How I Am Going to Take Care of Myself in 2019

How I Am Going to Take Care of Myself in 2019

By Ruby Martin


It’s the beginning of January and we have already been bombarded with all the “new Year, New Me” shenanigans, ranging from all the shops pushing gym wear, to well-meaning relatives asking you what your resolutions are as you finish off the left over chocolates. Now I, like most people, have never been great at keeping resolutions (I once resolved not to swear despite being known amongst pretty much all my friends for flipping them off almost excessively.) However, the last year or two I decided that if any form of meaningful change was to happen, I would have to change the perspective first. The second thing I realised however this year was that I also maybe didn’t want to change, per se.

The capitalist society that we live in requires us to keep striving to change our deemed “imperfections” in order for large corporations to keep making money, whether it’s our appearance, habits, hobbies etc. Even better, if they can successfully get us to mentally perpetuate a shame cycle of trying and failing and trying again (*cough* dieting industries *cough*) then they can make money indefinitely whilst we continue to beat ourselves up in the process.

In the end, something has to give and normally it’s us.

“But isn’t the whole premise of your magazine that you are trying to change and be better people Ruby?”

Well, yes. But we are a anti-lifestyle magazine in the sense that we are trying to work outside the commercialised image of what is sold to us as “wellness”. After all, self-care is not a candle, bath bomb or a paid app for “mindfulness” (like seriously, how did people manage to make money from thinking?).

calm daylight evening grass
“That will be £7.99 per minute for that peaceful sunset sir”

Instead, my new system is more a proposal of managing our delicate identity ecosystem, which lies somewhere between morals, mental health and various environmental factors.

So here goes, these are not my resolutions, but things I aim to implement which will hopefully improve my own wellbeing considering the shitshow which is often modern life. Let’s not be fooled though, this isn’t just a repackaging of resolutions, as I will also be including the things I will not be changing, things I enjoy and don’t see the need to punish myself for. Also, by having these as aims rather than something resolute, it means when I fail, not everything is lost as it is not “broken” in the same sense.

1.Food and Drink

Now this is always a loaded topic, especially around New Years, but let me say this: I will not be going on a diet. Diets and Diet Culture can permanently go fuck itself forever as an insidious example of a disaster capitalism which has permeated and poisoned a society like no other.

What I will be doing however, considering the fact that climate change is very much real, and also being one of the Sad People on the Internet™, I will be making an effort to try eating more sustainable and vegan meals with hopefully more fresh fruit and vegetables to do a little bit for both my brain and the environment.  Like the smug hipster I am, I have already made the switch to oat milk (the most sustainable of milks according to this article, which also has some other handy sustainability tips!) The important thing is that I am trying new recipes and exploring food in a fun healthy way (I recommend the FREE Tasty app if you’re a novice like me).

I will not, on the other hand, give up my one true love, grilled cheese toasties. Like a sexy bed of cheese and dairy, I have to quote the Rolling Stones when I say “wild horses couldn’t drag me away”.

Similarly I will be participating in a sort of Dry January, although I plan for it to be more long term and nowhere near as strict. My current plan is that unless it is an occasion (birthday,  holiday, etc.) I will be trying to stick to the soft drinks due to alcohol being an a depressant and all (Classic Sads™ am I right guys??). However, will that stop me from sampling beer when I go to Brussels in a few weeks? Hell no, I will be stuffing my face with beer, chocolate and chips as if my life depended on it (and to be honest, not sure what the other veggie options are.)

alcoholic beverage bar beer beverage
“Did you know in Belgium, Dry january is when all the beer runs out and therefore the apocalypse starts”

2.  TV, Tech and other Hobbies

Now if you know me you will know that two of my favourite hobbies are binging TV and chatting shit on Twitter. Admittedly though, if you really know me, you will also know that I have a lot of side projects and hobbies I like to do (buy my badges here!)

Now in order to me to do more of the creative stuff I like doing, I also have to cut down on the stuff which I definitely find less fulfilling but also is far less taxing and much easier to do. Rather than going cold turkey however.  I am trying to limit myself to two episodes of anything a day, and investigating screentime limiting apps (please comment if you have any recommendations.) Whilst I also aim to read at least 12 books this year,  will I stop reading fanfiction in bed? Still, very much no.

