Escaping Christmas Stress | Blogmas 2017

Welcome to my 12 days of Blogmas series! Every other day until Christmas I will be posting something festive for you all to enjoy 🙂

There is no doubt about it – Christmas can be an incredibly stressful time! From all the expenses to the travel, the cooking, baking, parties and everything in between, 24 days to fit in everything you need to do will definitely cause a bit of stress. So, I’ve put together a little list of things you can do which will help you minimise and escape that festive stress!

Set a Budget
Expenses are such a big deal around this time of year that I dedicated an entire post to saving money over Christmas. Check it out here, and learn how to set your budget so money isn’t something you’re worried about.

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Write Lists
It will be no surprise to any of you that I suggest writing a list, but taking some time out to physically put down everything it is you need to do/buy/make/whatever will get all those random thoughts out of your head and help you put plans into action. I have a list for gifts, money, what to do, what to watch, what to bake, the places I need to go and the people I need to see, as well as what I will wear to every Christmas event. Excessive? Sure. But am I stressed? Not at all.

Take Time For Yourself
Again, this one may seem a little arbitrary, but taking a bit of time out for yourself, to put a candle on, chuck a face mask on and watch a Christmas film will definitely help get your priorities in order. Whatever you’re stressing about will fade into the background for at least a moment, and help you get set to tackle it all again.

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Practice Gratitude
Christmas, although a stressful time, is also when you need to be practicing gratitude the most. So many people out there are celebrating Christmas in poverty, hunger or war, and we need to remember our blessings over this time. Although your family may be annoying you, travel may be tiresome and you might not get the exact present you want, remember that everyone is just doing their best and they are all deserving of your love. Tis the season, after all!

Check out my most recent posts; Christmas In AustraliaZoe’s Bookshelf #2!

Zoe x

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Escaping Christmas Stress | Blogmas 2017

8 Ways To Improve Yourself

You can always do something better than you have before, the key is simply to change your approach. The most successful and happiest people are constantly and consistently finding and implementing ways to improve themselves. If you are truly happy with where you are, 100%, then don’t read. But I’d guess you’re lying. There is always something you can do better.

Do Something New Every Day

In this day and age, there is basically no excuse for you not to be consistently improving yourself. We have so much content out there for us to consume at any point in time. No longer are we constrained to lectures, classes and physical books, but we have YouTube videos, TV shows, eBooks and Podcasts ready for us to watch/read/listen to at any point of the day. Try and aim to experience one new thing per day in order to learn, be it read an article or chapter, listen to a podcast or simply watch a new episode of a TV show. Do something that day you never have before and your brain will relish the new information.

Ask for Feedback

One of the biggest ways people fall short in improving themselves is to not ask for feedback. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, we’re so often told, as long as we learn from them. So why aren’t we learning all the time? There is nothing stopping you from asking those around you how you could be kinder/smarter/more consistent in the same way you meet KPIs at work. Take a moment to seek feedback from your nearest and dearest and try to meet those new goals.

Edit, Edit, Edit

When it comes to receiving feedback, the next step is to improve based on that feedback. Constantly editing yourself is the only way to do this; do you think a book is written without an edit? You need to apply the same methodology to yourself in order to move forward, and be dedicated to making small but consistent edits in yourself to improve and become who you really want to be.

Listen More Than You Speak

It becomes so easy for us to be lost in our minds, our thoughts, our headphones, our next point to be made, looking the best in any situation. For once, mindfully and actively seek to listen. This doesn’t just mean in conversations, but listen to the world. The sounds around you. People’s conversations with each other. You will be surprised how much inspiration you find and the things you can learn from others and simply opening your ears.

Surround Yourself With People You Aspire To Be Like

A pro tip for becoming more aligned with your dream life is to be surrounded by people who you want to be like. When you are enveloped in their successes, you are inspired to try harder for yourself. This then goes back to the feedback point – if you want to be like these people, seek their feedback and see what they would do differently. Implement those changes that need to be made and find yourself improved.

Read Every Day

Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. I heard that once, and it stuck with me. Just pick up a fucking book. Read it. Reading improves your vocabulary, your knowledge, your ability to visualise, your creativity, your ability to form an argument – the list is endless. Read a paragraph if a chapter is too much for your tired mind at the end of the day. Read a buzzfeed article at lunch. Just. Fucking. Read.

Go To Free Classes

There are a plethora of free classes available at any given time – from yoga, to self-defence, writing, pottery, floristry, you name it. I know I said before that you don’t have to go to a physical class as you can learn most stuff online, and that is absolutely true as well. Physical classes, however, might help you meet some of those people you aspire to be like, and seek their feedback – and so the circle continues around. It’s a balancing act of physical and digital learning, which is all learning nonetheless and impreative to improvement. Google what’s on in your area and just go to something. Meet some new people and enrich yourself. Hey, if it turns out to be a complete waste of time/utter disaster/what the hell was I thinking I can’t do this type of thing, at least you have a good story to tell.

