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I check my watch as I'm lacing up my trainers; one knee on the floor and an awkward upturn of the clock face tells me it's 07.27.  My stomach knots with angst, a flutter of angry butterflies that tell me I'm running late and I need to hurry.  Downstairs my bag is packed and I know the only thing left to do is sling it over my shoulder and grab my coat on the way out of the door.  I consider a last minute glug of tea but leave it emitting steam on the chest of drawers - no time for tea.  I had told myself I would leave the house at 07.30 and I literally haven't a minute to spare.

I climb into the car and the dashboard clock says 07.32.  As I turn on the windscreen de-misters my stomach churns again and I take deep breaths to stop the wave of angst from knocking me over.  I break the speed limit driving to the station, angrily tailgating a Nissan Micra in my efforts to get to the train station on time.  I arrive before quarter to 8 and finally allow myself to relax a little.  My train isn't until 8.15 and I have more than enough time to do everything I need to.  In my head I make the calculations - five minutes to get the parking ticket, five minutes to check my ticket with the guard, five minutes to find the platform - plus I'll want to be on the platform at least five minutes early.  I allow myself five minutes to sit in the car and wait, watching the rain make trails across the windscreen and keeping my eye on the clock.  I know I won't be able to relax until I'm safely settled in on the train.  I don't allow myself to retrieve my Kindle from my backpack - I know it will be too stressful to then have to re-pack my bag a few minutes later, and I've strategically arranged my belongings in the order that I'll need them; wallet at the top so I don't have to fumble around at the ticket office.

Public transport timetables aren't the only thing that make my heart race and my gut clench like some kind of awful stitch.  Sometimes it's even my own self-enforced timetables.  A few weeks ago I played a football match in the evening, and planned to go for a quick drink with teammates after the match.  It makes me feel stressed if I'm in bed much later than 11 as I know I'll be tired the next day, but on this occasion we were still in the pub at last orders, and the pub is 45 minutes from my house. Again, I couldn't relax and enjoy the time with my friends as I spent every minute watching the clock tick further towards certain tiredness.  I raced home and walked through the front door just before midnight, and then could barely sleep due this impending feeling of lateness; keeping a constant calculation as to how many hours it was until my alarm chimed the following morning.  I do this any time I'm out in the evening before work - constantly looking at the time, checking the traffic and calculating the time I need to leave to be home at a reasonable hour.  Even on a day when you might imagine I could relax - a lazy Sunday or a Saturday with no plans - I still have a countdown running of what I need to do that day, and how many hours I think it will take.  As my timer depletes, my stress levels increase, running through my to-do list in my head and feeling time run away with me.  It feels like a total loss of control, like something I can't put my hands around and hold close to my chest.

I wish I knew an easy way to counteract my 'timexiety' - a way to switch off the twist and turn of the metaphorical knife in my stomach, to stop my heartbeat speeding and my adrenaline rushing with every glance at the clock.  I try and tell myself that there's really no consequences to not meeting my allotted timetable - if I miss my train there's plenty more, if I have to go to work on six hours' sleep I'll probably survive, if I'm late for an appointment it's not a big deal.  But it doesn't make any difference.  I try and slow down my breathing, take deep inhalations, but I can't seem to stop it in its tracks.  My anxiety about time slipping away, about lateness, missed trains, long to-do lists, late bedtimes - like time itself, seems to be something I just can't control.

Giveaway and review: SAD Light Therapy Box worth £158

It's around this time of year that my mood starts to flag a little.  Waking up and gazing out of the window into the unending darkness feels uninspiring and gloomy; driving to work in lashing rain with the windscreen wipers on overdrive, watching grey clouds darken the skies mid-afternoon and feeling too tired to leave the house in the evening.  At the moment it's nice to still drive home in the light, but next weekend the clocks will go back and that will change.

I think that most people are aware of the term Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Personally I have never been diagnosed with it or sought any kind of medical advice, I just know that during Autumn and Winter (especially during the darker months), I often feel very down, lethargic and find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning.  I find myself avoiding making plans as I know I'll feel so tired in the evenings and simply want to crawl into bed.  I also often find myself feeling more anxious and having my brain go into overdrive - probably because I'm spending more time at home so I have more time to overthink things and worry.  It's estimated that 1 in 3 people suffer from SAD, with women 40% more likely to experience symptoms of the condition.

There are a few things that can be done to minimise the symptoms of SAD, including exercising, spending time outdoors, or cognitive behavioural therapy or light therapy.  Over the last couple of weeks I've been trialling the Innolux Aurora SAD Light Box from Pure Lifestyle Wonders to try and minimise the gloomy feeling I get as the mornings and evenings get darker (and you can win one for yourself if you scroll to the bottom of this post!)  You can use the Light Box by sitting 2-3 feet away from the light box and having it at eye level, and then just carrying on your normal activities such as eating, working or reading in front of it.  This Light Box is 10,000 LUX meaning that just 30-45 minutes a day is usually sufficient - and the great thing about this lamp is that it can be dimmed as mood lighting for the rest of the day so it looks pretty lovely just sat on a shelf or coffee table.

I've found that the lamp makes a huge difference to how I'm feeling - just the other day I had it on quite brightly in the morning and it made me feel as if it was light and summer-y outside even though it was still dark.  Just gazing at it whilst getting ready in the morning instantly lifted my mood.  I've really found that using it every morning has meant that I don't get the overwhelming feeling of gloominess in the mornings.

The good news is that the lovely people at Pure Lifestyle Wonders have given me a lamp to give away to a reader so that they can also feel the benefit of this amazing lamp (RRP £158.99).  I am really excited to be able to give away something that will really be able to make a difference to someone's life during these darker months (not to mention the fact that it looks lovely at home too!).  There's lots of opportunities to win - you can enter using the Rafflecopter widget below, and the giveaway ends at midnight on Monday 31 October.  It's open to UK entrants only (sorry international readers but the lamp is too large to post overseas).

Good luck!

Styling up sportswear: Fila baseball t-shirt and leggings

When I was about 13 I was a total Fila devotee.  It was the cool brand to be seen in, and I eschewed the Adidas popper trousers that the other kids wore at the weekends in favour of some ultra cool Fila tracksuit bottoms. Even cooler were some Fila hi-top basketball shoes I wore religiously (I even joined the basketball team so I would have more opportunities to wear them).  So it was of great disappointment when Fila seemed to disappear some years later, not to be spotted on the racks of the local sports shops or packed in my PE bag.

Imagine my excitement then, when I spotted some seriously awesome Fila products on the JD Sports website.  Especially with a line that includes ultra cool baseball t-shirts and slouchy sweatshirts (my favourite).  Sportswear can be a tricky thing to style up, and whilst my lazy temptation is always to go full 'gym outfit' and team it with other sportswear, I prefer an outfit that still gives me an excuse to not immediately go for a run (ha).

top: fila baseball t-shirt, jd sports, £35* / jeans: new look {similar £24.99}
adidas gazelles, asos, £75 / bag: kate spade {similar £140}
coat: poppy lux, £48

Of course I wore my new Fila top with jeans (what else), my favourite duster coat and my new Adidas Gazelles.  I don't know why I resisted adding Gazelles to my trainer collection for so long; they are ridiculously comfy and go with anything (particularly jeans, which is lucky for me).

I also wanted to find a way to bring my new Fila leggings into my weekend casual wear.  Again, I'm always tempted to team leggings with a slouchy crew neck or something else ultra casual, but this time I thought I'd try them with my new favourite H&M knitwear and my much loved camel coat.

fila leggings: jd sports, £28* / bag: primark {old} / jumper: h&m, £14.99
shoes: converse chuck taylors, asos, £45 / necklace: anthropologie {old}
coat: zara {similar: £149}

Not sure I've quite nailed the sports luxe trend - but I'm in favour of any attempt to wear gym wear at the weekends.  Are you a lover of sports wear, or do you keep it just for your gym bag?