10 things that make me happy

I’ve had a bit of a down few weeks, so I thought I would share with you a list of ten things that make me happy, or help to improve my mood. Maybe these will also help you too! If you have other things that make you happy, please comment them below!

1. Spending time outdoors

Throughout lockdown I have gone through ebbs and flows of spending time outdoors and then locking myself away – this happened at the earlier stage of the pandemic, and I am a lot more comfortable being outside now. But living in a flat with no garden has made me realise how important it is that I spend some time outdoors every day, regardless of how long I am out there for. This morning I took myself for a walk first thing and it really helped to improve my mood.

2. Morning coffee

For me, a morning is not complete without a coffee. After waking up, I make sure to drink a glass of water first but then head straight to make myself a coffee. I like to drink this slowly whilst reading the news or my book, and then I will have breakfast after this. I drink my coffee strong and with oat milk – if you’re interested!

Image: Violet Daniels

3. Podcasts and listening to the radio

I often do either of these things when I’m doing something mindless – like brushing my teeth, doing my skincare or washing up. I’ll often stick a podcast on or listen to BBC Radio 4. Sometimes I also listen to something before I go to bed, as I find it quite calming. I did a whole post about podcasts a while ago, but I have also been enjoying Michelle Obama’s podcast more recently and a podcast called Writer’s Routine.

4. Journalling

I do bouts of different kinds of journaling depending on what I feel like. Sometimes I spend more time doing long form, stream of consciousness writing, butother times I just simply write my thoughts and what’s happening in the world. I find putting pen to paper as a physical act very cathartic and it makes me happy to see I have nearly filled an entire Moleskine just throughout lockdown!

5. Some form of routine

I don’t have a strict routine I make stick to everyday or a particular routine I have at night or in the mornings, but I do make myself a to-do list each day, just so I have something to stick to. I might write small things down like ‘wash my hair’ but also things like what writing I want to work on that day, or more mundane tasks. I don’t always stick to it, but having some kind of routine, and idea of what to be doing makes it easier to fill the days.

Image: Violet Daniels

6. Writing

A very obvious one, but nonetheless one of the main things that makes me happy. Writing this blog and other articles has kept me sane for the past hundred days or so of lockdown. Having been off work for nearly five months, I had to start writing so that I had something to do with my days and something to wake up for. More than anything, I think this period has made me realise how much I love it and that seeing my work online gives me such a sense of achievement and happiness.

7. Reading (shock, horror!)

This is in the same vein but very much the source of most of my happiness. For as long as I can remember I have preferred to escape into other worlds and other people’s minds, rather than delve into my own, and this has been confirmed again during lockdown. There’s nothing more comforting than curling up with a book. Reading regularly is now one of my firm priorities and I never feel guilty about it.

8. Baths

Recently I have been indulging in long, leisurely soaks in the bath whilst I have more time on my hands. It has been so therapeutic during the long evenings and especially after a run as it can help to ease the soreness of my muscles. I use this time to listen to podcasts and read, but also to take care of myself. I have realised as well that taking the time out for me is never something I should feel guilty about it.

9. Going offline

Like many people, I have become even more addicted to my phone than ever before in recent months. However, I have been trying to schedule in afternoons, evenings or even days where I don’t go on social media or spend time on my phone, unless I have to reply to a message. As someone who is naturally quite insecure and can feel quite negative about themselves after spending time on Instagram or even Twitter, it has been really important for me to take time off.

Image: Violet Daniels

10. Taking care of myself

This may seem a bit strange but I do find it easy to forget to take care of myself. By this I mean forgetting to wash my face and take care of my skin, treat my hair to a mask, or do a face mask. I haven’t worn make up in months but instead of spending time doing that, I’m actually taking the time to moisturize my body and stick to a regular skin care routine. Although my skin is still problematic and I haven’t gotten to the route of the problem – forming the habit of taking care of myself makes me happy.

This was a bit different to my usual posts, but I hope this may have been beneficial and that you enjoyed reading it! The book reviews will be returning soon.

Hope you are all keeping safe and well,

Violet xxx

Book Review – Minimal: how to simplify your life and live sustainably

Image: Amazon

Author: Madeleine Olivia

Rating: 5/5 stars

Publisher: Ebury Press, Penguin Books

I’m kicking off 2020 with my first review being non-fiction… Shock horror! But seriously, I loved this book and I think it can be applicable to anyone and everyone.

I started following Madeleine Olivia online many years ago, when she just had a few thousand followers. I began watching her on YouTube as I loved her food content and general outlook on life, which shines through so much in this book. An initial disclaimer – I am not a vegan but am interested in making sustainable changes where I can.

Synopsis

We are facing an urgent climate crisis and we must all take action now. However, it can be difficult to know where to start when bombarded with overwhelming facts and statistics every day. We all want to make a difference, but what can we do?

Minimal makes simple and sustainable living attainable for everyone, using practical tips for all areas of everyday life to reduce your impact on the earth. Leading environmentalist Madeleine Olivia shares her insights on how to care for yourself in a more eco-friendly way, as well as how to introduce a mindful approach to your habits. This includes how to declutter your life, reduce your waste and consumption, recipes for eating seasonally and making your own natural beauty and cleaning products.

Learn how to minimise the areas that aren’t giving you anything back and discover a happier and more fulfilled life, while looking after the Earth we share.”

Review:

First of all, although I read this book on Kindle, I have seen it in print and everything about its design is beautiful and as perfectly minimalist as I had imagined. There are cute illustrations for each section which really add a nice touch. There is also space (if you have a physical copy) to add in your own thoughts and potential changes to your lifestyle, where appropriate.

