5 Tips for Hygge Living

Hygge (pronounce hoo-gah) is a Danish concept and its closest translation is ‘coziness’. The clocks go back this week so I think now is the best time to let a little bit of ‘Hygge’ into your life.

Let me paint the picture for you…it’s a cold, wet and windy November day. What do you want when you get home? A lovely warm fire, a cosy blanket, a wooly jumper to put on and to relax in front of the telly with Mr. S. That my friends is Hygge in a nutshell.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) a type of depression which reoccurs on a seasonal basis, is affecting around one in 15 people in the UK between September and April, Hygge could be an attitude to adopt to help ease the winter blues.

Below are some ways you can totally get into the Hygge groove and not just survive but thrive this impending Winter.

Embrace Seasonal Produce

I love changing my weekly food shop to reflect the changing weather. Take root vegetables for example, they are in season at the mo making them fresher and cheaper than at other times of the year. Chuck them together  in differnt combinations to make wonderful warming soups. It’s a win win! Roast Red Pepper and Carrot is a personal favourite of mine..yum!

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*Image via Pinterest

Make Your Home as Cosy as Possible

Invest in faux fur and chunky knit throws and change your bed linen and duvet to the winter weight tog. Light a fire as often as you can and blow the dust off those ‘display’ candles and actually light them! The candle light and scent creates that super cosy atmopshere, how could you not be happy in your little nest thats is home!

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Invest in Cosy Loungewear 

If you know me at all, you will know loungewear is one of my favourite things in life. The best thing after a long day is getting out of those high heels and skinny jeans and putting on my comfy lounge pants and cosy jumper, oh, and not forgetting my cashmere socks (best investment I ever did make)!

Here are some of my picks of the season for lounge wear:

Cashmere socks M&S | Lounge wear Set Hush | Cashmere Jumpsuit The White Co

Plan a Trip Away

I love having something to work towards and planning a little trip away can help to put the long evenings in. A change of scenery also does wonders for the soul too! Here are two places that are on my never-ending wish list.

Northern Lights, Reykjavik, Iceland | Christmas Markets, Prague, Czech Republic

Fill Your Evenings with Laughter

Invite friends or family over, watch all the comedies Netflix has to offer, go to the cinema or out for a few cocktails…whatever..as long as it makes you feel good, do it! Alternatively, cosy up with a good book and a cup of tea.

If you would like to read a little bit more about ‘Hygge’ you can find a great book on it here.

I hope this helps give you some insight into the Hygge concept. Whatever you get up to this Winter just make sure that it makes your soul happy.

Much Love,

Judy xo

 

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A Solid Investment

I’m pretty sure all of us are very good at investing our hard earned $$ in the latest trends or that new lipstick but how much do we invest in our own wellbeing? Two years ago if you gave me the choice of spending £25 on a top or a personal training session, I’d have went straight to Topshop..every time!

It isn’t until something goes wrong with our health we reflect back and wish we had perhaps invested in ourselves a bit more.  The old saying, prevention is better than the cure is very apt.

I have made a few changes in the past year which have had a really positive effect. I am happier, healthier and have more energy. If you know me personally you will know 2015 was a pretty tough year for me and my health but I’m now on the other side and I want to share with you some super simple things I have done that have improved my quality of life and hopefully will benefit yours too.

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Lean in 15, Bodycoach.

The food we eat is our fuel…you wouldn’t put rubbish fuel in your car so why do it to yourself. If you load up on rubbish, you will in turn feel rubbish. Buying the Lean In 15 book was the first step I made in improving my diet. I have so many recipe books but most of the meals in them are complicated, expensive and take ages to cook. After a hard day at the office the last thing I want to do is start making a big dinner.  The Lean in 15 books are full of super simple, quick and yummy recipes that are easy to put together in the evening. With lots of veg and lean ingredients it’s had a really positive affect on my diet. I haven’t strictly followed the books plan but I do make a majority of my weeknight dinners and lunches from it.

