Tech and Social Media Detox + I Switched Off for Over 72 Hours

Last weekend I went away to Byron Bay, but before I publish that blog post I wanted to go into something I chose to do while I was away, a little challenge I guess, which was to do a total technology and social media detox for the entire long weekend (over 72 hours). I did it, and I’m super proud of myself, so I wanted to share with you now why I did it, how I did it and what I got out of it. I hope that through this you will sense from my upcoming blog post about Byron Bay that I really was, truly, entirely in each and every moment, and that it was because of this.

If you have been following me for a while over on social media and throughout some of my blog posts you will know that I’m a big advocate for being in the moment, and saying no to screen time regularly. Technology is great, as mentioned in my previous post about how much I love my new Apple Watch (you can read it here – Tech Review: Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS + Cellular), social media is beneficial, but so is switching off every now and again.

I chose to switch off for the recent long weekend for a lot of reasons, but more recently the effect I’ve realised social media has on my life. I am not one to sit on it for hours, but when you are running an account like I do you can feel like you have to post certain things, you have to share things that should be really just for you, and as much as I love being personal with my community, I also love just doing me sometimes, so for me it’s about finding the perfect blend of both. So not sharing things ‘in the moment’ is my new truth on social media. I’m allowing myself to be in the moment as it’s happening and then sharing things hours, days or even weeks later, and I’m allowing myself to be ok with that.

In reference to another previous post of mine about saying goodbye to my larger social media community recently (you can read it here – Let Go to Move Forward), and this is definitely a personal thing as I know some people thrive off having a large community, but right now for me I really feel like I can switch off, for real and not feel guilty about it, and I love that. There aren’t any rules out there when you have a large public social media account, but there is that underlying pressure when you know your followers want to see what you get up to, but what about you wanting to really ‘see’ what you get up to, something that was on my mind regularly, what about me and my moments. I think as well that maybe how I feel about being in your ‘own moment’ stems a lot from when I spend time with my parents, who don’t have mobile phones or the internet, and are two of the happiest people I know. They need me to be in the moment with them, and I’ve learnt that I need it too, we all do.

So how did I switch off for 72+ hours?

  • Firstly I let those close to me know that I was doing it so they knew everything was ok.
  • I decided not to take my laptop with me, because the getaway was not ‘work’ related.
  • Once I arrived at our destination in Byron Bay I texted those who needed to know that we arrived safe and sound.
  • After we had settled in I deleted every app that linked to the internet (Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest).
  • Then I further deleted the apps that brought up notifications regularly (my email app and Podcasts), which I realise you can turn these off – but it’s easier to simply delete them so you don’t check them for updates.
  • I made sure that all alarms were off and placed my phone on the bedside table.
  • I left my phone in our room for the majority of the weekend as I had my Apple Watch on me, which is cellular so I can still receive texts and phone calls.
  • I took my camera with me everywhere, which is what I took all of my photos on instead of my phone (probably my biggest tip if you want to do a detox like this is to have an actual camera with you – plus the photos are so much nicer).

Note: I did not put my phone on airplane mode (which I know a lot of people do when they do this kind of detox) so that for me personally I could still be contacted via text and phone calls in case of emergencies.

In all honestly it was hard at first trying to push down that urge to want to post about what I was up to, because everything was so post-worthy, but it got easier after the first night and first day. I started to truly be in the moment, without the expectation of how the moment should look on screen, without the pressure to do anything at all but enjoy every single moment for what it was, a gift.

If you are one to want to have your phone on you, your laptop, or whatever else you like to take with you when you go away, that’s totally fine (you do you), but doing even just a few hours detox from it all can be so freeing (even life changing if we want to go there). It truly is incredible the things you notice when you are present with the moment, where you are, with those you love.

If you’ve ever done a technology and/or social media detox or if you do one in the future I would love to know how you found it in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to SPARKLE on darling back on the home page to ensure you don’t miss my post about my Byron Bay getaway to come.

