Blog

Welcome to the heart of Season & Simplicity. 

Here you’ll find our blog posts on everything from wellness, wellbeing, food, mental health, to mindful creative tasks and top tips on slowing down – all with the sole purpose of nourishing you and helping you to find the joy in your everyday.

Elle Wright - Feathering the Empty Nest

Cosy CatchUp || Yoga Chats with Elle – Feathering The Empty Nest

When it comes to yoga, I’m always intrigued as to what brings people to their mat, their practice, and how it’s helped to change their life. Far from *purely* its physical benefits, yoga has a pretty special power to go so much deeper and yoga therapy is actually used to help manage many physical and mental health issues; a truly special practice that can really help transform your mind and body.

I recently chatted to the gorgeous, open, honest and oh-so-funny Elle Wright (of Feathering The Empty Nest) about her own yoga journey and about how she’s used yoga to ‘help heal through her heartbreak’… here Elle talks us through her practice, her daily lifestyle, and her tips for keeping her wellbeing at the top of her priority list.

Elle, we know you best for being Mum to Teddy and your side-kick pug Boris, writing an incredible book about the loss of your darling boy (Ask Me His Name) and advocating open conversations about loss and fertility struggles, (and also for creating THE most gorgeous of homes), but yoga is also a big love for you – so how did yoga first come into your life?

Like most people, I had done the odd class here and there over the years, but I really starting practicing when I was expecting Teddy. I went to some antenatal yoga classes where I met my brilliant teacher. She ignited my love of yoga.

You’ve been so heartwarmingly honest on Instagram and on your blog about your struggles with the loss of Teddy, fertility, and taking care of your mental health, which has made you a go-to for advice/support on social media – how do you make sure that you don’t feel the weight of this and overwhelmed by all the messages and questions you get asked relating to your story?

It’s difficult sometimes. I am not an expert (in anything!), and so all I can do is tell people that I hope they are surrounded by love and support, and if they aren’t then ask them to consider talking to their GP.  I can’t advise them, I am just a grieving parent too, but I can share our story and what helped us after Teddy died, and I hope this goes a little way to helping others. 

Do you remember how you felt after your very first yoga class?

I think I did my first class when I was about 16, at a David Lloyd Club with my Mum. I honestly cannot remember how it felt, but it must have been good as I remember going to quite a few.

How would you describe the style or type of yoga you enjoy most?

I practice Hatha Flow yoga, which is just what my instructor teaches. It isn’t too fast paced, but equally doesn’t see you holding lots of strenuous poses for a long time. It’s a nice mix of everything and I like that.

Do you have a specific area/space in your home that you practice yoga? Do you create a setup with anything specific before you begin your practice?

I used to practice in the sitting room at home, but now I practice in our new kitchen/ living space as it has recently been renovated and extended.  I don’t do anything specific, other than ask Alexa to play my favourite yoga music playlist. Sometimes I light a candle or I might burn some incense.  I always practice in the mornings as I find it sets me up for the day. 

You’ve talked a bit on your blog about your diet, changes you’ve made to your lifestyle since trying to conceive following your first pregnancy, can you share a bit about this?

I mean, what haven’t I tried?! To be fair I have always had a fairly balanced diet and lifestyle and exercised regularly. I don’t do high impact exercise anymore and just favour walking and yoga.  I am a vegetarian, I drink very little caffeine, I don’t drink much alcohol anymore either; maybe 1-2 glasses of wine at the weekend, but some weeks I don’t drink at all.  When we have been on fertility treatment cycles I don’t drink any caffeine or alcohol, and tend to eat a high protein diet with lots of veggies thrown in.  I also have acupuncture every other week; that is something I have been doing for about 3 years now and it has made a huge difference to my health and my outlook.

What’s your daily routine like where yoga/diet/wellbeing is concerned?

I am a creature of habit.  My husband leaves for work around 5.30am each day and he rarely gets home before 9.30pm, so my days working from home are pretty organized and I keep myself busy.  I always usually start with yoga practice after a morning tea, have breakfast after I have showered (almond milk, vegan chocolate protein powder, banana, oats, cinnamon in a blender!). Then I will walk Boris, and once I am home I will answer all my emails, do any work I have to do and then my days can be pretty changeable depending on what I have going on.  I go to yoga classes 1-2 times a week too and those are always in the mornings. I definitely prefer to start the day with yoga.

How important is having a routine and a regular yoga practice to your day-to-day life and overall sense of wellbeing ?

It helps me immensely. For me, it gives me a sense of calm and helps me focus each day.

What’s your favourite yoga position and why?

Always Baddha Konasana (sitting down, soles of feet together and knees out to the sides) I start my practice and finish my practice with this. I just find it really grounding and calming.

What does wellbeing mean to you? How do you ensure you add this to your everyday and that it doesn’t get overlooked or end up at the bottom of your priority list?

I think since Teddy died it has become part of my survival tool kit, so there is just no way could be without looking after myself mentally and physically.  I can’t ever overlook it for this reason.

How much does having Boris and daily dog walks help with your wellbeing/mental health?

He is my saviour and has given me so much purpose. I have written so much about him on my blog for this reason and how our daily walks have helped me. 

What are your top three ways to keep your headspace in check/your instant go-to’s in your self-care toolbox?

Yoga

Saying “No” to things. Clearing my diary and prioritising time with my husband and at home without feeling guilty.

Eating well. I think taking the time to cook and prepare yourself good, fresh food is a wonderful kind of self-care. I never underestimate it.

Quick fire…GO!

