Meditation and Happiness

Meditation is an incredibly powerful tool for processing emotions, alleviating stress and also for boosting happiness. The latter of these concepts may not be one that you have connected to meditation before, but with regular meditation you are highly likely to soon feel your happiness grow.

Happiness & Relaxation

When you spend an ample amount of time in a state of meditation you are likely to feel lighter, more relaxed and more equipped to deal with the day afterwards. When you partake in this activity regularly, this feeling of preparedness for your day and ability to deal with all life has to throw at you will start to become your normal attitude.

As the days, weeks, months etc pass where you continue to meditate regularly, you are going to notice that not only are you happier before your sessions, but also that your happiness is visibly boosted afterwards. One of the greatest things about this is that you can then extend this happiness and positivity to those around you.

Rewire Your Brain

So, what is it about meditation that increases our potential to find this happiness and also to hold onto it? When you meditate you are actually helping to rewire your brain to be able to better handle your emotions and to retain balance and clarity in all areas of your life. Far from being a quick and temporary fix, this will be a long term concept that you can continue to work on and expand. All you have to do to keep this glow going is to persist with your meditation practice, and also make an effort to develop your practice in a variety of ways.

Developing Your Meditation

You can develop your meditation by working to do so for longer periods of time, and also to focus more clearly on addressing specific issues that you are aware of. For example, if you have concerns about your self-esteem, or you know that you are not loving yourself as you deserve to be loved, then spending time working on these things during your meditation can help you to progress in a well-rounded way.

This is something that can be done endlessly as you address the different aspects of yourself that you want to work on, and then revisit them again after a period of time!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How To Improve Your Sleep Cycle

If you caught my blog post last week then you will have discovered just how important it is to have an optimum sleep cycle. This is unfortunately not something all of us enjoy, but there are ways to improve the quantity and quality of the sleep that you are having!

Set an Alarm

Your alarm clock is more commonly used to wake you up in the morning, but you can also set your alarm to remind yourself to go to bed. Having a bedtime may sound like something better suited to children, but as adults we can benefit greatly for inviting this kind of routine into our lives. If you get to bed at a reasonable time, then you are much more likely to sleep for longer. You should also then of course set an alarm to wake you in the morning, and try to resist the urge to snooze it when it goes off. Falling back to sleep and then waking again between snoozes can actually leave you feeling groggier and more reluctant to get up and start your day!

Be Conscious of Your Diet

Consuming alcohol or caffeine in the second half of the day can play a part in disrupting your sleep cycle. You may find that these things prevent you from falling asleep with ease, and can also cause you to wake up multiple times during the night. Furthermore, alcohol can continue to have a negative impact on your mood and how you feel physically the following day.

Create the Right Environment

The place in which you sleep can influence how easy it is for you to fall asleep, and also the quality of sleep that you enjoy during the night. The majority of people find it easier to sleep well in the dark, and also in a room that is comfortably warm, but not overly so. If it is impossible for you to sleep in an entirely dark room, then consider investing in a comfortable eye mask. Similarly, if it is not possible to keep your bedroom at an optimum temperature during the night then acquire some suitable clothes for sleeping.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Is Your Sleep Cycle Causing You Harm?

Getting a full eight hours of undisturbed sleep every night is something that many of us are aware that we need to do, but the reality is that it is not always achievable!

There are many reasons why you might not get enough sleep – or enough good quality sleep. This could be because of a busy schedule that keeps you up late, a young child that wakes during the night, or perhaps disturbances from other sources, such as noisy neighbours!

Whatever the reason for a poor sleep cycle, it is important to address and work to resolve the problem in order to preserve and boost your health. The following issues can quickly appear when you are sleep deprived, and can lead to further health issues.

Fatigue

Fatigue can often be accompanied by a short temper and a lack of focus, which can quickly cause problems during your day! Being fatigued can also become a safety issue as your ability to drive and complete other tasks will become impaired.

Obesity

Studies have shown that those who sleep less tend to be at a higher risk of obesity. It has been suggested that this is because there is a higher presence of leptin when a person is sleep deprived. Leptin is the chemical that makes you feel full. Sleep deprivation also causes increased levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger.

