Posts in Wellbeing

#ChallengeMeJune Week 3: Paying a Compliment to Someone Every Day

Hello everyone,

how has this summer been treating you so far (besides being boiling hot)?

Welcome to this third report of my #ChallengeMeJune series. This time I tried to pay a compliment to someone (to people I knew or to people I didn’t know) at least once a day for one week. I have to say that Americans are pretty great at giving compliments. They will stop you on the streets to compliment you on your shoes, your scarf or your hair (they will, trust me, happened to me before). I usually give people compliments anyway but thought it was fun to be more reflective about it for a week.

Read on more about why paying compliments to someone is a great thing and why you should give it a try (in case you’re not a professional compliment giver already, in that case you’re dismissed and don’t have to read this).

Why should I pay compliments to someone you ask?

#1 It takes the focus off of you

That might sound complicated at first but hear me out. If you’re having a bad day, paying a genuine compliment to someone can make their day a little nicer, and you will feel better than before as well.

#2 It makes the person you pay a compliment perform better!

Study researchers in Tokyo trained 48 adults to perform a task that required them to tap items on a keyboard in a specific pattern. Then the adults were split into three groups. One group received personalized, individual compliments from one of the administrators of the study. Another group was forced to watch as other people received compliments. The third group was simply meant to evaluate how they did, as participants, on the test. When the participants returned to the testing facility the next day, all of the participants were asked to perform the finger test once again. The group that received personalized compliments performed better on the test that day than either of the other groups. Researchers believe that the compliments made them perform better.

The researchers were able to find scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise. There seems to be scientific validity behind the message ‘praise to encourage improvement’. Complimenting someone could become an easy and effective strategy to use in the classroom and during rehabilitation (see source here).

#3 Compliments build trust

Each one of us walking this planet has the desire to be acknowledged. When someone else notices even the slightest thing about another person, it can shout to that person, “Hey!  Someone noticed me!!” Your daily compliments to “the shy one” at work whose name no one knows can help her break out of her shyness and, who knows? turn her into the best friend you’ve ever had. We all need someone in our lives we can trust, and the more we build up others the more we’re also building up ourselves.

#4 What goes around comes around

When you give a compliment, you’re more than likely going to get one in return. As simple as that! But obviously don’t go around paying compliments expecting that people must return it.

Who I payed compliments to during this week

Day 1: To a 2 week old baby of friends I’ve visited. I just said how perfect he was and how cute his hands and fingernails were. To what the new mother replied they were quite dangerous as they grew so fast and the little one would scratch himself. Still, they were cute. 

Day 2: To an old man (he was with his lovely wife, don’t you worry) at the line before checking in at the airport. We did small talk about where we were flying to. They turned out to fly to Athens to visit family. I then said that I loved Athens and the food. He seemed so happy about it and kept on telling me about all the foods he was looking forward to eat. 

Day 3: Told Philipp that he is a great human being (just in general)

Day 4: Told my grandmother that she looked really well and fresh.

Day 5: Told my pregnant friend how relaxed she seemed.

Day 6: Told a friend how good she looked.

Day 7: Told a friend how lovely her shorts were.

I obviously didn’t limit myself to only one compliment per day, the sky is the limit if you will. I was just a bit rubbish at remembering them (should have written them down but…no). Anyway, there is no such thing as too many compliments, as long as they are genuine of course. So give it a try! You will feel better and the person receiving them, WIN-WIN! 

Try it! Be nice to someone right now and see what happens.

#ChallengeMeJune Week 2: Meditating Every Day

Hello friends,

another week of June has gone by, another little completed challenge in the books. After waking up at 6 am during the first week of June (see post here) I tried to meditate every day during the second week of the month.

To begin with I always thought meditating was a bit weird (for lack of a more elegant description) as I didn’t really understand how it worked. After reading up on the topic a little I am still by NO MEANS a specialist or anything but I start to see why people like to do it. Bottom line is, it has a ton of good effects (feeling happy and focused, decreasing your blood pressure or getting to know your mind to name a few. I am aware that the last one seems strange but WOW you’ll learn so much about how your mind and brain work). If you’re into finding out more for doing it yourself, keep reading this introductory ‘How to meditate for beginners’.

