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Lifestyle, Travel, Beauty, Reviews.


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Why We Should All Embrace Hygge

The Danish concept of hygge has swept across the nation. In case you haven’t been caught up in it’s warmth, hygge is the sense of safety and belonging experienced through the people and things we love.

 

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Candles play a big part in the full hygge experience.

 

Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge, prefers this atmospheric feeling to be at home and contain hot drinks and candles, but really it can be found anywhere. It is the scale on which Danish social gatherings are measured, by the hygge-ness. It is anticipated, appreciated and fondly remembered, and fosters an awareness of gratitude, something I think we could all use a little more of.

 

The Danish are known to be the happiest people on the planet and even kindly go so far as to scientifically research how to make the rest of the world happier; Wiking is also the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute (best job ever, right!). So surely there must be something to this hygge malarkey.

 

“[Hygge is] the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.”

 

Near the end of October as I was heading for a train out of London I was handed the week’s edition of Time Out (18-24th October 2016). The article inside entitled Hygge is a Waste of London clearly riled me enough to inspire me to write, as obvious by the fact you’re now reading this.

 

Granted the magazine is obviously aimed at Londoners, which makes me think that perhaps I was mistaken for one rather than the tourist vibe I usually emit. Taking this into account it’s understandable that the article argues that anything resembling comfort in a Hygge way in London is a waste in the city renowned for not being comfortable. For pushing boundaries and comfort zones and, as more people move there, space limitations. The author states that ‘nothing spectacular ever happened to someone when they were feeling cosy’.

 
However, who is to say that that is true? There are claims that Sir Issac Newton was drinking a cup of tea when he saw/was hit by the falling apple and discovered gravity. Hygge experiences are often described as including hot drinks and discovering gravity is nothing short of spectacular.

 
Elements of Hygge also feature in self-care advice; noticing the beauty in nature, quiet meditation, coffee with friends, doing anything with people you love, your favourite book (any book) in a cosy nook, a bubble bath…

 

The Eagle pub in Cambridge has a hygge atmosphere

Hygge in The Eagle pub, Cambridge

 

The original article was so London-centric in made my teeth ache; only encouraging an unrealistic mindset. Some people need to understand that an entire country carries on moving outside the boundaries of the underground zones, and far past where your Oyster stops working. Here, in the North, I’m writing this whilst sat alone in a coffee shop. I have a hot chocolate, a large scarf and I’m writing; I’m feeling pretty damn Hygge. I’m not being dull and complacent, nor am I not doing anything, as the article insinuated. I am Hygge whilst grabbing life by the proverbial balls. Who says it’s impossible, Londoners! So kindly widen your capital-centric mindset past the Big Smoke, consider that the rest of the country do not laze in blanketed ‘dull complacency’, and that enjoying every and all aspects of life is possible outside of the busy London lifestyle.

 

What is important is that hygge is an atmosphere, an experience and a shared feeling. Perhaps it is on your sofa, with Netflix and hot cocoa by candlelight.  Perhaps it is covered in mud with your friends in the middle of watching your favourite band at a festival. Or singing in your car, by the fire in the local, or the sting of the breath-stealing cold breeze on your Christmas day walk. Brunch with the girls, trying out that new restaurant, anything which makes you forget time still moves.

 

Time Out have also published another response to the article, Hygge is Part of London, (originally published here) a Danish Londoner defending the lifestyle amidst the onslaught of media attention and the perpetual busyness of London.  She writes that “Your hygge is your own.

 

As the stresses of modern life slowly suck at our soul’s will we could all use a little more self-care for our own well-being. So perhaps hygge is purely an extension of this, in which case I welcome it with open arms.

Because anything that can help ensure our mental and physical well-being is worth spending a little time under a blanket for.

 

Whatever hygge is, it is our own vivid experience.

 

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Learning to embrace the hygge that comes my way.


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Mental Health: Nothing New Under The Sun

This week I am thrilled that mental health is becoming such an openly talked about subject!

Between the 9th-17th May, it’s BBC Radio 2 Mental Health Week. Presenters, such as Jeremy Vine, are raising awareness and discussion through their fantastic programming, exploring non-discriminatory issues such as anorexia, bipolar, depression and self harm. 

Click the photo to learn more

Yesterday Rabbi Julia Neuberger conducted Pause For Thought, which certainly lives up to it’s name, highlighting how mental ill health is nothing new; modern literature and classics such as Jane Eyre, to Shakespeare and the bible, behaviour has alluded to people struggling with mental ill health (For example, think of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and MacBeth and his wife’s post-homicidal psychosis). Rabbi Julia added, that “there is nothing new under the sun”.

Alongside this, Prince Harry’s incredible brainchild, the Invictus Games is also promoting mental health discourse. The first games took place in London, 2014 and it’s success tempted America in to hosting this year, with the event for wounded warriors kicking off this week in Orlando, Florida. 


This year, there’s definitely a focus on psychological as well as physical injuries, with post-traumatic stress disorder veterans gaining fantastic coverage too. PTSD has only recently gained recognition as its own disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), as before now it was classified simply under anxiety disorders. 

This is a huge step forward in the promotion of Mental Health discourse, awareness and removal of the stigma surrounding psychological health. 
If you haven’t checked out the Invictus Games, you’re missing out!  Adapted games giving wounded warriors strength, hope and recognition…the best!!


