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7 WAYS I AM SIMPLIFYING THINGS THIS WEEK wellness challenge

If I am being honest – and we are all friends here, so of course I am being honest – this end of winter/beginning of spring in between season always kind of gets me down. Call it the wacky weather or maybe because the skies tend to be more gray than blue, either way, I get bummed out. So, in an effort to simplify things, I am trying to make some small changes with big results. So…for this weeks challenge….

Here are several ways I am trying to simplify my life this week. Some of these might be up your alley, some maybe not so much, but I would love to hear your thoughts!

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1 – No more falling asleep with the TV on

I know, I know, it’s a bad habit, but some nights my mind is racing so much that the only thing that will help me go to sleep is watching mindless TV shows (Arrow, anyone?) But, as we all know, falling asleep to the TV doesn’t exactly provide the foundation for rest, now does it? This week, I am putting down the remote and picking up a good book.

2 – No more waking up & checking emails

Do you do this? It’s the first thing I do when I turn the alarm off at 5 a.m. It’s like clockwork. I turn off the alarm, refresh my email, check the news (depressing), and Instagram. Immediately I feel stressed and rushed and it’s no bueno. This week I am putting my phone on airplane mode and giving myself a little extra time in the morning to ease into things.

Airplane mode keeps all your notifications from coming through (i.e. no emails, calls, texts, Instagram notifications, and all the other nonsense you get notified about). Here is to hoping this small change makes a BIG difference.

3 – No more chips and salsa for dinner

Tell me I am not alone in the weeknight meal struggle. Sometimes it’s hard to whip up a meal after a long day, you know what I mean? And once the pizza guy knows your name, that relationship has to end ASAP.

For those of you who meal plan, I envy you. While it’s not hard, it is just a bit time-consuming which is always the hurdle. This week, my goal is to meal plan for three dinners, nothing crazy, just something basic and easy to work into being a fully functioning adult.

4 – No more double booking

Scheduling every moment of every day is exhausting and a fool-proof way to set your plans up for failure. Happy hours and catching up with friends are meant to be fun, not stressful. Try limiting your hangouts and catch-ups to two days or swapping the happy hour for a walk outside or spin class. This week I am opting for a fewer hangouts of higher quality – you in?

5 – No more stuffing & cramming

By no means am I a hoarder, but there are just certain things that I can’t seem to organize. Random match books, receipts, random screws, you know, normal things. And don’t even get me started about the chair. You know when clothes aren’t dirty enough for the hamper, but not clean enough for the hamper — it’s the chair. So between the chair, the random junk drawer, and the other corner piles, something has got to go. This week, it’s time to tackle the chair…

6 – No more elaborate morning routines

When I was in college I was all about the elaborate morning routine. I woke up, stretched, journaled, had some quiet time, made breakfast, showered AND blow dired my hair, plus probably singing to the plants and talking to the birds because that is how much freaking free time I had. Who the eff has that kind of time now? Not I, said the over scheduled fly, not I.

While I am still a huge proponent of a morning routine (we talked all about it here), mine looks way, way different. It is all about waking up 10 minutes early, leaving my phone on DND, meditating for a few minutes, and giving myself a little extra love – maybe some mornings that means actually make a breakfast, or taking time to do my hair, or hey, here’s a big one, trying to make that morning meeting on time.

This goes for evening routines too! 

7 – No more multiple outfit changes per morning

I am notorious for changing multiple times in a morning, are you that way? Even if I think I know what I want to wear, majority of the time I spend half the morning picking out shoes or switching a top – it’s a nightmare. Your decision making skills begin to decline once you’ve made a certain amount of decisions in a day (it takes a lot of energy to make decisions all day and your brain gets tired), so spending a lot of time and energy on choosing an outfit takes away strong decision-making skills from something else.

This week I am giving my brain a hand and selecting outfits ahead of time, that way I don’t have to worry about it!

