A week of self care.

It was just over two weeks ago when things got quite tough and, subsequently, I found myself craving a reset button that I could press to escape. All I was wishing for was to get away for a few days and then come back with a fresh and brand new perspective. An entire week of holidays scheduled in Portugal could not have come at a better time. I was in need of ditching my work and fitness routine for some time and was looking forward to going back “home”. Nevertheless, after a couple of days in Portugal, I ended up by feeling quite out place. It seemed to me that “home” no longer felt like “home”? ..or I guess that I could no longer see “home” like a place but more like a feeling instead. A feeling that comes and goes and that is out of reach when life seems to be going downhill. A feeling that is unreachable when I am in the midst of – what it seems to be – an endless storm and internal battle. Seeing the positive in every situation and looking on the bright side of life can be a real challenge sometimes. I guess that I saw these holidays abroad as an opportunity to temporarily escape my reality, which is a silly thought…We can’t run away from the things we do not want to face. We need to embrace the uncomfortable and challenge our fears in order to free ourselves. We need to firmly believe that we are going to overcome whatever we are currently going through. Life gets better and this too shall pass. It is just a matter of time and attitude until we are able to get back on our feet. And, in the meantime, we are just a work in process and that is OKAY. So, with this in mind and in order to feel like myself again and get out of the rabbit hole I found myself in, I tried to practice self care every day during my holidays. Incorporating simple habits that allow myself to connect within and with the world around me helped me to find some joy and gratitude in the midst of all the chaos.

It is no novelty that by practicing self-care on a regular basis, we can ensure that we are at our optimum – emotionally, mentally and physically. Thus, I’d like to share with you the things I have done during my week of holidays. I hope that this can give you some ideas about how to give yourself the care you need when life gets tough.

  • Walks on the beach

Beach strolls are always restorative. They make me feel calmer, more at peace and aware of all the beauty and wonder that surrounds me.

  • Sea Kayaking with my family

I have done kayaking before but never in the sea. It was an overall great experience shared with my parents and sister (despite my dad’s motion sickness haha). Spending about 3 hours at sea allowed me to really dive into Nature’s true beauty (no pun intended), soak up some vitamin D and connect to the Earth’s magical, powerful and soothing energy.

 

 

  • Going to the spa

I decided to take 1h30-2hours aside to go to the spa and it made me feel so good. Because relaxation and stress management are key to living a happy life in a healthy body, mind and soul, I decided to take 1h30 – 2 hours to go to the spa .. and let me tell you how great it made me feel! My serotonin level, the “feel good” hormone, was boosted and I felt very relaxed.

I did a Spa-hydrotherapy circuit that consisted of Sauna, Turkish bath, neck waterfalls, cascade, jet showers, bubbles, cold water, Jacuzzi, bucket of cold water, pebble walk and a relaxation bed. This was all followed by a nice cup of tea to end the day in perfection.

 

 

  • Reading a good book is an escape for me. – it soothes me

Reading soothes me. I personally love to read inspiring books that flood my mind with uplifting ideas, positive thoughts and promising prospects about my future. I absolutely love to loose myself in books that contribute to my personal growth and development and that motivate me take positive actions to accomplish my goals in life.

Image-1.png-7

  • Yoga and meditation

These two practices help bring awareness to the present moment at the same time that increase stress resilience and well-being. They also restore mental clarity and improve focus, which is needed to get though difficult times.

We all know how conducive self-care is to better coping with life and improve overall well-being but … how often do we really take time to ourselves? How often do we give our bodies (and mind) time to recoup and unwind? Let’s all prioritize small habits that allow us to rejoice in hope when life gets hard ♥ Wish you all a great week ahead.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Advertisements

Creamy Shower Foam from “Bilou”

Heya there x

It is June and time for another review on one of my favourite body care products at the moment: the Fizzy Berry Gentle Cream Foam from Bilou (short for Bibi Loves You).

