Wellness

Spring Cleaning or Time to Reset?

Spring cleaning might be one of my favorite times of the year. That sounds really dumb and painful, right? I clean a lot because I am really obsessive compulsive about clean spaces, but even I look forward to the deep clean. I mean, how else am I going to discover the half eaten bag of Reese’s pumpkins from Halloween hiding out in my pantry? But this post is about a different spring cleaning…more like hitting the reset button.

I took to this blog in January to write some wellness resolutions for the year (read that here), and while that isn’t actually that long ago, spring is a time of renewal. Whether you lost your resolution weeks ago or you just feel run down, there’s always time to hit the reset button and try something new. While we are busy cleaning and decluttering our spaces, we can make simple changes to improve our life overall. Even if spring cleaning totally isn’t your thing (and I can see why), there are other things you can try to recenter yourself and improve your life.

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Refresh Your Space – This is real spring cleaning.  It’s time to look into the places and spaces you avoid during your regular cleaning cycle. Remember how bad underneath the bathroom sink looks? When is the last time you actually cleaned behind your toilet? These are the things no one really likes doing, but they must be done. Grab some harsh chemical free cleaners and tackle it. Just choose the things that matter to you. No need to completely turn your space upside down and cover it entirely in bleach.

Clean Out Your Closet – Since it’s time to put away the cold weather items in favor for warm weather options, it’s an ideal time to let things go. Improve someone else’s life by donating them to charities that serve a purpose. Give your business casual clothes to a charity that helps women with job interviews. Spread out the rest or donate to Goodwill. Either way you’ll be giving others the chance to strive and feel their best.

Declutter Your Inbox – Look at your phone right now. How many thousands of unread emails do you have? Get rid of them. You’re clearly not reading them so why are you saving them for a rainy day? Most of them are marketing emails anyway right? Use unroll.me to unsubscribe from the ones you never open or have no intention of opening.

Set Intentions – Take some time out of your day to set some mindful intentions for the months ahead. Intentions are the seeds for goals and visions that come to fruition on their own over time. Don’t set intentions for things you don’t believe in, and they should be positive. They are a roadmap for where you want to go in life after all.

Log Off Social Media – Today’s media landscape is just tons of noise. It’s constantly being thrown at us. Every time I look at my phone there’s another news alert of something terrible or ridiculous happening in the world. Log out and give your mind a break. The news and all your friends vacation photos will still be there when you get back.

 

4 Podcasts to Improve Your Life

Podcasts are all the rage right now and it seems like everyone has one. There’s literally one for every subject under the sun. My subscription list contains everything from true crime and politics to design and the Babysitter’s Club (no seriously it exists!). One of the most popular subjects is health and wellness. There’s nothing like having a modern-day radio program give you a new perspective on ways to improve your wellbeing.

  1. The Good Life Project  – Jonathan Fields (and guests) share stories and explore the ways to live a happier life. Whether it’s love, confidence, success or happiness this podcast touches on a variety of subjects with the intent on making your life just a little bit better.
  2. The Lively Show – Jess Lively’s weekly podcast dives into aspects of our personal lives from relationships to careers and helps us live a better life by setting more intention.
  3. TED Radio Hour – A weekly podcast by Guy Raz which collects TED Talks and guests based on a particular theme. It offers differing perspectives on a variety of subjects from all ends of the spectrum. If you have watched TED Talks in the past, you’ll absolutely love this. It will inspire and share interesting takes and ideas on common subjects.
  4. That’s So Retrograde – Stephanie and Elizabeth interview wellness experts and explore new wellness concepts on their journey of life. Through their guests listeners learn new wellness techniques to try, practices to consider, and how to increase mindfulness overall. It’s a real life take on the twists and turns of life.

Podcasts not your jam? Check out my new #TBT playlist on Spotify. Take a journey in the way, way back machine to a simpler time filled with songs from my years in high school. I made it with my friends in mind plus there’s been a lot of exploration of our formative years and what makes us who we are. This playlist comes from a time where photos of Jesse Lacey were taped in all my notebooks, and where my carefully crafted AIM away message was Starting Line lyrics in a that horrible magenta color.

