How to Prioritise Self-Care When You're Non-Stop

Sunday, 1 December 2019

I'm definitely someone who is non-stop most of the time. I have a lot of stuff I need to do day-to-day. My working day doesn't always end when I leave the office at 6pm, not to mention keeping up with my blog, and generally keep up with 'adulting' - cooking, keeping up with housework(ish) and everything else in between. Rare 'free' days get booked up so quickly with various things, whether it's helping my mum with her wedding planning, visiting Dan's family, seeing friends... the list goes on. The bottom line is that I seem to spend a good chunk of my life rushing around like a blue-arsed fly.

Which would be totally fine, except that I'm not very good at recognising when I need some time out. So I carry on in this fashion until it's too late and I'm totally frazzled, crying in a heap on the floor because I'm just so bloody tired and can't cope with living life at 100 miles per hour any more.

Sound like you?

In the last couple of months, I've been making a really conscious effort to make self-care more of a priority. And by bringing the idea of taking time out to the forefront of my mind, I've come up with a few ways to help work it into my routine so that I can still be 'non-stop'.

1. Little & often
I think little & often is one of the most valuable lessons I have taught myself about self-care recently. I often struggle to take an entire day off as I feel like I have to be productive all of the time, but by practicing some self-care in short bursts, I still feel like I'm giving myself a bit of a break. (Although don't get me wrong, sometimes a full day is necessary!) Even just taking a couple of hours off to watch a film with Dan during a work-from-home-day, or stopping off on the way home from the office for a Starbucks and a browse around TK Maxx works just as well!

2. Set yourself boundaries
For me, self-care isn't just about making time to do something relaxing. It's also about prioritising my basic needs rather than trying to get everything done, at any cost. Setting myself boundaries has been the most effective way to do that. So setting myself a deadline of 9pm to get everything done, and sticking to it. Whatever is left over can wait until the next day. I then have a good hour or so to wind down before bed, and I can actually relax properly, have a bath, read a book, whatever, without guilt that I should be trying to cram in as much as possible. Because let's face it, I'm no good to anyone deprived of sleep.

3. Setting aside a day for you
Let's see if anyone else can relate with this. I'm busy working all week. Weekends get booked up three or four weeks in advance with family, errands, plans with mates and general life rubbish. It gets to 8 or 9 weeks in, I've not had a day or even half a day to myself in that whole time, I'm on the brink of being totally burned out. I'm bloody knackered and crying out for a day to just chill.
So, I've started to set aside one day a month, where I take time out just for me. I try to plan this for a day where Dan's working so that the day is totally mine and I don't have to consider anyone else. Where I can stay in my pjs all day, have a nap, binge on everything on Netflix that I don't usually get time to watch. Just generally recharge my batteries. Yes, I may pick up my notebook or my laptop and do some writing, but that's because I'm feeling creative and generally want to, rather than feeling like I need to use my day productively. And I'll tell you, these days have become absolutely precious.

4. Check in with yourself regularly
When you're non-stop all the time, it's so easy to not realise how you're feeling. I do it so often where I run and run and run and run (not literally run because I wouldn't even run for the ice-cream van), working extra hours, spending hours and hours on my blog, meetings, babysitting, wedding planning, going, going, going... Then all of a sudden I'm on empty and I crash... and I had no idea I was even getting there.
I now make a conscious effort to check in with myself regularly, and by regularly I mean probably every other day. How am I feeling? How has my mood been? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I getting breakouts on my skin? Basically asking myself all of the questions that I know will give me an indicator of my stress levels and if/how urgently I need to take some remedial action. I've spoken before about taking up bullet journaling, and this has helped me so much with checking in with myself. Because I track things like mood, sleep, anxiety levels etc. every day, it's made me so much more aware of how I'm feeling.

What are your tips for making self-care a priority? Is it something you have nailed, or are you still a work in progress like me?

Sian xo

Making Friends in Your 20s Is TOUGH

Sunday, 24 November 2019

I've always been someone who has had a pretty solid circle of friends around her. There's always been someone just down the road, or a group chat for me to unload all of my life's woes. Especially during my time at uni, there was always someone I could call on for a spontaneous night out, for a shopping buddy or to simply watch telly and eat biscuits with.

Since moving away from those friends though, I feel like I've become a lot more introverted. My social life isn't anywhere near as busy as it once was, and I rarely seem to have plans with friends. Part of that is probably because I work full-time now as opposed to a few hours at uni per week and 16 hours working. Part of it is the fact that going out all night doesn't really appeal to me any more.