All my love,

 

Why I Love Taking Myself Out for Coffee

Want to go out for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even just a coffee, and have no one to do it with? Well darling, I say that you should go anyway (because you deserve it).

Going on solo dates for some reason, for a lot of people, is a bit ‘taboo’, it’s as if you can’t be in public alone at a table and actually enjoy yourself, without feeling like everyone is starring at you. For me, solo dates are one of my favourite things to do by myself, and these days I couldn’t care less about what people think of me when I’m out on my own date, enjoying myself, while everyone is looking at me (they aren’t looking at me though let’s be real – they’re too busy glued to their phones!).

When you go on a solo date not only do you get to choose where you go, but you only have ‘you’ to worry about when you get there too (trust me when I say.. single chair tables are usually the best in the house – think cosy corners and beautiful views, just for you). You can also order what you want (without judgement), you can stay as long as you want, you can read in peace, write or draw, and one of my favourite things to do when I go on a solo date is to simply ponder, about everything and anything that comes to mind, or nothing at all.. coffee in hand.

I don’t know why we are all so scared of going it alone, in life itself down to the simplest of situations like taking yourself out for coffee. For me, taking myself out for coffee is one of my favourite things to do because it’s total me time, it’s completely for me, it’s 10, 15, 20 minutes where all I have to worry about is the here and now, the heat of my coffee cup in my palm, the awakening aroma, the intense fresh blend (it’s usually more like half hour to an hour though, I soak up these solo dates and squeeze out as much goodness as possible – and order another coffee while I’m there, of course).

Just to be clear, to take yourself on a solo date you do not need to be ‘single’ to do so (I’m in a long term relationship and I do it all the time, because he knows how much I love it and how good it is for me to have my me time), you could also be the most sought after person in your family and friends weekend schedules, and you can still take yourself on a solo date without them, absolutely you can, and you should. There is no harm in doing things on your own, if anything it’s extremely beneficial, it’s confidence building and it’s character building. You can even take time to meet new people or even have a small conversation with the staff members where you are. They could go an entire shift without a good conversation, and you taking a moment not just to make your order, but to ask them how they are (and mean it), might literally make their day (try not to talk about the weather though, everyone does that, put some effort in.. ask them what their favourite cuppa or blend is!).

Coffee is a great way.. to spend time with YOU.

I hope you’ve found some solo inspiration to show society that sitting alone, drinking your beautiful fresh cup of coffee (or tea for my tea lover readers out there), in a little cafe full of personality, is something to be envious of, not looked down upon. I for one think this simple ritual, could in fact be one of life’s greatest pleasures.

All my love,

 

Restarting My Fitness Journey (Again)

Over the years my fitness has had many highs and many lows. I’ve gone from not exercising at all, to exercising 2 hours a night – 6 days a week, never running, to running 7km’s every morning, giving it up completely, to joining a gym, cancelling my membership, joining another gym, cancelling again, I’m sure you get what I’m getting at, my fitness journey for years has been all over the shop, I’ve never stuck at my fitness for more than a year at a time without giving up on it in between. I love it when I’m really into it, but I’ve never felt like I’ve been doing it for the right reasons, until now.

So this year I’ve reevaluated my ‘why’ and come at my life, my health, my fitness, from a completely different angle, the angle of.. for pure enjoyment and for the love of it, not for change or to escape.

At the beginning of this year I didn’t set myself any crazy exercise goals like I usually would, I simply said to myself that I’d like to do more yoga, and that I’ve done. I didn’t put pressure on myself to do all the things, just one thing, and I’ve been doing it and purely for the love of it. I’ve done numerous yoga classes now and the benefits have been beyond what I could have ever imagined, inside and out, and I feel like the enjoyment I’ve gotten out of each and every class has been so incredible that I might actually continue it throughout the year, for the rest of the year, for the first time during my on and off yoga journey.

