Seven Days

Ditching bad habits for healthy routine

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Happy New Year to you lovelies! I’m so delighted to have you here, and so thrilled to be back writing for A Life Loved after a much needed festive-break, time spent seeing in the New Year with my family and first week of January catching up on work. An invigorating walk through the countryside last weekend followed by a slap up full-English at the fabulous Yorkshire Cycle Hub was exactly what I needed to banish any stubborn end-of-year worries.

It was a break that had been far more needed than wanted, if I’m honest. For the duration of Christmas 2016, only 12 months prior, I’d spent the entire two week ‘holiday’ feeling horrible. A knackered, exhausted mess, unable to really engage with or enjoy the festivities. I vividly recall finally getting round to opening my gifts in the evening, surrounded by my loved ones all eagerly egging me on, and feeling nothing but an overwhelming sense of ‘I don’t want to be here. I can’t keep my eyes open. I just want to sleep’. After a terrible few days of migraine, and endless apologies to my family members for being so pitiful, I promised myself on New Years Day, January 2017, that Christmas this year would be different, that I’d arrive at the holidays feeling well slept, healthier and all together more seasonally jolly.

Oh, the great plans of Mice and Men.

Come mid December 2017, I was once again worn out and beyond desperate for time away from ‘everything’.

But why, when my team has expanded in size throughout 2017 and I have more opportunity than ever to delegate is this still happening? Why, when I have the most supportive husband and dream ‘work from home set up’ with no boss telling me what I can and can’t do, do I keep arriving at the end of the year totally and utterly done in?

It’s easy to consider things in hindsight once you’ve had a little time to rest, recoup and reflect and it didn’t take more than a few days into the Christmas holiday for me to realise I was burnt out – and to see with the kind of crystal clarity that had been lacking entirely up to then, exactly why. Clarity confirmed by four simple words from my husband, delivered with a deadpan kind of ‘I’ve been telling you this for ever’ weariness; “You have no routine.”

He was right, and despite me having recognised my struggle with work/life balance and routine as far back as 2014 when I wrote this piece for Love My Dress, here I was, in the last month of 2017, feeling like a failure.

In an attempt to gather some form of coherent wordage for A Life Loved, the unsettling realisation that I’ve been living a life without proper routine for years now had started to sink in. Like a lead weight. It’s a fact I’ve found immensely difficult to have to admit to myself. I’ve been working unwieldy work hours which have led to far too much screen time and far too little sleep, which has led to not enough quality time with my family or friends, and certainly, never enough time for me. I fully believe that the combined effects of all of this have contributed to my migraine hell of the past few years and inability to stay focussed and work productively for more than just short periods of time.

But if accepting that I’ve been struggling with routine was hard, facing the fact that I have far too much screen time was an even more difficult pill to swallow. My business is 100% based online and largely technology dependent – the thought of enforcing less screen time honestly scared the shit out of me.

‘Why don’t you just get to bed earlier?’, I hear you say?

Why indeed. I’ve enough life experience under my belt to know how easy it is to find yourself stuck in a rut though bad habit or poor decision making, and how hard it is to acknowledge that rut and find a way out of it. And my rut was this: I thought that by eeking out every spare second of work that I could each day, that I’d get more done. And thus, every spare second of my life up to now has been consumed with work, from dawn to dusk, sat at my desk, starting at my screen. I’d been running on 5 or 6 (sometimes as little as 4) hours sleep a night. I mean, is it any wonder I was reaching the end of the year feeling so ruddy awful?

Talking is one thing though – doing is something altogether different. Recognising you have a weakness or are struggling is all fine and well. But taking action to resolve that weakness, well therein lies a challenge. Furthermore, I’m an entrepreneur and so by nature, I find it pretty hard to admit weaknesses or failure.  Setting up my own business was a declaration of my independence and admitting I’m struggling feels like an admission of weakness.

But I’m also human – a wife, a Mummy, a daughter and friend. And it is the relationships that I have with all of these people, my husband, my daughters, my dear friends and family that mean the world to me, more than anything else. Bar none.

We are so hard on ourselves – as small business owners we allow ourselves to be accessible almost all of the time, mostly to the detriment of our personal health and relationships.  I am sure there are many of you who are better than me and find it much easier to switch off when you need to, but equally, I’m pretty certain there are many of you just like me who struggle to stay away from the handheld devices that make it easy to check in on email and social media and all those other distractions through fear of missing out.

