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Mental health & Wellbeing Product Reviews

I am your friend. A book of Hope – Book Review


If you are ever feeling down or having a bad day, this wonderful little book is just what you need to pick yourself up. 

I am your friend a book of hope is packed full of colourful images with positive messages that burst of the page. They will leaving you feeling uplifted and inspired. 

This handy smaller pocket edition of the book is designed to be your perfect companion when you are out and about. You can pick it up and flick through it anywhere or share it with someone in need of cheering up. There is also a bigger hardback edition of the book. 

As soon as I opened the book I was drawn in, you can just feel the love, positivity and emotion that the author and illustrator Billie Bacall is portraying. She created this book to help lift herself out of a very difficult time in her life. In a short time period she suffered the sudden death of her husband and went through major surgery and chemotherapy. It is through drawing that she found solace and a way out of her a difficult period in her life. 

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Now she shares her drawings to uplift and inspire others to stay positive and to help them through dark times. 

After I finished reading the book I felt on a high reeling in the positive vibes. I straight away shared it with my girls and they loved the book too. 

I am your friend. A book of Hope is available to buy one Amazon

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

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Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

New Years Health & Fitness Routines – Why They Do Not Work and What We Should Be Doing

Why! Why do we do it to ourselves. With the beginning of every new year we all make these health and fitness goals that just are not sustainable. It is like we are stuck in a broken record making the same mistakes every year.

I mean, what is it about January that makes us all focus about our health and fitness anyway?

Is it that we have all over indulged too much at Christmas and start to feel guilty so once January hits we go on diets but surely calories don’t count in December, right.

Or it could be that come the 1st January everywhere you go they are selling gym equipment, food supplements and gym clothes, even Aldi best buys are taken over by the January get fit quick idea. Everywhere you look there is adverts for gym membership trying to pressures us to make the change and newspapers and magazines are packed full of articles on how to be super fit and healthy. 

I mean how many times have you bought a piece of equipment or gym membership with the best intentions and once January has ended it has gone to waist never to be used again? 

Well I can tell you now that you are not the only one! 

It turns out that the second Saturday of February is statistically known as ‘fall of the wagon day’ as identified by Citylab and Foursquare research. 

To be honest even that is good going we are only on the 4th January and I have already given in on eating healthy and finished a box of Lindt chocolates to myself.

Now I am all for getting healthy and sustaining a fitness routine and I do actively promote these but I feel that every January there is so much pressure put on us to change literally overnight from eating chocolates for breakfast still on 31st December to then be eating avocados and rye bread from the 1st January. 

I do want to be healthier and fitter and I do encourage everyone to else as well to take the steps towards living a healthier life. However it needs to be done slowly and over the course of the year so it is more sustainable. 

If we ease into it and implement small changes then it will be so much easier to keep. If you are going from doing no exercise at all and then all of a sudden you are doing 5 days a week of exercise I doubt you will be able to keep this going. It is better to start off with one day a week of exercise then as the weeks/months go on slowly increase to 2-3 days. 

The same with diet don’t go jumping in on the newest fad diet that you just won’t be able to keep up. Start by making small healthy changes like maybe eating a healthier breakfast, drinking more water and then slowly build on this. 

If we can all slowly build on small sustainable health & fitness steps then by next New Year we won’t need to make these radical New Years health resolutions as we will already be at are prime health and fitness levels.

My January small steps that I have made is to start ordering weekly fruit and veg boxes from our local green grocer to ensure we are all getting more in our diet and instead of signing up for gym membership I have signed the whole family back up to National Trust membership to get us back out visiting these beautiful places and going out for walks again around the grounds.  

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What small steps are you going to make to work on your long term health goals?

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Why not take a look at my other posts –

Why I turned Vegetarian and my journey on cutting out meat

Being a writer with Dyslexia

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

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Inspirational People Mental health & Wellbeing

Body Image/ Body Confidence photo shoot with MIBA (Mum’s in Business Association) Somerset

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I recently took part in the MIBA Somerset body confidence photo shoot which was at the stunning Thorney Lakes campsite in Somerset.

I have to admit when Elsie the Coordinator for MIBA Somerset was looking for people to be part of the event I was not the first to volunteer. In fact I nearly didn’t go as I didn’t think I could do it.

A few years ago I hated having my picture taken and couldn’t even look at myself in a picture even looking in the mirror was hard work. Although I have come a long way since then I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to make the leap to being in a photo shoot especially not in my bikini and knowing that the picture would be all over Facebook for the world to see..

At first the date of the event was on a day I couldn’t make, so I was quite relieved that I had an excuse not to go..

