6 Things To Do While You Self-isolate That Will Make You Feel Great!

Right now, the very best thing we can do for ourselves and others is to stay home and avoid physical contact with other people, so let’s do that! Along with many of our friends and family, we’ve been in self-isolation for over a fornight already and talking to them; one of the big challenges we’re all facing is maintaining a postive mood. So, I wanted to share a few of our favourite ways to embrace the stay home heroics and boost your mood over the next few weeks….

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Get some fresh air & excercise! If like us, you can’t be near people, you can still get some fresh air & excercise. Go and be outside, hang the washing out, have a cup of tea sat on the doorstep or in the garden. Even if you just open all of the windows for an hour, a good blast of fresh air will lift the spirits! If you cann’t face the energetic Joe Wicks for your daily PE lesson (and he’s really good, you should give him a try) then try a walk. Just remember to stay over 2m away from anyone who’s not a member of your household. If going out is not an option, then try the Bronte Sisters tactic, a walk around the table. In the winter when the Yorkshire weather prevented them from going out, they would walk laps around the table, whilst planning their writing. I’m doing this whilst listening to audio books (The Old Curiosity Shop), it’s great.

Be creative! While we’re in lockdown we got plenty of time to finish projects, learn new skills, do some glueing and sticking with the kids. We’re putting togeather a family and friend colouring in session, using zoom (online meeting app). Oh and we could even make one of those lovely little projects that we so often coo over on Pinterest (but never quite get around to making)! We can take 10 mins and write a Japanese Haiku poem – it’s really easy, write three lines, they don’t need to rhyme, they must have 5 sylables in the first line, 7 in the second and 5 again in the last line. Create something, express yourself and gift yourself yourself a sense of achievement – good for our self-esteem & mood!

Get organised. I can’t be the only one with a long list of ‘things i’m gonna do, when I’ve got the time’! So let’s sort that pile of paperwork, wash our way through the permanent laundry mountain, de-clutter & reorganise the draws, cupboards, wardrobes, spare rooms, lofts, basements, garages, gardens. If you need assitance with your de-cluttering, try taking a look at Marie Kondo, she has a lovely, game changing take on de-cluttering – don’t worry about getting rid of things – just keep the things that ‘Spark joy’! She’s re-invigorated our home and I recommend her book it’s a really helpful guide. So, lets make a list of things to do and get cracking. Tidy up, sort & de-clutter and then clean. Once eveything is spick and span, then make it smell sweet; put a few drops of essential oils on to a folded hanky or tissue and tuck it behind the radiator, as it warms it will release it’s fragrance. I like to use this organic orange essential oil room spay; it’s refreshing and comforting. A clean, tidy, clutter-free & sweet smelling environment is a great mood booster.

Get cooking – So we’ve got time to expand our menu and some of the foods that we took for granted are not readily available at present, giving us the perfect excuse to get back into the kitchen and have a bit of an adventure. This is easy-peasy, take a look at what you’ve got and then check out the internet for recipes. Also, I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s new TV show, he’s doing recipes that will work for a wide range of ingredients and you can swap out things that you don’t have. This is a great way to spend time as a family and build skills!

Be part of this. We all have something we can do; self-isolating does not mean you need to be alone and this is true of everyone else. So call your family and friends, play games and quizes over whatsapp video calls, have a watch party, play hide and seek in minecraft, put up rainbows for the rainbow trail, wave to passers-by, start a neighbourhood chat group, join in the Thank You applause for our key workers, grab groceries for others when you shop, sign up to volunteer. Stay physically distant, but, do join in, it’s a important to meet your neighbours and join in with your local community.

Relax – Keeping busy during lock-down is really important, but so is getting some rest & relaxation. This is the perfect time to top up on sleep, take up meditation and mindfulness. Find things to do that relax you; gardening, painting, knitting, Japanese clothes folding, read a good book, tell jokes, sing songs or just be!

I hope you find these mood boosters helpful.

Be kind to yourself & others – stay safe !

Sarah x

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I re-read Wuthering Heights – after 25 years and here’s what I found…

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I am a Bronte fan and have read and loved almost all their work, revisiting much of it in book or film almost every year, with one exception – Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte.

It has always been my least favourite book by the Brontes. I first read it when I was about 15 and I really didn’t enjoy it. I found Cathy & Heathcliff and indeed almost every character in the book spoilt, petulent and vapid, the atmosphere was bleak and depressing – the whole thing felt pretty whingey!

Having been a Bronte fan for a long time, I have discussed and debated many aspects of the Brontes & their work and I found that I’m not alone in my view of Wuthering Heights. However, I try to keep an open mind about most things and having discovered a love for olives, coffee, knitting and cherry brandy (all of which I hated in my teens) I decided I should give it another go. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while – about 20 years! Anyway, last week, I finally got around to re-visiting Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte and here’s how that little adventure turned out…

It was with some trepidation that I sat down and started with Wuthering Heights again. I told myself that I’d give it a few chapters and if it’s still not my thing, at least I tried. That first sitting lasted over two and a half hours! I only stepped away when backache and hunger could no long be ignored. I now have bags under my eyes from late night / early morning reading sessions! I couldn’t put it down and having reached the end I have taken a little break to read Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and then I shall return and read it again. I am amazed and delighted at the change in my perception of this fabulous book.

Reader I loved it…..