– Me, in this post dated 2014 –

I really don’t want this next bit to sound self-piteous, but I feel it’s important to add some context here. This is real-life shit I’m talking about that doesn’t just impact on my own life, but the lives of those I love too. I’ve sat for a long time with some very unsettling truths over the Christmas holiday, as I’ve unpacked my situation to try to work out a way forward.  And I have concluded this: If I carry on as is, my migraines are likely to get worse. If I carry on as is, my health will deteriorate. I’m 43 years old, if I carry on with such little sleep and high levels of screen time, I could end up having a stroke through stress. If I carry on as is, I may make myself unfit to work at all. If I carry on as is, my children will miss out on precious family time. If I carry on as is, my marriage may be at risk because I have so little quality time to dedicate to nurturing it.

Sobering.

In writing this post, I want to hold myself to account in making urgent and immediate changes that will turn my situation around and put me on the path to a more productive, healthy and routine driven lifestyle.

I have so much love for my job, for my family, I have everything I need and could want for in life. It’s time to start taking control and to stop being concerned about failing or having gotten it wrong.  In fact, through talking about my migraines in the A Life Loved Facebook group (something I was incredibly fearful of opening up about incase outsiders judged me incapable of doing my job, or wallowing in self pity), I have sought so much solace and comfort and support from others.

On 1st January, I sat and made a note of all the changes I wanted to make with absolutely immediacy, and it went like this;

  • A Screen Free Bedroom
  • No work after 8pm
  • Minimum 7 hours sleep a night
  • Read every day
  • Water, Water and more Water
  • Screen-free Sunday
  • More Physical Exercise
  • Daily Meditation
  • Be kinder to myself

I wrote this piece 6 days after making the list above and cannot tell you what a different woman I feel in such a short space of time.  Holy guacamole; the power of good night sleep!

Since last Sunday, I’ve made it my golden life rule to ensure a minimum of 7 hours a night sleep, come what may. During the week, I’ve not worked past 8pm and I’ve also, somehow managed to adhere to my self-imposed screen-free bedroom rule – the one change I thought I’d struggle with.

All we need is the commitment to get enough sleep, take time to recharge our mental and emotional batteries, put away our phones and laptops and tablets regularly, and try to introduce some stress-reduction tools into our lives.

– From the amazing book ‘Thrive’, by Arianna Huffington. So good, I’ve read it twice! –

I had gotten into such a habit of scrolling first thing in the morning and last thing at night, I wasn’t sure how truly achievable this condition would be. Oh my, I cannot tell you how FREE OF FOMO I feel just a week after not allowing my mobile phone into my bedroom. I’ve gone a step further too and followed the advice in this post by the wonderful Nicola Rae Wickham to steer clear of social media for the first 20 minutes of every day. Whilst my job might rely on social media, I have no wish to enslaven myself to it.  This, so far, has been the most surprisingly empowering change of all. I urge you all to give it a go.

I’m drinking more water, I’ve taken 5 minutes at the start and end of each day to meditate daily and I’ve read every damn day. It’s been utter bliss crawling into bed at a decent time and allowing myself a half hour to read before sleep instead of clambering into bed in the dark and scrolling my social feeds whilst struggling to keep my eyes open. And today, as you read this, I’ll be contributing towards the exercise target I’ve set myself by walking with my family through the glorious North Yorkshire countryside, during a screen-free family Sunday. I cannot ruddy wait.

The physiological changes have been swift too; I’m more alert, focussed and aware of things like hunger (I’m snacking less and feel much healthier as a result). I’ve been so productive this week, it seems ridiculous. I’ve achieved twice as much in half the time, literally.

I’ve had time to spend with my husband in the evenings, I’ve had time to play with my children.

Seven days and I feel like a new woman. Can you imagine what I’m going to feel like next Christmas?  😍🙅

I wanted to end this piece by talking a little on the final item on my list; ‘be kinder to myself’…

If we could really see what love and work were like for most people, we’d be so much less sad about our own situation and attainments. If we could fly across the world and peer into everyone’s lives and minds, we’d perceive how very frequent disappointment is, how much unfulfilled ambition is circulating, how much confusion and uncertainty is being played out in private and how many breakdowns and intemperate arguments unfold with each new day. And then we’d realise just how – statistically speaking – abnormal and therefore cruel the goals we have set ourselves really are.

