7 Lessons I've Learnt in 2017

Returning from six months travelling around South America, a new husband on my arm and a job offer that would move us across the world to New York, 2017 was never going to be ordinary. Like our last few years if truth be told. It feels like a whirlwind - a magical, dreamy one - since our wedding last July and I haven't for a minute forgotten how lucky that makes me! Another year on this earth and with more incredible (and challenging) experiences under my belt, here are the lessons I have learnt in 2017.

Self-care is important. Six months into a new job and a new city, I was ready for a straight jacket. The moral of that story? Take a break! Use your vacation / holiday days and recalibrate. Treat yourself to a massage, go on a yoga break or just retreat to your parent’s/friend’s house for some TLC and a change of scenery. I got my escape in August and returned back to the UK to see all my friends and family with a wedding thrown in for good measure - the perfect antidote. I realised I needed to make a few lifestyle changes to prevent that from happening again. Enter Headspace, Berocca, herbal teas and lunchtime walks around the park - some little changes can make all the difference, it doesn't have to be moving mountains. There’s only one of you and burn out is not fun, yet, sadly on the rise. It was out of this period that I wrote my blog post 'How to De-Stress from Work' and even I have to go back to remind myself what will help keep the work sweats under control!
(It's OK to) Take your foot off the gas. Blame it on a Millennial trait but I see it in myself, my friends and my colleagues that no sooner have we accomplished something, we are fixated on the next challenge and getting there quickly. We take no time to stop, acknowledge and, dare I say it, celebrate our achievements and it's so important that we do!

“In between goals is a thing called LIFE, that has to be lived and enjoyed.”

It’s no surprise 2017 has seen more mental health topics brought into the fore and it's fantastic that we have the Royal family working to help end the stigma, raise the profile and change the conversation on mental wellbeing with the 'Heads Together' campaign. I'm no expert but a saying my mother always told me, 'a problem shared, is a problem halved.'

Go with the flow. I’m not the most spontaneous of people. In fact, you'll find me at the other end of the spectrum meticulously planning everything with military precision. But, what I have discovered is that I am spontaneous when it comes to creative writing. 90% of my blog posts have been written on my iPhone on the commute to work or return home from some weekend escapades. I’ve learnt to just go with it. I have totally loved working on my blog this year but found that if my head or heart isn't in it, the words don't flow so whilst I hope to keep developing my ideas in 2018 with some semblance of order, I'm not going to sweat the small stuff if I miss a week. This Christmas break has proven just that, even with the best of intentions, if you’re not feeling it and the wine isn’t spurring you on, wait until inspiration strikes (and so it did on my last night in the country!).
Have a hobby. When I was a kid, I had activities every night after school. Mostly dancing, apart from a phase I went through when I wanted to be an actress and my mum insisted I enrol in fencing lessons as if to prove I was really serious about my new ambition (I think she had a motive...). I quickly re-routed my career path once I had grown bored of that. Fast forward to my late twenties and since our evenings have been reclaimed from wedding planning, this has been the year of having my evenings back! Enter Netflix. (Does this count as a hobby if you call it 'cinematography'?). Well, it’s certainly been my main hobby in 2017 (alongside the blog, of course). Moving to another country, and with a period of turbulence, we switched our social life for a sofa life and I have loved every couch-potato moment of The Fall, Billions, Stranger Things, and The Crown - to name just a few of the marathons I have completed.

Endorphins are everything. Three months into life in New York and I pretty much hadn’t moved my butt between my desk and my sofa. And it was getting to me. It was then I realised I needed some of those happy hormones to lift my spirits; one defrosting of a credit card later and I had signed up to ClassPass. Exercise classes are my go-to as I find gym work just boring, boring, boring so I was delighted when this introduced me to my new exercise love Physique57 for some hardcore barre workouts! It’s the most intense overloading of every muscle group in the body, something to make you drip with sweat and feel empowered in just 57 minutes... my kinda exercise! Plus, the physical pain was rewarding both for helping my brain switch off from the work-day and releasing endorphins for a happy Mrs A to head home of an evening. 

Sociable Me. For me, 2016 was the year of Twitter but 2017 was definitely when I fell down an Instagram-filtered rabbit hole. I love the five hour time difference of living in NYC for the one purpose of having a host of Instagram stories at the ready to view whilst waking up for the day! Personal highlight - hitting 500 followers. It was a marathon and not a sprint but I found it sickeningly rewarding. Dare I make a four-figure target for 2018? But it can certainly harbour an unhealthy appetite and literally every blogger I follow has voiced the negative effects of social media on their mental wellbeing this year. The biggest lesson is to do it only if you're enjoying it. When you're not, let yourself have time off and dare I suggest a digital detox?

Carb-loading works. If you insist on eating a diet of mac'n'cheese and pizza, your waistband will expand. See Lesson #5 for further development next year!

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and fulfilling 2018!


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