How To Maintain Your Energy Levels On A Busy Day | Caffeine Free Edition

[pipdig_padded_text]

I rarely ever drink coffee. In fact, I’ve probably had about 3 coffees since the start of the year! I find that caffeine can make me feel anxious, especially if I’m already feeling stressed and so I tend to rely on caffeine-free alternatives to maintain my energy throughout the day.

Today I’ll be sharing some of the things that help me to keep going throughout even the busiest of days, whether I’m out and about or sitting at my desk.[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

1. Maintain Your Iron Levels

The body relies on iron to transport oxygen through the blood and is vital for providing us with energy to go about our daily life. Iron supplements, such as Spatone, are great for maintaining healthy iron levels in our body, and therefore helps to reduce tiredness. Spatone is made using a naturally occurring iron rich water in Snowdonia and is available in a handy single-use sachet that you can simply pop into your handbag and take with you whilst you’re out and about. It also comes in a delicious apple flavour with added vitamin C to support the immune system (which can also suffer when we’re tired!), and best of all it is kind on the stomach so has fewer of the stomach-related side effects that are normally associated with regular iron supplements. I find the sachets really handy when I’ve got a busy day at work or when I’m travelling. Spatone is available here and you can follow Spatone here.[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

2. Nibble on Healthy Snacks & Sip on Herbal Tea

What you eat throughout the day can have a major impact on your energy levels throughout the day. I like to start my day with a quick but hearty breakfast in the morning, such as beans on toast. Beans are packed with energy-boosting nutrients, they have a low glycaemic index (so will not give you an energy crash), and they are high in fibre and protein. Throughout the day, try to avoid sugary snacks, and stick to wholegrains and fruit instead. Dried mango is a great on-the-go snack that will help boost your energy and I love snacking on frozen watermelon as the days get warmer. You could also try sipping on some herbal tea throughout the day. Peppermint tea as well as lemon and ginger tea are both great for fighting fatigue – and they are both caffeine-free! Discover more of my favourite teas here.[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

3. Get The Beauty Sleep Your Body Deserves

I’m pretty much stating the obvious here, however nothing helps your body maintain its energy (and immunity!) levels better than getting the right amount of sleep. We’ve all heard that we need around 8 hours of sleep at night to function at our best the following day, however this may differ from one person to another. Over the years I’ve discovered that I feel my best when I’ve had 9 hours of sleep, and I always make sure to head to be early when I’ve got to wake up early the next morning. So, invest in a calming pillow spray, a good book and some cosy new bedding – and get the beauty sleep you deserve. Your body will thank you for it!

Find out more about Spatone here.

Check out this post for even more ways to boost your energy with no caffeine

[/pipdig_padded_text]

4 Different Sports To Try This Year

[pipdig_banner image=”http://www.beautyandthebird.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/IMG_7657.jpg”]

[pipdig_padded_text]

I’ve always enjoyed keeping fit, but as I got older I seem to have found it harder to incorporate exercise into my weekly routine.  With so many different sports and exercise classes nowadays, I am determined to get back into working out this year! Today I’ll be sharing 4 different sports to try out if like me, you want to try and incorporate more fitness into your life.

And if you currently practise any of these sports – I’d love your advice on starting out!

[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

Swimming

I have never been a good swimmer. Growing up, I did attend swimming lessons *let’s not mention the time I drowned in the swimming pool and had to get pulled back up by my swimming teacher* However, swimming is such a great way of keeping fit – even a leisurely swim can help tone your muscles and strengthen your core, hips, arms, shoulders, and glutes. Brands such as Tyr do a great range of swimwear that not only looks great but is also designed to be comfortable and give you the freedom you require when swimming.

Badminton

This may sound like a random one to try out – however badminton has been on my ‘sports I’d love to try’ list for years now (so it’s really about time I did something about it!). I played badminton for a couple of months one summer when I was much younger and having really enjoyed it, I have since always wanted to start playing it regularly! Badminton is a great way of improving your reflexes and agility whilst having fun. There are also lots of badminton clubs close to where I live, so I really have no excuse here!