– Alain de Botton, via The Kinfolk Entrepreneur –

Reading the above has reminded me of the importance of not comparing ourselves with others (to the detriment of our confidence and even our mental health) and that we never truly know what goes on behind the closed doors of people we know (or people whose lives we voyeuristically peer into through the screens of our mobiles phones). Of course, ‘breakdowns’ might sound a little dramatic, but truth be known, none of us have a clue what goes on in the private lives of others – none of us can be witness to that person’s internal chatter or truly be aware of the personal struggles they may harbour. We’re all as vulnerable as the next person – and prone to failure, mistakes, self doubt and finding ourselves caught in shitty ruts that leave us feeling exhausted.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m starting to feel much more comfortable in accepting my struggles and failures and in admitting when I’ve got things wrong. Being kinder on myself too is very much about working less to achieve more. 

This piece wasn’t easy to write and I am absolutely not claiming to have cracked my issues in a single week, but I feel so encouraged by the actions I have taken the past 7 days, and absolutely committed to maintaining these positive changes going forward. I’m striving to make A Life Loved a space where we can feel comfortable opening up about personal struggle and fears of failure without feeling like we’ve failed at life. Our modern day lives place us under so much pressure to be flawless, to achieve and to compare ourselves to the seemingly perfect lives of others. I say we should all be kinder to ourselves – allow ourselves a breather and permission to say ‘I’m stuck in a rut and need to find a way out!’

My friend Mona, and fellow A Life Loved community member, shared this image on Instagram this week. Within the caption, she talked about how she had emerged from her holiday experience as a human being, rather than a human doing. I fully intend to emerge from 2018 feeling the same way.

The image of the moon at the start, by the way, was taken on Tuesday morning this week. I got up early after a blissful 7 hours of sleep and it was glowing with such intensity and beauty in the quiet early morning darkness that is seemed symbolic somehow – a shining light of hope, representing a brighter, bolder, and altogether more organised future. I’ll take rising early and alert for more light from the moon over staying up late in the light of my screen this year please.

I would absolutely love to receive your thoughts in the comments section below and am especially keen to hear from those of you starting out in 2018 with a focus on better life balance, health and wellbeing.

Have the loveliest Sunday,

Annabel x

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53 Comments

  • Probably the most important thing I’ve read all week. Thank you for sharing and being so honest Annabel. The struggle is real! Half the battle is facing up to our shortcomings / vices. The other half is doing something about it! Reading an actual account of your thought processes and reflections seems so much more real than reading an advice piece. I also want to read more, social media less, meditate and be a happy, healthy mum. I think I need to have a little re-read of your post and start from there. Well done for making such a positive change! Sleep is genuinely life changing xxx

    • Thank you so much for your comment Joelle, I’m encouraged to know that my words are having a positive impact. I’m 11 days into my screen-free bedroom now and the difference is enormous!

      Also, as per my honesty, I know it sometimes freaks some people out (especially my dear mum!) but I’ve always believed that being honest is the only way. It’s cathartic for me too and also part of a healing and mending process to face up truthfully to a situation that is bothering or harming you. I’ve read more in the past 11 days than I did for most of last year. Shocking really! Also, Happy New Year lovely xXx

  • Very pertinent to the new year. Ironically reading this from the phone screen in bed, on a Sunday, but I think I’ll give the bedroom phone ban a go. I’m a terrible sleeper, and I’ve been ill 5 times in the last 4 months. More sleep needed – there’s a direct medical research correlation – so time to give it a try.

    • It definitely sounds like you have been in a similar position to me – lack of sleep, even an hour less a night than optimal, really affects me. I was going day after day of 4,5,6 hours a night, no wonder I felt so ghastly! I really hope your sleep improves Clare – check in soon to let me know, won’t you?
      Love A xXx

  • I am a huge advocate of self care – and this post highlights how easy it can be when we put our minds to it! I’m trying to read more – not successfully so far but being kind to myself when I don’t even achieve that! I’ll get there eventually….

