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Making time for sport

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Now that the days are getting lighter and I’m feeling like doing more after work, I’ve been really wanting to do more exercise. I’ve always loved sport at school and university, and realised that I was starting to really miss it. I’ve been doing the weekly park run but since I’m away lots of weekends, I rarely do it 3 weeks on the trot. It made me think back to when I was doing my GCSE’s and I spent an hour doing badminton every Monday and I felt so much better about all my work after I had exercised and chilled out with friends. It’s such a little thing to do that makes such a big difference.

And the best thing of all is that it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Yes, you can join gyms for around £40 a month but I’ve managed to find something different. I’ll be honest, I’m not that into these different classes like Zumba and Pilates, I still don’t know what they are despite taking part in them both! I like sports that I get my heart buzzing instantly and I can feel the workout. so I was looking for circuit classes. And I found it with a running club, that mainly focuses on running but also has a circuits class every week. Whilst I do a bit of running, I decide to mainly use it for just the circuits class. But the best part is that it costs £8 a month for membership, so if I only take part in circuits once a week, its £2 a session. And so worth the money!

I think its much better than a gym membership because they tend to be smaller, its the same people that go every week so its just like meeting up with a group of friends to hang out. Everyone is so friendly and its something that I look forward to. And the guy who runs it, is basically like your personal trainer without the extortionate cost! So what to do to find these places? Well either do a quick google about your local area or visit http://www.getactivelondon.com. You can enter your location and sport that you’re interested in and show all the local clubs available to join!

I challenge you to join a local sports club, it’s an avenue for a stress relief, some exercise of course and a chance to meet new friends!

Monthly Challenges

I’ve come to realise that I love having projects on the go outside of work and this is something that I’ve struggled with since moving to London. My first desire would be to completely redecorate the house I’m living in and buy lots of new furniture and do it up but since I’m in rented accommodation, this isn’t so easy. I also get bored of doing the same thing for long periods of time so I thought of setting myself a monthly challenge each month. Something completely different to the next. In March, I decided to challenge myself with watching a different TED talk each day, of you don’t know what a TED talk is a global conference with the main aim to spread ‘ideas worth spreading’ usually in the form of short powerful speeches by a range of different people. These topics can stretch from social entrepreneurship to science to ways of living. So over my 30 odd videos that I’ve watched I thought it would be great to share some of the great ideas I’ve watched over the last month.

1.  Hackschooling makes me happy Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY

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A 13 year old Logan LaPlante talks about what he wants to be when he grows up. He talks about his hack schooling, a new way to learn and achieve his goal in life. It’s a really interesting way to think about living that’s really easy to take bits and add into your own life. One of the things that Logan talks about is spending at least one day a week outside all day, something that makes me happy.

2. Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU

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An interesting talk to listen to especially right now when the amount of responsibility I’m getting at work is beginning to increase more and more as I’m no longer seen as the new grad and I’m beginning to be expected to work at the same level as everyone else in the office. It talks about how stress is a good thing and not a bad thing, there’s even some scientific proof so definitely a good video to watch!

3. Simon Sinek – Start With Why: Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPYeCltXpxw

Simon Sinek - Start With Why

This is a cut down version of the talk but it communicates the key idea so well. I’m naturally interested in this since I’ve always had a love for marketing and communication. It’s what I love most about TED talks – extremely simple and obvious once you’ve watched it!

Things to Do – April

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With April just around the corner, I’m looking forward to the Spring weather and all the bank holidays included too! Here’s my top things I hope to be doing over the next month to see the lighter days in.

Unseen Tours: Since it’s lighter in the evenings, I really want to do more things after work exploring the City and what better way to do that than to go on a walking tour of an area in London. However Unseen tours come with a twist, each tour guide is either homeless or has been homeless in the past and with Unseen Tours they are able to share their own stories and the history of the streets that they have potentially lived on. There are loads of tours in London and if you had to do just one, this would be the one I chose for the individuality and the inside stories you get to hear. Tickets are £10 for adults and they have tours in Covent Garden, Brick lane, Shoreditch, Camden and London Bridge. For more information click here.

Just in case you hadn’t clocked yet, Easter weekend is only 5 days way from the time I’m writing this. Most Easter related events are aimed at children but this doesn’t mean to say I don’t want to have some fun too, so I’ve been trying to find some events adapted for the 20 year old plus kids of the world like me and I think I’ve found it in the form of Rabble Easter Egg Hunt. Apparently, for this hunt you need stealth, strategy and speed in order to be successful. Expect dodgeball and ‘quid ditch’ style games as opposed to the gentle run around! More information can be found here.

The other favourite thing about Easter is the long 4 day weekend, I value 4 days off immensely and it feels like a lot longer than just 4 days! Given that we have extra time to usual, I recommend taking this opportunity to get out of the big smock and head to the outskirts of London and even venture outside the M25. My top pick is Windsor, it is a beautiful town with lots of little shops and bags of character without forgetting the big park that is simply stunning! You can get to Windsor from London Paddington in just half an hour so there really isn’t any excuse not to go!