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The date then changed to a date that I had nothing else going on so I could make it and didn’t have a valid excuse. I saw a couple of posts on The MIBA Somerset Facebook group asking people to join the event but I couldn’t bring myself to sign up. It was when I saw the last post the day before the event and there were a lot of comments saying people couldn’t make it. It was then that I thought I had to go as I know how much thought and effort Elsie puts into every event and I know she would have gone all out for this so I decided I would do it.

I am so glad that I did go, I have gained so much out of it. The event really has given me a boost of confidence, I don’t even wear bikinis at the beach so to be able to stand in front of a camera in one is a huge achievement.

Body confidence is such an important topic and as I have all daughters I need to show them that the pictures they see in magazines of women are not real life. It is time we taught the next generation what real women look like without the photo shopping and that they are still beautiful.

At the photo shoot I was joined by so many amazing women and together we spurred each other on and the results are amazing. We have shown that it is possible to have beautiful photos of real women without the airbrushing.

Our photographer OJL Photography was brilliant and along with Elsie’s creativity they have produced great photos to really highlight Body Confidence and show that the women that took part are beautiful just the way they are.

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I have put together a short video of the event, again I was so nervous recording myself talking that I didn’t think I would even have the confidence to post this video but after the photo shoot I feel that it is important to share and move out of my comfort zone.

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Love the skin your in

Why I turned Vegetarian and my journey on cutting out meat

Being a writer with Dyslexia

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

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Mental health & Wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week – I Share the Struggles I Have Had This Week

As you may well know this week is mental health awareness week which is so important. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the last week would have experienced a mental health problem, that is an alarming number of people and unfortunately it is a growing issue. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-uk-and-worldwide

I have written a number of posts in the past on self-care and ways to help with mental health issues for both children and adults but today I had to put my own advice to good use as today I had a little breakdown.

It was caused by a build up of lots of little things that all together ended up breaking me.

Today started with me struggling to get out of bed, rushing to write a blog post while eating my breakfast and getting my girls ready for school. Then my computer at work played up most of the day, I ended up with a headache and also in the back of my mind I was worrying about my impending redundancy when our office closes next March and what the hell I am going to do with my life. 

To top it all off when I got home my girls were just on my case moaning and arguing that in the end I just burst into tears while trying to hang out the washing.

After having a sob I did feel a little better but I decided to make a cup of tea and go and sit on my own in the garden with my feet in the grass for a bit. I did feel so much better and calmer afterwards but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to sit there any longer as I had dinner to make, children to drop at Brownies and shopping to do so I had to get a move on.

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Somehow I had managed to do everything in record time that after I had finished shopping there was still some time left before my girls were bought back from Brownies so I decided to go for a quick run. If I am honest I didn’t really want to go and at that point I would have preferred to sit down and eat a big bar of chocolate but I knew deep down I would regret it later so I pushed myself to go.

I am so glad I did as my mind is so much clearer now and I feel like a different person. Although some of my troubles are still there I am in a much better frame of mind to tackle them and they don’t feel as daunting as they did a few hours ago.

When you are feeling down and stressed exercise is probably the last thing that you want to do but if you can just get over the initial hurdle of getting yourself up, as soon as you start exercising you will feel 10 x better, it definitely works for me.

Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-benefits-of-exercise/

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Looking back I don’t think I have been in the right frame of mind for a couple of days. When I was thinking of ideas of what to write as a blog post for mental health awareness week I wrote this in my notebook last night ‘To me mental health awareness week is about accepting that life is hard and can be shit at times. At some point these times will affect us as there is only so much we can take’. I should have realised when I wrote this that something was up and that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. However it is so true there is only so much we can take until we break so it is important to implement self-care and take time out when possible. Hopefully next time I will take my advice before I start feeling down.

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Love the skin your in

Self-care tips for busy parents

The Benefits of Journaling

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Ways to help children improve their mental health and well-being

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

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Product Reviews

Book Review of Cassandra Farren’s ‘The Girl Who Refused To Quit’ and ‘Rule Your World

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I have been reviewing the touching and motivational books “The Girl Who Refused To Quit” and “Rule your world” by author and Reiki master Cassandra Farren (Cassie Farren).

Her first book “The Girl Who Refused To Quit” is so raw, down to earth and touching as Cassie shares the highs and lows of her life and how no matter what was thrown at her she refused to quit.

Throughout the book you can really feel the emotions through her writing and although you can feel her sadness when she hits rock bottom (not once, not twice but three times) you can also feel the determination she has to carry on. The love she has for her two son’s provides her passion to push on through the sad times to not let them down.

