Sunday, 7 September 2014

5 Steps to Simplify Your Life

One of my philosophies here is "live simply" - easy words to say, but what do they mean? And why would you want to live a simpler lifestyle?

In a nutshell, living simply involves cutting away the crap, de-cluttering, and living a more peaceful, tidy lifestyle. It isn't about throwing away so much of your stuff that you live in a plain white room, bored out of your mind - it's about realising that you could probably do without half the things that take up your time and get in your way when you're trying to find that important piece of paper. It's about organising and prioritising - which is why the rest of the article will be in nice, numbered points rather than a wall of text!

1. It will make life much less stressful.

When you have clutter, you have stress. A chaotic house reflects a chaotic mind. I know that when I look at a messy room I find it harder to concentrate on working. This goes not just for items but for background noise and tasks. Who can focus when they have a million things going on?

When you de-clutter your life, you start to find time for yourself; time where you can simply "be", reflect and find peace. You'll also be far more productive without all those distractions. Not to mention when you're trying to find something and you end up wading through rooms full of junk - how much easier would it be if you knew where everything was, and all of it was stuff that you needed and wanted in your home?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

How You Can be Happy AND Environmentally-Friendly...

Hello there, and sorry for the long, long gap between updates! I'll explain later.

So, even though we all know that we should be doing more for the environment, few of us truly live our lives
in a way that is "green". We might recycle every now and again, but only before jumping into a car to pop down to the shops (to buy coffee that was grown halfway around the world). Why, when we know it's a good thing to do, do so many of us struggle with environmentally-friendly behaviours?

Brown and Kasser (2005) suggest that the reason so few of us are committed to turning to a green lifestyle is that it is often framed as a sacrifice; the idea that we would have to give up a core part of what makes us happy in order to help the environment. Given the choice between our own happiness and the thought of a healthy planet, most of us are likely to satisfy our immediate needs – thoughts of the environment, and our impact on future generations, seem too far off to truly contemplate.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Eating right, moving and being in nature - my new project

I haven't written for a long time, but I wanted to let you know what's been going on.

I've been working on a new project with a friend from my Masters course. Together, we realised that we share a passion for eating healthily (that means no packaged/processed food, a lot of fruit and vegetables, and a balanced diet), looking after the environment and spending time in nature. These things are vital for our well-being on an individual and a global level - it's all well and good achieving your goals and dreams, but what about making sure that the planet is still going to be in a fit state for you to live out those dreams in a few years down the line?

Christina and I have created Greenjoy Living - a blog full of healthy recipes, advice, and news on living a healthy, happy, sustainable life. You can visit the new website here:

Greenjoy Living

I'm not stopping this blog - just taking a little time to work on the other project for now! I'd love it if you went over and had a look! 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

10 Ways to Save Money While Travelling

People often assume that travelling costs a lot of money, but it doesn't have to. Usually, the cheaper ways you find to explore new places, the more interesting your time there will be.
Vang Vieng, Laos

During July and August, my husband and I honeymooned around Thailand, Viet Nam and Laos on a budget of £12 a day. OK, so we went over that a little - but we didn't break the bank. I've been asked how we could afford to spend seven weeks in Asia, so I thought I'd share with you some of our techniques (and some great websites that you might not have heard about).

1. Travel to cheap countries. It might sound obvious, but there's no way we could have spent so little per day if we had been in Australia, Finland or Japan. The beauty of Thailand is that you can get a meal for less than £1, and a 20-minute taxi ride would rarely reach £2. Research countries that have a low cost of living, but that still have things that you want to see and do.

2. Buy a phone/SIM card IN the country. A lot of people use roaming charges when they take their phone to a new country. This can be extortionate (if your phone even works there) and is one of the reasons travellers spend a lot of money. Wait until you're in the country, and pick up a SIM card - you can often buy them at the airport. I found a very basic phone in Thailand for around £8, and their call/text charges are really low. That way, if you need to call your hotel to find out where it is, you won't end up paying more than the nightly rate for the phone call.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Self-esteem versus Self-Compassion: Love Yourself Right!

When you miss out on a job prospect or the man of your dreams turns you down, how do you react? Do you let yourself feel defeated, beat yourself up with thoughts like "you're not good enough, anyway"; or do you accept the situation, give yourself a hug, and move on? Or, perhaps, do you feel angry - how dare they not recognise how amazing you are?! There's a difference between self-esteem, which we've all heard of, and self-compassion - which isn't as well-known.
Source: Scientific American

You may think that having high self-esteem is always a good thing. It's the fuel that makes you get out of bed and ready to kick some ass. In the 80's, America was swept by the self-esteem movement - the idea that, if kids had high self-esteem, they could face life's challenges and rise to any occasion. You might have heard of stories where teachers were forbidden from marking papers with crosses, to avoid the risk of damaging a child's self-esteem. What actually happened, some argue, was the production of a generation of self-entitled brats with massive, unfounded egos - who couldn't handle the merest hint of criticism. There's a great article about it (and Jersey Shore) here.

In the world of Psychology, some researchers are arguing that the downsides of having high self-esteem is a great deal of narcissism and lack of empathy for others. Our generation get accused of thinking we're special and wonderful all the time, but it's clearer to see in others. We probably all know someone who poses for countless selfies, who obsesses over their clothes and make-up, and who seem to only talk about themselves. Despite having high "self-esteem", those people are often the most sensitive when it comes to criticism, too - their ego may be big, but it's fragile.

Monday, 28 October 2013

A Free, Easy Way to Be Happier: Our Connection With Nature

Woo, I got an article published! Have a look:

Growing up, I would spend my afternoons after school behind the house, running through the overgrowth, wading through the river, climbing trees and chasing squirrels. I come from a beautiful, scenic part of Wales, one that attracts a lot of city-dwellers every year.

Despite the stunning views of mountains and coastlines, the forests and wild paths, the choppy seas and the golden sands, I always wanted more. I grew up watching people settling down forever, settling for boring jobs, spending their evenings in the pub – and I wanted more.

When I finally moved away – for university – I thought that things would suddenly fall into place. I was in an exciting city, with people everywhere and things going on every night. I met great friends and joined societies, but something suddenly started to feel wrong...

To read more, click here to view my entire post on! 

Friday, 4 October 2013

"Why Can't I Be Happy?" - The Dark Side of the Positive Thinking Movement

Be happy! Cheer up! You’ve got to strive towards happiness! As you trawl through shelves of self-help
Barbara Ehrenreich promoting her book Smile or Die
paperbacks, the message is the same: you’ve got to become happy. Happiness will make you live longer, improve your health and prospects, magically make everything better and perhaps even land you your dream job.

The pursuit of happiness has long been defined as a basic part of being human – it’s even a constitutional right. When you break it down, whether we’re trying to climb the career ladder, find a partner or fill our day with fun, we’re all striving towards the same goal – happiness. But is there a wrong way, or a wrong time, to strive for happiness? Could there be a dark side to this modern obsession with being happy?

Psychologists are starting to question whether actively chasing happiness might actually be causing us to become unhappier. Think about it; while there may be times that you wouldn’t expect to bring joy (such as the death of a loved one or when you lose your job), when things are going well but you just don’t feel right, you might find yourself asking “Why can’t I be happy?”