Today’s post is the first of what will likely be a sporadically recurring series about things that have improved my life recently. Some of it will be related to self-improvement and productivity, some of it won’t be. So in no particular order, without further ado, here are nine things that have made my life better lately.
(Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase using my link, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. It helps me keep the blog up and running.)
The Hate U Give and On The Come Up by Angie Thomas
I know I’m a little late getting on the The Hate U Give train, but damn. It’s a phenomenal book. I flew through the whole thing in less than 48 hours, picked up On The Come Up less than a week later, and also finished it in less than 2 days.
Self-help is my usual genre of choice, but this foray back to fiction did not disappoint. Both books are driven by young women of color living in the same fictional city, though the stories don’t overlap.
Both books are well over 400 pages, but they’re fast paced and the action begins almost immediately, so they were very easy to get into. After that, I couldn't put them down.
The paths of the stories, though fictional, draw very close parallels to real life events, opening the reader’s eyes to new worlds and perspectives that many of us have never witnessed from the inside.
I highly recommend both books to pretty much anyone, regardless of their usual taste in literature.
This one is all just for fun. If you need something entertaining and easy to watch while folding laundry, cooking dinner, or just hanging out chillin’, Safiya is fun to watch. She tries out unique clothes, buys products from targeted ads to test them out, and just has fun living life and trying new things. It always leaves me with a smile on my face.
I mentioned this stuff in my post about my morning routine, and I’m still loving it. True Lemon is basically powdered lemon juice. It makes it so easy to add lemon flavor to anything, and it doesn't have that weird artificial taste that some bottled lemon juice has.
Most of the time, I’m just a plain water person, but with summer right around the corner, I’ve been mixing it up. The lemon powder makes it so easy to make lemon water that really does taste like lemon, without a weird aftertaste or anything. The peach lemonade is a great balance of sweet and tangy, and it’s only ten calories. And let's face it, you should probably be drinking more water.
(I’m not a doctor, so don’t take this as medical advice.)
Since going off of birth control a year and a half ago, the acne that I’d been free of for years has come back. Much of it is hormonal. Hormonal acne most often shows as deep, painful bumps along the jawline that can last for quite a while.
I started drinking a cup of tea made with spearmint from my mom’s garden each day, and it does seem to be helping. I’ve only been at it for a few weeks, but anecdotally, I have seen results. I intend to keep it up and see if it’s just a fluke or if this does really work for me.
(Again, not a doctor.)
Fasting is something that has always fascinated me. There are alleged medical benefits that I frankly know very little about and had no impact on my decision to try it out; I was just curious about how I’d feel.
Turns out, I feel great. I haven’t been doing any extensive fasts—the longest being about 20 hours—though I do want to try out longer fasts in the near future. But even these shorter fasts leave me feeling light and energized. You know that sluggish feeling that you get if you eat a bunch of deep fried or carby food? It’s like the opposite of that.
I don’t fast every day, but when I do, I typically just skip breakfast and eat a late lunch. Black coffee, tea, and lemon water all make it fairly easy to delay eating for a while.
The Pomodoro Technique
I like this one so much that I wrote an entire blog post about it yesterday. It’s a simple method for getting work done, staying focused, and managing your break time. Unsurprisingly, I’m using it yet again to write this blog post.
That probably sounds obvious, but sometimes life gets busy, everything gets a little out of hand, and cleaning gets put on the back burner for a bit. Setting aside a pomodoro each day to clean up my space and put in that extra time to make sure things are decorated as well as cleaned just does wonders for my mood.
Cleaning doesn’t need to be nearly as difficult or painful as it’s made out to be. I was a very messy person for years, and I thought it didn’t matter because I could find what I needed. Turns out, that isn’t great for your mental health.
Greeting each day in a clean, organized, and nicely decorated space just makes life so much more enjoyable. I feel calmer, freer, and more able to explore the things that matter to me without stuff getting in the way. It’s helpful to occasionally remind myself that keeping my world clean is more than worth the effort.
mono. by RM
(here is the Spotify link)
mono. is, as RM (of BTS fame) refers to it, a “playlist.” It’s a Korean hip-hop album consisting of seven songs, and it nails that chill, moody, contemplative vibe perfectly.
The songs are partially in English and partially in Korean, and range from ambient and dreamy, to slow bangers, to steamy whisper-rap, and all share a thread of soul-baring honesty. The album as a whole is a mood. If you have no idea what I mean by that, giving it a listen should clear things up.
Stretching before bed
This one ties in closely with the last one because I don’t just mean any old stretching. No, I mean taking the time to set up a space that facilitates slow, flowy stretching and deep mental relaxation.
My regular nighttime routine is fairly short and sweet, but when I have the time, I like to treat myself. I’ll do the basics—brush my teeth, wash my face, moisturize—and then set up my yoga mat (I have this one), turn the smart lightbulb in our bedroom to a dim navy blue, light some candles, and play mono. or something similar through our Google home.
It is a m o o d.
Spending forty-five minutes or so stretching out the tension of the day, listening to music, and enjoying some time to myself with nothing on my mind, or my to do list, leaves me so content, relaxed, and ready to sleep. Plus, the whole aesthetic is so pleasing.
So with that, we have nine things that have improved my life recently. What has improved your life lately? Are you planning to try out any of these? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.