It’s no secret that pretty much the entire world is over-tired, undernourished, bombarded by stressful technology, media, internet, work requests 24/7… or even if not, anxiety is actually nothing new, we just live in a world which makes it more of an epidemic than ever because we’re so disconnected from the natural way of living our lives.
I’ve previously taken anti-anxiety medication, but I’m happy to say today I’m able to manage it entirely pharmaceutical free! Here are my top 6 tips for managing anxiety entirely au naturel! And I know some people get sick of always hearing meditate, meditate, meditate… so as big a meditation advocate as I am (I regard it as essential to my wellbeing and happiness!) this will not appear on my list of top tips… you’re welcome 😉
1. Your new (natural!) make-your-own-medicine
No need to pop pills – chamomile tea (available at any good supermarket or corner shop!) and 3-4 drops of Valerian tincture (available via this link at Planet Organic, and most good health stores) and you’re good to go! This works at least as well as if not better the drugs I was once prescribed (and took!) for anxiety… without any nasty side effects. It’s a life saver. I keep the tincture on my desk. You can add it to water or any herbal tea, but chamomile has calming properties and I find they work best together.
2. Movement – the right kind
Notice I didn’t say ‘exercise’ or ‘train hard’. If you’re stressed and anxious, hardcore workouts release quite a bit of cortisol (normally this is an okay dose and your body deals and it’s actually beneficial, but if you’re already frazzled it can be cortisol OD! Not good!) So I recommend mindful movement – 30 minutes of outdoor walking near as much greenery as possible per day (no excuses Londoners – Hyde Park, Holland Park, Victoria Park, Clapham Common, Hampstead heath, or even a leafy neighbourhood are great…!), things like yoga, pilates, cycling and swimming can all be nice, mindful, meditative and importantly they get your blood pumping and endorphins flowing without too much stress on the body.
3. Vitamin meeeeeee
Make sure you’re eating a diet rich in vegetables (all the colours of the rainbow, and don’t forget the leafy greens!) but if in doubt you may want to speak to a doctor or nutritionist and consider supplementing. Some mood-boosting (and general health boosting!) supplements I researched extensively and incorporate now include vitamins C, E, B12, Co-Q10, ashwagandha, ginseng, and olive leaf extract. I came across nature’s amazing pharmacy via the amazing book Cured by Nature by Tara Mackey (but always remember professional advice is key when supplementing! Don’t take my word for it. your body could be different, and always double check if you’re pregnant or on any medication with your GP if there are any issues with you supplementing). Most pharmacies and health food stores will stock all the ones I’ve listed above. Probiotics are also great (the gut brain strongly affects mood!) and you can get these good live cultures from kombucha, kimchi, or supplements.
4. Caffeine and alcohol (sorry folks!)
Cutting these out is good for your health anyway, but if you’re anxious and stressed, it’s super important. They’re dehydrating, they’ll make anxiety and mood issues worse (caffeine is a stimulant, and alcohol is a depressant) and so in difficult times, these are best avoided. They also disrupt your gut microbiome and so its no wonder they’re detrimental for mood, anxiety and stress! Try swapping for herbal teas – the calming ones are a much healthier swap for the over-anxious (peppermint, chamomile etc. and you can find all kinds of de-stress blends to help!) and if you’re missing alcohol, pop some kombucha (which feeds your microbiome the good gut bacteria and boosts your mood in the process!) in a wine glass – voila! No-one will know it’s not champagne!
5. Turmeric… gold dust!
Apparently studies show this can be as effective as some anti-depressants for mood (source: Cured by Nature). Even if not, it’s been used since ancient times for food-medicine for all sorts of things, and is a key spice in Ayurveda (an ancient Indian holistic health system). I drink it in the Yogi Tea Turmeric Chai herbal tea blend and add it to soups and salads. You can also mix it into juices, smoothies, sprinkle it on veggies or whatever meal you have, season meat, fish or veggie alternatives with it… and you can also buy it in capsule form online or from health food stores. It’s anti-inflammatory, and whether or not it works like magic, it’s placebo, or whatever… it’s great for your health, it’s the colour of sunshine and some studies do support its benefits so I’m totally in! No bad can come of incorporating this sun-dust into your diet.
6. Clary sage – so underrated! (lavender’s so last season…)
Everyone’s favourite essential oil for relaxation is lavender, and yes, it works… but if you’re anything like me, it reminds you of sleep. If you’re in the office and anxious in the middle of the day, you might like to sniff something else. I find clary sage oil to be the best calm remedy. Sniff straight from the bottle, or pop a few drops on a tissue and breathe in as needed. It’s calming, but less sleep-inducing than lavender. I’d also recommend uplifting scents like orange and lemon for a little energy boost!
I hope some of these help a little bit, or give you something to think about. There are so many more (I promised I wouldn’t say meditation or deep breathing, but those are great, but also reading, creativity, trying new things, journaling, finding inspiring podcasts and blogs, dancing… there are a million options we have to better manage our stress and anxiety!) Let me know some of your favourites if they’re not listed here 🙂 ❤
Sorry it’s been a little while since the last Inspire Interview… today’s is completely different to the careers we’ve spoken about before, which is why I love doing this series so much… there are so many amazing people doing cool jobs in all kinds of different industries, and talking to everyone about it is great just for me to be nosey, let alone share with you!
I know law is something I get asked about a lot – how do I fit fitness around life as a trainee, for example, so I thought I’d go right to the source and give you a fully qualified lawyer on how she balances all things work, life, workouts and play!
Today’s interview is with the kick ass Rebecca King, who I actually met through our mutual obsession with KOBOX. She very kindly answered some questions on life as a lawyer in one of the biggest US firms in London, and busts some myths about lawyer life, not least that you have to do law at uni – she did THE COOLEST undergrad degree ever… so without further ado –
B: Can you tell us a little bit about the area of law you work in…
R: I work in Debt Capital Markets on bond issuances (for corporates, banks and sometimes sovereigns).
B: What made you become a lawyer? How did you get there – did you do undergrad law or convert later?
R: To be honest, I just thought I’d be quite good at it! I didn’t study it as an undergrad, as I wasn’t 100% decided and knew I had the option of converting later. I studied a subject I loved but doesn’t have much in the way of traditional job applications outside academia – Archaeology and Anthropology. I focused on Biological Anthropology, the study of how humans evolved – I even met Jane Goodall once when she gave us a primatology lecture. I also took papers in Ancient Egyptian Religion, which I’ve always been fascinated by, although I chose not to make Egyptology my main focus because I’ve never been great at languages. If you think French is hard – try hieroglyphics! (I did. I was crap.)
I combined that with some legal work experience and vacation schemes, and I was offered a training contract with my current firm just before I graduated from Cambridge – they then sponsored me through law school.
B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of RK?
R: As you know, hours and work can be so varied! Officially our working hours are 9.30 till 6 and recently my department has been relatively quiet so that’s been about when I get in and out. I’m about to head to lunch, and today so far I’ve sorted out some postclosing matters for a deal that closed last week, had a kick-off call for a pro-bono matter, reviewed and updated our internal memo on listing procedures for the London Stock Exchange and attended our department quarterly meeting. A pretty average morning!
B: What advice would you give someone looking to become a lawyer? Any advice you were given en route that was helpful?
R: I’d say that the subject of your undergraduate degree doesn’t really matter but your grades and outside interests really do. If you’re a non-law undergrad like I was, you’ll need to prove you’re serious about law even though you actively chose not to study it for your degree, which can be tricky! Definitely get involved with your university law society early on and attend recruitment fairs and law firm presentations, and apply for vacation schemes or open days as soon as you’re eligible – once you’ve attended one, it’s easier to tick that “genuinely interested” box and be accepted for more.
Also – and I think this is true of any industry, not just law – it’s infinitely better to just submit five job applications that you’ve really thought about and tailored to that particular firm than fire off fifty identical cover letters and CVs. Believe me, these firms receive thousands and thousands of identikit applications and anything they think you’ve copied and pasted will be promptly set aside.
B: What are the biggest misconceptions about being a lawyer that you think are out there? Any myths you want to bust (or confirm!)
R: That all lawyers go to court! My sister is at a different firm that specialises in arbitration, and goes all the time. I’ve never set foot in a courtroom outside of a school trip aged 15. I work on deals, not cases!
