The Five Types of Self-Care

Self-care, a timely, trending ritual designed to leave us feeling uplifted, energised, and nurtured. The benefits of self-care include better concentration, higher energy levels, increased positivity, reduced stress and anxiety, and the list goes… The self-care hype is filling our social media feeds, though we’re often left with some unanswered questions. For instance, what different types of self-care exist and what do they actually entail? How often should I practice self-care?

Do not fear, this guide breaks down five types of self-care and how they can be practiced daily. Yes, that’s right daily! Despite contrary belief, self-care should be viewed as a priority, not as a weekend luxury. Treating it as a luxury may leave you feeling drained, overwhelmed, or unequipped to face life’s challenges with a growth mindset. Self-care is not all about face masks, and baths, (though they are definitely needed at times!) nor is it selfish or a sign of weakness. Self-care is defined as “the act of tending to one’s physical or mental health.” The five pillars of self-care covered in this post are: physical, social, mental, spiritual, and emotional. So, let’s dive in!

Physical Self-Care

Physical self-care refers to any physical activity you engage in. We look after our body to enable it to run efficiently, providing it with the fuel it needs to reach our potentials. Firstly, this requires us to be active on a daily basis in a way that works for the individual. You’ll feel more driven to exercise if you actually enjoy it, be it walking, workouts, fitness classes or cycles. Keep experimenting until you find the one that gets you moving without clouding your joy. Secondly, sleep plays a fundamental role. Start by asking yourself if you get enough sleep and, if not, take action to make healthy changes. Thirdly, think about your diet. Fuel your body with a balanced, healthy diet. Another thing to bear in mind is health concerns. Attend to any health matters by seeking professional help if and when needed.

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Social Self-Care

As social beings, human connection is essential. Cultivate and maintain close relationships with loved ones including friends, family members, partners and pets. It is easy to neglect our social life when life gets in the way, you know like when you’re too busy to even finish that to-do list. The amount of time devoted to relationships is subject to the individual. Extroverts may need a weekend-full of social activities to get their fix, while introverts may require a more precise balance of alone time and socialising to feel fulfilled. Regardless of personality type, a great question to ask yourself is if you devote enough time to catching-up or having fun with your loved ones and is there any relationship that you may have unwillingly neglected.

Mental Self-Care

Mental self-care encompasses anything related to the mind, and closely intertwines with psychological and emotional health. The way the mind works greatly influences our overall sense of well-being. Mental health involves our reasoning and decision-making skills as well as our ability to concentrate and retain information. A great way to sharpen the mind is by carrying out mentally stimulating activities daily. Such activities include reading, learning a new skill, word puzzles, maths problems, or anything that requires a mental effort like writing, drawing, painting etc.

Mental self-care also entails how we think, process and understand information. It’s vital that you work towards a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. Do you find yourself doubting your abilities, questioning yourself, or frequently clouded with negativity? These are signs of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset sees problems as challenges, mistakes as learning curves, while driven by self-belief and persistence. Throughout life it’s natural to experience both mindsets, though it is of greater value to practice a growth mindset for our mental well-being. Check out this short video for a more detailed explanation and tips on how to achieve this.

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Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual health does not necessarily refer to religion, though commonly associated with this pillar, and can be practiced by atheists and agnostics too. It’s concerned with meaning and purpose; having a defined set of values and morals and living in accordance with them. Essentially, it’s acknowledging what you believe to be right or wrong, important and meaningful and applying them to our actions and goals. Spiritual well-being greatly impacts our overall well-being and can bring us inner peace. For instance, have you ever done something you don’t agree with like gossip about someone or tell a lie, and then been flooded with guilt? That’s because it doesn’t align with your values and principles.

Spiritual self-care practices include being surrounded by those that are aligned with your values, whether it be a friend or forms of entertainment like podcasts or books, all these things influence us greatly so choose them wisely. Another key pillar to spiritual health is to ensure that our actions represent our beliefs. Intentionally set out your values and purpose by creating Stephen Covey’s innovative personal mission statement as seen in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The statemen defines what is most important to you, the person you want to be and how you’d like to be remembered by those that cross your path, and lifetime goals you would like to achieve. A value could be something as simple as kindness or honesty, while goals could be starting a family, becoming an entrepreneur or being a valued employee. The statement can be a guide for decision-making processes, behaviour, actions and stay focused on long-term goals.

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Emotional Self-Care

Emotional health is both the awareness of our emotions and the ability to manage and express those feelings appropriately. It’s about acknowledging, processing, and expressing emotions in a healthy way. Developing supportive friendships is crucial in order to talk about negative emotions or doubts and support you through any emotional turmoil. It’s also essential to be your own best friend. Self-talk can be the be-all or end-all. For more guidance on negative self-talk, work on self-love and how you can silence your inner critic.

