Got Writer's Block?

Got Writer’s Block?

Ways to Combat Writer’s Block

As bloggers, sooner or later, most of us, seem to be struck by the occasional bout of Writer’s Block – that dreadful phase when you sit down to post an update to your blog but can’t think of a single interesting thing to write or everything you do write looks rubbish to you! As the minutes tick by, you start wondering if the creative well of inspiration has truly run dry or to stick at it until you come up with something.

It can be quite unnerving the first time this happens after starting your blog; going from not being able to get your thoughts down quick enough to completely barren of ideas.

Having found myself staring down the barrel of a foreboding blank screen more than once, I thought it might be useful to jot down what’s worked for me in the past to get the creative juices flowing again.

Know Your Key Topics

At the end of each month, I sit down and look back at the key or main topics my blog is about and list them.

So for example, when I did this for August 2019, my Key Topics i.e. my niche areas were:

  • Home & Garden
  • Yoga & Meditation
  • Astrology & Divination
  • Randoms (in case I’m feeling spontaneous!)

If you’re not sure what your Key Topics are, look at any “menu titles” on your blog or your “categories” for repeat topics. Believe it or not, writing a list of article ideas in one go is far easier than sitting down to write each time having to think of just one idea. Mine took me less than 10 minutes.

Identify Sub-Topics for Each Key Topic

This probably works best using the above example:

Key Topic Sub-Topic
Home & GardenHealth: What’s Your Greatest Asset?
Family: London Trip
Yoga & MeditationIntroduction to Yoga Nidra
Astrology & DivinationHappy Birthday Virgo (monthly series)
September 2019: Energy Update (monthly series)
Witchcraft: Which Witch Are You?
RandomsLife Hack: Organise Your Workspace
Light Bite: Feeling Uninspired?
Life Hack: Make a Motivational Playlist

Make an Editorial Calendar

Once you’ve had a think about Sub-Topic articles you might like to write about around your Key Topics for the coming month, draft a calendar for each day of the month either by hand or using the computer. I personally use Microsoft Word which has a handy template for a calendar. Just open up Word, click File and select New. Then just type “calendar” into the search box that appears and frankly you’ll be spoiled for choice!

editorial-calendar-example-august
Editorial Calendar Example

I only started this one halfway through the month in August but the time I spent creating this, an hour to do the brainstorming session right through to creating this calendar, was time well spent. Every time I sat down at the computer to write, I always had an idea in mind so didn’t have to waste time thinking of what to write first.

Don’t be afraid to change the article idea if you think of something better – think of your monthly editorial calendar as a basic back-up or work in progress rather than what you initially decide being set in stone. Leave yourself some freedom to be randomly inspired sometimes.

Don’t sweat it either if you don’t manage to write one day. I had planned to blog every other day in August but amended my calendar as I went if something else came up and I didn’t have time one day.

Try to mix your article type up a bit too. I introduced “Light Bites” and “Life Hack” articles as monthly repeat topics that were intended to be shorter entries. This meant that I could type 3 quick blog posts in one night, helping me get ahead of schedule and be a bit more choosy about what I was in the mood to write about each day. This also meant that the articles that were posted were of better quality as well as feeling less rushed.

Having an Editorial Calendar has really helped with forward planning – for September, as you can see, this led to me posting far more “seasonal” posts based around autumn-related topics which are more likely to resonate with when readers might be looking for such articles.

Planning For Next Month's Articles
Planning Next Month’s Articles

Again, twice already this month, I’ve missed posting on alternate days but I just rearranged my calendar and moved on. Sometimes life gets in the way!

I’ve also redacted in the photos here the ideas coming up as these are subject to change but having found using an Editorial Calendar like this so beneficial, it’s definitely something I’d recommend taking the time to do at the end of each month as a way to reflect back on the last month and to help formulate a plan to move forward into the next one.

Do you use an Editorial Calendar? How has it helped you?

Feel free to share with any writers in your life πŸ™‚

Clock Deadline

Life Hack #3

Beat the Clock!

We’ve all done it I’m sure – had some looming deadline creep closer and closer but somehow you just can’t muster the motivation to get the job boxed off.

Well head over to Life Hack #2:

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/08/25/life-hack-2/

and get your motivational playlist built whilst you’re busy procrastinating. Then once you’ve done that, head back here to combine Life Hacks #2 and #3 and finally get that one job you’ve been putting off for ages off your to-do list for good!

Life Hack #3

Bring up the timer on your phone and set it for 10 minutes. Press start – see how much you can get through of your task in 10 minutes. Repeat until task complete – easy!

With your motivational playlist urging you on, you’ll get that task you love to hate finished in no time.

And more often than not, I frequently find, the task is never as bad as I imagined it to be πŸ™‚

Life Hack #4 – coming soon…

Toadstools and grass

Looking for Something A Bit Different?