Running

One of the sports I really enjoyed when I was still at school was running, and I always looked forward to sports day just because I knew there would be lots of running involved! Joining a local running club can be a fun way of getting fit whilst making new friends – added to that, it’s so good for your heart, strengthens your joints and because when you run your brain pumps feel-good chemicals called endorphins throughout your body, you always end a run feeling grrrrrrreat!

Dancing

I practised ballet for over 10 years of my life, and I noticed that my overall health and fitness was at its best during this time – so I don’t really know why I stopped! I was more energetic, flexible and had a much stronger core. I would love to join an adult ballet class or try out ballet-inspired fitness classes at Barrecore. If you’d love to try out a different type of dancing, you could consider zumba, or channel your inner Strictly Come Dancing and try out ballroom dancing!

Do you practise any of these sports? I’d love your opinions on what sports I should try out this year!

[/pipdig_padded_text]

5 Ways To Stay Active in Winter

[pipdig_padded_text]

The cold and dark winter days make it harder to motivate yourself to exercise, when all you really want to do is snuggle up in front of the TV with a warm cup of tea and wrap yourself up in 87438247 blankets (just me!?).

Today I’ll be sharing 5 easy tips to keep motivated and stay active in the winter months.[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

1. Get the right kit

There’s no way you’ll be motivated to get up and exercise if your only workout gear is an old (summery) sports bra and a pair of shorts. Invest in some winter activewear and thermal leggings that will help regulate your body heat when the temperature outside drops. Lightweight pieces that you can layer up and take off when you get warm are perfect for this time of year. It’s also a great idea to invest in a good pair of shoes, especially if you enjoy exercising outside. I recently got my hands on the KEEN Terradora Waterproof Boots in this gorgeous grey/teal colour, which looks great with my favourite grey leggings. They are great for exercising outside in the winter (and summer) as they are waterproof yet breathable so they allow any vapour out without letting water in. They also feel super comfy to wear (I didn’t need to wear them in before they felt comfy!) and offer great support to your ankles – highly recommended!

2. Make the most of sunny winter days

It may still not feel warm, but even if you’ve been hibernating all winter and haven’t done any exercise in months, make the most out of a sunny winter day to head out for a walk in the park (wearing your shiny new walking shoes, of course!), a jog or even a run if you’re feeling brave! It’s so much easier to get kick started on an exercise routine on a bright and sunny day.[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

3. You don’t even have to leave the house

If the miserable weather outside is totally making you want to stay indoors, why not exercise from home? There are sooooo many free workouts that you can find on YouTube so you don’t even need to set foot outside of your living room in order to stay active.  Blogilates is one of my favourite YouTube channels when I’m looking for a quick and effective workout. There are lots of 5 to 15 minute workouts on the Blogilates channel so you can’t use the ‘not enough time’ excuse either! If you’re after something a bit more chill, Yoga with Adriene is your queen!

4. Book an exercise class or join a club

If you fancy exercising indoors, but you’re not able to find the motivation to work out at home, book an indoor exercise class at your local gym – even better do this with a friend to make it more fun! There are so many interesting classes these days, so there’s bound to be one that takes your fancy! If you’re more of a runner and don’t really fancy attending a class, why not join a local running club to help motivate you back into doing some exercise?[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

5. Try something new

If you’re a bit bored of the exercise you’ve always done in the past, challenge yourself to try a new sport! The idea of learning to do something new is motivating in itself, plus it’s a great way to socialise with new people who share a common interest, which will make exercising even more fun. And you’ll also get the great sense of accomplishment that comes with learning something new – #WIN!

What is your favourite way to motivate yourself to stay active in winter?

Check out the Keen website here.

[/pipdig_padded_text]

The One Week of No Complaining Challenge | Part 2: How did it go?

[pipdig_padded_text]

Last week, I set myself a challenge – to stop complaining for one whole week. Every day for the past week, I’ve kept a small journal entry with how my challenge was going, and today I’ll be sharing exactly how it went, whether I actually managed to stop complaining and what I learnt from this experience.

