MY GUIDE TO JOURNALING

One of my goals for 2021 was to start journaling – and my gosh I am glad I started. Journaling has been an amazing way for me to process feelings, deal with hard days and set goals for myself. Here, I will take you through how I journal, step-by-step.

What you will need:

A notebook and a pen… that’s it. I normally have an A5 notebook that is blank – this means I have the freedom to write whatever I want, wherever I want. I also like to date my pages so I can look back and reflect.

  • Write about your day

Whether it’s the morning time and I have worries about the day, it’s the end of the day and I have had a stressful one or even if it’s been a good day, I like to just write about it to get any of my feelings on paper. I sometimes find that the thing that makes me anxious is having lots of overriding thoughts in my head, so writing them out makes everything seem clearer and more manageable. I like to read back on some of my days a few weeks later and reflect on them… funnily enough 95% of the problems or issues I have written about seem like nothing a few weeks later which really puts things into perspective.

  • Write down decisions you need to make/things you need to do

After I have written about my day, I like to write about any decisions I need to make or my to-do list. Again, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list that is sitting in my head. Whenever I write everything down, it is easy for me to see how much I need to get done that day/week and it’s also a great way to figure out what to prioritise.

  • Write down your goals

This is my favourite part of journaling. I love to write down any goals or manifestations in my notebook – I feel like once I have written it down it kind of sets my goal ‘in stone’. I am also a huge believer in manifesting – I believe that when you set yourself a goal, put it out there and truly believe that it can happen, it’s a huge step towards achieving your goal. Once it is written down, it is easy for me to figure out a way to achieve my goals and then reflect back to see if I have achieved them. You won’t believe the amount of goals I have written down this year which I have achieved – it’s amazing!

  • Write down what you are grateful for

I normally end my journaling session by writing down what I am grateful for that day – it is a fab way to keep everything really positive and whenever I am feeling down I like to reflect on previous days to remind myself about all the things I can be grateful for. It can be something as little as going on a nice walk that day, or having a good night’s sleep!

And that’s it! I try and journal everyday, but sometimes life just gets in the way, so I just try to focus on doing it as much as possible. I would love to know if this inspires you to start journaling – let me know in the comments below!

25 THINGS I HAVE LEARNED BY 25

These include some things I wish I knew 10 years ago…

I just turned 25 (yay) and whilst I may still be young, I feel like I have learned a lot in my 25 years.

  1. You create your own happiness, it doesn’t just ‘happen’.
  2. Focus on quality not quantity when it comes to friends.
  3. Trust your gut – you will most likely be right and if not think about why your gut was telling you otherwise.
  4. Always be kinder than you feel.
  5. Spend your money on good quality things.
  6. Save!!!! At University I always made the point of saving as little as £5 a week and it added up!
  7. Never feel pressured into doing anything – if your friends are pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to do, they aren’t your friends.
  8. Make a vision board every year of your life.
  9. You can’t please everyone, so don’t waste time trying to do so.
  10. Think before you spend (still working on this)!
  11. There’s no such thing as ‘perfect skin’.
  12. Putting yourself first isn’t selfish.
  13. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  14. Don’t procrastinate, just get it done! You will need to do it at some point so might as well do it before it stresses you out.
  15. If something isn’t making you happy – walk away. Life is too short!
  16. Embrace those things you are self-conscious about, they are what make you unique (my height is mine).
  17. You often learn a lot more from failures than from successes – it’s perfectly okay and normal to fail.
  18. It may be hard, but try your best to forgive people – life is too short to hold grudges and it isn’t fun to have negative energy between you and another person.
  19. There is more than one way to be ‘clever’, it doesn’t just depend on your school grades. I have met a lot of people who got straight A’s at school but have little emotional intelligence. Everyone is intelligent in their own way.
  20. Look after your teeth!
  21. Despite what you may see, you never know what someone is going through.
  22. Don’t rush something you want to last forever.
  23. You will never regret exercising and looking after your health.
  24. You attract what you put out – if you have a negative attitude, it is most likely you will attract negative things into your life.
  25. Look after your mental health, and talk about it with friends and family! It is SO important.

HOW I FOUND MY LOVE FOR EXERCISE AGAIN

2020 was a year of lounging on the sofa with chocolate, and I have zero regrets about it. However I knew it was time to get back ‘on it’ and this is how I did it…

I don’t think I’m the only one that found 2020 hard in terms of exercising enough. Not having access to a gym and also being constrained to my London flat for the majority of the year didn’t do me much good and I found myself getting lazier and lazier by the day. I really don’t give myself a hard time about it, it was a tough, very different year and I was out of my normal routine, but I did start to notice by the end of the year my mental health started to take a hit and my energy levels were really low. I knew a lot of this was down to my days consisting of rolling out of my bed, heading to my desk then heading back to my bed or the sofa, so it was time to get moving again!

