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9 WAYS TO LIVE BEAUTIFUL (Simple Ways to Bring Hygge into your Life Today)

FIRST, DECIDE that you are going to live beautiful, be comfortable, and enjoy the small indulgences that bring calm and peace into your life.

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HYGGE – the Danish art of living comfortably

It’s fine to live a quiet life that is full of rich experiences and down times where you can recharge yourself and reset your mind.

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE BEAUTIFUL?

  1. SURROUND YOURSELF with beautiful things and rich experiences that love.

How do I live beautiful? I love to …

  1. INDULGE IN WATCHING TV and movies. I love movies and can binge watch the same ones over and over.  Hello Netflix, comfy couch, soft home clothes and plush blankets.
  2. TAKE A WARM BUBBLE BATH and enjoy a home spa using the thickest towels, natural soap cakes, and home make facial masks made with fresh avocadoes and virgin coconut oil. Add candle light and meditative sounds to slow the mind and reduce brain clutter.

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Living beautiful means something different to everyone.  What do you consider beautiful?  When do you see something and … pause? 

  1. MAKE A CHARCUTERIE BOARD with decadent cheeses, artisan breads, thin cut meats, black pitted olives and warm olive oil, all paired with a smooth bottle of red wine. Take time to enjoy the preparation and eating.  Taste everything.  Savour the textures and feel.

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LIVE BEAUTIFUL.  EVERYDAY.  IN EVERYWAY.

  1. DRINK HOT CHOCOLATE with rich fresh cream and read my favourite blogs – something about minimalist décor- from within my softest blanket, wearing fuzzy reading socks.

REST YOUR MIND … everyday

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  1. RELAX ON A PATIO with a bbq dinner featuring grilled veggies, fish, chicken or steak. Think comfort fresh comfort foods: corn on the cob, heirloom garlic and potatoes, mixed green salad and chocolate fudge cake paired with wine or local craft beer.
  2. GO FOR A DRIVE with a hot coffee and listen to a podcast or an audiobook.

TAKE TIME TO THINK ABOUT THE THINGS YOU LOVE, THE EXPERIENCES THAT ALLOW YOU TO EXHALE.

  1. GO FOR A LONG WALK and stop into the library or bookstore to browse.   Unwind.  Undo.
  2. COOK OR BAKE while watching Netflix on my tablet. Fill your home with the rich warm scents of fresh hearty food and light fluffy baking.

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When comes that moment to pause for you?   What does it mean to live beautiful for you.


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TIME FOR AN ANALOGUE HOLIDAY – A Summer Spa For Your Mind

A physical detox is always a good idea for your body’s health, but have you considered a digital detox for your mental health?

Digital detoxes are on the rise, and people are now going on technology free retreats to cleanse the body and mind with distraction free real life adventures and down time.

THE BENEFITS OF A DIGITAL HOLIDAY?

MIND CALM – quiet without any beeping, pinging and ringing notifications.  You mind is free to just experience blissful quiet.

SIMPLICITY – Return to reading a hard copy book instead of a screen.  Let your mind wander and day dream.  Have a conversation without distractions and take some memory photos just for yourself and not social media.

SHIFT FOCUS – now that technology is not within reach, notice how much you’ve come to depend upon it?  What did you do before you could just pick up your cell phone … to call … search for information … say hi to someone … take a photo … order food … watch a show … find where you’re going … look at a family photo … read a book … see where we’re going  here?

TRY A DIGITAL CLEANSE – Start with a digital staycation:

Power down an hour before bed and read a book, take a bath, have a conversation or write in a journal.

Leave the phone at home when you go for lunch, have coffee or head out for dinner.  It’s just an hour or two.  You will not die.

Choose a day and turn off the wifi.  Just. Turn. It. Off. 

How do you get to your happy place? 

Read the blog: Happiness Practices Around the World – How We Get To Our Happy Place

Read the blog: Happiness Found – Martha’s Vineyard, USA

FIKA (the Swedish art of having coffee)

WHAT IS FIKA? 