Recently I had this urge to join a gym (again), this is my fourth gym. So I did it, but this time with zero expectation on myself, no pressure to go every single day and push myself to my limits. Instead, I’ve been seeing a personal trainer once a week to find my rhythm again, learn new things and simply enjoy the practice of working out, and I’ve been having the time of my life going just once a week. You may think what is the point of working out once a week at a gym, well if you are physique focussed, probably not a lot, but from my very first personal training session I said to my trainer and myself that I’m just here to maintain my health and have fun, that whatever else happens because of it is a bonus. I’ve been going now for 4 weeks and can already feel and see small differences, though again that’s not why I’m doing it, it’s an incredible thing to see differences even without the pressure of exercising day after day. I’ve learnt that your body responds better when it’s loved.

I’ve come a long way from exercising 2 hours a night – 6 days a week (ridiculous right?) and it becoming a chore, to be at a point now where I’m bouncing out of bed at 5am because I cannot wait to train blows my mind. I do plan on adding at least 2 more sessions in of my own per week gradually when I regain my strength and am feeling up to it, but right now, my body is absolutely loving my little routine of yoga and strength training, and so am I.

When I stopped putting pressure on myself, comparing myself, and focusing on particular goals, I finally found enjoyment, I finally found love for my fitness journey. It’s taken me years of highs and lows throughout it, but I finally feel like I’ve found my happy place within my body, within my health and within my fitness. I no longer train from a place of change, I’m doing it because I love my body, because I want to still be healthy in 20 years time, not just because I want to be ripped in 12 weeks time.

Everyone is on a different journey, and this is simply mine and the path I’ve chosen that works for me. Just know that there is no right or wrong, what matters is doing what is right for you and what works for you at this very given time in your life (and this could be completely different to what you even did yesterday). Be proud of yourself no matter where you are at, and if you aren’t finding enjoyment and love in what you are doing, take a step back, maybe it’s time to do something differently, just make sure it’s for you because that’s when the magic happens.

All my love,

Should You Keep a Hard Copy Diary + Why I Still Do

With smart phones, smart tablets, laptops and now smart watches, does anyone still write in a hard copy diary? Yes, over here, me, I’ve got my hand held high for this one.

When I talk about writing in a diary I don’t mean like when you were a teenager, keeping a diary can simply be a place to put your special occasions, events, to-do’s, bills and where you can brain dump at the end of the day. You don’t need to have a deep and meaningful with this notebook, but you can still fill it with meaningful things which will help you feel organised and ‘together’ throughout the year.

The thing about keeping a hard copy diary away from a ‘screen’, is that it’s a form of true presence, being in the moment. You can’t get sidetracked by flipping the page and seeing what your friends are up to, because your notebook isn’t a phone, your phone is on charge, it’s just you and the notebook at the dining table, ink pen in hand. See, writing is a traditional art form, I call it art anyway. We spend so much time typing, that writing can become a lost tradition in our lives. Even our to-do lists can now be written in our smart phones, at least with a notebook you don’t have to make sure it’s charged. There is no quick typing or spelling when you write, it makes us really think, it encourages our creativity and creates space in our busy tech-heavy days.

Diaries I love..

  • Active Living Diary by Lorna Jane (this is what I have for 2018 as pictured above)
  • kikki.K Diaries
  • MiGOALS Diaries

Admittedly I’ve had some really good years where I’ve written in it regularly, so much so that it has been a go-to hub for my entire calendar, I’ve also had some years where I’ve bought one and it’s sat in my drawer for the entire 12 months (can you relate?). This year though I am making the effort if not daily, but every Sunday to get my diary out and write in it from anywhere between half hour to an hour.

During this half hour/hour I will..

  • Fill out any extra things that have happened during the week.
  • Fill out my coming week with all my to-do’s and check for upcoming bills.
  • Check the month calendar.

At the start of each new month I will..

  • Fill out the month calendar.
  • In the month calendar I will also include the book I plan to read that month (this is part of my 2018 goals – blog post to come).
  • Fill out my coming week (as above).
  • Go over my goals section (the Lorna Jane diary has an amazing section at the front dedicated to this – I had so much fun filling out this years! Below is a snapshot of mine for 2018).

What I include in my diary..

