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

Simple Self-Care Guide to Health

Following the Christmas holidays, it’s time for some self-care in time for the New Year. After weeks of eating and drinking to our heart’s desire in addition to numerous late nights, it starts to take a toll on our body, skin, and mood in general. Forget waiting for January, start feeling revitalised, and get glowing with energy today. Follow these five simple steps to see the New Year in feeling healthily replenished.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water may seem pretty obvious, especially as our bodies are 60 – 70% water. It’s essential to get the doctor-recommended two litres a day due to the healing and purifying properties water contains. In fact, if you find yourself with reduced energy levels, water may be the answer. That’s because our brain is around 75% water requiring a specific amount to function properly. Water is key as it enables the body to remove any unwanted toxins, which in turn helps boost our immune system.

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Get Moving

Earn yourself that downtime on the sofa by getting active beforehand. Movement, be it yoga or a gentle walk, encourages blood flow and the release of impurities. In addition, it increases energy levels, reduces stress calming both the mind and body. Plus, exercise stimulates the production of the brain chemical dopamine, also known as the “feel-good” hormone enhancing our mood and happiness levels. Be sure to make getting active part of your self-care routine.

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Rest Up

Be sure to get enough sleep, preferably the recommended 7 to 9 hours, in order to feel truly replenished. Sleep deprivation promotes low morale meaning it’s vital to get enough rest. Establish a good sleep routine or even throw in a siesta if needed. Sleeping is the best meditation after all.

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Eat Smart

Christmas is renowned for indulging in sweet treats, alcoholic beverages, and an abundance of food as part of the festive fun. But now it’s time to slowly get back on the healthy bandwagon in order to get our body functioning optimally. Focus on cleansing your body with foods that help eliminate toxins. Any foods high in anti-oxidants are a great place to start, think fruit, veggies, nuts, and seeds. Cut down on unhealthy snacks by substituting them for some food medicine. Blueberries, avocadoes (homemade guacamole definitely counts!) and apples are particularly good for cleansing the body.

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Reflect

2020 has certainly been a different year with a rollercoaster of ups and downs for everyone. As easy as it may seem to write 2020 off as a year worth forgetting, take a moment to reflect on this year’s journey around the sun. Think about what you have accomplished and what you’re proud of. Were you kind to yourself? Have you helped others? Are you aligned with your values? Jot it down in order to analyse what went well and what could be improved. These reflections will act as a guide for next year’s goals. Remember, you can only ever be better than the person you were yesterday.

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As this year comes to an end, be sure to celebrate the completion of 2020 by feeling replenished and energised. Don’t wait for those New Year’s resolutions, boost your body and spirits before this year closes. What are your top self-care tips to leave you feeling revitalised and replenished?

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.

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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.

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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?

Simple Self-Care Tips for the Winter Season

As winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the perfect time to embrace the seasonal changes. Winter is rolling in which means our self-care routines and leisure activities, much like our wardrobes, are in need of a switch-up. Welcome in the beauty of winter with these simple self-care tips to embrace the chill.

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The Benefits of a Seasonal Routine

Did you know that the seasons affect both our body and mind? Scientific studies show that seasonal variations including temperatures, daylight, and weather conditions affect us. Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is an example of human seasonality. Those with the disorder tend to suffer depressive episodes in late autumn or early winter, sapping energy and augmenting mood swings. One reason for this is that reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels.

Luckily, there are some simple steps we can take in order to stay in sync with the seasons. Our daily self-care practices help keep us happy and healthy. So with the arrival of winter, it’s time to prioritise self-care.

Winter Walks

Nothing is quite as refreshing as a winter walk. Not only is it a wonderful way to get a dose of fresh air, it also provides us with the natural light that our body craves during the winter months. It may seem less appetising during the cold months, especially on those frosty mornings. Even so, you won’t regret it. It’s a wonderful way to get exercise and even enjoy the company of a loved one. Or, to make the most of some alone time, why not make it meditative by giving a walking meditation a go?

