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5 Ways to bring mindfulness into your life

I'm just going to throw it out there, in the current state of affairs, we could all probably do with a little more mindfulness.

And no, I don't mean you have to shave your head and sit still for hours on end, as great as it would be to be that chill, it's not a viable option for many of us. But, that doesn't mean you can't be more mindful in your day to day life, so here are some easy tips...

1. Go for a walk 

If you're reading this post in March 2020 then chances are you're spending a lot of time at home, either self-isolating because of the C word, or just taking extra precautions. Whether you're working from home, an office, or you spend most of the day driving, it's a good idea to wake your body up and get moving. This not only helps the body, but also the mind.

Have you ever tried taking a walk on your own? And I don't mean walking around the supermarket or shops, but a full blown walk all by yourself. It's hard to be mindful if you're walking with someone, but taking the time to walk alone will allow you to be fully immersed in your thoughts. Now I know that scares a lot of people, but sometimes it's good to find out what's really going on in there.

2. Do some gardening 

This might sound a bit old fashioned but what better way to spend your afternoon than basking in the spring sun being at one with nature. Planting seeds, cutting grass and all round tidying of your garden can be a great way to take the mind away from other tasks and focus on one thing. Don't have a garden? Then why not look into an allotment, start to decorate your balcony, or even better, offer to tidy the garden of an elderly relative.

And if you aren't up for getting your fingers dirty, maybe you could just read a book in the sun? Either one works.

3. Try mindful eating 

Mindful eating might sound like a bit of an unusual one, but I promise it's a real thing. Too many of us (me included) don't even stop to think about what we're eating and instead shovel it down as fast as possible in order to move onto the next task. When was the last time you took a moment to actually take in your meal, stop to look at it, taste each item and fully enjoy it?

What I mean by mindful eating is taking the time to enjoy the food you're chewing and appreciate it. So, next time you sit down for a meal, take things a little bit slower. Don't eat your food on the go or in the car, just sit, take it easy and indulge in your meal.

4. Take a moment before you rise

Get out of bed and immediately start scrolling on your phone? We are so used to processing as much information as possible that it has become second nature to pick up our phones whenever we think we have nothing to do and take in a little more.

Unfortunately, it's not the best way to start the day, logging onto your emails, or checking the never ending bad news online. You're not setting the day up with the right intentions if you begin it with work and negativity. Even if you aren't into meditation, why not just take a few moments in the morning to just be still and process the day ahead.

5. Try journaling 

Often people are afraid of writing a journal, as it is seen as the task of a teenage girl. However, journaling is a really great way to get all of your feelings out there and reflect on your day. Writing the things you did can help to ponder on your day in a way you never have before.

Luckily, journaling has become pretty popular and so there are several ways to do it. Bullet journaling is a new way to write down your thoughts through drawings and quirky images. Plus, it means there are plenty of really cool journal notepads around.


Sacrifice: We've all got to do it

The internet is filled with motivational quotes telling us that we have the power to do whatever we want in this world. Quotes such as: 

"If you can dream it, you can do it" 

"Be the best version of you" 

"Be stronger than your strongest excuses" 

Are bombarded all over your Facebook and Instagram feed on a daily basis, and most of the time we just roll our eyes, make a snarky comment and scroll past it. And you're right, they are pretty cheesy, but it's nice to know that people out there have the intention of inspiring others. However, I feel as though they are sugar coating how difficult it really is when it comes to reaching your goals as they are missing one pretty important word, Sacrifice. 

(Photo taken by www.marcelphotography.com) 

Although it would be nice to live in a world where we have the perfect work/family/friend/me time balance, the likelihood of this actually happening, especially early on when you're fighting for your goals is slim. That's because usually in-order to get where we want to be, we have to sacrifice another area of our life to focus harder and channel our energy. 

It's not often that I talk about topics this deep, but the notion of sacrifice really hit a chord with me the other week when my running coach had a real deep chat about my track goals. Long story short, over the last 2 years I've been on and off triple jump training which has got me nowhere when I definitely should have been somewhere by now. Why? I hear you don't ask, well because I have been prioritising other things and sacrificing my sport for work etc, and there wasn't a problem with that, until I realised that I wanted to put athletics first. 

I was told that if I really wanted to give the triple jump my best shot I was going to have to make sacrifices in other areas of my life. It may sound obvious, but how many times have you tried to balance all areas of your life, but couldn't quite understand why you weren't hitting any of your goals?  It's a hard truth to swallow, but if you really want to get that promotion, hit a deadlift PB, or nail that piece on the piano then you will have to be committed to the cause and unfortunately make sacrifices in other areas of your life. Miss social events, work harder and possibly train harder. 

The good news? It doesn't have to be like that forever. No one's saying that being a recluse is a new way of life if you want to reach your goals. But, if you're serious about it then you will have make those short or long term sacrifices every once in a while. But I promise, the reward for hitting your goal will be worth the sacrifice. Stick that to your new post as an inspirational quote. 


