The Simple Act of Showering

It’s funny how sometimes it’s the smallest new tips or habits that can really change how we feel and deal with situations.

For me, being quite newly aware of self-care and wellbeing, I’m constantly learning new methods to try and experiment with.

Some stick, others don’t. But I know my self-care journey is all about working out what works best for me. What helps me to unwind, stay calm, but to also stay focused on chasing my dreams.

This week, my self-care tip of the week is….drum roll please…🥁🥁🥁…a good old shower!

Now, before you think I’m crazy/smelly/massively unhygienic, hear me out.

I shower everyday. I can’t function without having a shower in the morning to set me up for the day. If I don’t shower and wash my hair, I feel uncomfortable, dirty and unable to focus, particularly if I am at work.

In the summer, or when on holiday, I will often shower twice a day.

But, I had never thought about showering twice a day on a normal day.

After reading about the power of the shower at the weekend, it got me thinking.

The idea is not only to wash off the days work, but to help transition the mind from work mode to home mode, in turn, helping the mind and body to relax, and hopefully enabling a more enjoyable evening, and a much better nights sleep.

So I decided to give it a try.

Monday evening, I came home from work, cooked, and then took a shower. The shower felt heavenly after a day in the office. Afterwards I swapped all of the clothes I had been wearing that day (including my underwear and even my socks) for my comfy joggers and a baggy sweatshirt. I still had work to do, but by showering after dinner, I was then focused on only completing work tasks I had to do, without letting it bog me down and/or getting side tracked. I even had time to catch up on some reading before I fell asleep, and slept like a baby.

Last night, I followed a similar ritual, and again, had a really good nights sleep.

Today I finished work a little bit earlier than normal. I had already decided to have a work free evening, after two long working days earlier in the week. As soon as I got home, I showered. After travelling across London today on the underground and buses, I felt particularly grimy. I stood under the shower for ages enjoying the feeling of the water against my skin, washing away the days dirt, and completely freeing my mind of work. I even had a little chuckle to myself over how good it made me feel.

The other thing I am keen to see if it impacts, is the difference in my skin. As an adult, I have often suffered with lousy skin. I never really had problem skin as a teenager, but as soon as I lived with someone who smoked in my 20s, my skin has never been the same since. To cover my bad skin, I wear make up. But by showering when I get home from work, instead of just washing my face before bedtime, I’m not only washing off the grime, but also my make-up. I’m also making sure I don’t reapply my make up again that evening, in the hope that my skin will get a longer period of time to breathe before I reapply my foundation before work the next morning.

So far, although I am aware that showering twice a day is less kind to the environment (I am having a much shorter shower in the evening than I am first thing in the morning), and may impact my water bills, I have noticed real benefits to my wellbeing by showering twice a day. Not only do I feel cleaner, but my mind is also more relaxed in the evenings, and I am sleeping better than I have done for ages.

Have you discovered any new self care tips so far this year?

Signing out of 2018

Well here we are, New Years Eve 2018. The last year has once again been full of highs and lows. There have been losses, heartache, a lot of soul searching, and a lot of self discovery. I may not be where I thought I would be at the beginning of 2018, but I sure know me better than I did 12 months ago.

If you read my last post New Year, New Goals,you will know that one of my goals for 2019 is to improve my wellbeing, and in particular my self care.

I am currently working my way through Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips book, ‘Self-care for the real world’. In the book, they talk about keeping a self-care bank of resources which is helpful for those days when everything seems to be running away from you, and those negative thoughts are creeping in. The purpose of the bank is to build up enough resources on your good days, when you have oodles of energy and motivation, to compensate for the days when quite frankly you feel a bit more out of sorts.

So, in my final post of 2018, I thought I would share with you the 5 resources I want to ‘bank up’ for those blergh days, to help see me through, and funnily enough, most of them seem to link in quite nicely to my aims and goals for 2019:

