your to-do lists, or whatever it is that you personally use to organise your time, and really be honest with yourself about what actually needs doing versus what is being created for the sake of being busy. At first glance you'll probably tell me that everything is crucial. But take a moment to honestly think about that - is this really true? And how can you make better choices about how you're going to use your time going forward?

Don't be afraid to have a gap here and there. As Juliet so correctly stated, we've become human-doings and have forgotten how to be human-beings. Find a point in your day where you can just 'be' for a minute and don't let the outside world make you feel guilty about that. Don't be scared to say no to unproductive activities that do not serve you. I'm sure we can all identify at least one thing in the coming month that we just don't need to do, an area from which we can claw back some of that much needed, precious time. Clear those wasted moments from your schedule and then leave them clear, don't cave to the desire to refill the space with something else.


2. Retail Therapy Is The Biggest Con. Is All That PHYSICAL 'Stuff' Really Making You Feel Better?

Sorry but it's true and deep down we all know it. When it comes to our physical clutter we all have far too much stuff crammed into our space. We live in a consumer driven society where shopping is now a leisure activity and we struggle daily to get away from it. Don't worry I'm just as guilty of this as the next person but we need to make a conscious effort to be more mindful of what we buy and put into our space. Not only to restrict the clutter but to save us all some much needed cash as well!

Of course it's very easy to say that we should simply declutter our space and let go of everything that's getting in our way. For many of us it's not always that simple. Physical items can hold an awful lot of weight and significance and can be hard to part with. A fellow blogger, Sophie from The Private Life of a Girl, wrote in a post at the beginning of this year that when decluttering your space you should be ruthless but not unkind and that point has stayed with me ever since. Finding a balance between what you need and what you love can be hard but is important. Being ruthless is great, but don't break your heart by overdoing it and regretting it later down the line. You can read more in Sophie's original post here: 5 Helpful Tips To Successfully Declutter Your Space.

USEFUL ACTION POINTS: Juliet had so much sound advice when it came to physical clutter. So if you're planning a re-jig of the unwanted physical jumble in your life, I'll leave you with a few points to think about before you get started:

a. Start somewhere that will have an immediate impact so that you can see the benefit straight away. For example Juliet suggests starting in your bedroom as getting rid of unnecessary clutter in that space will instantly have a positive impact on your nights rest, thus creating a desire to continue in other areas as you can already quickly see the benefits.

b. Consider - right here right now, what do I really love and really need? Focus on the present and not on the past because if everything matters then surely nothing matters? Try not to attach too much meaning to each and every item.

c. For things that you no longer need but are perhaps struggling to part with, find a purposeful and meaningful way to let go and take one small step towards doing so. For example when I moved house recently I knew I no longer had the space for the many, many dance and theatre books that I had collected during my time training in musical theatre many moons ago! I no longer needed them, everything in them would now be online anyway, but they represented a huge part of my life that I was perhaps frightened to fully let go of.

Now, I've happily donated my clothes and other items to charity on many an occasion but in this instance I needed to know these books would be loved by people with the same passion as me. In the end, via a friend who is a teacher, I donated them to a local school with a strong performing arts background, with students studying the exact same things that I was many years ago. I felt they would be loved and enjoyed and come in useful in the same way that they did for me and that made it a little bit easier to let them go.


3. We Have So Many Expectations Of What Life Should Be. Don't Let EMOTIONAL Voices Taunt.

Emotional clutter is a tricky one. We have so many expectations from both external and internal sources about what life should be. It kind of ties in to the time clutter and allies with our need to fill our diaries in order to make ourselves feel worthwhile. Those 'should, would, could' voices in our heads undermine our sense of worth and overwhelm us time and time again.

As I've written previously in my post about letting ourselves be we really need to stop should'ing all over ourselves. But often we don't even notice the negative voices that are guiding us through the day to day. Taking our emotional clutter into account and working to improve it can really help us to tackle the other aspects of our busy lifestyles too, so it's something worth thinking about if you're finding yourself constantly flustered and disappointed by your sense of achievement.

USEFUL ACTION POINT: These internal voices tend to gather themselves up to highest speed the more flustered and hectic that we get. One such time that they can really stress us out is as we're about to leave the house, say for work in the morning, or for a family day out. 

Take a brief moment once you're ready to leave the house but before you go out of that front door: Pause. Sit. Breathe. Focus. Just take one minute of silence and stillness to gather yourself. You'll be amazed at the difference it will make to your day and to the emotional stress that you're probably already putting yourself under despite the fact that your day has only just begun!


So I hope some of this advice provides interesting thought if you're considering an upcoming spring clean and know that you need to do more than just tidy out a few drawers in your workspace. Clutter is so much more than just the physical but it all ties in to creating our busy, stress filled everyday lives. Stepping back and thinking honestly about these areas might really help us all to make positive, longer term changes to our space, schedules and our minds. 

I'd love to hear from you if you have any further thoughts about clutter and spring cleaning? What ideas do you have that have worked out well for you? 

Enjoy your week everyone and hope to see you back here soon.