Try This!

Depending on what you mean by “different”, this may or may not be it! Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working through a 6-part guided meditation by White Cloud Mystic, who I follow over on You Tube, which I’ve really enjoyed listening to. I’ve included a link to the first one below for anyone who fancies giving it a try.

What is a Guided Meditation?

For those of you who’ve not yet tried a guided meditation, you might wonder what it involves. Generally speaking, guided meditation is where one person leads a person into a meditative state, usually by describing a story or scenario for them to imagine and/or follow the instructions given.

Why I’m Recommending It

Because I enjoyed it and wanted to give others a chance to enjoy it too! It has a really nice simple storytelling style, tone and pace which is so relaxing. I always had a great night’s sleep after listening to one of these.

Sharing here is also a good way for me to make others aware of the channel so that hopefully it grows and we get more great meditations from White Cloud Mystic πŸ™‚

The whole series has a child-like innocence and nostalgia to it where you get to follow your own fairy into a magical world whilst you relax and drift away. There is also, for those interested, the idea that this meditation can be used to develop your own “magic”, whatever that means to you.

Give it a go if you’re interested by clicking on the video above. If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think in the comments and feel free to share with anyone who might benefit from a good night’s sleep tonight!

Sad adult female hugging giant teddy on bed

Had a Bad Day?

Healthy Ways to Boost Your Mood

Bad days happen to the best of us, sometimes quite unexpectedly and/or due to circumstances beyond our control. You can’t stop them entirely but you can at least try to make the best of them by using them as an excuse to treat yourself especially well and indulging in something that you know will make you feel better.

Trick or Treat?

Treating yourself when you’re going through “one of those days” can help to make something trying far more bearable. Unfortunately, in the past, I would often use a bad habit to make myself feel better: smoking, alcohol, chocolate, etc. All things that made me feel better in the moment but usually made me feel even worse as I’d end up feeling guilty for succumbing to my bad habits on top of having had a bad day to begin with!

As many of you already know from previous posts, 2019 for me has been about trying to change as many of my bad habits as possible and, so far, even though I slip from time to time, that decision is one of the best decisions I’ve made yet. The bad days have come less and less this year which is fab – but what to do now when they do strike?

Smoking, drinking and death by chocolate are not past-times I indulge in these days but I still want to feel good when a bad day does hit. Like today, after someone I considered a good friend took their crappy day out on me. My first thought was to have a cigarette to “cheer myself up” but luckily I clocked that thought for what it was (habit craving) without succumbing to it. Now, a couple of hours later, I’m glad I resisted the urge.

So for anyone else looking for healthier ways to boost their mood after experiencing a bad time, here’s what made me feel better after my bad day:

Feeling Supported

Fortunately, another friend of mine witnessed what had taken place and was able to give me a pep talk to encourage me to take a step back and avoid making a bad situation worse. Call in your support network and let them help you through a difficult situation even if it’s just listening as my friend did for me; it can make a world of difference.

Soak in the Bath

Honestly, I love a good soak in the bath whether I’ve had a bad day or not but candles, bubbles and coming out smelling delicious always lifts my mood at least a little.

Snuggle a Pet

I didn’t actually “snuggle” our pets as such as they’re not really about snuggling, but I did clean out the guinea-pigs’ cage and give them a stroke whilst putting down fresh bedding, food and water for them. It was a good distraction and immediately made me feel better. If you’ve not got a pet, snuggle up with a teddy!

Putting the Kettle On

Is there anything more British than putting the kettle on to make a cuppa in a crisis? No, there is not and the reason for that is because it works. Soothing for the soul, especially a nice herbal blend like Pukka’s Night Time concoction. Think chamomile, lavender and Valerian root to really relax yourself.

Journal

It’s funny as I’d been toying with what to blog about all day and not quite made my mind up and then, when this happened, I thought why not blog about this in case it could help someone else? It definitely made me feel better to get my thoughts “down on paper” if nothing else and far better to turn my bad day into a positive experience in this way than to bottle it all up and explode at some later date which can also be another bad habit of mine!

There are of course loads of different things that might work for you, exercising, meditating, yoga, listening to music, reading, playing a game, sleeping, watching TV, etc – I just picked out 5 that I happened to do this evening which I noticed had a lifting effect on my mood however slight – it all adds up after all.

I think one of the most important things to remember is that it will pass and that occasionally we have to endure dark days to better appreciate the light.

What about you? Have you any tips that help you boost your mood on a bad day?

grayscale photo of woman posing in front of table fan

Secrets to Sleeping Well in a Heatwave

Too Hot to Handle?