  1. To get outside and exercise. Being surrounded by beautiful parks, there are plenty of opportunites to get out there and get fit. I love being outdoors, so what better way to look after body and mind than to take a jog around the local park.
  2. To make time each week to reflect on my wellbeing, and noticing what my mind and body needs to help me get through the week. I’ve said it before, but the last few months have really opened my eyes to my wellbeing, and I am slowly getting better at identifying what my body and mind need at particular times.
  3. To make time each week to be sociable outside of work, spending time with those who make me laugh and bring the best out of me, but also to spend time with those who have similar interests. What’s better than spending time with those who make you have a good old belly laugh!
  4. To make sure I get enough sleep, ideally with my head hitting the pillow no later than 11pm. I need my sleep, and if I don’t get enough, I’m ratty. But equally, I hate to get up late. The key for me is getting between 7-8 hours sleep each night. So as long as I aim to sleep by 11pm on weekdays and middnight at weekends, by body should get all the rest it needs (with the occasional nap thrown in for good measure).
  5. To not take things personally. The days, weeks even, I have wasted on suffering with imposter syndrome due to one person’s stupid comments, when they have no idea of the way they have made me feel. We never really know what other people are going through and where their heads are at when they make comments to us, yet we can really let their comments affect us.

From the 1st January, I aim to bank as many of these resources as I can to ensure that I have a much happier, more balanced 2019.

As this is my last blog of 2018, I would like to thank all my followers, friends (old and new), and my family, for all your love and support in 2018. I am super excited to see what 2019 has to offer.

Happy New Year folks 🙂

See you on the other side!

Becky xx

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5 things i’ve done that make me feel proud of myself

If you’ve read my recent post, Turning 35, you will know that I recently celebrated my Birthday. And if you follow my Instagram account (@Themindfulgingernut) you will know that my lovely mum and dad brought me a book called ‘Self-Care for the Real World‘, by the fantastic Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips.

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One of the early challenges in the book is to write down five things you’ve done that make you feel proud of yourself. Sometimes we get so bogged down in the day to day that we forget to remind ourselves of our achievements. Other times, the Imposter Syndrome kicks in, and we simply can’t find our achievements for the grey cloud that surrounds us.

I wanted to share with you, the 5 things that make me feel proud of myself. It would be lovely to hear what your 5 things would be too, so please feel free to share your’s below.

5 things i’ve done that make me feel proud of myself

I have a degree in Geography and Third World Development

I also studied American Studies during my first year at the University of Northampton (or the University College of Northampton/UCN as it was known back then). I can’t believe it’s been 13 years since I graduated. Where has that time gone? It was never my intention to go to University. I loved school, and sixth form, but the thought of going away to uni and carrying on studying hadn’t really appealed. But as I got closer and closer to my final months in sixth form, I started to think that maybe I should go. After all, if I didn’t, what else was I going to do? I didn’t have a clue what job I wanted, so it only seemed right that I joined my friends, and started to look at university’s. I had a slight interest in charity work, and looked at courses that may help me to go and do charity work in far flung continents. It was then that I came across the subject that became my minor, Third World Development. Once I had decided to do this, it was all about finding a major to compliment this. Funnily enough, my ideal course was sitting in my home town of Northampton. So off I went in 2002, insanely shy, quiet me, signed up to do Geography and Third World Development at UCN. Unlike many local students, I managed to get into halls of residence so I could get the most out of my university experience. I met some lovely people, both students and tutors alike. I also got to travel to some incredible places, carrying out field trips in Majorca, Amsterdam, Valencia and South West America. I like to think I studied hard, but partied hard too. Shy little me was no more. I came out of university much more confident and outgoing than I had been when I walked in on that first day in 2002. I am proud that I achieved my degree, proud that I made the most of my time there, and proud of the new found confidence it gave me. I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone to university.

I completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge

In June 2006 me and my dad travelled up to Yorkshire to attempt the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. Dad, who worked for the Motor Neurone Disease Association at the time, often came home telling us about new challenges that the Charity were arranging. I can’t remember whether it was my idea or Dad’s to take up this challenge, but who ever’s it was, we knuckled down with a training plan, making sure we covered hills as well as distance. I have particular memories of us training in Derbyshire one weekend, climbing Mam Tor in the snow and ice and being up to at least our knees in snow drifts as we edged towards the top. In order to practice the distance we would need to cover for the Challenge, we also walked around Rutland Water, all 26 miles of it. 5 miles from the end,  just as the rain started to hammer down on us, I felt something pop in my calf. I managed to walk through the pain, and thankfully it was nothing more than a badly pulled muscle. But it was all good practice for the Challenge ahead. The Three Peaks Challenge consists of Pen-y-Ghent (694 metres), Whernside (736 metres) and Ingleborough (723 metres), and a distance of 24.5 miles (although I would debate this as my pedometre definitely clocked up more miles that day!). We woke up at the crack of dawn, met with our fellow walkers and started out on our challenge. The aim of the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is to complete the peaks within 12 hours. It wasn’t an easy challenge. But thankfully with my dad by my side we coached each other on and ended up completing the challenge with 20 minutes to spare. I’m proud of myself and my dad for completing this challenge. Getting out and walking in the countryside truly is the best way to appreciate the landscape that surrounds us. I don’t think either of us could’ve achieved the challenge without the other being there. We knew we were physically ready for it due to the prep we had done beforehand, but how do you mentally prepare yourself for a challenge like this? You can’t. But we got through it together.

