Be kind to yourself

Be kind to yourself you are nice

It’s a brand new year and many of us will have made (and immediately broken) outrageous resolutions designed to make us better, smarter, or more attractive people. And when these fall through, we suffer the mental anguish of failure for not being able to commit. Sooner or later, this all piles up until January is pretty much a write-off and we’ll wish we’d gone into hibernation instead.

It’s easy to look on social media and in magazines and compare ourselves to other people who are seemingly able to do it all. The hardest thing is setting realistic goals and outlining the steps you need to take to achieve them, whilst ensuring that your mental and physical well-being isn’t compromised in the process.

One idea I’ve heard for starting 2018 off on a positive note is to make New Year’s affirmations rather than resolutions. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to quit smoking,” you could say, “I am quitting smoking”. By turning this goal into something positive and ongoing, you are acknowledging that any big change has ups and downs and you are focusing on that journey rather than the final result. This helps to remove the guilt you would have felt on days where it’s not going well and you are much more likely to succeed over all.

If affirmations aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps a general resolve to treat yourself more kindly would be the perfect beginning to your 2018. No matter how you’re feeling, most of us can afford to be gentler with ourselves and often this will lead organically to feeling more capable of achieving our other life goals! This doesn’t mean luxuriating in a 5 star spa at the weekend (though the occasional pamper session can’t hurt) but rather, getting familiar with your own needs and listening to what your body is saying when you’re pushing it to the limit.

Forgive yourself when you’ve reached the end of the day and there are still jobs on your to-do list; learn when enough is enough. Don’t be scared to ask for help when you are falling behind or struggling.

Equally, start to speak up when you’ve worked your butt off and you deserve acknowledgment. Being kind to yourself doesn’t always mean taking a step back; sometimes it means pushing forwards, recognising your achievements and feeling proud of yourself. It’s pushing negativity to one side and focusing on all that you’ve accomplished.

We all know so many people who are loyal friends, fantastic parents, highly regarded professionals, brilliant academics, powerful change-makers, or spectacular artists. And yet, they feel like failures because they don’t fulfill every role in that list. We can’t be all things to all people and we need to learn to recognise our strengths and the impact that we have in the lives of others without beating ourselves up for the areas we fall down in.

My goal every year is to do more to make myself happy. It’s not a difficult goal and I never fail at it. Some days all it takes is a cuddle on the sofa or a few minutes singing and jiggling in the shower (carefully, of course). And if a day doesn’t go my way then there’s always the next one.

What are you hoping to achieve this year? Have you got any resolutions or affirmations in the works?

Thirsty Meeples

Board Game Cafe Thirsty Meeples Oxford Oxfordshire Food Games Card Cake Cards Fun Learning Happiness Entry 9 Double Date

If there was ever a representation of my inner geek heaven I think Thirsty Meeples could be it. They’ve got wall to wall shelving stuffed with board and card games and, if that wasn’t enough, an extensive menu to sustain you throughout your quests. It’s definitely one of my “Happy Places”.

Thirsty Meeples is a recent discovery (and addiction) of mine but I learned of its existence entirely by accident! I was despairing aloud at the lack of board game choices in shops when a kind stranger overheard and told me all about this fantastic place in Oxford where you can hire a table and choose from thousands of games. I’ve been hooked ever since!

If you decide to visit you can book a table in advance (and you need to because it’s hugely popular) and grab some friends for hours of gaming fun. Recently I went there on a double date with my partner, my old school friend and her fiancée. We’d booked our table for 6 hours and we would have happily stayed longer!

We’ve got similar tastes in games and we ended up playing Whitechapel which is all about Jack the Ripper. One of you plays Jack and the rest are detectives working together to hunt him down and stop him from killing. It was pretty intense! I successfully survived as Jack but my hands were shaking with nerves all the way through. I’m very competitive.