Illness

If a poor sleep cycle is a consistent problem then your immune system will soon become compromised and your overall health will suffer. This can contribute to the onset of relatively small health problems, such as a cough or cold, but can also lead to much more significant issues over time, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The risk of developing diabetes appears to be particularly prevalent in those who regularly sleep for less than five hours each night.  This is thought to be because a lack of sleep changes the way that the body processes glucose.

If you are aware that your sleep cycle is becoming damaging to your health, and your life in general, then it is important to take steps to improve the length and quality of the sleep that you enjoy. This is something that I will be discussing in a blog post next week, so check back soon!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How to Handle Your Hormones

Mood swings can strike at any time and although there are certain common likely causes, it is something that can’t always be managed in the same way.

What Are Mood Swings

Your mood swings may be characterised by a variety of things, such as unexplained crying or unjustified irritability. It is important to remember that although your emotions may seem out of proportion, your feelings in each moment are still valid and true, and there is no need to beat yourself up about this!

Diet & Gut Health

A hormonal imbalance is a likely cause when it comes to mood swings, and this can be handled by addressing your lifestyle and making positive changes where necessary. This will largely be in relation to your diet. Your diet can impact your emotions in several ways, and it will also have an impact on the health of your gut. Your gut health is linked to your mood, and it is important to play close attention to this aspect of your overall health. The bacteria in your intestines will influence your hormones, and this of course will then impact your mood. So, a large presence of good bacteria will go a long way to helping!

Blood Sugar Levels

Keeping your blood sugar levels consistent is one of the best ways to keep your mood from fluctuating. You may think that skipping a meal will help you to lose weight, or save you time if you have a busy schedule. But doing so can actually wreak havoc with your hormones and leave you feeling annoyed, fatigued and generally unhappy. Fortunately, you can keep your blood sugar levels up by regularly eating nutritious foods, and avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks!

Sleep & Stress

In addition to your diet, certain lifestyle factors such as sleep will also influence your hormones and therefore your mood. When you do not get enough sleep your body will produce excess levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. This will put unnecessary stress on your adrenal glands, and can cause your serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin is super important for keeping your mood up, and you should always try to get between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have trouble getting to sleep, or find that you are often waking in the night, then you may find some relief by drinking soothing herbal teas before you go to bed.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How to Make Time for Yourself

Wishing for extra hours in the day is certainly not a new concept and many of us are often left wondering where the time goes! With such busy schedules and such limited time to fit it all in, the idea of finding additional time for yourself may often seem laughable, and even verging on impossible! 

There is certainly nothing wrong with being organised, but if it seems like every moment of your life is scheduled and accounted for, then you may actually be doing more harm than good. If this sounds like you, then taking a step back, and giving yourself permission to just be, could be the best decision you can make.

Starting The Day

A lot of discussions around being more time efficient centre around the morning routine. How you start your day is often seen as a benchmark as to how successful the rest of your day will be. However, putting too much emphasis on the first few hours of the day can actually cause unnecessary stress that you then take with you into the rest of the day.

The way in which you find it best to start the day is of course individual to you! If you feel inspired to meditate, do yoga or cook a healthy breakfast for yourself from scratch, then certainly you can benefit from these things, but don’t beat yourself up if you do not feel motivated to do so!

Trying to cram too much into the beginning of the day can leave you feeling overwhelmed and then less able to make time for yourself during the remainder of the day!

Re-evaluate Your Routine

You may find that having a routine helps you to commit to doing the things that you need to do. However, it is important to take into consideration that no two days are ever going to be the same. It is often impossible to predict what your life and your mind will have in store for you. By this I mean, events may occur that throw your schedule off, and that your mood can fluctuate from one day to the next, making certain things seem harder to accomplish.

For these reasons, it is important not to overload your days with scheduled activities and commitments. Of course there are going to be things that you need to do, but there is no harm in spreading these activities out, and in doing so you will naturally create a larger amount of time for yourself within each individual day.