 

Image.png-3

 

Image-1.png-5

One of my best friends kindly offered me this shower foam and …little did I know that I would fall in love immediately with it! I am truly satisfied with its creamy texture, easiness to apply, great scent and cute design (as you can see from the pictures above). You can find below in greater detail all the reasons why I like this product so much:

Things I love about it:

  • Its sweet but gentle raspberry scent that leaves my skin smelling wonderfully. If you are someone who, just like me, is quite selective when choosing a skin or body care product because you really care about fragrances, then this shower foam will not disappoint. Its sweet scent is pleasant and not sickly or too intense.
  • The fact that it is a 100% vegan, cruelty-free and chemical-free product. There is absolutely no animal torture involved and its ingredients are all natural with no parabens.
  • Due to great ingredients like aloe vera, almond and avocado oils, its texture is very creamy leaving your skin feeling smooth and soft.
  • You only need a small amount of the foam to benefit from its washing and cleaning properties. Contrary to other types of shower foams that I have used before, a little amount of this shower foam goes a long way, making it a long-lasting product.
  • Adorable-looking packaging that does not easily spill out like many shower gels
  • Its super affordable price: 3,95 euros (200ml).

What I consider as Cons:

  • Even though the aerosol can is 100% recyclable, I don’t think of it as an ecological packaging
  • The product is only available in a few number of European countries. Currently, you can find it in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Serbia and the UK.

For those of you interested in the ingredients that this creamy formula has, here they are: Aqua, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Butane, Dipropylene Glycol, Propane, Parfum, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Sodium.

Whenever a product sparks my interest, I always like to do some research about the brand, its founders, range of products available, etc…Thus, I would also like to share with you a number of interesting facts about the brand “Bilou“:

  • It is a brand started by a German Youtuber and her boyfriend, who seem to be both very passionate about the bodycare range they have launched together
  • There is a total of eighteen scents of shower foams available and all of them are rather original and yummy! Can you imagine how tasty scents like “cotton candy” and “tasty doughnut” must be?
  • Bilou has also three other body care products available that I can’t wait to try! They are a gentle cream foam (i.e body lotion in foam form),  gentle hand foam (i.e. hand lotions in foam form) and “2 in 1” body spray
  • All products are manufactured by mid-sized family businesses that are located in Southern Germany, which shows that the company values quality and sustainability over profits. I love to support brands that have an inspiring philosophy behind and that truly add value and make a difference in the market of vegan beauty products.

FINAL VERDICT: Will I buy this shower foam again when it runs out?

De-fi-ni-te-ly yes because its pros far outweigh its cons. I will certainly be buying it again but perhaps I will try another scent because I am super curious about all the other available scents that sound super tasty. I also want to try the body and hand foams from this brand as I have never tried a body lotion that it is not in a cream form.

Were you already familiar with this brand? Have you tried any of the body care products from “Bilou”? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

 

Much love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Pure Happiness by the beach.

Good Morning! I have flown to Algarve (South of Portugal) yesterday to spend some holidays by the beach and.. let me tell you guys:

Falling asleep listening to the sound of gentle waves crashing on the beach, waking up the next day to a view of the blue sea, stepping onto the balcony for a morning cappuccino was absolutely priceless. It gave me such a deep feeling of gratitude and pure joy. Happiness really is all about appreciating the simple things in life. ♥

 

34885651_1599181563464688_8976856895637684224_n

I am currently reading the book “Invisible Power” by Ken Manning, Robin Charbit and Sandra Krot and I am loving it so far because it is enabling me to see life in a new light. This book shows that reality is no more than our thoughts in actions. With this being said and after experiencing so much gratitude during these last 24 hours, I want to share with you a quote from the book that really resonates with me: “Your thinking shapes, colors and sets the tone and texture of everything you experience“. I find this to be so undeniably true. I feel like our perceptions, emotions and personal experiences are created within us since our mind is what ultimately creates our reality.  Hence, it is so important to manage our thoughts and be somewhat careful not to let situations that we deem to be “bad” to dominate our thinking. Our attitudes, feelings and behaviours, which directly stem from our thinking pattern, have the ability to make us go down a slippery slope into a really bad mood that drains our all our energy and focus.