B: Best and worst bits of the job? Biggest challenges?
R: I work with some great people! Almost all the lawyers I’ve ever worked with have been really clever, fun and interesting people. There’s definitely a certain drive and perfectionism we all have in common but my department is a great place to be and I met some of my absolute best friends through work.
I think the biggest challenge for me personally is the variability of hours. As I’m in a transactional area, I can have two weeks of past-midnight finishes followed by two weeks where I barely bill any time at all. When your bonuses and performance reviews put a lot of emphasis on whether you hit an hours target, slow weeks can be really demoralising and on the flip side busy weeks can mean cancelling really important plans. People tend to be very understanding but ultimately the client calls the shots, and if there’s work to be done and no one else can do it, you just have to put plans aside.
B: I’ve found that people really stress about training contracts (and I know the numbers are tough!) but personally I found being a trainee waaaaay tougher than the application process… any thoughts on coping with the journey to working in law, since it can be super long, super competitive, and of course isn’t always peachy when you’re on a very late deal…?
R: Personally, it’s easy for me to finish a tough week and just flop on the sofa for six hours straight on Saturday and binge watch a show because I’m tired. If you’re like me – my advice is to try not to do that too often, as I’ll then get to Sunday evening and feel like the weekend was wasted. I always try and spend some time with friends, do a workout class, book an event or, if I am sitting in front of the TV, I’ll work on one of my costume projects at the same time – it’s a creative outlet and making something gives me a sense of achievement, even if I did it while watching Netflix! It’s different for everyone but basically my advice is – if you don’t have much time off, really make sure that the time you get to yourself you’re putting towards something or someone you love, rather than just spinning wheels waiting for the next work email to come in or Monday to start.
B: How do you relax and wind down outside of work, and look after yourself generally? Anything that particularly helps you stay balanced?
R: I have a lot of hobbies and interests, and making time for those is really important to me. I love reading – history, true crime (I stayed up till two last night reading the Ted Bundy biography “The Stranger Beside Me” and barely slept a wink!), trashy regency romance novels, fantasy and sci-fi. I’m also listening to podcasts at the moment on my commute – my favourites include “You Must Remember This” (on the forgotten scandals of Hollywood), “My Favourite Murder” and “The Soundtrack Show” (which analyses film soundtracks). TV-wise I love Westworld, Game of Thrones and anything David Attenborough.
I’m also a huge Star Wars geek and in the last couple of years have got into cosplay, so I love researching and making props and costumes in my spare time and attending comic conventions, and I even take lessons in lightsaber fighting! It’s basically a fusion of kung fu and tai chi, except instead of wooden practice swords we use plastic ones that light up. Other sports and activities I love are Kobox (obviously!), skiing, diving, yoga, pilates, hiking and golf. Some weeks I’m busier than others, but for me balance is when I’m happily busy at work but with time for my interests and seeing friends and family.
B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?
R: Best: people don’t dwell nearly as much on the criticism they give you as you do. I think particularly in law, we’re such perfectionists that any negative feedback can really knock us. Take it, learn from it and try and move on – because the chances are that the person who said it hasn’t thought about it since they did!
Worst: “You can’t wear dangly earrings to work!!” My mum was an incredibly badass accountant-turned-banker in the 80’s when the City really WAS a man’s world, and any sign of femininity was seen as distracting or a weakness – this classic quote was from my first day at work when I was going to wear drop earrings. I don’t think she realised when I started my TC in 2015 how much the world, and corporate dress code in particular, has changed from “her day”. The fact our firm has casual Fridays continues to amaze her, as does the fact I never wear suits (stretchy jersey dresses for the win!)
B: Do you feel like workouts impact how productive you are at work?
R: 100%. I always try to work out in the mornings. It wakes you up, it gets your metabolism going, it clears your head, and ultimately I think it’s great to start the day with a bit of me-time – whether it’s yoga, running or, in my case, punching the hell out of something heavy to some really loud music.
B: If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be and why?
I honestly don’t know! I always have loved writing and secretly wanted to be a novelist, but I realised early on I wasn’t suited temperament-wise to such a solitary and unpredictable job. I also occasionally daydream of being a guide at a safari camp! Spending all day in the bush and then the evening round the fire with a glass of Amarula listening to the sounds of the wild and chatting to guests from all over the world sounds pretty fun to me. Having said that, I’d probably make it about three weeks without internet access before hotfooting it back to London.
B: Any role models career-wise (whether in law or not)?
R: My mum! She was the first in her family to go to university and then trained as an accountant as one of five women in a class of over 100. She then went into banking and made way more money than my dad for the first 10-15 years of their marriage (which was very unusual then). She ended up giving up work completely to look after me and my sister about the time I started school, but my parents were married for 10 years before they had kids, so she fit in a pretty incredible career before deciding to make that change. People are always shocked to find out my parents’ house is in her name! She’s incredibly driven and hard-working and is an example I try (and fail, a lot of the time!) to live up to.
B: Fave restaurant in City – any great places to take clients you’d recommend people?
R: I go to the Ned a lot and really like their restaurants, but if I’m not eating there I’ll usually head back towards Chelsea to have dinner. Mossimann’s, which is a dining club set in a gorgeous converted church in Belgravia, is the ultimate favourite – unfortunately I can’t go without my dad, as he’s the member, but I always beg to go there on my birthday! I love Rabbit, on the King’s Road, which does incredible seasonal British food tapas-style, and nearly died of happiness when they opened a Sticks ‘n’ Sushi less than two minutes walk from me!
B: And finally, what does ‘success’ mean to you?
It’s kind of abstract but that little fist-pump moment you get when you’ve absolutely nailed something. Whether it’s at work or not, the aim for me is for life to have more fist-pump moments than “d’oh” or “loo cry” moments.
Fave KOBOX combo – I know you go a lot 😉
Uppercuts. When I hit the bag hard enough that it jumps up, it makes me feel like Captain Marvel.
Pancakes or full english?
Full English for sure, I’m a savoury girl!
Burpee or bear crawl?
Oh Christ. Is Miranda reading this? Bear crawl! Definitely bear crawl!
Nature or nurture?
You can’t ask a former anthropology student that question, she’ll spend three weeks agonizing and then give you a 12-page essay that doesn’t even answer it! Like any true-crime aficionado, I’d probably say mostly nurture. But as a cat owner, nature certainly can’t be discounted.
Martini or cosmopolitan?
Martini – I like a citrusy, dry one with a grapefruit twist. But I’d choose a good margarita over either!
Talent or hustle?
Fave latin phrase from law-school?
In vino veritas – definitely learned during law school, although not actually during lectures…
Chocolate or cheese?
Louboutin or Jimmy Choo?
Louboutin, as long as I’m not walking far.
Fave legal drama?
Does Judge Judy count?! Funnily enough for a lawyer I’ve never watched Suits or The Good Wife or anything like that. But my mum always has Judge Judy on somewhere in our house so I have a soft spot for her.
You have to hug, marry and water-balloon 3 kobox instructors – which ones do you choose?!
Marry Miranda, obviously. Hug Joe or Jesse. Water-balloon Jacob (This is 100% revenge and I reserve the right to revise this when he’s back on the timetable permanently!)
It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you go for?
Christmas lunch followed by my mum’s EXTREMELY boozy raspberry trifle! With wine. Lots of wine.
Hope that was a useful insight into lawyer life – Bekky is definitely the coolest lawyer I know. Catch her at KOBOX in City most weekdays 😉
I have LOVED working on the Inspire Interview Series this year (catch up with any you missed here!) and getting to chat to so many amazing people about the cool stuff they’ve done with their lives. To round off 2018, I wanted to share with you a really special one.
Last year I was quite stressed out and disillusioned and needed a break and some inspiration, so I disappeared off to Paris for a weekend as it’s my favourite city in the world. Outside the bookshop (my spiritual home!) Shakespeare and Company, I discovered a book on a bench that had been left as part of a BookFairy Drop (where people leave books all around major cities and towns for others to discover)… and I was hooked. That was how I first connected with Michelle – through her gorgeous, haunting novel The Four Women (available here), and its characters, and I suppose above all – Paris.
