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Self-Care 101: Learning how to say NO!

With a million things taking up our time, it is very easy to get overwhelmed and overburdened. How easy would life be if we learned how to say no?

It may be seen as radical but it sure is a form of self-care because you prioritize your well-being over your relationships, work and other obligations. Boundaries help us prioritize what we need to do right now versus what can be done later when we are less stressed and in a better mind frame.

If you’re overwhelmed from a long day of work, it may not be a good time to listen to other people talk about their problems. When you’re in the mood for a relaxing evening at home, it’s OK to decline an invite out for a night on the town. Boundaries help keep us connected without becoming enmeshed. In my work as a social worker, here’s what I’ve learned about the word “no,” and what saying it more often than not has done for me. 

 1. ‘No is a complete sentence’

 I have wrestled with this statement for quite some time as I always thought a ‘no’ needed and explanation or at least a counter offer. I always thought it was selfless of me to negotiate the ‘no’ so as to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. What I have come to realize is that protecting my peace did not need to be nice or selfless, it just needed to be said.

As a humanitarian worker, my job is to enrich other people’s quality of life which I absolutely love but it can often leave you exhausted after pouring your whole life onto others and not yourself. The downfall of constantly giving of yourself unconditionally can leave you feeling empty, depressed and exhausted so it is important to give the same love, energy and hard work to yourself.

I still give 100% of myself to my family, friends and to my job but not at the expense of my own peace and joy. I had to learn how to say ‘no’. I have since been able to prioritize myself, be loving, caring and present to myself as I am to others around me.

No is definite and assertive and it draws some invisible boundaries with those around you, at the beginning, it is very uncomfortable. However with time, people learn to respect your boundaries.

I love myself enough to know when I do not have the energy to give to others. It may come off as being cold however you do not really owe anyone an explanation. Explaining brings room for negotiating over your boundaries which defeats the whole purpose.

If I have more of my time, effort, energy to give, then I offer it when it is there instead of people demanding it when it was not. 

2. Saying ‘yes’ to me and ‘no’ to others

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Saying yes to yourself more often trains you to say no to others. Every time I have declined a request ot call has meant that I am actually saying yes to myself in that moment. This may be due to a variety of reasons but that is okay, I can always avail myself at a later time.

We often say yes to help people even if you are not in the position to or even when you do not have the resources to share. This is an example of prioritizing others over yourself because we say yes when we intend to say no or maybe not right now.  Each time we say yes, we pour from our proverbial cup and too often we are pouring from an empty cup and then we wonder why we are tired, upset and resentful.

As women, many of us are conditioned to consider everyone and everything else before ourselves and consider anything less than self-neglect as selfish. I learned that by prioritizing myself, I was able to be a better wife, sister, friend, and more. So, now I only respond to calls and texts when I am fully present and able to properly engage. I do not take on more responsibility than I can actually handle. Don’t get me wrong, setting boundaries is hard, but running on empty is harder. One thing that made this easier for me was realizing that the world didn’t stop just because I didn’t answer. People are far more resilient and resourceful that we give them credit for. Their world does not spontaneously combust just because you took an evening for yourself, and if it does, setting boundaries will expose the health of your relationship. 

3.  Saying ‘No’ teaches people how to treat us

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Implementing boundaries seems scary especially if you have been a certain way for years. The last thing you want to come off as is mean however if anyone loves and respects you, they should not be upset when you love and respect yourself. Anyone who has an issue with you setting boundaries is just someone who is used to you not having any.  Saying no allows us to assess our relationships in order to determine if they are mutually beneficial or parasitic? Are those whom we are committed to equally as committed to us? Are we perpetuating a cycle of co-dependency to validate our worth? Are we over committing because it makes us feel needed and wanted? We need to see ourselves beyond our committed, productivity and involvements.

Saying no brings us closer to ourselves and brings us peace and rest, creates space and time for those that bring us joy and happiness. By clearing the distractions we are left with ourselves and allows us to explore who we are, what we like and what we need at any given time. I have learnt that I need some ‘me time’ and over time, the people around me love and respect me enough to give me that as well, eventually the quality of my relationships has improved

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Friendship Breakup? Learn how to Cope.

Strong friends stand together when things are rough, hold each other up when they need support and laugh together when there is no reason. – Anonymous

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Life is such that we meet some amazing people through our journey and form some amazing friendships in the process. Unfortunately, not all of these relationships last and it is heartbreaking to lose a friend whether through conflict or simply losing touch.

The beauty of it all is that every relationship formed teaches us something, we may be unable to make sense of it during the friendship or even at the point of breaking up but over time it becomes evident what the friendship gave to you.

Here are a few tips on how to cope through a friendship break up.

