Monday, 16 October 2017

Bullet Journalling for Health & Wellbeing.

My General Life | I love bullet journalling, and so today I thought I'd share some ideas around how your bullet journal can be helpful for promoting health and wellbeing.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have noticed that I'm rather partial to bullet journalling. If you're new to bullet journalling I have written a couple of posts on it in the past (although these are super old and I'm in the process of updating them), but to get you up to speed, you can head here to see how to get started.

Anyway, one thing that I love about the flexibility of a bullet journal is that you can use it to keep track of whatever you want. It's your journal and is set up however you want it to be, which gives you the freedom to use it in whatever way brings value or meaning into your life.

For that reason, I think bullet journalling offers opportunity to work alongside various health and wellbeing focused practices.

HABIT TRACKING

If you're trying to work new activities into your daily and weekly habits or are keen to see how often you're managing to engage in health and wellbeing promoting activities then habit trackers are a great place to start. They're totally flexible and you can keep track of as many or as little habits as you like. 

I personally find having a visual list of things that I intend to engage in can encourage me to do them that little bit more (although this doesn't always work). I feel it offers an opportunity to keep yourself accountable, but also to be honest with yourself in relation to how often you actually participate in something.

Plus if you want to get all fancy, you can seriously jazz them up by making pretty patterns within your tracker (this is clearly for people like me who have far too much time on their hands!).

I have a whole board dedicated to habit trackers over on my Pinterest which you can peruse for some inspiration!

My General Life | I love bullet journalling, and so today I thought I'd share some ideas around how your bullet journal can be helpful for promoting health and wellbeing.


MOOD TRACKING

For me, being aware of my mood and emotions is an important part of practising self care and compassion. Mood trackers allow you to keep a log of how you were feeling on a particular day which might then allow you to make links with how you feel and what you do (particularly if you're habit tracking alongside this). 

There are lots of different, creative ways to track your moods, ranging from a simple chart to prettier geometric designs to the slightly more complex but beautiful mood mandala. 

GRATITUDE LOG

One thing that has been shown to help in improving wellbeing and quality of life is practising gratitude. The bullet journal allows you to capture this in visual form in a variety of ways, for example through pictures, collecting mementos and written daily gratitude lists. I personally like to try to write a line or two a day of the things I'm grateful for. I find this a very grounding task that encourages me to reflect on the positives in my day, even if the day itself hasn't been the best.

MEAL PLANNING

If you're trying to make more positive food choices as part of improving your health and wellbeing, then your bullet journal can be used to either plan meals or track what you're eating and drinking. This doesn't necessarily have to be a separate tracker, and could easily be worked into your habit tracker or daily/weekly spreads. I personally work a menu into my weekly spreads (although admittedly this is more for organisational/preventing food waste purposes), alongside logging my water intake on my habit tracker.

My General Life | I love bullet journalling, and so today I thought I'd share some ideas around how your bullet journal can be helpful for promoting health and wellbeing.


EXPRESSING CREATIVITY

Bullet journals are a great way to let your creativity flow. It's a space to create your own rules and try new things. We all saw the huge boom in the use of colouring books for promoting mindfulness and wellbeing, well a bullet journal can be your own personal colouring book, but you create the designs too. Engaging in creative activity has been linked to improved problem solving and coping skills. For me a bullet journal is a perfect blank slate, and if you don't like something, then you just do it different next time - it's no biggie.

Let's start a conversation:
If you use a bullet journal, what's your favourite way to journal for health and wellbeing? And if you don't use a bullet journal, is this something you'd consider in order to bring more focus on promoting positive wellbeing in your life? Why not leave your thoughts below, or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan 

My General Life | I love bullet journalling, and so today I thought I'd share some ideas around how your bullet journal can be helpful for promoting health and wellbeing.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Importance of Sleep [PLUS] Sleep Tips ft. Emma*.

My General Life | Let's talk sleep, why it's important and what you can be doing in order to get the best nights sleep possible...

Sleep. I'm sure many of us will hold our hands up right now and say we don't get enough of it. I know I don't a large proportion of the time. I think it's a culmination of modern life, constant pressures to be connected and this need to be killing it/bossing it/winning at life at all times.

