Cozy up Your Reading Nook – A Book Lover’s Dream

 

The reading nook. Every home deserves to have one in this chaotic day and age. When the day is done and the stress of the outside world starts to slowly dissipate into the unknown, the last thing we want to do is to try to relax by once again staring at a smartphone screen or watching TV. Instead, you need to rest properly on an emotional, physical, and psychological level.

 

A good book can help you achieve this and so much more. Whether it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon just for you, or a quick reading session before you turn in for the night, letting yourself go to the comfort and serenity of a romantic reading nook with a book in hand can be a truly restorative experience. Here is how to create such a setting in your own home.

 

 

Start with the lighting

 

Aside from mere illumination, lighting in interior design is used to set the mood in the room, accentuate certain features, and help the right kind of vibes imbue the space with that romantic homey vibe. When it comes to designing the perfect reading nook, lighting will play a vital role.

 

You could just read under the base overhead light that’s already in the room, but that would be a terrible waste of your riding nook’s aesthetic potential. Instead, turn off the chandelier and introduce dedicated lighting for this area. When you’re reading in the daytime, natural light should gracefully fall onto the seating area without making it too hot and without producing a glare from the windows and the surrounding decor, so be sure to balance the light beams with beautiful curtains or natural blinds on the windows.

 

The setting area is your focal point

 

Of course, the main spot in the reading nook is the seating area, and this can be anything from a cozy armchair with an ottoman, or even an entire couch other family members can enjoy with you. No matter the arrangement, this piece of furniture should be designed for maximum comfort – meaning that it should not only be fluffy, but supportive as well.

 

Choose sturdy leather upholstery for skeletal support, and then accentuate with throw pillows and cozy blankets later on. Complete the seating area with a wooden side table where you can lay down your book and other reading necessities.

 

Cozy up the setting with layered rugs

 

They are key to creating a reading nook of ultimate coziness (go ahead and write that in stencil on the wall behind it), lies in leaving no surface uncovered, especially the floors. There is a distinct difference between a reading nook with bare hardwood flooring, and one that enjoys the cozy vibe emanating from the fluffiness of the surrounding carpets.

 

With that in mind, consider positioning your armchair and ottoman on a soft Moroccan, and then layer strategically by putting accent round rugs right beneath your feet to create a cozy landing spot. It’s little accents like these that will make a beautiful, romantic reading nook come to life.

 

 

 

Surround yourself with books

 

Whether or not you will be able to truly surround yourself with books will depend on the amount of space you’re working with – sometimes, a reading nook is just a chair, a free standing lamp, and a corner. Nevertheless, there is always a way to strengthen that “intimate oasis” feel.

 

For instance, you can mount floating shelves on the walls next to you and put the books on your reading list on them so that you always have a good read close at hand. If you have plenty of space, on the other hand, then go ahead and position your seating arrangement right next to a grand bookshelf.

 

 

Don’t forget about pillows and throws

 

Now is the time to add the finishing touches to your romantic reading nook. Your lighting scheme is spot-on, the upholstery is not too soft or to rigid, the floors are radiating coziness, now you only have to add pillows and blankets to the mix.

 

This might seem like a simple task, but bear in mind that these additions can easily clutter up the look, so be frugal in your approach and only add the pieces that will enrich the reading nook in aesthetics and comfort. This can be a single chunky-knit blanket complemented by two accent pillows – one to support your lower back, and one to support good head posture.

 

The reading nook doesn’t get the praise and recognition it deserves in the modern household, and it’s time we brought this amazing restorative piece back into our daily lives. With these tips in mind, you will have no problem creating a romantic reading nook the entire family will love.

 

 

 

 

Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She’s passionate about fashion, home décor and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”

 

 

 

Meditation for the Modern Woman

 

 

We live in a time when distractions and anxieties abound. We’re encouraged to keep our schedules as busy as possible and are sometimes judged for having free time. Women are not immune.