My long awaited second reading of Wuthering Heights revealed how much I had missed as a teenager! Having now realised that the main protagonists of the story were barely adults themselves, I suspect that my original irritation with Catherine Ernshaw and Heathcliff stemed from the unflattering reflection it gave of my own teenage behavior and attitudes.

Also, I have yet to meet a teenager who would not stare blankly at the utterence of the phrase ‘ look at that view’, so it is clear that the remarkable depiction of the landscapes and environments that Emily acheived were lost on me, during my original reading. The ‘great love story’ between Cathy & Heathcliff was lost on me as I was a pretty cynical teenager – ah time is great teacher!

My more recent reading of Wuthering Heights has revealed a story populated by fantastiacally rich and nuanced characters. I discovered the landscape, so beloved by Emily, captured in intricate detail.

Most striking was her inherant understanding of the nature of love and how facetted and, at times obscure, it is. Yet, how it sits within the foundation of self and is unmoveable. I love how beautifully she illustrates that we often cannot be saved, especially from ouselves and that we must try to make peace with that.

I can’t wait to get back to Wuthering Heights again, I am sure I’ll find yet more wonderful detail and I long to escape back into that captivating world, so carefully created by Emily – it really has been a ‘gone to the heather’ moment.

My feeling is that; Wuthering Heights is one of The Bronte’s best works but, if like me, you struggled with it – then go and give it another chance. I hope it ensares you too!

If you need a new copy of Wuthering Heights then take a look at this edition, that is being released this month – it is a thing of beauty!

Finally, have a great week!

Thanks & Enjoy

Sarah

P.S. If you’d like to read a little more about Charlotte, Emily & Anne Bronte check out this new blog piece I’ve written about the Bronte Sisters Lives.

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5 Things to do in Autumn – that will make you feel great!

The Autumn is officially upon us! The nights are drawing in really fast now and as we lose the daylight, I find it challenging to maintain my mood. So as the temperature drops, the leaves turn Red and Gold and half-term approaches, I wanted to share a few of my favourite ways to embrace the Autumn and boost your mood over the next few weeks….

Enjoy my post and please be aware that if purchase through the links on my site, I receive a small comission which helps pay my bills, so thank you for your support!
  • Get out and go for a walk. As the days shorten through October and November, here in Yorkshire, I like to try to make the most of the precious day light and get outside. Take time to absorb the beauty of Autumn and appreciate the soothing autumn colours whilst they are with us. – Seeking experiences that allow us to feel and express appreciation and gratitude are really great for our wellbeing. The fresh air and exercise will brighten your eyes and put a spring in your step too!
  • Be creative! While I’m out and about, I like to collect treasures, and often come home with pockets full of sticks, conkers and fallen leaves. If you find that you or a small family member brings things home, display them – make one of those lovely little displays that we so often droll over on Pinterest (but never quite get around to making)! You can take 10 mins and really create a pretty leaf garland or a dried foliage display – giving yourself a neat little sense of achievement into the bargain – good for our self-esteem & mood!
  • Turn the heat on. I really should live somewhere sub-tropical; however, my heart is in Yorkshire and the price I pay for living somewhere I love, is that it’s cold and damp. I try really hard not to turn the heating on until we really need it, wearing jumpers and scarves. But, having the heating on, even just a tiny bit, makes this time of year feel really cosy. Set your heating to come on for a short burst just before you get up, so you wake up to a lovely warm home and do the same for when you come home. If you want to wake up to a really sweet-smelling home put a few drops of essential oils on to a folded hanky or tissue and tuck it behind the radiator, as it warms it will release it’s fragrance. I like to use this organic, eco-friendly Orange essential oil room freshner ; it’s refreshing and comforting. A warm welcoming environment is a great mood booster.
  • Make your Christmas cake & mash. So, this one sounds slightly random, but stay with me! As the days draw in, my need to eat carbs skyrockets and from now until May I will mainly be eating Potatoes – my favourite food group! Also, as we all know, a great festive dinner is really about all the little extras, such as roast and mashed spuds, 100 different veggies and ALL the sauces. However, preping the endless list of food can be a real pain, so I try to do some of it ahead of time. During October I buy, prepare and freeze pigs in blankets, bacon rolls, Bread sauce & Cranberry sauce. I make extra mash when cooking and freeze it; all ready for December. I like to make my Christmas cake at half-term, it gives us something useful to do, other than hibernating and it means we have a calmer Christmas. So why not give yourself an extra Christmas present and unload some of the stress and work for a fab Yule-tide, by doing some of the prep in October. Delicious smells and a warm kitchen, coupled with a sense of achievement is a top mood booster. Delia Smith has an excellent set of Christmas recipes & timings; as an act of self-care, get a copy of her book!
  • Join in Halloween. We love Halloween in our house, but, so we don’t bankrupt ourselves we buy only one decoration each year, and store them carefully away afterwards to reuse. We now have good collection and add to it with homemade decorations (which we also reuse). Halloween can be as elaborate or simple as you like, but do join in, it’s a great way to meet your neighbours and join in with your local community and you don’t even have to take off your slippers or leave the house. So, grab a bowl-full of sweeties, stick a handful bats (cut them out of Black Sugar paper) to your front door, pop some eco-friendly solar powered LED jar lamp (DO NOT USE REAL CANDLES, there will be children about) in your carved pumpkin on the doorstep on October 31st and get ready to join in, meet the neighbours and feel part of something!

I hope you find my Autumn mood boosters helpful and have a great week!

Thanks

Sarah x