Omar Sherif: Mindful self-induglence

Welcome to the second post in a series of blogs about health and wellbeing.

This post follows on from my interview with Tayla Hunter about empowerment through fitness – which has had a fantastic response.

I’m shifting my focus from physical fitness with Tayla to mental wellbeing with Omar Sherif,  an aspiring entrepreneur and business development specialist, who has recently set up a podcast called Mindful Self Indulgence. 

The podcast provides a beautiful insight into social behaviour and mental health in today’s world. It covers topics from cognitive psychology to mindful chats with guests. Not only are the subjects fascinating, I find the podcasts soothing to listen to, especially when I’m feeling frazzled. The gentle background music and Omar’s voice are so relaxing.

I was excited to hear how this podcast came to be and discover a little more about the creator behind it. I hope you enjoy it too.

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Omar’s podcast began as what he describes as a personal learning project. It all stemmed from opening up about his own mental health on Facebook.

I would sometimes write a status and then delete it, this time I chose not to. Once I posted the status; the support and interactions just blew my mind.

I think many of us can relate to the feeling of wanting to open up  about our suffering but fearing judgement or shame. What if they think I’m weak? What if they think I’m weird? What if they think I’m just feeling sorry for myself? I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too.

Like many of us, Omar has suffered at the hands of anxiety and depression. Fortunately, he has been able to control some of his anxious feelings to become a happier and calmer person. For Omar, this meant understanding the why behind these anxious thoughts and challenging them. This process is something he wants to share with others through the podcast.

There is still so much work left to do in normalising the chat about mental health. About men being able to talk about their mental health. I decided that I want to be a part of this journey.

In the last year, I’ve noticed a lot of young men suffering tragically with mental health and the stigma surrounding it. In 2018, 784 suicides were registered in Scotland and an astounding 74% of those were committed by men. There has to be a link between these troubling statistics and the lack of safe spaces for men to actually talk about mental health.

I wondered if Omar could offer some insight into why the men around us seem to be suffering so deeply in silence.

Anyone who has been told their whole life that they need to bare strength no matter what. That they have responsibility that will bare them down but have to carry on and has had to watch or see their parent figures do the same will find themselves facing a problem when mental health issues arise.

In an effort to open up that stigmatised conversation, Omar embarked on his podcast journey with the intention of creating an ‘audio hug’ (inspired by one of his favourite podcasters, Blind Boy from the Rubber Bandits).

The aim is to bring the listener out of their world and into a hug-like audio bubble where they can relax or even meditate.

What about that title? Mindful Self Indulgence. I wondered if in today’s world self-care has become an indulgence or a luxury? When I asked Omar about this, he explained that the burden of poor mental health can make self-care feel like an indulgence or a luxury for many people in this fast paced world. We both agreed that this attitude needs to change and mental self-care should be given the same priority as physical self-care.

If you don’t take care of your self, your health will deteriorate until you develop an illness.

Omar’s podcast is just one tool among many which could be used to combat a fear of self-care. By looking at human psychology, Omar hopes that listeners can better understand why they behave or react in a certain way and, ultimately, start to unpack the stressors and triggers in their life.

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As I mentioned, Omar is a business development specialist so he has plans to use the podcast as a platform to discuss mental health in business. I was curious about how this would play a part in the wider discussion he’s having.

Business is where human beings interact with each other and place their passion more than any other aspect of their lives. Our employees, employers, directors, managers, customers, share holders, etc. have a huge impact on our mental health.

So what does Omar see as the solution to poor mental health in the workplace?

Many successful businesses (mainly ones with a modern management outlook) are looking more and more at what motivates us to be efficient. How to set out their business model so that they can get the most out of their employees through passion and personal commitment rather than compliance. […] If we do not learn how to tackle our mental health issues in work (this includes being a student or learning something that has to do with your career) we will end up creating and facing more problems and issues than need be.

I’m excited to see how Omar’s podcast is going to evolve with time and which avenues it is going to go down. The most recent episode I listened to looked at the psychology of colour and the cognitive impact colour can have on us. It’s a fascinating discussion and provided a much-needed audio hug for me during a tumultuous time.