If the trip to Oxford is a bit far or you don’t want the expense too often this activity could easily be reproduced at home. All you need are some good friends, board games and (vast quantities of) food. You will quickly realise that I think food is the most important part of any worthwhile venture! Sadly I was unable to snap many pictures of the awesome food we had because I was too busy scoffing! Next time, perhaps!

Are you a board game fan? Are there any games you would recommend for our next trip? Please let me know.

Board Game Cafe Thirsty Meeples Oxford Oxfordshire Food Games Card Cake Cards Fun Learning Happiness Entry 9 Double Date

7 Days of Happiness

Entry 8 Eight 7 Seven Days of Happiness Week Happy Learning Warwick Castle Challenge Trebuchet German Vitamin D Try Something New Sweet Treat Charity Charitable Adventure

I’ve been trying out different ways to consciously introduce more happiness into my life for a while now. It’s been a lot of fun but pretty sporadic and unstructured which is good, because happiness itself is a little erratic and does as it pleases.

However, to kick things up a notch, I decided to take the ideas from my first 7 blog posts and consolidate them into one intensive week of hard-core happiness. 7 ideas, 7 days, any order I liked but I had to fit them around my day-to-day life and make sure nothing was missed out! I’m going to set myself this challenge after every 7 posts so if you want to follow along at home, this is Week One:

One | Do Something Charitable
Two | Practice Learning a Language
Three | Get Some Vitamin D
Four | Try Something New
Five | Be Childish
Six | Give Someone an Adventure
Seven | Give Someone a Sweet Treat

The night before I started I planned out which activity would fit into which day. It was already a busy week so it was important to be prepared!

Entry 8 Eight 7 Seven Days of Happiness Week Happy Learning Warwick Castle Challenge Trebuchet German Vitamin D Try Something New Sweet Treat Charity Charitable Adventure

Wednesday | Get Some Vitamin D

I concluded it doesn’t matter when you start as long as you can plan 7 consecutive days of happy tasks. I began on a Wednesday.

Getting Vitamin D was the hardest task to plan into the week as it is entirely weather dependent but I was lucky today. The sun was shining and I work just down the road from a park so I spent 50 minutes of bliss, tucked up on a wall with “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” by Katarina Bivald. I managed to do this for several lunchtimes this week but as we reach autumn it’ll be harder to get good sunlight so Vitamin D supplements are a must to keep me healthy!

Thursday | Practice Learning a Language

I’ve been learning German with Duolingo and you only have to practice for a few minutes each day to keep the cogs whirring! Thursdays are often a busy day for me so I chose this task and managed to practice for ten minutes as I was getting ready for bed.

Friday | Be Childish

When I was in school I’d spend all my time in the art room so the recent trend for adult colouring books ticks a lot of my boxes. After we’d been out for the evening my boyfriend and I sat down for a couple of minutes at the end of the day and relaxed with our colouring books and a film. I am much better at staying within the lines than I used to be.

Entry 8 Eight 7 Seven Days of Happiness Week Happy Learning Warwick Castle Challenge Trebuchet German Vitamin D Try Something New Sweet Treat Charity Charitable Adventure

Saturday | Give Someone a Sweet Treat

Saturday was a very busy day, packed with happy activities! I had plans to see a friend in the evening and we are both big fans of superheroes, Harry Potter, Disney and junk food so I made us some teeny fairy cakes and decorated them. I have affectionately named them “messy little nerd cakes”. Fortunately she was able to identify the symbols without too much embarrassment on my part! If anyone has any icing tips, I’m all ears!

Entry 8 Eight 7 Seven Days of Happiness Week Happy Learning Warwick Castle Challenge Trebuchet German Vitamin D Try Something New Sweet Treat Charity Charitable Adventure

Sunday | Give Someone an Adventure

My partner and I already had plans to visit Warwick Castle on Sunday as we’d bought a combo-ticket for that and the aquarium several weeks ago. When we arrived I also bought us tickets to see the Castle Dungeons as part of our adventuring. We left, happy but horrified, after a gruesome journey into the dark history of the castle. I want to go back towards Christmas and see how they decorate for the festivities!

Monday | Try Something New

I play hockey fairly regularly and also visit the gym and swim but I decided to join my Mum at her Pilates class and try it out for the first time. I had no idea what to expect and it turned out to be a gruelling hour of arm exercises that would leave me incapable of reaching high shelves for days! I definitely felt the burn and enjoyed it, despite struggling through! I have since discovered that the instructor assumed I was 6 years younger than I am (presumably because my mum looks too young to have a 23-year-old 😉 ) and was taking it easy on me! Yikes!

Tuesday | Be Charitable

Tuesday. Last day! It’s been a lot of fun. I couldn’t manage anything quite as drastic as in my original blog post as I’m still waiting for my hair to grow back but there are plenty of other ways to make a difference. In the last couple of weeks I have had a sort out and given loads of my books, clothes and DVDs to the British Heart Foundation to sell. Some of my stuff wasn’t suitable for selling but would be useful to a local homelessness centre so I popped onto their website today and checked out the section that says what they need and took that list with me to the supermarket. It cost very little to get loads of the items they needed and add them to the pile I was donating.

7 Days of Happiness | Week One

This intensive week of happiness is over but I’ll keep using the ideas from it wherever I can. If you’re interested in giving it a go then just follow the list I’ve made and plan it around your weekly schedule. The best thing about this is that it’s designed to make you happy so if you’re not feeling like doing something or can’t make it fit into just seven days then there’s no pressure and no guilt. It’s all about doing the things that work for you. Let me know if you try it out!

Entry 8 Eight 7 Seven Days of Happiness Week Happy Learning Warwick Castle Challenge Trebuchet German Vitamin D Try Something New Sweet Treat Charity Charitable Adventure

Be Childish Sometimes

Aquarium Penguin Pokemon Be Childish Sometimes Learning Happiness

The word “childish” has appeared on my newsfeed a lot in the past few days. With Pokémon Go all the rage right now many players are being accused of reverting back to childhood and neglecting their adult responsibilities. I think that’s nonsense! Childishness is not an inherently bad thing and there are plenty of positives to be gained from keeping a little spark of your childhood alive in you. Pokémon itself was invented by combining a man’s childhood fascination with insect collection and his teenage obsession with arcade games; he grew up to be one of the most respected video game designers of all time!

I somehow missed out on the Pokémon craze as a child but that’s okay because I have a mental treasure trove of other “childish” activities to revisit. When I left primary school in 2004 I wanted to be an explorer in the Amazon, discovering new animals every day and writing about all of my adventures. So last Sunday, while many of my peers were out playing Pokémon, I decided to indulge my own inner child with a trip to the aquarium!

We went to a Sealife Centre aquarium which was excellent for a number of reasons. For one thing, it has penguins and I am a sucker for a cute penguin. For another, the focus of the company is on conservation, breeding and education; a lot of the money they make goes towards rescuing marine wildlife and one of the talks we caught was about encouraging responsible fish consumption by avoiding brands that are unsustainable. So as well as being kept entertained for hours it made me happy to know that my entry fee was going towards such a good cause.

My boyfriend and I may well have been the only adults there without child-supervision and we were just as keen as any of the kids to explore the different underwater tunnels and child-sized peep holes. There were some scary moments in which we struggled to get back out of the passageways into which we foolishly squeezed. But you have to make the most of the experience, no matter how big you are!

Being childish doesn’t mean neglecting your responsibilities, it’s about continuing to appreciate things with the same awed wonderment you had when you were young. Being an adult doesn’t mean being dull, for me it means driving safely using diesel I paid for with a license I earned to a big building full of fish and staring at them all morning… and then going for a burger!

What do you do to keep the spark of childhood alive inside you?