Candles for Concentration and Creativity

So, is this ‘the new normal’? Have we all adjusted our pre-lockdown idea of how organised, efficient and creative we were going to be, to match the reality, two months in? I started off thinking, ‘the flat will be so clean! I’ll have a cleaning routine! I’m finally going to become the person I wanted to be!’ But the temptation to leave cleaning till tomorrow, because I live on my own (with two cats, Gatsby and Daisy), is overwhelming. The sofa remains covered in cat hair. I usually manage to hoover the strip of floor that I’m going to put the yoga mat down on each morning (of which more later) and that’s about it. It’s incredibly hard to feel motivated, when everyone’s world has changed, and you’re on a permanent stress/anxiety rollercoaster and climbing the walls.

What can we do to make being at home feel a bit more positive? I’ve got my working from home desk (it’s actually a table in the sitting room) facing the bay window, so I can look out at the street and get some daylight. I’ve corralled all my pens, some handcream and other bits of desk paraphernalia into a Collingwood pen pot – making the practical pretty is one way of perking up your work station.

Finding it difficult to concentrate on work? Yep, me too; luckily, rosemary is one of the best scents for helping you to focus, so lighting a Rosemary and Bay candle every day is helping. As is checking out the tips on – if you can, try mapping your day into 30-minute chunks – whether with work or with kids - and doing focused work in the morning, before connecting to the news. A study showed that participants who were exposed to just 3 minutes of negative news in the morning were 27% les likely to rate themselves as happy at the end of the day. Pretty shocking, eh?

I miss the change between the end of work and the time that’s ‘yours’. Having a different scent for varying times of the day can help to break things up – try getting up with a blast of fresh Watermint and Sea Salt and winding down at the end of the day by lighting a Cedar, Birch and Vetiver candle.

Or make bathtime a bit of a ritual – as most of us can’t get to the sea, transport yourself with one of our Coastal Lime candles and make yourself a salt scrub. All you need is a couple of handfuls of salt mixed with a few teaspoons of olive or sunflower oil and several drops of essential oils. Mix it up in an old jam jar and then give yourself a good scrub before you get in the bath.

A positive of not having to commute every day is using the time to do a daily online yoga class with the doyenne of YouTube Yoga, Adriene, instead. Try out her 30-day ‘Home’ tutorials – they’re great for beginners and regular yogis alike. She’s incredibly calming and down to earth, and the sight of her dog, Benji, snoozing gently at the end of her mat, puts a smile on my face every morning.

Need a culture tip for the evenings? I’ve been going to the Hay Festival with two friends for a  few years now; we stay in the same cottage every year and we have our rituals – breaks in between talks for the delicious local Shepherds ice cream (at least two scoops, to make the most of the amazing flavours); loads of fancy crisps and rosé in the evening, pre-dinner and, of course, browsing all the gorgeous bookshops in the town. As we can’t go this year, we’re watching previous years’ talks that have been filmed, through Hay Player. You can join for just £10 for a year and see everyone from Margaret Atwood to Philip Pullman.

Our favourites are John Mullan, who gives hilarious talks about Jane Austen (you’ll find out why going to the seaside is incredibly dangerous for Austen characters) and neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow. If you’ve ever wondered if meditation is all it’s cracked up to be, then watch her talk with Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. He somehow managed to go into a meditative state in front of hundreds of audience members, and onscreen, you saw his brainwaves alter. And if there’s ever a time for meditation, and calming your brainwaves, it’s now. We’ve set up a new ritual: a regular Tuesday 8pm Hay player talk on Zoom; we’ve still got the crisps and the rosé, and we can’t wait to go back next year for our ice-cream, and more phenomenal, inspiring talks.