Michelle Keill is a beautiful writer and novelist, and has kindly taken the time to answer a few of my Inspire Interview questions… so here’s hoping this kickstarts your New Year with a little creativity.
Writers are some of my favourite people because I’m fascinated by what they create, I get so excited when I get to talk to them – so without further ado, let’s chat to Michelle about her awesome work!
B: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
M: I’m not sure it was something I wanted to ‘be’, but it’s something I’ve always done. One of my earliest memories is of sitting at the kitchen table in my parents’ house writing stories with a crayon (in those days I also illustrated – badly, but more competently than I would do now).
B: What is the best thing, and what is the most difficult thing about being a writer?
M: The best thing, apart from the excuse to drink tea to excess and buy lots of pretty notebooks, is the opportunity to take myself out of reality and create a new one. Also, the potential to provide an escape for people: hearing from readers who’ve connected with the book is wonderful. As for the most difficult thing, any form of creative expression makes you vulnerable, and that feeling is hard to get used to. I find writing the first draft is the easiest part of the process – from there it gets harder, with all the rewriting and editing.
B: Can you give a little teaser about your novel The Four Women for anyone who hasn’t read it?
M: The book is about a young woman living in Paris whose world is drastically transformed by four women who enter her life, seemingly from nowhere, and introduce her to a reclusive and enigmatic tutor whom, they promise, can teach her French. On meeting him, she discovers that although he is indeed as brilliant as they described, he may not have the best of intentions. It’s a love story, but a dark one, and explores the theme of how much of our lives is predetermined, and what is simply chance. If I could give my characters one piece of advice it would be to be careful what you wish for, and to follow your instincts and stay true to yourself. Advice I try to keep in mind myself, actually.
B: What are you currently working on at the moment?
M: A collection of short stories, which should be published in 2019. I also have a romantic comedy and another Paris novel in the works.
B: Any tips for aspiring writers?
M: Write what enthrals and engages you, rather than what is popular or selling well at the moment (unless that is what enthrals and engages you!). You’re in charge of what you put on the page, so be sure it’s a genre or story that you feel passionate about. And read a lot. But, mostly, just write.
B: Can you describe a writing day in the life of Michelle Keill?
M: Despite not being a morning person, my best time to write is first thing, so I try to make an early start. Then I’ll keep going until about two in the afternoon, which is usually when I feel my creative energy fading. I might push on into the evening if I’m working on a key scene or if I’m really in flow, but I find my mind is clearer earlier in the day. I need to be free of distractions (i.e. no phone), but I need music on when I write, otherwise it’s not happening.
B: What has been the most challenging part of getting to where you are today?
M: I developed a serious illness in 2014, which struck without warning and came close to getting the better of me. I ended up having emergency surgery to save my lung, which was frightening. From there it was a long road back to health. I wrote ‘The Four Women’ as I was recovering: while my body was restoring itself, my creativity was resetting too. I look back and I’m amazed that something good came from such a harrowing experience.
B: What does 1) ‘happiness’ and 2) ‘success’ mean to you?
M: Happiness for me can be as simple as spending a rainy day indoors lying on the sofa with a book and a cuppa. Same for success: if one person reads my book and enjoys it, then I consider that a win.
B: Best life advice you’ve ever been given?
M: Treat other people as you’d want to be treated yourself. And, from my mum, always make sure you have a decent mascara.
B: Best career advice you’ve ever been given?
M: Treat everyone you encounter at work, no matter what their role, with equal courtesy. The person at the bottom today may be at the top tomorrow. I think that came from my mum too.
B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?
M: My friends inspire me with their kindness, loyalty, and courage. Also, if I’m in a tricky situation, I often think, ‘What would Michelle Obama do?’ That always gets me on the right track.
B: What does ‘balance’ mean to you?
M: It means leaving a bit of energy in the tank and not pushing too hard (I’m still learning how to do this!). It means pausing and not always rushing to the finish line. Sometimes you have to slow down in order to speed up.
B: What’s your life’s mission in a nutshell?
M: To make a positive contribution to the world.
B: What inspires you to write?
M: People, faces, and places. Or sometimes just a line in a song.
B: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be in another life?
M: Perhaps a doctor, if I could make the grade.
B: If you had to spend the rest of your life with one fictional character, who would it be?
M: Ross from ‘Friends’. He’s intelligent, sensitive, musical (!), and enjoys lounging around on sofas drinking hot beverages.
B: How do you take care of yourself and make sure you get the right ‘work life balance’, if there is such a thing?
M: Following my illness, I’ve learned to listen to my body (not quite sure I’ve mastered it yet). If you’re working too hard, or not getting enough sleep or eating properly, your body will usually drop a few subtle hints to let you know. I make sure I pay attention to those early warning signs, and try to take it a bit easier when I feel I need to.
Physical books or ebooks?
Physical, definitely. I love to see rows of bulging bookshelves.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Forests or beaches?
Forests. Bonus points if there are squirrels.
Walking or running?
Paris, Washington D.C., and my bed.
Dancing or yoga?
Nature or nurture?
Talent or hustle?
Chocolate or cheese?
Cheese. I’m all about the cheese.
Fave self-care ritual?
A hot bath, a book, and a cup of Earl Grey.
A good book or Netflix?
A good book, but I can’t pretend I could function without Netflix.
Not a quote as such, but JFK’s ‘we choose to go the moon’ speech always gives me a boost when I’m feeling overwhelmed, incapable, or my courage is failing me.
Top 3 books?
Hard to choose just three, but …
1. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
2. Misery by Stephen King
3. Tampa by Alyssa Nutting
Tea or coffee?
Tea, all day long. With plenty of milk.
Who would attend your dream dinner party (living or dead, fictional or real!)
Frank-N-Furter, Oprah Winfrey, Juliette Binoche, Romesh Ranganathan, Don Lemon, Charlie Brooker, Stephen Colbert, and Freddie Mercury (I’d have to invite my mum too if Freddie was there).
If you had a ‘death row dinner’ – a last meal that could be anything you want, favourites, whatever… what would it be?
Pizza, followed by homemade apple crumble (custard mandatory). All followed, of course, by a large cup of tea.
Thanks so much for sharing your insights Michelle, I am so excited to read more of your work as I still get shivers thinking about The Four Women!
Everyone gets stressed and anxious, some more than others, but pretty much everyone can relate in some way! It’s become such a ‘thing’ (people talk about being busy and stressed and anxious 24/7 these days!) that we’re all looking for easy ways to de-stress all the time. While there aren’t any magic solutions, there are some effective tried-and-tested techniques, all of which help me manage my mood and hopefully will help you manage yours too!
Zen-up your life & feel better for Fall
Wake up early for a workout. This literally kickstarts your day in the best possible way, releases a rush of endorphins, boosts mood and creativity and is great for physical and mental health.
Snooze & hydrate
Make sure you’re getting 7 hours sleep a night, minimum.
Drink water! 80% of the human body is made up of water so it is ESSENTIAL!
Break free from the desk trap
Get away from your desk at any opportunity you can – easier said than done most days, but even a 20 minute walk at lunch, extra trips to the loo or to grab a coffee… movement and a change of scene always helps!
Get ruthless with social media – detox those screens!
Minimise social media usage if it’s making you compare yourself with others. De-toxify your insta and facebook by unfollowing and unfriending anyone who is making you feel bad – it’s not selfish to prioritise your sanity! An instagram cull can be so mentally cleansing if people’s content is irritating, making you envious or feel inadequate, or just isn’t what you want to see! It’s YOUR FEED. You decide.
Cut the caffeine (sorry!)
Reduce caffeine as much as possible – caffeine will amp up your stress levels and elevate your heart rate, and try to stop drinking it after lunch or it will still be in your system when you’re trying to go to sleep – true story!
Rewire your brain & delete ‘perfectionist’ from your vocabulary – rest is valuable!
Sometimes it’s okay to be good enough and not always work the overtime or volunteer for an extra project. Remember that, and rest up. You’re no good to anyone burned out!
Not just for New-Ageys… the science supports yoga and meditation
Yoga and meditation are amazing ways to promote what scientific studies have termed the ‘relaxation response’ – an alteration of your chemical state that is good for body and mind! They also help build resilience and flexibility, both mental and physical.