Also, I have made a pledge this year that in terms of gigs, I will only be doing gigs that either interest me, challenge me, has been recommended or I know the promoter (most often a combo of all of these factors). This may considered a holier than thou approach but it also seems insane to spend so many of your evenings in faraway places with spiteful, competitive audiences instead of stuff that makes you happy for the sake of “making it”. I’d much rather do a couple less gigs but they are gigs that make me happy and foster an audience from there.

me presumably giving unsolicited advice at men in the audience

4. Actual Self-Care

When I say this, I mean the difficult and boring things to actually maintain my health, e.g.

  1. Take my pill regularly.
  2. Avoid things that I know will give my stomach problems like sweeteners, fizzy drinks and caffeine and drink more water instead. There’s only so long I can pretend I have no idea why my stomach hurts, even if it means giving up my beloved peach iced tea.
  3. Try to keep things actually tidy (my attempts at this will be coming to you soon in article form as I am both perpetually messy and incredibly anxious about mess. Why is my brain like this? We may never know.)
  4. Floss more.  Hygienist appointments are one of the most horrific Saw-esque torture things you can think of and I wish never to have to do it again.
  5. Work on my relationship – It’s hard to admit you’re an asshole at the best of times, so this year I’ll be trying to check myself before I wreck myself (and others).
  6. Try and go back to my doctor to try and source some counselling. After facing some real mental dips this year and trying phone therapy (I was forcibly persuaded despite telling them phone calls make me anxious!!) I want to try and access some in person help before I face another crisis again. I’m okay at the moment, but I know when I crash, it will be hard and I’d rather be adequately supported for once.

These are all valid aims in my opinion and I hope it inspires some of you at home to maybe assess what can actually help you this year rather than what might be sold to you as “self-care” superficial plaster solutions. Also, please don’t get disheartened if you can’t stick to them immediately. Let me emphasise this:

Progress isn’t linear.

Striving for all of this is dandy but also do remember to enjoy yourself and most importantly, you don’t have to feel guilty for your choices (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone). I can solemnly promise that I will not be giving up candles or bath bombs as I love Lush with a passion (if you ever need an ambassador, let me know)!

After all, you only live once so whilst you take of yourself, why not enjoy a glittery nice smelling bath too? Just remember that you’ve no matter what you do or don’t do, you have never failed.

Lil’ Rappers Ranked By How Non-Lil’ They Are (On Spotify)

Lil’ Rappers Ranked By How Non-Lil’ They Are (On Spotify)

by HTML Jones

Rappers with ‘lil’ in their names take the brunt of the open condescension directed towards hip-hop, with many a 45-year old man from Hertfordshire having tweeted out something along the the lines of “Lil’ Baby??? What’s next?? Lil’ SNOWFLAKE??” presumably after his second warm Carling of the afternoon.

In contrast, I actually compile this list as a fan of (some of) these artists, as opposed to someone who is bemused by the fact that those working in hip-hop name themselves according to linguistic and cultural trends, despite it being prevalent with those working in other genres.

After all, you need look no further for an even more egregious case of superfluous prefixation in the near-infinite number of bands that have called themselves ‘The ____’, (e.g. The Beatles, The Who, The Snuts), a trend so pervasive in its redundancy that it persists into the Current Year (The Snuts being from Radio X’s Best New For 2019).

I could go on about how there are a grand total of 59 Bandcamp bands (here referring to bands on Bandcamp, not the indie-rock-equivalent of the ‘Soundcloud rap’ pejorative) who have decided to call themselves ‘Atlas’, or how a whopping 173 bands that played at SXSW one year had either ‘Crystal’, ‘Wolf’ and/or ‘Kids’ in their name.

But let’s leave that all aside and get into the list, shall we? Esketit etc.

Full disclosure: This article was originally going to be titled ‘Lil’ Rappers Ranked By How Lil’ They Actually Are’ (in terms of height), but I was beaten to the punch by a Buzzfeed article from 2013.

Despite the ego-deflating disappointment of what I presumed was an Original Thought being supplanted by a near-decade-old composition (which incidentally barely reaches 300 words and gets many of the rappers’ heights wrong, no I’m not bitter), an opportunity to exhume the idea popped up on my phone in the form of an ear-splitting ad for Spotify Premium.

Woman: You can even listen on a submarine!

Man: (bowel-wrenchingly audible smirk) Perfect place to listen to some deep house.

(Source: Spotify Premium advertisement, 2019, unknown author, presumably some sort of demonic ghoul)

Spotify have benevolently released a list of lil’ rappers ranked by Spotify streams, presumably so a 20-something hack like myself can squeeze a think-piece or two out of it, flat white clenched impotently between my un-callused hands.

Below is the resulting up-to-date union of these two metrics, a profile of Lil’ rappers according to height and popularity, along with some Cool Facts I found on Wikipedia.

  1. Lil Skies

Height: 5ft 7 / 170 cm / about 1 and a half Minions from Despicable Me

Image result for lil skies

Aside from being the 10th most popular Lil’ on Spotify, a fun fact about Lil Skies is that he makes music with his dad, which is cute. What’s more, his dad’s moniker is DARK SKIES, which, apart from being endearingly derivative of his son’s handle (or vice-versa), would be a great super-villain name.

  1. Lil’ Kim

Height: 4’11 / 150cm / if you bought a bunch of bananas and tied them end to end, Lil’ Kim would on average be shorter than that banana trail


Aside from having the most solid claim to the title Lil’ (in fact she’s only one inch above the most common definition of a person with dwarfism), Lil’ Kim is an industry legend with at least three platinum-certified studio albums. She is also known for appearing in the Gamecube classic Def Jam: Fight For NY, a hip-hop inspired wrestling game which certainly received reviews.

  1. Lil Peep

Height: 6’1 / 185cm / about as tall as an adult female ostrich

Image result for lil peep

Lil Peep tragically died at the age of 21 from an accidental fentanyl-xanax overdose, so I don’t really want to make a joke about that. However, when looking up facts about ostriches I found out that these bastards can run at over 45 miles per hour and can deliver a kick capable of killing a lion. Also, an ostrich once broke 5 of Johnny Cash’s ribs, so they’re bad news.

  1. Lil Jon

Height: 5’6 / 168cm / about 17 Garfield books stacked on top of each other

Image result for lil jon

You gotta do the cooking by the book.

  1. Lil Dicky

Height: 5’9 / 177cm / about thirteen dicks

Image result for lil dicky

“Unless you’re an extremely stupid person that began life as a poor, violent man, only to see your fortunes turn once you started rapping, you won’t be able to relate to 99 percent of today’s rap music”

Lil Dicky, Source: Noisey

A tone-deaf white rapper who makes comedy raps?? In 2019??? Due to a good flow and presumably good connections, Lil Dicky has managed to get multiple co-signs from high-profile artists like Snoop Dogg and convicted domestic abuser Chris Brown.

  1. Lil’ Kleine

Height: 5’9 / 177cm / 1 Lil Dicky

Image result for lil kleine

I had no idea who this guy was but apparently he’s massive in the Netherlands. All 11 tracks off his latest album made it onto the Dutch Spotify Top 25. Goed gadann pal!

  1. Lil Pump

Height: 5’7 / 171cm / as tall as pump shoes if they were exactly the height of Lil Pump

Image result for lil pump

I put on D Rose once for my friends and they all looked highly uncomfortable.

  1. Lil Yachty

Height: 5’10 / 180cm / shorter than most yachts


I will choke the life out of your worthless frog body.

Lil Yachty to Kermit T. Frog, probably

Known for the Chef Boyardee jingle “Let’s start the Par-dee”. Also, other songs.

  1. Lil Uzi Vert

Height: 5’4 / 163 cm / 2 and a half Yodas

Anyone who has enough confidence to post a video of them lip-syncing to ‘Black Sheep’ from the Scott Pilgrim OST (vocals: Brie Larson) while their friends look on with utter confusion and non-interest fully deserves their millions of Spotify streams imo.

  1. Lil Wayne

Height: 5’5 / 165cm / just over four goats standing on top of each other


Known for his freakish goat feet, as well as for having sold well over 100 million records worldwide, Lil Wayne is unsurprisingly the most streamed Lil’ by a wide margin.

Please follow me at @lovetrapezium and tweet this at all of your favourite lil’s so I can get epically owned in a quote tweet, thanks!