Go-to comfort food… Scrambled Eggs

Book to read and re-read over and over… Emma Cannon ‘Fertile”

Favourite season… Autumn

Go-to cheer up tune…  One that reminds me of my childhood- Paul Simon “You Can Call Me Al”

Favourite Friday night tipple… If I do have a drink on a Friday then it’s a G&T in the winter or a nice glass of Rose in the summer.

Best bit of advice… You just do you and try to worry less about what other people think. It is really freeing!

Most inspired words… Actually something the vicar said to me after Teddy died (although neither my husband nor I practice any faith) “Grief doesn’t last forever. Love does”

 

To find out more about Elle head to her Instagram account or head to her blog, where you’ll also find out more about Teddy’s Legacy.

You can also find Elle’s book here, Ask Me His Name – Learning to live and laugh again after the loss of my baby.

All images c/o Elle. 

Maisie Hill Period Power

Book Review || Period Power – Maisie Hill

At her first bleed a woman meets her power

During her bleeding years she practices it 

At menopause she becomes it – Native American saying

Periods, hormones, cycles, oh the endless conversations with girlfriends, sisters, my Mum, even my gran, harping on about how as women, our hormones govern and dominate our lives. From premenstrual headaches and heavy, painful periods, to feelings of low mood, anxiety, and those random body pains that you just can’t put down to anything specific … enter hormones.

A season for everything 

Over the past four or so years I’ve been paying a lot more attention to how my body works, what my cycle looks and feels like, and how it affects me – having battled severe anxiety and depression since my late teens it was, in fact, my husband who felt that my hormones (and contraceptive pill) may have had a part to play – and whilst the jury is still out on exactly how much it has affected it, it’s been through Maisie and her marvelous menstrual-awareness magic that has really given such a compelling insight into our seasons, cycle, and exactly what our hormones are doing to our body (and brain) at any given moment.

From charting your cycle each month (and not just in terms of when your period starts, how long it is, and how intense – endless and fucking intense at times, right?!) but really getting to the nitty-gritty of how you’re emotionally and mentally feeling throughout each  cycle, to highlighting the highs and lows of specific hormones, and the irregularities that our bodies can experience, was mind-blowing and bloody enlightening, to say the least!

“Each season of the cycle has its own set of superpowers and dangers… being in tune with your inner seasons will enable you to respect where you are in your cycle”  – Maisie Hill

Permission, granted 

This book is the permission you need to take the time to delve deep into what wires us and to really tune in to your very own body. What works for one is no roadmap for another of us gals and it’s so important that we’re talking and sharing… and Masie has taken that conversation to a whole other level. It’s like the big, older, and wiser sister (I didn’t have) telling it to you straight.

Knowledge really is power and with this newfound insight, it’s definitely enabling me to figure out what my body needs, helping to give myself permission to just be and rest when I’m not feeling in the most productive or abundant part of my cycle, and allowing me to let go of this constant need to be ‘on it’ all the time. For the very first time in my life I’ve finally understood why I have peaks of productivity, energy, and complete drops where I want to shut the world out – and at the grand old age of 34 am totally OK with going with it and even indulging it at times without apology.  I only wish this book had been about when I was a teen, or even in my 20’s, but I’m thankful for Maisie’s knowledge and insight.

There is SO much more to us than the mere moody hormonal bitches we so often get portrayed to be, and there is endless power in us that is entirely unique to each and every one of us  – so do yourself a favour and let Maisie educate you so you can harness your very own period power!

 

Ciara_Signoff

Emily Gandy

Life & Style || Cosy Catchup with Emily Gandy

As part of our brand new Q&A series #cosycatchups, we caught up with the gorgeous Emily Gandy (Enchant Storyteller) to chat about self-employment, anxiety, wellbeing, and the little things that make everyday special. So, make yourself a cuppa and join us for a #cosycatchup… 

Emily, tell us all about you!… 

I am a lover of the little things and a country-gal at heart. I live on the outskirts of Winchester with my Boyfriend, Brett and Cockapoo, Mabel.

Enchant works with businesses to help them find their people, build their community and grow their brand through digital and content marketing. Having a consistent, authentic voice and sharing the ins and outs of your story is pertinent to building a community, gaining trust and furthermore, an on-going relationship with your audience. From writing about pages and creating welcome emails, to a day’s consultancy, or monthly management of social accounts, I help brands in a variety of ways. 

You’ve recently made a big leap into self-employment and creating your own amazing business, Enchant, tell us a bit about that and how it came about?…

 I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason. It’s a mindset that keeps me sane in moments of disarray!

One thing led to another and part-way through 2018 I found myself half-heartedly applying for jobs that sparked little joy at the prospect of being offered them. Running my own business had long been a dream but previously the time never seemed right. After lots of to-ing and froing, an idea from a colleague sparked my current chapter. I let the seed settle for a good few weeks before taking steady steps to make them a reality.

Emily Gandy

How have you found this transition?…

A rollercoaster! I knew the transition would be unlike anything I’d previously been through, but you can’t anticipate how you’ll feel until you’re in the moment. There have been tremendous highs and many lows, but dealing with every emotion has been significant, they’ve helped me to learn and grow.

I didn’t know if I could handle self-employment and I’m tested each day with the mentality of running my own business, but I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. I like a challenge, enjoy testing my limits and dealing with the outcome of those is teaching me more about myself.

