The Life You Love

How Home Organization + Cleanliness Affect Your Wellbeing


I grew up with a stay-at-home mom who always kept the house clean.  It was by no means minimalist, but it was tidy and we (almost) always knew where everything was.  When I went to college and no one told me to fold my laundry and put my dishes in the dishwasher, any bit of cleanliness went right out the dirty, streaked window.  And then my depression got the best of me and I was fatigued and apathetic.  I never cleaned and I couldn't have cared less.  Of course, it all just got worse.  The less I cleaned, the less I cared.  And the less I care, the less I cleaned.

Never once did it cross my mind that maybe - just freaking maybe - I could have improved everything else, like my mood and thoughts, by just picking up and cleaning.

Our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors all affect each other.  If we think that we're not good at something, we're not going to get any better at it and we're going to feel pretty lousy.  If we can change that thought, we can actually work to improve and to feel better.  Even if you don't all of a sudden master whatever you were trying to do, you'll still improve and it's a lot better than the alternative of pouting around the house.


Think about it.  The last time that you were feeling overwhelmed, what kind of thoughts were you having?  You probably told yourself shit like, "UGH, I don't have time for this!" and you probably had difficulty focusing on just one thing at a time.  And I bet your home was pretty unorganized.

Now think about the last time you felt like your house was truly organized and cleaned.  How did that make you feel?  I always feel accomplished, cozy, and motived when my house is clean.  What did you think about?  Hell, you may not have even thought about your house because you didn't have to dwell on how badly you needed to clean.

When you clean and organize, positive things happen.  First of all, your house will be clean (duh).  Can you imagine actually being able to find what you're looking for without digging through piles of old clothes that you haven't worn since college?!  Second, you're going to feel so much more productive and accomplished.  When you're feeling productive, you get on a roll and you're more likely to get other stuff done!  You can start with little tasks before tackling bigger projects.  Third, you'll have more time for yourself and the things that you actually want to do (because I doubt that you just want to clean all of the time).  And fourth, your health and happiness will improve!  Not only will you get rid of the dust on top of your unread magazines, but you'll also reduce your stress levels and improve your sleep quality.

Here are a few resources and quick tips to help you improve your home.

RESOURCES & TIPS

  • Stop buying paper books and magazines.  Get a library card, use apps like Kindle & Texture, and look online for resources.
  • OptOutPrescreen - Eliminate paper clutter and waste by opting out of pre-approved credit notices for 5 years.
  • New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else) by Fay Wolf - A quick read that offers actionable advice to make your life feel a little more minimal, organized, and productive.
  • Create your own cleaning schedule.  Include specific times to reorganize and declutter.
  • Planner Pro is my favorite app for keeping track of tasks and events.  It's free for the basic version or $4.99 for a year for the pro version.
  • Simply Clean: The Proven Method for Keeping Your Home Organized, Clean and Beautiful in Just 10 Minutes a Day by Becky Rapinchuk - I haven't read this book, but it looks very helpful and it's on my list!
  • I recently started poking around on Unfuck Your Habitat and I think I'm going to love it.  It has cleaning challenges, tips, schedules, and more.
  • Use a bathroom caddy (it's back-to-school time so Target has plenty) to keep your cleaning supplies together and easy to access.
  • Put candles, air fresheners, or essential oil diffusers around your house.  The only thing that can make a clean, organized house even better is one that smells amazing.
  • Challenge yourself to use what you have before you replace it.  Stop stockpiling hair products and notebooks that you probably won't even use.  Take it a step further and put yourself on a spending freeze.  If you aren't spending money on stuff you don't need, you aren't bringing stuff you don't need into your house.

What are your favorite resources and tips for keeping an organized home?  How does having a clean home make you feel?  And how does having an unclean house make you feel?  Remember those emotions so you can remind yourself why you love having a clean house.


7 BEST FREE FITNESS + HEALTH APPS

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a little compensation if you purchase an item through my links - at no extra cost to you! Don't worry, I only share products that I love or think you'll love.

I did a thing.  I joined a gym.  Anyone who knows me in real life may be a little confused or surprised by this because I'm basically sedentary.  I think I mentioned in a previous post that I had neglected my physical health for years because I just assumed that being naturally skinny meant that I was healthy.  Obviously I was completely wrong.