LOVE TRAPEZIUM, “Norwich’s gauche-iest pop band”, are playing The Islington, London on Sunday 3rd February (£5 OTD, free Kamikaze shot w/ every ticket, 3+ other acts TBC).

Donate a fancy coffee to Mind!

Donate a fancy coffee to Mind!

Hey, so we are back and still trash, however we are also still trying to be good people, as our content may or may not suggest, and as part of that we are continuing our monthly charity initiative where we ask our beloved readers (that’s you) to donate towards a different cause each month. In particular we ask, if you can afford it, to donate approximately the amount of just one of those expensive takeaway coffees that you know you spend too much on anyway, which is about £3 or so, although you can donate more or less. (We wouldn’t ask you to donate an actual cup of coffee to them, I’m not sure how useful that would be). You can also think of it as a meal deal, whatever suits you.

This month’s charity is MIND, a charity which provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem as well as campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

We at trashfire figured this was a worthy cause as despite a (small) increase in mental health funding, services are still desperately stretched with patients unable to access timely help until their problems become more severe. Also, this time of year can cause more mental health problems with the financial stress of Christmas and the New year pressure of making ourselves “better” (whatever companies constitute that is). This means that any little help towards keeping us all healthy would be appreciated!


Top 5 Seasonal Drinks (That are Coffee!)

Top 5 Seasonal Drinks (That are Coffee!)

by Ben Banks

Due to Ruby’s weak constitution not being able to stand caffeine in high doses, we sent our roving reporter and coffee connoisseur Ben Banks on a mission to find the best Christmas coffee out there. These were the results…

christmas coffee


Gingerbread Latte

We begin our festive coffee journey at Starbucks, with a gingerbread latte. My wait was short and sweet, which was a shame because I could not say the same thing for my little coffee. The first thing I met when I took the lid off was the whipped cream and an embarrassingly shy sprinkle of gingerbread. As I started to sip my way thought the drink, my expectations for a warm and cosy mouthful of dreamy gingerbread and coffee were quickly doused, like a fire hose crushing a house of cards. The gingerbread flavours were slightly off and tasted metallic, and sadly the coffee half of the drink did nothing to excite me either.



Creme Brûlée Latte
Pret A Manger

As we now move onto the fancy french cuisine part of our jingly journey, I thought Pret A Manger, the most fancy french cuisine of coffee shops, would only be fitting to sample a creme brûlée latte. The drink was small, smelled very tempting, and briefly made me feel très bourgeois just holding the thing. Little did I know how fleeting these good feelings would be.

The creme brûlée latte flavours did not remind me of a real creme brûlée. Or Christmas. Or anything. My mind became totally blank and grey, and I simply consumed the rest of it as an empty, hollow person. I was left very disappointed and not wanting more, but just wanting…better.



Caramelised Orange Latte

This is where things began to turn around. As I ordered my drink, I watched the master barista add a small hard orange wedge into my cup before preparing the coffee, and completing the triage with whipped cream. I’ll be honest here, I was initially very unsure what to expect with this drink. As I puckered my lips ready to take my first sip, like a nervous teenager about to kiss a crush, I was washed with the warm and seductive smell. I took a sip. Then another. Followed by another. Before I could even put pencil to paper to begin to describe my feelings, I found myself holding an empty cup in my hand. The flavours were rich, romantic, and left a sweet aftertaste have introduced sweet memories of Terry’s chocolate oranges.



Caramelised Almond Brittle Latte
Caffe Nero

Well that was a mouth full. I’m not sure what it is about the Christmas season but coffee shops just like to caramelise everything they can get their hands on. In the next chapter of my java journey, I swung by Caffe Nero. The festive menu was a little smaller than the other cafes – there were two hot chocolate drinks and two lattes. I asked for one Caramelised Almond Brittle Latte, and with each word came a look of surprise and confusion from the Barista – I hope I pronounced all of those words right. It was served with whipped cream and a light sprinkle of crunched up almonds. This drink had a calm, comforting and familiarly nutty flavour that made me want to cuddle it in both hands. Then maybe wrap it in a scarf and make a snowman with it. Before I could make this fantasy become reality however, I was left with an empty cup and a whipped cream moustache. If you’re a fan of a sweet, but also cosy drink, this one has your name on it.



