How to slow time

Yesterday I sorted through my old Filofax from 2015 – removing all of the pages so that I could put new ones in (since I’ve decided I’m going to revive it and start using it again, even if it does make me feel like a 1980’s businesswoman). Flicking through the pages, the one thing that struck me was just how busy I was. Every day had multiple entries – gym before work, meetings all day, an appointment after work and then driving across town to meet a friend for dinner. The saddest thing is that despite all of these exciting social plans, I barely remember any of it. Because I was totally exhausted, all of the time. If I look back on those hazy times, I know that I was taking sleeping pills or painkillers to sleep, and then caffeine tablets to perk me up in the morning before a gym class. I know I wasn’t a great friend, because by Thursday or Friday I was having to cancel evening plans to collapse into bed at 6pm. My Filofax is also full of frantic to-do lists; long reams of errands to remember that I had to write down or they would fall out of my head. In between my job, being out every night and trying to keep on top of blogging, a house, planning a wedding (for the beginning of 2015) and a honeymoon, I know now I was suffering from stress and burnout.

Swatch Skin Screen*

Fast-forward to 2017 and life is very different. I knew that I couldn’t have got through the last few months amidst the chaos of my life then, and so I forced myself to slow down. In April this year I was placed on anti-depressants for ‘home-related stress’ and had to take a month off from work. I cancelled weekend and evening plans and made friends with ‘slow’. I knew it was important to take a step back from everything that was causing this feeling of chaos and lack of control. My time, suddenly became very precious. I guarded it with my life.

Though I’m back on track now; back at work and about to move out of my parents’ house and into a new life, this concept of slowing down is still incredibly important to me. I try and keep things simple at all costs and make time for ‘me’. Here are ten ways I force myself to slow down: 

1. Keep relaxing time phone free – when I take long walks in the forest, a soak in the tub or a read before bedtime I always try and put my phone aside or on airplane mode so I’m not interrupted. 

2. Declutter, declutter, declutter – having lots of ‘things’ around me makes me feel stressed and out of kilter, so I try and keep my bedroom and other relaxing spaces clutter free. 

3. Spend time outdoors – I wrote recently about mindful walking and I try and spend time outdoors every day. There’s something about being in nature that forces me to slow down. 

4. Keep a journal – I’m trying not to rush through life without taking time to reflect or be grateful, and keeping a journal helps me take time every day to be present and get things out of my brain and onto paper. 

5. Stop multi-tasking – I try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to focus only on the task I’m doing – eating breakfast without checking my phone, watching a movie without my laptop on my lap, looking at one tab on my endless Safari windows at a time, and listening to albums all the way through. I’m such a ‘flitter’ so I’m trying to train my brain to slow down a bit (a lot!) 

6. Cook more – I also wrote recently about ‘mindful cooking’ and savouring dinner time, and I’m trying to keep up that ritual of cooking a lovely meal in the evening whilst winding down from the day. 

7. Keeping flowers in the house – I’m not sure if this is necessarily a tip for ‘slowing down’ but I do really enjoy bringing nature inside, having hand-cut flowers from the garden, or a few feathers and pine cones lying around. It reminds me to be grateful for nature and the beauty all around us. 

8. Burning candles – There’s something about watching a candle flickering away in the evening that really slows down my frantic brain and makes me feel calm. 

9. Essential oils – Lavender is perfect for calming the mind and encouraging sleep, frankincense is great for stilling the mind and slowing down breathing, and rose oil is great for relaxation. You can place essential oils on your wrists or the soles of your feet, or mix them with a carrier oil like jojoba to make a massage oil or bath oil. 

10. Take a nap – I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a big fan of an afternoon nap. I love the Pzizz app for helping me sleep and allowing me to take time out of a busy day when I need to.

How do you help yourself slow down?

*Post in collaboration with Swatch watches

Crete Girls' Holiday

So - I've just realised that I haven't shared anything about my lush holiday to Crete with my awesome friend Carlie last month, what an oversight! At the moment we're just in the final stages of selling our house in Lymington and so I need to be gazing at photos of palm trees and beaches to bring a smile to my face, and I'm excited to look back on that awesome week.