  1. Do you really need closure?

It is important to ask yourself if you need closure from that friendship or not. The thing with closure is that it only works if it comes naturally and mutually agreed. The challenge with forcing to get closure if either party is not ready is that it will only create more problems. Closure is only beneficial if both parties are cool, calm and open minded to having a healthy and mature conversation.

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  • What have you learnt from the process?

Given there is a definite reason why the friendship does not work, it is both reasonable and sensible to understand why. It may be beneficial to unpack the causes of the rift in order to determine when and where the issues began and how you can purpose to do better in the future. This is the perfect opportunity to have a friend audit and find out the qualities you most admire and require in a friend. You deserve the best friends that life has to offer.

  • Feel all the feelings

Be prepared to go through all the stages of grief even with a friendship break up. From anger to denial and finally to acceptance. Most people do not really accept that losing a relationship can be so devastating and so it is important to be aware at some of these emotions run deep. Real friendship breakups are real and it is easier to deal and heal once you acknowledge this.

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  • Remember the good times

Despite the disappointment that comes with losing a friend, it is important to accept fate and be grateful for the good times. It is only right to give credit where it is due.

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  • The first step is acceptance.

Acceptance is essential in any sort of situation. You may want to reconcile or not, forgive or be forgiven and possibly let things go. No single individual has control over how things go during a break up and so it is important to take some time and give each other space. Either way, be kind to yourself; don’t get into a blame game, it is not worth it.

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How to enhance your morning routine and elevate productivity.

Good Morning postcard on white marble table

We have heard a lot about ‘morning routines’ and how the first few minutes/hours after you wake up determine the overall productivity of your day. Studies have shown that it is essential to be mindful in how we spend the early hours of the day, we have heard about how the most extremely successful people spend their mornings setting the pace for the rest of the day dubbed as the ‘5 AM Club’.

Honestly speaking though, we are not all morning people therefore the method cannot apply to everyone that is trying to be successful. Productivity is relative, it truly depends on an individual and it is important to be realistic depending on our various schedules.

Some of us may enjoy a relaxed morning and are more productive later on in the day while others are earlier risers and are the most productive in the wee hours of the morning. We all have 24 hours and the secret is in how we chose to spend the 24 hours you have.

Here are some tips on how to improve on your morning routines to see the best results on productivity.

  • Know Yourself.  

The most important thing is to know yourself. Observe when you’re naturally the most productive. Are you an early morning person and most productive as soon as you wake up or are you more productive in around mid-morning?

 Whatever time you choose to wake up, just ensure you allow yourself some time to relax and mindfully start the day not in any kind of rush.

  • Pray or Meditate 

Prayer and or meditation allows us to deal with our mental health and prepare adequately for the day. It is extremely important to tap on to your mental wellbeing at the start of the day in order to determine if there are some internal matters that you may need special attention.

Self-reflection is underrated however I think it is important to note that our mental health affects our overall productivity in the long run.

  • Create a To do list

Having a to-do list for the day allows you to prioritize on deliverables and allows you to analyze your day at the end of the day. There is power in intentionally setting out to do specific things in a day and it is an automatic mood booster if you tick something from your list.

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  • Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools to guarantee a powerful start of the day. Gratitude cultivates a health mindset that helps us be aware of all the great things happening in our lives. Gratitude creates positivity and hope for a better tomorrow.

  • Daily Affirmations

We have the power to create a positive environment around us and the easiest way to do this is through positive affirmations. Positive affirmations build on self-confidence and self -love through the positive statements we declare about ourselves. They have to be repeated regularly for maximum results therefore this would be a great addition to your morning routine.

  • Food
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We need to fuel up before we start on the journey for the day. It is important to be well fed in the morning to ensure our brains are on optimum productivity. I will not bother telling you what to eat but we all know the foods that are brain enhancing and full of energy.  I know mornings can be rushed and so it is important to have a clear cut routine to ensure breakfast is not missed.

  • Physical Activity

It’s important to get your blood flowing in the morning, it’s an energy booster and kick starts the day by producing endorphins. If you can set up some time in the morning for the gym, home workouts, and yoga or even stretches, it would be a great benefit to your moods, boos confidence and improve on your physical health.   

  • Shower and Dress up

Grooming allows us to kick start the day feeling fresh and good. Looking good means you feel good and is an automatic mood booster.

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Financial Self-Care in 5 Easy Steps

Money is such a vital element in our day to day lives that it has the ability to cause stress to most if not all of us. What is the world without money? What are we without money? People around the world are worried about the amount of money they have to live on and it does make sense, is there a time when we do not think about money and whether we have enough of it?

The reason we self-care is due to copious amounts of stress – mental, spiritual, physical, etc. We need to get to a point where we care about ourselves and therefore need a formula to manage our stress and improve our overall well being. It is vital that we self-care on one of the things that causes us a lot of stress and this is money! How do we incorporate financial self-care into our lives?

