Feeling overwhelmed? You’ve got your back!

In difficult times, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, resourceless and alone. There is nothing great about this! If this is where you are right now, remember that you have all the tools you need to feel great again. The trick is just to think of these again! Here is a quick list of things that you can do to feel good again.

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  1. Pamper yourself. Mix your favorite ingredients and make a face mask, take a bath, burn some incense while you read, prepare yourself a colorful salad, or wear your favorite socks. Take a few minutes to take care of yourself. Be selfish for a few moments and you’ll soon feel better!
  2. Do something you enjoy. When we’re feeling low, it’s easy to feel sluggish and unmotivated to do anything. In those moments, I try to push myself to do things I normally enjoy like painting, reading or baking. These simple joys usually make me feel content and take my mind off of what is bothering me.
  3. Sit. There’s nothing more powerful when you are feeling low to recenter yourself on the present moment. Sit down straight and take deep breaths. Observe these breaths and relax your body. After only a few breaths you should feel refreshed and more ready to face your feelings.
  4. Connect. With billions of people in the world, it is quite impossible that you are truly alone at any given moment. I often find that when I feel overwhelmed, writing or talking to friends and family cheers me up. Other times, it’s good to be in the company of strangers at a workshop or to go people watching at a coffee shop. Whatever you do, remind yourself that you are not alone!

I hope these tips help you out. If you are feeling low, I’m sending you happy thoughts! Try out these few tricks and you’ll soon feel like yourself again. The truth is, everyone feels low sometimes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Take your time, take care of yourself, and things will go just fine.

If you want more tricks and support on building wellbeing habits, I’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign for a planner I’ve written, the Leafy Planner. Take a look!

DIY Gifts #1: Bath Salts \\\ Cadeau-maison #1: Sels de bain

(version française plus bas!)

If you want to go DIY this year, I have some great “recipes” for some wonderfully relaxing and pampering products that will please anyone on your list. Today, the easiest recipe of all: bath salts.

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Bath salts are a great way to make any bath more relaxing and luxurious. They are so simple to make, and you can customize them to serve different purposes. I prepared three mixes: one to invigorate sore muscles, one to relax and get ready to sleep, and the last one to help you breathe when you have a cold.

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To make my bath salts, I used Epsom salts and essential oils. Epsom salts are a great addition to all bathrooms. Very rich in magnesium, that is easily absorbed through the skin, these salts are great to relax muscles, to relieve headaches and PMS, and to give your immune system a boost. These salts are also very easy to find in any drugstore and are super cheap. You really have no excuse not to have some next to your bathtub!

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For the essential oils, make sure to use some that are not irritating to the skin. I kept everything fairly traditional with some lavender, eucalyptus, verbena, and rosemary. You can also add some fresh or dried herbs to your mixes, if you don’t mind rinsing off the bathtub after your bath. Personally, that’s the last thing I want to do after a relaxing bath, so I skipped it.

Here is what you need:

  • 2 cups of Epsom salts
  • Mix 1: Invigorating Bath Salts: 10-20 drops of rosemary essential oil
  • Mix 2: Relaxing Bath Salts: 10-20 drops of lavender essential oil + 5 drops of verbena essential oil
  • Mix 3: Breathe again: 10-20 drops of lavender essential oil + 10-20 drops of peppermint essential oil + 10-20 eucalyptus essential oil

Here is what you do:

  1. Mix all your ingredients in a large glass or metal bowl. Add the essential oils gradually and stop when it is fragrant, but not to intense.
  2. Place in your selected container, make a cute label and enjoy!
  3. In your bath, add about 1/2 cup or 3-4 tbs of salt to your warm bath.

I love these bath salts because they are super quick to prepare and make for great gifts. They are also great last minute gifts! I really encourage you to explore essential oils to find mixes that best suit your needs. Pamper yourself!


Pour tous les amoureux du DIY, j’ai quelques “recettes” parfaites pour des cadeaux de Noël simples, mais si agréables à utiliser et à donner! Tous les petits crapauds de vos listes seront heureux, relaxés et parfumés. Aujourd’hui, la plus simple de toutes les recettes: les sels pour le bain.

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Les sels de bain sont un moyen simple de rendre n’importe quel bain plus luxieux et plus relaxant. En plus, ils sont super simples à préparer, et vous pouvez les personnaliser selon vos envies et vos besoins! J’ai préparé 3 mélanges: un revigorant, un relaxant pour bien dormir et un dernier pour vous aidez à respirer lorsque vous êtes enrhubés…

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Pour faire mes sels de bains, j’utilise des sels d’Epsom et des huiles essentielles. J’aime les sels d’Epsom car ils sont très riches en magnésium, qui est facilement absorbé par la peau, ce qui aide à détendre les muscles, à faire disparaître les maux de têtes et les SPM, et donne un petit coup de pouce au système immunitaire. Finalement, comme ils sont faciles à trouver dans toutes les pharmacies et très peu chers, ils sont indispensables à toutes les salles de bain!

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Pour les huiles essentielles, faites attention de n’utiliser que des huiles non-irritantes pour la peau. J’ai gardé mes mélanges assez traditionnels avec de la lavande, de l’eucalyptus, de la verveine et du romarin. Vous pouvez également ajouter des herbes fraîches ou sèches, si rincer votre baignoire après votre bain ne vous dérange pas. Comme c’est la dernière chose que je veux faire après m’être relaxée dans mon bain, j’ai sauté cette étape.

Voici ce dont vous aurez besoin:

  • 2 tasses de sel d’Epsom
  • Mélange 1: Le Revigorant: 10-20 gouttes d’huile essentielle de romarin
  • Mélange 2: Le relaxant: 10-20 gouttes d’huile essentielle de lavande + 5 gouttes d’huile essentielle de verveine
  • Mélange 3: L’Enrhubé: 10-20 gouttes d’huile essentielle de lavande + 10-20 gouttes d’huile essentielle de menthe poivrée + 10-20 gouttes d’huile essentielle d’eucalyptus

Ce qu’il faut faire:

  1. Mélangez tous vos ingrédients dans un bol en verre ou en metal (pas en plastique). Ajoutez les huiles essentielles goutte à goutte et arrêtez-vous lorsque le mélange sent bon, mais n’est pas trop intense.
  2. Placez le tout dans un contenant hermétique, fabriquez une petite étiquette, et relaxez!
  3. Dans votre bain, ajoutez environs 1/2 tasse ou 3 à 4 cuillères à soupe de sels dans votre bain bien chaud.

J’adore ces sels de bain car ils sont super rapides à fabriquer et font des petits cadeaux sympas… particulièrement pour les Pères Noël retardataires! Je vous envourage fortement à explorer différents mélanges d’huiles essentielles pour trouver des mélanges que vous adorerez. Prenez soins de vous!

The importance of giving yourself time

A few weeks ago, a mom asked me if I would give her 9 years old daughter French lessons. I accepted, however, we quickly realized that it was impossible for me and her to meet and be free at the same time. She had piano lessons, scouts meetings, math tutoring, Vietnamese lessons, and soccer practice to fit in her 9 years old schedule. This got me thinking about how I used to fill my time as a kid, and how I fill my time now. I realized that I am clearly an underachiever compared to this child. Yet, I am also rich with the most precious thing: boredom.

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As a kid, my parents were (and still are) ferocious believers in boredom. My dad always told me that boredom was the most precious thing to have because it meant that you had room for inspiration and creativity to settled in. That’s why I had the occasional ballet class, music recital, or swimming lesson, but mostly free time to fill as I liked. I spent countless afternoons at the library exploring old and obscure books, in the park inventing stories and playing with friends, at home drawing or DIYing something or another. Was that time lost? I don’t think so. In fact, I think this time was the most precious gift my parents could have given me because it made it possible for me to create and experiment at my own pace. It taught me to observe, listen and invent. It also helped me be comfortable with being alone with myself. As an adult, I think we often forget how important it is to give ourselves some time to be bored. Of course part of the reason is because we rush from one thing to the other because of work and our responsibilities, but the truth is, there is always time to be bored and listen to ideas as they start to occupy these empty bubbles of time. Here are some ways I like to fill mine up:

