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…

Vegetables

In the Garden: September 2019

September Gardening Tips

As very much a novice gardener, I often find myself trawling the web trying to find out what I should be doing in the garden each month in a language I understand! There’s a lot of terminology to learn with gardening I’m discovering, to be able to make the most of the vast amount of information out there.

One of my favourites is the RHS website (link below) which has a ton of articles for all abilities, including monthly tips for how to keep the garden looking grand all year round if you’re based here in the UK. If you’re a beginner too, this might be an excellent place to start:

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/in-month/september

It’s definitely given me plenty of ideas to be getting on with – September seems an especially busy month! Here’s what I plan to get on with starting tomorrow and throughout the rest of the month:

Harvesting

Time to reap the rewards of the last few months by harvesting any ripened fruit or veg from the garden. In my case, having only moved into our home last year, I haven’t done that much with the garden this year other than to maintain it. We are still lucky enough to have already had strawberries yield fruit earlier in the year and now raspberries and blackberries to pick too so this is where I plan to start!

Give the Garden One Last Good Once Over

We had a crazy amount of wet weather throughout most of August here in Manchester so the lawn is well overdue a good trim. There’s also plenty of plants to be pruned/deadheaded or divided. If you have a pond then this would be a good time to have it netted to avoid it becoming clogged with leaves and other debris. Get the kids involved on an “autumnal treasure-hunt” to gather materials to use in an art and crafts session. My youngest did a great job of starting us off today:

Autumn leaves, plants, berries, feather
Our hoard from our Autumnal Treasure Hunt today

Rainy Day Jobs

Rainy days are the perfect days to get into greenhouses, sheds, garages and summerhouses to get them winter-ready too. Get all your gardening gear, cleaned, tidied and put away, including any used pots, to avoid unwanted pests and to keep equipment at its best. We don’t yet have a greenhouse (though it’s on the wish list!) but do have a garage and summerhouse that could do with a bit of TLC before winter arrives, so next rainy day they’ll be all tidy and sparkling clean.

Up Your Eco-Warrior Game

As I’ve become more interested in gardening, one of the many positive effects of this has been a greater desire to be more eco-friendly. We already have a fair amount of animal garden visitors including birds and squirrels so my husband does a fantastic job of keeping our bird-feeder well stocked but this might be something you decide to invest in if you don’t have one already. Starting a compost now is also perfect with all the autumn leaves about to start falling. At the very least, if your local authority provides a “composting bin” for food and gardening waste, make sure you’re using it. Water butts are also an excellent investment now and something I’m adding to the wish-list!

Start Planning Next Year’s Garden

Start taking accurate measurements and notes now on how your garden currently is and think about how you would like to improve it. Maybe you’d like a herb garden next year or a vegetable patch. This is the time to start thinking about what it is you would like to see growing in your garden next year and planning for how you can achieve this. This is one of the rookie mistakes I made when I first got interested in gardening. At the start of Spring, I’d get terribly excited about the garden and then realise I probably should have started in the previous autumn. There are loads of great gardening apps and tools out there to help with this so if you’re interested, try a Google search on “garden plan” and you’ll be spoilt for choice!

What about you – what will you be doing in these last few warm days of September in the garden?

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?

standing woman smiling while opening front load clothes washer

How Clean is Your Home?

What Should Be on Your Chores List?

Scrolling through Pinterest this evening, I happened to come across a pin with suggestions on how to keep a clean home (see below). Being a married mother of two, who also happens to work full time, I’m always on the lookout for tips and tricks to achieve that effortlessly clean and tidy look (obviously something I’ve yet to perfect!), but I have to confess, there were one or two surprises on the list:

How to Keep a Clean Home
How do you measure up?

For instance, I can’t say, hand on heart, that I manage to clean inside all appliances, all cabinetry and clean all doors and windows on a monthly basis!

Having said that, I do think it’s a handy rough and ready reminder to make better use of my morning and evenings through the week so that I don’t spend my entire 2-day weekend trying to get through all the washing, ironing and putting away of clothes. It hasn’t escaped my notice however that the owner of this list must have an ironing fairy in her home as that is by far my most time-consuming weekly task but it doesn’t make her list at all! I’ve assumed “put up clothes” means simply put away.

I’m also rather fond of the “cleaning as you go” idea – and one I’m currently working on with our youngest child, with mixed results depending on mood!

Honestly though, as long as the house on a whole is clean and reasonably tidy through the work week and gets a good all over blasting each weekend, then life’s too short really isn’t it? When my 18-year old was born, her paternal grandmother bought me a book “Motherhood” that was a collection of poems, thoughts and sayings pertaining to what it meant to be a mum. It remains one of my favourite ever gifts and a book I still pull out from time to time. Within it is my all time favourite poem, penned by an unknown author, about being a mum as it really hits home for me what it means to be a mum and just how quickly the time passes:

"Cooking and cleaning can wait 'til tomorrow,
for babies grow up we learn to our sorrow,
so blow away cobwebs, dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep".