What about you? What changes have you made in your life to feel less stressed?


photography by Iron & Honey

CREATING GOOD VIBES in your space

I am a big believer in creating good energy in your home, because truthfully, it helps me stay balanced. My personality is a MASSIVE introverted extrovert, meaning, I love people, I love hanging out and doing things, but they don’t fill me up. I get filled up by being at home, reading books, gardening, or (no surprise here) taking a bath. So when my day is filled with extroverted activities, it is really important for me to come home to a space that is clean, quiet, and filled with good vibes.

Actively working to create a space with good vibes is something that is crucial to my mental health and a little habit that really helps my self care practice. For you, it might mean burning incense or using smudge sticks – both are awesome & if that works for you, don’t change – but for me, it is slightly more involved.

CREATING MOMENTS:

Doesn’t this sound like I am a cheesy mall photographer trying to upsell you on a package? I promise, it’s nothing as creepy as that…

For me, creating moments means having little spots around the house where I can instantly sit back and relax. Most of the time it involves trays. I don’t really know why, maybe it’s because my slightly type-A brain loves the organization and compartmentalizing aspect of trays…either way, trays are the trick to moments.

For example, I always have a tray sitting on my coffee table with a candle, matches, and some reading material. This allows me to sit down on the sofa, light the candle, grab a magazine, and relax without any prep work. My brain is tired from making decisions all day, so this is an easy, decision free way to just take a break from things for a bit.

Naturally, I get all the best trays in my house and candles in my house from Marshalls, because a) they are AMAZING and b) fantastically affordable. This little round guy is perfect for outdoor entertaining and the Peony Petal candle is my absolutle favorite. Every time I go to Marshalls I stock up on as many as they have. I have a whole shelf in my office dedicated to this candle…no joke. My husband thinks I am insane, but I like to think that our house smells like a magic English house in the country, so…worth it.

CREATE YOUR OWN MOMENT
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SOOTHING VISUALS

This could also be called “Manage Clutter Well” but soothing visuals made this tip sound more zen and important some how, so let’s roll with it. Okay, so what the F does “soothing visuals” mean? Well, young padawan, let me explain…

Your brain processing a million pieces of information a day and there are about a katrillion things vying for your attention at any given moment, so part of my good vibe practice is to create a space that is soothing, relaxing, and doesn’t need anything from me.

Again, I like color and organization so organizing my bookshelf by color is weirdly cathartic for my mind. Every morning when I spread out the various piles, paperwork, and nonsense I have to get through in a day, it is nice to have this colorful wall to look up at and space out on.

For you, that might mean sparse bookshelves, a gallery wall, a cabinet full of plants, it could be any or all of those things, but try setting it up in a room you are frequently in.

I also love filling my bookshelves with little trinkets from trips, items that make me smile, and all of the plants. Honestly, if I could live in a greenhouse I would be thrilled. Elated actually, but that is besides the point.

On a recent trip to my favorite store (cough cough Marshalls) I found those three blue and white Chinoiserie vases – aren’t they cool? They add some height and drama to the shelves without being loud or trendy. Plus, I can move them to my dining room table to spruce things up, or in various other places in the house when I get the itch to rearrange (which is daily, mind you). That big guy on the right was under $50, can you believe? Run, go get them, right now, GO, we will wait…

GO GINGER JAR CRAZY
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HYGGE

In case you need to brush up on your Danish terms, hygge is the latest word en vogue that means “to comfort” or “to console” and has become synonymous with a coziness. It was a huge word this year & everyone starting ditching the bar scene for a more self care friendly night in. Where we mad about it? No. Has it worked it’s way into our nightly routine? Absolutely.

Basically, I try to make my living room as comfortable as possible. We’ve got books stacked on almost every available surface (in a chic, no cluttered way of course), candles are always within an arms reach, and everything basically begs you to sit down, unplug, and recharge. Also, this is a phone free zone in our house. While our TV is hanging on the opposite wall, we try to leave our phones on the dining room table, so when we are in the living room, we spend time together. That could mean watching a movie, binge watching a show, or snuggling, reading, or just catching up on our days.

It’s amazing and I totally suggest instituting a tech free zone of your house. Try it for a week and watch what happens. You’ll be amazed.

