It's no secret that I've always struggled with my mental health. Ever since I can remember I've been plagued with the dreaded anxiety, and more recently I've been suffering low moods. So how have I been trying to tackle these mental health issues without medication? I've taken up several hobbies which I believe are really helping to improve my moods and keep demons at bay.

My family at the very top of Snowdon on a beautiful summers day
Reaching the summit of Snowdon really was the highlight of the summer

Here are the hobbies that help with mental health...

Gardening / growing vegetables/ house plants

As a 27 year old I never really thought gardening would be my thing, it's for old people right? But actually I've found gardening not only quite enjoyable, but I also believe its helped a lot with my mental health. Spending time out in the fresh air tending to plants I've grown from seeds is just really pleasant, and don't even get me started on the feeling of accomplishment that comes with growing your own veg. I've been a happy gardener and plant mom for months now and I don't intend to stop anytime soon as this is one hobby which is definitely improving my mental health. 

Listening to and collecting music

Listening to the right music can lift anyones mood but there's something different about curating your own physical music collection. Lately I've been collecting and immersing myself into the world of records. Relaxing to a soundtrack of records you've compiled yourself really hits differently when your mental health isn't the best. 

The view from the top of Snowdon
Looking down from the top of Snowdon knowing I overcame some major mental barriers 


Exercise! The first thing any doctor will prescribe when you tell them your mental health isn't great is to get out there any exercise. I know this isn't a possibility for everyone but for anyone who is able, walking is a great way to get some gentle exercise without spending any more. I often go for walks for fresh air and to wind down after a stressful day. Last summer I even walked to the top of a few peaks including Snowdon which gave me such a huge sense of achievement. I know mustering up the energy to exercise is incredibly difficult when you're feeling low, but even a short stroll can help ease those demons. 


I'm not entirely sure tidying the house counts as a hobby, but my god has tidying my living areas improved my mental health. They say your mood mimics your surroundings and I can vouch for this as doing a 10 minute tidy each day has helped me so much when I'm feeling down. For a lot of people with depression especially, cleanliness isn't a priority so things may be a challenge but nothing beats the feeling of living in a tidy happy space especially now so many of us are working from home.

Myself at snowdon summit celebrating
Celebrating hours of hard work

Blogging / creating 

I've been a blogger for years now and whilst it's always a hobby I've enjoyed, when I'm struggling with my mental health I find it helps. For me blogging is a kind of online diary, which I'm able to pour my feelings and creativity into. while I know sharing emotions with the world isn't for everyone, this is how I've chosen to process some of my darkest times. Journaling is another great way to transform any bad thoughts into something creative without oversharing online. 

Do you have any hobbies that help with your mental health? I'd love to hear about what keeps you happy!

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*AD - This post contains PR samples. Gifted products have been marked with an asterisk. 

For me Autumn and the chasing of the seasons also means changing up my skincare routine. The colder weather encourages me to start using more gentle cleansing products and requires me to go in heard with the moisturising ones. As someone who suffers with dry skin, finding rich moisturising creams to combat the changing temperatures is no easy task but I think I've found a combination that works well. 

A photograph of a selection of the products mentioned below
A selection of the beauty products I use through Autumn

I'm no expert when in comes to skincare, and I like to keep it pretty simple, after all who really has time for a ten step routine every day? My morning and evening routines are also pretty identical for this exact reason, I do however switch up my moisturiser.

So which products do I use in my Autumn skincare routine?

Soap & Glory Peaches and Clean Deep Purifying Cleanser - This cleanser can be used by all skin types to wash and purify your skin before moisturising.  I use this to wipe away my makeup and even though it isn't advertised specifically as a makeup remover it does a pretty good job. It even removes my waterproof mascara which can be a tricky job for other cleansers. 

Simple Moisturising Facial Wash - This gentle facial wash is soap free, alcohol free, contains no artificial fragrances or colours, and doesn't contain any harsh chemicals. It's my every day face wash that cleanses my skin without drying it out and it's probably one of the best budget facial washes I've ever used.