My friend and I decided we needed a girl's holiday in June to lift our spirits and get away from it all for a week and by the time I was packing my suitcase I was very ready for a week of cocktails, lazing by the pool and getting stuck into my to-read pile.  We scoured various holiday websites and eventually chose the Blue Bay Resort and Spa in Agia Pelagia.  Agia Pelagia is a small village on the north coast of Crete, about half an hour from the airport in Heraklion.  We chose the hotel because it had a spa there where we were hoping to get massages and enjoy the sauna and steam room, and also because the restaurants and pools looked perfect for a relaxing, easy stay.

We flew with Easyjet from Gatwick (we got the train to the terminal and it was so easy) - in the end we arrived at the hotel about midnight and were slightly concerned when we checked in and our suitcases were then loaded into a car to be taken up a hill to a separate part of the hotel a few minutes' walk away (our room was also up about eight flights' of stairs so I felt confident I didn't need to go to the gym for a week...) Although it was a shame to be a little way away from the hotel it was nice and quiet and the views from our room were amazing.

We spent the majority of the holiday lying by the pool, gossiping over rosé spritzers and reading the stack of books we'd both brought with us.  I think I got through five books and I'm think I might do a little post reviewing the ones I read whilst away if that would be of interest? As usual for me I spent most of the day dreaming about food, and the all inclusive restaurant was really good, with tons of different options as well as ice creams, pizza and sausage rolls all day, and cake and tea in the afternoon!

We didn't do tons of exploring as our main objective was just to relax, but we did wander down into Agia Pelagia itself, which is a really pretty little town with restaurants, cocktail bars and souvenir shops.  We had drinks in a restaurant on the water and paddled in the sea (of course).

We went down into the town a couple of times for 'gyros', wine and kebabs and to raid the shops for soaps and herbs and other authentic Greek fare.  The walk down to the town was beautiful and watching the sun set over the stunning white buildings was a sight to behold.

The hotel wasn't exactly what we expected and it was a shame to be a little way from the main area, though there was a bar and pool in our section too so we could still fill up on pizza and spritzers during the day! The main disappointment was that the spa was actually closed the entire time we were there and there were a few issues with our room that needed to be resolved when we arrived.  I think if I went again I would probably go self-catering and stay in a villa - there are some beautiful home rentals with pools in Crete that look stunning (plus no getting splashed by kids in the pool!)

I really love Greece and would definitely go again, Crete was really pretty and it was nice and quiet and perfect for a girls' getaway.  Have you visited Crete?

*post contains a collaborative link

My favourite essential oils and natural remedies

As you may have seen from other blog posts, I've been on a real 'healing' journey in the last few months, exploring acupuncture, tarot, shamanism, crystal healing, making natural remedies, meditation, mindfulness and lots more.

One of the healing techniques I've been getting a lot out of is aromatherapy, and using products made with essential oils (especially making my own).  I've written before about using an aromatherapy diffuser (this is the one I have, the previous one I used broke after a few months) and having oils diffusing throughout the day - especially in the morning and before bed - is now an unmissable part of my routine.  I particularly like citrus-y scents to start the day with; oils like sweet orange, lemon or grapefruit, as well as scents like rosemary or eucalyptus.  Before bed I usually diffuse lavender, bergamot, sandalwood or cedarwood as it really calms me and gets me ready for snooze.  I also place lavender in the bath (both the oil, and sprigs of lavender from the garden) which really helps me wind down from a long day.

I've been trialling some of the Tisserand essential oil products lately and many of these are now a key part of my daily routine.  The Tisserand Happy rollerball (£5.99*) now has a permanent place in the make-up bag I keep in my handbag and is perfect to lift my spirits whenever I hit a low point during the day.  For £5.99 it's an absolute steal and contains a gorgeous blend of lemon, bergamot, lemon tea tree and nutmeg mixed with a base of jojoba oil.  I tend to use it on the inside of my wrists, temples and behind my ears and I find the scent really cheering.