Personal Training

For me this was a bit of a luxury, as I am sure it would be to you as well. Two operations on my abdomen in 2015 left me with pretty poor core strength, zero body confidence and had left me with a feeling that things were pretty much beyond the point of repair.

I was pretty anxious about starting back into exercise again after a year off and so I researched pretty hard about the best way to do so without hurting myself or landing back in hospital. I started off with a Yoga class to break myself in gently.  After attending Yoga regularly for a number of weeks I felt confident enough to up the ante a bit. I started Personal Training at a local gym, going on a Saturday morning and then also attending a class on a Monday evening. My personal trainer was great and tailored workouts specifically for me so that I don’t overdo it or put too much strain on my core. Even with that, initially the whole ‘exercise’ thing was a bit of a shock on my body and I found it reacting in various ways to all of this exercise it wasn’t used to. I listened to it and took a break as and when I needed to but I’ve since built up my stamina again and now attend twice a week without fail and I haven’t looked back.

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Mindfulness

If you have  been following my blogs you have probably heard me banging on about ‘Mindfulness’ a few times. When I was ill, I spent most days in constant discomfort and pain. Medication did it’s part to provide relief but some days it just wasn’t enough and so I started to look for alternative ways that I could manage the daily discomfort and it was through this search that I found ‘mindfulness’.

‘Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique..’

I started with one of those pretty adult colouring books and although it seems silly, it was very effective  at helping me get through those really tough days. I have continued to practice it and having had such positive results I have also started to promote it to my patients in my job as a Psychiatric Nurse. It isn’t just a way of relaxing but can have very real benefits for those suffering from mental health problems as well as physical conditions.

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Massage

This is a recent addition to my portfolio of managing my condition in the long term and one of the most empowering. I have begun attending a specialist Physiotherapist in Belfast who specialises in helping woman manage health conditions including Endometriosis. She  provides therapeutic massage and gives specialist nutrition, exercise and lifestyle advice and I have to say the result has been fantastic. She has has made me feel like I am in  more control as I have a number of things I can do to help manage my symptoms on days when I am in a bit of pain and discomfort.
In addition to the really helpful advice the benefits of the therapeutic massage are amazing. Massage has the obvious of helping managing stress which can bring its own issues and it can have a positive effect on your lymphatic system and it can even boost your immune system.

Whilst I appreciate that everyone is different and our path to a better wellbeing is unique to each individual experiencing it, I feel that these are some tips that mostly everyone can adopt.

My hope is that we all start taking care of our insides as much as we do out outside and we can all have that natural glow that comes from within.

Much Love,

Judy xo

Social Media and our Mental Health

I will be the first to admit it, I spend a crazy amount of time online throughout the day. My iPhone is an extension of my hand as there is always a photo opportunity or a pretty Instagram feed to scroll through for inspiration.

Social Media is a minefield of positives and negatives and as a Mental Health professional I sit back from time to time and think, ‘How is this affecting our Mental Health?’

I have read around a lot of research on social media and its links to low self esteem, Anxiety and Depression.

Did you know that 56% of people aged 18-25 spend more than 3 hours a day on social media?

Comparison is the thief of joy…

There is always going to be someone who is always skinnier, prettier or has a nicer house and we all think ‘where the flip did I go wrong?’.  It’s difficult but we need to be content with what we have. Just because someone else portrays a happy and care free life does not always mean that they are more fulfilled. Remember, people are only sharing the things they want  you to see, rarely will you see the negative stuff, the arguments, the work pressures or the credit card debt accrued in trying to have a ‘perfect life’ – nobody’s life is perfect no matter how amazing their Instagram profile leads you to believe. #nofilter? I think not.

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‘Likes’ do not make you a better person…

Social media is addictive and our smile can beam from ear to ear when a photo gets a certain number of likes or we get a few more followers. Although this might give you boost of confidence for a short period of time, the number of ‘likes’ you get on Social Media should not validate you as a person. You are more than that, trust me. You are individual, unique and special in so many ways…your worth cannot be measured in ‘likes’.

