Winter: The cosiest of seasons, bringing hot hearty dishes to the dining table, and plenty of reminiscing over previous festive seasons and reflecting of the soon to cease year. It’s all well to sit down at my desk to talk about the simple things I enjoy over the Winter period, listing all the novelties, activities, etc which we all connect to Christmas and the chilly months of the year; however before writing about the finer joys in life at this time of year, I think its only fair and important to acknowledge this. That some people, particularly the elderly, will be spending Christmas and New Year’s secluded from those who are surrounded by loved ones.
This social issue isn’t purely about missing out on the traditions associated with these occasions (gift giving, eating a traditional meal), it’s about having loved ones absent in life, having perhaps no one to continue to make fond memories with nor someone to bring the new year in with who can make you feel positive during reflections of the year to pass. If you know an individual, elder or young, who aren’t fortunate enough to spend Christmas accompanied by others, please visit them during the holiday period. Whether it be an hour or an entire afternoon, spending time with them regardless of how well or little you know them, will be much appreciated.
Even the slowly dying tradition of delivering Christmas cards to neighbours should be maintained in order to make those who are alone, feel like they matter and more importantly, don’t go forgotten. Furthermore, if you can please donate whatever you can to food banks (including essential sanitary products) this season rather than over spending on masses of food which will either go to waste or doesn’t necessarily all have to be indulged.
Thursday 12th December
I travelled to Central London today for the first time in a year, and since moving back to London from Korea. My brother and I always enjoy going to our favourite spots; just this time round we were pelted by heavy rainfall and struggled to tackle the intensity of the blustery wind. The wind alone was a factor preventing us from successfully holding up a much needed umbrella, and naively we didn’t consider how crowded Oxford Street would be at this time of year, which in turn also averted us from shielding ourselves with the flimsy umbrella… at least not without poking someone’s eye out or getting shoved aside. Despite the downpour, we managed to arrive to all our planned destinations. Google Maps may have taken us down some wrong paths (or more likely our map reading skills aren’t up to scratch as they should be), but we arrived well at our first location: Borough Market. Quite some time ago, in a blog posted themed around London, I mentioned that said market is the hotspot for experiencing the UK’s diversity through food, flavour and welcoming conversation.
Still to this day I love how Borough Market encompasses the common love of food with people from all walks of life. At one end of the market you can find cheeses sourced from all corners of England, France, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands, and that’s just a few to mention. Whereas at the opposite end of the market, you’re likely to find countless baked goods, plus European and Asian cuisines with some fast popularising fusion dishes; most of which are prepared using decades old family recipes to then be placed under one roof, where like-minded friendly people come together to share their passion for introducing their cultures to locals and tourists. These days you’ll additionally often discover many vegan options, ranging from meat alternatives to vegan Korean kimchi; which of course ensures that everyone is catered for and can enjoy the atmosphere of this beloved market.
As a result of our trip to Central, I’ve now got an unwanted cold (are colds ever welcome?) right on top of Christmas, but things could be worse I guess. Still, I don’t regret our day out. We made our obligatory stop to London’s Chinatown for a Honeydew melon milk bubble tea from CuppaCha. The lesson learnt from this trip is… Don’t wear somewhat thin tailored coats to be fashionable. Be sensible and dressed appropriately – you’d think by now, at my age, I’d know to do this. Moreover, Nando’s has the best spicy chicken there is. Fin.
Saturday 14th December
Self-care starts with eating well, and should always incorporate all in connection to mental health. Thankfully, in the last 6 years or so, social media has placed importance on promoting a positive/healthy mental health; but what does this mean? For some it could mean taking the time to have regular meetings with a therapist, or to others it could mean finding strategies to maintain or restore a positive mental health whether that be through taking medications or part taking in certain activities.
The possibilities to achieving mental wellness are endless, and through my experience I’ve grasped the understanding that not everyone promotes mental wellness in the same way. Absolutely, it is fundamental that we continue to share our methods for achieving mental wellness with others, as they too may find mentioned strategies beneficial. However, it is quintessential that we highlight the fact that not everyone can manage their mental wellness in the same ways or at the same pace.
So for instance, meditating could be crucial to one person, whereas to another it could be ineffective. Just because one way didn’t suit you, this doesn’t indicate that there is no way for you to ever feel like you are in a position to say you feel comfortable with the state of your mental health. So I politely urge you try and try again as best as you possibly can to discover something, anything, that grounds you when you feel at your lowest point.
The reason I mention this is because I’ve come to the realisation that simply taking time out is good for me. I don’t mean just taking a day-off from daily tasks to catch up on my favourite television shows or whichever. I mean taking time to just sit there or lay down and take a nap without feeling guilty, lazy or unproductive. It’s better to rest and replenish your energy than to continue to finish a task in the wrong head space where the result may not be to the standard you aim for. This applies to all things in life: work, organisation, physically demanding duties big or small, or anything that requires steps/instructions to be followed.
On Saturday, I took a step back to place myself in a quiet room and lit delicately scented red grape and cedarwood candle and laid back with a black tea sheet mask on. Thoroughly following a skincare routine isn’t on everyone’s list of priorities, but to me it makes me feel relaxed – as if I’m restoring much needed care and attention back into myself and not just for my skin. It’s just a moment to myself which doesn’t force the need to ‘think about stuff’, unless I want to. I don’t have to openly pen my thoughts into a journal or ponder or plan anything, but the opportunity is there if I want to.
Chamomile tea tends to help me unwind too, although I usually don’t use this as source of comfort unless it’s near bedtime considering how sleep aiding teas, including lavender based teas, come with the purpose of helping people to drift off to sleep. It goes without saying that hot chocolate is also a delectable beverage for calming/relaxing – any hot drink for this matter is ideal as long as it doesn’t contain caffeine (common sense, much?).
Monday 16th December
Branching out – that’s what I aim to do in 2020. The whole ‘new year, new me’ cliché doesn’t go down well with me, so much so that I don’t ever properly make new year’s resolutions or set myself concrete goals. Stepping into a new year, or whenever changes arise, I approach those times with self-improvement in the forefront of my mind. Self-improvement doesn’t imply that you ‘aren’t good enough’ or that you have failed in any sense; it just means you need to alternate the way you do things in order to achieve what you may have already set yourself to accomplish, but didn’t quite reach or fully fulfil that beforehand. Next year, just as I have been doing for the last few months, I will continue to edge myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve been trying since childhood to display and feel confidence, but it’s just not ‘me’.
Despite this I’ve grown to understand that it’s ok to be rejected sometimes. It’s ok to be ‘ballsy’ and promote yourself into the sight of who you want to be noticed by. This year I finally plucked up the courage to self-promote by blog and my other social media pages to collaborate with brands that I want the share with my readers. A fair few times I didn’t meet the requirements or the standards in which these brands were looking for, but there’s no harm in trying. So what if I got knocked back a few times? – It doesn’t mean I’ll never succeed. Already I have been fortunate to begin collaborating and to me that’s a milestone reached. I’m glad I talked more this year and I’ll be more open from now onwards.