Fresh air ‘n’ breeeeeathe
Go outside – even just for 2 minutes – if you feel overwhelmed. It can totally shift your perspective, break up the day and give you a second to collect yourself.
Just. Say. NO.
Learn to say no – if you don’t want to go to that social thing, just get out of it and look after yourself. FOMO is so 90s. There’s no need for it!
Ditch public opinion & love yourself
Work on getting comfortable in your skin and not stressing about what other people think about you – whether you do this with yoga, meditation, journalling, sport, art, therapy, or all or none of these – honestly, it’s LIFE CHANGING. At 27 I had some mega realisations about living MY LIFE and liberating myself from being concerned with other peoples’ views of me… and it is honestly insane once you get there in the BEST POSSIBLE WAY. Obviously we’re all human and so relapse sometimes, but overall… I promise, you’ll feel amazing.
Re-prioritise… the good stuff
Recognise that work isn’t everything. Once you prioritise your relationships and your loves (be it a boyfriend, boxing, or family) you’ll feel so much more content with life. No-one dies wishing they’d spent more time at the office, however driven.
Nostrils, nostrils, nostrils (pranayama baby!)
Pranayama breathing, aka alternate nostril breathing. Sounds a bit mad, but I love this stuff… try it! It works. Go on. Give it a google.
Cultivate curiosity in new things, be it exploring, or learning a new language. Being stimulated in non-worky non-burnouty ways is so great for stress busting and feeling like you’ve achieved something, and re-invigorating your inspiration levels.
So, there you have it, my favourite ways to stay zen while spinning plates (or try to!) No-one is perfect and no-one can be chill all the time, but the nearer I get to 30 the more I realise what matters to me, and feeling happy and mentally and emotionally healthy is more of a priority than ever – I no longer have the obsession with beating myself up about things and stressing to the max… so I hope this helps you get happier too 😉
Anytime I see posts and articles about this I find it SO INTERESTING because I feel like we all get insecure sometimes and want to be a little more confident.
I’m a super shy person. Always have been. But I am less painfully shy than I used to be, to the point where now often people don’t believe I’m shy (maybe they think I’m awkward instead hahaha…!)
Confidence is this weird thing, right? You see people who literally are just so free and don’t give AF and are able to share their ideas, boss something in the gym without embarassment or speak up at work… I’ve often wished I could buy it in a bottle (champagne doesn’t count if you wanna keep your job guys!)
In my first job at Vouchercodes.co.uk, a lot of ‘pitching’ was involved – and I had to deliver the pitches myself. I was 21, super shy, not at all confident, I felt inadequate and ridiculous, and could barely speak in internal meetings, let alone with clients! We also had to present in company-wide meetings weekly, and it nearly gave me a heart attack.
I’ve always hated public speaking. I’d shake – as in PHYSICALLY SHAKE. I’d feel sick. I’d cry on the phone to my dad every morning.
But you know what? Being forced to do it again and again means that 1) I know if forced, I can… I even gave a speech at a wedding a couple of years ago! and 2) where speaking in a meeting of 3-10 people used to terrify me, now I know how to do it.
Practice, basically. I’d practice my pitches to my boyfriend, on the phone to my dad, I’d set up meetings with my boss to practice with her, I’d listen to her and make notes on how she did it… and then the worst bit was just making myself do it.
To help, I qualified to teach fitness so I had to stand up in front of a class so I could learn to do it somewhere I enjoyed. And it really, really helped. But you have to decide to put the work in.
All of that ground work is the only reason I could go to an interview at a magic circle law firm and get a job as a lawyer, because if I’d gone in post-graduation at 21, I’d have fallen to literal bits and been a nervous wreck.
I mean, I’m still an introvert, I like to recharge solo as much as possible rather than socialise, and that’s totally okay! I can still be awkward and weird hahaha… but I got over that crippling shyness and if I managed to, anyone else can too.
So here are my tips! And yes, ultimately it really is a case of fake it (or try!) until you make it!
1. Stop hiding behind the ‘it’s just my personality, I’m shy’
This is tough love, I know. I used to have panic attacks about doing public speaking, and I’ll never love it. BUT if you repeatedly practice exposing yourself to uncomfortable situations, you WILL adapt. Be gentle with yourself, do it gradually, you don’t have to be too mean to yourself. But the big key is to stop making excuses and decide to make a change. The way to start is to jump in and practice whatever it is that makes you uncomfortable.
Set small goals initially. Baby steps. Then as you get into your stride, you can take the leaps and bounds.
Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.
2. Physical strength builds mental strength
Did you see this one coming? 😉 Fitness is amazing for releasing feel-good hormones (endorphin pump is REAL y’all) but it also shows you the power of practice – little by little you increase strength and/or cardio fitness and it shows you change IS possible, which should give you the confidence to keep trying new things!
I did a Kayla Itsines leg workout the day of my training contract interview and it literally saved me hahaha!
3. Re-train your brain: the long bit!
How much time do you spend worrying about what other people think about you? I read an amazing book called The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k and it suggested you have a think about the important things in your life that you DO and are WILLING to give a fuck about. Anything not on that list? It’s not within your fuck budget. Let that shit gooooooo!
How your life feelsto you is more important than how it looksto other people
Trust your own choices and stop talking to yourself in a negative way in your head. Try just repeating (silently or aloud!) ‘I CAN do this’ or something similar. It sounds super American and cheesy but when your habit is to tell yourself you CAN do something instead of saying you CAN’T, it does make a massive shift in your mindset.
Too scared to try something in the gym? Feel stupid, watched, embarassed? Re-train your thought process to be like SO WHAT? What’s the worst that could happen? They’d laugh at you? (I guarantee the other people there won’t, they’re too busy doing their own workouts, but even if they did…) Worse things happen at sea, guys.
The ego likes to try and protect us from laughter or scorn from others, but I think as a result it goes into overdrive and makes us think 99% of the time people are judging us when actually they don’t really care or even notice what we’re doing! Your opinion and that of those you love (and maybe the person who pays you!) is the only one that counts. Let everything else go. Even if the worst case scenario comes true and you’re super embarassed – so what? Once you start approaching things this way, and not minding looking silly, you’ll 100% feel liberated.
I used to experiment with my hair tonnes as a kid, but my dad’s side of the family always made comments about it, and gradually I think I stopped wanting to experiment. I started to think I had to have long hair to prove I was a girl (?! wtf ?! seriously ?!) as comments would often be about short hair being ‘boyish’. As my EDs got stronger and my confidence got lower, I felt like I was way too ugly for short hair and needed long hair to distract from it. How crazy is that?!
So, recently, (and also once a year and a half ago!) I chopped all my hair off again from my boobs to my collarbone, and it’s super liberating… and I now don’t care what anyone else things, apart from me and my boyfriend basically!
Basically, work, fitness, gym, wherever… there’s a bit of work to be done on realising that you just need to go with your gut. And if it all goes wrong and you look silly… you’re not dying, you’re still alive and have soooo many good things going on… so focus on that ❤
Admittedly some of it comes with age too. The nearer I get to 30, the better able I am to shake off anyone who bugs me and stick to my fuck budget 😉
Whether you hate the idea of meditation as woo woo, you’re a hippy spiritual moon-child or [insert other extreme here], meditation has been proven by various reputable scientific studies to have a positive effect on the brain due to its promotion of the ‘relaxation response’, a physiological change in the body as a result of the ‘relaxed’ state.
So. For the purposes of confidence, meditation’s mention here is twofold:
it teaches you increased focus, which makes you better able to let go of nagging, negative thoughts like ‘I can’t do this, I’m too scared, I’m too shy, I’m too anxious, why is everyone else more confident/smarter/prettier/cleverer than me…’ and breathe, and master your emotions.
it connects you better with yourself and your thought patterns, and by being more present with yourself, you eventually come to realise that you’re not your thoughts… you’re the observer of your thoughts. So you can actually create change and not let thoughts control you, but also it should increase your ability to spend time with yourself, feel good within yourself and actually (god forbid if you’re British) LIKE YOURSELF. Like, what is this madness?!
I’m so grateful for some of the interviews I’ve been able to do as part of this Inspire Interview Series – it’s mind-blowing to see the range of different but reeeeeally cooool shizz people can do when they put their minds to it! If you missed any of the previous installments, they’re all collated here on my careers page, so go and check them out!
