5 Easy Ways to Selfcare

...and how to do it without breaking the bank!

The world is a big and scary place. When you contemplate some of the issues going on in this world, it can get rather overwhelming and terrifying. That’s why I love to escape to my blog, post pretty pictures and talk about books, films, skincare, make-up, clothes, TV programmes...essentially everything I would chit-chat about with my girlfriends. Admittedly, these are largely unimportant in the grand schemes of things but they bring pleasure to my day after spreadsheets, budgets and artwork deadlines!

'Time-Out', TLC, rest & relaxation or whatever you call it, we all need it yet we rarely carve enough time for ourselves to truly recalibrate. This isn't 'new' news but the rise in the importance of selfcare and self-awareness is almost becoming another pressure or marker by which we are falling short. How we are looking after ourselves is now a whole booming industry and the reality is that investing in your wellbeing can come with a hefty price-tag. So, here are some bank-balance friendly ways to reinstate a little balance to your life.
TAKE TEN.
My impression of meditation is solely based upon Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love. A racing mind from one thought to the next, panicking about the incomplete to-do list and inevitably being annoyed by the buzzing sound from the light/coffee machine/fly in the room. Rather than sitting cross-legged in a retreat in India, try Headspace at home. You can sign up for a *free* 10-day trial to see if it’s your cup of tea. Plus, Headspace explain meditation in layman's terms so it quickly feels accessible and achievable. After I completed the ten days, I was by no means 'hooked' but I had felt the benefit of time away from multi-screening and focusing on my breath. I found it the perfect substitute for nighttime TV and sooooooooo relaxing that my sleep quality improved. FYI - Best not to try this in a public place as I couldn't help but fall asleep the first couple of times I tried it!

My most recent discovery that I LOVE is Madeleine Shaw's meditation programme - a 10-part series available on download for the very reasonable price of £9.99. My two favourite episodes, so far, are 'Sleep' and 'Anxiety' - the latter literally gave me a hug in audio form last night when I was feeling super anxious!

[Side note: I'm living my best single gal in New York life featuring just a mattress on my floor thanks to this announcement - have you seen it?]
READ ON DEMAND.
Finding time to read is rare and I envy those who can tear through a book in a day or a weekend. My friend being one of those people and her steady stream of reading material is impossible to keep up with! My best reading time is on a holiday, pool included and a sunlounger with my name on it. Then, and only then, can I fly through 3 or 4 books in a week. My favourite way to buy books (and it helps to afford said holidays) is from charity shops; I know the money is going to a good cause and a much loved book is going to a new home. The second way - and more convenient I have to add - is via the Amazon Kindle app. Millions of books at your fingertips and so many only $0.99. It only need take a few clicks or swipes before you can escape into another world. If you like that, check out Kindle Unlimited which works in the same way as Netflix with a monthly subscription and unlimited books at the touch of button!

My top picks:
  • Giovanna Fletcher ‘Billy and Me’
  • Jojo Moyes ‘The Girl You Left Behind’
  • Clodagh Murphy ‘Some Girls Do’
Next on my list:
  • Mhairi McFarlane ‘Who’s That Girl’
  • Shari Low ‘One Day in September’
  • Katie Khan ‘Hold Back The Stars’
  • Cassie Rocca ‘A New York Love Story’

Mrs A to B: Reading List & Book Haul

BATH TIME.
I was pretty determined to find an apartment in New York with a bath. As a teenager, I got into a habit of running a bubble bath every Sunday; lighting candles and taking a magazine into the tub for a good old soak. Funnily enough, despite having a bath in our New York apartment, I haven’t got around to it, but it creates the perfect STOP moment in your day or week to breathe and let your body unwind from all the tension it’s holding onto.

Favourite bath time treats whether you want bubbles or bombs, milks or salts:
SCHEDULE HAPPINESS.
Force yourself into a new habit and reflect upon each day with the things you are grateful for, things that made you happy and things to get excited about for tomorrow. Encouraging living in the moment and to help frame a positive outlook, The Happiness Planner has all the notebooks to help you become a happier version of yourself. It might seem impossible at first - what’s there to be grateful for in a mundane day at the office? Perhaps you got a seat on your commute, or had an especially delicious coffee or got some positive feedback from a colleague? Or simply you had an evening on the sofa watching back-to-back episodes of The Crown. Once you start to realise what little things you can find happiness in, your outlook will change.

