2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Category: Me time

How to cope with a big family event!

The poll

The December Facebook poll has been and gone. 2 Spuds asked you the following –
How to cope with a big family event
Steps to coping with December and January
The majority went with how to cope with a big family event.

So how do we do it?

I would love to turn round to you and say eat, drink, be merry and speak your mind but we all know that could end you up in more trouble than it is worth. However, you can still have a great Christmas with these simple ways.

Look after yourself

First things first is to look after yourself. Remember that 2 Spuds likes the “me time” approach. This can work in two ways. One way is to read a book, take a bath or go for a walk but the other side to “me time” is to remove yourself from a stressful situation. Take time to breathe, think about what has happened in a stressful situation (or argument) and then be able to move on from it as well. We are aware that it is easier said than done but trust us.

Family events

2 Spuds is fully aware that family events can be a stressful experience. You have your great Aunt Joan asking you when you are settling down to start a family and you have just broken up with your partner. You could have your Uncle Lenny asking you what you are doing with your life now that you seem to be unemployed (again!). Your parents are doing their best to welcome your new fiancée to the family but have gone so far over the top that it is just embarrassing. You could have a child who has decided that now is the best time to come down with a chest infection/chicken pox/the flu and many different people are giving you their top tips to help soothe them. The list is endless of scenarios and that is before we have gotten to the dinner table where the chef has prepared all day and last minute finds out that Tony has become vegan and forgot to mention it. Or Sandra is now allergic to turkey.

NB: All names and scenarios have been changed to protect people in the story.

NB (again): My parents were fantastic with my fiancée and 2 Spuds enjoys a full Christmas meal with all the trimmings and extra chocolate.

The point

The point of the above is that it could be you on Christmas Day. All you want to do is huddle under the duvet cover with Christmassy films, a massive box of chocolates, glass of wine and for someone to wake you up when it is all over. However, you find yourself in your best dress, with a paper hat, pulling a cracker and saying oooo when the turkey arrives on the table.

What do you do?

Well the short answer is to try and get on with it as best you can or alternatively try and see the funny side of it. I personally find that if I am laughing at the situation it can’t be that bad. Be upfront with people and don’t be afraid to say, I’m sorry I don’t want to discuss the inner workings of my relationship over the Christmas Pudding. Remember also to take some time out. Again don’t be afraid to say I am going for a walk, I am stepping outside for a few minutes or I am going to go and read a book for an hour and so on. This is your Christmas as well as everyone else.


Not being much of a drinker these days (I am sure there is a certain ex work manager who will recount a Christmas story of the River Thames and a glass of Whisky back in my youth but I will leave that story for another day!) I can’t say too much here. However, what I am aware of is a lot of alcohol and a stressful environment is not a good combination. You have more confidence when tipsy but that may not be a good thing. You don’t want to be remembered the following Christmas for standing up on the table and ranting about how much you would like to be in sunnier climes or found crying under the Christmas tree.

What happens if we have an argument or someone makes me cry?

Don’t panic is the first step here. The second is to remove yourself from whatever the situation is and breathe. These steps are simple yet effective. Take time to recover, call a friend or speak to a family member as well. Also try and draw a line under the situation and carry on having fun.

Side note into loneliness

I know we are talking about families but there are two more sides to a family event. One may be that you are surrounded by family on a big holiday and you have never felt more alone. It is that weird thing when surrounded by people that sometimes you feel like you are on an island. I would say talk to someone about this. Try and talk to a family member about you feel or in any doubt call the Samaritans helpline.

The other side to loneliness

Some people may be on their own this Christmas. Either through choice or through a situation which is out with their control. Again try and speak to someone. A friend, relative, neighbour, Samaritans or equivalent.

The bottom line with loneliness

There is no need to suffer through loneliness this Christmas. There are many people out there who can help you. You are welcome to drop 2 Spuds an email as well to say hello.

Boxing Day

Try and go for a walk to blow away any dramas from Christmas Day. Go out with your friends or your favourite uncle. Go to the local pub for a pint of orange juice. Watch Christmassy films on TV. The list is endless but the point is Christmas is one day a year, make the most of it and most importantly look after yourselves.


PS. If you do need support over the festive period please visit our support page or contact 2 Spuds in a Pod.

Routine, habits and self-care

I’m back at work now following the operation on my hand. Needless to say, any routines I may have had before have now long gone, and I need to pick them up again. It is easy to forget how good it is to have good routines, to be efficient but more so for your own self-care.

