CATCHING SOME ZZZ's // My Sleep Routine

Generally speaking, it’s been a strange experience to come into what I can only describe as my ‘true’ adult years… (Isn’t it funny when you think you’re all grown up at age 21..23..25?!) I feel like one of the biggest things I’ve learned in my late 20’s is how to be introspective, and to give myself the time and resources that I need to really feel happy. I don’t know, sometimes it’s easy to think that your struggles, whatever they may be, are just something you have to live with… and as a ‘true’ adult, I have come to terms with the falsity of that.

One of the things I have struggled with for years is sleep… I’m the person that would go to bed at 9:00 to get a “good night’s rest” because I knew I’d be up from 2 or 3am through the morning; my mind reeling with lists and to-do’s, hypothetical scenarios and anxieties. It’s something that I’ve accepted to be true for a very long time. But recently, as it became more effective on my daytime mood and energy levels, I decided to invest in myself, to make changes to foster positive habits that have very truly changed my day-to-day life. Here’s what I’ve invested in to experience better sleep:

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I stocked up on the most comfortable sleepwear I could find. I use the term sleepwear lightly: I usually like to sleep in cotton (not athletic) sports bras – too much fabric, like wearing an oversized tee shirt, is just too much for me. When I came across ARQ tops, I knew that they would be the most comfortable thing my money could buy, so I ordered multiples.... They have proven to be the most amazing – made of organic stretch cotton, so soft, non-restricting and perfect in their simplicity. I adore the wide strap version.

I took steps to block out sound and light. I’m naturally a light sleeper to begin with, so falling asleep/ tossing in the middle of the night has always been super disruptive for me because any little sound or light had the power to keep me awake. So, I started using this heavy duty sleep mask. The true darkness that comes with a sleep mask has helped me in getting the deep sleep that we all need, and (bonus) it’s one of the cutest sleep looks… just ask my boyfriend. :)

I created my perfect nighttime routine. I now swear by the power of the nighttime routine… if I happen to miss it one night, I notice my sleep being completely out of wack. Everyone’s routine to relax and get prepared for sleep may be different, but here’s what works for me: About 45 minutes before heading into bed, I have a cup of decaffeinated tea with Beam CBD oil. This stuff has been a GAME CHANGER. I was skeptical before I tried it, but I am so glad that I did. Even more than helping me sleep soundly, I notice that if I do wake up in the middle of the night, it is so much easier to fall right back asleep, instead of laying awake with a million thoughts in my head. On an ideal night, I get into bed about 30 minutes before I actually want to sleep and read until my eyes are naturally closing, whether that be in two minutes or 20. Letting my body feel tired naturally has been a new and welcome change on my body. After that, I slip on my mask and it’s a wrap.

If you have any sleep tips and tricks, let me know in the comments!

5 Changes I've Made to be More Sustainable

While I have loved seeing today’s culture leaning towards more sustainable practices, making it easier and more mainstream to think sustainably, I also have been weary over the opportunity for businesses to capitalize on this shift in the market. I will be the first to admit that I did invest in some cotton grocery bags and other reusable swaps, but I also truly believe that the best way to be more sustainable is to buy and consume less overall. In my experience, it simply comes down to small changes in habit and mindset. Here are five changes I’ve made in my everyday life to be more sustainable.

One

Think ahead and plan smarter. Living more sustainably is rooted in some planning and a little extra effort. How many times have you forgotten your reusable grocery bags at home, or bought a plastic water bottle because you didn’t have a reusable one on you? Guilty. For me, this has meant planning a grocery list before leaving the house in order to bring the right bags, and keeping a utensil set at work, where I eat out of the house. I also reach for full fruits that I have to take the time to cut myself, as opposed to the precut, packaged alternatives. I’ve noticed that often, waste (single-use plastic) is a byproduct of accessibility and easiness. But as a result, I have learned that what is easy is not always right. Putting in a little extra effort makes a big difference.

