2016: the year of living mindfully;

2015 wasn’t a bad year in the same way that 2014 was, but it was a funny one. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a list of personal and professional goals at the back of my journal. I smashed all the professional ones, but have ended the year heavier, in more debt and just as heavily medicated (give or take 50mg) as I started it.

For the second year in a row, my December turned into a cross between that one Mountain Goats song and the feeling you get about two weeks before your dissertation deadline when you don’t care what it reads like as long as it gets done. In retrospect, it was probably a bit daft of me to commit to a “productivity challenge” set by Regus, the managed office space provider, when my mental health was crumbling around my ears. But the wellness, fitness, tech, social media and food parts of the challenge taught me loads of things that I’m planning to take with me into a healthier, more positive and more productive 2016.

#RegusProductivityChallenge - my workstation

Things like…

Regus challenged me to use my lunch hour every day to “do something productive”. This was actually a two-part challenge for me, as it first of all required me to actually take a lunch “hour” and then fit something productive into it. In the end, I found myself with so much free time – apart from on the Tuesday, when I had to head up to the new post office to post my Scottish Bloggers and Glitterati Secret Santa gifts – that I was able to both meditate, using the Headspace app on my iPhone, and re-start my Italian lessons, through the Duolingo app.

To ensure I made the most of my lunch hours, I made a conscious effort to step away from my desk and eat in our office’s communal canteen area. Which was all well and good, but since I’ve spent the past three years grabbing a quick bite to eat at my desk the colleague with whom I share the most about my mental health got really concerned that something was wrong – so she came over to ask me about it. In the middle of a meditation session. Cue a full-on, cartoon, jumping out of my seat, moment.

#RegusProductivityChallenge - Fitbit

Among the bits and pieces that Regus sent to help me with my challenge was a FitBit Flex* – something I’d actually been coveting for ages. This little device, which is far less intrusive than some of the larger smart watches and wearable tech solutions on the market, snaps onto your wrist and records your step count and sleeping pattern, as well as allowing you to track your water and calorie content in an accompanying app. I’ve used the iPhone’s built-in pedometer, specifically through the Moves app, to track my step count in the past but it’s a drain on the battery and not the most accurate – particularly if your clothes don’t have pockets and you don’t carry your phone absolutely everywhere.

Monitoring my step count through the FitBit app, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I’m almost certain to hit 10,000 steps on any day that I’m working – providing that I do something else too, such as walk around a shop on my lunch break or go to see my mum after work. The FitBit doesn’t, however, replace the SleepCycle app on my phone entirely – I need the latter to cut out the temptation to check my notifications if I check the time in the middle of the night, and I far prefer the app’s ability to wake you up at the optimum point within a half-hour window to the FitBit’s “silent alarm”.

Do you guys read Lenny? I know, I know, but beyond an understandable habit of snapping up all the best interviews, your Lena Dunham is barely ever in it. It’s actually full of brilliant, personal essays I may never have come across otherwise, the best of which of late has been Jowita Bydlowska’s one about her love of boxing. As someone who lives with anxiety, I’ve frequently been recommended yoga but, like Bydlowska, find it “too quiet … like trying to get bubble gum off the bottom of my socked feet”.

At least doing yoga at home means nobody will see you burst into tears and have to run out the class when you can’t twist your body just. so. like everybody else, and the instructor comes up to reposition you without asking consent and you feel as humiliated as you did in PE in high school, but still. No. I’m keen to look for a boxing class later in the year though, since apparently the little voice in my head that’s been telling me for a couple of years that I might like it has back-up.

#RegusProductivityChallenge - lunch at Martha's

Managing part-time freelancing and this blog around my day job means I rarely have time to plan meals in advance or prepare lunches the night before, meaning that for cheapness’ sake I’m as likely to grab something from Greggs as to seek out a healthier option. Glasgow is, however, full of places to pick up “fast” food that’s balanced and nutritious (a few more, in fact, than were around when Dawn wrote on this very subject for WOW247) – and I’m lucky to work directly across the road from the best of them. Unfortunately the prices at Martha’s match the quality of the food, meaning it’s hardly a sustainable habit – but it’s great for a treat or as a place to meet friends at lunchtime.

So how was my 2015?

I bought a house, which was pretty good going. I appeared on BBC Radio Scotland on the regular. I dealt with a rally difficult situation at work with dignity and got the result I wanted. I became a less jealous, and more proactive, blogger. I sang on a song that you can buy. I took a train across the US (down, not across; although maybe some day). I met Aggie and Josh in real life; found in Charlotte a new, super close friend I get to keep for the rest of my life; and overcompensated for my sister moving away by adopting half the Scottish blogging community as my younger siblings. I spent too many weekends asleep, and not enough with the people I love. I made a conscious effort to stop letting people who don’t like me as much as I want them to upset me, although it took a really painful wakeup call. I learned to read the signs. I stopped waiting, and started asking for the things I thought of as mine.