Nutty Granola Recipe

Cereal is one of my all time favourite meals, if i'm being really honest, I think i'd have it for all three meals a day if it wasn't frowned upon. But, although I do love a big bowl of Coco Pops or Special K, nothing beats homemade cereal. As with anything homemade, you can alter the recipe to your taste, and you know exactly what's going in, no horrible chemicals or extra sugar or salt added. 

Here I bring you a super nutty granola recipe that you'll be enjoying each morning with your glass of OJ. As with anything, feel free to make any changes to the recipe to suit your taste, and add anything you think might add that special touch. 


-4 cups of oats 
-1 cup of nuts (I used almonds and crushed hazelnuts) 
-1/2 cup of dried fruit (I used raisins) 
-1/4 cup of honey or syrup 
-1/4 cup of melted butter or oil
-1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla essence 
-A pinch of salt 

How to: 
-Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees C. 
-Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. 
-Add all of the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. 
-Place the mix on a baking tray and cook for 30 minutes. 
-Check the mix throughout and stir.
-Once cooked, leave to cool and keep in an airtight container. 


The Power of Negative Thinking

Each and everyone of us spend so much of our time trying to work out ways to make ourselves happier, whether that's with more money, abs or more time off work. But striving for this happiness means that we are leaving ourselves feeling unhappy and unfulfilled in our current situation. Striving for that perfection will only have a negative impact on your life as there will always be something better that you could have. 

It's like buying the latest phone, sure you're happy for a couple of months, but 8 months down the line when the new model comes out, you're suddenly feeling like you need the upgrade. Our need to consume in society in order to make us happy has gone way overboard. 

This post is all about reflecting on the negatives in life in order to reach a point of happiness, sounds mad I know but it all makes sense...

If you don't like it, change it 

It sounds super simple, and you'll be thinking to yourself, 'it's just not that easy', but why isn't it? When it comes to negative thinking, you need to think about the things you don't like about your current situation in order to make the change. For example, if you don't like that you get out of breath every morning when you run for the bus then change this, join a fitness class, learn to run or do a sport. Likewise, if you don't like waking up to a job every morning that you don't enjoy, change it. Start researching what kind of jobs you like, get your CV polished off and start applying. 

By reflecting on the negative things in our life, it seems far easier to eliminate these than to come up with something you think might make you happy, but it might not. Sure you might think being slimmer will make you happy, but if you've not got a negative drive behind this (like getting out of breath easily) then what's the point? 

Start small 

Now i'm not tell you to go and quit your job or run a marathon, it's all about baby steps. If you don't want to rush around getting the kids ready for school every morning and feel like you have a mini heart attack each day at 8am then do something small to change this. Get up earlier. I know those extra minutes in bed may seem precious, but if you could spend 15 minutes before the kids wake up having a cup of tea to yourself and having things ready for when they come downstairs then wouldn't you have a less stressful start to your day? This will also have a knock on effect on how the rest of your day goes. 

These small changes make a large contribution to how you spend the rest of your day. Plus, if you've got a big goal, then breaking it down into smaller goals makes it seem a lot more manageable. 

Get a negativity list going 

So, first things first, write down a list of the things that are making you unhappy in life. For one, this will probably clear your head a little and make you realise what it actually is that's not making you feel great. Writing things down is one of the best ways the release what's on your mind. 

Once you've got this list, write down next to each negative point what you can do to make this a positive, like the statements listed earlier. These don't need to be huge changes, just small steps to eliminate that negative in your life. You should also note that you don't need to erase all of the negatives at once as this would become quite overwhelming. Order the points from which is having the most negative impact on your life to the least and work on the ones that are having the most impact first. You'll feel a weight lift off your shoulders when you cross off that first negative. 


Peckforton Castle - The Ultimate Weekend Escape

The reason I love reading fiction so much is because it allows me to escape reality and delve into a world so completely far from my own that I forget any stresses and problems that are usually passing through my mind. So, when visiting Peckforton Castle last weekend, it felt like I was living in a Medieval fiction novel, quite literally a dream come true.

Placed in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, Peckforton Castle is a grade 1 listed building built between 1844-1850, a Victorian country house built in the style of a medieval castle at a time during a great gothic revival in architecture. It was built for John Tollermache, the 1st baron of Tollermache and in WW1 was used as a hospital for handicapped children. The outstanding building has held host to a wealth of history and in 2006, was bought by the Naylor family who transformed the castle into the hotel, wedding venue and spa that we know today. 

The hotel has 48 guest rooms, all eloquently decorated to fit with the medieval architectural features. Have you ever had one of those moments where you feel as though things seem too good to be true? It was that feeling I experienced when finally stepping into the executive room that evening. I'm not made of money, so staying is such a high brow hotel really was a bit of a big deal for me, thick burgundy curtains covering the view of the forest  made me feel like I was a part of the history. And I really felt like I'd made it when I saw the free-standing bath, that was one life goal ticked off the list that evening...

We only got to stay for one night but that's all I needed to relax and unwind. If you're based in the North West then this truly is the perfect city escape. Just an hour away from Manchester, this magnificent hotel oozes elegance and allows you to forget any problems you were panicking about 30 minutes previous. Booking a hotel for an evening may seem like an expense not worth paying, but surely spending that money with a loved one truly enjoying time together and forgetting about work is much worthier than spending that money on a night out. Then feeling awful and totally NOT refreshed the next day. 