  1. Set boundaries

The same way we set up boundaries in our personal and professional lives is the same way we should set up boundaries in our finances. Create a budget to track and manage all your income as well as expenses. From this you will be able to categorize your priorities on savings, investments, entertainment, holiday funds, etc.  

2. Practice honesty

It is important to be honest with yourself when it comes to spending on items that are unnecessary. Often times, the need to spend on unnecessarily is for a luxury item or due to pressure from family and friends. It is important to learn how to say no not only to your family and friends but also to yourself. If you really cannot afford something you really cannot, the risk of conforming to pressure is that you may end up suffering in the long run.

3. Forgive your past financial mistakes

We all start somewhere and unless you have lived a previous life, we all have made financial mistakes and hopefully learnt from them. Spending on unnecessary things, buying too many clothes, loaning money to family and friends that was never paid back.

We need to make peace with our mistakes and forgive ourselves for being gullible, unreasonable and unwise. Forgiveness comes with learning from our mistakes and taking the necessary steps not to repeat the said mistakes. This can include cutting down on spending, paying back owed loans and creating and sticking to budgets.

4. Prioritize yourself

Pay yourself first! This is the first commandment of self-care of any kind, put yourself first reward yourself for working so hard, what’s the point anyway if we do not enjoy the fruits of our labor? It is recommended to set aside a percentage of our earning to savings or investments so ensure to do this before you spoil yourself.

5. Seek financial advice.

 We have access to various financial institutions that can assist with professional financial planning from banks to investment companies however we also have the internet that has various sources of free information on finances. It is also okay to ask a friend or family member.

Help is important as we may not know everything and so input is great as it gives you the choice to gather as much information in order to make advised decisions.

My sincere hope is that you will integrate some if not all these tips in your lives as your pursue wholesomeness.

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July 2020: Seeking pleasure everyday!

The world has gone through dramatic changes recently and as we approach the season of travel in many parts of the world, leisure and pleasure may look different than it did a year ago. In that case, it is up to us to be creative in how we spend our time and still manage to enjoy every single moment as best as we can. 

It is not easy to accept that we cannot do what we are used to doing on a daily basis or living as carefree as we did previously however it is important to find joy in the new normal. 

“Pleasure is defined as a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment”

To me, pleasure is laughing from your belly, feeling the hot sun on your skin, opening a gift, pleasure is realizing that the only thing I can do for a period of time is enjoy myself. 

This month, we will be writing about things in life that bring us joy and exploring hacks that can lead to happier relationships, marriages, how to be you and be unapologetic about it. Discovering your style and dressing for your own comfort, home decor tips. 

Strangely enough, using pleasure to reframe how we hole on to joy in this season can unlock some old forgotten thoughts, challenging how we remember ‘joyful’ experiences as absolutely miserable. What will we remember about this year? What will we remember about the lockdown period? Are you anxious about this period or are you able to unlock what you actually like to do? 

Happy July!

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Why the best relationships feel like home.

Just as we live in physical homes, we live inside emotional homes too. This lockdown period has brought about this feeling more than ever before, humans are emotional homes for us, especially the people we love and care for deeply. The person you love will eventually see the messy, boring and sad things about you and they will then make a decision whether to stay with you for the truth of them, for who you really are.

This is the main reason why we fall in love with people and not things. We love people for what makes them human because we know deep down how much we also want someone else to love those inner homes within ourselves. What we do not consider in the process is the exposure that comes with that and yet despite all that, they still stick around and live in our emotional homes. 

My relationship with myself and my family has really changed drastically over the last few months during lockdown. Our emotional homes may be reaching for familiarity and we may not be good at it therefore we may need to look at what is actually happening on the inside and analyze the anxiety, sensitivity, loneliness and sadness which are all heightened. 

“The biggest mistake we make in relationships is expecting people to stay the same . They will change, you will change and so will the way you love each other – Anonymous

Here’s a list of truths about our closest relationships and the reasons we fall in love with people and stick with them despite their flaws. 

  1. Real love is always the place we can fully emerge ourselves. 

Love allows us to be exposed especially during this lockdown period, it becomes unnatural and impossible to ignore the real stuff. What happens over time is that it is impossible to pretend and we finally expose our true selves. 

  1. We find beauty in the imperfections 

We are not perfect and therefore when we finally see other people’s imperfections, it is a reminder that we are all the same – it is comforting to know this. 

To be honest, it is never that simple. This kind of exposure is often mounted with fear and uncertainty which then means we are constantly looking for solutions and answers to these issues. As we grow and learn, we crave a deeper connection, rooted further and therefore enhancing acceptance. 

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  1. Loving someone is a confirmation that we love ourselves. 

It is humbling to have people that love you for who you are cause it is a constant reminder that you should be kind to ourselves and love ourselves too. If someone else can love you unconditionally, why can’t you offer the same kind of love to yourself?

Relationships are created around comfort, we get comfortable and can self isolate, the trick is to remain mindful of those who love us and be considerate of each other. As long as our intentions are good, we can take care of each other and accept whatever comes our way. 

“Our relationship with ourselves will be the greatest love story of our lifetime.- Anonymous “

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5 tips on resetting goals for the rest of the year

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At the beginning of the year, we all had great hopes for the new year and new decade ahead. Nobody would have been able to foresee the situation in which we find ourselves. New vocabulary has been introduced to us such as social distancing, isolation and flattening of the curve. It has been a strange half of the year and now that the world is starting to open up after the standstill during lockdown, this is the perfect time to start thinking about our next moves. 

Most of us had new year goals and we had high hopes of achieving them, whether or not you have had the chance to achieve some or any of the goals. Whether you are back to work,  working indoors or off work all together, it is the best time to start planning and preparing for when life resumes some form of normalcy after lockdown. 

The hope is that despite the pandemic taking over the whole world, the year 2020 is not cancelled, yet! Here are a few tips that can guide you into making new goals as we embrace the new normal.

1. Adapt to the new normal

The goals we set at the beginning of the year may not be attainable in the present circumstances however, it is advisable to adjust them to the new normal.  Some plans such as travel/holidays may need to be postponed. If your goal was to quit your job, the current situation may call for a pause of this plan too as a source of income is extremely vital during this period. 

What goals are achievable during isolation? Lets focus on those, these might include short courses, fitness goals and learning a new skill.

2. Split your goals into short term and long term

Since we only have six months left in the year, it is important to split up the goals into two categories so as to determine the foals you want to achieve by the end of the year and those that can be achieved next year. Break down the goals into daily, weekly, monthly targets with achievable key performance indicators. Checking your indicators and ticking them off helps boost morale which will give the necessary drive to achieve your goals. 

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 3. Strategize on goal execution 

Goals can be achieved despite the season we are in and even through lockdown, the challenge is to be creative with the execution of our goals.  This obviously depends on what your goals are in the first place. If your goal was to start a business, how about starting an online business during this period? If your goal was to learn a new skill, why don’t you look for online courses? I have some free site suggestions  here.

Purpose not to postpone your goals while you can get creative on alternative ways to achieve them.  

4. Create a Vision Board

After writing down your short and longer term goals, creating an execution plan, the next step is to create a vision board. 

Place this board in  a visible place where you can see it every day and be able to add on to it whenever necessary. It also allows you to be clear on your goals and aspirations. 

When creating this vision board, remember to be kind and realistic as we are living in strange times. Leave some room for the unexpected and be open to adjustments when and if necessary.

 5. Invest in an accountability partner. 

Being indoors constantly can make us quite relaxed and it becomes easier to binge watch netflix all day, thinking we have a lot of time to achieve our goals. Time flies when you are not doing much and to avoid the last minute panic, it is important to have an accountability partner who will help remind you of what is important to you. 

Share your weekly or monthly agenda and schedule a catch up to hold each other accountable on your individual goals.

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Simple tips on how to run your business from home.

Running a business and being able to action ideas feels great however it is hard to take action as a business owner during this period as you are at home 24/7. All businesses whether big or small are having to adapt to our new reality and this includes running a business from home. 

You may feel like your options of growth and improvement are somewhat limited but there are various ways you can support and grow your business from the comfort and safety of your home. 

One of the easiest ways to ensure your business is getting the necessary exposure during this period is by setting up and maintaining a website. Your customers will know where to find you and how to continue engaging with you during this period.

1. Rebranding

It may take years to build a business while other times, it can start quite organically. There is no given method to when and how any particular business should start however the trick is in the running and keeping the business afloat. 

Rebranding is normal for both large and small businesses which allows adaptation as they grow and change to meet the current demands in the market. Start from the top by analysing your latest business plan and the mission statement. What is working and what isn’t? Does your logo still represent your business? What about your website?

  •  Make a list of the updates you would like to make. 
  • Do your research and to do list
  • Execute what is on the list in order of importance.

2. Build or Refresh Website

Do you have an existing website? If you do not, the first step is to check out your competitors websites. Review a couple of them and review their design, functionality features and come up with your preferences based on what would work best for you. When it comes time to busild a website or make over an existing one, you can implement the features you loved and avoid the ones that did not work for you.

If you have an existing website, analyse it to see if it is easy for the customers to navigate. Ask your friends and family to review your site and give you feedback, listen to their outsiders perspective and see if you can implement the great suggestions. It is important to implement user friendly and business friendly features. 

  • Make sure your site is built to be responsive on desktop, mobile and tablet screens. 
  • Consider embedding your social media sites directly onto your site including contact information. 
  • Prioritize navigation making sure it is easy to click on all your links depending on the information required by the users. 
  • Include calls-to-action throughout your website. Your viewers can have something to do on each page, for example “Shop Our Products”. This encourages costumes to engage, the  longer they stay on your site, the more likely they are to purchase or become a loyal reader. 

3. Refresh your social media presence. 

This is the best time to get social especially since more people are spending time on social media while at home. It is important to have a social media marketing plan and then work on getting the ideal handle on all social media channels  regardless of a posting schedule. 

  • Create business handles for social media platforms 
  • Create a backlog of content to post 
  • Research on the ideal social media scheduling app 

Marketing yourself can be challenging at times but remember to maintain authenticity. Do your research on the best social media platforms, it is better to focus on one app that you feel good posting on than trying to spread yourself thin.

4.Online Shop 

 This is a great time to start selling your products on your website and so getting the logistics in place to do so is the first order of business. Your customers will naturally gravitate towards your business website so you can make it easier for them to make their purchases online too. 

5. Learn a new skill  

 As an entrepreneur, chances are that you are a jack of all trades ranging from product development, sales and accounting, marketing e.t.c. If there is an area you are struggling with, this is the best time to dive deeper and consider spending more time learning a new skill. There are plenty of online courses to pick from or even physical books that can help you build a technical skill or build on an area of your business. 

 6. Build an email list 

Email marketing is a strong marketing tool but is highly dependent on if you have a strong email list. Most people check their emails daily which increases the chances of catching their attention. Depending on what you are providing, you may make some sales through this method. 

 Take your time to build an email list during this period, host giveaways, start email newsletters and offer free downloads through email addresses. This audience will build over time and it is then up to you to provide them with value in your emails.  

7. Spread the good news!

One of the easiest ways to market a business is by word of mouth and it is totally free! If you have kept your business on the down-low, this is the best time to shout from the rooftops. Reach out to all your friends and family, post on Facebook groups, ask your loyal customers to refer their friends and family. Have confidence in yourself and your business focusing on your authenticity. 

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How what we eat affects our mood

 

The brain is supposed to take care of your thoughts, movements, heartbeat, breathing, senses, it basically works 24/7 and even when we are asleep. Therefore the brain needs a constant supply of fuel which generally comes from the foods we eat. Just like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets premium fuel and so the foods we eat make all the difference. What we eat affects the structure and function of our brains and ultimately, our mood. 

Eating high quality foods that contain minerals, vitamins and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from stress which can damage the brain cells. Just like an expensive car, your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. If substances from low premium fuel get to your brain, it becomes difficult to get rid of this, refined sugars for example, are harmful to the brain. Studies have shown a correlation between a diet of high refined sugars and impaired brain function with the possibility of worsening symptoms of mood disorders such as depression. 

Think about it – coffee is often attributed to a burst of energy whereas it is also linked to increased anxiety. A diet overhaul may not be enough to cure mental health disorders but it may definitely help to manage and prevent it all the same. Medicine today is focusing on the role of diet alongside other treatment options in an effort to prevent and improve mental health problems. 

Many people assume that the link between diet quality and the risk of developing mental health problems must have something to do with body weight. They assume if people eat an unhealthy diet, then they get fat and it’s being fat that ‘causes’ the mental health problems. While there are some aspects of truth to this idea, it doesn’t actually appear to be the explanation for the links we see.                                          

                                                                           – Professor Felice Jacka.

Before beating yourself up for snacking on too many biscuits, sodas and the likes, please note that you have the power to change your overall health by changing what you consume.  In fact, in Heal Your Body Cure Your Mind, Dr. Ameet Aggarwal reveals that many of his patients who suffer from anxiety saw a remarkable improvement within three weeks of removing coffee from their diet and replacing it with “simple carbohydrates with more protein and green vegetables.”

What’s encouraging is that often you’ll find that small changes like a more nutritious diet will lead to other positive changes because of a greater sense of self efficiency. 

We may have no control over whatever situation we find ourselves  but we can work on ourselves during this period to create habits that will last even when all this is over.

Here are some of the ways to nourish your mind and body:

  1. High Fibre Diet

This is a diet that includes lots of greens, whole  grains, spices and fruits. You can alternate your  meat dishes for healthier options. Traditional foods and diets have been around long enough to prove their usefulness in ensuring good health.

  1. Reduce processed foods

Processed foods include sodas, bread and sugar. These items are highly addictive and less of their intake would go a long way in achieving a better body and mind. Processed food is known to destabilize our microbial balance therefore affecting our overall health.  

  1. Fruits and Nuts 

Invest in organic produce that maximizes the concentration levels of fibre in our meals. Ingesting good bacteria means we have good gut health which means overall mental and physical health. These good bacteria can be found in legumes, nuts, fruits and leafy greens. 

  1. Prebiotics 

Prebiotics stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut assisting in the digestive system. Probiotic foods include garlic, onions,oats, bananas and apples. 