Do what you love!

To me this is becoming more and more important. I spent a few years in a previous job where I was working all sort of hours and days, and was not able to do the things I wanted and needed to, at a time that suited me. Just think of it, working a 24 hour shift then going back to work following 8 hours break (including travelling to and from work, eating and sleeping) really messes you around. You end up in this vicious circle of only work, and not enough down time. And we all know where that got me, right? But I’ve learnt from this, and I’m still learning. The purpose of these blogs is to share my/our experiences so that perhaps some of you can make some healthy changes to avoid getting to this bad place.

Starting your day

For a long time, when I got up in the morning I only had enough time to shower, get ready and eat before heading to work. I always stayed in bed for as long as I possible could. Working long days means that there is no time in the evening for the good stuff, including spending time with Helen who is not a morning person but she is around in the evenings. This leaves me with one option: having good quality me time in the morning. After all, this is what the high flying, important, successful people do, right? I never thought I would also be advocating this. I fully appreciate that sleep is very important, but so is everything else.

Getting off to a good start

My alarm now rings 0530. This gives me a couple of hours before I have to leave for work. I make a very large cup of coffee then go through to the living room and sit down. This time of years is great in that I can light candles all around, and the smell and light is very calming. I normally take some time just there in the moment. Nothing fancy, just me sitting there in the glowing light. I try to empty my brain and fill it with positive thoughts. I find that if I set myself up this way, my mood is so much better, and I feel a lot more positive about the day ahead.

Write it down

If I have a lot to do, I make mental notes of what this is. For anything else, in particular the important stuff, I have both a notebook and a diary. I spend a couple of minutes looking through the diary. For most of last year I had to write absolutely everything down or it would have been forgotten about. I’m now in a place where I still write things down but I often don’t have to read it to remember.
Another advantage of writing things down is that I am accountable to myself. If it is written down it’s not as easy to get out of.

Get moving

Whilst sitting there I try to feel how the body feels. I often have niggles in various places, at the moment it is my lower back. So having finished the coffee it’s time to move. I spend the next few minutes (how ever long is necessary) on the floor, stretching and mobilizing the whole body. This sets me up physically as well as mentally.

Eat a good breakfast

A bowl of porridge and home made apple sauce sets me up nicely for the day. If I have time I will have some more coffee.

No social media

I used to spend maybe 30 minutes every morning just mindlessly scrolling through the usual social media accounts every morning. This accomplished the great total of absolutely nothing! I never gained anything from it, on the contrary I felt there were far too many cool things out there and places to go and I’d never get there. If anything, I felt more depressed and anxious because of it.
I have gradually reduced the time I spend on social media. I now spend just a couple of minutes in the mornings checking the news.


A few minutes are spent looking at useful stuff, such as books I like to read, training I would like to do, a show I want to see and suggestions for days out for me and Helen. I also spend time reading books. At the moment I am reading computer books as well as life coach/mindset books. I only read a little at the time, and this keeps my brain happy too. The other day there was some maths to be done in the computer book and I loved it! So note to self: read/do more to stimulate the brain too.

Ready to take on the day

Having spent the morning this way I feel ready to get on with the day. We all know what we need to do in order to keep ourselves physically and mentally happy, but it is often not easy to do just that. If you implement just one little tiny change tomorrow morning, try it just for tomorrow and see how you feel. It may well be a game changer.

Setting up good routines, good habits and looking after yourself is so important. We sometimes forget this, or we simply don’t have the time. I urge you though to make a few little changes here and there, it can change a lot!

I hope you have a great Sunday wherever you are. I will be at work, having had some quality me-time in the morning.


The road to recovery

Facebook poll

A couple of weeks ago we asked on Facebook what blog you would like to see. The options were mental health conditions, signs and symptoms or how can I help myself on the road to recovery. It was a close call between the two options but with 57% it is the road to recovery. Rosita will take you through her recovery and Helen will take you through hers in Wednesday’s blog.

A road walked

This is a road I walk every day, some days more than others. It has become a way of life, making sustainable and healthy changes. I have come a long way from completely losing the plot having drunk Helen’s glass of juice. You know you’re in a bit of a mess when something so trivial tips you over the edge. It certainly put things into perspective for us. The next day we went to the doctor who signed me off for 2 weeks. 5 months later I resigned from work, having not been back to work. I spent the first few weeks/months crying and not doing a lot. Pretty much everything stressed me out. Most of this time is a bit of a blur. We made a few changes which helped enormously and that is why I am in such a good place today. 