Dr PawPaw Balm and the Tea Tree Anti Spot Stick
Dr PawPaw Balm and Tea Tree Spot Stick

Lyfe Night & Day Face Moisturiser * - The Lyfe moisturiser is a vegan cream for all skin types. While it does have a mild citrus scent, it's still a very gentle but rich moisturiser that I use each day after cleansing. So far I've found that it keeps my skin feels smooth and hydrated without any of the greasiness that sometimes comes with heavier moisturisers. 

Tea Tree Skincare Anti Spot Stick - This small Superdrug own product helps me to keep any angry spots at bay. It also helps to reduce redness and on any spots that do appear. While it's not the best spot product I've ever used it's still pretty good and super affordable.

Tube of Simple Skincare Moisturising face wash
Simple Moisturising face wash

Dr PawPaw Original Balm - The multipurpose Dr PawPaw balm moisturises and provides relief to irritated skin. It's fragrance free and while most probably use it simply as a lip balm, it can be used on skin, hair, and nails too. Recently I've been applying it to my top lip after waxing as it soothes the skin and prevents the dry waxing rash I used to get the day after.

Ethica CBD Nourish & Restore Night Cream * - This CBD infused, cruelty free moisturiser is designed to be used at night to help moisturise the skin. It's an incredibly thick and creamy product which it perfect for leaving on overnight, though the cream does sink into the skin fairly quickly. The cream is slightly scented, though similar to the Lyfe moisturiser, I haven't found this to be a problem.

So those are the skincare products I'm currently using to help my skin battle against the colder Autumn weather. 

As always I am open to skincare recommendations, moisturisers in particular, so please feel free to leave them below or tweet me!

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Every now and then you visit a restaurant where things go a little bit wrong, but the friendly staff and the service they provide makes you want to go back regardless, and that's exactly that happened when I dined at The Encore in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The Encore restaurant is located in central Stratford-Upon-Avon, a mere stones throw from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and easily accessible by car, bus, train, and even boat. It houses two floors of beautifully designed dining space and is a lovely setting for lunch, dinner, or just drinks. 

Looking up at The Encore restaurant from the street below
The Encore viewed from Bridge Street in Stratford-Upon-Avon

There are several menus to chose from at The Encore (lunch, brunch, vegan, etc) but as we dropped in on a sunny Sunday afternoon, it would have been rude not to order a traditional Sunday roast. Whilst I eat a mostly vegetarian diet these days, I do bend the rules for certain meals, roast dinners being one.

The options for the Sunday roast include:

  • Trio of roasts (beef, pork, chicken) - £18.50
  • Roast beef - £16.50
  • Roast chicken - £14.75
  • Roast pork belly - £14.95
  • Fig & dolcelatte roast - £14.95

I chose the roast pork belly and my sister opted for the roast beef. At that sort of price we were expecting good things and we weren't disappointed, mostly.

A large plate of meat, roast potatoes, and a large Yorkshire pudding. A bowl of vegetables can be seen in the background.
Slices of roast pork belly, roast potatoes, crackling, stuffing, and a large Yorkshire pudding

Once our dinners arrived we were presented with two large plates of meats, roast potatoes, and giant Yorkshire puddings, and one sharing dish of mixed veggies. The portion sizes were certainly not small. We were delighted at the sight of the meals we were about to dig into, until I spotted a hair in mine. 

Accidents happen from time to time, and although most restaurants have high hygiene standards things like this do happen. That being said its never nice to find a hair in your dinner even if you haven't started eating yet. I raised the issue with the waitress straight away and she swooped the dinner from under me to replace it as soon as possible.

Grace is sitting to the table. Her dinning in on the table below her. The inside of the restaurant can be see in the background.
Is there any point going for a fancy dinner if you don't take a photo with it?