Welcome to Hell! Or that’s pretty much how I’ve felt upon heading up to my bedroom for the last week or so thanks to the current heatwave. We’re just not used to it here in the UK so don’t have the benefit of air conditioning as other countries do. When, on the odd occasion it does get hot here, it tends to get humid and sticky too – not great combinations for getting a good night’s sleep.

Ways to Cool Things Down

  1. Shut the blinds/curtains and windows during the day in rooms when the sun is shining directly into those rooms.
  2. Leave upstairs bedroom windows open provided safe to do so whilst sleeping(investing in a mosquito net to avoid creepy-crawlies).
  3. Invest in good quality electric fans and keep the door open in the room used in (why not try putting a tray of ice cubes in front of the air flow to help cool the air).
  4. Use thin cotton sheets wherever possible for bedding and avoid synthetic nightwear.
  5. Keep a stash of ice cubes or a cold flannel close by to place on pulse points or try freezing a hot water bottle instead to keep next to the feet/hands. Another alternative is a plant mister kept next to the bed to spray yourself periodically as needed.
  6. Stay hydrated throughout the day drinking more water than usual as you’ll be losing so much more through sweating.
  7. Flip your pillow frequently – you may also want to try cooling the pillow case in the fridge before bedtime.

What Not to Do

  • Avoid taking a cold shower – if a shower is necessary make it a tepid one.
  • Don’t indulge in alcohol – whilst you’ll likely fall asleep quickly, it’s unlikely you’ll stay asleep, especially if you don’t usually drink.
  • Don’t toss and turn. If you can’t sleep, get up and find something relaxing to do (not involving phones or computers!)
  • Don’t nap during the day.
  • Don’t cover your feet if you do cover yourself when sleeping.
  • Don’t exercise close to bedtime or engage in any other activity that raises body temperature(!)
  • Don’t fret – if you live in the UK, chances are we’ll soon be back to wet and rainy summer days very soon – comfort yourself with knowing you’ll soon be able to catch up on all the sleep you want safe in that knowledge!

Have you any tips you’d like to share with others? Personally, I tend to start off in bed but halfway through the night I end up coming downstairs to sleep on the couch as it’s so much cooler downstairs by then.

Feel free to share this article with others who may be struggling to sleep in this hotter than hell weather and remember…Stay Cool 😎

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

Energy Vampires & How to Avoid Them

Energy Vampires & How to Avoid Them

My favourite monster-type has always been the Vampire. I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula when I was about 10 years old, watched the film of the same name and devoured as much as I could around the myth and legend of the vampire, eventually even buying a tarot deck based on the undead.

I clearly romanticised my idea of what a vampire was based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the many imitations based on this that have followed through the years; in Eastern Europe where the legend of the vampire is/was most prevalent, the monster was a far-less charming and attractive creature!

What is an Energy Vampire?

Most people no longer believe in an undead, nocturnal, blood-sucking creature that can only maintain its own existence by feeding off the life-giving blood supply of the living. But an “energy vampire” – be assured – these monsters are very much real and, I’m afraid, living amongst us.

β€œThe blood is the life!”

Renfield, Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Energy vampires are those people in our lives that feed off our energies – be those energies mental, emotional or psychic. They love to latch onto empaths, kind-hearted, compassionate, sensitive souls who tend to be people-pleasers.

β€œThere are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”

Van Helsing, Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Take a moment now to think if there is someone that immediately springs to mind in your own life who, after spending any amount of time in their company, leaves you coming away feeling completely drained, spent and off-balance. This is likely to be your very own Energy Vampire.

β€œThe last I saw of Count Dracula was his kissing his hand to me, with a red light of triumph in his eyes, and with a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of.”

Jonathan Harker, Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Energy Vampire Signs:

  • They seem charming on the surface – at first;
  • Are they always gossiping about others? Yeah, they’ll be doing that about you to those others when you’re not around!
  • They’re never happy/always complain – and it’s always someone else’s fault;
  • Constantly competing with others, has to buy the “best” and tell the world about it, show-offs, full of their own self-importance;
  • Attention seekers – will make everything about them, your wedding, birth of your child, where you live;
  • Complete lack of gratitude, has an attitude of entitlement;
  • Insanely jealous of everyone else’s successes and fortunes, cannot be happy for others;
  • Master manipulators – they love to cause trouble and drama for others behind the scenes, especially fond of getting others to do their “dirty-work”;
  • You’ve never heard them say sorry – not once!
  • You’ve only ever heard them give backhanded compliments;
  • They downplay and belittle yours and others achievements whilst bigging up their own;
  • Masters of emotional blackmail, especially of their own children, love to guilt-trip others, victim-mentality/a martyr;
  • Very critical of others, you come away from them feeling bad about yourself;
  • Very opinionated and close-minded;
  • Will not allow you to set boundaries on how they treat/speak to you;
  • Once the charm-offensive stops working, the mask slips and they go on the attack showing their true colours as intimidating bullies;
  • Once you’ve seen through their guise, they will turn on you and try to discredit you to others/turn others against you especially if you call them out on their unacceptable behaviour.

