10 ways to deal with the bad days

Some days it seems like nothing can go right. We all have those days where it just seems like there is too much drama. Too much pressure. Too many expectations. Too many things to do, not enough time. Then there’s all the unnecessary nastiness. Some days it’s just all too much!

img_1745

It’s days like these that self-care is super important. Sometimes I struggle with this. It’s something I have been trying to focus on lately. So here are a few of the things that make me feel better on those days.

1: Be kind to yourself

This is probably the most important thing. Some days you just need to cut yourself some slack. Would you have the same expectations on someone else that you have on yourself? Why shouldn’t you be as kind to yourself as you would a stranger? There’s only so much you can do and sometimes you just need to be okay with letting things go. It’s alright not to be perfect (see why here).

2: A good old pamper session

By far my favourite thing is to run myself a nice, hot bath, with bath salts, a beautiful candle and a good read. Sadly my unit doesn’t have a bath though. Instead I’ll do a face and hair mask, give myself a mani-pedi or some other make-me-feel-pretty thing. This usually involves some gorgeous scented candles burning in the background.

3: Play some feel good music

What I consider feel good music seems to vary with my mood. Sometimes I want something up beat and pop-y, other times calm and relaxing. Listen to your mood and pick some tunes that suit you. I have a few Spotify playlists that are my go-tos for times like these – let me know if you want me to share.

4: Treat yourself

Come on, who doesn’t love a little (lot?) retail therapy? I usually use it as an excuse to buy myself something little. This is usually something that smells amazing – a scented candle, some new body wash or body butter. I always find this is an instant pick me up.

5: Do some yoga

Yoga is such a good release for me. There’s something about focusing on body positioning, movement, breathing and stillness of the mind that just makes everything else melt away. On days like these, I tend to opt for the chilled out, slow and relaxed Hatha yoga as opposed to Power or Vinyasa sequences. On the really bad ones, this could literally just be an extended period in child’s pose. Really it doesn’t matter all that much what you do, as long as it works for you.

6: Life admin

I always feel better when things are sorted. All those little things you have been putting off, like calling to make appointments, seem like such a big deal on bad days. Sometimes making little steps to move ahead can make it so much less overwhelming. Attending to one or two of those little things can make all the difference. It can make you feel on top of things and is definitely worth the effort.

7: Stick to your routine (as much as possible)

It’s important to maintain some form of normality. If you normally go to the gym every Monday, don’t stop on account of a bad day. Those kind of things can actually help to get you out of that funk. Keeping busy can take your mind off things and give you something positive to focus on instead. Also, you will probably regret it the next day if you don’t.

8: Affirmations

Create a journal or notebook with all the good things. The things you like about yourself. The things you have achieved. The things you are proud of. The things that inspire you. The things you aspire to be. Do this over time when you think of it. Then you can bring it out on a bad day and be reminded of all those positive things. An instant pick me up.

9: Reach out

Make social connections. Invite friends over. Arrange to go out and do something. Even if you can’t organise something right away, knowing you have plans in the future gives you something to look forward to. Otherwise, just have a good chat with old friends can brighten any mood.

10: Chill out

Some tea and a good book. Or maybe Netflix and chocolate is more your speed? Either way, just taking some time out and escaping reality for another world makes a world of difference. You can check out some of my top picks here. Opting for a comedy is a great way to lighten the mood and bring some smiles to that face.

What are your go-tos for a bad day pick me up?

Advertisements

How your gut health is affecting your immune system

I’ve been feeling a bit off lately. It seems like it is one thing after another – always being sick. I was at my physiotherapist the other day, and she mentioned that gut health has been strongly linked to depression and a number of other things – so I did a bit of digging.

Turns out that your intestines contain more immune cells than the rest of your body, so most of your immunity can be traced back to how your gut is functioning. There is increasing evidence that how well your gut is functioning has a direct correlation not only with digestion and irritable bowel, but also with depression, obesity, allergies, asthma and coeliac disease. (Source: Science Daily)

This explained so much for me. For so long I have had pretty much zero appetite and I was in a constant state of flux with irritable bowel no matter what I ate. The next logical step was to look at ways to improve gut health.

Gut health is to do with the flora in your intestines – a mix of bacteria (good and bad), parasites and fungi. Things like antibiotics, the pill, junk food and diets high in meats can all decrease the good bacteria in your system, putting it out of whack. Eliminating or reducing these are going to help, but let’s face it, sometimes you just need to take these things.

The other option is to increase the amount of good bacteria in your gut. The best way is through probiotic supplementation (obviously you should consult your doctor before taking any new supplements). Here are some of the options I have come across.

