Self-care month Day 2

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Here’s todays email,

Hi gang!

I am getting really excited about really getting into self-care month now. Yesterday was reflective and easy and today we are going to try another small 5 minute task. This time with a little bit more effort.

So todays task is about movement. I understand that the word exercise can rub people up the wrong way so were going to stick with ‘movement’ and i kind of mean something else anyway.
What do I mean by movement? I mean find a solid 5 minute block of time (yes, just 5 minutes!) and move for the whole time. Either walking, running, dancing, hula-hooping, swimming, cleaning even, playing football with the kids, dancing to a family favourite with them, get your yoga mat out or anything. Whatever floats your boat or whatever you can find in that space of time. Cont…

For more click here to get the full free download of ‘self-care month’ now all as one handy ebook ‘The Self-care Manual’ when you sign up for my newsletter

Imogen x

Most Important Tasks

In my Leonie Dawson workbook that I filled out at the beginning of this year there was a page called

12 Zen Habits (From Leo Babuta at Zen habits.net)

They are all pretty useful and zen and go as follows

  1. Set your 3 MIT’s (most important tasks) each morning
  2. Single task (focus your attention)
  3. Zero inbox
  4. Process emails once a day
  5. Exercise 5-10 mins a day
  6. Work while disconnected
  7. Keep your desk decluttered
  8. Clear & declutter home for 15 mins a day
  9. Stick to a 5 sentence limit on emails (make your words powerful)
  10. Say no to commitments & requests not on your important short list
  11. Eat fresh fruit & veg everyday
  12. Follow a morning routine

I think we can all pretty much agree that these ‘Zen Habits’ are worth thinking about as we go through our days. In fact I have them stuck on the wall in front of me right this very second look

zenhabits

My favourite one is number 1. I actually do use this one every day now. Having 3 MIT’s is great because it isn’t overwhelming. It its an endless to do list. It is just what actually matters to you the most on that day. Sometimes there is time for more. Some days I have achieved my MIT’s by 11am and I have the rest of the day to frolic..or whatever. I take 5 minutes every morning to figure out what the 3 tasks are for that day that i definitely need to do. If i think of 4 i have to choose which ones are the most necessary to my day.

Todays MIT’s for example are

  • Write blog post
  • Go to appointment
  • Start assignment

Today is pretty standard actually. Often my 3 MIT’s have something to do with self-care (appointment-actually for hypnotherapy) something for my business (today-write blog post) and often something to do with studying because there is basically always something I really need to do for that.

Other days, I know immediately that My number 1 priority is self care. Sometimes my MIT is actually to find time for a quick nap, or a bath, or just to read alone for a while. On days when I’m not feeling that great I know that that needs to be taken care of first.

Some days it is to do something fun with my family, to visit my grandma, to clean something, to business plan, to organise something for charity, to find time for yoga or a walk or to write in my journal if I haven’t done that for a while, to create something if i haven’t done that for a while.

You get the picture. I need to sit down each morning and actually give myself a few minutes to think about what the day holds in store for me and how I can work out when to do my MIT’s.

Why don’t you try it? Could you list 3 MIT’s today?

Peace out,

Imogen x

P.S.

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12 Tips for better sleep

Hello again wonderful readers.

I’m not feeling so good today. The smallest of my children decided to be awake and crying for most of the night on monday, I know that was 2 days ago but haven’t recovered still. It takes me a while to get over such a big sleep disturbance. I am irritable, fuzzy, I can’t concentrate and every body else suffers for it. There really isn’t much I can do besides have a few earlier nights to make up for it. Do you do that? I can easily go to bed half an hour early but any more and I struggle to sleep through or a wake up super early. I know some people swear by having a super early night once a week at least. I can’t really do that. It throws me off for quite a while. So for me, I’m afraid, lost sleep is just lost and I won’t find it again. I have to spend a few days being gentle with myself to help me through and sometimes a 10 minute snooze on the couch but not more, or again, my sleep pattern will suffer.