Flat White with Cinnamon Sprinkles

We finish back where we started, at the little old global franchise Starbucks. This time however for a flat white with cinnamon sprinkles. Now, I live and breathe flat whites – I usually sink two to three a day just to feel normal (admittedly where normal is a feeling of constant agitation and poor sleep quality). So I was keen to try one sprinkled with cinnamon. I might be a bit of a festive hermit but does a sprinkle of cinnamon make something Christmassy? Who knows. This drink was small, and during the first few sips I couldn’t escape the cinnamon cloud around my throat and nose from the topping. Once I was past this asphyxiation phase though, I could enjoy the hot and spicy coffee. It leaves a sweet aftertaste that reminds me of curries. I just wish they could sell larger servings.



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Christmas shopping for the terminally indecisive

Christmas shopping for the terminally indecisive

Molly Heath

Watching someone you care about open a Christmas present you know they will love is pure bliss. Second only to seeing someone you hate get something vile, or watching a family argument you’ve managed not to get involved in, it’s one of the greatest joys of chidiholiday season. By consequence, this should therefore make going shopping for that perfect prezzie a delightful past time, or at least if Westfield is not too much like Satan’s lair, a satisfying experience.

However, finding that particular present isn’t always easy. That difficulty worsens if, like me, you suffer from an affliction of terminal indecisiveness. A box of chocolates at work stresses me out; more than one vegetarian option at a restaurant gives me an existential crisis. Chidi from The Good Place is not so much an exaggerated caricature, but basically me. I can start as early as I like, but that just gives me more time to change my mind. Therefore, when buying a present, I’ve got so much choice that I struggle to settle on one solid, good idea.

There’s always the option of straight up asking people what they want. This if nothing else will do the job if it goes well. However, you are at risk of two things. One, there’s every chance they’re going to whip out a cold, destructive: ‘I don’t know, I’m easy.’ Well mate you’re not. I want you to channel your inner child writing to Santa, and demand I buy you Crash Bandicoot for your Playstation One. Or, two, they do tell you what they want, and you get it, but something is taken away from the fact that it’s not a surprise. Despite our best wishes, there is something more thoughtful about going out and choosing something yourself.

Faced with this challenge, I therefore have put together a few tactics that I have been executing to try and avoid these issues, borrowed from watching other people over the years. I encourage you to follow along with me, and see if this can make any improvements to coming up with ideas.

  1. Remember the number one rule of present buying: people enjoy receiving things that they would obviously like to have, but can’t justify buying for themselves. Why do you think expensive watches, chocolates, perfumes, jewellery and soaps boom at this time of year? They’re unnecessary luxuries, but god they’re nice. Therefore, when all else fails, think about something someone likes, do your research and invest in a good version of that thing. If they like gin, buy a nice gin. If they’re a writer, buy a beautiful notebook. If you’ve seen them wearing a certain kind of jewellery, guess what you should do. They’re gonna lap that right up.
  2. Go shopping somewhere with limited shops and give yourself limited time. Your problem boils down to having too many choices. Don’t make it worse for yourself. Westfield may seem like your one-stop-shop, but the truth is you could spend hours crying and lost in John Lewis alone. Make your location a place with limited but nice shops, and have a time window that’s barely comfortable. Therefore, when you see something you think is a good idea, you’re less likely to worry there’s something better elsewhere. There’s nowhere else to go, and you don’t have time to go there. Avoid a mall, and go to a medium sized town or shopping centre – if you’re London-based, Angel, Spitalfields and Ealing Broadway are great options.
  3. Listen to your loved ones for the rest of the year. I know that this is a point of general courtesy, and I’m not suggesting that my mind is completely elsewhere all of the time. I’m only occasionally zoned out and rapping in my head. It’s more that I often miss or forget when someone mentions something that could be vital at this critical moment. The best presents I’ve received always come from this; tickets to a show I said I wanted to see, or some bedsheets that I laughed at in a shop (they have little drawings of boobs on them). When you try and listen too carefully in the close run up to Christmas, you can overthink, and people are conscious of hinting at this time. However, it’s worth trying your absolute bestest to be switched on, and if you’ve failed, think back on fun conversations you’ve had for the rest of the year. Perhaps you can go off something you’ve laughed about, or something they said they enjoyed watching or reading, and see where you can spin off from that. Remember that there is no shame in looking up something you know they like, and using Amazon’s ‘people who bought this also bought’ tab. Those tabs exist because they work and they work because they’re normally right. Algorithms are your friend.
  1. Remember that most people are forgiving, and appreciate the effort regardless. If you’ve found something you think the person is going to like, you’ll have had to have gotten it quite wrong for them to absolutely hate it, and therefore you. You don’t have to get it perfect. They just have to like it. If it remembers something about their character, if they’re going to use it and enjoy doing so, you’ve brought them a bit of joy. That’s what you were aiming to do; try and remember that, and don’t be too harsh on yourself.

