This is a topic that I’ve wanted to talk to you about for while. It’s time to talk about comparing yourself online.

I often get this comment, ‘your life looks perfect on Instagram!’.

Let’s have a chat, shall we?

If you find yourself feeling deflated by seeing a constant flow of perfected, curated images online, then I’ve written this for you. With our world fully digitalised; we’re bombarded with how much fun everyone else is having on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. They say that comparison is the thief of joy, yet we find it so instinctively natural.

This post may seem strange coming from someone who aims to create beautiful, cosmic and dreamy images for a living, but hear me out, it’s important.

When I post an image, some of you will think ‘yassss gurl, get that pay, ‘ and some of you will be like, ‘urgh, she’s such a vain show-off, so annoying, she must be doing this for attention.’

To the latter, I want to be one of the first to tell you that, yes, these images look glamorous. BUT, the majority of my work isn’t as rosy as they appear. When I post on my Instagram, I don’t show you the work that goes behind the scenes, the sleepless nights and when things go wrong. The images you see has made it into the front cover of a fashion magazine (pinch me), yet I put myself down like I’m not doing my best and this worsens when I see an image from another blogger who promotes the collaborations that I want to achieve.

I want to share it with you how I cope with comparison in the hope that if you feel the same, we can relate to each other.

See the BIGGER picture: Fields of View

Your online mates won’t always show you the negative stuff that’s happening in their lives. Social Media only shows a snapshot of someone’s life. You rarely ever find out the whole truth in anyone’s situation.

  • When your Facebook friend has been promoted and is now earning a three-times your salary, they haven’t shown you their late nights, bullying managers, boring meetings, tedious appraisal process, and stress.
  • When you see a #cutecouple picture, you don’t see the arguments that they had the night before, how hard they’ve worked to maintain their relationship or the problems they are experiencing.
  • When you come across a gym selfie with solid abs, you don’t see, or at that moment, have to go through the hard work that goes into staying fit.

Be so busy focusing on your goals that you don’t have time to compare yourself to anyone else

Jealously is essentially wanting what someone else has. Growing up, we’ve all had the case of the green-eyed monster. It’s what makes us human. The first key is awareness. Awareness of what you want and then to grab it yourself. It doesn’t have to be uniquely what another person has; it can be indirect and personalised to yourself. Change up your attitude. Be so busy that you don’t have time to think about anything else because you end up having fun. Focus on you. Focus on yourself.

Take responsibility for yourself

How you feel about what you see online, is not about other people; It’s a reflection of how you think about yourself. If you’re happy for others, you’re content with yourself. If you’re unhappy for others, you’re unhappy with yourself. You might disagree with me, and I might get a lot of stick for saying this, but I encourage you to comment because I’m open to opinions.

While it’s useful to benchmark yourself, don’t let it dishearten you from achieving your goals.

Take a step back and think about everything you’ve achieved. The fact is that while you compare your life to someone else’s, the truth is that if you lived it, you would find that in most cases, the grass is never greener.

Everyone is different. Everyone will carve their pathway in their own time. Don’t let someone else’s life choices make you feel anything but confidence in yourself. You are capable of doing anything that you put your heart into — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. My Instagram is only a snapshot and so is yours ;).

Location: Lavender Farm

Photographer: Emma-Jane Photography

Make Up Artist: Joyce Connor – using:

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Growing up, I didn’t understand stress. As a result, I battled with trying to suppress it.

Stress = a state of mental, emotional strain or tension, resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.

I understood the definition and how it made me feel. I was always under the impression that it was the worst thing in the world.

It’s not.

Stress prepares the body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety (fight or flight response).

When managed correctly, it’s a healthy, normal and natural reaction.

I’m going to share with you what I do I’m stressed. Please note that the below is not what to do if you’re struggling with anxiety. Please, please seek professional help if you’re battling with mental health.