Visit Mindful Self Indulgence here


Omar’s advice

  • I am a big fan of self-help and self-therapy. This may not be what works for everyone but it was a huge help for me
  • I recommend people look at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and speak to mental health professionals about other self therapy techniques
  • I would love to advise meditation as the benefits of it are unbelievable but again, different things work for different people
  • The one thing that is a constant across everyone is that we need to be kinder to ourselves. We need to understand that we base so much of our self worth on perceptions and assumptions and man-made concepts that are sold to us as being the essence of our lives. They are not!
  • When you go to sleep at night, don’t ask yourself if you have made tomorrow easier, don’t ask yourself if you fixed what you broke, ask your self if you are happy. If you are generally at peace there and then with everything as it is, as it has turned out to be and as it continues
  • Aim to find your peace here, right now, right this second as you are reading this

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September favourites

You may have noticed some recent changes to The Fourth Month. I’m now residing at thefourthmonth.blog and pages like Food, Wellbeing and Shopping have returned to the site. In February, I wrote a blog about Changes, where I announced The Fourth Month would focus solely on the publishing industry and books. However, since I made this ‘niche’ for myself, I found myself completely uninspired. So I’ve decided to go back to my roots and The Fourth Month will be a mix and match of anything and everything once again.

In the spirit of embracing chaos, I am starting a monthly ‘favourites’ blog, which will be a list of random products from books and magazines to beauty and candles to delicious foodie treats.

Enjoy x


Breathe & Teen Breathe Magazine

I featured Issue One of Breathe Magazine in a blog last year (August 2016 Home Inspiration) when I first discovered this amazing publication. A year on and they have recently launched their sister magazine, Teen Breathe, which aims to help teens and young adults find a bit of peace and quiet in their hectic, social-media driven lives. The beautiful illustrations and peaceful content of Breathe magazines have resonated with me from day one. A year later and I’m still enjoying every issue. Not only does it look great on your coffee table but it’s bursting with ideas to improve your mental and physical wellbeing. I also think it’s pretty inexpensive as far as luxury magazines go. I recently subscribed so that I never miss an issue – I love it that much!

Get an annual subscription to Breathe for your Amazon Kindle.

If you’d like me to do a full review of the recent issues of Breathe magazine then please comment below or drop me a line at thefourthmonth@icloud.com.

Rustic bath shelf from Sainsbury’s

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Face cloths from Asda, candles from Aldi and Wax Lyrical UK, face mask and body scrub from Lush Cosmetics

I’ve been desperate for a bath shelf for AGES. I love running a hot bubble bath after a stressful day and some over-the-bath storage is the perfect addition to a soak in the tub. I picked this up in Sainsbury’s – their homeware selection is gorgeous – and I like to use it to show off my favourite bath time products: some rolled-up face cloths, Lush cosmetics and a couple of gorgeous candles. It’s like my own mini spa. There’s also room for a glass of wine (or two). If you’re on a budget, you can up-cycle an old wooden shelf for the same (if not better) effect.

Aldi Lime, Basil and Mandarin Candle

This Jo Malone dupe is getting ALL THE HYPE lately and I can see why. At £3.99, this supermarket candle will cost you 90% less than the real deal. While I’m not convinced about the ethics behind such a cheap dupe, I can confidently say that this candle smells just like the Jo Malone original and leaves a long-lasting, strong fragrance in the air. It also looks really luxurious and mimics the classic Jo Malone style beautifully. Ultimately, I will probably continue to splash out on a real Jo Malone candle once in a blue moon because you always get what you pay for but this Aldi dupe will definitely keep me going in-between – I’ve already bought three!

Mini lavender pots

I love a bargain! So I was pretty excited when I saw this set of three artificial miniature lavender plants in a cream wire basket reduced to £7 in Tesco. I skipped to the checkout and to my delight, these cuties were reduced even further – to £1.70! I couldn’t believe it. I love seeing these lavender plants perched on my kitchen windowsill every morning. I haven’t seen them in any local Tesco stores since and I can’t find them online but you can get a similar set from Melody Maison for only £8.95.

Try adding a couple of drops of real lavender essence to give some authenticity your artificial plants. Lavender oil has some wonderful healing properties which make it a great bedtime companion.

