Quit Smoking: Week 3

Day 21 – 3 weeks off the cigarettes cold turkey with only one slip up 7 days ago. For those of you who were sensible enough to never smoke that probably doesn’t sound like much of an achievement. For anyone who has, and has ever tried to stop smoking, especially cold turkey, I’m sure you’ll appreciate why I consider that a success!

The Slip-Up

Yes, Day 13, just as I thought I was getting the hang of this quitting thing I had a row with my husband (who does smoke) – our first since I quit and I fell back on the old coping mechanism of lighting up a fag to deal with the stress. As a matter of fact, I had several that night but when I woke the next day, I decided to knock it on the head straightaway and ran what cigs I had left under the tap before chucking them in the bin so that I couldn’t easily change my mind!

It also helped that my throat was absolutely killing me from not only smoking after 2 weeks off but also having picked up a cough and sore throat off my youngest that then kept me up all week, reinforcing why I should stick it out and stay off the fags if I didn’t want that cough to become a permanent fixture in my life.

The Recovery

I stuck the Paul McKenna hypnosis on that I’ve been listening to successfully up until this point and, when I woke up out of the trance/dreamlike state, I just didn’t have another smoke (if you want to have a go to see if this can work for you, there’s a link to it from my previous post here https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/07/05/quit-smoking-day-5/ or down the sidebar). I only listened to it that once to reinforce the messages and that did the trick for me.

I also find it helpful to keep building on progress by introducing new challenges such as the 7-Day Digital Detox I started last week:

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/07/18/has-your-smart-phone-taken-over-your-life/

This kept me pretty busy in that I actively started hunting out things to do instead of lounging about on my smartphone of an evening.

I’ve still kept up with the interdentals/toothpicks as well – I find it helpful especially in the car or when I’m walking somewhere to just have one in my mouth/hand to chew or fiddle with. If you fancy trying them, just click the image below – I recommend them for non-smokers too as I was told by my dentist that they’re much better than flossing.

These are the interdentals I use which last me about 10 days but a lot cheaper than a pack of fags and far healthier for my teeth and gums!

The Benefits

I find it really helpful to challenge myself to reach the next Benefit Milestone and to read up on how others have managed to kick the habit. One site that has really helped me is https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/what-happens-when-you-quit

Notwithstanding my little slip, the benefits I’ve seen by being clean these last 3 weeks include:

  • Pulse rate now at normal levels
  • No carbon monoxide in my body
  • Oxygen levels returned to normal
  • No nicotine in my body
  • Lungs have started to clear out all the smoking induced rubbish out of my body
  • Taste-buds improved as has sense of smell
  • Bronchial tubes begin relaxing so breathing becomes easier
  • Energy levels begin to rise
  • Improving circulation in the body

Most of us who have tried quitting previously will have heard of the notorious “3’s” – 3 days/3 weeks/3 months as being times when it can be a particularly challenging part of the quit smoking journey. For me, it was the 2-week stage so be alert to the fact that your body and your journey may well be different.

My next big benefit is between 3 and 9 months when breathing issues, wheezing and coughing will start to improve as the lungs function better by up to 10%! This is the one that I never get to usually – but this time feels different…

How So?

Last night, I almost slipped again. After another exchange of words with my husband, I found myself at the shop actually stood in the queue, lighter in hand before finding myself practically running to the fridge, buying milk and a packet of sugar-free chewing-gum instead!

The pride I felt in myself walking out of that shop and again on waking-up this morning inspired me to write this post to help others who may be struggling on their own quit smoking journey. Yes, you can just go and buy some fags and light up but the relief is infinitely more short-lived than the pride and sense of achievement that you feel at overcoming your craving. Surprisingly, what helped here is that I’d sat with other family members earlier that day who smoked and managed to abstain so I felt like I’d put myself through that for nothing if I did smoke that night.

What I discovered yesterday is that I can ride out the craving. By the time I got to the shop, unlike on other occasions when I’ve tried to quit, the craving had already passed.

When I got back, I had a cup of tea, went to bed and again popped on the old Paul McKenna hypnosis! I think that I will plan to listen to this once a week now for the next month or so, just to keep those messages fully reinforced.

At 3 weeks, I can hardly say I’m out of the woods with this quit smoking journey, however, by following the steps above and in my other two posts on the topic, I’m definitely on my way.