#RegusProductivityChallenge - What Is It You Plan to Do?

I have already decided that 2016 will be my Year of Living Mindfully. I’m going to spend it being a bit more selfish, saying “no” a lot and living in the moment, because it’s about time. There will probably be less writing and blogging, which I’m cool with. I have trips to Dubai, Sorrento, a cat cafe in Newcastle and (hopefully) to New Orleans to look forward to. I get to be an aunt. I plan to be a good friend. I may even, by the end of it, have figured out when I want to do with my one precious life.

Wish me luck.

DISCLAIMER: This post is a collaboration with Regus, but all opinions are my own and unbiased. See my full disclosure policy.

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  1. January 6, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    Thanks for the tip on healthy eating in Glasgow – I definitely need to get that right after eating too much chocolate over Christmas! πŸ™‚

    • January 6, 2016 / 6:06 pm

      Ha, tell me about it – though I’m doing a cleanse just now!

      There’s also the city centre Juice Garden which is quite close to Martha’s, and it looks as though we’re getting a sushi place in the next couple of months too – which is just as well, given the number of burger places there are on the same street! x

  2. Liam Smith
    January 7, 2016 / 8:52 am

    I find healthy eating to be so difficult. There is nowhere near me or my work that does fast healthy eating, it’s literally McDonalds, KFC or McDonalds. I need to get some sort of food diary sorted and clean out my kitchen of all the crap.

    I bought a house last year too but having lots of problems with it, hope you had better luck than me and have had no problems!.


    • January 7, 2016 / 10:39 am

      We’re lucky in that it’s a new-build, so if anything goes wrong with it it isn’t our problem… yet πŸ˜€

      I understand exactly what you mean on the healthy eating front, it’s all very well to say “just bring stuff from home” but that can take up so much time! x

      • Liam Smith
        January 7, 2016 / 11:02 am

        Ours is a new build too but the builders are hopeless. πŸ™

        We’ll probably sell in a year or so and try and get something else now that we are at least on the property ladder.

  3. Elanor
    January 7, 2016 / 12:41 pm

    Great post! You’ve inspired me to find something productive to do in my lunch time. I’m terrible for letting my mental health issues sneak up on me and spoil my day, so I may even give meditation a go πŸ™‚

    • January 7, 2016 / 12:59 pm

      Amazing! Let me know how you get on.

      My productive lunchtime today will literally consist of going to Argyle St to pick up some online shopping purchases, hahaha x

      • Elanor
        January 7, 2016 / 8:25 pm

        At least you get something nice, I 3D printed a frog… half of it glows in the dark!

  4. January 7, 2016 / 8:58 pm

    This was such a lovely, inspiring read! I definitely need to make my lunch hour more productive sometimes. I just go from sitting at my desk, to sitting somewhere else. Though it is a nice time to socialise a little, I don’t end up getting much exercise or fresh air (or actual daylight) when I bring my own lunch in to work.
    I haven’t been to Martha’s for a while, but now I’m so in the mood for their Sweet Potato and Chicken Thai Curry, perhaps a Friday treat for myself πŸ˜‰

    Hope you have a wonderful 2016!
    Roisin xx


    • January 8, 2016 / 11:52 am

      Oh, I’m so glad! Yeah, I’m struggling to find an excuse to go outside today – it saves so much money bringing your lunch to work but it’s no good for a change of scene!

      Hope you enjoy your Friday treat πŸ˜‰ x

  5. January 8, 2016 / 12:52 pm

    I’m finding it weird having a lunch hour that I can actually take after years of working in shops that made it impossible to do anything other than stick my phone on mute during conference calls to eat a Β£1 cheese sandwich! I really need to make more of an effort to do something during my hour rather than running to Greggs for a coffee, not that there’s much to do in Motherwell town centre though!

    • January 8, 2016 / 2:47 pm

      Ha, yeah, that’s definitely true. Quite pleased with myself today though – I just went for a walk round the block (well, a couple of blocks) and have already got my 30 active minutes on the Fitbit. Yay! x

  6. January 8, 2016 / 1:56 pm

    I’ve been really trying to be more mindful recently as well, and it has helped with my anxiety A LOT. I hope mindfulness goes well for you as well. I also find that my lunch hour goes way too quickly, I think it’s because I always find so mamy things to do in it aha!

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    • January 8, 2016 / 2:42 pm

      Sounds like you have the opposite of my problem, haha! Well, apart from the anxiety thing. We’re definitely on the same page there.

      So glad to hear that mindfulness has worked for you! x

  7. January 9, 2016 / 1:57 pm

    I think it looks so cool when there’s stickers on apple products! I love this post!!x