Blogging From A-Z Challenge – Theme Reveal

1a-to-z HEADER [2020] to size v2

Tomorrow marks the start of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge which I signed up to do again this year after undertaking and really enjoying the challenge last year.

After I signed up last month I was hit with worry about whether I would be able to take part and complete the challenge due to my dodgy internet connection but I am pleased to report that I seem to have the problem sorted now!  I am excited to be writing this post, looking forward to the coming month and getting back into a regular posting schedule!

The theme I have chosen for 2020’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge is the A-Z of Blogging.  Each day through April I will be covering all things blogging, starting with A on the 1st and working my way through the alphabet, letter by letter, day by day (except Sundays!)

Here is what my posting schedule will look like through April…

Week 1 (1st – 5th April) A, B, C, D, Sunday Off

Week 2 (6th – 12th April) E, F, G, H, I, J, Sunday Off

Week 3 (13th – 19th April) K, L, M, N, O, P, Sunday Off

Week 4 (20th – 26th April) Q, R, S, T, U, V, Sunday Off

Week 5 (27th – 30th April) W, X, Y, Z

While I say Sunday will be off, it will be the designated break day from the challenge, I am hoping to share a few links to other blogs that will be taking part!

If you are taking part and would like me to share a link to your blog please leave me a comment!

Words on Wednesday – Spreading Positivity

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You may have read yesterday’s blog post where I shared with you my mental health struggles that have been compounded by the coronavirus outbreak and though I am still struggling I have been finding ways to cope with the anxieties I have at the moment.

I spent a lot of the day doing housework, or more specifically, deep cleaning my bathroom.  I know that cleaning is not that high up on a lot of peoples “fun ways to spend time” lists but I find that it helps me a great deal, I can focus on what needs doing, how to clean and do the best job that I can.  I put some music on (if you are interested I listened to Greenday’s Greatest Hits and Gomez’s Bring It On albums), sang and bleached and scrubbed and mopped for a good few hours.

I also, after sending a few pics to a friend and having a conversation with them, I was inspired to use the virus isolation in a positive way.  So many of us are self-isolating and social distancing which can be hard for people, like me, who have mental health problems, but we are all doing incredible things at home to alleviate the boredom and finding ways to adapt to this new way of life. So, I created a new Instagram account (you can find it by searching @the_stay_home_club or by clicking here) which I want to use to share my own, and others, photos of fun things that they are doing while in isolation and staying at home.  I want the space to be a place of positivity, fun and full of inspiration, hints, tips and recommendations that can be shared with others who are in the stay home club.

I would love to see photos of things that you are doing while at home, whether it is the space you now occupy while working, what you are cooking, creating, how you are spending your time, what you are wearing (I’ve been wearing pjs and a hoodie much of the day), are you trying out something new (whether it is some kind of fashion, hairstyle, recipe or DIY), what sort of projects you are doing with your kids or even projects that you are doing, things you are watching, reading, listening to or playing, or something that is making you smile.  Anything that you are doing could inspire or help someone else and I want to help spread a little bit of positivity and inspiration to others using the powers of social media.  But, I can’t do this alone so I am asking for you to do a few things for me

  1. Come and follow me on Instagram, tag your photos using the #the_stay_home_club and @the_stay_home_club so I can find and share your photos*.
  2. Share the account on your social media sites and ask your friends to get involved.
  3. If you don’t have Instagram and want to share any photos please email them to me (colourful.life@outlook.com) and I will share them to Instagram for you**.

The more people that get involved the more positivity, inspiration and smiles will be shared.  Together we can make these scary and uncertain times a little bit brighter.

Will you help to spread a few smiles with me?

  • *credit will be given and your account tagged in any images that I re-post.
  • **I will add your blog handle or blog address to any images that you would like shared.  Alternatively, should you wish to remain anonymous let me know and I will just share them for you.

 

Coronavirus, Anxiety and Me

I have been in self-isolation for the past week and I am on the verge of returning to work after this 7 day period at home.  I have been ok physically but, as the coronavirus outbreak is worsening I am really starting to struggle with my mental health.

Last year I was absent from work with stress, anxiety and depression for nearly 6 months and up until a few days ago I felt pretty stable but now I am starting to struggle, especially with the anxiety side of my mental health.

I went shopping, as I usually do on payday and I normally buy much that I need for the month ahead.  In the days leading up to going shopping, I was hearing stories of the shops selling out of essentials that I normally buy monthly which started my anxiety levels to rise.