I’ve always been fairly active – in fact pre-lockdown I had started with a personal trainer and was starting to feeling really fit and strong! A big problem I have had with exercise is the fact that I get bored – very easily. I also find it hard to put a workout together or to figure out how to do a good workout that would benefit me. However, recently I have taken up two different types of exercise I never thought I would – dancing and pilates.

I used to dance when I was little, but to be honest, I wasn’t very good. I have always been very lanky with no coordination and get self conscious in front of people, but a couple of years ago I started going to a Zumba class and really enjoyed it – I also found myself not caring about what people thought about me. I loooove following a routine – it almost takes my mind of working out and by the time I’ve finished I’ve had a great workout and moved every part of my body! When lockdown hit, I took to following YouTube dance workouts and loved it equally as much. After a couple years, I know that I still look like a drunk giraffe when dancing, but do I care? Absolutely not.

Secondly, pilates came into my life only recently, but I just love it. It’s slow and controlled which means I am again focusing on the movement and not on the pain – ha! I also really enjoy feeling the burn and knowing my body is getting stronger. Pilates also involves a lot of focusing on breathing and stretching, which I find helps with my mind too.

Overall, I’d say the biggest thing I’ve learned is to try everything and see what you enjoy. I always used to think running and doing weights was the only way to exercise – never did I imagine myself dancing and doing pilates, but there we go! It’s also really important to start slow. Originally I started working out twice a week and am building back up slowly. If I’m tired, I rest or if I’m feeling low and don’t feel like it, I just stretch and do some breathing. I never push myself too far so that I resent working out – I always want to enjoy it!

Here are some of my favourite videos and platforms to use:

I love Pamela Reif’s dance workouts (actually all of her workouts are great). Quick, effective and easy to follow!

MadFit’s dance workouts are so fab – her music choice is spot on.

Melissa Wood Health App is a perfect place to start with pilates – £7.46 a month.

My favourite celebrity trainer to follow, Megan Roup, has an app called The Sculpt Society, which I think might be my favourite app right now. It has both dance and pilates workouts as well as breathing exercises, stretching and sculpting. Really it’s a dream – £14.87 a month.

If you are looking for free pilates workouts – Blogilates on YouTube is great.

Leave your favourite workouts in the comments!

My Self-Care Routine

If there was ever a time for self-care, it’s right now. We are in the 100th Lockdown of the past year and to be honest the main thing getting me through the day is my self-care routine.

Self-care is all about putting yourself first, both physically and mentally, and doing things you enjoy to make you feel happier and healthier. I must admit that during the first Lockdown, I completely let my self-care routine slide, so this time round I am making it a huge priority. I thought I would share some of my self-care routine for a little inspiration.

My Skincare Routine

The first one is my skincare routine. It may sound silly, but this is a huge part of my self-care as I like to make my evening skincare into a ritual. There is nothing like taking 15-20 minutes in the evening to really pamper my skin, massage oils in and just enjoy looking after myself. I make sure I do this every evening, no matter how tired or unmotivated I am feeling! I often put some music on (John Legend is my go-to right now) and take my time to double cleanse, perhaps put a face mask on and alllwaaays end with a facial massage, which leads me onto my next point….

Gua Sha

Gua Sha is a relatively new concept that has really hit the UK beauty and self-care world in the last year or so, and I recently jumped on board a few months ago. Gua Sha is a treatment that involves scraping a flat jade or rose quartz stone over the skin in upward strokes to relax stiff muscles and promote tissue drainage. The treatment is traditionally used in East Asian and Chinese medicine and has now been adopted as a way to perform a facial massage.

After carrying out my facial course last year, I really started to see the difference facial massage had on not only my skin, but my mental health. Studies show that just 10 minutes of muscle massage can reduce cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone) so taking just 10 minutes a day really does make a difference. I bought my Gua Sha from The White Company, but you can get them on most beauty retail websites and they aren’t too expensive. You can find tutorials on how to use a Gua Sha for facial massage on YouTube, but I will be doing one soon so keep an eye out on my Instagram page!

Dancing

This has been a game-changer for me in the last few months. I am by no means a professional dancer, in fact I am quite the opposite, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy myself. Dancing has become my go-to workout in Lockdown. I love listening to upbeat music and following steps in a routine – I find it really takes my mind of whatever is stressing me out and makes me focus on something else. I recently discovered Apple Fitness+ which has some great dance workouts and I also love Pamela Reif’s dance workouts on YouTube.

