Posts tagged EXERCISE
Spring Flowers

Blossoms blooming, sun shining, and finally being able to ditch the heavy jumpers and ankle boots – there’s a reason why spring is my favourite season of them all. If the warmer weather and longer days have given you a fresh burst of energy, why not channel some of that energy into spring cleaning your life, and set yourself up for a new phase of mental clarity and productive working?

Read on for some easy ways to streamline your life inside and outside of the office.



Pay attention to the environments you’re in, and the spaces you create.




It’s no secret that the human brain responds well to aesthetically pleasing visuals - if your surroundings are looking tired or drab, that’s bound to have an impact on your day-to-day mood. To refocus your aesthetic in a way that's conducive to clarity, try creating a moodboard full of the sorts of visuals that reflect the vibe you want to recreate in your everyday life. If you're pressed for time (or space) then Pinterest is obviously perfect for creating virtual moodboards, but if you can, hang up a corkboard somewhere you’ll see it every day for maximum impact. Then get creative!



I'm all about the easy wins, and I guarantee you tidying up your desk is a quick and easy task with a disproportionately powerful gains when it comes to improving your mental clarity. That giant stack of papers you haven’t picked up in months? Go through it right now, filing the important things, and chucking the rest (preferably in a recycling bin). Feel better? Thought so.



At this time of year everything’s in bloom, and there’s no reason why your indoor spaces shouldn’t be too. Add some greenery to your work and living spaces to give them – and you – an instant boost: snake plants, bromeliads, and rubber plants are all aesthetically pleasing choices that also thrive indoors. Or (if you’re feeling fancy) treat yourself to some fresh flowers for your desktop once a week – I’m currently obsessed with ranunculus blooms, pictured above.



If you dress like a slob, you’ll feel like one too – and that way unproductivity lies, so treat yourself to one or two key pieces to refresh your look for the months ahead. Never underestimate the power of the clothes you wear on a day-to-day basis to impact your mindset, and the way you feel about your work.



The most important piece of the puzzle.




Why not check in with the New Year’s resolutions you made back in January, to remind yourself of the goals you’ve set yourself for 2017 and renew your efforts on any you’ve let slip by the wayside? Here’s a reminder of how to set yourself up for success when it comes to making (and keeping) resolutions.



With the warmer weather and longer days, now’s the perfect time to take your workout outdoors, so swap the fluorescent gym lights for fresh air and sunshine for an instant mood boost. Why not keep things interesting by taking up a sport instead of exercising solo – join a local netball or football team, and enjoy the added bonus of keeping your mind stimulated at the same time as getting fit.



Warmer weather also means lighter, fresher meals, so try to incorporate more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet to keep your energy levels up. Chef and food writer Anna Jones is an excellent source of delicious veg-based recipes that steer clear of Ottolenghi-esque levels of complication.



Get your affairs in order.




If you’re self-employed, now's the time to assess your clients and projects carefully to determine which ones are the money-makers - and which ones are the money pits.Which clients, projects, or strategies are profitable, and which ones require you to spend more time on them than really makes sense? Examine and evaluate where you’ve been expending your energies thus far this year, and think about what you need to do more – and less – of to grow your income as the year progresses.



There’s a lot of talk about the benefits of ‘digital detoxing’ these days – but how do you actually do that? Start by unfollowing any social media accounts that don’t actually add any value to your life (you know the ones), and unsubscribing from all those newsletters and email alerts you don’t even remember signing up for – Unroll.Me is hands-down the quickest and easiest way out there to streamline your inbox.



Review your bank statement for subscriptions or accounts you’d forgotten you’re signed up for. Chances are there’ll be at least one or two you never actually use, which means you can make some easy savings with minimal effort.


Happy spring cleaning!

Pierre Cardin, Space Age

As I’ve mentioned in newsletters past (sign up here if you haven’t already!), I’m a huge believer in the ability of the seasons to affect everything from your mindset to your physical wellbeing – both of which in turn can affect your ability to do your best work. A lot of the optimism I was feeling a few months ago about the impending change in seasons was definitely down to a rose-tinted notion of cosy evenings spent in front of a fictitious roaring fire, as it's safe to say said fantasies have been cruelly slapped away by the grim reality of British winters and their trademark grey skies and constant drizzle. With the clocks going back a few weeks ago and December fast approaching, I’ve been giving some thought to how to stay creative and keep my brain ticking over during this, the season of little motivation and increased libation. When it comes to avoiding the winter blues, forewarned is forearmed – so here are a few ideas on how to get through the cold, dark months ahead, and ensure you’re as productive as possible.



Yes I know – the weather’s sh*t, which makes it extremely tempting to basically hibernate until March, but hear me out. Getting a daily dose of sunlight is crucial for keeping your mood and energy levels up, so particularly if you work from home, maintain (or introduce!) a habit of taking a walk during the day. It doesn't have to be long - 15 minutes will do. Not only is exposure to sunlight crucial for helping your body produce serotonin (a mood-boosting chemical), the cold is sure to get your blood pumping and wake you up. Win-win.



Whilst I love a good think piece as much as the next person (and have discovered some of my favourite writers online), nothing beats getting stuck into an actual book for inspiration. Skimming through a mishmash of tweets, Instagram posts and clickbait headlines is the dietary equivalent of a packet of crisps – it fills you up, but it’s not exactly nourishing. The colder weather means you’ll probably be spending more time indoors anyway, so why not use that extra time at home to stimulate your mind with some literary brain food? If you’re stuck for inspiration, check out Girls At Library, an excellent online journal full of book recommendations from interesting women. Me? I’ll be getting stuck into Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, starting with a reading by her at the London Review Bookshop next week.



Don’t get me wrong, I love an evening in with nothing but a podcast for company – but humans are social animals, and we need regular social interaction to stay happy and sane. Making a concerted effort to stay social during the winter months is important for sparking fresh ideas, and stopping your brain from getting into a rut. Again, particularly if you work from home, be sure to schedule in regular socialising with friends, even if it’s just arranging to co-work together once a week.



As ever, looking after your physical wellbeing is crucial if you want to keep producing your best work. This winter I’m taking a two-pronged approach to keeping my health on track, paying special attention to both my diet and exercise. The run up to Christmas traditionally tends to be a time of increased indulgence, which is totally fine as long as you’re still getting your fair share of healthy foods too. Make sure you incorporate plenty of brain foods into your diet, such as oily fish (yes, smoked salmon canapés do count), eggs, and nuts. It might also be worth rounding out your diet with a few supplements too – try Vitamin D to make up for the lack of sunlight, and the B vitamins for energy.

As well as eating the right foods, staying active is more important than ever for helping boost your mood and energy levels, so try to resist the temptation to turn into a couch potato over the winter. If throwing yourself around a freezing park before or after work is your idea of hell, explore indoor classes such as HIIT (never tried it but heard it's good) or hot yoga (have tried it, and can 100% vouch for it). Whatever floats your boat, as long as it gets you moving - why not take a friend along for the ride and kill two birds with one stone? By getting some good habits in place now, you can build up slowly and avoid the usual 'feast-then-famine' mentality of bingeing on unhealthy foods in the run up to the end of the year because *Christmas*, followed by the shock of starting a punishing exercise regime in the New Year. Why wait?


What’s your secret to getting through the dog days of winter? Let me know in the comments box below!