It's no lie to say that the last few weeks (well - months) have been stressful, with a low point of course being signed off sick with stress back in April, and now selling our house and trying to make plans for the future has meant I can feel my stress levels rising again.  When I feel those sensations of tension and pressure and I don't think I can cope I make sure I do a breathing exercise and use the Tisserand De-Stress Mist (£8.95*) for some instant relief.  The de-stress mist contains orange, rose, geranium and nutmeg which work together to provide a sense of calm and comfort as well as an uplift and sereneness.  I spritz this all over me as well as all over the room if I'm at home and just soak it in.  I also love the Tisserand De-Stress Body Oil (£9.95) which has the double benefits of the essential oils as well as the skin soothing jojoba and moringa oil.  I'm a bit obsessed with jojoba oil at the moment and I'm using it in all of the homemade skin treats I've been making, so I was excited to see that it was the base oil for this yummy product.  It has the same essential oils as the de-stress mist and it's perfect for slathering on after a long soak in the bath to help you unwind.

Of course the first thing to suffer during a tough period is your sleep, and unfortunately this is one thing I still haven't been able to nail in the last few months.  Essential oils have greatly helped this however, and the Tisserand Sweet Dreams Pillow Mist (£12.95*) is one product I could not live without now.  I spritz it on my pillows, quilt cover and the outside of my eye mask and it truly is the most wonderful scent, it's my favourite pillow mist of the several that I've tried.  It contains lavender, sandalwood and jasmine which are three of my utter favourites so it's no surprise that I love this blend.  There's also a Sweet Dreams Bath Oil (£10.95*) which is another one that's an absolute dream to have before bed.  It contains coconut, sweet almond and jojoba which are my three favourite natural moisturisers and three that I love to add to my bath to pamper my skin.  I also owned the Sweet Dreams Essential Oil blend that I use in my diffuser prior to Tisserand kindly sending me some bits to try out and I also hugely recommend this, it's one of my favourites to diffuse before bedtime.

I would massively encourage anyone who is interested in essential oils and natural healing to explore aromatherapy further - they really are like little oils of joy and happiness and there are so many different ways to use them to complement your daily routine.  Some of the books I love for learning more about essential oils are the Neal's Yard Essential Oils book, Natural Remedies (Try It) and the Handmade Apothecary (one of my favourite books and probably the best £5.99 you'll ever spend.) I also massively recommend following Gemma Sands on instagram, she has taught me so much about essential oils!

What are your favourite essential oils or natural remedies?


Victorious Festival Ticket Giveaway

So some of you may have noticed that over the last few months of living at home I've fallen head over heels for the pretty seaside town of Southsea, and I'll be moving there next month (which I'm incredibly excited about!)  This is perfect timing for me, as at the end of August, Southsea hosts the annual Victorious Festival, a metropolitan festival of music and family entertainment, taking place over the weekend of 25 – 27 August.  Read on for how you can win tickets to this year's awesome festival...

This year, the line-up includes Stereophonics, Elbow, Madness, Rita Ora, Olly Murs, Jake Bugg, Freeder, Palace, KT Tunstall, Franz Ferdinand, Slaves, Crows, The Charlatans, British Sea Power, Echobelly, Banfi, Toy, Leo Stannard and many more.  A truly family-orientated festival there is something for everybody to enjoy; from a kid's arena to a champagne bar, to a real ale village, an eclectic range of food stalls and an arts and craft marketplace.

I'm very excited that Victorious Festival has teamed up with A Rosie Outlook to give away a pair of tickets for each day (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) plus a weekend camping ticket to this year’s festival.

To enter, all you have to do is use the Rafflcopter below.  There's tons of ways to enter and this is such an awesome giveaway - I am counting down the days to the festival and I'm particularly excited about seeing Stereophonics, Frank Turner, Pulled Apart By Horses and Frightened Rabbit, all favourites of mine.

For more information and tickets, visit www.victoriousfestival.co.uk.

T&C’s: Prize includes one pair (two tickets) of adult day tickets for each day of the festival (Friday 25th August , Saturday 26th August and Sunday 27th August) plus a pair (two tickets) of weekend camping tickets. Each ticket admits one person. One person in the group must be aged over 18 (NB children under the age of 10 years do not require a ticket). Travel is not included. The prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative will be offered. The prize is non transferable and ID will be required at time of collecting the ticket wristband upon arrival. The prize includes all free events and activities at Victorious (subject to availability) but not food and drink from any stalls or bar. Winner chosen at random.