Today, though, we have an incredibly special Q&A with a phenomenal woman tackling, among other things, proving publishers wrong, writing books, kicking cancer’s ass – in other words, grit and life wisdom from a gorgeous girlboss warrior.
I think ‘career inspo’ style pieces can end up being very glib, trite, very ‘yeah! postivity woo, follow your dreams!’ and I wanted to make sure I’m sharing real stories, real experiences with breadth and depth and struggle as well as glossy corporate fairytale stories, so today I think this much deeper, harder, more real interview than any featured so far in this series is the most important – it’s definitely affected me the most of the pieces so far, and I hope you all find what you need from it too ❤
Alice May Purkiss (author of Life, Lemons & Melons, out later this year)
While already battling depression, Alice was diagnosed with cancer. Ultimately, she kicked its ass and survived it, and continues to document her journey on social media (@Alicemaypurkiss) and she has written some incredible pieces on her experience and given a range of speeches and workshops. She is now a freelance writer, self-published author, trustee for Cancer Charity CoppaFeel and much, much more.
Upon being told by publishers that her social media following wasn’t big enough to publish her memoir about her experience of cancer, depression, and everything in between, Life, Lemons and Melons, Alice successfully crowdfunded the project, sourced illustrators and singlehandedly proved them wrong (click here to pre-order now!) She now works as a freelance writer and has written for Stylist, Metro, Red Online to name a few.
I wanted to share as much as possible of the insights from this awesome human with you, both life lessons, career and writing, because I think we all struggle with figuring out what we’re doing, where we’re going, career stuff… but this is a girl who did it / is doing it while simultaneously frying much, MUCH bigger fish… so without further ado, let’s go over to Alice.
The lesson is this: depression or no depression, PTSD or no PTSD, cancer or no cancer, any emotions you are feeling are valid. You’re feeling them for a reason. We’re all guilty of shutting ourselves down when we’re experiencing emotions that feel more intense than we’re used to. But they are part of the human experience. They are part of what it is that makes us a human. Without sorrow we cannot know joy. Without loss we cannot know gratitude. I know it sounds trite. I know it sounds a bit airy fairy, a bit wishy washy and probably a bit like I’ve read too many books on feelings but we are consistently told to keep our emotions in check because we are scared of how our feelings will be perceived. But if your emotions are on extra loud, for whatever reason, sit with them for a while. Don’t try to get rid of them. Recognise them. Learn from them. – Alice May Purkiss, Life, Lemons & Melons
B: Please could you give a little intro of your journey of the last few years for anyone who doesn’t know you from social media?
A: Writer. Avid eater of food. Northerner on loan to London. Feminist. Had a run in with breast cancer. Trustee for @coppafeelpeople.
B: You’ve been through an incredibly difficult ordeal and what’s been amazing about following your journey is how you’ve managed to transform some of that into a force for good, with your advocating for women checking their breasts for lumps [#CheckYourChebs], writing your book Life, Lemons and Melons, speaking at various events and sharing your experiences… do you have any advice for people struggling with similar (or different but difficult) situations?
A: Life is tough. We are consistently thrown curve balls that keep us on our toes and these can have long lasting and far reaching effects. But there is nearly always some good to be found in the difficult situations, it’s just about switching your view up so you can see it. And it’s important to remember that while every day might not be good, better days will come. Like the sunrise and the sunset, time is constantly moving and the world is always changing, so you won’t feel like you do now forever.
B: This seems like a stupid question as it must change so much, but how has your journey with breast cancer and everything you have to deal with as a consequence changed you and your perspective on life, looking after yourself, and work?
A: I get asked a lot if being diagnosed with breast cancer has changed me – and the honest answer is I really don’t know. Some days I feel like the same person I was before I got sick, other times I feel like a completely different human. I’m a bit of a contradiction really because sometimes it makes me more cautions and other times it makes me more adventurous. I think the best way to describe it is I’m a bit like a twin of myself – with the same basic DNA (minus the cancery cells) but with tweaks to my personality and my outlook. I’ve always been “work to live” rather than “live to work” and this is SO MUCH WORSE now, which is a blessing in many ways but also means I need to give myself a kick up the arse a lot more than I used to. And in terms of looking after myself, this has become completely crucial to me. My body has been battered and bruised and my brain has taken it’s fair share of a battering too – so things like yoga and meditation have taken a bigger priority in my life than ever before.
B: Can you talk a little bit about your process and experience of writing your book Life, Lemons and Melons?
A: The process of writing Life, Lemons and melons has been a pretty long one. I started my “journey” towards publishing this book about 18 months ago, when I secured an agent and he began talking to publishers about my work. They felt that despite the fact that they loved my idea and my writing, I didn’t have a big enough social media following for them to take a punt on me. So I decided to stick it to the man and do it anyway. I launched a Kickstarter and raised £5000 in 30 days last October and since then I have been knee deep in the writing trenches, driven on by nought but my own perseverance and the 176 investors who chose to believe in me with their hard earned dollar. As the book combines a number of difficult topics, it’s taken me quite a lot of time to geth through the chapters, and it’s really important to me that I am looking after myself while writing, so I’ve taken my time and tried not to put too much pressure on myself to get it done. I also have to be in a very particular place mentally and emotionally to write it so I don’t make my way into a mental nosedive, so I have to be really careful.
B: You moved from a marketing role to going freelance and writing your book – any tips for people looking to do the same?
A: Take your time – don’t rush. The move doesn’t need to happen immediately. Start putting some feelers out for freelance work before you take the plunge and leave your job. And don’t be scared of the peaks and troughs that come with being a freelancer – there are many and they never get easier but where there are troughs there are always peaks.
B: Can you describe a (working/writing) day in the life of Alice Purkiss?
A: God I’m so bad at sticking to a particular schedule so it varies massively from day to day. I still struggle with fatigue so I don’t usually rush out of bed – even if I’m awake (which I usually am) I don’t get up til about 8.30 or 9, then I’ll get my breakfast, have a wash and start my day at 10am, unless there’s anything in particular that needs to be done first thing (usually dealing with social media clients or responding to emails). Then I usually work for a few hours on whatever projects I have on, whether social media management, writing pieces I have been commissioned for, doing the copywriting work that pays the bills or banging out some words for the book. I usually work til around 2 or 3pm. But this can all change if I have an event to go to, or a meeting to attend, or if I want to go for a swim, to yoga or to another exercise class.
B: What has been the most challenging part of going freelance and working for yourself?
A: Being kind to myself when things are difficult financially. Freelancing is so variable – some months I have lots of work coming in, others I don’t. That’s just the way it is for most freelancers but I have a tendency to tell myself I’m not doing enough, not trying hard enough, should be doing more etc etc. So working on treating myself better and learning to relish the downtime has been a big learning curve.
B: You’ve been very open about your struggles with depression before and during your breast cancer, and the importance of mental health which is so inspiring and I’m sure has helped so many people. What would you say to someone who is suffering and needs help or advice?
A: It’s such a hard question because everyone is so different but I think my number one piece of advice is that the sun will come out again. Better days are coming. You will know lightness again. Just hang in there. Kind of reminds me of this section I wrote in the book:
“There is one key thing I have learnt over the last three years. I think this lesson has partially occurred as a result off my extensive CBT and counselling but partly just as a result of living through a trauma and probably as I approach 30 and develop a bit of hindsight on the life that has gone before me. The lesson is this: depression or no depression, PTSD or no PTSD, cancer or no cancer, any emotions you are feeling are valid. You’re feeling them for a reason. We’re all guilty of shutting ourselves down when we’re experiencing emotions that feel more intense than we’re used to. But they are part of the human experience. They are part of what it is that makes us a human. Without sorrow we cannot know joy. Without loss we cannot know gratitude. I know it sounds trite. I know it sounds a bit airy fairy, a bit wishy washy and probably a bit like I’ve read too many books on feelings but we are consistently told to keep our emotions in check because we are scared of how our feelings will be perceived. But if your emotions are on extra loud, for whatever reason, sit with them for a while. Don’t try to get rid of them. Recognise them. Learn from them. Don’t beat yourself up for not reacting the “right” way to something. There is no “right” way. Remind yourself you’re doing the best you can. And if the intense emotions you’re feeling are horrible or scary, find someone to sit with them with you, someone to hold your hand and remind you that everything’s going to be ok. I think every emotion comes to teach us something. We just have to be open to learning.”
B: What does 1) ‘happiness’ and 2) ‘success’ mean to you?
A: 1) Living well and making the most of the life I’ve been given and sharing it with people I love
2) Managing to do the above!
B: What’s your life’s mission in a nutshell?
A: My life’s mission in a nutshell is to do my bit to help stamp out late detection of breast cancer by educating the masses on the signs and symptoms that you should be looking out for when you do your monthly check (that’s why I volunteer with CoppaFeel!). I want people who are struggling with their mental health to know that they are not alone – that they can talk when they are ready and things will get better. I want those people to know that the world is better with them in it. I want to tell stories and go on adventures, to laugh, to be happy and to be healthy for as long as possible
Swimming or running? SWIMMING. Every time.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Dinner (or tea as we call it in the North)
Forests or beaches? Beaches near forests?!
Nature or nuture? Nature
Talent or hustle? Talent
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
Fave self-care ritual? Yoga
A good book or netflix? Book
Fave quote: “Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences” The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Tea or coffee? Neither. I am a traitor to my Yorkshire kin.
Avocado toast:ridiculous or delicious?
Who would attend your dream dinner party (living or dead, fictional or real!) GOOD ONE. Erm. Margaret Atwood, Bryony Gordon, my Grandma, Zadie Smith, Jon Ronson and Adam Buxton.
The best meal in the world is… My husband’s mum’s roast ham Sunday dinner with all the trimmings. It’s honestly the best ham I’ve ever tasted. But I also bloody love seafood so anything fishy works for me.
If you have any questions or concerns, whether you want to donate or have worries about your own health… have a look at the CoppaFeel website and other relevant charities but please do not hesitate to book a boob check, and speak to a qualified health professional. Other resources include:
Welcome back to another Inspire Interview – I’ve loved doing this series soooo much because I love hearing peoples’ stories and insights into the things that really matter – finding things you love doing, drive to work hard, career, balancing health and a personal life and everything between! If you missed the previous installments, you can catch up with the full list here!
Today we have a very special ‘episode’ – and I say episode because rather than the usual written piece because I have something new for you all…!
Being on camera is not in my comfort zone really at all, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak with the incredible Mel Wellsand this super driven woman is all about pushing past your comfort zone! You may know her face from Hollyoaks, or you may know her from her brilliant bestselling book The Goddess Revolutionand inspiring instagram feed… Mel has also been featured in Forbes Under 30 and was voted No. 1 Young Female Entrepreneur to Watch in the UK by About Time Magazine.
Mel does truly amazing work empowering women to fight back against diet culture and regain their happiness and health – her brand new book Hungry For More encapsulates everything this Inspire Interview Series has been about so settle down with a cup of tea and prepare to be inspired…
Back in London having lived in Bali, and now with a second book to her name (pre-order Hungry For More now to win free access to a special Masterclass with Mel and a chance to be entered to win one of her retreats in Bali – see her website for details!), Mel and I talked about all the BIG stuff – finding your ‘calling’, how food and your habits and relationship around it are reflective of the wider picture of your life and whether or not you’re fulfiled.
Press play on the video now to hear Mel’s story and epic insights into work, life, balance, spirituality, healing eating disorders, figuring out what you want from life, meditation and tonnes more! Plus the usual quick-fire round at the very end of course!
The interview: Mel Wells on being Hungry for More!
Thanks so much for chatting with me Mel! We look forward to reading your book when it’s out on July 10th!
Today’s Q&A is a pretty cool one because I think it manages to COMPLETELY bust some myths about social media influencers not being smart, and ‘smart’ or academic people not being able to be social media savvy or sporty… plus I found out we shared some work icons which is always fun… so over to the lovely Flora Beverley! (Links to all of her social media channels are down below).
Do what you love ALWAYS, but be sensible. Money is needed to survive, but if your way of money stops you doing what you love, try doing something else. No experience is a wasted experience – I worked in advertising, catering, in a museum, events and social media. All of them have helped me get to where I am today!
– Flora Beverley, Science PR & Media at Royal College of Obstetricians, Fitness Blogger & Social Media Influencer
B: So people may recognise you from your instagram and know you as a fitness blogger – but please can you tell us a bit about your ‘day job’, it sounds like an amazing career that a lot of people don’t even know is out there!
F: I work in Science media at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, so I act as the go-between between scientists and the press. It’s our job to make sure journalists understand the science behind a health story and translate science stories into lay english. We also make sure important research makes its way to the press without being misinterpreted! I also co-run the college’s twitter account so we always have a good online presence.
B: How did you get into science media and discover this was what you wanted to do?
F: I always knew I wanted to do something sciencey that wasn’t just research, as I always loved the arts too. Research is a little dry for me, but science media means I’m always reading the latest research but get to use my creative writing skills to translate it into English. I also obviously love social media, so it’s nice to be able to use my hard-earned social media expertise to advise organisations where social media is not the primary focus but where it is still useful to have. I knew this was the sort of job I wanted from second year at uni, but I didn’t know it actually existed until I applied to and got my first job in science comms!
B: Is it ever a struggle to juggle a full time job with your blogging?
F: I absolutely did over the first 8 months or so. That’s why recently I’ve cut down to 25h a week rather than 35h. I found myself working 8am – 10pm 7 days a week without much rest, which burned me out pretty fast. You can love your jobs all you like, but everyone needs rest! At 25h a week I am able to do 1.5 days extra of blogging. I think I actually work harder on 25h per week and am more productive in both jobs, so it’s definitely a better balance of both. I now also schedule in social media-free days every other week or so, otherwise I’d go mad! It’s hard to take time off when you’re both self-employed and employed by an organisation. [You can also read Flora’s blog post here about staying healthy while working an office job].
B: Do you have any advice for people looking to work in a similar field?
F: I’ve actually written about it on my blog a little. It’s all about showing that you’re interested in science communications and know why it’s so important. A science degree and writing experience are both useful, as a lot of it is translating science jargon to plain English.
B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of Flora Beverley?!
F: I actually have an entire YouTube video on this! It’s my latest vid 🙂 Tends to go: 7am workout, 8:30am work, 4:30pm work ends, 5:30pm event of some variety. 10pm bed time!
B: What has been the most challenging part of getting to where you are now?
F: Keeping on the track of what I think is best for me. There is a lot of ‘advice’ coming from all directions – parents, friends, my agency – but I’ve found that sticking true to what I enjoy, more than anything, has kept me pretty happy!
B: What are your career goals for the next five years?
Whilst I think that doing pretty much everything I’ve enjoyed over the last few years has been wonderful, as I grow in all the fields I’m in, I think there’ll come a point when I have to decide what I want to specialise in. I’ve always been the sort of person who has managed to fit in literally everything I want to do, but I think there’s a point people reach where it’s in their best interest to cut loose various things so instead of doing 10 things not very well, you choose your favourite 3 and do them 110%. That’ll be a really difficult decision for me, but also I don’t think anything is final, and if it doesn’t work out I can always change my mind. That’s the only thing stopping me panic!
B: Any big misconceptions about the work you do, either your blogging and influencer work or your day job?
F: It’s funny actually – when I speak to older people, they seem way more interested in my work in science media. I think they think that I can’t be that clever if I’m a blogger. When I speak to my generation, everyone’s super interested in the work I do as a blogger, and saying I also work in science media seems to turn them off, like working 2 jobsmeans that I’m not good enough to work full time in social media. Maybe not misconceptions, but definitely preconceptions!
B: You’re always super active and super healthy – do you feel like this positively impacts your work?
F: Yes absolutely – when I lapse a little on the health or exercise front I feel my concentration and mood slipping. Exercise keeps me energetic and good food keeps me alert and happy.
B: What advice would you give to someone trying to figure out what they want to do?
F: Do what you love ALWAYS, but be sensible. Money is needed to survive, but if your way of money stops you doing what you love, try doing something else. No experience is a wasted experience – I worked in advertising, catering, in a museum, events and social media. All of them have helped me get to where I am today!
B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?
For sure, but I look forward to making plenty of mistakes in the future too. I think I’ve learned to always stay true to myself – even if something ends up being a mistake, if you know you did it for the right reasons, that’s not a problem!
B: What does ‘success’ mean to you?
F: Happiness and family. But I think the meaning can change over time. I think I’m successful now, but if I was in the same position in 8 years time, I would think of myself as unsuccessful – it’s a moving target! B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?
F: Best: Don’t listen to what others want you to do. You do you. (I’m yet to fully live by this, but I’m moving in the right direction!)
Worst: Get a job that pays well. I’ve got a job that pays, but it hardly pays WELL comparatively. But I love it and I’m happy, and it’s enough for me to live. That’s all you need!
B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?
F: My friend had a job that she loved until a staffing change made her miserable. Instead of grinning and bearing it, she got up and left. I like to think that if I stopped enjoying what I did, I’d have the confidence to quit and move on. My boyfriend is a huge inspiration – he’s gone through 3 pretty drastic career changes (drummer to gardener to academic) and has never been happier. I think for me these two people are role models for me as I would never want to be someone stuck doing something I hate and hating on others for enjoying themselves.
B: Who are your fave work and fitness icons?
F: Emma Watson and some journalists, such as Stevie Martin, Dolly Alderton, Pandora Sykes etc – all role models in general! Fitness icons – anyone who really has a passion and chases it. I like people who do a lot of things! Oenone Forbat, Gemita Samarra and Sophie Hellyer spring to mind!
B: Can you describe your weekly fitness routine? I just have to ask, because your abs though…!!!!
F: Also wrote a blog post on this! I tend to box, run and do HIIT around 5h a week. I don’t overdo it! ***Quickfire Round***
Fave workout? Boxing! Or horse riding, if you count that 🙂
Nut butter or avocado? Avo Brian Cox or Richard Attenborough? Brian Cox – unless you mean David Attenborough, in which case he always wins. I did mean David Attenborough haha sorry, I think I had the Santa Claus actor on the brain as I only just learned they were related…?! Fail!
Massage or facial? Massage
Nature or nurture? Nurture
Talent or hustle? Hustle
Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate
You’re doing cardio: podcast or playlist? Podcast
Chick flick or thriller? Thriller
Best brunch spot in London? The lighterman It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you order/make? Pad Thai, G&T and cinnamon oatmeal cookies to finish
These posts are always a bit strange I guess – my fiancé laughs at them because he’s like ‘who cares about your daily routine?’ He’s kind of not wrong… does anyone care?! Possibly not.
But I kind of do – I love reading them. I guess I’m just nosey – and it’s an easy way to understand how people who seem like they’re always at the gym or always at work or whatever actually do with their time in reality. Fair enough if you’re not interested in the boringness of my daily routine – dial out now!
Sometimes I’m asked how I find the time to read, or workout, and the reality is everyone prioritises things they want to or have to I guess. I don’t go out a lot, and my job and fitness commitments mean I don’t go out in evenings during the week… so it’s just each to their own! Whatever makes you happy. This post should give you an idea.
Side note – I also don’t really believe in work-life ‘balance’; everything you do is part of your life… you just need to build and tweak and make sure you’re healthy and happy with how you’re spending the majority of your days. I moved from marketing to law to get more out of my career, so work is important to me.
Anyway, here’s my daily routine – as standardised as possible, with indications of how it can vary! NB: This is assuming work is fairly normal and nothing big is kicking off. If work hours go longer in the evenings, I make sure I’m doing my workouts every morning instead of the chill time at home – you’ll get an idea as you read.
PS. It should go without saying but nothing in this post is sponsored, it’s all just my preferences!
First alarm goes off. I DEFINITELY SNOOZE IT. It goes off every 2 minutes or something like that. I’m not a morning person but now I’m nearer 30 than 25 it is getting a bit easier! Fractionally.
I just have to snooze past 6.30 but finally get up. Sometimes I pop on activewear and head straight to city for KOBOX or to the gym near work (if work hours are longer in the evenings I switch all my workouts to these morning ones), but hours are good right now, so often I just do 15 minutes of yoga in my PJs or an ab or Tone it Up or Kayla home workout.
So at this point I either finish my yoga or home workout and have a quick shower, with a cold blast as although I hate a cold shower, it does seem to boost my mood and has alleged benefits – Max Lowery is a big advocate!
Alternatively, I’m walking 15 minutes to a further tube station to head to my morning gym workout or KOBOX class during this time!
At the moment I go barefaced to the office. Sometimes with a slick of lip colour if I fancy (usually a nude, pink or coral for day but red is my favourite, though less work-appropriate – sometimes I rock it anyway though!) Occasionally if I’m feeling very ‘ugh’ I’ll pop on some under-eye concealer but I try to go naked-face as much as possible! My skin feels soooo much nicer this way.
So I’m either still travelling to City if it’s a morning KOBOX day as I mentioned, or if at home I make breakfast – these days, a green smoothie is my favourite, or a smoothie bowl… In colder months, I go for oats microwaved with water, and berries. Its unusual for me to make eggs on a weekday but occasionally eggs, tomato and spinach scramble might occur!
I eat this and drink my coffee (we have a really useful Nespresso machine that changed my life!), read a magazine… Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair or Elle are all my staples! I know some people hate magazines, but I find them really relaxing and I even love the artistic ads in Vogue. I’m obsessed with art and language and the idea of transformation… and I love a celeb interview here and there. And so I read these while I eat and make the most of my me-time, pretty much! (Boy will already have left for the gym at like 6.15am!)
I leave the house at 8 sharp and do the 15 minute walk to a further tube station for some LISS, listening to my fave podcasts Talking Tastebuds and The High Low.
I arrive at the tube, and duck underground to travel to work. Often I get a seat, but if not I know I’ll get one when everyone heads off at Oxford Circus. This is where I do my reading – on the train at the beginning and end of each day. Join me with my book club here.
Alternatively, if I left for a morning workout, this is when my KOBOX class starts! I have to get up too early (5.30!) to make it to the 7.15 so I do the 8.15 and skip the cool-down to rush to work instead.
I don’t start work til 9.30 technically but I like half an hour or more to get started slowly, chat to colleagues, browse the Financial Times, plan my day and get into a good headspace. If I’ve KOBOXed I tend to rush in at 9.20… it always stresses me out though! Usually I’m in by 8.50am.
I always fill my 1 litre Kayla Itsines water bottle (I didn’t buy it, I got it free at one of her meet-ups years ago!) and make sure I’ve drunk this by lunch time! I get through about 3 of these a day. It lives on my desk and I’m constantly sipping and re-filling.
Work starts, but I’m already working and sipping my water and coffee and chiiiill 🙂
This is a guess time-wise but I get up to make a green tea every morning at some point! Otherwise I’ma justa workin’.
I used to pop for lunch upstairs with friends & colleagues but I actually prefer to get outside the office for a walk now – either eating my pre-prepped lunchbox quickly at my desk or nipping to Vitamojo for a quick lunch grab, then getting in a 20 minute walk outside at the moment if I’m honest… I recharge best this way and it feels like more of a ‘break’. I often wander over to Planet Organic and grab a green smoothie if I’ve had a small lunch, or pick up a kombucha for an afternoon ‘snack’.
Often I meet a friend and colleague on my way back to work to grab our afternoon coffee (from the places I mentioned earlier) to take back to the desk! Mine is always a black Americano or black filter – I have a MAJOR milk phobia!
Back at the desk… more water bottle re-filling and drinking will happen all afternoon – I actually love water. Weird, huh?
I’m not a big snacker but if I’m feeling hangry, my go to is either a handful of blueberries and about 8 almonds, an apple and some nut butter (current obsession: Pip and Nut chocolate coconut hazelnut butter – this one (it’s a limited edition so I’m stocking up now!) or if I didn’t bring any in, then I grab an Innocent Gorgeous Greens Smoothie from upstairs in the café.
Work hours vary – usually at the time of writing this, in the department I’m in, they’re good and I’m able to leave at this time, but with my industry (law) this is likely to change when my training contract seats rotate. If I am working late, I go upstairs and get dinner and take a taxi home later if it’s super late (our catering is amazing – often I have really nice fish, quinoa and greens!) but at the moment I often get to leave at this time… yay!