Walking

So simple, yet so effective. Right now, pretty much all we can do is walk, but I am still loving it! Getting out in the fresh air really does wonders for the brain, even if it is freezing cold right now! I am trying to get out on walks during weekday evenings (I need to get better at it still) and then a, going on a couple of long walks on the weekend. I love listening to a podcast (Sh**ged, Married, Annoyed is great for a laugh) and just getting outside. I promise it will make you feel better if you are feeling a little low!

Meditating

And finally… breathe. Meditating is something I have enjoyed for years and it has really helped me through a lot of stressful and anxious times. Meditating for me is all about focusing on my breath and my mind. It’s crazy how much just doing some proper breaths can totally re-centre yourself and bring some peace to a stressed out brain. I love doing Roxie Nafousi’s Meditations (I have been doing them every evening) as I find listening to a voice makes me focus more and means my brain is less likely to wander.

Let me know what you do for self-care in the comments below!

My go-to workouts

So after talking about my go to workout clothing, I thought I would talk about my go to workout tips. In the last few of years, I have really started to find a love for fitness. Most days, there is nothing I love more than putting my trainers and headphones on and zoning out for an hour in the gym. I think I have learned a lot about fitness in the last few years, so I thought I would share some tips and tricks I have learned over the last few years. I am by no means a personal trainer,  so I won’t be going into too much detail!

Some realities:

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is that I am not a full time athlete with all the time in the world to exercise. A lot of the time I am tired from work and really don’t fancy exercising, so if I set myself a goal of 3-4 days a week of exercise. I used to aim for 5-6 days but it’s not feasible most days and thats okay!

Secondly, all the ‘fitspo’ people on Instagram are great for motivation, but I have learned that it is really impossible to mimic their bodies. For starters, a lot of pictures will be edited or from flattering angles and secondly, it is literally their jobs to exercise! Whether their a fitness influencer or just a general influencer, they have the time to exercise all the time- I however do not, so I try and limit my expectations and stay realistic about my goals.

Thirdly, I don’t enjoy every form of exercising out there and again, thats okay! I have concluded running is not for me despite years of trying, however I have found some exercises I love so I thought I would share.

My fave workouts

Yoga: I loooove yoga, especially as a warm up, cool down or just to zone out for a bit. I recently have just got back into it and am so thankful, because my body feels much less tense! I normally do yoga at home either using the Asana Rebel app (you can download it from an App Store) or I use Shona Vertue’s youtube channel- both are so easy to use and very informative!

Interval training: this has changed the way I do cardio. I used to find it so boring because I would just run or cross train for an hour and feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I started researching and found interval training is a way more effective and interesting way to do cardio. Normally I will now do 20-30 minutes on either the step machine, bike or cross trainer doing 40/20’s. This means I work really hard on the machine for 40 seconds then for 20 seconds I take it easier to get my breath back. Not only does it make you sweat more and work harder, it makes the time go so much quicker!

Core workouts: I LOVE core workouts. It is my favourite workout because I love the burn in my tummy when I am working hard. I normally use youtube videos to find different workouts for my core by just typing ‘core workout’ or ’10 minute core workout’ and millions of videos pop up! I try and do core 2-3 times a week.

Weights: I have only recently started to enjoy weight training. I have started doing squats again after not being able to due to a hip injury for 2 years. You see results a lot quicker when doing squats. I also love dumbbell workouts for my arms. I am definitely not qualified in explaining how to use weights but I always find personal trainers/gym staff are really helpful in gyms if you need help with how to squat/use weights effectively and safely. If you are unsure, just give someone an ask- I have always found them really helpful!

Classes: Last year I really got into step class, until I picked up a knee injury and have been too scared to go back! I love any classes that are dance/routine orientated as I find the class much more fun and makes me want to go back!

 

A final tip for a good workout is a good music playlist! Here are 10 of my go to gym songs:

  1. ‘Electricity’ by Silk City, Dua Lipa, Diplo and Mark Ronson
  2. ‘Fade’ by Kanye West
  3. ‘You Don’t Know Me’ by Jax Jones and RAYE
  4. ‘Nonstop’ by Drake
  5. ‘All my Love’ by Major Lazer and Ariana Grande
  6. ‘Play’ by Jax Jones and Years & Years
  7. ‘Side to Side’ by Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj
  8. ‘Nice for What’ by Drake
  9. ‘Remind Me to Forget’ by Kygo and Miguel
  10. ‘Bootylicious’ by Destiny’s Child (cheesy but I do admittedly listen to this when I squat, lol)

 

Happy workout!

Rachael x