 How have you created a morning/day routine when working from home? What’s the best bit about it/worst bit about it? …

I like the idea of traveling to work so when I’m at home I have to get up and out to replicate the concept of ‘going to work’. Going on a dog walk when it’s dark, grey and murky is easier said than done in the Winter months but gaining perspective, and getting outside to appreciate the little things makes my heart tick. If the weather’s nice or something captures my eye, I’ll take my camera with me. Being creative for me is important before I get stuck into work. When I return, the kettle goes straight on. I’ll enjoy breakfast and 10 minutes of quiet time before I open my laptop.

 I tend to write my ‘list to achieve’ at the end of the previous day so that I can crack straight on.

To get stuck in, I work for 2-3 hours straight. I’ll break to take Mabs out and grab some lunch for 45 mins. I’m not very good at taking a break; I’ll often keep going. I went into self-employment with few restrictions, but in hindsight, I should have put boundaries and routine in place straight away. Every day is a learning curve!

The flexibility I have is the best and worst bit about being able to work from home. I rise earlier, so I can go to the gym on a Friday morning but other times, knowing I don’t have to finish at a particular time gives me too much leeway and I’ll often end up working until 9/10pm, and then struggle to switch off.

You’ve been so heartwarmingly honest on Instagram and your blog about your struggles with anxiety and taking care of your mental health, how do you keep on top of this?…

Finding a work-life balance has been incredibly valuable. Other than that, I stay busy and try not to panda to the voices in my head. Mind you, not so busy that I feel overwhelmed and crash. It’s all about learning how to ride your waves. The Winter months are always the hardest, and it’s only now, reflecting on the past few months that I can see myself clawing to keep my head above water, mentally. Thankfully, Brett is exceptionally level-headed and pragmatic and helps me put things into perspective.

I’ve learnt to be aware of my mindset. Often when you admit a surge of negativity, it can be a downward spiral, but over the years when I see it creeping closer, I remind myself that I am in control of how I feel and that only I can genuinely shake unwanted feelings. Positivity breeds positivity.

A change of scene also puts things into perspective, whether that’s seeing friends, going to the gym or having something planned for the weekend. I struggle to relax, per se because I feel the need to be doing something regularly, but getting lost in a good book helps me unwind and immerse myself in other thoughts.

Emily Gandy

What does wellbeing mean to you? How do you ensure you add this to your every day?…

To me, wellbeing is primarily about being happy and healthy. It’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of I want this and that; it’s natural to keep striving for more, but I try to remind myself of what I currently have and not fall into a comparison trap.

I do what I want to do, as opposed to what I feel I should do. I used to say yes to every social opportunity, irrelevant of what I wanted to do. Go with your gut and do what feels right. We are in control of our mind, body and soul. 

I take each day as it comes. Sometimes I’m caught off guard with my emotions and original plans for the day don’t quite fit; I’m learning that it’s ok to make alterations. If there’s a way to be happier, whether that’s releasing endorphins at the gym or getting lost creatively, I wholeheartedly believe that we should follow that path for our next steps and decisions to be more positive. 

“Life is amazing… and then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again… and in between the amazing and the ordinary and mundane and routine… breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary, That’s just living. Heartbreaking, soul healing, amazing… awful… ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.” – L.R Knost.

How do you practice self-care? What’s in your self-care toolkit?…

• I make time for creativity.

• Practise regular exercise

• Get outside for fresh air and a change of scene

• Try and get a good night’s sleep, aided by thisworks pillow spray and occasionally the Calm app.

• I try to eat well.

• This year I would also like to dabble in journalling.

 What are your top three ways to keep your headspace in check?

Get outside for fresh air with Mabs – a change of scene does the world of good. Meet friends – honest opinions are priceless. Bake or Cook – calming and a sense of achievement.

Emily Gandy

Quickfire… GO!

Go-to comfort food… Pasta pasta pasta!

Book to read and re-read over and over…PAUSE by Danielle Marchant is full of wise words, put things into perspective and reminds me to be the best version of me.

Favourite season… Oh, now that’s a tough question… probably Autumn, but I also adore Spring.

Go-to cheer up… tune… I’m all about the old school! This will be – Natalie Cole Higher and higher – Jackie Wilson September – Earth, Wind & Fire

Favourite Friday night tipple…Fizz, or a G&T depending on my mood.

Realist role model… I’m really inspired by Holly Budge – a British adventurer and conservationist. I met her a few years ago when I worked in Alresford. Her account of summiting Everest was awe-inspiring. She makes me want to achieve more.

Best bit of advice… Believe in yourself and the rest will follow.

Most inspired words…“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” ― Maya Angelou.

Thank you SO much to the beautiful Emily for taking the time to share a little of her life and story with us! You can find Emily, her gorgeous dog Mabel, and the most stunning photos of her world here on Instagram.

// Images c/o SarahLou Francis  //

 

 

 

Vision Board In the Moment Magazine

Life & Style || Revelations over Resolutions

Happy New Year!

… yes, I know, a little late to the New Year party but I find this time of year a bit strange if I’m honest. I have always had a love/hate relationship with New Year. The whole ‘new year, new me’ often leaves me a bit cold, and the pressure it puts upon us only adds to the stress of trying to achieve the near-on impossible.

Think about it. We’ve been living the past couple of weeks in a state of confusion – wondering what day it is, whether it’s OK to eat chocolate for breakfast (it is), whether alcohol at every main meal is socially acceptable (bucks fizz is the perfect answer to this), and finding it harder to get up in the mornings and get motivated (alarm, what alarm?).

When it all comes to a dramatic halt, it can be pretty tough to face routine, get back to work, and begin the whole ‘new year, new me’ thing. I don’t think resolutions serve much of a purpose – the gym is packed, there’s leftover yule log in the cake tin, and quite frankly, it’s all a bit too much to deal with. Which is why I prefer to kick-start my new year with a few revelations, taking stock of the old year and how I might do things a little different in the year ahead; or not.  January is a tough enough month as it is without setting yourself the unachievable or unattainable.

