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Refinding Balance and #TinyChallenges

Refinding Balance and #TinyChallenges

So it’s been a while since I last blogged! In fact my blog tells me that it has been exactly 71 days since my last post, which slightly ironically was all about the value and importance of blogging. Lots has happened in the past 71 days to account for my silence:

1. I’ve been learning Chinese.

‘Speaking My Language’ gives PhD students the opportunity to undertake intensive training in either Mandarin Chinese or Brazilian Portuguese. So having managed to get a last-minute place on the course, I spent three weeks learning Chinese at the Confucius Institute for Scotland in Edinburgh. I will definitely be blogging about this soon.

2. I’ve been PhDing

Lots and lots PhDing… I’ve finished my data collection for part of my thesis which was so satisfying having spent the best part of a year on this!

3. I've been interning with SGSAH.

Finally, I’ve been given the fantastic opportunity to work with the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities on their ‘Policy Stories’ training event which took place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and the Scottish Parliament a few weeks ago. A blog post will definitely follow on this too!

So with all of the above, I’ve been super busy and I was definitely starting to notice an impact on other parts of my life. Only a little to begin with. I was becoming increasingly reliant on a daily coffee. Caffeine makes me quite cranky and anxious so it’s definitely not ideal and I had previously managed to cut it out altogether for nearly 2 years. I was also noticing a bigger and bigger impact on my health and general wellbeing.

Having now recognised this, it’s definitely time to pull back and think about re-finding some balance. The difficulty being that all of the above things that have happened in the past few months are exciting and interesting and things I want to be doing. So rather than trying to cut back on those, I need to find a way of re-introducing all of the things that usually keep me grounded, more relaxed and just generally happy: sport, hobbies, friends, reading for pleasure, blogging…

It’s difficult to fit all of those extra fun (and necessary for my general wellbeing) things into an already very busy life without just feeling even more overstretched and pulled in different directions. On Saturday I stumbled across something which could be the answer:


#TinyChallenges was thought up by @jaimeejaimee who has accomplished an insane number of things! The concept is pretty simple. It’s easy to make a really tiny change to your daily routine, rather than trying to take on something bigger. This is something I always struggle with – I like an ambitious plan and I always try to make lots of lifestyle changes all at once which are inevitably unsustainable.

You can read more about #TinyChallenges here but the idea is that you give yourself a goal and then commit to something really small every day for a month to work towards that. The idea being that your brain is less likely to rebel if the change is so small it doesn’t really notice it’s being forced to change. Brains hate change.

It’s suggested that your start with something that takes less than 5 minutes. So, for example, if you want to write more, you start with committing to writing just one sentence a day. If you want to declutter your home, you commit to removing one unnecessary thing a day. I feel like this is a great way to make a sustainable change in your life and you can do it with anything you like.

15 Days of Christmas Yoga

Something I’ve really noticed the past few weeks, with intensive writing and sitting in one place all day, is that my posture has significantly worsened. I keep catching myself sitting, standing and walking with my shoulders rolled in or hunched up to my ears. I know that going to a regular yoga or pilates class would really help but that feels like a big commitment with the limited time I have. So for my first #TinyChallenge I’m going to commit to doing one yoga pose a day, every day, for the rest of December. I found this article which describes 6 yoga poses for better posture and I’m going to try one of these for one minute a day, switching between the 6 of them (one of them is basically just standing still so if I can’t commit to that for a minute each day, I’m in real trouble!)

If my 15 days of Christmas Yoga goes well I’d like to commit to something new each month of 2016, focusing on better working practices, relaxing and health. For now I’m off to do a minute’s worth of yoga.

What would your #tinychallenge be? How do you keep a healthy balance between work and lifestyle?

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