8 Ways Cooking is a Form of Self Care

Cooking can be both meditative and calming for the mind. Creating a meal gives you something to contemplate and focus on, and preparing food can be meditative. Plus, when making a meal, you’re creating nourishment and fuel for your body to move through the day. Everything from an increased sense of calm, developed focus, to heightened senses during the cooking process helps to put our busy minds at ease. For a deeper look at how cooking can benefit your self-care regimen, Kitchen Cabinet Kings compiled 8 reasons cooking is like therapy.

cooking infographic

About the Author

As a senior content marketing specialist, Megan Darmody is most passionate about creating and promoting unique content that drives client growth. Outside of the office, you can find her seeking out the next camping spot or consuming way too much coffee.

How Your Surrounding Space Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

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Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Whenever there’s an opportunity to make yourself feel better, seize it! The world is a hectic place, but your life doesn’t have to be.

Therapy isn’t the only way to improve mental health. There are some things you can do on your own to make yourself feel better – the space around you plays a big role in that. 

Do you know that feeling after cleaning up the house or decluttering your desk? That’s exactly what we mean by making yourself feel better. That feeling of motivation and positivity proves to what extent our surrounding space impacts our mental health. 

Here are some tips that can inspire you to improve your well-being and make meaningful changes to your space (and hopefully your inner and outer peace). 

Declutter regularly

“When my house is not in order, I don’t feel in order.”

Clutter can feel like your worst enemy. Picture yourself at the happiest you’ve ever been. Now imagine entering into a cluttered apartment. That feeling of disappointment that you are feeling only at the thought of clutter is proof that your surroundings play an enormous role in your life. The good news is that it doesn’t take that much effort to bring a positive change and to make yourself feel better. Decluttering requires a little will power and a couple of hours of your life (weekly or monthly depending on your desired level of decluttering).

Redecorate

Everybody enjoys a change here and there. Redecorating and changing your space can have a positive impact on your mental health. Those changes don’t have to be immense. Even the slightest update in your living room can put a smile on your face.

Why don’t you consider adding more plants to your space? You probably already know how healthy they are for their air-purifying elements, but they have some healing powers too. Plants will create a more natural atmosphere that will be more pleasant to be in.

(Caitlin’s note: I recommend Wild Interiors and Just Add Ice for indoor plants!)

Apart from adding green to your surroundings, you can bring more colors to your life by painting the walls. Colors can influence moods, so you should choose them carefully. For example, the blue color is known for its calming and soothing power, while yellow can boost your energy and put you in a better mood. 

Rearrange the furniture

While redecorating might require some time and money investment, rearranging the furniture definitely takes less effort but has a big role in elevating your mood.

My mum used to do this a lot when I was a kid, especially when she was feeling blue. A different living room set-up would always brighten up the house. Since my childhood, this was my go-to method for making myself feel happier.

Eventually, which furniture set-up works the best for you and your family depends on, well, you and your family. Try more options until you settle for the one that fits you the most and supports your daily activities in the most productive way.

Spruce up your workplace

“We are defined by where we spend our time.”

For most of us, our workplace is where we spend the majority of our time. There’s no denying that our job and office highly impact our mental health. So how do we turn this to our advantage? 

1) Add more plants

Plants are a must-have for every office space for health reasons and productivity. Even if you’re not working from home, but in a shared office space, there’s no way your colleagues or managers will object to having plants in the office. 

2) Clean and organize your desk 

Your desk needs to be taken care of regularly. Try to tidy up your office desk as soon as you are done for the day. Avoid keeping unnecessary documents or paper on it, that’s what file cabinets are for. Your desk should be fully optimized and free of clutter. Office tools like binders can also be very practical and can help you keep your space organized.

3) Let there be light and air

Good lighting and fresh air are crucial for every workspace. Nothing like those sun rays to make you feel productive and alive! 

Bonus tip: Leave the window open while you are on your lunch break. There is less chance that you will feel sleepy after eating if your office is well-aired. High temperatures can also cause you to feel sleepy, hence not productive, which is another reason to let air circulate.

4) Get a pet

A pet-friendly atmosphere will lift the mood of any workplace. If you are working from home, why don’t you consider getting a pet? If you are managing a workplace, definitely consider getting a pet for your employees. Not only that you will have a beautiful distraction from work, but you will also give and receive so much love, which will eventually make your work blossom.

5) Get inspired

Different people get inspired by different things. Your office space should reflect your personality, your desires, and your goals. You’ve surely noticed how some parents put framed photos of their children on their desks. It is what keeps them going, what makes them feel good and productive. It can be anything, from photos of your close ones to vision boards, places you’d like to visit, anything. What makes you good at your job? What’s your goal? Feel free to frame it and put it in a visible place so that you can get daily reminders of your path.