So, that’s how I’ll be overcoming my own existential dread this holiday season. I’d love to hear in the comments, or on Twitter @trashfiremag, your own tips for buying presents, and how to make the process enjoyable and easy.

Tattoo Stories: Sam and the Lavender

Tattoo Stories: Sam and the Lavender


With about one in five people having a tattoo these days, we at trashfire wanted to know what inspired people to get inked. Did all tattoos have deeper meaning or just looked sick? In this new series, we interviewed people from all over to find out.

This week, we spoke to Sam, 23, who is currently a PHD student at the University of Leeds specialising in early modern bodies, masculinity and ecologies and sports this dinky piece:

sam lavender

When did you get this tattoo?

1) I got this tattoo over the summer on my upper arm. It was the day after Cornwall Pride, and it was a stick and poke by Saskia’s friend Martha. [Stick and poke is a technique to make tattoos using a freestyle hand method rather than an electric gun]

Is this your first tattoo?

2) This is my first tattoo, and only one so far. I’d been thinking about it for a long time but the time finally seemed right to get one

Why this design?

3) Lavender has a cultural history associated with desire and queerness. And I wanted something to commemorate my own survival and power as a queer person, but not something aggressive. The style of botanical tattoos that Martha was doing just seemed to match up with these thoughts I’d been having over my desire to have this tattoo. I’ve always had a strong affinity with botany and feeling relaxed in gardens as well, spending a lot of my childhood being able to read away and fantasise, often in one of my childhood houses which had lavender bushes there. So it just felt like this is the one! Above all, I just really like the smell and look of lavender so it might not be that deep either.


If you would like to submit your tattoo story, send us an email at


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Can I make mindfulness work for me?

Can I make mindfulness work for me?

Molly Heath

My mind is a whirling vortex of fun. A daydreamer from day one, I’ve never been 100% able to hack being a focused and productive member of society. I’m pretty sure the real reason I was born 10 days late was because I was thinking about what it would be like if my Dad was Elton John and forgot that I should be exiting the womb.

I joke, but it can be a real problem. I’ve always been a terrible sleeper. It was a genuine shock to me when I started sharing beds with men (aged 21 mum I swear) that people can just drop off and not wake up again for seven hours. I am poor at losing myself in a moment. At its worst, it can affect my ability to work productively, sit still, watch TV, to maintain uninteresting conversations. Although these aren’t always a curse, and my daydreaming, which is sometimes the source of my best ideas, has gotten better with age, it can really frustrate and get me down.

I know that a lot of the causes of these issues aren’t something that I can solve with a simple voyage into finding ‘inner peace’; antidepressants have made a world of difference to my attention span. If you’re reading this and think it sounds like you, I’d encourage you to seek proper health advice rather than feel like a failure because yoga isn’t solving your problems. A lack of focus can be symptomatic of several issues, as well as a legitimate problem in itself. If it’s causing you issues, you should speak to someone.

However, as much as a difference has been made, I still have some poor habits in terms of my own focus that I’m genuinely curious to see if mindfulness can help. The problem? Mindfulness, and self-care in general, is becoming an expensive industry. The expense can go as high as Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous pillows with copper threads, sleep pods for taking a nap near your office (for a fee), or retreats and spas with no limit on the price they can charge. There is no end to how much you could spend on keeping up with these trends. There are cheaper alternatives but even these come at a cost. Mindfulness apps cost money for premium packages and recordings beyond introductions. Adult colouring books are shockingly expensive. My gym, which at the price of Not That Cheap but is still one of the cheaper ones around, runs one yoga class a week. This gets filled up quickly by people paying a premium membership cost to access the booking system early. Therefore, I’d have to go to another studio which costs, you’ve guessed it, MORE MONEY.