Lazy Sunday Coffee

Jamie and I recently bought a coffee grinder and French Press from IKEA so that we could enjoy freshly ground coffee in the mornings instead of instant. However, I often find fresh coffee too strong or too bitter but I was pleasantly surprised by Taylor’s of Harrogate’s ‘Lazy Sunday’ coffee. With hints of hazelnut and citrus, these coffee beans don’t claim to be “knock-your-socks-off, drag-you-awake coffee.” Instead, this is “coffee for lie-ins and Sunday papers, for lazy mornings with your feet on the sofa.” If I was a cup of coffee, this is what I would be.

You can buy three bags of Taylors of Harrogate Lazy Sunday Medium Roast Ground Coffee for £8.65 on Amazon.

On the subject of coffee, we’re thinking about getting a proper barista coffee machine for our Christmas this year. Do you have any recommendations or know of any coffee machines we should steer clear of? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on Instagram.


What are you loving this September? The weather is cooling and it’s time to break out the hats and scarves again. Do you have any go-to products for Autumn? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram.

Breaking Up With The Internet

I’ll be the first to admit I am addicted to the internet. Like most people my age, I have become entangled in the worldwide web and it’s pretty impossible to extract my ~real~ life from the one I live in front of a computer screen. And while the internet is a wonderful and life-changing piece of technology, I can’t help but think we have gone too far. There are whole lanes dedicated to Pokemon hunters in shopping centres and just the other day I was at the train station when I heard an announcement about keeping your head up from your smartphone on the train platform to avoid accidents.

The Internet isn’t all bad. Social media has been connecting people around the world for years. I can keep in touch with family who live all over the world at any given moment. Oh and the internet is an incredible educational resource! I swear I got my degree from Google.

But is it information overload? I’m not the only person that Wikipedias an entire TV series plotline while I’m watching it – crazy, right? And with new Facebook features, I can actually locate all of my friends (and acquaintances) pretty much at all times. Spooky.

So while there are many amazing things on the internet, I think it’s time we all stepped back into the real world and here’s the little things I am doing to try and be more present:


1. Set Time Boundaries.

Limit the amount of internet you consume every day. I have decided any time before 8am and after 9pm should be internet-free. I mentioned the blue light in 5 Tips For A Better Sleep and turning your phone off earlier at night to help get a better sleep. Switching your phone off earlier means you begin to unwind quicker therefore you get a higher quality sleep at night. It’s win-win.

To make sure I stick to it, I turn my phone on to airplane mode at night and don’t turn it off until 8am the next day. This also means I’m less distracted when I’m getting ready in the morning. How many of you get out the shower and sit on the bed for like 30 minutes scrolling through your news feeds? Just me? Okay…

2. Turn Off Notifications.

This is something I tried recently and it definitely works. Go on to the notification settings on your phone. Switch off all notifications for any apps that aren’t important. I’ve kept them on for phone calls, text messages and emails but everything else (yes, even Facebook) are now switched off. That means I can only access the information when I actively go into the app or visit the sites on my laptop. When your phone is constantly lighting up every time someone likes your photo or a funny tweet you are being overly stimulated and getting sucked into the cyber world every time you check the time on your phone. Be kind to yourself; remember that not every text/tweet/email/like/comment notification needs to be dealt with straight away.

3. Swap Your Apps.

Try swapping toxic, time-wasting Internet habits for more positive and life-affirming ones. Ditch your Facebook app or online games and swap them for more positive apps and websites. There are many online apps for fitness, diet, meditation and creative thinking which will all help towards a happier and healthier life. Remind yourself that you don’t need the constant stimulation of other people’s lives when the one you’re living is so important! Every time you think about checking your Instagram or Facebook why not take 10 minutes of “me-time” instead.

Try apps like 30 Day Squat, Calm or HeadSpace. Download the free Kindle app and read a chapter of your favourite book whenever you want to cruise the internet. Also use websites like StumbleUpon which allow you to find new websites catered to your interests that will feed your brain rather than turn it into mush. Let me know what your favourite healthy lifestyle apps and websites are! Are there any life-affirming blogs that you just love?

4. Create No-Internet Spaces.

Another good tip is to have “no internet zones” in the house. For example, no phones at the dinner table or keeping the internet out of your bedroom.You don’t need to know what Sarah had for her lunch or what a great holiday Tom had while you’re cosying up to go to sleep or enjoying a meal with family and friends. I’ve never been allowed a phone at the dinner table because it’s a time to unwind and talk to your family about your day. Try these 3 Fun Ways to Avoid the Silent Dinner Table post from oprah.com.