There is always one…

Ten positive comments and one negative comment, which one will we dwell on? People can hide behind social media and say nasty things because they think that they can get away with it (I hear the term ‘keyboard warrior’ mentioned from time to time, more like keyboard cowards). In my experience in the mental health field, ‘pain causes pain’, although the comment may be hurtful, I always think about what might be going on with the individual that made them hurtful things in the first place.  All behaviour makes sense but that does not make it right. If you feel you cannot deal with the person, block them, delete them and do whatever makes you feel better. Its cathartic on so many levels.

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FOMO…

A.K.A Fear Of Missing Out

It’s the pressure we feel that makes us want to do what everyone else is doing, go to the same place everyone else is going and having the need to share it to prove our lives are just as good as theirs. This can give us a sense of anxiety that our lives are not as ‘Instagrammable‘ as everyone else’s. I think to myself, why are people doing this to themselves??

I’m a bit of a rebel in that if someone is going to a ‘cool place’ I tend to go the opposite way and find something different. I see this ‘anxiety’ to please others so much on my feeds I just want to tell people to relax and live the life YOU feel comfortable with! We  categorically cannot please everyone and you will just wear yourself out trying to do so.

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It’s not all doom and gloom…

For every person I see on social media that makes me ‘eye roll’, there someone that inspires immense creativity. I have met so many people through blogging and social media that are truly amazing. It’s a great way to find people with similar interests and the same life values as you. I have had some super luck in finding a few lovely people who now I consider friends and if it wasn’t for social media we may have never met!

How can I help myself?

Switch off. Literally.

Set the phone or laptop down and take time out from social media, our poor brains need a rest after a long day at work or looking after the kids. Use the time to have a relaxing bath or read a book. Being continually ‘switched on’ our brains cannot cope with the information overload which leads to exhaustion.

Do not use social media before bed.

I have a rule of no technology in the bedroom but I still find myself having a last scroll through (1 hour later…) before going to bed. Social media can effect our sleep pattern and the light of our phones messes up the bodies natural ‘wind down time’ so if you must look, make sure you switch your screen to night mode. If we don’t get a proper rest our body cannot cope which can lead to physical and mental exhaustion.

Talk to someone.

If you feel that it is all getting you down and your feeling of Anxiety or Depression is getting in the way of you living your life. There is always someone to talk to (and I mean face to face talking with a cup of tea not over whatsapp messages)… A friend, your GP or someone you trust.

I hope to continue to inspire others and make my social media channels a happy and positive place. Always be yourself and try and not succumb to the perceived way of life you think you should be having, happiness always comes from within yourself and not from external gratifications.

Much Love,

Judy xo

 

Mint Tea

Those of you who know me will appreciate my unwavering love for Mint tea. Mint tea can come in many varieties including Peppermint, Spearmint and other interesting mint/herbal blends.  I drink 2-3 cups a day of different types and swear by it for a number of reasons.

A few years ago I decided to cut down on my caffeine intake.  I tried green tea first but I wasn’t fussed on the taste but when I tried peppermint tea, I knew it was a keeper.

 I thought I would share some of the known benefits of mint teas to explain why I keep reaching for them rather than a traditional Black Tea blends.

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Digestive Health

We inherently don’t like talking about our digestive health even though we are all proud owners of these things called intestines. Mint teas are great for your digestive system, not only can they reduce bloating and cramping but increase gut motility too, helping things just work a little bit better in there.

Immunity

Mint teas are known for their antibacterial properties which can help your body manage the bugs that it comes into contact with during the course of a day (spearmint tea is particular good at this). They can also help you when you’re feeling under the weather by helping to quell nausea and act as anti-inflammatories in the stomach.

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Stress Relief

When it comes to stress and anxiety, mint tea is one of your best allies. The menthol that is naturally present in the tea is a relaxant. This calming property can help to provide natural stress and anxiety relief.

Sleep

As mentioned above, mint teas are natural relaxants and so can help to aid sleep. Drink a cup in the evening and enjoy some quality Zzz’s.

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Hormones

Some of you might have read online that Mint teas (specifically spearmint) can help with ailments caused by hormone imbalances however the internet is full of information that is not always based on fact and evidence. As a medical professional I don’t feel that this particular health claim has been widely enough researched so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for a herbal remedy for these types of ailment without first consulting your GP.

My Favourite Blend

Still yet to be convinced? Why not give it a try and see what I’m making the big fuss about 🙂  If you’re looking for a tea to try, I recommend trying Suki Tea –  Loose Leaf Peppermint, it’s a fresh and delicate tea, ethically sourced and blended in Belfast. Find it here. (You can also get it in teabags if you don’t have an infuser.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and are excited to try your first cup of Mint Tea.

Much Love,

Judy xo

*Image credit: Pinterest

Beating The January Blues

Ah, the January blues…

Nothing quite like the feeling of finding those jeans a little tighter, the bank account depleted and freezing your butt off as you head out to work in the pitch black.

Does any of this sound a little bit too familiar?

Fear not, here are some little tips to make those blues melt away.

Plan a break away:

 

NYC. Image via Pinterest

 

Okay, guilty as charged. Hubster and I have booked a holiday for March and I am so excited!! There is nothing more satisfying than marking each week off on the calendar and a tiny bit of bragging to work colleagues and friends. Plus, the countdown can be one of the most exciting parts! woohoo!

Ditch the Junk:

 

Errr yeah..only wish my wardrobe looked like this! Image via Pinterest.

 

I blitzed my dressing room just before going back to work and it felt so so good. It’s one of those tasks that I admit to constantly putting off, as it’s one of those situations where it gets a lot worse before it gets better. However my local charity shop was glad of the donation. Remember, tidy home tidy mind!

New Years Resolutions:

 

Be the best possible version of YOU. Image via Pinterest.

 

‘You are never to old to set a new goal or dream a new dream’ C.S Lewis.

Setting yourself simple goals is a great help to motivate you. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the lift, partaking in a Dryathalon or finally enrolling on that course. Do it!

Me Time:

 

My Happy Place…

 

It’s time to break out those LUSH bath bombs that were in your Christmas stocking. Over the festive period of visiting family and friends, partying and lets face it…general mayhem, it’s important to have some time just for you. Whether it’s a relaxing bath, curling up with a good book or booking in for a mani-pedi. Go on, you’ve earned it.

Blow Away the Cobwebs:

 

Another Happy Place… North Coast of Ireland. January 2016.

 

One of my favourite (and yet simplest) things to do in January are walks at the seaside. I find the sea air refreshing and the crashing waves very therapeutic. When I get back it feels like everything is just that little bit clearer. Walking or any form of exercise is one of the most underused and underrated antidepressants. Grab your coat, mittens and pompom hat and off you go!

Much Love,

Judy xo

Minding Your Mental Health at Christmas.

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Christmas can be an exciting time for some and a stressful event for others. Whether you suffer from a Mental Illness or not it can be a difficult time of the year.

It may be your first Christmas without someone special, maybe you find the busy crowds a bit overwhelming or you feel the self inflicted stress trying to get everything done for the ‘perfect Christmas’.

Money

Of course we want to get our friends and family the presents they deserve, but setting a budget that is within your means and sticking to it can help avoid unmanageable credit card bills which could impact your Mental Health further. If you need financial advice you can get some information here.

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Alcohol

Of course with Christmas comes more parties and social drinking. Although alcohol can help us feel relaxed, it is also a depressant. Drinking excessive amounts can lower your mood. Stick to the recommended unit intake and you should be able to maintain better physical and mental wellbeing.

