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22 Ways to Feel Better

Taking time to practice self-care might sound corny, but when the going gets tough, knowing a few things that you can do to lift your spirits can be really handy. In times of stress we need ways to unwind and restore our energy more than ever.

Trouble is, when life gets you down and the stress builds up, it can be hard to remember to practice small acts of self-care. To take time to relax & be present, to try to do things that make us feel good.

“Our way to practice is one step at a time, one breath at a time.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki

I’ve had a rough week. I won’t go into details here because it’s all family dramas and sad news, but late on Monday afternoon things got a little darker, and a little ball of tension formed at my core. Yesterday afternoon I managed to escape to the coast for an hour after spending time with my family, and then I set aside an hour for restorative yoga when I got home. Slowly this ball of stress loosened, and I’m ready to take a deep breath and keep going.

I’m so very thankful that I know myself well enough now to know what I need when stress begins to mount, so grateful for the lessons of the past. I managed to cut back on my commitments to make time for sea air, the company of a dear friend and yoga. My very own self-care must-haves.

Last night, I was trying to think of things my Mum could do to feel better at the moment (as I said, the whole family is suffering currently) and I started a list. I emailed her these ideas. This morning I decided to share them here with you, as these are universally good things to do when the shit hits the fan or you are generally feeling blue! I hope they help in some way.

Feel free to pass along to a friend who might need some self-care inspiration, or bookmark for a rainy day :)

Here are 22 things you can do to feel better:

1. Move your body – get your yoga mat out, go for a walk, take the bike for a spin. The key is to get out of your head and into your body for a while. Plus exercise releases all the good chemicals that help you feel better naturally! Win win.

2. Borrow a box set or download a complete season of a new show (recommendations include Orange is the New Black, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation).

3. Make and eat this: Breakfast Polenta.

4. Browse here: http://imgur.com/r/aww/

5. Make a good pot of tea. Theanine in tea helps calm you down, it’s science. Also, tea is just generally lovely.

6. Sit and meditate, even just for 3 minutes. Here’s my simple how to guide, and here’s a really interesting article about how meditation works.

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

7.  Make popcorn from scratch, add macadamia oil, salt and maple syrup. YUM.

8. Paint your nails a ridiculous colour. Or (even better) treat yourself and get someone to paint them for you.

9. Lie on your bed and rest your legs up against the wall. Possibly nap. Probably wake with a start as your legs fall off the wall when you fall asleep. Feel better either way.

10. Eat chocolate. Or drink hot chocolate. Basically – chocolate.

11. Drive to the sea. Sit and stare out at the ocean and smile at the fact that you get to sit and stare at the ocean right now. That’s pretty special. While you’re there, breathe deep. Fresh & salty sea air – there’s really nothing like it.

12. Message someone you haven’t spoken to in a while just to ask how they’re doing at the moment. You’ll brighten their day.

13. Re-watch When Harry Met Sally or Love Actually. With chocolate. Or popcorn. You can invite me over too 😉

14. Browse a few of your favourite blogs. This one, this one and this one perhaps.

15. Go to bed early but make a ritual of it – shower, turn off all electrical devices, cleanse/tone/moisturise, read a book, journal, maybe do some bed-time yoga then fall into bed.

16. Alternatively, if you are up for it, organise a night out with friends who make you feel good. Or a brunch/lunch/afternoon tea. Pick people who make you smile, laugh and feel great about life. Not those friends who make you feel inferior, like you don’t quite stack up and don’t really fit. Nope.

17. Do 10 minutes of yoga in your underwear at home. Trust me.

loveheart

18. Write a post card to a friend overseas. Even if they are originally from your town, they will smile when they receive a touristy post-card, and will appreciate the sentiment.

19.  Treat yourself to a bunch of bright & beautiful flowers.

20. Pull that book you have read dozens of times off the shelf and re-read.

21. Take three deep breaths and sigh loudly on each exhale. Feel your shoulders relax as you do so.

22. Book a massage or a restorative yoga session. Something passive for your body that will leave you feeling good, and help relieve some physical tension.