 

In fact, we can sometimes get hit the hardest with these unrealistic expectations of constant productivity and business. The problems that result from this mindset are detrimental to our health; anxiety, negative self-talk, shorter attention spans, and life-threatening health conditions run rampant when we live in a constantly “on” world and never take the time to turn it all off and be alone with ourselves.

 

Meditation can enable us with the tools to turn off when we need a break; it can also help us get to know ourselves better, practice mindfulness, and live in the present moment. Meditation needs to be a priority for the modern woman. We’ll explain how to do that in further detail below.

 

 

The Benefits of Meditation

 

Meditation can lead you to a plethora of physical and mental benefits as well as improved connections within your relationships and with yourself. Some people use it to help them feel more spiritual and some use it to help them deal with anxieties at work. Whatever your goals are, take a look through the benefits of meditation and consider how a regular practice could improve your life.

Your meditation practice is like mindfulness training. Many practitioners say the main benefit of diligently maintaining their meditation practice is the result of mindfulness, or full awareness of the present moment without any judgement.

Marissa Powers and Lindsay Benjamin, both experts in meditation and mindfulness, explained to Concordia University that when we become aware of mindfulness through meditation we can:

  • Become more deeply and fully connected to the present moment
  • Deepen our relationship with other people
  • Improve communication
  • Connect with our work
  • Become a better listener
  • Even change our brain activity, improve heart rate, and reduce overall stress

 

Few people question anymore whether or not meditation is beneficial to your mind and body. We might discuss to what degree or who benefits most, but research proves the benefits of meditation. Dr. Robert Schneider noted research on transcendental meditation that found benefits such as:

  • Reduced blood pressure and insulin resistance
  • Slowing of biological aging
  • 48 percent reduction in rates of heart attacks, stroke, and death in coronary heart disease patients

 

Even though most doctors aren’t prescribing meditation to help treat health issues (yet), the benefits are still clear to see. Sometimes, it’s our own responsibility to take our health into our own hands and try something new. Next, we’ll discuss a few common types of meditation if you’re ready to get started but don’t know how.

 

 

Which Type of Meditation Is Right for You?

 

Over time, various cultures, educators, leaders, and experts have developed many different ways to practice meditation. There is something to suit anyone, no matter your personality or lifestyle. These variations were created because the same practice doesn’t work for everyone.

Cultivating a meditation practice is flexible, so you can create a unique practice that works for you if nothing else seems to fit your needs. There is no “right way” to meditate. But if you’re looking for a more traditional meditation practice to help get you started, here are a few types of meditation to consider:

 

  • Metta meditation, also known as loving-kindness meditation, focuses on cultivating an attitude of love, kindness, and compassion toward everything, even stress.

 

  • Mindfulness meditation aims to maintain your awareness of the present moment by noticing your surroundings without judgement.

 

  • Progressive relaxation, sometimes called body scan meditation, entails scanning your body for areas of tension, notice and release it, working your way through your whole body.

 

  • Breath awareness meditation is all about focusing on your breath; breathing slowly, deeply, and counting your breaths to help you focus and ignore the thoughts invading your mind. This is also a form of mindfulness meditation.

 

  • Zen meditation, sometimes called Zazen, involves specific steps and postures usually guided by a teacher. It is a form of mindfulness meditation that focuses on breath and mindfully observing your thoughts without judgement.

 

  • Transcendental meditation is more focused on the spiritual self than some forms of meditation practices. Practitioners focus on repeating a mantra while sitting still and breathing slowly in order to transcend above your current state of being.

It’s perfectly acceptable to blend different types of meditation until you’ve found your own personal practice. Keep in mind that this list only covers a few types of meditation and each description is a brief overview. There is a lot more out there to discover.

 

It’s perfectly acceptable to blend different types of meditation until you’ve found your own personal practice. Keep in mind that this list only covers a few types of meditation and each description is a brief overview. There is a lot more out there to discover.