Denim and fresh white pumps

I must say I am absolutely loving the weather this weekend - it's been so warm and full of sunshine and I have spent most of it either in the garden with a good book (oh and there might have been a bit of prosecco) or wandering around nearby Southsea.

I spent most of yesterday at home soaking up the sunshine in the back garden, fussing Henry dog reading my book on Native American Healing (I know, I'm such a geek), having a little mid-afternoon snooze and catching up on Love Island.  It was such a relaxing day and exactly what I needed - but I knew this morning that I wanted to get out and about and go for a bit of a wander rather than lolling around in the garden all day.

superga canvas pumps: £49.99* - jake shoes | denim playsuit: £7.99 - ebay

I've had my eye on some white Superga pumps for what feels like years as I'm always seeing girls looking super stylish wearing skinnies and their classic white shoes.  I bought this denim playsuit from eBay a couple of weeks ago and I knew that my new Supergas would be the perfect comfy trainers to team my playsuit with whilst mooching about Southsea.

My bag was made by my clever Mum from an old grain sack, I wish I was as crafty as her! She's always making awesome things, and this bag is the perfect beach bag for slinging all your bits and bobs in and taking out for the day.

Today was my ideal summer day out - we went for lunch at Canteen in Portsmouth (which is such an awesome lunch spot and does the best salads, pastries and cakes).  Then we wandered along to Southsea and spent some time listening to jazz at the bandstand and having a bit of a picnic of crisps, iced buns and cider! Of course the day had to be finished off with an ice cream as big as my head - that then melted down my arm and dripped into my sandal.  Maybe it's just a little bit too hot...


Slow mornings

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a green tea obsessive.  In fact my friend said to me the other that I literally 'session' green tea, drinking one after another until lunchtime.  However, at the weekends (and on Fridays now that I work four days a week), I always try and have a slower morning where I really take the time to enjoy and savour my tea, and if it's lovely weather then to spend some time outside.

I'm really lucky that, where I'm living at my parents' house at the moment, they have an absolutely stunning garden which is the perfect place to relax with a steaming green tea and my journal.  I was recently sent a gorgeous little hamper of goodies from eteaket, who make the most beautiful teas, tea kits, candles and gifts, and I've been taking time to really savour my Blooming Marvellous Sencha Green Tea.  Watching the steam curl up towards the blue morning skies, hearing seagulls calling overhead and scribbling my thoughts in my journal is such a peaceful way to start the day.

I think that so often we rush around (particularly in the mornings, when there's always a hundred things to do before we leave the house) and it feels impossible to snatch even a few moments of calm.  I'm trying really hard recently to set my alarm just ten minutes earlier to make sure I have time to complete my Morning Pages exercise and enjoy my tea rather than what usually happens, which is that I put it on the side of my bed and usually knock it on the floor when I'm trying to do my makeup!

On my Fridays off, or at the weekends, I love to have a bit of a morning ritual and find a bit of peace. This usually involves lighting a candle (the eteaket Blooming Marvellous vanilla, rose and raspberry candle), popping on my diffuser with a DoTerra Peace essential oil blend (feel free to message me if you have any essential oil questions as I'm really getting into them now!) and either read my book for ten minutes or write in my journal.  I always try and ensure I 'stay present' - listening to the sounds of the birds, watching the flowers sway in the wind, feeling grass under my feet, savouring my tea and most importantly, taking time to breathe.  The morning is the perfect time to take lots of big, deep breaths - another thing I forget to do as the day goes on!

I do really adore loose leaf tea, and the Blooming Marvellous Loose Leaf Tea is totally delicious - with rose buds, tangy fruit and gorgeous bright mallow.  It's so flavourful (which I know is something that sometimes puts people off herbal or green tea) and has so many different tastes and aspects to it.  I find that there's something about straining loose leaf too that's somehow ritualistic too - especially when you brew a pot of it and enjoy every cup.

Are you a fan of a slow morning or is the evening the moment when you choose to slow down? What's your best tip for finding a bit of peace during a busy day?