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Vitamin D

During the winter months, it can be hard to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone. Yet, vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones and strengthening our immune systems. Studies actually show that vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression. Luckily, between 10-30 minutes of midday sunlight several times a week is a great way to get your dose of vitamin D. And, for those gloomy days, there are some delicious sources of vitamin D including: fortified soy, almond and rice milk, mushrooms, fortified orange juice, oily fish and fortified cereals and oats.

Soak in Hot Baths

Soaking in a bath is a pleasant way to relax and, according to the Healthline, it can also help reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Basically, a relaxing bubble bath can be used as an excellent antidote to a stressful day as well as warming you up amid the winter chill. Soak in a hot bath whilst soothing your senses with some scented candles or fragrant bath salts. Or why not make a day of it and schedule a spa day for the ultimate relaxation.

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Ayurvedic Rituals

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of holistic health, which embraces natural practices to nurture the body and mind. In Ayurveda, wellness is known as the absence of disease and the vibrancy of being at ease with yourself and others. Although Ayurveda focuses on three different body types, there are many lifestyle practices to benefit from regardless of our dosha. Tongue scraping, for example, first thing in the morning is an effective way of removing toxins and bacteria accumulated overnight. Drinking warm water first thing also has incredible benefits including hydration of the body’s tissues, aiding digestion, and, of course, keeping you warm and cosy on those winter mornings. For more amazing Ayurvedic practices and an in-depth guide to rituals and recipes specific to your body type, check out this Ayurvedic Beginner’s Guide.

Journaling

Momentaneous sadness or irritation is normal irrespective of the seasons. Yet, those rainy days or winter chills can take an extra toll on our mood at times. This is when journaling can come in handy. Relaying your thoughts on paper is a great way of coping with fleeting negativity. It can help to understand the reasons behind these emotions, or even enable us to stumble upon some solutions. Positive affirmations are also a great way to stay on track in moments of self-doubt or worry. We are what we think, and in turn, our moods, days, and lives stem from our thoughts. Release some “feel-good” hormones with the help of psychologist Doctor Carmen Harra’s expertise in affirmations.

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Music

Did you know that your brain actually releases dopamine, also known as the feel-good neurotransmitter, when you listen to music? Pleasurable music induces release of dopamine, contributing to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. So, if you’re looking for an instant mood-boosting hack to cure your winter blues, it’s time to put your favourite playlist on. And what better way to get in the Christmas spirit than dancing, cooking or showering to some Christmas classics. Because, who doesn’t feel happier after listening to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You, right?

Ignite Your Inner Creativity

Getting creative is entertaining and provides us with an abundance of benefits. From stress relief to increased confidence, we have all experienced first-hand the feeling of accomplishment that creativity brings. Whether it be some mindful baking to whip up some tasty treats, reading in a cosy corner of the house or drawing and painting to your heart’s desire, the options are endless. To practice some seasonal creativity, why not create a beautiful hand-made gift this Christmas or have a go at making some delicious wintery drinks to feel replenished.

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Winter is a wonderful season that has so much to offer. From snuggling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate to exhilarating winter sports, this season deserves to be celebrated. Wintertime is renowned for its frosty mornings and crisp air, yet it’s also a time to embrace the beauty of winter walks, cosy corners and festive spirits.

The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Want to be healthy, and live sustainably at the same time? Well, look no further – a plant-based diet is the answer you’ve been looking for. Its benefits extend way beyond health as it also promotes a more sustainable, ethical way of living.

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What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

You may be wondering what a plant-based diet actually is. To put it simply, it focuses on consuming products primarily produced from plants. Don’t be deceived, the likes of dairy, meat and fish are still permitted, just on a much narrower scale. It means mainly choosing to consume plant-based foods as opposed to animal-based ones. So, let’s dive into the benefits it can bring us, and our wonderful planet.