Anyway, one of my goals for the 30 Days of Self Care that I ran in September was around making sleep more of a priority and trying to ensure that I not only got enough sleep, but that it was good quality sleep too. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP

There's a plethora of research into sleep and the impact that poor sleep can have on our ability to function alongside on our overall health and wellbeing. Research shows that sleep deprivation negatively impacts cognitive functioning (ability to concentrate, problem solve etc), motor functioning and mood. It can also increase the experience of chronic pain, increase risk-taking behaviour and reduce the ability to self-regulate and control your emotions. As well as this, sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of developing chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression.

So what happens when we sleep that makes it so vital to our day to day functioning?

Well, considering we spend a third of our lives asleep, the reason why we sleep is still somewhat of a mystery in many ways. Some ideas of why we sleep are around restoration and repair, memory consolidation and an opportunity for complex problem solving and creativity. I found this TED Talk on sleep rather interesting as it discusses that sleep is an opportunity for the brain to clear out all of the waste products produced throughout the day.

I think sleep has almost become a bit of a dirty word in modern life. In many ways it's become a competition around who can function on the least sleep, almost like a badge of honour. This is a bit of a warped way of thinking considering how integral sleep is for positive overall wellbeing. 


So what can we do to promote sleep as an integral part of our daily life?


PRIORITISE IT

Phrases like "I'll sleep when I'm dead" are really not that helpful. Yes, we should be making the most of life, but personally I know I can't do that in the way that I want to unless I'm feeling good. And I'll tell you what definitely doesn't make me feel good. Lack of sleep. 

I really feel that if you want to take care of  your health and wellbeing AND live your best life then you need to be making sleep more of a priority. That's doesn't mean that you can't go out and have fun at night, but it's about being conscious of the impact this will have on your sleep, because that will ultimately have some form of impact in the days that follow, particularly if you're someone who consistently doesn't get enough sleep.

This might mean having to be really strict with yourself. You know when you go on those Netflix binges and just have to watch one more episode of Gilmore Girls (I'm pointing the finger at myself here, but I'm sure you can relate), that is the time to intervene. Gilmore Girls will still be there tomorrow, and think of how much more you'll enjoy it if you're feeling well rested, alert and rejuvenated. 


ESTABLISH A ROUTINE

Humans are creatures of habit and our bodies use our regular routines in order to go about every day bodily functions. For example, do you find that you wake up early even on your day off? That's because your body doesn't know it's your day of and it's in the habit of stirring at a particular time in order to start the day. The same goes with night time, if you consistently go to bed at the same time, your body starts to go with this and it causes you to slow down and feel more relaxed and tired around  your usual bedtime.

So how do you go about establishing a positive night time routine? Well the key is consistency. It might feel unnatural and a bit of an effort at first, but the wonderful thing about habits is that they soon become almost like second nature and require minimal effort on your part to go about them.

Your night time routine should include activities that promote good sleep, such as relaxation, spending time in a darker space, putting down Instagram, that kind of thing. Try to make it something that's achievable and allows you to engage in activities that you get some enjoyment out of too.


SWITCH YOUR HABITS

There's been lots of discussion and research around the impact of technology such as phones, tablets and laptops on our ability to drift off to sleep. It's thought that the light emitted by these devices reduces the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep cycle. They also increase alertness, which let's be honest, isn't particularly productive when you want to be switching off.

As much as being on your phone or tablet can be a time filler (I'm hugely guilty of this, particularly at night), are there activities that you could choose to engage in that would be more helpful? For example reading a book (although be careful with eReaders that emit light as these can have similar effects to mobile devices), engaging in a relaxation technique, giving yourself a hand or foot massage, journalling or taking a warm bath or shower.

Another habit to switch might be swapping your evening cup of tea or coffee for a caffeine free alternative. Caffeine affects people differently and I'm sure there are people who can't drink tea or coffee past a certain time, and there are others who could drink an high caffeine energy drink and still sleep (I'm in the latter category personally). But in the interest of promoting good sleep and healthy habits, there's no harm in switching to a caffeine free hot drink as this can then become part of your sleep promoting routine - my favourite is Snore & Peace from Clipper Teas.


CREATE YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Do what you can within the limits of what you're able to control in order to create an environment that's conducive to sleep.  That could be about the physical aspects of your room, like your bed, alongside the sensory aspects of your room, such as lighting, noise and scents. For me, a productive sleep environment is about gentle lighting in the run up to bedtime, soft, cosy bedding, and a comfy mattress.