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I need 9 hours sleep a night. I have an active lifestyle because I send the majority of my day running after my small children. I think everyone can just about work out what the right amount of sleep is for them. Sleep apps like Sleep Cycle are a super help. You switch the app on and place it next to or just under your pillow while you sleep. By measuring how much you are moving around at any point in the night it will analyse when you’re nearly awake and wake you during your more awake time rather than your fast asleep time-when it is the hardest to wake up. It shows you graphs and stats about your nights sleep and they can be pretty useful, it was because of this that I realised even though I was getting a lot of sleep the quality wasn’t what it should be. Which is why I was really suffering with so much tiredness last year.

If we are getting the right amount of sleep it can really effect so many parts of our lives including

  • Mood
  • Energy
  • Diet
  • Concentration
  • Immune system
  • Blood pressure

If you struggle to get the right amount of sleep or the right quality of sleep there are things that can help you. When I went to counselling for stress/anxiety/depression they covered a big section on how to improve sleep because unsurprisingly these are more likely to develop when you are having trouble sleeping.

Here are a few tips I learnt to help get better sleep

  1. Cut out caffeine. At my worst I could easily sink 8 cups of coffee a day. I had headaches daily, huge crashes in energy levels, terrible concentration and bad sleep patterns. I cut caffeine out completely which was pretty hard, I had lots of withdrawal symptoms and was horrible for quite a few days but when I had got through that, it was actually amazing. I was thinking clearer than I had in months, I had more energy in the evenings to spend time with my family, I wasn’t as irritable, I didn’t get headaches, my skin was so much clearer. Nowadays I have the odd cup of caffeinated tea on occasion when there might not be a decaf option but I never rely on it and I never use it as fuel for my body, its just not good for you. Oh and on the counselling course there was link noted between the big caffeine drinkers and panic attacks! For anyone who’s ever suffered with one of those they will know they are well worth avoiding.
  2. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, within 15 mins or so. Keeping to this kind of sleep schedule will help your body to know when its time to sleep and how much sleep you usually get. This goes for lie ins too. Ever get that feeling when you’ve had too much sleep? This can also ruin your sleep quality the next night. If I get a rare night out and I go to bed late I still get up within half an hour of the usual time (I have small children-go figure) it helps me to get better sleep the next few nights if I avoid a big lie in.
  3. Exercising regularly can increase the quality of sleep and will help you to feel tired when it’s the right time for bed.
  4. Switch off electronics for an hour before bed. The bright backlit screens keep your mind and eyes awake and make it harder to switch off when you get in bed.woman-653892_1280
  5. Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only. That means no films, no TV, nothing but relaxing. Reading is great before bed as long as its nothing too stimulating.
  6. Hot drinks. Try herbal tea or warm milk. Hot chocolate can be a bit sugary for before bed.woman-601568_1280
  7. A hot shower or bath will relax your whole body and the increase in body temperature can really make you feel sleepy.
  8. Don’t let the bedroom get too hot. Keep a window slightly open all night if you can or if its really cold just let some fresh air in until you are ready to go to sleep. Overheating in bed can be a big problem with staying asleep.
  9. Writing things down. If you have a lot of thoughts going through your mind while you are trying to sleep, leave the room briefly, get a pen and paper and spend 10 minutes writing every tiny thing that comes into your head, even if it doesn’t seem important. Get it out and you’ll have less to distract you from just relaxing.
  10. If you do find yourself tossing and turning then don’t check the time. Just don’t. You will never be able to relax knowing just how much sleep time you have left and trying to force it.
  11. Burning essential oils in your bedroom before you sleep is helpful for helping you to relax. Lavender is always a good one to make you feel sleepy but also ylang ylang and sandalwood are really relaxing.
  12. Meditation can help you learn to relax your mind and not focus on your thoughts. If you want to learn to meditate I fully recommend the app Headspace as a good place to start.

All of these tips are things I do for myself. I know how important it is that I get the right quality and amount of sleep so I pass these ideas on from experience. I hope they can help you as much as they help me continuously.

Imogen x

P.S. I am currently working on a life-balance ebook which will be released on Monday May the 4th. More info on that coming soon….

P.P.S. I have some new photos of myself floating about the website which my brilliant friend Gary took for me. Hope you enjoy!