What I loved about this book was that is was not just a straight up vegan bashing bible, it is so far from it. It is a book which covers all aspects of everyday life; from home and de-cluttering, to mental health and the importance of digital detoxing. Madeleine importantly champions that making any changes, little or small, can make a difference. The value is in everybody‘s effort and collectively, and this can make a big difference. Additionally, she crucially points out that making an error does not make you a bad person,

“And small misgivings such as using a plastic cup or buying fast fashion aren’t going to ruin the world alone…”

Madeleine Olivia

Madeleine’s book covers all physical and mental aspects of life and how to simplify and make them more sustainable (if you can). Chapters include topics such as opting to travel more mindfully and slowly, by using trains instead of planes, to the importance of establishing an effective bedtime routine that can benefit our mental health, it is a book that everyone should read. I went into the book worrying that it wouldn’t apply to me, but in every section there were things I learnt and have taken away.

I have already started a Depop page for selling my old clothes, rather than throwing them away. I have plans to buy some reusable vegetable bags, and I have vowed to myself that the next time I need to buy something I will look secondhand rather than jumping to find it brand new.

Madeleine’s book was a joy to read from start to finish. Every section was informative, yet personal and insightful, and contained a reminder that even the small things do make a difference. It provides a refreshing outlook on being more mindful, which I have found to be lacking in conversations about sustainability and veganism. Often, I have found it hard to engage in the debate when it is presented as so polarizing. But in this book, Madeleine has crafted a resource which is open to all and something anyone and everyone can turn to if they want to simply be more informed, or to start making changes.

I most of all loved the sections about travelling mindfully and not being in a rush to see anything and everything, but taking the time to take everything in,

“But on this journey we have to remember to stop and just stay still. Take a moment to just soak it all in.”

Madeleine Olivia

As a nervous flyer I am glad that finding other means of travel is now the new sustainable option! I loved the section on fast fashion; it really opened up my mind to the sheer amount of waste involved and what a difference it can make if we all chose to look in second hand shops first. Above all, I loved the focus on mental health, and how minimalism (digitally and physically) can be used as a tool to champion positive mental health and well-being.

Throughout my life, I have been a sucker for consumerism and buying new things. I find myself always on the look out for a new top, or another pair of socks I don’t need. I forget what I have in the cravings for something new and shiny. However, this has meant I have hoarded a lot of stuff over the years and now feel (slightly) overwhelmed by the process of becoming more minimal. However, Minimal, has provided me with the inspiration and guidance to embark on this journey.

Wonderful! This is a book I will be returning to again and again.

How and Why to Read for Pleasure

Image: Pixabay

The common response to not reading is nearly always lack of time. This may definitely be true in some cases, however, when I think about how much time many people spend on their phones, on watching Netflix, on browsing the web and online shopping, I can’t help but think these activities could be substituted for reading (if they wanted to be).

Reading for pleasure is not a luxury and shouldn’t be dismissed as so.

I have had a love hate relationship with the rise of E-readers and Kindles – when I was younger I ardently opposed them and thought their use would see the end of the physical book. Alas, since 2007, when the first Kindle was released, the sales of paperback books have still been thriving. (I know this, having worked as a bookseller…)

To kindle… or not to kindle?

The Kindle and other e-readers offer something great – which is being able to take your bookcase with you everywhere. Books can be bulky and feel like an effort to take with you on your commute or travels and thus, a Kindle can save this burden.

I finally succumbed to being a Kindle user last year – although I have (and never will) abandon reading and buying physical books. I see the benefits of both and cannot see why readers shouldn’t use both. Moreover, I simply do not have the space to keep all the books that I want to read. Rather, I am far more selective about what books I buy now. Which is good for me, and the trees.

Fundamentally, Kindle’s make reading more accessible than perhaps the physical book. For one, many E-Books are usually cheaper than your average £7.99 paperback or £20 hardback, and they are great for people who have poor eyesight, with the adjustable font size and brightness.

Upon using a Kindle for the first time back in September, I really was surprised at how much it felt like I was reading physical pages. (This is not a sponsored post I promise, I just really like my Kindle….) Still not convinced?

How to make time for reading

  • Make it routine – this is the best way to make it a habit. Usually spend 10 minutes before bed scrolling on your phone? Switch your phone off and substitute it for a book. Your eyes and sleep will thank you for it.
  • Start small and build up – find the idea of spending an hour with a book daunting? Then don’t. Give yourself small goals, like reading one chapter at a time, or reading for 10 minutes every other day. This also works for the size of your books.
  • Stuck with what to read? Use the web There are some great websites out there – such as Goodreads, Fantastic Fiction and Literature Map. Or, you can do it the old fashioned way and go to your local bookshop and chat with a bookseller – they will be more than happy to assist! (Trust me!)
  • Don’t feel guilty – it may feel like self indulgence to switch yourself off from the world and your surroundings, but it isn’t. Reading for pleasure is a great way to improve your own mental health, imagination and knowledge.

Why you should make time to read

  • Taking a break from social media – reading has always been about escapism, but in the digital age it can be great to detach yourself from social media, especially before bed. If you have an iPhone, change your app settings to restrict your access – and then let yourself indulge in a book.
  • Benefits to mind, body and spirit – a good book will make you think and challenge you beyond your comfort zone. On a personal level, I also find that reading is good for my mental health and makes me feel more relaxed (especially when in the bath!)
  • Self indulgence is good – from time to time, it is good to self indulge and have that one-to-one time with yourself. This is something you should never feel guilty about. With reading, it’s just you and the book. Reading for pleasure as a form of self care is something that should be championed in the 2020s.

I hope this has been somewhat uplifting for anyone that is stuck in a reading rut or struggling to find time to read. Now that I spend more time reading, I do feel better in all senses. Happy reading!

V 🙂