Mindful mornings

tim-foster-667115-unsplashLike for all routines, the most important thing with the morning routine is to figure out what works for you and what you want out of it. Some people like to get up at 5 am so they can spend an hour fixing hair and make up, some need time for a big breakfast, others just want to sleep for as long as possible.

The thing about morning routines is that they can have a great impact on your mood for the rest of the day. So starting the morning on a great note is good not only for your mood, but probably for your efficiency throughout the day.

My idea of a perfect morning is one where I wake up early (like 6-ish) and feel energised. No snooze, just straight up for some light yoga and meditation. After that a quick shower and some 10-15 minutes for skin care and light make up, before getting dressed and starting the day!

However, life is rarely the perfect image we envision and neither are my mornings. Still, I have found some things that have an impact on my mornings and those are listed below.

Tips for a more mindful morning routine

Avoid stressful tech

This you might hear a lot and in my world it does not mean that you should necessarily avoid all technology, but those that stress you or affect your personal mood. If you love watching the news in the morning while drinking a cup of coffee, go for it! But if you tend to get stuck in bed answering work emails or scrolling through Instagram, it might be a good idea to avoid it. Try to not start your morning with things that stress you.

Wake your mind and body

The morning is a perfect time to get some self care in (people with kids might argue with me here though…). The world has not yet woken up and it’s a bit like the calm before the storm. I prefer to do yoga, meditation or lighter work out (like a powerwalk or calm run) in the morning, since the body might still not be fully awoke, but whatever suits you is what is best. If you are not one for working out or moving in the morning, maybe a cold shower can really start your system?

Plan the day

Take some time for setting the intention of the day or simply to plan out your schedule. Maybe you are an avid journaler, live by your lists, or maybe you prefer to just set intentions for the day. I mostly use my phone to set appointments and plan the day, because I am to forgetful to remember to bring my calendar, but each to their own.

Have a filling breakfast

Or skip it all together! That’s what I do. I have been doing intermittent fasting during the workdays for a few months now and it saves me a lot of time and stress in the morning. No matter how early I got up, I would always end up stressed and almost inhaling my breakfast to make it on time. In addition, I am not really a fan of “breakfast foods”, so I decided to skip it! And if you, like me, have grown up hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I encourage you to Google intermittent fasting. There is a lot of research on the topic.

If you’re someone who won’t make it past 9 am without food, go for a healthy and filling breakfast, that will keep you steady until lunch. Oatmeal topped with berries and fruit or whole grain bread with hummus or avocado are my two go to’s. Try not to eat to much sugar in the morning as it will only result in you feeling sluggish later in the day.

The most important tip for a mindful morning?

A mindful evening

If we are too stressed and revved up in the evening, we risk ruining the following morning and day. Stress tends to impact our sleep and if we do not get our 7-9 hours, there is no morning routine that will save us in the long run.

Except for going to sleep on time, I like to plan my outfits the night before and if I have breakfast to prep it. This saves me a lot of mental effort in the morning (we have all stood there in front of the closet not knowing what to wear…) as well as precious time overall.

How does your perfect morning routine look?

Apps for a mindful life

duo-chen-751601-unsplashDo you want to live a more mindful life and to introduce meditation and other mindfulness techniques in your life?

My intention for February is to meditate daily, to build some sort of practise that will stick or at least teach me enough techniques so that when times get rough and I need coping techniques I’ll have them. My experience meditation is very sporadic and not very deep. Most of the meditation I have tried, has been in the form of yoga (or chanting in yoga class), so a type active or moving meditation. I also had a period in time where I would do guided meditations with my gymnastics team, most often leading up to competitions. These were mostly some type of body scan and about setting intentions and I never really got the hang of it.

Later years, my meditation practice has turned into guided mediation apps. I tried the first one about 3 years ago when I was going through a really hard time mentally and even though it didn’t “heal” me, it did help me get through the worst panic attacks that would arise. Since then I have tried a few different options and now I wanted to share some of them!

Which apps do I use?

Like I mentioned above I have tried a few different ones and these are the ones I like.