If you want to discover what made me want to stop complaining and set myself this challenge, check out last week’s post.[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_banner image=”http://www.beautyandthebird.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/IMG_7123.jpg”][pipdig_padded_text]

Day 1

Day 1 started off pretty well. The challenge I’d set myself was still fresh in my mind. I felt tired on the way to work in the morning and started to grumble about HOWWWW TIRED I FELT, but I managed to stop myself just in time and made an effort to shut up about feeling tired in the morning (I mean, who doesn’t!? – If that’s you then I’m very jealous!). I also made the bold decision to mention the challenge I’d set myself to some of those around me, which meant that I really had to make an effort with this no complaints thing! By the end of day 1, I’d already learnt something about myself. Complaining comes very easily to me (a bit too easily, actually!) but on the other hand it’s not that hard to stop myself from complaining as long as I’m aware of it.

Day 2

Once again, I’d almost started my day off with a complaint about feeling tired (it seems like mornings are a weak point!) but I stopped myself just in time. I noticed that it’s the little things I complain about most – such as how tired I feel, how hungry I am, how dry my hands are feeling, etc.. However as soon as I was about to complain about something, I tried to change this into something positive. For example, instead of complaining about my dry hands, I found the words ‘oh my hands aren’t as dry as they were yesterday’ coming out of my mouth and it made me realise – there’s a positive to (almost) every negative. It’s not all that hard to put a positive spin on something that might otherwise be negative!

Day 3

I spent most of the day working on my own on my laptop and didn’t really have the opportunity to complain (what an opportunity, hey!?). This meant that the negative vibes brought about from complaining were missing from the day – and I wasn’t going to be complaining about that! Today made me aware of just how much expressing negative thoughts sets us up to have a bad day. Not only does it make us hyper aware of anything small that goes wrong throughout the day, but it also affects the people around us, putting negative thoughts into their minds. It’s important to replace negative thoughts and complaints with spreading positive ones, which makes you a much more pleasant person to be around![/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

Day 4

Today was QUITE A CHALLENGE and not complaining had pretty much failed by lunch time. After misjudging the weather and wearing a jumper that was a bit thicker than required I moaned and moaned about how hot I felt.. which led to how tired I felt, how I had a headache, etc.. It was like a snowball effect where one thing led to another and then everything seems to warrant a complaint. But not all was lost! I learnt a valuable lesson here too, and that is how complaining generally leads to more complaining and so it’s better to avoid it right from the start, and focus on what’s going right in your day instead (I went out for lunch and really enjoyed it!)

Day 5

Day 5 was a Sunday and I’m pleased to say that I did pretty well. I found myself stopping myself from complaining about the day’s little annoyances. I was actively aware of the things I would normally complain about and managed to stop myself in time, and this in turn helped me to feel much happier – WINNING!

Day 6

Monday was another challenging day. I started the day off having a panic attack while in a shop (which at the time made me feel faint) and the shop assistant was really rude and unhelpful when this happened. In turn, this made me feel worse and also really annoyed me. Once I was out of the shop and feeling slightly better I complained to my mum/dad/boyfriend/colleagues/anyone who would listen about what had just happened and I honestly couldn’t care less about my challenge at the time. I guess it’s understandable to feel the need to vent after something bad happens. However, my lesson learnt from today was that there’s no point in complaining about something that happened over and over again. Let the annoyance happen, express your annoyance if you have to, then shift your thoughts onto the more positive things that happen during the day. That’s something I’ll definitely be keeping in mind for any future bad days!

Day 7

I’m pleased to say that my ‘one week of no complaining challenge’ ended on a good note! After a disastrous day 6, I was adamant to make the final day of my challenge a positive one, and I managed! However, I felt like my challenge ended a bit too soon. Making an effort to complain less made me feel like a better person, and a more pleasant person to be around. I want to keep on challenging myself to put a MUTE button on whenever I feel a complaint brewing inside my brain and making its way out of my mouth. Although I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, I definitely want to make 2018 the year I start to complain less and feel more grateful for all the positive things in my life!

And on that note, I’d love to challenge you, my readers, to do the ‘one week of no complaining’ – Tag me in any posts too, as I’d love to know how it goes for you!

[/pipdig_padded_text]

The One Week Of No Complaining Challenge | Part 1: Why I’ve decided to stop complaining

[pipdig_padded_text]

We all have bad days – and I’ve recently become aware that the way I normally cope with bad days is by complaining. Award winning non-stop complaining. And I want to change this – so I’m challenging myself to get through a whole week without any complaints – or try to, anyway.

So what’s made me want to stop complaining?

Simply put, complaining doesn’t do us any favours. It puts us in a negative headspace, stops us from being grateful for the things we have and prevents us from feeling happy. And it’s especially pointless when we complain about things we have no control over.

One of my dear loved ones was recently faced with a very difficult situation. And the fact that they managed to remain so incredibly positive and grateful even when everything around them seemed to be falling apart really struck a chord with me. It made me realise just how much I am blessed with and should be grateful for, how I should take account of all the wonderful things in my life – even on those days when nothing seems to be going right. And most of all, that I should stop complaining as soon as something doesn’t go as planned.

**Click here for part 2: How did it go?**

[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

So this week I’ll be taking the ‘one week of no complaining’ challenge. I’ll be keeping a daily diary of how this goes too – so make sure to follow me on Twitter + check back next Thursday to find out how my challenge went. Wish me luck!

**Click here for part 2: How did it go?**

[/pipdig_padded_text]

 

How To Beat The Winter Blues

[pipdig_padded_text]

I absolutely love the autumn and winter months. However, the shorter and colder days at this time of year can leave some people feeling a little bit under the weather.

The good news is that there are a number of things that can be done to get through this time of year and beat the winter blues. Today I’m teaming up with Fenetic Wellbeing, who provide various walking aids and rollators, on their #AutumnStrolls campaign which aims to make people aware of small lifestyle changes and activities that can be done to feel better when the cold’s getting you down.[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

Venture outdoors

Although the cold weather outside may not initially motivate you to go outside and enjoy a walk, gentle exercise is a scientifically proven way to boost your mood and improve your overall mental health. Invest in some bright and cosy winter clothes, grab your family or friends and enjoy the fresh outside air together to lift your mood. Even just a short 15-30 minute walk is enough to increase those feel-good chemicals in your body, and it’s a great way of making time to bond and enjoy some quality time together to discover some new favourite spots.

Eat smart

We may not be working on achieving a summer body at this time of year. However, just because we’ll be wrapping up in lots of warm layers for the next few months, this does not mean that we won’t feel the benefits of eating more healthily. Increasing your intake of nutritious whole foods, fish, and vegetables can help enhance your overall mood and enable you to enjoy a more positive outlook at this time of year.[/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

Catch up on some zzzz’s

Make the most of cosy winter nights in by making it a point to go to bed early and catching up on some well-deserved sleep. Not getting enough sleep is associated with a higher production of stress hormones in the body and can therefore leave you feeling sad, anxious and generally more negative throughout the day. Check out my post on how to unwind after work and get the best night’s sleep ever.

Make plans

Although it may be tempting to cancel all your plans as the colder weather sets in, planning something (or two) to look forward to during the winter months is key to helping you feel happier. Plan something simple such as a coffee date to catch up with your best friend or go all out and book a holiday somewhere sunny this winter to really kick the winter blues away![/pipdig_padded_text]

Bach Original Flower Remedies | A Natural Way To Power Through Life!

[pipdig_padded_text]

Bach Original Flower Remedies have been around for over 80 years, and the Bach Rescue Remedy was actually first recommended to me back when I was around 14 years old to help reduce my anxiety at the time. Bach have recently launched a brand new colourful label design, making it even easier to identify the right essence for you (and don’t they look pretty!).

The Bach Original Flower Remedies range consists of 38 natural flower remedies – each of which is designed to target different emotions and challenges that we experience in life. The different essences are categorised in 7 different categories, according to what they target. These are: stand your ground, reach out to others, live the day, live and let live, know your own mind, find joy and hope, and face your fears. Each category has its own colour label associated with it, which I love. For example, the essences which target ‘face your fears’ are orange and those which target ‘find joy and hope’ are pink.

[/pipdig_padded_text][pipdig_left][/pipdig_left][pipdig_right][/pipdig_right]

[pipdig_padded_text]After browsing through the 38 natural flower remedies on the Bach website, I decided to go for 3 essences from 3 different categories. The first one is Wild Oat to ‘know your own mind’, the second one is Rock Rose to ‘face your fears’ and the third one is Crab Apple to ‘find joy and hope’.

The essences are made from flower extracts which are mixed with Grape alcohol (27% v/v) in order to preserve the preparations (not an active ingredient). These are still prepared in exactly the same way as Dr Bach did 80 years ago, and many of the plants and flowers used in the essences are actually from Dr Bach’s original garden in Oxfordshire!

There are several different ways in which you can take the essences – it’s all about finding the best way which works for you. The most simple way of taking the essences is by dropping 2 drops on to your tongue directly from the bottle. However, this does cause the alcohol to taste quite strong (which some people may like!). Alternatively, you can dilute the essences by adding 2 drops to a glass of water (or any drink such as tea, coffee or a fizzy drink), and sip this at intervals.

With so many different remedies available these days, I think it’s great that there are still some natural remedies that we can turn to![/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

Bach Original Flower Remedies are available from Amazon – Wild Oat, Rock Rose, Crab Apple.

Have you tried the Bach Original Flower Remedies?

[/pipdig_padded_text]

Fun Ways To Keep Fit + Skates.co.uk Giveaway!

[pipdig_padded_text]

For many of us, keeping fit is associated with going to the gym (yawn). However, if this means forcing yourself to spend hours following the same repetitive routine, it can get very boring and leave you feeling unmotivated. Instead, the key to getting fit is about finding fun ways to incorporate exercise into your routine. Exercise which doesn’t actually feel like exercise!

Believe it or not, having fun while keeping fit is easier than it seems. Today I’ll be sharing a few of the most fun ways of exercising and I’ve also teamed up with Skates.co.uk to offer one of you the chance to get started on your fun-exercise routine NOW by winning a pair of stylish roller skates![/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_left][/pipdig_left][pipdig_right] [/pipdig_right][pipdig_padded_text]

1. Roller Skating!

When you first think of roller skating, you might remember the cool kids back when you were younger whizzing along pavements on their skates. This makes it easy to forget just how many health benefits you can experience from roller skating – and that it truly isn’t just for cool kids! The fluid motion of roller skating makes it easy on the joints and can help you burn around 10 calories per minute whilst improving your balance and endurance, reducing body fat and strengthening your heart and leg muscles. Best of all, it’s great for boosting your mood – just plug in a pair of headphones, play your favourite tunes and you’re guaranteed to feel those positive vibes! Skates.co.uk have a great range of roller skates for kids and adults in so many different models. Want to win a pair of the bright and bold Rio Roller Passion Quad Roller Skates? Scroll down to the bottom of this post to enter![/pipdig_padded_text]

[pipdig_padded_text]

2. Put On Your Dancing Shoes

Dancing is a fantastic way of keeping fit and getting toned whilst having fun – we’ve all seen the great big smiles on the faces of the contestants on Strictly. What’s so great about dancing is that there’s a different style of dance for anyone at any age! Ballet is a great option for anyone who wants to experience a more ‘structured’ style of dance which can help to improve the posture and flexibility, and strengthen the core – and with so many adult beginner classes available, this is a form of exercise which is proving to be quite popular! On the other hand, if you prefer to strut your stuff in a high-intensity workout whilst listening to Latino rhythms, why not try Zumba? Zumba has really taken off over the past few years and includes elements of salsa, mambo, flamenco and more!

3. Bounce Your Way To A Healthier Body

Live close to a trampoline park? The good news is that exercising on a trampoline is a great cardio workout with tons of benefits! Several trampoline parks around the UK now offer fitness classes that are suitable for all ages – so you exercise along with your kids too! Trampoline exercise is low-impact and relatively easy on the body, whilst combining cardio and strength-building aerobic exercises which can burn up to 1000 calories an hour! It’s also a great way of releasing those endorphins, boosting your mood and reducing your stress levels. If you prefer not attend a class, you can always visit a trampoline park and enjoy some freestyle bouncing with a group of friends for a fun afternoon out!

Want to win a pair of roller skates from Skates.co.uk + get started on your fun exercise routine? ENTER HERE!

Win a pair of Rio Roller Passion Quad Roller Skates from Skates.co.uk. The giveaway is open to UK entrants from 8th Sep – 22nd Sep 2017. Simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below – good luck![/pipdig_padded_text]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Minute Self-Care Rituals To Feel Better After A Bad Day

how to feel better on a bad day[pipdig_padded_text]

Bad days suck. Whether you’ve had the day from hell at work, argued with a close friend or just had one of those days where simply everything goes wrong, there’s nothing better than getting home, changing into comfy clothes and treating yourself to some well-deserved ‘me-time’.

The truth is, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to have a long, hot bath or take an extra hour out of what’s left of your evening to attend a yoga class. However, this does not mean you can’t take some time out for yourself. Today I’ll be sharing some of my favourite 5 minute self-care rituals that will have you feeling right as rain in no time.[/pipdig_padded_text]

how to feel better on a bad day

[pipdig_padded_text]

1. Make yourself a cup of tea

The soothing power of making yourself a cup of tea should never be underestimated! Putting the kettle on at the end of a troublesome day has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and can leave you feeling much calmer. There’s something about the whole process of preparing a cup of tea, waiting for it to cool down and drinking it that takes your mind off the day you’ve had and lets you focus on something much more important – yourself. For an extra relaxing experience, try a decaf tea (Tetley Decaf is my personal fave) or Bluebird Tea Co. Dozy Girl which contains chamomile and lavender – perfect for an evening cuppa.

2. Enjoy 5 minutes of yoga

There isn’t always enough time to get changed and drive to the nearest yoga class – and if you’re anything like me, you’d rather not spend your evening in a room full of strangers after a particularly bad day. However, 5 minutes of yoga is better than no yoga, and Yoga With Adriene’s YouTube channel is particularly great on days like these! In fact, I wrote a post all about my Yoga With Adriene experience. Adriene has some fantastic short yoga rituals for when you’re short on time such as this 5 minute quick stress fix sequence or this 7 minute bedtime yoga. If you’ve got a bit more time, Adriene’s channel is full of different yoga sequences which target things such as migraines, neck and shoulder relief and anxiety.

3. Treat yourself to a relaxing face mask and/or paint your nails

Taking some time to take care of your skin can be surprisingly therapeutic. One of my favourite ways of doing this is by applying a relaxing face mask to my skin. I tend to use face masks around once or twice a week as they are just such an easy way to unwind and enjoy some ‘me-time’. Some of my favourites are the L’Oreal Pure Clay Detox Mask and the Nuxe Clarifying Cream-Mask With Rose Petals. If you’re not really into face masks, pamper yourself in another way such as by painting your nails using a fresh, new shade.[/pipdig_padded_text]

how to feel better on a bad day
[pipdig_padded_text]

4. Flick through the latest edition of your favourite mag

Flicking through your favourite magazine or doing something similar that will take your mind off the day you’ve had is a simple yet very effective way of feeling better. Whether you love finding out about the latest fashion trends, catching up on celebrity goss or reading about the latest developments in science, reading your favourite magazine will help shift your focus from the day you’ve had to something that you enjoy.

5. Light a scented candle and lay down for 5 minutes

Sometimes, all it takes to feel better is to lay down and do absolutely nothing for 5 minutes! Change into something comfy, light your favourite scented candle – Kate Spade do some gorgeous ones – and take 5 minutes just to lay down, close your eyes and let your mind wander. For an even more relaxing experience, listen to some music or try to focus your attention on your breathing for 5 minutes (mindful breathing) and you’ll be left feeling so much better for it.

For more tips check out:
How To Unwind After Work & Get The Best Night’s Sleep

[/pipdig_padded_text]

Meditation Through Archery: How the Empty Mind Can Beat Insomnia | Guest Post

When looking for solutions to their problems with insomnia, a lot of people immediately turn to proven and effective sleep-inducing pharmaceutical drugs– but at what cost?

Apart from the possible harmful side-effects of regularly taking drugs to induce sleep, relying on sleeping medication can consistently chip at your budget. Instead of relying on modern medicine to treat your insomnia, maybe it’s time to look for somewhat unusual but more natural solutions. Today’s guest post focuses on the key to what may be one of the best sleep-inducing relaxation exercies – the practice of archery.

Kyudo and Modern Archery

Modern archery is essentially a combination of ancient martial arts focused on bow and arrow shooting techniques. The most meditative form of modern archery today is called Kyudo.

Back in feudal Japan, it was still known as Kyujutsu, or ‘The Technique of the Bow’. Today, through centuries of refinement, Kyujustu has developed into Kyudo, or ‘The Way of the Bow’ – a combination of Shinto teachings, Chinese Zen philosophy, and martial bow training aimed at giving the samurai the mental strength to perform his duties with a calm and confident focus, allowing him to perform at the peak of his abilities. 

Believe it or not, these same benefits that feudal samurais get from practicing Kyudo can be used to target and put an end to insomnia. How is this possible?


Kyudo/Archery for Beginners

One of the most important things about Kyudo is that it’s not a competitive sport. It’s also not a religion, but it’s a viable path for those who seek spiritual enlightenment. For those who have trouble sleeping, however, Kyudo can be useful as a focus-sharpening activity that can induce peace of mind, melt away anxieties, and possibly even treat insomnia. 

Instead of actually attaining perfection, the point of Kyudo is to undertake the never-ending pursuit of perfection, allowing the mind (and/or the spirit) to consistently improve with every shot, regardless of physical health, age, or skill. It’s all about mastering the body’s movements through the application of extreme mental focus.

This is why in Kyudo, whenever you perform the ritual of shooting a bow and arrow, the first goal is to make no unnecessary movements. Before doing anything, learn the proper postures and stances from which you can execute the proper movements.

After that, each of your next breaths and movements must serve a single purpose: so you can gently pull the drawstring while aiming the arrow in a state of single-minded focus. Remember to keep the proper posture, stay balanced, and be perfectly still.

The Empty Mind and the Steady Bow

Near the point of releasing the arrow, proper breathing becomes even more relevant: trained archers can use controlled tension in the respiratory muscles to enter a brief moment of absolute concentration. 

It is in this moment of heightened focus that the mind is emptied of everything else apart from the movements necessary to completing the shot. In a sense, hitting the bull’s-eye is not the point of Kyudo. You should still aim for the center of the target, but with the understanding that what’s more is the ritual of archery itself.

When you learn to empty your mind of all worries, you can find extreme calm and focus in the emptiness, allowing your mind to perform at peak levels of concentration. After shooting in the proper manner, the calmness you’ve achieved through The Way of the Bow can be used to assess your hits and misses – in Kyudo, there’s always room for improvement. 

As Zen Buddhism expounds, ‘Shooting should be like flowing water,’ – sound advice for any aspiring Kyudo practitioner. If you want to see how shooting a lethal weapon resembles smooth, flowing water, check out this 7th dan Kyudo sensei as he prepares to undergo his Hanshi – the test of promotion to the coveted rank of 8th dan. 

Achieve Inner Calm and Relaxation; Defeat Anxiety and Insomnia

The more practice an archer gets, the better she gets at performing the mental and physical rituals that allow her to achieve heightened calm and focus. While you can primarily use this inner calm to refine your form and hit your targets, it’s also highly effective at putting you into a state of relaxation – free from stress and anxiety.

As 9th Dan Kyudo Master Onuma Hideharu Sensei explains, the bow and arrow has always been a great way for people to look inwards, to search for the ‘hidden truth inside themselves’.

While there are many nuances that separate basic meditation from archery, Kyudo is, in many ways, just a more engaging form of meditation. Instead of just relying on your breathing, a mantra, and/or a positive image, Kyudo makes use of your entire body to sharpen your focus to the point where your mind is capable of great things, like shooting with impressive precision, handling stress and anxiety, or even using meditative calmness to beat your chronic insomnia. 

If you’ve tried tons of other sleep solutions to no avail, maybe it’s time to pick up the bow and arrow!

Author Bio:

If Peter Mutuc isn’t sculpting, writing, editing, drawing, skating, cycling, wrestling with his Labrador, or actively regulating his sleeping patterns through at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise, he’s usually just online, creating and developing web content for One Bed Mattress



FOLLOW ME

Twitter | Bloglovin | YouTube | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

*This is a guest post.*

How To Get The Most Out of Your Sleep

How To Get The Most Out of Your Sleep [pipdig_padded_text]

Getting enough sleep is super important to me. I’m one of those people who pretty much turns into a monster if I haven’t had enough sleep (aka at least 9 hours of sleep) the night before. Today I’ll be sharing my top tips on how to get the most out of your sleep.

