Why I Ditched My To Do List In Favour Of Self-Love

I’m very excited to be featured on a fellow coach, Bailey Opsal's blog this week, talking about the challenging topics of self-love and self-care.

All too often, in conversations with friends and clients, self-love is a concept they struggle with.

It’s not that they hate themselves, it’s that they think the more they push themselves or berate themselves, the more pleased they’ll be with themselves ... and that will somehow lead to self-love. It kind of sounds logical, but also quite harsh.

I used to fall into this camp. Sure I had fun and took care of myself, but the repetitive to do list of everyday life took precedent - I had to exercise a certain amount, there was always a list of things to do around the house and guilt and anxiety would set in if I wasn’t on top of everything.

I eventually figured this busy work was surely not what life was about.

Similar chores and to do lists would always be there, but I no longer wanted to make them the focus of my life or thinking.

I decided the things I loved to do had to come before my to do list.

So what does that look like?  

Yoga

If you remember this earlier post, you’ll know that I resisted yoga for a long time. In line with my busy to do list, yoga seemed boring, slow and did not burn enough calories for me back in the days when that mattered to me.

Now, I do it every day in some shape or form. It’s usually first thing in the morning and has worked wonders for waking me up and stretching out my creaky body after sleep.

You’ll know my favourites are Yoga With Adriene and Tara Stiles - try these short videos from Adriene and Tara if you’re interested.

Yoga now gets me out of my own head and slows me right down.

Reading

I used to read like a crazy person when I was younger - to the point where my sister was horribly embarrassed by me always carrying around a book.

Like many avid readers I know, the plight of social media and the short attention spans that come with it, meant I wasn’t reading nearly as much as I was buying books.

Over the last 6 months, when I catch myself on my phone, checking Instagram for the 10th time, I remind myself that reading would be much more fulfilling and again, will help me switch off.

I read a combination of hard copy books and download onto my Kindle app obsessively (are you guys all over the free sample chapters on Amazon’s Kindle store? Try before you buy!).

I’m currently reading The Course of Love (I am obsessed with Alain de Botton) and The Year of Magical Thinking (heavy going but Joan Didion’s writing is incredible).

Spending time with people

If you’re ever feeling too much up in your own head, my best advice is to go and spend quality time with someone else.

Sure you might want to talk about what you’re going through or your to do list might be nagging at you, but inevitably you’ll gain some perspective and either be distracted, or realise we’re all going through similar things.

If I can’t catch up with people in person regularly enough, I try and call them in the car on the way to or from work and make sure I check in with those most important to me.

Playing games

Those who know me, know I have a penchant for video games… yes, yes I know...

My favourite for years has been The Sims (stop laughing) which I dip in and out of a few times a year. I also love hidden object games (Google them!) - they are great for switching your brain off and relaxing. I have also recently made a triumphant return to playing Mario Kart.

Listening to music (and having dance parties)

Although I have an obsession with podcasts (my current favourites are The Life Coach School Podcast and On Being), I recognised a while ago that absorbing information constantly isn’t always the best for me switching off.

What is good for switching off my brain is listening to music - I try and do that in the car more often than not, and love going through my back catalogue of music on the computer at night and dancing around the living room when called for (much to the confusion of my cat Pickles).

What can you do this week to step away from your to do list? 

I also have one coaching spot opening up in June - contact me here for a complimentary 30 minute consult if you'd like to talk about how you can find fulfillment outside of your to do list. 

Why Some Days Are Better Than Others

As we make our way through January of a new year, it’s not unexpected that many people’s heads will be swimming with resolutions and ways to improve themselves in 2017.

Making promises to yourself to change for the better is often a plight to achieve our perfect lives – our perfect body, career, home, family and faultless days to boot.

But what is a perfect day? Is it a day full of productivity, errands and perfect health? Is it holiday cocktails on the beach with no work or responsibilities in sight?

And how impossible is it to achieve this flawless life?

One of my recent online discoveries is Amy Young, a life coach specialising in relationships. Her YouTube videos make me laugh and she’s super real about life and a big advocate for taking it easy on yourself.

One of her videos is about ‘better than’ days. Go watch it. Seriously. After suffering anxiety, she started to note down activities that made some days ‘better than’ others. Not perfect, just ‘better than’ the not so good days.

I’ve started doing this in the last month. Each night if I feel I’ve had a ‘good’ day, I’ll note down what made it a good day and, I’ve got to say, it really strips things back to the bare bones.

My ‘ingredient list’ for good days, as Amy calls it, is not outlandish or impossible to maintain – in fact most of the activities are things I can do pretty regularly.

Below is a sneak peek of my ingredient list for good days:

  • Doing a Yoga with Adriene video
  • Going for a walk in the sun
  • Eating pasta and drinking red wine
  • Writing a blog post :)
  • Calling a good friend
  • Dancing around the house to music

My challenge to you: when you find yourself heading to bed thinking ‘well, that was a good day’, note down in a log what made it ‘better than’ other days.