Buddhify

This is the one I have used the most out of all the apps. When I got it, it was offered at a fixed price (around 5€), but now it seems to be offered with a subscription. Buddhify is all about meditation on the go and they offer guided meditations for “work break“, “being online” and “eating“, as well as some more classic ones like “going to sleep“. This is also what I like most about it! Whenever I open the app, suggestions show up based on time of day, so if I open it at night it might show the “going to sleep” (or if it’s really late rather “can’t sleep”) and within that topic you can then chose between 4-5 different guided meditations of different lengths.

Smiling mind

This app is FREE! It is a non-profit and they believe that everyone should have access to mindfulness!! And it’s actually pretty good! It has different programs you can go through, like introductions to meditation and mindfulness, programs for mindful eating and what not. It also gives stats on your progress so you can track you yourself. This one also offers different programs and modules for all different ages, so great for those who want to introduce their children to the practice.

Headspace

This one is probably the most known one of the ones I have tried. Headspace is offered with a subscription, however, the first “module” of 10 meditations is free, which allows you to try it before signing up. The interface is simple and understandable and they offer themed sessions for example sleep, anxiety and focus. I have only tried some of the free sessions, but I really did enjoy them.

An extra one worth to mention:

Calm

This one I did not try, but it is the #1 app for Meditation and Sleep, so I figured it was worth including. They offer guided meditations for all levels and even has “sleep stories”, a kind of bed time story but for adults. The biggest con is that it is pretty expensive and you have to sign up for the trial, so if you do not cancel the service before the seven days end, you are bound for a yearly subscription…

February challenge: meditate daily

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February is a dark month with bad weather, and if you live in the north (like me…), it’s probably like four months since you saw the sun. So when the SAD (seasonal affective disorder) starts knocking on the door I will spend a month meditating daily. These past few months have been stressful for me and I have felt that my defence against stress is quite low. Hopefully with daily meditation I can improve this.

I have intentionally not set a time goal for the month, but only to do it regularly everyday, even if that is 2 minutes of guided meditation or 20 minutes of sitting down with my own thoughts. I want a habit, not a must that feels like a chore.

My experience with meditation is slim and very sporadic. I tend to turn to it at times when I feel awfully stressed and since I’m not really good at it, it tends to almost stress me out even more. I have mainly used guided meditation through apps and YouTube and I strongly believe that guided mediation is the best way to start as to not get overwhelmed.

During the month I will be sharing different apps, resources, techniques and uses of meditation and mindfulness so I hope you’ll want to come along.

I will also be finishing up the first book in my Conscious book club this month (I have currently read about 20 pages out of 400+…) The book is: This changes everything by Naomi Klein.

Vegan “milk”

rawpixel-1149532-unsplashVegan drinks or “mylks” that substitute cows milk have become increasingly popular and today there are more alternatives than ever in the stores. Did you know that making your own is both easy and can save you money? It also allows you to exactly control the ingredient list and to make just enough for you!

Almond, rice, soy, oat, cashew

My favourite is oat milk, partly because I like the taste, but also because it’s the best option for me living in Northern Europe. We grow a lot of oat here (none of the other crops are grown much in these areas) and in general oat milk is one of the best options since it requires less water than many of the other options and have quite low emissions.

So what you need in order to make some home made vegan milk is:

  • A blender (A strong one is advisable)
  • A cheese cloth or strainer
  • Water
  • Oats, cashews, almonds or whatever type of mylk you are making
  • Sweetener if wanted (dates or vanilla powder are great options)

Start by soaking the oats (or nuts etc.) for at least 30-60 minutes. A great idea is to soak overnight. Then drain and wash them.

Mix 1 part oats, with 3-5 parts water (depending on how thick you want your drink to be) in a blender.

When it’s fully blended, strain the mixture. If you want to add sweetener or to make flavoured mylk, put the mylk back into the blender and add spices.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge for a few days. I can’t tell you exactly how long it will last, because I always go for the look, smell, feel, taste when it comes to food. So as long as it doesn’t look weird, smell weird, has a weird-ish consistency or tastes bad, I drink it!

The leftover oats or pulp that you are left with in the strainer/cloth can be used in other recipes like pancakes, bread or protein balls, so don’t throw it away!