A great practice for anyone who has a tendency to struggle with this pillar is to journal at the start and end of each day. Outline affirmations, gratitude and three goals to keep you focused on the day ahead and control a wandering mind. Likewise, at the end of each day note down what you are grateful for to stay on track. Let’s face it, processing and expressing emotions in a healthy way isn’t always a walk in the park. Try out a range of practices until you find one that works for you and make a concerted effort to practice the technique that’s effective for you when faced with particular emotions. For instance, when stressed focus on breathwork or learn to release anger in a healthy way like with exercise or journaling. And, finally, schedule in fun activities and always have something to look forward to. Don’t fall into the trap of punishing yourself based on fleeting emotions.

Self-care shouldn’t be expensive or overly time-consuming. If you find yourself neglecting one of the pillars of self-care, work to improve that specific area. Reap the benefits by establishing rituals that work for you. See it as a concoction of healthy habits that enhance your overall well-being and enable you to flourish.

P.S. Check out my free five-minute morning journal below to start the day as you mean to go on.

“Give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others and watch yourself bloom.” – The Sprouting Sunflower

10 Zero-Waste Home Ideas

When broken down into simple steps, zero-waste alternatives at home are easier that we may initially imagine. Take the inspiring example of Bea Johnson and her family who produce not even a jar of waste per year. A stance against needless waste is not only essential for sustainability purposes, it also enables us to save money while inviting us to lead a healthier, more fulfilling lifestyle. You may be wondering how a zero-waste home is even possible, and you are not alone (FYI I am far from setting up a zero-waste home). The good news is that there are many small steps we can take at home to reduce our accumulation of needless waste. Here are some simple, non-time-consuming ideas that can contribute and inspire you to have a more zero-waste home lifestyle.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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Compostable Brushes and Sponges

How many washing up sponges and scourers have we thrown away over the years? I dread to think! Not only are they used to wash up, but they are also commonly used for cleaning the bathroom. In most cases, the typical supermarket sponges are neither recyclable nor biodegradable. This means that their carbon footprint is huge and that they will unsustainably accumulate in landfills for years. Thankfully, innovative options exist. Firstly, there are compostable, wooden brushes that are durable, effective and compostable for when they are no longer useable. Another compostable option is the 100% plant-based loofa sponge. This is perfect for washing up, and it’s soft enough to clean surfaces and windows. Always check that it’s compostable before you invest in the product.

Homemade Cleaning Product

According to zero-waste activist Lauren Singer, we can actually make an incredibly efficient, versatile cleaning product with just three simple ingredients – yes, you heard right! Not only are many chemical cleaning products toxic to humans, they also have a detrimental effect on the environment due to their volatile organic compounds. Organic and natural products are on the market, but why not make your own? Literally all you need is water, distilled white vinegar and optional scented essential oil. Check out Lauren’s homemade non-toxic cleaner here that’s perfect for surfaces, windows, sinks, and tiles. The vinegar kills the bacteria and can even remove any tough stains, though it’s not recommended on marble or granite.

Bar Dish Soap

Shampoo and soap bars are well-known eco-friendly options, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the bar dish soap. Say goodbye to fairy liquid, as its solid counterpart is an eco-friendly, zero-waste alternative. Shop for a natural, chemical-free bar with zero packaging. Here’s a 100% natural, compostable version courtesy of Package Free Shop.

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Composting

Some food waste is inevitable. Think banana skins, egg shells, fruit peels, and tea bags. Did you know that most of our food waste ends up rotting in landfill sites, consequently releasing a damaging greenhouse gas called methane? If you live in an area that has a local food waste collection service, take advantage of that. Invest in a small food bin and some fully compostable bin liners to facilitate the process. You could consider composting at home, here you can find out the ins and outs of how to compost.

Aloe Vera Conditioning

Aloe Vera is a plant that’s worth investing in. It has anti-inflammatory, cooling properties which makes it an ideal moisturiser, after-sun and can even boost the time a wound like a cut or burn takes to heal. Additionally, its enzymes help repair dead skin cells on the scalp keeping dandruff at bay, while it is also able to condition and revitalise hair much like it can the skin.  In fact, there are numerous benefits to natural, chemical-free beauty and personal hygiene products including our own health and, of course, the planet’s eco-system. Check out this short YouTube video for a step-by-step guide on how to make a homemade leave-in conditioner with just aloe vera and oil.

DIY Toothpaste

Toothpaste tends to come in a plastic tube that, for the most part, just gets chucked away. They also contain chemicals that we naturally digest as we brush our teeth. Thankfully, we can make an organic, vegan toothpaste with just coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint oil. These natural ingredients are way better for the environment and, though it won’t taste amazing, it’s easy and effective. You can also opt for just baking soda mixed with water, its natural antibacterial and whitening properties make it an excellent natural substitute. However, it doesn’t contain fluoride which is known for its ability to prevent cavities so it’s not a feasible alternative for everyone.