Wish you all a lovely Sunday and in case you are going through a rough time, please, tell yourself to look on the bright side. Positive thinking is so powerful and it is what is going to take you through this bumpy moment in your life.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

Letting go of the need to control what I can’t.

As a goal-setter and over-planner, I oftentimes fool myself into the faulty thinking that I can control how everything in my life unfolds. This is a pure act of self sabotage that only leads to frustration. I am sure that all of us, at some point in our life, have experienced physical, mental and/or emotional tensions that make us burn our  emotional energy wastefully. These tensions evoke feelings of uneasiness and we ended up by finding ourselves somewhat “stuck in time” trying to make sense of the chaos in our life.However, I have come to realise that in order to bring emotional well-being and spiritual freedom into my life I must let go of what I can’t control. I must learn to surrender and acknowledge that there are things in life that cannot be planned, predicted or prevented.

No matter how hard I may try to plan ahead, life is always going to throw surprises my way and that is the true essence of it. Thus, keeping this in mind, I recognise that my need to control is rooted in fear and I am letting myself be open to whatever life throws my way. I choose to let go of my need to control what that I can’t as well as to let go any thoughts that do not serve me. Of course that this requires a mindset shift that is definitely not easy. It is actually very challenging and a journey in itself. Nevertheless, it does get easier as we go.  Things in life go much more smoothly, when we simply allow them to happen instead of attaching ourselves to outcomes, push things to happen how we want them to and try to run the show of life. If we do this, we will see life as being more peaceful, effortless and overall more joyful. We will be able to see a whole new plethora of opportunities.

Letting go is not “to get rid of” because, oh well, that is just not realistically possible.What I mean by it is to become aware of it but emotionally detach myself from it. The need of control will still be there, but if you don’t identify with it or hold onto it, it can no longer hold onto you.

I have realised that in order to let go of my need of control, I must:

  • Learn to surrender to the here and now. The present moment is all we really have and can rely on.
  • Learn to trust in the Universe and to go with its flow whilst embracing uncertainty. Swimming against the current of life is exhausting and pointless and it will only bring pain and suffering into our lives. I recognise how important it is to go with the Universal flow of life, use it to pave my future one moment at a time and believe that I will be able to deal and handle whatever is thrown my way. At the end of the day, we “grow through what we go through“.
  • Learn to see life through the eyes of Love and accept whatever comes my way as it is. Accepting the unforeseen and seemingly bad situations is key for my life to fall into place. After all, I just magnify and give power to whatever we refuse to accept and resist.
  • Make “thinking positively” and “feeling great” top priorities in my life. I attract what I invest my time and energy into.
  • Be gentle with myself at all times and acknowledge that I am enough and capable to tackle and successfully overcome any setback. 

     

So when your head is spinning around in circles trying to get one step ahead of a situation that you perceive as a threat, just stop and get in touch with your inner emotions so you can grasp the reason for that need of control. Once you understand it,  then let your feelings be without acting on them. Even when you find yourself trapped in fears, anxiety and worries because something bad just happened or is bound to happen, please do not let that situation consume your thoughts. Accept it and have confidence that you will be able to handle. By accepting it, you will experience less distress and you will manage to think more clearly and reach a solution. Focus your emotional energy on what you can control, rather than on what is beyond your control.We can’t take full control over everything that happens to us but we can certainly take the steering wheel of our life and lead it in the direction we want.

I strongly believe that our thoughts and beliefs shape the way we interpret our reality, and, ultimately, help to create it. From my standpoint, there are only a few things in our life that we can control. They are our thoughts, actions and how we react to what happens to us. As a direct result, by taking control of these things we might indeed control what happens to us.

Our frame of mind dictates the way how we live our lives so let’s wrap our mind in a cocoon of positivity and acceptance of what is beyond our control and let it take an active role in shaping our reality. ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Karibu Cafe, Utrecht (Holland)

There is nothing better than waking up right next to your significant other and slowly (but happily) realise that it is weekend. I can enjoy a slow start to my day, with no alarm to disable or rush to get up.