Part of making a room cozy is having places to rest your cup of tea, a book, or a candle and these stools (again from Marshalls, again in amazing blue and white) are beyond perfect. They are roughly 24″ tall, so the perfect height for a sofa or a chair, blend in nicely with almost any decorating style, and easily under $100. I loved them so much I bought two extra ones to use as our bedside tables – OBSESSED.

MAKE THAT ROOM COZY
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Thanks to Marshalls for sponsoring this post.

 

IGNORE YOUR PHONE wellness challenge

Last week I met a girlfriend for lunch and as I sat there waiting for her, I couldn’t help but notice that someone at every table was on their phone. Everyone either had their phone face up on the table, in their lap, or they were endlessly scrolling away on it. Not just the majority of tables, but every single table had phones out, face up, ready to distract them from a fabulous lunch with someone they wanted to grab lunch with.

I watched as people felt the buzz of their phone, put down their silverware mid-conversation, and replied, scrolled, clicked, and ‘grammed. We are all guilty of this & I get it, it’s easy to multitask, but I had to wonder how, after being plugged in and available to everything/everyone all day, we are able to refill ourselves and…to a maybe larger question…how is it changing us? Is unplugging the new freedom?

You’ve read a million articles, heard a trillion podcasts, and I am sure have had several thousand conversations about digital detoxing, it’s benefits, it’s downfalls, and all the peaks and perils in between. And while I am a huge fan of putting boundaries on your tech use (no phones in the bedroom, shut your tv off by a certain time, etc.), I get that not everyone has that luxury, or that tech serves different uses for different people. But, here is what I want to challenge us to try this week…ignore your phone at meal time. That’s it.

Studies show that time away from technology

help improve posture and eye contact

improve short and long term memory

open up new perspectives

makes you seem more trustworthy

improves relationship quality and sense of closeness

makes people want to talk to you more

Don’t pull your phone out of your bag, or nestle it in your lap. Don’t allow yourself the temptation of looking at it every time you feel a buzz or a high pitched chime, turn it on silent. Hey, maybe go crazy and just leave it in another room while you eat at home. What could be the worst thing that happens?

This week, try thinking these three simple thoughts:

I put my phone on silent if I know I am going to be with other people in a social setting.

I leave my phone in my bag, rather than on the table, so it’s harder to access.

I look more open, trustworthy, and friendly without a phone in my hand.

photography by the fabulous Iron & Honey

sources Fast Company & Scientific American

ELIMINATING TOXINS IN YOUR BATHROOM ROUTINE

Did you know that your skin is your biggest organ? Now think about all the junk you put on your skin – soap, shampoo, conditioner, scrubs, lotions, deodorant – it’s a lot! Now think about how much you know about all those products? Are they organic? Paraben free? What even is a paraben?

I have had terrible skin since I can remember. Terrible spots, flakes, the works. From 13 to almost 30, it doesn’t get easier to deal with. BUT, a few great things have come out of having shit skin, I have tested almost every product on the market and have become a total nutter about researching the isht out of what I am putting on my body. That nuttiness has migrated from purely facial products to just about everything that falls under ‘bath and beauty.’

There is a crap load of funky stuff floating around in your products that you probably don’t even think about because it’s in a pretty package (I am so, so guilty of this) or because it’s sold at a certain store, and it could be affecting your whole body, not just your skin.

Now I know re-stocking isn’t cheap, but I am taking on one room a month and figuring out what stays and what goes. Join me and take an hour out of your night and go through your bathroom cabinets. Pull out all the product from your shower, under the cabinets, all those samples, and even those bins you keep in the back full of half used bottles and tubes. Grab a trash bin and toss out anything that has the following:

BHA and BHT (commonly found in moisturizers)

MEA, DEA, & TEA  (or monoethanolamine, diethanolamine, and triethanolamine)

P-phenylenediamine (coal tar dye) and anything with CI, FD&C, or D&C followed by a five-digit number (found in hair dye or colored products)

Parabens (found in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products)

Dibutyl phthalate (found in nail polish)

Methenamine or Hexamethylenetetramine (found in eye makeup, as well as shampoo and hair conditioners)

If you want help or more guidelines, try downloading Think Dirty or EWG’s Healthy Living. Both apps allow you to scan your products to see where your products rates on the dirty/clean scale.