Candles

Who doesn’t love candles for creating a peaceful ambience? The therapeutic flicker produces a sense of calm like no other. However, we could be more eco-friendly when investing in candles. For instance, buying natural candles made of plant-based wax or beeswax are a healthier option for the environment. Ensure that they’re free of petroleum, parabens and harmful synthetic fragrances which pollute the air. It’s also a great idea to buy package-free candles so free-standing candles or, failing that, candles that come in a recyclable or compostable container.

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Organic, Compostable Masks

OK, so you may not wear a mask at home, but given the current climate every home has at least one. The amount of waste the mask industry is producing is unthinkable. Masks have come to be an essential item for our safety. Luckily, there are innovative, efficient options on the market. Take this organic, double-layered cotton mask, in fact, the mask and its filters are 100% compostable at its end of life.

Plantable Pencil

This is, quite simply, an ingenious invention! Pencils are needed at school, university, in the office, and when do they not come in handy at home?! Once you’ve finished writing with these pencils, plant them and watch them grow into a plant or herb depending on the product. 

Waste Not Want Not

What does this even mean? It means that when we use resources carefully, we are never in need. Don’t throw away good food, instead use it up, freeze it or compost it. Don’t throw out perfectly good products in order to replace them, use them up first. These ideas are not to further encourage the purchasing of products, but rather to help make responsible decisions when you next run out of any of the above or are in search of a replacement. Invest in natural products and resources with no or little packaging. Running out of shampoo? Read up on the best eco-friendly options. Falling short on paper? Snap up some local recycled paper. Long story short, be resourceful and mindful of what goes into the trash. Every single thing that goes in the trash could be seen as inspiration for the next zero-waste idea.

The aim of this article is not to achieve a zero-waste home, but rather to help you work towards an eco-friendlier way of life one step at a time. Learn from others, find inspiration around you and be mindful of household waste. Every little conscious change counts for something. Let me know your favourite zero waste home suggestions in the comments below.

Indoor Plants that Clean the Air and Remove Toxins

Plants are more than just an aesthetical adornment for the home, they also provide us with a healthy breath of fresh air. In fact, NASA conducted a Clean Air Study and concluded that certain indoor plants naturally remove toxic agents, helping neutralise the air. Indoor air pollutants range from things like cigarette smoke to the harmful chemicals found in cleaning products and air fresheners. Such plants work to absorb air pollutants like carbon dioxide and in turn release oxygen. So, if you’re looking to brighten up your home or clean the air and remove toxins, these plants are for you. Here’s a list of some incredible air purifying plants with some basic care guidance.

Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera Deliciosa
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These plants are trending due to their large-leaved beauty and, fortunately, Monstera Deliciosas are really easy to look after. The Monstera Deliciosa requires bright to medium indirect light and only needs watering about once a week, perhaps twice in a hot climate. Wait until the soil is fairly dry until watering it again. Native to Mexico and Central America, it loves humidity. If you have pets, it’s best kept out of reach.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera plant
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In addition to its healing properties, Aloe Vera also works its magic by purifying the air around us. As a succulent plant, it thrives in bright locations. Water an aloe plant by thoroughly drench the soil and then allowing the water to drain freely. Do this by ensuring the pot has plenty of drainage holes or, if not, remove the plant from the pot before watering. Always ensure that the soil of the plant is completely dry before rewatering. Aloe Vera is considered a medicinal plant as it can be used to heal wounds and skin conditions, though it’s toxic to pets. Even if you don’t use it for its healing properties, reap its air-purification benefits!

Pothos

Pothos
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This green beauty is perfect for shelves because, though it starts out small, its trailing vines can grow up to 10 feet long. Pothos thrives with medium to bright indirect light, although it can impressively withstand low-light conditions. This plant requires erratic watering care and it’s important to let its soil dry out between waterings. Pothos is not pet friendly.

Peace Lily

Peace Lily
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Peace Lilies are indoor-friendly plants that produce a beautiful white flower. Peace Lilies enjoy medium to low light. Avoid overwatering these plants because it’s often the most common reason for it to die. Instead, check the soil a couple of times a week. If it’s dry it needs watering, if it’s damp it doesn’t. The leaves will actually droop when it needs watering so watch out for that too. These plants are not pet friendly so keep them out of reach of any four-legged friends.

Snake Plant

Sanseviera/Snake Plant
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This exotic plant, also known as Sanseviera, is a great household addition due to the low-maintenance care it requires. This flame-like plant has air-purifying properties, and is even used as a charm against evil in its native land Africa, and in Latin America too. It grows bolt upright making it the perfect home deco. The Snake Plant prefers bright light, though it can tolerate lower light levels too. This easy-to-care-for plant is perfect for beginners as it normally needs watering every 7 to 14 days. This could even be longer in the winter months, always allow the soil to dry thoroughly between watering. It does wonders for filtering out harmful chemicals and purifying the air, though it’s not pet friendly.