In its basic form, Fika is how the Swedish go or meet for coffee, usually with friends to chat and catch up, or to network with colleagues during a busy day.

Fika is both the same and vastly different from how we go for coffee in the rest of the world.  In Sweden, taking a break from the work day to have coffee is a daily ritual in an art form, very much like Danish hygge, its meaning does not directly translate but is integrated into Sweden’s everyday cultural life. 

Fika is both a noun (fika) and a verb (to fika).  A Swedish colleague may tell you, “It is time to fika.” Or they may say, “You and I will fika well together.”

Fika is not just about coffee or tea, or even about the yummy pastries (the famous Swedish sweet sticky bun) and other baked goods that are served; well it actually is but that comes later… fika is more about the comfortable companionship that goes with the experience. 

Fika is about slowing down and taking time.  It’s making sure to pause during a busy day and to take a moment to enjoy the good things in life.  It is not the North American ‘grabbing a coffee’ in a paper cup and sipping it through a flurried conversation with a friend.  Fika is settling down in a café, ordering coffee and a pastry while sinking into a deep conversation to catch up with or reconnect with someone.  It is also a time to get comfortable with colleagues and enjoy a meaningful networking discussion. 

FIKA IN THE WORKPLACE

Most Swedish work places have two fika breaks throughout the day; morning and afternoon that last about fifteen to thirty minutes.  Working through fika, as many are tempted to do in Canada or the US, is generally frowned upon in Sweden.  Swedish staff are expected to stop work to fika in the meeting room with colleagues as the consensus is that everyone should make time to slow down and socialize throughout the work day.  Productivity increases with Fika, as it is a time to discuss and exchange fresh ideas in a relaxed and informal work place environment.

Sounds like Fika is a work place safe space. 

THE FIKA PALATE

Now, back to the idea that sitting down to fika extends beyond the coffee, tea or soda served.  To enjoy a wonderful fika there needs to be pastries, preferably fresh and homemade.  The famous sweet cinnamon buns are mostly served along with other home baked treats.  Swedes will often bake something at home to share for office place fika or to fika with a friend.   Restaurant, cafés or even in Swedish train dining cars, there is usually a fika special; coffee and a sweet bun, available. 

Presentation is also important, so don’t be surprised when the ‘nice’ dishes and cutlery are used and artfully arranged on the table.  Remember fika is special and about taking the time to make a small part of your day exceptional.  

Enjoy it fully with friends and colleagues wherever you are in the world.

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APPLE CAKE RECIPE
Apple trees are common in Sweden so apple cakes with custard are very popular to serve during fika.

  • 125 g butter
  • 125 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3-4 apples
  • 2 T each: milk, sugar and cinnamon

PREHEAT over to 200C
GREASE pan
WHISK butter and sugar.  ADD eggs one by one, whisking with the butter.  FOLD in dry ingredients then ADD milk.
PEEL and CORE the apples and cut into sections.  TOSS with sugar and cinnamon and PUT into the pan with the mixture.
BAKE  30 minutes

Recipe adapted from: https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/fika/https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/fika/


blog information adapted from: http://www.swedishfood.com/fikahttp://www.swedishfood.com/fika https://www.thekitchn.com/what-in-the-world-is-fika-an-intro-to-the-swedish-coffee-break-the-art-of-fika-21929: https://hejsweden.com/en/have-coffee-breaks-called-fika-swedish/

GO NATURAL, GIRLS

Vanessa has always had wild hair and because her mother had zero experience with black hair care, and a bad experience involving her grandmother and too tight braids, she became a self-taught natural hair diva from an early age.

And what have the years taught Vanessa, the heroine from my book Church Mouse on his Motorcycle?

Moisturize!  That’s her first and best piece of advice.   She of course tries to explain this to Spike, the hero of the story, when he insists she wear a helmet and leave all those jars of ‘hair crap’ behind …. alas Spike just doesn’t get it.  So Vanessa ignores him and stuffs every possible bottle of moisturizer she has into his motorcycle saddle bags anyway. 