As my dinner was so impressive I did worry it would be quite some time before another was brought to the table but to my surprise I didn't have to wait too long at all. I would estimate that a fresh pork belly roast was plonked down within 10 minutes of the waitress taking the original away. After bringing a new meal to the table, our waitress apologised quite sincerely and said that the meal would be complimentary. Whilst I expected maybe a small discount, or the offer of a drink after such an issue, I didn't expect the whole meal for free. For this reason and the genuinely good customer service I received from our waitress that afternoon I would not hesitate to return to The Encore again.

We soon wolfed down our meals which were equal parts delicious and filling, and went on our way discussing another possible visit for December after spying their festive menus earlier in the day. 

Despite the little blip I was quite impressed by my experience at The Encore, and the way they dealt with the situation ensured we left the restaurant as happy customers.

The Encore
1 Bridge Street
CV37 6AB

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*Ad - gifted experience

In my opinion massages are good for the mind, body, and soul. There's not much that can't be fixed by a session with an experienced therapist, so when I was approached by The Massage Company in Sutton Coldfield I was more than happy to put their services to the test. It would be rude not to wouldn't it?

Based in the Mere Green area of Sutton Coldfield, The Massage Company offers a range of massages to suit everyones needs. The location is on the main high street surrounded by shops, bars, and restaurants. Parking is also easily available within just a few minutes walk, as is the Four Oaks train station. Although this is their only location in the Midlands, they also have branches across the South East in Camberley, High Wycombe, Tunbridge Wells, and Putney. 

The entrance to The Massage Company in Sutton Coldfield
Entrance to The Massage Company in Sutton Coldfield

On arrival at The Massage Company, I was greeted by a friendly receptionist who checked myself and my sister in. We were each given a short survey to complete which would ran through a few health questions, allowed us to pin point any areas we would like to particularly focus on, and any areas we would prefer the therapist not to touch. This is not something I'd come across while having massages in the past, but something I thought was a great idea, especially as I primarily enjoy back massages and would always like that to be the area of focus. 

Whilst we waited for our appointment time the receptionist talked us through the available massages and the upgrades. We were both booked in for a Swedish Massage which is a full body massage, something I'd not yet tried. Along with our main massage we were also offered an upgrade. This time we both opted for the Hot Stones although I was very tempted by the Scalp Massage.

The full range of massages available:

  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Sports Massage
  • Swedish Massage
  • Maternity Massage

The upgrades available:

  • Hot Stones
  • Scalp Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Fantastic Foot Treatment

Once inside the treatment room the therapist gave me time to get undressed and comfortable. Although going for a massage is nothing new to me, they can be very intimate which is why it's always nice to find a therapist who is friendly and makes me feel at ease.  

Inside the treatment room. In the foreground the massage table can be seen and in the background is a table with a range of prodcts.
The treatment room at The Massage Company

Before starting the treatment the therapist checked that I was as comfortable and as relaxed as I could be by adjusting the massage table and ensuring the temperature was to my liking. She also ensured I continued to be comfortable throughout the massage, adjusting things where needed and regularly checking that the pressure she was using was fine.

Although it's not something I've chosen before, the Swedish Massage was a very good choice and a treatment I would likely chose again. The massage lasted for 50 minutes which is longer than I usually go for but I found this was the perfect amount of time to really chill out and enjoy the experience. The upgrade to the hot stones was also a very good decision as the sensation of the warm rocks gliding across my skin added an extra layer of pleasure.

Throughout the whole experience I felt relaxed and happy that I was in the hands of a very experienced therapist who did not give in until every single knot was rubbed out of my back, something that is no easy task let me tell you. My sister also said that she thoroughly enjoyed her treatment and we both agreed it was something we liked being able to do together before continuing the day with a well deserved brunch.

Although we didn't take out a membership this time, I think the sharable flexi membership The Massage Company offers would be great for friends or family members looking to meet up and enjoy a relaxing experience.

The Massage Company
320 Lichfield Road
Sutton Coldfield
B74 2UG

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