I moved to London

If I think back to where I was 10 years ago, I would’ve laughed my socks off at the thought of living and working in London. I was a complete and utter country bumpkin, who would come down to London once or twice a year to visit friends for the day, but would always be grateful to go home again to the fresh country air, and couldn’t really understand how or why people would want to live in the city. I’m now even more grateful of going back home to the fresh, country air every now and again, but moving to London 3 years ago, was possibly one of the best decisions I have ever made. And it was all on a bit of a whim. I didn’t know if it would work out. I had always been quite shy and wasn’t particularly adventurous, but I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. And here I am, over 3 years later. There have been times I could’ve thrown the towel in. Not because of the city, but mostly because of the stresses that have come with the job I am in. However, even in my darkest days, I knew that if I was to look for a new job, that too would be in London, the place I now call home. I am proud that I have stuck it out, proud that I have started to explore places off the tourist trails, proud to call London my home.

I’ve been on holiday on my own

Just over 2 years ago, upon realising that most of my friends were married and/or had children or both, as well as being single at the time, I had a dilemma on my hands. I was in desperate need of a holiday after a year living in London. I desperately needed some sun, and some R&R. I had two choices. To take another week off and stay in the UK visiting friends and family. Or get on a plane and take my first holiday on my own. And that’s just what I did. I was keen to go somewhere that wasn’t too exotic, where people would speak relatively good English (just in case I got in any bother), and to visit with a tour operator that would ensure I was in a reasonable hotel, with transfers thrown in. So off I flew in September 2016 to Puerto de le Cruz in Tenerife. I was nervous flying on my own as I wasn’t an experienced flyer. I only had a handful of flights to my name. I was also nervous about the transfers. How would I know what coach to get on? The flight and the transfers however were both fine. The only real shocks I got, were the lack of English speaking people both working and staying at the hotel (it appears that North Tenerife is where all the native’s go as opposed to the Brit’s), and the transfers coming home, which despite being on my booking form, were not coming to pick me up on the day of my departure! However, the rest of the holiday was fantastic. I met some lovely ladies on an excursion to Mount Teide, who were also travelling alone, and spent a lot of time walking around the town of Puerto de le Cruz, as well as relaxing by the pool, and working my way through a good number of chick lit. I could’ve so easily taken the easy option, and stayed home in the UK. But I am proud of myself for taking a leap of faith and getting on board that plane. I haven’t been on holiday alone since, but I know that will soon change, as I can feel that familiar pull telling me to just bloody do it! Where to next I wonder?

I created The Mindful Musings of a Gingernut

Earlier this year, I decided to start writing a blog. For me, my blog is my way of dealing with a whole load of crap that has festered in my mind for far too long. I am massively open and honest in my musings, which I know comes with it’s risks, but it is sometimes the only way I can voice my thoughts. I still keep a lot internalised, but I find writing incredibly therapeutic and calming. I have not created this blog to find fame and fortune. I have created this as a way of coming to terms with some of the things that have happened in my life. I also find great joy in writing. I had never thought about blogging before. But when it was suggested to me, I started to look into it immediately. It took me less than a month from thought to creation. I can’t begin to tell you how helpful blogging has been so far. And the great community that comes with it. I have met (in the online sense) some wonderful people who continue to inspire me on a daily basis. But in addition, people I have known for years are taking an interest, many of whom have taken me completely by surprise by reading my blogs, and letting me know how much they enjoy them. I’m proud that on another whim, I created my site, proud of having such wonderful online and offline friends who take the time to learn more about me, proud that I am helping others by writing about my experiences, and god damn relieved that this muddled mind of mine is finally freeing up some space to find time to reflect and to be proud of all that I have achieved so far.

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