Since the days are getting lighter, I plan on working earlier and finishing earlier so that I have more time to explore the City after work. And to do this I also want to improve my photography skills so that I know what all of the buttons on my camera do apart from the auto button! Therefore I’ve been looking for photography day courses that aren’t ridicicuously expensive. I’m still doing my research but have found this one so far which seems the best of the bunch. More information here.

The final thing I’ll be doing this month is getting myself down to watch the London marathon with my own eyes instead of watching it on TV. I’ve always secretly wanted to take part in the marathon and perhaps seeing it for real will either persuade me to sign up there and then or put me off it for life!

Whatever you do in April – make sure you enjoy the warmer weather.

New Work Wear

I’ve just changed teams at work and begun my new placement, one of the biggest advantages of a grad scheme is that you get the chance to reinvent yourself for every placement and try out a new style in terms of working style and clothing! So I took this opportunity to do some shopping! My aim was to buy some things that would smarten up my wardrobe. I want to experiment whether dressing smarter will lead to my colleagues taking me more seriously, sometimes I struggle being so young and a grad. I’ll let you know how I get on!

I first headed to Deichman to get some new shoes and I walked out with two pairs! The first pair are an updated version of my old black shoes to wear with just about everything, I love the shape of slipper shoes as I hate being able to see my toes in ballet shoes. They are really comfortable and are a black faux leather as they were only around £15! Link to shoes

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The second pair of shoes are heels. I often don’t wear heels to work but I think it’s a very easy way to make any look smarter even if I’m wearing black jeans and given that these were also just £15 I just couldn’t resist! I’ve always wanted a pair of grey heels and I’ve finally found them, plus they aren’t too high so I can still balance on the crowded tube! Link to shoes.

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I then headed to Primark and picked up this interesting jumper, it was £12 and is a light woollen material with a sheer back that I thought was a bit different. It also has a faux collar so it still looks smart. I plan to wear this with some black cropped trousers, adding a statement necklace would make this look more put together.

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In Warehouse, I found these pair of blue trousers for a pricier £38. I’ve been trying to find some more trousers for ages that aren’t black and are a bit different but will also go with a lot of the workwear that I already own. They are a very light material and are fairly high waisted so love the way they fall especially when you have your hands in your pocketsI I think the belt detail makes them something justifiably different. I definitely think they look best with a plain top tucked into them unlike the pictures on Warehouse’s website – I don’t think they do the trousers any justice at all! Link to trousers. 

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Finally, I headed into Accessorize because I had being eyeing some of their rings for a while now. And I got a bit carried away buying one set of 4 rings that are all fairly vintage-y looking, I absolutely love the simple bow that is midi ring if that’s what they’re called! I love simple jewellery so most of these pieces are actually quite bold for me! But the main reason I’m trying to wear more rings is to try make my hands look more feminine as I have such manly hands! All together, these five rings were around £17 so not too bad considering the price of other things in Accessorize. Link to rings Similar infinity ring here.

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I’m all shopped out now until next months pay day! Enjoy your weekend.

Best Brunch Ever

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A couple of weekends ago, i saw some university friends which led to an all nighter talking so when we finally graced Sunday morning, we were hungry! After googling a few brunch places, we settled on visiting a place called Dishoom in Shoreditch. (They also have places in Covent Garden and Kings Cross.) My friend and I have never made a better decision. Brunch was a popular thing to do at university so I’ve had my fair share and can vouch that Dishoom is my favourite place so far.

The menu is just so different to anything I’ve had before but still has the same typical dishes that you would want for brunch including a full English, a twist on sausage and bacon balls as well as porridges and granola. One main thing that stands out is the breakfast Lassi which is a smoothie with yoghurt, banana, mango and oats which tastes amazing. It went so well with my ‘Big Bombay’  which included masala beans and akuri which are spicy scrambled eggs. Considering I don’t even like eggs, I wolfed these down. All food has an Indian twist to them. You can see the breakfast menu here.

The next thing that makes Dishoom the best place is the cafe style. We were sat in a conservatory style building which was really refreshing. There were an abundance of comfy sofas and plants spread all around. It was the perfect atmosphere where you could easily slouch for hours chatting away or even get some work done. Which I definitely took advantage of! I will definitely be returning here to try out everything else out on the menu and to share it with as many people as possible. This is without doubt the best find since I first moved to London in September!

How to Switch Off after Work

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Since Christmas, my work load seems to have quadrupled meaning I’m getting in earlier and coming home later. And because it feels that I can’t leave work with a smaller to do list than when I arrived, it means when I get home all I can think about is work. Especially when my head hits my pillow and I try to empty my mind – all those things to do rushes to the forefront of my mind.

I’ve felt like this before in a previous summer internship, and I never really found a solution. However, I seem to have found a way for me to switch off a lot easier! So here are my tips:

1. Before you can relax, you need to make sure that you are comfortable with the amount of work that you have achieved that day otherwise it would stay on anyone’s mind. I have a rule that I won’t stay past around 6:30pm. If I’ve worked until 6:30pm, I can justify that I tried my best and unless that task was critical for 9am the next day, it can wait till tomorrow. It’s all about being realistic about the expectations you set at work. I know for me, that this keeps me sane.