What do you make of the list – any surprises or anything missing? Let me know.

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 🌻

How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Blog

Part 2: Pinterest

Part 2 of a 3-part instalment on how to use social media to promote your blog. You can find Part 1: Instagram along with some general social media tips here: https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/06/23/how-to-use-social-media-to-promote-your-blog/

Pinterest

I’ve used Pinterest for years on a personal basis but only converted my account to a business account linked to my blog around 6 weeks ago when the blog launched.

The way that I use Pinterest mainly is as a source of inspiration, a kind of sorting office or filing system for topics that I may wish to blog about in the future or that I find resonate with the Holistic Living with Carla brand.

I still use it on a personal level as well and have a number of “secret” boards that I keep locked just to me if it’s something that I don’t feel it is appropriate to share to followers but that I’d like to keep.

Like Instagram, Pinterest is almost entirely visual based. That’s not to say that there isn’t any text or information that you can add to your “pinned” posts or boards but no one is likely to be reading much of that information if the visual effect of the pin doesn’t grab their attention first.

My learning points from the last 6 weeks of using Pinterest for business purposes include:

DODON’T
Create a Pinterest account or convert your personal account to a business accountUse faulty links as Pinterest penalises these. Ensure any links you include do work and review these from time to time.
If your blog account permits it, “claim” your website on Pinterest (lots of articles online about how to do this).Forget to include sub-categories within the board topics to really help your followers find what they’re looking for with ease.
Start creating and/or organising your boards – you want to make it as easy as possible for your followers to be able to find what they’re looking for.Just post your blog content – whilst Pinterest is quite different to other social media platforms in a lot of ways, interaction and support of like-minded users is an area in which it is still similar to other social media platforms.
Ensure that you use the “Edit” feature for each board – this is where you can add that all important text and information such as what the board is about and link to your website. It’s also where you can maximise publicity with a good “keywords” strategy.Forget to make use of the “tried it” feature. This is a great way of recommending someone else’s post to other Pinterest users and the poster will be pleased with the interaction, so much so that they may well return the favour.
Make it easier for readers on your blog to “pin” or “save” your content directly from your blog to their Pinterest account by adding the Pinterest logo to your blog.Have too many boards – this is fine with a personal account I think but when I converted to a business account, I tried to make the boards themselves more general with then 4/5 sub-categories of smaller topics in each one.
Have a consistent “pinning” schedule or use one of the many apps available such as “Later” to help you do this.Forget to work on the aesthetics. Take a moment to review how your Pinterest account looks to other users. For instance, do you want a static cover at the top of your account with your favourite pins on there or would you like this to be updated with most recent pins?
Engage with others on the platform, pinning their posts and following either their whole account on Pinterest or just the boards of theirs that interest you.Underestimate the power of brand style, colour, font, etc too. I tend to be more into this on Instagram but think about whether you would like consistent colours and the like so that your followers come to recognise your brand quickly.
Review the analytics regularly to see which of your posts are most popular and at what times/with whom so you can refine your Pinterest strategy to maximise results.Post uninspiring or “boring” images – try to think about how your pin will stand out from the extensive number of pins constantly being uploaded to users’ feeds.
Use the “Explore” feature to see what’s “trending” on the platform – this can be used as inspiration for your next blog topic.Forget to re-use your pins in your other social media platforms. I often use Pinterest and Instagram in conjunction because of the visual appeal similarities of posts but would still individually alter the accompanying text for each site to best suit the platform.

If you prefer to see how some of these strategies that I’ve started implementing work in practice, head over to https://www.pinterest.co.uk/HolisticLivingWithCarla/pins/

I can’t say that I’ve started using all of these strategies myself yet but this week I’ve managed to get around halfway through re-organising my boards and pins into better labelled categories and sub-categories. Once this is updated, I plan to move onto the aesthetics and branding of Holistic Living With Carla so that content is more readily associated with my brand as an advertising technique, that whilst time-consuming, is in fact in money terms, cost free.

You can of course run ads yourself on Pinterest. I haven’t written about it as I haven’t tried this yet and until I feel as though the account is branded and as aesthetically pleasing as it needs to be, this isn’t an avenue I’m ready to pursue just yet.

So again, these are just my observations on how I’m learning to work with Pinterest as a business-user in a relatively short period. No doubt there are other tips and techniques that you find work well for your blog – feel free to add these to the comments below!

The final instalment of this short series, Part 3 will take a look at Facebook social media strategy and will be available next Sunday. Check back then if you think that this is where you’d like to focus your social media strategy.