  • Move: When I’m in a rut and find myself whining about how bored I am, I like to roll out my yoga mat and start moving and stretching around. Every time I do so, I end my practice feeling refreshed, calmer, and more open to inspiration. I usually have one or two good ideas in my head ready to be used and put in motion as well.
  • Enjoy the outdoors: Even if it’s just sitting in my backyard or balcony and enjoying the sun or rain, connecting with nature always relieves boredom. Some people say that blue and green colors make your brain happy. I don’t know if that’s true, but being outside always seems to make me feel good. I usually also find something to do: take care of a plant, observe a bee at work, look at the clouds and invent stories, look for beautiful rocks. Of course, if I have more time hiking or doing sports outside is also a great option.
  • Create something beautiful: When I was a kid and I got bored, I would take some printer paper and my colored pencils and sit at the coffee table with the cartoons on low and draw away. I would create clothes and creatures and just enjoy this time to make something beautiful out of nothing. Of course, they were not museum worthy (not under the current standards anyways, haha), but they were pretty and fun to me. As a teenager, I discovered knitting and recently, calligraphy. Not only are all these occupations cheap, they are also quiet, calm and soothing to the mind.
  • Communicate: Some of my friends don’t understand how I have such a close relationship with my parents. We call each other every day, we send each other emails all the time, and we just love spending time together. As a kid, again, I would often seek out my dad or mom when I was bored. My dad would teach me how to draw, give me one of his books to read, go on a walk with me or simply talk to me. My mom would ask me to help her with cooking or shopping and would tell me stories of when she was a kid in Vietnam. Because I was not running from one activity to the next, I had time to get to know my parents and they had time to give me as well. Now, I like to continue to bug them when I’m bored, but I also seek out friends. Sorry about that!
  • Take care of my body: If everything else is going to make my brain explode, I like to pamper myself with a nice shower, using a fun body product or making myself a delicious meal or snack. Taking this time to take care of my body is so great because it gives it importance and recognition. It also gives me time to think and relax.

That was my too-bits on time and boredom. I hope they will help you next time you don’t know what to do with yourself!

 

5 tips to feel good

January and February are usually hard months for me to go through because of the lack of sunlight, the cold and a general feeling of “what’s the point”. Here are 5 tips to help you feel good, prevent you from staying in bed all day and get to March.

  1. Pamper yourself: When I feel grumpy, I usually get into a circle of just doing the essential and skipping through the superficial, extra step. However, this superficial-extra-step is so important! Whatever it might mean for you (putting on some make-up, lotion, conditioner; thinking about what you’re wearing; preparing some tea while working; using your favourite mug; or putting on your lucky pair of socks), taking the time to take care of yourself really makes a difference. It makes sense too: this extra attention to yourself will make you feel better in your skin (or lucky socks).

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    Enjoying a fancy cup of tea is a real treat!

  2. Adopt a daily routine (or revamp an old one): This year I’m trying out Yoga Camp from Adriene. For the entire month of January she is uploading one yoga video per day. This guarantees that I have 30 minutes per day to reconnect with myself and try to stop worrying or planning. However, you might choose to allow yourself to read before sleeping, enjoy a fresh cup of tea while knitting, or tidying your bag as soon as you get back from work/school. The idea here is to give yourself some time to really focus on something and get your mind to settle for a little while.
  3. Invest time in a passion: Today was an extra hard day, and the reason why I’m not in my bed anymore is because I really wanted to write something here. I have been enjoying this blogging very much, and I love giving it time. I feel like having this time to look forward to, planning the articles and writing them is structuring my days and weeks outside of work, which is great.
  4. Visit family and friends: Misery might love company, but having company might lift up the misery! (yes we are making our own sayings now!) Surrounding myself with loved ones and listening to what’s going on in their lives, sharing ideas (and food), and discovering new things always sheers me up. Even though it might sometimes feel like it is impossible to get to the person (smirk to late, over-packed buses), once there, it is always worth it, so let’s go!
  5. Get plenty of night-time sleep and eat well: It is really easy to get into the habit of reading or surfing the internet for hours at end. It is also possible that cooking or eating is not quite as interesting. Well, it is very important to keep up with regular sleeping hours and balanced meals as these two things will influence your mood as well as your energy level (and patience with students or coworkers). You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot by sabotaging your sleeping patterns or start craving junk food because you are hungry. Do this for yourself and the people around you.

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    I decided to set up a new table for breakfast so that we could enjoy the morning sun more, and took time to actually think about breakfast. Yum! (Recipe coming soon!)

Rereading these tips, I realize that they can pretty much be summed up to “TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!” Things will get easier, spring will come, and new opportunities will come. You want to be extra ready for those, so take care of yourself to make sure that they don’t find you in bed with dirty hair.

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Toots wanted to participate in breakfast too!