13/01/2019

Easy Ways To Practice Gratitude


There is so much to be grateful for.

I first read about the concept of gratitude on lifestyle and self-care blogs. Of course I understood the idea of feeling happy and grateful for what I have, but turning it into a mantra is something else. I can be very pessimistic at times, mostly when I am anxious or upset, but more and more over the years I have grown optimistic about a lot of things. Little by little, I have incorporated acts of gratitude into my life, without putting that label on them. I don't think one needs to be overly grateful, shout from the rooftops all the things that make them happy, but reminding yourself of all the wonderful things in your life doesn't hurt, right?
There is definitely easy ways to practice gratitude, and all those things can help you build a more positive, happier self. I will never say it enough: you need to work on your mindset to see the changes you wish for.


WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE?
This may seem like an easy question, but I don't think we do that often enough. Just think about a fun memory that always makes you smile. What is it that make you feel that way? Is it the place? The people you were with? The thing you were doing? If something puts a smile on your faces, chances are it's something you will be grateful for. For me, it is anything from remembering the times spent with my boyfriend, to a funny moment I lived with a friend, or the satisfaction of thinking about the days when I feel really motivated to write my novel or workout. All these experiences are moments which could never fail to make you happy. Think about them and realise how lucky you have been to experience them - how lucky you are to experience them still. We take a lot of things for granted, but whenever you can, maybe when you're in your bed at night trying to fall asleep - think about the stuff that makes you smile. Whether it happened on the same day or months ago, these are still things that have nurtured your life and made an impact, for they still make you smile now. Don't forget them - especially when things are not going so well. There can always be a little smile on your face. 

ABOUT GRATITUDE LISTS
There are a lot of ways to make gratitude lists, and I have to say that I don't make them terribly often myself, but it is something that is quick, easy and uplifting. What I usually do is that when I have had a good day, if I find myself smiling in contentment in the evening, I will get out a pen and write in a journal "five great things that happened today." I started this little habit over two years ago, on my birthday in 2016, because one of my friends gifted me a beautiful journal. I don't write every day, only for days that I want to remember. There are some days that are more significant than others, but I do have quite a few days in the journal where I've only spent my day at home, but found five little things that make me happy and grateful. Whenever I look back in the journal, it gives me a beautiful feeling of happiness and it never fails to brighten my mood.
I feel like I could not stick to a gratitude list per day, but whether you decide to try it out is another story! To give you an example, my gratitude list today, as I am writing this post, would be:
- I am grateful for calling my boyfriend and spending time with him.
- I am grateful for finding the strength to do a tough workout and push myself to improve.
- I am grateful for having a comforting coffee after my workout.
You can make the list as long as you like, but remember the smallest things and look at them with gratitude, because even a simple thing like a cup of coffee may not seem like much to you, but isn't it wonderful to be able to make yourself a warm coffee whenever you want, just because you want it? I think it is.



SHARE THE LOVE
Many things that you will find yourself grateful for will include other people. Your family, friends, partners, colleagues, even strangers in the street sometimes. So what if you shared your feeling of gratitude with them? Tell a friend you're grateful for the coffee date you spent with them. Tell your partner you are grateful for their support. Smile to the stranger who held the door for you. For me, it is often thanking my children at school when we've had a good lesson. They make me smile, even laugh out loud, and in these moments I feel very grateful for the job that I do and for teaching them. So I always make sure to have a kind word, so that this may be something they look back on too later in the day and smile about. Show others how grateful you are even for the smallest things, and chances are, it will all come back to you. Makes the world kinder and more positive, don't you think?

AN ODE TO ORDINARY LIFE
Gratitude is all about being thankful for the little things, the "boring" things. Like the post-workout coffee on my list. It is more difficult to feel happy about the ordinary, what we take for granted, than to be grateful about going on a trip, getting a new job, and all those things that don't happen every day and we feel so lucky for. What happens every day is of course less special in our eyes. But really, think about what all you have is amazing! Being healthy enough to do the workout, being able to afford coffee and cake on a weekend afternoon, having books to read and the Internet to express yourself and connect with others. Not every one has the security of having a "boring" life, of coming home after work and cooking a meal. 
I know this sounds like I am trying to get melodramatic here, but really, think about all these little things you do every day, maybe even those that seem like a chore (for me, that's the cooking... urgh!) and remind yourself that all these ordinary things make up that wonderful life of yours. Take a step back and you'll see things from a different angle - a more positive, thankful one.

What are you grateful for?
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02/01/2019

LIFESTYLE | Why the End of the Year is NOT your Deadline


Let's not start the new year stressed, shall we?

2018 is coming to an end. As we all expect, this is the time where magazines and sometimes blogs ask you to stop and think about the goals you've managed to achieve. What you have checked off your list. Have you had a promotion at work? Have you reached 50k on Instagram? Have you bought a house? All these expectations can be overwhelming, especially when you see others succeed. Don't get me wrong, we should always celebrate each other's successes, but often we expect people to achieve so much in the space of one year, that if you haven't quite reached your big goals yet, it can make you feel a bit down or overwhelmed.
But hear this: the end of the year doesn't mean it's too late. No matter whether you've reached the end line or not, what you should remember is the progress you have made in the interval. Things take time, and your goals don't really care about whether you achieve them on December 31, 2018 or on May 2, 2019. Really, they don't. The pressure comes from seeing the end of a year being used as a deadline to end everything and start off again. How about we let go of that pressure, of the temptation to compare our successes to those of others, and just carry on as we were going?