Nope, instead, I like to make New Year’s revelations. And, for the first time since I was at school, I have attempted to create a ‘vision board’ thanks to In the Moment Magazine and have pinned it above my desk for good measure. I spend a lot of time here (not always productive time either) and the blank wall was crying out for something pretty to stare at …  and it gave me a prompt to think about the little things I’d like to do/try in a bid to make this year more content than the last, BUT, with some serious gentleness and grace. No guilt, no expectation, and definitely no judgment. So here are the things I plan to make time for…

A time to… challenge 

I can be terrible for living in my comfort zone (firmly and cosily tucked up in it) and last year saw me having to dig deep (thanks to a mental health breakdown) and focus on some of the simplest of tasks… walking the dog, getting dressed, getting my work done, attending appointments, so this year I’ve made it my focus to do my yoga teacher training. Yoga has been a HUGE life changer for me (a post for another time) and has even helped me to come off my anti-anxiety/antidepressant medication, and I want to be able to teach others who struggle all the amazing things I’ve learned over the years to help manage their own mental health in a positive way. So, it’s back to school for me… with equal measures of nerves and excitement. 

A time to… take more action 

I live my life through lists, I have lists for everything. But I’m far too good at procrastinating.  One of life’s all or nothing kind of people. One thing I’ve had on my ‘to-do’ list this year is to clear out lots of the things I have but simply don’t need. I started this last year by tackling a bulging wardrobe full of clothes I will never wear and now I want to keep going.  Not only do they take up space in my home but in a weird way, they occupy space in my mind (and we couldn’t all with making a little extra space up there!).  So, I’m ready to catch up with Marie Kondo and Brooke from The Slow Home Podcast and really reduce what I have and what I actually need.

A time to… feed my mind 

It’s easy to fall into bad habits – especially at this time of year. And, whilst it’s pretty important to binge-watch your favourite series on Netflix (*Gilmore Girls), I am also aware that my mind needs a bit more good fuel. So, I’m already tackling that large pile of books (mainly of the self-help variety) to give my mind some good energy and focus and am planning on starting a self-help-style Book Club locally.

A time to… slow. down. 

Time goes by so quickly that it can seem a constant cycle of work, meetings, chores and appointments, squeezing in hurried catch-ups with friends and speed-dates with the husband. Last year, through a midst of haze and medicated anxiety I didn’t take much time to focus on the things that I really WANT to do .  Quality time with my husband and dog, time to blog, precious moments with friends and family, time to sit and read that big stack of books I eye up most evenings. I hope to take more time for those little things. To savour the moment and be just a tad more mindful that life is for living and not for checking off the things we’ve completed on our list or stressing over the shit we didn’t do.

I’d love to know how you approach a new year and what things you’re focusing on for your own wellbeing?

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2019. Remember to take it at your own pace and to be gentle and kind to yourself… life is tough enough!

Love,

 

Ciara_Signoff

 

 

 

Home & Haven || Christmas Calm with A Perfect Chaos

Like so many of us, I’m a real sucker for a beautiful and deliciously scented candle. I’m always on the lookout for new, independent candle makers and natural scents that go with the seasons. So you can imagine my delight when the lovely ladies at Perfect Chaos sent me some seriously happy post.

With a brand that reflects everything we believe in here at Season & Simplicity, Penny & Lisa are ‘creating a little bit of calm amongst the chaos’ which is an ethos we are absolutely behind 🙌🏼. PLUS, their candles are made from all natural ingredients, we’re talking 100%, natural soy wax, essentials oils and all hand poured in Cheshire.

Inside my (eco-friendly) box of treats was a gorgeously festive ‘And Sparkle’ candle, a combination of pine, lime, and myrrh, an ‘And Breathe’ travel candle, made of cool peppermint, lemongrass, and basil, plus THE most heavenly pulse point roller from their ‘And Relax’ range of lavender, lemongrass, and jasmine. An ideal antidote during over the Christmas period.

 

The festive ‘And Sparkle’ candle was instantly lit and filled the room with enough festive spirit that I went straight out to grab my Christmas tree. It’s a definite winner this season and it gives off the most gorgeous glow.

The packaging and branding is understated, elegant, and simplicity at its best. No unnecessary packaging or plastic, even the lids are made from a non-silicone material.

I can’t recommend this gorgeous brand and their delicious range of products. As an avid yogi I love a good pulse-point roll on and have tried so many different varieties, including some super fancy ones from some well-known ‘wellbeing’ brands and I can honestly say that this roll on is my most favourite ever (she says whilst sniffing her wrists and breathing deeply!).

 

So, if you’re looking for a natural, calming, and beautifully made gift this holiday season, make sure you head on over to Perfect Chaos and have a look around. You’ll find everything from candles and roll ons to diffusers and even room sprays.

Ciara_Signoff

 

 

// Perfect Chaos kindly gifted these items //

Home & Haven || Mindful Christmas Part One – Gifting

No matter how hard you try, there’s no escaping the fact that Christmas is mere weeks away… and you’ve probably got a ‘to-do’ list as long as your arm.

It can be so easy to get caught up in the whole “Christmas Consumption’ and to feel more than just a liiittttllle frantic at this time of year. But there ARE lots of different ways you can help yourself to have a more mindful Christmas (that don’t involve hiding under a rock until Jan 1st); without the rush, the stress, the debt, the worry.