IMG_1735.JPG

SCOBY Kombucha Tea

This is probably my favourite option. SCOBY stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Basically what happens is the SCOBY is placed into tea and sugar. The living colony that is SCOBY then ferments the tea and sugar, leaving Kombucha.

The result has incredibly high concentrations of good bacteria and goes a long way in helping re-balance your gut flora. Be careful not to take too much, especially at first. I could only manage about 1/3 to 1/2 a serving, otherwise the change can cause a build up of gas and bloating – this part is the same regardless of which type of probiotic you choose.

Kefir

Kefir “grains”, which are a type SCOBY, are added to milk in a similar process to Kombucha. Obviously the milk brings about an entirely different taste but has the same benefits. It tastes a little sour, similar to yoghurt. Kefir is a much more potent probiotic than yoghurt so only start with a little.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. Basically the combination of cabbage and salt is allowed to ferment for a few days to a few months (depending on climate). The result is high is those much needed probiotics, from the fermentation process. You may be thinking “it would be so much easier to just buy this pre-made”. Unfortunately, most sauerkraut that is sold in the shops has been heat-treated, which removes all of the goodness of probiotics from it.

Probiotic supplements

The other option is probiotic supplements. I left these til last as they tend to be pretty expensive per serve and some have pretty low levels of probiotics. If you can’t stomach any of the above, then look for the supplement that has the largest number of probiotics and multiple strains. In the cultures used above, there is a large range of different types of good bacteria. In supplements, they often focus on 2-3, sometimes even 1. Keep in mind that you gut has billions of bacteria, so there will probably be a lot of zeros.

What are the ways that you like to stay healthy?

Why you can have your smashed avo and eat it too

Breakfast catch ups are probably my favourite. Catching up with friends over a good morning coffee are the best way to spend lazy Sunday mornings. Then there’s all the amazing menu choices. For someone who is plagued with indecisiveness, it makes sense to stick to what you know and just roll with it. My go to is smashed avocado on toast because ummm…such deliciousness.

figs7
Source: All About That Food

Now, I’m not much of a budget-maker (I talked about it here). I kind of just roll with it and try not to put too much pressure on myself – as long as it all works out in the end. Well some people have other ideas!

I read this article in the Australian over the weekend (which has caused a bit of controversy, in case you haven’t heard) and was gobsmacked. The reason millennials are suffering in the housing-affordability crisis? Smashed avo(cado)s of course.

I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more. I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn’t they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.

There. I’ve said it. I have said what every secret middle-aged moraliser has thought but has never had the courage to verbalise.

Woah. Hold up. What?

Firstly, I’m not sure where you’re going to eat breakfast but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone charge $22 for avocado on toast #justsaying.

The maths doesn’t add up

Even if I was spending $22 on smashed avo 3 times every week (which I definitely don’t), it would add up to $3,432 per year. Generally, most banks require a 20% deposit. So after 1 year of saving on all those smashed avos, that deposit would be 20% of $17,160. After 5 years and an accumulated deposit of $17,160 from all those smashed avos you went without, that deposit would qualify you for a potential loan amount of $85,000. 10 years? A potential loan amount of $171,600 – still a far cry from buying your own home.

Median house prices for June 2016? Brisbane – $ 521,915. Melbourne – $ 740,995. Sydney – $ 1,021,968. Check this out for more info.

Hmmm. Yeah I’m not convinced my smashed avo habit is to blame for house prices being out of reach.

Why shouldn’t you have fun? It’s your life

It is not everyone’s goal to own their own home. There seems to be such a societal force that equates success with home ownership. Some people want to explore all of the exciting places around the world. Some people would rather spend their keep on their lifestyle. How is criticising young people going out to eat helping anyone?

I’m sure that Bernard Salt wasn’t just referring to smashed avo on toast. Rather the perception of millennials’ over-indulgent lifestyle. The concept of people living above their means is nothing new. In fact, isn’t that just a byproduct of the consumerism condition?

I think it is a bit ridiculous to expect anyone to cut out leisure spending when they have the funds. Live a little. There’s no point to remove all the little fun things from your life just in the pursuit of a financial goal. Life is more important than that. Expecting all millennials to do so is unrealistic. After all, why place this expectation on millennials and not other areas of the community. Of course people would be better off if they didn’t spend their money.

What else would you rather be doing?

I don’t know about you, but I get terrible hangovers. Pretty much the entire day is spent in bed watching Netflix, drinking Gatorade, eating all the greasy foods and feeling sorry for myself. I’m just not in the right place to leave the house, let alone socialise over a breakfast date!