A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. 

Vanessa. Church Mouse on his Motorcycle

Sorry Spike but you’re dealing with a black woman and her hair.  You’ll get used to it by the end of the road trip!


Vanessa has gone through many moisturizing stages with her hair.  She discovered the power of Vaseline at six before she stumbled onto using baby oil, then her neighbour told her to try Keri lotion, her best friend suggested avocado oil then castor oil, until a hairdresser thankfully intervened and told her to only use pure organic coconut oil.  Vanessa has never looked back.  She uses it every weekend as a deep conditioner. 

VANESSA’S BIG 3 HAIR CARE PRODUCTS

Ever wonder exactly which hair products Vanessa had in her back pack on that fateful ride with Spike?  The ones she just couldn’t do without, forcing Spike to make room in his bike’s saddle bags for them.


Turns out Vanessa’s top 3 things she just couldn’t do without are on Amazon!

AS I AM DOUBLE BUTTER RICH DAILY MOISTURIZER

WHY VANESSA LOVES IT?  The power packed As I Am double butter cream is a rich emollient blend, graced with the finest array of natural butters and organic oils.  And it contains, Cocoa butter, shea butter, castor oil, jojoba oil, sugar beet root, wheat germ oil, vegetable glycerin, wheat protein, panthenol, and lanolin. 


CURLS BLUEBERRY BLISS REPARATIVE LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER

WHY VANESSA LOVES IT?  Repair, restore, and condition your overworked CURLS with this uber softening leave in conditioner.  And it Formulated certified organic blueberry extract, coconut oil, grapeseed oil and mango butter. Clinically proven to repair damaged hair, encourage hair growth, and prevent breakage. 


CAROL’S DAUGHTER MONOI REPAIRING HAIR MASK

WHY VANESSA LOVES IT? Add shine, softness and manageability to damage, weakened hair with this moisturizing conditioner.

The blend of Wheat Protein and Pro-vitamin B5 fortifies your hair so it’s healthier and won’t break when detangling. Made with natural moisturizers instead of silicones so you can use it every day without weighing down your hair.

She threaded something similar to this stuff through her hair before putting on the helmet, remember?

All information from Amazon.com


VANESSA’S 3 NIGHTLY HAIR CARE RITUALS

  1. Conditioner and grease rubbed and combed through – no matter the pain – with a wide tooth comb.
  2. Twist it all and secure.
  3. Satin night cap to finish off.

WEEKEND CONDITIONER EXPERIENCE

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com
  • DOUSE hair in pure grade A coconut oil. 
  • COVER with any type of head cap.  A heated one is truly the best.
  • LEAVE in for at least an hour.
  • RISE using a high quality deep conditioner.
  • SPREAD a small amount of coconut oil through damp hair and lightly twist hair to dry.  Do not over twist or hair will take forever to dry.

CHURCH MOUSE ON HIS MOTORCYCLE – read Vanessa and Spike’s spicy road trip love story.

This is what happens when you pair a good church girl with a bad boy biker, and you throw them together on a road trip where they’re running for their life.

There’s a ton of fallout.

Church Mouse on his Motorcycle is part of the February giveaway collection of bwwm romance novels.

See Vanessa and Spike on Pinterest


HYGGE YOUR WRITING SPACE (where ever you write)

As a completely undisciplined writer, I have to get out of the house to get any decent amount of work done.  Even though I’ll be home alone, my house has too many distractions to allow me a proper head space for uninterrupted work: the dog wines so I get up to put her outside, the turtle starts splashing which leads to me mopping the floor, and I do try to just look past the laundry pile but end up stopping to ‘just put it in.’

Sigh.

Fortunately there are a lot of great places in and around Ottawa where you can hygge down to write.  I haunt them often and never tire of the welcome sense of comfortable writing time they give.