We’ve got a little Mindful Christmas series for you here on the blog, and this week we’re sharing a few gifting ideas that help to put wellbeing at the top of your Christmas list. PLUS these are gifts with the environment, local businesses, and independents in mind too.

Help on a Shelf

You can’t go wrong with the gift of books. And this year has seen SO many amazing wellbeing-inspired self help books, journals, and guides and some of my favourites this year include:

Matt Haig – Notes on a Nervous Planet – A real and honest guide on how to deal with the crazy, modern world we live in. And if you’re looking for something for kids then his latest book, The Truth Pixie, will completely melt your heart.

Suzy Reading – The Self Care Revolution – A book with smart habits and simple practices that will help you flourish. Find out more over on our blog here.

Or how about a journal? There are lots of gorgeous journals out there (we’ve bought and tried a lot of them) but we can’t get enough of Nikki Strange’s stunning range of notebooks and journals. PLUS, check out her gorgeous eco friendly gift wrap.

Nikki Strange Stationery

Gift to the one who’s looking to make a change

Magazine subscription 

Last year my husband gifted me a magazine subscription and it’s been my favourite gift! I love hearing the ‘thud’ when it arrives in the post. I wait until all my chores are done so I can relax and unwind whilst drinking a glass of fizz on a Friday evening. Both In the Moment magazine and Breathe magazine are full of lots of gorgeous content and will leave your recipient feeling oh-so calm and super inspired.

In the Moment Magazine

Gift to the one who needs to sit down and do less

Subscription box

There are lots of subscription boxes out on the market but Mindful Gifting have such beautiful boxes that are vegan free and eco friendly too. What better gift than a monthly subscription box full of ideas for better wellbeing?

Mindful Subscription Box

Gift to the one who needs a little extra self-care 

Create Calm

Think candles and eye pillows. We love these gorgeous eye pillows that are ideal for yoga, relaxation or to help ease aches and pains. Simply freeze or pop in the microwave for added effectiveness. Plus, if you follow the link to Life + Me you’ll find plenty of amazing gifting ideas; you’ll just struggle to not buy them all for yourself.

Linen Eye Pillows

Gift to the one who needs a few moments of calm

Experience Gifting 

I love the idea of gifting people experiences – we do this in our family a lot for birthdays and Christmas and it’s something I’ve tried to do more of this year. Give the gift of something your husband, best friend, niece… have never tried before and check out local art venues, classes, and events that are going on in your local area.

Mindful Christmas

Gift to the one who’d love to try something new

PLUS… don’t forget the ‘Just a Card’ campaign. You can out more here.

Ciara_Signoff

 

roses in a mug

Nourish & Grow || Why #selfcare isn’t always self care

There’s no denying that the term ‘self care’ has become a hot topic, an instagrammable thing and even a buzzword of late, but if I’m honest I feel that these two words have gotten a little lost in translation.

The world of Instagram (and social media in general) certainly highlights some aesthetically beautiful forms of what is often deemed as self care, or rather a more consumerist form of self care. Think bubble baths, gorgeous candles, journals, spa days, manicures, and even wine. But it is so much more than that. SO much more. And more often than not it really isn’t even that at all.

Self care is much more about how to top up our ever decreasing energy (if you’ve ever been to a yoga class you’ll hear your teacher talking about Prana, life-force/energy and how we can extend and improve it). We need to make sure that the various forms of energy we output each day, each week, and each month are topped up so we can sustain balance.

In any given day we use up and put out intelligent (mental energy), spiritual energy, emotional energy, and physical energy. Consider an average day and where your outputs and inputs are? Too much output in any one of these four areas and you’ll find yourself feeling ’emotionally’, ‘physically’, or even ‘mentally’ drained. If we’re not consciously practicing ways to fill these energies back up we soon find ourselves out of balance, out of whack, and basically ‘spent’.

If you suffer from mental health issues your self care may go a lot deeper than that. It may be a specific treatment, therapy, or medication that helps you stay steady. Consumer ‘self care’ can often seem like a fix-it cure for mental health problems and something that can be solved with a wellbeing journal or a new skincare product. Granted, #selfcare has probably helped sell many more products, had more likes, follows and clicks but if we sold the tough stuff, the less pretty ways as self care it probably wouldn’t catch on!

Self care is sometimes difficult to do and doesn’t always feel good when you do it. But there is a longer-serving reason as to why some of those practices and habits need to be woven into our day-to-day lives.

Self care can be:

• Setting boundaries and learning to say no to things that don’t nourish you

• Unfollowing people on social media because they don’t fill your energy up in a positive way

• Taking time out of your day to make decent food and eat it mindfully

• Not answering your phone because ‘that’ call will only make you feel crap

• Managing your finances better, booking a doctors appointment, going to a therapy appointment

• Taking time to breathe deeply, micro actions for better health

There’s a FANTASTIC book by the amazing Suzy Reading that talks about the Self Care Revolution and provides ‘habits and practices to help you flourish’-  a toolkit that really equips you to make self care practice a daily practice.

Remind yourself that real, RADICAL self care is about replenishing your energy and making that sustainable. Beware to mind the #selfcare gap and dig deeper into daily rituals and habits that really top you up – these are the things you need to make time for (or we all really will burn out).

In the end, it’s about creating a life you want everyday (not just for holidays and weekends) – good quality sleep each day vs exhausting yourself and then having to book a fancy getaway. Help yourself to ease the worry and stress on a day-to-day basis rather than saving it all up. It’s a practice that is required daily, as Jim Loehr (author of The Power of Full Engagement) said, “Rituals also help us to create structure in our lives.”