 

Go and read my latest post – Nightime Photoshoot!

 

Zoe x

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8 Ways To Improve Yourself

Gratitude

Gratitude is a word that gets thrown around a lot. People claim that without it, life passes you by. If you aren’t truly grateful for the things you already have, you will constantly be seeking more. Be it possessions, friends, love, looks, marks, money – you will always want more. I personally never really bought into this idea. How can something as simple as an idea really change anything? But, much to my fascination, it can. It did. It continues to.

This one is for all you cynics out there that don’t believe in gratitude, mindfulness or happiness, which, it may shock you to learn, go hand in hand. It is quite rare to have one without the other.

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I took this photo on a warm afternoon with my friend, sitting on my couch. The afternoon sun was filtering in through my balcony window, and the steam from my freshly made cup of tea curled upward in the shaft of light. Without gratitude, I would not have loved that moment as much as I did – simply sitting with the love of my life, drinking my favourite drink on an afternoon with no worries. Moments like these are what make our lives worth living.

How present are you, truly? Are you skimming over this post because you’re bored? Or are you absorbing every word? What are you doing, feeling, thinking, right now? How does each individual part of your body feel? Are your thoughts controlling you?

Pause. Breathe deeply. Again. Be present. What can you see? What can you hear? What can you smell, taste touch? Presence in the moment is the first step to being grateful. Trust me, it takes time. You have to train yourself. But without being present, you can’t truly find your gratitude for the things that surround you. How could you, if you aren’t really paying attention to them?

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This is one of my favourite photos. My lovely candle burning on a bedside table I put together. Something so simple may not bring you joy if you are not adept at being grateful, but when I see this candle lit I am grateful for the beautiful smell, the way the flames flicker in the gentle breeze, how I am able to light whatever candle I want because I am able to live alone. The moment you stop treating the world like it’s out for you and treating yourself like its victim, you can find such perfect, hidden moments. 

You can feel gratitude in your body. When you think about something you are truly grateful for, be it time, family, your pets or friends, try and pinpoint that exact warm feeling in yourself, and try to replicate it as much as you can.

I like to write my gratitudes down when it becomes too hard. Taking a moment to actually put ink on paper and not pixels on a screen is one thing, and using that ink to pen what it is you’re grateful for and why is on a whole other level. You don’t need a fancy notebook for this; scrap paper will do. This journal is from Kikki K. 

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When was the last time you watched the sun set? Can you remember how the sky flares up gold and blood orange and intertwines with the oncoming night sky? Take ten minutes out of your evening and watch the sun disappear. Accept that another day has passed, and another will begin again. 

Try and create gratitude as a habit. Build it into your daily routine. There are always things to be grateful for, and you can always start small. You are grateful for the sunshine or the rain, your bed, your friend, your favourite TV show. Begin at things you are easily grateful for, and progress into things that are more difficult to feel gratitude towards.

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When you realise what an insignificant spec you are in the scheme of the country, the world, the infinite universe, the easier it becomes to see your worth and wonderfulness. 

 

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What is it that lights you up? What sets that spark alight in you? Every time you do that thing, feel the gratitude that you are able to. Do the thing more. Repeat. 

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kindness that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude. — Albert Schweitzer

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It can help to have a gratitude centre. Here, I have a map of my favourite place in the world, Hong Kong, some fairy lights, a picture of the stars, a plant and some of my favourite books. Whenever I look at it, I can truly feel the gratitude rising up in me, which stimulates me to feel it more throughout my day. 

Remember – gratitude is a skill. You must hone it and practice it as much as you can. Maybe this seems too much like hard work, but trust me when I say, the beauty of it can change you.

 

Zoe x

This post was a bit different from my usual content, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know if you would like more in this style. Love you all.

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Gratitude

Evening Routine

My evenings are the time I take for myself. Of course, my evenings aren’t always the same. Sometimes I come home straight from a long day at work and crash, sometimes I go to my second job as a school tutor. I hang out with friends, go to dinner, hit up Thursday night shopping or go for a walk.

For the most part, however, I like to use my time to reenergize myself for the day to come, and these are the steps I take to make that happen.

The first things I do when I walk in the door are essential for me; I turn on my salt lamp, play some music through my bluetooth speaker, and take my makeup off. If I’m not working out, I’ll immediately put on some comfy clothes too.

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I’ll then set up my clothes for the following day. I do this every night and it honestly takes the stress out of mornings for me! I grab my workout clothes and do a workout after a doing this and a bit of tidying if my flat needs it. I try and tidy for 15-20 mins a day to make sure it’s always beautiful. Tidy house = tidy mind.