Emma* very kindly sent me one of their mattresses to try out and I have to say, it's completely changed my sleep environment for the better. The mattress itself  is made up of different layers of materials including cold foam, memory foam, pocket springs and Airgocell® foam, which all layer together to create an adaptable sleeping surface that offers comfort and support. Honestly, it's how I imagine sleeping on a cloud would feel like.

My General Life | Let's talk sleep, why it's important and what you can be doing in order to get the best nights sleep possible...
My General Life | Let's talk sleep, why it's important and what you can be doing in order to get the best nights sleep possible...


Since switching to the Emma mattress I've not once woken up with a sore back (something that happened on a regular basis previously) and although the mattress is soft, I can feel it supporting me in all the right places. The only real downside that I've found is that is that it's harder to get out of bed once I'm in it because I'm so damn comfortable. Coupled with my cosy duvet it makes for one seriously relaxing space to sleep.

The Emma mattress comes vacuum packed in a box that can be unwrapped and on your bed within just a few minutes. It was actually far easier getting my new Emma mattress in the house and on the bed than it was removing my old conventional mattress.

What's even better is that Emma offers you a 100 night trial of your mattress, and if after 100 nights you find that it's not for you, you can send it back free of charge for a full refund. For me, this is the best test too see if the mattress is going to help enhance your sleep environment. Because let's be honest, you can't really get a feel for how a mattress is going to impact your sleep whilst lying on it for 5 minutes in a brightly lit showroom. You need to be able to actually sleep on it, in your own space, surrounded by the other aspects of your bedroom environment in order to see if it's going to make a positive overall difference. 

Let's start a conversation:
I'd love to know of any of your favourite sleep related tips and tricks that help you to ensure you're getting the most out of your sleep. Why not leave them in the comments below or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan

*these products were very kindly sent to me for review and promotional purposes. All thoughts are my own.


Let's talk sleep, why it's important and what you can be doing in order to get the best nights sleep possible...

Monday, 9 October 2017

5 Inspiring Ted Talks for Wellbeing.

Hands up who loves a TED Talk? Here I'm sharing 5 inspiring TED Talks on the topic of wellbeing. Click to read more!

Hands up who loves a good TED Talk? I know I do, I often listen to the podcast versions on my drive to work (although admittedly many are better watched due to their visual components) and I think they're a great opportunity to learn about different thoughts, concepts and points of view. I personally feel that TED Talks can be very inspiring - maybe it's seeing and hearing someone talk with passion and energy about a topic they're clearly very interested in, but for me, I always find myself becoming so engrossed in what they're saying and the importance this holds for them.

Because of this, I thought I would share some of the TED Talks that I have found inspiring in relation to promoting wellbeing.

WANT TO BE HAPPY? BE GRATEFUL - David Steindl-Rast

In this talk, David Steindl-Rast puts forward the idea that happiness is fuelled by being grateful. He talks about grateful living and and how each moment is a gift and an opportunity to be grateful for something.


THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN HAPPINESS - Emily Esfahani Smith

Emily Esfahani Smith talks about searching for meaning and how this can positively contribute to you overall wellbeing and improve your quality of life. She discusses that happiness comes and goes, however meaning is your reason to keep going in both good and bad times.

This talk by Andy Puddicombe discusses the importance of taking time to look after our minds through being in the present moment with the use of mindfulness and meditation. Puddicombe talks about the use of meditation to change our experience of life, to see things from a different perspective, to be in the here and now rather than being lost in our thoughts. He also scores extra for the use of juggling to illustrate his point!


WHY WE ALL NEED TO PRACTICE EMOTIONAL FIRST AID - Guy Winch

This is a really interesting talk on how we should be taking time to prioritise our psychological health just as much as our physical health. Guy Winch encourages us to pay attention to emotional pain and catch unhealthy psychological habits so that we can change them in order build emotional resilience.


HOW TO MAKE STRESS YOUR FRIEND - Kelly McGonigal

Now, I personally found this TED Talk really fascinating as it talks about how reframing the way you think about stress can change it's impact on your overall health and wellbeing. It discusses that how you think and act can transform your experience of stress and that stress can be viewed as being helpful rather than something negative. It's a really interesting discussion as it goes against everything we're taught about stress including the negative outcomes that come with it.

Let's start a conversation:
I'd love to hear of any TED Talks that you personally find inspiring or thought provoking in terms of your own wellbeing and outlook on life. Why not leave any recommendations in the comments below, or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan

Hands up who loves a TED Talk? Here I'm sharing 5 inspiring TED Talks on the topic of wellbeing. Click to read more!



Friday, 6 October 2017

Linking Veganism & Sustainable Living.

Let's talk about how I went from veganism to sustainable living, alongside sharing some thoughts around how you can live a more sustainable life too.


For me, transitioning towards living a more sustainable and environmentally friendly life feels like it's come about very organically following going vegan almost 2 years ago. My switch to veganism was initially very much about the animals. Calling it a moral awakening sounds a bit cliche, but it really was the catalyst for becoming aware of far more than just myself. And I don't mean that to say that I was self-centred or didn't think of others before, because I've always thoughts of others, that being people, probably too much and to my own detriment at times. But I never really considered my impact on the Earth. 

It's like I was in a little human bubble and then I started to consider the lives of animals and how modern society and agriculture uses them and the bubble popped. And when the bubble popped I couldn't wear my blinkers anymore. I couldn't not see the impact that our lives have on the planet. The plastic wrapped everything that will taken hundreds of years to degrade and fills both landfill and the oceans. The mass production of products driven by consumerism and the need for more. The intensive farming of animals that produces almost 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions each year. The poor living and working conditions that others were having to deal with in order for me to have my "nice" things. 

Life would be far easier if I didn't acknowledge all these things. But, you see, now I've become far more aware of them I can't not acknowledge them or my contribution towards them. This has led me to make more conscious choices around my actions - as we're seeing now with veganism and the increased availability of vegan products, your voice counts. And so as demand for less plastic and more sustainable and ethical products increases, the availability of these should increase, making it easier for more people to make more sustainable choices too.

I'm not here to tell you that you should go vegan or zero waste or only buy ethically source products, because I appreciate that isn't feasible for everyone. I also completely appreciated that you have to do what is best for you and for your life. But our planet is for everyone and I believe we all have a moral responsibility to do what we can to preserve it for future generations. To do something that's above and beyond ourselves. Be that through reducing waste, recycling more, stepping away from consumerist or fast fashion purchasing, or even reducing your intake of animal based products one day per week - all of these things will have some impact on the planet, and a small, positive impact is better than no impact at all.

Am I perfect? Hell no. I still produce far more waste than I would like and still struggle against modern day consumerism telling me I need all the things. But I'm making conscious choices everyday and finding more and more ways that I can reduce my footprint. I really aspire towards leaving the planet in a better place than I found it - so for me even teeny, tiny baby steps are progress.

Let's start a conversation:
I'd love to hear your views on sustainable living and how we can be working towards a more environmentally friendly life. Why not leave your thoughts in the comments below, or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan


Let's talk about how I went from veganism to sustainable living, alongside sharing some thoughts around how you can live a more sustainable life too.


Monday, 2 October 2017

Curried Cauliflower & Pepper Soup [VEGAN].

Get ready for October with this autumn inspired curried cauliflower and pepper soup - warm and comforting it makes for the perfect quick dinner for when the nights start drawing in. Plus it's vegan to boot.

Now we've made it to October my Autumn feels are most definitely out in full force. All I want is to wear cosy clothes surrounded by blankets and candles whilst eating cosy food. When I say cosy food, I mean food that feels like a hug for your insides. Anything warming and slightly stodgy will get a big tick of approval from me.

Although saying that, this soup definitely isn't stodgy by itself. Although those three slices of bread that you might eat with it could just tip it that way. What this soup has is an autumnal colour palette with a warming kick of curry that makes for the perfect autumn dish. Best served with crunchy leaves on the ground and a chill in the air if you ask me.

This soup would also be perfect for a Halloween themed dinner a) for the colour - could you get more Halloween? and b) because you can make a spiders web out of plant cream on the top, what more could you want?

This has definitely been my go to, simple dinner over the last few weeks. It's pretty cheap to make, tastes divine (even if I do say so myself) and can be pulled together in no time. I personally like to cook soups in my Instant Pot - which is my most used kitchen gadget. It's versatile as you can use the pot to fry off your veggies first and then pressure cook, meaning your soup is ready in mere minutes. Perfect for a quick, mid-week dinner. Obviously, you can cook the soup without an Instant Pot and I'm sure it would taste just as delicious, it will just take a wee bit longer to cook.