At the end of the day, try to remember that everything passes eventually – the clouds make way for the sun and the waves calm. This too shall pass, you just need to take it one breath at a time.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” ~ Albert Einstein

I’m going to take my own advice now and wash my hair, paint my nails, do some yoga and make popcorn. Probably not in that order.

 

The Art of Slow Blogging

Just wanted to pop a quick note here on the blog to explain the shift in pace over the last few months. Gradually, I have been trying to slow everything down in my life. I used to operate at a truly frenetic pace. A few years ago I had two jobs, two volunteering roles and a host of social commitments, and spent my time dashing from coffee to drinks to work again.

Nowadays I am trying to focus my attention on a select few projects at a time, and savour my minutes and hours.

Life in the slow lane, it feels good.

Which brings me to this blog. From time to time I feel insecure about the consistency and quantity of my posts. As a recovering perfectionist, I’m aware that I don’t follow the golden rules of mega bloggers – post consistently, don’t post rambling crap and stay on topic. I write when I feel inspired to do so, which sometimes means a good rambling exploration of a topic that interests me and occasionally means nothing for a week or two. Further, the focus has shifted from just yoga to mindfulness, minimalism and my life in general.

You know what? Screw it. I’m not here to make money from this blog, I’m here to provide interesting & inspirational info to you guys – the people who show up to read it. I love writing and creating here, I do it for the fun of it.

So I’m embracing the art of slow blogging. I will post once a week, twice on occasion, and I will take a break when I need to. I promise I’ll only post when I want to – when I feel like sharing bits & pieces from my life, or when I think you might benefit from any insight I gain on my travels.

Sound good?

Do any of my fellow blogging friends agree that the pressure to be perfect gets in the way of creating decent content sometimes?

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

xx

Drop the Baggage to Be Here Now

We humans are fantastic at planning for the future, and building on the knowledge of the past. This ability to consider other times, to imagine and reflect, sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and has enabled us to build the modern world we live in now. Clearly, reflection and planning are good things.

One thing yoga and meditation have taught me over the years though, is that it feels really good to turn this ability off once in a while.  To let go of thoughts of the past, or plans and dreams for the future and to simply BE.

I was listening to a dharma talk recently (discussion before or after meditation) and the person who was speaking shared a lovely analogy…

Imagine yourself walking along a dusty road. In your right hand you are holding a huge bag – this is labeled PAST. In the left another large suitcase – this one labeled FUTURE. Becoming present, even for a moment, is like putting those bags down and giving your body a rest.

Your mind needs a rest from ruminating on past events and planning for the future. That’s where mindfulness comes in.

When we practice meditation (or yoga for that matter) we practice letting go of thoughts of the future and the past, for a moment, a few minutes, an hour. Eventually, continued contemplative practice allows you to lengthen this time, and perhaps, gradually you might be able to practice mindful awareness of the present more and more in your daily life.

Drop the bags, breathe deep.

Relief and ease are available to us in this very moment. We can choose to pull ourselves into the present, and switch off the overactive brain – if just for a moment.

Try it now – close your eyes (at the end of this sentence!) and take 4 deep breaths, counting to 4 on the inhale, pausing, counting to 4 on the exhale, pausing and then starting again.

Feel better?

Let the breath be an anchor to the present moment. Allow it to remind you that you are getting tired, and need a break from hauling the baggage you carry with you.

Life can feel lighter, with practice.

I hope this little mid-week inspiration serves you well!

How to Start a Meditation Practice

Do you meditate regularly? If not, have you wanted to for a while but don’t know where to start?

I thought I’d write a short and easy to follow “how to” to get you started. This was actually inspired by a lovely friend and fellow blogger Katherine. I was chatting to her about my practice and she suggested I should blog my advice! Great idea.