This was what happened last weekend. It was Saturday morning and my boyfriend and I decided to go for a hearty late breakfast at a recently opened cafe in town. Luckily, the weather was fairly warm and beautifully sunny and we had a lovely morning walk to the cafe.

The place we went to is called “Karibu Cafe” and is situated in Utrecht, Holland. It is an African inspired cafe that resembles a green oasis. I absolutely love the jungle vibes it irradiates.

The inside is very spacious, colourful and oh-so-pretty! I absolutely love the jungle vibes this cafe irradiates due to being filled with green plants and the use of wood all over it.

This is definitely the spot to chill with creative souls/your most beloved ones over some yummy food or to simply get some work done.

They also serve breakkie all day. How awesome is that? Seriously?

I ordered an Acai bowl that came with homemade granola and toasted nuts, avocado/raspberry/date mousse, chia pudding, coconut and seasonal fruits! It was so delightful and heavenly that just the thought of it waters my mouth! If you happen to come to this lovely cafe and feel like having a healthy (i.e. antioxidant-rich), refreshing and naturally sweet breakfast or snack, I’d totally recommend ordering it.

Image-4.png-3

My boyfriend went for the huevos rancheros that came with a crispy veggie tortilla topped with black beans, melted cheese, two fried eggs, fresh tomato salsa,
jalapeños and sour cream. According to him, if you feel like eating something savoury and are vegetarian (or just someone who eats animal products), then this would be also a tasty food option. He has also ordered a fresh homemade apple juice that did not disappoint.

What do I like the most about this coffee shop?

  • Hearty servings at a reasonable price. Plus, you can see and taste how food dishes are carefully prepared using fresh ingredients
  • The diverse vegan options available in the menu, from healthy salad bowls to naturally sweet treats and fresh cold pressed juices
  • The inviting atmosphere with fantastic light and welcoming touches of nature
  • Friendly and hospitable staff. I love going to places and feel that the staff are really happy to work there. They are friendly and welcoming not because they should be but because they genuinely want you to have a great experience
  • It is such a hidden gem! The fact that this cafe is tucked away, being situated just outside the city centre, is actually a plus for me. Otherwise, I am sure that it would be hard to find a place on a late Saturday morning

The only downside I would point out is its schedule: open from Wednesday till Saturday from 8:00am – 4:00pm. The opening and closing times during the weekdays and weekend are, sadly, not the most convenient for someone who has a full-time job.

Anyway and all in all, this place has not only met but also exceeded my expectations. It is a cafe with soul and a real paradise for foodies just like me. It has effortlessly became one of my absolute favourite places in town. ♥ So, if you happen to be around, please go to Karibu cafe and let it amaze you.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

A well spent day off from work.

The past Thursday, 10th of May, was Ascension Day in Holland and this national holiday could not have come at a more perfect time, right after the financial quarter end at work and right before my boyfriend came to stay for just over a week.

Generally speaking, I am very happy how my day off went. All the little things that I end up by doing turned out to be exactly what I needed to recharge and feel at my best again! It was not a “to-do-all-the-things-that-I-need-to-do-but-can’t-do-whilst-I-am-at-work” kind of day but a day that allowed me to reset my perspective and left me better off.

First off, I had a very restful night and slept for 8 hours, something so often underestimated these days. As I went to bed early-ish, I did not need to sleep in to get a good and long night of sleep and, as a result, I woke up feeling very refreshed and ready to seize the day!

I got up and drank a full glass of plain celery juice first thing in the morning. I then put on my workout clothes and got all ready to leave the house. For breakfast I had a bowl of quinoa porridge topped with cinnamon and a tiny bit of white tahini. I ate it all whilst catching up on some youtube videos. Once I finished eating breakfast, I headed out to the gym for a strength training and cardio classes, one of my favourite group workout sessions. Plus, I just love when I have the chance to work out in the morning. It gives me that extra energy boost to efficiently tackle my day.