 

Making Meditation Work for You

 

As a fellow modern woman, I know it’s difficult to cultivate a regular practice. Here are some quick tips from my research and my personal experience:

  • Use a guided meditation app. My favorite is Stop, Breathe, and Think.
  • You don’t have to sit and meditate. You can actually meditate anywhere while you’re doing anything — just take deep breaths and focus on the present moment.
  • Practice gratitude and take a few minutes to reflect on everything in your life that is good.
  • Unplug from all forms of technology for a set period of time.
  • Schedule your meditation practice like you would any other responsibility.
  • Try using a timer if you’re struggling.

 

In the not too distant future, I think we’ll find that meditation is a normal part of life for everyone, especially the modern woman. As we become more productive and connected than ever before, it will become increasingly important to take time to disconnect from the world and reconnect with ourselves. I hope this article will help you develop a practice that works for you.

 

Alex Quayle currently lives in Boise, Idaho with her partner, cat, and dwarf hamster. She can never say no to coffee, doughnuts, and good conversation. Follow her on Twitter @alexquayle33 for more articles and pictures of her cute, little family.

 

 

Simple Habits to Improve Your Quality of Life

 

 

They say it takes about 21 days to form a simple habit. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that depending on the habit, the person, and the circumstances, it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days — 66 on average — to form a new habit.

Even if it takes more work or a longer amount of time to make a behavior automatic, some habits are worth forming. Some habits help you stay safe, others keep you healthy, and some are worth the effort because they improve your quality of life. Everyday stresses and worries can wear you down and take some of the joy out of your daily life. To enhance your well-being and live a more meaningful life, consider adopting some of these habits (if you haven’t already):

 

Pay Your Debts Every Month

 

Money is the top source of stress for 61 percent of Americans, according to the American Psychological Association. Millennials especially face a grim picture with their everyday finances. Record amounts of debt make sticking to a budget, meeting increased costs of living, and saving for the future difficult.

 

While paying for the necessities can take up most or all of a paycheck, be sure to contribute toward paying off all your debts every month. You can split up payments to relieve the burden: pay off your credit card early in the month and make payments on your student loans in the middle or at the end of each month. Consider setting up auto-payments if you have trouble remembering. For example, if you are thinking of getting a car, “it may be best to look into leasing deals, as this will save money as the monthly payments is generally lower than purchasing a car”, said personal leasing company ICL.

 

Even paying just a little bit or the minimum balance can help reduce any large balances. Not only will it improve your finances, regular debt payments will help put your mind at ease and hopefully reduce your stress about money. When you aren’t worried about finances, you can put your energy toward other things and spend more time enjoying your life.

 

Go to Sleep Earlier

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in three Americans don’t get enough sleep on a nightly basis. Between work, family, and other obligations, sleep is often the first thing to fall by the wayside. However, on top of being cranky and tired, sleep deprivation can lead to health complications, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

 

Do your best to develop a healthy sleep schedule to get that full eight hours before you have to wake up the next day. Prepare as much as possible for the next day: pack your lunch, choose your outfit, and get the coffee pot ready. Set an alarm for an hour before bedtime so you can begin getting ready. If you have a tough time calming down and unwinding after a long day, create a pre-sleep routine. Do something that helps you relax, like meditation, yoga, reading, or listen to calming music.

Whatever you choose to do, be consistent! By establishing a steady routine, your body and mind will begin to associate it with sleep, and you’ll be able to drift off with ease. You may feel like you’re taking away precious time from your day, but this is an investment worth making in yourself. If you regularly get better sleep, you’ll likely feel more energized and productive than ever before.

 

Use Your Phone Less

 

A recent study found that Americans look at their phones 80 times per day — about once every 12 minutes. The amount of time that people use mobile devices has been on the rise, which can contribute to health problems like sleep disturbances or deprivation, strained vision, and headaches. Rutgers University also notes that social media use, in particular, can contribute to mental illness by causing or exacerbating feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and depression.

 

Whether or not you’re a social media addict, you can probably cut back on the amount of time you spend using your phone. Using your phone can affect everything from your communication skills to your driving. Nomophobia is the fear of being without a mobile device, and it may still plague you if your phone dies or you leave it behind.

