How to manage boundaries while respecting others

I am the self professed Queen of boundaries. Since turning 40, I’d say I’ve found managing boundaries even easier.

Managing boundaries is all about enforcing your personal terms and conditions. It’s now or never so if you need to set some out, you’ve come to the right place for some advice to manage boundaries.

For me, there are many situations where I can feel uncomfortable. It’s not a confidence issue nor one that I actually want to fix. For example, I simply do not enjoy being in a group of women. SO, I just don’t join in. I literally have the opposite of FOMO. The idea of a girls’ night out makes me shudder. Perhaps it’s all those hormones in one place. Who knows? Who cares! Large groups of people don’t enthral me at the best of times. Perhaps it’s because I like being the focus of the attention. I like to be able to interrupt before I erupt, much like a toddler, so I’ve found my people. They like me for my quirks and understand in no uncertain terms not to invite me to girls’ nights out!

I need my own space. I do not like sharing. If there’s a family event, I insist we have our own accommodation. The noise gets too much. The constant ‘togetherness.’ I can’t cope with it. However, I respect that my husband comes from a big family so he likes it – this is where the respect and compromise comes in. We discuss it and come up with a solution. I like to work with exact timings. Again, not something I want fixing, I thrive on routine and habits. So we set out a plan before we go anywhere. God forbid I might enjoy myself and stay later! It doesn’t happen often but it can and when it does, it’s wonderful. Setting boundaries makes me feel in control in a positive way.

There are no set rules in how YOU should live YOUR life. But what is important is that you live YOUR best life. Communicate with your friends and family. Let them know if when you’re uncomfortable in situations. The last thing you want is to live with resentment.

Firstly let’s take a look at why boundaries are awesome: Katharina Wolf Counsellor (MBACP) & PR Account Manager says, “they create space for people to exist in, rather than shutting others out – obviously, they can do that, too, and therefore tend to get a bad rep. Working from this line of thought, that boundaries are a safe place, boundary setting can become easier (among examining the reasons why other people are more important than you – boundary-pushing/crossing is happening.) Especially the over 40s can be affected as their upbringing might still be very much people-pleasing, own-needs disregarding inspired (especially women)”.

To add to that, accredited coach Emma Jefferys aka Action Woman offers her insights to managing boundaries. Her top 5 tips are:

1. What do you need?

Know where the edges are: if you don’t know your breaking point then it’s hard to stop intentionally before you reach it. So notice what you need, what makes you feel good and on top of things. Consider sleep, nutrition, alone time, family time etc. For example if you know that one late night is enough for you then more than that is your edge. Check in daily with how close to the edge you are personally and what you need right now.

2. Set your limits

For you and for others: the whole point of knowing our edges is to stop before we reach them. Sometimes this is about saying no to ourselves so perhaps we only go out on Friday night and not Saturday too or we build in some extra rest time. And other times it is about setting these limits with others.Perhaps you don’t want to fill the diary every single weekend. Or want to shut your laptop down at 6pm and have no screens til morning. Whatever it is that you need think about how you communicate that to others that need to know it.

3. Just say No

Know you can say no and still be a good person: this should be a daily reminder. Your self-worth does not depend on how much you do for others…..repeat after me……

Your self-worth does not depend on how much you do for others.

4. Get your priorities right

Schedule your priorities: most people are excellent at prioritising their schedule but what if the wrong things are on there.  Take time each week to schedule the things that are important to you. Whether that is exercise, meeting a friend, calling your mum or getting an early night, plan to do it and then don’t cancel on yourself.

5. Don’t beat yourself up

Forgive yourself daily: no one is perfect, life isn’t perfect, and we won’t always get things right. Sometimes setting boundaries is having to do lifelong habits (like people pleasing) so have a go, don’t beat yourself when it goes wrong, celebrate when it goes right and know that there will always be another chance to practice. 

6. Ask for Help

Don’t do it alone: If you are trying to maintain boundaries that you don’t find easy then find support. Perhaps practice saying no with a friend. Ask your partner to nudge you if you’re mindlessly watching TV past the curfew you’ve set for yourself. Use an app to limit the amount you can spend on social media.

How to set boundaries and be happy in love

Pascale is a Therapeutic Relationship and Life Coach, the founder of the Surviving to Thriving group coaching program and author of How to be Happy in Life and Love: A guide to living the life you Deserve. See more at: www.youfulfilled.co.uk

Dating can be a wonderful thing and yet a complete minefield at the same time… Once we hit a certain age, things are so different for us. What we look for in a man, in terms of fun, commitment and family, are very different to how we looked at it in our 20s and early 30s. Being able to look after ourselves both physically and emotionally is essential. Our resilience levels and boundaries are very different and because of that we need to be cautious in different ways.

Here are 5 ways to protect ourselves in all things love and dating.

Know your expectations 

We have different priorities when we’re older and deserve to be a little more fussy. We don’t have to be settling or compromising as we did when we were younger. Being prepared to know what you want, I think at our age, is perfectly fair and realistic. If somebody doesn’t make you feel good or makes you feel like you have to change parts of yourself in order to fit their standard, be comfortable to draw the line and say no. No compromises are necessary.

They get to choose too

If they decide that you don’t meet their requirements, that’s totally cool as well. It isn’t the end of the world and doesn’t mean that there aren’t other, better options for you around the corner. This isn’t meant to be a cheesy ‘there are plenty more fish in the sea’ gag, but more likely that, we all get to choose who is right for us and who is not so right for us. It’s not the end of the world, it just means that this isn’t your happy ever after ending (yet).

Trust can be a challenge

If you have been cheated on in the past, which statistically, a lot of women at our age have, don’t treat every man like a cheat. Cheating is unacceptable in any situation, but there are so many good men out there who wouldn’t dream of cheating on you. Unless you have very good reason to think otherwise, trust your partner to treat you well. If your spidey senses are telling you something different, question them and let your intuition guide you as to what’s going on. If you have been hurt before, you may be hypervigilant. Hypervigilance doesn’t mean they are doing you wrong, it just means that you are super wary of not getting hurt again.

Remember to have fun 

Dating and love are meant to be fun. It’s meant to be a happy affair that brings you joy. Don’t make it too serious. Don’t make it too heavy too quick and remember that even though it can at times be very scary, it can also be wonderful, so make sure you enjoy the ride. 

Go with your gut instinct 

Always. If something feels off, don’t push it down and ignore it. A woman instincts are usually spot-on, whatever the situation. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, wary or even scared, please act on those instincts. Just because there are a lot of great men out there, there are also some douches. If the relationship doesn’t feel fun and you don’t feel safe and special, it’s definitely time to move on.

How well do you mange boundaries? Comment below and let us know how you cope.

You know you were born in the 80s because….

If you’re just turning 40 then you were born in the 80s. I loved seeing my mum in shoulder pads and being a teenager in the 90s was totally awesome wasn’t it?

We’ve put together our ‘kids in the 80s’ top 10 memories. If you were born in the 80s, we hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane.

When I was a kid….

We’re reached THAT age where we can say, well it wasn’t like that in my day. Because let’s face it, when we were kids, there was NO internet. Imagine the audacity of having to go to a (children block your ears….) library!

1. The Worldwide Web, dial-up, fax machines and rotary phones

If you wanted to make a phone call it had to either from your house or a reverse charge phone call. The rotary phones took FOREVER and if you got a number wrong, well it was anxiety inducing!