2. This may be obvious… but once you’ve left work. You’ve left work. That means no turning your laptop on, or even checking your emails. Make this easy for you, leave your laptop at work; locked up!

3. Now do whatever makes you feel relaxed, for a lot of people, this might be slothing out in front of the TV, but personally, I think weekday evening TV is not that entertaining. So, instead, I’ve found that I like to take a lot of time over getting ready for bed. On a normally day, I get ready for bed in around 10 minutes. But when I do it properly, I’ll take about half an hour over it. So here’s my step by step guide:

Step 1: Put on some relaxing music. I found this on youtube and I find it really relaxing and forces me not to rush getting ready for bed. I’ve tried listening to others but this one is still the best despite its on the top of the list when searching ‘calming music for stress’ and is probably the most listened to out of the list. I’ve used this enough times so that now when it’s played, my subconscious almost knows what I’m trying to do and I’ve found that it’s really effective.

Step 2: Get into your most cosiest pyjamas ever. I’ve got the softest pair from Primark, they have elastic bottoms so they hug my ankles and even have pockets to keep my hands warm in.

Step 3: Remove my makeup. I use the ‘Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil‘ from Sanctuary Spa. What I like best is that it has lavender in, which I find really relaxing and calming and makes me feel really sleepy. You massage this into dry skin and then add water to remove all your makeup.

Step 4: Brush my teeth!

Step 5: (Optional) I use the ‘Clear Start Overnight treatment’ from Dermaloglica.

Step 6: I then use the Lush lip scrub which I have found to be so useful this winter. My lips have got so dry and chapping really badly. But I have got into the routine of using this lip scrub and it has helped so much. It’s basically sugar but tastes of chocolate so it’s all good!

Step 7: Then I use the ‘You won’t believe your eyes’ by Soap and Glory. I always get told by people that I look tired when I don’t actually feel it. So I’ve been testing this out to see if it’s getting rid of my massive bags under my eyes. So far, no more comments so it’s looking hopeful.

Step 8: Finally, I moisturise using the ‘Wish Upon a Jar’ night moisturiser by Soap & Glory. I really like the feeling of this product on the skin, its just the right level of thickness that it doesn’t take too long to sink in but feels really moisturising at the same time.

Finally, I curl up in bed with a hot water bottle if required and either read or watch youtube videos, and by this point, my eyes are pretty much closed already! And off to sleep I go!

The 5:2 split

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The biggest thing that springs to people’s minds when they hear the words 5:2, is the 5:2 diet. But I’m talking about the a typical 5:2 week. Five days working and two days off. During my internship, I was working pretty intensely on the top of commuting a total of three hours a day on three different methods of transport, I was beat by the weekend. The whole balance of five days working and just getting two days off just didn’t seem worth it.

Now that I’m more used to working life, it doesn’t seem too far out of kilter anymore but it largely depends on how busy you are at work not necessarily the amount of hours that you do in my opinion. But I’ve set myself a target to try make the most of weekday evenings after work and to enjoy them so it doesn’t feel like 5:2 but perhaps 4:1:2. A total of 4 days working, weekday evenings totalling up to one extra day off plus Saturday and Sunday. Here are my tips on how to make the most of those weekdays and have a positive halo effect on the weekend.

1. Life Admin: The one thing I dread about weekends is spending the majority of my time sorting my life out, getting my washing done, doing the weekly food shop, washing my hair… (Don’t worry the latter isn’t just a weekly occurrence. Therefore, I try to get these things done on one weekday evening. I clean my room, and do my food shop on the way home from work, that way at the weekend I can just have fun and enjoy myself.

2. Have some chill evenings: Just as much as I enjoy being productive at work, I also enjoy getting stuff done at weekends, otherwise it can feel like a bit of a waste of a weekend if I lounge around all the time. (Each to their own) I know everyone needs downtime at some point during the week so I make sure that for at least one evening, I will take it extra slow, cook something really nice for dinner, have a bath, and have a little pamper session. Hair masks, face masks nails – it all gets a look in. By doing this, by the time it gets to the weekend I already feel decently refreshed for me to take something else on bar work!

3. Have fun! I guess the biggest advice could be make sure you don’t limit fun to post 5pm on a Friday. Go for dinner with friends one evening or head to the cinema. But head quickly because Orange Wednesdays are ending soon! I’ve always found this really splits the week up and those 5 long days just don’t feel like a long distance race anymore where you’re not allowed to stop.

4. Start your own project: I realised through university that I want to achieve a lot of things in my life, and I don’t want the only thing I achieve in life to be related to my career. I really enjoy side projects because they can provide you with things that work just doesn’t. For example, I volunteer for a social enterprise running in London where we help current or ex homeless people.

I know that these may only sound like tiny changes, but I’ve found that they make a massive different to how I feel at weekends; refreshed, how I feel throughout the week and Sunday nights because I have something to look forward to during the week making me a happy bunny. Sitting in front of the TV every night after work gets boring and there is never anything good on TV, so I’ve found that this really works for me.