Wishing any others on their own QS journey the very best of luck – stay strong!! x

How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Blog

Part 1: Instagram

It’s been only 5-weeks or so since I started my blog, Holistic Living With Carla, and it’s been both fun and a bit of a baptism of fire at times!

One of the first things to get to grips with as you launch your site is social media. There’s such a variety of options available with this, your starting point is probably going to be narrowing these options down to a few that you feel will best work for you and your blog.

It’s tempting to add as many social media buttons to your site as possible but I don’t recommend this – at least not at first. Using social media is a form of marketing and for me, whilst it’s a necessary part of building a blog, it’s not my primary goal. I’d rather be spending the majority of time building quality content that I can promote to a few social media sites rather than spending all my time marketing.

There are apps out there such as Tailwind that post to multiple social media sites at once and you can link to other social media platforms to save time by posting once to multiple social media types. I haven’t used Tailwind or similar apps but I did try, at first anyway, uploading one post to multiple platforms. Whilst it was more efficient on my time, what became pretty obvious to me fairly quickly, is that this wasn’t as effective as posts carefully crafted to that platform’s particular strengths and uses.

Essentially, the lesson for me here was to do different, more targeted posts to the social media platforms I’d chosen to work with which quickly and noticeably resulted in better engagement.

The 3 social media platforms I currently use are:

  • Instagram;
  • Pinterest; and
  • Facebook

There are of course other options such at Twitter and Tumblr for example but these were the 3 that I felt would be of most use to me for raising my brand awareness. I already had personal accounts for Pinterest and Facebook but using these in a business/promotional sense is, I’ve discovered, a very different kettle of fish!

Now, instead of uploading a post to my website and then just adding one social media link on these 3 sites, I instead consider what post I could add that is most likely to catch the attention of my audience on each platform, based around the topic I’m blogging about, which has seen a greater success rate already in bringing my social media audience over to the blog itself.

In this 3-part series, I set out some basic dos and don’ts that I’ve incorporated into my social marketing technique based on the last 5-weeks usage and social media strategy as a way to hopefully help others tweak their marketing efforts for maximum results. Part 1 focuses on Instagram, with Pinterest featuring in Part 2 and finally, Facebook in Part 3:

Instagram

If you’re already familiar with Instagram then you’ll have a head start on me as, until blogging, I’d never seen the point in it, choosing to stick with Facebook only for my personal social media.

For business-purposes, however, it makes sense to find a way to promote your product/services/talents, mainly through photographs and images, that are eye-catching enough to stand out from the thousands of other images on the platform being constantly uploaded, attracting likes, or better yet followers, to your profile and, in the case of a blog, then getting these people over to your website. Some of my learning points have been:

Do

Don’t

  • Only post your best quality images or memes and try to adopt a colour scheme that works well for you – this meant I had to delete all of my posts and start again – I personally stick to a colour scheme for say 9 posts and then bring in a new scheme but others prefer to stick to one or two colours throughout;
  • Use the “Rule of 3” to post images as that is how they’ll be displayed on your board. I like to have 3 related posts next to one another, some as memes, some as photographs but all connected to one another in terms of topic;
  • Add text to explain the image you have posted below the image itself, that is helpful or entertaining to the audience and, if appropriate, add a link to your blog post/website.
  • Add relevant hashtags only – you can have up to 30 here but I tend to limit myself to 10 so it doesn’t look spammy;
  • Use an app like Follow Cop which I personally use (for free) to track which of my followers are users genuinely interested in my content and which are just playing the old “follow/unfollow” game to boost their own follower numbers.
  • Check out the profiles of those who liked your images or have followed you and return the favour if you think you both have something in common.
  • Use hashtags that are too popular as your post has less chance of being seen;
  • Post spammy comments asking other users to DM (direct message) you for a collab (collaboration) if you plan on asking them to buy your product at a discounted price, for them to take pictures of themselves using it, which you’ll then use on your site. This is not a collab.
  • Unless you actually want to buy a product yourself, don’t get caught out in scams like the one above yourself. There’s nothing wrong with politely saying no thanks or even just ignoring these types of comments.
  • Follow and then unfollow to boost your own follower numbers. It’ll be caught onto pretty quick by most users and just wastes everybody’s time, seriously affecting your popularity;
  • Post too often or too little; there are different views on this but I currently post 3-posts at a time, at least once every couple of days.
  • Post content that is not consistent with your brand – if you’re using Instagram for your business or brand, then don’t post content that could hurt this. If you think you’re going to want to post images unrelated to your brand, it’s better to have separate personal and business accounts so as to not mix business with pleasure.