Who can forget the unmistakable sound of the dial-up Internet. You just never knew if it would work. Apparently, this sound is known to technicians as a ‘handshake.’ If you were born in the 80s, it’s a sound you’ll never forget.

I discovered Google for the first time when I was personal assistant to the Executive Producer on EastEnders. He had a hard back paper diary. I wrote all the meetings in pencil so I could rub out the changes. One day I realised I’d booked in a meeting, that was happening in an hour’s time, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember who this person was or why they were coming in. While I was panicking, sweating and trying to breathe, in walked one of the story producers who could see me twitching. ‘Google him,’ she said. I had NO idea was wizardry she spoke of and you can only imagine my utter delight when in under 2 minutes, my problem was solved.

2. Terry Towelling Fluorescent socks and Shell Suits

Incredibly dubious fashion statements. Not for the faint hearted. The neon pink, yellow, green or orange terry towelling sock. Colour clashes galore. I think sometimes I even wore odd socks just to really freak myself out! Shell suits, well, let’s face it, if you were born in the 80s, you’re lucky to be alive. One false move near a cigarette and you’d be charred remains. Talking of which – did anyone else have to go to the shop with a handwritten note from their mum asking the shop keeper for 20 B&H?

3. You recorded the chart show on a cassette tapes and saved your files onto floppy disks

The weekend was always about recording the chart show. You rarely listened to it again but it was super important to record it. And to have an HB pencil on stand by for an untangling emergency when your tape got stuck. Heart stopping stuff really.

Our parents’ important work was stored on floppy disks which always really confused me on the account of them not being at all floppy.

4. Questionable Desserts

Ice-cream came in blocks. We’d get Neapolitan slabs of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. We’d all just eat the flavour that we liked so often they’d be huge chunks of one colour missing! My Dad told me a horrific story about the ice cream vans and how they mix the whippy so to this day I will only get a pre wrapped but my go-to then was a Screwball with the bubble gum at the bottom. Every time I risked chocking as I poured the last drip of melted ice cream to get the gumball. Saturday dessert was always a Viennetta and we felt well posh. If we had ice cream on its own, we’d smother it in Bird’s Ice Magic. How that stuff set so hard and fast, I’ll never know and it’s probably best I never do!

5. Timmy Mallet woke you up on a Saturday

The Wide Wide Awake Club was on our screens every Saturday morning between 1984 and 1989. Saturday mornings were all about TV in our house. We’d watch Going Live and I still remember the number to call, which I did every week was 081 811 8181! Who didn’t love Trevor and Simon and go to school on a Monday ‘swinging your pants!’ To this day, every time I change the sheets I hear myself saying…’I don’t dooooooo duvets!’

6. Hooch, Mad Dog 20/20, Ford Fiestas and Smoking

Retching at the thought. These days I have a very considered and refined alcoholic palette. Back then, I’d neck any old rubbish and would give myself explosive diarrhoea from cider straight from the litre bottle that was shared among 10 other kids, while driving to the park in a battered Ford Fiesta with a packet of Silk Cut that cost £1.11.

7. Charity Telethons and Childline

Who remembers being insanely excited about getting their fund raising packs and staying up all night long with Michael Aspel??

The fantastic Childline was founded by Esther Rantzen in 1986. 0800 11 11 was a number we would frequently threaten our parents with if we didn’t get ice magic on our ice-cream, much to my horror today.

8. Classic TV Shows

Favourites in our house were Bread, The Two of Us, Don’t Wait Up, Darling Buds of May, ‘Allo ‘Allo, Brush Strokes, Rentaghost, Rosanne, Watching, Just Good Friends, Some Mother’s do ‘Ave ‘Em and of course, Last of the Summer Wine. As soon as the theme tune came on, it was homework time and Sunday night dread. Can you believe there were after all only FOUR channels! And you had to walk up to the TV and press a button to change it while wiggling the coat hanger that was the temporary arial. If you fell asleep on the sofa, you’d have woken up to Test Card Girl with the scary clown doll. How fabulous!

9. Toys

We all bossed it on our original Nintendos playing Super Mario brothers and Black and white Tetris on the Game Boy. If you weren’t freaked out from being made to watch Child’s play, you probably had a Cabbage Patch Kid. The rest of us were terrified of it coming to life and finishing us off in the middle of the night.

10. Beauty Products

Hands up if you wore Rimmel Heather Shimmer? Wore Exclamation by Coty and fumigated yourself with Charlie Red. I know I did. I also had ginger hair from spraying wayyyyyy to much Sun-In in my hair before slathering it in L’Oreal Stu, Stu, Studio line hairgel!

If you were born in the 80s, We hope you enjoyed reminiscing. What are your favourite memories? Leave a comment below and follow us on Instagram here.

How to be body confident in your 40s

Remember in your 20s when you finally got that taste of sweet freedom and you felt invincible? Your body was probably a lithe machine of a vessel! No neither do I because quite frankly, it feels like another lifetime ago, and almost certainly a different person! Fast forward to now – your 4th decade – and urban legend tells us that you should be feeling confident in your 40s because of a whole list of reasons. The greatest reason is because we are allegdly supposed to no longer give a shit about anything (hmm debatable). But what about being body confident?

For many of us, our 40s are a time of great change in our bodies and this is exactly why it’s the perfect time to rewrite the narrative around our bodies and self-worth. But how do we do that?

Today we’re giving the floor over to Body Confidence Coach Sarah Lyons who having recently turned 40 herself shares her reflections and tips for feeling confident in both mind and body in your 40s – whatever the situation!

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The fact that my body is now 40 years old is not something to be ashamed of, not something to hide or fix but it is a wonderful palace that I live in. My body is my home in this lifetime and I plan on enjoying it.

Having been around the block in regards to body confidence and finally made my peace I am truly looking forward to the next 40 year because it will not be filled with shame, self doubt or worry about  what anyone else thinks about me or my body. It is none of their business !

Being body confident means something totally different to me now  than even a few years ago. Body confidence to me was always about looking your best so people would think the best of you. It  was about trying to be a certain weight. Because being a teenager in the 90’s was all about being thin and thin ment being happy!

Body confidence now is about having an amazing connection with myself. I must be who I am regardless of how I look and regardless of what I weigh. Body confidence is about the relationship I have with myself and my body.

It has nothing to do with anyone else and I have stopped looking to outside sources for my validation and happiness. Yes I still love to wear my beautiful clothes but now I wear them for me to make me happy.

I can hear you asking how I got to this place of  body confidence. Well the answer is self acceptance and kindness.

Keys was to start being kind to yourself and accepting yourself are

  • To focus on your positive qualities
  • Say kind and positive words to yourself everyday
  • Avoid negative self talk
  • Set positive healthy goals and respect what your body can do.
  • Admire the beauty of others but do NOT compare yourself to them
  • Remind yourself that the media images we see are often unrealistic and unattainable .

Once I started to do these things they quickly became automatic, becoming body confidence is a change of mindset but it is something you have to work on daily. Putting in the work on yourself will lead to united rewards for you and the people around you. You deserve to live a fabulous life.

So how can we be body confident in different areas of our lives? As I said it starts with self acceptance and kindness. And here are some tips to get you started.

Social occasions

It is totally normal to feel some anxiety around social occasions , it is a new experience of meeting new people and being in a new place but try a few things to make it a little easier.

  1. Posture, you are a little bit older but there is no need to be slouching down. Stand tall with your shoulders back. Keep your head up and make eye contact.

2. Tone of voice -a friendly or gentle tone of voice is helpful in any kind of communication, especially an uncomfortable one. When you are mindful of how you say things, you will feel more confident. You will also make the people around you feel at ease.

3. Listen -becoming a good listener is always a good thing but especially in social situations. Don’t look at your phone all the time and use kind facial expressions to show you are listening.

4. Reality check -when we are in new situations like social ones our mind can run away with itself and we start to overthink or over analyze our existence and why we are there in the first place! Reconnect back to yourself with some deep breaths or box breathing .

5. Smile – my number one tip for loving yourself and feeling confident. Smiling is scientifically proven to make you feel better. Smiling at others will help you feel confident and make them feel great.

At work

Feeling confident at work can be hard if you don’t really love the job you are in – if it’s making you feel miserable and depressed then maybe consider moving on. Our work environment plays such a vital role in our wellbeing and confidence.

Here are my top tips for confidence at work:

  1. Cut out the negative self-talk. Try becoming your own best friend and use kinder, more reassuring words to and about yourself.By developing a positive mindset it will help you feel 100% more confident in yourself.

2. Focus on your own strengths not on your weaknesses, if anything needs some improvement don’t talk badly of yourself just work on it.

3. Ask for feedback, if you don’t ask for feedback you will never know how to improve and when its positive feedback just accept it and say thank you

4. Eliminate negative language – your body is always listening to you and if you are always talking to yourself in negative terms you will never feel confident.

5. Fake it till you make it, people may not agree with this one but it has always helped me out in a lot of situations. Acting like you are confident, speaking like you are confident is a sure way to start helping you feel more confident. The more you do it the easier it gets then you actually start to feel it for real !

Confidence as you get older

Our bodies change every day, none of us have the body we had 10 years ago let alone last year. Aging is part of life and it happens to us all no matter what expensive face cream we use! In order to start being confident at any age we have to accept where we are right now. Looking back and longing for the body we had in our 20’s is no good to us because we’ll never have that back . If we constantly measure ourselves against something in the past we are setting ourselves up for failure. Comparison is the thief of joy as the saying goes so whether you are comparing yourself to others or to your younger self it is not serving you . By doing this you will be chasing happiness that could be yours right now at this moment .

Here are my tips for being confident as we get older:

1. Write down all of your achievements – having done this myself I am blown away by how much I have achieved. You will be surprised when you start to really think how much stuff you have forgotten !

2. Develop and open mindset – when we have an open mindset we can start to learn new things and have new adventures. Life is for learning and you are never too old to learn.”Never stop learning because life never stops teaching”.

3. Update your image. Change up your look , change your hair or update your wardrobe this can give you an instant confidence boost.

4. Move your body. Our bodies love to move and find out how yours likes to move – is it dancing, pilates, yoga, or walking. Whatever it prefers, just keep moving.

5. Keep up the positive self talk, don’t join in when your friends start talking badly about thor bodies you steer the conversation to a more positive area.It very easy to get sucked in when others are talking but don’t let it. Stay with the positive !

6. Self care – looking after your well being inside and out will always help you feel confident and your body will thank you for it. Put yourself on top of the list.

7. Set some boundaries. This is also a form of self care. Get away from people who are draining your energy or making you feel bad. Think about the consequence of saying yes all the time.

Being confident at the beach or pool

For many this type of situation can cause a lot of anxiety. The thoughts of putting on swimwear can send people over the edge.

Again if you start to accept and be kind to your body this will be a lot easier .

  1. Buy a swimsuit that flatters your body shape.

2. Dont add any extra layers or skirts, this only adds bulk and may draw attention.

3. Remember having a beach body was made up by people in the fashion and weight loss industry to make you buy their product and feel bad about your body. Don’t let them win.

4. If you love the beach or love to swim don’t let the opinions of strangers stop you from doing what you love.

5. Remember fake it till you make it!

Having true body confidence comes from being our authentic self. When we are living as our true self everything starts to fall into place. It all starts with love and kindness towards you and your body. We only have one body in this lifetime and it’s our home so lets start loving and respecting it.

How confident are you feeling these days? Do you feel body confident? Share your thoughts in a comment below and keep the conversation going on our Instagram here.

Sarah Lyons is a body confidence and well-being coach for mums. Drawing from her own experience in motherhood she is passionate about helping mums develop a positive body image & reconnect to themselves. Get in touch through www.sarahlyonscoaching.com or www.instagram.com/themammycoach

Photo credits: Sunsetoned, Laura Tancredi,  Lisa from Pexels 

How to manage intrusive thoughts

‘Just don’t think about it.’

Possibly the most unhelpful thing one can say to another. How about we respect our thoughts. After all, that’s all they are.

Imagine if you could see everyone’s thoughts. Now there’s a thought. There’s no way of knowing how people think. You might be able to guess what they are thinking but you can’t know how they manage their thoughts.

I wanted to share some of my intrusive thoughts with you. For me, it helps to talk about them. It helps me validate them and it creates a platform in which we can safely say, you know what… this might sound bonkers but… and after this, you might realise you’re not alone and I hope you find some comfort in that.

Gemma Thickett, Advice and Information Service Manager at Rethink Mental Illness, said:

‘Intrusive thoughts can be associated with mental health conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re experiencing mental illness. Intrusive thoughts can be very common, but if it’s starting to affect your quality of life it’s important to explore what you can do to manage them and seek out professional support which can help you.’

My top 4 intrusive thoughts

Like most of us, I think about a bajillion things at once. What can be rather annoying though is the frequency in which I think about the SAME things and they are often things from the past. However, I have managed to use some of my intrusive thoughts to my benefit and I channel them in a positive way while maintaining a good sense of humour about them as that is my way of coping and it works for me.

If I don’t do this…

…then that will happen. I used to wager a LOT on things like if I don’t see another magpie, something negative would happen to me or someone I loved. It wasn’t until fairly recently I realised that I had got a handle on this. I would have physical symptoms of panic (racing heart rate, tingling) if my thought wasn’t fulfilled.

I won’t need a poo will I?

I imagine this is a common one but when I was a very young girl, I was obsessed with not needing to poo anywhere. I won’t need a poo will I? Will I, Will I? The question would swirl around my head over and over again. Now my Mum, who was a legend by the way…. unhelpfully told me that I wouldn’t. And I believed her. So you can only imagine my horror when I was caught short at school and shat myself in year 7. It was decades later I realised that although there’s no place like home, pooing in other places wasn’t as bad as previously dreaded. It’s taught me that if my boys worry about something, I offer them a scenario whereby we come up with a solution if the unthinkable happens.

If I don’t try a bit of the food….

…it will be poison and that person will die. I’m not over this one so if my husband orders a different meal to me, I have to take a bite just in case. Same with the kids’ food.

The one about the boiler pressure

This is currently the most annoying one and it plagues me daily. Do you know what the pressure is on your boiler? Well I do and I know exactly how it fluctuates and unless it remains stable, it really affects me. I’m yet to fully understand why I seek comfort in my boiler but I do and that’s just the way it is. Every morning when I wake up, the 1st thing I do it check it. When I’m feeling particularly anxious about something, I find myself having to leave the boiler cupboard door open just so I can check it more regularly. I don’t need a new boiler. I realise it’s absurd and I can’t make the connection. When the pressure isn’t where it should be, I can find myself in a manic state. But I have lots of tools to help me. Talking of help…

Managing intrusive thoughts: Help is at hand

If you also have to deal with intrusive thoughts – as so many of us do whether we care to admit it or not – then here, Antonia Harman, multi award winning emotional trauma expert and healer and founder of www.divinempowerment.co.uk offers her top five tips to manage intrusive thoughts.

