Since this is a travel blog, and I’m finally starting to do some travelling now that exams are out they way, I thought I’d write a quick post about my latest little trip.
As a graduation present, my mum booked my girlfriend and I into the Whitewater Hotel in Ulverston for a night. While there we explored the local scenery (even if it was in the middle of nowhere), ate some delicious food, and gave ourselves time for some much-needed relaxation.
Now that exams are over, I am once again faced with a whole summer in which there is nothing I actually need to do. Already this has been causing a restless, nagging feeling in the back of my mind – a desire to do something big. Something to be proud of.
So I come up with a list of things I want to achieve, tell myself that I’m going to work on at least one of them over the next few days, and when the day comes… I do absolutely nothing.
What’s the issue here? It seems to boil down to the honest fact that:
“I just don’t feel like it”
This mindset is a dangerous one, and it alters my life in several ways, including:
Staying in bed all morning rather than waking up early
Eating unhealthy, sugary foods instead of healthy ones
Sitting in front of my laptop all day instead of being active and exercising
Watching pointless YouTube videos instead of doing something productive
When you don’t have anything stopping you from doing these things, they can very easily become habits, and even though we know these things are bad for us, we still end up falling into a vicious cycle.
I have been living in the small town of Lancaster, England for the past 3 years while I have been at university. At the end of June I will be leaving, so it’s time to sit back, get sentimental, listen to a Tom Waits song and look at photos of some of my favourite things about Lancaster.
I would never have explored the outskirts of Lancaster without my bike. Here are just a few places I discovered while cycling around trying to find somewhere new:
The path along the canal that leads to university, filled with lovely views, dog walkers and plenty of sheep most mornings. Usually quicker than taking the bus too on days when traffic is bad!
Another view of the canal path leading to uni
The result of a cycle down a road I’d never explored before. Flood plains and some very nice views, including this one of the whole of Lancaster, allowing you to see its most famous landmarks from afar.
A reservoir at Abbeystead, about a 50 minute cycle away. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a nice cycle on a sunny day. I ended up here after a quest to take a very similar picture to one used by a lecturer at the start of a lecture, took a while to find out exactly where it was, but it was well worth it.
A picture of the path leading up to the reservoir. Absolutely no-one around that day.
Now on to places which don’t require a bike to get to. Above are pictures of the fantastic view from Williamson Park/Ashton Memorial. A must-visit for anyone who finds themselves in Lancaster, even just for the day.
The view from the 2A bus route on a sunny day always cheered me up. Even if it did take twice as long as a 3 to get into town…
More pictures by the canal, closer to town this time. The canal runs right through the centre of Lancaster, so it’s very handy for getting around.
Sunset photo from by the castle. Some of the nicest sunsets I’ve ever seen have been during my time at Lancaster.
The only indoor shot of this post, but it definitely deserves to be here. The Hall is one of my favourite cafes in all of England, and well worth going out of your way to find if you’re visiting Lancaster.
Campus ducks, standard.
A view of campus taken during my first few weeks at Lancaster.
And that’s it, a brief overview of what I’ve done with my time at Lancaster (apart from a degree) and some of the prettiest place you can find here, you just have to look hard enough.
I read a lot of self-improvement, travel and finance blogs, and there’s a major topic that comes up in nearly every post, no matter the content.
The act of setting goals and sticking to those goals. Not getting distracted and moving onto some new diet, workout routine, or to-do list app the moment you get bored.
I think the problem is people feel the need to find the perfect habit before they actually decide to stick to it. I know I’ve been guilty of this, searching around and reading endlessly about habits without actually implementing anything new in my life.
A good habit will change your personality for the better, so don’t expect that your current personality will be too thrilled about waking up at 7am, or getting cold showers, or anything else which takes you out of your comfort zone.
Also, don’t expect results to be immediate. Habits worth keeping will take time to cultivate. Especially things like exercise, meditation and quitting caffeine – these are habits where you’ll notice more results if you stop doing them. They cause subtle changes that most people don’t even realise they need in their lives – which is perhaps why they’re so neglected by lots of people.