 

Work to become less dependent on your devices and spend your time doing other things. If you have some time to kill while waiting at your doctor’s appointment, flip through a magazine or read a few pages of a book instead of checking your Twitter feed. In group settings, make an effort to leave your phone in your pocket and give your full attention to the other people there. Focusing your energy on things outside of the digital world will help your life feel fuller and freer.


There are many habits you can take on to improve your quality of life, so pick one that will truly make your life better. Try to do something that really speaks to you; if you aren’t passionate about forming a new behavior, it will be even harder to stick to it. Set yourself up for success, take it slow, and you’ll truly bring out your best self.

 

Madison Ann Baker is a writer, Netflix-binger, and pop culture enthusiast who lives in Idaho. Literature and linguistics are her two passions, both of which she studied in college. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her Borador, Dash, and re-reading Harry Potter. You can follow her on Twitter @mabakerwrites and check out her work on https://mabakerwrites.contently.com/ 

 

 

 

7 Valuable Ways You Need To Invest in Yourself

 

7 Valuable Ways You Need To Invest in Yourself

Even though it’s always wise to maintain a thrifty mindset, some aspects of your life are worth all the time and money in this world. Since we already spend the majority of our time working, no matter how rewarding and wonderful your career may be, you truly deserve to invest in yourself. After all, when we don’t learn how to practice self-care, chances are we will not lead fulfilled, happy lives in which we can do good for others to our full potential.

To help your mind and your body thrive, there are several key ways in which you can invest in yourself. Some of them will instantly impact your life, while others will take time to show their influence, as they predominantly rely on building healthy habits for your long-term well-being!

 

Read a chapter a day

Or even just a page a day, it doesn’t really matter as long as you strive to invest more time in reading. It’s a simple, yet powerful way to widen your horizons, open your mind to new ideas, let your imagination run free, and on a more practical note, enrich your vocabulary. Try various genres, look for books of substance, but also the ones that will do great for a relaxing Sunday afternoon with their humor and light-hearted stories.

 

Keep learning

No matter how old you are and what sort of education you’ve had, it’s never too early or too late to rekindle your love for mastering new skills and perfecting your knowledge.

There are so many online courses you can take free of charge to learn more about the world, but you can also take classes, from dancing, cooking, sewing, all the way to subscribing to YouTube channels with fun tutorials.

 

Follow the travel bug

There’s nothing quite like globe-trotting that teaches us to appreciate the world so much, embrace new and different cultures, and expand our views.

Whether you’re a fan of solo traveling, you prefer to look for exciting offers by various cruise lines, or you’re a spontaneous soul with a preference for road trips, consider the world your oyster. The more people you meet and the more places you see, the richer your life becomes.

 

Create a healthy routine

If you’re not a morning person, then perhaps a healthy, uplifting ritual when you rise and shine could help you associate the time of day with a wonderful experience – and add to your wellbeing!

For example, a cup of tea of different flavors for (almost) every day, meditation to fill your mind with positive thoughts, followed by a morning exercise routine to instantly elevate your mood. Whatever helps you lead a healthy life and makes you feel good in your own skin, do it!

 

Grow your confidence

Through moments of pure gratitude, conversations with yourself, or through an empowering activity that makes you feel on top of the world, you should begin to celebrate the fact that you and your life have value.

Start expressing gratitude for your virtues, and for the challenges that help you become a stronger, better person. All the friends and family in your life, everything you’ve accomplished, remember that you’ve earned it and worked for it. It will put your life in perspective, so that you can truly feel that you matter.

 

Less digital, more social

Even though it’s wonderful to stay in touch with your loved ones from abroad, social media platforms are no excuse to stay stuck staring at a screen and not really connecting with people. Make a weekly date with your friends, where all phones are off, or at least you’ll promise only to respond to emergencies.

Make it your goal to spend more time offline and truly bond with the people who matter in your life, as opposed to looking through Instagram photos of puppies. As cute as they may be, what gives meaning to your life are the people who make you happy!

