UK Lifestyle Blog 2018-12-03T02:41:24+00:00
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5 Alternative Ways to Catch More Z’s and Feel Better

We’ve heard it all before, the same old advice on how to cure insomnia or get better sleep. But what happens when you’re already unwinding 2 hours before bed, you’ve already had a bath, and you’ve tried putting lavender on your pillow? It’s exhausting when you feel like you’ve tried everything but you still just can’t sleep. I’ve pulled together some different changes I’ve made in my lifestyle that I can whole-heartedly say, it works.   

I’m no doctor (so far from it, you wouldn’t believe) but after a ton of trial and error, these are some techniques that work for me. Everybody is different, and it’s worth seeing your doctor if you feel like it’s really bad. If you’re struggling to sleep, I suggest you try the basics and then give some of these alternatives a whirl, until  you find something that works for you.

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The basics:

  • Get yourself into a sleep pattern by going to bed and waking up at the same regular hours each night.
  • Switch off your phone, and all technology for that matter, 1- 2 hours before you plan to go to sleep.
  • Avoid drinking caffeine 6 hours before you plan to go to sleep. I just always drink decaf – it’s easier.

5 ways to get your to the land of nod a little quicker:

Switch to alcohol-free

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I don’t drink. I just celebrated 500 days sober, and I can honestly say giving up drinking is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Personally, I could give you a hundred reasons why going booze-free is great, but thats for another post *note to self*. Notably, since cutting booze our of my diet, my quality of sleep has improved dramatically. I studied neuroscience in university and learnt a little bit of smart stuff in my sleep science class…

 

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Today marks 500 days sober 🌸🙌

A post shared by Sami C 🌺🥥 (@samisealion) on

It’s not just stumbling in at 4am that upsets your sleeping. Drinking alcohol can interrupt your circadian rhythm so although you might pass out quicker when you’re drunk, you don’t get a better nights sleep. When you’ve had a skin-full, the production of adenosine in your brain is increased, allowing for a fast onset of sleep. But once it subsides as quickly as it came on, you’ll find yourself waking up before you’re fully rested. Alcohol blocks REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, too. REM is considered the most restorative type of sleep.

The less REM sleep you get, the more likely you are to wake up feeling groggy and unfocused. Not to mention, since I gave up drinking I don’t wake up at 5am gasping for water or needing to go to the bathroom. It’s not just from all the extra liquid your drinking… Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it encourages the body to lose extra fluid though sweat too, making you dehydrated. Yuck! So there you have it, scientifically proven to have better sleep if you don’t drink alcohol.

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If you’ve had a few drinks, give your body time to process the alcohol you’ve drunk before you try to sleep. On average it takes an hour to process one unit, but this can vary widely from person to person. Alternatively, you want decrease your alcohol intake. When I quit booze I started drinking Seedlip, a non-alcoholic botanical drink.

It tastes gorgeous and I completely forget I’m not drinking alcohol but I have zero hangovers – win win. You can buy it online here (100% more a sponsored or affiliate link), personally I love 2 shots of Sweet Pea Seedlip in a large gin bowl with a splash of tonic in a large glass.

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Write away your worries

Switching my brain off and not thinking about the million and one things I have to do is probably a familiar feeling for most people. I run a small business so it’s not easy to switch off from work – I’m constantly thinking about cashflow, the sales pipeline and everything else. The root of the issue is that I feel like I have so much to do the next day. I begin listing everything that I need to do and going over and over it in my mind. Instead of doing mental gymnastics that eventually amount to nothing except feeling anxious and awake, I put aside a set amount of time to work through these thoughts.

I don’t overwhelm myself by opening up Asana and looking at our business plan as a whole, that would be crazy. Instead I just reflect on some bitesize chunks that I keep in my Zelo planner in the top draw of my bed. This doesn’t take me more than a couple of seconds to do, and I try to do this as soon as I begin winding down, not just when I’m about to fall asleep. This way I can begin unwinding without feeling hindered by looming anxiety from work. The great thing about the Zelo journal is that it gives me a line of when I need to stop writing. It stops me scribbling pages of to-do lists and planning, when really I should be getting ready for sleep. It’s clear and concise, and I’ve formed a habit to write in it every single day.

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Perhaps you anxieties keeping you awake at night are different to mine though. Not everybody has the stresses of running a small business but most people have something on their mind. Whatever it is, find a solution that works for you. If you find yourself getting anxious or overthinking something, try writing it down and getting it out of your system. If you haven’t tried this before, it could revolutionise the way you handle your anxiety. If I’m anxious about a specific situation, I try writing down what’s the worst that can happen. I then write down what the most likely outcome in, and how I’d deal with those scenarios.

Add a couple drops of CBD

CBD is all the rage right now, with a former Coca-Cola exec declaring it the “new avocado toast” thanks to its popularity among millennials. It’s estimated that the market for CBD products will hit $22 billion in the next four years.It took me a little while to join the CBD bandwagon. As somebody that’s near enough teetotal, the thought of having anything that was close to an illegal drug didn’t interest me. I don’t drink, smoke or take any illegal drugs, and I wasn’t planning on introducing anything like that now. I was aware that CBD oil wasn’t illegal and that it was being sold on the high street, but something about it didn’t sit right with me. All that change when I started educating myself and using it to combat anxiety and insomnia.

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Conscious of my ignorance, I decided to read up more about CBD after a good friend said her mum swears by it. Here’s just a couple of (surprising) thing I learnt:

  • Unlike THC, it is not psychoactive. This means that CBD does not change a person’s state of mind when they use it. A common misconception.
  • CBD oil can be used to treat pain, acne, diabetes, anxiety, depression and insomnia. That’s just the half of it, there’s tons of other CBD health benefits.
  • The majority of users don’t experience any negative effects, however, there are possible side effects and it could interact with common medications.

