Elise, Author at Smart Photography

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Summer Of Self-Love : Week 12

Welcome to the twelfth week of our 'Summer of Self-Love' project

Each week throughout the summer, I'll be giving you one suggestion of something to do to enrich either your mind, body or soul.

I'm sharing a weekly video on our Facebook page each Monday, with that week's idea.
However, I don't like watching videos, so in case anyone else feels the same way (which is basically 'Why can't I just read it?'), each Wednesday, I'll be doing a blog post like this, one, where you can either read what to do, or watch the video (just scroll down).

Spend time in nature

Across the summer we've been nourishing our minds, bodies and souls and for our final week, this is my absolute favourite thing of all to nourish your soul.

This week is all about spending some time in nature.

Nature can mean different things to different people – I love trees and forests, you might love beaches, so if you can get to your absolute favourite place then do. But if you can't get to the place you love the most, then just go to where you can, for as long as you can, to find some quiet, peaceful, calm time for yourself.

Technically, I spend time in nature every day, just by walking my dogs. But what I don't do in that time is take any time at all to pause, really look at my surroundings and enjoy where I am. I mainly trudge through a field, calling my dogs or chatting to whoever I'm with.

So, for me, this week is about going beyond what I usually do – for example, where the studio is, we are 2 minutes from a lake to go and walk around, and on from that there are fields to walk. But I rarely go there. I could, each day, take just a 15/20 minute break and sit and look at the lake, listen to the birds sing, and clear my head.

So for me this week, I need to do that at least once, with no one else, no distractions.

If you love walking, this is the perfect week to go for a walk in the countryside. We are blessed in Oxfordshire with beautiful places to walk.

If you're in a city, this is trickier, so you've got to find your space, get out of the city if you can, or find a park, or another quiet spot that you can quietly enjoy.

You might love being in your garden, but perhaps you rarely just sit in it without doing something – this week is not about being busy. Pause in the space you find. If you've got time, you could read a book or listen to music, but drink in your surroundings and appreciate them.

This could take some effort to even find somewhere, or you might be lucky and be going on holiday somewhere that makes this easy. You are worth putting effort into though. When you prioritise yourself, as part of your general routine, your self-worth increases, your confidence increases, it's all a positive effect on your mental health. So don't not do things that could prove to be beneficial to you, just because they take a bit of effort. You would put that effort into doing things for someone else.

It's one small part of one day to try to get some time, outdoors, for you.

Much Love,

Anna 

xx


Summer Of Self-Love : Week 11

Welcome to the eleventh week of our 'Summer of Self-Love' project

Each week throughout the summer, I'll be giving you one suggestion of something to do to enrich either your mind, body or soul.

I'm sharing a weekly video on our Facebook page each Monday, with that week's idea.
However, I don't like watching videos, so in case anyone else feels the same way (which is basically 'Why can't I just read it?'), each Wednesday, I'll be doing a blog post like this, one, where you can either read what to do, or watch the video (just scroll down).

Journaling

If you're joining us through the whole summer, you'll know that each week we're nourishing either our mind, body or soul – this week we're talking about our minds.

Mental health is as important as it is neglected, so we're trying to address that, in a variety of small ways. One big problem many of us have is getting stuck in our own heads, with whatever's on our mind taking up all of our head space, and it just becomes impossible to switch off. The worst time for this can be late at night, in bed, when you want to sleep but problems or things you're anxious about suddenly seem insanely insurmountable, and things get a bit panicky.

If you struggle to switch off, or even struggle with time management, because there are never enough hours in the day, or you just can't let go of certain things, then this week is designed to help with that, because this week is about journaling. Journaling does sound a bit formal though, so let's call it writing things down.

If you happen to be a stationery obsessive, you now have free reign to find yourself a really nice notebook and pen – don't obsess over finding the 'right one', that's just the stationery mad way of putting something off.

There is no right or wrong way to journal. If you've never done anything like it before, then sit down, preferably at the start or the end of the day, and write down whatever the things are that are filling your head and crowding your brain.

These can be worries, things you're feeling grateful for, something that's happened in your day, good or bad, that's on your mind. Just a stream of consciousness to get what's in your head onto a piece of paper. Do physically write things down, because the mental processes involved in writing are very different to those involved in typing so, if possible, this is a pen and paper job.

If you want to introduce a bit of structure, there are lots of tips on journaling around. I would say find the time of day that suits you best – it's often recommended to journal in the morning, because you can write down dreams you've had. But mornings can also be crazy busy and personally, I hate mornings and am in a really bad mood every single morning, so I would prefer to journal of an evening!

Pick your time of day, and then write down good things that have happened that day, bad things that have happened, how you're feeling, what's on your mind, and get it all out, down on paper.
You can work towards using journaling to prioritise, if you're just trying to fit too much in, or just keep it as a brain dump. There's a lot of great advice around on this, all we're doing this week is giving it a go and getting started with trying to establish the habit of actually doing it.

Don't underestimate the power of writing things down, this is excellent for your mental health. Let me know how you get on, show me your gorgeous stationery and I'll see you next week.

Much Love,

Anna 

xx


Summer Of Self-Love : Week 10

Welcome to the tenth week of our 'Summer of Self-Love' project

Each week throughout the summer, I'll be giving you one suggestion of something to do to enrich either your mind, body or soul.

I'm sharing a weekly video on our Facebook page each Monday, with that week's idea.
However, I don't like watching videos, so in case anyone else feels the same way (which is basically 'Why can't I just read it?'), each Wednesday, I'll be doing a blog post like this, one, where you can either read what to do, or watch the video (just scroll down).

Listen To Your Body

I was going to talk about exercise this week, because there is so much advice saying how much we, as a nation, need to exercise more – do our 10,000 steps every day, get our heart rate up. But I struggled to say anything because the advice is so generic, and also, exercise always seems intrinsically linked to weight loss and our summer of self-love is about loving who you are, right now.

Doing things that benefit your body are some of the hardest things to do. Often what we WANT to do and what our bodies NEED are two different things.

For example, I mainly want to sit on a sofa, watching Netflix. My body, on the other hand, objects to this. I used to be able to pretty much ignore what my body wants, but these days, I really need to listen to it. I know that if I don't, I am stacking up problems for myself as I hurtle towards the menopause.

So, this week is all about working hard to listen to your body, understand what it needs, and give it what it requires – whatever that might be for you.

I realise this sounds entirely vague and it is – your body is unique to you, and its requirements right now are not the same as anybody else's. I'll give you a few examples though. If you have an injury, and you know you need rest, and you're ignoring that – give your body the rest it wants. Don't push yourself, and ignore pain – address it. If you know your posture is really bad, and causing you back problems, look into what you can do to resolve that – and then do it (personally, I've found yoga to be really beneficial for my back problems).

Whatever niggles you might have, big or small, focus on one of them and work out what your body is telling you it needs, and help it out.

Most of us are either really good at ignoring things and hoping they'll just go away on their own, or massively over reacting to every little twinge. So, this is not about obsession, this is about listening to your body and reacting to what it's telling you – not about panicking.

If you wake up in the morning and you're stiff and achy (me! Every day!) – work out whether what you need is to do some stretches, or to have a more comfortable mattress in the first place. Get used to understanding what your body is telling you, and responding to what its saying.

It could be that your body wants more exercise – if that is what you know in your heart your body is telling you, work out what exercise is right for you, and how you can introduce it. But don't try to go from nothing at all to going to a gym 5 times a week – it won't happen and your body probably wasn't asking for that anyway. Be kind to yourself, This is about nourishing, not punishing.

Let me know how you get on – please don't skip this week, this one's really important in learning to listen to your body.

I'll see you next week.