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Weights, resistance bands & shorts, Kmart | Sports bra, Forever21 | yoga mat, Cotton On Body

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After I finish a workout, I’ll eat something. I tend to meal prep or food prep, so this takes me 5 minutes to whip up. I’ll also tend to make a bit extra of whatever I’m having so I can take it to work the next day for lunch. Tonight, I had a salad with chicken, rocket, sweet potato, ricotta, pine nuts, parmesan and balsamic glaze. Sometimes I’ll have a protein shake after a workout, and if I do it’s a LUXE Fitness vanilla shake.

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I’ll take my time eating my dinner to chill out, watch some TV or YouTube, and make sure I’m drinking enough water.

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I’ll then pop into the shower before doing my skincare and brushing my hair. I’ll definitely be doing an updated skincare routine sometime soon!

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After this, I’ll turn off all electronics and read something, or write in my bullet journal. A blog post all about my bullet journal is coming super soon 🙂 I’ll also tend to make a cup of calming tea. This night it was chamomile, in this gorgeous one-cup teapot from T2.

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When I’ve properly chilled out, I’ll brush my teeth and go to bed. Some nights I meditate, some nights I stay up till 1am on my phone even though I said I turned off my electronics… life is about balance, haha.

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Sweet dreams!

Zoe x

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Evening Routine

My Haircare Routine

My hair used to be dry as fuck – and that was before I dyed it. It got to a point that I was at a hairdressers getting a trim and she was genuinely surprised at how long it was as “it is so dry, how is it still growing?”. Talk about embarrassing, I swear the old lady next to me was giggling through her dentures.

Anyway, I decided right then and there that I was going to a) dye it. Counter-intuitive, I know. I figured though that if it was already dry and unhealthy, bleach couldn’t make it much worse and I was always scared of making my hair unhealthy by dyeing it. And hey, I was right. In fact, because I was so scared of bleaching it, it really made me reevaluate how I looked after my hair.

I was using heat on it a couple of times a week, and washing it pretty regularly. Now – I’d be lucky to wash it twice a week, and it’s healthy and getting wavier, growing healthier and all round shining. You may not think it from the photos, but to me this is a HUGE improvement and I’m loving the way my hair is looking these days.

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Let me tell you though, this is no ‘do-it-once’ type of situation. I have been trying to get my hair from fried to somewhat presentable for almost three months now, and it’s only recently I’ve started seeing an improvement. Patience is key here. So, without further rambling, let’s get into my step-by-step haircare routine.

IMG_1719.JPG1. Washing & Drying

I tend to use whatever is cheapest as my shampoo and conditioner. I know, I know, so bad for me, ruining the planet etc etc, but buying a $50 conditioner really isn’t in my budget right now. Forgive me, but I’d rather be fed. Just saying.

Anyway, I only wash my hair once a week, maybe twice if it’s getting all gross from the gym. I wash my scalp with shampoo, really massaging it in, and then use conditioner on my ends and leave it for a couple of minutes before rinsing. Then, I always follow with a mask. May seem a bit extreme, but I do wash my hair so rarely I can get away with it. I’ll use any mask, but leave it in for a solid five minutes and then rinse out with cold water.

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2. In Between Washes

I brush my hair every morning and put in some dry shampoo if I feel like I need it. I then, usually morning and night, put an oil through my hair. I have become addicted to hair oil – it’s becoming concerning. I find the best one that doesn’t leave my hair looking greasy is the Argan Oil one, but really I’ll go depending on whatever I want to smell like that day/whatever is in arm’s reach at 5.30am.

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*Batiste is good, don’t get me wrong. I like the coconut one. But I also think the Pantene and VO5 ones are just as good and A LOT cheaper. Just a tip.

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Clockwise:
NUXE Huile Prodigieuse
Kmart Coconut Oil Conditioning Spray
Body Shop Shea beautifying oil
Kmart Argan Oil Treatment oil
Argan Oil

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I also only use a tangle teaser (this is a kmart dupe) when I brush my hair, and try to only brush it when it’s dry.

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Hope you learnt something!

Zoe x

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My Haircare Routine

How To: Be Happy

Being happy is a skill and a mindset. It is not something attained easily, and it certainly isn’t something you can purchase at a store. Although I’m not expert and still have my down days, following these eight things has really helped put everything in perspective for me, and allowed me to live a life I don’t dread waking up to every day.

  1. Say ‘fuck you’ to everything that makes you anxious, angry, frustrated, guilty or sad

If a person, job, place or situation makes you feel any of the above – cut it. You might not be able to completely get rid of the thing, but acknowledge in your mind that you are done with it, and actively search for something better. If your job is horrendous, look for another and put in only the work you have to in order to signify the end to yourself. If a person is making you question yourself, dump them completely out of your life. It may be cliché, but life is way too short to be made to feel insignificant by a person. No one or thing should ever have that kind of power over you.

