Self care, skin care,
& nurturing Mother Nature.

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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

August 29, 2019

A Self-Care Routine you can Stick to

Self-care is something that I've always advocated here on NB and I'm a big fan of self-care involving anything you want it to that makes *you* feel good. Whether it's bath bombs and face masks or a walk out in nature - self-care is very personal and unique to us all as individuals and in my humble opinion? It's central to having striking some sort of balance and happiness in your day-to-day life. It consists of those daily or weekly "rituals" that help us feel relaxed, feel like we've got our shit together, or that help us reach our goals. They are the tasks that can make you feel a little more whole and "with it" that can distract you from the negatives and any stresses that you're currently experience. If it makes you feel good, label it as self-care.

One of the major problems with self-care is sometimes it's hard to keep it up. I know for me, activities such as drawing, yoga, and playing ukulele are great self-care but do I regularly do them? Not really. I fall in and out of good routines with all of these tasks and more and it leaves you feel under-accomplished. I find that not sticking to a self-care routine or being lazy with it then makes me feel even worse than having no self-care going on at all. Half the battle seems to be striking that balance right and actually actively looking after myself and striving to make myself happy and content. But you know what? I think I may have finally cracked a way to make sure my self-care routine is never broken ever again (or at least not quite so regularly with such disastrous effect!):

1. Make a list of everything that makes you feel good:
You can't practice self-care if you don't know what that actually means for you. As I mentioned earlier, creative outlets such as drawing and also some gentle exercise is great for making me feel good about myself or making me feel more positive, but some other self-care that I seemingly manage to practice more often involves embroidery, blogging (hi!), getting out in nature, reading, and a good thorough skincare routine every evening. By taking notice of what it is that makes you feel well within yourself, you can create a list of those things so that you can refer back to the list whenever you need some inspiration. It doesn't matter if it's something you do often or something you do only occasionally, having it written down in a list may prompt and motivate you to partake in a specific activity that you may have forgotten about.

It's also important to take stock of what brings you down or effects your wellbeing. Is it usually after work that you feel stiff or achy? Is it usually at the weekend that you feel stressed and helpless? Identifying when self-care would benefit you might help you create new links between what you want to do and what would benefit you. For example, I know work stresses me out so some of my very simple self-care when I get home each working day is getting straight into my PJs, making a cup of tea, and doing some embroidery. Knowing that this is kind of a safe way for me to dispose of those stressed thoughts means I will continue to go back to it again and again, no matter how many times I have a break from it in between.

2. Identify the core self-care activities:
Now that you have your list, it's time to actually analyse which ones are the top priorities for you. You should choose the sort of things that will impact you the most and in the most positive way, but you may also need to consider which are the easiest to put into regular practice, which are possibly already in your normal routine they just need nurturing some more, or any number of other things. Again for me, having an evening skincare routine isn't always easy for me to stick to - particularly when I'm really tired (joke that's all the time) - but I never miss my full ten step Korean skincare routine every Sunday evening. Doing this routine helps me have a hard reset for the week ahead and makes me feel more collected and calm about the start of my week. Reading in bed each evening also helps me feel more calm and helps me try to get a better night's sleep, and my previously mentioned embroidery each week also helps me just escape for a little while. Whether it's just not skipping a particular meal or going to the gym, taking a walk, or visiting the charity shops every Saturday morning - make yourself three tasks that you can stick to that won't just be another chore for you to tick off your to-do list.

3. Having a schedule will really help:
I know some of us out there like to be spontaneous and not be tied down to timings or promises you made yourself the previous day, but having a schedule for your self-care helps you make time for it; especially if you usually struggle to fit it into normal day-to-day life. 20 minutes is not a long time. 20 minutes is a great amount of time to complete some sort self-care no matter what it is. Experiment with scheduling your different self-care acts at different times of your day or week and see what makes you feel good. It might be that actually, you need to get up those 20 minutes sooner to fit in your work out because you feel great if it's the first part of your day. You might need to step away from the computer or your phone on your lunch break at work and just read your book because it relaxes you for your afternoon of cramming the last of your to-do list in in the office. Whatever time of day/week works for you, let it just take over. If you're constantly skipping a task, the chances are it's just not sitting well into your usual routine and needs a new place to slot into. Self-care should always be flexible and suit you because it's all about you so play around with every tasks' adaptability and see what works best for you.

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August 25, 2019

Real Talk: Postnatal Body Image

In case you don't follow me on any social media (and if not um, why not? I'm an absolute hoot - particularly on Twitter,) you won't yet know but I gave birth to a happy and healthy little boy on the 14th August; 9 days before the little guy was "due". It's almost been a couple of weeks since then and it's been a whirlwind for me settling into my own family and adapting to so many changes. This period of pregnancy - the fourth trimester - is something that is often forgotten about and not discussed. It gets overlooked and I assume a lot of that has to do with the fact that everyone is excited that there's finally a baby here, earthside, to fuss over, but it's something I want to talk about here, especially in relation to body image.

I aired my thoughts and feelings on body image during pregnancy a few months ago as part of Mental Health Awareness Week and I talked about how accepting the rapid changes pregnancy thrusts upon the body can be quite challenging. Now I find myself on the flip side of pregnancy and I'm left with the body "aftermath". If I'm completely honest, I've surprised myself with just how accepting I have been of my body over the past couple of weeks. I convinced myself that once I'd had my baby that I would be unhappy with what I look like but I truly feel content and somewhat motivated to "fix" the areas that I'm not 100% happy with - but that can wait because it doesn't need to be prioritised right now.

For anyone who has been through the fourth trimester, y'all will know all too well the range of hormones your body will cycle through on a sporadic yet very frequent basis. I've found myself hysterically bursting into tears over absolutely nothing, feeling euphoric minutes later, then feeling inconsolable right after that. There's a huge focus on the aftercare of the mother after birth in terms of mental health, but from my experience so far, there isn't so much focus on how the body can impact that. The body has gone through *so* much in the past 9~ months and it is still not clear of any further changes and thus it's a lot to take on board. During the previous trimesters, I saw and felt so much love for my body from others - whether it was a colleague or someone on Instagram just saying something nice - my body was celebrated and praised for what it was doing and how I was carrying it off. Now during fourth trimester I don't see or feel the same admiration and support.

That isn't meant to come across as "woe is me. Compliment me please!" but I simply feel like the postnatal body isn't as celebrated. Take Meghan Markle and the shit she was dragged through after birth. I saw so many comments, tweets, and online "articles" talking about her "pooch" and how she hadn't somehow snapped back into her previous figure. It made me so angry but then I realised the reason people were saying these things was through a lack of education. It was because this ideal has been created that you somehow just pop a baby out and everything goes back to where it was. The human body can be amazing but it has it's limitations!

Lingerie set from Organic Basics - gifted | AD*

The lack of education made me feel more confident about my own body though. I spent time every morning and evening rubbing oil into my pregnant tummy in the hopes of keeping the stretch marks at bay - did it work? Of course it bloody didn't but I'm thankful that now I have them, I have accepted them and actually find them quite empowering. They're already a memory of what my body managed to do; what I managed to accomplish and actually? They're no where near as ugly as I previously thought they would be.

I went from being a size UK 6 to a 12 during my pregnancy. Of course, a lot of that was to do with the fact that I had an extra human strapped to the front of me but it also means that now post-pregnancy, I have some extra pounds I didn't have previously. I have more than a "muffin top" as my uterus slowly shrinks back down to it's original size. I can't just pull out all my old clothes and pretend nothing ever happened. What I can do however is celebrate what I achieved and be confident with my "mam bod". Although I'm desperate to get exercising again as soon as I am able (downward dog and my yoga mat are calling me), I want to do it to feel healthy again; not necessarily for weight loss or to "transform" myself.

Becoming a mother is a gift. The body it leaves behind should be the celebration.