Human beings are hard-wired to respond to immediate results, which makes sense when you’re a caveman trying to get food as quickly as possible. But in this age of smartphone distractions and constant sitting, we need to exercise our minds and bodies more than ever.
In my previous (mostly half-arsed) blog, I tried out a number of habits (no coffee for a week, a week of cold showers etc), but rarely did I stick to any of them. This blog is more focused on long-term goals and habits, since I’ve done quite a bit of experimentation these past few years and finally discovered the habits that work for me.
After university I would very much like to work for myself, so I need to put these habits in place beforehand so that I’m not constantly getting distracted and out of routine when I could be a much better version of myself.
What if you keep seeing no results every time you pick up a new habit? Here are some tips:
One week is quite a short time to notice improvement for any habit. If the end of the first week comes, tell yourself to try just one more week. If you don’t notice improvements by week 2, then start researching alternatives.
Read online forums, blogs and follow Facebook groups focused on your new habits. The more you surround yourself with like-minded people, the quicker you’ll pick up tips regarding your habits and the more motivated you’ll be to keep going with them.
Research common pitfalls for newcomers regarding your chosen habits. Perhaps there is something you’re not doing correctly that’s making the habit seem a lot trickier than it needs to be.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be open to change – if you’ve been sticking with a certain exercise program for 3 months and it’s causing you problems and not showing results, move on. Life is a constant process of refinement, you will never reach a point where you no longer have to adapt. With this refinement also comes constant improvement, but you have to be open to change in order for it to happen.
In my kitchen there are a multitude of coffee-making implements – an aeropress, a cafetiere, a burr grinder, and I have experimented with everything from moka pots to Hario V60 drip makers in the past.
Over the past 3 years I have spent approximately £6 each fortnight on a bag of the magical beans. Not to mention coffee from cafés, additional coffee-making equipment, and additional Aeropress filters.
I would easily consider coffee one of my favourite hobbies.
That is, until last week.
When I decided to quit.
I think coffee is one of the most amazing taste sensations around. But caffeine? When the sweet, liquid delivery of caffeine into your bloodstream becomes a part of your daily routine – that’s when problems can occur.
Make no mistake about it, caffeine is a drug, and people have even died from consuming too much. So its habitual consumption can have some rather nasty effects. These include:
Headaches when you don’t get your caffeine fix
It is a rather potent laxative (not great when you’re in meetings or out and about!)
You body contains a chemical called adenosine which tells your body when you’re tired and should sleep. Caffeine is incredibly similar to adenosine, so when introduced into your body it makes its way into the adenosine receptors and starts to tell your body that you’re no longer tired.
This means that once the caffeine exits your body it causes adenosine to come rushing back into your bloodstream, which is why you may ‘crash’ a few hours after having a cup of coffee.
Over time, your body creates more adenosine receptors, meaning more caffeine is needed to produce the same effects of alertness that you had when you first started drinking coffee. Meaning that, if you drink coffee every day, you’ll soon need it to feel as alert as you normally would – and that’s pretty damn scary.
I found Christopher Bingham’s video to be the final step that pushed me over the edge, and made actually decide to quit. If you’re struggling giving up coffee (maybe it’s been a part of your morning routine for years now) then try to implement some of the tips below:
Tips for waking up and staying alert without caffeine
Move about more! Part of the reason most people need caffeine to help them function is because they’re cramped up in a tiny office all day. Try walking or cycling to work or going for a walk on your lunch break.
Drink more water – especially in the mornings. Most people are dehydrated after being asleep for 8 hours, so drinking water as soon as you wake up makes you more alert without needing that additional caffeine boost.
Try replacing your daily habit of making coffee with something caffeine-free or with reduced caffeine such as green tea, decaf coffee or fruit juice.
Try not to do work in places such as coffee shops if you’re trying to quit, try looking for a library or a park.
Even a week after quitting, it definitely felt like the right thing to do. I’ve been drinking decaf coffee and green teas, but I realised that part of why I drank so much coffee was because making a coffee in the morning is an enjoyable routine, and makes you feel more productive (even if you don’t end up getting anything done).
Have you tried to quit coffee or anything else you really enjoyed? Leave a comment down below and let me know about your experience.