Life changes. As much as we would like things to be constant in our lives, to follow a predictable and familiar pattern, that is rarely, if ever, the case. Some changes are self-driven, (resigning from your job and starting a new one, having a baby), others are forced upon us (the death of a family member, a new public transport timetable), no matter how comfortable we are in our daily routine and our current state of affairs, change will happen - whether we like it or not.
Small changes happen to us everyday - the weather, our hairstyle, our bus driver - these changes are generally easily navigable and are subsumed into the make up of our days without any real impact on our lives as a whole. They are accepted.
Big changes happen less frequently and are often things that rock our whole worlds. They are less easy to deal with, some require a lot of time and processing before we are able to accept them. They can be devastating and hit without warning, or they can be a cumulation of conscious decisions which result in an entirely new state of affairs.
Recently my SO and I decided to upsticks and move to the other end of the country. New jobs, new city, new house, new friends, new car - the whole shebang. Even though this big change was a deliberate and conscious decision on our part, this didn't make it any less scary. There were twists and turns with everything and a surprising amount of things to sort out and consider. It has all worked out very well, huge thanks in part to my SO who by far bore the lions share of the work. Although this change was planned, I have still felt myself going through an 'adjustment period', my brain re-wiring itself to new routines, new people and new circumstances. Starting a new job has been both nerve-wracking and exciting, settling into a new town has required taking a relaxed approach and just figuring things out along the way. We are excited to be here, and I, personally, am loving our new life. Because it has been a change that we have wanted and instigated, this has helped with accepting it and all of those small changes that go along with it.
But what about those big changes that are thrust upon us out of left field - how do we deal with them? Everyone reacts differently, but personally, I do think everyone has to face those changes head on - as unpleasant and uncomfortable as that can be. Addressing the elephant in the room makes it smaller, it allows our brains to process what has happened and while it doesn't make these events any less momentous, it helps. Allowing yourself to feel and experience those accompanying emotions is important. Feel. Breathe. Accept. In time your amazing brain will process the change and accept it as your new reality.
Change is healthy, it keeps our lives exciting, it challenges us. We find strength we never thought we had, we forge friendships in unlikely places. Change should not be something that is feared and avoided, it should be welcomed (for the most part) and embraced. Accepting change in life is important, its not always comfortable, but it is necessary and being open to being accepting can make the road that much smoother.
Love, Health and Happiness,
I love reading. Relaxing on the couch in my comfy pants (I own several pairs) with a hot cup of tea and a good book is one of my favourite things to do. There is nothing like getting lost in a story and it's characters to take your mind off the world around you and to give yourself a temporary break from all those stressors which are a part of your everyday life. I can quite happily read for hours at a time and have been known to stay up well past midnight reading because I just could not put a book down (thank you, Harry Potter).
There are a myriad of benefits to reading - vocabulary and spelling development, education, fostering creativity and imagination and self improvement (amongst others) - however, the focus of this post is on using the act of reading itself (as opposed to the subject matter of the material being read) as a tool for managing stress.
In the age of constant contactability and connectivity, meditation has recently enjoyed a resurgence as being (with good reason) a way to manage stress, be present in the moment and calm our ever-whirring brains. In my opinion, reading a book achieves the same outcome (as does exercise - but I have already covered that in another post). So if you have attempted meditation and just can't get into it, I suggest you pick up a book and read some of it everyday, even if it's only for 10 minutes. Choose a book, whether fiction or non-fiction, that interests you, go somewhere where you cannot be interrupted (before going to sleep each night is a good time) and let your poor over-worked brain focus on something other than whatever it is that is causing you stress.
Reading has the added bonus of being a completely portable and flexible stress management tool. You can do it anytime and just about anywhere. I am lucky enough to be able to read for almost an hour every week day, as I commute to and from work by bus. This work-day reading time is invaluable for my mental well-being, as it serves as a perfect transition between work-life and home-life and allows me to switch off/de-compress from my busy and, at times, stressful work day (this in turn makes me a much nicer person to be around when I get home).
I know that not everyone likes reading, but I would wholeheartedly encourage you to try it. You don't have to go out and buy books - borrow some from friends or family, or join the library (it's free). Make a commitment to yourself and your mental health and add this simple and (in my opinion) highly enjoyable pastime to your arsenal of stress management tools. Your stress levels will thank you for it.
Love, Health and Happiness,
This is a topic that is very close to my heart. As an avid animal-lover, the thought of animals being subjected to all sorts of tests and experiments (i.e. torture), just so us humans can conform to our society's ideals of what is beautiful, is abhorrent. The issue of consumer products, and in particular makeup and skincare, being tested on animals first came to my attention a few of years ago after watching the documentary 'Earthlings' (Monson, 2005)*. It is a truly eye-opening and harrowing documentary which I found very upsetting. Sometimes, though, it takes something that shocking to provide us with the impetus to change.
*A word of warning for anyone intending to watch it - whilst it is an interesting and informative documentary, it is VERY graphic and confronting (there is footage of animals being mistreated, slaughtered and tortured) and it is absolutley NOT appropriate for kids.
Upon becomming aware of the prolifiration of animal testing in the beauty and cosmetics industry and being horrified by these practices, I decided to overhaul my skincare and makeup products so that they were all cruelty-free. It was actually very easy, surprsingly inexpensive and my skin hasn't suffered for it (and neither have any animals - win!)
These days there are a large number of skincare and makeup companies that are certified cruelty-free and whose products are high-quality, effective and affordable. If you think you too would like to go cruelty-free, here are some tips to help you make the switch:
The testing of skincare and makeup products on animals is a despicable practice. Luckily, these days there is a large variety of affordable, high-quality, cruelty-free brands to choose from. In addition, many countries are recognising that animal testing is not ok and are actively passing laws banning the testing of products on animals in their country (happily New Zealand passed this ban into law in 2015). As a consumer, you can vote with your wallet by actively choosing to purchase products that are cruelty-free - there is no greater driver of change for a company than a loss of profit.
Love, Health and Happiness,
Travel is a great love of mine. There is nothing like being in a new city/country/culture to make you feel invigorated and excited by life. It opens your eyes to new sights, your body to new experiences and your mind to new possibilities. It is good for your soul, it gives you the opportunity to 'reset' and in my opinion is the perfect break from everyday life that we often crave.
I firmly believe that travel, as well as being good for your body and your mind, can rejuvenate your soul. Here are just some of the reasons why this is (from my point of view - I'm sure each person has their own):
For me, travel is life changing and is a welcome temporary escape from the (often self-imposed) confines of my daily routine. It lets me step back from the detail and gives me a wider overview of my life and where I'm going/what's really important. It has given me wonderful memories, some amazing experiences and I feel refreshed and re-balanced when I return home after a trip. It is my soul saver.
Love, Health and Happiness,
Work-life balance, the phrase that gets thrown around frequently, put into any sort of professional job advertisements (whether this is the reality or not) and appears to be the goal that everyone strives to achieve (at least in the corporate sphere that I work in). Of course, it also means different things to different people. For some it means being home every night to have dinner with their kids and for others it means only working every second weekend. For me work-life balance means, getting home at a reasonable hour MOST nights (in my job there are always times during which this is simply not possible), not having to work at all in the weekends and, most importantly, having the time to do the things I want to that are not work related (such as spending time with my SO, family and friends, going to the gym or a concert, relaxing at home with a good book or having the time to cook a nice dinner).
As I have already mentioned, there are always times in my life where this balance is out of whack, when work feels like its taking over my life and when I do finally escape the office all I want to do is sleep. Luckily for me, I have got myself into a position where this situation is the exception, not the rule, but I know other people where the opposite is true for them. These days everyone is constantly connected to each other and essentially immediately contactable through one means or another. For this, I blame the internet, smartphones and social media. Easy access to all of these things can make it hard to switch off. If your colleagues or clients can get hold of you anywhere at anytime, it makes it very difficult to disconnect from work. Some people are comfortable with this and have no issue receiving and checking work calls and emails over the weekend and late at night. For me, this feels like a gross invasion of my non-work life. We are not robots and cannot be expected to be 'on' constantly, that's how major mistakes happen and people 'burn out' (adrenal fatigue and various other physical and mental health issues anyone?)
For anyone who is battling to have a life outside of work and to find that seemingly unattainable balance, I thought I would share some things that I do which assist me in finding the work-life balance that works for me MOST of the time.
Love, health and happiness,
Tattoos. This is a fairly polarizing subject for many people - they either hate them or love them. What are considered tacky and trashy by many are viewed as works of art and self-expression by others. In many cultures a tattoo depicts your family group, ancestry and heritage or is a right of passage into adulthood. They hold a higher meaning than simply ink on skin.
As someone with 2 tattoos (and counting), both of which I love, I am of the opinion that they are a wonderful way to express yourself. However, if you had asked me 5 years ago whether I would ever get a tattoo, the answer would have been a solid 'No'. So what changed? Well, one summer's afternoon my family and I were talking about tattoos and whether we would ever get one. I said I wouldn't unless it really really meant something to me. That was the conversation that planted the seed and as I was driving home I got to thinking, what is so important to me that I would proudly have it etched into my body for the rest of my life. The answer came to me immediately - family.
From then on for about a year I toyed with the idea of having something that represented my family tattooed on my body. I wanted it to serve as a reminder to me of what is really important in life when things got stressful at work, or life in general threatened to overwhelm me (I can get a bit "down in the weeds" about things from time to time). I began researching ideas and designs and a good friend of mine with a myriad of amazing tattoos recommended her artist. I contacted the artist, met with them, discussed what I wanted and next thing I knew I had booked my session in.
I went for a small piece on the right hand side of my rib cage, it took about an hour to do and was a lot less painful than I had expected (having braces put on when I was 13 was a much more traumatic experience). I was stoked with the result. Fast forward a year and I just couldn't get the idea of having another tattoo done out of my head. So, earlier this year (after 6 months of "thinking about it" and researching concepts, techniques and ideas), I got in touch with the artist again and this time had a much larger, more intricate piece done (see the pic at the top of this post for what it looks like on paper - I also had a watercolour background added). It took two sessions (one was 6 hours and the other 2 hours) and it is truly a work of art. Partly because of my job, both of my tattoos are on my ribs/torso where they cannot be seen unless I am in a bikini (or naked!) However, the main reason for choosing these placements is because both of my tattoos are personal to me and are something that I have done for myself, not for anyone else (although my SO likes them too). I love my tattoos, they are unique to me (each having been designed especially for me), are a form of self-expression and a way of non-verbally communicating a bit of my personality. They serve as a constant visual reminder of what's important to me and help to keep me grounded. Other people may not feel this way about their tattoos and their motivations for getting tattoos may be different - that is of course absolutely fine.
I believe that, on the whole, society is becoming more and more accepting of tattoos and today they are certainly not uncommon in the younger age groups, in fact I would go so far as to say that they are almost "normal". I have plans for a 3rd one (much to my parents' delight), but like my previous ones, I am in no rush and am just going to sit on the idea (I have several concepts and styles in mind) before I go and see my artist (they are fully booked until 2017 anyway so I don't have much choice in the matter). Choosing to adorn your body permanently is a big decision (well it was for me) and I would encourage people to think very carefully and do their research on both what they want and their intended artist before they launch into any sort of commitment.
When it comes to tattoos and having one or not having one, there is no right or wrong answer, there is only what is right for you.
What do you think about tattoos? All opinions welcome :)
Love, health and happiness,
Hi! I'm PrayerBaby. I love food, fitness and travel. I'm excited for you to join me on my creative journey.