Take a Break You Deserve It

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Raise your hands if you’re guilty of overworking… yep me too. I am one of those people that finds it almost impossible to turn my brain off, instead choosing to worry and stress about every little thing going on in my life. It reached a peak during my final months at university when I was struggling to juggle work, university exams and trying to find a job as well as day to day dramas. It left me unable to sleep or relax and created huge tension in my back which resulted in a doctors trip and physiotherapy. It became clear to me that although this was a time of great change in my life and many important things were happening it was ridiculous that at the age of 21 the stress of it was affecting me so badly. The physiotherapy was the last straw as I decided something had to be done as living under so much self-enforced stress wasn’t healthy for me mentally or physically. I would like to mention now that I am by no means any sort of expert on this topic but I just thought that I would share with you guys what worked for me in the hope that it might be helpful for one of you now or in the future.

The first thing I tackled was sleeping as I knew that with a decent night’s sleep I’d at least be able to tackle my issues with a clearer and more rational head. I decided to stop reading university related articles before bed as this often left them plaguing my mind as I slept, and instead chose one of the many fictional books I had gathering dust on my bookcase. This helped almost immediately as my mind was occupied on the fictional events on the page not to mention it majorly improved the subject matter of my dreams as well! I also stopped using electronic devices in bed as I read that the blue light they give out is a major issue in achieving deep, peaceful sleep (here’s the article which will better explain it than I ever will). I stopped using my laptop in bed and limited myself to one Instagram check before I started reading to make sure there was enough time for it to not affect my sleep as much, and the improvement was incredible.

Exercise was the next big one as I was often spending all day either at the library or running around at work, giving me very little time outside. I started by attempting at least a half hour walk outside every day which slowly increased to an hour or two or even a short run. It gave me time to think outside of the stuffy work environment, as well as giving me some fresh air and a chance to enjoy the nice weather. This provided me with an escape and a chance to gain some perspective, as well as helping to tire me out just enough to help improve my sleep.

The last is a much simpler one and I think the most universal and that is simply just taking the time to relax. Whereas before I would feel guilty about taking a long bath or some time out to have a cup of tea and read a magazine, by emphasizing to myself that I deserved it slowly allowed me to relax and enjoy it. It was difficult to begin with but once I’d acknowledged all that I had achieved and accepted the fact that no matter how much my brain may have been whirring away no work was being done for the next half hour, it helped to alleviate the stress massively. It also helped physically as I hadn’t realised how tense my body had been until I was able to relax and loosen up. Not to mention once you’ve learnt to enjoy the act of relaxing it becomes a treat that you can look forward to and actually helped my productivity as I wanted to feel that I had deserved my reward. My current method as you’ll see is a hot bath with an assortment of bath bombs and bubbles, lighting a candle (my current favourite being my Jo Malone) and reading my book with my bath pillow at the end of the day.

It’s like they say in one of my all time favourite films Zombieland “Enjoy the little things” and I think that’s what I’d recommend more than anything. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a coffee with friends it’s the little things that make the bad things not so bad, so don’t be afraid to make the most of them because it’s the only life you’ve got. I know this is a little deeper than my usual posts but it’s something I really wanted to write and I hope you enjoyed it or it at least encouraged you to take a break because you deserve it.

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Graduation Belfast Style

So as you will probably know last week I headed back up to Belfast to finally pack up the remnants of the past three years of my life, and probably more importantly to graduate university! I’m still waiting for it all to sink in and the possibilities that now lie ahead of me, but in the meantime I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite parts of the day.

After the ceremony (which went by in the blink of an eye) I finally got my piece of paper proving that those three years of hard work weren’t for nothing and left me severely needing a drink. With the family in tow we headed to the newly opened Miel et Moi which is Belfast’s first licensed patisserie for some cocktails and cakes (my favourite combination).

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And boy did we have plenty to choose from! From tarts and eclairs to cakes and gateaus they have everything you could dream of, and with them all freshly baked every morning it was hard to resist not getting one of everything.
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In the end we managed to cut it down to just four deciding that dividing and conquering was the best way to tackle the amazing treats on offer. Trying to tick every box we went for viennese whirls, lemon madelines, a strawberry and white chocolate eclair and a rosewater gateau.

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Note the problem of ‘resting bitch face’ (of which I am a chronic sufferer of), but I can assure you that faces actually translates into me having the time of my life haha.DSC02943 DSC02948

As you can see they were so good it was impossible to get pictures of them all before we’d sneaked a bite. I have to say as a girl who has tasted her fair share of cakes and pastries the bar was set pretty high, but I can honestly say these blew me away. I have never tasted a viennese whirl so buttery and crumbly with the lemon curd cream filling perfectly providing a balance of tartness to the sweet. The lemon madeline (which I had to order to channel my inner Sansa Stark, Game of Throne fans you’ll know what I’m talking about) was so incredibly moist and fresh I could’ve eaten hundreds of them. Now while eclairs aren’t exactly my bag, my eclair obsessed sister assures me that it was the best she’s ever eaten, but my favourite has to be the rosewater gateau. I have never experienced a sponge like it,, it had the texture of air while melting in your mouth and the delicateness of the rosewater can only be described as the taste of summer. Paired with a combination of teas and bellinis with freshly made coulis it was the perfect high tea to celebrate the end of my time at university. Not to mention the setting was pretty idyllic too.DSC02917DSC02972

After all that it’s probably not really a surprise that we couldn’t resist going home without picking up a couple for the road. But with pastries this delicious it’s just too hard to say no!  DSC02912

If any of you are in or around Belfast, or even visiting in the future I highly recommend you swing by for a visit as with breakfast, lunch or dinner menus it’s perfect for every sort of celebration or even for an everyday treat. I’m still coming to terms with the post graduation blues so I’d love to hear your graduation stories, or if you have any cute places you like to visit I am always on the lookout for new recommendations. And if you haven’t graduated yet, good luck!

The perks of being a poor (soon to be) graduate

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As a result of finishing university and leaving my lovely well paying job to my tiny, sleepy home town means I’ve had to become extremely creative when it comes to keeping myself amused while I try to get a job. Seeing as many of my friends seem to be in the same boat I thought I’d share some of the ways that I’ve found are most effective when it comes to staving off madness, in the hope that it might help some of you guys too. Although I have to warn you it’s a wordy one so better grab a cup of tea and get comfy because you’re in it for the long haul…

Exercise                                                                                                                                    Now for any who knows me this point will show just how bored I have become, as I am one of the most unathletic people you will ever meet. But since my move to warmer climates I have been trying to make the most of it and have been taking my bike out for a spin. I’ve even been on the odd run! Now while I am extremely lucky to be living in an especially green and picturesque town making said exercise much easier and more enjoyable, the effect I’ve noticed to my peace of mind is so great that I would encourage everyone, no matter what your local settings to take it up. Plus if you’re lucky and tan, it’s an excellent way to up your vitamin D intake!

Reading                                                                                                                                      As much as I have enjoyed my degree it has meant that the amount of what I call ‘fun’ reading has steadily declined over the years as I’ve tried to keep up with my workload. I came back home with over 30 unread books which were added to the many more I was unable to take to university in the first place, so I decided to make the most of my literary freedom and try to tackle the mountain. I’ve barely even started but already it’s made me realise just how much I love reading and has meant I’m finally getting round to reading those books people always tell you “you have to read”. So don’t be too surprised if there’s a Summer book guide appearing soon.

Home Projects                                                                                                                           An inevitable result when you come back home with eight huge boxes of belongings and nowhere to put them, I decided to tackle my room and update it from the Twilight posters (yep I admit I loved it) of my youth to something I little less mortifying. Although I am the least crafty person ever I’ve enjoyed being able to plan and decorate my room and uncovering some hidden gems that I’ve kept from childhood. Although there has been a throw out worthy of an episode of Hoarders, I’ve also found some items worthy of a home which has led me to attempt scrapbooking, but more on that later. Not to mention how nice it is to have a new, adult feeling room that is not only a lovely place to work, but a space of my own to relax and unwind in.