This post is in collaboration with Elizabeth Arden’s White Tea Fragrance. Please note that I only work with brands that I genuinely believe in. I choose this fragrance for this post because I’ve fallen in love with its floral, musky-woody, Zen-like White Tea and Turkish Rose scent which de-stresses me. Exquisitely uncomplicated, the new fragrance invites you to revel in my moment.

Clear your mind

Stress affects our ability to make good decisions and to think clearly. Get moving from where you are. The location where you felt tension doesn’t necessarily have to be a stressful environment, but we underestimate how calmer we’ll be if we remove ourselves from the current atmosphere and situation. Remember to breathe.

Move your body

You need to get your heart racing. Walk, run or stretch. I have a high pressure job; I cannot get through my work week if I don’t exercise. An active work-out session increases your Dopamine and Seratonin levels (feel-good hormones). I always feel my stress disappear after a good HIIT.

Stay hydrated

The Elizabeth Arden White Tea fragrance is inspired by the simple pleasure that accompanies the first sip of tea. I love drinking breakfast tea. It’s a British institution that works a charm. Once I sip of a hot beverage, I instantly feel a lot calmer.

Sleep

As a kid, I used to have trouble with sleeping; I now overcompensate. I sleep lots and lots now. I can’t tell you how much better I feel after a good night’s sleep. Getting there was a journey in itself and perhaps deserves a blog post of its own, but once you realise that many things aren’t worth worrying about, you’ll have the mental space to be able to sleep properly without regrets.

Write it down

When I’m severely stressed, I write down my thoughts in a notebook and then I rip it up so that no one ever sees it. I promise you; it’s not a pointless exercise. It works. Writing ensures that all of the stressful thoughts in your head are released. Your bustling traffic of ideas needs to be cleared and processed.

Don’t underestimate the importance of ‘me time.’

I’m a firm believer in time spent relaxing on one’s own to recover from work. In a world cluttered with noise, I can completely relax and unwind in a spa. But, ‘Me time’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean emptying your wallet. You can apply a luxurious face mask, light a candle & run a bubble bath. Or, put your phone down and read a book. You can give yourself time in the morning to eat breakfast. You can promise yourself that you’ll cook your favourite meal one night and watch your favourite movie. The time is all about you and what makes you feel happy.

Take action

The best way to prevent stress is to organise and plan yourself. Coordinate your wallet/handbag so that you’re not faffing around realising that you forgot your travel card later. Clean your room so that you’re not rushing around trying to find something before you leave the house.

Your well-being is a priority

You may feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, but I promise, you can get through anything that life throws at you. Life will always throw curveballs at us, but it’s always about perspective and how we deal with it.

I’d love to hear from you on how you de-stress. Feel free to share with each other in my comments box. I always reply.

Location: Zen

Photographer: Michal Jeck (Insta here)

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You can never have too many brunch spots.

Luckily, London has platefuls of EGGcellent brunch. The weekend sees our streets JAMmed packed with hungry brunchers. Sundays are for satisfying our cravings for fresh juice, avocado-on-something and my awful runny egg yolks (jokes).

A few people have asked for recommendations because it looks as if I live in brunch venues on my Instagram.

BTW, I’m splitting my London brunch guide into two sections. This guide is ‘London’s Most Instagrammable Brunch’. My next guide will be ‘the best Brunch spots in London’, dedicated to foodies (which will also have a vegan section). Stay tuned for that one if you favour quality of food above interiors.

Let’s start with the places where you won’t be able to resist being snap happy.

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Bronte

Welcome to a Tom Dixon–designed, and subsequently Instagram-hungry, restaurant. Dixon is one of my favourite designers, everything he touches turns into shades of rose gold, copper-brass and candyfloss. Under double-height ceilings and large palms; I couldn’t resist nestling at the polished pink breakfast bar for the gram’. And the food? Sorry, almost forgot. I ordered ‘The Full Bronte’. I’m weak for the full English; It’s a British institution. I have to admit; I kept staring at my mates ‘The Vegetarian’ breakfast which consisted of bulgur wheat kibbeh, spinach, balsamic plum tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, smoked baked beans, eggs and extra avocado. Mmm. I stared at breakfast almost as much as the decor.

Berners Tavern

You know the food is going to be good when it’s a Jason Atherton (Michelin star celeb chef) restaurant, so foodwise, don’t worry my friend, we’ve covered. I pinky promise you that I’m not paid to say this, but please order the ‘Moroccan fried eggs’. The textures of tomato fondue, yoghurt and toasted sourdough confirmed that my plate was returned clean. The surroundings are astounding, with the balls-out stately Edwardian-style opulent decor, in the open: people-watching, decadent dining room. The Instagrammable factor relies on the triple-height ceiling, dangling chandeliers and walls arrayed with hundreds of paintings. Oh boy, it’s dreamy, and I didn’t want to leave, to be thrown out into the concrete jungle that is Oxford Circus.

Clerkenwell Grind

The Grind gang are killing it ATM. Clerkenwell Grind has opened its doors as the seventh branch as an all-day restaurant and club-bar with a dulcet atmosphere. This dreamboat entertains plush blue sofas, marble tables and sleepy lighting; it’s easily the most snappable of the Grind bunch. Juices are a favourite here. Set the day with the classic Fresh Orange or their signature – Amber Juice (orange, carrot, lemon and ginger). I’m a massive (fat) fan of the cliche Smashed Avocado (served with a poached egg and sprinkled chilli flakes), or if you’re feeling something sweet: the French banana toast with coconut frozen yoghurt is a winner. If you want to set your Instagram on fire, they have acai bowls.

 

And this is why. Moroccan eggs though 👌🏼🍳

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I wish @Instagram had the capability to move images around in your feed. I've got a nice blue theme going on here!

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Aubaine

Distinctly and deliciously French, Aubaine has grown from its West London home, currently flourishing with nine restaurants. The recently opened Selfridges branch is the most Instagrammble of the bunch. Spring 2017 saw Instagrammers go wild for London’s wisteria; if you have a case of FOMO, you can get your #hysteriawistera fix at Aubaine. Who can resist brunch with Parisian style lighting, cosy cream booths and a draping smell of lavender? You can’t have a French Restaurant without freshly baked bread and patisserie. Foodwise, there are the classics: eggs benedict, granola with yoghurt, freshly squeezed juices. There’s a twist on the full French – with Toulouse sausage, Alsace bacon, duck egg and mushrooms.

Palm Vaults

Slap bang in the middle of Hackney, Palm Vaults is the goddess of the pastel-coloured lattes. It’s a Bloggers paradise. The cute little café is home to pink hanging baskets overflowing with greenery, velvet sofas, terrarium walls, pastel interiors and mini succulents. Palm Valuts deserves this spot in the Instagram category because customers even take pictures in the toilets! The menu boasts Acai bowls, chia puddings, salads with edible flowers and the classic avocado toast is glorious. There’s also a range of vegan cakes including avocado fudge cake — a weird combination that works a treat.

Goodnes 💞🌴💞 pretty pic from @theldnbrunchcollective taken by @winsomelaiws

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Chiswick Fire Station

I could be biased because Chiswick is one of my favourite places in London. In fact, I’m sat in Chiswick right now as I write this post for you. If you’re willing to venture into the wild-wild West, Chiswick Fire Station is an interior goldmine. If there was a Pinterest lottery, then this place has hit the #interiorgoals jackpot. A deep-set bar and restaurant filled with irresistible strawberry milkshake sofas, copper tables and cacti. The light, airy and homey space creates an interior feast over brunch. It’s so cosy that I sometimes snuggle in with my laptop. I usually go for my regular, Eggs Royal Smoked salmon, avocado and spinach on sourdough with housemade hollandaise. The concoction of attractive interior and food is without a doubt the Instagrammers delight.

Farm Girl

Tucked in an alleyway at the southern end of Portobello Road, Farm Girl is a smaller cafe for the health-conscious-superfood eaters. If you’re not into the whole ‘raw’ food trend, then skip this one and continue your quest with my next recommendation. If Farm Girl were a clothing store, it would be Hollister; It has a bright, breezy and beach-bod ready vibe. Your Instagram story will relish in a realm of colour: turquoise tiled walls, lush flowers on the tabletop, and hanging fruit display. The most popular item is the salads. Otherwise, there’s buckwheat berry pancakes, three-egg omelettes cooked in coconut oil, vegetable patties and cake. I love the cacao smoothie of banana, almond milk and cinnamon.

Flat lay goals!!! Have a lovely weekend 📸 @fashionzauber_com

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Ultimate #botanicalpickmeup – last summer inside the Greenhouse.

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We're ready for Chelsea Flower Show 🌺#cfs #kingsroad #chelseaflowershow #floralinstallation

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Bourne & Hollingsworth

Farringdon’s finest brunch spot. The Instagram magic happens in the frond-filled conservatory filled with textured upholstery. The decor is faded but bright, overflowing with greenery and is the best spot for sun-worshipping. I already know that you’ll fall in love with me after I tell you that the cocktail menu features bottomless Bloody Mary’s and seasonal Bellinis. Breakfast wise, you can build your very own Full English. Amused by the smaller pleasures of life; I like teeny tiny jars of sauce that came alongside breakfast. I kept staring at another customer’s Huevos Benedictos which is runny poached egg served with crisp chorizo and avocado. If you’re craving sugar that day, there’s French toast with banana and chocolate. Utterly delicious.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden

To be honest, you don’t even need to have brunch here as you can take a picture of the beautiful floral backdrop situated at the entrance. Be wary of the Chinese tourists (*cough* me) who hover around to pap the spot. The Ivy Chelsea Garden combines Ivy splendour with a spacious garden terrace. Opt for the delicious Garden Breakfast, with halloumi, avocado and kale hash brown, in its grand dining room. Ivy Chelsea is a summer oasis.

If I’ve missed any places and you just screamed at this screen by shouting the name of the venue, please do let me know and I’ll add to this list.

If you’re planning to go or have been to any of my recommendations, I would love to see your Instasnaps.

Eat loads and be merry, fellow Brunchers.

Location: London

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Society has taught us that the number of hours you input is directly proportional to the amount of productive output that you produce. Well, F that.

There’s no reason to be working countless hours until you pass out. And, no this isn’t a guide on how to lounge in your pants all day (although I wish it were). It’s about working smart, not hard.

The standard, generic advice is to wake up at 6 am, down a shot of wheatgrass and cycle to work. Hmm, no thanks. I wish I were one of those people who live for mornings. Sadly, I’m not. I’m the most productive from midday onwards. But, this isn’t the same for everyone. The first step is to explore what works for you and to question whether your current environment caters.

Productivity is an intensely personal thing. We all have different decisions, outlooks, and situations where we feel most productive. With the steps below, you need figure out what gets you fired up (recognising the momentum points in your daily routine) and what slows you down (procrastination is tied to anxiety, you need to understand your fears and why you have them).

how-to-work smart-not-hard-anti-productive-the-wong-blog-monica-wong

how-to-work smart-not-hard-anti-productive-the-wong-blog-monica-wong

Focus, rest, repeat

Great minds alternate, you’re not designed to function like a robot. Your brain works like a muscle. Muscles naturally have a high capacity to work, and you build it up. However, if you overstretch your muscles, their ability to be stimulated by further growth decreases its functionality. Don’t make the mistake of trying to work flat out for more than five hours without any rest. You need to get the medicinal benefits of rest, while still keeping your momentum alive. This may seem like a simple nugget, but I know so many people (including myself) who burn themselves out. Don’t assume that the world will give it to you, give rest to yourself.

Reconsider multitasking

I’m like a kid in a sweet shop. I get distracted by all the flavours that I forget why I’m in the sweet shop in the first place. We all know that your best work happens when you don’t do it all at once. You may feel like you get more done when you spin many plates, but in reality, you’re taking a hit to your productivity. Multitasking prevents you from giving your best on any single task. I’ve gone as far as turning off the sound for emails on my phone as I write this article for you. Close your email, put in your headphones, and give the task the love it deserves. One focused hour is better than three distracted ones.

Move your body

As humans, we’re not supposed to be desk-chained all day; move your body, throughout the day, as much as you can. After the many staring contests I have with the computer screen, I feel so much better after a short walk. I talk a lot about the benefits of fitness on my blog because I truly believe it makes such a big impact on your work and, life in general. It’s so important to release stress, have enough energy to make it through the day and to be able to make clear decisions at work.

Limit staying late

There is no way in which a person can be on their A-game throughout an entire 9 am – 9 pm period. Just because an employee arrived five minutes late, doesn’t mean they’re going to work any less than their peers who arrived on time (exception to those who are scheduled to meet customers/clients). It’s about what you do at work, not how many hours you spend. If you’re trying your best to get through the workload, yet you’re finding yourself staying late every day, question why you’re still there. If you stay late and put in those extra hours, most of that time is pretty ineffective because you end up burning out and producing bad work. Don’t slave away for minimal benefits.

Have a backup

In today’s ever-changing economy, we cannot rely on one source of income. Your job could end tomorrow. You need backup funds and career in that instance. There are lots of flexible jobs out there that you can do here and there. If you have the capacity, you can pursue a passion for baking, writing, teaching, etc. of which could potentially turn into a business in the future. These hobbies may lead you to pursue a dream career.

how-to-work smart-not-hard-anti-productive-the-wong-blog-monica-wong

Closing

Working smart is about having the self-awareness about your work style, as opposed to increasing your (ineffective and inefficient) hours.

I have spent years trying to grow my blog through time commitment; it was by letting go of what wasn’t working (time wise) that my business took off without even needing me.

If you’ve got any tips, I’d love to hear from you!

Location: Holland Park, London

Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

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Monica-Wong-Travel-Blogger-Guides

I have a confession to make. I’m the world’s slowest travel blogger.

I set sail on my backpacking adventure late 2014, covering South East Asia (excluding Thailand), Singapore and New Zealand. When my journey of cosmic wanderlust ended in 2015, I quickly ran into full-time work and found it impossible to publish every incredible place I visited. Well, better late than never. As a newbie freelancer, who has more time to dedicate to a little space on the net, I will finalise my ‘ProjectM’ series which will start in Australia and end in Thailand.

Err, Mon, what is this ‘ProjectM’? Good question. I like you already.

In 2014, I decided to quit my job to live my dream of travelling around the world, which I can wholeheartedly say was the best decision of my life. Subsequently, throughout my blog, I encourage you to run for your dreams. My blog originally launched as a style diary. During my backpacking adventure, I released a travel category. I named my experience ‘ProjectM’. In 2016, I changed my blog name to The Wong Blog, but I kept the name of my travels.

I want you guys to be able to have travel guides ready for when you visit, so I have added sub-tabs to my travel section. It’s at the top of this page, is super swishy and looks like this:

the-wong-blog-travel-travel-guides

Each country will have a digestible travel guide. The cities within those countries will have my more detailed experience.

Oh, and if you’re on Instagram, my backpacking adventures are tagged: #ProjectMCambodia, #ProjectMThailand, #ProjectMLaos, #ProjectMVietnam, #ProjectMSingapore, #ProjectMNewZealand & #ProjectMOZ.

I’m looking forward to being with you throughout our travels. If you have any questions or need recommendations, you can comment on my blog below, Instagram or Tweet me.

Location: Zi world

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