This week I am taking on my bathroom products. I’ve thrown out a ton of lotions, funky soaps, and countless samples. Here is a list of clean (or more clean) products that I’ve swapped out. Okay, from left to right…

Lime & Coconut Salty Scrub

Palermo Charcoal Soap Bar

Meow Meow Tweet Natural Deodorant

Goodwell Toothbrush

Pacific Mint Toothpaste

Meow Meow Tweet Body Lotion

Ritual Vitamins

What products do you love? I am always on the hunt to clean up my routines & would love to know your favorites <3

Stay tuned for posts on clean lipsticks, beauty products, and lots of other swaps. Here’s to clean cleaning!

IS STAYING IN THE NEW GOING OUT? and are we mad about it?

Have you heard about this latest trend – staying in is the new going outTBH, I am having a hard time containing my excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I love going out as much as the next gal, but between the late nights at the office, crazy travel schedule, and trying to squeeze some gym time in there somewhere, staying in becoming trendy is just the break I was looking for.

Nesting is officially the new going out.

Call me old, but there is nothing that I love doing more on a Friday night then coming home, taking my makeup off, making a great dinner, and slipping in to a scalding hot bath. I turn off my phone, pile on the epsom salts, and maybe…if I am feeling extra crazy…dive head first into a good mud mask.

With professional burnout rates being so high, people giving up social media for Lent because the pressure to be doing something “cool” all the time is too much, and not to mention all the other emotionally exhausting sh*t that greats us every time we walk out the door, it’s no wonder self care searches are up by 121%. But let’s be real, going out isn’t going anywhere, it’s just getting prioritized a bit behind casual quality time with friends and some self care action.

What do you think? Do you believe the hype? Is staying in really the new going out?

TURMERIC IS THE NEW BLACK wellness challenge

Turmeric and ginger latte recipe via Lauren KelpI was at a swank little coffee shop in the West Loop the other day and saw “Golden Latte” on the menu, so naturally, I ordered it because it sounded weird and maybe magical and I have to say…I was very pleasantly surprised!

Little did I know that this fancy latte has a cult following. You’ve heard of matcha lattes, but have you heard of the latest wonder drink – turmeric lattes? From Sydney to San Fran, people are ditching their morning cups of joe for this healthy alternative and swearing by it’s many magical benefits.

What are the benefits you ask?

  • anti-inflammatory
  • potent antioxidant
  • boosts immunity and brain power
  • aids in muscle pain relief
  • helps with digestion
  • reduces cholesterol
  • lowers risk of diabetes
  • helps fight infection, depression, anxiety, and I am sure a bunch of other annoying ailments
  • PLUS it’s amazing for your skin and a great source of natural caffeine

Okay, so here is my health challenge for the week — I am going to swap out two of my weekly morning cups of coffee for turmeric lattes and see how it goes. Join me?

Ginger and Turmeric Lattee
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
 
Soothing and delicious latte that is packed full of anti-inflammatory properties.
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup of almond milk
Instructions
  1. Combine turmeric, ginger, sugar, and coconut oil in a blender and wait to blend
  2. Heat almond milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until just simmering.
  3. Pour the hot almond milk into the blender and blitz everything until smooth and frothy.
  4. Serve, sip, & enjoy!

Turmeric and ginger latte recipe via Lauren Kelp

 

DEEP BREATHING TO MANAGE ANXIETY wellness challenge

Deep breathing for anxiety via Lauren Kelp

Maybe it is the season or the current state of affairs (can we just get one day without a CNN alert, puhhlease), but I have become increasingly more and more anxious. I have never considered myself someone who has anxiety but recently I find myself becoming stressed more easily and overwhelmed more quickly – which is gross and super not fun. So, this week I am trying to give myself a minute to take some deep breaths whenever I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Join me?