Reconnecting                                                                                                                            One of the hardest parts of moving to a university in a different country is that travelling home became a pretty expensive procedure. Although I was extremely lucky to have some best friends who made the journey over, there were some equally good friends that I never got to see. So now with all of us heading home for the foreseeable future at least, I’ve really enjoyed catching up with them all and whether we’re going out for a coffee or having a cosy night in, it’s become one of my favourite ways to spend my days.

Get Outdoors                                                                                                                                 I am a sucker for sunny days especially as they’re so rare in the UK, so when the sun pokes its head out I try to get out as much as I can. As well as my bike and my (very rare) runs getting me outside, I’ve been on the lookout for events in my area like the local town festival which is free to attend with free concerts and cheap rides and attractions.Having a look in your local paper is the best way to see what’s going on in your area and you never know, you might be surprised by what you find!

Write!                                                                                                                                         As a graduate intent on finding my place in the ever-changing, highly competitive world of publishing and journalism this is the most important item on my list, and one I’m actually really looking forward to doing. I’m planning my posts on here properly this time to attempt to ensure regularity as well as trying to make the most of the weather to up my photography game to hopefully make this blog better for you guys as well as for me.

This is only an initial list as I know I will most definitely lax on at least one of these (let’s face it it’ll probably be the exercising) but for the mean time I feel lucky enough to have this time to relax and refocus on what I want. I do hope this list helps give some of you some ideas of ways to enjoy the Summer without breaking the bank, and if any of you are in the same boat please do share any of your tips and we can try to keep our sanity together!

Walking on Sunshine

Is it me or has Winter seemed extra long this year? Now as much as I love Christmas and snow and all the fun that goes with it, once we hit the January slump I find myself crying out for any little bit of sunshine or warmth to come my way. So as soon as my wishes were answered and Belfast, land of rain and cold had it’s first full day of sunshine, I ran out camera in tow to make the most of it.

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119422119522First stop the park, and what a beautiful park it is. With over 100 acres to choose from I got lost in the trees and cherry blossoms whiling away the hours, and the beautiful scenery proved perfect for my snap happy tendencies.

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One of my favourite bits of the park are the millions of daffodils which were scattered around, which are the epitome of spring to me and one of my favourite flowers (so much so that I had to include two photos).
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The park runs alongside the river Lagan which is another one of my favourite walks to take in Belfast as you get to see some amazing views along the way. I even stopped for a little break and took the opportunity to get some University reading done while I was at it (plus a cheeky selfie of course!)

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I couldn’t help but snap some more of my favourite flowers too!
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I finished the day with a walk through the Botanical Gardens next to the university, which even after three years still continues to amaze me and makes me feel like I’m studying at Hogwarts! The gardens are always popular when it’s sunny especially the stunning Palm House, which is our own little Alexandra Palace with an amazing selection of tropical plants inside.

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Here’s hoping we have lots more of these days to come and I’d love to know how you’re making the most of the sunny days too!

Stationery Saviours

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WP_20141001_13_26_38_Pro WP_20141001_13_27_46_Pro  Am the only one that instead of dreading those yearly back to school shops actually revelled in them? Although there were the horrendous hours being dragged around and forced into every uniform variant deemed necessary but your school there was the light at the end of the tunnel, stationery. From pads in a multitude of patterns and sizes to pens that wrote in all shades of the rainbow it was paradise.  No while as a child I was often restricted by my parents in terms of what I actually needed (which was usually very little as this stationery thing runs in the family)  as a (semi) adult I am no longer restricted to such ration thoughts and with my final year of university looming I may have gone on a little splurge, but you know it’s all in the name of learning….. Continue reading