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.

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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FUELING CREATIVITY + LIVING IN THE MOMENT // A Social Media Detox

As someone who spends their work life, and a lot of their personal life, online, particularly on social media, I've felt truly conflicted recently with the role of social media in my life, and whether my constant participation is necessary (/harmful/frivolous/beneficial) for my career and overall well-being. And I'm not the only one... from influencers to companies, people are (finally) starting to discuss the benefits of a social media detox. I've definitely seen a need for one come to fruition in my own life: Often I see on social media, particularly with creatives such as writers, designers, photographers, painters, that they create such beautiful things in so many ways, and not just for work. They pursue passion projects. They design 'just because'. I found myself questioning how they had ‘all of this time’ to do these things. And then I started to notice... while they were creating, and simply posting to social media, I, unlike them, was being sucked into the vortex of the endless scroll. Maybe an assumption here, but probably not. 

Here's where I feel an internal conflict. As a digital marketer, is my up to date knowledge on everything social media something that makes me successful in my career? In some ways, I do think it is. Knowing who's who online and forging connections both professionally and otherwise is a large and super important part of what I do. I even advise my own clients on the importance of timely engagement with their followers and other accounts. So what will a social media detox look like for me? What's the perfect equilibrium between staying on top of a social platform that can be compared to a black hole (...yikes) and taking the time to step away, to enjoy the life that I'm living in real time.

It's hard. And I'm still figuring it out, to be honest. But here's what I'm trying so far:

A nighttime cutoff | I’m trying to step away from social media, and my phone in general, after 9pm. I just have to remember...anything that is posted at 9pm will be most definitely be there waiting for me at 7am. Plus, less screen time before bed is proven to have a huge positive effect sleep, and for someone who truly values sleep, this is a no brainer.

Do something 'active' | I prefer to walk to most places that I need to go in the city, so I am walking a lot of the time. What's nice about this time is that for the most part, I put in my headphones and use that time to zone out with music and my own thoughts. But active is subjective: If it's not walking, I like to cook to keep me busy. Whatever it is, do something that takes you off the seat that you're in and gets you moving. It helps.

Short bursts of unplugged time for creativity | Set your alarm for 20-30 minutes and put it on silent, face down. Use this time to be creative. Usually once I get inspired and over those first few minutes of 'withdrawal', I actually get so involved that I don't want my timer to end! Recently I've been trying stream of consciousness writing. I've wanted to get back into writing for fun, and plus, it's said that stream of consciousness writing (essentially journalling) is really great for mental wellness and stress relief.

Disassociate posting for yourself vs. posting to post | The pressure can be real on this one. If you're not posting, are you losing followers? Will people forget about you? Will the algorithm work against you? When at first we might say yes, the reality is that engaged followers only care about your content and how great it is... which normally is a natural result of passionate work. When taking and posting photos becomes laborous, or you post something just to get content out there, it usually isn't your best. I’ve been working to except ebbs and flows in my creative process, as opposed to fight it, and work with my inspiration only when it comes naturally.

Just look up | Whenever you consciously find yourself scrolling on your phone, then also make the conscious decision to just look up, look around and put the phone down. Take a few deep breaths, pet your dog, stretch. It truly becomes the first step in breaking the habit.

Have you tried a social media detox?? I’d love to know!