    • So good to hear you are such a keen advocate of self care, it’s a concept I’ve ignorantly ignored for years and only really getting my head around now because I fully understand how utterly vital it is. I struggle to sit down and find reading time so have found audiobooks a real joy 🙂 Thanks so much Hattie xXx

  • A wonderful and inspiring read; whilst the steps may seem easy to some, the almost immediate impact of your actions merely highlights their importance. The irony of reading this in bed this morning, after less than 8 hours sleep, is not lost on me! Thank you x

    • Thank you Emma – small steps can often = HUGE positive change. 11 days in and my screen-free bedroom routine is going really well and I actually feel liberated and ‘free’ on going to bed. It’s such a lovely feeling to curl up under the duvet with a book, or do a little journaling or list making. I just feel so much better for it.
      Love A xXx

  • I actually took on a real life part time job (still photography) halfway through last year.. and it was partly due to desperately wanting some routine. On one hand I love the flexibility of running our own business but at the same time I am AWFUL at creating routine and instilling any sort of boundaries. My social media use (particularly on my iPhone) is horrendous.. I’m on it ALL the time (like right now when I’m supposed to be getting in the shower). From the second my eyes open to the second they close and as a parent to a wee one it’s something that becomes such a bad habit.. it really needs addressing BIG time. But deep down I know that it’s actually quite a strong addiction and I’m not sure I know how to fix it. I don’t think it helps either right now that our industry is very much in overdrive right now and to keep up (and actually get bookings) you do feel you need to be ‘available’ and online constantly. Having said that.. if I was really honest with myself, I know that about 60% of the time I am online.. I’m totally faffing.. and it’s nothing to do with our business. It’s just a really, really bad habit. I did actually think about getting myself one of those Nokia 3310s to have as my main phone and keep my iPhone on my desk. I read an article from Jack Monroe saying she’s switched and how much it had helped. And I believe we’re all in this space right now. If you have social media accounts, if you run your own business.. I think it’s ridiculously difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with the screen. We really are the guinea pig generation for all of this stuff..

    • We are SO the guinea pig generation and it’s fucking really scary. I too believe that there is a tsunami of will gathering to step away from it all and reengage with life. It’s partly why I wanted to create a blog where long-form storytelling can return and be enjoyed (some stuff accessible via the screen is healthy!). But don’t even get me started on also being the first generation of parents having to grapple with how this shit is affecting our kids.

      I don’t know if you are aware of this Podcast, a friend (thanks Franky) shared it with me this week http://slowyourhome.com/the-slow-home-podcast/, and through it, I have discovered this amazing site >> https://www.folkrebellion.com/. It is like this woman can read my mind! Listen to this interview with her Emma about the affects of her tech-dependent business on her brain >> http://slowyourhome.com/211/.

      I’ve not heard of the Nokia phone – going to look in to that.

      Emma, I hope you can make 2018 a year of more positive routine and habit my lovely friend.

      Forcing myself to step away now and be present on this Sunday. xXx

  • Thanks Annabel you hit it spot on. Really simple tasks to do which will make your life so much better. Good luck continuing on this journey,get the family involved too, support from loved ones will keep you going if you feel like you are getting into old habits again.
    I’m going to start with a couple of them myself, your article has really made me think about screen / life balance. X

  • A great piece Annabel. Self care is so important. I’ve just started a new job with much better hours and not only can I feel the difference in myself but my friends and family can see it too. They say that the old me has come back! It feels great to get a decent nights sleep and have time to spend with friends and family doing what we love.
    Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018! Xx

    • So pleased for you Amy. I’ve struggled with routine for years, even though my husband is amazing with routine, I’ve been on my own little path of destruction, doing my own thing, not heeding his warning signs. I am just happy I have the wherewithal to realise that if I don’t fully acknowledge this and make changes now, it could end up being too late.
      Thank you for your lovely comment xXx

  • This has really made me recognise how far I came in 2017. I am a primary school teacher and would get to work at 7am, leave at 6pm, cook dinner and carry on working and then would work at the weekend too. I cut it down to “if I do 7-6 5 days a week that is enough, if things don’t get done then so be it” with the caveat that if I want to leave early I can allow a few hours at home.
    I now sleep better, I don’t get as many mouth ulcers, my hair has stopped going through phases of falling out, I am happier and kinder to myself and my family.
    If I hadn’t made these changes, I would have quit teaching because it was “too much” and missed out on a career I love again.
    So glad you’re making these positive steps too Annabel!
    X

    • I used to teach Isla. It’s certainly a job where you need to impose your own deadlines as otherwise you’ll never do enough as there is always more to do. You can work 24h a day and still be expected to do more. Unfortunately that’s why so many wonderful teachers have left the profession. Congratulations on finding a way to make it work for you xx

    • Bravo Isla!! So good to hear you’ve achieved such positive routine! It is so awful the impact that lack of routine/poor sleep and stress have on our precious minds and bodies, I’m so heartened to read that you are in a better place now and happy that this piece has served as a reminder to you.
      Love A xXx

  • What a wonderful piece to read. Firstly because you have taken the steps to make lasting change and within a short time your new routine will become a habit and thus normal. Secondly because it will resonate with so many people who will be inspired.
    I’m lying here reading this on my phone, in my bed, within the first 20mins of waking on a Sunday… no more! As of today this too will change.