Setting up a regular meditation habit needn’t feel like an epic task, hard to do, scary, or too mystical and new age. My meditation practice is so so simple – I sit my bum on a cushion for 10 minutes a day to breathe, focus, and watch my mind.

Goodness everything in my life has felt better since I managed to work meditation into my daily routine. I was meditating on and off before, but when I made the commitment to get onto the cushion each day (give or take) I noticed a subtle but lovely difference in my days. I can honestly say it has improved my focus and helped me learn to calm down when things get hectic.

First up, my advice would be to pick a time, either morning after a cup of tea or evening before bed, and commit to trying to sit for 3 minutes each day. If you miss a day or night, no biggie! Let it go, and get back to it the next day. After 4-6 weeks of 3 mins you could up the time to 5minutes. This might seem like frustratingly slow progress, but that’s the beauty of it – because 3 minutes feels like no time at all, you can to stick to it much more easily.

The meditation practice itself isn’t hard, but forming a regular practice takes time and commitment.

I would also recommend sitting in the same place each day, no matter what time you choose. The space where you sit doesn’t have to be larger, and you don’t need to use a yoga mat. You might sit with your back up against the side of your bed before you go to sleep, or perhaps in a corner of the living room or study.

When choosing a place the most important thing is to pick somewhere you can return each day, creating a routine, making it feel familiar to sit down there and focus. 

I tend to sit either with my legs crossed (as I am in the photo above!) or with my knees bent with cushions to sit down on between my ankles. You can also use a meditation stool, or simply sit in a chair, especially if your knees/ankles/hips feel better here. I rest my hand on my thighs, or knees (palms down) if I’m cross-legged, or gently in my lap.

I keep my eyes open and look gently in front of me usually, though for some longer meditations or guided meditations I close my eyes. You can try both. Over the years I have found that keeping my eyes softly open helps me to stay awake, as sleepiness is one of my biggest obstacles in meditation!

As for the actual practice, I have a few different methods. Primarily I practice shamata (mindfulness) meditation, which entails keeping your focus on the breath. Simply sit, and become aware of your breath as you inhale and exhale.

You could also count your breaths. Try to get to ten, each time you notice that you have become distracted, let go of the distraction and start again at 1. There are also simple mantras you might use  such as – on the inhale think “let” with the exhale think “go”.Thich Nhat Hanh suggests a lovely phrase – “Inhaling I calm myself, exhaling I smile”.

To time how long I meditate I use an app called Insight Timer, its fabulous! You set the time, and how often you want an interval bell. You can also pick the bell sound you want (on the paid version of the app), which is a small thing but it’s nice.

In summary, to create a meditation practice you need to:

  1. Pick a time to practice each day
  2. Choose a space where you can sit comfortably for three minutes
  3. Set a timer – 3 minute is plenty to begin with
  4. Keep it up!

Gradually, slowly, you will begin to get to know your mind, your habitual patterns and the wonderful silence between thoughts. Meditation practice can truly enhance your life in a way that is both subtle and profound.

Do you have any questions? Have you tried meditating at home before?

Meditation and more….

Meditation and mindfulness, the beauty of staying still and finding space between your thoughts. Committing to a daily seated meditation practice has been at the top of my list of habits to form for some time now. However, again and again excuses are made, life gets in the way, and it doesn’t happen. Not trying to be overly critical of myself here, for the past six months I have managed to incorporate a daily (well, almost) yoga practice into my routine, and this is certainly a beautiful moving form of meditation. It’s just that sitting still and focusing on my breath for five little minutes seems much much harder to me! Perhaps this is because meditation itself is hard? Stilling the mind is not a simple task, but paradoxically not something you can work towards either. One of the frustrating things about meditation is how difficult it is to chart your progress… You really can’t! As soon as you stop and say “hey, I’m totally getting a hang of this meditating schamozzle” then, well, you aren’t meditating any more!

