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Why getting enough sleep is important for your career

By 3 May 2015 Career, Lifestyle

Of all the things that you think could affect your career, getting enough sleep probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your head. But it turns out that sleep deprivation can not only be bad for your health but not so good for your job prospects either.

Sleep your way to a healthy life?

Not getting the right amount of sleep has been found to be bad for your health. The US-based National Sleep Federation has recently updated its sleep duration recommendations and The Guardian has reported that, “In making their recommendations, the experts [at the National Sleep Federation] took into account the health benefits, but also the risks, associated with sleep. Too little sleep over several nights leaves you tired, unable to concentrate, depressed, anxious and, eventually, if it continues, an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Too much sleep is associated with much the same problems.”

Sleeping your way to the top 2.0

If you’re going to progress in your career you’ll want to be at the top of your game. This means being able to concentrate, stay calm under pressure and preferably not yawning during meetings. Travis Bradberry, writing for Forbes, believes that not getting enough sleep could be bad for your career. He lists some of the side effects from missing sleep as:

  • Decreased creativity
  • Irritability
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Increased stress
  • Memory lapse or loss
  • Impaired moral judgement
  • Symptoms similar to ADHD

None of these sound conducive to a successful day at the office, do they?

Don’t burn the candle at both ends

It’s easy to suggest making sure you get enough sleep, but what is the magic number? Most adults need 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night. To work out how much you need will probably be a case of trial and error. On a day when you don’t have work in the morning try going to bed when you’re sleepy, rather than fighting it, and don’t set an alarm. Work out how long you slept for and try it again the next night. If you need to get up for work, try setting an alarm just in case. It might take a while before you’ve got it down but eventually you’ll hopefully be able to work in tune with your own body clock and you can wave goodbye to mornings of being rudely awoken by your alarm.

Not fighting your tiredness is easier said than done. Hell, I’m doing it right now. You might think it’s more productive to stay up into the early hours to do more work but more often than not this is actually counterproductive. Make sure you get enough sleep so that you’re ready and raring to go in the morning. A company I really admire is Buffer. One of their values is live smarter, not harder; they want their team members to ‘value waking up fresh over working that extra hour’. Buffer understands the need for rest and relaxation.

It’s your responsibility to look after your health. If making sure you get sufficient shut-eye is going to help stop you from succumbing to diabetes, high blood pressure, etc, then what’s to lose?

Do you have any relaxation tips? What’s your favourite way to unwind and get ready for sleep? Tell us in the comments below.

Tomorrow’s prompt for the Blog Every Day in May challenge is ‘guilty pleasures’. Come back tomorrow to find out what mine are.

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Stop having a boring life, have an adventure

By 2 May 2015 Lifestyle

Doing the same thing day in, day out can get a little tedious. Nobody wants to have a staid life. What stories would you have to tell the grandchildren if you never do anything interesting? There’s a time and a place for playing it safe, but in general, life isn’t.

Life is an adventure

To prevent you from having a boring life, consider each day as a new adventure. What’s going to happen today that’s different from yesterday? If you feel yourself slipping into a monotonous routine, shake it up! Change something up and create an adventure.

It could be as simple as going to a walk during your lunch hour and trying a new cafe, or choosing something off the menu you’ve never eaten before. You barely need to edge an inch outside of your comfort zone for something to feel new and exciting.

On Thursday I went to London for a work seminar. Before getting the train home I visited the massive Primark on Oxford Street. I couldn’t face the crowded tube from Oxford Circus back to St Pancras so walked instead. 2 and a half miles through a part of London I’d not seen before. I love walking through the city and it’s something I hardly ever get to do nowadays. Seeing new sights is an adventure.

Take stock of how exciting your life actually is

All the things we can take for granted as grown ups are actually part of the greatest adventure of all – life. Changing jobs, moving to a new town, dating, getting married, buying a house, having a child. All of these are huge adventures. You don’t have to fly to New Zealand and jump out of a plane to be adventurous. In fact, the word adventure comes from the Latin adventurus ‘about to happen’.

Change your mindset and turn the mundane into the extraordinary. What’s about to happen in your life? It’s all part of the adventure.

This post forms part of the Blog Every Day in May challenge. Tomorrow’s prompt is ‘self care Sunday’. Follow along with all my BEDM posts here.

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Sunny evening walk in Folkestone

By 12 April 2015 Life, Lifestyle, Photography
Folkestone harbour pano

On Friday evening I could have walked out of work, turned left and walked home. Instead, I turned right and headed up to the Leas. It seemed a shame to waste such a lovely evening.

