Lifestyle

My Top Ten Favourite Ways to Relax

Sometimes it can really feel like there are a million things going on in your life at once, that there isn’t much time to focus on anything else, including yourself. I think everyone, including myself, is guilty of not being able to switch off and take time out for themselves.  I try to make time for self-care most days, even if it’s something as simple as using a hair mask or settling down to read a good book with a hot drink, it makes all the difference.  Here are my top ten favourite ways ways to relax and de-stress.

Bubble Bath & Pj’s

The very first thing I do when I get home is have a shower (or bubble bath if I have the time!) and put on my pj’s and dressing gown for the evening. Sounds so simple, but putting on pj’s helps me to feel cosy and completely switch off from the day. If you have read my blog before, you will know that as well as my love for candles, I love bath bombs, and a bath for me is not complete without one! I’m a big fan of Lush and more recently Bomb Cosmetics – If you haven’t heard of them you can find them here: https://bombcosmetics.co.uk/

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Reading

Whenever I’m in need of some relaxation time or feeling anxious, I find nothing helps calm me quite like a good book. Reading really helps me to zone out for a while, and immerses my mind in a completely different world. I’m currently reading He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly, which I am already finding myself engrossed in. Magazines are also a nice way to relax, again it helps you to relax your mind and can provide some laughs – a particular favourite is the Hey, it’s Ok section in Glamour magazine.

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Candles

I’m a self confessed candle junkie, I absolutely love candles and have filled every room of my apartment with them. Candles can make a room go from average to a cosy hygge dream in seconds. I don’t go for particular scents, as there are so many good ones, but some of my favourites are Candy Cane Lane from Yankee Candle,  Cappucino Truffle from Homeware, White Jasmine and Mint & by Jo Malone.   Candles are a definite must for a cosy evening!

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Movies/Documentary Binge

If I’m not currently reading anything and don’t feel in the headspace to start a new book, I find watching a movie/tv series is the next best thing. After a hectic week it can be quite nice to get cosy with a cup of tea and settle down to watch something. I find this helps to relax my mind and focus on the entertainment rather than any niggling worries. If you’re after some new show ideas these are some of my top picks:

  • Game of Thrones
  • The Walking Dead
  • Suits
  • House of Cards
  • Amercian Horror Story
  • Love
  • Peep Show
  • The Affair
  • Orange is the New Black

Making Lists

Over the years I have turned into one of those people who are slightly obsessed with making lists, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I find making lists helps me to feel more organised and productive as I know what I want to complete (plus there are very little things more satisfying than crossing something off of your to-do list). My favourite list to write is in the first week of January, it is my resolution/goals for that year, which I then look back on a year later and cross of everything that I have achieved on my list. Lists are super handy for breaking things down and helping you prioritise what is most important. Confession – yes, I may also be one of those people who will add something they have already completed to their to-do list just so I can cross it off.

Music

Music can be really good at helping you to reflect and feel, as we can associate songs with memories/people/feelings.  I use Spotify and create playlists for most things like the gym, my walk to work, those days where you just need a little pick me up, and ones filled with old classics, it’s a fun way to have something on hand to play music to whatever mood you’re feeling.

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Cleaning

When I’m feeling stressed or anxious I find cleaning really helps me to relax and forget whatever was causing me to worry. There’s something about tidying your space which makes it feel like you’re tidying your mind too.

Date Days

Normally when Ryan and I have a day off together and no other plans we will have a date day aka spending time together doing something we both enjoy. This can be anything from going out for lunch/dinner and to see a film, or a day of exploring and walks etc. I really look forward to these as they allow us to shut off completely and have a day of fun. Date days don’t have to be expensive; some of the best are when you don’t spend money and go exploring.

Colouring

Last year colouring books made a real come back and had proved helpful to those who were stressed or anxious, as it helps you to focus on colouring the picture rather than what you are worried about.  I thought it couldn’t hurt to try one, and then Ryan surprised me with a Fantastic Beasts one (because who doesn’t love Harry Potter and co?). It’s true what they say, you become totally absorbed in it, so much so, that you don’t realise an hour has passed and you haven’t even had one single thought about what was worrying you earlier.

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Everyone has different ways of relaxing and switching off, what are your favourites? Let me know!

 

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Book Review

The Adventures of Alan Shaw Volume 1 by Craig Hallam Review

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For Alan Shaw, escaping the workhouse was only the beginning of the adventure.

For an orphan growing up alone on the streets of Victorian London, staying alive is a daily battle, filled with choices a child should never have to make. This is Alan’s lot in life, until he is offered more money than he can imagine; enough to take him to the new world to begin a new life. He only has to complete one task; something that could bring the British Empire to its knees.

In a series of adventures that take him from sea to sky, from Brighton to Bombay, Alan grows up in a steam-driven era where Automatons walk the streets of London and dirigibles master the air. Pitted against mad alchemists, tentacled submersibles, bomb-wielding saboteurs and the apocalyptic army of the Ordo Fenris, Alan has his work cut out for him.

With a past as dark as his, who knows what Alan might grow up to be?

Set in the mid nineteenth century, The Adventures of Alan Shaw follows a young orphan as he is dragged up on the streets of Victorian London.  Alan, like any other street urchin, fights for survival and earns his pennies doing odd jobs for the locals and working in a pub for a violent landlord. Dreaming of a life in America, Alan is willing to do anything to escape his lack of life in London.  When the opportunity offers itself in exchange for one simple delivery, Alan cannot believe his luck, but it comes at the cost of much destruction.

From the first tale ‘Alan Shaw and the Fate of the Automatons’ we are spring-boarded into Alan’s adventures which fulfil his dream of leaving London.  The novel is told in a third person narrative over the course of five stories, each separated by a few years as we see Alan grow from a child to a young adult. At the end of each story is a newspaper article which celebrates Alan’s bravery or reports a crime that has occurred, setting the reader up with a cliff-hanger and leading into the next tale. In addition the illustrations which appear before each story, that depict Alan and the characters who will support him during each adventure. I liked that Hallam included images before each tale, as it helped you put a name to the face of the characters.

In terms of the characters, I found all of the main characters to be likeable, but my favourite would have to be Alan, if not only for his sense of humour. Alan has not had an easy time of it to say the least; his experiences are raw and significant to the growth of his character throughout the novel. Despite all life has thrown at him, Alan never loses his charm and fearlessness, and you become invested in his character and him seeing his adventures through to the very end. Initially, I could not warm to Alan’s character, but as he matures I found him to be more endearing.

Another character I took a liking to was Sarah, wife of Callas who owns Harkers, the pub Alan works at as a child. Sarah acts as a mother figure for Alan during the early chapters, chatting to him in the kitchen, tickling him, and helping him to evade Callas when he’s angry. I really liked the relationship between these two, it showed a more sensitive side to Alan’s character when often he can appear quite hardened by his experiences.

The Adventures of Alan Shaw stays true to its sci-fi/steam punk genre with its recurring theme of machinery. The machines described in the novel are very creative and I really liked how even then society relied heavily on machinery to do everyday tasks, such as the Automatons sweeping the streets, thus taking jobs away from the young street dwellers. Throughout the novel the use of machinery becomes of greater use to the villains in the tales – including a giant tentacled ship intent on destruction and brass monkeys out for whatever they can get their hands on! Hallam describes the machines in such detail it is not difficult to conjure up images of what they would look like. It is clear Hallam has done his research when it comes to locations Alan ventures of too. The descriptions do a wonderful job of helping you put the scene together.

Initially I was unsure whether this novel would be for me, but I am pleased to say I was wrong. The Adventures of Alan Shaw is fun and fast-paced, filled with warm characters, humour and extremely interesting escapades. The cliff-hangers make it pretty impossible to leave for long, and I often found myself staying up to finish a story just so it could be put down for the night. This was a different read for me, but one I came to thoroughly enjoy. One thing I know for sure is that I will be joining Alan on his next bout of adventures!

Last but certainly not least, thank you to Craig Hallam who sent me a copy of The Adventures of Alan Shaw Volume One to review, it is much appreciated. However, this has in no way influenced my thoughts or opinions on the book, as always my reviews are honest, filled with my own thoughts and contain no spoilers!

Let me know what you think if you have read or do read The Adventures of Alan Shaw Volume One!