 

Set your goals

While we’re on the subject of goals, setting them helps you get a firmer grip on whatever dreams you may have, as it puts them in a realistic timeframe. Make them attainable and measurable, and you can even divide them into milestones for daily tasks that let you get closer to the most important goals in your life.

No matter in what stage of life you currently are, there are always incredible methods to improve and better your existence through consistent investing in yourself. Make it your number one priority to “fund” your health and well-being, and the quality of your life will soar!


 


 

 

 

Olivia is psychologist and entrepreneur from Brisbane. Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs. She is passionate writer, a traveler and conscious consumer, seeking healthy and sustainable products to incorporate into the lives of her family. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

 

 

Wellness Holidays: The Most Amazing Health and Fitness Retreats

 

Wellness Holidays: The Most Amazing Health and Fitness Retreats

 

We need to detoxify our body and our spirit every once in a while. The work and daily responsibilities can be so exhausting a getaway is the only thing that can truly rejuvenate us and, thankfully, there are enough resorts around the world that are very successful in helping people get better. If you are looking for a break to de-stress, here are some of the most amazing health and fitness retreats for wellness holidays.

Crete, Greece

If you work in the office around the clock, the chances are you are spending a lot of time sitting and stress-eating. If you want to enjoy the mesmerizing natural sights and get fit, then Crete is a location for you. It’s the largest Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea and, at approximately 60 km wide and 260 km long, it offers some of the most jaw-dropping vistas you could imagine. Go for a physically involved health and fitness retreat at Milia, a renowned farm refurbished as an eco-village. Enjoy a ten-day retreat brimming with activities such as climbing, hiking and running while relishing in delightful local health-meals.

Rekawa Lagoon, Sri Lanka

Head down to the southern tip of Sri Lanka and enjoy the charms of Sen Wellness Sanctuary. Take a whole week to get off the radar and replenish your energy reserves at this wondrous beachside haven. The retreat is led by London-based acupuncturist and osteopath Sam Kankanamge. You will get a chance to lose weight and get the blood flowing through your muscles as your back finally feels relief from the chronic pain (probably caused by the stress). Enjoy the charms or Rekawa and Tangalle Beach and use your free time to jog along the sandy beach.

Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Byron Bay is a secluded beachside town on a coastline between Brisbane and Sydney. It is mostly known worldwide for its surfing beaches and quaint surroundings where tourists come to relax. If you are looking for a place to detox, there is a luxurious Byron Bay Accommodation that offers amazing services, a killer day spa and incredible restaurants. There are some truly neat options for yoga classes and scheduled hikes through the nearby rainforest you should look into. The picturesque beaches and unique ecosystem make Byron Bay one of the most sought-after resorts for health and fitness on this side of the globe.

Paradis Plage, Morocco

Morocco is probably one of the most beautiful and exotic countries you will visit, and its Paradis Plage Surf Yoga & Spa Resort is a true Zen-hotspot on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. If you’ve ever wanted to wake up to the mesmerizing sound of ocean waves, head to this resort without a second thought. After a session of sunset yoga, head to the nearby Taghazout, a small port and a surfer haven where you can ride camels and ride a jet ski. While you are in the region, do not miss out on Imouzzer waterfall.

Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

Now here is a place for those of you who want a perfect escapade in a backdrop that has a rustic feel to it. Head for a Wellness Day in the Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, especially if you get a chance to take a vacation in the early summer – the green countryside is budding with some of the most beautiful flowers and lush plant life you will see. Yoga program is exquisite and well thought out. Meditative walks and energy infusing morning stretches will have you up and running with newfound vigor in no-time.

 

Whether it is a retreat in the middle of the forest or a beachside resort, finding the right place to find your inner balance is crucial to retain peak performance in your workplace and with your daily obligations. Sometimes, in order to find the right perspective, you need to step away from your everyday life and reassess your goals as you heal your body and your spirit. These fitness retreats are basically tailored for this, and you won’t regret taking a chance with any of them.

 

Olivia is psychologist and entrepreneur from Brisbane. Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs. She is passionate writer, a traveler and conscious consumer, seeking healthy and sustainable products to incorporate into the lives of her family. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”.