April wrap-up with Q&As!

Hi my dear ones!

I am trying to get back into the swing of blogging again and I figured that sharing a monthly wrap up in the form of questions and answers, would be a nice way to do it. This way you can perhaps get to know me a little bit better and see what I was up to in April! 🙂

APRIL WRAP UP

Favourite book(s): “The Likeness: by Tana French (paperback) & Becoming by Michelle Obama (audio book).

Favourite music: “Hope” by Tom Rosenthal. A great tune that fits the period we’re living in just right.

Favourite movie: “The Aeronauts” with Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne

Biggest highlight: Moving out from the house where I lived for nearly 3 years and moving out to a brand new house with a big sunny balcony!

Three things that made me very happy during the month of April:

  • Starting the Easter Sunday with an online live Yoga class and getting my sister to join in
  • Seeing my boyfriend after like 6 weeks
  • Getting to appreciate nature more as a result of of my regular runs outside due to quarantine

Biggest realisation: There is this self-principle that has been ruling my life for as far as I can remember: “It is all okay as long as I do my best.” I apply this principle to everything I do and this is what, countless times, has helped me to succeed at achieving what I’ve set my mind to. However, even though this is what pushes me forward and helps me to power through difficult times, this also puts me under the constant pressure of having to give it my best every single time; which, in all honesty, can be extremely tiring at times.

The best habit I got into: Doing a live Yoga Nidra session with a friend of mine every Sunday evening. For those who don’t know, Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation that induces that “going to sleep” feeling. The idea is to enter in the stage between waking and sleeping whilst remaining conscious. I seriously can’t tell you how relaxing Yoga Nidra is. I love how “whole”, grounded and peaceful I feel after each session.

Something I absolutely loved to: Make my house feel more like home. A few examples of how I did this was to declutter the space around me and to plant some herbs and flowers.

The best thing I did for myself: I was very consistent with my yoga practice and deliberately carved out time for it 2-3 times a week.

.. and this is it guys! I hope this post has also somewhat served as a reminder of how important it is to do things that spark joy in our life. Now, would you like to share some of your favourites from the month of April? As always, would love to hear from you! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

What yoga really means to me.

Today I would like to tell you about what YOGA really means to me. I am of the opinion that the practice of yoga is a deeply personal experience. In my own journey, yoga has unarguably been truly life changing and very transformative. It has helped me to shift and let go of certain old patterns that I have developed over time and that were no longer serving me.

Yoga has also showed me the beauty of surrendering and of letting of the false sense of control that I so want to have.

Regardless of how intense on the body yoga may be, I do not approach it as physical exercise because it goes way beyond moving your body. The practice of yoga encourages a positive relationship between my mind and my body and, thanks to it, I have come to realise mental and physical health are closely intertwined.

Yoga shows me how letting go of the old makes room for the new. It teaches me about self-compassion and self-acceptance. It makes me want to be forgiving, of others and of myself.

Through my yoga practice, I have learnt how deep breathing can be healing, nourishing and enlivening in itself. And if I allow it, yoga pulls me back into the present moment, forces me to slow down and to unplug from the outter world. I won’t deny that this is very very challenging at times but it is so needed and rewarding nonetheless.  By focus on my breathing and by doing certain meditative poses or just laying down in savasana, I am triggering my parasympathetic nervous system and telling my body that it is safe. I am able to relax and just feel present.

Yoga helps me to become aware of what is happening within and around me and I have come to learn that that is one of the most important things we can be; only when we are self-aware can we accept the things we cannot change and let go of what is dragging us down and making us feel stuck.

Every time I step into my yoga mat with an open, non-judgemental and loving mind, I end the practice feeling lighter, grounded and connected within.

Yoga is the path to find peace and stillness within ourselves and if we remain open and centered, we can also find home within our bodies.

Just to finish it off, when I do yoga, I feel like I am back in my element and nothing beats that feeling. ♥ Thus, for all these reasons and more, I can’t honestly imagine my life without yoga. It constantly challenges me in a gentle and kind way to become a better person and I think that when we find something that makes us feel like we are in our element, we just need to hold on tight to it.

 

I hope you liked to read this and perhaps if you do not do yoga yourself, I hope this has somewhat inspired you to give it a go. Now, if you also do yoga, I’d like to invite you to share in the comment section below what it means to you as I’d love to hear about it! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Self-care.

I hate how “self-care” has become this buzzword that is so often casually thrown around. It has also been a term used by companies over and over again to make you think that you need to buy X or Z in order to feel better about yourself. This misconception really makes my blood boil.

From my own personal experience, I can firmly state that you need YOU to feel better about yourself. You need to carve out time for the things that matter to you; for the things that make you feel alive; for the things that make you forget – even if only temporarily- of the bad that goes on in your life. 

Early last year I was having some sleeping issues that went on for months and months in a row. I would find myself stressed and with too many worrying thoughts at night time and that really was taking its toll in my sleeping patterns. Thus, one of the habits that I have since then deliberately incorporated into my eventing routine was to read at least 10 pages before going to bed during the workweek. The “challenge” was not in reading itself but in carving out the time every single evening to do so. This is now my favourite way to end a hectic day because it helps me to zone out the strain of the day and it quiets my thoughts. As it puts my brain into passive mode, I nod off so easily afterwards. Using my electronic devices until I am ready to sleep is a habit that I no longer have and certainly one that I don’t intend to slip back into.

Journaling (nearly every single day) and doing yoga are my other two go-to tools/strategies for self-care. They make me connect within and feel so grounded.

 

 

We are all individuals and, for that reason, what works for me might not work for you..but please, do take the time to check in with yourself, understand what your needs are and seek them out. I have come to learn that it is key to engage in activities and habits to bear against feelings of stress, sadness and emptiness.

Self-care is not about selfishness, self-centeredness or self-indulgence. In fact, it is quite the opposite. When you take care of yourself physically and emotionally, you feel more present, focused and at peace and this can only enhance the relationship that you have with yourself and with others. You need to show up for yourself before you can show up for others.

All that being said, if there is something I would really like you to take from this post is that:

Prioritize the things that “refuel you, rather than take from you”. Life may be relentless at times but you are doing the best you can. So, just be gentle to yourself and “give yourself the love and care you so freely give to others”.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and have found it helpful in some way. Is self-care something you value and prioritize in your life? If so, how do you choose to take care of yourself? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!

 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, my dear ones x

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

10 things that are bringing me joy lately.

One of my favourite podcasts is “Chasing Joy” by Georgie Morley and that was where I got the inspiration to write this post. At the end of each podcast episode, Georgie asks to their guests the following question:“What is something that is bringing you joy lately?”. As someone who have always loved to know what makes people tick and what makes their truly happy, I am always eager to hear the answers.

Because listening to what people answer always leaves me thinking about what is bringing me joy at the moment, I thought I would ask myself this question and share the answer with you in this post. I apologise in advance for not being able to stick to only one thing. I got a bit carried away and ended up with a list of 10 different things instead. Oops.

This is just one of those good questions that imply self-reflection. Something I find very important and make time for every now and then. So, without further ado, here are the 10 things that are bringing me joy lately:

  1. Doing Yoga. This practice not only brings me joy but also peace. Peace to my mind and body.
  2. Being able to keep my house plants alive and seeing them slowly growing. I hope I won’t jinx it by saying this lol. After managing to kill 3 cacti (and countless other plants), I guess it was about time to finally be able to keep some of them alive, don’t you think? I feel like this is one of those life achievements that makes me feel like I am succeeding at this thing called “adulting” haha.
  3. Going for a spontaneous walk in the nature with the boyfriend.
  4. Handmade ceramics. A pure work of art.
  5. The days getting longer and longer as Summer approaches
  6. More ethical and sustainable purchases
  7. Reading before bed. The act of swapping my phone/laptop for a good book just before going to bed comes now so effortlessly to me and
  8. Journaling, especially first thing in the morning.
  9. Getting creative in the kitchen and feeling inspired to cook new recipes.
  10. Exploring a new cafe nearly every weekend. As an avid cafe hopper this is naturally something that brings me so much joy and that I am always looking forward to doing.

Now, I would like to invite you to share in the comment section below what is currently bringing you joy! As the curious person by nature that I am, I’d absolutely love to know!!

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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.

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  • 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

Sometimes ditching the routine is exactly what we need.

It is a cold and grey Saturday in The Netherlands. I woke up this morning, stepped into my yoga mat and did a beautiful and gentle fusion of Vinyasa, Kundalini and Yin Yoga. I normally wake up, make breakfast and head to the gym to my usual cardio intercalated with strength training workout session. However, after a long and tough week at work, where stress and anxiety were a constant, I felt like it was time to slow down and reconnect with myself. Practicing yoga as the first thing in the morning really helped me to set my breath for the day as well as my mental tone.. and, let me tell you guys, breaking the routine from time to time is great and needed. I am so glad for having had this slow start to the weekend. I see Yoga as cultivating love and compassion for myself. It allows me to find peace within myself whilst washing away not only my fears but also my troubling and negative thoughts. Today’s mantra was: “I am not my feelings. I am the space behind them” and oh boy, did I need to hear this? YES. I really needed to be reminded of this as I seemed to have forgotten it for the past few weeks.

Breaking my usual Saturday morning routine made wonders to my mind and soul. After all, how can we evolve if we keep doing the same things over and over again? We need to open up our horizons in order to see the world with different eyes. And sometimes breaking our routine is all that takes to reach that. 

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful