Why and How I Became a Morning Person

Before you run away screaming, I am not here to regurgitate the same sentences weaved into the net of health-conscious media, waiting to catch anyone with even a slight appetite for self improvement. Countless articles promote an identical vision of what a morning looks like in the life of a successful human being: waking up at 4:00am, drinking green smoothies (sorry, but I am more of an oatmeal/toast kinda gal), meditating as the sun rises above the horizon…

How to be a morning person

Waking up earlier

If this applies to you, fantastic. But if you are someone who is more productive at night, or simply has a work schedule that renders early mornings impossible, you keep doing you. There isn’t an objectively right or wrong way to live, and if your current routine works in your favour there may be no reason to change it. However, I am here with no purpose other than to tell you my personal story, of how I turned from a night owl into an early bird (meanwhile turning negative intentions into something positive), outline the benefits I’ve derived from this change and offer some helpful tips to anyone who wishes to start waking up earlier for whatever reason.

Morning person tips

My whole family has a propensity towards rising at what some may consider to be ungodly hours. My dad is usually up at 5 and Mum struggles to sleep in part 6:30. At one point in my life, however – I believe between the ages of 12 and 14 – I wholeheartedly embraced the night owl lifestyle as a means of emulating the habits of my peers. During the school term, I would sleep in as much as my schedule would allow, and during the holidays – threw tantrums over having to wake up earlier than 9. As foreign as it may seem to me now, going to sleep at 6 and waking up at 3 in the afternoon was a common occurrence in my life back in the day.

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So, why did I drastically change my lifestyle and sleeping pattern? Well, it often makes people laugh that the main reason as to why I started forcing myself to wake up at the same ungodly hours as my parents was a newfound ‘love’ for makeup. At the start of year ten I used social media on a on a regular basis, I learned about contouring and highlighting, liquid eyeliner, clip-in hair extensions. At times, my ‘getting ready’ process would take a staggering and a desire, shared by many at that age, to be the ‘pretty girl’ sidelined my love for staying up until ridiculous hours to watch TV series. Gradually, I woke up earlier on weekends due to my unprecedented commitment to an extensive beauty routine. Continue reading “Why and How I Became a Morning Person”

The Ultimate Guide to Setting New Year’s Resolutions

I could write a dramatic account of fireworks blazing through the sky, cheers and the champagne glasses of my friends colliding as the clock strikes midnight. However, a much more realistic New Year’s Eve scenario in the life of Maria is one in which the protagonist is laying in bed, not wanting to miss the onset of 2018, while longing for the magical hour when it is (more or less) socially acceptable to go to sleep on that particular night.

New Year's Resolutions

Regardless of how you wish to enter 2018, the start of a new year is always monumental. On the first of January, we awaken feeling the same, but fundamentally altered at the same time. It is enshrined in our society as a turning point, as the sort of fresh start a new week or month are incapable of delivering, a blank canvas from which we, as humanity, can work to create a better joint experience for us all. The previous year’s misfortunes are left behind and we hope the upcoming twelve months will feature more ups than downs. Of course, this is often subverted as time as merely a social construct and a shift from one year to the next will not in itself stop bad things from happening, but my point is that New Years Eve holds immense symbolic value in all of our minds.

Undoubtedly, many of us have been writing down New Year’s resolutions over the last few weeks – a process which will intensify now that the pressures of Christmas are over. Me personally? Yes and no. There are certain personal things I wish to work on in the upcoming year (concerning, for the most part, my emotional wellbeing and habits) that I’ve been procrastinating on because I know I will have to fundamentally alter my mindset to tackle them. However, many of my goals are very ‘long term’ and my individual preference is reiterating them whenever the need arises, as opposed to waiting for a new year, and setting shorter term objectives on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. In addition to that, 2018 is the year I officially start university, meaning that as my life undergoes an upheaval so will the nature of the things I wish to achieve. Continue reading “The Ultimate Guide to Setting New Year’s Resolutions”

Five Reasons to Take a Break From The Internet

While you’ll see me roll my eyes and sigh like a conservative old man at certain aspects of millennial culture, the internet is not one of them. I will proudly tell anyone that I love the internet. And not just because it’s full of memes and reassures you that at any point, you are not alone in your existential crises. The internet has created millions of opportunities for everyone since its conception – to start a business, meet other people, have a creative space to share their skills and talents.