These air purifying plants are not only beautiful additions to any home, they also filter our homes of those nasty air pollutants. These houseplants plants, among many others, clean the air, remove toxins and also offer an abundance of benefits that can be found here. What’s your favourite air purifying plant?

Productivity: The Art of Staying Focused

Whether you already have an efficient routine or you are yet to find one, many of us could do with mastering the art of productivity. Planning our working day as efficiently as possible enables us to reap the benefits of hard work, whilst also enjoying some free time too. This guide offers tips on how to foster productivity, minimise distractions, and the art of prioritisation.

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Sleep

Sleep sets you up for the day. Avoid waking up on the wrong side of the bed by getting the recommended 7-8 hours. Create a warm, cosy bedroom environment to make getting enough sleep as achievable as possible. Calm a busy mind before bedtime by utilising the 4-4-4 breathing technique. Breath in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, then exhale to the count of four. According to scientific research, slowing your breath triggers a relaxation response in the brain and body, setting you up for the perfect night’s sleep.

Efficient Planning Tool

Have you ever come across Eisenhower’s urgent/important matrix tool? If you have, I’m positive that you can testify its effectiveness. If you haven’t, you can check out a visual here. This time management tool is a powerful way to prioritise time, tasks and goals. The planner displays four quadrants which enable you to divide tasks by their level of urgency and importance. This matrix allows you to visualise and determine what tasks you need to do and which tasks should be prioritised. Often we are productive, but none of it has real value in the long run. This method will empower you to plan and prioritise long-term goals each week.

Start with the Most Important Tasks

According to Laborit’s law, we should start with the most mentally draining task at the beginning of the day. The following scenario may sound familiar to you. You have a dreaded task to do, instead of doing it right away you procrastinate, carrying out simpler tasks that bring immediate satisfaction. Also known as “The Law of the Least Effort”, we’re essentially perpetuating the sensation of that unpleasant task hovering over us. To master productivity, start the day with the most difficult task and reward yourself as soon as it’s finished.

Adios Distractions

Are you susceptible to distractions such as Whatsapp messages, aimlessly scrolling on social media or googling random thought processes? Guilty as charged! If, like many, you tend to get distracted by your phone, leave it another room. Keep it on silent and out of reach in order to let your focus flow. Also, try not to constantly check emails and carry out several tasks at once. Focus on the task in hand; monotasking, not multitasking, is the secret to getting things done efficiently.

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Get Inspired

The subconscious mind is one of the most powerful tools and, in turn, ultimately the key to our success. Every day our mind is shaped by the environment in which we live. Our memories, beliefs, fears, subjective maps of reality are all examples of our subconscious mind that govern the course of our life. It’s essential to override subconscious negativity with inspiration. Listen to podcasts, read books, and spend time with people that inspire you. Fill your environment with inspirational quotes, vision boards, get out in nature.

Productivity is the result of commitment, efficient planning and focused effort. I highly recommend Stephen R. Covey’s best selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to learn more on efficiency and expertise in purposeful productivity.

“The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen R. Covey

Green Living: 10 Tips for Simple Sustainability at Home

Sustainable living is governed by a lifestyle that aims to reduce a person’s environmental impact. When broken down into small steps, we have the power to make changes in many aspects of our day-to-day life. Though the journey to consuming mindfully and sustainable living may not happen overnight, by making some of these simple changes you can start reducing your environmental impact today. To make sustainable living more accessible, here are 10 simple tips to help you live greener.

Kettle Care

Any tea or coffee lovers out there? This one’s for you. By simply measuring out the water before boiling, whether that be in the mug itself or with the markings on the kettle, you will save energy. The UK actually uses more electricity on kettles than it does on ovens. Luckily the solution is simple, don’t overfill the kettle and regularly descale it to clean out the limescale. If it’s full of limescale it actually takes more energy to boil the same amount of water.

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Control Food Waste

Take a look at the fresh produce in your kitchen, particularly the fridge. In order to eliminate food waste, plan your meals around what’s available and prioritise food in order of sell-by date. If a perishable product is about to go off, for example bread or bananas, freeze it. Instead of throwing away any food that has already reached its expiry date, remove it from its packaging and place it in the food bin so it can be disposed of in an eco-friendly way.

Less Energy on Laundry

When it comes to washing your clothes, the most efficient way to save energy is by turning down the temperature on the washing machine. In fact, research confirms that washing at 30°C instead of 40°C reduces your energy consumption on average by 57% per cycle. The majority of the cycle’s energy goes on heating up the water, so by reducing the temperature less energy is consumed. Additional energy can also be saved by hanging fresh washing out to dry as opposed to using a machine dryer.

Washable Cloths

The idea of having a disposable tea towel seems absurd, yet that’s not quite the case with our cleaning cloths. By investing in washable cleaning cloths for cleaning and dusting your home, you are able to reduce household waste by washing rather than throwing away dirty cloths.

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Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

The next time you’re in need of a new cleaning product, opt for the eco-friendly options. Make a concerted effort to find local stores that stock these eco-friendly products as not all supermarkets will sell them. These products reap benefits as they don’t harm the environment. Additionally, by going green there will no longer be harmful chemicals absorbed into the skin or breathed in when cleaning. It’s a win-win purchase.

Ditch the Plastic

Fortunately, many governments have enforced laws to limit the use and sales of plastic. As of October 2020, regulations banned the sales of plastic straws, cotton buds and stirrers in England. We, as individuals, can also promote conscious living by ditching plastic. Replace the one-use plastic bags at the store with reusable shopping bags like tote bags or the lifelong bags available at the check-out. Also, when looking for new beauty, hygiene or cleaning products, opt for the solid options like bar soaps and shampoos. Instead of investing in products that come in plastic packaging, look for ones with glass containers for sustainability purposes.

LED Lightbulbs

The next time you go shopping for a new lightbulb, get an LED bulb as opposed to the conventional fluorescent bulb. Though LED bulbs tend to be more expensive, they actually save money in the long run as they are more energy efficient. LED bulbs produce less waste than their fluorescent counterparts when producing light. One reason is because more energy is spent on producing light rather than heat.

black kettle beside condiment shakers and green fruits and plants on tray on brown wooden table
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Go Paperless

Paperless billing is particularly common nowadays. From household bills to banking, the majority of companies offer email billing rather than post paper billing to save on paper. It’s also a great way to make bills more accessible too. Many tasks like assignments and journaling can also be done virtually too. Also, a kindle is a great option for any book lovers.

Avoid Trends

When shopping, ask yourself will I use this a year from now or is it just a fad? Think about your potential purchases with the future in mind, especially fashion. Shop for timeless products and items of clothing that you fall in love with, disregarding the influence of current trends. Shop smart on your journey towards sustainability.

Recycle, Resell, Reuse

For all things paper, plastic and glass related, recycling is a sustainable option. In terms of clothing, objects, games, toys etc., these products can be resold on sites like Ebay, Facebook, or even donated to local charities and, in turn, given to a new home. For items that have had their fair share of wear and tear, get creative and see if they can be turned into something new. A good place to start could be turning an old t-shirt into a cleaning cloth, though YouTube is an amazing source of DIY inspiration.

“Cherish the natural world because you’re a part of it and you depend on it.” – Sir David Attenborough

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Hygge – Fall in Love with Winter the Danish Way

Hygge is regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture, one of the happiest countries in the world. Denmark is situated in northern Europe meaning it can get pretty cold and dark, especially this time of year. Yet, it’s repeatedly voted one of the places with the happiest citizens. Hygge, the Danish way to live life well, is the perfect way to learn to love the winter months. It’s all about cosiness and joyful experiences that can be achieved by anyone, anywhere in the world. As this season is full of festivity, snug surroundings and delicious food, it’s the perfect time to impart some hygge into your life.

What does Hygge actually mean?

According to dictionary.com, Hygge is “the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having good conversations, enjoying food, etc.” Hygge is much easier felt than described. It’s the art of creating intimacy and joy, the pleasure of comfort, and a cup of hot chocolate in candlelight. The beauty of hygge is that it embraces happiness in the little things in life.

5 Simple Steps to Practice Hygge

Ambience

According to Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, hygge is nothing without candles. When darkness hits, it’s time to turn off the lights and brighten up the room with candles, lamps, and love. In order to create a hyggelig ambience, candles are essential. The concept of creating small flutters of light around the room captures the beauty and simplicity of the comfort and warmth light offers us.

candle lanterns with fire
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Conviviality

Denmark prioritises its social relationships and work-life balance. Chances are you’re already set to experience something hygge this season. Conviviality is a key concept which is the simple pleasure of spending time with loved ones. Time shared with others creates a feeling of warmth and closeness, particularly hygge when done in a pleasant relaxing atmosphere. In fact, studies show that the more satisfied with your social relationships, the happier people are in general. As a social species, our relationships affect our happiness. According to the Danes, the perfect hygge social events include an intimate amount of 3 – 4 close friends. Whether it be organising a games night, or enjoying some good food by the cosiness of the fireplace, creating hygge memories requires minimal effort. So, light some candles, put some relaxing music on and leave your phone in your bag to practice presence.

Pleasure

The hygge concept is all about being kind to yourself by allowing yourself to indulge in one of the simplest pleasures of life, food, and drink. Actually, the pleasance of good food and drink may mean taking a break from the healthy bandwagon. Stop seeing them as guilty pleasures and start seeing them as hygge inspired treats. For the most hygge food, think all things sweet such as cake, pastries and home-baked treats galore. Though hyggelig treats can be as simple as sharing a bowl of popcorn with friends. For the most hygge beverages, think warm drinks like hot chocolate, coffee, or why not go all out with some mulled wine to celebrate the festive season. Embracing a warm drink is a comforting way of warming yourself up and inducing an enjoyable hygge ambience.

pastries on clear glass display counter
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Cosiness

Getting snug and relaxing is a great wait to practice hygge cosiness. The wonders of hygge include some cosy attire, comfy cushions and a blanket. If you really want to hygge things up, you can take it to the next level and create a hyggekrog. This is a cosy spot at home where you can get cosy with a good book and hot beverage. The typical Danish hyggekrog is the most beautiful window ledge seat that we all secretly long for in our homes. It doesn’t have to be a window spot though. Take a part of a room and fill it with cushions, comfy seating, a blanket and some gentle lighting for the ultimate hygge feel. There’s something comforting about a small spot meant for moments of cosiness. Embrace the comfort of home in your new hygge hideout and get ready to relax with a good book.

Peace and Harmony

After a slightly different year, it’s safe to say many of us have learned to appreciate peace and tranquillity. At times, as interesting as debating politics may be or no matter how satisfying it can feel to brag about our achievements, we need moments of peace and harmony. Life is no competition and love has no price. Instead, in moments of hygge, we must share our tasks and embrace the time spent together in a peaceful manner. After all, we must be grateful to have our loved ones in our life and enjoy one of the most simplistic blessings in life, their presence.

white couch on wooden floor
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What better way to fully immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit than to create a hygge ambience? All these wonderful hygge concepts are taken from Meik Wiking’s award-winning book, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well. This short summary was completely inspired by this wonderful book that quite frankly made me fall in love with all things hygge. It is thanks to Meik that I can see the beauty in winter, a season full of darker days and cold chills. Winter is the season which invites us to practice hygge to our heart’s desire.

Healthy Plant-Based Diet: A Guide to Minerals

With the arrival of winter, it’s important to ensure that you’re nurturing your body with all the minerals it needs. Luckily, a plant-based diet offers an abundance of nutritional value. We require certain minerals to build strong bones, teeth, boost energy levels, and allow the body to function properly. Some essential minerals for healthy nutrition include iron, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. In winter, it’s essential to care of our immune systems. Learn how to nourish your body with minerals with this quick guide.

photo of female hand holding a bowl of green vegetables
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Iron + Vitamin C

Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the world. Yet, it’s an essential mineral as it helps our blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Regulating iron is important for reducing fatigue and boosting the body’s immunity. Plant-based foods rich in iron include lentils, beans, tofu, nuts and leafy greens.

A great way to help increase iron absorption is to consume iron-rich foods alongside vitamin C.  Enjoy foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, potatoes, and broccoli, as a simple way to enhance iron absorption.  In order to reap the benefits of iron, be careful of tannin-containing drinks like tea, coffee, and wine. Avoid these beverages with meals as they can inhibit iron absorption. Instead, enjoy these drinks in between meals at least an hour before eating to optimise iron absorption.

silver heart bowl filled of red pomegranate seeds
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Calcium

A well-balanced plant-based diet requires the intake of calcium. Calcium is important in order to obtain structural bone integrity. In fact, the benefits of this mineral go beyond bone health, it’s also needed for our heart, muscles and nerves to function properly. It is absolutely possible to obtain all calcium needs from a vegan or vegetarian diet. Delicious plant-based sources of calcium include black beans, tofu, seeds, fortified orange juice and fortified rice, soy, almond, coconut milk or yoghurt.

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Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral that the body requires for bone and heart health. According to Harvard Medical School, it regulates the heartbeat and fluid balance whilst ensuring the proper functioning of the body’s muscles and nerves. Potassium also has the power to regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of a stroke. Foods high in potassium include white beans, potatoes, beets, spinach, tomato sauce, oranges, bananas and avocados. What a great reason to fill the cupboards with fresh fruits and veggies!

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Minerals in a Nutshell

In general, focusing on whole foods like fruits, veggies, plant-based fortified milk, and legumes is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough minerals in your diet. Daily requirements of these minerals depend on age and weight among other factors so be sure to do your research for a more detailed guide.

Food Inspo

For some incredible plant-based recipes, check out nutritionist Sadia over at Pick Up Limes on YouTube. Deliciously Ella also has some amazing vegan recipes. Check out the website for some plant-based deliciousness. Who are your top sources of inspiration for plant-based recipes?

Conscious Living: Eco-Friendly UK Brands

Conscious living is definitely trending in 2020 and with Black Friday promotions, why not treat yourself to some sustainable purchases? Sustainable brands aim to ensure that products are manufactured in a way that has minimal undesirable environmental effects. So many incredible businesses are acknowledging the issue of climate change and adapting to support sustainability.  Here are some UK brands and businesses with long-term sustainability goals that are worth celebrating just in time for some Christmas shopping.

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Fashion

The fashion industry is reportedly the second most polluting after oil due to its rapid turnover in trends conceptualising disposable clothing. The greenhouse gas emissions the industry produces has a lot to do with the globalisation of the industry, with items designed, manufactured, and sold on a global scale. So it’s more important than ever to shop as sustainably and locally as possible with slow fashion in mind.

TALA, a UK brand specialising in active wear, has a sustainable and slow fashion focus. Its core values are sustainable styles with ethical manufacturing that don’t break the bank. For other eco-friendly ethical clothing brands, shop Wearth London. The platform features British manufacturers that use the best eco-friendly and cruelty-free materials with carbon neutral deliveries. In fact, they go further than fashion with the most beautiful gifts, jewellery, homeware and more. Be sure to check it out!

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Make-up, Beauty and Skincare

Recent years have seen a growing trend in beauty brands opting for zero waste, plastic-free beauty routines. The beauty industry is renowned for its surplus in packaging, producing 120 billion units per year. Consequently, these products pollute our planet’s waters, endangers species and have a detrimental impact on our planet. This is why natural, environmentally-friendly products made by UK brands are the way forward.

All Earth Mineral Cosmetics is an incredible UK mineral makeup brand. The natural products are all vegan, cruelty-free and eco-friendly. In addition, they offer completely plastic-free refill options. For beautiful sustainably-sourced skincare and beauty ranges, shop The Body Shop. The Body Shop strives to be as eco-friendly as possible working towards long-term sustainability goals. To name a few: zero waste packaging, fewer plastic, recycling schemes, refill stations and much more. Plus, their products have an array of enticing aromas that make your skin super soft.

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Gifts

Buying gifts is a part of the Christmas magic. What makes it even more magical is knowing that your purchases contribute to conscious living without exploiting animals or the environment. Let’s make this Christmas as green as possible by shopping UK brands and businesses.

Green Tulip is a UK business that specialises in ethical, eco-friendly gifts. Perfect for men, women and children, Green Tulip really has something for everyone with anything from kitchen gifts to ready-made gift sets. Protect The Planet is another inspiring UK retailer which specialises in environmentally-friendly gifts. Be sure to click on the made in the UK or recycled category for the most conscious choices. From eco office to green garden, it caters for all tastes.

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By shopping sustainably and looking a little further into the brands and businesses we invest in, we are one step closer to conscious living. Shop closer to home this Christmas and opt for brands that don’t cost the earth. What are your top UK eco-friendly brands?

Natural Skincare: The Benefits of Au Naturel Beauty

Ever wondered what impact personal care cosmetics and beauty products have on the planet and our bodies? Personal care rituals are an integral part of our daily routines and, let’s face it, healthy radiant skin will never go out of fashion. On average, we use nine personal care products daily. To name a few: deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, body lotion, sun cream, make-up and the list goes on. Luckily, due to consumers’ increased interest in an eco-friendly lifestyle, innovative skin-friendly products are on the market. So, let’s find out how to consciously choose natural products with the planet and our health in mind.

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The Impact of Cosmetics on Our Bodies

Did you know that cosmetic ingredients do not remain on the surface of our skin? Our skin actually penetrates these ingredients making their way into our bloodstream and accessing our organs and glands. Depending on what we put on our skin, this can be beneficial or detrimental to our health. Exposure to harmful chemicals absorbed through our skin can lead to a variety of health issues. In fact, our personal care regime can even strip away our bodies’ natural oils and moisture, further increasing the vulnerability of our skin by making it more permeable.

Parabens are the perfect example of the detrimental effect a cosmetic ingredient can have on our bodies. These harmful chemicals are commonly found in everyday items including: shampoo, conditioner, cleansers, deodorant, toothpastes, moisturiser, make up and many more. According to EWG, parabens can disrupt hormones in the body, harm fertility and reproductive organs as well as increasing the risk of cancer. Long story short, be sure to avoid products containing parabens.

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How Beauty Regimes Affect the Planet

It’s not just our bodies that we are potentially harming. In fact, studies have shown that hormone systems of wildlife are harmed due to the chemicals found in these products. The array of chemicals, toxins and plastics that rinse down drains eventually end up poisoning our waters. As a result, natural habitats and wildlife are damaged or even destroyed.

It’s not just the non-sustainable packaging of these products that leach toxins into our waters and soils, the toxic chemicals also play a part in this cycle. A common example is ‘Oxybenzone’ or ‘Benzophenone-3’, which is found in many sunscreens. Although this ingredient does wonders for protecting our skin against the harmful rays, it actually contributes to the bleaching of the world’s coral reefs. These reefs house diverse ecosystems and provide habitats and food for many marine species. The sunscreen on our bodies washes off into the sea, ocean, river or lake when we take a dip, or ends up trickling down the drains into the earth’s water when we take a shower.