A Healthier Heart

Did you know that foods that are high in saturated fat mainly come from animal sources? These include: red meat, poultry and dairy. The good news is that this type of diet equates to a much lower intake of such products. Foods high in saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels, in turn increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. It can also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. High cholesterol levels lead to a higher chance of having a stroke, heart disease or a heart attack. But beware, other foods that are high in saturated fat include baked goods and fried foods.

Ethical Living Meets Compassion

We’re educated to be compassionate, yet we often fail to do this when it comes to our diet. A strong desire to alleviate suffering was my reason for turning veggie and I’ve never looked back. The famous book Sapiens, pointed out that “animals are the main victims of history”. It rightly points out that animal farms are “perhaps the worst crime in history”. Cutting out animal products is an effective solution, and a great way to start making a difference.

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The Environmental Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

The environmental impact is also huge. Dr John Cullimore sheds light on how a vegan diet uses only a third of the energy, land, and water than an omnivorous diet uses. In terms of individual changes, it’s an effective way to help reverse the effects of climate change. According to the United Nations University, “twenty servings of vegetables have fewer greenhouse gas emissions than one serving of beef”. Dietary shifts can also help prevent wildlife and habitat destruction. David Attenborough is also an advocate of the plant-based diet being one of the most effective ways to take action.

Good for Weight Loss

In addition, plant-based diets can also be great for weight-loss. Not only does it tend to reduce our intake of saturated fat, it also means a higher intake of fibre. The magic of fibre is that it helps fill you up, without the dreaded surplus of calories. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, we should ideally aim for around 40 grams of fibre a day. Foods that are high in fibre include: wholegrain products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. According to Mayo Clinic, vegetarians are “less likely to be overweight, a known risk factor for some types of cancers.”

Meat’s Impact on Cancer Rates

Research suggests a link between the consumption of meat and cancer. This is because of the chemical compounds created when red meat is cooked. These harmful compounds are also found in processed meat. This diet not only radically reduces the harmful effects of meat consumption, it also contains more phytochemicals and fibre. Phytochemicals, literally – plant chemicals, are an anti-inflammatory. These compounds work to protect cells from damage. According to Breastcancer.org, they are also believed to “help stop carcinogens from attacking cells”. See, plants really do have powerful medicinal value.

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Going plant-based can bring excellent nutritional value to your diet, help save the planet, and improve your overall health. Like any diet, this requires consciously healthy eating habits. Take a look at One Green Planet’s Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition if you have any nutrition-related queries. Let me know in the comments below why you made the transition, or why you’d like to be.

“The future is about a plant-based diet.” – Jamie Oliver

How to be More Positive

If you’re reading this, you’re probably struggling with negative thoughts. Don’t worry, you are not alone. It can be so easy to fall into a negative mindset. The good news is that there are some simple steps we can take to feel more positive. Positive psychology is the science behind what makes us feel good on the inside. Thanks to in-depth psychological studies on human thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, we know now that there are many steps we can put into practice to enhance positivity.

Focus on the Good

In order to feel happy, it’s of pivotal importance that we focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. And, though at times this is easier said than done, it’s essential to focus on the good things no matter how insignificant they may seem. For example, imagine you can no longer attend an event you’ve been excited about, focus on the free time you’ll have to relax or watch your favourite TV show.

Embrace and Enhance Your Strengths

Identify your strengths. OK, so hopefully you can name your top three as we’ve all prepared for that interview question, right? But, believe me, you definitely have more than three strengths. Think about it carefully and write them down. The interesting thing is that your strengths may seem so ordinary to you that you are actually unaware of them. If you struggle to think of your strengths ask the people closest to you, try returning the favour too.

Once you have identified your strengths, make it your goal to strengthen them (yes, really, you can strengthen your strengths). It may seem ridiculous if you are already good at something, yet we must enhance instead of alienate our strengths. The use of our strengths is linked to higher well-being and will lead to you being your best.