For example, take blogging. I think it’s super cool how we can share our opinions and start conversations, all while allowing other people to capitalise on our knowledge through tutorials, recipes, guides. Moreover, connecting with likeminded individuals across the world would be much slower if communication was still done via messenger on horseback: the world is faster and more immediate on the internet. While this isn’t for everyone, I love it in moderation and thrive in an environment where everything is evolving and constantly moving forward. Moreover, as much as people like to separate the internet from the ‘real world’, they are becoming increasingly interconnected and influence each other on a daily basis, often for better rather than for worse (I mean, I highly doubt delicious vegan cafes would be popping up all over the place had it not been for the world wide web allowing the vegan message to spread like wildfire, if you excuse the unoriginal simile).

Taking a break from social media

That being said, the online world has its drawbacks and from time to time, a break can benefit virtually all of us. Of course, there are people out these who depend on it to make a living, and whether you agree with such a career path or not, time off equates to less income. But in many cases, these people have found their thing and provided that they’re doing what they love, taking extensive breaks isn’t necessary except for in extenuating circumstances.

A couple of months ago, a girl I know said to me that when she goes on her annual holiday to France, she has no internet access for 2-3 weeks and simply hearing those words made my heart skip a beat because I couldn’t remember the last time I stayed offline for more than a couple of hours. For the reasons mentioned above, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The internet is amazing, and I don’t agree with people who blindly hate it just because it is unlike ‘the good old days’. However, there must be a balance with everything in life and spending too much time online can have negative consequences, right down to an addiction. We also cannot deny that among all of the self-help resources and innovative ways to find solace in times of hardship, there are unreasonable pressures on here which can make us feel overwhelmed and impact our mental health.

Why we should unplug

Internet detox

Taking an internet break doesn’t have to mean switching off for months and retreating into a cave or living in a forest (ironic because I am in a forest of sorts in these photographs, but that is entirely coincidental). In most cases, a weekend or a set amount of hours each day is all I need. So, for what reasons may such a break be beneficial? Continue reading “Five Reasons to Take a Break From The Internet”

Why and How I Avoid Procrastination

How ‘procrastination’ should be defined is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over these last couple of days. According to various online resources, it is the postponement of one task in favour of a less urgent, or a more enjoyable, activity. A blatant example is scrolling through twitter as a means of avoiding an essay which is due in a matter of hours, or watching ‘just one more episode’ of your favourite TV show when there are urgent work-related emails that need to be answered. While you value your long term goals, and a morsel of anxiety may sit at the back of your mind in regards to the consequences of not doing what needs to be done, but this is not enough to force your brain into prioritising long-term rewards over short-term gratification.

Beat procrastination

 

Some proponents of ‘hustle until you drop’ deem anything that is not contributing to your long term objectives, whether those are related to financial stability, fitness or moral fulfilment, a waste of time. Have you ever watched Netflix at any point in your life? You’re a lazy procrastinator. I’ve even seen someone give skincare the procrastination label. However, I have to disagree with this because frankly, we are not emotionless machines. Self-care is paramountly important. Entertainment exists for a reason – as humans, we need to enjoy ourselves on a regular basis, and set aside time to reap the benefits of all of our hard work. For sure, we have different staminas, and tolerate different workloads before we start to go crazy, but a lack of balance and overexertion will actually make you less productive and more prone to wasting time (I will return to this point later). Continue reading “Why and How I Avoid Procrastination”

The One Trick That Actually Helps My Anxiety

Treating, or alleviating the symptoms of, mental illness is subjective. Articles on miracle cures, tips from fellow sufferers and Pinterest infographics fill the Internet and when researching self-help tips, at times I am more overwhelmed by the abundance of information than the oncoming panic attack.