So, it turns out that our self-care rituals actually have an impact on more than just our personal hygiene and glowing skin. Luckily, the solution is simple – consciously choose products with both health and the planet in mind.

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Healthy Skin and Eco-Friendly Solutions

EWG’s Skin Deep Database

The Environmental Working Group, also known as EWG, is a girl’s best friend when choosing the safest products and the best brands. Skin Deep provides ratings on cosmetic safety based on the hazards associated with the product’s ingredients. EWG evaluates and assesses personal care products to combat deficiencies in product regulations. You can search for a product or brand to see how it marks on the scale at the click of a mouse. It’s logically divided into a coloured scale as green represents a low hazard, orange a medium hazard and red a high hazard. Skin Deep also provides top tips for safer products by informing us on which harmful chemicals we should avoid.

Natural Products

Strive to fill your personal care rituals with beauty brands and products that use natural ingredients. Natural beauty products do not contain harmful chemicals, artificial colours or ingredients that typically cause skin irritation. They are enriched with natural fragrances which, unlike their traditional artificial counterparts, do not contain chemicals that damage our bodies.

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Go the Extra Environmentally-Friendly Mile

Go Organic

Products with organic ingredients tend to be the most eco-friendly option. That’s because natural ingredients don’t always equal sustainability. The increase in demand for natural ingredients has resulted in farming and mining at an unsustainable level. In order for suppliers to meet demands, pesticides are commonly used to decrease costs and speed up the creation process. Pesticides are detrimental for the environment as they pollute the air, water and soil, meaning ecosystems are damaged and biodiversity is diminished. For this reason, organic products are great choices. Other sustainable ingredients worth investing in are: coconut oil, hemp oil and aloe vera.

Avoid Palm Oil

The palm oil industry is unsustainable due to its destructive deforestation. In fact, research shows that thousands of orangutans have died because of this industry. The alarming rates at which the vast amounts of rainforest are cut down puts many species at risk. Elephants, rhinos and tigers are also at risk because of habitat destruction. Luckily, the solution is simple. Choose products and brands that do not use palm oil. When checking the ingredients, keep an eye out for  “vegetable oil” or “vegetable fat” which is often palm oil under a different name.

Whether it be for the sake of your health, the planet or even both, there are so many reasons to make conscious product choices. The good news is that there are plenty of clean safe skincare products out there. Opt for natural chemical-free products in order to nourish and support your skin. This transition certainly won’t happen overnight so start with one product at a time on your quest for happier, healthier skin that the planet will thank you for. What are your top sustainable beauty brands and products?

8 Simple Ways to Help Save the Planet

Sustainability in day-to-day life is a great way to help save the planet and even save some money too. The key is to remember that it’s the little things that make a difference. So, here you are 8 simple ways to look after the planet because, let’s face it, the Earth is our home.

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” – Robert Swann.

Eat Less Meat

By replacing meat with plant-based alternatives, think lentils, beans, and plants, you can help save the planet by helping reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Vegetarian Society, the farming production process actually “totals 30% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.” Fortunately, there are also further benefits to a plant-based diet beyond sustainability purposes.

Avoid Palm Oil

In terms of sustainability, palm oil is a huge no-no. This is a result of the large-scale devastation of forests that the process of palm oil extraction entails. It’s the cause of widespread habitat loss for endangered species including rhinos, elephants, and orangutans.

Cycling

For short journeys, having a bike is a great way to travel sustainably. Having a bike is so much cheaper than going by car, it has zero emissions, and you will even burn some calories on the way.

Photo of cafe with bike
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Cook with the Lid on

Cooking with the lid on your pots and pans or even using a steam cooker is a great way to conserve energy. Covering your pots requires less cooking time which means you get your food quicker and help save energy, it’s a win-win situation!

Recycle oil

Just 1 litre of water poured down the kitchen sink can lead to up to 1000 litres of polluted water. By recycling cooking oil, we can help prevent severe environmental damage as well as that dreaded drain blockage. Recycled oil can actually be used to produce fuel or even fertilizer, so making that trip to the oil recycling point is definitely worthwhile.

Reusable Bottles

Did you know that a plastic bottle takes around 450 years to decompose? For this reason, it’s worth investing in a reusable drinking bottle. Not only does it save you money on buying bottled water, but it also prevents one-use-only plastic purchases.

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Unplug Everything

Although turned off at the switch, all plugged-in devices actually consume some energy known as “standby” energy loss. So, do not be deceived by the fact that your device is turned off, it can still sneakily keep drawing power.

Support Green Businesses

Whether it be beauty brands, food-related, or even a local business, what better way to invest your money than knowing that you are helping save the planet through their sustainability? Look for eco-friendly brands and google the most sustainable businesses in your local area to get collaborating right away. Plus, this way you might avoid spending spree guilt!

I hope these simple ways to lead a more sustainable life have been of use to you. Comment below and let me know the most effective ways to be more environmentally friendly on a day-to-day basis!

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