Golden Doodle

Some Of The Most Popular Pets Being Adopted During The Pandemic 

Dogs and cats have always dominated in terms of popular pets for the whole family, and while the Covid-19 pandemic has given numerous households the opportunity to commit to raising a puppy or kitten full time, many are opting for some more unique additions to their family while enduring the rest of the pandemic. 

According to Pets4Homes, an online resource used by many Americans for finding or putting up adoption listings for any and all pets, nearly 20,000 parrots were rehomed in 2020; a 79% increase when compared to 2019. The company claims this is likely because many individuals got tired of the silence in their homes and wanted an animal that could talk back to them. 

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That’s not all either, according to Pets4Homes stats on the past year a wide variety of extremely unique pets have risen in popularity amid the numerous lockdowns the US has endured within the past ten months. Chickens, salamanders, ferrets, quails, tarantulas, and stick insects are among some of the coolest species on the list. 

Lily Wakefield is an average citizen who recently spoke with the media about this unique pet phenomenon and discussed why her and her housemates became obsessed with the idea of owning and raising baby quails after watching numerous TikTok videos about it. TikTok and social media in general has been a major player in getting all of these diverse species onto people’s feeds and thus getting them interested in what it would be like to be an owner of that species. 

“The quails are very funny and have individual personalities. They’re also a great conversation starter as nobody is doing anything in lockdown, and we get so many eggs to give to our neighbors.”

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Daniella Dos Santos is the senior vice president of the British Veterinary Association who also spoke with the press about how while it’s awesome to see so many animals finding loving homes, many of these owners don’t actually take the time to learn about all the specific care that goes into taking care of these species. 

She also went on to discuss how in a year from now when the world is likely back to normal, many of these owners may begin to neglect their pets once they’re able to go out into the real world again. Remember, for these pets, you’re their whole life, and your home is also the only space they will occupy for their entire life. We all now know what it’s like to be stuck in our homes indefinitely, so make sure you’re giving your pet the best care and most loving and entertaining life possible, and make sure you do the research!

Many of these animals have indeed found those loving spaces and owners that actually need their new friends as much as they need them. Romy Miller is a barista who said she found comfort in adopting her axolotl Pluto. Axolotl’s are nicknamed “little water dragons,” to give you an idea of what they look like. 

Miller explained how lockdown gave us all the opportunity to appreciate those we love the most, and that includes our animals. People are finally able to really commit to their pets like they should’ve been all along, and give them the same level of love and emotional companionship that all pets give to their owners.

Mixture of Nuts

Adding Superfoods Into Your Diet

Whether your new years resolution was to be healthier, or trying to keep your immune system well equipped, or simply looking to improve your wellbeing via a healthier diet, superfoods are great additions to your meals. Packed with various vitamins, minerals, proteins, antioxidants and often of great service not only to our gut, to our cognitive health, the physical functioning of our bodies, mental wellbeing and so forth.

A superfood is not a food group in itself, rather the name given to a particular food that are thought to be nutritionally dense, containing a number of health benefits, such as vitamins, healthy fats and so forth that make them good for one’s overall health. However, no single food can cover all your nutritional and health needs, so it is important that you incorporate your chosen superfoods into a balanced healthy diet across all the food groups. Superfoods can be incorporated for a boost of nutritional benefits.

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The superfood list is extensive, and not all of them will suit your tastes or dietary requirements. Here are some of the most popular:

Berries
Berries are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and so forth. Antioxidants have been linked to the reduced risk of Heart disease, cancer and inflammatory conditions. Berries they may also help treat immune system problems and digestive issues, according to Healthline.

Blueberries are often a favourite of the superfood list, as they are rich in vitamins (such as vitamin C and potassium), fibre and phytochemicals – not to mention their sweet and satisfying flavor. However, other berries, such as strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and blackberries have also been noted for their superfood properties.

Berries can be easily incorporated into your daily diet, either as a snack by themselves, as a dessert, added into your breakfast cereal, as an ingredient in a healthy smoothie, eaten with yogurt and so forth.

Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
‘Eat your greens’ was not just an annoying nag from your parents but an important health lesson. Harvard Health writes: ‘dark, leafy greens are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium, as well as several phytochemicals (chemicals made by plants that have a positive effect on your health). They also add fiber into the diet.’ They have the potential to reduce your risk of conditions such as heart disease and diabetes as well as putting some important nutrients into your body, such as folate, zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. Each type of dark leafy green, of course will harbour different levels of nutrients, so if you are looking for a particular vitamin boost, look into the properties of your vegetables first – however it is still very beneficial to include a variety for ultimate benefit.

Adding spinach to your salad or a curry, occasionally swapping out your dinner’s vegetable choice for collard greens, kale, broccoli, cabbage and so forth. Kale is often a popular superfood and can be incorporated into smoothie recipes. Many of these greens, including broccoli can be sautéed, added into pasta sauces, stir fries and soups for a great and easy boost of nutrients. If you or your children are not keen on some of these vegetables, there are plenty of recipes that do a great job in masking the taste!

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Nuts, Seeds, Legumes
Nuts, seeds and legumes can act as a great stand-alone healthy snack or can be easily added into a variety of dishes with ease. Nuts are rich in plant protein (making them a great alternative for vegetarians), healthy fats, fibre, minerals and so forth. They are high in calories, so a little normally goes a long way, but the moderated incorporation of them into a diet can also improve health and protect against disease.

Almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, peanuts brazil nuts and macadamia nuts are all great choices, with different properties and nutrient levels, so a variety of nuts is best, although you can again look into their individual benefits. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds are also beneficial. Legumes include kidney, black, red and garbanzo beans, soybeans and peas.

You can incorporate these into cereals, smoothies, stir fries, nut butters, salads, yogurts, oatmeal or as a simple snack. Legumes can be added to salads, soups, casseroles, curries, chilies and so forth.

And More
There are plenty of different superfoods such as avocados, kefir, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric, ginger, sweet potato, seaweed and so on. Fish is a great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids – salmon often singled out as a favourite and yogurt a good source of protein, calcium and live cultures called probiotics. Consider adopting some of your chosen superfoods into your balanced diet.

Outdoor Furniture

How To Care For Your Outdoor Furniture So That It Lasts For Multiple Seasons 

One of the more positive things that has come out of 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic is the utilization of our outdoor spaces. Many people have been spending their time in lockdown updating their yard spaces to make it more accessible and aesthetically pleasing for socially distanced outdoor gatherings with friends and family. 

However, for many this is the first time they’ve invested in actual outdoor furniture and accessories, and while most pieces are well equipped to survive the elements of the world, homeowners should know the proper ways to care for their outdoor spaces and the furniture within them so that they can last for years to come. 

As a general rule, one should be prepared to pay some regular attention to their furniture and products at least once a year, typically at the start of whatever season you like to bring your outdoor furniture out. For those who live in climates where the weather is relatively warm all year, like California, you may want to consider putting in some extra TLC to your furniture twice a year. 

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Adam Taylor is the owner of The Wood Doctor, a furniture restoration company, and has been working in the industry for more than four decades. According to Taylor the “most attention people pay to their outdoor furniture is the day they buy it,” but he’s determined to change that. 

For timber and wood pieces specifically, Taylor claims that those are the easiest to maintain, and owners really just need to focus on keeping them clean. “Clean it off, removing any dust with a brush, or fine grade steel wool for more ingrained dirt. Once clean, I recommend using one of Sikkens oil-based products, which enhances and preserves the natural beauty of the timber.”

Taylor explained that “an oil-based product expands and contracts with the weather, feeding and protecting the wood without covering it. Other products that introduce a film that covers the wood. This means water gets in where there are gaps, gets trapped and causes the wood to rot from the inside out.” Ideally he believes new furniture should be given four coats of oil, applied about 16 hours apart for the most optimal protection for the year. 

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For fabric products it’s smart to have some sort of storage space that can fit all the fabric-covered items in your collection. While outdoor fabrics are equipped to handle the full brunt of the earth’s elements every day, overtime that prolonged exposure to the weather will break down the fabric and shorten the lifespan of it. 

Sweep down your fabric items with a hard-bristle brush to remove dust and other debris. Throwing outdoor fabrics in the wash on the cold setting with a color-fast detergent can help take care of bigger messes or stains, but Taylor recommends hosing off any fabric that gets stained immediately if you can. 

For wicker or cane furniture, one should make sure they use a UV-safe resin once a year to strengthen the tightness of the woven pattern. Thick bristle brushes and some basic soap and water can help dust off these surfaces in the beginning of every season as well. 

Finally, for those with wrought iron furniture the biggest order of maintenance is rust prevention and removal. Surface rust can be easily removed with a wire brush or steel wool, and then the surface can be painted over with a rust guard to help prevent further rusting. If you just bought a new set of wrought iron furniture, you should paint over it with a layer of rust guard as well. 

Covid Mental Health

Fears Over Rising Mental Health Cases Due To New 2021 Lockdown in UK

The emergence of two new variants of COVID-19 which are thought to be up to 70% more infectious have resulted in new lockdowns being imposed in countries across the globe. In the UK, a new national ‘level 5’ lockdown has been implemented due to fears that hospitals were just three weeks away from being totally overwhelmed. A leaked report suggested that even with the best case scenario, UK hospitals would be short of around 400 intensive care beds.

Germany has extended its lockdown until at least the end of January and has banned non-essential travel following a spike in new infections. Japan has declared a state of emergency which will be implemented from 7th February due to record levels of infections. The emergency measures there will include a return to working from home, restrictions on non-essential travel, limited numbers at sports events and a closure of bars and restaurants by 8pm. They are not alone however and many more countries are experiencing surges in cases. The US continues to be one of the largest coronavirus hotspots, with daily cases topping the 250,000 mark at the time of writing.

Whilst mass vaccination is likely to be the only way out of the pandemic, this will realistically take months to implement. Logistical challenges and lower than promised supplies means that we are all likely to be living with substantial restrictions for at least the next three months and quite possibly longer. After such a difficult 2020 there was much hope that the new year would bring with it some relief, but instead January is feeling very much like the iconic 1993 movie Groundhog Day which starred Bill Murray.

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With new lockdowns, home schooling, shielding for the vulnerable and work from home taking center stage, there are concerns that people’s mental health will suffer in the coming months. This is due to several reasons. The first is that we are entering this next phase of the pandemic with our eyes wide open. We know the struggles and the challenges faced last time and so have a realistic view of what the next few months are going to be like. In addition, we do not have the summer months upon us through which to enjoy our gardens, the fresh air and the sunshine. As a parent myself, we spent much of the last lockdown in our garden, and the children were able to play, exercise and soak up the sunshine bringing a much needed release from the stresses and worries of the time. This time, the weather is bleak and much of the activities are taking place inside of the home. This can make you feel boxed in, stressed and depressed.

One mental health expert described the current situation as a ‘ticking time bomb’ in an article by The Sun newspaper with Emma Thomas, Chief Executive at YoungMinds commenting: ‘The pandemic is deepening the crisis in young people’s mental health and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the impact could be significant and long-term.

“Young people tell us that they’ve struggled to cope with the changes and loss of coping mechanisms brought on by the pandemic, with many experiencing social isolation, anxiety, and fears around their future.’

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Speaking to Sky News, Dr Duncan Astle, programme leader of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge University agrees that the impact on mental health in 2021 is likely to be different to what was experienced last year. He said, “A winter lockdown, in which there are fewer hours of daylight and when it is more difficult to engage in outside activities like exercise, may make a winter lockdown more impactful for mental health, relative to a spring lockdown. The feeling of uncertainty is also a common symptom in those who experience poor mental wellbeing.”

Despite the darker days and colder weather, it is important to continue to go out for some fresh air and exercise. Even if this is just a brief walk around the block, it is surprising how much of a difference this can make to a cloudy head. In addition, despite the desire to stay warm and cosy in your pjs, it’s really important to make sure you get dressed every day, even if you aren’t planning to go out anywhere. This can help you to feel more motivated to get through the day’s tasks and will also help you to unwind at the end of the day when you return to the comfort of a warm bath and some cosy bedtime clothing.

Ultimately the next few months are likely to be the most difficult we’ve faced so far, but it is worth focusing on the positives. All the signs suggest that this should be the last time we need to live under such strict restrictions, as once the vaccination program has taken effect the number of infections will start to fall quite dramatically. The days are also getting longer as we move towards spring, which means that we will have increasing opportunities to get out and enjoy the milder weather in just a few weeks time. As always, if you are struggling it is important that you reach out for help, whether that is to friends and family, or to a mental health charity or helpline.

Girl Practicing Meditation

Staying Positive Through The Start of 2021

The new year normally heralds in the promise of a better, more prosperous and happier year and after a year such as 2020, that seems to be a widespread and collective desire. However, although vaccinations for COVID-19 have begun to be rolled out across the world it will still take some time for countries to get back to normal after the coronavirus pandemic. Many countries are still facing waves of cases, and millions of people are still dealing with grief, stress, loneliness, job loss, financial strain, isolation, depression and much more at the hands of the coronavirus pandemic. The Northern hemisphere are still in the depths of winter, making the ‘winter blues’ return for many. So whilst there is a light at the end of the tunnel, getting through the remainder of that tunnel may seem like a gargantuan task and you may feel like you don’t have much left in you to see out the remainder of the pandemic. Here are some great ways to boost or maintain your positivity levels and arm yourself mentally for the coming months.

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Exercise
Whatever way you like to exercise, whether Yoga, weight-lifting, running, dancing and so forth, do it. Not only does regular exercise keep us healthy but it triggers the release of endorphins into the bloodstream. If you are cooped up inside due to isolation regulations, this may relieve aches and pains, boost your mood and generally look after both your physical and mental health levels. If you can exercise outside, perhaps via a steady run, this is also beneficial, for the change of scenery and the production of melatonin in the daylight, which will help you sleep better at night – again a good mood booster.

According to the BBC ‘Research by [Dr. Brendon Stubbs, of King’s College London] has also shown that exercise also increases electrical activity in the emotional processing areas of the brain, particularly the hippocampus and the pre-frontal cortex. “It’s vital to keep active to improve your mental health and stimulate your brain including those areas”, he says. “If you don’t exercise, the activity drops.” That’s one of the reasons why a lack of exercise increases your risk of anxiety and depression. Exercise can also boost the production of a protein, BDNF, or Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, which is crucial for brain health.’

Feel What You Need To
2020 has been difficult on us all and some more than others. It is natural to feel stressed, anxious, low and so forth with all that has been going on. Often we try to force ourselves to feel happy, or chase happiness rather than sitting with our less attractive emotional states, letting ourselves grieve, stress or be anxious (to a healthy extent).

Speaking to Vogue, Ruth Whippman, author of The Pursuit of Happiness, stated: “I believe that trying to force ourselves to feel any particular way can lead to shame when we are not feeling the ‘right’ thing or even a sense that we are almost gaslighting ourselves. Rather than putting pressure on ourselves to ‘think positive’ or feel any particular way, we are better off being honest and open about how we actually feel. I also believe that one of the kindest, most helpful things we can do for other people is to allow them to be emotionally honest with us, to make space for them to share their ugly, scary feelings without judgement, and be there for them when they do. Denying emotions doesn’t make them go away — they just show up in other, more indirect ways.”
Wellbeing practices such as meditation can allow you to find calm, clarity and peace in times of turmoil and rather than training yourself to ignore the ‘negative’ emotions, instead it trains your mind to be content in those states, which in turn diminishes their power. Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to not be 100% all the time and take time to address that.

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Set a Target or Create a Routine
The pandemic has taken away many of our routines and goals for the year, but that does not mean that we cannot reframe our targets and adjust our schedules. Finding solace and structure in routine helps many people take better control of their lives and care of themselves. This can be small things such as getting up at the same time every day to incorporating a new project into your weekly schedule. Routines can help to increase positivity levels.

If you add in some goals into the mix, you may find that the positivity gleaned from working on your targets, achieving small and big goals will better see you through the new year. If you have more time on your hands due to lockdowns or working from home – this is a great time to work on some long-overdue tasks or think of something new you would like to try.

Connect
One thing that 2020 has definitely taught us is how to connect even during a time of crisis. Millions of people across the world have found solace in digital technology that has allowed them to keep in contact with friends and loved ones, some have even reconnected with people. As the pandemic continues many of us will still be facing more time on our own and some will be completely on their own. Loneliness can be difficult to deal with at the best of times, and more so with the stresses of a pandemic. Ensure you continue reaching out to people, perhaps talking to a trusted loved one about your stresses. If you do not have anyone you can talk to there are plenty of forums online which will help connect you to other individuals. If you know of anyone on their own, try to reach out – it may help both you and them. If you are really struggling, as many are, please contact a mental health organization or therapist who will be able to give you specialized help.

Woman Hiking

Lifestyle And Wellness Trends To Expect In 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has truly changed the way in which we run our everyday lives and take care of ourselves. While 2021 is looking a lot more hopeful with the release of multiple vaccines and a new administration running things in the White House, the pandemic is likely still going to drive trends within the next year in terms of how we live our lives and take care of ourselves. Here are some of the pandemic trends expected to be carried into 2021. 

Comfort Crafting: Whether you like knitting, painting, or even baking, creating something with your hands is always a satisfying feeling. The pandemic has given people the perfect excuse to finally explore any and all hobbies that they may have never had time to try in the past. Dayna Johnson is a trend expert working for Etsy who claims that “crafting and learning new skills in general serves as a form of self-care and grounding.”

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Meditation: It’s no surprise that a global health crisis paralleling an economic recession would cause some extreme feelings of stress and anxiety. For those who have always suffered with their mental health, or those who may be learning about their own anxiety for the first time this pandemic, this crisis has shown us all that taking care of ourselves needs to be a priority. Learning proper meditative practices, or any other activity that can help ease the daily stresses of living during a pandemic will likely carry out into the new year as we all start to navigate the uncharted territory of post-vaccination life. 

Outdoor Activities: If we think back to the beginning of this pandemic, Friluftsliv is a Norweigan concept that began trending when lockdowns were initially occuring last spring. The word translates to “free air life” and is explained as a deep appreciation for being outdoors and incorporating outdoor activities in your life. Utilizing whatever outdoor spaces one has at their home or taking advantage of whatever walking paths your town may have is an amazing way to safely get out of your house, and appreciate the world around you. 

Road Trips/Solo Travel: Travel has become the last thing on most of our minds within the past year, however, as the pandemic progressed, new and safe ways of travelling began emerging so that individuals could get out of their quarantine space and feel a certain sense of freedom. Road trips and solo vacations have grown in popularity this past year due to the fact that you don’t need to be around anyone else to do so. Solo travel has given people an excuse to truly appreciate their own company and remember what it’s like to fall in love with yourself and the world around you. 

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Going Green: Throughout their time in lockdown many individuals have realized that the world is actually enduring two global pandemics right now; Covid-19 and climate change. At this point it’s going to take true systemic change from our world leaders to really reverse all the damage that humans have done to the planet, however, many are spending their time at home figuring out ways that they can personally better the planet. Many are learning how to properly recycle, remove single-use plastic items from their homes, and reduce their overall carbon footprint. 

Interior Design: Since we’ve all been stuck at home for the past year, many of us have decided to redesign the spaces that we’ve been spending an indefinite amount of time in. Creating home offices, rearranging furniture, creating pieces of art to revamp a plain wall, painting rooms, building gardens, etc. have all been home improvement projects that interior design blogs have been discussing immensely within the past year. So many first time designers are taking to the internet and its multitude of tutorials and tips for freshening up their spaces and implementing more of their personal style into the spaces.

Remote Working: While this is less of a trend and more of a circumstantial activity, many companies and employers are seeing how successfully they can still run their companies in a remote setting, and are thus opting to remain remote as the world begins to reopen. Even large corporations like Facebook and Twitter have announced that their employees will now always have the option to work from home, or come into an office space once the pandemic becomes less of a threat, if they wish.

2021 Goals

Has COVID-19 Changed Our Perspective on New Year’s Resolutions?

January is typically a time of new beginnings, taking stock of what has been already achieved and setting plans for the future. The ironic thing is that most of us know that we aren’t going to keep the resolutions that we set, particularly if they relate to our creature comforts such as losing weight, saving money, cutting down on drinking or joining the gym.

In an article for Forbes, Marla Tabaka referenced statistics from the U.S. News & World Report, which revealed that the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, with most losing their resolve by mid-February. And many experts are in agreement that reasons for failure include setting the boundaries too high, making unrealistic targets and failing to break resolutions down into smaller, manageable chunks. Some suggest that failure is almost guaranteed from the start due to the use of the word ‘resolution’. Much like the word ‘diet’, it already tells your unconscious mind that it needs to change or do something different, and this almost always results in self-sabotage.

This year however, I wonder whether our resolutions will be different. Having been through an extremely turbulent year due to COVID-19, many of the aspects of life which we once took for granted are now taking center stage in our minds and our actions.

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Starting a New Chapter
Forget turning over a new leaf, it’s time to go in search of a completely new book! Many people had to put their plans for 2020 on pause due to COVID-19, but it is important to realize that things aren’t going to go back to normal anytime soon. In her article for Psychology Today, Kate F. Hays Ph.D said, ‘Don’t expect to be able to pick up where you left off. Your life has changed. This involves being gentle with yourself, what you have been through, what you see as your prospects. If that’s hard to do, you might think about “what if I had a friend who…” had the year that you have had: what would you advise them?’

Setting Short Term Goals
Given that setting new year’s resolutions only comes round once a year, it makes sense that they should be ones which are likely to see you through the entire year. Setting a resolution which could be achieved by March seems a bit of a waste of a wish doesn’t it? The reality is that this year is very different to previous years, so it requires a different approach. With the announcement of a new, more infectious strain of COVID-19 it is expected that the next few months could be the hardest yet in terms of battling through the pandemic. Therefore, experts are recommending resolutions which focus on just getting you through the next few months. Writing for The Conversation, psychologist Katherine Arbuthnott advises, ‘personal points of pain can give people some idea of what resolutions they might make. Addressing those specific points may help enable people to care for themselves well enough to arrive at the pandemic’s end with some semblance of good physical and mental health.’

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Staying Connected
Often our new year’s resolutions are focused on personal achievements; beating an addiction, embarking on a fitness regime or getting our finances in order tend to be common goals. But this year has shown us that sometimes, the most important things in our lives are the things that go unnoticed from day to day. Resolutions this year may therefore be more focused on staying connected to those who we love and are positive influences on our lives. Perhaps it’s a pledge to ring your nanna once a week, or to switch off technology in the evenings in order to play a game with your children or read them a bedtime story. In an article for Science Daily, Richard Ryan, an international expert on motivational research and professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Rochester said, “Think of how you can help. There’s a lot of distress out there: If we can set goals that aim to help others, those kinds of goals will, in turn, also add to our own well-being.”

Daily Gratitude
When faced with challenges, obstacles and uncertainty, it can be easy to get caught up in negative thoughts which focus on what you’ve lost or are missing out on. Despite achieving great things, the mind has a habit of only focusing on the failures. If you put one new year’s resolution to the test this year, why not try practicing daily gratitude. Make time each day to remind yourself about the things that you are grateful for. In her recent article for Forbes, Naz Beheshti says, ‘Starting small and easy is the secret to a lasting gratitude practice. If, for example, you have in the past began a gratitude journal but did not keep it up, maybe that is not the best place to start. Instead, find a small action you know you can repeat every day and build from there.’

Organic Fruits & Vegetables

How To Maintain An Organic Lifestyle Easily At Home 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in general is the best way to support your body’s overall sense of wellness. This includes not only our physical health, but mental health as well, because when our bodies are functioning the best they can, our minds begin to follow. Leading an organic lifestyle is not only healthy, but fulfilling to the many ecosystems that make this planet so beautiful, so what can you do at home to help benefit yourself and the planet?

Eating organically doesn’t have to be as complicated as some may make it seem. Eating vegetables, fruits, and other fresh produce that hasn’t been touched or cultivated using intense chemicals ensures that your body is receiving all of the nutrients that food item has to offer. Organic eating also includes eating meat that hasn’t been processed with any hormones in a closed factory setting. 

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This is genuinely one of the healthiest ways to eat because chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and more can have an incredibly negative impact on one’s health. If you had your own home garden, and then your lawn was sprayed down with insecticide, would you still want to eat what you grew in that garden?

Speaking of gardens, keeping an organic garden is a great and easy way to ensure that the food you’re bringing into your home is, in fact, organic. Organic farming is nothing new, and is actually much more common in individuals’ personal home gardens now than it was compared to ten years ago. 

In order to create an organic garden you must buy organic seeds, which can likely be found at any local home and garden store, and then through composting you will be able to get all the nutrients that you need to help grow your garden. Be mindful of what plants you’re growing, however, as different produce will need different maintenance. 

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Beyond just your diet, there are plenty of other ways you can lead an organic lifestyle in your day-to-day operations. Using organic beauty and skin care products with eco-conscious packaging will help benefit your local community in a multitude of ways. Using products with organic ingredients guarantees everything you’re applying to your face and body is all natural. 

Luckily, there’s already a ton of brands out there that produce organic shampoos, soaps, creams, makeup products, etc., and most of them can be found at your local drug or grocery store. Don’t hesitate to branch out with your beauty, and check the products your use now; you may already be using some organic products without even knowing because of how common they are now!

“Organic clothing” is another amazing way to implement organic elements into your life. Buying clothes made from recycled materials, thrift shopping, and buying from local retailers who also produce their products locally, are just a few examples of how you can turn your closet into a more organic space that better benefits the planet. The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change due to the consistent distribution of materials via airplane and other transportation services that burn fossil fuels.

As you can see, there are a ton of easy and accessible ways that anyone can start implementing organic elements into their lives, and thus begin leading a healthier lifestyle. Not only will your physical and mental health begin to improve, but the planet will also be a little greener thanks to your efforts.

Woman Working From her Home

Survey Reveals Almost 1 in 2 Employees Can’t ‘Switch Off’ From Work

As we enter the final phase of the Christmas Day countdown, many will be looking forward to spending time with their family, albeit on a much smaller scale than in previous years. But with so many people now working from home, how easy will it be to truly ‘switch off’ this Christmas?

Without the routine of commuting to the office and back every day, the home office setup has provided both benefits and challenges in equal measures. One of the biggest issues is the ability to keep a clear line between work and home life, and it is clear that this line has continued to blur as the pandemic has progressed. The trouble with being ‘always on’ is that over time, this can lead to exhaustion and burnout. It can also lead to poor quality sleep and other health issues.

A recent study by insurance company Aviva revealed that just under half of employees said that they never fully switched off from work, with an alarming 70% admitting to checking emails and messages outside of work hours. If you are feeling the pressure and are not sure how to effectively take that step away from work this festive period, here are a few tips to help you on your way.

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Set a Clear Out of Office Message
Most people will be setting up an out of office message over the holiday period, but the language used within it is important, because this will set the tone for any subsequent inbound communications over the holiday. If you tend to write something like ‘Sorry, I’m out of the office, but if you need to reach me urgently please call my mobile’, perhaps think again. Of course you are trying to be helpful and offer a means of contact for ‘urgent’ enquiries, but ask yourself whether this could be abused by people for what are really not urgent queries at all. If you frequently find that you are called when ‘off duty’ consider adapting your message to remove your mobile and just say you will be checking emails once every couple of days. Although this is still considered ‘work’ at least it’s on your terms and you can dictate who connects with you and when.

Remove Email From Your Mobile Devices
If you’ve got your work email set up on your mobile phone or tablet, it’s inevitable that you are going to check it at some point over the holiday period. This is all very well unless there’s a particularly troublesome email that either needs your immediate attention, or reactivates your ‘work brain’ as you start working out how to respond to it when you’re back at work’. The easiest thing to do is to simply remove your email completely from your devices. That way, you can’t be tempted to check.

Mute Your WhatsApp Work Groups
Many organizations are now utilizing WhatsApp for team chats or client groups and it does work extremely well for reducing the flow of unnecessary emails and endless cc’s to ensure everyone remains in the loop. That said, leaving these windows of communication open means that despite the previous steps, people can still contact you at the most inconvenient of times and depending on your settings, will be able to see when you were last online and even when you’ve read their messages. Again, the simplest thing to do here is to mute your work-related WhatsApp groups. This way, you won’t be alerted to any messages and can enjoy your much deserved holiday without the distractions.

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Don’t Replace One Screen For Another
If your job involves spending much of your day in front of a computer screen, be aware of the importance of giving your eyes a break from the digital world during the holidays. Many people are guilty of closing down their laptop to immediately go onto their phones or watch the TV. Whilst this is giving your work brain a rest, it isn’t doing anything to help with resting your eyes and the blue lights emitted from these devices will continue to interrupt your natural rest cycle. Consider engaging in some activities which take you away from the screen, such as reading a book (Kindle doesn’t count!), painting or taking up an activity like crochet. Another great idea is to bring out the board games; a marathon Monopoly session will certainly give the eyes a rest, but could raise the stress levels as you compete to be the next property tycoon!

Don’t Quit Too Soon
It can be REALLY hard to wind down from work, particularly if you don’t take many long holidays during the year. On an average 2 week vacation, many find that they don’t really start to relax until day 7 or later. If you find that despite trying the steps above, you still feel ‘wired’ don’t give up. Your brain will eventually realize that it’s safe to relax and you can then start to really enjoy the Christmas break.

Virtual Christmas Gathering

Making The Most of Christmas in 2020

It is no secret that for many of us, Christmas will be very different this year, after a tumultuous 2020 and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people will be dealing with the unimaginable loss of loved ones, facing financial hardship due to unemployment or a loss of income, and hundreds more will not be able to see friends and family due to COVID-19 restrictions. It has been a terrible year, affecting our lives in so many different ways, and whilst the Christmas holidays offers a small reprieve from the anxieties of 2020, it will be very different to the Christmas many of us know or would prefer. Whilst making the most out of Christmas is something many of us desperately need, it is also important that you stay safe and keep your loved ones safe. So be sure to follow the guidance from your country’s official health authorities, and follow the seemingly universal rules of washing your hands, wearing a mask, keeping a social distance and keeping social gathering small.

Many may be struggling with worsening mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. So, it is important to seek out help when needed, either from a doctor or therapist. Alongside this, be sure to put some ‘roadblocks’ in place to manage your mood, keep the loneliness at bay and your spirits up during this period. After such a year it often helps to remember what you have to be grateful for and focus on that. If you are suffering from grief this Christmas, focus on self-care and find a supportive network of people that you can talk to, to help you through this difficult time.

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Change The Rules
Often celebrations can become disappointing when we have high expectations of them that we are unable to fulfil. If you are spending Christmas alone, or with a reduced number around the table you may consider changing the rules. For those who are spending the period by themselves, why not put together a schedule of activities that YOU would like to do. Who says you have to have a big dinner and watch Christmas films? Would you prefer to read a good book, work on a project, take a Christmas walk, play some games, order a take-away? Whatever you do, spend the time making yourself happy. Stay off social media to avoid comparing your day to others, but remember, many of us are not having the Christmas we desired either, it is not just you. Mind mental health charity said: “you may decide not to mark Christmas this year, and just treat it as if it’s any other day. This may feel easier than trying to celebrate alone.”

Whilst many may be separated from loved ones during this holiday, why not plan to have a ‘honorary’ Christmas at a later date.

Virtual Gatherings
Many of us are sick of video calls and keeping up with loved ones via digital means. But with travel restrictions, social restrictions and lockdowns in place over many areas, virtual gatherings are still a great option. Especially for those who are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms from COVID-19, and it may be safer to reduce contact with people. If you are spending Christmas alone, this may bring some cheer to your day as well. It may not be the same as face-to-face interactions but it is still a heart-warming social interaction. You could even enjoy Christmas dinner, present opening or Christmas games over video chat.

Be sure to check in on family and friends that may be alone this Christmas too.

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Be Safe
Whilst it is tempting after such a year to pull out all the stops to lift spirits make sure that you are staying safe and being careful when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. You may need to postpone the big family gathering and keep to smaller household gatherings for Christmas day. If you are hosting people in your home, follow social distancing rules, wash your hands regularly, wear masks when appropriate and be careful.

Much advise stipulates that well-ventilated areas and meeting outdoors may be a better option than hosting indoors. So, if applicable, you may choose to host a ‘Christmas Day walk’ to see some of your loved ones in a safer way. Although it may be a difficult Christmas this year, there are ways that you can make the best of it, and look forward to a happier and safer Christmas in the future. So, whatever way you choose to spend Christmas be sure that it complies with your local regulations and make sure to stay safe.