Category: Mind & Mood

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

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

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

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