How to Deal with an Energy Vampire

Run! All joking aside though, my strongest advice would be to remove these people from your life asap, or, where this is not possible, limit contact with them to the absolute bear minimum.

Obviously, we can all exhibit these traits from time to time but a person becomes an energy drain when they exhibit several of these traits over a sustained period of time and takes no responsibility/makes no effort to stop their behaviour.

You can try being civilised and talking to them about their behaviour but in my experience, everything will be twisted round to blame you and absolve themselves of responsibility. The true energy vampire cannot empathise with others nor understand the pain that they are causing because they believe that they are entitled to drain you/others of whatever it is that they “need”.

What has been most effective for me though is noting how I have allowed these people to drain my energy. An energy vampire can only take from you what you allow them to take. Remember that you are allowed to say no to people without being made to feel guilty regardless of who they are and they can be anyone: partners, friends, family, employers, colleagues, neighbours. So acknowledge the energy vampire, set boundaries for yourself that you honour and be willing to protect your precious personal energies at all costs.

Failing that, start bathing in garlic – that should keep everyone away!

Feel free to share this article with someone you think is being drained by an energy vampire if you think it will help them, or, if you’ve been attacked by an energy vampire yourself, have you any tips you’d like to share to help others?

Quit Smoking: Day 5

Pleased to report that I’m still on the wagon on Day 5 of my cold turkey Quit Smoking journey!

Day 4 was probably the hardest so far just in terms of frequency of thinking about smoking but nothing too traumatic yet.

And that’s what has got me worried – I’ve had lots of cravings so far of course but nothing too bad. I feel like I’m waiting for an intense tsunami of a crave to hit because whilst quitting hasn’t been easy so far, neither has it been as hard as I thought it would be especially doing it cold turkey (CT).

Starting to make me wonder if NRT quit efforts in the past were actually made harder by prolonging the physical addiction to nicotine? With a CT quit, within 72 hours there is no nicotine left in the body whereas most NRT programmes suggest a 6 to 12 week course of treatment.

Physically, I’m over the worst if I stick it out as I plan to; it’s a mental game at this point, more an uncomfortable itch that cannot be scratched. This can be the tricky part of a quit though on the basis that the novelty of quitting is starting to wear off already.

To keep morale up both for myself and others on their own QS journey, the helpers and hindrances since my last update have been:

Helps:

  • Daily yoga at a higher than usual intensity;
  • Messages of support from friends, family and other bloggers – a huge help so a massive thank you to each of you that have kindly reached out 😊
  • Trying to find the funny side instead of reacting negatively to normal daily challenges;
  • More toothpicks!
  • Paul McKenna QS hypnosis played at bedtime each night. You can get your own copy of this by clicking the image below:
Click the image to get your own copy of this – so far it’s worked for me!

Hindrances:

  • Not sleeping well due to youngest daughter being unwell this week;
  • Being asked for a cig off a coworker I normally smoke with who didn’t know I’d quit;
  • Habit triggers, finishing a task, making a call, after a meal;
  • Random unexpected cravings – can catch me off guard!
  • Being where I’d usually smoke e.g. my back garden.

I love the humour in the following quote credited to Mark Twain:

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times”.

Mark Twain

Me too – hopefully now for the last time!

I do hope that this post encourages others on their own QS journey, however long or short it’s been, to take a moment today to remind themselves how fabulous they are – a total inspiration to me, each and every one of you x 🌻

Quit Smoking: Day 1

I’ve had better days!

To be honest, I’ve probably had worse days too, but if I could sum up Day 1 of quitting smoking in one word it’d be: “emotional”.

It feels like a particularly malignant bout of PMS.

So far, I’m about 22 hours into a cold turkey quit. Here’s what’s helped and what hasn’t.

Helpful:

  • Starting the day off with a power yoga session
  • Watching clips on YouTube of others who have been through it
  • Talking to family about it
  • Toothpicks!
  • Positive self-talk
  • Work distractions

Not So Helpful:

  • Work stress!
  • Getting upset and feeling guilty for smoking for so long
  • Being near family that smoke
  • Being in places I would normally smoke

I’ve tried quitting for years, usually with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). I’ve tried the tablets which in fairness did work until I stupidly went on holiday and lit a cig up.

So here I find myself back in this no man’s land; my purgatory which I fully intend to conquer this time around.

I know from past experience that days 2, 3 and 4 can see my emotional state turn from feeling sad to angry and back again pretty quickly so I’m going to really watch and plan for this by doing more of the things that worked today, as well as getting a good night’s sleep and drinking plenty of water.

Good luck to anyone else on their QS journey. One day at a time…