If you have a few days to spend there you don't even need to leave the grounds to enjoy yourself. The castle holds host to a variety of different adventure activities such as archery, laser pigeon clay shooting and Segway tours. Or if you are solely there to chill then why not take full advantage of the spa facilities. When you book in for any of the treatments then you have access to the relaxation rooms, hot tubs, sauna and rainforest showers, now if that doesn't sound like the perfect way to relax then I don't know what does. 

Sometimes physically taking yourself away from your troubles can really help to clear the mind and let you breathe. Whether you want to go away with someone or just take yourself away alone and get some headspace, Peckforton Castle is the ideal place for this. The staff are exceptional and you constantly feel at ease, something we all need from time to time. For more information, click here


Quark Face Mask

#SelfCareSunday is a hashtag that has been used over 400,000 times on Instagram, it's a new hype to give yourself the ultimate pamper on a Sunday before the busy week ahead, and I think this is brilliant. People are finally coming to terms (including me) that today's society is killing us because of the constant stress we put on ourselves, and a day to just look after our mind and body is truly what we need to refresh both mentally and physically. Self care comes in different forms, from having a day to do all the things you enjoy doing, to have a full blow out pamper session with face masks and all. So, if you love a good pamper on a Sunday I have the perfect homemade face mask recipe for you. 

I'm very conscious about what goes on my skin, which is why I prefer to buy from natural brands, but there is truly no better way to know what goes in your skincare than if you make it yourself. The best thing is, most of the things you can use as part of your beauty routine often already live in your fridge! 

My favourite face mask for rejuvenating the skin is a quark and cucumber mask with added vitamin E. Quark is one of the latest 'superfoods', similar to cottage cheese and yoghurt, but with a naturally higher protein and lower fat content. It's full of vitamins and minerals such as B2, B6 and B12, as well as calcium which could have potential health benefits for our skin. Topped off with cucumber, it makes for an especially refreshing face mask. And I add the vitamin E for extra hydration for my dry skin. 

How to: 

Simply peel a quarter of a cucumber, cut into chunks and then place in a blender until smooth. Then add this to 6-8 tablespoons of quark and 2 drops of vitamin E oil and mix until well blended. 

Make sure your face is clean and dry, then evenly spread the mixture onto your face and leave to sit for 30 minutes. It may feel tight or itchy on your face, but don't worry, that's just the enzymes in the quark doing their magic. 

To remove, simply wash off with warm water. Do not apply any face creams immediately after removing as the mask is still working its way into your skin. 

If you're looking for more ways of adding natural ingredients such as quark to your beauty routine you can find them all in the Ultimate Quark Guide and Cookbook here on the Queen of Quark website. You'll also get access here to a free eBook when you subscribe to their weekly emails. 


How to be More Productive

As i'm writing this, the rain is coming down hard and fast. It's the kind of weather where you walk outside and you're blown sideways. So not only am I writing this to make you guys more productive, but I'm doing so to remind myself that I still need to do SOMETHING despite the awful conditions, instead of curling up on the sofa and watching LOTR. No one is 100% productive all of the time, that would be insane, it's essential that you get time to relax. But sometimes that relaxation can turn into laziness, so here are a few quick tips of how to be more productive with your time, even when you don't feel like it...

1. Podcasts

It's one of the easiest ways to gain more knowledge and you can do it wherever and whenever. How many of you spend time on public transport just sat scrolling through your phone, or staring out of the window not really doing much. This is definitely time you could be spending doing something productive, and that's where podcasts come in. Apple have the podcast app, or you can get podcasts on Spotify, search your favourite subject and then try different ones out until you find the right podcasts for you. You'll find anything and everything on there. 

2. Clean House Clean Mind 

I don't know about you, but I really struggle to work when in a messy environment. If your surroundings are cluttered then so is your mind, so having a clean, tidy working area can really help you to focus on what you're doing. Take 5 minutes before you start working to organise the area so you can set on the ahead with a clear mind space. 

3. Write Everything Down 

If you struggle remembering things then this point is crucial for you. Make sure you always have a notepad with you so that you can take anything down that you need to remember. Often we don't do things because we forget all about them, being able to see what we need to do and physically tick them off a list can really help you on your way to a more organised life. 

4. Multi-Task Less 

If you know you're a master of multi-tasking then you can probably skip this stage, but for those of us that aren't quite so skilled then listen up. Trying to do two things at once often means that you aren't giving each task all of your attention which can mean the quality of your work is sacrificed. This isn't just doing two work tasks at once, but it also includes trying to do something whilst watching the TV or scrolling on your phone. Hone your attention on one thing. 

5. Take Breaks  

No one can solidly work for hours on end without burning out, unless you really are a superhero. Scheduling in rest breaks in between work can help to keep you focused when necessary. This isn't just 5 minute tea breaks, but it is essential to move around and do things that take your mind off the initial task. That way you come back to your desk with a fresh mind, ready to give it your all.