  • Special occasions (Birthday’s, anniversaries).
  • Events (Public Holiday’s, invitations).
  • To-do’s (everyday to do’s, appointments).
  • Bills on their due dates.
  • Brain dumping/everyday journaling (anything worth remembering or perhaps that I might need to look back over I add to that day at the end of the day).

For me keeping a diary is so special. I really do thoroughly enjoy the practice of writing in a yearly diary, it’s a small amount of time during my day or my week just for me, I find it calming to put my up and coming’s onto paper and when I do well at keeping it all year it makes for a beautiful reflection on your year. There’s nothing like a handwritten diary to look back on and see what you really achieved (and let me tell you, when it’s all written down on paper, it’s a lot!).

Note: Writing in this diary is seperate to my gratitude journal which is a lot more personal and part of my self love practice (check out my blog post ‘How to Start a Gratitude Journal‘).

I hope after reading this blog post you are feeling inspired to put pen to paper during 2018. To those who might say ‘I don’t have time to add yet another thing to my daily rythym like writing in a diary’, well to you I say, we all have 24 hours in a day, and at the end of the day we are all doing what we know how to do with what we’ve been given. Some things in life really are as simple as that, if you want to do it, you will make time for it. Do you keep a yearly diary? I would love to know how you find it and what your favourite diary is in the comments below.

All my love,

 

 

Stress Less + SPARKLE More

Photo by Kelly Adams Photography

Last year was most definitely my biggest year yet, and by big I don’t mean it was all about success. Once again my year started off with heartbreak in January after losing yet another loved one which hit me really hard.. in May I was promoted which was really exciting and then I launched this blog in July after months (if not years really) of working on it.

Over the last few years so much has happened in my life personally and professionally that eventually it was going to come to a point where it was too much if I didn’t allow quality time to heal and rest, and soon after the first part of last year it did, it all became too much. The amount of stress running through my body had become beyond imaginable, though on the outside you couldn’t see it, on the inside my heart was aching, my body was exhausted and I had nothing left to give, because I was giving too much and not filling myself back up. One day I woke up in so much pain running through my entire body, it had finally given in, it was telling me to stop, right now, that day, stop completely and heal. So I did.

That day I had a couple of days off work to rest, I had health checks, blood tests, then from there I began a journey of about 6 months of physiotherapy to mend my body, I focused on resting and worked on slowing down in every aspect of my life. I let go of the temptation to do everything and be everything to everyone all of the time. I cancelled my gym membership and stayed home a lot more to do some serious winding down and to sleep more than I ever had in my life, I literally had to come to a complete stop in order to start again. After all of this work I finally feel like I am becoming my best self again.

It’s a funny thing that it’s not until something stops us in our tracks that we take notice of what is affecting us from the inside-out. I had let life’s stressors build up pressure inside me for a couple of years, and when my physio first touched my body she could feel the intense tension, the pain, running all the way up through my back to my neck and my head. She said she hadn’t seen a young persons body like this, that it shouldn’t be like this. She was one of the first people to tell me that I needed to do some work, not just physical, but I needed to stop and heal. Notice the reuccurance so far? Stop to heal. I know I’m not the only one to push through the pain, the workload, to make my dreams happen no matter what, I’m not the only one to push aside wellness to keep moving forward in whatever way possible, but I’m not that person anymore, today I stop and heal, every, single, day.

Here are some of the things that I now know that stopped me in my tracks and the things that helped me heal..

What stopped me..

  • I held emotion in for a long time, too long.
  • I didn’t get enough sleep and didn’t listen to my body when it was tired during the day.
  • I was constantly trying to hold together toxic friendships.
  • I took on too much at once.
  • I thought I was obliged to keep going when I was exhausted, that taking time out just for me wasn’t an option.

What healed me..

  • I let everything out and talked to my loved ones about how I was feeling.
  • I seeked professional help, for my mental and physical state.
  • I began sleeping whenever I needed to, even if it meant one to two times during the day on my days off.
  • I stopped the pressure hanging over me from having a gym membership, I cancelled it and did healing exercises instead like yoga and walking.
  • I worked (and continually work) on being grateful for what I have.