Not going to work

It soon became obvious that my job was the main reason for me no longer functioning. I probably knew that before but could not see a way out of the situation. I loved the job itself, and the good days were fab. But working in the public sector, for a service with over 50,000 officers and staff, became difficult. There were a lot of changes made by people having to justify their existence at work, none for the best in my opinion. There never is a need to reinvent the wheel. I love helping people, and I’m damn good at it too. It got to a point where I could no longer do that. This is all very clear to me now, but it has taken a while to realise that, with a lot of conversations with the professionals and Helen. In the end, the job I loved broke me. Simple as that. 

Leaving London

We had been talking about leaving London and took action. This resulted in us finding a lovely flat in Scotland which also has a little garden. Having outdoor space means the world to me. I can make coffee and sit outside in the sun. You might think this is nothing, but to me it is what keeps me sane. It involves coffee, me-time, fresh air and hopefully sun too. All of this is pretty essential. 


Being prescribed medication was a massive thing. I only started with the pills after a couple of months, when I realised that I was not getting any better. They have made a huge difference, and I was able to get more from the counselling as well as my brain started to calm down. Constantly crying is hard and tiring.


Counselling gave me a lot of advice and tips, which was essential to my recovery. I have high standards for myself, our home, nutrition and exercise, to name a few. It became apparent that I could not keep this up. So the counsellor suggested to ask myself this: “if I don’t do this particular thing now, is anyone gonna die?”. The answer is simple. This helped me to lower my standards, giving me more time for me. This was when I was really struggling to do anything.


I started taking time for me. This involves me doing things I love. To name a few:

  • Listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Taking photos
  • Going for walks
  • Sit and drink coffee
  • Being outside in the sun

These are just a few things that give me a buzz. All of which, apart from drinking coffee, I had stopped doing because I was stressing too much to get chores done. I can now take half a day or a few hours or even a whole day and do nothing. Nothing to me involves me-time. We now have a saying in our house that it’s time for me-time, and this overrides all chores. You should try it. You need to look after yourself. 


I know not everyone has partner in these circumstances, and I do not know what would have happened had I not had Helen by my side. She’s been, and still is, my rock. Words can’t emphasise enough how I feel. So I will just say this: thank you buddy.


Holiday Blues

Holidays can…

Holidays can be interesting experiences. They can make you see, hear and taste things you may never have experienced before. They can make you experience cultures and adrenalin sports that you swore you would never try. They can make you happy, alive and laugh more.


Sweden was amazing. I ate loads of Swedish ice cream. Swam in water about 15 degrees warm. Was terrified of falling out of the sea kayak when we went on an archipelago island trip. Saw family that I hadn’t seen since last year. I saw parts of Sweden I had never seen before too. Slept lots and laughed my little socks off. Both of us had an amazing time.

The holiday has been and gone

The holiday has just that. It has been, as I say it was fantastic, but it has now gone away too. The holiday blues remain though. I would say that this is a normal feeling. You have gone from long lie ins, to sunshine, to iced cold drinks by the pool, to doing what you want when you want. Suddenly you are back to your alarm going off at 0600, the work “to do” list as long as your arm and you are counting down the days to the next holiday.

Holidays can also make you reflect

This is very true, a holiday can make you think about your life, your family, your work and your goals as well. When Rosie and I were on holiday in February of this year we started talking about 2 Spuds and here we are several months later with a website, blog, Instagram page and hopefully much more still to come. When we were in Sweden, we did speak about 2 Spuds and the direction we wanted to take it. This is what we are working on now. Sometimes you need to go away from your normal routine to make sense of life around you. All I can say at this point is stay tuned for exciting news to come.

Make a change

Here is the thing though. If your work is not making you happy, if you goal is too far out of reach or if you feel like you should be on a different adventure then make that change. Yes, it can be a scary thing to make a change but at the end of the day it is your happiness that we are talking about. A holiday can make you reflect on these questions and perhaps even make a plan to help you reach whatever goal you want.

Love the work, hate the sales

I love the work I do. I love working with gym clients or standing at the front of a class instructing it, but I hate with a passion that my job seems to involve targets and sales strategies. Now, I am sorry, but if it is so important for me to be doing sales then why is it not in the personal training qualification. I am fully aware that I need to promote personal training and how it can help you as an individual but complying by a number is not my style. It infuriates me no end. From our trip to Sweden it is making me think long and hard about what my next steps may be.

