Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad
Yey! We are finally in Spring people! Unless you’re French that is, in which case we’re still in winter as spring for them is 21st March. Talk about pessimism, eh?
But whatever day you mark as the beginning of Spring, it’s still a great feeling to be out of a long winter! That is why we have decided to come up with some tips and tricks to help detox yourself and your life and to get ready for a season of warm sunshine, longer days and a general brighter outlook, which many of us have lost in the winter months.
Tip 1 – Get a smoothie maker!
Now, we all know the benefits of healthy eating and how it impacts on your mood but more often than not, Hmsies has not managed to do really well in this. In fact, all too often, we find that when we buy our fruits and veggies, they go off way before we get the chance to eat them.
However, a few weeks ago, Olesya bought herself a smoothie maker (check out Amazon – it does NOT have to be expensive) and now, when she finds her avocados turning to mush or kiwis turning too ripe too quick, she just chucks them all in a blender and make a nutritious smoothie for breakfast! It doesn’t take more than 5 mins to prepare, you can even freeze the fruits and veggies you want to use and if you make it with almond milk or put some chia seeds in for example, it will contain enough protein to keep you full way up to lunch! There is also something so satisfying about drinking a nice blend of vitamins and it’s your chance to experiment what goes with what! Olesya found that spinach, lemon juice and coconut milk made a rather disgusting concoction but it’s all about learning, right?
Tip 2 – Youtube your workouts
Now, this is one of the very best things about the internet! There is SO much stuff out there that you can never really be lost, and this includes workout. Olesya, a long-time fan of Jillian Michael’s – the 30 day Shred, has also found some amazing Youtube channels for those days when you only have a bit of time but you still want to do something, even if it just a 10 minute yoga session.
Here are some fantastic Youtube channels for short but effective workouts:
Popsugarfit – an absolutely amazing channel! I saw it on Youtube a lot but never tried it because I thought it would be just a bunch of chatty women doing some jogging on the spot. In reality, I have tried almost all the workouts from 5 minutes – 40 and they REALLY do work you out! A surprising but great find!
Badyogi – this is also a great discovery for those yoga-lovers out there! Erin calls herself the “bad yogi” as she is not your typical “juice/cleanse 5 times a day, eat organic, lives in yoga pants” kinda girl. She actually manages to incorporate yoga in her life like a regular person and she makes super fun yoga routines and does challenges as well so you can really see the improvement progress. She also does tutorials for yoga poses, something very important for those who don’t go to classes and are not 100% sure about how to perform poses correctly.
As for long yoga videos – this one has been the best I have found, and I have searched through a lot! 1 hour long and perfect for those Sunday mornings when you can get a really good stretch in. Also having done this only a few times, you see pretty quick improvement in the fluidity of your movements as well as your strength on those chaturangas!
This is a fantastic channel! It has some of the best workout exercises I have seen, with really nice personable trainers who will make you sweat and work even in 10 minutes. They also have a playlist titled “Victoria Secret’s Model Workouts” and “Celebrity Workouts”. I of course never tried them because I thought it was just a gimmick but in actual fact, they work so so well! Some really decent stuff on here!
Now this, is one of the best channels for motivation and if you click, you will see why. For those days, when you’re not really feeling it, once you see these trainers who are fitness models, it will make you think twice about not working out! It’s not just because of the aesthetics that I love this channel but it’s also pretty, bloody hard! Especially their pilates/ballet videos – seem almost impossible to complete them (meaning it’s extra-satisfying when you have actually done it!)
Tip 3 – Manage your Finances
Ok so now you have some more vitamins and energy going through your body, time to tackle those really annoying things like finances. I have never been one for saving money, or keeping track of how much I spend even though I have read so much about it really being beneficial and helpful in the long term.
And you know what, having tried it out – they’re really not wrong! It is something really so quick and simple to do and actually quite rewarding in a sense to see all the figures in front of you. Now for those investment bankers out there – you may skip this one as it probably won’t matter that much on what and where your money goes but for those like us who are just starting out working and still maybe have a few debts to pay off yet also really want to holiday in the sun with friends, this really is the perfect thing! I managed to find a spreadsheet on google, with all the formulas already entered, I just changed the titles and made it a bit more related to my finances et voilà!
It always seemed rather limiting/depressing to me so that’s why I never did it before but in reality, it is so so useful and makes you actually feel as if you have more money because you know exactly what’s going where and you’re in control. This is the single best tip that I have done recently and really recommend it for anyone!
Tip 4 – Get involved!
People are not so different from animals and it really does seem like we have all been hibernating quite a bit in the last few months. I mean who wants to do anything after work when you haven’t even seen any sunlight that day and a night in with a curry and your TV favourite programme is just way more satisfying. Sad but true. However not anymore!
For your mental health and energy, it is worthwhile now to start catching up with old friends, plan some weekend getaways and even start to do activities after work. It will make you feel a lot more rejuvenated and refreshed and happier! We are all social creatures! For those who don’t really know anyone yet, or who have just moved for example, get online and find some activity groups or sports clubs! Even if you’re not new to the area, I’m sure there could be many great thing, places and people to discover so minimise those lazy days and get outside! Olesya has just signed up for a 20km hike on one of the March weekends, Jasper has decided to get back into swimming again! Whatever it is you do, just getting active and social again will do lots for your mental happiness and wellbeing!
Tip 5 – Relax
As the seasons are changing, it can be the perfect time to start a new lifestyle or just improve some areas in your life. But for all that you may do, there is nothing quite as important as relaxation which in this society, has just never been ingrained to us. For those who haven’t tried it, it may seem quite gimmicky and “pointless” but doing some daily meditation (even 5 minutes before you go to sleep) has a renowned effect on the way you feel and your behaviour. I can actually almost guarantee this as for those weeks I haven’t done any meditation, friends around me have really noticed a difference. It feels like it’s something that doesn’t really have a purpose, I get this as I felt the same way. However once I (and people around me) noticed an actual difference in my behaviour, those few minutes of checking in with your breath every day is actually a pretty worthwhile thing to do!
There are many resources online and here is a really, useful list of 8 of the best free-guided meditation resources!
And as I said, whether you spend 20 minutes a day or just 5, as long as you do it regularly, you will feel the difference. It really is like a workout for the mind, I feel.
Also, don’t forget to get enough sleep and start leaving your curtains a bit open so that you can wake up naturally with the sunshine. This is a loooot better for you and also easier for your body to manage meaning naturally more energy and zest! Unless you had a few too many Paulaner’s the night before..in that case, maybe keep the curtains closed!
So there we are, some of our favourite tips to get you ready for our favourite season! Of course none of this is rocket-science or anything new, but it’s something we felt strongly to write about as we never thought any of this would really have such a positive effect. We still enjoy our nights out and 2am kebabs and have some days when we just do not want to leave our beds, but it’s even more enjoyable when it’s done in moderation! And as we haven’t seen those sunny days in a while, we feel that now is time to embrace all the change and really make the most of this!