How to get started

What to bring: I’d recommend you meditate at home first, as you still need to get used to it. Obviously you can do it anywhere you can sit down on a chair or on the floor, with your hands rested on your knees, but I liked to do it at home, wearing cozy clothes.

When to do it: I tried to always sit down around the same time every day, which was in the morning after waking up, obviously what fits your schedule best, will be the best option. However, I’d recommend to keep it consistent so you really have the feeling of having formed a new habit.

What to do: Well here’s where things get interesting, I tried to compile different methods of meditation in own week, you’ll find the plan below in case you want to replicate it. If you’re totally into day 1’s program, perfect, let’s keep that up. I like to vary the exercises from day to day but that is obviously optional. So let’s get stared forreal now.

Day 1 – Breathing

Let’s start with something easy, shall we? I’m not gonna lie, it was weird when I did it for the first time….BUT it will get better, trust me.

What to do: To get used to the experience of being in the present moment, begin by sitting for five minutes, close your eyes. Take deep breaths, rather than short, shallow breaths from your chest. Continue until you feel calm. Let your thoughts come and go, without trying to hold on to them or follow after them.

What I thought afterwards: Wow, that was quick, I could have keep going on for longer. So for the next day I told myself to put the timer to 8min (adventurous, right?).

Day 2 – Mantra Meditation

What to do: Choose a calming word or phrase. Repeat it over and over to yourself silently to prevent distracting thoughts from entering.

What I thought afterwards: 8min went super fast like on the day before, it’s crazy how time flies once you close your eyes.

Day 3 – Mindful Meditation

­ What to do: Take a break and make yourself acutely aware of your surroundings. Take deep breaths and feel your lungs swell. Allow yourself to think about your feelings, but do so without  judgment.

What I thought afterwards: Loved that one too, it hit me how much more you listen to your surrounding’s noises if you’re eyes are closed.

Day 4 – Safe Space Visualization

What to do: Think of a place that makes you feel safe. It can either be a place you’ve visited before, a place you’ve seen but never been to, or a place that exists only in your imagination.

Close your eyes, and start taking deeper and deeper breaths. Picture yourself in that safe space, look around you, and visualize your surroundings. How the sky looks like, how the air smells or what you feel. Build every detail in your mind. Walk around your safe space until you have explored as much of it as you want to. Continue walking until you find your perfect place—the place that makes you feel most at peace. Visualize yourself sitting here, in this place, and begin to breathe. When you’re ready to leave your safe space, slowly open your eyes and come back into the room. Hold onto those feelings of peace and safety, and know that you can revisit them whenever you need to.

What I thought afterwards: I found that one to be rather hard as it requests you to think a lot about a certain space. I guess I’ll have to do it more often in order to get better at it.

Day 5 – Concentrate On a Simple Visual Object

What to do: In a similar way to using a mantra, you can use a simple visual object to fill your mind and allow you to reach a level of deeper consciousness. This is a form of open-eye meditation, which many people find easier when they have something to focus their gaze on.

  • The visual object can be anything you wish (candles, flowers, pictures etc.)
  • Place the object at eye level, look at it and nothing else, until your peripheral vision starts to dim and the object consumes your vision.

What I thought afterwards: I found it hard in the first place to find something to look at that wouldn’t distract me too much. In the end I chose to go for a plant, which worked out fine. Still I prefer the closed-eye version to this open-eye one.

Day 6 – Do a Body Scan

What to do: Doing a body scan involves focusing on each individual body part in turn and consciously relaxing it. It is a simple meditation technique which allows you to relax the mind as you relax the body.

  • Close your eyes and pick a starting point on your body, usually the toes. Concentrate on whatever sensations you can feel in your toes, and make a conscious effort to relax any muscles. Once the toes are fully relaxed, move on to your feet and repeat the relaxation process. Continue along your body, moving upwards to the top of your head. Take as long as you want.
  • Once you have completed the relaxation of each individual body part, focus on your body as a whole and enjoy the sensation of calmness and looseness you have achieved. Focus on your breathing for several minutes before coming out of your meditation practice.

What I thought afterwards: Good one! Especially when you’re lying down on the floor.

Day 7 – Breathing

I went back to the first exercise of the week, which was the breathing one, which I really enjoyed. I just did it for 15 mins this time and it was great.

Do let me know if you give it a try yourself, have a great week everyone! 

#ChallengeMeJune Week 1: Getting Up Early Every Day

Hi everyone,

how are you doing? It’s getting summery over here, I’m loving it. Hope you’ve had the opportunity to catch some sun where you live!

So, it’s Monday. I know, I know. When brainstorming for new blog posts a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d like to challenge myself in June with a special challenge every week (#ChallengeMeJune if you will, genius hashtag I know). Anyways, the first week’s challenge was to set my alarm to 6 o’clock every day (for some that might be not early at all or totally normal already, in which case I salute you. Others will look at me like, whaaat?).  Some context here: I never used to be an early riser, really I wasn’t. I would stay up rather late, watch series, read, scroll through the internets. In the morning I’d have a hard time waking up and would keep hitting that snooze button many (many) times.

But you know what? Getting up early was amazing.

Yes. And I’d even go as far as saying that it changed my life. I’m getting a bit dramatic here, it’s true though.

Why should I do that, you ask? (or in other words, “you crazy, I ain’t gonna give up my precious sleep time“). I’m going to try and give you some good arguments here, ok?

Let’s be honest here for a minute. You can’t convince yourself to wake up early just because. If you’d like to try that challenge,  ask yourself, “What would I get if I wake up early?” Whatever you answer, make sure you really want it because that’s what will be your motivation to ACTUALLY get up in the morning. A few answers why you’d like to consider getting up early.

You’ll Get More Time (D’oh)

I read somewhere that if you were to get up just one hour earlier each morning, you’d gain 15 days in a year. How crazy is it to think about it like that. So you better want to use this time than sleep, right?

Get Active, Quiet or Creative (Whichever You Prefer) 

I found that the morning is a great time to exercise. You’re body is well rested and it will set you up for the day with energy and motivation. Overall I felt more productive getting up early this week, it made me feel calmer and happier. If you’re not into sports in the early morning hours but rather into meditation, do it! I’m going to give it a try this week. Also, if you have some tips in that department, do let me know. Others like to use this time to read the newspapers in silence, to be creative, paint or write.

You’ll feel One Step Ahead

Having that one to two extra hours in the morning will undoubtedly make you feel calm, prepared for the day and chill, when everyone else around you is rushing around. When you wake up early, you’ll have more time for planning and getting organized. Getting to the office early means no distractions and getting things done (and then hopefully leaving early in the evening).

I’d really like you to try getting up early, I think you will like it. NO, SERIOUSLY. Don’t laugh at me.

Go to bed an hour earlier so that you won’t be too tired the next morning. It may take a couple of days to adjust your body and mind to it but once you’re in it you’ll most likely not want to go back. Obviously a lie in every once in a while is GREAT (not gonna lie) but overall it’s a great new habit. Start tomorrow and let me know how it went!

Happy week!

My Protein Bar Obsession: The Good And The Bad

Hi friends, how are you doing?

So. With all the bike riding and other outdoorsy activities going on, I started looking into snack options that were light to pack yet nutritious and efficient. This led me to check out what my local supermarket had to offer in that department and I quickly ended up at the huuuuuuge (really) energy and protein bar aisle. Now, hear me out. I know that they’re a bit controversial, so let’s dig a little deeper to understand better, especially if you’re into trying out energy or protein bars yourself (Disclaimer if you didn’t know already: I’m not a nutritionist that’s just what I found when doing a bit of research online. Also, some of the mentioned brand are also available in Europe, such as the Clif bars for example. And yes, I took my bars to a park for a shooting, in case you’re wondering).

Some of The Things You Want to Look For In A Bar:

  • At least 5 grams of protein
  • Organic
  • Dairy-free
  • <10 grams of sugar

What Not to Look For:

  • Ingredients you don’t understand
  • High in sugar, non-natural sugars
  • Artificial flavors or preservatives

The good and the bad

Rxbars has a “No B.S.” claim on the front packaging that pretty much says it all in regards to the ingredients. What I also like about it is the different product packaging (I’m such a sucker for nice packaging, I know). But let me tell you, they’re delicious, too. Only downside, they come with 14 grams of sugar, I assume, however that this is mostly due to the dates. So we’re good?

I discovered the Bearded Brothers bars when I was on the hunt for vegan snacks. While they keep things simple and understandable on the ingredients front, they don’t do too well in regards of sugar count (17g) and protein (3g). And this is something I quickly realized: The majority of protein bars share one thing in common: extra sugar. Lots of it. Considering protein bars are frequently seen as a health-friendly snack or post-workout bite, this came a bit as a shock.

Let’s move on to the famous Clif bars. I first got to know Clif bars at volunteering on the Rose Kennedy Greenway as they are a sponsor there. So far so good. What I’ve also found out quickly is that as they have SO SO many different bars and types of bars, they are quite different when it comes to nutrients etc. Take the Nuts & Seeds bar for example that does kind of good with 11g of protein. However, it is quite high in sugar (17g) and calories overall. As another example: The Clif Bar, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter only has 10g of sugar.

Hugely famous are the Lärabars. They vary according to the flavour you’ll pick, good ingredients though.

Larabar

Lastly, the Thunderbird Bars seems to be a reasonable choice on light activity days, when you’re looking for a snack. They do pretty well with 9g sugars, 5g protein, 148 calories overall.

Thunderbird Bar

Ok, so quick excursus here: We know now to try and avoid high-sugar protein bars but what about the protein? Most bars range from 3 to 20 grams of protein. Generally, the amount of protein you need depends on what you’re looking for and your activity levels. If you’re sitting at home all day, you don’t need 20g of protein in a bar, but if you don’t have time to eat lunch that might be a good choice. Likewise, if you’re into an afternoon snack on a walk with your dog, a bar with 6g of protein could be perfect. It is up to you, so use common sense based on your goal for the bar itself.

If you’re not into bars, eat real food instead

Instead of eating lots of protein or energy bars all the time, most experts will say “eat real food” instead. High-protein foods are quinoa, hummus, cottage cheese, lentils, brown rice, natural nut butter, oatmeal, turkey or edamame for example. Or dates as an all natural energy booster.

Are you into energy or protein bars yourself? What are your favorites? I’d love to know!

Have a great Thursday!

Motivational Monday: Simple Ways To Motivate Yourself

It’s Monday.

Need I say more? Sometimes, especially after an amazing weekend it’s not always easy to get back to daily life mode (even though I have to say, since I am not working I haven’t been feeling that Monday feeling for a looong time, which is nice). Nevertheless, I also sometimes find it hard to motivate myself.

Hopefully some of the tips will help you out whenever you don’t feel super motivated.

Have a great week everyone!

  1. Kickstart Your Day – Plan out your day the day before. I like to look at my agenda in the evening and catch up on what lies ahead the next day so I can mentally prepare for it. Getting an organized start into your day will make you feel accomplished and motivated to take on the day.
  2. Celebrate the little wins – Say you’ve set yourself the goal to work out x amount of times this week or to finish a part of a project by a certain date. If you’ve managed to do it, you should be proud and happy about yourself and celebrate. Even if it seems like something little and unnecessary. Still, reward yourself (could be anything really from ordering that beauty product you’ve been eyeing for a while, a night out at your favorite restaurant etc., whatever floats your boat). I personally also do it and it keeps my motivation going and just makes you feel good about yourself. Don’t you want that? Yeeeees, you do.
  3. Surround yourself with inspirational people – One of the things that motivates me the most is talking to interesting people. They usually talk about interesting things, have inspiring thoughts, which in turn will make me think and motivates me. So. Surround yourself with interesting people, talk to your friends, colleagues or family members who challenge your thinking and keep you positive. Alternatively, you can find inspiration at talks, conferences, lectures by inspirational people, which is something that I enjoy a lot right now.
  4. Make time to think  – It sounds strange but once you’re running around like hamster in a wheel day in day out it takes extra effort to assign some time for you to just sit down and think and be alone with your thoughts without anyone interrupting you. It will give you the opportunity to reflect on what you want to do, which projects you want to take on next etc. Everything you do begins with a thought, and when you stop thinking you stop taking action. Take some time for yourself and see how your creativity will take off!
  5. Remember why – Sometimes motivation can fade as time goes on. Make a list of reasons why achieving your goals ist important to you, and keep it where you can see it (e.g. hang it up in your office or put it on your desk). Read it whenever you need a boost to get you going again!

7 Ways To (Instantly) Make Your Day Better

Hi friends

How are you today? Having a good day? No? I totally feel you. I had a bad day yesterday. Just feeling really ‘meh’ all day, not my usual self. Maybe it’s the depressing weather here or I don’t know what. Sometimes it’s just like that. It made me think what small things brighten up my day so I came up with the following seven ways. In case you’re having a ‘meh’ day today as well, I’m with you. And maybe some of those ideas might inspire you and make it a little better again.

If you have any other tips, let us know in the comments below! Bye!

#1 Make your bed when you wake up

It sounds SO SO stupid yet just the fact of doing it (and let’s be honest it only takes you less than a minute) will make you start your day on a productive note.

#2 Tackle your most daunting task first

When you prioritze your to do list and place your most dreaded task at the top, its power no longer looms over you all day. Whatever it is, once you check it off your list, you’ll feel so accomplished and ready to take all the other tasks on.

#3 Do something thoughtful for someone else

Doing something nice for someone else is scientifically proven to make your day better. Call or message a friend, send your grandparents a handwritten card, pay for your friend’s coffee at the café, bring your mother a bunch of flowers, the list is endless. Not only will this help take your mind off of whatever is bothering you, but it will also make someone else’s day better.

#4 Listen to your favorite song on repeat

Do you have a favorite song that you like to listen to when you’re in need of positive vibes? If not, it’s time to find one. Scientific American reports that “music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort, and may even promote metabolic efficiency.” So. Today’s to do: Find a go-to power song, or go the extra step and create a playlist so that you’ll never run out of options.

#5 Say “please” and “thank you”—and mean it

Being kind is important, right? Being kind AND sincere is even better. The more genuine kindness you offer to others, the more genuine kindness you’ll see in return. Hold the door for a stranger today, thank people for their efforts at work, say “please” when you order your morning coffee, smile AND MEAN IT.

#6 Have a relaxing bath

Rather than having that quick shower, make some me time (read more on how to practice self-care here) and have a bubble bath. You can also do a face or hair mask or whatever makes you feel good! It is a great treat after a long and hard day.

#7 Sniff something lemon-fragranced 

Yep, you read that right. To improve your day, simply sniff a lemon, light a lemon scented candle or get yourself a citrusy perfume. Scientists at Tel Aviv University suggest that citrus fragrances – particularly lemon – can alleviate depression and boost our mood. Why that is? The smell of a lemon boosts your levels of serotonin (a feel-good hormone) and lowers levels of norepinephrine (a stress hormone).

My March Favorites

People, IT IS APRIL. ALREADY.

I sound like a broken record I am aware because I seem to keep repeating myself every four weeks. Time’s flying though, don’t you think? Anyhow, I’m sparing you any more “how fast time goes by” comments and am jumping right into this month’s favorites. What have your favorites been, let us know in the comments below!

So, March has been a cold, snowy, grey and rainy one over here. Yes, Europeans reading this, you had a way nicer month in terms of weather. However, I loved spending a little more time inside cuddling up than I usually do. Most favorites relvove around me warming up on the couch watching or generally consuming something (not uber proud of it but such is life sometimes).

Drinks and Food 

I have been drinking a LOT of Yogi Ginger Tea (with an added slice of lemon if I am feeling fancy) in the mornings. There’s just something about it that makes me feel energized. Plus: I am even happier if I get to drink it out of my favorite (new) mug that Philipp surprised me with as he knew that I was so sad about the old one breaking (yes, he’s great. I agree).

On the alcoholic side of the drinks spectrum I have been loving Downeast Cider. It’s a locally produced cider only containing fresh table apples and ale yeast. Such a fresh and delicious taste. I will force everyone that is visiting me to drink it.

I am that annoying friend. yes.

You will (must) like it though. Haha.

Downeast Cider

Friends and New Plants  

Do you know the feeling when you finally think that you’ve arrived in a new place? We are slowly but steadily building a group of friends and you cannot believe how grateful I am for them. Plus, if they bring mini baby plants and orchids when they visit for brunch, I like them even more!

Books

Well, this is an interesting one that much I can say for sure. I am still reading it but will be sure to give you a review if you would like me to. Let me know if you do!

The Life Changing Magic of not giving a fuck

Spotify

I have rediscovered my love for Spotify this month, I am listening to it all the time. I have especially been enjoying Maggie Rogers, Agnes Obel, Ed Sheeran, Lorde and many more. I have put together a little playlist (check it out here) if you want to give it a listen.

Watching stuff (lots of it) 

You must have heard and read about it a million times already but I still had to include this as it just brought back so many memories and just downright melted my heart. So here goes the trailer for the mini-sequel of Love Actually. The full 10-minute film has already been released in the UK while it is going to be broadcast in May here in the US.

What do think, who has aged best? (Colin?, Hugh or Liam?). Also, check out some behind the scenes here.

What may sound odd at first is that I have been enjoying watching a show on Netflix called “Call the Midwife“. Hear me out on this one: It’s a story based on the real memories of a young midwife in East London in the 1950s. I find that you learn a lot about history, medical and social issues. I love it! There’s also a new season coming in April, yay!

Ok, so like millions of other people we gave in and went to see “The Beauty and the Beast”.

It’s crazy how much hype this film has gotten. A lot of people were saying how Emma Watson had turned down the role that Emma Stone (so many Emmas) later took in La La Land because she thought that “Beauty and the Beast” had more potential than “La La Land”. Well, I don’t know. The film itself was entertaining, I loved the music, the costume design and the effects. The story is pretty much what you’d expect. I feel like they kept it extremely close to the original tale.

I also had to laugh about articles I read beforehand saying that the beast was waaaay to ugly and how that was a huge disappointment. I’m going to be honest with you, I thought the BIGGEST disappointment of them all was seeing the prince’s face after two hours.

Seriously? Couldn’t they have casted a better looking prince than that.

A New Backpack Love 

I’ve done something I have never EVER done before. For the grand opening of a new Fjällräven branch here in Cambridge they offered the first 5o people in line on a Saturday morning a free Kanken.

As I was in need of a new backpack and had time that morning I went for it. I felt weird at first, because when I arrived there seemed to be two homeless guys lying in front of the entrance. I later found out that they had arrived at midnight to be the first in line. I got to talk to them and another girl in the line for almost three hours and had the best time. They served tea and coffee, good times.

fjällräven cambridge

And to be honest, I would have never expected that. Bonus: I walked out with a new forest green backpack and I LOVE IT.

Feeling those school kids vibes.

fjällräven

What Makes My (Minimalist) Home Homely

Hello everybody! How are you today?

Having moved across the ocean with two suitcases in hand has shown me that I really don’t need that many things in life. When packing up my stuff and being forced to leave things behind like clothes and furniture, I thought at first, ‘this is going to be hard’. A few months into the adventure of living in the US I can safely say that I don’t miss those things at all.

We moved into an empty apartment and had to furnish it ourselves. Ikea was obviously called to the rescue (which btw was a HUGE disappointment). The American version of Ikea is totally different from the European version it seems (Americans seem to have a totally different taste when it comes to furniture if you know what I mean). Anyways, as we will only be staying in the US for a limited amount of time we didn’t want to go all out and kept things fairly minimal.

I enjoy having a clear living space (other people would call it empty and sad). It gives me peace of mind and not seeing clutter and stuff everywhere is liberating. Also, the items that we now have in our flat all serve a purpose and are therefore greatly appreciated.

What are your favorite items in your living space? Why do you appreciate them?

Here goes a small overview of the things that make our rather minimalist home feel homely to me.

Plants and flowers

I LOVE flowers and plants. ALL of them. They are the best roommates you can wish for.

Minimalism

Photos and small gifts

They were easy to pack because they’re small and light yet mean so much to me. Love looking at them and feeling instantly happy and grateful.

Books

Cozy cushions and blankets

White bed sheets

 

Would love to hear what your favorite pieces in your home are! Let me know! Have a lovely Tuesday!

How To Get A Really Really Good Night’s Sleep

The older you get the more you learn to appreciate the simple things in life. Such as SLEEP.

Yes, this is a random one yet it is relevant to all of us, isn’t it?

Not getting enough sleep can lead to having trouble concentrating and remembering things the next day besides not feeling your best and fittest.

You know how it feels. We’ve all been there.

I thought it could be interesting to share a few little ‘hacks’ on how to get a good nights sleep. Ready to dive in?