On my way home I stopped by the supermarket to get some groceries and ended up by buying this gorgeous bunch of colourful tulips. I just could not resist it! I love how they brighten up my indoor space and make my house feel like “home”, especially in this beautiful season of blossoming love. ♥

Image.png-2

After a revitalising shower and some house chores such as doing laundry, I was quite hungry and made myself some oven baked sweet potato chips with smashed avocado and a large squeeze of lemon juice. The perfect combo! Plus, these chips don’t require any type of oil to get crispy or tasty…trust me, they are simply delicious and so easy to wolf down! haha I have also eaten a bowl of a homemade mushroom and veggies stew! It is so important to get all the essential nutrients in and feed our bodies right! 🙂  

Image.png-5

Because skincare is also self-care, I decided to take some time after lunch to devote my full attention to properly take care of my skin. I don’t think I need to endorse the amazing benefits of having a self care routine as I am sure you are pretty aware of them. On my face, I used a foaming cleanser, a hydrating mask with organic argan oil and to finish off, a natural toner mist spray. On my body, I simply used a hydrating lotion. All the products I used are vegan, cruelty free and with natural ingredients and I love how they leave my skin soft, gloomy and soothed. As you can see, I like to keep my skincare routine quick and simple as I am of the opinion that less really is more. When it comes to cosmetics, I prefer to go for quality over quantity.

Image.png-6

Even though the weather was quite gloomy outside, I decided to go to one of my favourite cafes in town, which is like 5 mins from my house, and do some writing for the blog. By doing this I am using my time productively whilst doing something that I really enjoy doing. I ordered my usual cup cappuccino with organic oat milk. It never disappoints!

Image-1.png-2

 

When I got home, I decided to do some cleaning around the house and organise one of my kitchen pantry drawers. Bringing order to this drawer was something that I needed to do for a while and I knew that I would feel better after getting it done. It always gives me a sense of accomplishment to do something that has a tangible result and cleaning up my external environment feels like cleaning up my own psyche. As it is often said, “tidy home, tidy mind”!

Afterwards, I prepared some celery juice for my next 2-3 mornings. After reading the benefits for gut health that plain celery juice has in an empty stomach, I decided to give it a try and see how I feel. I have been doing this for just over a week now. I can’t lie that digging the straight up celery juice requires an acquired taste but if my gut benefits from it, then it is definitely worthy!

Image-3.png-2

 

For dinner, I made a hearty and creamy soup only with veggies and healing spices such as ginger and turmeric. I will have to post this recipe at some point because it is definitely one of my go-to soups whenever I feel like eating some homemade comfort food.

Image.png-3

I watched an episode of Greys Anatomy whilst having dinner. It is one of my favourite series of all time!

After a quick catch up with my boyfriend, mum and one of my besties, I decided to disconnect from technology and do some bedtime reading. Churning through some pages before I go to sleep is something that I have been trying to turn into a winding-down daily ritual. I feel like it clears my mind from my day-to-day worries and unwanted thoughts and prepare my body for sleep. Besides that, ditching technology just before bed is a healthy habit that I want to bring into my life since it is known to trick our brains to think that they need to stay awake and alert.

Image-1.png-3

The things that I have done may seem quite mundane for many but what I wanted to show with this blog post is that we should not feel forced to do something super special – like “going on new adventures” – just because it is a public holiday where we don’t have to go to work. We can equally enjoy it by doing seemingly “trivial” things that we actually like doing. In short, focusing our energy and time on some but key activities might end up by having a significant impact on our mood and energy level the next days; it might end up by being exactly what we needed to be at the top of our game.

I feel like we are likely to do better in all parts of our lives if we take the time for ourselves and do whatever we feel like doing, big things or small. ♥ At the end of the day, the way how we choose to spend our days is, of course, the way how we spend our lives. 

Please let me know in the comments if you share these same thoughts or not. Also, what are some of the things that you like to do when you have a day off work? 🙂

By the way, I am currently reading the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. Has any of you read it already? Would love to know!

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Shall we strive to buy all our food organic?

I think that most of us is pretty aware of the harmful impact that conventionally grown produce might have on our health and, therefore, recognise the importance of buying organic produce.