6) Add some colors

You will hear quite often that employees complain about the lack of color in their workplace. If you are one of them, share this constructive feedback with your managers so that they can consider adding some colors to your office. 

If you are lucky enough to be working from home, you should definitely do some research on colors that would fit you the best – not only can the right colors do wonders for your productivity, they can also improve your well-being and lift your mood. No need to paint your home office walls if that’s not your cup of tea; there are other ways to add color – rugs, paintings, photos, ornaments, etc.

The most important advice I’ve ever received was to always listen to myself. You should do the same. If it makes you feel bad, get rid of it. Experiment with your home, office space, walls, and furniture as much as you want until you get it right. Create a space where you will feel peaceful and happy – what more could a person ask for?

About the author

tess

 

Tess Cain loves being organized. If she is not working at office.eco, then she’s dedicating her time to staying clean, clutter-free and organized. She also likes the outdoors, working out and volunteering.

How to Simplify Your Life Right Now (And Make Room For What Matters Most)

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Image Source: Unsplash

Life can get overwhelming at times. We all have our own struggles that we deal with on a daily basis. We tend to waste a lot of stress and energy on things that don’t really matter. 

When you lose sight of what’s truly important, life can feel more hectic than it needs to be. Once you simplify your life, you will feel rejuvenated and ready to take on any challenge that comes your way. Simplify your life right now by following these life tips:

“Disconnect” to Connect

Living in the digital age brings many distractions. It’s easy to get sidetracked with social media and all the pressures that come with it. These anxieties can make your life much more complicated than it needs to be. 

It sounds cliche, but disconnecting from the online world will allow you to focus on real-life connections. Start by limiting your internet time each week, especially when you’re at home with family. Challenge yourself to be in the moment without your phone by your side. Once you re-evaluate how you spend your time, you can focus on what really matters.

Spend Time Alone

Spending time alone can do wonders for your mental health and well-being. Having “me time” allows you to focus on yourself completely, without being concerned with other people. Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your own needs, wants and passions. If that means saying no to people more often, then that’s okay too. 

Spend your “me time” doing whatever makes you happy. Find a hobby that has meaning to you, whether that be visiting an art gallery, doing charity work, or reading a good book. It doesn’t matter what the activity is – as long as it adds value to your life then it’s worth spending time on. Having this time away from others will encourage you to self—reflect, de-stress and clear your head.

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Image Source: Unsplash

Re-evaluate Your Relationships

The people you surround yourself with makes all the difference to your happiness. It’s important to invest your time with people who make you truly happy.  If someone is bringing unnecessary negativity into your life, it may be time to rethink what that relationship means to you. Your life will feel a whole less complicated once you cut the toxicity out of your life.

Eliminate Unhealthy Habits

A healthy body equals a healthier mind. When you feel good physically, everything else in your life will start to feel a little clearer. Pay closer attention to what you eat and drink on a daily basis. Try to cut out any unhealthy habits that are draining your energy and mood. (Caitlin’s note: for me, these habits include drinking more soda than water, and staying up too late). 

In addition to eating a variety of fruits and veggies for a balanced diet, make an effort to exercise more often in a way that makes your body feel joyful. The goal here is not to punish yourself or burn calories, it’s just to keep your body feeling good. Go for a hike, head to the gym or take up a new sport. If you’re into yoga or pilates or enjoy walking on the beach, try and go barefoot. Going barefoot has been found to have added health benefits such as boosting your immune system. So, if the environment permits, why not try it! Integrating exercise into your daily routine will boost your energy levels, mentally and physically. 

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Image Source: Unsplash

Set Clear Goals 

Setting goals for yourself is a great way to simplify your life. Goal setting helps you release what you truly want, what you need to change, and what’s most important to you. It also helps to bring structure into your life. Take a moment to write down just a few achievable goals for yourself, whether it be career-oriented or personal. Having these goals written down on paper will give you a clear path to focus on. 

When life gets hectic, the key is to stop and reassess your priorities. Remember that it’s okay to put yourself first and focus on what makes you happiest. Once you cut out all the unnecessary distractions in your life, you can make room for what matters most.

Johanna is a free-spirited creative writer living in Wellington, New Zealand. She likes escaping to nature to take a break from the daily hustle and bustle of city life. Read more about her work on Musings of Johanna.

How to Repurpose Old Textiles Into Home Decorations

Today’s blog is a guest post from Brenda Kimble. 

Your old shirts, pants and scarves don’t need to end up in the garbage because of a stain or a rip. If you can’t donate your old items, try upcycling and repurposing them to decorate your house.

Or, if you’re lucky enough to find vintage scarves or affordable, quality t shirts in bulk, check out these beautiful crafts and get ready to get busy in your creative space.

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Repurposed T Shirts

One of the best things about t shirts is the way they feel, especially after they’ve been worn a few years. The soft, thin fabric lends itself to several projects that can make your home softer and more snuggly.

  • Start with this no-sew pillowcase. You will need a shirt with long sleeves to make the knot in the front. This is a good way to hide any holes or stains that can’t be fixed. Once it’s all tied up, no one will suspect this new throw pillow was once an old piece of clothing.
  • Have a lot of old shirts that no one is wearing anymore? Cut out the main body of each shirt and turn them into quilt blocks. The finished product is a soft piece of memorabilia that your children will have for years to come. Best of all, you save a lot of money by avoiding the fabric store.
  • Take any tourist t shirts and make them into cheap, easy works of art. If the shirt has some text or a nice design, like this one, cut it out and frame it. Once the fabric is behind the glass, it will look like an expensive, eye-catching piece. Have a few shirts? Do this as a collage to make the most of them.

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New Life for Old Sweaters

The thick, textured feel of a sweater can lend itself to a number of crafts and add some unique touches around your home. Add some of that knitted charm to a number of pieces with these fun projects.

  • Anyone who has used a bunched-up sweater as a pillow substitute knows how comfy these pieces of clothing can be under a sleepy head. Take it one step further by making a sweater pillow. Feel free to incorporate any great buttons or interesting seams to add a special touch to this craft.
  • Do you have a little furry friend who likes to hang out in the kitchen or the mudroom? Then give your pet a special spot with this cozy sweater bed. Be sure to feature any nice patterns on the base to let it stand out like the argyle in the example. Your pet will love the warmth of the bed and the fact that it came from their home and family.
  • Decorate for fall with these fun and colorful sweater pumpkins. These come together fast, making it easy to make for a table decoration or an extra-special touch for your front porch. These are also fun to give away and for little ones to stack up and play with, thanks to their texture. Use any mix of colors and sizes you like — these look better with some variation.
  • A larger version of the pumpkins is this attractive sweater ottoman pouf. This is a cheap and easy way to add a footrest to your living room, home office or reading corner. You will have to buy some stuffing and plan a little more, but they’re worth the effort. It doubles as an extra seat that everyone will want to try.
  • Need to cuddle up even more? Try your hand at a felted wool sweater blanket. This requires a few different sweaters, as well as some cutting and sewing. However, the materials to make it will be easy to come by. Let your family and friends know you want to take their old sweaters off their hands, and the donated fabric will come pouring in. The author of this tutorial claims she made this quilt for a slim $11.
  • For a quick and little project, try making vase cozies. This changes up an old or fading vase with some new texture and possibly a few buttons. The thicker texture and softer feel means you can mix up your flowers with decorative twigs or taller flowers. These add a lot of visual interest and also help you continue a color story in a room.
  • If you need a nice little holiday touch this winter, take some old sweaters and turn them into quick holiday trees. These can be done as cones, as shown in the tutorial, or as flattened-tree shapes. Either way, they make a beautiful decoration for any buffet, a photo backdrop or in your centerpiece.

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Gather Your Scarves

Like t shirts and sweaters, scarves offer a great alternative to expensive fabric. If you have a few too many scarves you’ve collected over the years or come across a box of cheap scarves at the thrift store, get going on these great touches to your house.

  • Get your modge podge and scarves together in the garden to give your old, plain planters a new look. This scarf planter project helps you make your pottery funky and fun. Your plants will look even more fabulous than normal with the help of a recycled scarf.
  • Dress up a bedroom or a reading corner with a quick touch to the ceiling, thanks to your scarves. This tutorial shows you how to take your most colorful wraps and turn them into a bohemian decoration that makes your space a little dreamier. This one is quick and fun, so don’t wait to try it.
  • For the holidays, add a little warmth to metal chairs by adding a scarf to the backs. This hot cocoa party host added to the look with mini candy canes and little chalkboards as seating cards. This is so lovely no one will mind sitting outside on a chilly day.
  • Need a great wreath? Try using an old plaid scarf to put a nice twist on an old favorite. Grab a wreath frame from your local craft store and then wrap a big, basic scarf around it. The winding movement will add some texture and visual interest to the wreath. Accessorize it with burlap ribbon, buttons or leaves.

Extra Projects to Try

Need more ways to dress up your house? There are still plenty of ideas for adding fun touches to every room.

  • Start by using an old lace or ruffled shirt to create a new lampshade. The added texture and color will make an everyday lamp look unique and expensive.
  • Have some old jeans you want to use up? Try making this beautiful braided rug for the living room, the mudroom or even a bathroom. The fabric is strong enough to be tread on throughout the day and will feel great under bare feet. If you have some denim leftover, use it to make some basic draft stoppers to keep you warm all winter.

 

About Brenda Kimble

Brenda Kimble
Brenda Kimble is a full-time, stay-at-home mother of two daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! She loves blogging, crafting, and spending time with her family. She is a frequent contributor to The Talkin’ T-Shirts Blog. She also enjoys strolling the streets of her quaint neighborhood in Austin, Texas and finding the trendiest hotspots for fashion, food, and live music.

Minimize your budget with Gillian

Today’s post is a guest blog by Gillian at Drop that Debt!  I also wrote a post for her blog today, which you can read here.

Hey all! I’m Gillian and I blog about personal finance over at Drop that Debt. It seems that Caitlin and I both started blogging and reading each others blogs around the same time, and I’ve been hooked ever since! Her Not-so-Minimalist Bathroom post was so eerily similar to my own experiences I just had to read more. I graduated school with a college diploma and a university degree like most young people do these days– in loads of debt. After a bit over 6 years in school, I was over $60,000 in debt with no real job prospects immediately leaving school. I was lucky enough to get a job serving a month after leaving school, which is not in my field but it is enough to pay the bills and it will do for now.

I got smacked by the reality train pretty hard after graduation. I realized that no, it is not as easy to pay off student loans as I thought it would be and yes, it will take me years to pay off my loans, even if I put over $1,000 per month towards them. I had been overspending during school, coupled with not earning enough to pay my tuition and living expenses and I decided I needed to finally get real about my finances so that I could throw any and all extra money at my student loans. Over the past 6 months, I have learned a lot about personal finance, what works, and what doesn’t work so well. Here are some things you can do if you find yourself not knowing where to start with getting your finances in order:

Create a budget. This is hands down the most important thing that got me on track when I started. You need to figure out approximately how much income you earn each month. Once you figure out how much you are bringing in, you can figure out how much you can afford to spend in each area. I had a set amount for rent, car insurance, car payments, and student loan payments (minimum monthly payments the institutions require) and everything else was under my control. I started by deciding how much money I wanted to dedicate for repayment of my loans. I decided on about $1,000 / month as an ultimate goal; and it’s slowly been climbing to reach that number.

Pay off your highest interest loans first. Both of my loans have fairly small interest rates. One is about 4% and the other is 4.5%. However, if you have a big credit card debt (18% +) or something else with higher interest rates, pay that off first. Make the minimum payments (or a bit above) and throw the rest of your extra money at the highest interest loan first. Once you pay the first loan off, you can add that payment onto any other loans you have.

Don’t discount anything. Even “fixed” costs can be cut back. It can be tough but often people end up living far outside of their means. If your rent is taking too large of a chunk of your budget, you should find a new place as soon as you can that is cheaper. If your mortgage payment is too big, it’s time to seriously consider selling your house and buying one that is worth less. The same thing goes for cars. It kills me that some people are making car payments that are $600 or more per month! I didn’t have too many high fixed costs but I still cut back where I could. I got my cell phone bill down from $73/month to about $33/month. Every $40 counts and can be used towards loan repayment, savings, or somewhere else.

Think before you buy. There can be many temptations when you are cutting back on spending, especially if you aren’t used to being careful with your money. Cute clothes, new gadgets and the like can be hard to ignore. I don’t deprive myself of anything (within reason), I just make sure it’s really worth the chunk of my budget before I buy it. Many times I’ve tried on clothes, left, then decided I didn’t need them after thinking on it for a day. Occasionally, the item really was worth it and I would go back the next day and make a purchase. Taking that extra time away from the store and the immediate gratification of the purchase often gives you the clarity to see that you don’t really need the item.

Since making these changes, I have consistently brought in far more money than I have paid out. My student loan payments are always high, generally in the $700 range each month and with some work I plan on increasing that number in 2013. These methods are surefire ways to get your finances in order.

If you would like to write a guest post for Born Again Minimalist, or if you would like me to write a guest post on your blog, please contact me via the suggestion box link above, or email bornagainminimalist@gmail.com.  Thank you for reading!