Two

Educate yourself. Similar to ‘green washing’, there’s nothing stopping a brand, company or individual from claiming that they are sustainable. While this can depend on your personal views and preferences as to what is deemed an adequate ‘amount’ of sustainability, I still think it’s important to at least read into a business’s sustainable practices before blindly accepting them as true. In addition to researching companies that I am a customer of, I also enjoy getting inspired by others living sustainably, through blog posts on all types of sustainable living topics and YouTube videos in order to learn new practices or to simply be motivated by leaders in the community.

Three

Get creative with what you have. Consumer culture has trained us to believe that we need particular things for particular uses: vases for flowers, jars for our pantry, pitchers for drinks. I’ve enjoyed breaking that habit, and getting creative with using the things that I have in different ways. Large bouquet of flowers? Throw them into a glass pitcher. Empty jar in your kitchen? Ditch the lid and use it as a cocktail glass, pencil holder or catchall for mementos. Practicing resourcefulness has been monumental in my sustainable living journey.

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Four

Buy Less. If you start to adapt the ‘get creative with what you have’ mentality, it will be even easier to simply buy less. Not to mention, this is the number one way to live more sustainably. It can be harder said than done, which is why I’ve taken small steps to minimize the temptation. I have unsubscribed from retailer emails that put sales and new merchandise at the forefront of my inbox. I also don’t shop in stores often, but rather browse online and keep a wishlist of items that I love. If I still love and want the item in a few weeks, only then might I make a purchase.

Five

Transition Your Mindset & Be Happy With What You Have. Again, sometimes easier said than done, especially when a lot of us enjoy treating ourselves with material items, or feel excited when we buy new things. By practicing gratitude every day and allowing myself to recognize happiness when I feel it, I have slowly disassociated things with happiness. I’ll admit that this was a slower process for me, but by getting into the daily practice of gratitude, I am creating habits that are not only more sustainable, but also good for the soul.

How do you try to be more sustainable in your everyday life? I’d love to know in the comments below.

This post was originally written for JessAnnKirby.com.

SHOPPING WITH INTENTION // My Favorite Sustainable Brands

If you’ve followed me for a while, some of my most loved sustainable brands may not be much of a surprise... But when I had the opportunity to share my favorites on a platform as big as Jess Kirby’s, it was pretty exciting. If one person is inclined to shop from a sustainable brand because of that post, it would be successful in my book! Check out the post for some more information about my absolute favorites, and click through all of my go-to sustainable brands below.

MY MORNINGS // Six Things I Do Before 8AM

Sometimes I hate to admit how much of a morning person I am. Mostly because there’s a small part of me that envies the person who can sleep soundly until 10am, and maybe because a part of me thinks (knows) that my early to rise mentality stems from anxiety. “I can’t sleep in! There’s things to do, thoughts on my mind! Sleeping in wastes the day!” Am I the only one who deals with that feeling?!

All of that aside, I’ve come to love being a morning person; the stillness of it, the slowness. It allows me to feel productive before the business of the day ensues. I’d like to think that it sets me up for success in some ways. So, here are six things that I usually do before 8:00:

1. 5 minutes of tidying | Especially as someone who works from home, our apartment is my all day work space, so it is important to me that there isn’t a pile of dishes in the sink or an unmade bed— it just wouldn’t be a productive space for me! Although we’re pretty good about staying on top of big messes, in the morning there’s inevitably clean dishes waiting to be put away, some laundry overflowing, or tumbleweed of dog hair brushing by… it’s really doable, and effective for me to spend a few minutes first thing in the morning just addressing these ‘chores’ and allowing myself the atmosphere I need to be productive.

2. Put things back in their place | Similarly to the above, things like books, remotes, shoes, mail, all get dropped fluidly in our house. Having a place for everything, and making sure those things always make it there, keep things at least looking tidy.

3. Take a few minutes for myself | Whether this is 15 minutes of reading in the morning or spending an extra 5 in bed after my alarm, ‘treating’ myself is always something I try to do. Waking up the extra minutes early is definitely worth it.