    • I have honestly found that after a few days, it was much easier to do, and so liberating! You should listen to the interview that occurs in this Podcast http://slowyourhome.com/211/ and follow this site too https://www.folkrebellion.com. And turn off notifications.

      I don’t want to delete my apps, or stop using social media or working because my job is my passion, but I want to be in control, not the computer or the apps or never-ending notifications.

      Sending love and good luck with your own change dear Annabel xXx

  • Like many others above, I’ve read this piece whilst having a lazy Sunday morning scrolling through my phone :/

    Thank you for your honest post Annabel. And I know I’ll speak for many others, opening up about this certainly doesn’t mean you’re failing! I’m so pleased the changes have had a positive impact, just one week in. Fingers crossed you’re able to continue this with the help of your family, friends and wonderful team over time.

    I had a really long conversation with my OH yesterday about needing more routine in my life.
    Better meal planning, more exercise, having a shared to do list for the weekends (currently renovating our house), so we are both totally on the same page and brings proactive with shared goals rather than wasting HOURS on social media.

    I restart my mammoth commute tomorrow (after having the whole Christmas period on AL or WFH), so one huge change I’ve set myself is to use the time I have sitting on a train to read a book (an actual book, not on my screen), rather than spending over an hour before and after work totally engrossed in my phone. I’ll see how that goes.

    Thank you again Annabel. Happy Sunday x

    • Hi Allie! I’m ’11 days in’ now and reaping the benefits. It’s so freeing to crawl into bed without my phone and a book instead – absolute joy (I heard something on a Podcast earlier this morning which referred to ‘JOMO’ (joy of missing out!) as opposed to ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) and whilst it’s gimmicky, I loved it!

      I am beyond grateful that I live with someone who is so routine driven. If he wasn’t, Lord only knows what state I’d be in now. I credit him for many things in my life that have led me to the place I am today – mostly, for kicking up up the butt when I need it and keeping me on the straight and narrow.

      How are you getting on with reading on the train?

      Sending love, A xXx

  • Dear Annabel, thank you for writing this and for being so open and honest. I’m so glad to read you’re taking steps to make things better, and that you’re seeing the benefits already. Self care and kindness are so incredibly important.

    A couple of years back I was working an incredibly stressful full time job with terrible hours, the expectation that I would work overtime every day (without being able to ever take it back), holiday time refused regularly when I asked and most horribly, a manager whose bullying behaviour began to tip me over the edge. I would come home and check my emails at bedtime. I was becoming a shadow – hardly sleeping (and when I was, grinding my teeth and waking up with my hands in fists). I found the courage to leave that job and got another, and while it was better in many ways, the work/life balance and the weight of expectations still caused me terrible stress.

    I finished that job at the end of September last year (it was a maternity cover contract) and within a week or so, the terrible skin problems I had began to clear up, I slept better, I ate better, I just felt more like me. I know I’m lucky, so lucky to have a supportive husband who has encouraged me to take a huge leap outside my comfort zone and to try something I’ve always dreamed of being able to to do – writing.

    It’s taken me a while to open up and tell people, even family and friends, as I feel like a fraud in many ways – I’m not published and some days are better than others in terms of productivity but I keep at it.

    Early on I set myself a routine: getting up at the same time as my husband and getting ready for my working day in the same way, taking a lunch break, going out for a walk etc and finishing at a reasonable time, because the non-work time is immeasurably precious. Some days I go to a museum or a gallery, sometimes I do voluntary work and I’ve also joined a local library too. At first I was unkind to myself about these outings, thinking I was making excuses for not working etc, but have come to realise that this downtime provides inspiration and increases my creativity.

    So, I say hurray for you, hurray for being kinder and better to yourself, for setting this routine and for seeing the difference, for understanding what’s important. It can sometimes take us getting right to the edge, but I believe the damage can and does repair itself with good self care and a huge dose of kindness.