WHAT YOU NEED:

♥ 1 onion
♥ 1 medium cauliflower
♥ 2 peppers (1 yellow & 1 red makes for the perfect autumn colour )
♥ 2 garlic cloves
♥ 1 large potato
♥ 1.5 litres vegetable stock
♥ 2 tbsp curry powder
♥ salt and pepper
♥ optional - plant cream to serve

Get ready for October with this autumn inspired curried cauliflower and pepper soup - warm and comforting it makes for the perfect quick dinner for when the nights start drawing in. Plus it's vegan to boot.


WHAT TO DO:

♥ Peel and chop all the veggies into medium sized chunks.
♥ Fry the onion in either a little oil or water until softened, then add the garlic and peppers and again fry until softened.
♥ Add in the cauliflower and potato and stir well.
♥ Add in the curry powder and stir until it coats the vegetables.
♥ Add the vegetable stock and stir well to combine all the ingredients.
♥ If you're cooking the soup in an Instant Pot then cook on manual for 7 minutes.
♥ If you're cooking the soup on the hob then bring the stock to a gentle simmer, pop on a lid and simmer away for around 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are well cooked.
♥ Once cooked blend until smooth and season to taste.
♥ You could stir a dash of plant cream into the soup before serving, or get fancy with a plant cream spiral - you can then use a knife or skewer to drag the cream in lines outwards from the centre, this will create a spiders web look - spooky!

This soup also comes with Obi's seal of approval as one of the first times I made it silly me left it in the Instant Pot with the lid half off - the little toe rag only managed to nudge the lid off and eat the soup out of the pot #bigdogproblems - honestly, nothing is safe!

Get ready for October with this autumn inspired curried cauliflower and pepper soup - warm and comforting it makes for the perfect quick dinner for when the nights start drawing in. Plus it's vegan to boot.


Let's start a conversation:
If you make this soup then I'd love to know what you think! I'd also love to know what your favourite autumnal soup flavour is - drop me a comment below or tweet me @_hellojordan

[This post contains affiliate links. It costs you nothing to click on these links, however, it you are to purchase an item through the links I will earn a small percentage at no extra cost to you]

Sunday, 1 October 2017

30 Days of Self Care - Round Up.

Just a quick recap for the 30 Days of Self Care and general thoughts about the next steps for My General Life!


Well there we have it, we only went and bloody did it folks - 30 days of dedicated self care practice later and here we are. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling rather pleased with myself for sticking with it and seeing it through.

I hope that if you received the emails each day that you found some value in them, and thank you so much to all those that shared their journey's on social media. I found so much joy in reading how you were getting on and knowing that you were in it with me. 

I'd love to build on the 30 Days of Self Care and maybe develop it into something that can be used at any time, not just for the specific 30 days. But we'll see. For now I'm excited to get back to my blog and get some new posts out to you all - something which I know has fallen by the wayside a little whilst I was focusing on 30 Days of Self Care.

Another thing I am also going to do is bring back my newsletter. I'm not too sure how regular this will be as of yet - I'm not sure I can commit to weekly so it maybe fortnightly or monthly. I think it'll be a fun way to share a little bit more of what's goes on in my head and maybe even some behind the scenes snippets too. If you have any thoughts on what you'd like to see in my newsletters please let me know!

Thank you all so much again for joining me over the last month, it's been a pleasure to have you on board and I hope we can continue our self care journeys together for many more months to come! If you've just stumbled across this post and are gutted you've missed out on the 30 Days of Self Care fear not, because I put together a Pinterest friendly graphic for you to use to do your own 30 Days of Self Care whenever you please (hover over the image and click the Pinterest button to pin straight to your favourite board!).

Feel like you need to show yourself a little more compassion? They why not take 30 days for focus in on your self care? Follow my daily prompts and actions and take the time for you - you deserve it!


Let's start a conversation:
What would you like to see more of here at My General Life? Do you want more wellbeing focused posts? Or maybe more posts on sustainability and living a more environmentally friendly life? Or even more regular recipe posts? Please leave any thoughts in the comments below or drop me a tweet @_hellojordan