A few days ago I stumbled across this article by Dr Mark Hyman, a pioneer of fucntional medicine. In the article Dr Hyman discusses how learning to be still could be a key ingredient for happiness in our frenetic modern world:

“I realized there was a way to be more awake, to see things as they are, to notice life as it is and to savor it, to love it, to wake up with gratitude, lightness, and celebration for the magic of life. It is always there, and the trick is simply to notice.

But to notice requires a stillness of the mind. This is something not quite so easy to achieve for most of us. Being awake takes practice. Each of us can find our path to being awake. Ancient traditions provide many avenues.

Belief in any particular religion or philosophy is not necessary, just a desire to show up and pay attention without judgment or criticism. To notice the ebb and flow of our breath and our thoughts without holding on to them, like waves washing over you on a summer day at the beach.”

Dr Hyman goes on to discuss the benefits of meditation, including less anxiety, depression, headaches, blood pressure and chronic pain; but more focus and a greater ability to concentrate. He also touches on the frustrations and difficulties of meditation, which often stem from our lack of self-compassion – we don’t want to sit with uncomfortable thoughts, or embrace our imperfections. Finally he concludes with a simple set of instructions for a basic guided meditation:

Mindfulness Meditation

Instructions:

1. Sit in a comfortable position. Try to sit in the same place each day. Avoid positions that you might fall asleep in.

    • The back is long and supports itself
    • Shoulders are relaxed downward, the neck is long, and the chin is pointing neither up nor down
    • The face is relaxed.

2. Begin to breathe (preferably through the nostrils.) Feel the belly rise, the ribs expand, and the slight movement in the collarbones and shoulders as the breath moves upward. Feel the exhalation.

3. Focus on one aspect of the breath.

    • The movement of air in and out of the nostrils.
    • Or the lifting and falling of the belly.

 4. Watch that one aspect of the breath.

    • When the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath and the aspect you have chosen to watch.
    • Do this as many times as you need to.

There is no such thing as a good or bad meditation. (Good and bad are judgments, events in the mind — just note them and go back to the breathing.)

5. Start with 5-10 minutes and then increase the time until you can sit for 30 minutes.

Reading this article has inspired me to take the plunge with one of my four simple goals for this holiday period. Starting tomorrow I’m going to try to sit and meditate for 5 minutes a day. Just 5. If I can do this for a whole month, then I will increase this to 10 minutes. If it’s difficult enough to fit in 5 I’ll stick with this! 

There are other lifestyle habit changes I want to make, but for now I’m going to take the advice of Leo from Zen Habits and change one at a time. No overplanning, spreading myself too thing or coming up with excuses about having too much on. By announcing it here on my blog I’m making myself accountable – tomorrow the daily meditation begins, I will report back on August 13th to let you know how it goes! Can’t wait really, maybe this is the last piece of the puzzle that will transform me into uber-serene glowing non-attached goddess who floats through life without a care in the world… Well, a girl can dream right??

Do you guys have a meditation habit? Any suggestions for a newbie? Where/on what do you sit? Are there any useful mobile apps you could recommend?

Lots of love, peace and focused breathing xxx

 

Bloom Where You Are Planted

“Bloom where you are planted…” ~ Rhonda Hetzl

I remember reading this quote on Gaby’s beautiful blog last year, and I was struck by how much her post resonated with me. Since then, this quote has stayed with me, a little reminder in the back of my mind.

My husband and like to take day trips out of town – sometimes north, mainly south – and we dream about living beside the sea in a cottage with a view.

When life gets busy and overwhelm creeps back, it’s easy to get lost in future fantasies of a fairy tale time with no anxiety and no financial worries. We would spend our days working on passion projects and digging up fresh veggies from the garden. Bliss, basically. In fact, this day dreaming even extends to actual property hunting at times, along with browsing beautiful interiors blogs and researching for a future garden.

I realised recently that I have spent far too much time building this idea in my head, and neglecting the simple truth about life right now. Life, right now, is pretty fucking awesome really.

We live in a beautiful apartment, in a gorgeous city, work in jobs we are passionate about and have a truly lovely circle of family and friends. We travel, cook, swim at the beach and spend quality time together. While I know one day I’d like to live by the ocean and write a novel or two, constructing this dream life in my head is not actually helpful.

You see, there’s a darker side to this idyllic dreaming. An insecure, self-doubting feeling that this perfect life will only be available to me when everything falls into place. Once I’ve completed yet another course, mastered handstand again, have my tummy toubles and stress levels totally under control at all times, can write a beautiful article and am dedicated enough to write every day.

If, when, but, after – self-constructed barriers between me and my awesome future life.

Hmm. On closer consideration, this is bull shit. Those barriers? They come down to one word – fear.

Fear of not being good enough, smart enough, happy enough, calm enough. Life by the sea has come to represent an ideal of perfect health, success and satisfaction.

There’s no such thing as perfect health 100% of the time. Success depends on how you define it and satisfaction comes when you give yourself what you need to feel happy and whole. 

The truth of the matter is, there will never be a right time to step into my fantasy. There’s no perfect combination of pills, teachings, exercise and writing rituals that will catapult me into being ready. I need to stop being afraid of failing and start right now.

I want to write – so I must write. I want to create a life where I work for myself and I would like to live by the sea – time to start putting the pieces of that puzzle together.

In short – we must learn to bloom where we are planted. To start where we are right now, embrace ourselves in the present for all our flaws and foibles and work from there.

My intention is to shift from dreaming to appreciating, from doubting to doing.

For me this means:

  • Cooking a delicious meal and enjoying a glass of wine tonight.
  • Enjoying a few moments of meditation, even if there’s no yoga-asana yet.
  • Writing on a more regular basis, even if I don’t publish it here. Practise is important.
  • Taking stock each day for all that I have and how far I’ve come already.
  • Spending more time having fun, and less time stressing over the little things.

How about you – how can you bloom where you are right now?

What are you grateful for in your life? What barriers have you put up mentally between where you are now, and your picture-perfect life?

Let’s stop dreaming and start appreciating.

Life is now, and now is pretty bloody brilliant actually.

Violence

“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”

― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Life, the Universe and Everything…

Cannot believe it has been three whole years since I started this blog. So much has happened since then, and so much of what I wanted to happen when I first set out to document my experiences has come to pass. I do meditate every day now (give or take!) and I also blog a few times a week too! Just not at this address anymore…

Am returning here for a time though, on an off, to record my thoughts and write words down that feel right to me. You see, over at my other, bigger blog I feel like it has taken on a life of its own. Like my personality has shifted online – I’m much blonder, nicer, fluffier and soppier over there than I am in real life.

In reality it might be true that I’m nice and kind-hearted – I wish for world peace and all of that. However like any human worth their salt I have a darker side, I swear and get pissed off at things and have opinions that really wouldn’t go down very well with everyone I know and love. For example, I’m a yoga teacher and make my living as such. Sadly, I don’t think my other prettier-blog-self couldn’t fully express all the yoga-skepticism that I truly feel and think about. Is there a God or a higher realm? I don’t think so. Can you manifest what you want in your life? I fucking hate the word manifest. Abundance?! Don’t even get me started on that shit!!

So what do I believe and why do I teach yoga? Well, the internets loves themselves some lists, so here’s mine. I believe:

  • That use of the scientific method is the best way to sort though the bullshit out there.
  • In human kindness and the power of compassion.
  • That we shouldn’t eat animals, but I do occasionally anyway because it’s really really hard not to and salmons taste yummy. Sorry salmons.
  • That everyone could do with sitting the fuck down, shutting up and focusing on their breathing a little each day. Seriously, life is easier to handle and it really helps put shit into perspective. Plus, it’s all kinds of amazing to look at your own mind and see how crazy it can get in there!!
  • We churn yoga teachers out a dime a dozen and this isn’t a good thing (more another time)
  • Feminism is still (very) important
  • People should care less about clothes, celebrities, what they ate yesterday and who said what about who.
  • That we really are all connected – scientifically – and that looking up at the stars and contemplating our place in the cosmos is one of the most awe-inspiring breath-catching things you can do. We should all do this more often.
  • Fairytales are for children, and man-made stories about a divine realm that we can’t prove should be accepted as stories written by man. If there is a higher realm, or a spiritual realm that is somehow different to the material universe (I’m agnostic not atheist feel that we can’t prove it either way)  who are we to think that we can explain it all in human terms?
  • Meaning in life is created by pursuing things we enjoy, questioning everything and spending quality time with those we love.