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How Not to Fall Off Track

It seems so simple, right? So why is it that we somehow manage to fall back into the trap of pessimism? It often has something to do with a feeling of helplessness. This phenomenon takes place when we feel as if we have lost control over what happens to us, thus resulting in feeling helpless. Such thoughts commonly lead to a depressive state which, in turn, ends up feeling like a step back in our journey towards optimism. Recognise when this happens, and take control of your thoughts. Some simple breathwork can assist you in calming the mind. As you breathe in think of calm thoughts, and as you breathe out visualise any unsettling or negative emotions disappearing.

No Journey is a Straight Journey

What’s important to remember is that what we learn, we can then unlearn. Although you may have focused on the negatives earlier, that does not mean you cannot focus on the positives now. In order to shift our perspective, we must acknowledge the importance of balance. We must override negative thoughts with positive ones.

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Values: The Plan of Action

Discover what your values are and make it your goal to ensure that your life is aligned with them. Think about your values according to the following categories: work/education, relationships, leisure, personal growth, and health. Once you have identified your values, analyse how close you are actually living according to these values. Next, identify the main obstacles that come in the way of these values and how you can overcome them.

Take note of the discrepancies and take pride in using them to build a bridge towards the kind of life you want to live. Create an action plan to be more aligned with your values. Think of this as mood board, in fact, why not get your creative juices flowing and create one to motivate you each day. After all, meaning and purpose are essentially a reflection of the presence of our values in our day-to-day lives.

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Self-Compassion: Kindness Over Judgement

Just like we would be caring and comprehensive when a friend is stressed, anxious, or hurting, we must do the same for ourselves. Self-criticism defies love. Think about the classic moral that we all learned growing up: “treat others as you’d like to be treated.” Well, just reverse that and you’ve got the idea. Treat yourself how you would treat a loved one if they were experiencing any difficulties and self-compassion is born.

Flawlessness does not exist. We all fail, make mistakes, face challenges, struggle and that is an inherent part of being human. Instead of feeding the harsh critic, provide yourself with warmth and understanding as you recognise the issue. Recognise it, be understanding towards yourself, and think of a solution. Balance is key here.

Practice Gratitude

Yes, that old chestnut – be grateful. Cultivate gratitude to grow happiness. Write it, think it, or even say it out loud. Anytime you feel negativity washing over you, try to cancel it out with positivity. Balance is key. By making gratitude journaling part of your daily routine, you are guaranteed more optimism.

I hope you flourish with gratitude, purpose, and positive experiences that fill you with happiness and love. Focus on your strengths, your blessings and embrace the glass-half-full approach as life is to be lived to the full. Optimism is as infectious as a smile so be sure to comment below on your top tips to positivity.

“Your only limit is your mind.”

Autumn Is Here: How to Stay Balanced and Energised with the Change of Seasons

Autumn is finally here meaning an array of crispy leaves will fill our paths as soups, hot drinks and snuggly jumpers make a welcomed return. Not only does autumn have an effect on the weather, our wardrobe and cooking choices, it also brings a change in energy levels as light hours are reduced and the nights become longer. Keep reading to find out how to stay aligned with the ebb and flow of your energy levels during this seasonal transition.

EAT HEARTY NURTURING FOODS

In order to keep energy levels flowing and build up our immune system in time for winter, it is essential to nurture your body with healthy, seasonal foods. Avoid processed foods and always opt for organic options where possible. Eat seasonal fruits and veggies as many of these are excellent sources of the immune-boosting vitamin C. In terms of vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and green and red peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Citrus fruits and the berry group: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries, are also rich in Vitamin C as well as pertaining to foods high in antioxidants. Antioxidants do wonders for the body. According to expert Christopher T. Reilly, “antioxidants remove free radicals from the body which can run rampant and actually damage cells, causing serious illness.” This makes for an excellent excuse to do some healthy, nurturing cooking.