Many people do not realise I suffer from anxiety, even though it has loomed over me throughout my life, whether as a side effect of another mental illness or in a generalised form. Perhaps this is an outcome of my body having developed a profound ability to mask any physical symptoms. I make that pre-rehearsed phone inquiry through my stomach doing literal summersaults. I cling onto my pen in exam halls and regurgitate two years’ worth of knowledge in forty minutes. Once, I delivered a presentation in front of a very substantial audience and came close to unconsciousness, yet when I mentioned this to my friends a few hours later, I received a few raised eyebrows in response.

‘We didn’t notice – at all,’ they said. ‘You’re a natural at public speaking.’

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The shirt I had to throw away due to excessive perspiration certainly didn’t think so. Continue reading “The One Trick That Actually Helps My Anxiety”

My Top Ten Vegan Pantry Essentials

Ever wondered what a vegan keeps in her pantry? Well, look no further than this – just joking, I’m not going down the route of cheesy blog post opening lines.

Anyway, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten ingredients you’ll always find in my cupboard. I eat a vegan diet composed mostly of wholefoods, but this is suitable for anyone who wishes to expose themselves to the joys of eating more plants and having plenty of healthy ingredients within reach.

These items are affordable and many can be cooked in bulk for the week ahead as a means of saving time, money and energy. Moreover, they act as a basis for the majority of vegan recipes out there. When it comes to cooking, I like to plan ahead and will buy ‘fancier’ extras whenever they are required (i.e., those magical superfood powders sourced from the soils of Narnia – I admit I can never hold myself back from diving head first into food trends) but always ensure my kitchen is well stocked with the basics because no one likes getting to their chickpea curry night and discovering they have no chickpeas.

Before I give myself the opportunity to ramble on for three thousand words, here are my pantry staples:

1. Legumes

Beans and pulses

You knew this one was coming. I am in love with my beans and pulses. These contain an abundance of micronutrients such as iron and potassium, and are often the main protein source in vegan diets. As someone who is trying to build muscle, the latter is enough to make me stock my cupboards with an excessive amount of black beans.

I keep both canned and dry in my kitchen. Canned is great for convenience, but I use dry whenever I have a bit of extra time, as they require soaking and cooking, and want a ‘fresher’ taste. My favourites include:

  • Black beans – these are a great option for buying fresh and soaking overnight
  • Chickpeas – roast them with some agave nectar and paprika and thank me later!
  • Cannellini beans 
  • Red kidney beans
  • Lentils: red, green and black
  • Dried soya mince – an incredible meat free alternative for spaghetti bolognese!
  • Peas
  • Giant lentils 

Continue reading “My Top Ten Vegan Pantry Essentials”

A Note On Excessive Modesty and Fear of Ambition

I’m cleverThere, I said it. Of course, I’m no rocket scientist or one of those miraculous teenage entrepreneurs with a billion dollar startup, but someone with my academic record deserves that qualifier. I, like many others, am cursed with over-the-top modesty. An urge to undermine one’s achievements, skills and ambitions at every opportunity, which can equate in annoyance to an inflated ego.

Cockiness is an undesirable quality for sure, and most of us withhold from befriending people who speak of nothing other than themselves and their greatness. And in fear of appearing cocky ourselves, we spiral into a trap of persistent self-deprecating humour and a reluctance to acknowledge the traits which distinguish us from the crowd. I did not see this as an issue – because labelling yourself ‘trash’ is the thing to do nowadays. Then one day, while speaking to a psychologist, I joked about my ‘stupidity’ and she told me to ‘stop right there’. She rightfully highlighted how an offhand self-deprecating statement, whether reflective of your true beliefs or not, can influence your actions and perception of yourself on a subconscious level. Most of the time, the idea of pretentiousness displeases me so much, I cannot compliment myself in my head, let alone out loud. Successful at a job interview? The other candidate must’ve not turned up. Great exam results? You were lucky. Skin looks great? It must be the lighting.

How to become more confident Continue reading “A Note On Excessive Modesty and Fear of Ambition”