Despite the heartache you feel for Cassie at her low points this book is so uplifting and positive that it shows with the right mindset you can get through anything that life throws at you.

Cassie also shares her issues she has had with work, from working stressful jobs and having to leave her son in childcare (something I am sure a lot of Mums can relate to) then giving it all up to work happily as a part time cleaner for years until being made redundant to then start on her journey of being self employed and building a business which was not without its setbacks.

Cassandra is a strong and truly inspiring lady and has showcased it by writing this powerful and motivational book that makes an aspiring and uplifting read.

You can order your copy from Amazon by clicking here.

In Cassie’s second book “Rule your world” she has used all of her past experiences and knowledge to create a self-help book that combines her real life stories with scientific studies to provide the readers with the 7 rules that will help you raise your self-awareness to empower a calmer and more fulfilling way of life.

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The rules are very simple but are so often overlooked and pushed aside as we are all often too busy to implement self-care. If you are looking to de-stress and regain control of your life this book is for you. 

It is easy to follow and showcases that making a few small changes to our lives can make a big impact on our health and well-being. You will be given the steps to create your own “toolbox for life” that will help you focus on yourself and give you ways to help bring you out of the darkness on to a path of empowerment and self-discovery.

You can order your copy on Amazon by clicking here.

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Parenting Advice

It is OK to have a lazy day every now and then.

I always feel that on weekends and especially on Bank holiday weekends our family should be doing something special like visiting a new place, going on a beautiful walk, making something or doing an activity.

I often feel that if we haven’t done something that day then it has been wasted and I have let everyone down. Today was one of those days, I wanted for us all to go out and make some memories but no one really wanted to move. All of us were knackered, the weather was cold, we don’t have a lot of money as we are going on holiday in 2 weeks and we just couldn’t be bothered.

I think social media plays a huge part in making us feel like we should be doing more as you only really see post when people/families have done something or gone somewhere exciting you don’t see people posting that they spent the day watching telly and doing the washing. However the real-life truth is we can’t do all these things all the time we have to have the boring days of doing nothing to be able to enjoy and look forward to the fun days.

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At first I was worried that my girls were missing out on an opportunity to do something over the bank holiday but then I looked at them chilled out playing on the computers and I then realised that they need days like these, they are happy and not moaning and we could all do with a down day there is nothing wrong with having one every now and again..

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So instead the girls all played computer games, I did the housework and then we did a bit of roller skating. Even though we didn’t go anywhere we still all had a good day. It also means we were able to save money so we will now have a bit more to spend and enjoy our holiday with.

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Children's Crafts and Activities Mental health & Wellbeing

Art is Good for the Soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Art is a brilliant way to relax and unwind and it is also great for mental health. You don’t have to be a talented artist creating masterpieces to be able to feel the benefits of art.

I love art but I am definitely no artist, my children can draw and paint better pictures than me but I really enjoy drawing, painting and making things. I also enjoy sitting down with my girls (when I can drag them away from their tablets) and all doing an art activity together.

For me I just love losing myself in what I am creating and forgetting about everything else going on. After I have finished I am always in a calmer and happier frame of mind. Adult colouring books are also a great way to engage in art and creativity but if you don’t have one a pen and paper can be just as beneficial.

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”Pablo Picasso

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The benefits of Art

Art can help relieve stress

Whether it is in the form of drawing, painting or colouring, participating in art is a great way to lower your overall stress levels and help you to feel much better mentally. Art will provide your brain a distraction to what issues you have going on around you and allow you to live in the moment focusing on what you are creating instead.

Art will encourage brain activity

Creating art helps to stimulate all sorts of connections between the different brain cells in your body.  A study done in Germany shows that two hours of active mental stimulation six days a week can help slow the cognitive decline you get with dementia. https://arts4dementia.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/

Art can help boost your self-esteem and provide you with a sense of accomplishment

When you create art it increases the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine which has been called the ‘motivation molecule’. This can help boost your drive, focus and concentration, it also stimulates the creation of new neurons and prepares your brain for learning.

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When I bought my girls their sketchbooks I also got myself one too and I will happy sit drawing with them. We do quite often all sit down together and put on a YouTube video and follow the steps to draw a certain character.

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The best thing about art is that there is no right or wrong to how you do it, each piece created is unique and individual. So next time you are feeling stressed or looking for a way to relax and unwind pick up the pencils and get creative.