  1. Learn to be grateful for everything

This is a really tough one to master, but once you do, happiness comes naturally. Keeping track of how grateful you are for the food you eat, your internet connection, a sunny day and the clothes on your back really make the thoughts in your head just seem like what they really are – thoughts.

  1. Surround yourself with people – even if you don’t want to

One of the easiest ways to feel unhappy is to fall into the trap of not socialising. I’ve definitely been guilty of this myself – sometimes you just really would rather do anything else. But, humans are social creatures. In order to be really happy, we need human connection. If this is with one person or fifty, or just your mum, that’s fine. Just nourish the relationships you do have, maybe try and form some more, and immediately life becomes that little bit better.

  1. Label your feelings

In a similar way to number two, label what you’re feeling. You’re allowed to feel any emotion, but just name it. If you feel sad, say to yourself ‘I recognise I’m feeling sad’ which will immediately take the sting out of it. Ultimately, the goal is to make these feelings register as thoughts. You have lots of thoughts. Why would you take this one more seriously than the rest?

  1. Think about your insignificance

This might not work for everyone, but the minute I start thinking about all those who came before me, all those who will come after, and the speck my existence will have in history, all the unhappiness swirling round in my head becomes dull.

  1. Be mindful

I have reminders set four times a day for being mindful. This doesn’t mean a full out meditation (although I do highly recommend that), but all I do when I see that alarm is just notice what I’m doing. Am I working? Am I out? What’s happening? What can I smell, see, hear, taste, touch? I simply be in the moment, four times a day at least, which pauses my mind and helps me see clearer.

  1. Do things for accomplishment

Accomplishment is such a rewarding feeling that can outweigh almost anything. That’s why I’m a firm believer in setting realistic, achievable goals, and recording them. Even something as simple as having a to-do list with ‘eat breakfast’ on it can make you feel good when you tick it off after some cereal. Find out what accomplishment looks like for you, and do what you can to feel it often. Immediately your happiness will rise.

  1. Find your purpose

This for me is the most acute reason for my unhappiness. I have the thought ‘well, what’s the point?’ and things slide quickly down from there. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Using methods like ‘Ikigao’ and writing down what values are important to you in the fields of relationships, career, living, etc can help you figure out what is at the core of who you are and what you can do to satisfy yourself. When you’ve established that, things can only get better.

I hope this helped someone out there! Let me know what you thought about my tips on being happy.

Zoe x

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How To: Be Happy

My Festive Relaxation Routine • Blogmas

Welcome to my Blogmas! I love Christmas so much, and the best way to celebrate is with Christmas related posts every day at 5pm WordPress time until the 25th! Hope you enjoy!

The silly season is named so for a good reason, and it is only natural that it is a high stress period in terms of family, finance and just general business. Due to this, it is more important during this time than ever to give yourself an opportunity to relax. So when times are getting a bit overwhelming, this is the relaxation routine I will do to reset and give myself pause in a busy day. If you want to see more like this, My Relaxation Routine went down very well, so go check that out too!

The first thing I’ll do is put on some comfy clothes and turn my phone off. This doesn’t mean silent, it means completely off. I don’t want anyone to contact me, and I don’t want any of my social media to distract me when I’m trying to be mindful.

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If I’m feeling particularly angry, I’ll have a hard workout and sweat it all away. If not, I’ll go for a long walk. Either way, exercise during the festive season is paramount as we aren’t exactly our healthiest, are we?

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After this, I might take a long shower or bath, and really take time to look after my body, by exfoliating or washing my hair. Being in the water does wonders.

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Lighting a relaxing candle that smells fresh and not too sweet can immediately put me in a calmer state of mind.

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Alongside this, using an essential oil in lavender on my pulse points (wrists, behind my ears, temples) gets the relaxing scents going and makes relaxing practically impossible.

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Brewing a herbal tea is the perfect way to unwind and enjoy the moment. I try and take my time drinking it, being grateful for every sip. I like to do this outside, as sometimes what is making us stressed is being cooped up inside. Fresh air can work miracles, and people watching or simply observing nature at work in your own yard can really put your stress in perspective. A good way to help sort out your mind is journalling, so while I’m drinking my tea, I try and figure out the exact cause of my stress, and work on ways I can help resolve it. Just writing it all out – or drawing it if you’re that way inclined – has some kind of magic powers, I swear.

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Is there anything else that you do to relax over the silly season? Let me know!

Merry Christmas, come chat!

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My Festive Relaxation Routine • Blogmas