This clip art woman is very rich.

Mindfulness doesn’t require expenditure, of course. But what spending money on it does is make it a hell of a lot easier to build habits; if you pay a lot to be relaxed at a spa, the effort bit is pretty much done for you. Apps give you a guide on what to do when it comes to mediating, making it easy. Trying to achieve mindfulness on a budget seems to require a lot more effort than without it, and if you believed everything you read in magazines you would feel like you were barely doing it at all, and that you needed the ‘stuff’ to be doing it right (this would be the point to insert rant about capitalist cycle, but I can’t afford the tangent).

I have also tried and failed to do a few bits of mindfulness on a budget. I made it through all of Headspace’s first week, which was great, but then immediately fell off the meditation wagon the second I would have to pay for anything. I managed to make it to a single yoga class once ever, during which I needed help because I couldn’t breathe properly and accidentally flipped over from a backstand. I tried a mindful sleeping tape via the free bit of an app, in which a woman named Lynn makes you imagine misty mountain tops as you ‘surrender your body to your bed’. This was surprisingly effective for a while, but I was no longer able to take it seriously after, in tandem, my boyfriend found it hilarious and Lynn’s effectiveness diminished at a certain time of the month. Among her many talents, Lynn cannot soothe me through my uterus tearing itself apart.

I need to do some things that stand a chance at sticking. In true Dua Lipa style, I have new rules, that I’m hoping will be cheaper, and offer me a starting place to get into mindfulness:

  1. Meditate three times a week, and each time find a free solution to guide through it. What works will go on trashfire (what doesn’t probably will too cause funny).
  2. Gym twice a week. I know that this one isn’t for everyone, and definitely not worth putting too much pressure on yourself for, but I know myself well enough to know that the gym is one of the few places I can well and truly switch off, and I genuinely love going. Mostly because I’m focussing on how tired I am and not anything else, but it works.
  3. No more playing games on my phone while I’m watching TV. This one truly breaks my heart, because it goes against all my instincts, and I’m obsessed with a game where you make little coloured hexagons. But I’ve started lying awake at night playing it in my head and I think about it all the time. I’ve deleted it, and feel like I’ve lost a part of myself. But I’m ready for my hexagon-free life, and more importantly, to absorb myself in one activity at a time.
  4. Bed is for sleeping, and maybe watching a bit of TV. It is not for eating or working (she types under her duvet). This I think will present the biggest challenge to me, but also stands to be of the most beneficial, in particular for my poor sleeping. Recent CBT trials at the UK’s first insomnia clinics suggest that if you have trouble sleeping, you actually should spend as little time in your bedroom as possible; no more than 15 minutes of waking time, ideally. This is a lovely idea, but I live in London and a living room is an expendable luxury to me. My kitchen is about the size of me, and I can’t spend my whole life in the shower (I would if I could). There is literally nowhere else to go. So, as the most reasonable alternative, you will find me at my table, which is next to my bed but importantly, not in it.

These are the starting points, and as time goes on I am sure I can add more, knowing what works for me. These may seem like very small, boring adjustments, but once I set myself a task I have in the past been very all-or-nothing; experience tells me I need to start small. There are things that I could be doing that, for now, I’m not doing and I’m going to forgive myself for. I could meditate daily, but I don’t want to do that while I’m staying at my boyfriend’s or cram it in in-between things; setting this rule risks making it more stressful than relaxing. I’m also not going to punish myself for looking at my phone first thing in the morning. I know this will be a sin to a lot of zen yoga mums. However, I’m not good at waking up in the morning and scrolling through Twitter for 10 minutes makes it easier.  If blue screens are going to keep us awake, I may as well use that to my advantage. Otherwise, I will sleep. I must assess my net benefits here.

spiritual queen

To make sure I keep my promises, and to shamelessly spin out an idea for further content, I will be keeping a diary and posting on here, which I hope you’ll follow with me. I’ll also be trying some of the more established methods, and more out – there things that have been claimed will contribute to mindfulness. So, watch this space; hopefully I’m about to transform into a spiritual queen, but more likely, gain a small amount of insight on what does and doesn’t work.