So I've changed my idea of healthy and I've decided that I need to make my physical health a priority.  But I don't just use the gym.  There are days when you don't want to drag your ass to the gym.  There are days when you have a little extra energy and want to continue your workout at home.  And of course, there are times when you can't get to the gym because you're swamped or you're out of town.  That's where fitness and health apps come in.  You can find an app for just about anything and you can usually find multiple apps.  Here are 7 of the best, free fitness and health apps that you can download and begin using today.

TO STAY HYDRATED
What I really love about this app is that you can easily track tons of liquids, not just water.  I drink lots of tea, coffee, and carbonated water, so this is definitely something I love.  It even includes soup!  I haven't had any problems with this free app.  This app easily connects to other apps, so I also see my water intake on other fitness apps.  It also has a widget that you can use to quickly add water.

FOR A QUICK WORKOUT
One of the most common excuses I hear for not exercising - or really for anything - is, "I don't have time."  Y'all.  There is research that shows that high intensity interval workouts can actually be just as effective as traditional workouts.  I used 8Fit to complete several quick, interval workouts and found that they were super challenging, but also super easy to follow.  The best part is that you don't need any equipment!

TO FINALLY BE A RUNNER
Let me just get the bad out of the way - the ads are freaking annoying.  But the program and app are both actually pretty great.  They do have a free trial for a week, so I may try that to see what the benefits are and if it's worth it just to get rid of the damn ads.  The app uses a timer to countdown the time you have left in each interval and has voice cues so you don't have to stare at your app the whole time.  You can use this app on a treadmill or outside.

 TO KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PROGRESS
 I don't use this app for everything that it can be used for because I have a FitBit and find that syncing my FitBit is a lot easier than adding things in manually.  I really love this app because it breaks down your daily nutrition and food needs.  It doesn't just say that you need a certain amount of calories - it also tells you when you need the calories and how many macronutrients you need a day.  It's a great set of guidelines for your meal planning.

WORKOUTS FOR ANY OCCASION
If you haven't seen the PopSugar fitness plans on Pinterest, you're really missing out (and you somehow use Pinterest with your eyes closed).  This app is basically a collection of all of those workout plans and workout challenges.  You can also save workouts to complete at a later time or challenge yourself with different challenge plans. 

TO BUILD STRENGTH
Strength training and weightlifting can be super intimidating if you don't know what you're doing or where you should even start.  This app let's you access top-notch fitness programs from some of the best trainers for free.  And since it's a phone app, you can bring your workout plan with you and it just looks like you're checking your phone.  You can also watch quick clips to make sure you're completing an exercise correctly.  

TO BE FLEXIBLE & CENTERED
It can be pretty hard to come by a free good yoga app.  Down Dog is one of the few that I've found and truly enjoy.  This app is basically a beautiful slideshow of yoga poses and the narrator's voice is so calming.  This setup is great, but it doesn't include any sort of tutorials and you can't really see the transitions between poses.  Still, it's a great app.  One of my favorite things about the app is that you get a new workout every time you come back because it's randomized and has tons of different poses to choose from.

There you have it - my favorite fitness apps.  And they're all free.  What are your favorite fitness apps?  Are they free or paid?  Why do you love them?

BEDTIME ROUTINES & SLEEP HYGIENE

I've included an audio version of this blog post for your convenience!  Let me know if you prefer the audio or written versions and why.  Thanks!



Raise your hand if you've been told or read somewhere that having routines is super important for you.  Keep your hand up if you actually know why this is true.  Honestly, I would have put my hand down before I decided to actually look at the science behind habits.  Sounds like a snoozefest, am I right?  I hope so because I decided to really hone in on sleep habits and sleep hygiene.
sunrise alarm clock, bedtime routine, sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene includes all of the things that you do throughout the day that affect your sleep.  Exercise, sunlight, caffeine, room temperature, and routines can affect your sleep negatively or positively.  For example, going outside and basking in the sun between 6:00 AM to 8:30 AM can improve your sleep that night.  10 minutes of aerobic exercise per day can also improve your sleep.  Taking long naps or drinking caffeine later in the day can disrupt your sleep.