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August 15, 2019

Prepping to be a Sustainable, Low Waste Parent

As I'm nearing ever closer to the end of my pregnancy (excited and nervous do not even begin to cover it!), I thought it was high-time I talked about something that y'all know is close to my heart and part of my life ethics - sustainability and trying to be more low waste and eco-friendly in my day to day life. I'm no stranger to these topics here on Northern Blood, but something that I've had to battle through has been preparing to be a parent and still maintaining this lifestyle choice.

Sustainability and being pregnant/preparing to become a parent doesn't necessarily go hand in hand. Something that became obvious very quickly for me was just how many baby products are disposable/throw away items and how it can be difficult to find sustainable options - particularly in a price bracket that's actually affordable for the average person. I'm very lucky in the respect that most of the time, I can live a comfortable life in which I don't need to worry about money between pay cheques. I can absolutely get by. But when I found out I was pregnant and starting working out things such as my maternity pay then wow, suddenly the thought of buying certain sustainable products for baby that I had lusted over needed to take a back seat and I needed to work out exactly how I was going to navigate my lifestyle ethics and also live comfortably without money worries. I've since discovered that it's not impossible to prepare to be a sustainable parent - it can be simple in some ways and it's all down to preference in where you want to invest (if you can) and where you're happy to compromise. So here's some ways in which I have chosen to make low waste or eco-friendly choices in preparation for my babe showing up earthside:

Buy baby clothing secondhand
Okay straight up the first thing that might be obvious but definitely shouldn't be overlooked is buying your baba's clothing secondhand. I have gotten *so* many gems on eBay and Depop especially over the past few months for a fraction of the price the items would have been brand new from a high street store. This is a great option for not only helping you save some money already, but also for reusing clothing because surprise surprise, baby's grow quickly and they can get through a lot of clothing. You can rehome brand new clothing that hasn't been worn or get those all important white vests/bibs etc. essentials and feel good about giving these items a second chance of use.

Don't just stop at clothes - secondhand furniture is great too
Again, it won't be much of a surprise to you all that babies go through things quickly due to growing and developing and it doesn't just stop at clothing. Websites such as Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace as well as your local charity shops are a great place to find furniture you may need for your baby. Pushchairs, strollers, car seats, and Moses baskets always seem to be in the shop windows of my local charity shops and all they need is a good clean and they'll serve their purpose. As I live 300+ miles away from family and use public transport to visit them, they've gotten all sorts of "back up" items from pushchairs to high chairs that can be used when we visit so we haven't got to lug everything with us. If you're on a budget or you want to just try and keep to Reduce Reuse Recycle mantra, you can certainly apply that thinking to the bulky items that you need to purchase for baby.

Reusable and/or eco-friendly items for baby's hygiene
Back in the day, towel nappies and were the norm then the dreaded disposables came along and now they sit in landfill for 200 to 500 years until they fully decompose. That statistic is always so alarming to me when you think on average a newborn can get through 10-12 nappies a day on average! Not only does each one outlive you, your baby, and your baby's potential baby to degrade, but the production of them uses 3.5 times more energy and 8.3 times more non-renewable/90 times more renewable resources than reusable options do. The debate between reusable and disposable options have lots of layers though - convenience, accessibility, price etc. - so it can be difficult to decide what is best for you. For us, we unfortunately have no choice but to go down a disposable route because upon initial purchase, it's more affordable for us. Of course using reusables works out *so much* cheaper when you think of cost per use, but for us, they are an indoor "we're at home" option and disposables are our "we're out and about" option. There's so many great brands out there for both reusables and biodegradable disposables however, so there's something that suits everyone:
Reusable/washable brands: Bambino Mio, Little Lamb Nappies, Bumgenius, Charlie Banana,
Tots Bots, and Babipur
Biodegradable disposable brands: Kit & Kin, Bambo Nature, Mum & You, Naty by Nature, Moltex,
and gNappies - the reusable/disposable hybrid!

