Why You Need To Live In The Now

Life is exciting when you have things to look forward to. For many of us, it’s what gets us through a hard week, a long journey or the tenth conference call on a Tuesday. As a chronic planner, it’s also really easy to live your life according to your well-organized schedules, trips and daily routines.

But it’s really easy to glaze over the valuable here and now, if we are forever counting down to the next adventure, social event or milestone. One quote which really resonates with me when thinking about this is,

‘Remember when you wanted what you currently have’

I think this is just as relevant for experiences and memories, as it is for things, status and milestones in life.

Too often we are looking ahead for the next big memory we want to create that we gloss over the daily little moments which we have built for ourselves, that make up the majority of our day to day lives.

Looking forward is something we all do, even though we know it’s probably more beneficial to be living in the moment, living for now. Yet we also pair this with the dangerous habit of forgoing what is currently happening to focus on, reminisce, and think back to times which have passed. We live for a time that once was, rather than a time we can shape in this very moment.

It’s not all adventures, escapes, successes and social opportunities. Life is as much about the day to day as it is the once in a lifetime, and when we accept that, I personally think everything becomes a lot more fulfilling.

If you are always counting down, thinking of what is next, you live in a state of flux. It may lead to anxiety that you are not doing enough with your days. It could leave you with a nervous fear of missing out as you convince yourself it will all be worth what you’re counting down towards in the long-run. At the end of the day, you could miss many memories and opportunities if you don’t enjoy the small stuff, the bits in between, the happy fillers.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There’s no harm in reliving great memories with friends, or looking forward to what may come next. That motivates us, inspires us and teaches us. However it shouldn’t come at the expense of not enjoying your moment right now.

I have endometriosis, and the reality of that is sometimes things I have been so excited for, escapes and travels I have planned, or big work trips I have looked forward to, get cancelled with little to no notice, and it sucks. You never know what can happen, so don’t place all your excitement on one future event or one past memory.

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If like me you are wanting to have a count-down detox, or stop day-dreaming about what has passed, here are a few tips to get you on track:

Reflect every day

Write a few sentences a day to capture how you are feeling, what you’ve done that day, the small things we often gloss over. A song you heard and loved, food you ate and enjoyed, a random act of kindess. By being more conscious about the little things, we build better habits for living in the moment.

I use a line a day five year diary and I love it.

Catch yourself

If you find yourself thinking more about what has passed, or talking regularly about what is to come, try and naturally get yourself back into the here and now. Change the way you converse about the day to day.

Ask yourself, what am I doing right now? What can I hear? What can I see? Why am I doing what I am doing today?

It’s a quick way to bring you right back into the moment, and to relish in those thoughts.

Find a balance between living and planning

Quite often, when I have been organizing something big and exciting such as our wedding, big travel plans or house moves, I tend to put all my energy into this one event, even months ahead of it.

I decline plans to dedicate time to the ‘future event’, I sit and plan all evening (I love a notebook!) and I am probably horrendous to talk to as I seem to have a one-track conversation.

A couple of years ago I found that by doing this, I would miss out on little moments running up to the event, and actually, once it had passed I either got stuck reminiscing, or felt a gap where I needed to fill it with another big event.

Now, no matter what we are looking forward to and have planned, I also try to make sure we live in the here and now at the same time. I often ask myself, if I don’t do this because of what’s planned, will that opportunity still be there for me in the future? Is it something I might miss out on? If the answers yes, then grab your chance and live in the now. Don’t risk a future of looking back and wishing ‘what if’.

One thing isn’t going to be the defining event that makes your life memorable. It’s everything together that makes it a journey you want to be part of.

Love the little things

Go for dinner in the week with friends, enjoy walks with no destination in mind, and spend an afternoon reading just because you want to.

When we let ourselves really indulge in what we enjoy, rather than what we think we should be doing, we live more in the moment, and we feel better about it.

Put down the social media

Lastly, if you really are feeling like you are stuck in yesterday, or wishing away the weeks, social media might not be helping.

Stop scrolling back through your memories, or looking for inspiration on where to go, what to consume or what to do next.

Instead, put the phone away, and focus on what you could be doing right now, or post more of the tiny day to day joys instead of the big moment pictures.

Listen to your body

Often when we are really not living in the moment we don’t listen to what our body is telling us we need. Tired? Sleep more. Craving something sweet? Indulge.

 

 

My Bedtime Routine: Seven Tips To Sleep Better.

There honestly isn’t a day which goes by where I don’t seem something online relating to sleep, the importance of it, or the struggle people have with it.