DEEP BREATHING FOR WHEN YOU ARE FEELING ANXIOUS

1. Close your eyes and take a deep inhale through your nose for five seconds

2. Exhale through your mouth for good five seconds

3. Now repeat and count to 10 (an inhale is “1” and exhale is “2” and so on)

4. If you need another go, count to 20 or until you feel more zen

I have started doing this when I get overwhelmed with work or in rush hour traffic (sans the closing eyes bit) and it has really helped take the edge of the situation. Do you find deep breathing to be helpful? Excited to be working towards a less anxious week with you!

Deep breathing for anxiety via Lauren Kelp

5 WAYS TO FOCUS ON WELLNESS

image185New Year’s is always the time to make resolutions, set goals, and re-commit to life changing habits, but I always feel that way about Spring. The snow has melted, the birds are started to chirp, warm weather is slowing sneaking in, and I always feel re-energized to set goals and make things happen.

This season, we are all about wellness. Not wellness in terms of the latest fitness trend, but wellness in terms of mind, body, and spirit. We are trying to take time for ourselves, put healthy boundaries around commitments, and do things away from our computers that inspire us. So, naturally, I wanted to share five ways we are focusing on our wellness!

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ONE: Schedule some “you time”

Personally, I love baths. I love alone time & I love taking 20 minutes to slip into a bath, away from screens, and unwind (a glass of wine doesn’t hurt the process). But, much like you, “me time” is the first to go when things get busy & life gets hectic.

I encourage you to make “me time” as important as those happy hours with friends. Without dedicated time carved out in your schedule to be alone, pamper yourself, or indulge in something (a good book, a dance class, lunch at the museum, etc.) there is a tendency to burn out, get stressed out, or exhaust oneself. Cut that terrible cycle off by making time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a ton of time, maybe just 15 minutes a day just doing something that you love. Try it out & see how it changes things.

TWO: Feed your body well

Natalie, our fabulous Health & Wellness contributor talks a lot about checking in with your body after meals & asking yourself how you feel after eating. To me, this is better than any dieting trick because when you choose to feed your body well, your body feels really good & wants to keep going & kicking ass right alongside you.

A lot of times we are so busy thinking about other things that we don’t realize how we feel after we eat.  If you take a moment after a meal to notice how you feel it can be extremely informative. This will allow you to make choices in the future based on feeling rather than guidelines that you follow. You will know that after you three slices of pizza you feel bloated and tired and after you eat a salad with salmon and avocado you feel satiated and energized. Therefore the next time you are presented with the opportunity to choose what you want to eat you can remember how you felt after you ate that specific thing. Making a decision is a lot easier when it comes from a place of feeling as opposed to from remembering what’s on your list of “yes” foods and “no” foods.

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THREE: Simplify your beauty routine

Rethinking your beauty routine might seem like an easy one to skip, but hear us out! Replacing those products on your counter with clean, non-toxic options will help your skin in the long run & ensure a healthy body inside & out. Ditch your trendy face wash full of ingredients you can’t pronounce with clean products like JĀSÖN Gentle Basics.

Their Gentle Basics Facial Cleanser is ultra-mild, hypoallergenic for dry, sensitive skin and doesn’t cause redness or irritation. Great for exfoliating all that icky winter skin away & it’s free of parabens, so your skin will be looking healthy & radiant, naturally!

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FOUR: Be intentional

If there is one thing I want to improve in my wellness routine, it’s becoming more intentional about my time & less anxious about my to-do list. Okay, well technically that’s two, but, to me, they go hand in hand.

We are pulling a page out of Yoga’s book and trying to set intentions for our day. Meditating on these intentions throughout the day help with emotional stability (meaning, they calm our anxious minds) and stress reduction. It is important to set an intention rather than a goal, because intentions happen from the inside where goals are more external. Intentions can be anything from, “I intend to make someone smile today” to “I intend to let myself be happy.” Coming back to those intentions when things get out of hand, hard to handle, or so messy you just want to give up, will help center you, re-focus your mind, and give you the calming kick in the butt to keep going that you needed.

FIVE: Fill your mind with good things

 It’s tempting to come home after a long day & turn on the TV and zone out a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Netflix binge-watch session, but sometimes it’s better to turn the TV off and fill your mind with things other than the latest House of Cards season.