But, if we're being honest, a lot of my new, introverted life is due to the fact that making friends in your 20s is bloody difficult.

The thing is about this stage of life, everyone has made their friends already. People have got their mates from school, from college, childhood friends, family friends, whatever. And once those groups have already formed, they're pretty solid. Which is obviously great for them, not so great when you've just moved to a city, are feeling a bit isolated and trying to make friends of your own.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of it may be down to where I live, and the fact that there isn't all that much going on. Bloggers events are pretty much non-existent in Lincoln, I used to love going salsa dancing every week when I lived in Sheffield, but there are no classes near me. My opportunities to meet new people are so limited due to my geographical location, so I end up in a loop of going to work, going home, repeat. And I just have no idea where to start looking to meet people in such a little city.

Another huge issue for me is the fact that I'm in my mid-20s but still have all of the insecurities of a teenager. And this holds me back so much because I've either shirked opportunities to put myself out there, or I've let myself fade into the background because I'm bloody terrified of what people think of me, or of coming across as a bit weird. It was like high-school Sian was stood on my shoulder going 'you're definitely not cool enough for this, abort mission!' And I've coming away kicking myself, thinking I missed another chance to start breaking down all of the loneliness that I've felt since moving here.

Yep, I'm really struggling if I'm being honest. While I still have friends who I know I can call upon, a lot of them are hundreds of miles away and I only see them every few months, so the day-to-day loneliness doesn't get any easier. And it's getting really embarrassing every weekend when I'm asked if I have plans for the weekend and I have to say no! Applications for a best mate on a postcard, please.

Does anyone else feel this way?

Sian xo

What's New In My Skincare Routine?

Sunday, 17 November 2019

In the last year or so, my skincare obsession has grown, to the point where now I think I love skincare more than make up (bold statement, indeed.) I just find that when my skin is good, everything else follows and nailing my skincare routine has become so important to me.

I've changed a few things up in my skincare routine recently, so I thought I would share what else is now, what I think to it and what I'll definitely be repurchasing.

Nip + Fab Vitamin C Cleanser
I picked this little cleanser on a whim in Boots a few months ago. I love vitamin C products, especially as a morning cleanse as you feel like something a little bit refreshing on your skin might wake you up a bit (I don't think it does, but a gal can hope). While this isn't my favourite cleanser in the world, it does the trick as a light morning cleanse, but I wouldn't say it's doing anything spectacular for my skin. Will I repurchase? Perhaps if it was on offer, yes. But I have a couple of new cleansers currently on their way to test out, which I'm super excited about!

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
I'd heard so many good things about this toner, and I just had to see what all of the fuss was about. I'll be honest, if you have really sensitive skin, it probably isn't for you because it's quite 'harsh' (hence the word acid I'd imagine!) I only use it in the evening, and sparingly because if I go a bit OTT on it, I find that my skin reacts badly. But used properly, it has really helped to reduce my pores and make my skin look smoother and even out skin tone. It's taken me a bit of time to get used to, but it's now such a staple!

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Total. Holy. Grail. I don't know what I would do without this little bottle now. I talk all the time about how dry my skin can be and how it can be such a struggle, but regular use of Hyaluronic Acid has made SUCH a difference. It only takes a couple of drops am and pm to sort out the dry patches and make my skin super soft. I will 100% be keeping this one on my bathroom shelf for the foreseeable.

Dr Botanicals Pomegranate Sleeping Face Mask
I'm an absolute sucker for a good face mask, and sleeping face masks have become an absolute god-send for me, for evenings where I just haven't stopped and don't have time to sit for 10 minutes with a face mask on. I'm loving the Pomegranate mask from Dr Botanicals right now, I've been using it 2-3 nights a week, popping on a thin layer before I go to bed and when I wake up my skin is so much softer and brighter, as if I'd just put a normal mask on!

Glossier Bubblewrap Eye & Lip Cream
That's right, people. I'm at that age where I've purchased an eye cream. In all seriousness though, I'm all of a sudden very concerned about getting wrinkles so I thought it was about time I invested. I decided to give the offering from Glossier a go and I am super impressed so far! While I don't know too much how it's doing on the wrinkle front (although I haven't seen any yet. Yet.) It's so good for my puffy eye bags when I'm feeling a bit run down and sleep-deprived (so all the time). It's a little bit more pricey at £23 but so worth it in my opinion!