For those of you who prefer a visual example, feel free to check out my profile on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/holisticlivingwithcarla/

These are just basic observations from my own limited experience, I’m sure that there are many others that I’ve not included. The key thing is to not get too caught up in the figures and stats, whilst also recognising when a particular strategy is or isn’t working. You can then tweak or adjust your strategy accordingly and hopefully the above gives you some ideas for what might work for promoting your brand/services/talents on Instagram.

Part 2 in the series will be uploaded next Sunday and focuses on Pinterest social media strategy so be sure to check back then if you found this topic of assistance at all.

person-using-ipad-looking-at-chart

Blogging Stats: Week 4

Blogging Stats: Week 4

This is a rolling-post so for those of you who want to check out Blogging Stats: Week 1-Week 3, head there first (links below) as Week 1 especially contains a breakdown of my understanding of the terminology, which as a newbie blogger can feel a bit like learning a foreign language:

Weeks 1-3 Links:

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/05/26/blogging-stats-week-1/

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/06/02/blogging-stats-week-2/

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/06/09/blogging-stats-week-3/

Average daily visitors: 20 visitors

Following a strategy alteration, Week 4 saw these drop down from 30 to 20 per day. I’m happy with this figure as I had to drop the number of daily posts down from 2 to 1 as it was becoming too much. As such, I’d expected this figure to drop down to 15 i.e. half what it had been, so to have only dropped by a third, I didn’t think that this was too bad.

Average daily views: 31 views

Another movement down in Week 4 from 50 views per day to 31 but factoring in the total post per day drop again to be expected. Again above what I was expecting of 25 per day with better interaction on posts made.

Average daily Views Per Visitor (VPV): 1.6 article views per visitor

This remains at 1.6 so apart from a jump up to 2.3 in Week 2, 1.6 VPV seems stable considering drop in posts per day this week and gives me a good base line to work from going forward.

Average new daily followers: 2.6 new followers

Up slightly from 2.5 last week but again factoring in the unexpected strategy change very happy with this.

Average daily likes: 13 daily likes

Slight drop down from 13.5 to 13 but again with drop in posts per day still relatively stable.

Social media referrals: Facebook, WordPress, Pinterest, Instagram, Search Engines and Mail Signups

Only 109 referrals this week, down 60 on last week, so a fairly big drop. I’ve no ads running on social media currently and don’t intend to start anymore for a few weeks so this may explain this downturn. Will be worth keeping this under review and fine-tuning social media strategy in the coming weeks.

Instagram remains in the 125-ish mark although it fluctuates up and down at times and no new Facebook likes this week but again, without ads running, I think to be expected.

Average posts per day: 1 average post daily

Despite giving the Editorial Calendar a whirl last week, it just became too much to post twice per day and I really felt that I was compromising quality for quantity which led to a mid-week about turn to aim for one high quality post per day. I’d toyed with the idea last week but didn’t want to see my stats drop (which they inevitably did!). However much happier with the quality and content put out this week and the stats didn’t drop as much as expected.

Other Points:

Kept up with the relationship building on WordPress with other bloggers which is one of my favourite parts of being a blogger, getting to interact with people all over the world on a multitude of different topics and coming across articles I might otherwise never have seen. Also, remained an active part of the Facebook bloggers’ group which has also seen some referrals that I might otherwise never have got, as well as being another source of interesting articles to read myself.

The Editorial Calendar was a really helpful exercise for me as it helped me to identify that 2 quality posts per day whilst working full time and being married with 2 kids, really wasn’t feasible for me anymore. Not only was the quality of content compromised but I was completely exhausted, not always 100% happy with the posts I was putting out and, truthfully, not enjoying blogging at break-neck speed! Since I changed strategy on Friday when I purposely chose to post nothing all day being completely shattered, I feel much happier, healthier and less tired – win!

I also completely re-hauled Instagram this week, following advice I’ve read on the internet or watched on YouTube to think about layout of posts on there. For this, I’ve downloaded the free version of the Preview app – this has been of limited assistance but it did help to give me a better idea how posts will look before uploading to Instagram and I’m much happier with my Insta profile now – feel free to check it out and follow: https://www.instagram.com/holisticlivingwithcarla/

Plan going forward? To refine my first Editorial Calendar to incorporate one good quality post per day based on how much I enjoy writing the content and how well certain posts are received. I intend to make better use of the scheduling feature to again better manage time and energy so that I use more of my weekends to prepare the weekly content and then spread this out over the week.