Similarly, keep your phone far away when you’re out with friends. I’m getting increasingly annoyed when I go to a party and see everyone (including myself) fiddling on their phones instead of talking to each other. We are a generation obsessed with letting everyone online know how much fun we’re having instead of actually having fun in real life. Turn off mobile data if you’re out with friends or switch your phone on to airplane mode for that extra boost towards an internet free day. If you’re feeling really brave just leave your phone at home!

5. Discover What You Really Love.

Spending less time on the internet gives you more time to cultivate good habits and discover hobbies that make you really happy. What do you enjoy doing? What did people do before the internet? Go for a walk or a cycle. Join a new fitness class you’ve always wanted to try. What about something creative like crocheting, drawing, painting or writing? If you’re not sure what gets your blood pumping, here’s 16 Hobbies That Will Improve Your Quality of Life. When you step away from the screen and take the time to remember what you love you will start to enjoy life a whole lot more! I recently saw this lovely image on the Happiness Planner Facebook page and it really resonated with me:

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Yes, the ironic thing is that I’m writing a blog about simplifying your relationship with the internet on an online blog and as part of blogging I have to spend a lot of time on social media outlets on a daily basis. However, I’m trying to separate the time spent productively using the internet for blogging and the time I spend scrolling aimlessly through statuses and photos from people I went to school with and wouldn’t even say hello to me on the street. The Internet can be an incredible tool if you use it wisely but don’t let it take over your life!

However, if you are browsing the Internet on your break… why not follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

 

Other Resources

Monday Morning, you sure look fine.

Am I the only person that sings Fleetwood Mac as another hazy Monday morning welcomes you to the working week?

Here I am, it’s 6.50am on a dreich Monday morning in Ayrshire. (For non-Scots dreich definition) But today is different from other Monday mornings because for once I have time to sit and blog. Why? Because I woke up at 6.15am instead of 7.15am. Why? Why would I choose to get one less hour sleep in favour of enjoying the grey and overcast views from my bedroom window?

Well, I recently read an amazing blog by Sarah Whyte from Whyte Happened Next about waking up one hour before you need to get up and give yourself some precious “me” time every morning. I’m a serious sleepaholic and would do anything for 5 minutes more so I was intrigued to see if getting up an hour earlier would actually increase my daily happiness. ‘Cos that’s what it’s all about after all.

Scientifically, early risers are associated with success:

The early bird catches the worm.

According to a 2008 Texas University study, students who identified as “morning people” earned a full point higher in their GPAs than their “night owl” classmates. Harvard Biologist discovered in 2008 that early risers are more proactive and feel “in charge of making things happen.” You can read more stats here but you get the picture.

So I’ve been convinced to ditch my 7.15am and rushed morning routine in favour of a slow and easy morning starting at 6.15am. Bonus points for fitting in an extra cup of tea and some reading time. Here are the three things I hope to gain from waking up early and I’ll write a blog at the end of the week.

1. Preparation

Like most people, I scramble around in the morning trying to squeeze in a shower, full face of makeup, breakfast, reading my Facebook timeline and just generally making myself look like a functioning human being before 8am. Something always falls by the wayside as time runs out and that’s usually food preparation. Getting up earlier means I can prepare a healthy lunch to take with me to work and a hearty breakfast that will keep my fuller for longer.

2. Alertness.

I go to bed early every night. You can read my top tips for a good night sleep here. My tiredness every morning cannot be attributed to a bad sleep because I sleep like a log most nights. So I’m hoping that waking up an hour earlier every day will give me more time to come to my senses so that by the  time I get to work at 9am, I’m not reaching for another cup of coffee just to feel human.

3. Happiness.

This is probably the main reason I have for adding an extra hour into my day in the morning. Allowing yourself some “me” time every morning might sound very new-age hippy-dippy to some people but the idea of starting your day with a good book and the gentle tinkling of your favourite radio station sounds so much more appealing than crash landing into my shower half-asleep. I hope to set aside time in the morning to meditate and practise mindfulness!

What about you? Are you an “early bird” or a “night owl”? Let me know on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.