The Value Of Loving Your Leisure Time

HOBBIES, LEARNING NEW SKILLS AND BUILDING YOUR OWN TERRARIUM!

When was the last time that you tried something new? Or even just indulged for a while in something you truly love that doesn't involve work or day to day life chores and admin?! Hobbies, trying out new pastimes and learning new skills can be a beautiful thing and an incredibly important asset for our stressful, busy lives. They provide a way to pass the time that can greatly improve our health and wellbeing. Yet they so often fall by the wayside as we grow up, fill our lives with all sorts of other necessities and forget to make some time for a leisurely activity that we truly love.

Terrarium Building Class

Recently I was invited to spend an evening immersing myself in trying something different via a new online resource called Obby.co.uk* and so I took myself along to the beautiful florist Grace & Thorn in Hackney to learn how to build my own terrarium! Now I'm a real fan of all things green, especially succulents and cacti. Readers of this blog will probably be aware of my previous efforts to encourage people to bring green into their workspace as it can greatly help to create a healthier environment in which to work day to day. So I was more than keen to take the time to learn how to build and to better look after the greenery in my space from the experts.

Want to embrace the benefits of bringing green into your workspace? Learn more here: 3 Quick Ways To Create A Healthier Workspace

Terrarium Building Class

During this two-hour evening class we learnt a little about the history of the terrarium before going on to build our own using all of the tools provided; including an array of beautiful succulent plants, moss and other welcoming green goodness! Cue the passing around of copious amounts of gravel and soil over a glass or two of prosecco, whilst chatting to new friends and pimping our plants. We swiftly created a little haven of peace and prettiness in the beautiful glass bowls that we got to take home containing our creations at the end of the evening. We were also guided in the care of the plants and took some time to look around the florist itself which was a very cool space in which to spend an evening. 

Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class

Whilst I don't anticipate building many terrariums on a regular basis, (I'll quite possibly have trouble keeping this one alive as despite my love for what should be very low maintenance plants they still seem determined to whither on me!) this was nonetheless a really fun way to spend an evening in London and a great way to meet new people and experience something very different. Obby is a great new site that enables Londoners to discover classes just like this that they can go along to and try out for themselves. Whether it leads to a new longer term hobby or just provides a welcome break from the stresses and strains of everyday life, Obby offers a platform from which to get started. From terrariums to cooking, to welding and spoon making, there really is something to suit all tastes and interests and their easy online booking system makes finding and planning your newest passion all the more simple and exciting. Plus they are quickly adding new classes and interests on a regular basis. 

Terrarium Building Class
Terrarium Building Class

If, like me, you have a love for all things green and fancy building your own terrarium - or if you just have the urge to try something new and completely different, whatever your taste and interest, then Obby have kindly offered What Now readers the chance to retrieve 10% off of any class booked on their website. Just head on over to Obby.co.uk, take your pick of the exciting classes that are on offer and enter the code WHATNOW10 when completing your booking.

If you do decide to take a class then I'd love to know how you get on and hear all about your experience so make sure you share it with me via Twitter or by leaving me a comment below. 

I'd also love to know how you spend your leisure time? What are your favourite hobbies and pastimes or have you just started something new and exciting that you never thought you'd so enjoy making the time for in your life? I love to hear your stories so be sure to let me know!

Louise

 

*I was very kindly invited to try this class out on a complimentary basis. However, if I hadn't of enjoyed the experience I wouldn't be sharing it here with you on the blog today.


What To Watch To Unwind This Autumn

BECAUSE SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA TURN ON THAT TELLYBOX, CURL UP AND RELAX!

As National Work Life week comes to an end here in the UK today, and with the autumnal evenings drawing in and the temperature starting to drop, today seems like a good day to share some cosy weekend inspiration with ideas for what to watch this autumn when you just want to indulge in the TV and relax. I've picked four shows or series that perhaps haven't received as much hype as the likes of Netflix favourites Narcos or The Get Down but in my opinion are all very worthy of a watch.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

Now I'm normally a proponent of keeping yourself moving and therefore sitting in front of the TV doesn't fall wisely into that particular category. Too much sofa time is a bad thing but every now and again it's much needed and can be helpful when it's cold outside and you want a few hours entertainment without too much effort. Life's all about balance after all! Besides you can always banish the backside blues brought on by too much sofa time and try sitting on the floor instead! 

Find out what I'm going on about in this post here: 3 Super Easy Fitness Tricks To Try This Weekend.

Back to the subject in hand and here are some of my favourite watches for the autumn season. If you haven't had the chance to catch these already then I'd recommend picking one to suit your unwind and relax style then just sit back and enjoy.