One thing that we all know to be true is that consistently getting a good night’s sleep is essential if you’re going to remain at your peak.

On average, adults need between seven to nine hours sleep a night to fully repair and recharge. This can be harder to achieve in the ‘always-on’ world we now live in. There’s always something new on Instagram to read, streaming services have changed the way we access media, allowing us to binge watch or engage at any hour without restrictions, and as a whole we seem to be a lot more stressed and forever busy.

All the above conflicts with our natural need to rest.

This is why over the years I have honed a few little techniques which help me to switch off and get a good nine (yes, I am on the extreme of the spectrum and need a lot of sleep!) hours of shuteye every night. Luckily I am now pretty good at getting my needed quota each night thanks to the below and finding what works for me.

They may not all work for you, in fact they could all be the opposite of what you need. However if you are struggling to get consistent rest, maybe try the below routine one night and see if it helps.

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No technology thirty minutes before bed

This one is really important, and something that I notice has an instant impact if I neglect it. No TV in the bedroom, no Netflix before bed, no last scroll on my phone down a social feed before snoozing.

Thirty minutes before I plan to sleep, I plug in my phone to charge, put it on do not disturb and set my alarms. Then it’s reading time, journaling time or just talking to my other half before bed.

Sleep sounds

I don’t know what I did for the first twenty five years of my life where I didn’t know about white noise apps.

If you live in a busy area, share a house or walls with noisy people, or on or near a main road, then a white noise app could help you drift off much quicker.

I use the ‘storm sounds’ ambient app on my Alexa device, so it starts to play automatically at a set time. It’s amazing how much sound a low-noise app can block out.

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Sipping a warm cup of herbal tea is a great way to just slow down and reflect on the day. My go-to is Lemon and Ginger or Pukka Detox tea.

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Bathe away the day

Light some candles, put on some relaxing music and use lavender bath oil to soak away the day. A good half an hour in the tub is the best way for me to clear my mind.

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Lavender

As already alluded to in the above, I use several lavender based products in my nighttime routine. Lavender bath oils, pillow spray, or essential oils to burn on my oil burner. Either way the smell just calms me, and makes me ready for bed!

I also love this new Linen Spray pictured above. It’s Vegan, smells incredible, and gives me that newly washed bedding feeling every night instead of once a week. Bliss.

Open curtains and eye mask combo

I sleep with the curtains open, to wake with the sun. However when I first go to bed, I pop on an eyemask as I find it helps me switch off and fall asleep easier.

In the middle of the night when I wake up, I take it off and go back to sleep mask-less.

Rehydrate

It’s not my evening routine as much, but every morning when I wake up, I slowly drink my way through a litre bottle of water as I wake and read the news, do my hair and makeup and cuddle the cats.

Do you have any sleep routines or tricks you swear by to get a good night’s sleep? Please share with me in the comments below!

Prague Travel – Guide To The City

Visiting Prague

If you are looking for a city break that combines rich and impressive architecture, romantic cobbled backstreets, heaps of history and good food and beer, then you don’t need to look any further than the Czech capital.

Prague is easily one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and a haven for explorers and romantics alike. A city which feels like it is built on a maze of endless hidden backstreets, there’s a new underground bar, gothic church or cute café around every corner.

The city can be filled with people in the summer. It was the fifth most visited tourist destination in Europe in 2017, though after spending some time there, it doesn’t really come as a surprise when you hear that.

Therefore, is it in winter when I believe Prague looks truly magical and is best visited. Though do wrap up warm, as temperatures regularly drop down to the minus figures in the early months of the year.

The snow falling down onto the Charles’ Bridge is a beautiful sight to take in, whilst wrapped up in a café just over the banks. The spires, towers and heights of Prague Castle looks particularly haunting in the cold. Grab a hot wine to go, and take in each of the different styles of building located within the grounds.

If you are there for a short city break, there are a few sights, tastes and experiences that could really enrich your stay.

Snow in Prague Castle

Take in the sights of Prague

Old Town Square is a must-see, especially to take in the impressive astronomical clock. However don’t dwell too long here. Instead, embrace your spirit of exploration and wander aimlessly down any of the backstreets surrounding the town centre. You will be spoilt for choice when you come across the endless ancient churches, cosy bars and historic statues which seem to be on every other corner.

You can easily lose half a day exploring Prague Castle and the Ornate St Vitus Cathedral. I would wholly recommend packing a warm coffee flask or a bottle of fizz if the weather is warmer, and enjoying it from one of the many viewpoints looking out over Prague and the river Vltava. Take half an hour to pause and take in the incredible views of all the eclectic architecture from the city below.