Pour a glass of wine, slip into something more comfortable, and spent the night reading something good. Whether it’s the latest New Yorker or something random off your bookshelf, it’s important to expose yourself to new things. Boost your imagination and creativity, get inspired to do something new, or indulge in a little self improvement, no matter the reason, reading allows you to unplug & unwind while stimulating your brain in a new way!

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This post was sponsored byJĀSÖN Gentle Basics. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make new content possible!

CREATING AN EASY MORNING ROUTINE

2ace789b42df81ee071089765a538d69If you’re like most people, one of the first things you do in the morning is look at your phone. Maybe you open your email right away and get to work or maybe you casually peruse Instagram. Either way, chances are you’re glued to your phone before you even get out of bed. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with that, I’ve been there and occasionally I’m still guilty of getting on my phone the minute I open my eyes. But there’s something really valuable about starting your day off without a screen in your face. One of the best ways to set yourself up for a stress free (or minimal stress) day is to begin the day with a few minutes of inward focused attention.

You don’t need tons of free time in the morning to have an easy morning routine that supports you, five minutes is completely sufficient. cd625ad378eae139f98b8017a5037540

Step One: Breathe. 

Take a few deep breaths. That’s it. Inhale fully and exhale fully. Give yourself about two minutes to do this or do it for as long as you’d like. Simply focusing on your breath is a great way to harness your energy inward, and start the day off from a calm and grounded place. 

Step Two: Intention Setting.

Set an intention for your day. If you want to get fancy you can do this in a journal, or you can simply set the intention in your mind. Setting an intention is as easy as thinking, “I want to feel calm today” or “I want to focus on what I’m grateful for today”. The best part is that there is no right or wrong way to set an intention, it’s completely up to you and nobody else. 

After focusing on your breath and setting an intention you’re totally free to look at your phone. You’ll probably find that anything that felt pressing when you first woke up might not seem like that big of a deal anymore, or that your Facebook newsfeed really isn’t that exciting. 

4c6512b446f2f9ec95f0d91906401a3eHere’s my challenge for you:

Try doing this every day for 30 days, and see how you feel at the end of it. Chances are you will have broken the habit of immediately jumping to look at your phone, and you’ll probably want to keep it up. Starting your day with a little bit of inward attention will always pay off. 


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ENTER FALL WITH CLARITY

a-105-2We’re back with another post from Chicago-based life coach, Natalie Canizares. Today she brings up the natural change that comes with seasons and how to really be deliberate and focus on the right things this Fall. Always a good reminder! xoxo – LK


With summer nearing it’s end and fall around the corner, change is in the air. If you’re anything like me this feeling of change gets you thinking about what you’re ready to improve in your life.

What is it that you’re ready to start doing this fall? Is it getting to the gym more often? Is it creating a morning routine that sets you up to have a great day? Is it simply setting aside some alone time to sit in quiet?

There are so many simple things we can do that can completely improve our experience. Sometimes the most challenging part about that is not knowing where to start. This is where a lot of us get tripped up. We know we want to make changes but we don’t have clarity on what we want, so it feels impossible to do something about it. Without clarity, making even the simplest change can feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to start getting specific. 

A new season is the perfect time to set intentions and start getting focusing on what you really want. A great way to do this is to spend a little bit of time journaling. 

Give yourself thirty minutes with a pen and paper and answer this question:

How do I want to feel this season? 

As simple as a may sound, it’s a question we often forget to ask ourselves. Life can get so busy that we don’t think to stop and get clear on what we actually want. e5610a421507d9c1c6e8d893980762c5

Knowing how we want to feel makes it so much easier to then choose what it is we spend our time on. For instance, knowing that you want to feel more peaceful or calm then informs you that it would be a good idea to set aside some time to mediate every day or maybe just spend a few minutes in quiet. Whatever it is you choose, there is no right or wrong answer, what feels best for you is exactly what you should do.

Taking the time to get clear on your intentions will set you ahead of the curve. With the clarity you gain it’s sure be a wonderful fall. 


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