The Fundamentals Of Bedroom Design*

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In one way designing a bedroom is quite simple because it is the one room in your house that is completely your own. If you live with children for instance you will share every other space, but your bedroom can be an oasis to which you retreat when you need a rest after a long day. Otherwise if you are entertaining and you have your friends over you will probably invite them to feel at home in your dining room, living room, your garden and your bathroom of course. However, your bedroom remains just yours. However, it is also a difficult room to design for the exact same reason. Since it is so personal and intimate getting it right is so important. If you do not spend enough time thinking about how your bedroom looks you may find that you cannot relax there. There is so much psychology mixed up with interior design that it sometimes makes you wonder how many decisions are actually conscious rather than performed at the behest of a subconscious feeling or urge. Why, after all, do people like one color over another? There must be a reason but many people would not be able to explain their preference one way or another and would be left saying that they just like a color because they like it.

If there is one thing that is crucial to a good bedroom it is a good bed. One myth that is easily dispelled is that a hard bed is absolutely good for you. Many people confuse a firm bed for a supportive one. However, it all depends on your back and your body’s needs. If you find that a goose down featherbed suits you more, go with that. However whatever bed you choose you should do a lot of research as choosing the wrong one can cause serious back pain and long term problems.

In any case picking a color for your bedroom is important because it can have such a massive impact on how well you sleep. Research from the National Sleep Foundation found that the best color for a bedroom is blue. The reason for this is that receptors in your eyes- called ganglion cells are most receptive to blue shades. These cells inform your brain of information which affects its day to day rhythm. Since the color blue is associated with calmness and peace seeing it as you try to drift off to sleep will help your brain realize that it needs to relax. In fact blue hues in bedrooms have been shown to reduce blood pressure and a person’s heart rate. However if blue is not your style you should go for soothing colors like grays, silvers and neutrals. One important feature of decorating your room is to not to use too many backlit objects like phones or TVs when you are trying to sleep. They inhibit the production of melatonin in your brain which helps you sleep. Switching them off and picking up a book is a better way to have a more restful night.

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Simple Steps You Can Take For A Healthier Lifestyle*

Countless people around the world know that they should be living a healthier lifestyle, however many feel that it’s such a daunting task that they put off that all-important first step for as long as possible. When you’re constantly seeing people on social media who seem to do nothing but work out and cook healthy meals it can make healthy living feel like a full-time job. However there are a number of simple steps you can take that will bring you that much closer to your lifestyle goals. Here are a few to think about…

(Image from Max Pixel)

Cut Out a Fifth

If you’ve been reading about nutrition and exercise for long enough you may have come across an article or video covering “blue zones” – areas of the world where people live longer and healthier lives than anywhere else. There are a number of factors that bind these countries together but one of the most prominent patterns is the fact that people from these areas generally eat less than the rest of us. In the majority of blue zones the average meal is smaller than those in the US and UK by at least a fifth. Try taking a leaf from their book and reducing the portions you have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you tend to make meals in a big platter that the family can help themselves to then try getting into the habit of serving up portions in the kitchen and freezing the rest.

Get into a Reading/Watching Routine

When you make a point of surrounding yourself with reminders of the lifestyle you want to lead you’ll find it provides a lot of motivation for actually getting stuck into the routines of a healthier lifestyle. The more you can read, watch and generally learn about healthy eating and fitness the more naturally you’ll be able to fit those all-important lifestyle choices into your usual routine. Start by setting a short window aside every day just for sitting down with a (healthy!) snack and simply learning more about healthy living. Whether it’s watching healthy cooking videos on YouTube, trying a new exercise you can do at home or reading review sites like Bodygearguide, make sure you’re making a point to get your fill of fitness information on a regular basis. Get into a routine for this and you’ll be amazed at how much difference it makes to your mindset.

Try to Be More Of a Herbivore

Diets that are heavy on the plants are not only rich in antioxidants and essential nutrients but are also much better for your weight and cardiovascular health. Of course there’s a danger of not getting enough protein if you make your diet too heavy on plant matter, however considering how meat-dense a typical diet is these days you probably don’t have too much to worry about! Try to start thinking of meat as more of a complement to your meals rather than the main attraction. Try subbing your usual dose of meat out for beans, nuts and legumes.