Lastly, I couldn’t recommend a night-time city tour by GetYourGuide enough. It was the best way to discover a city away from the tourist filled centre, and discover much more about the history in the Czech Republic.

Charles Bridge Prague City

Eat and Drink – What are the best restaurants in Prague?

As you wander down the endless cobbled back streets, or over the Charles Bridge, do it while savouring one of the famous Czech Republic Donuts, the Trdlenik (yes, I had to Google how to spell that).

A cinnamon and sugar flavoured donut cone, filled with rich chocolate and ice cream. They are the future of city-based delicacies.

When it comes for something more substantial, Prague has more than its fair share of cosy cafes, atmospheric underground restaurants and traditional Czech beer halls. Restaurant U Mlynáře, located on the Castle side of the river, serves up traditional warm Czech food, in addition to its own delicious brewed at source beer. It’s a must for a no-frills but heart (and body if you’re travelling in the winter) warming meal.

The Tavern by Seven Swabians is a must visit, although I would advise going for lunch or later drinks, if you want to avoid the medieval-style entertainment and banquets regularly attended by stag and hen parties. It’s located in a lower level cave, with long rustic tables, delicious food and a wide range of beers. The dim candle lit rooms make you feel like you are truly immersed in the history of the city.

Alternatively, if you are all Goulash and dumpling-ed out, then you must try Maly Buddha. This Asian restaurant has endless atmosphere, from low lighting, incense burning and traditional decorations adorning the walls. This was easily our favourite meal which we ate whilst in Prague, and it was a steal for what we paid. The Thai vermicelli and the vegetable spring rolls are truly delicious. Do be warned though, they only take cash, however don’t worry if you get caught out like we did, there’s an ATM just around the corner.

Old Town Square Prague

Top Tips – Prague

The city itself has so much to offer just by wandering around on foot, so make sure you leave aside a half day to just get purposely lost in the old town.

We found that the mini-markets were overpriced in a city that is known for being purse-friendly, and it was much cheaper to get food, service and a drink in a small café or bar.

In winter it can get really very cold, so pack layers upon layers.

Visit the Strahov Library, it’s such an impressive place to explore, and can easily be reached from Prague Castle.

Stay on the Prague Castle side of the bridge. There’s some great places to eat, drink and relax, including restaurants overlooking the river and hidden down old passageways.

Have you ever visited Prague, or do you plan to soon? Share your top tips in the comments below and we will feature the best ones on the blog.

Stop Living Perfectly, And Start Living Authentically

It’s too easy to fall into the trappings of living a ‘perfect’ life, a ‘busy’ life. Ensuring you are ticking off all the widely accepted milestones of success we aspire towards as a society.

The perfect home that looks like it could feature in an interiors glossy magazine. The job title and promotion you’ve worked towards for years. Pristine clean housekeeping skills, a fantastic and full social life. No time for anything because you’re so ‘busy’. The list goes on.

I know when I have been falling into the trap of trying to live perfectly instead of authentically when I start to feel detached from doing the things I really love. The things that enrich my life and make me truly happy. Not the material things which bring status, a short-lived burst of happiness and can easily be one-upped by the next person living more perfectly than you.

When I actually start to feel too busy, too stressed or too overwhelmed.

If you take five minutes to reflect over the last week, do you feel that you have been filling each moment of your days with things you truly enjoy? Things that really make you happy?

I have been so detached from living authentically recently I have not written a blog, article or content in over three weeks. I know my day to day priorities are not right when I can’t find time to do the things I enjoy the most.

I can sense if a person is living authentically because from the moment I meet them, listen to them, follow their updates on social media, they all feel so happy, true and refreshingly real.

You know the kind of person I am talking about. The person who knows what they enjoy in life, and they live with these priorities in mind.

If you are feeling that you are a little overwhelmed, too busy to fill your days with the things that matter to you, or in a bit of a rut, the steps below might help you get back on track.

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Work out what your five main priorities are

You can’t make sure you dedicate your time and energy to the things that matter if you don’t know what they are. Take ten minutes to list everything that makes you seriously happy. I am talking huge grin, gets you out of bed in the morning, contagiously happy.