  1. Probiotics

These are live bacteria that restore the gut to a healthy state. You can take them in the form of supplements or find them in foods and drinks. Examples of these would be yoghurt, pickles,  and some types of cheese. 

Start paying attention to how eating different foods makes you feel — not just in the moment, but the next day. Try eating a “clean” diet for two to three weeks — that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar. See how you feel. Then slowly introduce foods back into your diet, one by one, and see how you feel.

When some people “go clean,” they cannot believe how much better they feel both physically and emotionally, and how much worse they then feel when they reintroduce the foods that are known to enhance inflammation.

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Easy Health Goals That Are Easy to Achieve At Home

A man taking a jog at dawn

With the constant headlines on the never ending uncertainty surrounding the world at the moment, the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that we have been closed up for so long and perhaps unable to keep up with our diets and workout plans. Netflix has replaced the gym and comfort food has taken over – rightfully. 

Treating your body well can help us feel better during these times and it is also one of the most important acts of self care. Instead of daunting health goals, lets focus on attainable goals that are manageable and bring benefits. A journey begins with the first step and afew steps can totally transform your health and lifestyle.

Here are 9 simple and feel good health goals you can start today:

  1. Eat leafy greens with your meals 

Leafy greens pack a variety of  health benefits and one way of getting healthier is incorporating them into your meals every single day. You can do this by having them in a smoothie in the morning or having them in a salad with lunch or dinner. 

Leafy greens incluse kale, spinach, collard green,  and arugula. The tick is to prepare them differently so the taste is not always the same, switch them up from time to time to break the monotony. 

  1. Turn off technology 

The rate at which we are addicted to technology is quite alarming, especially now that we are unable to engage in any in person engagements, everything is currently done over zoom, from work meetings, to exercising and even socializing.

 The amount of time spent with our eye glued to the screen has definitely increased and so it is vital to decompress for an hour or so during the day or right before bed by shutting off all the technology to chat with your housemates, read a book or engage in something creative such as drawing, writing, and such like activities. 

  1. Take a walk 

Staying home means we have extra time to get outside and enjoy the downtime. A simple health goal is to take at least one walk everyday. Getting your steps up is not only good for your health but also allows you to get some fresh air and sunshine that will essentially boost your mood. If you are too busy to take a walk, you can sit out on your balcony or patio to have your lunch, this allows you to enjoy the sun and gives you some fresh air. 

  1. Make one small change to your diet every day

A small change in your diet can range from changing your snacks from chips to fruits, drinking water instead of sodas. These tiny changes go a long way and are quite manageable during this period. Being home often allows us the time to cook and therefore we have time to come up with new healthy recipes that we can turn into staples. 

Healthy eating stems from habits that have been formed over time, these habits therefore form a domino effect. Start small today and see how your lifestyle changes over time. 

  1. Workout Online

Gyms are closed indefinitely and therefore, we can not continue to wait on them to open in order to reach our fitness goals. Luckily, we have all these resources online. There’s plenty of different workout plans on youtube. One of the most popular workouts at the moment is Chloe Ting’s home workouts. 

Why don’t you try to push yourself out of your comfort zone by trying new workouts for free? Trying something new challenges your body and introduces you to a new workout that you may love and may want to include in your routine. 

  1. Drink more water 

Hydrating is one of the most basic health goals with the biggest benefits however can be quite boring and monotonous. For this reason, try replacing water with another beverage that you drink everyday or drinking water while you drink another beverage (drink water while you drink coffee). 

Drinking an extra glass of water then you did the previous day is also a great way to challenge yourself and is the method I have been using recently. You can also add some super ingredients such as cucumber, watermelon, rosewater, aloe, strawberries, mint, chia seeds, lemon or cinnamon. 

  1. Change the reasons behind your health goals 

Oftentimes, we work out or change diet inorder to lose weight or because we are supposed to work out to be healthy. Unfortunately, changes due to working out take time and sometimes, the process can be quite discouraging. Instead, we should exercise to reduce the risk of diseases, improve self esteem, reduce stress and anxiety or just have a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthier gives your body the nutrients it needs to help us live the most vivacious and energetic life. 

  1. Perfect a routine 

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Most of us will probably stroll down our phones checking emails, missed calls, and social media. While it may be obvious to want to catch up with what’s been happening while you were sleeping, there are benefits to ease into the day, spend at least 30 minutes meditating, making breakfast, journaling, before starting with all the work and social media updates. Not only will you feel more calm throughout the day but you will make better choices that benefit your mental and physical health. 

  1. Sleep 7-8 hours a night. 

Getting enough sleep affects your overall quality of life therefore it is paramount that we do what we need to do to ensure we get enough sleep. If you are struggling to get more sleep, you can start  by going to bed ten minutes earlier every night until you have regained an hour of sleep. 

If the issue then becomes quality of sleep then it is important to find out why. Are you stressed? Do you have anxiety? Try drink some chamomile tea and reduce screen time before bed.  Even if your diet fails you or you get too lazy to exercise, prioritize on your sleep for better health. 

a man going for a jog at sunrise
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Unlearning how to be constantly busy

Most of us have been in situations where we have gone through the day feeling busy and overwhelmed with commitments and obligations yet look back on the day not feeling particularly productive.

Being busy and being productive can often be confused with the other, however, being productive means more than just running around with a million things on our to-do list.  Merriam Webster defines the word productive as ‘Yielding results, benefits and profits’ Essentially, something to show for our hard work. Productive has a lot to do with the use of our time while busy has to do with the amount of time. 

Our narrative is basically what we tell ourselves about our worth and abilities, who we are and our purpose among other things. The need to always be busy is usually as a result of the desire to feel worthy, connected and visible but can end up leaving us feeling isolated, inadequate and exhausted. 

Being excessively busy and glorifying the idea of busyness is common in order to gain a sense of self worth through performance of tasks and responsibilities, recognition and accolades from others. The busier we are, the more successful we feel. 

John Hopkins researchers have dubbed today’s culture as ‘the cult of busy’ where we pack up schedules with activities from dusk to dawn and train our children to be busy from an early age too, signing them up for after school activities from an early age. The children have packed schedules through high school inorder to prepare them for college and their coveted adulthood lives. 

Things may feel great in the moment but in essence our self worth does not seem to be fulfilled. These feelings are short lived and therefore we feel the need to tell ourselves that what we have done is not enough and we push ourselves to move on to the next task or perfromance. Unfortunately, this lock down period has rendered most of us less busy,some people out of work and others working part time or working from home. There is only so much you can do at home every single day!

Initially it was frustrating to be confined as it forced us to be in touch with ourselves and spend quality time with the people we live with. Hopefully this period has helped us realize that we need to make intentional changes as to how we spend our time. It is helpful to reestablish where our sense of self worth has been originating and how well that has worked for us. What are your core values? Allow yourself to be honest with what may have a longer lasting impact on your positive self worth. 

After analyzing your core values, you may find that spending time with family offers you a more meaningful sense of connection and value and choose to spend more time for that during the week or weekends.

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How to save and stretch money during a pandemic

The coronavirus crisis is creating chaos throughout the world and not just because of how quickly it is spreading but also the toll it’s taking on people’s financial lives.

There is the very real danger that the world is headed into a recession and if you have any savings to turn to during this crisis, you are in a very fortunate position. There is however the need to draw and spend your savings with the right amount of caution due to the amount of uncertainty in the economy.

Below are some tips on how to stretch out your emergency fund until you are back on your feet.

  1. Make a crisis budget

Have you lost your job or had your income reduced during the COVID 19 crisis? The next step is creating a crisis budget.

Start by figuring out how much money you have to work with for budgeting purposes and this includes the remaining funds from your current account, emergency fund and any other sources.

Next, figure out your essential expenses, these may include:

  • Housing (rent or mortgage)
  • Basic utilities (electricity, water, etc.)
  • Food
  • Transportation

2. Lower your spending

Now that you have a list of essential expenses, you can determine what you can afford. If you don’t have enough money to cover the basics, it is time to reach out to your landlord or the bank to cancel or lower any loan repayments. Certain creditors may be willing to work with you while others won’t but you are better off reaching out to them to see if they will be in a position to help before you miss a payment.

Tip: Don’t forget to put automatic bill payment drafts on pause if you’re making adjustments to your normal bill-paying habits. 

Finally, consider lowering or cutting nonessential expenses from your budget, at least on a temporary basis. Cost-cutting ideas include gym memberships, pause streaming services and spend less money on clothes and eating out.

Budget cuts are smart even if you’re still earning your full salary. With the current state of the economy, not to mention other unknowns, it’s difficult to predict whether your income will still be holding steady months or even weeks from now. Yet one thing you can control is how you spend the money you’re currently earning.

Use this opportunity to create or grow your emergency fund for future uncertainties. If you want to amplify your savings, you might consider opening a high yield savings account.

3. Put some financial Goals on Hold

Unless you are still earning your regular income and you have a healthy emergency fund that covers at least three to six months’ worth of your living expenses, its best to reassess your financial strategy at least in the short term.

You can resume making future plans after the crisis is over and life has resumed some normalcy.

4. Avoid Panic Buying

Every time there is an announcement about the ongoing pandemic, many people rush to the supermarket to stock up. The danger with that is the fear factor that is the root of the purchases.

It is possible that you will end up shopping for things you do not need. The supplies bought may also end up getting spoilt. It’s important to have a shopping list of the items needed and top up when supplies

5. Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk is quite common however not so many people take advantage of the benefits which include the fact that you get more for a lower price. Retailers charge more for smaller portions and secondly you spend less time shopping which reduces the risk of exposure during these uncertain times.