Drinking is expensive. Even if you stay in. You buy the alcohol. The inevitable Uber into town when everyone is sufficiently drunk to be down for that. Paying entry fees. More buying of alcohol and shouting rounds. Then the late night drinking food (who can go past a kebab at 2 am?). The Uber home (sometimes coupled with a quick stop at your local fast food joint if you managed to resist the greasy kebab from earlier). Then you think it’s all over. Until that hangover-induced spending spree I mentioned above.

Now let’s just take a minute. All those hipster millennials sitting around at the cafe for breakfast dates have just avoided all of that (unless they have livers of steel). That $22 avo on toast isn’t looking so expensive now is it?

It’s all about perspective. What you see when you look at someone isn’t their full story. It’s about your story and what’s important to you. If avocados on toast on Sunday mornings do it for you, go right on ahead. It’s not gong to make that much difference anyway. I’m all for avoiding the pounding headaches after a late night drinking session.

Why perfectionism should be done away with

Perfectionism. It’s often toted around jokingly: “I’m such a perfectionist”. I have heard it so often (and I’m a culprit I admit) that it has kind of lost it’s meaning altogether. I hadn’t really thought to much about throwing it around. Since I saw Reshma Saujami’s talk, “Teach Girls Bravery, not perfectionism” (see where I talked about it here) I have been questioning this.

I started thinking about who I usually hear tossing that phrase around. I could not recall an example where a guy said that. It’s almost exclusively women. Why?Why is there some hidden expectation that it is acceptable for women to be perfect? Hmm, not acceptable, expected.

No one bats an eyelid when they hear “I’m such a perfectionist” from a woman.

I think it comes from socialisation.The way the world is constructed. It’s something that is taught, albeit implicitly, from when you are a child and then constantly reinforced throughout life.

Take clothing options for example. If you haven’t already, check out this girl’s explanation:

 

There’s definitely different expectations placed on young boys versus young girls. For girls to be pretty, happy, cheerful and agreeable. Boys on the other hand, are encouraged to make their own adventures, to give things a go, to take risks. It doesn’t matter if boys take those risks and make a mess of things. After all, boys will be boys. The same can’t be said for girls. They should be clean, tidy and organised – all things that can be related to perfectionism.

Now surely these same gendered standards don’t continue into adulthood. Or do they?

It appears that the fashion world is improving in the portrayal of men and women. Increasingly men are photographed in “low power” positions such as clutching their own legs and arms. Women are more and more being photographed in powerful poses. While this is great, it seems that the same can not be said about a lot of the culture.

The importance of female perfectionism is still inherent within society, though understated. There’s that suitableness of men often being rewarded for taking risks. When things go wrong? When the wrong things are said? When there is a lack of empathy, compassion and emotional intelligence? There comes that saying: Don’t you know that boys will be boys. So that makes it okay to lower our expectations of the human condition? That phrase, gives an exemption to perfectionism. Why is it okay to grant this concession based on gender?

This concession, is it internal? Or is this something that is being imposed by other people Previously I had considered it to be purely a societal thing – now I am not so sure. Does self-talk play a part?

While I believe that people should not be treated differently, I find myself trying to be perfect at everything I do. I find myself avoiding risks because I am not confident I will be able to make it work. Am I part of the problem? Am I unknowingly perpetuating this concession? I don’t have that expectation on others, why then should I have it on myself?

I do not believe that this concession can truly be done away with until we change our self-talk. Change the expectation on yourself to be perfect. You are human. Why then should you have to be perfect? Why should that be something to aspire to?

I believe when I focus more on taking risks and less on achieving perfectionism, that I will be able to say with confidence that I am not perpetuating this gendered concession. Imagine what would happen if everyone would do the same.

DIY: Painted Glass Vase

 

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I am a bit impartial to thrift shopping. You just never know what you are going to find! My latest find was an old, glass, half-litre milk bottle, which I thought would look great as a little painted vase. Super easy too.

It would be great for your home or even as a gift. You could use jars, bottles, vases or even glasses for this. So many possibilities.

This is what I started with:

IMG_1678.JPG

I just had some left over acrylic paint. It really doesn’t matter too much the type of paint – just will change the effect. Spray paint or water-based paints will also work pretty well for this.

I also used a paint brush, sanding paper and some polyurethane clear coat. You can get polyurethane from your local hardware store and it usually comes in a satin or gloss finish.

