Posted on Leave a comment

Relaxation Guilt, and how to lose it!

Relaxing is not something that comes easy in today’s ‘always on’ world. It’s a culture which glorifies ‘busy’, and assigns self-worth with productivity, so the fact that our minds guilt trip us into not relaxing (because relaxation ’isn’t productive’) is hardly surprising!

We’ve internalised this idea that we need to be working all the time. So much so, in fact, that the guilt of unaccomplished tasks can actually make relaxation time even more stressful than just ploughing on with your to-do list. However, the resultant state of hyper-alertness is far from good for our health, and is the culprit behind a myriad of health complaints, not least of which are tiredness, fatigue, and in the worst case… ‘burnout’! This condition, in itself, can perpetuate the guilt cycle, since many feel they haven’t ‘earned’ the right to feel tired. Even though it seems counterproductive, it is vital to hit pause now and then as an important step towards improving physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. This is because relaxation helps stabilise levels of cortisol, boost brain function and allows for better concentration and focus, to name but a few of the advantages. Just how to do this, however, is half the battle, particularly since guilt can become a habit. As a starting point, giving yourself permission to stop and do nothing is all important. This is a skill that you can learn and practice, starting with small, incremental life changes, such as practising switching off techniques whenever you do so happen to find a moment to yourself. One way of doing this is to apply the ‘Rule of Three,’ which involves removing three unimportant things from your to-do list and leaving only the three most important things on it. If you want to take this a step further, why not trying packing three relaxation essentials in your bag before leaving the house each day, since you never know when a time out opportunity might arise? These items might be 1) a book, 2) a snack and a drink 3) a portable towel so you can take a seat and relax if you happen to be passing a park or similar. These lightweight hammam towels by Hilly Jo are perfect for fitting in your handbag, and besides being ideal as a picnic blanket, they also work well as a beach towel, yoga mat, or even as a beach cover-up (click here for styling ideas)! Once you’ve found a spot to relax in, why not try the Five Senses Exercise as a way of ”switching off.’ Here’s what to do:· Notice five things that you can see. Look around you and bring your attention to five things that you wouldn’t normally notice.· Notice four things that you can feel. Bring awareness to four things that you are currently feeling, like the texture of your clothes or the feeling of the sun on your skin.· Notice three things you can hear. Take a moment note three things that you hear, whether it’s birds tweeting or the hum of the refrigerator.· Notice two things you can smell. Bring your awareness two smells, such as that of freshly cut grass, or the coffee you’re drinking, for example.· Notice one thing you can taste. Take a sip of a drink or eat something, and deliberately try to notice the various tastes in your mouth. This is a relatively quick and simply way of achieving a more relaxed, mindful state, so why not give it a go next time the relaxation guilt starts to creep in? If nothing else, it will derail the negative ‘I should be doing something’ thought pattern, and go some way to breaking the cycle of busyness that can override your body’s ‘need to rest’ signals.

Posted on Leave a comment

Independent Oxford Interview

I talked to Rosie from Independent Oxford about HillyJo and our story.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, AND WHY YOU STARTED HILLY JO.

I am originally from Turkey and have lived in the UK for over a decade. After completing my master’s degree in International Strategic Management, I worked in the market research and luxury automotive sector in Oxfordshire. During this time, I have visited my family and friends regularly in Turkey and spend our summer holidays in my hometown of Izmir. Close to here is a small, very traditional Turkish village called ” Alacati ” with beautiful artisan products which inspired me to start my own business of bringing these lovely well-made items back to the UK and so formed HillyJo Ltd.

I was so inspired by the variety and quality of the traditional items being produced that I knew there would be great interest in the UK lifestyle sector. Our customers can now buy well-known Mediterranean goods such as Peshtemal (Hammam Towel) and high-quality lifestyle textiles from my home country.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR TURKISH TEXTILES AND HOW THEY ARE PRODUCED.

Our product range includes home textiles, beachwear and lifestyle items. The goods are generally produced and many handmade by family-owned artisan craftsmen from towns such as Buldan which is famous for traditional high-quality textiles.

Peshtemal (hammam towel) is our main product in the lifestyle textile range, which is a traditional towel that has been used for centuries in Turkish baths. With its quality texture and strong water absorption, this unique towel is also ideal for daily use. It can be used on the beach as a towel or sarong, at the gym or as a picnic blanket. Being lightweight it creates a practical and stylish accessory. Our 100% cotton throws, and kitchen linens are also must-have items from our home collection, sumptuously soft and wonderfully versatile.

HAVE YOU FACED ANY CHALLENGES IN YOUR WORK, AND WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?

The past two years have been a big learning curve for me, not only the obstacles of creating a new business but the challenges of promoting a relatively unknown range of goods.

I have learnt that working with local communities is important and would help my business to grow organically.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ARTISANS IN TURKEY?

We personally meet our producers regularly to ensure we can hand pick any new products to offer the best quality range to our customers. It is crucial they consistently understand the variety and the quality of items we want to offer.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR RANGE UP TO DATE WITH CURRENT TRENDS?

We work hard at listening to our customers and watching carefully what sells well. Keeping up to date with lifestyle articles in national magazines is an indicator as to what is in fashion for us. Combining this with new and fresh items from Turkey ensures we are supplying what our customers want.

Visiting the latest industry-related shows and exhibitions to is an excellent way to keep up to date with the current trends.

WHICH ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PIECES AT THE MOMENT?

Our peshtemal is our key product and most demanded. The kitchen linens are becoming very popular due to their quality and by far my favourite pieces at the moment. They are practical and very versatile products which fit well into stylish kitchens both traditional and modern.

WHAT MAKES YOUR RANGE UNIQUE?

We feel we are offering textiles which are individual and high quality. Being sourced and produced in the traditional way sets us apart from mass-produced commercial market.

Our products are tasteful and stylish and offer our customers an element of individuality

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 2019?

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 2019?

From our recent visit to our key supplier, we are looking to build on our established products by offering not only colour diversity but the addition of more home lifestyle items. These will include a great range of household throws, high-quality tablecloths and a new range of napkins.

We will always respond to our customers buying trends and requirements, consistently looking for variety to offer.

LASTLY, WHICH ARE YOUR FAVOURITE INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES IN OXFORD?

I am inspired by most of the small artisan businesses we are privileged to be associated with. One, in particular, is The Wonky Food Company. who have been so innovative and creative finding an obvious place in the market. Their products are fabulous and fun so all credit should go to their creators for the vision of such a great idea in tackling unnecessary waste with a wonderful by-product. Most refreshing!

Hilly joined us for our Christmas Indie Oxford Market Place in The Covered Market, and was an absolute joy to work with. Hilly’s products combine beautiful traditional artisan craftsmanship with modern design trends, colours and, my favourite, lots of pom poms!

You can find out more about her on her Independent Oxford page, and read more interviews with awesome Oxford indie businesses to find out the stories behind your favourite shops, cafes, eateries and creative businesses.

#independentOxford #ArtisanProducts #TurkishTextiles #HammamTowels #Peshtemals