Retrain your Taste Buds

Some of the foods that are regularly touted as miracle workers – elk, sea vegetables, tofu and berries you’ve never heard of – might seem completely alien to you and literally quite hard to swallow. It may not always seem like it but it’s certainly possible to retrain your taste buds. Most of us naturally love salt, fat, sugar and so on because they’re prevalent in the diets we’ve been raised on and these are the tastes that we’re used to. However, if you make a point to eat healthier foods regardless of how they taste to begin with over time you’ll learn to like them. The easiest way to start is checking more labels and gradually cutting down the level of sugar in your diet.

Chill Out!

Even the most cool-headed person you know gets stressed from time to time. While healthy people get affected by it just as much as anyone they all have some go-to methods for relieving stress whenever it arises. There are many healthy methods for de-stressing and most people will only need one that they can fall back on again and again. Go for a scenic walk, meditate for a while, meet your best friend for a coffee… It’s okay to treat yourself now and then but make sure you’re not leaning on unhealthy methods of stress-relief too much. This will only make you more susceptible to stress from other aspects of your life and could lead to you getting stuck in a health rut.

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May’s Degustabox- The Picnic Edition

As I write this post the skies are grey and it’s chucking it down with rain so writing about May’s picnic themed Degustabox* is a little bit bittersweet. I’m a big fan of picnics and have already fitted in a couple this year with a view to having many more. This made the May box even more exciting as the chance to discover new things to fill my picnic basket with? I’m down with that…
Anyone who knows me in real life knows how obsessed I am with coffee so I was really excited to try these pyramid coffee bags from Bean Bags. These work in the same way as a tea bag but give you coffee shop standard coffee with no fuss and no mess. At £4.50 for a box they also work out much cheaper than a coffee shop and my also coffee obsessed boyfriend and I are loving these.
I’m really not a fan of Cadbury chocolate these days, it’s changed and isn’t the same comfort treat it once was. With that in mind, plus my issue with peanuts I passed this “Peanut Caramel Crisp” Big Taste bar (RRP £3.49) on to my Dad who had zero complaints, from what I’ve heard in general this is definitely one of Cadbury’s better offerings so I think I’ll seek out a peanut free bar from the same range to try.
I suppose overnight oats could be classed as a picnic food- breakfast al-fresco on a glorious summer morning sounds ideal. This gluten free offering from MOMA is flavoured with summery raspberry and coconut, perfect washed down with a mug of the Bean Bags coffee. RRP £3.20
More curious were the Cereal Lovers crunch time nuggets- a snacking granola product to help you energise and sustain your day. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty put off by the look of these- they reminded me of pet treats, but as someone who regularly snacks on cereal I gave them a go and whilst I’m not 100% in love with them I wouldn’t turn them down and they are ideal for grazing on at work. RRP £1.59.
Ginger beer for a picnic? How very “Famous Five” (was any one else obsessed with those books?). This alcoholic ginger beer from Crabbie’s is gluten free and made with real Asian ginger. I can’t stand ginger beer myself but passed this on to my granddad who very much enjoyed the bottle. RRP £1.89.
I did try the peach & grapefruit offering from Zeo though, an all-natural, low calorie soft drink this is so refreshing and would be perfect served icy cold on a blazing summer day. RRP £1.19
These two products were my favourites from the whole box. I’m a serious savoury snack fiend and I’m already very familiar with Hippeas chickpea puffs. Crunchy and addictive and under 100 calories a serving. In herbs we trust isn’t my favourite flavour from the brand but it’s still pretty awesome. Anyone looking for a healthy alternative to crips you need to seek these out- they’re a bit like wotsits but much crunchier and much more satisfying.
The popcorn from Portlebay is another product I’m already familiar with although I hadn’t tried the Sriracha flavour yet. This excited me greatly as I’m currently obsessed with spice and hot sauces and this really didn’t disappoint on flavour. It has an amazing kick and I’m already on the lookout for more!
Hippeas RRP is £1.50/bag and Portlebay popcorn £0.79
If you fancy going all out on your picnic and making your own bread then this Homepride Strong White Bread Flour (£1.50) is probably for you. I’ve not had time to bake any bread myself, or indeed bake anything but this is made from 100% British wheat and if I do get around to whipping up some bread-y goods I’ll share the recipe on here.
As much as I love my savoury snacks I also have a major sweet tooth and can’t resist the lure of childhood favourites. I’m not sure about this updated millions sweets, some things just shouldn’t be messed with- the sour ones are pretty good but the chocolate ones didn’t do it for me. A shame, but I just can’t get behind the mix of chewy sweet and chocolate. (£0.50 chocolate, £0.60 sour).
The Candy Kittens sweets however, in Eton Mess…these are GOOD! I’m already a fan of Candy Kittens sweets and buy them occasionally as a real treat (at £3 a bag they have to be a treat). I hadn’t tried this flavour as I’m not typically a berry flavour sweet kind of girl but these are good. And pretty. Almost too pretty to eat.
Finally we have “Skinni Wraps” from Deli Kitchen. Now I tend to avoid products like this as low calorie doesn’t work for my lifestyle right now but meh, in the spirit of trying new things I just took the 91 calories per wrap as an “eat more” kind of approach. I love the shape of these wraps, much easier to fold- I’m hopeless at folding wraps so rarely have them! Pack ‘em full of hummus, chicken, avocado…whatever you fancy, or toast them as use them as scoops for picnic dips. These are a welcome addition, in my eyes to the bread aisle and at £1.25 per pack are reasonably priced too.
For those who don’t know Degustabox is a monthly subscription box filled with 10-15 food/drink products, most of which are brand new to the market so it’s a great way to try things out. On a month by month basis the box costs £12.99 (with a discount for longer subscriptions) but the contents are generally worth far more than this.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £7.00 off of your first box (making it just £5.99!) by entering the code 6HZJ8 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand regularly over the last couple of years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you thought of them.