#1 Go to sleep and get up at the same time everyday

This is such an obvious one yet so important. If you find this a tricky one, then some technology aka apps/your phone might help you out here. I have been playing around and testing the two below, you might want to give them a try for yourself, it’s interesting:

  • Clock iOS 10: If you’ve got an iPhone running iOS 10, you already have a pretty good sleep aid built into your phone. The iOS 10 update introduced Bedtime as one of the features in the Clock app. You can set what time you want to go to bed and when you want to wake up. Your iPhone will send you a notification prior to your scheduled bedtime, and, come the morning, it will wake you up with gentle music.
  • Sleep Cycle: This app uses the sleep cycle theory and aims to wake you at just the right time to ensure optimal rest. You first set a window of time (say 30 minutse) instead of a traditional pinpoint alarm time, and when the app judges that your sleep movement is just right, it will ring the alarm to wake you. I have been using this for the last 3 weeks and I’ve loved it!

#2 Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime

This is a tricky one. The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is especially disruptive. The latest iPhone has a night mode that you can set to if you ‘need’ to grab your phone (even though you’ve put it away a few minutes ago).

#3 Clear your head and room

I try and make my bedroom as calm as possible. I will always make sure to put away clothes lying around  before going to bed as well as putting other stuff away. When I am feeling extra motivated I’ll lay out my clothes for the next day (that actually never happens, now I’m thinking about it).

#4 Have a routine

I find just having a few things that you do each night can be really calming. It can be something as simple as applying hand cream before you go to sleep but when you do it often enough it can help your brain understand that it’s bedtime.

#5 Introduce something lavender-scented to your bedroom

This one might sound like a myth, but, weirdly, there is research that backs it up. A study reported that lavender oil sprinkled on bedclothes helped participants to drift off easier. I actually bought a pillow spray by the brand ‘thisworks’ and….it works. Haha. At least that’s what I tell myself if I’ve used it and had a good nights’s sleep.

What are your tips for a good night’s sleep? Have a good weekend with lots of good sleep!

8 (Realistic) Healthy Habit Hacks You Can Try Today

Hi guys

Hope you are doing well! We’re still talking about self-care until the end of the week. And today we’re talking about specific (and most importantly not too unrealistic habits) you can implement into your daily routines. Some seem really obvious and I see you going like “come on Sandra, be a little more creative than that”. But as with lots of things, it’s often the small things that make a difference. Be sure to share your healthy habits down below in the comments so we can learn more. Have a great day!

Don’t eat straight out of a package

This is a very dangerous one that I often don’t think about. It’s easy to just get out a package of pita chips or a box of ice cream (don’t judge)  to eat while watching Netflix, but ooohhh is it bad (because I eat the whole package easily). Instead I put a certain amount in a nice bowl and will a) eat more mindfully b) enjoy it more and c) maybeeee fill up the bowl several times?

Keep a secret snacks stash at work

It is essential to have a drawer with snacks in reach that can help you out when your lunch gets cancelled for some reason or you’re super stressed out. I am of course not talking about a sweets snacks drawer but thinking more about nuts, dates, dried or fresh fruit. To make things a little more “fun” you could share your “secret” drawer with a fellow coworker that also fills it up with little healthy surprises every now and then. I wish I had done that earlier, because the multiple times I got hungry at work, not fun.

Chew, chew, chew! 

This might sound weird but a very dear friend of mine (hola Laureta!) is a doctor (so she knows her stuff) and she always inspires me to chew my food more and not just devour it in one sitting. I try to chew the food 24 times (don’t ask me why, this number kind of stuck with me, I’m not even sure if she told me that).  Apparently it is better for your digestion, you enjoy and appreciate your food more (because you eat longer, haha) and you ingest less air while eating, which will make you feel less bloated. Win, right? 

Make drinking water fun

It’s a boring but important one. Drinking water is so good for your body, it helps with everything. So if you’re not already an avid water drinker fill up a bottle of water every morning and try infusing it with freshly cut lemons, cucumber or basil for example to give it a more interesting flavor that will make you actually reach out for it more. Also, it’s pretty to look at, which is a bonus in my books.

Meal prep on Sunday for the upcoming week

Salads are a good one to prepare ahead. Just chop all the vegetables up, store them in the fridge and take them out when you need them, all ready on the day you want to eat them or take to work. Pre-cook protein or grains (such as lentils, couscous or the infamous quinoa), and make a portion of your favorite dressing to use all week. Assembling will take no time at all.

You don’t have time to exercise today, try interval training! 

I know you’re busy today but you actually don’t need more than 20 minutes to get a great workout. In fact, short bursts of HIT workouts can even be more effective. So hop on the treadmill, do some sprints, and enjoy the post-workout energy boost (read more about my favorite HIT videos to do at home in this post).