I get paid monthly, I live on my own, I have bills to pay and my monthly salary just about covers that along with food and other things I might need.  I have very little room monthly to save any money and budgeting for food is one way that I can keep in some kind of control of my finances.  When I went shopping (and I visited 3 different supermarkets), not one had items that I rely on for my monthly food shop.  I eat a lot of pasta, at least 3 times a week as I know that what I cook will do me for 3 meals (one that evening, then lunch with the leftovers for tea), there were no tins of baked beans that I eat on toast at least 2 times a week, there was no veg, the freezers were empty save for a few tubs of ice-cream.  There were no toilet rolls or dog food, laundry products, hand wash, bath products or bin bags.  This has caused me a lot of worry and expense.  I need to eat, my dog needs to eat and I have a budget that I really can’t go too far away from.

In the end, I was forced to buy dog food and pasta on-line (Amazon had some stocks available) but I paid over the odds.  Roxy usually has one type of food and I couldn’t get that so instead of spending the usual £9 on a bag I had to buy something that was similar in nutritional value and ingredients that cost twice as much.  And I have had to bulk buy pasta online spending a lot more than I usually do.

In addition to that, I am getting really anxious about how this virus will affect those around me, both my Mum and Dad are in the at-risk group and are retired and I am worried about their health and how they will manage in having to isolate themselves with things like food shopping and just remaining safe.  My brother is also in self-isolation for the foreseeable future as he is asthmatic.

I have been watching the news, not constantly but the important parts of it as the advice the government are giving seems to change on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  I don’t know whether watching it is making my anxiety worse or not but I do know that I would rather be armed with the facts and be up to date with advice that is being given.

I’m worried about going back to work, and I can’t help panicking about what would happen if I picked up the virus and carried it to my parents or transferred it to someone else and I am worried about how the virus could affect me.

I’m worried about what will happen with work and if the office will remain open and about working from home.  I was planning on getting broadband put into my home this month but can no longer afford to do so as my food bill was more than I had planned.  Not having broadband and having to rely on mobile internet might be ok for blogging and other general browsing but I don’t have enough data to work from home for 7.5 hours a day for 5 days let alone afford to do this indefinitely.  I don’t even know if working from home would be an option when the work I do means that I have access to personal data.

And I am worried about having an extended period of time away from work, whether I will still get paid, whether I will still have a job to go back to should I take leave and whether, if I have to have time off again due to my mental health (which was stable before this virus pandemic) whether it will go down as sick leave and how that will affect my sickness record and pay.

I am just really anxious and worried about everything at the moment and I’m struggling to see anything in a positive light with so few answers to any questions, the advice we are being given changing constantly and all these stupid people who are panic buying and making the situation even worse in the grand scheme of things.

Words On Wednesday – Coronavirus

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I’m currently in self-isolation; I have a bit of a cough and a sore throat, which in normal circumstances would not stop me carrying on my normal life of working and going places but due to the coronavirus I have decided to play it safe and stay away from others.

It is pretty scary how quickly the virus is spreading and we all have a responsibility, not just for our own health but for the health of others in order to protect the more vulnerable of our communities.  This also means that we need to place a great deal of trust in the others around us that they will self-isolate if there are signs that they are presenting with that could be detrimental to our health.

I have really bad anxiety which has gotten worse as more and more cases of the virus has presented itself coupled with my distrust in others and also the panic buying situation.  Both my parents and my friends, along with seeing images on social media, have reported shortages of all kinds of items which are causing my anxiety to soar.  As a person that needs to budget and has a meal plan and a list of things I need to buy on a monthly and weekly basis the panic buying situation in the UK is not helping matters.  I budget what for what I need on a monthly basis and am unsure of what the availability of the things I need will be when it comes to shopping and am not sure of the availability of items when I go shopping.

These are scary times that we are facing and I urge you all to self-isolate if you have any of the symptoms and also not to panic buy, think of the person that surround you and show compassion and kindness to those around you.

Motivation Monday

ENJOY THE MOMENT

When was the last time you stopped and just enjoyed the moment?  This is something I ask myself on a fairly regular basis and is something that I am becoming more and more aware of especially as the daily pressures of living mean that we are often rushing from place to place and thing to thing, not really taking a moment to actually savour the moment.

When I did my mindfulness course this was something that I was taught and has helped me to control my stress and anxiety levels, just to stop what you are doing, even just for a minute, breathe deeply and just take a moment to appreciate the environment that you are in.  The brilliant thing about this is that it can be done anywhere – in the office, at home, travelling, literally anywhere.  Notice how you are breathing, what feelings your body is experiencing, the quality of the light, the sounds around you and just enjoy those things for a moment.

You can take longer than a moment if you are out walking then spend some time noticing all the little things you are enjoying, all the sensations you are experiencing, or if you are taking a break with a cup of coffee, just take time to notice all the little things about it.

when was the last time you took time to enjoy the moment?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Fiction Friday – This Week’s Top Read

Fiction Friday

It seems weird to refer to this book as being my top read for the week being that I listened to it via an app called BorrowBox that is linked with my local library, but it is a book nonetheless and I have really enjoyed listening to it…. That book is “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarity.

What Alice forgot was released in 2009, is set in the year 2008 and follows the story of Alice, the main character, who believes it is 10 years earlier after suffering amnesia following a bump to the head.  Alice cannot remember her children, her imminent divorce from her husband or even her best friend’s horrific death, instead, when she wakes on the gym floor she believes it is 1998 and that she is pregnant with her first child.

The story follows Alice on a journey of discovery of memories and events that have happened over the past 10 years, some that have happened directly to her and others that have happened to people in her life, including her sister and other family members, as well as Alice’s journey from a nearly 30-year-old to the nearly 40-year-old woman that she has now become, of friendships made and friendships lost, the loss of a relationship and the beginnings of new relationships and of the uncertainty of how events unfolded.

This book was an excellent listen and the story was gripping and I spent much of my time wanting to know what happened next and whether Alice would finally get her memories back.  The story also bought up questions about memories and whether, if I was in Alice’s position would I want to regain my memory or would I be happy to forget things.

Have you read or listened to any good books this week?   I’d love to hear your recommendations so let me know in the comments!

Words on Wednesday

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I have signed up for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge, a blog challenge that starts with a topic of your choice beginning with A on the 1st of April and ending with a Z on the 30th April (skipping Sundays!)  I took part last year and really enjoyed it so have decided to participate again this year too!  I have a theme all ready to go and am drafting my introduction post this week to be ready for the last day in March!

I love a blog challenge and have tried my hand, so far, at Blogtober, Blogmas and Blogging from A-Z.  I am considering taking part in NaNoWriMo this year instead of doing Blogtober and Blogmas, or maybe even doing all 3 but that’s a long way off!  I love that these challenges can boost the sense of community, encourage us to support other bloggers/writers, introduce us to new blogs, push our skills, encourage us to write better and more engaging content, learn more and have fun along the way.  Another great thing is that it gives us the freedom to try something new with our blogs without the commitment of making a full change, we can test things out, see if we like them and if ourselves and our readers like them we can use them in the future, the same goes for trying something and then it not being as successful as we thought it was, we can drop it for the time being.

Are you taking part in any blog challenges this year?  Let me know in the comments as I’d love to know your thoughts on blog challenges and the ones you do (or don’t!) take part in!

 

Top Tip Tuesday – Open the Windows

Top Tip Tues

Spring is just around the corner and so is Spring cleaning but did you know that a lot of dust is stirred up when we clean?  Whether it is vacuuming, sweeping, moping or even dusting itself, lots of the pesky particles can become airborne by the very thing we are trying our best to remove it with.

Dust can have a detrimental effect on our health and is responsible for many allergies, breathing problems and asthma so minimising dust in our environment is always going to be a good thing.

The best advice I have read, when cleaning, is to open the windows in you home so that the air can pass through, not only does this allow you to rid your home of stale air but it will also help to carry out any airborne dust particles that have been stirred up by cleaning.

There are a few other ways to reduce dust, even before it gets into the air, misting surfaces with cleaner or even a soapy water mixture using a spray bottle and then using a damp cloth to wipe over any dusty surfaces is one.  The other is to check whether ornaments are safe to be washed, either in the dishwasher or by hand, and cleaning them that way rather than using traditional methods.

Do you have any favourite Spring Cleaning tips?  I’d love to know what they are in the comments!

Motivation Monday – Stretch

STRETCH

Today’s Motivation is all about stretching.  We spend much of our lives sedentary, sat in front of computers, the tv, sat in transport, whether we are the driver or being driven and our bodies can become achy and stiff due to this.  Today I am motivating you to take time out of your day, maybe once an hour to stretch out those limbs and back.

I have felt the benefits of stretching, part of my physio for my shoulder injury was to stretch the muscles in my shoulder and arm in order to regain movement, but, not only can stretching help to repair damaged muscles and tendons it can also help to rid built-up tension and stress.

One of my favourite stretches is to sit on the floor with my legs out straight in front of me and bring my head down toward my knees before holding for a short while.  This stretch helps the tension that has built up through the day to dissipate and helps with any backache I may have.

Another easy stretch to do is to realign your posture, it is so easy for us to sit and slump or slouch and I find that checking my posture and bringing myself back into a “straight spine” posture can help too.  Just imagine that someone has got hold of the hair on the crown of your head and is pulling you upward.  I find that my breathing is better, I feel more awake and my concentration improves as well!

Do you have any favourite stretches that you like to do?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!