LifeBalance2

Peace x

Motivation to Exercise

It’s hard to get the motivation to exercise. It’s hard to find time. Or it’s easy to use that as an excuse! I haven’t made a roper exercise routine before which is why i fluctuate between going hell for leather and months of nothing. It’s easy to come up with excuses not to do it. But there are many more reasons I should be doing it.

Last night I went out for a run/. And I enjoyed it! (Shocker!) According to my RunKeeper App it was the fastest and furthest run I have ever done. I felt Proud of myself, still do in fact. Today I feel more awake, I slept better than normal and I am not beating myself up about what I am eating all day.

I am going to go out for another run tonight. Here are a few tips for motivation that are working for me.

  • Make a playlist that really gets you going, whatever it is that makes you feel fired up. I actually mouth the words while running too 😉 it seems to help with that extra push.
  • Download RunKeeper (or equivalent) apps. You can log other sports in there too, track progress and set goals. I have started with a small goal-to run 5 miles altogether in as many runs as I need. The plans are good too, you can work towards a 5k or other goals and the app actually plans for you when to run, for how long etc. And as you’re running a lovely voice tell you how far you have been and how fast you are going.
  • Reward yourself. So I heard that chocolate soya milk is a good post-workout snack. And my god its delicious. So I have decided that after every run I can relax with a cool glass of chocolate soya milk while I recover. I have also decided that when I hit my goal on run keeper that I am going to buy myself a little something pretty to wear while running, a new top, new leggings, new trainers. I may even work towards other workout stuffs too!
  • Don’t beat yourself up. If you can’t go. If you go but turn back because you aren’t feeling up to it then don’t worry. Maybe that particular exercise isn’t for you. Something out there will be. Get experimenting and enjoy it.

Please comment with any questions or encouragement!

Thanks, Imogen ❤

Evening routine

Following on from my post yesterday about creating a weekly routine I want to talk about creating an evening routine. If you work in the day or look after your family then evenings are sacred time. They are your important time for relaxing and regenerating. If you’re tired (I certainly am) then it’s easy to want to spend your evening in front of the TV. I understand that and I do that sometimes too. That’s fine now and then but what I want to suggest is that you also use this time for personal growth, hobbies, socialising, exercise, creating and self care.

What I do first is make a list of 5 or more tasks that I feel I don’t have enough time for, or areas of my life that are getting neglected. My list looks like this

  • Crafting/painting
  • Self care
  • Socialising
  • Quality time for my relationship with my husband
  • Exercise
  • Time spent in nature
  • Reading

Now I work out how to fit this things into my evenings. I choose one per day, it doesn’t have to be rigid, for example if the weather is good I will go for a walk and tick off some time spent in nature. Sometimes I can’t get out for a walk on my own if I am on my own with the kids and I’ll have to work that time into another part of my week. Here’s how a normal week night could work:

At 7:40pm both children are in bed and I have cleared up all the pots and toys from the day. If i can go out I would go straight out for swimming, or to a friends for a cup of tea, out for a meal with friends, or for a short walk down to the river. If I am at home I could get the paints out or make something from my Crafts To Do board on Pinterest. On a Thursday, as I have said before I like to make time to pamper myself a bit (see Pamper evening post). On Wednesdays I make time to watch a film. If Mr.H is around it gives us quality time together which is something we can top up at the weekend. Generally, any one of these activities normally lasts from half an hour to 2 hours, which then gives me time watch something on TV then to read a bit before I go to bed. I very rarely go to bed later than 10:30pm. I would stay up longer and do more if I could but I know that if I do stay up longer I will pay for it in tiredness the next day.

I think everyone knows how much sleep they need and how much they can fit in to an evening. You have to use your intuition to figure out whether you are trying to fit in too much or if you are too tired to do much one evening. My belief is that this time is precious and often overlooked as a time to be productive in your hobbies or socialising. Why not try it for a while and see if you can pull another few hours of activity out of your day? For any more help or advice on creating routines and fitting more into your life then email me at imogenjhope@gmail.com

Much love,

Imogen x

Daily routine



Well I am back online finally. Now I intend to do more with this blog and make it into the network of helpful tips, ideas, and advice on how to balance your life and make space for all the wonderful things you dream of doing but feel like you never have time for. Like, for example, myself-working on this blog, running my house, looking after 2 children, doing a degree, creating and looking after myself. All very important aspects of my life!

I’ve said it before but I don’t think I can ever say it enough. Routines are there as guidelines. Do not allow it to control you. Let it be flexible. If something comes up that you hadn’t planned DO NOT WORRY, just get on with it and come back to your routines when you can. When you keep on top of things that you need or want to do the odd day where you don’t follow it won’t make as much impact on how much you can get done.

I reworked my daily routines last week as it is something that needs doing often when my life changes regularly. I have vague distinctions between days because of different commitments etc. And my version has a lot more specific detail but i’m sure you don’t actually need to know what days I wash my hair or paint my toenails etc! (Yes, I am that organised! If i don’t plan toe-nail-painting I will never do it!) But, anyway, here is a basic version of my weekdays.

7am-8:20-Getting ready for school/put a load of washing on/school run

8:45-10am-Wash up breakfast pots/cleaning tasks for the day (will include how i separate cleaning tasks through the week on another post)/Tuesdays I nip to the shops or market for any bits I have run out of

10am-11:30-Usually go out with baby to My grandmas/playgroup/park/swimming/the library

11:30-Lunch

12pm-1pm-Blog/craft while baby naps

2pm-Exercise, usually hula hoop, yoga, Pilates just at home

3pm- 3:30-School run/homework

3:30pm-5pm-Play games/play in the garden/read together

5pm-7pm-Eat tea/clean up/watch TV

7pm-7:40-Getting kids ready for bed and getting them to sleep.

I will post specifics about evening routines on another post. This is a really important time (especially for parents of young children) to look after themselves, to relax and to create things for themselves. Sometimes studying or work runs over into these times but thats ok. As long as we get some time to really do what it is that makes us who we are or who we want to be.

If you need any help creating your own routines then please contact me via the contact page or email imogenjhope@gmail.com, I would love to help you.

Have a gorgeous day,

Imogen

Enjoying exercise

Well we all know exercising is important. For our mental and physical health, it is something that we all should be doing. I have never loved exercise. I have forced myself to the gym in the past, I went through a phase of doing workout DVD’s at home but I don’t think I ever enjoyed a minute of it, except the mental & physical wellbeing, but during, definitely not.

I kind of believed that maybe I just wasn’t a person who liked to exercise. I knew I had to do it but with the limited options available to me it wasn’t going to be fun. And that is when I struggled to fit it in. When I let it go and put it lower down in my priorities.

So recently I have been on a mission to find exercise that I enjoy, when it was only very recently that I thought maybe I didn’t have to hate every moment I spent exercising. A revelation! Here are the kinds of exercises I find fun now;

  • Hula hooping. My number one. I do it every day. Sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for longer. Actually it is much harder work that I thought it would be. It feels a bit like being back at school in the playground which I think my inner child loves.
  • Yoga. Obviously yoga is a spiritual, mental and physical practise which makes it an even more worthwhile way to exercise. For me, I particularly love the feeling of calm and the way my muscles feel after they have been stretched. Also I am constantly amazed by the positions I can get my body into and want to do more.
  • Running. I don’t do it often. I don’t enjoy it that much, but again, its a kind of fascination of how far I can push my body. It amazes me that people run marathons and just keep going for hours and hours, although I don’t think I ever will. I really enjoy that feeling of deep breath in my lungs that doesn’t come with other exercise.
  • Swimming. Swimming is relaxing, I never really exert myself when I am swimming, I don’t count lengths or time myself. I just swim until I’m done then sit in a jacuzzi for 15 minutes. Super relaxation.
  • Dancing. I’ve never had a professional dance lesson but love a dance on a night out. That counts right? Would definitely try lessons as the kids get older too.
  • Walking. I live in Cheshire, there are a lot of beautiful nature walks surrounding the area. Typically, I have never taken too much advantage of them, but have many happy childhood memories of exploring local beauty spots. One of my new years resolutions is to see more of these places and I fully intend to follow it through. It will be amazing when we move this week, we’ll be living right by a river so I plan lots of sunny, afternoon strolls. And one day hopefully getting a dog will mean more country walks for us.

Any more ideas for fun exercise? Please share!

Loves, Imogen x