To help you out, I have listed my top five:

  • Spending quality time and making memories with my husband, cats, family and friends
  • Having time to write
  • Travelling and seeing as much of the world as possible
  • Reading
  • Putting my health first

Ensure you put in time to work towards these priorities each and every day

I know you’re busy. We all are. But we should never be too busy to fill our lives with the things that truly matter to us. Imagine looking back over the last month and not being able to pick out ten key moments you really enjoyed. You won’t get that time again. So make sure you’re putting aside time for the things which really matter to you. If you don’t have the time to do that, look at what you’re doing instead and see if it really needs your focus.

I feel happier, more content and more wholesome when my days are spent on my priorities. So I need to make sure I spend more time doing just that. If reading a book for twenty minutes a day comes over a perfectly clean house that actually, people don’t really care too much about, I am happy with that.

Realise it’s okay to do nothing

Too often when we are feeling overwhelmed or a little burnt out, it’s because we haven’t actually taken any time for ourselves. Time to just be. Time to do nothing.

If you are feeling that you haven’t had the time to do the things you love recently, take a reset day. I still struggle with this concept, it feels wrong to nap, read when there’s decorating to be done, or just go away for an evening when I have a mountain on my to-do list. But I am getting better at it.

Review your goals and what you really want

Regularly we don’t feel like we are achieving in life because we haven’t ticked off an impressive goal recently, or invested in something to show and share with others.

It’s too easy to fall into the trap of creating false expectations for yourself. The need for a new promotion at work, not because you want it, but because you think that’s a sign of success. The need for the latest model of car even though yours works perfectly. Don’t look back in twenty years’ time and wish you’d spent your money, or your time differently. Get rid of false expectations, live only in a way that makes you happy.

At the end of the day, we are all too worried about how other people perceive us, when in reality, we should just be focusing on how we perceive ourselves.

If you can say that you make conscious choices each day which allow you to get the most out of life, make you happy and allow you to work towards your main priorities, that’s all that matters.

Where your weeks are filled with more memories, moments and experiences than ‘must-do’s, checklists and chores’.

And that’s living more authentically, rather than a standard tick all the boxes perfect life.

And that leaves me with one of my favourite quotes:

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Stop Being Defined By Your Things

If I asked you to think of two to three material items on your wish list right now, which you think would make your life a little bit better for one reason or another, could you?

A luxury watch, a designer handbag, a new television.

Now think how or why you think they’d enrich your life.

That new designer watch. Thinking honestly, what makes it different from a well-crafted non-luxury timepiece? It’s the branding. The lifestyle associations which come alongside it.

A bigger television. Is it to enjoy your films in better quality, or just because when it comes to TV’s, we’ve been repeatedly told bigger is better? It becomes a home status symbol, a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality.

A luxury branded handbag. Probably as well-made as a hand stitched leather bag you could find for a third of the price. However they come without the logo. So how would people know that you’ve got THE coveted bag of the season if it’s non-recognizable? How do people know you’re doing well in life without the branding?

I have been guilty of this thinking. If we’re being honest, you may have been too.

However if we started to see material goods for what they really are. Tools to help us in our daily activities. Things. Stuff. We stop coveting them all so much.

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Seeing Things For What They Really Are

We need to realise that those designer shoes might bring with them a certain lifestyle association and may impress our friends, but they won’t bring true happiness. Unless you’re enriching your life and focusing on the things that truly matter to you, you will always be wanting more. As soon as you have those shoes, you’ll be coveting the next bigger and better thing.

Trust me, I subscribed to this lifestyle choice and getting the material things I thought I wanted never actually resulted in lasting happiness. I just kept on living a cycle of comparing myself to others.

I now buy only out of need rather than want, and before purchasing I always ask myself three questions.

Am I buying this because it is necessary and has a purpose in my life?

Have I chosen this particular item for it’s quality, or for the status it provides?

Am I buying this to impress others?

It’s surprising how often just by asking those three simple statements, things get returned onto the hangers, or removed from my online basket.

Just last week I almost bought a blender costing five times as much as one with better reviews, because it’s currently seen as ‘the’ blender to have.

Thankfully I saw some sense before completing checkout.

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Try it yourself

A small exercise for you to do this evening could be to walk through your home and ask those questions retrospectively about what you own.

Here they are again:

  1. Did I buy this because it is necessary and has a purpose in my life?
  2. Have I chosen this particular item for it’s quality, or for the status it provides?
  3. Did I buy this to impress others?

See if you can learn anything about the reasons behind why you buy, and be honest with yourself.

Since I have placed less value on my things, the only change I have noticed is that I have more money, time and focus for the things which actually do truly make me happy.

Writing, travel and being with loved ones.