Food

We cant help ourselves during the festive period and we do tend to over indulge. This in turn can prompt lower self esteem and body image. Alternatively if you have a history of an Eating Disorder, the quantity of food and the focus on food may be stressful.

Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can improve your mood and can work towards preventing symptoms of lethargy and low mood that many of us feel during the busy festive season and dark winter months.

So, here are some ways to help look after yourself this Christmastime. 

I get by with a little help from my friend…

Helping others is good for your own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress, improve your mood, increase self-esteem and happiness and even benefit your physical health. So visit your elderly neighbour (John Lewis raised awareness this year with their advert for Age UK), volunteer some of your time at a local charity or community initiative.

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And Relax

I always find you do not realise how exhausted you are until you have a few days off. If you are luck enough to have some time off over Christmas, have some ‘Me Time”, try out mindfulness techniques (I’ve written about some in a previous blog post), go for a walk or a long soak in the bath. Go on you’ve earned it…

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Catch some zZzZz…

With all the parties and disruption yo your normal routine and sleep pattern, it’s important to ensure you remain well rested. It’s a well known fact that sleep quality is linked to better mental wellbeing. So take a look at your sleep hygiene, as an increase in alcohol, less physical activity and increase in stress can have a big impact.

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I hope you have a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year, but if you need a little more support over the next few weeks, I will add some charities below.

Much Love,

Judy xo

The Samaritans

BEAT- Eating Disorder Charity

Debt and Money worries- Citizens Advice.

Help with Alcohol- Alcohol Support Services

Mind

A Few of my Favourite Things: Beauty Top 5.

Hey Frenchies!

We all have our go-to beauty products so I thought I would share with you a few of my beauty favourites that I use again and again.

1. Rosie for Autograph, Eau de Parfum

My favourite scent are anything with roses, which also happen to be my favourite type of flowers!

This Rosie for Autograph Eau de Parfum has the most beautiful vintage rose scent and lasts all day. I go as far as to compare it to Chloe Eau de Roses.

Unfortunately I can’t find it on the Marks and Spencer website, but it is in most stores.

2. Science Of Skin, Solution for Scars.  

Following a few surgeries I have some annoying little scars on my abdomen which are not fading quickly enough for my liking.

I recently have switched from bio oil to this Solution for scars , (who kindly sent me a bottle to try) to see how it performs in comparison.

I massage the cream into and around my scars for about 30 seconds and it doesn’t leave any residue plus there is no obvious scent that I am aware of which is great! .

It has active ingredients including green tea extract which helps sooth and lessen the appearance of a number of different type of scars and stretch marks. You can find out more here.

I have found that the appearance of my scars are a lot smoother, so hopefully with more use I will see improved results!

3. Fifi Lapin Nail Files, Boots UK.

  

How cute are these!!

I was given these nail files as a little present and they are fantastic! Perfect for the FiFi Lapin fan in your life, almost too cute to use aren’t they? The FiFi Lapin range is part of the Boots Christmas range, you must check it out.

If you want to learn a bit more about the chicest bunny in Fashion click here.

4. Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate. 

Kiehls

I have been using this Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate for a few months now and it’s worth its weight in gold.

It only takes two tiny drops to do your face and neck, this bottle looks like it has never been opened..!

I rub it into my hands and pat it onto my skin before i moisturise and I have to say, it definitely makes my skin brighter plus it helps make up go on a lot easier.

5. Make Up Pouch, Peonie Cole.

Peonie Cole Make up Pouch

Last but not least my beautiful new make up bag.

All the fabrics are designed, painted and printed by Catherine who owns Peonie Cole.

I first became aware of Peonie Cole through Instagram and I have since ordered a few things as gifts.

When I seen this fabric I just fell in love and Catherine kindly offered to make me a little pouch for my bits and pieces when I am travelling here and there.

What are your beauty favourites at the moment or are you loving any of my favourites too?

Much Love,

Judy xo