    Happy Sunday to you and yours, Annabel. Xx

    • “Self care and kindness are so incredibly important.” So darn true, I’m not sure why it’s taken me 43 years to realise this, but, better late than never, I guess….

      So interesting to read about your own experience – it shakes me to the core in many ways, how ill we make ourselves through simply trying too hard (poor sleep, lack of routine). I’m heartened to read that you had the courage to leave a job that was causing you so much harm and pleased you feel you are able to open up about it. You are not a fraud! We put ourselves under so much pressure (see the Alain de Botton in my feature).

      YES YES YES!! Downtime MAKES YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE! I completely 100% agree. I love so much that you are visiting museums and galleries and the library! These experiences will enrich your life, your mind, your sense of wellbeing and you will be inspired in the process too!

      Hooray for YOU I say! Thank you for your absolutely wonderful and thoughtful reply.

      Love Annabel xXX

  • Fantastic piece! I am so guilty of too much social media time, really need to try and cut down! I’m currently acting up to cover maternity leave and mostly have been good at leaving work behind but the closer it is till my boss comes back the harder it is!
    I also get migraines and am so guilty of not drinking enough water- cue kidney infection before Christmas!

    • Hope you are better now from your kidney infection Georgina! The migraines have been debilitating this past 4 years – I’m off to the Dr’s later this week to see if we can explore the matter further but absolutely believe in my heart that excessive screen time has been a major contributor to their cause.
      Thank you for your comment and encouragement.
      Love Annabel xXx

  • Annabel, brilliant and refreshing read. I took some steps about a year ago to really start to look after myself and try to find balance (not working well beyond my hours, exercise, yoga) and I’m feeling so much happier and more myself. Still definitely find those moments when I put myself under too much pressure but these are the rare moments rather than the everyday. I heard a wonderful analogy the other day on self-care around how when you are in aeroplane, should the worst ever happen you are asked to put your mask on before helping others. Not to be dramatic, but just a gentle reminder that caring for ourselves allows us to do a much better job in all areas of our life – and without it we are just scrabbling around struggling to breadthe.

    Lots of love,
    Kate

    • Thank you love. We’re all on such different journeys and one thing I’m finding incredibly helpful and inspiring is hearing from those who started this journey ahead of me (like you, and others). What a great anology too – so very true. I’m done with all the scrabbling around struggling to breath. Enough.
      Love A xXx

  • ‘it’s a hard thing to stand back and have a word with yourself.
    I think, with so many balls to juggle, December burnout is a real thing. I was in such poor health by the end of 2016 that I’ve had to really tell myself to just sit. To not just try and carry on when I know a cold or illness is brewing and it’s really helped speed up recovery.
    Probably the only thing I’d think about is seasonal habits too. I find, when all the coughs and colds are over and the weather starts to warm up, we have a fairly busy spring and summer which I think contributes to how I then feel come the Autumn.

    • Boy oh boy, December burnout is real indeed! My problem was that my ‘December’ burnout was starting in, um, September…… (with low-level burnout all year long).

      Making 7 hours sleep a night an absolutely stricter than strict, no-negotiable rule is working wonders so far, as is my scree-free bedroom 🙂

      I hope December 2018 is kinder to you Sarah xXx

  • It’s a constant battle 🙁 I know I have a sensitive soul so sleeping, eating well and exercising/walking are vital to keep me on track. Turning off notifications on my phone was the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m still a bit addicted but instead of responding to notifications every five minutes, I’m more likely to go longer periods before checking. I suppose I feel a little more in control of it, rather than it of me than I used to, and that can only lead to good things. Take care of yourself Annabel. It really is the most important thing xx

    • Katie, I’d ridiculously not considered turning off notifications on my phone :/
      I obviously don’t get halfway near the amount of messages / likes as many accounts, but I’m still very reactive to any sort of interaction.
      Updating settings immediately.x

    • Agreed, Katie,I switched off social notifications a while back and it’s been the best thing. Means I have to actively go looking and sometimes makes me think twice about it, too. For me, it means there’s less of that constant him and noise, and also FOMO! XX

    • I too have turned off notifications on my phone – all of them except those rather annoying ‘so n so has posted a new image’ on Instagram pop up now. I’m turning those ones of manually as they pop up. This, and leaving my phone outside my bedroom (at all times of the day) has been liberating!