Of course the same issues are surrounding wipes. We all know by now the damage baby wipes/face wipes can do; sitting in landfill taking around 100 years to degrade due to things such as polyester and other non-biodegradable plastics being in their make-up, but there's so many great eco-friendly brands out there now that whether you're still wishing to use disposables or reusables, there's a wipe out there to suit every smelly or sticky mishap and the best part? They're all pretty reasonably priced. Some great options that I've looked into or plan to use include: Cheeky Wipes, Mum & You, Aqua Wipes, and Natracare - also make sure to check out your local supermarket as Sainsbury's and the like are stocking some great eco-friendly brands!

Reusable and/or eco-friendly items for your hygiene
Okay let's get real. After labour and giving birth yes, the human body is a wonder and gets through one of the most primal, raw, and magical events, but not without some collateral damage. I'm talking leaks of all kinds and it's something that I wasn't really aware of until later in my pregnancy when I started to research things properly. Some things I've invested in in this area are reusable/washable breast pads, period panties, and also reusable/washable maternity pads/towels. If you're someone who plans to breastfeed, leaks are imminent and buying reusable pads seemed like a no-brainer for me as they're the eco-friendly option and can be donated/passed on after I'm done with them if someone is in need of them and can't afford some. I mentioned how intrigued I am by period underwear a couple of months ago and post-labour is a great opportunity to finally try some out. Post-labour can leave you sore, bleeding, and leaking and thus period underwear seemed like an obvious choice to me. I can use them alone or use them as a back-up extra peace of mind option alongside reusable maternity pads/towels.

Sustainable and ethical brands are out there
If buying new baby clothing is within budget for you, there are so many wonderful brands out there who use organic sustainable materials, have ethical production methods, and who want to have a positive impact on our planet rather than continue to contribute to this throwaway culture that certainly circulates around babies/toddlers. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I couldn't help but research and swoon over so many fab brands who are doing good things but I didn't just stop at clothes, oh no. There's also some fantastic small businesses focusing on making toys for babies and toddlers that are not only ethically made, but that are created using sustainable materials such as wood or recycled material to curb the excessive amounts of plastic that seems to come along with baby entertainment/development. Some of these lovely brands are fairtrade and donate to charities with each purchase, too. Here are some of my favourite brands that I've purchased from or plan to when bambino is old enough:
Clothing: MORI, Little Green Radicals, OYA Goods, Tilly & Jasper, and Piccalilly
Toys: Pebble, Tikiri, Oli & Carol, Cuddle & Kind, and Chunki Chilli

Of course there's enough to worry about when becoming a parent and I'd be a straight-up liar if I said everything that I've done throughout my pregnancy and everything I plan to do throughout transitioning to my title of "parent" is going to be sustainable or completely low waste. However, I'm proud that I've managed to stick to my lifestyle ethics enough that I'm happy and content with my choices. There's more I can do and the more I learn and the more confident I become with the role, the more I hope to adapt and change to continue to make even better choices.

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August 09, 2019

Low Waste Eco-Friendly Transitioning Tips: On the Go

When we're out and about shopping, commuting to and from work/college/uni, we all tend to spend money on some things that we need in the moment but don't keep: bottles of water, food in single-use plastic (you catch my drift). Being more eco-friendly and low waste when you're on the go is actually really simple to do and all it takes is some investment in the start and a reminder or two to yourself to pack what you need before you leave the house. It's all about thought out simple swaps for things you know you will use and need and you can reap the benefits in knowing that you've really limited your waste and saved yourself some money long term too. Remember what I said in the first post in this mini-series about only using what you need? It totally applies here. It's easy to get sucked into this idea that you need to buy lots of eco-friendly items but that is obviously hypocritical of the movement so please bear that in mind with all the following suggestions - if you don't need them, don't buy them!:

Reusable water bottles:
A really obvious pointer but, it's obvious because it's the one thing we can all use: buy a reusable water bottle. Although a lot of brands are reusing and recycling their water bottles and there are options available now such as tinned or carton water, having a reusable bottle will save you *so much* money and of course, you will be having zero impact in terms of waste. Reusable bottles have become so popular that you can get them from pretty much any high-street store, so many places online, and in independent stores so they're not hard to come by. There are some great brands out there too who do schemes where they donate bottles to areas of need based on their sales or help build wells - so you can do some extra good with your purchase too. If you're limited with your funds and want to be resourceful, why not use that 8 R's mantra I talked about in the Breaking Habits post and repurpose an old glass jar and use that for water? You can get some really nice looking glass jars with secure screw top lids so why not just use one and get creative!