My point

A holiday can be fun and exciting, but it can also make you reflect which leads to questions, realisations and perhaps even change.



It is that time of year when everyone seems to be going on holiday. Cases get packed and left in the hallway ready to go. You finally manage to get that airport transport booked and the passports are checked for the thousandth time. Here is the thing though a holiday can take you anywhere. It can take you away for a weekend, a week or a month if you are lucky. You could go anywhere in the world. A few miles down the road to a spa hotel for instance. Or it could take you three flights and get you to the other side of the world. As I say it could take you anywhere but it would still be a holiday.

What is a holiday?

For me a holiday is that ultimate me time. The time that you dedicate to you and you only. It can be a time to relax, spend time in the warmth of the sunshine, read a book all day drinking an iced lemonade. Well this is if you are good at relaxing. However, me time to me is being active, not really a surprise. I like to go on long walks, swim in a lake, run around doing a garden or house project, see cultural things that I may not get to see being at home. As I say I like to be active on holiday. If I get chance I also like to do adrenalin filled excursions like sky diving too.

Sometimes we forget to take holidays

This is very true. I have done it twice in the personal training world. The first year I was in the industry I put it down to the fact I was just starting and getting used to it. I had changed careers in the March, started as a personal trainer in the May and then kept going till the December. We had gone to Sweden for Christmas and I caused great concern when I slept for around twelve hours straight. It was up to Rosie to explain why to her parents and that I was ok. You would have thought I had learnt my lesson after that but no. When I first moved to Scotland, I started the new job in the January and worked straight through till the December. The only days off I had last year were for my Wedding. Not good, not good at all. I was tired, I was irritable, I was grumpy, my body hurt as I kept pushing forwards and I knew I was exhausted.

This year

This year I made sure I took holidays and that is why I am writing a blog on holidays. I am off on one tomorrow morning (well if one particular airline does not strike). I am off to Sweden until Monday. We have forest walks and swimming planned, barbecues, a trip to the big sports warehouse and Rosie has a surprise planned for me too. I have been to Sweden so much over the last five years it is like a second home now. We stay with Rosie’s parents in the middle of the Swedish countryside which means it is quiet, full of forest trees, wildlife and my favourite, a starry sky. A tranquil place to recharge the batteries, have some fun and just have some me time.

Work, work, work

As I have said we sometimes forget to take holidays. We have a major report due in, in two months’ time that we need to spend every waking moment writing. We have to meet the sales targets, or our job is on the line. We have to make sure that we attend that weeklong course we are booked on so the company can proceed forwards. We have to manage teams, attend meetings, make sure there is enough tea in the cupboard and so on.

Home, home, home

Then there are our home lives. We need to make sure the family are fed. That we look after our elderly relatives. That the kids schoolwork is complete on time and that volcano project you spent every night working on is handed in. We need to make sure the grass is mowed so the neighbours don’t start talking and again so on.

Take it from me

In short, take a holiday. Give yourself two days off for just you. Trust me. You will feel better, refreshed, relaxed and happy.

Saturday’s blog

Rosie and I discussed what we would do here. We could write the blog in advance and put it up or we could give the blog a holiday. As we have never been good at the towing the line thing and we march to the beat of our own drum, we have decided to give the blog a holiday. It is only one day after all. We will of course be back to it next week.


Do something you love!

Do exactly that. Do that one thing that will put a smile on your face, will give you that extra spring in your step and will make you feel happy. Take some time out for you and do something nice. Now, this doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. It could mean running a warm bubble bath, lighting some candles and taking a long soak with a glass of wine and a (waterproof) book. It could mean going away for a spa weekend or it could mean spending time friends and family. Last weekend I did just that. Something that I love.

I haven’t been cycling for ages

This is very true. The last time I did any type of long distance on a bike was about 18 months to 2 years ago. I used to do it all the time. Almost every weekend I would be seen on a bike heading out to the Thames Tow Path, Richmond Park or over to Windsor Castle. Rosie and I met through a cycling group as well. On top of that I was doing a long of long-distance charity cycle rides. I did the Thames Bridges, London to Brighton and Pedal for Scotland to name a few. I cycled at least 4 times a week then did the strength and conditioning in the gym. Once I started working closer to home, I started cycling to and from work which could mean up to 7 days a week. For those of you who are London based sometimes cycling was the best way to get from A to B. So, as you can see, I cycled a lot.

Life got in the way

Once we had moved up to Scotland life unfortunately life got in the way, we started new jobs where the commute was much longer than 15-minute cycle. Rosie also got sick. The bikes were put at the back of the garage with a tarpaulin over them and were just “left”.