Listen here —–> Spotify

2017 Wellness Resolutions

I have a love/hate relationship with New Years resolutions. I try not to make them because, as any human does, I completely forget them a month later and nothing ever comes of them. For that reason I’m hesitant to even call these “resolutions” since they are more like intentions. Last spring when I began writing this blog (after a very long blogging break) I was exploring the new world of wellness. I completely overhauled my living space, did a juice cleanse, and began trying out new ways of becoming more centered. I realize now that when life begins to feel out of control I begin to search for answers and focus on learning new things with the hopes I can maintain some kind of calm in the chaos. It’s also an incredible distraction.

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That said at the end of 2016 I was struggling to have any answers at all and couldn’t control the chaos. It felt there was no calm coming with this storm. I decided with 2017 I would hit the reset button and try some new things in the year ahead. These aren’t the same intentions set during meditation that are a road map of where I want to go in life, but rather things I aim to bring into practice for my life this year.

  • Stop Buying Things I Already Own. Do I really need a 13th black sweater? Or another pair of jeans? Odd are no. Not purchasing things I already own will save space on clutter not to mention money. This allows me to save up for things I really do want and need while managing to get full use out of things I already own.
  • Continue Dry Brushing. Towards the end of the year I tried dry brushing. I can’t fully say what the impact has been on my skin because it hasn’t been long, but I’m hoping that in the coming weeks I can see some of the benefits. Dry brushing is said to exfoliate skin removing dead skin cells, stimulate the lymphatic system, and decrease cellulite.
  • Incorporate Apple Cider Vinegar into my daily routine. I strictly used ACV when I was feeling run down, but it can be used daily to maintain a healthy system. Plus mixing a bit into sparkling water and adding a lime can be a tasty afternoon pick me up.
  • Do more yoga. I’ve preached about how much I love doing yoga, but recently I’ve given up on the practice. I always found an excuse (like not having enough time or being too tired), but I really miss out on the benefits and the quiet time away from my phone.
  • Unplug more. I believe in social media, but I also believe in taking breaks. Sometimes seeing everything everyone does can be a little overwhelming not to mention the news isn’t always that great to begin with. Everyone’s brain can use a little break, and the posts will all be there when you return. It’s better to just take a break, live in the moment, and be by yourself rather than comparing your hustle to everyone else’s highlight reel.

 

Winter Wellness: Let’s Organize Some Stuff

It’s been mere hours since Christmas ended, and that means we are currently existing in the “between holidays limbo.” That cool 7 days where the floor is filled with remnants of holiday gifts and it’s just too early to put the holiday decorations away. But in a few days 2017 will be here which means a fresh start. I’ve never needed a giant reset button as badly as I do now.

One of the simplest ways to embrace a fresh start is to purge the old and organize the rest. There are a few items, areas of the home and life that can create a perfectly clean slate for 2017. 2016 has been a rough one so it’s not really a hard decision for me to want to pretend it never existed. I mean, was there an option to sleep through the year? I should have taken it.

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That said, here are a few of my favorite things to organize right before the new year.

  • Decorations + Wrapping Paper. For whatever reason every time there is a birthday or holiday requiring gifts, I end up purchasing new gift wrap, tissue paper, etc. Toss out the rolls with minimal paper left (or remove & fold the remaining paper for later use), fold the tissue and other items, and toss them all in a clear plastic bin easily accessible for later. Or if you want to get fancy, check out the Container Store’s Customized Gift Wrap Center.
  • Beauty Products. With the new year fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to get rid of all the make up and beauty products you no longer use. Many, if not all, products have a shelf life which should be followed because of things like bacteria. If you don’t know the exact date or months of ownership of a particular product, but think you’ve had it long enough, pitch it.
  • The year in review. At the end of the year I’ve accumulated a years worth of concert tickets, movie stubs, and other odds and ends in random places. Keep the important (to each their own) and toss the rest. For this use storage boxes or simple clear plastic containers to keep things in one place.
  • Clothing. Between all the gift cards received during the holidays and the sales it might be fun to load up on new additions to your closet, but that also means getting rid of things you no longer wear. It may feel a bit strange to do this mid-season, but odds are if you haven’t worn your old clothes yet, you won’t. Donate them and pass them on to others who could really use them.
  • Goals + Resolutions. Yep, it’s that time of year again. Just a suggestion, but don’t make resolutions. Set goals. Monthly goals, daily goals, or even yearly goals are much easier to reach plus you’re less likely to drop them a week later. Avoid the disappointment and self-hatred by being realistic.

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Winter Wellness: How to Beat the Winter Blues

As the popular song suggests, the holidays are often described as the “most wonderful time of the year,” but this time of year, and through the winter, there is an increase in seasonal depression. Despite nearly every street corner being illuminated with beautiful lights, blissful music playing from every store, and cheesy heartwarming movies on the television, there are plenty of reasons the holiday season isn’t cheerful for everyone. I know this first hand.

The end of the year is often met with deadlines, money concerns, common illnesses, and reminders of the things and people we’ve lost when gathering with our families for festive celebrations. It’s not just a holiday depression, but can lead to months of the blues due to weather and the lack of sun. There are plenty of things one can do to avoid the holiday and winter blues. Set realistic expectations for things you want to accomplish, don’t attempt to take on too much (my biggest problem), and take care of yourself even if it’s a few minutes a day.

One of the most important things, I think, is not comparing your life to the lives of others especially around the holidays. With social media its key to understand people are only sharing the happy (or seemingly happy) moments of their lives. They too go through rough times just not on display. We share the things we want people to see, and keep everything else to ourselves. While looking at people’s families, vacations, or even their gifts, keep in mind that doesn’t make your existence or life inadequate.

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There are a few things I like to do for myself in order to beat the winter blues. In addition to what I’ve listed below, you can increase your vitamin D with supplements, eat all the bread you want (it keeps blood sugar levels regular because it breaks down slowly), or just brighten up your space.

  • Be active. Going to the gym or on a simple walk can feel like a pain in the ass sometimes. I usually hit the gym at times when there’s no one there (use Google’s peak time indicator for wherever you go to find the best time), because I get to have time to myself without someone using the treadmill right next to me (my biggest pet peeve). If you don’t feel like hitting the gym, go for a walk or even try yoga. Just 35 minutes to an hour can improve the symptoms of depression and increase your confidence levels.
  • Eat chocolate. Consuming chocolate releases a temporary euphoria like feeling in the brain leading to a decrease in anxiety and feelings of depression. Whether its hot chocolate or baked in a treat, chocolate is readily available this time of year so there’s no excuse not to have some.
  • Listen to happy music. During the holidays classic carols and radio hits can bring along memories of happier times, but for the other months of winter, choose cheerful music that makes you happy. Dancing and smiling (even forced) can bring upon a faux feeling of happiness which eventually the brain begins to believe is true. I’ve even created a playlist for cheering up.
  • Help Others. Get outside and volunteer. When you’re feeling like your life isn’t going the way it should or you’re bummed out, give your time to others who are having it a little worse. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter, give your latte money to one of the Salvation Army bell ringers, or deliver an entire bag of non-perishable food items to a local food bank. Just the feeling of knowing you made someone’s life a little better can lead to a better mood.
  • Unplug. When viewing everyone’s lives on social media gets to be too much, sign out. Sure, it’s easier said than done (I know this personally) but sometime’s it’s better for your own mental health. Taking a break from the news, photos, Snapchat filters and updates of everyone’s little move will feel great and it will all still be there when you decide to return. Recharge your brain and put it to better use elsewhere.

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Sunday Night Routine

For December I’ve decided to focus a lot of my blog to wellness and creating a better, more fulfilling life. One of the main reasons for this is winter is hard. It’s cold and dreary and mental health issues like depression can become worse seasonally. So, I’m devoting a bit more time to making things just a little easier on myself and with the hope maybe others can do the same as well. Plus when January rolls around nearly everyone adopts the “new year new me” philosophy so it will be even easier to incorporate new things because you’ve been steadily doing it all along.