I might not buy bags with designer branding anymore, but I have a long-lasting leather satchel which has travelled with me to four countries from what I have saved by adopting this mindset.

I don’t have the biggest TV, best car, biggest house or biggest shoe collection compared to my friends and family.

But I am not defined by my things. Instead I define my success on two little questions.

Am I actually truly happy, and am I spending my time on money on the things which really matter to me, and me only?

 

 

 

Living In The Now – Did You Get The Most Out Of Today?

Life is a long journey, however if we spend too much of it focusing on future plans, goals and fears, we won’t leave much time left in the day to just enjoy and experience it.

Today, in February, I was going through my calendar and organising annual leave for weddings, holidays and more right up until December. I got so caught up in thinking about what was coming up and how excited I was for it, I forgot to reflect on the time and all the hours that were flying by.

I spent the week dreaming I was back travelling like this time last week.

I spent the days wishing I could be home so I could write.

I haven’t fully appreciated three whole days so far this week by focusing on the past, future and wishing away the hours, and by doing it, I am missing opportunities to be as happy as I can be.

We only experience moments once. We might have lovely memories to reminisce. We might have future dreams to imagine over and over again, but they are emotions that have been or are to come. They are not now.

Daily life becomes much more enjoyable if we are mindful about what we are doing. If we experience each moment rather than floating through yet another day like a well rehearsed routine.

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There are several ways to help you stay present and live in the now:

  1. Stop, breath and smile

How often do you just take a moment to stop. Right now I want you to just look up, take a deep slow breath, and smile. A big cheesy over the top smile, even if it feels unnatural.

Too much of our day is spent in autopilot. Making breakfast, getting dressed, taking the same commute with the same radio station, washing the dishes. We must zone out for at least 20% of the time.

So try your hardest to stop during these daily routines just for a second, and take a minute to mix up and enjoy what you are doing. Focus on how good that coffee tastes. Enjoy the scenery on your drive to work or the song on the radio. Just take a deep breath, and appreciate it all.

  1. Focus on today, not yesterday

It is far too easy to enjoy life more in retrospect. To think how great that one weekend adventure was. How easy your old job role was to do on a daily basis.

If you are still dreaming of last week, you have missed a whole seven days of opportunities to do something enjoyable that you can reflect on.

Take this chance to enjoy every little moment. It might not be a margarita in the sun, but it is you time, with your favourite book, and it’s pretty damn good.

  1. Stop comparing yourself

This is such a big trap and easy to fall into. Stop wishing you were experiencing the lives of others. Social media makes this kind of voyeuristic living almost second nature now. But it shouldn’t be.

People are experiencing their lives, and you are experiencing yours. Don’t feel bad if you are not doing what they are. You don’t want to get old and have memories filled of other peoples experiences now do you?

Embrace the good in your day. The grass is always greener.

  1. Think now, not what if or what might

So you find out that your car has been making a weird noise. So you take it to the garage.

Do you spend this whole time worrying about potential issues, and planning for upcoming scenarios?

If this is a yes, you have lost many hours worrying about what might be. This is a hard one, but it is incredibly important to face issues as they arise, and take steps to solve them, and not worry and solve countless potential issues in your mind that might never occur.

Life is too short to worry about it all.

  1. Take time for you and be conscious of your enjoyment

Every day, take at least five minutes to do something you truly enjoy. Yoga, reading, dancing, walking.

I used to feel guilty sat on the armchair on a weekend curled up with a good book for two hours when there were ‘jobs’ to be done.

But life is too short. Especially for dusting in case we got visitors.

Can you think of three things today that you appreciated and brought you happiness?

For me it was a long cuddle with my cats, taking time to write this post and lying in bed and listening to the wind howling early this morning in darkness. There was just something so serene and perfect about that moment.

If you can’t, try to journal and note down three things you appreciate each day.

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30 Day Minimalism Challenge – Can You Live More With Less?

You voted, and I heard you loud and clear. So here it is, the 30 day minimalism challenge from The Essence of Things, ready for us to take on together one day at a time.

You might be feeling a little frantic, or perhaps you are just yearning for a simpler but more rewarding life with more time and energy to pursue experiences  with the people you love. Whatever your motive may be, take these next 30 days as an opportunity for a fresh start.

I will be documenting my experiences and findings each and every day as I work my way through the challenge, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it to.

Are you ready? Let’s stop the excuses and start living a less busy, more incredible life today.

Starting tomorrow: Challenge number 1 – Wardrobe Spring Clean

If you are more of a print and cross it off kind of person, there’s a PDF version of the challenge available here