The best writing sessions are done in a comfortable space that you have made your own, aka made it your hygge writing space.

To make your space truly hygge, add familiar things to make it warm and alluring, even if just for a little while.

For Ottawa people, recognize any of these places?

When at home, it’s very easy to hygge up your writing area by adding soft things, green things and fun things.

Where ever you are, make and keep your writing space, as ‘that space’ where you love to nest and get things done.   If it’s hard to leave you’ll be less tempted to get up and ‘do just one thing.’

Live hygge everyone!

Get your free copy of THE HYGGE WRITER here.

THE HYGGE WRITER (6 Fun Ways to Get Comfortable for NaNoWriMo)

 

  1. Make your DESK BEAUTIFUL and SIMPLE. Take everything off.  Then only put back on the things that are necessary.  Keep it simple.   Less distraction.   Some beautiful additions:    Pens and pencils. Notebook.  Research books.  Coffee or tea or wine.

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  1. Start READING. Delve into something fun and genre specific to get your ideas flowing and your creative well filled.  Take out and reread a few of your writing craft reads.  Go to the library and take out some research books to collect ideas that you can use over the next thirty days.

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  1. Develop a ROUTINE … routine routine routine. Wake up. Coffee.    Sleep.  Repeat.    If only it were that simple!?  However, develop a routine that will work for you.  Get things you will need to make things easier ahead of time.  Seek out some gourmet coffee beans and luxury cream ahead of time so you can skip that drive to the café and enjoy your morning write at home.  Find your favourite loose leaf tea and organic cane sugar cubes and set them up on your best tea service tray so your afternoon write time is sacred and special.

 

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  1. Take our your HYGGE WEAR. Think of your comfy plush clothes as your hygge writer uniform: soft pants, warm shirts, thick socks.  Designate your best and keep them on reserve for writing time.

 

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  1. Organize your MUSIC PLAYLISTS. Set up some Youtube favourite lists or Spotify playlists just for writing. You want to hear the music and have your mind automatically switch into creative mode.

 

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  1. Figure out your QUITE WRITE time. Most important.  Set aside sometime during the day for just writing.  It’s only for a month so get disciplined.  Get comfortable.  Go write.

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bullet journalHow do you Nano?  Everyone has some way they prepare for and write during NaNo.  What’s your way?


Get the Hygge Writer Newsletter and your copy of the ebook.

HYGGE FOR THE MIND AND SOUL (Finding Comfort when seasons change)

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THIS FALL has certainly started out as one of true change for me as my mother of 88 years just passed away.  Though she was elderly and you always know that one day you’ll lose your mother, everybody does eventually, I can honestly say that I was just not ready. 

Looking back, and I have been doing plenty of that with her passing, I felt changes coming in early September, and though I paused to contemplate those feelings of coming change, I never imagined this.  I thought life was getting me ready for different changes and maybe some new life lessons. 

June 4 birthday (13)But this season has taught me a lot about …

Feeling completely lost and then strangely found.

The pain of hopelessness and then wonderful budding hope. 

Having to let go and feeling oddly weightless before the crushing relief of finding some sure footing again.

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NOW IS THE TIME FOR COMFORT, to give in to that pull for comfort, comfortable spaces, comfort food, and comfortable writing.  Retreating to your comfort zone brings a welcomed solace and quality time to recharge and breath.

APPRECIATE THE GOODNESS, WARMTH AND COMFORT IN YOUR LIFE.  Take pleasure in routine and the things that are familiar.  They bring a wonderful sense of comfort and reassurance that life continues on and everyone moves in their own way.

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FEEL GOOD WHERE YOU ARE.  Make it beautiful. Make it comfortable. Make it cozy.  Surround yourself with your creature comforts.

NOURISH YOUR SOUL.  Bring warm and happiness to your heart with familiar things, music and meditations. 

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LIVE IN THE MOMENT (when your mind races forward and goes crazy with too many thoughts of what if, maybe I should have, why didn’t I, someday I could) bring yourself back to right now and appreciate every day before slowly creeping forward toward a new reality. 