I have been considerably growing more environmentally conscious over the past year, basically since I have finished my studies and started my first real job. As someone who is financially independent, I get to choose where I spend my money in and that is a great and freeing feeling.

One of the goals that I have set for 2018 earlier this year was to be more mindful when it comes to my purchases. This implies a greater awareness about the importance of  buying fair trade and organic.

Today I am here to talk specifically about the foods that we should always strive to buy organic, the ones that are okay to consume if conventionally grown and why.

The idea of writing about this topic came to mind after listening to the Rich Roll podcast “GMO’s, Glyphosate, and Healing the Gut” with Zach Bush. As I found it both very insightful and inspiring, I wanted to share some very interesting information that I learnt.

First of all, one thing that was mentioned in the podcast and that has particularly resonated with me was “We have more power than we allow ourselves to believe when it comes to healing ourselves”. I am a 24-years old girl who, despite having a very active lifestyle and caring a lot about nourishing my body with healthy and nutritous fooda, has been struggling with IBS issues for about 4 years now. If there is something that I have come to learn is that my gut health is strongly connected with the way I live my life, namely with my day-to-day habits. With this being said, the podcast really hit home and reassured me that the ability of getting my health restored lies also with me. When I say “health”, I am referring to both my physical and mental health because they are intrinsically connected. I think that everyone would agree that having a toxic lifestyle caused by nutritional deficiencies, lack of sleep, negative mindset and self-talk and being subject to constant stress or anxiety serves no good to our bodies or mind.

Anyway, this podcast taught me about the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists, which are no more than the foods that we should try avoid consuming non-organic at all costs and the ones that are okay to consume conventionally grown because are the least likely to be contaminated with pesticides/herbicides.The entity responsible for elaborating and releasing these lists every single year is the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Thus, given the reliable source who provides this information we can rest assured that is btoh accurate and trustworthy.

Pesticides and herbicides can be easily absorbed into many of the fruits and veggies we consume on a regular basis and, ultimately, into our bodies. By knowing this, I feel very fortunate to live in Holland, where there are well-sized and well-stocked organic markets and stores. Additionally, I’d also say that there is also a fair amount of organic restaurants when compared to other European countries. However, in all honesty, despite knowing how prejudicial non-organic foods can be for my health, I still consume some due to convenience’s sake. I can only speak for myself but, from my standpoint, the truth is that non-organic foods are sometimes just more easily available and affordable.

Needless to say that I’d really love to be able to buy all my foods organic but there are months where my financial budget is just more tight and, as a result, I can’t afford spending as much food in organic produce. Thus, being informed about the foods that are safe to consume in a non-organic form just comes in handy for me! So, let’s start by sharing the list of the Clean Fifteen foods according to the 2018 report released by the EWG.

Clean Fifteen List:

  1. Avocados (great news for all the avocado lovers – myself included – out there!!)
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pinneapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onions
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Papayas
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mangos
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Broccoli

Now, the list of the foods that we should buy organic whenever possible because their high likelihood of being contaminated with pesticides, herbicides and chemicals:

Dirty Dozen List:

  1. Strawberries. I was very choked to read that a single strawberry was shown to contain 22 different pesticides. This is outrageous and just one of the main reasons why I love to have the choice of what I put into my body.
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Sweet Bell Peppers
  12. Potatoes

I suggest you to have these two lists on your phone for quick and ready access when you are shopping 🙂

leonie-wise-4301-unsplash

Ah! Just before finishing off this post, I would like to share a small tip with you that i have recently learnt. In order to wash off chemicals of your fruits and veggies, try to soak them in tap water mixed with baking soda. This was shown in a research study conducted in the University of Massachusetts to be a better solution at killing pesticides than just using plain tap water.

 

I hope you could find this blog post somewhat informative and please do let me know in the comments how easy and affordable it is for you to get organic produce! 🙂 Also, what are your thoughts on this? Do you try to buy organic food whenever possible or not because you don’t think it is worth the usual extra cost?

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful