5 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance

By Aisling Leonard 

Serene Thai scene

At the age of 12 my dream was to be the next Irish pop star. Fast forward to the age of 26, I’ve rapidly excelled in my career earning $75,000 Australian dollars, with 10 years’ experience in marketing and events, and a much sought after Melbourne city centre apartment. What did this cost me you must be asking yourself? Sever anxiety and an incredibly unhealthy work-life balance.

At the age of 27 I’m now an established yoga teacher living with my parents, earning a fraction, little less to nothing compared to what I was, but I have my health and happiness, and life has never tasted as sweet.

Aviva Workplace Health Index, released in 2013, stated Irish employees are under more pressure at work. 74% of employees agreed that the workplace had become increasingly stressful, while 72% felt a pressurised environment had become the norm.

Despite the recent enthusiasm for wellness initiatives such as mindfulness and meditation at the office, Irish employees are still struggling to find the right work-life balance.

Work-life balance means something different to every individual, here I offer some starting tips to help find the balance that’s right for you. It’s time to take responsibility for your own health and happiness, take control, be bold and don’t settle for anything less than you deserve.

The importance of meditation and work-life balance

1. Step by step

What is making you unhappy? Figure out what you need to change and make a plan. Dr. Glenn Carter states “Having clear goals makes life so much easier because you know where you are going, how to get there and you have more control.” Start small, and build from there. Roman wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your change. It’s important to set yourself realistic goals, and not to be too hard on yourself. If you do slip up, re-evaluate, and start again. Organisation and scheduling will be your keys to success.


2. Your health is your wealth

Do you find yourself admiring other people, wishing you were a healthier version of yourself? Do you consider yourself to be healthy? Do you have a healthy diet? If you’re an unhealthy person you will not be able to enjoy the changes you’re implementing. You may not even have the energy to make these changes. Take the time to invest in your health and allow yourself to be conscious and happy in each moment.

Your health is your wealth

3. Unplug

Most Irish employers have created expectations of constant accessibility. The moment you leave work it’s time to shut down the phone, and leave your laptop in the office. Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life. Brooks says that phone notifications interrupt your off time and inject an undercurrent of stress in your system. “Resilient people feel a greater sense of control over their lives,” says Brooks, while reactive people have less control and are more prone to stress.


4. Exercise and meditate

“The benefits of mindfulness meditation in the workplace are both proven and profound: reduced stress, heightened awareness and increased emotional intelligence to name but a few.” Explains Katie Byrne. Even when we’re busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs – exercise – is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state, according to the Mayo Clinic. I found my health and happiness through yoga, discover your passion and incorporate it in your life.


5. Cut the crap

No one can make this change for you. It’s time you stopped making excuses for yourself and take control of your life. Surround yourself with positive people, be inspired and empowered by the company you keep. Start treating yourself as you treat others, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t say you will start tomorrow, start now. Begin by writing down one thing that you want in life. Stick it somewhere you can see it and start your day off by reminding yourself what your goal is.


For more inspiration from Aisling, check out her Linked in, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts.

We certainly will be!

Leather Inspiration

Leather is not only a source of inspiration for fashion designers, it is also the roots of creativity and innovation for interior designers and architects.

Leather is an exquisite material made out of animal hides and can be tanned in numberless colours that will match any interiors. In this inspiration post, we focused on the familiar brown color scheme.

Traditionally employed as upholstery for sofas and chairs, leather has a lot more to offer and can be used as cushions coverings, hooks, or to create unique lamps and add a singular touch to your interior decoration. This material can also be used in a variety of surfaces including flooring and wall coverings.

Appreciated for its unique worn out patina, the gradation of its color and its soft feel, it is a timeless material that gets even more unique with time. Contemporary, sophisticated and refined, here is a selection of refreshing ways to use leather.

To find more leather inspiration, check our dedicated Pinterest board.

How To… Upcycled Sideboard for Bloom

We get asked a lot of questions about easy ways to update pieces of furniture and how to upcycle.

Bloom in the Park with Cuprinol gave us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate some of these ideas as well as answer questions for people. Each day at Bloom in the Park,  Roisin, as part of her judging role on RTE’s Supergarden, held interactive talks and live demonstrations.

The KLD and Cuprinol team’s were on hand each day to help showcase the full range of colours and how they can be utilised to inject colour into your garden.

The main focus was on upcycling furniture. Using once loved pieces of furniture, in a new way, gives them a new lease of life and adds colour in the process with the vast array of colours available from the Cuprinol range. After each talk we held informal Q& A’s where people could get tips and advice on how to tackle their own DIY projects.

As part of Bloom, Cuprinol asked their facebook followers to send in items of furniture for the KLD team to upcycle during the talks. Below is step by step ‘How To… Upcycled Sideboard’ for you to follow, to recreate the sideboard we upcycled for one lucky Bloom visitor.


How To... Upcycled Sideboard
KLD demonstrations for Cuprinol at Bloom in the Park


  • Paint Brushes and small rollers
  • Frog tape
  • Cuprinol paint (we used Gated Forest & Frosted Glass)
  • Undercoat
  • Scissors/Blade
  • Pencil HB or lighter
  • Dust Sheet
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape measure/Ruler
  • Filler
  • Knobs (by Zara Home)


Step 1: Choose your Sideboard

Select a piece of furniture you feel could use some TLC, this is the starting point we selected a side board.. Think outside the box here, it could be an old piece of furniture you found in a skip, an interior piece that no longer has a home or a garden piece that you would like to update. Any piece of furniture can be transformed, it is all in the preparation! Selecting a unit with drawers create more visual interest and they can double up as planter adding an extra element to your upcycled piece.

Step 2: Prep your Sideboard

Ensure you sideboard is free of dust, dirt. Remove any loose or flaked pieces of wood or varnish.  Sand down the piece of furniture to remove any varnish, wax or oil ha is on the surface. The step is really important, I cannot stress this enough! Sanding gives a good key for the paint to stick to. Pay particular attention to the feet as these may be damp and need to dry out before painting. On this piece of furniture we filled some holes that were in the units and sanded them down for a smooth clean surface.

Step 3: Undercoat

Undercoat your sideboard. This will make painting easier and will ensure a lasting finish for the table. We recommend Dulux Wood Primer Undercoat. Make sure to undercoat all parts of the table, sides, underneath and any parts you can’t see as doing this, while it may take a little longer, will give a lasting finish that is protected from the weather outside.

How To... Upcycled Sideboard
Undercoat used Dulux Wood Primer Undercoat

Step 3: Select your colours

Select the colours you would like to use from the Cuprinol Colour Range of exterior wood paints. You can use as many colours as you like to create your desired pattern. Start by painting two coats of your base colour allowing to dry between coats. We used Gated Forest and Frosted Glass for this piece.

How To... Upcycled Sideboard
Cuprinol Gated Forest & Frosted Glass

Step 4: Draw and tape your arrow

Using a pencil and ruler mark out the arrow pattern, remembering to continue the pattern on any drawers, legs the pattern covers (don’t forget about the back). Tape off your arrow shape outside of the outline. Use a good quality tape to not to pull the base coat off the wall. We recommend the yellow frog tape, lower tack for freshly painted pieces.

Step 5: Paint your design

Press the tape down thoroughly to avoid the paint seeping under the tape. Paint your first coat and allow to dry. Apply 2-3 coats of paint until you achieve the desired effect, keep in mind some colours may require more coats than others depending on the depth of colour and what colour the base coat is.

Step 6: Remove the tape

Remove the tape while the paint is still wet to avoid the paint being pulled off.

How To... Upcycled Sideboard
Remove the tape to reveal your design

Step 7: Attach the new knobs

Once the paint has fully dried you can attach your new knobs. If there is already a hole from previous knobs, pop the new ones in and screw into place. If not drill a small hole and screw the knobs in position. IF drill yourself make sure to measure so they are all in the same position.

How To... Upcycled Sideboard
Cabinet knobs from ZaraHome

Step 8: Enjoy the result of your hard work

How To... Upcycled Sideboard
Enjoy the finished piece!


How To... Sideboard

Handy Tips

Add plants to your sideboard unit to give it more depth and create an unusual and unique planter for your garden. Use plastic liners in the drawers for long lasting planters.