SH*T TAKES TIME
Give yourself the time to reach those long-term goals you have at the back of your mind. Don't make yourself start it all again - unless you want to of course. But you shouldn't feel like you have to make these resolutions to change your life around if they are going to make you stressed. Some things take longer than we expect sometimes, and it's not because you haven't achieved them before the end of the year that you are a failure. Take me, for example: I am writing a novel, and have been on it on-and-off for roughly two years. In early 2018 I started working on it consistently again, and the February 2018 me thought 'by December, I want to be all done and ready to edit!'. Turns out, it's late December now and I'm not there at all. I haven't met my deadline yet. Should I feel like I failed? Or like maybe I didn't put enough time and effort in? It's so easy to put yourself down for not quite reaching what you've been aiming for. But don't let this negativity overshadow all the things you have done, and keep doing every day of every year. Don't let deadlines dictate your successes. And if something needs more time, then just carry on. It's not about how long it takes, it's about how great you feel while working on it. 

DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO THAT ONE GIRL YOU 'SAW ON INSTAGRAM'
I pick Instagram here because it's the perfect platfom to get those types of feelings. You see people through a sparkly lens of lucky moments, engagements, you see them publish books, buy a house, and especially at this time of year, you see the 2018 recaps full of unimaginable goals. This is also true about blogs, about your Facebook friends (like that one person you knew in high school and would never talk to again, but still have as a Facebook friend for some reason) and also the people around you - your friends, your co-workers. Some people have had a fantastic year full of life changing things, and maybe yours was quieter - but success comes in all shapes and sizes and your successes are the best, because they are your own. We all fall into the trap of comparison sometimes, even though I have never tackled this issue on my blog, and now is my time to remind you that comparing yourself to others should not be something you do, whether it's 2018 or 2019. Focus on you and think back on all the awesome things that happened to you this year. 


THE NEVERENDING GOAL: YOUR HAPPINESS
To me, there is one big goal that should never have a deadline, and it is your happiness. This of course encompasses a lot of things, and you will define your own happiness in your terms. Whenever you think of your goals, make sure they all drive you towards feeling happy and fulfilled. Whether it is related to your job, your relationships, or your hobbies, do your best to make yourself happy. This is how you create the memories that you will remember at the end of the calendar year - and for all the other years to come.


What is your best memory from 2018?
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26/12/2018

LIFESTYLE | The Perfect Cosy Home Day


Let's hibernate for a day or two.

I think we should take the time for cosy home days all year around, but as winter comes and the weather outside is dreadful, we have even more reasons to stay home and cosy up. Every week, I make sure to spend one day focussing on self-care, relaxing time and doing all the home things that make me feel warm and happy. I've become a bit of a pro at this, so I thought about sharing all the little things you can do for a perfect winter home day...

GIVE YOURSELF GOALS
Even though you are having a relaxing home day, it can be easy to set yourself back and fall into a spiral of procrastination, endless scrolling of your phone, and mindlessly lose your time. Self-care has to be thought through, in my opinion, to really have a positive effect on you. As you start off your day, give yourself a short list of goals to accomplish. It can by anything from catching up on a TV show to finish reading a book, or baking something. Write it down at the start of the day, tick it off, and you will practice mindful self-care. Know what you are doing for yourself and how it helps you feel good. 

WEAR YOUR COMFIEST CLOTHES
For me, being at home always, always means wearing comfortable clothes. Most of the time, during home days, you'll find me in my cosiest pyjamas and fluffy socks. You can also decide to wear proper clothes of course, and in that case comfy oversized jumpers and leggings are your best ally! I find that wearing soft, comforting materials sets me in a cosy mood much more than if I wear thicker materials like denim or items like dresses and skirts. 


Primark has the most wonderful range of home clothes, slippers, socks and pyjamas, especially towards the end of the year.There's nothing like spending a day in your pyjamas to feel like you're really getting some good, well-deserved rest!

A HOT DRINK & A TREAT
Are you more team tea or team coffee? Or maybe you're a hot chocolate kind of person? Whenever I have a home day, I inevitably have a mug of hot coffee and almond milk in the afternoon, with a little snack - a French pastry, toast, or, around Christmas time, a chocolate or two.
Treating yourself to a little sugary snack is the perfect pick-me-up to make the day even more special. I like to do this while I'm watching a film or a video on YouTube, often after I've got some work stuff done (because yes, there's always the temptation to do some work even on an off-day...) 


Get out your cutest mug, buy your favourite ever snack, and turn it into a relaxing moment. Put some music in the background, and you could even feel like you're at your favourite coffee shop... Without the expensive coffee and the chatter around you. You can refocus and do something you enjoy while getting your energy levels up - especially if like me, you like having lighter lunches at home.

STIMULATE YOUR BRAIN
I don't think a day at home should mean snoozing all day and taking random naps. It should be a time for stimulating your mind in ways that are different from what you do during your usual work week. It's your time to practice your favourite hobbies. Reading, knitting, working out, drawing, the possibilities are infinite. Who said staying at home is boring!
Recently I got myself a Netflix subscription, because Making a Murderer part 2 is out, and I could not resist as I was fascinated by the first part of the documentary. And if you've watched it, you will know that this is a hell of a lot of brain stimulation! The detective in me has awakened again. I need a Sherlock hat ASAP.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE
When I spend some chill days at home, I always remember that not everybody has this chance. Some people work shifts, some people work weekends, and in the past I have had days when I felt guilty for taking a day just for myself. Guilty for not working for a few hours, guilty for not being outside enjoying the weather and other people's company... But ultimately we should try to make time for ourselves. There's no better time to reflect on your life and on what you have, than when you're on your own, in a peaceful and familiar environment. Realise how lucky you are to be able to watch Netflix a whole afternoon if you want to, to be able to eat these treats, and have these hobbies that make you happy and fulfilled. Those cosy home days are not lazy days, they can also be work on your inner self. And this can only make you feel good and content.

What are your must-do things on a cosy home day?
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