To start, turn the bottle upside down on some cardboard/paper/anything to protect the surface below:

Then I just started painting the bottle upside down from top to bottom. This is just the first coat which looks pretty streaky.

After a couple more coats of acrylic paint, was looking like this:

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

I ended up really loving the matte finish on this one so didn’t go ahead with the polyurethane coat. If you are after the shiny or glossy finish, simply use some light sand paper to smooth the painted surface gently. Then apply a few coats of polyurethane to suit your taste.

I am super happy with this one. Now brightening up my living room with some fun spring colours.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

 

 

Saving doesn’t have to be a dirty word

Urgh! Sometimes the thought of having to save can bring down even the best of moods. The thought of having to go without by choice is enough to make most people keep scrolling. Saving doesn’t have to be a dirty word.

IMG_1695.JPG

Whether you’re saving for a house, a holiday or to buy that designer handbag you have had your eyes on, here are some tips that certainly got me through without feeling like I was missing out.

It’s all about priorities

I think it’s super important to recognise what is important to you. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice everything in the name of saving. I made a list (I am quite impartial to lists) of the things that mattered most to me…and least.

At the top of my important list were family, food and clothes. Family – I feel like this is self-explanatory. Food – I love eating out and trying exciting, new options. I mean who doesn’t love catching up with friend’s over coffee or some deliciousness. Clothes – retail therapy is probably the best way I know to make myself feel better. With this in mind, I decided that these were the things I would allow myself to splurge on a little.

On the flip side, this meant that I did need to make little sacrifices. Alcohol, for example, was on my unimportant list. This probably has something to do with my low tolerance for pretty much any intoxicating substance. When I go out with friends, I tend to stick to 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks or steer clear altogether. To me, it actually doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice since it wasn’t that important to me anyway. You can probably imagine that this has saved me quite a lot over the years!

Have a think about what does and doesn’t matter to you and adjust your spending accordingly – you may be surprised at the results.

Budgets are over-rated

I don’t know about you, but I have certainly tried many a time to budget. These attempts always fail miserably. In theory they may perfect sense. It makes sense to keep a track of your spending. It makes sense to monitor it to make sure you spend less than you earn. It makes sense to figure out where your money is going. It just didn’t work for me.

The idea of a budget makes me so anxious. It makes me worry about everything I spend. It makes me dread going shopping or basically leaving the house to do anything that might involve spending money.

What has worked for me, is just being conscious about what I spend money on. It’s ok to splurge now and then – I just make up for it elsewhere. So it probably wasn’t the best idea to agree to so many dinner/lunch dates this week and my bank account is feeling it. The following week maybe I would make coffee at home before work instead of buying it in the city, or maybe I would be more organised and do a cook up for the week at home. As long as this is balanced, it doesn’t matter all that much where you spend your money. It’s better that you are happy and enjoying life.

Security

For me (please tell me I’m not the only one), money can really stress me out. The feeling of not knowing what could happen tomorrow, next week or next year. It can be a huge source of stress: if something happened and I needed some money fast, what would I do?

Having a separate account with some emergency savings has been the best gift to myself. By having it in a different account (I prefer with a different bank altogether) I can’t see the funds every time I log into internet banking (limit the temptation!) and then if I do need to delve into the funds, I just transfer them across – easy. Being with a different bank, it does take a couple of business days to clear, which was a perfect deterrent to stop me from using the money to splurge.

I saved about $4000 in this account – but how much you keep will depend on your income, spending habits and how keen you are to keep those savings locked away. I built this up by saving a little each week.

Saving without thinking

While I didn’t work out a budget per se, I did a rough estimate of how much I wanted to spend on essentials (rent, bills, transport), food (including eating out), and fun stuff each week. At the time my weekly income varied as I was working a couple of casual jobs while at uni. So what I would do is have all of my paychecks deposited into my savings account. Then I set up an auto-transfer payment for the amount of my weekly spending to go to my everyday account with the other bank. I would just go about my life with the money in my everyday account. I didn’t have to think about saving money – I didn’t have that option. It worked well for me.

In the past I had tried to transfer money each week to a savings account, but would always find myself making deals with myself. “Yeah I could transfer those savings, but you know I really want XYZ”. And so it would go that the savings wouldn’t build up at all. Does that sound familiar?

I always found saving easier when I was working towards something I wanted. Saving doesn’t have to be dreaded or difficult or a party-pooper. Let me know what your favourite saving tips are. Happy saving!