It upsets me when people complain about Folkestone. It might not be the best town in the world but it’s where I live and it definitely has a lot of positive points.

Centenary arch

To mark the centenary of first world war, this arch was erected. It stand at the top of the Road of Remembrance, named to commemorate the thousands of men who marched down this hill towards the waiting ships in the harbour and the trenches across the channel. Opened by Prince Harry in August 2014, the arch stands proud on the Leas where it’s much admired. Of course, there are plenty of naysayers but I think it’s very elegant and a fitting tribute.

The crochet poppies are a year round feature along the railings from the arch down the hill towards the harbour. Anyone can make one and attach it. I think it’s pretty beautiful. The the Leas I walked through to the parish church.

St Mary and St Eanswythe Church B&W

Faceless angel

St Mary and St Eanswythe Church

The church of St Mary and St Eanswythe is where I got married. There’s been a church on or near this site since the 7th century. The oldest part of the current church dates back to the 12th century with the majority of it built in Victorian times.

It was a very special place to get hitched.

Graffiti Skull Old High Street Folkestone

People graffiti Folkestone Old High Street

The Old High Street is at the heart of Folkestone’s Creative Quarter. It welcomes artists and independent boutiques to create a eclectic space that keeps changing. There’s some really cool graffiti at the moment. I think they’re commissioned to cover up wooden boarding. I love it!

All this is just minutes from my house. I took this walk, stopping to take photos along the way, and was still home before half past six. If I’m going to shift some pounds before the summer I think I’ll go for a walk every dry evening.

What does you walk home from work look like?

Rachel x

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A New Project… Chapterthirty

By 1 March 2015 General, Life, Lifestyle

It’s been a bit quiet over here at RachelBirchley.com recently. That’s because I’ve been busy in the early stages of my new project, Chapterthirty.

This blog is very much a personal one, whereas Chapterthirty will be a magazine style blog inspired by the likes of The Everygirl and GenTwenty. I couldn’t find something similar that’s British and targets women hurtling towards their thirties so I decided to create my own.

We ( this is the theoretical ‘we’ at the moment!) will be writing about careers, homes, money and travel. I’m imagining each reader to be a bit like me really. Not really sure which career path is best for them – or if they do – how to get there, wishing they knew more about financial stuff, hoping to buy their own home sometime soon and also dreaming of using every bit of annual leave to its fullest.

I’ve found it hard to find this sort of information all in one place, packaged up in a way that I want to read it. Blogs tend to either be about travel, homes or careers, and finance blogs just seem to be a bit boring really. I want to bring all these things that matter to me together in one place as they form the cornerstone of the next chapter in my life. I’m hoping I’m not the only person interested in furthering their career, buying a house, making the most of their money and going on holiday, so these women with shared interests are who Chapterthirty is for.

The Chapterthirty mission statement:

Chapterthirty wants to inspire women in their mid to late twenties to turn their dreams into reality, whether that’s finding the perfect career, homeownership or a round the world trip. You can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Don’t be scared of the prospect of turning 30, it’s just the start of a new chapter.

I’m looking for contributors

Whether you have some practical advice or an inspirational story to tell, if you can relate to our mission statement, Chapterthirty needs you! Email editor@chapterthirty.com (that’s me! :-D) if you’re interested.

At the moment, I’m at the stage of writing blog posts, ‘about’ pages, contributor guidelines, and so on. I’m also trying to decide on a theme. After spending weeks coming up with the name, the next hardest thing has to be choosing a WordPress theme. I have a shortlist at the moment and think there’s a favourite but I need to earn a few pennies first before buying the theme; it’ll be the biggest investment so far.

My aim is to run Chapterthirty like a business. There’ll be advertising space available, hopefully some brand collaborations, and one day I hope to be able to pay contributors. I’d love to be one of those full-time bloggers so that I can dedicate all my efforts to this project. At the moment it kind of feels like work is in the way!

To begin with it’s going to be a lot of hard graft and the only thing I can offer guest bloggers is an author bio with links to their own blog or website and social media profiles, and of course an outlet for their creativity. Perhaps you’re a beauty blogger who would like to write about travel but don’t want deviate from your main theme on your own blog? Chapterthirty can give you an outlet and perhaps we can share some visitors.

So don’t be concerned if I go ‘off radar’ for a while. I’m not really going anywhere just hiding out over on chapterthirty.com instead! If you visit before the site’s live, apologies for how it looks. I promise it’s going to look awesome. At least I bloody hope so!

Wish me luck and don’t forget to get in touch if you fancy writing for Chapterthirty.