My tips for making 2019 your most sustainable year yet

jazmin-quaynor-105210-unsplashAs the year comes to an end, many feel like a new beginning. If you want to make 2019 the best year yet, why not try to make some positive changes for yourself that are also beneficial for the environment?

Set realistic goals

Want to make a bigger change for the environment? I say start small. Maybe you heard that going vegan is the best choice if you want to decrease your impact and you decide to go vegan over night. For some it might work, but for most it is not realistic to change ones diet in a heartbeat. Being vegan takes some knowledge on your part and often time. To learn how to cook new ingredients and how to get proper protein etc. A more realistic goal might be to decrease the intake of meat, egg and dairy for a while, while incorporating more vegan recipes into the repertoire. The end goal can still be to eat fully vegan, but by easing into it, you lessen the risk of feeling overwhelmed and quitting.

Start small

This one connects to the previous one, but is slightly different. By focusing on doing one thing at a time you will have a bigger chance of having it stick. If you try to go vegan, start doing yoga every day and running three times a week, you will most definitely get really tired and not be motivated to stick to the rigorous routine. Decide on one or a few small things to change. When they start to become a habit, challenge yourself with a new change.

Don’t stress it

You are only human. If anyone (or society) makes you feel bad for not being perfect, remember that no one is perfect and that all movement in the right direction is good. You didn’t make it out to run three times this week like you said you would? Well, a maybe if you think back just a few weeks you hadn’t gone for a run in months! It is all about perspective. Try to see the bigger picture, without using it as an excuse to not continue striving towards your goals. Because that is what goals are. Something to strive for and work towards. If you are able to reach it within a few weeks, maybe the goal wasn’t big enough to begin with.

Educate yourself

If you want to lead a more sustainable life in 2019, both for you and the environment, take some time to educate yourself. It is hard being conscious, because there are so many people saying different things. By educating yourself, making sustainable choices will be easier. It will take less time at the store to decide what vegetable to choose since you already know which ones have lower impact.

Do you want to make 2019 your most sustainable year yet? Why not join my some of my challenges? Or create your own goals calendar for the year?

2019: monthly challenges

sarah-dorweiler-357715-unsplashNew Years resolutions have never been a big thing for me. Committing to something for an entire year takes a lot of devotion and engagement, which I tend to lack. Instead, this year I will be doing monthly “challenges” to push myself to do and learn more, and in some cases just to push myself to do stuff that I have long been meaning to do but tend to forget when life comes along.

Having a monthly goal, or challenges as I choose to call it, is more sustainable since committing to 30 days of something gives a clearer horizon and you may not feel deprived in the same way since you can just “return to normal” if it’s not for you, without feeling like you failed. So just setting up reasonable goals that you can actually do. You might have heard about SMART goals. SMART goals is all about creating motivational and tangible goals that you can actually reach. SMART was first coined by George T. Duran in 1981 stands for:

S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

So by giving myself a clearer horizon by limiting the time to one month, it feels more attainable. I will also only focus on things that feel relevant to me and my journey, that are very specific for each month and that I will be able to see a result from.

Monthly challenges

January: Veganuary

This is a global challenge and yearly challenge from https://veganuary.com/ to inspire people to eat more vegan. All of January I will eat (or do my best to) eat vegan. To push myself to try something new, to try new recipes, ingredients and how to eat out.

February: Meditate daily

February is a dark month with bad weather, and if you live in the north it’s probably like four months since you saw the sun. So when the SAD (seasonal affective disorder) starts knocking on the door I will spend a month meditating daily. These past few months have been stressful for me and I have felt that my defence against stress is quite low. Hopefully with daily meditation I can improve this.

March: Digital detox 

For the month of March my focus will be on minimising my use of Internet, computers, tablets and phones. My only tech appliances that will not be on the decrease list are my e-reader and my camera. How much I will “detox” is unsure right now. Since Instagram is a big inspiration and I like to read interesting articles online I would not be able to do a full on detox, but I will be avoiding it as much as I feel is viable.

April: Shopping ban

This one is quite explanatory, I will not do any shopping for the entire month. Which of course excludes food, medications and hygiene stuff (I need to survive it!!). No new clothes, no new beauty products, no interior shopping, no unnecessary stuff I can live without.

May: 30-day yoga

I will do a 30-day yoga challenge to really feel the benefits of the practice and stretch out my body. I have done yoga on and off for almost 10 years and even though I love it during and after, I never seem to get into a routine that sticks, so this month I will challenge myself to stick to it and hopefully feel better both physically and mentally.

June: Capsule challenge

For the month of June I will commit to a capsule closet. I have yet to decide the number of items to be used but somewhere between 20-30 is where I am aiming. This years mini capsule challenge felt slightly too constricting for me, so I want to give a bigger and longer capsule a shot.

July: Plastic-free July

Plastic-free July is a quite well known challenge by now, which means that for all of July, the goal is to not consume any plastics. This means no plastic single use items like take away bowls or plastic cutlery. This feels like a tough challenge for me right now, but my hope is that it will teach me more about the low impact living.

August: Reading challenge

One of my goals this year is to read more and for this I purpose I will do a book club for myself, but I will also assign one month of the year for reading even more. When I was a teenager I would read several books a week, but when I started university and had to read large amounts of course literature, I lost the appetite for reading for fun. I want to find the fun in reading again and this is what I am hoping to achieve during this month.

September: Self care September

During September I will focus on taking better care of myself and doing stuff I enjoy. Since fall tends to be very dark and gloomy where I come from it feels like the perfect start to the darker times.

October: Slow-Fashion October

For October I will be challenging myself to be more circular when it comes to my closet. I will be mending broken clothes, tailoring bad fitting ones, upcycle that which is no longer my style or simply make new items. A personal goal for the year is to get better at sewing, so this challenge caters mostly to this. By using what we have better and not wasting fabric is good for the environment and my own economy, as I will feel less a need to buy new.

November: Food challenge

For this month the challenge will be to explore new foods. New recipes, new ingredients, new cooking techniques etc. The goal is to compile 25 new recipes to try out during the month, both breakfast, snacks and dinners.

December: Creativity challenge

When I was a child I was constantly drawing, cutting and pasting. I had subscription boxes for what we in Sweden call “pyssel” which is a somewhat broad word for doing any kind of creative hand-work. During December I want to get creative again, just like when I was a child. Maybe I won’t be gluing beads on a picture frame, but more knitting pot holders, painting, colouring and maybe practice my calligraphy.

Conscious book club 2019

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One personal goal I have this year is to read more. Another is to learn more about conscious and sustainable living. Therefore I will be doing a small reading challenge, call it a book club. Every two month I will read a book related to the sustainability topic, such as consumption, fashion, plastic etc. I will evaluate the book here on the blog and discuss the topics brought up by the book.

This changes everything – Naomi Klein

A book about climate crisis and economy. In this book Naomi Klein discusses capitalism and the connection between social, environmental and economic sustainability and equality. She means that we have to change our relationship with nature and each other in order to manage this crisis and that we have to do it now.

Overdressed – Elizabeth L. Cline

The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion. This book looks into the fashion industry to unveil why clothing is cheaper than ever and who is actually paying the price for it. What do we do with all the clothes produced, as well as what all this production does to society and the environment.

Turning the tide on plastic – Lucy Siegle

With this years word being single-use this is a very current book about plastic. Facts about the plastic industry, how much plastic there actually is in the world and what it is doing to us all. How do we change our habits to avoid seeing more whales being washed ashore with several pounds of plastic inside?

Rise and resist. How to change the world – Claire Press

Clare Press runs one of my favourite podcasts around and I have been longing to get my hands on this new book of hers. In this book she meets passionate change makers that work towards a better world and explores how we can all help change the world with activism.

Cradle to cradle – Michael Braungart & William McDonough

This well known book rethinks the way we make things. Must our production really damage the world? Or are there ways of increasing the effectiveness of our production in ways that harm the planet and the people less?

Doing good better – William MacAskill

How can we make a difference in this world? By using our time to help people? Or are we more effective letting our money do the job? In this book the author tries to understand effective altruism and how we can maximise our impact with our decisions.

Interested in learning more about sustainability? Why don’t you join me in my reading?