There is a quote, probably found everywhere on Instagram, about a productive Sunday leading to content Monday. Well, it was something like that. I’m not sure the exact wording. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe the sentiment 100%. A productive Sunday does lead to a content Sunday (and week) because most of the heavy lifting is already complete. Monday mornings become much less frazzled and hectic because my bag is already packed and in the right place, my clothes are fresh and ready, and my coffee is one button away from being ready for the next morning (no fancy Keurig around here).

Having a Sunday Night routine has steadily lowered my hatred for Sunday nights because there is much less dread for the week ahead. It also gives me a chance to be a little more optimistic about the week ahead although by Wednesday, as with many others, I begin to lose my energy and well thought out organization. Implementing a Sunday routine is simple even if it only contains a few things to make your life a little bit easier. It’s really a lot of trial and error to find out what works best for you. I have three things I have worked into mine that really help me focus the week ahead.

  1. Yoga – Seemingly a no brainer. It’s roughly 15-30 minutes I spend to decompress and try to get focus for the week ahead. I use Down Dog to do restorative yoga typically before bed. They end their practices with a few moments of stillness at the end which gives me time to relax my mind.
  2. My 5 Outfit Plan – I’ve mentioned this before on a couple of style posts, but each week I choose 5 pieces from my wardrobe to wear for the week. Obviously one each day which makes choosing an outfit easier. I don’t waste as much time searching for outfits daily and my floor is noticeably cleaner by the end of the week. Okay, maybe not entirely clean because why on Earth would I remember to hang my jacket back up or put my shoes back on the rack where they belong? This is incredibly easy to implement because I know what my week is going to look like and what selections would be most appropriate. For example, if I’m going to the office or an event or just running errands & lounging, I know what is going to make me feel and look good. Simply move the 5 pieces to a different part of the closet/dresser/clothing rack (if you’re cool like that) and then you won’t be tempted to search endlessly for something else. Plus, if you’re a compulsive closet cleaner you’ll know which clothes you wear most frequently so you’ll know which others can be donated or sold.
  3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule – I have a serious day planner addiction, but I will never deny how much easier my life is seeing tons of highlighted bars rather than forgetting everything I need to do. I typically sit, write a giant list of everything that needs to be accomplished (schoolwork, work tasks, blogs, errands, pretty much anything) and break it down into deadlines or days where it would work best (i.e. Saturday/Sunday – best days for errands. Much more time to kill). Once I have an idea of what’s going on, I can focus my attention better. Not to mention using a highlighter to mark things off is strangely satisfying. 

 

3 Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

I never gave much thought about apple cider vinegar until a few years ago when I got a pretty bad stomach ailment and it was recommended I try drinking it. It worked and I was officially converted.

There are about half a million uses for the wonder liquid. You can clean, remove odors, eat, and even use it for skin care purposes. It can even help with maintaining a healthy weight. Apple Cider Vinegar is acidic and has antibacterial and anti-inflamatory properties. It’s been known to reduce bloating, aid in digesting starches (for feeling fuller and avoiding a carb crash), lower blood sugar levels, and balance PH levels in the body. It also eliminates bad breath and can even be a deodorizer for smelly feet.

Here are three of the best ways to use Apple Cider Vinegar (if you don’t already).

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Skin Care

People claim ACV will cure acne, but there is lack of evidence to support this. It is possible to use ACV as a toner or spot treatment. Because of its antibacterial properties, ACV can attack the bacteria known to cause acne while removing redness and inflammation of pimples. To create a toner or spot treatment just dilute ACV with some water and apply to the face.

Treat Stomach Ailments

As I mentioned earlier the reason I began consuming ACV was because of a stomach issue long ago. No matter what the stomach issue the ACV will get to the bottom of it. The antibacterial and antiviral properties will attack the nasty germs and bring relief to your body. Always be sure to dilute apple cider vinegar if when drinking it. Internal organs especially the esophagus aren’t engineered to handle the large amount of acid.

Body Treatment

There are plenty of things apple cider vinegar does to the inside of the body, but it is also great for healing the outside too. One of my favorite uses is to soothe sore muscles and cleanse the surface of my skin. Simply soak in a tub filled with water, 1 cup of epsom salts, and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. This treatment can deodorize feet and even sooth skin after shaving.

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