My secrets to peaceful slumber

When you think about it, sleep shouldn’t be THAT difficult. You’ve been doing it since you were born. Why then do I spend countless nights laying in bed admiring my ceiling? I set out on a mission to boot the insomnia once and for all. Here I share the secrets (?) I learnt and used to finally get those much needed z’s.

img_1677

1: Create and stick to a sleep routine

Now when I first came across this I thought it was absurd. I thought, “Doing the same thing before bed every night won’t make a difference, pfft”. Then I tried it. It is probably the best thing I have found to help me sleep.

The premise is that if you do the same things before bed each night, it gets your brain into the mindset of sleeping. It’s like it subconsciously prepares you for a peaceful night’s sleep.

My routine involves having a teaspoon of honey (seriously all the good things like anti-bacterial, throat-soothing and makes the body release serotonin which promotes sleep) in herbal tea. I slowly sip this while unwinding, removing makeup and all the rest of it. A sleep playlist, of chilled songs that calm me are also a must have. I have been working on getting to bed around the same time each night – that still needs a bit of work.

2: Limit caffeine after lunch

Coffee is my guilty pleasure. The smell. The sensation of that first sip. A good cup of coffee can dust away all my worries and help me take on the day. I know that coffee has a pretty big affect on me though – probably more than most. The other day, I bought the most delicious chocolate covered coffee beans (from the Noosa Chocolate Factory). I had been so good but it was about 6 pm and I had some serious chocolate cravings – may have delved into the chocolate coffee bean supply. I DID NOT SLEEP FOR HOURS AND HOURS.

I have been working on not consuming any caffeine after midday. Some days this is more challenging than others for me. So worth it though when I have those blissful uninterrupted hours of sleep.

3: Before bed yoga

Sometimes I find this whole “wind-down” thing a bit out of reach. I would try and then end up getting frustrated with myself that my mind was running a thousand miles with all the things it wanted to think about. Yoga is a great way to calm your body and get ready for sleep.

Don’t be intimidated – I ain’t no pretzel. My idea of pre-bed yoga are some pretty chilled poses like child’s pose, cat pose and supine twist. Really just some super gentle stretching but makes such a difference! But if you are up for the more intense stuff before bed, go right ahead.

4: Escape technology

We spend so much of our time now days behind a screen. I probably borderline on a little too much. The white-blue light of a screen actually tricks your brain into thinking it’s day time. It can reset your body clock and make it almost impossible to fall asleep.

Many devices now have the option to change the colour of the display lighting to make it more warm – which is much better sleep-wise. On an Iphone, it’s under Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift.

While this is great, turning off the computer/tablet/phone/other devices is even better. I have heard that some people will not bring any devices into the bedroom. I don’t know if I could even cope with this! For now I will settle for not using them 30 minutes before bed. At least that’s something, right?

5: Dim the lights

Kind of keeping with the technology theme, but this has made such a huge difference to me. When I moved into my unit, all of the fixed lighting had bright, stark white light bulbs. While this is great for offices, studios and photography, it is pretty poor for sleep.

One of the best things I did was replace most of the fixed bulbs and all of my lamps with warm light globes. When I’m starting to wind down at night, I switch from the few white lights to the warm ones and instantly notice the difference.

What helps you sleep better?

My run in with crochet

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

img_1645

I feel like such a nanna some times! I have a secret obsession with crochet. There’s something about the repetitiveness that creates something wonderful that really does it for me.

My Mum taught me to knit when I was about 7 years old. I never had the patience for it though! I would start a “project” with these grand ambitions and quickly lose interest. The number of times I would start, get about 20 rows in and then suddenly become fascinated by ALL THE OTHER EXCITING THINGS. It was something that I would pick up and now then. Always in winter. Usually when I was getting my procrastination on – because who really wants to adult all the time.

A couple of months ago, I was deep into one of those intense Youtube sessions where you completely lose track of time and stumble across amazing, unexpected (ok and sometimes weird) things that are the internet. It was then that I first watched a crochet tutorial. And another…quite a few in all honesty. I was hooked. This was something I had to try.

And I did.

img_1648

After (a lot) of trial and error, redoing, unwinding, screwing things up, I FINALLY got the hang of it. And kind of fell in love.

There’s something about twirling, twisting, inserting, removing that just clears my head. Ending up with a gorgeous creation is just a bonus. This is my first attempt at a blanket – probably a little ambitious for a first project but that’s how I roll.

While this is a super basic design, I really love the colour palette. It reminds me of the peaceful ocean, the sand, the waves gentling crashing. All those good things to think about while cuddling up with a good book, or maybe just to snuggle while cringe-watching the Bachelorette.

img_1644