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Face Mask 
Normally I avoid charcoal products as I don't think they'd suit my skin type, but when I asked for recommendations to sort out breakout-prone skin and large pores, this was by far the most popular answer so I had to give it a go! And I haven't looked back since. It's bloody potent when you put it on, to the point where my eyes often water. But it's so good at dragging all of the crap out of your skin and leaving it detoxed, cleansed and soft. I love it especially for when I've had a few glasses of vino the night before (as my skin often plays up after drinking), or for that time of the month when my skin is misbehaving. This has definitely got a permanent spot on my bathroom shelf, I don't think I could ever be without it again!

Have you tried any of these products?

Sian xo

The Most Common (And Most Annoying) Questions I Get Asked In My Mid-20s

Sunday, 10 November 2019

I find that being in your mid-20s comes with a certain amount of pressure. Indeed, any stage in life will have its pressures, but I think your 20s is a particularly 'awkward' time, with a level of expectation that you should have pretty decent grasp on the direction your life is going in, and a plethora of interesting things to tell vaguely distant relatives about just how well you're doing.

But, then come the questions. You know the type. The ones that make you roll your eyes, laugh nervously and give your pre-prepared answer that you conjured up in the car on the way to the family gathering, because you just know that your opinionated and slightly abrasive uncle will ask you the same thing he asks every time.

Let's start with a classic example, shall we?

1. 'Sooooooo, has he proposed yet??'
Ahh, the dreaded question for anyone in their 20s (or maybe 30s or 40s) who has been in a relationship for more than six months.
After a response of awkward laughter and shaking your head, I often find that the initial question is followed up with 'Well, you want to be telling him that he needs to put a ring on it!'
Well maybe, just maybe, I don't want him to yet??

2. 'Do you think you'll have kids one day... Soon?'
How is it possible that one tiny, four-lettered word can change what is seemingly a really casual question into somewhat more of a 'reminder' that kids is really something you should be thinking about now that you're 25 and your ovaries are on an inevitable ticking time bomb which could implode at any moment? (I of course mean this in jest, but you get the idea of the amount of pressure adding the word 'soon' creates). When I feel like voluntarily growing to the house of the house and going through childbirth (which soz, sounds like a hell that I am not ready to put myself through), I'll let you know, kay?

3. 'Aren't you a bit young to be settling down? Shouldn't you be going out and enjoying life?'
JFC I can't win. And why doesn't being in bed at 8pm with snacks and a good box set qualify as 'enjoying life'??

4. 'Are you EVER going to use that journalism degree?'
Why no, vaguely distant family member who has no bearing on my life whatsoever, I probably won't. I'm an estate agent now and I like it. Is that cool with you?

5. 'What's your long term career goal?'
Bloody hell, I don't know. Not getting sacked by next week? Making it through to Friday without guzzling down a bottle of wine per night? Don't say I don't dream big.

Please tell me someone else can relate??

Sian xo

Making this Disorganised Girl, Organised (Sort Of)

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Real talk: I am not a particularly well-organised person. Which is an absolute disaster for someone who is so busy all the time. Being absolutely on top of my to-do list (and in fact, actually having a to-do list) doesn't really come all that naturally to me.

And while it may look to the outside world that I'm completely organised, with my pretty stationary and constant calm demeanour over my workload, I'm actually much better at pretending to have my shit together than at actually having my shit together. So when someone approaches me to add one more thing to my to-do list, or asks me to take on one more commitment, I'll smile sweetly and say of course, but in reality, I'm giving them an incredibly shaky and reluctant thumbs-up while I'm drowning in everything I need to get done.

Perhaps a large part of my issue is being unable to say no, but that's a topic for another post, I think.

After having a pretty big break down a couple of months ago about how I just can't do this, I made a resolution to myself to pull myself together, and put a plan in place to help myself keep on top of things. While I wasn't expecting miracles, or to have a complete overhaul in my organisation levels, I've found that implementing a few little changes has much such a difference in my productivity and made me feel so much more together.

For anyone feeling the same, I thought I would share with you how I got this disorganised girl, organised (sort of).

Bullet Journalling

I've been using a bullet journal on and off for about a year or so now, but since I've started using it properly it's made such a difference to my organisation levels. I started one purely because I couldn't ever find a diary that had everything that I needed, so I decided to make my own! Keeping everything in one place: dates to remember, to-do lists, tasks, birthdays, budgeting is SO much easier. I even put in a cleaning tracker so I can keep on top of housework better, as well as pages to brainstorm blog post ideas, and gratitude pages so that I can reflect on and record things that have made me happy to look back on! It's also really lovely to have another creative outlet, I'm not the most artistic in the world but I enjoy it nonetheless!

Timetabling My Week
It sounds so obvious, but it isn't something I have ever done that much before! Because I work such long hours, free time is rare and when I do have some spare time, I find that I have so much that I could be doing, I just procrastinate until it's time to be somewhere again.

When I say timetabling, I really do mean it in the simplest sense. I've simply allocated a broad task for each evening during the week, assuming that I will have a couple of hours to sit down and get stuff done between getting home from work and in between cooking dinner, watching some TV and going to bed. For example, I have set aside Tuesdays and Sundays as 'writing days', where I aim to focus on writing posts and nothing else. Wednesdays and Thursdays are for admin, and Saturdays are generally for taking photos and tying up any loose ends from the week before. Any specific tasks under those broad headings are up to me, but I find I'm so much more focussed now that I at least have that baseline for my week. And if I have something else going on so I can't do any work at all, that's okay! Because generally, I'm now ahead enough that I can take a break and not feel guilty, which is pretty unheard of for me!

Not Leaving Everything Until the Last Minute!
Okay, this one is still very much a work in progress. Maybe I'll always be a last-minute kinda gal and I need to make my peace with that. But I really am finding that if I plan ahead and stay focussed, the last-minute rush around just before a deadline is less of a frequent occurrence. Fingers crossed I can keep it up, eh?!

How do you like to keep yourself organised? Are you a super-organised person or are you like me, a work in progress? Let me know in the comments!

Sian xo

Must-Have Products For A Fuss-Free Beauty Routine

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Now don't get me wrong, I love an elaborate make-up routine. I love a smokey eye and a perfect winged liner, and when I get the opportunity to go to town on the highlighter, I do.

But, let's face it. I work long hours, and I'm not much of a morning person. So a simple, fuss-free routine during the week is an absolute must for me. Those extra ten minutes in bed are precious.

With the darker mornings rolling in and making it even more tempting to snooze the alarm, I thought I would share my holy grail products for a simple routine which will get me out of the door on time and not looking like a total zombie.

The Body Shop Dewy Rose Facial Mist
You've probably seen me rave about this already in previous posts and on my Instagram. I honestly can't get enough of it, just because it's so versatile. It's a perfect primer, and brilliant on no-foundations days to even out the skin and give a dewy glow, so I can just spritz and go, without having to worry too much about a base. I've also got the Hydrating Mandarin version, which is perfect for topping up with throughout the day.

Lush Charisma Skin Tint
I get so many compliments when I use this product! It's pretty new to my make-up bag, but I am obsessed. Another really versatile, easy to use product, especially for using a little bit all over my face for a bronzed glow, no fake tanning or bronzer required! I also use it as a highlighter when I feel like it, but it's especially perfect for a quick base and a more glam look, minimal effort required.

Benefit Gimme Brow
As much as I love being able to take my time perfecting my brows when I can, most mornings my routine (and by routine I mean pressing snooze 100000000 times) just doesn't allow for it. Gimme Brow has been a staple in my routine for a good few years now, it tames brows with just a couple of swipes, as well as making them look fuller and lasting all day.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Minor Sin
Another long-time favourite! This product has been an absolute game-changer for me for the last few years for getting my eye make up to stay all day, but I use it even for days where I don't have the time or inclination to do an elaborate look. I always get the shade Minor Sin as it's a beautiful shimmery bronze colour, and giving it a swipe along my lids gives them just a pop of colour without the effort. Just a bit of mascara and you're good to go.

Glossier Cloud Paint
I never knew how much I would fall in love with cream blushes. But oh my goodness, Glossier have knocked it out of the park with this product. I'm now starting a collection and have two shades: Puff & Dusk. The formula is absolutely dreamy, so lightweight and buildable, adding seamless colour to your cheeks in seconds. Perfect for the days that you just can't be bothered with blending and contouring. Puff is a beautiful cool pink shade, which is always my go-to, but I got Dusk as a sample with a Glossier order and I fell in love. I never though neutral shades would be for me, but I love this one, especially when I fancy something a bit more natural-looking.

Glossier balm dotcom
Before I get talking about this one, let's get real. Yes, £10 for a lip balm is ridiculous. But do you know what? I have no regrets, and I'd do it again. I'm obsessed with balm dotcom, especially for the winter when my lips get ridiculously dry, and normal lipstick just looks rubbish. I've got the 'birthday' flavour, which gives a subtle shimmer and tastes amazing. They do loads of other flavours, which I know I'll be purchasing at some point but I think birthday cake will always be my favourite.

Have you ever tried these products? What are your go-tos for days where you're a bit short on time?

Sian xo

The Quarter Life Crisis

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Okay, before you start chuckling, hear me out. This is very serious business.

This year, I hit the ripe old age of 25. I am officially in my mid-twenties. Which is a little bit of a scary prospect when I cast my mind back to the eve of my 20th birthday when I was full on freaking out at the thought of not being a teenager any more. The fact that I am now mid-way through a decade which I was dreading, and 30 is equidistant to 20... yikes.

I'm now at that funny time of life where an engagement ring is gracing my Facebook feed pretty much once every couple of weeks, and if it isn't engagement rings, it's baby photos or pregnancy announcements. If it isn't that, it's someone who is going off on their travels or someone who has just had an offer accepted on their first house. That age where everyone seems to be hitting milestones of one form or another, sometimes going in wildly varying directions and here I am in the middle somewhere, in the midst of the 'I SAID YES TO THE DRESS' posts & time-lapses of far off countries and hearing my mother comment 'you know that girl you went to school with...?', slogging away at my 9-5, getting excited about my Saturday night takeaway and living a thoroughly unextraordinary life, wondering if I'm getting it all wrong.

Welcome, my friends, to the quarter-life crisis.

Don't get me wrong, in a lot of ways I'm very lucky. I'm just the right side of having my shit sort-of together. I have a good job, I'm living independently, I'm in a long-term relationship, I earn enough money to pay my bills and have my nails done and go on days out. I'm not quite a hot mess (although there is still time.) But, all of a sudden, I seem to have realised that life is in fact short, and my biggest fear is looking back and regretting choices I've made or at what time of life I hit these milestones. And while in reality, I know it's probably a result of comparing myself to what I see on social media but bloody hell it's knocked me for six.

Let's take a classic example. I know that I am in no way ready for children. Not a chance. The thought of getting no sleep, having to change nappies and bodily fluids become a normal part of my day-to-day routine, it just does not appeal to me right now. And don't even get me started on pregnancy. I know I want to be a mum one day, but one day is very far into the future, potentially even past 30. Plus the fact that I'm a little bit old fashioned and want to get married before I have kids, and am I ready to get engaged? No sir.

But the issue of having a lot of friends and colleagues who are 5-10 years older than you, is that they all start weighing in on the issue. That's without factoring in family members who are just dying to know your entire life plan...

'No, you're young, you have plenty of time for marriage and babies. 25 is no age'

'Why bother getting married first? It doesn't change anything. Wasted money to be honest'

'Well, having kids younger is better. Then you aren't old when they're 18 and you get your life back. Really, you need to be thinking about having them now'

'You're 25 now Sian, your biological clock will be starting to tick'

Yep, I have genuinely been told every single one of these. Biological clock is ticking! The problem is, when you hear this stuff, you internalise it and it makes you question yourself. Everyone loves to tell you the 'perfect age' to do x,y and z, and it just makes you want to ask for the link to this rulebook on Amazon because maybe you missed it?!

I've made it no secret on my blog that my career pathway hasn't exactly gone to plan over recent years. And while I try not to let that bother me, especially now that I'm almost a year into a job which I love (for the most part) and could really see myself carving a career out of, but there's always this little niggling voice in the back of my brain saying Yeah but it isn't journalism though is it, hun? And sometimes, it's a voice that's actually being spoken out loud by a no-holds-barred family member. And no, it isn't journalism and whilst I do sometimes feel guilty that those I went to uni or school with are already being promoted with salaries that would make my eyes water, I'm doing okay right? Right?

The best way I can describe it is thinking back to my 19 year old self. The girl with big dreams, full of confidence. If that girl saw me now, what would she think?

I'll be honest, I think her first thought would be What the f**k happened? 19 year old me wanted me to have gone on adventures, moved to London and be working on a magazine by now. Hah.

Instead, I'm living just a stone's throw away from my home town, working as an estate agent, in my pyjamas by 8pm, living away from most of my friends and nights out tend to be the last thing on my mind.

I wonder if I've let my 19 year old self down by the life that I'm living now. And then I remember how naive 19 year old me was. She didn't understand the responsibilities of having to pay bills. She didn't know how difficult it would be to save money for a big city move. She didn't count on one of the worst periods of her life making it almost unbearable to be too far away from her family. The thing is, life gets in the way. And I'd hope that 19 year old me will understand that 25 year old me is just trying to muddle through as best she can.

And muddling through is exactly how I'm planning on getting through this quarter-life crisis, and hope it all falls into place. And it will. Right?

I can't promise I won't keep feeling half-jealous and mildly irritated with the engagement posts though. I'm only human!

Sian xo