 

CATCH UP ON THESE FOUR TOP WATCHES THIS AUTUMN

1. If You Liked Making A Murderer Try: THE FEAR OF 13

I don't think there are many of us left now who haven't sat back and gasped in shock, confusion and horror at the true life story portrayed in controversial documentary Making a Murderer. If you're looking for a little more true life crime, mystery and worrying miscarriage of justice then one off documentary 'The Fear of 13' is going to be for you.

Told exclusively by convicted murderer Nick Yarris who has spent 20 years on death row and who happens to be such an incredible storyteller that you have to look up the credits more than once to check he isn't an actor, this tale unravels to show that in this stranger than fiction scenario absolutely nothing is quite as it at first may seem.

Available on Netflix and Amazon.

2. For Sex And The City, Meets Bridget Jones, Meets Girls Check Out: FLEABAG

The Telegraph reviewed Fleabag as "a gloriously rude, and far funnier, update of Bridget Jones" and I think that perfectly sums up this six-part comedy written by and starring the very brilliant Pheobe Waller-Bridge.

Adapted from the award-winning one-woman show of the same name that began life at the Edinburgh Fringe and was later staged at the Soho Theatre back in 2013, this is a funny, intimate and at times eye-popping and draw-dropping portrayal a woman navigating modern life in the city. It hits you fast in the face from the very first scene and continues on a ride of delight, disgust and despair the entire way through. 

Get it on demand via BBC iPlayer.

3. Navigate The Highs And Lows, Empathise And Cringe At Modern Relationships With: LOVE

I'm a big fan of producer Judd Apatow with This is 40, Trainwreck and Pineapple Express being three of my all time faves. So when I heard that he had recently produced an original series for Netflix I was, of course, keen to check it out - and I'm glad that I did.

The TV series 'Love' is another look at the complications of modern romance, stateside this time, and is one of those series that both infuriates and makes you smile at the same time. It's an enjoyable and somewhat addictive watch as boy meets girl and they spend an awful lot of time not making things work in a kind of awkward will they won't they scenario. This subtle insight into the many complications of love and the human condition is in my book a worthy and interesting watch.

Find it on Netflix.

4. Go All Nordic Noir And Thrill Yourself With Icelandic Crime Drama: TRAPPED

I think it's all this recent talk of hygge over here in the UK (more on that here next week) that has made me want to embrace the autumnal cosiness with blankets, candles, dim lighting and snuggly socks. But what better way to take that comfortable edge off of your hoo-ga and make it more exciting, than with a little nordic noir in the form of a good old 'whodunnit and what exactly have they done?!' kind of a thriller!

Step forward Icelandic TV series Trapped. As a huge storm hits a small Icelandic town cutting them off for days from the rest of the world, a body (well part of it) is found by a trawler just along the coastline and a murder investigation begins. Time and resources are critically low as the local police try to piece together what's happened all the while with the murderer seemingly trapped in the town alongside everyone else. This is a great watch that will keep you gripped throughout. Mainly in Icelandic with English subtitles, but trust me it's all the better for it and it certainly makes you focus as you watch closely to find out just what on earth is going on.

Available on Amazon.

 

What have you been watching lately that you'd highly recommend? Have you seen any of the above and how would you review them? Let me know what you think and in the meantime enjoy your weekend and happy watching.

Louise

 


Making Time For Nothing New!

It's been a little while since my last post in this series, if you missed the previous editions you can have a quick catch up here. Now today's title might seem a little odd but recently I've very specifically been making time for absolutely nothing new! Just let me explain what I mean ...

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

It's very easy these days to get caught up in a world driven by new ideas, constant hits of new and enticing content and the temptation to consume, consume, consume on each and every corner. Not only that but I also find that when you write a blog you can often feel the pressure to constantly be showcasing the newest thing and I know I've certainly fallen for that pressure in the past. Feeling I must write posts with lots of shiny new products and gadgets in it to stay on top of the game and demonstrate I'm aware of the newest trend - not that I usually am anyway! 

Now that can not only get incredibly expensive, it is also by no means a demonstration of any real meaning or connection to anything worthwhile. Plus it all gets a little stressful on the bank balance and the bulging cupboards or bookshelves hiding under the weight of all these shiny new but not exactly all that loved 'stuff.' 

Recently for me though it has been the overwhelming stream of content in my brain that I have decided to turn away from to try and find a better focus. Whilst making time for new things is amazing, making time to actually finish that book, or sit in the quiet for a moment and gather your thoughts in to one place, is incredibly important and I feel ultimately more rewarding.

So whilst I won't pretend I haven't still been getting excited by new ideas and don't still have a list as long as my arm of things I can't wait to try, share and do here on this blog and in my life in general, I've very much been focusing on finishing the task in hand first. Switching off when it all gets too much, being more careful about what I consume both in the physical sense and when it comes to what I'm allowing into my brain! When it comes to work I'm trying to live up to my post about the benefits of single-tasking and I'm also applying that in life as well.

 

THREE TOP TIPS TO MAKE TIME FOR NOTHING NEW!

1. Be Conscious Of What You Consume.

Here I'm really talking about two things - the physical clutter and items that we are purchasing, usually unnecessarily, and then cramming into our space when we don't really need to, as well as the online content clutter that we are overwhelming our minds with on a daily basis. I've addressed the physical before in this post about decluttering and the pain of so called 'retail therapy!'

I've seen and heard a lot in the blogosphere recently about being more intentional with who you follow and the content you are choosing to consume and I think this can be applied to all of us, blogger or otherwise. We all need to think about both how much content we let in as well as exactly what that content contains and whether or not it is helpful to us. So take some time to have a clear out of what you are exposing yourself to across social channels and other online activity. To get you started I'll turn here to some really useful tips laid out in this post: Be More Intentional With What You Consume by Jen Carrington.

2. Finish That Current Task, Project, Book etc FIRST!

You know all those half written emails, unfinished projects and other little jobs that you started but never quite finished? Those are the open ended details that can really drag us down. They keep us awake at night worrying because we know that we should have tied up some of those loose ends ages ago. Procrastinating and distractions drag us away from finishing things time and again. But at some point we have to tackle the issue. Intrigued to know why many of us find it hard to finish what we started? Take a read of this: Why You Can Never Finish Anything And How To Finally Change It via FastCompany

It can also affect our personal lives too, leading us to feel guilty about all those things we said we wanted to do, started, but never completed. When you do get some time to yourself and you want to spend it wisely, don't always turn to doing something new. Think about the things that you've already begun and find a way to focus back in on those. Go on, take that quiet time and go and finally finish that book or three that you first started reading months ago. 

3. Embrace 'La Dolce Far Niente' - The Art Of Doing Nothing!

If you've ever read the book or watched the movie 'Eat, Pray, Love' then you'll likely be aware of this Italian turn of phrase. Elizabeth Gilbert is sitting in an Italian barber shop describing her guilt at having spent her first few weeks in Italy learning little Italian and eating. Yet the Italians have this beautiful phrase for the pure sweetness of doing nothing - La Dolce Far Niente. 

Whilst I hear you all roar that wouldn't it be nice if you only had the time to do nothing, there are still a few ways that you can squeeze in a little cultivation of this idea even in the busiest of days. Turning off the TV that so mindlessly robs us of our time, sitting still for a moment and connecting to yourself and disconnecting for a moment from the noise of daily life, on and offline. Just being, not doing however brief can really bring you peace and is something you should definitely give a try every now and again.

 

So this month I'm focusing on embracing what I already have, finishing what I've already started and taking a short moment now and again to sit in the silence and just be without picking up a magazine, a new book, my laptop, phone and all of those other distractions. Do you have any unfinished business to which you could refocus your energy and time this month? What old things can you revisit and make time for, for the rest of the month of June?

Louise

 


The REAL Importance Of A Good Night's Sleep

WHY YOU NEED TO GET MORE SLEEP AND WAYS TO TRY AND DO SO!

Poor sleep is something that comes to us all from time to time. Usually of course during periods of high stress whether that be something that's going on in the workplace, anxiety or concerns in our personal lives or a tricky combination of both. Today I wanted to share with you some details about sleep that I've picked up recently! Plus why it's so vitally important for our wellbeing in life and our performance at work. I'm also sharing ideas for achieving a better nights snooze as well as opening up the discussion to you the reader for any proven tricks that you might have. So let's start with a look at why sleep really is something that we all need in order to stay on track, before looking at how we can aim for a better nights rest.

Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

I'll begin by saying that I'm sharing this information from the brilliant behavioural science webinar by Sarah O'Farrell at Bupa that I discussed in my post last week about checking in with your new years resolutions. Knowing how sleep has affected me and other people in my life over the years I feel this is a really important topic. So I've pulled out some specific details to share them here with you. For greater depth of information I honestly recommend watching the video - the sleep section begins at minute 32 if you wish to focus on this subject alone!

THE TRUTH ABOUT SLEEP

So why is sleep so vital?

Dispelling The Myth: We've all heard and probably used the phrase 'I'll sleep when I'm dead!' Something that seems to have weaved its way into our modern consciousness as if it's a good thing to thrive on little sleep. A myth that makes us believe, by keeping going and pushing ourselves to the limit, we're somehow achieving more and going to progress quicker and faster than those around us.