I also want to stay an active part of the blogging community every day as this has been a real source of support to me these last 4 weeks. I love that we’re all on our own blogging journey, travelling it in our own unique way.

That brings us to the end of our 4-part weekly Blogging Stats. Looking forward to getting stuck into the more technical side of blogging in future editions.

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read, like, share, comment or follow based on this 4-part feature. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of and I wish you all the best with your own fabulous blogging journey x

It goes without saying that as I only launched my first blog 4 weeks ago, I have no doubt made several errors above, however, these are my insights based on my understanding at the time of writing

Nature Health Herbs From The Meadow Natural Medicine

The Magick of Herbs: The A’s

The Magick of Herbs

The A’s

As I start upon my path of learning about various herbs and plants and their different properties, uses and associations, I thought it may be of use to others to jot down my findings, as honestly, up until recently, I found the topic so vast, I was at a loss as to where to start.

Where to Start?

I thought a nice introduction to the topic would be to order a “Witch Starter Kit” via Amazon last week and honestly whilst it may not be for everyone, I’ve been delighted with it. It came with numerous exciting packets, all neatly labelled with some names I recognised and others I’d never heard of, with a helpful list of potential uses – all for the bargain price of £15.00!

I should say that many herbs can be found in supermarkets, garden centres and kitchen cupboards or grown at home, so it is not at all necessary to invest in a starter kit like this – unless you want to of course!

Get to Know What You’re Working With

Before using any of these herbs, I thought it sensible to begin my own glossary of each and therefore my list of magickal herbs is limited at this time solely to the ones that came with my kit and some everyday herbs I grow in my kitchen and garden that I intend to add to my purchased kit.

This glossary, therefore, is to be a basic A-Z guide to begin with which, in time and with better knowledge and understanding, I intend to add to. The glossary is alphabetical rather than set out in terms of importance and/or relevance. I will include any related histories or philosophies that I come across that I believe are important for context, but for those more experienced in these arts, I’d be grateful for patience and tolerance with any errors, although more than happy to be corrected!

All that being said, on with the A’s….

Agnus Castus.

Agnus Castus

Use half to one teaspoon in herbal teas once ground down and strained mainly for “female” based issues such as PMS, menstruation and menopause.

Agrimony

Agrimony

Best used in protection and reversal magick in an uncrossing bath, a floor wash, worn or carried as psychic armour, in purifying incense or satches. Works well with Frankincense and with white candles. Also good to banish bad dreams in a dream/comfort pillow.

Alder Cones

Alder Cones

Alder has strong associations as a portal to the fairy realm, it being considered bad luck to cut down such a tree. Good to use its cones in divination or carried for protection or to soothe anxiety/nerves.

Alfalfa

Alfalfa

Known for bringing prosperity, health, wealth and abundance, alfalfa is good for gamblers or for inducing generosity from others. Can be used in money spells by sprinkling at the bottom of a green candle or carried in sachets. Placing in a jar in your kitchen is said to ensure you always have enough food, whilst carrying a little in your wallet helps you to hold onto the last of your cash. It can also be added to salads/used in herbal teas.

Arrow Root

Arrow Root

Another herb considered lucky for gambling! Before placing a bet, dust hands in the powder or coat lottery/prize tickets in a light dusting of arrow root and place under a green candle (already sprinkled with alfalfa – see previous herb) before lighting candle and burning just a little each day until the winner is announced.

Ash Keys

Ash Keys

Ash keys are said to unlock the doors to wisdom and knowledge so you may wish to use them in divination. They are also said to be protective so in spell-work can keep out negative energies or entities. Carry an even number of them in a sachet for good luck. Place in a dream/comfort pillow in even number to induce prophetic dreams and visions.

Avens

Avens (Wood)

Used in spells of love and protection as well as a purifier and in exorcisms – being in love can sometimes feel as though we are possessed! Useful in spell-work to keep out/purge negative energies/entities. Can be used as a cleanser in a relationship turned sour.

Next week, we will continue with our A-Z guide to herbs and their magickal uses as we proceed with the B’s….

As with any remedy or medicine, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning to work with any herbs listed.