When it comes to your bedroom, it's important that your bedroom is comfortable and relaxing at all times.  You should only associate your bedroom with relaxation, sleep, and intimacy.  That means you should eliminate any habits or items in your bedroom that increase your sleep.  You should also use your bedroom to set up a bedtime routine.  Your body and brain love routines at specific times of the day because you already have a natural routine when it comes to being asleep or awake.  It's called the circadian rhythm and it's actually linked to a lot of health benefits or problems, such as obesity, depression, and insomnia.  I won't go into it, but it is an interesting topic to research if you want to know more!  This is actually something that I've struggled with, so I'm working on improving it.  That's right - even when bloggers talk about their routines, tips, and tricks, they may not be completely perfect.

bedtime routine, sleep hygiene, sleep

If you don't have a bedtime routine but want to make one, think of the things that you need to get done at night and the things that you want to do that make you feel relaxed.  You don't have to stick to the routine exactly.  Don't worry if you're 10 minutes later one night, as long as you're asleep within an hour of your usual bed time.  And don't worry if you don't always hit every task on that's part of your routine or if you don't complete your routine in the same order each night.

Here are the tasks and items that I include in my bedtime routine:

  • Drinking chamomile tea
  • Taking a shower
  • Oral, skin, and hair care
  • Journaling
  • Essential oils for aromatherapy
  • Background noise or music

And here are some items that I'm trying to incorporate into my bedtime routine:

  • Meditation
  • Reading
  • Only using my sunrise alarm clock
  • Going to sleep and waking up at the same time
As you can see, there are tons of different ways that you can improve your sleep hygiene and bedtime routines.  I only covered a few of them that I know work for me, but there are tons of ideas out there.  If you're interested in learning more about sleep hygiene or your circadian rhythm,  check out sleep.org which is actually part of the National sleep foundation.

4 THINGS TO DO ON YOUR BIRTHDAY FOR YOUR BEST YEAR YET

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a little compensation if you purchase an item through my links - at no extra cost to you! Don't worry, I only share products that I love or think you'll love.


New Year's Eve is cool and all, but that isn't really the first day of everyone's new year.  It's a way we can collectively celebrate another year around the Sun, but your new year starts on your birthday.  Today is my 24th birthday and the beginning of another new year for me!  Apparently, that means that I want to make a shit ton of lists?  And eat cake, of course.  Everything that I'm suggesting is stuff that can be done anytime, but having one day a year that you remember to do these things can help you actually do them.
WHAT WORKS & WHAT DOESN'T
You have a lot of things that are worth celebrating, but there's also the possibility that not everything in your life is perfect.  If you aren't happy with your job, promise yourself that you're going to look for and find a new job during the next 365 days.  If you want to practice more yoga each week, look up a studio or find an app that will keep you motivated.  Don't forget to remind yourself what's working, too.  If you stopped eating meat and you found positive changes, keep meat out of your diet.  If you found the secret to hacking the Instagram algorithm, keep hacking it!  What is working is just as important as what isn't working.

CELEBRATE YOURSELF & YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
365 days is a long time.  Chances are that you haven't just been sitting on your ass watching Netflix for that entire time.  What have you accomplished?  What about you is worth celebrating?  Maybe you've made meditation a regular part of your day.  Maybe you finally stopped biting your nails.  Maybe you just fell in love with your own smile all over again.  Maybe you graduated from school.  Whatever it is, you are worth celebrating and you should celebrate yourself.  Your birthday is a great excuse to have others celebrate you, too.

SET AND EVALUATE GOALS
 Like I said, this is your new year so this is the time to set some resolutions.  I've always connected more with the typical academic calendar anyways, so this is a great time for me to get ready for the new year.  When you set goals on your birthday, make sure that they're specific and that they spread out across your timeline.  You don't want to have a bunch of 1-month goals and 5-year goals, but nothing to work on in between.  You also don't want goals that have no deadline because you'll never actually get them done if you can just do them tomorrow.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE
This is your day.  If you want cake and champagne and girl's night, you better stock up on the bubbly and icing!  If you prefer to have a low-key day full of self-care and an intimate dinner, that's perfectly fine, too.  If you're only doing something because you think you're expected to do it, then don't freaking do it.  Only do what you love!  Even though that's a great philosophy for life, it especially works on your birthday.  Do what makes you feel happy and loved.

BONUS FOR THE WOO WOO PEOPLE
Not everyone reads or believes in Tarot, but I do and I think your birthday is a great time to do a 13-card Zodiac spread.  While one card is in the center and represents the overall theme of your next year of life, the next 12 cards are placed in a circle around the center card and represent each of the houses of the zodiac.  It's my absolute favorite Tarot spread!  If you're interested in having your cards read, let me know and we can arrange something.