Rachel x

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Hubby’s Birthday Weekend

By 3 February 2015 Eating Out, Food, General, Life, Lifestyle
Hubby's birthday weekend - RachelBirchley.com

Last weekend was hubby’s birthday. He turned 29, so he’s caught up with me for a while! He likes to joke that I’m a cougar, but I don’t think it counts if you’re only three months older! Since his birthday was on the Friday I took the day off work so we could spend the day together.

As it turns out we didn’t really do too much. I had my last counselling session in the morning and then we popped over to his parents so he could blow the candles out on his cakes. I thought it would be a bit weird if we did that at home, just the two of us!

The cupcakes I baked were amazing. I followed a recipe for Cosmopolitan Cupcakes from Peggy Porschen’s Boutique Baking book. They were orange flavour with boozy cranberries and copious amounts of Cointreau. Not the manliest birthday cakes ever, but they went down very well.

In the evening, we joined my sister and our friends for a birthday meal at a new burger place that has recently opened in Folkestone. Big Boys Fine Burger Company has taken over a building in the Old High Street and it’s a good job we booked because it was packed!

Le Garcon Francais

Le Garcon Francais

This was my choice of burger, Le Garçon Français. It was a 6 oz beef patty with bacon, huge chunks of brie, lettuce and wholegrain mustard in a brioche bun. C’etait delicieux! Sis opted for El Chico Mexicano, which had guacamole, tortillas and chipotle ketchup in, one of our friends had the BBFC Mother Clucker, a burger with fried chicken in it too, and the three boys each chose the signature Fat Boy. Beef patty, pulled pork, bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato.  Epic.

El Chico Mexicano and The Fat Boy

For sides, hubby, sis and I shared ginormous onion rings, amazing smoked bacon beans and homemade coleslaw.

Big Boys sides

It was an awesome meal and I was so stuffed but determined to give one of their milkshakes a go. Having told everyone at work that I didn’t like milkshake (forgetting that I’d previously happily supped a KFC Crushem) I realised that actually I love milkshake! But only ones without fake flavours. This one was rather special. Behold, the Bakewell tart milkshake…

Insane

Insane

From this point I decided that all desserts should actually be liquidised. They’re so much easier to consume! We finished the night with a drink at Wetherspoon’s and were home in bed by 11 pm. It’s a crazy life we oldies lead!

Saturday

On Saturday we drove over to Canterbury to visit The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge where they’ve just opened a new temporary exhibition about Enid Blyton. Celebrating her life and works, Mystery, Magic and Midnight Feasts is a wonderful gallery filled with transcripts, illustrations, diaries and even the author’s old typewriter.

I grew up with Enid Blyton, from watching and reading Noddy, to sharing the Famous Five’s adventures and wishing I went to boarding school so I could have midnight feasts and play lacrosse. The exhibition brought back lots of memories, and it was great to see that young children today are still enjoying her books. My only regret is that I’m too big to go down the slide and wear the dressing up outfits!

Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed inside the exhibition so I’ve borrowed the below picture from the Beaney’s Facebook page.

Thank you to Annabelle at Canterbury Museums and Galleries for inviting me along.

We’d booked a table at Pizza Express for lunch but had time to kill so found ourselves in Costa. I also did a little bit of shopping, purchasing a new lanyard for my work pass from Cath Kidston, and of course I had to pop into Lush and grab a unicorn horn bubble bar (because I’d seen them all over the internet and wanted one!) and some solid toothpaste tablet thingys because I thought they’d be handy for when I fly to France in the summer as I’m going hand luggage only. They’re rose flavour so that’ll be interesting!

Gold chocolate!

Gold chocolate!

Massive chai latte

 

Waiting for pizza

Waiting for pizza

The birthday boy!

The birthday boy!

Emilia pizza at Pizza Express

Emilia pizza at Pizza Express

Canterbury purchases

Canterbury purchases

Obligatory unicorn horn selfie!

Obligatory unicorn horn selfie!

Sunday

A lazy day for me but hubby went to help his friend give his car a good scrub and polish up. They then both came back for dinner, which was just an easy all in one pan roast chicken pieces with vegetables.

We also watched the BluRay of The Equalizer that I bought hubby for his birthday, which was a pretty good film if a little gory in parts, before watching Top Gear. I made up for all the testosterone by watching Call the Midwife afterwards!

So that’s pretty much my weekend! Hubby had a good birthday now I need to decide what I want for my birthday (my 30th’s in October – eek!) and start dropping some not-so-subtle hints!

What would you want for your 30th birthday? Tell me in the comments below!

Rachel x

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