3 Ways to bring yourself back to the present.

bullet journal motif (1)Adult colouring pages if you have the time to sit and clear your mind.

Crossword puzzles, word searches and other mind puzzles, will bring your thoughts back and focused on something right here and now.

Take stock of five things around you and name them: tree, park bench, stop sign, yellow car, sleeping dog.  Sometimes it might take naming ten things, or just three to bring yourself out of a thought spin and back to the present.

 

MOVE FORWARD – Bullet journal to reflect and find direction.

 I don’t know what kind of changes life has whirl winded through your soul, but know that hygge can bring you some balance.  Life without your mom, the woman who was just always there, when far away, is now…gone.  It’s time to change and live in a new reality, one that can be made beautiful, secure, comfortable and safe. 

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DO NOT BE AFRAID to create a new comfort zone.

 

MULLED WINE and CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPES

 

Mulled Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle of sweet red wine
  • ½ bottle of brandy, Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • Handful of cloves to spike the orange and lemon
  • A few cinnamon sticks
  • Pinch of mace
  • Sugar and water (simple syrup) OR maple syrup

POUR liquids into a heavy pot on the stove.  Low heat.

SPIKE the orange and lemon with clove, then cut zest strips and add to pot.

ADD cinnamon sticks and mace.

TURN up the heat but do not boil.

ADD simple or maple syrup to taste.

SERVE hot in a glass.

 

Chocolate Chip Twix Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 2 packages of Twix bars, cut into small pieces

COMBINE wet ingredients and fold into mixed dry ingredients.

ADD chipits and Twix pieces.

ROLL mix into small balls, and bake 9-10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Montreal July 2017 (26)FIND a book and comfy blanket. 

Read.  Sip. Chew. Repeat….

 

 

TAKE CARE YOU (What Anxiety Can Look Like and Self Care is the Only Option)

Your mind just does not turn off ….

You start to mourn and grieve and romanticize your relationship with your elderly mother while she’s still alive.

You think and plan ahead for when another random tornado hits your city … and I mean planning how you’ll call 911 to come and help you get out of your basement and it’s a clear day without a forecast for rain.

You glance through a blog post about someone dealing with Parkinson’s disease and you freeze when you feel a muscle jump in your finger, then you look around your living room and start trying to figure out how you’ll maneuver the wheelchair you’re going to need around the space.

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And your mind keeps going … your thoughts keep spinning … and you wonder how you’ll stop everything from spinning out of control.

A situation happens and your replay every moment infinite detail again and again and again; you over think everything and start adding thoughts of what if … why now … what will happen next … I could do this … maybe try that …

And as your thoughts turn and turn, your tummy fills up with an army of butterflies that have shockingly sharp teeth, and you feel like there is no possible way to ever calm down let alone sleep.  There is just no way you’ll ever sleep tonight.

When it all finally comes to a head, and you’re sure the only thing left is to run screaming into the night, you’re so exhausted all you can do is shake … tremors run all through your system and you alternate between feeling like you want to throw up or curl up in a ball and slide into the abyss.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN POLARIZED BY ANXIETY AND FEAR?

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SELF-CARE.  There is nobody better to take care of you, than you.  You know what you need.  You know how you feel.  You instinctively know how to heal yourself.

TRUST YOURSELF.  Hard when you feel like your mind has taken control and your body is limping after it. But, remember that the universe may be ultimately in control over the larger picture and general goings on in your life, but you have complete control over how you react and deal with it all, and you can deal with it all and will.  Trust me.  Trust yourself.

SELF CARE PRACTICES FOR ANXIETY

TAKE A MIND BATH

Build yourself a mental self-care space.  You’re already living in your tumultuous mind so lean in and push out.  Put yourself in the center of the mess and take control of your own mind.  Push outward until you feel you have enough space to breathe.  Close your eyes and push all those overwhelming thoughts away; like you’re in heavily packed snow and you push out to make walls for a snow fort.  You can deal with all those thoughts and worries in a minute, but for now you need to give yourself space.