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EMBRACE THE HYGGE AUTUMN FEELS

If the book The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by happiness researcher and expert Meik Wiking doesn’t get you excited about the cosiness of autumn and the nights drawing in, I don’t know what will. The Danish concept, Hygge, embraces all things warm and wintery including: candles, blankets, baking, hot drinks, warm clothing, books, and nature. Autumn is the perfect excuse to mindfully relax and practice presence by taking a warm bath whilst enjoying some aromatic oils and lighting some candles. Create a hygge ambient by sitting back and relaxing with your favourite book, podcast or film. Or why not enjoy a morning of baking followed by an evening featuring your favourite movie accompanied, of course, by the hygge essentials: a hot drink, a blanket and somebody you love (a pet counts too).

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SCHEDULE IN SOCIAL EVENTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

At times, it is much less enticing to organise meet-ups and attend social events with shorter days, cooler temperatures and darker evenings. Yet, reminding yourself just how much fun you will have with your friends, family, or partners makes for the perfect reason to schedule in activities that bring you happiness. From a dinner or games night with friends, to an outdoor cycle or an autumnal family walk, fill your fall social calendar with events that you can look forward to all week.

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PRIORITISE SLEEP

Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle meaning that a decrease in light exposure causes “an increase in melatonin production, which results in a feeling of sluggishness or being tired” according to experts. In order to avoid this seasonal tiredness, ensure that you are consistent with your sleeping pattern with the aim of achieving between 7 to 8 hours of sleep depending on what your body requires. Limiting screen time and artificial lighting about an hour before drifting off is also a fundamental part of getting a good night’s rest. Remember, you are only as energised as your previous night’s sleep.

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The beauty of autumn deserves to be celebrated, so here’s to cosy nights in, delicious warm recipes and beverages, and enhancing the hygge ways of happiness. What are your top tips to staying healthy, happy and energised in autumn?

How to Feel Happy

Happiness

noun

  1. the quality or state of being happy.
  2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.

Happiness is what everyone strives for in life. It is what everyone tells you to be, but no one really tells you how to be it. Happiness is subject to every individual making it a rather complex topic. Luckily with in-depth research and hard-work, we now know the hacks to lead a happier life so let’s dive into different ways to increase our happiness!

Avoid the “if when” Mindset

In a world in which we are surrounded by social media and glamorous ads, we are susceptible to superficial ideas of happiness. Just scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or passing commercials in the street, we constantly see people, products, and services that make happiness seem so achievable. If you book that holiday, you’ll be happy. If you get that promotion, you’ll feel happier. It gives us hope that we will find happiness if or when this happens – it’s a waiting game. The problem with this “if when” mindset is that we are constantly depending on that future moment for our happiness. We are aware of what we lack, thus failing to see what we actually have. The best way to tackle this is by replacing the “if when” mind-set by counting your blessings and thinking about everyone and everything you are fortunate enough to have in your life right now.

Gratitude

The infamous gratitude list is the BEST way to really think about what we have and embrace it with open arms. Start the day on a positive note by making it the first thing you do in the morning. Look around you and start to think about your blessings: nature, food and drink, pets, family, friends, beautiful places, access to water, safety, good health, wildlife, a home, entertainment. Make a concerted effort to see all the good that encompasses you. Check out this free five-minute morning journal below to make gratitude a daily ritual.

Connecting With Others

Spending time alone is great and definitely needed, but spending time with others should also be a priority. As an introvert, this can be a struggle. Reminding yourself that we humans thrive off social interactions and supportive relationships is a great reason to organise a get-together with loved ones. The most important thing is to be sure that you are making real genuine connections that contribute to your psychological well-being. Organise something you enjoy with someone you get joy from being with in order to boost those feel-good vibes. Notice how you feel after certain social activities and interactions and aim to fill your social schedule with the ones that leave you feeling great afterwards.

Go Easy on Yourself

Sometimes you will feel down and that’s completely normal. Just like every other emotion, happiness is fleeting. This means that those bad moods will end and those moments of joy too. Psychologically speaking, there are two types of happiness. Hedonistic happiness is the fleeting kind such as that first bite of chocolate, receiving a compliment, or going on vacation. Hedonistic happiness is about experiences of pleasure and joy.

close up photo of stacked chocolates bars beside raspberries
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Diving Deeper

On the other hand, eudaimonic happiness is the purposeful, long-lasting type. When your values and beliefs are expressed in your choices, habits, and actions, you are practicing eudaimonia. Those that experience this type of happiness enjoy life and all it has to offer. This sense of fulfillment is reached from the pursuit of meaning and virtue.

Eudaimonic Happiness

Eudaimonic happiness offers a completely different perspective on what it means to have a good life. It involves discovering our purpose and investing in personal growth. This sense of fulfillment will enable us to feel more content and purpose. The concept contains six pillars that experts deem to be crucial in the pursuit of lasting happiness.

The elements are autonomy, personal growth, environmental mastery, positive relations, self-acceptance, and purpose in life. To clarify, autonomy refers to the ability to feel confident enough to pursue your own path in life and build yourself a life without getting wrapped up in other people’s opinions. Environmental mastery is the ability to create a suitable environment to accommodate personal needs and values. By taking on these challenges you are investing in your long-term happiness which, needless to say, will definitely be worth it.

“Happiness is not out there, it’s in you.” – Louise Armstrong

The Best YouTube Workout Channels

Thinking of how to get into shape without breaking the bank? Since moving into my new apartment, I gave up going to the gym and opted for home workouts and the truth is I have never looked back. If picking up heavy weights or calorie counting on the treadmill isn’t your thing, experiment with home workouts that you can do wherever and whenever you like.

The Benefits of Home workouts

Doing a home workout is not only extremely efficient for those of us running on a busy schedule, but it can also burn a lot of calories. Home workouts, when done right, help improve your endurance and fitness levels. They can also build muscle through bodyweight exercises. All of us that have done a push-up or a squat jump can testify to this. The fact that a sweat sesh can be as short as 20 minutes or as long as an hour makes it so much more appealing. It all depends on the time you have on your hands, and the time you are willing to invest into your fitness. Plus, the endorphins released during and after the workout make it all worthwhile.

Besides the fact that home workouts will leave you feeling amazing, they also require next to nothing in terms of equipment. There is such a variety of amazing free content on YouTube. Though the option to sign up for paid programmes is also available for those of you that require a bit more motivation.

Recommended Equipment

A mat is practically the only must-have in order to do home workouts. The moment you start with ab exercises, your back will be grateful for the softer cushioned surface. Apart from that, the equipment you’ll most likely find in videos are dumbbells, a kettlebell, and resistance bands. These are things you can look into buying, but first and foremost, find a trainer that motivates you, gets you moving, and makes working out enjoyable – exercise can be fun!

set of fitness equipment placed on marble surface
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Amazing Home Workout Channel

Heather Robertson

A certified trainer that will whip you into shape with her calorie-burning content. Her infamous no repeat HIITS are perfect for days when you lack motivation. Getting a sweat on with Heather is inevitable as she has an abundance of videos ranging from cardio, strength, specific muscle groups, stretching, and ones that incorporate different equipment. There really is something for everyone on her channel. But, if you’re looking for high intensity or strenuous stuff then Heather is your girl!

Sydney Cummings

Sydney is an incredibly endearing certified personal trainer. She talks and guides you through all the exercises, constantly motivating you to go all out. With an extensive range of fun themed videos to spice things up a bit, she really has thought of everything. Lots of helpful advice on form is given and videos are uploaded regularly – she really is superwoman.

Joe Wicks/The Body Coach

Joe has some amazing videos and the good news is that they tend to be short and sweaty. He makes you work hard and gets the adrenaline pumping whilst motivating you in the process. His bubbly personality shines through and he is bound to make you laugh with his commentary. What’s so loveable about Joe is that he doesn’t hide the fact that he is struggling. He actually makes you feel OK for having to take a break. He now has plenty of fun child-friendly and elderly workouts that are suitable for all the family.

Body Project

The Body Project entertains in a way that they’ll leave you wanting more. This channel is great for beginners or for the days when you don’t feel like pushing yourself too hard, or if you fancy a lighter workout. Though they have an array of strenuous videos too. So, if you are prepared to break a sweat but want to have some fun too, check out some of their high-intensity or Tabata style workouts. Their commentary will be sure to provide you with some laughs.

So there you have it, four amazing free YouTube channels for workouts. I hope you fall in love with these channels as much as I did and see great results while benefiting from amazing free content and endorphins in the process. Home workouts are all about self-discipline but with these channels, you will find motivational mentors at the click of your mouse.

Get ready to get in shape!

6 Simple Ways To Effectively Enhance Productivity

If you are lacking motivation or looking for ways to enhance your efficiency, look no further. Productivity is all about diligence and establishing good habits. This guide is full of practical tips to effectively enhance productivity, and can be tailored to each individual’s preferences.

Start The Day As You Mean To Go On

Firstly, aim to start your day feeling refreshed. Make yourself a nutritional breakfast, a warm drink or just a glass of water to stay hydrated if you don’t have much of an appetite. Healthy habits are best achieved with a healthy diet, providing us with optimum nutritional value and energy for the day. In order to start the day well, try doing something you find uplifting. That might be spending time with your pet, going on walk or journaling. Focus on feeling replenished and ready for the day ahead.

Motivational Mentors

Secondly, find a mentor. This does not necessarily have to be the conventional mentor, it could be something like a podcast, a book or even a YouTuber that motivates you. Look for something uplifting that leaves you feeling energised to enhance your productivity. Remember, even on the days in which you struggle to find motivation – mind over matter. Find a mentor that leaves you feeling inspired, empowered and motivated. Take a task like cooking or having breakfast and listen simultaneously. Another tip for increasing your motivation is to decorate your most-used spaces, e.g. your office or bathroom, with some beautiful quotes or affirmations to keep the positivity flowing.

macbook pro on white table
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Achievable To-Do Lists

Thirdly, create a to-do list and ensure it is realistic. Sometimes our optimistic selves write out unrealistic to-do lists. This ends up creating pressure and stress as we try to squeeze everything in. Write your list the day before and ensure that it’s reasonable. Finding out what is too much and what is not quite enough is all about trial and error. There will be days when you run about like a headless chicken but get everything done. Then there are days where you might aimlessly stare at the screen and wander around filling your day with distractions. Experiment with how much you are capable of doing in a day. Do not beat yourself up about the not so productive days – learn from them. Maybe you need a more in-depth to-do list or maybe you just need a break, this happens to the best of us.

Create An Enjoyable Work Space

Ensure that where you work, study or get things done is a pleasant, inspiring environment. Have all the necessary things at hand like some water, your laptop, your books and whatever else you deem crucial. Then, think about what you can do to make it a space that inspires productivity; design an aesthetically pleasing space for yourself. Of course, this is subject to the individual’s taste. It could be anything from buying a nice plant, adding in a family photo or even a motivational quote. Keep it tidy by dedicating five minutes at the end of each day to organising your space and, voila, keep up the flow of productivity!

himalayan salt lamp near laptop on wooden table
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Avoid Social Media

Avoid social media, and yes, that includes WhatsApp. It’s considered a bad habit due to its addictive nature, while it also serves as a distraction to productivity. If discipline is something you are working on, it might be a good idea to put your phone in another room, put it on flight mode or even just keep it in another place entirely. Save yourself from losing time and only check your phone after the working day or during your breaks. You could even consider a digital detox. We all know how easy it is to get caught up in viewing people’s Instagram stories, but distractions lead to lower levels of productivity.

Have Something To Look Forward To

Always have something to look forward to. Healthy habits must be rewarded! After all, self-love is taking care of your happiness. It is so important to reward yourself for all your hard work by doing something fun after work, or making some exciting weekend plans. When times get hard and all you want to do is turn off your laptop, instead of focusing on your momentary lack of willpower, focus on how much fun you can have when you finish.

woman turning around on green fields
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Wishing everyone a healthy, happy, productive day. Remember, as Sean Covey says, “depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us. We become what we repeatedly do.”