The truth is that only around 3% of the entire population can actually survive and perform well on very little sleep. The majority of peak performers and high achievers (CEO's, sportspeople for example) often have far more sleep than other people in order to help them continue to thrive. Apparently even as much as 9 to 10 hours a night.

If you think about it, throughout evolution every species that's ever been studied has undertaken the ritual of sleep. Yet it seems like a very counter-intuitive thing to do when you think about survival and how being asleep puts us at risk from predators - well if you're out in the wild at least! Yet sleep has remained a vital part of our wellbeing and there are many very good reasons why.

SO WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Processing Stress: When we sleep we are able to process stress without releasing any further stress hormones into our system. Hormones like cortisol play an important role in helping us to cope with stress and when we're awake we release a lot of these chemicals into the body if dealing with certain issues. Too much can have damaging effects. Sleeping enables us to work through stress in a healthier, far less toxic way.

Improved Social Interaction: Better sleep improves our relationships with those around us. When we're tired we are less able to regulate our emotions - that's why we snap far quicker and our interaction with friends, family and colleagues becomes very tense. Of course if we're well rested we interact far better with other people and thus establish stronger relationships.

Increased Memory And Better Performance: Performance is improved greatly with a good nights sleep and not just for the reasons above. When we sleep we are better able to consolidate any information that we have learnt during the day. New information moves from our short-term memory into our long-term memory, keeping it in our long-term thinking and thus improving our learning experience and overall future performance. We are also better able to link up different pieces of information as we sleep and this is incredibly beneficial for our creativity and innovation.

Physical Benefits: As if the above wasn't enough, sleeping greatly strengthens our immune, cardiovascular and metabolic systems and it slows down the ageing process - bonus!

SO HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY SLEEP?

Well isn't that just the million dollar question! 

I'm not going to pretend that there are any quick and easy fixes if you're struggling to get a good nights sleep. Stress and an overactive mind can be a real sleep sucker and hard to overcome. However here are the things that you should definitely be trying to do each day to assist in a good nights sleep. 

Exercise: It's not rocket science! Exercise helps tire you out and leads you to a better nights rest. It's best to exercise in the morning and avoid hitting the gym, or whatever your fitness regime of choice may be, at least four hours before bed. Exercise increases our adrenalin and heart-rate which isn't useful just before we try to nod off for the night!

Take Breaks, Build Rest Into Your Day: The body naturally likes to rest every 90 minutes. Pushing on with tasks that require a degree of self control for longer than that will result in us depleting important energy reserves and stressing ourselves out! Taking short breaks, building in moments of rest between tasks will avoid dipping into energy reserves that over time can be very damaging. It will also help to keep us calm, resulting in a better nights sleep at the end of the day.

Avoid Blue Light From Digital Devices: And by that I mean the light from your phone, tablet, laptop and any other sort of similar gadget. Switch off a few hours before you want to go to sleep if you really want to get a good nights rest. Blue light from these gadgets over stimulates the brain and it's incredibly hard to rest if you use them too much in the evening before bed.

Create Relaxing Evening Rituals: Before bed small rituals like making a hot drink are really useful at helping you to unwind and switch off. Action them slowly and mindfully, allowing time for the brain to settle down.

Apply These Three Rules:

COOL: Sleeping in a room that's too warm will only make you uncomfortable, keep the temperature low to avoid waking up restless from the heat. 

QUIET: Of course a noisy environment is going to keep you awake. I know it's not always possible to avoid noise, especially if you live in a city, but do what you can to eliminate any night-time noise and distractions. 

DARK: If you invest in one thing make it good, blackout blinds. Just the smallest bit of light hitting the eyes can cause you to wake before you want to. Keep things as dark as possible until you want to surface!

If You Can't Sleep Use The 20/20 Rule: If you're struggling to sleep for more than 20 minutes then get up and spend 20 minutes doing something to relax yourself. NOTHING PHONE OR GADGET RELATED! Try reading a book - but a relaxing one! Laying there beyond 20 minutes struggling to sleep will only stress you out more. So remove yourself from the situation and do something slow and gentle to try and wind down before attempting to sleep again.

So that's the facts and the advice from the webinar. For me it was very insightful so I'm intrigued to know if it has been interesting for you?

Do you struggle to get a good nights sleep? What are the main things that you think keep you awake and do you have any other tips, things that work for you when trying to achieve a better nights rest?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and thank you for reading. Here's to a healthier and happier nights sleep for us all this evening - I hope!

Louise