Sleep I’ll keep but sugar it’s time to split

Today is Day 10 of the 100 Day Project and into my inbox just popped a little check-in from the team, noting that this is the point when often people feel like they’ve run out of steam, but reminding us that this is part of the process and we just need to keep showing up.

At the end of the working week, I am feeling very literally out of steam. It’s been just over five weeks since I decided to stop drinking alcohol and whilst I absolutely, 100 percent stand by and actually increasingly enjoy this decision, there have been two big resultant, well, results that I wasn’t expecting.

Like everyone who picks up women’s magazines, men’s magazines, or even a weekend supplement, I have read countless articles on the miracle benefits of cutting out alcohol. After the initial few-day slump, it seems like all the writers suddenly start jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn, rested and revived, and the weight then starts just sliding off as a new found enthusiasm for exercise simultaneously kicks in, and the countless empty calories are out.

Whilst I have had compliments on my glowing skin (!), five weeks in I am still surprised by two things.

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Finding your cow

Last night I hopped along the Hammersmith and City line to Housman’s Bookshop in King’s Cross to hear author and journalist Johann Hari talk about his latest book ‘Lost Connections‘. In it he explores a slightly different – and I would say complementary, although not all reviewers have agreed – explanation as to why depression has been increasing and mental health declining, focused on the changed way in which we live today, where we have ‘lost connections’ with things that matter to our well-being, as opposed to it all simply being isolated to causes in the brain.

I touched on one of these nine causes Hari describes, a lack of connection with others, in a blog last week on self-care. Personally, I found it one of the most profound and thought-provoking of my recent reads and I would recommend it as a must-read for anyone with an interest in this area. To say that we are facing real problems as individuals, communities and society because of some mis-match between the way we live, versus what we really need, is an understatement. And whilst there are some signs that we are awakening to this – from the recent rise of mindfulness to the even more recent appointment of a Minister for Loneliness – there’s a still a huge amount Hari writes about which either remains unsaid, or at least poorly understood, including by those who are suffering themselves.

Last night Hari re-counted a number of studies or stories from his book, but there was one which I’d forgotten since reading that really struck a chord. It’s about a South African psychiatrist Dr Derek Summerfield, the Cambodian countryside and a cow.

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Follow the Call of the Disco Ball

As I confessed in a blog post last week I am definitely a born and bred Night Owl. On the thankfully rare occasions I am forced to haul my body out of bed before sunrise my caffeine intake sky-rocks and I want to eat everything in sight.

Last year however that began to change when my awesome friend and fellow glitter-loving goddess Jessi introduced me to the (roughly) monthly miracle that is Morning Gloryville. Much to the bemusement of my colleagues, morning sober raving before work is now firmly planted right at the top of my hobby tree.

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

It’s not quite a thousand miles (at least I don’t think it is…?!!) but today, in a very spur-of-the-moment moment, I signed myself up for a four day, 15-17 hour, ‘challenging’, charity trek through the Sahara Desert at the start of November.

I have to thank the Young Women’s Trust’s social media team, whose tweet announcing their new partnership with Global Adventure Challenges, I happened to open straight up rushing between meetings.

So being a slightly impulsive mood, I jumped straight in! Plus volunteering / helping a charity was one of the top ‘self-care’ tips in yesterday’s Women’s Health spread so perhaps the other push to take the plunge was already there in my subconscious.

This is my first trek and my first real fundraising adventure, but it’s something I’ve been musing over trying for a while. 2018 is proving to be a bit of a ‘throw everything at the wall, try new things and see what sticks’ year but now I’ve committed this one is definitely not coming off, or coming off, depending on your point of view.

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Sweat the small stuff: the little things can count

Today was the first day since starting the 100 Day Project that I’ve a) felt a bit un-inspired about what to write and b) like perhaps skipping a night of writing.

However the latest issue of Women’s Health landed this eve with a section dedicated to self-care. It reminded me of the blog I wanted to, well, blog yesterday about connections, so never one to skip a sign, here goes.

Self-care is everywhere. It’s something I have always believed I was very good at practicing. I cook for myself, I ‘treat’ myself, I occasionally – well more than occasionally – splurge.

Recently though I’ve begun to redefine my definition of self-care in two, for me, really important ways.

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I’m so good at sleeping I can do it with my eyes closed… Five Tried and Tested Tips

There was a blog about connecting with others that I really wanted to write today but in all honesty, I’m just too damn tired!

So I’ll save it for another day and instead, inspired by yesterday’s post on Matthew Walker’s brilliant book ‘Why We Sleep’, I thought I’d share my finely tuned pre-sleep schedule that sets me up for a divinely serene slumber. (Remember, World’s Best Sleeper….I am really good at this!)

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In defence of Night Owls

Sleep has been on my mind recently for a variety of reasons, but my spontaneous reference to being a night owl in Thursday’s blog reminded me of something in Matthew Walker’s brilliant book ‘Why We Sleep’ which I dug it out today for a quick re-read.

If anything throughout my life I’ve veered towards excessive sleep. In fact I am the proud owner of a ‘World’s Best Sleeper’ trophy, gifted to me by an ex and dear friend.

But with a love for sleeping for me comes a frequent struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I adore and enjoy fresh coffee but I’m also absolutely one of those people who needs a hit in the morning to face the day. I get the mid afternoon / end of day slump but come 8 or 9 I’m wide awake again.

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Morning Ritual #1

A collection of my daily gratitudes from recent weeks:

  • Serenity, new sobriety, serendipity and signs
  • Fresh coffee and my cats
  • The courage to choose, choosing to stand in the sun
  • My spirit and my soul
  • Re-discovery of the healing power of sleep, another great night’s sleep
  • Being unconditionally loved and being lucky enough to have and be making such wonderful friends and family that I can connect with and completely love
  • My dear friend’s toddler Leo for showing Auntie Alex the best time!
  • Being brave
  • Feeling, connecting and my heart’s healing
  • Vulnerability
  • Waking up excited for work – the people, the challenge, the pace, the creativity, the ability to change and to solve
  • Learning to reach out, speak up, ask for help
  • Finding my real life human butterfly (this story will come at some stage!)
  • Discovering new writers and writings – especially my newly found favourite poet Nikita Gill, two of her’s for today:

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Work for the soul

Like many on the Internet I fell in love with last year’s story of a CEO thanking one of his team for openly saying she was taking a mental health day, lauding her for helping to cut through the stigma that still surrounds, and being brave enough to be open and direct with her colleagues about her struggles, when it would be easier just to say you weren’t feeling well.

Mental health and the workplace came up in a recent discussion I took part in in my workplace. I like to think I am lucky enough to work in a very accepting and open culture. I often laugh with my colleagues that I embody our value of ‘We can be ourselves here’. It’s fair to say I bring the – and I quote a former DR, colleague and greatest friend here – “brilliantly batshit on-it bitch” each day. But in that group we all agreed that apart from a handful of brave examples, mental health is still very much in the unspoken shadows, be it for the individual or for a loved one.

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Another Day in Death / Closer to Humanity

This isn’t the blog I was intending to write today but yesterday’s shooting at YouTube’s HQ, and the just hours earlier murders of two teenagers in London, have been weighing in my mind for much of the day.

I won’t begin to kid or claim to have any new profound views on what must change or deeper insight into what’s driving acts of devastation and atrocity like these, nor any authority on the matters. These are simply my unordered and unorganised thoughts and feelings from today.

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