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IMAGINE yourself in middle of your anxieties and you push everything outward until there is a hefty gap between you and all your thoughts and fears.  Don’t try to figure everything out or even deal with them right now, concentrate on moving things away so you have breathing space.

TAKE A SOUND BATH.

MEDITATE to quiet your mind and reduce the overwhelm.  Fill the gap you just pushed out with ambient music targeted to calm anxiety.

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“Weightless” by Marconi Union (eight minutes of guitar, piano and electronically created nature sounds features Buddhist like chants that induce a trance-like state) is said to reduce anxiety by 65%.  According to Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, the song uses several musical principles to create the ultimate calming effect on anxiety.  “It contains a sustaining rhythm that starts at 60 beats per minute and gradually slow to around 50.  While listening, your heart rate gradually comes to match that beat.  The reason why the piece is eight minutes long is also carefully calculated as it takes about five minutes for this process, known as entrainment, to occur.”  https://hackspirit.com/neuroscience-says-one-song-reduces-anxiety-65-percent/

PROTECT YOUR SELF CARE SPACE.  Go ahead and:

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CANCEL A COMMITMENT or don’t answer a phone call.  You will get back to them.  Right now you’re taking care of yourself because you need to be there for yourself.

GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to change your mind, say no, take the day off and do nothing.  It is okay to be alone and regroup.  You need this time to reset or risk operating out of control.

GO FOR A WALK.  There is great power in the release of your body’s natural endorphins, one of the brain’s feel-good chemicals.  A walk is a natural way to process things and then let go of them.  Letting go is hard.  Trusting the universe is hard.  No one likes that free-floating feeling.  We all prefer to ultimately be grounded.

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ANXIETY AND FEAR are often wrapped up in fear of the unknown.  If we knew how things were going to work out, we could focus on a point and work toward it.  Only life is just not so simple.  It’s messy and unpredictable and thought we’d like to always be ready for whatever life will toss us, often we aren’t.  We can only trust in ourselves, our inner selves to help us gain that core stability we need to take a breath, step forward and lean in.

When that feeling of mad fear and anxiety sets in, what coping methods do you use to still the crazy and regain balance.

6 WAYS TO KEEP PEACE AND BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE

peace of mind blog post (9)“Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.” ~Brian Tracy

If you’d also like to develop a greater sense of peace in your life, you may find these suggestions helpful:

MEDITATION

Take five to ten minutes for a simple seated meditation moment; especially in the morning before you start the day.  Clear you mind and begin …

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COMMUNICATION

Write down everything that’s weighing you down mentally and then burn it as a form of letting go.

Write down everything you’ve learned from a difficult experience so you can see it as something useful and empowering instead of a time that was stressful.

Apologize for a mistake and move on; instead of rehashing it.  Choose to forgive yourself and accept that you’re human.

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CREATIVITY

Engage in art therapy; colouring with crayons, markers, or paint can bring deep feelings of peace and relaxation.  There is a reason why adult colouring books have exploded in popularity.

Create a peace collage with images that make you feel relaxed and at ease.

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ACTIVITY

Take five to ten minutes for stretching, syncing your breath with the movements.

De clutter your personal space.  Clear space.  Clear mind.

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ACCEPTANCE

Create a list of things you love about yourself instead of dwelling on how you wish you were different.

Focus on what you appreciate about the people in your life instead of wishing they would change.

Accept the here and now and enjoy it for what it is, not as you would have it.

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SOLITUDE

Start reading that book you bought.  Create a hygge space and nest for some personal reading time.

Schedule a date with yourself, a time when you don’t need to meet anyone else’s requests, and do something that feeds your mind and spirit.  Take time to enjoy your own company.   

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Be your own best friend for a while.


Adapted for the Hygge Writer from: 40  Ways to Create Peace of Mind.  By Lori Deschene