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National Day Without Stigma 2015

Today is National Day Without Stigma (NDWS)
This post is inspired by my best friend, Rebecca, who for the past few years has been struggling with depression and anxiety. Read about her squashing stigmas and speaking up here!

Rebecca’s blog

A stigma is defined as:

A mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. 

Stigma around mental health issues has always been in society, from the days when even those with Alzheimer’s were locked into asylums for insanity. 
Active Minds have started the NDWS in order to eliminate the shame surrounding mental health, and to promote understanding, awareness and support. 

Active Minds

There’s 3 ways to help promote today:
1. Watch your language.  We’re all guilty of it, honestly I know I am. But be mindful of saying things like “she’s crazy” or “I’m so depressed.” Chances are it’s not true, and it just dangerous a sit attached this negativity to those with real mental health concerns. People are not defined by their mental health issues.  
2. Chalk your support.  Get onto that social media, or slip it into IRL conversation: #ReasonsISpeak and get people talking.  
 

find and follow me on twitter

 

3. Reach out! If you or someone you know is struggling, getting the right help is so important. Speak up and reach out! 
 

Hello. My name is Rachel, and I’m a Stigma Fighter

 

Stigma is shame. Shame causes silence. Silence hurts us all.


The NHS provide helpline numbers and more information. Just follow this link. 


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Three Face Masks Review

Three Face Masks; No7, Lush, and Quick Fix Facials

 

Lush Cosmetic Warrior Fresh Face Mask £6.50

  • I dubiously bought Cosmetic Warrior last week upon the reassurance that it was good for prone-to-nasty-breakout-skin, a stereotypically teenage problem which unfortunately didn’t disappear overnight as I turned 20. I say dubiously, because it contains garlic.
  • However, I need not have worries. The garlic and tee tree active ingredients in this mask are subtle; it doesn’t overpoweringly smell of garlic, and applies on easily (be generous).  Actually, it’s rather pleasant. It dries well and so is not as easy as some to wash away, but I believe it’s benefiting my skin; it definitely looks clearer than before!

No7 Heavenly Hydration Moisture Mask £12.50

  • I apply two or three pumps of the bottle like a face wash, before leaving it on for a couple of minutes. Beware though, the mixture is oily and when easily washed away it separates from the water, leaving mask particles behind.
  • Although at the higher end of the price range, (at least on my budget) this looks pretty in the bottle, all corkscrew curls, and works wonders for making your skin seriously soft!

Quick Fix Facials Purifying Charcoal Mask £4.99

  •  Simply designed tube with up to 10 masks in?! Brilliant! Apply generously though the easy squeeze bottle and leave for a few minutes. It’s pleasantly cool on your skin, and washes off easily afterwards. Active ingredients are; Charcoal to rid the skin of impurities, Dragon fruit for vitamin C, and antiseptic cinnamon.
  • The slightly cheaper option, but just as good at making your skin feel clean and fresh without drying or tightness.

Remember to avoid delicate eye areas with all facial masks!!


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Mastering Mindfulness

In my eternal quest to better myself baby step by baby step, last week I bought a Little Book Of Mindfulness. 
It is pocket sized, like all good things, ombré shades of green, and has a ribbon page marker. 
  

Inside my little book, Mindfulness is defined as simply as taking a few minutes out each day to focus solely on your breathing (inhale now…and exhale). And as complexly as learning to be content in the very present moment, without worrying or lingering on the past or future. 

In our increasingly busy lifestyles, juggling fast-paced education and careers, hobbies, friends, family, and keeping up with social networking, I know I find it hard to think only of the present moment. It is easy to let our minds wander and worry. 

By taking a few moments each day, while the kettle boils or before you fall asleep, you can de-stress, boost immunity and aid productivity. Concentrating on that singular moment, stopping what you are doing and focus on what is around you; the sensations, smells, sounds, and your breathing, you can learn to enjoy the smaller things in life we so often take for granted. 

I am trying to make the effort to turn away from the hectic world and learn to be more mindful for just a few minutes every day. 
I challenge you to try it too! Let me know how you get along! 

Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the Present.” – Bil Keane


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Stress Less Week

This week is Stress Less Week in conjunction with Active Minds. Seven days of taking action and raising awareness of stress, anxiety and encouraging the idea that speaking out about your troubles is a sign of strength and self-awareness.

 

5 tips for battling stress:

  1. Exercise – whether you’re a hardcore marathoner, or more of a stroll in the park sort
  2. Talking to friends and family – connecting with your family and friends can help relieve your stress
  3. Striving for your best, not idealized ‘perfection’ – being perfect isn’t possible, so be your best self
  4. Eat well – a healthy diet can aid lessening stress and anxiety
  5. Get some perspective – think about your situation and whether it is as bad as you think, or if you might be blowing it out of proportion

 

#SelfCareSelfie

 

Active Minds are also promoting Self-Care Selfies (#SelfCareSelfie) to share with others your self-care methods.

Join the sharing on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Here are some pictures of my self-care methods!

Exercise, keeping tidy, tea and ice cream and walks in the sunshine all help me unwind.

 

Join in and share with me in the comments what methods of self-care you use?

Read more about it here and here.

Cheers!