Walk that body! 

The average job requires sitting in front of a computer for the majority of the day. Add that to sitting down for dinner and driving or taking the train to work, and that means you’re sitting for 70 percent of an average workday. Sneak in some exercise by running errands on foot, taking the stairs, parking farther away from your destination, or getting off the subway a stop before you actually need to. All those extra steps add up!

Love your to do lists

They’re your friend, not your enemy. At least I think so. Write all your tasks of the day down and prioritize them. It will help you stay on top of things and feel good about it. Ticking them off afterwards will feel even better.

50 Things That Make Me Happy

Hi everyone

I’ve inspired myself (haha) with yesterday’s post and suddenly felt the urge to write down 50 things that make me happy (sometimes such things do happen). I found that just the simple act of thinking about things that make you happy, writing them down and reading through the list once you’re done will make you smile. FORREAL! (Or maybe I am weird?! No, it’s really nice).  Try it for yourself, you’ll see how it will make you feel happy realizing how many things, be they little or small, make you feel good in life.

my family

philipp (he’s a funny one, makes me laugh ALL THE TIME)

all of my talented, beautiful, funny, smart and thoughtful friends

sleeping in a bed with freshly washed sheets for the first time

the taste of real (and) good food and eating it

 eating unhealthily (heyo you donuts, cakes, cookies, waffles and chocolate, i’m talking about you)

spending a rainy day inside all cuddled up on the sofa and being lazy AF (i’m talking when getting up to the bathroom ends up being a major accomplishment)

looking at and admiring the shapes and colors of all flowers and plants (there might be no plant I don’t find pretty)

doing yoga

listening to the stories of my grandparents

enjoying a good glass of wine and watching netflix (in this exact combination)

reading a really really good book (the ‘you don’t want to put aside’ kind of book, they’re a rare breed)

watching a really really good movie that makes me laugh/cry/think really hard

riding a bike when it’s nice outside

watching live performances (be it musicians, artists, actors etc.). it always makes me so happy seeing other people perform their arts with passion

doing a picnic in a park (on a picnic blanket, that is an essential. without that less happy points)

learning a new language and getting excited about the fact that you can start reading (and mostly understanding) the articles of a cool Dutch online magazine (cool)

genuine people that never expect anything in return (they’re the ones that deserve everything though)

the smell of things that come out of an oven (pizza, bread, cakes, cookies… a lot of good things come out of an oven i realize now)

exercising

buying delicious bread at a bakery (going into a bakery generally makes me very content, it’s a good place)

going for a hike on a sunny day and feeling connected with nature (yes that’s a thing)

(strongly connected to the above and equally as important) sitting on the ground and eating a lunch (that you’ve been carrying around in your backpack for the last couple hours) outdoors. It’s an accomplishment!

the smell of freshly cut grass

listening to music that gets you in a really good and productive mood

drinking cider (O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D)

doing skype sessions with my friends and seeing their faces on the screen

the sound of waves crashing at a beach (being at the beach is generally a good thing)

all baby animals (of course they’re nice and fantastic as grown-ups too but you know what I mean, right?)

good quality ice cream

Horchata

trying out new restaurants and bars

winter (a little less than the others, especially the boston edition of winter)

cleaning the apartment (maybe less the cleaning itself but the result afterwards. remember i’m an old lady at heart)

visiting a farmer’s market and seeing the people behind the produce you buy

intelligently funny people

people who laugh loudly (especially when they laugh at their own jokes)

catching up on youtube (don’t judge, it’s called escapism people, it’s something i’ve learned at uni)

sleeping in

travelling the world and discovering new places (extra fun challenge: going to a country where you don’t speak the language, makes it all the more interesting and great an experience)

planning travels (equally as great)

summer and the sun in general

autumn

spring

waking up early if I have to and feeling good about it

looking at old photos

going to Austria and Spain and feeling like it’s a bit like home

seeing all my friends together, getting along well

drinking tea out of a nice mug

getting voice messages on whats app (even though I am really bad at them, I LOVE hearing messages that people send me!)

awww I just read the list again (hope there are no typos) and it makes me happy. i might have (surely) written this post more for myself than for you, sorry about that. i hope it will inspire you to write your own little list.