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Are you Sitting Comfortably?*

There’s nothing like slipping a couple of discs to make you realise the importance of taking care of your back. Given that I manage to knacker mine up doing every day things and still ending up in A&E requiring a catheter, having a useless left leg for months and requiring surgery and a lot of physio I seriously had to take a look at my lifestyle- especially my posture to prevent a repeat of the drama. Three years on and *touch wood* I’ve not had much in the way of further problems so I thought not might be a good time to share a few pearls of wisdom as well as a really useful e-book by Adjustable Beds & Riser Recliner Chairs retailer Adjustamatic.
One of the things I learnt through physio is the importance of strengthening your core. Your core is made up of not only your abdominal muscles but also your pelvic muscles, hip muscles and lower and middle back muscles. Having good core strength can help alleviate back pain, keeps your posture in check and can help you to make safer daily movements (think lifting, sitting, standing…). Yoga, pilates and swimming are brilliant ways to strengthen your core and trust me, you will notice a difference!
It sounds really boring but footwear is another thing that really affects my back, if I spend too long in heels- or at least the wrong type of heels I get some serious backache. Platform heels are fine, as well as supportive flats like trainers. Ballet pump style shoes are rubbish for me as they provide little in the way of support but other people might not find this a problem.
My third and final tip before moving on to the ebook is to make sure you have a decent mattress and a decent chair at work. We spend a LOT of our time either sleeping or sitting. I find a firm mattress best for me and if I stay overnight anywhere I often wake up with a niggling spine. The same for chairs. You need to find a chair that really supports your back, or get a detachable back support to go on it- I have one of these at work as well as a back “belt” for days where I am in a bit of pain- it’s great for stopping the slouch!
Anyway, a far more comprehensive guide is this e-book- any one who spends a long time sitting or suffers with back pain really should give it a read. It’s funny, you never really appreciate having a healthy spine until it’s suddenly not so healthy so it really does pay to look after it now.
Have you got any top tips or experiences to share? Leave them in the comments below.

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