Finding motivation after a holiday

Those who don’t go on holiday very often are no doubt counting down the hours till you can get on that plane. Difficult days will be made more bearable just knowing that you only have a few more to get through till you’re sipping Pina Coladas and working on a tan.

Relaxing on a Menorca beach

But the only problem with that anticipation is the comedown that follows the moment your feet touch down on home soil. Let’s face it, coming back to reality can be a big old slap in the face.

You’d been looking forward to that holiday so much that you hadn’t thought about what happens when you return. What do you focus on next? What’s going to get you through the next month, or the next week?

You can soften the blow by making your home a nicer place to actually come back to. While you’re busy packing your suitcase and choosing sun cream, it may not feel especially inspiring to already be thinking about your return, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run if you leave your home clean and tidy. Have a quick hoover, do all the washing up and put clean sheets on your bed. When you get back from a long day of travelling, you’ll be really pleased to be back in your own bed with fresh sheets in a clean, tidy house. If you’re getting home late and the shops will be closed, also make sure you have some long life milk and a loaf of bread in the freezer.

Get some rest. Who’d have thought that sitting down for long periods of time was so tiring?! Even short haul flights take it out of you. If you can, allow for some down time when you return to help your body recover. Take it easy and drink lots of water. Stick on a hydrating face mask too, your skin will thank you for it!

When you’ve allowed your body and mind enough time to recover, make plans for your first weekend back home. I think it’s really important to have something to look forward to within the first week or two to negate those back-to-reality feelings. Meet a friend for a coffee, go to an exercise class or a local art exhibition. No matter how small, have something you’ll enjoy written in the diary.

Continue something that you enjoyed doing on holiday. Bear with me here. I know, I know, the thing you enjoyed was getting drunk while sunbathing on the beach in the roaring sun. Ain’t gonna happen on a rainy day in Hull, right? Let’s be realistic. Some things we can’t recreate. But there are some enjoyable things that we can. I spent loads of time reading books while I was on holiday last week and it made me remember just how much I love reading, I just haven’t been making time for it anymore. I can’t spend four hours a day reading now that I’m back at work, but I probably can fit in 20 minutes before I go to bed. I can make the time here and there.

If all else fails, book another holiday!

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Nspa beauty haul

I was at Asda recently when the Nspa skincare range caught my eye. Probably because there was an offer on – two for £8! Most of the products were priced at around £6 or £7 so that’s practically buy one get one free! So I picked out a few bits. I’ve never used anything in the Nspa range before but it has caught my eye before.

It’s exclusive to Asda but doesn’t have Asda written all over the packaging, it looks more like an independent brand.

Nspa skincare haul

I like that each product is labelled with a number indicating at which step of the cleansing ritual it should be used. Products named one should be used to cleanse; number two should be used to exfoliate; three to ‘treat’ the skin (condition and replenish the skin); and finally products labelled with a four are used to moisturise.

I mainly focused on products labelled for steps two to four as I already have cleanse products that I like and use regularly.

The first thing I noticed about all of the products I tested was the gorgeous smell. They all smell quite gentle and delicate but lightly spiced, almost reminding me of gingerbread men!

The first product I tested was the Hot Cloth Polish which is part of step two. It’s creamy in texture and made of cocoa butter blended with almond oil and ginseng. You pump once or twice into your hands and then massage into your face using small circles. Drench the muslin cloth (comes with the polish) in hot water, wring it out and then wipe away the polish from your face. My face did feel nice afterwards and it’s gentle enough for everyday use.

Nspa hot cloth polish

The Skin Glow Mud Mask is also part of step two and offers a deeper cleanse with Kaolin clay and charcoal to draw out dirt and impurities. You only need a thin layer applied to the skin and then you let it dry for about 15 or 20 minutes before washing off. When I applied it, it stung the skin underneath my nose so be careful if you have sensitive skin. My face felt really good after this and the other great thing is that it can be used as a spot treatment, which is good as I still get the odd stubborn one.

Nspa Skin Glow Mud Mask

Next up, or step three if you will, was the Deep Hydrating Facial Oil. I hadn’t used a face oil before and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, presuming it’d just make my skin feel really greasy. But it made it feel so, so soft! You only need to use a couple of drops, warm them up between your hands and then massage into your face.

Nspa Deep Hydrating Facel Oil

Finally I used the Ultra Hydrate Clean and my skin was singing afterwards.

Nspa Ultra Hydrating Cream

All these products were such a bargain and felt and smelled lovely. I think my favourites are the mud mask and the facial oil so I’ll definitely be getting those again.

 

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Mushroom Tom Yum soup recipe

This recipe, admittedly, was a bit hashed together but I reckon many of the best recipes often are. Well, mine are anyway. I’m a bit of a haphazard cook, I don’t really like to follow recipes. I adapt depending on what I have in the fridge or cupboard and what I fancy at the time.

Tom Yum noodle soup

A friend gave me some Tom Yum soup paste after telling me how delicious it was. She did give me a recipe but I lost said recipe. I decided I wanted to give it a go right before going food shopping, and to save disturbing my friend, who was on holiday at the time, I asked my trusty pal Google and then I kind of Pritt sticked about three recipes together to form the below.

It takes about 15 minutes – perfect for those evenings when you have little time to spare.

Serves two.

Ingredients

1tbsp garlic oil

500ml chicken stock

1tbsp Tom Yum paste

1tbsp fish sauce

Juice of one lime

300g rice noodles

250g mushrooms

Handful of spring onions

 

Method

1. Heat garlic oil in a large pan and cook mushrooms and spring onions.

2. Add hot chicken stock, Tom Yum paste, fish sauce and lime juice.

3. Once simmering, add rice noodles and cook to instructions.

 

This was quick to make and really tasty.

If you’d prefer it less ‘soupy’ and for the noodles to soak up some of the liquid, cook it for a bit longer. Just as tasty – and great for a packed lunch to take to work!

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Why my holiday is so important to me

This afternoon I am going on my first ‘lie by the pool and do nothing’ holiday in… forever. I mean, quite literally, forever. I can’t remember ever having a holiday where I just relaxed for the whole time.

My boyfriend and I have only had a handful of holidays together. Two abroad and both have been long weekend city breaks which are lovely, but they’re busy. They’re full of sight-seeing, walking for miles and taking lots in. They’re great, but they’re crammed and they’re tiring. Often you come home feeling more worn out than when you left.

An aeroplane over the clouds

I feel like I’ve had quite a stressful year. I’ve had a lot going on health-wise. I’ve been diagnosed with chronic migraine. I’ve also had months of stomach pain and food elimination diets to diagnose food intolerances. And I’ve had a really busy time at work since autumn.

I have been craving a holiday. I real holiday.

The kind where I can switch off and I mean really switch off. I want to lie by the swimming pool or on the beach all day with a cocktail in my hand and not move unless it’s to get another drink or to eat.

So my friend and I booked an all-inclusive (I know right, I have NEVER had an all-inclusive) holiday to Menorca for seven days – at a hotel that has a whole gluten-free menu.

I can’t wait to feel like there’s nothing else I should be doing in that moment. There’s no to-do list or bill to pay or admin to do. There’s nothing else I need to worry about except being there in that moment, feeling the sun on my face and the breeze on my skin.

I can’t wait to switch off my phone before heading off to Gatwick airport to have a proper digital detox for seven whole days.

I can’t wait to catch up with my friend, telling drunken stories through the night, reminiscing and cringing about our uni days and the silly things we got up to.

I can’t wait to feel free.

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Simple things that nourish the soul

I think all of us feel like we need a bit of a step back and have a bit of time out every now and again. We have increasingly busy lives, we’re stressed, we’re tired and we’re overworked. But ironically we don’t always have the time to do much about it.

But there are some easy, little things that you can do that will really make a difference.

Have a cup of green tea. C’mon, this couldn’t be written by a British girl without a cup of tea being included could it?! Green tea is well known for being high in antioxidants, which reduce the formation of free radicals, protecting cells and molecules in the body from damage.

The particular blend I’m trying at the moment is Geisha Getaway from T2. It smells quite vanillary but has hints of coconut and pineapple in it! Like a holiday in a cup.*

Oh, and don’t have a Spice Girls mug? Sucks to be you!

Drinking green tea

Deep breathing exercises. Make yourself comfortable and start to count your breaths as they pass. Each in breath counts as one and each out breath counts as two. I count up to 10 and then stop and count again at one. Just doing this for a few minutes and focusing on your breath can help you to feel very calm.

Take a digital detox. Even just a few hours away from your phone and Netflix will make a difference. Twitter will still be there when you get back and guess what, it probably won’t have noticed you’d gone. Go outside. Throw a frisbee. Talk to your partner. Walk the dog. Bake a cake.

Paint your nails. I’ve bitten my nails for as long as I can remember. It has ALWAYS been my New Year’s resolution and I’ve broken it by about mid-January. I’d tried everything, the disgusting flavoured nail varnish (fine if you don’t want to eat anything that day), wearing gloves (toasty but completely impractical) and nothing worked. Then I came across this blog post by Little Miss Katy and by following her advice I haven’t bitten them for just over a month. I won’t lie, there’s been the occasional nibble at a point when I realised I didn’t have a nail file on me but I managed to stop myself. That’s it – I try to keep them painted so I can physically see a bright colour moving towards my mouth and I try to keep a nail file on me at all times (thankfully I received a perfect little nail set when I did a bloggers’ snail mail gift swap) so that if there is a little snag I can file it away rather than using my teeth. It’s still difficult and I still have urges but I love how nice they look. And I’m really enjoying painting them, it’s now a relaxing little weekend ritual.

No 17 lilac nail varnish

Read a good book. There’s nothing better than getting really stuck in to a fictional story set far away. I’ve read so many good ones recently – Girl on the Train, My Sister’s Secret and The Husband’s Secret to name a few (ooh there’s a secret theme going on). I love a good thriller and I’ve got a few new ones ready for my holiday too – I intend to read a lot!

A face mask. There’s something about a face mask that feels so rejuvenating, not just to your face. I can’t explain it, it may just be purely that it forces you to sit down and relax for 20 minutes that I love! I’m the same about going to the doctors, I try to get there early because I love just being able to sit there, guilt-free (uh oh, more on guilty feelings again) reading a magazine for a while without anything else to do. I suppose if I’m doing a face mask inevitably it’s an evening and I’ve got a glass of wine in my hand so I’m associating those things together!

Sit in the sunshine. You don’t even need to go outside to do this one, but it helps. If you don’t have a garden and can’t get to the park, just sit by the window or find a warm sunny spot where the sun is pouring in. Close your eyes and relax. Smile.

*Post sponsored by T2 Tea who gave me a box of Geisha Green Tea to sample but all views are my own.

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