The preparation

Last Sunday after I felt like going on a cycle to see how far I could get before having to give up. I first had to get my bike out. Not an easy task as we have been using the garage as a storage area and there were hose pipes, barbecue, shelves and garden kit in front of it. I was not going to be defeated at the first hurdle. Let’s just say our garage is now re-arranged into a tidy mess now and I got to the bike. For being neglected for the last year or so it wasn’t in too bad a shape. I cleaned it up, checked and inflated the tyres, check and re-oiled it, triple checked the brakes and gave it a good once over.

Off I go

I had decided that I would go along the Forth and Clyde Canal Tow Path. I had been along parts of it before but had never done a full stretch of it. Today was the day. I started at Croy and joined the path at Auchinstarry Marina. It took a good few kilometres to get my legs into the rhythm of it all again and remember to keep my posture in the correct position as well. It took me even longer to figure out the gear system. But as the kilometres passed on, I became more comfortable and as the say I was back in the saddle (so to speak).

Before I knew it

I was at the Falkirk Wheel and had a decision to make. One way would take me to the Kelpies and the other way could take me to Linlithgow and Edinburgh. I decided on the Kelpies. Once I had got there, I thought about taking the train back home but my legs were enjoying the cycling, so I ended up cycling all the way home.

I was tired and hungry

Rosie and I have a saying: a good exercise session is where you are falling back through the front door tired, hungry but happy. And that is exactly what I did. I had cycled for around the 4-hour mark (including breaks) and I had clocked up an impressive 53 kilometres. For someone who hasn’t done that distance in a year or two I thought it was a great start.

Do something you love!

And this is my point. Go out and do what you love. Put a smile on your face, put a spring into your step and be happy.

Challenge update

We are in week 3 of the challenge. Last week I got 1063 minutes of exercise. This week is a bit of a struggle though as I have a lot of things to do which leave a lot less time for exercise. At present I am 338 minutes in. This means I have 662 minutes left (11 hours) and 4 days to do it in. I will give it my best shot but at present I think I will fall short. Time will tell, I guess.


Weekend Me Time!

This is supposed to be the time where we unwind from the week, catch up on the chores and generally get ready for the next week ahead. Unfortunately, at weekends we sometimes forget to give ourselves me time. The time we need to digest what has happened in the previous week and mentally prepare for what awaits us at our desks come the next workday morning. At weekends we spend the time tidying the house, washing the dishes, making food for the week, doing the laundry, making sure the work shirts are ironed and so on. As I have said we forget to take me time.

We forget

We forget that on the weekends our alarms do not have to go off at that crazy hour to get up for work. We forget that we can spend an extra hour in bed watching tv or having that extra cup of coffee while we look at the news or funny online videos. We can also forget to do the more fun things like, going to your favourite class at the gym, going to the cinema, meeting friends for dinner or hanging out in your pyjamas all day and eating chocolate. As I say we need to reward ourselves sometimes with the me time. That time that says well done for working that stressful week.

Time well spent

Now me time can last anywhere from an hour right through to the full weekend. It doesn’t matter how much time we put on me time just take some. Have a bubble bath with a glass of wine, stay up on Saturday night to watch one more episode on Netflix, read a book on the couch wrapped in a blanket and I am sure there are many other suggestions too.

Yesterday evening

I spent time yesterday evening trying to construct a bench for outside. It was one of those ones with loads of screws, lots of different parts and instructions which made no sense even when I did hold them the right way up. It wasn’t a sunny evening, but it was dry and warm. Now from a week which has been continually rainy and grey it made for a pleasant evening. The downside was that none of the screws seemed to fit in any of the holes they were supposed to. However, several hours later, a few swear words here and there and that one screw that seemed to be left over I finished the bench. Dinner had been and gone, it was almost dark, but I had finished the bench. It was an achievement. It will give Rosie somewhere to sit with her coffee when she needs her me time in the garden.

The main point

Here is my point, I could have waited to do the bench until there was more time, I could have waited until a better time of day and I could have waited until after dinner. But here is the main element of this blog. I love constructing things. Whether that is a bookshelf from Ikea, a tv cabinet from Argos or a garden bench for somewhere that I cannot remember. It was my me time and as I am writing this sitting on the couch wrapped in a blanket watching tv it makes it all worthwhile.

Me time

However, you spent your me time just make sure it is your time. Time for you and only you.

– Helen

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