Find a good sleeping posture

Adjustamatic, a company that manufactures single adjustable beds, recently released a video all about how your sleeping posture can affect the quality of your sleep and can be the cause of any aches or pains you might be experiencing such as backaches or headaches. Something as simple as just changing the number of pillows you sleep with, or replacing your old mattress with an adjustable one can help you sleep soundly and wake up feeling super refreshed and ready to face the day! I recently bought a new set of pillows and found that these really helped reduce some of the pain I was experiencing in my head and neck every morning.

Listen to calming music or a meditation app

Sometimes it may feel like your head simply cannot stop buzzing and thinking about, well, everything when you get into bed! Up until a couple of years ago, my solution for this was to watch YouTube videos or a TV episode on my iPad – and although doing this did send me to sleep, it didn’t allow me to enjoy a really relaxed, deep sleep. This is because the light from electronic devices affects the level of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin in our bodies, resulting in poor quality sleep. Since then, I have been trying to stop or limit my use of technology to at least one hour before getting into bed. Reading a book or listening to some calming music or a meditation app can induce a deep sleep by helping to relax your mind and your muscles, and slow down your breathing.

Take a warm bath or shower

I’m definitely more of an evening/nighttime shower kind of person. I find that having a warm shower at night is such a great way of winding down – plus it also means that you can get an extra 10 minutes in bed the next morning! Research suggests that a warm shower or bath temporarily raises your body temperature which then drops abruptly when you get into bed, sending your body a signal that you are ready to sleep. I’ve recently been using the Lush Twilight Shower Gel followed by the Lush Sleepy Body Lotion, which both contain lavender oil, before going to sleep and I find that they really help me relax before getting into bed. Unfortunately both products were part of the limited edition Lush Christmas range, however Lush also do a bath bomb in the same scent which I would highly recommend.

What is your top tip for getting the most out of your sleep?

 

[/pipdig_padded_text]

New Year, New Bedroom Décor to Ensure a Great Night’s Sleep!

bedroom to ensure good sleep

January is the month for starting afresh, whether that is changing up your lifestyle, having a well needed clear-out or trying to be a better person. However, now is also the perfect time to spruce up your bedroom and ensure that your décor allows you to get the best night’s sleep possible. After all, getting a great night’s sleep is what gives you the energy and motivation to reach your goals during the New Year!

Here are 3 changes to make to your bedroom décor this January, in order to ensure that 2017 is the year that you get better sleep and meet all your goals!

1. Ensure a great night’s sleep with blackout curtains

Blackout curtains are pretty much an essential for getting a good night’s sleep – especially if you have young children, work overnight shifts, or you simply love afternoon naps (I do!). Blackout curtains work by blocking any light from entering the room and create a nighttime ambience in your room, whatever time of day it is. They can also help reduce your energy costs as they keep the warmth in your room during the winter, and can help reflect heat out of your room in summer. Check out the range of blackout curtains by Yorkshire Linen.

Blackout Curtains

2. Make your bed as comfortable as it can possibly be

We spend about one-third of our lives in bed, so it’s important to make sure that your bed is that comfy, big cloud you’ve always dreamed of getting into. Replace your old bed sheets with some super cosy brushed cotton ones. Brushed cotton sheets are extremely soft and perfect for the colder months. You can make your bed feel even more luxurious by adding a memory foam mattress topper to ensure you are well supported every night, and adding a few drops of lavender oil to the underside of your pillow.

3. Add fairy lights to make your room feel magical

Fairy lights aren’t just for Christmas. There’s something kind of magical about these little strings of light that can instantly transform your bedroom, making it feel so much more cosy. I recently added some fairy lights to my bed, and they have made such a difference to the way my room feels. I switch them on every evening whilst I read a book in bed or write up a blog post and they just make me feel so relaxed and happy! The best thing about fairy lights is that they are so cheap and easy to get hold of – you can get some really gorgeous ones from Primark for under a fiver!

Will you be making any changes to your bedroom this year?


FOLLOW ME

Twitter | Bloglovin | YouTube | Instagram | Pinterest | Facebook

*This post is in collaboration with Yorkshire Linen.*