Buying in bulk gives you peace of mind knowing that you have all the essentials that can last you for weeks and sometimes even months before the need to stock up.  

There are many differing predictions about how the future will play out with regard to the economy and the coronavirus itself.

Nearly all would agree that much remains unknown. Only time will tell just how dire the health and economic fallout from the coronavirus will be. Whether life returns to normal sooner than expected or the crisis grows more serious, one fact is certain. When you have extra cash in savings—even a small amount—you’re in a better position to weather whatever situation comes your way

There you have it. What other ways are you stretching your budget in these uncertain times?

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Not working due to lock down? Here’s how to keep busy and perhaps learn a new skill.

Being by yourself for a long period of time not only makes you feel isolated physically but also mentally and if you haven’t got any work to keep you busy then this could lead to long term well being issues.

There are a couple of things you can do to curb any feelings of loneliness, boredom and anxiety

1. Pick up the phone 

If you are isolating on your own the key thing you should be doing regularly to try and curb any feelings of loneliness or mental isolation is to pick up the phone as much as you can and keep in touch with friends and family.  

Whether it’s a simple phone call or a multiple zoom video session, ensuring you have social contact even if it is virtually will make you feel a lot better and will also kill some time in the evenings when you may feel most isolated.  

2. Get outside (within reason) 

It’s imperative to get outside and get some fresh air and your daily dose of vitamin D, this should also lift your mood and allow you to clear your mind.  

3. Do some physical activity 

Doing a spot of daily exercise is so important for not only your overall wellbeing but your mood and mental health. You don’t have to do anything too strenuous, even just a 30-minute yoga class will stretch your body and allow more oxygen into the lungs and blood which should give you a good energy boost.  

4. Plan for the future  

This is unprecedented times of course, but there is a future in sight. Why don’t you take an afternoon to write a list of everything you want to do once you are out of lockdown, this could be from eating your favorite food at your favorite restaurant to hugging a close friend. This will give you hope and something to look forward to once this is over.  

5. Stop scrolling

You must remember that everyone is on lockdown, so you shouldn’t need to suffer with any kind of FOMO. However, boredom may cause you to head onto social media and scroll aimlessly for hours, this can take its toll on our mental health and can make us feel even more isolated and anxious. Instead, take yourself away from real life and read a book, do a puzzle, a crossword or anything that takes you away from your screen whilst still engaging you in activity.  

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6. Cook good food  

Proper nutrition is imperative to help us feel good and remain healthy. Ensure you are stocked up and have plenty of fresh produce and food in for the weekend ahead, so you can cook yourself some tasty, nutritious meals.  

Cooking from scratch will not only give you something to look forward to but will pass the time nicely and you can enjoy the process whilst listening to music and having a glass of wine.  

7. Self-care 

There’s no better time than the present to take a deep dive into the world of self-care. Take some time to refresh and re-engage your mind and body.  

Eating well, drinking plenty of water and spending time to focus on you will do wonders for your wellbeing. I recommend a nightly bath with some essential oils, a face mask and a good podcast.  

9. Spring clean 

We’re all stuck in lockdown, so what better time than now to do that spring clean that you’ve been putting off. Cleaning your home from top to bottom will give you a sense of achievement, will allow you to enjoy your newly clean home and should also help give you a clear mind.  

10. Binge-watch without guilt 

Before lockdown we led incredibly busy lives which most of the time meant we weren’t able to catch up on our favorite shows, podcasts and Netflix series. It’s really important not to feel guilty if you end up spending your isolation binge-watching your favorite shows. This is a very strange time and its ok to feel worried and anxious and if watching a TV show makes you feel better then so be it, as long as you are doing some sort of physical activity and eating well and drinking plenty of water then enjoying this time to be lazy is fine.  

11. Upskill and Educate

Many are taking this opportunity to upskill and educate themselves, broadening their knowledge and skills for when they return to work. There is a range of online courses many of them free, here is a list of afew we have identified.

  • The Open University – Free Courses
  • BrightTalk – an online events showcase the latest ideas and insights from world class experts, innovators and visionaries
  • Future Learn have a range of useful courses
  • Duolingo if you want to learn a new language
  • LinkedIn has an online resource for training and hints and tips for working from home, some which are free

12. Health & Well being 

  • Keeping your and body healthy during this period is the most important thing and there are lots of resources that can help with this.
  • Virtual Personal Trainers on YouTube and Instagram
  • Yale University are running a course on the Science of Wellbeing

13. Looking after the kids

Keeping yourself busy during the lock down period can be difficult and keeping kids occupied is even a bigger challenge. A new website Kids2020 has a range of amazing resources for kids ranging from educational, creative and fun for you to do with your children.

Simple tips on how to run your business from home.

Simple tips on how to run your business from home.

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