Let this serve as your roadmap to what you want to punctuate your days with and let me know what improvements you see when you work these activities into your life more regularly.

A flawless life is probably unrealistic, but good days are not. 

5 Lunch Break Ideas to Increase Your Productivity This Week

For my entire career, I’ve always been a huge proponent of taking my lunch break.

In fact I’m quite commonly known around the office as the one that will always go out for a walk at lunch, and have befriended many coworkers over the years who want to join me sporadically or regularly.

Clearly not every day or week lends itself to taking a full lunch break but, when possible, I try and recharge.

I find my afternoons are much more productive and I can reset my energy levels for the rest of the day.

Here are 5 ideas to try out this week.

Enjoy a book

Escapism is a great way to recharge your brain. After a busy morning, reading fiction can help you step out of the work grind and even strengthen brain connections and cognitive function

If you can’t find a cosy spot to read, download an Audible book and listen to it as you take a walk around the area.

Eat without digital distractions

This is a tough one that I continually have to work on.

It’s very easy to scoff your lunch while scrolling through all the Instagram marble bathroom or smoothie photos you’ve missed from the morning.

The problem is you very rarely enjoy your food and it’s easy to either eat past fullness or not feel full at all as you haven’t savoured your food.

I find it hard to stare into space while eating, but talking to coworkers at the office kitchen table is a good alternative and, as an added bonus, it helps build relationships.

Meet a friend

Use your lunch hour to catch up with a friend for lunch.

Chatting about topics other than work projects and enjoying a proper break at a local cafe will leave you ready to focus for the afternoon.

As an added bonus you won’t have to cram as many social engagements into the evenings and weekends if you utilise your lunch break for catch ups.

Listen to music

A good way to give your eyes a rest from screens is to plug in some good tunes.

You could enjoy music while lying in a nearby park, taking a walk (we’re seeing a pattern here) or browsing local shops.

Again it will help you get out of your own head and escape into whatever type of music works for you.

Pamper yourself

Self-care is a very positive way to spend the middle of your day.

Get a manicure, a short shoulder and neck massage or try out some makeup at a local cosmetics store.

The focus is on rejuvenating yourself and feeling fresh when you return for an afternoon of work.

What helps you recharge on your lunch break?

 

How To Get That Holiday Feeling In Everyday Life

As I mentioned here, I took a week off work last week and headed to warmer climes. Around the same time last year, I did a post on how I was trying to capture that holiday feeling in everyday life.

One of the days last week I was by myself. I wanted to capture here how I spent the day and remind myself to do it again.

It was one of those rare days where you fall into bed at night with opposing feelings of exhaustion and rejuvenation.

You can all hold me accountable to this, but I want some of my weekend days to follow the below formula. It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves and do the activities that actually expand, rather than deplete, our energy.

Wake up on your own time

Enough said about this one really. There’s something rare and special about waking up sans alarm and reading in bed, or just lying there staring at the ceiling.

When life offers this option up (and I know it can be rare!), take it and luxuriate in it.

Move your body

I’m still not a regular morning exerciser but can really see the benefit of getting it done early in the day.

You’re less likely to put it off, you feel a sense of accomplishment and it often helps to wake us up and propel us on with the rest of our day.

As holidays can be indulgent, it felt great to do weights at the hotel gym during the morning. I almost jumped on the treadmill too, then realised I was planning on walking around the city most of the day, so canned that idea in favour of the outside world!

Include some culture

My theory is if you’re missing that travelling feeling, head to a gallery or museum. I get a distinct feeling over me when I walk around a venue like this, that I could be anywhere in the world.

I did spend a year living overseas and frequented galleries and museums in a lot of cities, but I’m pretty sure it’s a universal feeling for many people.

The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane was airy, quiet and gave me that worldly feeling all over again.

Enjoy a slow meal

Meals are such an important time for relaxing. Take your time ordering, think about how you want to feel after the meal and try and grab a good view for people or landscape watching if you can.

And I wanted to feel like I’d had a beer, so I had one!

Take some quiet time

I chose a spa to enjoy my quiet time. I know having a spa is not always possible in everyday life, but the concept of relaxing and resting after a day out usually is.

I was umming and ahhing about heading down to the spa alone but as soon as I got there I felt much more relaxed. I read my book, eased my muscles after a day out - it was perfect.

Escape via fiction or music

My default when I have ‘spare time’ is to start scrolling through my phone. Checking social media and, more frequently, clicking on self-help-style blog posts usually leads me down the rabbit hole to new books, courses and theories I could be learning about.

The internet pulls us in many mental directions, so I’ve been trying to use my spare time to either read some fiction, or put on a great playlist.

I still get the enjoyment and entertainment I’m after, but it’s more relaxing than filling my brain with self development (read: ‘you’re not good enough’) ideas.

Catch up with friends

Another no brainer I think. Good conversation and spending time with people we care about fills us up emotionally more than any other activity.

If you’re in a slump or even after a relaxing day, call a friend or family member up and relish in the quality time together.

What do you do on holidays that you neglect to do in everyday life?