Understand Your Importance

Making time for yourself is a super simple but seriously underrated form of self-care! If you are someone who spends a great deal of time caring for others then you may have forgotten how important your own health, happiness and time is!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Aubergine Dip

This dip is absolutely amazing both hot and cold, and is bursting with both flavour and nutrition! Aubergines are packed full of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. They are particularly prized for their ability to help lower cholesterol and assist those who are trying to lose weight.

Sweet red peppers are an excellent source of carotenoids, which are thought to help to prevent the onset of several diseases. Carotenoids are particularly beneficial for preserving the health of the eyes, as well as the appearance of the skin.

To make this dip you will need the following ingredients:

1 aubergine
2 sweet red peppers
1 clementine, peeled
1 tsp of miso paste
Pitta bread
Olive oil
Sea salt

The first thing that you will need to do is take your aubergine and chop it into small chunks. You can then slice the sweet red peppers in half. Place the aubergine chunks and the sweet red pepper halves onto a baking tray and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Add a sprinkling of sea salt on top of the olive oil and then you can place the tray into your oven at 180C.

Leave the aubergines and the sweet red pepper in the oven to roast for approximately 30 minutes. After this time you can remove the baking tray from the heat and place all of the aubergine into your food processor with half of the sweet red pepper. You should also add the clementine into the food processor with half a teaspoon of sea salt and the miso paste. Before you turn the food processor on to blitz your dip, add in four tablespoons of olive oil and then you’re good to go!

Once you have blitzed your dip you will notice that it is still hot once it is ready! This means you either have the choice to serve as a hot dip, or leave to cool down and enjoy it later. All that is left to do is break up the remaining sweet red pepper and add it to the top of your dip as a garnish.

Enjoy this dip with hot or cold pitta bread, or as a creative side-dish to a main meal!

If you want to see this recipe in action then you can head to my YouTube channel and watch me creating it!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

Learning From Last Year

Learning from past mistakes is something that does not come easily to everyone. Falling into patterns of negative choices can be second nature to many, and it can take a great effort to break this routine of cyclic behaviour. 

If you feel like 2016 was not a good year for you in terms of the choices that you made and the decisions that you regret, then 2017 can be the perfect opportunity to turn this negativity into something productive. Instead of dwelling on the consequences of these choices, see them as lessons learnt and a basis for self-discovery moving forwards. 

Mistakes are an inevitable part of the human experience, and something that absolutely everyone makes. Sometimes it may seem that you make more poor choices than those around you, however, you have to remember that not everyone is open and honest about the things in their life that they regret.

There is also much to be learnt from the good things that happened to you in 2016. Maybe you discovered a new hobby, made new friends or embarked upon a new career. When you invite something new into your life it helps you to understand more about yourself. It might show you that you have a skill or a talent that you were previously unaware of, or that you are seeking certain things in life.

The people that we choose to spend our time with will help to mould us and guide us through our own lives. This is why it is important that you surround yourself with positive, encouraging people who will nurture you emotionally. Making new friends, or starting new romantic relationships, can teach us a great deal about the love and kindness that we deserve – as well as about the abundance of our own emotional energy that we are willing to share and invest in others. Try to process any negative interactions you had with people last year and to understand the reasons for them. You can then release these experiences from your mind and have no restrictions as to how open you are to new connections this year.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we enter 2017!

Nutrition for Tackling Stress

The foods that you choose to consume will have an impact on how well your mind is equipped to deal with stress! There are also of course many other factors, such as the hours that you work and your home-life. However, nourishing your body with the vitamins and minerals that it needs will go a long way to helping you stay happy and relaxed.

Vitamin B

When we are stressed out our vitamin B stores become depleted and this can affect the function of our neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that communicate information around the brain. Therefore, eating a diet that is rich in B vitamins will help to ensure that our health does not suffer when stress does strike.

Nuts are an optimum source of B vitamins and also contain beneficial levels of healthy fat. Regularly eating a range of raw, unsalted nuts can also help to keep your cholesterol down and combat inflammation in the body.

