Minimalism.

Maybe you don’t need to purchase the latest electronic device in order to feel fulfilled. Maybe you don’t need to buy the newest skincare product, promising to meet society’s expectations of beauty. Maybe you don’t need that latest fast fashion piece to give you a fleeting moment of happiness. Maybe you don’t need to live up to the expectations laid down for you not only by society but also by that little voice in your head that says you’re not enough. Maybe it’s okay to be happy with less. To want less. To live with less. To be happy with what and who you have.

Fulfillment will never come from material items. It will never come from spending. You might feel exhilarated when purchasing something new but that feeling rarely lasts. Perhaps this momentary high is filling a void that exists for another reason. Maybe that reason is anxiety, not being content with oneself, attempting to live a life in line with society’s ideals, unaddressed issues in ones personal life, not taking time out to do nice things for yourself – the list of possibilities goes on.

Be gentle and kind to yourself and most importantly, try to be content with simply being.

Exploring Nature for Wellbeing

Take a walk. Walk in the early morning, when there’s no one about, except you. Enjoy the sound of your footsteps, appreciating every step that you get to take and every moment that you are fortunate enough to experience on this earth.

Take a walk at night, when the buzz of the day is receding and allow a wave of peace to wash over you. Know that a new day awaits you tomorrow.

On your walk, take in your surroundings and appreciate the small details which you may have overlooked before. While these details may be small and previously insignificant, they can be incredibly impactful and thought-provoking.

During Winter, notice the snap of branches beneath your feet, the crunch of frozen grass. Feel the crisp air against your skin, the cold breeze making you feel alive.

During Autumn, become aware of vibrant leaves falling to the path laid out before you. Hues of brown, orange, yellow, red and green – all presenting their beauty to you, adding a pop of colour to your day.

While in Spring, notice the birdsong, the soft colouring of newly blossoming flowers as they prepare for their awakening – another wondrous opportunity to bloom – both for them and you.

Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin during Summer and allow it to fill you with happiness and gratitude. Allow it to warm your heart.

On your walk, know that you are a part of nature. You are the earth and the earth is you.

Ballyvooney Cove, Co.Waterford photographed by Loren O’Brien

Buying In-Season & Local Produce

Maybe it’s just me but I recall a time when I didn’t think twice about reaching for that shiny avocado at any time of year, tempting me with its rich green hue and the unspoken promise of its silky, luxurious texture.

However, since there has been a shift towards supporting local growers and producers, particularly in Ireland, naturally I’ve begun to think twice before reaching for fruit and vegetables which are readily available on supermarket shelves all year round.

Of course, our ability to grow practically every variety of fruit and vegetable at any time of year is a gift that our ancestors would no doubt have appreciated greatly. We want for nothing. I can go to my local supermarket or corner store and pick up a pineapple or a bunch of bananas which have been grown at the other side of the world and are available to me for a ludicrously cheap price, despite the sheer distance which they have travelled to reach my shopping bag.

However, such convenience and endless choice comes at another price. A price which was previously invisible but is now coming to light, as we begin to realise and understand our impact on the earth.

Questions such as why are we choosing to buy fruit and vegetables shipped from foreign lands, when we produce our own beautiful, in-season produce? Such produce does not need to travel far to reach our plates – it is a simple change to make.

Now, I am not suggesting that you completely stop buying exotic produce. I love a slice of watermelon and I am impartial to a side of guacamole. All I am asking is that you reduce your reliance on imported produce.

Local foods can be found at farmers markets (Tramore Farmers Market), in artisan food stores (Ardkeen Quality Food Stores in Waterford are a great retailer supporting local growers) and even on the shelves of large retailers. I found Irish, seasonal apples for sale in Tesco recently! A quick label check for the country of origin when buying packaged fruit and vegetables in supermarkets will inform you of where your food has come from.

In terms of cost, many people think that local food is expensive and unaffordable, compared to the low prices we pay in the likes of Lidl and Aldi. However, this is not the case. As the produce is seasonal and often organic, farmers need to move their product quickly when they harvest an entire crop and in order to do so, they sell them at affordable prices. You are also more likely to buy only what you need when you shop for local produce, as the number of choices isn’t overwhelmingly large, unlike in supermarkets. You are presented with what is in season which results in a simpler, more mindful shopping experience.

If you are ever in doubt about what is in season in Ireland, Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) have all of the information you need and they provide a breakdown for each month.

Progress comes by taking small steps. Maybe in November you could swap those oranges for some Bramley apples or reach for a celeriac as opposed to an aubergine.

Take advantage of the seasons. Produce tastes even better when grown in season. Not only will you have a positive impact on the planet but your taste buds will scream with delight.

Yoga for Mindfulness & Wellbeing

Photo by Bekir DΓΆnmez on Unsplash

When I truly began to take an interest in the environment and about the things that I could change in my life that would have less of an impact on the earth, I felt as if I needed more focus. It was as if I couldn’t fully invest myself in the present moment, as my mind was busy with a traffic jam of thoughts. It was chaos in there.

In order to become more focused, I began exercising regularly and eating well. A while ago, I ended up beginning a two hour daily commute for work. I allowed myself to fall into a habit of neglecting exercise and not eating as well as I should have. When I would return home from work I would make up excuses as to why I wouldn’t exercise, blaming the commute for how tired I felt, instead opting to lie on the couch, munching on treats and indulging in mindless tv.

Realistically, it was when lockdown occurred that I took a step back and wondered what I had been doing for a year. I had been treating my job as if it was the only thing that mattered, as if it was on a pedestal above all else. I would tire myself out in work, and even further on the commute home. At no stage did I even consider that my physical and mental health might be suffering, the two being interlinked. When Covid happened, even though I was still working as normal, I realised it was imperative that I make some changes in my life. These didn’t need to be changes that required a massive commitment, but ones that I could insert easily into my lifestyle and daily routine and that I wouldn’t dread doing.

I began by going on a 20-30 minute run after work nearby my home, in order to increase my energy levels for the rest of the night after the commute. I soon realised how unfit I had become, which actually motivated me to increase my fitness level. Feeling very adventurous, after a week or so, I introduced a 20 minute daily yoga session. Since beginning my yoga journey, I feel much more focused, clear-minded and calm. I am definitely a person who gets stressed quite easily, so I find that practicing yoga definitely helps me.

My experience with yoga has been a positive one. After time, you’ll become much more flexible and at ease during your yoga practice. At the beginning, I was stretching in ways I never thought possible. My utter confusion at being instructed to go into the ‘downward facing dog’ was no doubt plastered across my face (luckily nobody was present to see). I soon learned that ‘child’s pose’ would be my favourite (my inner laziness strikes again).

When beginning my yoga journey, I was lucky enough to have stumbled across Boho Beautiful – a yoga channel on Youtube which is perfect for beginner yogi’s and which is free and accessible here. Juliana is a wonderful yoga and meditation teacher and her practices are incredibly relaxing and peaceful. I’ve tried numerous yoga channels on Youtube, with this one being by far my favourite.

If you haven’t already introduced yoga into your daily routine, I promise that you can only benefit from doing so. All you need is yourself, a yoga mat and 20 minutes out of your day. A small commitment for something that’s both good for your body and mind.

Namaste ❀