I teach yoga because since my first class nine years ago I have never regretted getting on the mat and practicing. Each time I do I learn a little more about myself, and feel better for the rest of the day. Yoga has helped me lift myself out of depression, keep my anxiety at low levels and I genuinely feel it has added to my life in a profound way. As such, I want to pass this on and share as much as I can.

That’s it for today world. I will be back to bitch, rant, muse and ponder in this anonymous little corner of the web sometime soon.

One Thing at a Time

Let me ask you a simple question – how many tabs do you have open in your browser right now?

…When I sat down at my computer this morning I had …22 tabs open. I had to scroll through them to find my email.

Suddenly it struck me how ridiculous this was! Most of these tabs had been open for days – 3 of them were news websites and 4 of them were social media portals. Is it any wonder that the word overwhelm is a trending topic online at the moment?! We set ourselves up for failure when we ask our brains to handle this much information all at once – stretching our focus and scattering our attention.

Pretty sure I’m not alone with this dilemma – so why do we feel the need to be tapped into so many sources of information all the time?

I think it stems from working with a scarcity mindset – we fear that closing the tab could mean losing the idea/inspiration it gave us. We are afraid that if Twitter, Facebook, Gmail & Reddit aren’t all open to browse between we might miss something important that will leave us behind-the-times and out of touch. We feel the need to be up to date with everything, always.

This buzzing level of activity is taken as totally normal nowadays, even praised – “oh wow you are SO good at multi-tasking”. It isn’t a problem for most of us, it’s simply reality.

Thing is, our brains don’t function well when our precious attention is spread thin like this. We don’t produce our best work by spending a minute on something here & there, in-between emails.

Even worse – this is exactly the mind-set that can leave us feeling overwhelmed – drowning in a sea of information.

Well great, bustling-busyness is a problem – but what’s the cure? My simple suggestion is to try to live by these five little words – one thing at a time.

We need to reign our focus in again, retrain our brains to devote attention to one task at a time. Creating this habit takes work – which is why I’m starting with small bursts. I’ve gone back to using a time-boxing app to help me motivate myself to stay on task for short 15 minute bursts. Scary thing is – even just 15 minutes focused on one task only is really hard! Just goes to show how entrenched the multi-tasking, multiple-tabs mindset has become.

There are other things we can do to break the information-overload habit, here are a few of my suggestions:

  • Pick one task each day. Yes we all have lots of things to do each day. We also have days where we feel rushed off our feet yet have nothing to show for it. Pick one task each morning that you want to achieve, and make sure this is prioritised.
  • Set a time each day to check your emails and write replies. Maybe once in the morning, once in the afternoon? If this seems unbearable ask yourself – if someone emails me how urgently do they need my response? Is it urgent enough to take my focus away from the one task I want to complete today?
  • Reorganise your bookmarks. Don’t want to lose something? Bookmark it! Create an “Ideas” folder, a “Reread folder” or perhaps a “Do Not Forget” folder – whatever works for you. File that link away and then close the window.
  • Become aware of your favourite online time-waster. Are you a reddit fiend? Facebook junkie? Perhaps you love trashy celeb news? First step to stopping a bad habit is realising it’s there. How much time do you really need to spend wherever you go habitually?
  • Tea before email. This is one that has worked for me in the mornings. I used to have tea & biscuits &  five minutes of quiet first thing each morning. Somewhere along the way this routine was disrupted and email-checking & a glass of water replaced it. Reintroducing it has given me back a few minutes of peace before the online noise is allowed to enter my space. A little time to set myself up for a positive day.
  • Eat lunch away from your desk. Wobbling a sandwich over the keyboard as you type is a recipe for indigestion and sticky keys! I am totally guilty of this! Take a break from your desk on the days that you can and fully enjoy your food.

These are just a few simple ideas to get us started.

Do you struggle with online overload too? How do you get things done and keep your focus on the task at hand?

Healthy Living – It’s the Little Things

Happy Monday peeps! Hope you had a refreshing weekend. Mine was spent catching up with dear friends, basking in the Sydney sunshine and learning a little more HTML & CSS so I can get hands on with my blog redesign. Awesome.

This morning I was asked to do an interview (wait and see!) and one of the questions related to how I stay healthy & generally live a healthy life. Which, I guess I do! Yoga plays a big part for sure, but it occurred to me that all of the healthy aspects of my lifestyle are a result of one thing – gradual, incremental change.

Sometimes we can overhaul our diet & lifestyle in a dramatic fashion and turn our health around – sometimes. More often, dramatic changes are hard to stick to. Once we feel that we’ve ‘failed’ at something it makes it even harder to get started again. Fad diets, new exercise regimes that have you running 5kms EVERY DAY, a 7-day juice fast when you haven’t tried a 1-day before, going raw vegan after decades of omnivorous cooking. Sure – these might work. If they do and the habit sticks – good on you! You have more will power than I do 😉

Small habits & gradual change are much easier to implement, less of a big deal to forget once in a while and far more likely to remain with you in the long run.

What sort of changes do I mean?

Here are a few that have slowly become part of my lifestyle over the past couple of years:

  • Eat more greens. Making a banana smoothie? Add a handful of baby spinach. Baking? Try to find a recipe that uses zucchini or avocado. Chips? How about Kale? A little while ago I vowed to eat a big handful of green leaves once a day at least, and on most days now I do, without even trying.
  • Eat less meat. Not everyone wants to be a vegetarian, but I think we can agree that eating less meat is better all round. Processed meat in particular has been linked to bowel cancer, prostate cancer and other nasties, so best to start cutting the salami and smoked bacon out of your diet. Meatless Monday is popular or some people try to save meat for dinner only. You can play around with new recipes from gorgeous sites like this one, this one and this one. Of course, reducing your meat consumption isn’t only best for you – it’s good for our planet and the animals too.
  • Dry brushing. LOVE this. Dry brushing using a loofah or shower brush can help reduce ingrown hairs (great for summer legs!) and might also help your skin detox better as you shift the dead cells. I couldn’t find any scientific research backing this up, but I do know I feel great when I remember to do it!! Best time to brush is just before the shower, rubbing over your body in circular or upward strokes.
  • Lemon with warm water. All through winter I started my day with a little lemon in warm water. It was refreshing and delicious, a little vitamin C to get you started and apparently also aids digestion! Bam!
  • Coconut oil mouth rinse. Yep, this one sounds strange – but every now and then I rinse my mouth with a teaspoon of coconut oil for 5 minutes. The oil has great antibacterial properties and can help reduce stains (plus it tastes yummy, though I do spit it out).
  • Spend time in the sun. We know skin cancer is on the rise, but we also need a little time outside soaking up the Vitamin D each day. Vit D has been linked to lower levels of a range of diseases from cancer to depression. Step away from your desk for just 15 minutes at lunch time and head outside for a natural pick me up (just don’t forget the sunscreen!)
  • Find quiet time every day. As I’ve said before, even just a moment of meditation or deep focused breathing can do wonders for your stress levels and focus. If you have time now – watch this this little video, its only a moment long:

Healthy habits work best when they aren’t obsessions, but small changes that produce results which encourage us to make them a permanent part of our routine. Just like brushing your teeth, small changes can quickly become a seamless part of your life.

Do you have any healthy changes that you want to share? Please leave a comment below!

Lots of love, greens & sunshine xxx