What to do when intrusive thoughts are getting you down

Intrusive thoughts can be both destructive and distracting; they keep you up at night, they stop you from being present, they could even alter your behaviour, making you play small. You may not take opportunities as the little voice in your head tells you not to, even when you know in your core it’s the right thing for you. Intrusive thoughts can cause anxiety and are generally a blight on your life.

Here are my top 5 tips on how to deal with intrusive thoughts:-

1. Self-enquiry

What are the intrusive thoughts actually saying? The thoughts tend to bubble up when you feel a little unsure; they escalate your feelings making a mountain out of a molehill. Are the thoughts constantly murmuring in the background? If they are, which they are for most people, take some alone time to sit and engage with your thoughts. What is that broken record playing on repeat? Is it that you are not good enough? That you will never achieve your goals. Is it abusive about your weight? That you are a terrible parent? Too much of this or too little of that? Whatever it is, listen and work out what the loudest voice is saying.

Once you know that, start asking yourself, is it true? Most intrusive thoughts are unfounded. Let’s take “I’m a bad parent” as an example. Well, are you? No one expects Mary Poppins. Do you stuff up from time to time? That’s cool you are human. Are your kids fed, with a roof over their heads and happy? If so, you can’t be doing that badly now, can you?

To stop intrusive thoughts, you need to find a resolution to them, to get to the point where they no longer resonate; they don’t make sense. For example, if some said you were a ‘tin can’, you would be puzzled. You definitely are not a tin can, so the idea of you being one completely bounces off you.

You need to be that annoying kid who says “But why” repeatedly. Listen to the thoughts dissect them with ‘But why’ you need to be honest with yourself. If some of the points are accurate and there is room for improvement, that’s fine too; make a list and action it. Get proactive and neutralise the blighters. Once the loudest thought is gone, go onto the second and so on.

2. Seek Professional Help

If you are struggling with point one, you could seek professional help? Talk therapy can help probe into the ‘why’ of things to help you burrow in and let things go. Letting it go is the most important thing, seeing it for what it is with a neutral, adult perspective and forgiving all parties. This means you need to forgive them, the situation and yourself. There is a good reason that forgiveness is a central theme in all religions; even AA has ‘make amends’ a major component. Forgiveness stops intrusive thoughts and allows for a happier you. If you are looking for non-attachment to your thoughts, you could give Divine Empowerment a try; we dissolve the energy or emotion associated with trauma. Once it’s gone, you find peace in the situation you don’t feel triggered when you think of it; you don’t feel anything; it’s neutral and just the facts without the loaded emotions.

3. Get into Nature

The more grounded and relaxed you are, the quieter your mind is. Have you noticed that the intrusive thoughts subside when you are on hols? Why is that? Of course, you are less stressed (hopefully), but there is more to it. Being in nature is grounding the negative ions you get from the sea or forest to help to quieten the mind; the body is less stressed and anxious. Make being in nature part of your daily practice if you can do it barefoot or in moccasins, all the better (rubber-soled shoes block grounding); that way, the negative ions can be absorbed through your feet. To really connect to nature, go for a walk alone and if you are feeling brave, leave your phone indoors. The world is unlikely to end whilst you are on your 30-minute stroll. Many people constantly listen to music and have little or no time to self-enquiry whilst on your walk. Allow your thoughts to bubble up and refer to tip one.

4. Exercise

Yoga, pilates, chi gong, and tai chi are great way to ground and quieten the mind. They calm down your adrenalin and cortisol levels, causing less stress. The more pressure you have, the busier your mind will be. Meditation is another option; there are countless guided meditations on YouTube; apps like Calm and Mindful are brilliant as they keep you accountable to your daily practice. You can start your day with a guided meditation, use breathing techniques when you get stressed and even listen to bedtime stories and much more.

5. Monitor Visual Consumption

Are you hooked on the news? Let’s face it; there hasn’t been much good news of late are you watching the news on repeat and stressing yourself out? It’s great to be well informed but not overly well informed. If you have news bulletins on your phone, switch them off. Stick to watching the news once a day at the most. Whatever you are doing now, halve it; there is a lot of ‘fear porn’ out there which will cause intrusive thoughts.

Are you hooked on true crime documentaries or horror shows that stress you out? Do you watch scary things late at night and go to bed fretting about it? If so, knock it on the head entirely. If the intrusive thoughts are about something you have seen on the telly, turning your box off is a simple fix!

Have you ever suffered with intrusive thoughts? Do leave a comment and connect with us on Instagram here where we love to chat all things being in your 40s.

The Spinster Chronicles: When first dates feel like job interviews

Are you Bumbling your way through apps and online dating? Do first dates feel just like job interviews? Our favourite spinster Jennifer Walters is back, candidly sharing her dating debacles with us.

First Dates: The Interview Process

‘I don’t like to talk to people on the phone. I barely like to talk to most people in person, but voice to voice with someone who I’ve only known as still images of him and his dog or posed candids of him scaling Mount Everest is extremely painful and accelerates my normal awkwardness toward a full blown display of embarrassment during which I forget simple English and fun facts such as how old I am.

In-person there would be, at least, wine and fake smiles to fill the inevitable conversation lulls. During a recent interview, I mean phone call, I found out that Dude is very enthusiastic about their career but also super excited about his new adventures in snow sports. He told me how much he works out and how he enjoys wine but only sociably because he doesn’t like to “overdo it or anything.” He ended the conversation abruptly because he got a call from his sister in the midst of me sharing with him how often I DON’T work out, how often I DO drink wine with ZERO dependency on whether or not I am in a social setting, and my complete lack of desire to ever do anything that involves snow.

Ghosted

He did not call me back. He did, however, send me a message on the dating app informing me our conversation was “dry” and we probably shouldn’t bother talking again. I can’t say I disagree but for some reason his acknowledgment of the obvious was quite the blow to what’s left of my already defeated ego. A mutual ghosting would have been much more polite. All part of the first dates interview process I guess.

11th February 2021

I was supposed to go on a date last night. He cancelled on me because something came up with his son, he had an appointment to show a house he forgot about, and he couldn’t figure out his password for the Higamahoo website, but hoped I’d give him another chance on another day.

I told him I understood things with kids, empathized with his inability to logon to Higamahoo.com and yes, I’d give him another chance, although he clearly might have time management issues if he booked a showing and date with me for the same time, same day.

I then realised I didn’t know his last name and should probably figure that out so I can search for a criminal record before we make plans again. I googled his phone number and found a last name that looked familiar, familiar as in New Guy has the same last name as Poop Doctor. (See previous Spinster Chronicles article)

I then googled New Guy and Poop Doctor together and found an old blog post from Poop Doctor talking about his life (which he thinks is amazing, if you don’t recall from when I told you about my date with Poop Doctor a few weeks ago), including how excited he was when his baby brother New Guy was born. I texted New Guy and asked if he had a brother that is a poop doctor. He does. I mean, come on, what are the chances?

13th April 2021

It was seven o’clock, on the dot, in my drop top – kidding – I just have that song stuck in my head, which is odd because I usually only get that song stuck in my head around midnight when I can’t sleep and should be counting sheep. Instead, I am fantasizing about meeting Usher in the Harris Teeter parking lot after hitting his expensive car with a shopping cart, our subsequent falling in love, being endlessly harassed by the paparazzi, and me eventually breaking his heart because I’m not cut out for a superstar lifestyle.

It was actually seven forty-five-ish and I was in the midsized SUV that I purchased after years and years of shaming from my sister-in-law for driving a “mum van”. I pulled up a bit nervous because MfromTinder had some questionable fashion choices in some of his profile pics. But as my friend and confidant Stacey says, “it’s a lot easier to get a man to give up a bad chef pants habit than a bad cocaine habit,” something with which we both, unfortunately, have way too much experience. So I proceeded with cautious confidence that he wouldn’t be dressed like a Culinary Arts student from my mid-1990s high school vocational training program.

MfromTinder texted me to let me know he was running late because he went to the wrong restaurant. Midway through my glass of wine, I decided I’d prefer if he didn’t show up at all because I was really enjoying my book, but alas, he arrived. It was okay, and when I say okay, I really mean it was meh.

The few funny moments were completely cancelled out by the inappropriate questions that proved he was probably too much of a jackass for my liking. He was also shorter than he said on his profile, so, yeah, ugh. When he walked me to the car he went in for a kiss. I dodged it masterfully and instead delivered the most majestic high five of my life. The crowd cheered at my agile and victorious performance. I had another date the following night, which was another first dates disappointment. I did, however, confirm that if the dude is wearing sunglasses in all his pictures, there’s a chance he is a pirate.

For the love of Tinder

I have made some new and special friends during the first dates interview process:

1. Aquaman with the dad bod, who promises he will end my streak of no second date by taking me to dinner AND drinks, in the SAME night, before he ghosts me.

2. Captain Sadness, who can’t stop telling me about how much he misses being married and can’t wait to have a new mum for his kids.

3. Mr. Toughguy, who says, “if you’re a feminist, you’re paying the check and I’m getting two appetizers.”

4. Chief Bot, who obviously is a robot using some extremely attractive man’s stolen internet headshots.

5. The Counsellor, who wants to talk way too much about my dead husband. And, of course,

6. The guy who asks if I can come over, right now, at 2am.

Swipety-swipe-swipe!’

Are you dating in your 40s at the moment? How are you finding the first dates? Leave a comment below and follow us on Instagram here where we’ll be keeping the conversation going.

Got Imposter Syndrome? Here’s why Imposter Syndrome is hitting us hard!

The other day I was talking to a good friend about what bothered her most about being in her 40s now. I was met with two words that used to be my own nemesis: Imposter Syndrome. You will either know very well what these two words mean having struggled with it yourself, or will be thinking Lord woman what on earth are you on about!

In case you fall into the latter, let me break it down for you. Very Well Mind has the perfect explanation of Imposter Syndrome, and it goes something like this:

Imposter syndrome (IS) refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. While this definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context.

To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a phony—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud—like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck. It can affect anyone no matter their social status, work background, skill level, or degree of expertise.

So how many of you now know what I’m talking about? Well, probably 6 in 10 of you, seeing as that’s how many women experience imposter syndrome at some stage of their lives. For years, I found myself looking over my shoulder, feeling like I was spinning the world’s greatest lie like I was going to be caught. I skulked around with this nagging feeling that I was not really who I said I was, or doing what I said I was. Even as I write those words, I realise just how completely bonkers that sounds, like I have a major personality disorder of some kind. Even after my career had taken me on TV and radio numerous times over, I had this horrid little voice in my head whispering at me, “you’re a fake!”. The thought alone makes me shudder!

So why is it so many of us women feel like a fraud and that we’ve somehow oversold ourselves when the reality is we’re shit hot and have totally earned it? And why can’t we stop comparing ourselves to others, constantly beating ourselves over the head with other people’s successes when we should in fact be celebrating our own? And more poignantly, why can all of this feel so much worse in our 40s when we should instead be reveling in the so-called confidence we should be enjoying in life and our careers by now?

Hold the phone caller! Because in this deep dive on Imposter Syndrome, we’ve lined up some of the most well-versed professionals on Imposter Syndrome to help us understand why we’ve fallen under the IS spell and how we can break it.

imposter syndrome

How do you know you have imposter syndrome?

Faye Cox, Mindset & Confidence Coach believes women in their 40’s are still experiencing Imposter Syndrome despite their success, as the sheer act of comparing ourselves to others tends to arise when we step out of our comfort zone.

The more successful we become the more we step into unknown territory which is where we feel uncomfortable and our self-doubt kicks in. Each time we do this, we have to re-adjust and use the techniques we’ve learnt to overcome it. More on that down below!

So is imposter syndrome just a female thing?

According to Intuitive Business Coach Sam Evans, it’s present in everyone, but women tend to suffer more, due to the emotional connection of their goals and dreams and the difference in upbringing between men and women.   

With the increase of female entrepreneurs online, it can be difficult to believe in yourself when you are constantly comparing yourself to other women causing disbelief that anything is possible for you.

Imposter Syndrome attacks the human psyche based on the programming of the subconscious mind which is where all your beliefs, and memories are stored.  Somewhere in your lifetime, you experienced a significant event that caused you to feel the way that you do which in affect triggers the feelings of inadequacy.

Does imposter syndrome becomes worse in your 40s? 

Unfortunately, Sarah Pittendrigh, Breakthrough Coach believes that Imposter syndrome can strike at any age, it can become particularly prevalent among women over forty. For many years, a woman’s focus has been on everyone and everything else; she’s the strong woman, the glue that keeps it all together and makes sure everyone else’s life is running smoothly. She supports her partner, she brings up her family, she nurtures her business – the focus is on everyone but her.

However, in her forties, a number of things can knock her off-kilter. Her children are growing up and she doesn’t need to be so hands-on. Her relationship with her partner may have changed over the years, whilst their energy shifted to their joint responsibilities and it can be challenging to bring the focus back to just the two of them.

When the time comes to refocus on your future, you can feel lost and lose sight of your direction and of your goals. The goals you had in your twenties may feel like a distant memory. It is when you lose this purpose and sense of self that Imposter Syndrome can set in.

This is echoed by Monika Mateja of Live Well Coaching who points to the fact that all of the above adds to insecurities and contributes to second-guessing ourselves. We doubt our abilities even if we have a successful career because there is so much going on in our life. In particular, in our 40s we begin to experience more health issues including unexplained weight gain and brain fog that can make us feel like we failed ourselves and this can contribute to low self-esteem and feeling like a fraud.

Does this sound familiar?

Jo Swann, a successful Director at a PR firm knows first hand that the Imposter Syndrom struggle is real, “As an ambitious high achiever I set up my business in my 20s and was full steam ahead, and built a successful business for 10 years working with large brands like banks and building societies and brands like Whistles and Yo! Sushi. No imposter syndrome there!

But then I had some personal circumstances that made me wake up and realise – just as I turned 40 that I wanted to change track. Practically burnt out with a young son I decided I wanted to use my skill in another way and put the soul back into my PR work – so I started to work with female entrepreneurs with a new business  – helping them use the power of PR to get their stories out there. Working locally I LOVED this but then came the introduction to the online world.

Oh my God – I freaked out and this is when my imposter syndrome hit. It was full of glamorous women rocking the online space, who looked so comfortable chatting on video, sharing their lives and successes (and I couldn’t even take a selfie). I was overwhelmed and didn’t see where I fit in despite having nearly 20 years PR experience and being networked to some of the most successful online entrepreneurs of the time, who readily accepted me into their circles.

It’s taken me two, nearly three years to find my true guts again and retrieve that ballsy 20-year-old as this new world spawned limiting beliefs, lack of self-worth and huge comparison-itus. This led to me playing small, undercharging and over-delivering until I finally took the bull by the horns, to tackle my blocks head-on and with the help of a fabulous coach I came out the other side. I now love helping other women fight the battle too, helping them use PR and the confidence it brings to fight their imposter off!”

imposter syndrome

Some tips for overcoming imposter syndrome…

So you’ve got Imposter Syndrome and it’s eating away at you one bitter little bite at a time. What to do? Follow these tips from Joanna Howes, Leadership and Performance Coach.

Women in their 40s still experience Imposter Syndrome as the inner work hasn’t been done to find out the reason why they have it in the first place.  Imposter syndrome doesn’t stop you from being successful, for some, it is actually a driver to prove themselves.  It can however stop you from owning, celebrating and being proud of what you have achieved, as you do not connect your success with how great you are. You do not stand in your true power and you can find yourself hiding from what you could be.

My top tips for overcoming Imposter Syndrome:

  1. You need to look inside yourself to get to know who you are. We are all born with self-leadership yet along the way, through school, parents, and friends we adopt roles to survive, to fit in and belong and these roles can squash our true self. When you find out which roles you’ve adopted you can then work to be back in charge of them, instead of them being in charge of you.
  2. Notice whether the thoughts you have about yourself are beliefs that are limiting you.  If you say ‘I’m not good enough’ is there any evidence to support this or is it a belief you have created or a story you have been telling yourself?
  3. Start affirmations in the morning. It took me a while to believe these affirmations work, and I can tell you after doing them myself they really do.  Look in the mirror and say ‘I am enough’, ‘I am worthy’ and ‘I belong’, and ‘I can handle whatever comes my way’. You can write your own but if you need something to get started with, these are powerful ones to use.

Are you currently struggling with Imposter Syndrome? Or perhaps you have beaten and moved on from crushing self-doubt and feeling like a fraud? Leave a comment below and follow us on Instagram here where we’ll be keeping the conversation going.

Picture credits:  Antonio DillardOlya KobrusevaAndrea Piacquadio, Thought Catalog  from Pexels 

Are you lonesome tonight? Making friends after 40

When did you last feel lonely? Maybe it was yesterday, earlier in the week, one evening when you partner was working late and the kids were tucked up in bed. Perhaps since the pandemic, your social life feels like it has been reduced down to the size of a pea, and you’re wondering whether if you disappeared off the face of the earth with a little *poof* of smoke, if anybody would even notice. Maybe you’ve recently left your partner or husband and wondering whether there is any hope for making friends after 40 or if you’ll just be left on the friend shelf like a defective raggy doll. Or could it be that you have an absolutely raging social life still….in which case, I salute you!

Whatever the above, loneliness has reared its head in all corners of world, as we got robbed of our normal way of living with 79% of us now feeling lonelier than we did before Covid came and smacked us and our social lives full-on in the face. That’s felt even more keenly among single people, where the figure rises to a whopping 87%. And if you already struggled with social anxiety before? The bets are on that you are now feeling lonelier than ever before as the struggle to maintain friendships becomes even harder.

Is the forties the lonely decade?

So you’ve hit your 40s, and they say that life begins at 40, expect a study has found that people in their 40s feel the most lonely of all, god help us. But why is this? This Loneliness Awareness Week, I asked best-selling author, Gill Hasson of Lonely Less: How to Connect with Others, Make Friends and Feel Less Lonely why exactly this might be and here’s what she said:

Typically, you can become lonely either because of a gradual change in your circumstances or a because of a sudden change in your circumstances. You then either gradually become aware that you’re lonely – you feel disconnected, separate and maybe even isolated from others – or you are aware of a sudden loneliness.

The following circumstances can leave you feeling lonely:

  • A deteriorating, unhappy relationship or divorce.
  • If you have teenage children they need you less and less or they may have left home for university or work.
  • Becoming a parent for the first time – when all your friends’ children are much older
  • An unfulfilling job, having to now work from home, redundancy and unemployment.
  • A change in family and friends’ circumstances – maybe they move away, have a new relationship, start a family.
making friends after 40

Well that all makes sense. But without a tribe around us, shrinking social circles and confidence resulting in that feeling of withdrawal from life what is the remedy here? Is it making friends after 40, which in itself probably makes your insides cringe, but is probably the loneliness remedy here? The answer is categorically, yes.

Making friends after 40

So once we have chewed the cud and swallowed the horror that we need to put ourselves back out there on the friend market in our 40s, the question is – how the hell do we go about making friends after 40 anyway?

Firstly, fret not! Gill quite rightly points out, “There are people who are open to meeting others and making friends too. You’ve just got to find them. It takes effort on your part; you need to be willing to meet others, to be yourself and give something of yourself. A good way forward is to start with your interests. When you have interests and activities you enjoy, you can meet and join in with people with similar interests. Whether it’s playing or watching a sport, a creative activity or an enjoyment of arts and culture, getting together with people who like and enjoy the same things as you makes it easier for you to talk to them and make friends because you’ve already got something in common; you share similar interests and values.”

I asked her to share her top tips for making friends after 40 and this is what she said:

Go to a Meetup event

Have a look at www.meetup.com which enables people to find and join groups of others in their local area who share each other’s interests. There are Meetup groups to fit a wide range of interests and hobbies, plus others you’ll never have thought of: Book groups, art groups, film and theatre groups and sic-fi groups. Hiking and running groups, football groups, netball groups and cycling groups. There are groups centred around particular age groups, cultures and identities; ’40’s – 60’s’ groups for example, Japanese appreciation groups, conservation groups, singles groups, LGBT groups and so on.

People who go to ‘Meetups’ do so knowing they’ll be meeting people who are also open to meeting other people with a shared interest or identity and making new friends.

Take a class

Meet people who want to learn the same things as you. You can search for courses by going to your local council’s website and searching ‘adult education’ or ‘adult learning’ in the search bar. You can also find courses in your area by searching on FindCourses  findcourses.co.uk/search/fun-hobby-and-exercise-classes And the WEA www.wea.org.uk have classes in almost every area of England and Scotland.

Volunteer

Volunteering for a cause or local community initiative that interests you is another way to connect with other people. As well as helping and meeting others, you’ll meet other volunteers who could become friends.

Volunteers can do almost anything; there’s a huge range of volunteer opportunities available to you. Whether it’s serving tea at a local hospice, helping at a local community food project or an animal rescue centre, working with refugees, advocating for someone with a learning disability or mental health problem, not only can you do something of worth and value, but you can be involved in something that’s relevant to your values and interests. Go to www.ncvo.org.uk.

Look out for organisations that connect people

As well as the Meetup groups, courses and classes in your area, there are national organisations with local groups and clubs whose specific aim is to bring people together so that they can connect and make friends.

Mens Sheds menssheds.org.uk

The Women’s Institute thewi.org.uk

The Townswomen’s Guild www.the-tg.com

Apps that connect people with others:

Friender  frienderapp.com

TogetherFriends www.togetherfriends.com

Meet My Dog meetmydogapp.com

Nextdoor nextdoor.co.uk

Remember; you can make new friends, but you have to get out there!

Have you been feeling more lonely in your forties? How do you feel about making friends after 40? Do leave a comment and connect with us on Instagram here where we love to chat all things being in your 40s.

About Gill Hasson

Gill Hasson is the author of Lonely Less: How to Connect with Others, Make Friends and Feel Less Lonely (published by Capstone, June 2021). She has 20 years’ experience teaching and writing on a range of issues to do with personal and professional development, mental health and wellbeing. She is the author of more than 22 books; the bestselling Mindfulness, Mindfulness Pocketbook, Emotional Intelligence, Positive Thinking, the Sunday Times bestseller How To Deal With Difficult People, plus other books on the subjects of resilience, communication skills, assertiveness, and Careers. Follow: @gillhasson

Photo by Designecologist,  Polina Sirotina, Felipe Cespedes, RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Trying to be fit and healthy?

Yeah… me too and it’s hard and it’s boring and I’m often so overwhelmed with information I don’t always know which way to turn.

But in my 40s, I know that if I nail it now, the ride thorough the next decade will be smoother and I know I will reap the benefits physically, mentally and hormonally so I’m trying to be fit and healthy. 

Know your BMI

The body mass index (BMI) is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy.

According to the NHS, an ideal BMI for most adults is in the 18.5 to 24.9 range.

I’m 5’6 and I currently weight 9 stone and 10 pounds. This puts my BMI at 21.8, right bang smack in the healthy weight range. Hurrah I hear you cry. But actually I feel bloated, uncomfortable and I have zero motivation to exercise. At this rate I will NEVER lose those extra 5lbs I’ve been trying to lose for 10 years. Aren’t we all? 

I’m very much an all or nothing kinda gal. This is useful when it comes to trying to be fit and healthy because when I go for it, I go hard and I get results fast. But then there’s always a road block. The latest was my covid jab. It floored me for a couple of days and I got out of the routine of exercising. For 2 weeks I just couldn’t motivate myself to do anything. Accompany that with a few birthdays and over indulging and here I am. Again. Feeling really crap, spotty, bloated and dehydrated. Time to get sorted. Again. 

I love the cake

I LOVE food and I never really stop thinking about it. Often I think about what I’m going to eat while I’m eating and I’m constantly looking at food porn. You’ll often find me flicking through and drooling over the BBC Food magazine. When I’m good I’m really really good. But when I’m bad, I’m a naughty little piggy. The hardest time of the day for me is around 4pm. I may have made incredibly healthy choices up until this point then it all goes to shit. I turn into the demon snack searcher. We can’t have junk food in the house because I can’t be trusted with it. I’ve been know to snaffle cooks chocolate drops from the bottom of the baking box in a desperate to get a hit of the choc.

Setting boundaries 

I have an addictive personality. It’s interesting when it comes to food because if there’s something I like, I become quite compulsive about it. This type of behaviour might go on for a few months until I move on to the next ‘thing.’ Because of this, years ago I set myself some very important boundaries. I will only eat 1 of something in 1 day. Sounds bonkers huh? It probably is but it works for me because I love crisps and if I didn’t have healthy boundaries, I would consume at least 3 packets a day. If I have a bar of chocolate, I’ll only have 1. See where I’m going with this? It works really well for me. How do you manage your diet when you’re trying to be fit and healthy? 

Benefits of exercise to keep fit and healthy

So this week I’m back to it. Exercising has huge mental health benefits for me. After a run or a skipping session, I can literally feel the endorphins pumping through my body and it makes me feel happier, motivated and alive. I run 3k. 3 times a week. I’m aware that my knees are JUST starting to feel the strain so I’m keeping my runs shorter and concentrating on running the route faster. It’s so important to find an exercise you enjoy because if you want to feel healthier and happier, there is no easy quick fix. I build exercise into my daily routine. I run as soon as I’m awake at 6.30am then it’s out of the way for the day and it gives me that extra spring in my step. I’ll add other various cardio and strength exercises throughout the week but get bored easily so I’m always mixing it up.

In my 40s, I want to spend some time exploring foods that will support my transition into the next stage. (I can’t even bear to say it the M word) 

Trigger foods

We all know that sugary foods are bad for us but they taste SO good and only last night I was polishing off half a tub of Ben and Jerrys. Sugar is a real trigger for me so I’m mindful of it. When I do have something really sugary, I really really enjoy it then drink a shit load of water in a lame attempt to apologise to my body.

Over the years I’ve tried many lotions and potions to help with various skin complaints like eczema and psoriasis. 2 years ago I experimented by cutting out milk. I’d love to say dairy but I cannot give up cheese yet. A life without cheese is no life for me right now. So I switched to oat milk and while I couldn’t really tell the difference while I was on it…I went back to dairy milk after 3 months and I felt it straight away. My sinuses were instantly blocked, I felt clogged and my skin broke out. So I have oat milk and it’s lovely. I know I’m on the right path. But I will take it slow. In the daytime I only drink water. I try to drink enough so that my wee is clear but it feels like a consorted effort. It’s worth it though. When I drink enough water, I generally feel so much better.

What’s the deal with inflammation?

Inflammation can cause so many problems so I wanted to look at a food plan that included lots of food that targeted inflammation. Turns out, it’s super important. 

Karen Preece Smith, DipION, mBANT, CNHC, IFM  is a Registered Nutritional Therapist from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and www.alturum.co.uk. She states: ‘In general, inflammatory foods can be used to protect the body against free radical damage, As free radicals and endotoxins (environmental toxins) may accumulate with age, it is especially important for women (and men) over the age of 40 years to include anti-inflammatory foods in their diet. These foods include, but are not limited to; turmeric, blueberries, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and broccoli. These natural foods all contain flavonoids and polyphenols which have been researched for their anti-inflammatory properties.’

In an attempt to feel better, I had dark rye crackers with mashed avocado, tinned sardines and a handful of cherry tomatoes. 

I asked Karen if my lunch today was a good choice. She said, ‘This lunch has a great balance of complex carbohydrates, protein and phytonutrients in the vegetables.’ She said she would add a drink of Green tea or a turmeric latte with oat/ coconut milk and a dessert of blueberries in kefir. 

Well that sounds rather bloody lovely so perhaps this getting old and eating healthy malarky isn’t going to be so bad after all? 

Are you trying to be fit and healthy in your 40s?

Dating over 40: The Spinster Chronicles

Wondering what the truth is about dating over 40? Maybe you are in the throws of Bumbling or have your own fair share of Tinder disasters to share? We just know you’re going to relate to our new column: The Spinster Chronicles! Headed up by Jennifer Walters – a confident and gorgeous 40-something woman from North Carolina. Sadly widowed far too young, she continues to work through her grief and ‘is figuring out how to make the most of life.’ While doing this, she has diarised her hilarious dating over 40 disasters on social media, and now we are bringing them to you at 40 Now What!

The truth about dating over 40

My real first date was with a guy I met on an online matching website. 

His profile said he was a six foot two redhead who was fond of the local wine bar that I often frequent. We decided to meet there for a glass of wine.

I arrived early, so I could pick a good table and have a few sips to calm my ‘haven’t been on a date in a long ass time’ nerves. 

Thirty minutes and a glass later, I got a text from Redhead saying he was outside, but not sure if he should come in. I told him that he should. He asked if I was sure. I said yes while wondering if he was hesitant because he had phoned a friend that was acting as his informant on the inside, who told him I looked like a troll.

I finally convinced him to come in, but I didn’t see him. Instead, a five foot two man in a shirt two sizes too big sat at my table. I thought it an odd coincidence because he too had red hair. To my dismay, this little man introduced himself as Redhead as he sat down.

Redhead ordered himself some wine. As we chatted I learned he didn’t seem to have a job that was real, a kid he didn’t see very often, and a dog he really thought was the cat’s pajamas.

We wrapped up the night with him giving me a pat on the back and the words ‘let’s just use this as your first practice date.’ He then left me with the bill, a tremendous sense of bewilderment, and a promise to myself that if a leprechaun ever showed up to meet me for a date again, I’d pretend I didn’t see him or his lucky charms.

16th January 2021

I went on a date earlier this week. It was with a poop doctor I met online. And although I would never admit to online dating years ago before I was married, apparently that is what people do now, because for some reason men no longer believe in actually talking to a real life woman face-to-face without first spending weeks on meaningless chit-chat hidden behind an online profile picture. 

He spent the entire night talking about his job and using words that you wouldn’t understand unless you too were a poop doctor, interrupting my responses whenever he shocked me with a question with questionable interest in anything about my life. Then he told me of his incompetent assistant, who was obviously hired because she’s so pretty, which he stated I can probably relate to because my looks have surely helped my career too. He wore pants with a subtle checkered pattern which I chose to accept as acceptable, because the print was subdued and his, well, his biceps. I spent most of the night trying to figure out if he was a douche, nervous, needed a recommendation for a good therapist, or maybe worth a second date because he was kinda funny. 

The next evening I sent him what I thought was a very thoughtful text, full of recommendations of things to do in a city he would soon visit. He responded the following evening, with a meme. WITH A MEME. I’ve not heard a peep since, which is completely on trend when my dating life for the past two years. 

Between the men who don’t actually ask me out after endless flirting and these weirdos that I never hear from after a first date, it’s a good thing I have my amazing imaginary knitting circle friends and invisible hairless cats. I think I will stick to evenings alone with my television programs and start looking into joining a bridge club. 

Who can teach me how to play dating over 40?

‘I have such a magnetic draw for oddballs.’

22nd January 2021

I went for a bike ride today. That’s a lie. I don’t ride bikes. I was really just walking my dog.

During my casual stroll, as per usual, I was reading my book du jour on my phone when a young man who looked like a cross between Jack Black and Napoleon Dynamite rode up beside me on his ten speed.

He stopped next to me and proclaimed, loudly and enthusiastically, ‘I love older women!’

I asked him how he knew I was older than him and he told me it was obvious and he’d love to take me to dinner.

I told him I don’t go to dinner with younger men who I meet on ten speeds while walking my dog.

He said please. I said no thank you.

Jack Black and Napoleon Dynamite then pedals off, leaving me feeling slightly flattered, slightly insulted, and wondering if I should finally learn how to ride a bike, and why I have such a magnetic draw for oddballs.

You can follow Jennifer and her dating over 40 mishaps on instagram @spinster.chronicles and follow us on instagram @40nowwhatmag.

Have you had any dating disasters in your 40s? Comment below.

Anxious about restrictions easing? 5 ways to manage the stress

From today the rules are changing

Restrictions are easing in the UK. But, honestly, my heart is sinking a little and I’m feeling anxious about it.

On the surface, I’m an extrovert. I will talk to anyone. I will smile at you until you smile back at me. Full of energy, rather annoying and always happy. Until I’m not. I can’t paste a smile on if I’m worried, scared or unhappy about something. It’s written all over my face and sometimes I can’t hide from people. Until now. Face coverings, although a little constricting, have offered me a little solace. Quite handy really.

With covid-19 restrictions lifting across the country I’ve realised something sad. I’m going to miss my little bubble. Having not been allowed to have people over, my standards slipped a little. Mrs Hinch might be gasping in despair at me but I’d stopped buffing my faucets with such ferocity. The family didn’t seem to notice and nor did I. I stuck to the bare minimum. We had clean clothes, clean plates to eat off and the dried cheerios would periodically get hoovered up. But now the guests are coming back. And I’m frantically buffing again. I can’t help it. Talking to other people can be exhausting. So, guys, we need to take this one step at a time. Especially if, you’re like me, and can get your knickers in a right old twist. Here’s my advice to socialising as covid-19 restrictions lift, top 5 stylee.

1. Don’t overbook yourself

Last week, I was super excited to see a friend for tea in the garden but I had stupidly arranged to see another friend later that morning. Just because I could. Most people wouldn’t bat an eyelid but I spent the majority of the time fretting about the time and trying to be calm and relaxed. I’d forgotten that actually, I’m not very good at sitting down and relaxing with company. I’m much more of a keep it moving kind of girl. I don’t want to put a label on my personality. I imagine I have a form of ADHD but being older, I can manage my time and surround myself with people who understand my quirks and don’t care.

2. Don’t go anywhere you don’t want to go

Time is so precious. Unless it’s to the detriment of someone else’s feelings (and this person is super special to you)…. just say NO. If you don’t want to go somewhere. Don’t go. Just say NO. It’s so liberating. How many times have you dreaded going somewhere? Here’s a revelation…. Just don’t go. Do what makes YOU happy. I’ve always loved being at home and staying in. If you’re like that too then just enjoy it and don’t feel guilty about being content about it.

3. Ditch the shitty friends

We’ve all got them. The mate you hate. You can’t remember why you’re friends. They bring you down. They drain the life out of you. Hate no more. Ditch them, delete them and move on hun.

4. Plan an adventure

Go somewhere new. Don’t take adventure for granted. Because we don’t know when it will be taken away again. We are so lucky to be able to explore our wonderful planet. So get adventuring today. We discovered so many gems within walking distance from our front door and those visits became so important during lockdown. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I recently visited Avebury. I’d never heard of it. It was magical. Check it out here. If you’re feeling bold, you could also consider carpooling for your next adventure!

Which brings me to my final piece of advice.

5. Practise hovering over the toilet seat

I bought a Shewee and the first time I used it out, I peed down the back of my jeans.

I’ve been dreading using public toilets during the plague. I could never perfect the art of squatting so I knew I’d need a full-proof plan to protect my lady bits from being exposed to any potential germage. We took a day trip for the first time and I knew I’d need a plan. I made up a little bag containing a clean mask, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser. My plan was to wipe the seat with the antibacterial wipes within an inch of its life then line the toilet seat with paper.

But to my surprise……. all that lockdown exercise had come in handy….. I held a squat like a PRO! I recommend a course of wall sits and you too will be able to perfect the art of the wee squat position.

Still anxious about restrictions easing? Let’s take it each day at a time

So here we all are. The start of a return to a life more ordinary. For some of us it’s a daunting prospect. For some it’s a relief and others this whole experience has been an opportunity to take stock and think about what’s important to them and has incited a change. Perhaps for the better. Perhaps not. One of the perks to being 40 was that I got to have my covid vaccine last week. It’s offered me a reassurance that IF I am exposed to the virus, I PROBABLY won’t require as much intervention than if I hadn’t had one. And for that reason… it was totally worth it.

Whatever the next few months holds for us let’s do it with gratitude in our hearts, kindness in our souls and buns of steel to hover without peeing down our trousers! How are you coping with the easing of restrictions? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo by Elly Fairytale from Pexels