When it comes to self care, practice mindful self care – allowing yourself to be present in that very moment; whatever it is that you do. And remember, it’s your daily self care, you don’t need anyone else’s permission and sometimes, a bubble bath is just a bubble bath!

Ciara_Signoff

Hip and Healthy soup

Sunday Reset… The Weekend Series #1

Hello, lovely!

Welcome to the first edition of my weekend series, The Sunday Reset.

I don’t know about you, but Sunday mornings should be taken as  S  L  O  W  as possible. A chance to savour a big cuppa,  a leisurely breakfast, and to catch up on some reading –  from the comfort of your bed or the sofa.

So here’s a little round up of some blog posts, articles, and inspired reading to help you to take a bit of time out for you.

Pop the kettle on, get cosy, and hit reset.

Main Image c/o Hip and Healthy 

Laura Turner, who owns the dreamy lifestyle shop Hero (in gorgeous Stockbridge) always writes with such honesty and integrity. Any time she puts pen to paper you just know there’s going to be some resonance and her latest blog post was no exception.

Whether you run your own business, are juggling a multitude of things, or feel as though you are constantly looking ahead to the ‘next thing’, you’ll totally relate.  Laura discusses the feelings of putting too much pressure on yourself, planning ahead, and feeling despondent when things aren’t going in the right direction (despite your best efforts). It’s a beautiful, honest, and reassuring read.

I’m a big fan of natural skincare and love finding out about new products that are not only good for my skin but good for the planet 🙌🏼. And the fabulous ladies at Sisterhood have a blog post all about natural beauty! AND it features my very own favourite natural skincare brand, Sukin… have a read – and when it comes to replacing your empty lotions and potions why not consider a more ethical choice for your next purchase.

If making time to sit down and read is proving tricky (or near-on impossible; don’t worry, we hear ya!) then podcasts are a great way to indulge in some listening time whilst tackling the washing, cleaning, dog walk… whatever else happens to be on your to-do-list.

Podcasts always feel like you’re actually part of the conversation – as if you’re there, in the room, eagerly listening to some friendly wisdom. And one of my favourite podcasts is The Slow Home Podcast – all about slow living in a fast paced world. A husband and wife duo who just seem to have THE most honest and real way of helping and enabling you to slow your home and life down in simple yet incredibly effective ways. It’s all about saying no to a life lived at 110% and I’m all in on that one!

No autumn weekend would be complete without some cosy and comforting recipes. Which is exactly what these are. From the gorgeous ladies at Hip & Healthy share 9 autumn-inspired recipes that are packed full of immune boosting goodness (and they look so yummy too).

I’m hoping that you’ve found a little time to indulge in The Sunday Reset and that you have a great week ahead of you.

Ciara_Signoff

autumn leaves and superga

Mind & Mood || A Mindful Change of Seasons

It’s safe to say we’re firmly ‘in’ September now – that back to school/new term feeling has fully kicked in and someone quite literally hit the ‘Go’ button on autumn. I’m wearing a large and oversized cardigan as I write this and I’ve got an even larger mug of tea as I finally ‘allow’ myself a few minutes to delve into some September reflections.

Let’s face it, before we know it, we’ll find ourselves (after THE most glorious summer on record) turning to our cosy knits and swapping evenings out in a sunny pub garden and savouring the last of the summer sun for drinking red wine and sitting as close to a fire as is physically possible. We’ll be caught up in everything that this time of year has to bring (don’t worry I won’t mention the C word), but what we often forget is that we are seasonal beings, creatures who need a little time to adapt to the changes that each season brings. Modern day living means we don’t often pay too much attention to our evolutionary survival instincts – emails, social media, endless technology doesn’t really care too much as to what season we’re in. But we must… and here’s why.

There is actual scientific proof that our bodies and minds are affected by the change in seasons, and as Hippocrates once said “Whoever wishes to pursue the science of medicine in a direct manner must first investigate the season of the year and what occurs in them.”

We could delve deep into the symptoms and reasons behind SAD* (Seasonal Affective Disorder) but that’s not really what I’m getting at, this isn’t a scientific post about an actual disorder, merely a nod to being aware of the changes in our mood, energy levels, and positive ways we can add to our daily life to pick ourselves up as we head further into the season.

The change from summer to autumn is definitely my favourite of all; the leaves 🍂 turn from gorgeous green to crisp reds, yellows and browns is one of the prettiest gifts I think nature gives us. But, for me, it never goes unnoticed that this time of year sees my energy levels drop, my need for sleep increase, and my motivation to get up and GO sink into my newly purchased autumn boots.

Despite being pretty durable we’re also finely tuned so that even the smallest of changes in temperature, weather, light have a significant impact on our mind and bodies. So now is the time to start implementing a few little practices to help ease that transition and remain healthy for the months ahead

Get lit up 

Combine your need for light with your daily dose of fresh air. Whether that’s walking the kids to and from school, ditching the car when you need to pop to the shops, or downing tools for 15 minutes and taking some time to get outside – we all need that daily dose of vitamin D and we’re not going to get it staring at a screen.

Walk it out 

As mentioned above, walking is THE best. Move your body… it can be so hard as it gets colder and the nights are longer to find the motivation and inclination to get up and move so why not try a new class? Or, rather than meeting a friend for a coffee suggest a walk (you can bring a cuppa with you… in your reusable cups of course).

Talk it out 

We all lead busy lives, that’s a given, but conversation is SO important for our mental wellbeing and a chat on the phone or via text just isn’t the same as a face-to-face-hug-it-out-hand-holding kinda chat. Combine it with a walk and you’ll not only find you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin D and exercise but that chat and those much-needed conversations always flow so much better when you’re walking and talking.

Eat with the season 

Seasonal produce is at its best this time of year and this gorgeous blog post by Amelia Freer will give you plenty of inspiration on what’s good to eat this autumn. Her buckwheat pancakes with fresh blackberries are on my breakfast must-list for the weekend.

How do you make sure you keep your mind and body in check?

*As with all these things, if you notice your mood has changed a little more than usual then do make an appointment to see your doctor.

Ciara_Signoff

 

Mind & Mood || Welcome to Season & Simplicity

Hello! And welcome to Season & Simplicity.

I am SO excited to finally hit the ‘live’ button on what has been a serious labour of love. It’s been sitting in my head for what seems like an eternity, so it feels great to finally be here and sharing this with you. (Although the perfectionist in me has been screaming to leave it hidden.)

Season & Simplicity has been born out of a love for the change in seasons, a persistent desire to get back to basics, and a need to slow down, simplify, and put wellbeing and good mental health at the top of our agendas. Life can be pretty full-on so having a strong community around you, one that encourages and supports you on a deeper level, is paramount. And it’s our goal is to create a warm and open space for good conversations and supportive tools that help us navigate our way through this hectic and crazy world; a place to retreat, to reset, and to restore.

And to help me do this I’m bringing my super creative, fellow simplifier, and all-time best gal, Jo, from Green Magpie along for the ride. We have lots of plans in the pipeline and will be sharing them all with you very soon. PLUS we have lots of fabulous contributors who’ll be joining us, including yoga teacher and serene queen herself, Louise from The Yoga Woods .

We’ll be sharing lots of content over on the blog, as well as our upcoming retreats, workshops, AND our very own Season & Simplicity shop, full of gorgeous creative kits, prints, and products to help you reset, retreat, and restore (coming soon). We hope you’ll join us in our plight to forge a super supportive community 🙌🏼

And, in the meantime, why not sign up for our free 7-day online retreat; The Slow & Steady.  Designed to help you live a little more mindfully each and every day.

Love,

Ciara_Signoff

Happy by Fearne Cotton

Nourish & Glow || Summer Self Care Tips

Hurray for summer! Our eagerly anticipated summer did NOT disappoint, right? And whilst in an ideal world we’d all be chilling on the beach, emails switched off, cool box in reaching distance and work/kids occupying themselves, alas we’re just over here melting.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. The sunshine has been all-kinds of glorious but maintaining a cool and calm appearance can be tricky and we’ve been swapping our usual Self-Care Sunday rituals of roasts and red wine for cold baths and ice lollies.

So, in true British style, we’ve got a few summer self care tips for you!

Treat your feet 

I love to be barefoot whenever possible… which means my feet taking a beating. Making sure I give them any form of attention is usually not top of the list. But summer means suns out, sandals out so its time to treat your feet. Whether that’s booking in a pedicure at your local salon (think air con, book, and fresh new trotters) or a little DIY footcare, make sure you take some time to look after the two things you put more pressure on than anything else!

Keep hydrated 

Why is it that we find it so difficult to drink enough H20 in a day? Unless my bottle is on my desk and staring me in the face I can often simply forget. Jo and I have an unquenchable thirst for sparkling water, but if water just ain’t your tipple you can always mix it up with fruit infusions, cool herbal teas too and lots of frozen watermelon! Just make sure you’re getting plenty of the good stuff.

Nature’s reserves 

And speaking of water, take trips to your nearest watering hole (of the nature kind, not just the pub kind). Whether you’re lucky enough to live near an outdoor pool, river, lake or the sea, get out and soak it up. We count ourselves extremely lucky that we live near the river, so daily dog walks mean a chance for both the dog and myself to take a dip in the river.

Slow down 

The heat (especially in the hottest heatwave for over 40 years) can really drain you of your energy, so now is the perfect time to slow everything down a little. We find the school holidays (whether you have kids/are at work/are juggling both) the roads, offices, and even email inboxes are just that little bit quieter. Make the most of this and keep things to a minimum where possible.

We would LOVE to hear your summer self care tips… come and find us over on Instagram and let us know how you’re staying cool and looking after yourself this season.

With love,

Ciara_Signoff

Nourish & Glow || Feeling Green Juice Recipe

Despite my best efforts, I am definitely more of an all or nothing kinda gal when it comes to healthy practices, but I certainly feel much better when I’m giving my all, rather than my nothing … especially where health and wellbeing is concerned (guilt soon sets in when you’re scrolling through Instagram, eating a packet of biscuits whilst watching gym bunnies lift their own body weight). So, whenever I feel in need of a wellbeing boost a green juice is always my go-to. 

Working for yourself and being at home most of the day can leave you VERY sedentary. And whilst most would see it as an opportunity to eat well and exercise more, if I’m not in ‘that’ headspace routines can easily slip – please tell me I’m not alone here 🙋🏻!

So, if you’ve been feeling a little ‘meh’, for whatever reasons, then might I suggest you try this delicious green juice also?  It certainly isn’t a miracle cure but it’s made me realise how much I’ve been missing freshness in my life and how much happier I feel when I make better choices in my diet*

Apple, spinach and mint – green juice 

4 apples – chopped

Large handful of baby spinach

1/2 cup of mint leaves

1 lime – peeled

Put it through a juicer and serve in a glass. You can make it in a blender but would need to pass it through a sieve first – and just look at the beautiful colour 🍃. 

And why is this juice great?