If I didn’t KOBOX in the morning, I’ll pop to the gym for 45 mins before I go home. All of my workouts tend to be under an hour. I feel like you don’t ever really need to go over 60 minutes… and who has the time?!
Leave the gym and commute, and read. (or if I did KOBOX earlier, then I’ll be back in West London after 45 mins commuting and reading, hitting my local Sainsbury’s for fresh veg and lean protein – we’re so lazy we don’t weekly shop at the weekend so whoever finishes work first – usually me, not the Boy! – picks up and makes dinner).
Back in West London now, I’ll do the Sainsbury’s run and cook dinner if I’ve beaten the Boy back (whoever gets back first must chef, tis the rule!) or if I’d done KOBOX in the morning, I’ll have made it home for 8.15pm, so I have more time unwinding with food and Netflix, either with the Boy or waiting for him to arrive.
Our meals take 20 mins max to cook – I’m an expert at clean, green, quick food from lots of experimentation, if I do say so myself! To help, our carbs are usually sweet potato or microwavable brown rice or packs of quinoa so they’re very fast to make. Lean protein is often smoked salmon or trout or prawns (no cook required!) or chicken or turkey (20 mins in our super hot fan oven). Simples.
I tend to make extra dinner and pop it in Tupperware for lunch the next day maybe 2 days a week. The rest I tend to buy lunch. I throw almonds and berries in Tupperware or apple and nut butter ready for the next day’s snack, too, if I remember.
Most days at the moment, if Boy’s hours are good too, we’ll have eaten or be eating by this point and watching Netflix together…
Lights out. We always aim for this to be 10.30 but it never is!
Obviously because of our jobs, and the fact we both like working out, that occupies most of our weekdays! We spend most time together at weekends doing fun stuff.
Neither of us are super social as this routine indicates – timings vary but this is basically the template for my 5 working days a week – so this works really well haha… but I know some people would want to go out and do more on weekday evenings, so it’s a question of what works for you!
Hope that helps answer how I find time to workout and read and meal prep and things! 🙂 In truth, my hours at work are good at the moment, so being home by 8.15pm if I’ve done an early workout class, or 9pm ish post evening workout in the evening makes it a lot easier!
What’s your routine like? Any tips I can steal? Would mine work for you? Let me know what you think! ❤
Welcome to the first in this series of Inspire Interviews! These will be permanently available on the careers section of this site, which I’m currently expanding so keep your eyes peeled…
It’s no secret how much I love KOBOX and their awesome Brand Director, Kris Pace has generously agreed to answer some questions for us today on all things work, fitness, boxing, branding and a cheeky quickfire round!
It’s always really interesting to go behind the scenes of our favourite brands and companies, as I think so many people aspire to work for places they can be proud of doing what they love.
Don’t get yourself into a position where you’re representing someone or something you don’t care about, because anyone you meet will see right through it. Genuine passion goes so far in this world, and if you’re proud of and fervid about who or what you’re representing, you won’t go far wrong. If you don’t believe in what you’re showcasing to the world, you don’t deserve to be doing it. – Kris Pace, KOBOX Brand Director.
We touch on this in the interview, but KOBOX really does change lives, and so it’s no wonder the ‘fight club meets nightclub’ has been a roaring success. While KOBOX’s brand is amazing, clearly part of what makes it so incredible is it’s so much MORE than a brand, there’s a real sense of this KOBOX community that they’ve built, and as Kris says below there’s a sense of pride in everyone working there in getting to contribute to something bigger… so let’s dig in to chatting with Kris and find out his secrets to work success, how he ended up this amazing role, and his sport and fitness approach… Plus find out which KOBOX instructors he’d rather hug, marry and waterballoon…!
B: Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to be Kobox’s Brand Director – did you always know this was the kind of work you wanted to do?
K: I met Shane and Ian Streetz when I worked for Men’s Health magazine. The team there wanted to do a 12-week body transformation, through boxing, for a feature. Whilst working there, we’d all heard a lot of good stuff about KOBOX, so we went down to see what it was like, and we knew instantly it was the right place to host the transformation…
Once the feature had finished, I’d loved being there so much that I kept going back, both to train and to socialise. The business was growing rapidly, and the Brand Director role was formed about 6 months later. I jumped at the chance, and the rest is history…
B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life for you at Kobox HQ?
K: Everything and anything can happen in typical day at KOBOX. There are so many variables at a boxing club, you simply have to be on top of everything. My day can vary from cleaning the office and serving protein shakes to conceiving and executing authentic online content or meeting people to further expand one of many sides of the business. But, for definite, the main stream of consciousness for every single employee at KOBOX, daily, is to make sure we’re giving people the best 50 minutes of their day when they come in to take a class.
B: Have you always been passionate about fitness?
K: Sport, all my life. Fitness, all my adult life. I think naturally I like to try new things, and test myself in new waters. I’ve body-built, gone super heavy but then also gone super slim for a triathlon, then tried my hand at boxing… it’s important to see what you’re made of.
B: What advice would you give to someone looking to go into branding/marketing roles?
K: Don’t get yourself into a position where you’re representing someone or something you don’t care about, because anyone you meet will see right through it. Genuine passion goes so far in this world, and if you’re proud of and fervid about who or what you’re representing, you won’t go far wrong. If you don’t believe in what you’re showcasing to the world, you don’t deserve to be doing it.
B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?
K: Of course, many. I learn something every single day, and I’d never want that to change.
Whether it’s something that has differed from your expectations; something you attested to but it turned out otherwise; or even if it’s something that you’re proved right on, you learn every time. You can’t predict the future, but you can take note and not make the same mistake twice.
B: What are the best and worst bits of your job? Any top challenges and/or achievements?
K: Genuinely, there are too many best bits to choose from. I get to walk into KOBOX every day, which is a place I fell in love with before I worked there. But to name a few? The team, the ambition, the classes themselves and the difference they make to people’s lives – which is extraordinary, and I feel privileged to be a part of that.
Worse bit? Sloane Square’s on the District Line, which is, without doubt, the most lamentable tube line ever made. Ever. I never moan about it, though. Ask anyone…
B: Do you do KOBOX workouts yourself or do you like to mix up your regime? Any favourite ways to train?
K: If I’m honest, I wish I had more time to do class. It’s tricky for me to pick a class time and stick to it, as my day can change at the drop of a hat. But I love Core Day!
Away from class, I like to lift weights, but with a circuit/HIIT element to it… I’ve started to round up the trainers to participate, which helps with the old wilting willpower!
B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?
K: Best: Trust your gut.
Worst: Tailor yourself to the role.
B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?
K: I wouldn’t say one in particular. A lot of people are full of hot air, but there are also people who talk a lot of sense. Pick attentively what ‘words of wisdom’ you take with you.
B: Who are your fave fitness icons?
K: Eric ‘The King’ Cantona. My all-time sporting hero, but not necessarily a fitness icon. It’s hard to look past Rich Froning in that sense – what he’s achieved is incredible. I think he now defines modern-day fitness.
B: And finally, what does ‘success’ mean to you?
K: Retiring when I’m 35.
Joke. Building something that will outlast you.
B: Bonus question: which Kobox instructor would you least like to get in a ring with and why?!
Any of them, they’d all batter me in the ring.
Fave combo on the heavy bags:
2. 2. 2. 2. 2. 2…
Eggs or oats?
Burpee or bear crawl?
Neither, they’re both grim.
Nature or nurture?
Nurture. It’s the only thing we have control over.
Talent or hustle?
The best KOBOX shake on the menu?
Peanut Uppercut. Or the Suckerpunch (just because I named it).
Chocolate or cheese?
Boxing or MMA?
You have to hug, marry and water-balloon 3 kobox instructors – which ones do you choose?! 😉
Hug:Ollie. Who doesn’t want to cuddle the #BrownBear?
Water-Balloon: Ian Streetz. He wins at everything and I’ve had enough of it.
It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you order/make?
A proper, old-school Indian. Not one of these fancy new ones.
Thanks so much Kris for answering all of these questions and sharing your work and fitness insights! You can find Kris on instagram here, and all things KOBOX here. Keep an eye out for the next Inspire Interview coming soon!