Reusable coffee cups:
Another "big one" everyone thinks of when making eco-friendly changes is reusable coffee cups. I've talked about this before on NB, but I cannot stress enough how great it is to invest in a reusable coffee cup if you're someone who frequents cafés on your commute to and from work/college/uni or just like to grab a hot drink whilst you're out shopping or seeing friends. Reusable cups are really affordable considering the quality and longevity of them and will also save you money in the long-run too. Most coffee shops will give you a discount on your drink if you use your own cup and those 25p discounts soon add up after a couple of months. Just like water bottles, there's some great companies out there doing some fab reusable and eco-friendly things so shop around and find a cup that suits your needs. There are also some great brands who sell collapsible options too so they can save space in your bag so no, you don't need to be travelling and commuting around with everything but the kitchen sink!

Cutlery and straw compact kits:
Cutlery or reusable straws may not be something everyone needs but they are of course out there as options for maintaining an eco-friendly lifestyle. Whether it's bamboo, recycled plastics, or stainless steel, there's so many great options out there. Obviously if you never use straws or think you'll never find yourself needing your own cutlery, these are objects you don't need to invest in. If you're ever going out somewhere and you're unsure of whether or not you'll need your own cutlery, simply pack a set from home just in case and at least you're covered and can refuse the plastic throwaway cutlery you might be offered!

Going back to those glass jars...:
I know I mentioned reusing glass jars for water earlier, but they really are a great option for smoothies, homemade juices, and salad containers. If you happen to use ones such as the classic "Ball" range, some of their styles have measurements up the sides of them imprinted in the glass which makes them extra helpful for either bulk shopping (find out more about that here) or ordering cold coffees, smoothies etc. when you're out and about. Carrying a glass jar might seem excessive but it's just the same as carrying a full bottle of juice around; it's just going to be a little heavier.

Pack your lunch:
I know I mentioned how great meal planning can be for not only lowering your food waste but also for your finances in the last Low Waste Tips post, but it totally applies to being on-the-go too. I used to be *so bad* at not preparing my work lunches and I used to regret it as soon as everyone was getting out their yummy homemade meals during the lunch break at work. You can make some really scrummy and nutritional things to sustain your hunger whilst at work and it doesn't have to be ground-breaking if you're not a confident cook. Simply boiling up some pasta, stirring through some pesto, and adding some cherry tomatoes can make a really nice meal and it's saved you a £3 meal deal that would have resulted in yep, lots of single-use plastic. Creating your own lunch at home minimises your plastic and food waste so much as you can have leftovers from the night before and of course, you're popping them in a container that you will take home at the end of the day and wash and reuse. Any sort of Tupperware you have lying around will do the job or investing in a tiffin box for your lunch can be life changing (dramatic, I know, but that's honestly how I would describe mine). Although mine is plastic, I can reuse it for years to come and there are of course metal options out there that tick even more eco-friendly boxes and they can keep your food warmer/cooler for longer too.

Reusable bags:
There's a running theme here so there should be no surprise that there's another reusable item suggestion to keep in your bag. That's right, another bag! We all know by now that plastic bags are so damaging for the planet but if you have a reusable one already, keep it handy in your usual bag in case you buy anything in a store and that way you're not having to pay extra for yet another bag or just ending up with more plastic than you ever wanted! If you don't have a spare bag to pack, investing in a canvas tote bag can be a good option as many are ethically made from natural fibres which keeps you in check for your eco-friendly code or a bag from brands such as baggu are also a great choice as they store a lot in them, they're durable and they have their own little storage pack to fit into so they take up next to no space in your bag. You can use your reusable for anything from groceries to clothing - just think how low the cost per use will accumulate in such a little amount of time and of course, you're creating no additional waste.

Don't be shy to say no:
Lastly, a really simple choice can help you minimise things so much and that is refusing products you don't need. How many times have you been in a bar and they've instantly put a straw in your drink or you've been given plastic sachets of condiments that you don't use then put in the bin, or you've been given plastic cutlery that you don't use for you fish and chips because you're a fellow animal... When you place your order in so many instances, just kindly add to the order that you don't require any of the previously mentioned. It's not rude, snobbish or any other rubbish someone claims it is. It's exactly the same as if you need those items for mobility issues etc. then you have the right to request them and for the service to deliver. If you don't need something, a simple polite decline will cut down your waste surprisingly quickly.

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August 03, 2019

Becoming my own Mother

I've talked about just how much I don't have an "off" switch at times on NB before, but now that I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy, that fact couldn't have caught up with me and my bullshit quicker. I've been in tears on more than one occasion due to exhaustion and yet still I've tried to push myself and not realised how silly this is until it's a bit too late. I tend to be the kind of person who will take on too much (*insert all of those "yeah I don't mind/yeah I can squeeze it in" memes*) who doesn't like to let people down. Having the revelation that no one is going to take care of me except me is something I have frequently but it's really stuck this time around. Don't get me wrong, I have some very supportive family, friends, and partner, but realistically, it's true that only you can dictate and manage your own limits and expectations of yourself. It's only you that can really provide yourself with some true self-care.

I've also talked about that phrase - self-care - a hell of a lot over the years on this ol' blog. In my mind, I always picture self-care as something indulgent that you spend time investing in in some capacity and whilst I preach that that doesn't necessarily need to be the case, I fall short of following my own advice. I've realised I've been in need of some true self-care. The mothering kind of self-care that ensures you're running with enough juice and are nourished, looked after, comfortable... Basically all the things I've been lacking.

I know this feeling of self-care absence has only been amplified by the fact that I'm currently pregnant and not putting myself first always. What I mean by that is that I've already noticed that I'm still trying to keep others happy whether it's family members or in my job whilst also trying to put my unborn baby first (which often results in dreaded afternoon naps instead of a facemask). I guess on the one hand, I'm happy to see that some of my own mam's unselfishness has filtered through to me but, that also terrifies me. My mam is admirably strong, robust, kind and giving yet she very rarely shows herself the same generosity and I don't want to let myself get to that stage. I want to make sure I take care of myself - as I should - otherwise I worry that I'll burn out and won't be able to be the support mam I want to be for my own child.

lingerie set: Organic Basics* gifted, cardigan: secondhand, mug: Waitrose

So, I'm trying to get myself to a place in which I become my own mother. I don't want to replicate my actual mother, but I want to demonstrate to myself that I'm capable and deserving of that title. When I think "mother" I think of someone who has their shit together but who looks out for loved ones - and actually? One of the main "loved ones" she should be looking out for is herself because as the cliché saying goes: you can't pour from an empty cup. So here's the ways in which I'm trying to mother myself to make sure I am fulfilling this self-care to the maximum and how you can too:

Look after your MIND
One thing I keep thinking about already is "how on earth did my mam stay so patient with me when I was younger" (I mean, I still wonder how she does it now), because it's a gift that only parents can muster I swear. But making sure you're in a good headspace is always helpful for self-care. It obviously not only prevents you from feeling low etc. but also can make self-care seem like a nice, enjoyable experience rather than a chore. So many things work for so many different people, but some of the simplest ways to feed a happy mind include:

- Limit your screentime. I used to be pretty good at this and I've slipped off the wagon a bit and need to hitch a ride again. Mothers every where limit iPad and TV time for kids and we should absolutely do it to ourselves as adults too. So many of us stare at a screen all day at work and our eyes and mind need a break. Limiting screentime can stop us wasting time, comparing ourselves to others, and losing sleep. (Don't worry, the irony isn't lost on me that I'm saying all of this on yep, a screen).
- Challenge your mind. Whether it's brain trainer activities and puzzles or a new creative outlet such as writing poetry or painting, stimulating the mind helps us feel accomplished, knowledgeable, more skilled, and simply happy.
- Read read read. Of course after saying that I was going to tell y'all to read. Read books. Read articles. Read blog posts. Whatever it is you're into that gives you an escape or helps you feel a little more relaxed and brings you enjoyment - do it.

Look after your BODY
I've quickly realised how important it is to not burn out. You'd think, after years of repeatedly doing it I would have learned by now but it has taken trying to bend down to pick up a pen during my third trimester to finally understand what it's like when your body is just exhausted and can no longer deliver even the simplest of tasks to fulfilment. So look after that body inside and out by:

- Soak up that vitamin D! Who's parents/grandparents made them play outside no matter what? There's a reason children are usually so happy and this is definitely one of the culprits. Get outside and enjoy nature, the sunshine, and the fresh air. It'll work wonders on your mind too!
- Feed yourself good food and plenty of water. It's a no-brainer. Eat fruit and veggies (and most importantly, a healthy balanced diet - everyone's bodies operate differently and react differently to food groups. Eat what's good for you). Drink plenty of water every day. Feed your gut and digestive system probiotics. Nourish yourself from the inside out and I promise you will see a difference in your energy levels, your skin, hair, mood etc.
- Get a good night's sleep. Every night. Okay so har har, am I actually kidding when I'm currently riddled with insomnia and about to have a baby but, sleep is *so* important and for the longest time, I used to fight it because "I could be doing other things". Forge a good routine and try to stick to it. It'll benefit you in the long run.
- Exercise however you can. Whether it's a walk to the post box, lifting some weights whilst you sit and watch TV, or some simple squats whilst you're brushing your teeth, all physical activity has significant health benefits. I'm not even talking about it from a weight perspective, but more so from other benefit avenues such as keeping your blood sugar levels in check, keeping your heart and lungs healthy, and better yet, releasing those endorphins that make you feel on top of the world.

Look after your SOUL
Your mind and soul are completely different entities in my opinion and both need different nourishment because of this. You can have a calm and content soul with a mind still racing and I feel like if you have the soul in a chilled-out space, other hardships will ease up and things can fall into place more easily and comfortably. Feeding a healthy soul can have a domino-effect on everything else and here's some ways to ensure that can happen (and FYI, they're things that can be easily slotted into day-to-day life and take up next to no extra time):

- Spend time with yourself. One that might be hard to do if you have a baby around, but even just having a couple of completely quiet minutes with yourself can really help you centre yourself. Whether it's a full on "me time" session or a couple of minutes peace in the bathroom, feeling comfortable with yourself isn't always easy to do but it can help you feel oh so content.
- Meditate if you can. Remember being given "time out" from your parents? I like to think of meditation as the adult version of that reflection time as it allows you to reconnect with yourself and most importantly relax. Use an app, do some stretches, or just enjoy the quiet - extend that quiet time with yourself to a meditation session every now and again and it will help you shift those negative thoughts that may have been running circles in your brain for the last few days.
- Make sure you're interacting. I'm certainly not a social butterfly and I've talked about how much I enjoy my own company on NB before, but we are social creatures and having that time to connect with others can lift our moods and help us get out of funks, see new perspectives etc. etc. Parents encourage their children to have "play time" so much as they grow up and it shouldn't really change once you enter adulthood!
- Practice that self-love. Possibly one of the hardest things to do, but if we're going to mother ourselves, surely one of the most obvious things we are going to do is praise ourselves and point out the great things about ourselves to well, our selves and others! As a child, I was completely carefree and didn't have any hang-ups that hindered what I was doing, what I was enjoying, and who i was being. It was much easier to love myself and let my self-esteem blossom. My mam constantly reminded me to treat myself the way I wanted others to treat me and vice versa and as adults, we're really hard on ourselves and forget that that kindness we may show others should stretch to ourselves also (in fact, it should cover us first and foremost). Practicing self-love isn't easy and it can feel incredibly cheesy to do, but with practice, we can empower ourselves and feel truly proud of the people we've become.

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