I’ve found some recipe notes over on the The Juicing Collection  to highlight how this juice can help keep you happy and well!

Vitamin C ✓ Vitamin A ✓ Vitamin K ✓ Folate ✓ Magnesium ✓

Vitamin C

Required for: Immunity, heart and cardiovascular health, development of sex hormones, stress management, health and repair of skin and effective wound healing

Deficiency Symptoms: Frequent infections, poor wound healing, skin complaints, fatigue and listlessness, depression, easy bruising, bleeding gums and varicose veins. 

Vitamin K 

Required for: Bone building and repair, blood clotting and preventing heavy menstrual bleeding. 

Deficiency symptoms: Easy bruising, osteoporosis and heaving menstrual bleeding

Vitamin A 

Required for: Immune system, growth and repair of bones, skin, teeth and eye health.

Deficiency Symptoms: Dry skin, dull and dry hair, hard skin, reduced saliva production, ridged nails, loss of appetite, bumps on back of arms and other parts of the body, acne, mouth ulcers, sinus problems, poor wound healing and poor night vision.

Magnesium

Required for: Cardiovascular health, nervous system function, stress management, carbohydrate digestion, and metabolism into energy, thyroid function and mental clarity and function, as well as the absorbing of calcium into bones.

Deficiency Symptoms: Muscle cramps and twitches, nervous fidgeting, restless legs, hyperactivity and restlessness, insomnia, poor concentration, irritability, palpitations, and arrhythmias.

*And when we use the word diet we mean your everyday eating… not diet-ing – we don’t believe in such nonsense!

With love,

Ciara_Signoff

headphones and notepad

Mind & Mood || Anxiety… Naturally

Whether you’re a long-term anxiety sufferer like myself or you find yourself in periods of stress, feeling overwhelmed or just a bit out of sync, then fear not… you’re in good hands.

I know just how uneasy feelings of anxiousness can be and it’s important to address them as they arise. So here are my top tips for helping reduce anxiety… the natural way.

Put the coffee down

Times of high-stress and anxiety are often dealt with by consuming large quantities of coffee (or tea in my case) and yes, there is wine too. But, I can honestly say that in order to help reduce those horrid feelings and heart palpitations that you may need to put the coffee down. In fact, if you’re feeling pretty ‘strung out’ put.it.down.now. Caffeine is a pretty nifty stimulant that works by increasing your adrenaline. And, if you’re familiar with the feelings of anxiety then adrenaline is one thing you’ll want to leave you alone. Swap caffeinated tea and coffee for decaf, or try a green tea 🍵 or chamomile. Twinings have a fab range of green tea with all sorts of lovely things – my favourite is the salted caramel, it’s proper lush. 

Walk it off

Or, if you can, run it off. Running is one of the most mindful things you can do so grab your trainers and go for it. Even if you’re not an avid runner you can mix it up with walking and jogging. Try not to worry about distance or calories and simply focus on the act of putting one foot in front of the other. I make playlists to give me an extra boost – music works wonders for the anxious mind.

Meditate

When I’m feeling particularly ‘wired’ by anxiety I can find it difficult to switch my mind off and that makes sleeping hard. Try this body scan from the Mindfulness in a frantic world book. I swear by this book and re-read regularly to keep me on track. 

Remember to breathe

Sounds pretty daft seeing as it’s something your body does, err, naturally, but focusing on your breathing is SO important (see the link above☝🏻️). When you feel overwhelmed or as if you can’t catch your breathe it’s time to slow down and focus on it. You can actually reduce your heart rate simply by taking a few deep breaths and slowing it all down. If you’re not familiar with mindfulness then I urge you to have a read of this  – it gives you a little taster of the book I’ve mentioned and I really can’t recommend it enough. 

Dealing with feelings of anxiousness and anxiety are no fun at all but do give these things a try and see how you get on. Hopefully, if you’re consistent with them then you’ll start to notice a difference in how you’re feeling. Practice makes progress – so don’t beat yourself up about it all… 

Namaste,

Ciara_Signoff

Twinings tea and cake

Nourish & Glow || Delicious sugar free (and butter free) tea loaf

 

If, like me, you can’t survive without cake in your life but you want to be mindful of the reduce the amount of refined sugar in my diet then sugar-free recipes are the one. The perfect way to curb that sugar craving but without the crash that usually comes with it.

One of my favourite sugar-free recipes comes c/o Davina McCall from her ‘5 weeks to sugar-free’ book. This tea loaf is so simple to make and has no sugar or butter in the actual recipe (although I do add butter to my slices slice when I’m actually eating it!). Anything that accompanies a proper cup of tea, and doesn’t involve you reaching for the biscuit tin, is good in my book!

Ingredients 

350g dried fruit (I make sure there’s a mixture of raisins, dates, sultanas and cranberries)

200ml freshly brewed tea

50ml maple syrup (honey is also good)

250g wholemeal spelt flour (can’t beat Doves Farm)!

2tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed space

2 free-range eggs

Method 

Boil the kettle and brew 200ml of tea. Pour over the dried fruit and maple syrup (or honey) let it sit for a few few hours (or overnight if you have the patience).

Tea Loaf 2

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

Tea Loaf 3

Sieve the flour into a bowl and stir in the baking powder and mixed spice. Add the fruit and any of the liquid, along with the eggs. Mix it all up.

Tea Loaf 4

Bake in the oven for around an hour. Take out and leave to cool for around ten minutes.

Tea Loaf 6

Serve with butter and a cuppa!

(tea loaf is best when it’s still warm from the oven)!

Enjoy

Ciara_Signoff

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