My Nighttime Rituals

The post I wrote in March about dealing with sleepless nights has been a popular one here on the blog, leading me to believe many of us wake up at all hours, worrying about what’s going on in our lives.

I’m doing well these days and don’t find myself tossing and turning while fretting about work or my personal life too often.

I put it down to knowing I have strategies to lean on if I do wake up, and also my pre-bedtime rituals.

So what do I get up to of an evening?

My skincare routine

Skincare has become a non-negotiable for me, but not necessarily one I would have previously included as part of my wind-down routine.

However, years ago, a good friend of mine who lives in Sweden and is possibly one of the most relaxed people I know, told me that her favourite time of day was when she took her makeup off at night.

She would stand for at least 20 minutes, going through her ritual and just reflecting on the day.

Although I’m not patient enough to hang around for 20 minutes, I do find it therapeutic to wash the day off and feel pampered and relaxed as I head towards bedtime.

My yoga routine

If you do one thing from this post, do this!

I’m often at super sleepy stage by the time I drag myself off to bed, but I do my best to stop for 10 minutes and do some yoga. I have never regretted it and usually feel on the next level of relaxation and completely stretched out from the day.

You guys know I love Adriene from YWA and recommend her 7 minute routine, or the 20 minute one if you have some extra time at night.

You can thank me later after your amazing night of sleep.

My reading routine

I struggle with consistency here if I’m honest, but ditching social media for a book sets me up for a much better night of sleep.

As I mentioned here, reading is a real act of self-love for me and most importantly helps me switch off.

Whether you escape to another world while reading fiction or try another way of thinking if you’re reading non-fiction, put the day aside and try a new book instead. 

What are your before bed rituals?

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. 

Time Management Series: My Morning Routine

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So we’re all about ease here at Where The Light Plays, and I don’t want to be scheduling you to the hilt.

But how you spend the beginning of your day is extremely important.

It plays a major role in setting you up for the rest of your day. The activities you partake in can really affect your mood and it’s also a pretty spectacular time of day to take advantage of.

Let me take you through an average morning routine for me:

You can see my routine is not earth shattering - it takes a little over an hour, but it really does makes me feel grounded and ready to take on the day.

I’ve often thought to myself, that if I really wanted to, I could sleep in an extra 20 minutes and skip the meditation and yoga. But you know what? I never have.

Those activities work for me and that extra 'me time' could really help your morning routine and subsequent days too. If it’s not yoga and meditation, how about a walk around the block? Or reading a book for 20 minutes? Or even watching your favourite TV show?

This time will likely make you feel like you’re more in control of your day, and your day will therefore not control you.

How do you start your day? Do you claim any time for yourself before diving into the day?

The Top 3 Workouts To Try At Home

 
Can't face the outside world today? I know the feeling...

Can't face the outside world today? I know the feeling...

Did you wake up today with grand plans to go for a run? Did you promise yourself you’d get to that gym class straight after work today? Or did you decide to stay off the booze Friday night and finally get up for that 8am yoga class on Saturday?

Did your mind then start to play tricks on you?

It’s too cold, it’s too hot, I’m too tired, I worked hard today and deserve a night on the couch, I’ve earned a sleep-in.

You are not alone! I have danced this dance with myself numerous times and guess what? I have never regretted exercising. Ever. Really. I always feel better and almost always end up with more energy than I started with (unless I’m hungover - then I just need a lie down).

But, I have a secret. On the days when I really can’t drag myself out of the house, I depend on my trusty friend YouTube. Pulling on my ugliest, most comfortable gym wear and sluggishly crawling into the study is much easier than facing the world sometimes. And there is so much material to draw on...

Below are my three favourite YouTube options for you to try out. You can grunt, cry or lie down in the middle of the workout and the instructor will not judge you. Go forth and exercise!

Tone It Up

I found Karena and Katrina from Tone It Up about two years ago now. I was a little dubious to start with as they seemed very attractive and a little too chirpy (not always what you need on a lazy day). They also exercise in bikinis quite frequently.

I’ve come around now though. They have a huge amount of free resources online, and provide stacks of videos focusing on different body parts (arms/abs, legs, booty) and also have yoga, HIIT and foam rolling routines. The beach setting and their aspirational bodies also help.

Some of the earlier TIU videos are a bit hit and miss with timing and reps, but most of the recent ones are great. My current favourite is the KettleToning workout, combining kettlebells, yoga and toning. So good and so sweaty. Plus, they have formed a huge online community of women through their website, with many Instagram and Twitter accounts out there to keep you motivated.

Jillian Michaels

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“I want you to feel like you’re going to die”. My dear husband is all too familiar with Jillian yelling at me from the computer screen.

If you want a major workout, always go to Jillian. A heap of her videos are on YouTube on the BeFit channel. She is really tough and her abs will keep you persisting when you feel like face planting into the carpet. Luckily, she does provide different options for fitness levels in most of her workouts.

And, again, if you’re not listening to her podcast, do so immediately. She is informative, clever, hilarious and very different to how the media portrays her.

Yoga with Adriene

Yes, I’m cheating on Tara Stiles with Adriene. I love her! She has a relaxed, soothing approach to yoga poses, but also has a great sense of humour and likes making fun of herself.

I’ve only scratched the surface of her workouts, but she’s currently doing a 30 day challenge - great if you’re keen to spend January detoxing with yoga. And they aren’t basic or beginner workouts either, so good if you are a bit further along with your yogi skills.

Side note: I have also just discovered there are numerous Beyonce dance video workouts on YouTube. I’ll leave it to your discretion to participate, and look forward to your reviews…

Do you workout with exercise DVDs or YouTube at home? If so, what are your favourites?