I don’t want anyone to ever be where I was at one of the lowest points of my life. I thought I had it all together, that I was doing all the right things, I was exercising, I was eating well,  I was living by the ‘books’, but still I wasn’t truly listening to my body, I wasn’t taking notice of the signals until it was too late. Would you believe that on the day of the photoshoot I did for this blog (most of the photos you see here including the one above) that I was in such intense pain that I could hardly open my eyes, but yet I still pushed through? I had put my body under so much stress over a couple of years without even noticing. Never again, from when I started to feel well again I made a promise to myself to always listen and remain consciously aware through everything I do.

I hope this resonates with someone out there who has been through something similar (you are never alone) or is beginning to feel their body coming to a stop, there’s a reason for this, it is telling you to stop, so stop to heal, give yourself the permission to. I promise that it’s all going to be ok, that the world will not fall apart when you take time out. Listen to your body beautiful souls, honour it, it is the only one you have, do not be afraid to reach out for help from loved ones or professionals, and remember, finding gratitude in simply being well and feeling good is so powerful. Be grateful for your health, always.

All my love,

How to Start a Gratitude Journal

Photo by Kelly Adams Photography

By now you may have heard of the term ‘Gratitude Journal’ or the action ‘gratitude journaling’, so what exactly is this journal, and should you start one? My personal opinion is most definitely, for me this simple practice has been life changing.

What is a Gratitude Journal?

A Gratitude Journal is not a diary as such, but a purposed journal, usually a small lined notebook that is used for the specific purpose of writing down what you are grateful for in that moment.

When to journal?

I personally write in it organically, I don’t force myself to do it everyday like it’s part of a ‘routine’, because when we force things, that’s when I find that this new exciting thing we really wanted to do can soon become more of a chore. Practicing gratitude journaling should not be a chore, it should simply be a beautiful practice, rather than just another thing we have to do in our already ‘busy’ lives. Sure if you write in yours daily, amazing, sometimes I write in mine more often, but a lot of the time it’s just when I feel like it, and this can be any time of the day.

The layout

I usually write the date at the top so I can refer back with a timeline, then I will start with.. ‘Today I am grateful for..’ followed by three numbered dot points below (eg. 1. 2. 3..). Three because 3 isn’t an overwhelming amount to have to think about, but more than 1 so that you do have to sometimes put some heart and soul into it on the simpler days.

What to journal about?

There is always something to be grateful for.. Examples could be, you got to have a little sleep in, the sun was shining when you woke up, the smell of your first coffee of the day, your favourite song came on the radio on the way to work or on the way home, or something as simple as a home cooked dinner.

Benefits of having a Gratitude Journal + actually sticking to it

Firstly, it’s a form of self love, something just for you, to do on your own. I know a lot of people out there probably struggle with making time just for themselves, I know I do some days, but having a simple, affordable, everyday practice like this allows you to do just that, even if only for 5 minutes every so often.

Practicing gratitude encourages you to focus on all of the good in your life, especially helpful during the seemingly mundane weekly routines and lack of sparkle in our lives. Trust me when I say, when you start your journal you will realise there is always sparkle in our lives, and it probably doesn’t cost a thing and is right in front of our eyes.

We all want to start new ventures to change our lives for the long haul, and actually sticking to having a Gratitude Journal, I promise you, can be that life changing venture. I have a lot of good days to write about sure, but I also have some bad days.. some end up with headaches, and some end in tears. Since starting my gratitude journal, not only do I get filled with joy when I write on a good day, morning or night, but it’s the joy I get on a bad day that has had the biggest impact on my life. When I pick it up on a not so sparkly day, not necessarily to write in it, but to read back on all of the things in my life I already have to be grateful for, it changes everything, and once again no matter my day, I’ve found gratitude.

If you have a Gratitude Journal or start one in the future I would love to know your thoughts and feelings towards keeping it in the comments below.

All my love,