If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –

Window Sticker Activity for Children

Children’s Halloween Craft Ideas

Rainy Day Children’s Crafts and Activities

Children’s Christmas Decoration Craft Ideas

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

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Mental health & Wellbeing

The Benefits of Switching Off from your Electronic Devices

I recently worked myself into the ground and was feeling worse for wear. I had worked every day for a month at both my day job which I work Monday to Friday and then my book/blog writing business in the evenings and weekends all of which requires looking at a computer or phone screen for many hours.

It got to the point where I started to feel a bit sick when I looked at the screen. So I knew then that I needed to take a break.

When we go on family outings or days out I never take my phone out of my pocket and can easily go for hours without looking at it but we can’t really sustain these trips every week so on the days we only go out for part of the day the rest of it I would be looking at a screen, working away.

So on Friday evening I switched off my phone and didn’t even look at it until Saturday evening and even then it was a quick social media update on my blog page then back off again. I know not a complete switch off but at least it was a step in the right direction for me.

I instead went for a walk with the kids, did some yoga and baked a lemon drizzle cake with my girls and I feel so much better for it. My head feels so much clearer now. I am definitely going to switch off more often at least one day over the weekend. Even when my girls were out playing with their friends I chose to listen to music or read a book rather than put the TV on.

The Benefits of Powering Down

Helps you relax – turning off and shutting down from technology allows your brain to relax. It is so easy keep checking into your phone or tablet every now and then to see what is going on in the world of social media. It is all too easy to worry about what you might be missing and want to stay connected. However by setting yourself a time frame where you stay away from technology and have them turned off or on silent then you can relax and not worry what every beep or ring might indicate.

Improves sleep – Studies have shown that screen time can be a factor in poor sleep. The brain creates a hormone called melatonin that regulates are sleep and awake cycles but when we look at screens at night it can affect are melatonin levels and our body’s think that we are not ready for sleep. https://www.alaskasleep.com/

Reduced body pain – looking down at a screen all the time can be bad for your neck and spine which can result in pain. The term ‘tech neck’ is used to describe the pain we get in these areas from excessive electronic use.

You are more aware of your surroundings – when you turn away from electronics and unplug for a while you are getting rid of a distraction and you will find that you then take in more of what’s around you.

Addiction – It is amazing how addictive we all are to technology and the thing is you never realise how much until you take it away. Although I wasn’t going into a hot flush and having the shakes trying to stop myself looking at my phone I did find that every now and then I would think about checking my phone and had to talk myself down from not looking at it. It then took me a few minutes going over in my head if I should look at my phone or not before deciding against it. Switching off for that long wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

Why not give it a go and unplug for a few hours or maybe a whole day and see the benefits for yourself.

I would love to hear how you get on from unplugging please do drop a comment below and share your experience below.

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Love the skin your in

Self-care tips for busy parents

The Benefits of Journaling

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Ways to help children improve their mental health and well-being

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.


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Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

Finding the balance for children between screen time and playing outside

As modern day parents we are facing a new dilemma with our children and the boom of electronics. In this day and age it is important for our children to be familiar with electronics and how they work. By having a good knowledge of electronics will help them in the future.

However it is also important for them to be outside playing, interacting with other children and being imaginative by thinking up their own games. This will help keep them fit, healthy, develop motor skills and also help improve their well-being and happiness. Read my post on the Benefits of nature and how to enjoy them post for more info on the importance of people outside.

It is so hard to find the balance or even to know what the balance should be. How much is too much time on their tablets? I have looked into it and all the advice I can find is that appropriate time limits should be set however some places say no more than 2 hours a day and some say less than 2 hours a day. My girls are early risers so they could do this before I even get out of bed especially on the weekend.

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If I let them they would happily spend all day zombified to their tablets/computers and although they may moan once they are outside playing they are happy children climbing trees and playing with each other in the park like we used to do as children.

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They even got their uncle into playing Roblox with them

Although I still don’t think I have the balance right here are something I have found that help.

1. In the weekday mornings they are not allowed to touch electronics until they are completely ready for school they are normally slow at getting ready so most mornings they never even get to go on their tablets. This is also a great way to get them ready for school on time.

2. After school we have the rule of no electronics until after dinner although annoyingly they do still get round this sometimes as they have homework that needs to be done on a computer, but generally this works really well. They will go out to play burn off some energy and then after dinner they can have a chill time on their electronics before heading to bed. On days with bad weather they play games or do some drawing.

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3. Weekends however are a lot harder as I want to be more relaxed with them but they would easily spend the whole day looking at the screen if I let them. They are on their electronics from the point of waking up until I decide they have been on them to long and send them out to the park. Some of the games they play or YouTube videos they watch are good and they can learn from them but others are just a load of rubbish that I am pretty sure has no benefit to them at all.

I have to admit that they probably do spend more than the 2 hours a day on their electronics over the weekend. After having breakfast they are normally on them until about 10/11am when we then take them out or I send them out to play with their friends. Unless the weather is really bad they will stay outside for most of the day just playing and being children. Then they will go back on their tablets in the evening sometimes for another 2 hours. In the summer however we are pretty much out for the whole weekend and they barely even look at their electronics. On the weekends I try to again limit their electronic use to just morning and evenings.

What tips do you have for finding a balance please comment below.

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Love the skin your in

Self-care tips for busy parents

The Benefits of Journaling

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Ways to help children improve their mental health and well-being

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Categories
Mental health & Wellbeing Parenting Advice

Self-care tips for busy parents

As busy parent’s we can often find our days are like a never ending to do list, as soon as we have finished one thing it is straight on to the next.

As well as looking after our children, there is cleaning, chores and for some of us work to fit in as well. With life being so busy it is hard to remember to take time out for ourselves to ensure that we have some me time and do not become run down.

As parents we tend to put our self-care last and focus more on our children’s care when in fact taking care of ourselves should be number 1 priority as when we our burnt out we are unable to care for the rest of the family.

As they say in the airplane safety briefing before the plane takes off, ‘always put your breathing mask on first before helping others’, they say this for the simple fact that if you take care of yourself first you are then in a better position to help others afterwards. The same goes for self-care, look after yourself first then you will be in a better position to give your children the best care.

I have to admit I have not been the best at self-care and often put myself last but I have been making more of an effort lately and have noticed the improvement in family life, when I am chilled and happy so is the rest of the family.

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How to factor in self-care?

Take 10

With our busy lives, time is always an issue when trying to fit in self-care and we can’t take a few hours off every day to refresh. This is where we need to ensure that we take at least 10 mins to ourselves a day. I have incorporated this into my everyday routine with a tea break. Everyday after finishing work and getting back from school run I will make a cup of tea and sit down on the sofa and drink it slowly. If anyone wants anything from me they are going to have to wait until I have finished. It is amazing what just a 10 minute refresh can do for your mind and body.

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Exercise

Exercise is a great way to clear our heads and help us stay focused. If you are feeling stressed then a great way to unwind is yoga. Yoga has the unique ability to help melt away stress and help your mind to focus on what is important. It will leave you feeling calm and relaxed and after doing it regularly you will feel healthier and stronger. (For more on yoga take a look at my post Why parents need yoga)

Going for a walk or a run is also a great way to get some you time because as well as getting exercise you are also getting fresh air.  

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Taking time out to go to the gym, an exercise class or any type of exercise that you enjoy will leave you feeling energised and invigorated and ready to take on the challenges life throws at us.

Planning

I know planning can seem an odd thing to put for self-care but sometimes if we really look at our busy lives and take the time to sit down and plan out our week you will find that you can slot in a few hours here and there for ourselves. Whether that would be in the morning before the children wake up, a little time while they are at school/nursery or when they have gone to bed. If you usually spend this time filled with chores plan in that one day a week you are going to forget all about the chores and take some time for yourself.

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If you are looking for a good planner take a look at my

post on The ultimate Diary Planner.

Hobbies

Find a hobby that you enjoy doing and set yourself some time during the week to carry it out. I love to read so every night before I go to sleep I sit up and read a bit of my book, some nights I can only manage a page or two as I am so tired and other days I can read for hours. There are lots of hobbies out there like knitting, drawing, baking, listening to music the list is endless you just need to find something you enjoy and try to set some time aside to do it.

Music

Music for me is one of the best ways for me to de-stress and go into my own little world. Even if I am still doing the housework putting my headphones on and dancing around the kitchen whilst mopping is the perfect way to forget your troubles. I also quite often put the radio on in the morning while we are all getting ready as I feel it motivates us more and I also listen to my i-pod on my walk to and from work which helps me relax and switch off for a few minutes. (For more on how music can benefit families read my post on how music brings families together)

Baths

Now this maybe a lot higher on some peoples list but for me baths are very rare. I am a shower person as they are quick, easy and get the job done and I don’t have much time for baths. That being said when I am feeling run down taking the time to have a nice warm relaxing bath can really help.

We are all different and all have our own unique ways to help us relax and unwind, whatever they maybe we all need to ensure that we are setting aside some time no matter how big or small in our busy lives to take care of ourselves.

Why not take a look at my other posts –

Love the skin your in

The Benefits of Journaling

Art is good for the soul (even if you are not very good at it)

Ways to help children improve their mental health and well-being

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.