As much as I’m a sucker for stationary and love my Happiness Planner, you can do this without it costing a penny; of an evening, simply grab a pen and paper or open Notes on your iPhone and write 3 positive things about your day. Soon, you’ll be coming up with more than three every time! Today my positive thoughts are:

#1 Getting out of the office at lunchtime = sunshine + fresh air!
#2 Laughing to my parents' sledging videos
#3 A productive evening work on my blog.
TIME-OUT.
How many times have you heard... Where does the time go? If only there were more hours in the day! Time doesn’t always seem on our side and we are rushing around like blue arsed flies, so carving a little time out is actually a massive luxury! I found setting my alarm clock an hour earlier meant I got to have some 'me-time' before the day runs away from me. This way I get to enjoy my morning beauty routine, make a cup of coffee that I have time to drink and actually eat some breakfast. To have such a calm in the morning is rather rewarding ahead of an 8-hour stint in the office. This way you know you’ve done something for yourself before you even get to work and that's a great start to the day.

Best morning treats:
  • Tepid tap water + a slice of lemon to kick-start the digestive system
  • Hot mug of Earl Grey tea
  • Vitamins washed down with a Berocca to keep the bugs at bay
The best thing about these five #selfcare tips? They can all be done with a face mask on so can feel doubly as efficient!

Mrs A to B: How To De-Stress From Work

What do you do to take care of yourself?

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Living in New York

Time for champagne indeed as today marks the one year anniversary of us moving to New York! Wow, what a crazy year it has been. They say ('they' being the seasoned expats I've met this past year) that the first six months are the hardest and it really takes two years for the place to feel like home. Now four seasons down, I have had a great taste of the highs and lows (aka real life) of living in the Big Apple. 

As my favourite city in the world, the opportunity to move here was a dream come true. The timing wasn't bad either, as we were just home from our crazy-long honeymoon (although this would later make homesickness more of an issue...) but an opportunity that we certainly couldn't say 'no' to. It was only a couple of years after Ryan and I had been strolling down the Thames riverpath on a Sunday, post-pub session (our favourite past-time in our old West London life) and asking each other the question of 'Would you ever want to live abroad?' We both did. If you're a fan of the Secret you might agree, and as my life-coach friend pointed out, we put the message out to the universe and the universe responded. If you're not inclined to that way of thinking, then we're just bloody lucky!
After 365 days living in New York, only two trips back to London and one trip outside of the state, we've thrown everything into living the Manhattan-life. Our apartment and its view is easily one of the best aspects of living here and this President's Day Weekend is also the anniversary of us finding Apartment 23M and making it home. We've come a full 360 as the apartment is, frankly, almost as bare as the day we first saw it owing to the fact that we have decided that a year has been quite incredible enough and the heartstrings of family, friends and a more settled life is beckoning us back to Blighty.

Whilst we have been ferociously ticking off the bucket lists that both Ryan and I set ourselves (separate ones I might clarify... funnily enough Ryan wasn't too bothered about sitting on Carrie's stoop), these photographs are from our toast at The Plaza celebrating the risk we took, the challenges we overcame and the fact we have this incredible adventure under our belts (with all that pizza too!)

Cheers to the next adventure...

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2017: The Highlights

Given the political climate, stress and struggles we will have all felt at points last year, I think it's important to have these STOP moments to celebrate and appreciate the amazing moments from the past 365 days (I also like the idea of winning against my awful memory and reminding myself of what I've achieved in the years to come!). Although 2017 will certainly be hard to forget!

I have absolutely loved seeing everyone post their 2017 #bestnine photographs and year-in-highlights on Instagram stories so I wanted to get in on the action. My favourite style of 'highlights' blog has been a Q&A so I’ve had fun picking a few questions to pull together for this post. 
WHAT SINGLE ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? 
New York.

Ten years ago, when I first visited and fell further* in love with New York, I could never have imagined that a decade later I would be offered a job that would move us to my favourite city in the world. 'Moving' is, for anyone, a big deal and up until that point, I'd only known moving to involve my parent's car and a few journeys back and forth down the A4. The Atlantic made it logistically all the more challenging but it was certainly fun for Ryan and I to set-up home in downtown Manhattan and create a whole new lives for ourselves from scratch. It was big, scary and, at times, felt like downright madness, but it's my biggest excuse to pop the Champagne and celebrate making it a year to remember.

*Naturally I was already in love with New York thanks to FRIENDS and Sex and the City.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR EARLY-2017 SELF? 
You might feel like a nomad right now...[this time last January we were technically homeless and very grateful to your friends who let us house-sit their townhouse a stone's throw from Harrods.] The move to New York will be harder than you imagine. You might think you're moving to a country where you speak the same language but that will bite you on the a**e and your new boss will create a glossary of all your "Britishisms". But don't change who you are, English Rose, just laugh at it. You will survive the tough adjustment period and despite it being a long six months at first, you have your favourite person by your side...who will still be your favourite person by the end of it. Remember you're living out a dream of your eighteen-year-old-self and savour those weekends for exploring!

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MOMENT SPENT WITH FRIENDS? 
In August, I flew home for my lovely friends' Lou and Jamie's wedding. It was the first time I headed home since moving so I was beyond excited and ready for it! The wedding day started with a stroll around Greenwich Park walking my friend's dog, shouting "I'm back, baby!" to the London skyline before picking up sausage sandwiches and having a tour of central London by car. The wedding itself was utterly glorious - the most idyllic setting on the river in Marlow. My favourite moments were eating the homemade ice-cream on the riverbank before it melted in the summer heat, drinking games (and even a mention) during the speeches and dancing the night away with my girls on the dancefloor!

WHAT WAS THE BEST NEWS YOU RECEIVED IN 2017? 
When your best friend sends you a picture on Christmas Eve with an accompanying message 'Does this ring make me look engaged?' I literally screamed, burst into tears, then panicked I may have jumped the gun, called her, confirmed it wasn't a joke. Then cried again. All in front of a full audience of Ryan's immediate family. Megs & Chris' engagement on Christmas Eve literally made my year! Roll on the Hen Do!

WHO, OR WHAT, AM I MOST THANKFUL FOR? 
My husband.
Closely followed by Netflix.

FAVOURITE BOOK? 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - read in a warm summer's weekend down by the marina.

FAVOURITE PODCAST?
At Home With…’ featured my two fave bloggers (#win) and indulged my nosiness by taking me behind the front door of some truly inspirational women - Jo Elvin, Alexia Inge (founder of Cult Beauty), Lisa Eldridge, to name a few. I picked up SOOOOO many lifestyle, wellness and beauty tips from listening and I became seriously obsessed with Kombucha over the summer as a result.

FAVOURITE TV SERIES? 
Stranger Things - so not 'me' as genres go but I LOVED IT!

WHAT NEW THINGS DID YOU DO? 
Largely influenced by our new location and my sports-aholic husband, I was initiated into the New York sports scene with baseball at Yankee Stadium, New York Rangers ice hockey and, my personal fave, watching the Knicks shoot hoops at Madison Square Gardens. Also, in lieu of Wimbledon, we popped to the Arthur Ashe court to watch Nadal in the US Open. Talking of stadiums, watching Coldplay at the Met Life Stadium in New Jersey was OUT OF THIS WORLD.
WHAT ACTIVITIES MADE ME LOSE TRACK OF TIME? 
Oh YouTube, you have a lot to answer for. These babes have kept me company on many a morning, evening and weekend. Totally inspiring with their Grade A content, all should be held responsible for my credit card balance and a great fix of British accents when I need it.
  • Lily Pebbles
  • The Anna Edit
  • Fleur De Force
  • In The Frow
  • Fashion Mumblr
  • Lydia Elise Millen
BEST DAY OF THE YEAR? 2017 was the year we celebrated our first wedding anniversary in July and honouring the traditional 'paper' gifts, we wrote secret clues to each other to make up an entire day of activities around midtown and downtown Manhattan (*passes the sick bucket*). The day before - and our actual wedding anniversary - it pissed itself with rain all day long so post-gym, we did naff all BUT we did get dressed up in the evening for an incredible sky-high meal at Asiate overlooking Central Park. Steak. Red wine. Sunset. Skyline. Incredible.

Honourable mention: 4th July is kinda a big deal out here and a rooftop BBQ with work friends overlooking the Empire State and fireworks on East River was pretty awesome.

FAVOURITE BLOG POSTS?
Mrs A to B: New York Bucket List > The absolute foundation of my year has been ticking off this list!
Mrs A to B: How to De-Stress From Work > Absolutely essential for every working girl, especially this working girl.
Mrs A to B: My Autumn Skincare Routine > My absolute FAVOURITE photography. Credit to Fall and Central Park.
Mrs A to B: It Cosmetics / A to B Review > Launching a new blog series - A to B Review - is a product detailed account of my first and ongoing impressions. Still love the two products I have first featured!


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