September Challenge: Self Care

Fall is around the corner and while the end of summer marks a new school year and a feeling of new beginnings, it also means that darker and colder times are arriving. So, for this reason, I will be doing #selfcareseptember as my monthly challenge for September, as a way of easing into the times to come.

If you want to join along I’ll be focusing on one thing daily to treat myself to new experiences and love. However, self-care is about doing what feels right for you, so if you feel like it make up your own calendar or list of things you want to do or focus on. Nothing is too big or small!

Self care calendar

Simple plastic-free swaps at home

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It can be tempting to switch out every single plastic item in your home when you see organized Instagram pics of nice pantries and bathrooms, but my first rule of sustainability: Use what you have. Don’t spend your money and time on switching out every plastic product in your home thinking it’s the most sustainable thing, because it’s not. Buying new will always require new resources and production.

The best way of transitioning to a more plastic-free lifestyle is slowly over time. Only replace your old plastic products when they are no longer fit for use or when you have found a way to mindfully dispose of it (I’m not talking recycling here, but rather gifting it to someone who loves plastic Tupperware and has no problem using it…).

Therefore, the simplest swaps are going to be those kinds of products that you need to switch every few months or so:

Dish brush

Instead of buying another plastic one, next time you need a new one, opt for a plastic-free version. I really like this kind that has detachable heads you can switch out.

Sponge

Instead of a regular sponge to wash dishes or clean around the house, you can upgrade to a loofa. There are also other alternatives made from coconut, cotton and similar fibers.

Glass containers

Switching out all your plastic containers for glass ones might seem like something of a must when you scroll through Pinterest, but there is no need for that. Just start by saving the glass jars you buy jam and stuff in. Wash them and peel off the labels and soon enough you’ll have a great selection of glass containers without having to pay anything extra for it!

Solid bars

Solid hand soap and dish soap are easy swaps. The only thing it requires is a good soap dish (I just have a thin slice of loofa) so that it dries off in between use and doesn’t go bad. Today you can find solid bars for almost anything so if you want to go full out you could also go for laundry bars, shampoo bars, and conditioner bars.

Do you have any favorite simple swaps for a more plastic-free home?

May challenge: 30-day yoga

May might be 31 one days, but I will be doing a 30-day yoga challenge with Adrienne on Youtube so I figured I will leave it at 30 days only.

There are many perks to doing yoga. It gets your body moving, making you both flexible and strong, as well as giving your mind a workout. It can be like moving meditation, focusing on the breathing and feeling of the moment.

So for the challenge, I will be doing one yoga video a day with Adriene on YouTube (which is completely free). I am doing this to cultivate a habit for myself. I love yoga and have for a long time, but I am quite lazy with finding (or rather taking) the time to actually practice. Living small has been a problem before, but now I have enough space to be able to move comfortably while practicing which is a big plus.

Are you a yoga fan like me?

Declutter you tech: phone & tablet

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How decluttering your phone can make you feel better

Let’s face it, most of us rely on our phones a lot. We use it as a camera, we use it as a calendar, for reminders, for grocery list and all this is in addition to its original use communication.

When your phone is cluttered, it can feel crowded and stressful. There are too many apps taking up storage, you have trouble finding all your pictures because there are so many and you have no system for them. Also, you never seem to find the right number you are looking for in the contact list because you seem to have kept all contacts since you were in junior high. Then all of a sudden it starts acting up because you have no storage room left (this seems to happen no matter how many GB there are in there…).

Easily put, decluttering your phone will have the benefit of making it more easily manageable, which in turn will lead to you having to spend less time using it. This, of course, can lead to you clearing up precious time you could spend on more fun things. Decluttering your phone is similar to decluttering your home or your closet, you can expect less time looking for things and more ease of mind.

So how to go about it?

Phone

I always like to start with something easy, just to get into it a bit. For me, this tends to be apps.

Go through all your apps and delete the ones that are not being used or that take to much energy or time from your day (or that give you anxiety or maybe even an urge to shop!). Then arrange them in groups/folders according to what they are about, so you minimize the space needed. Then you drag them to the second and/or third page and only leave the most used/necessary ones on the home screen. It’s less stressful to be met by a clean, decluttered home screen than a crowded, messy one. I also would suggest a clean background that does not distract. If you want to use a family photo or something fun, maybe that can be used as a screen saver instead?

After apps, I suggest moving on to pictures, which if you are like me, might be a slightly more time-consuming feat. Go through all your photos! Delete old screenshots, duplicates and just plainly bad photos that you have no use or joy for. If you feel like more decluttering in the photo department you can transfer them to your computer or a cloud service and delete them locally, which will allow you to open up more storage space on your device. If you are more like me, who likes to keep things on all possible devices, or you have no problem with space, create albums that are based on happenings, what type of photo it is, or based on time (+ also make sure to have a back up anyways, since your phone might give up on you). This will allow you to find photos you are looking for quicker.

One thing I am guilty of is keeping all contacts. Honestly, will you ever again call your old soccer coach you haven’t seen in six years? And if so, don’t you think you could find his number on the white pages? Also, today you can pretty much reach anyone through Facebook, so if you get FOMO from deleting someone’s number, don’t!

Text messages. I honestly, don’t really use them anymore. Most of my communications go through Facebook messenger or Whatsapp. Still, I do get a fair share of messages for important things (or from grandma), so doing a clean here can be beneficial. You will have to decide yourself what is irrelevant here. I delete all promotional and reminder e-mails and only keep the conversations from friends and family. If you are not at all sentimental, you could always wipe it completely.

Lastly, we have video and music. If you are like me and you use streaming services you won’t really need to do much in this area, but if not. Look into what you actually need on your phone and what you can be without. Another thing I would like to add here is podcasts. I love them, but they tend to take up more space than any other app or file, so I try to make sure to “unsave” the episodes every now and then.

Tablet

This obviously only applies if you have a tablet, which I do. I use it mostly for reading, watching clips and movies, as well as playing games. This also means that I do not keep a lot of files on there.

For the tablet, the same process as for the phone applies: apps, photos, movies, and music.

Here I also keep a good amount of downloaded documents in iBooks, so going through them to delete all the old things I do not need (looking at you pdf from second year of uni…) is a must.

Extra

If you want to go even further in your decluttering, go ahead with your other tech.

If you have a camera:

  • Delete all duplicates and bad photos.
  • Transfer all photos to a computer (or wherever you tend to keep them).

Another neat thing to do is to look through all the chords and devices you have at home. Do you use all? Do you need all? Have you maybe thrown away the device that actually goes with that one chord? Then that should go too!

 

February challenge: summary

I don't believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.So it’s the last day of February, this (normally) dark month of the year. I had two goals this month, to meditate daily and to finish the first book in my conscious readings for the year. Did I succeed? Ehrm… no.

So what happened? Life, I guess. I had to do some really intense reading of 19th century French literature for school and it completely threw me off. The book was not bad, but the stress of making finishing it on time really took a toll on my energy levels and my overall quality of life. Except for that, I just plainly forgot some days. When visiting family and friends, meditating might not be at the top of the list and you might be, you know, enjoying your time with loved ones so much that the last thing on your mind is meditation.

Still, I do not see this as a failure, because I really enjoyed myself and the meditation I did do. If you put it in perspective, I had not meditated more than a few short sessions in the past months, but now I got over 20 sessions in just during February! The perk of setting quite high goals is that even if you do not reach them, there is a fair chance that you improved and learned during the process.

So all in all, I am happy with the daily meditation challenge. It has made me realize how much I enjoy this type of guided meditation since it slows my mind down and brings me back to me and what’s important. If you too would like to try meditating more, I shared some interesting post on meditation and mindfulness this past month, such as mindful eating, mindful mornings, how to sleep better with meditation and some good meditation apps.

Regarding the conscious book club, I’m just going to continue reading into March. So far I like the book, but I’m only about 70 pages into it, so we’ll see how it turns out!

7 Ways to be more Mindful when Eating

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You might have heard about mindful eating or intuitive eating before, but what is it and what can it mean for you?

Why do we need Mindful Eating?

The portions we eat have become increasingly bigger with time and it seems that we do not eat until we are full, but tend to overeat. Do you sometimes have to lie down on the couch after eating just because you feel like you might explode? That would be a sign that you have eaten too much. Many of us also tend to misinterpret cravings and thirst for hunger, which leads to even more overeating. With mindful eating, you bring back the awareness to the act of eating. You are present in the moment and you try to savour every piece, instead of just mindlessly chugging chips while being on your phone in front of the TV.

Intuitive eating, while very similar to mindful eating in terms of being aware of yourself and listening to your body, additionally focuses on avoiding diets and honouring the body and food.

How to be more mindful when eating

In essence, mindful eating is about being in the moment and aware of the food, yourself and your surrounding, but there are tricks to help cultivate the mentality and give space for the practice.

Sit down

Like at a real table. Your desk does not count…
A lot of the time today, people eat while on the move or while standing. Sitting down for eating at a real table creates a routine that you connect with eating.

Set aside time for eating

Give yourself at least a proper 20-30 minutes when you can eat and don’t try to cram it in whenever. This isn’t always possible in today’s stressed society, but try to make an effort. If you only have ten minutes one day, then at least use those minutes for just eating.

Minimize distractions

Don’t eat in front of the TV, your phone or anything else that is too distracting from the act of eating. This doesn’t mean that you can never eat or have a bit of snack in front of Netflix on a Friday, but try to keep it to a minimum.

Eat with people

Food is something that all us humans share, we all eat and it’s a great thing to do together! It might seem a little bit conflicting with the previous point, but if you think about it, most often when you are eating with others you take longer to finish since you interact with the others. And eating slower is a good way to be mindful when eating. It allows you to notice the body’s signals better and gives less risk of overeating.

Remember to chew

This is my personal week spot. I’m horribly bad at chewing! It’s boring and I still do not understand how some people chew one bite 10-15 times… However, it’s important to think about. When you chew every mouthful for longer you extend the total eating time and thus, giving it more time to notice the signals from the stomach.

Drink less while eating

This connects to the previous one. When we drink a lot during the meal, we can have a tendency to “swallow down” the food with the help of liquid. So instead of having to chew properly, we just swallow with the help of a drink. If you drink a caloric drink you also risk filling up to quick because of the drink.

Eat on a plate

Or a bowl. Or whatever type of dish is normal to you or where you live. Skip eating out of a takeaway box or foil container (even though this can certainly save you from doing dishes). By creating a routine for eating (like always sitting down, at a table and eating off a plate) you can be more mindful about the act of eating.

Are you mindful when you eat? Do you have any more tips on mindful eating?

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?