An adequate presence of vitamin B12 in the body is essential for combatting stress, as well as keeping energy levels up. Your energy levels can have an impact on your stress levels if you have a lot to get done without the energy stores to do so! Taking a B12 supplement is a good idea if you follow a plant-based diet as it does not generally occur naturally in these foods.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential component of mood management and can help to keep stress down whilst also boosting the immune system. Certain studies have shown that a person’s blood pressure will return to normal quicker if that person were to consume vitamin C before completing a stressful task. Oranges are one of the most popular sources of vitamin C, but it can be found at beneficial levels in many fruits and vegetables.

Magnesium

The presence of magnesium in the body is also essential for tackling stress. Low levels of magnesium can lead to fatigue, as well as headaches and other visible signs of stress. Leafy green vegetables are a fantastic source of magnesium and you should try to get several servings throughout the day.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we enter 2017!

A New Start for the New Year

As we approach 2017 you may be feeling nostalgic for all of the wonderful things that have happened in your life this year. You may also be keen for the year to draw to a close if it has been a difficult or challenging time for you.

The great thing about the New Year is that it is an opportunity to look at your life with fresh eyes and re-evaluate what is important to you. The New Year is a chance for change and a chance to truly forgive yourself for any mistakes made in the year that has just passed.

If you want to start 2017 on the right path to a year full of health, happiness and positivity then it is important to set intentions for the next 12 months. What is it you want to achieve and how are you going to support yourself to reach these goals?

Your aims for this upcoming year may be tangible things that can be worked towards, such as moving house or completing an educational course. Your aims may also be more personal to you and involve your relationship with yourself and those around you.

Whatever your aims are for 2017 it helps to clarify them out loud to yourself as you contemplate the best route to your goals.

It is always beneficial to have the support of those around you and sharing your goals and ambitions with your friends and family is a great idea. In doing so, you can also find out what their hopes are for the year ahead and offer them your support in accomplishing these things.

The key to successful change is to not take too much on at once and to consider your goals one at a time. Trying to do everything at once will inevitably leave you feeling overwhelmed, and then discourage you from wanting to continue with your positive change. There is no need to prioritise your intentions in order of importance as you will find you are more inclined to work towards certain things first. Take your own guidance and allow things to progress naturally.

There is no limit to what you can achieve for yourself in the next year with the right support and determination!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we enter 2017!

Selflessness and Self-Care

There are many different ways to practice self-care and it is something that I advocate we should all include in our daily routines. When you make the time to allow self-care into your life, you are choosing to love yourself, meet your own needs and put your health and happiness first – as you should!

There are several self-care acts that you are probably already familiar with, such as meditating, giving yourself a compliment or spending some time in the sun. However, there are also much more radical acts of self-care that not everyone will think to try!

Acts of selflessness are actually acts of self-care and I’m going to explain why this is!

When you act in a selfless way you are choosing to put someone else’s needs over your own, even if just for a short period of time. You are showing kindness, compassion and a willingness to reach out to someone else. This can really help you to appreciate all that you already have in life and encourage you to be more appreciative of your own blessings.

Getting involved in the various community projects that undoubtedly exist where you live is a great way to start to practice this selflessness. This is also an easy way to meet new and interesting people who will surely bring even more positivity into your life. Getting involved in community projects is also a good way to have fun and to engage in new experiences – both of which are certainly acts of self-care as they contribute to your confidence and sense of self-worth.

Expressing selflessness through random acts of kindness to strangers is another great way to care for others as well as yourself! Buy some lunch for a homeless person, give some money to a charity collector on the street or compliment a stranger. However you choose to demonstrate this kindness, the only thing that is important is that it is a genuine act of selflessness for no other reason.

When you begin to make it a habit to act in this way, you will find that kindness finds its way into your life in abundance. This will encourage greater feelings of self-love in yourself and will motivate you to continue with your routine of self-care.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and self-care is a HUGE part of this!

From December 3rd you can join us on a FREE 21 Day Happiness Challenge! This will take just ten minutes of your time each day and will help you to find the happiness you are seeking. Click here to register and get started!