Much Love,

Anna 

xx


Summer Of Self-Love : Week 9

Welcome to the ninth week of our 'Summer of Self-Love' project

Each week throughout the summer, I'll be giving you one suggestion of something to do to enrich either your mind, body or soul.

I'm sharing a weekly video on our Facebook page each Monday, with that week's idea.
However, I don't like watching videos, so in case anyone else feels the same way (which is basically 'Why can't I just read it?'), each Wednesday, I'll be doing a blog post like this, one, where you can either read what to do, or watch the video (just scroll down).

Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

This week is all about doing something that's good for your soul. Now each of these soul nourishing things so far has been about giving your time to something you want to do. This week is a little bit different, as this week is about stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Whenever you start to push back against your comfort zone, even in small ways, you start to realise that your boundaries are self-imposed. You can, on the whole, step outside of them whenever you want to. So this week is simply about trying something new.

I'm not going to ask you to do something BIG this week – of course, if this is the nudge you need to book a skydive, or a bungee jump, then absolutely go for it.
Otherwise, some time this week, when an opportunity arises, just make a different choice to the one you would usually.

If you always have the same takeaway, choose a different meal. If you're going to the hairdressers, change your hair colour or style. Wear a different lipstick colour. Walk or drive a different route to work or back again. Say yes to a night out.
Anything that is outside of what you usually do – that causes a tiny twinge of anxiety or discomfort, because it's beyond the familiar routine of your life.

You can do one thing this week, or one every day if you feel like it. The more often you push back, even in very small ways, against your comfort zone, the more you understand that it's an illusion. And the small things lead to the confidence in yourself to do bigger things.

Make it something fun – don't stress yourself out about it, we're still talking about nourishment here, not punishment.
Let me know what you decide to do and I'll see you next week.

Much Love,

Anna 

xx


Summer Of Self-Love : Week 8

Welcome to the eighth week of our 'Summer of Self-Love' project

Each week throughout the summer, I'll be giving you one suggestion of something to do to enrich either your mind, body or soul.

I'm sharing a weekly video on our Facebook page each Monday, with that week's idea.
However, I don't like watching videos, so in case anyone else feels the same way (which is basically 'Why can't I just read it?'), each week I'll also be doing a blog post like this, one, where you can either read what to do, or watch the video (just scroll down).

Meditation

Welcome to week 8 of 'Your Summer Of Self-Love'. Each week we're looking at focusing on either our mind, body or soul, and this week it's our minds.
Mental health is really important, and often neglected – not consciously, but just because we don't really think about and concentrate on our mental health very often.

Lots of us have really active minds, that it's very difficult to switch off from. My brain is constantly buzzing with stresses, ideas, all kinds of things. Having watched my mum tip over from severe stress to psychosis, you'd think I'd be more mindful! Actually it just gives me one more thing to be anxious about.

So this week is about taking 2 minutes every day to meditate. If you immediately have a mental picture of sitting cross legged on a cushion doing the generic pose, you can do that if you want to, but it's not necessary.

All you need to do is sit comfortably, whatever is comfortable for you, or lie down if you prefer. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. If it helps you can think 'I'm breathing in', 'I'm breathing out' as you inhale and exhale.

This sounds really easy to do and it really isn't, which is why I'm saying just try for 2 minutes.
There are websites and apps that do guided meditation if you need a little help, but the biggest thing to remember is that you can't fail at meditation.

If you manage 10 seconds before your usual thoughts rush in – it's OK. Try to be aware that your mind has drifted and bring it back. If you realise at the end of 2 minutes you only did that 10 seconds at the start, it doesn't matter. Lots of people find meditating difficult, so it's not about being able to quiet your mind for that whole 2 minutes, it is only about attempting to. And this is where people give up, and think they can't do it – trying is doing it.

If you can try this every day, you will get more and more able to focus on your breathing over time – the great thing about meditating is that you don't need to do it for a long time, little and often is perfect.
Let me know how you get on and I'll see you next week.

Much Love,

Anna 

xx


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