4. Walk the dog | Obviously.. for his sake. But other than that, just getting fresh air first thing in the morning is a game changer. To be honest, I don’t know how motivated I’d be to do this without a dog, especially in New England winters, but maybe there’s a track nearby or a coffee shop in walking distance that allows for some time outside before your day starts. Just doing it forces me out of that ‘I’m comfy in bed’ feeling and wakes me right up!

5. Review ‘admin’ items, like my upcoming schedules and bank accounts | This may seem super over the top to do on a daily basis but… I do. By keeping a daily tab on my planner, bank accounts, bills, meetings etc., there’s never a time when I sit down after weeks of neglect to surprises, a big project or something I missed. It makes me feel like my ‘affairs are in order’ — how adult— and that gives me peace of mind for the rest of the day.

6. Write down one point a gratitude from the day before | You already know that I find that practicing gratitude has helped me in my minimalism journey but in addition, I just love to journal. I’ve found that remembering a high point of the day before, no matter how big or small, not only keeps me practicing gratitude on a daily basis, but it also serves as a diary of sorts. Looking back even just months and seeing what I considered to be the best part of my day always makes me smile.

Thank you to True & Co for allowing me to try out your much-talked about V Neck Bra. I’ve been on the lookout for an intimates brand that isn’t a big box retailer for a very long time, and this female-run, San Fran based company has really hit the mark for me! Take their fit quiz to see what style would work best for you!

SPREADING (CONSCIOUS) CHEER // Sustainability Around the Holidays

It’s already time to prepare for the holidays — can you believe it?! While decorating the house, gift giving and eating lots of food are some of the best ways to get into the spirit, they also can be super wasteful too. Lots of excess and waste accumulates this time of year, so here are some of my easy tips to be a little more sustainable this holiday season:

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Decorate with perishables | I’ll be honest, some decorations you just can’t replace. For me, that’s the ornaments on our tree and our stockings. But other than that, one of my favorite ways to decorate is with natural elements that can be found right outside! Ferns, twigs and pinecones can be foraged and used for a charming and zero waste alternative to fake greenery. Plus, once the season’s over, compost them or toss them back out in the yard… no need for bulky storage! 

Wrap with care | While glittery and printed paper may be tempting, I’ve had a lot of fun being more creative with wrapping gifts during the holidays. There are plenty of supplies already at my fingertips that don’t require a wasteful purchase! Newspapers, brown paper bags, magazine pages, old linen clothes and other items are perfect for upcycling. Decorate your wrapped package with twigs or a stem of pine or rosemary and you have a wrapped gift with no extra waste! Plus, your gifts will certainly be the most unique under the tree!

Gift more thoughtfully | One of my favorite things to gift, especially when I have a lot of people to give to, is something homemade. A gift that requires your time definitely means a lot more than something that only requires your money! Create soy candles with essential oils and mason jars, or bake cookies and other treats. One of my personal favorites is to make infused olive oil for cooking. My favorite is garlic and rosemary, but this recipe for roasted garlic infused oil sounds delicious too. Divide into anything from old salad dressing jars to empty wine bottles and there you have it! Outside of the time element that comes with making a gift, you can also control the ingredients in and process of creating your product, meaning no toxic ingredients or excessive plastic waste. Win/win for you and the gift recipient! If you aren’t a DIYer, look into finding gifts at vintage shops. How much more thoughtful and cool is it to gift a vintage denim jacket, belt or decanter?!


Be responsible with food waste | While considering composting is my first recommendation when it comes to food waste all year round, sometimes you may not have the means or resources to do so, especially while traveling. My suggestion is to see how unwanted food can go to use: sure, taking leftovers to eat (for days) post holiday is a must, but what about unopened or perfectly good unused items? Donate them! Beef bones and/or veggies scraps going into the trash? Save and freeze them until you can make a big pot of homemade stock.  Often times we throw away food out of habit, when we could really be getting so much more out of what we have! Think proactively before tossing and see how much more you can do with extra food this season.

What tips and tricks do you have for being more sustainable during the holidays?

This post was originally written for Jess Ann Kirby.

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