      I truly believe the amount of screen time I’ve experienced the past 10 years has affected the way my brain works and impacted things like short term memory. It’s about ruddy time I did something to start reversing the negative effects. I’ve spent forever telling myself ‘but it’s my job!’. Now I’m in a place where I believe I’ll do my job better if I step back and work less (because knowing I have less time to work makes me work more productively!). But the addition and the FOMO has been very real and I challenge most people who use social media to honestly and truthfully deny that.

      Sending love Katie, take care of yourself too lovely xxxxx

  • Cutting down on screen time was one of my resolutions this year too and I can’t believe how much keeping my phone out of my bedroom has helped! After I got up this morning I went to see if I had any important messages (no) and then thought about picking it up to have a browse and to my surprise I found I wasn’t interested and went to read a book instead! I’ve ended up on it now though because I wanted to find a podcast to listen to while doing my hair and got distracted I might try getting an Alexa or similar so I can just ask it to put a podcast or music on without having to touch my phone….could help!
    Thanks for the tips, I’m on the same journey with you! X

    • I’ve heard people talk about how much it changed their lives and I can’t believe how much of an impact it’s had one my own life in just 8 days now. It’s such a positive first step to take to break the addictions and habits of social media overuse. I too am finding I don’t *want* to pick up my phone first thing. I’d rather star at the sky as the sun rises or look at a book or faff about with my dogs! I love listening to Podcasts also and that’s my only issue now as I really don’t want to bring my phone or laptop into my bedroom just for that.
      Lovely to know you’re on this journey too Eve 🙂 xxx

  • This is a great article, Annabel. I too have realised that my lack of routine leaves me burnt out, thoroughly fed up and in a rut of not achieving everything I want to. Clutter (both digital and physical), I’ve realised is something else that stresses me out, so this year I’m all about organisation, structure and a less is more attitute to possessions, photos, emails and online followings. I hope your new habits continue to work well for you 🙂

    • Thank you Natalie – I have not felt this organised in I can’t even remember how long. I think if your mind is clear, you’re much more inclined to want to clear up the physical mess too (which I have this past week, well, in my office anyway – there’s a WHOLE DOUBLE GARAGE to go yet, but that’s for another day…….)

      Thank you so much for your kind words xXx

  • I feel you on this. I didn’t take more than 3 consecutive days off in 2017 and was so looking forward to having a fortnight off at Christmas. So of course, no surprise, I ended up sicker than I have been in years and spending most of the “break” asleep. I don’t really feel any more refreshed than at the start of December.

    After an expensive 2016 (wedding, honeymoon, house move), we said we weren’t going to go on holiday in 2017. However somehow that ended up with not having a break either. So this year, we are giving ourselves an annual leave allowance. It’s not always easy to plan days off when you work for yourself but this year, we’re giving ourselves 15 days that we HAVE to take. Whether that’s a week in the sun, or a long weekend or two, or just time off at home to do some DIY, it will be time when the out of office goes on and phones get switched off. Hopefully it’ll help prevent another year like last year!

    • God, it’s always the way, isn’t it? Stop, and you get ill a sure, shitty sign that you’ve overdoing it :/

      Having a break is SO IMPORTANT. And in fact, had it not been for my mum treating us all to a lovely holiday in Italy in 2017, I think I’d have probably just worked through and been in an even bigger mess. It really taught me the value of stopping. I’m busy trying to secure our family holiday for 2018 as I type, because I want my girls to have some lovely family down time this year, more than anything. This year, we hope to visit the west cost of Scotland as I’m so keen to rekindle some childhood memories of holidaying there.

      I really hope you get your holiday sorted too. Sending much love Harriet,

      A xXx

  • Boy, did I need to read this today. You have hit the nail on the head and so brave of you to share so honestly. This is everything I feel! Routine and establishing a strict, clear boundary between life and work is so so important but extremely difficult to achieve, particularly for self employed/work from homers, and particularly when you are so very passionate about what you do for a living. Proud of you beyond words for opening up. The feeling of admitting defeat or feeling a failure by finally accepting this totally resonates. But we are not robots. Our families need us too. We need to be kind to ourselves as well. Hear hear!!! Enjoy your screen free Sunday, gorgeous lady Xxxx

    • Brave, but necessary I think! Routine is SO key. My husband has been trying to tell me for years. I think it only really sunk in this year because of how ill I’ve made myself through not having any routine at all. Our families do need us, and we need to be fit to be mother, wife, friend, carer, provider, lover – and to enjoy all the tremendous benefits from fulfilling each of these roles.
      Let’s make this year the year we crack that nut dear Helaina! xXx

  • I love reading your thoughts! I have so much to say on this I can’t begin to write but we’ve had 2 yrs worth of coaching and that was 3 hrs ago, our whole life has changed in many ways since, it’s been tough to correct things and right now I’ve gone a bit backward as our work life is changing again, but with the big picture coaching it enabled daily routine to be created as you need it. I recommend the day designer and our coaching was via e myth, (now he’s independent) honestly it was a long hard look in the mirror. Doesn’t stop my own daily battles and I’m off to sort my new workspace back at home (weird!) having just sold half the business!! But we also have an entire month in Bali coming up as our vision 3yrs ago was to create working summers abroad with our girls with holiday time thrown in, this year we are making it happen….omg the journey we are all on! It’s like therapy every day! Xx

    • Thanks so much Helen – wow, you’ve sold half the business, that’s a BIG STEP for you guys, bravo!!! And how incredibly exciting to hear about your month in Bali coming up. I love that you are crafting a life that enables such positive goals to be achieved, it’s so inspiring. I’m going to drop you a line privately as I’d love to hear more about your coaching experiences and how it’s changed your lives – perhaps this could be a feature for A Life Loved?
      Sending love to you all xXx

  • I love the way you have clearly identified the fundamental building blocks that will help you bring about the change. You have already set yourself up for success.

    I’m definitely trying to do similar and it’s awesome. Keep blogging about your progress xx

  • You’ve got this A – thank you for writing this. It’s so important, I feel, now more than ever with the state of the world as it’s in, for us to be honest and open online with reality. I’ve felt the same way and have stopped drinking alcohol entirely, exercising more, I ordered an AppleWatch to track my steps, drinking a lot more water, reading more and going to bed when I’m tired rather than staying up for no reason. I feel a billion times better already. Big love x

  • Thank-you for being so open Annabel, it resonates with me as I was certainly there quite a few times last year. Its the small changes that make such a big difference, so I’m really glad that you’ve dived into making those shifts and are already seeing the improvements. The no social media for the first 20 minutes of the day is life-changing. X x

    • Thanks so much Nicola – for me, being open is a cathartic experience and writing about it is a way of holding myself to account for making changes!
      I also absolutely love the positive affirmation cards you send me, the are absolute gold – thank you so much, not just for these but for suggesting such healthy routine changes too.
      Love A xXx

  • Oh how familiar does it sound to my situation about a year ago! Well done for finally taking control of your life. I think starting with small changes we have a better chance of succeeding in changing our habits. Too many changes in one go can overwhelm us. So even if you fall back with one or two things on your NY resolution list, don’t beat yourself up about it. I’d prioritise 8h sleep above everything else closely followed by meditation, ideally more than 5min. These two additions to my life have made me work so much more efficient than ever before. I am still struggling with limiting phone and social media time but I have definitely improved. I recently heard about 5 second rule from a book ‘The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage’ by one of the world’s most influential and admired TED Talks speakers Mel Robbins. This quote sums it up: “Hesitation is the kiss of death. You might hesitate for a just nanosecond, but that’s all it takes. That one small hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you. And it happens in less than—you guessed it—five seconds.” We have max 5 sec to start acting upon whatever we want to do before our brain power kicks in and makes us give up on our intention. Another quote by M Robbins that inspired me: “You Are One Decision Away from a Completely Different Life” . Wishing you lots of strength and will power to keep up your resolutions and definitely try the 5 sec rule 5 4 3 2 1… go! It works for me wonders. xxx

    • Thank you so much Kristina, I remember you contacting me this time last year with some self-help link – you must have been on the start of your journey then.

      It’s interesting to read about your prioritising your sleep. This too for me is my absolute number one priority. I’m a 7 hour a nighter and am making sure I get it, come what may. Non-negotiable! I am also meditating daily. As you say though, baby steps, I want to start yoga again but haven’t yet – I will though.

      It’s fascinating to read about the 5 second rule and how true is that point about being one decision away. Just making my bedroom a screen-free zone has changed SO MUCH in my life this past 11 days.

      Thank you so much for chiming in. I always gain so much from my fellow self-employed working women friends and appreciate your kind words as always.

      Love A xXx

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