While there’s still more scientific research to be done, preliminary studies have been in favour of CBD oil as an effective natural remedy for insomnia sufferers, thanks to the way it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. It promotes refreshing REM sleep (discussed earlier!) to reduce excessive daytime sleepiness. Aimée Shunney, a naturopathic doctor and medical advisor notes “people don’t sleep because they’re anxious or because they can’t get their brains to quiet down,” and it’s this particular kind of sleep problem that responds best to CBD.

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Plug in and play

Dropping off to the land of nod is usually the hardest part for me. Once I’m out, I usually sleep like a log and it’s difficult to get me out of bed again. It’s not uncommon that I’ll be lying in bed starring at the ceiling at 4am though. Once I begin listening to something (usually meditation), my mind becomes distracted and I begin falling asleep. I share a bed with my better-half, so I can’t play anything through the speakers, and sleeping with headphones is crazy uncomfortable. Instead I use my beloved music pillow.

The soundasleep music pillow is the only piece of technology I actually recommend keeping in the room when you’re trying to sleep (you’ll need your phone or some kind of MP3 player at the very least for this, too). It’s really simple, yet effective. Just download a podcast or an app like Head Space to your phone and plug it in to the pillow. It’ll play through a mini speaker snuggled inside the pillow stuffing. You can’t feel the speaker, and it’s a really good quality pillow as well. I can listen to my relaxing music, or whatever else I want, without the worry of distracting my partner in the middle of the night. There’s also a pretty awesome app that goes with it!

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I found this particular brand far more effective than others that I’ve used in the past because its a plug and play system, as opposed to trying to sync up an unreliable bluetooth option. There’s no need to charge it or anything like that, it’s just quick and easy to use. It’s completely affordable, too which is a real surprised based on the quality of the sound. I would undoubtably recommend this to anybody exploring meditation or relaxing music to ease insomnia. It’s best to put a sleep timer on your phone, so that once you’ve drifted off your phone will automatically stop playing the track after a set period of time.

What’s your secret to getting a better nights sleep?

February 11, 2019|Health|

A romantic stay in Devon + llama walking + IKEA = A happy girl 🤗🌸

I’m back! After a couple of quiet days and generally slow start to the year, I’m writing again. The last couple of months have been pretty crazy for me, both personally and professionally. Just before Christmas I went away to Jordan with my best friend for a week (blog post being written, stay tune!), and then we had the chaos of the holidays… Returning to work meant I had a million emails to deal with. On top of all of that, we were rolling out a new strategy for the biz. Next thing I know, we’re a couple days away from going on my hen party in Marrakech, and the wedding is literally a matter of weeks away. How on earth did this all happen so quick?! I digress.

One of my favourite things about having the blog is being able to look back on all the awesome things we’ve done and reading about it. I always forget the little details so I try and find the time to write about it as much as I can. It’s something I kind of regret not doing when we went traveling in the van, because there’s already so many little things that I’ve forgotten about. The best time was to write them when we were out there, the second best time is to start writing them now, so here I am… This trip only goes back a couple of weeks ago though so I’ll start here.

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On Christmas Day my lovely fiancé showered me with gifts. We lovingly bought me my favourite fake tan, some clothes I’d been swooning over at Sea Salt and lots of goodies that he knows I’ve wanted for ages. It was really sweet of him and just showed how well he knows me. Things are great and all (I love being golden bronze and knitwear is always a winner), but I’m all about experiences. Spending the day making memories with my love is far more important to me than anything else. S knows this, which is probably why he also booked us onto a llama walk in North Cornwall! When I opened the envelope on Christmas Day I burst out laughing and was so excited.

We were booked to go the weekend after New Years, so we didn’t have to wait too long before going to visit the llamas. We happened to have a voucher to use from Red Letter Days so we cashed it in to stay at a gorgeous little BnB in Devon to make a weekend of it. It couldn’t have been better timing to use our voucher as it felt like a real impromptu treat when we remembered we had the credit available to enjoy. It was so nice to have something booked after Christmas, too. As much as we adore our friends and family, we found this year to be a little bit exhausting visiting everybody, as we’re usually quite introverted people. It was nice to have some “us” time.

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We woke up bright and early on Sunday and headed to the llama farm. When we arrived we were greeted by the group we’d be joining and the owners of the farm. We picked out our llamas before having a health and safety introduction, then we set on our way to wander around the farm. They were absolutely adorable and all their personalities were so funny. We learnt tons about the llamas, their wool and the farm which was really interesting. It was clear that the owners of the farm had a true passion for llamas, and they told us about their travels to Peru to see rare breeds of llamas. Who knew there was so much to learn!?

We learnt more about the llamas and fed them, which was pretty funny. We got some shots with the llamas (when they weren’t trying to run away from us1) and then made our way up to a small log cabin in the woods where we stopped for a cuppa tea and a scone. It was lovely to huddle around the fire in the cabin, and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to visit at that time of year – the atmosphere was beautiful. After we finished our drinks we made our way back to the barn where the llamas were kept and said our farewells. The entire session probably lasted about 2 hours, which in my opinion was the perfect amount of time to stay on the farm.

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We browsed the shops and I swooned over some handmade socks made from the wool of the llamas we’d just walked (how cool is that!?). We then made our way up to the bed and breakfast in Devon.

We arrived at a good time, meaning we could unwind and just relax without feeling rushed to go for dinner as soon as we arrived. It’s the cosiest little cottage I’ve ever been to, we actually ended up snuggling up and having a nap when we first arrived. It was so peaceful, with sheep just grazing out the front (such a contrast from our hectic Christmas!). Feeling completely recharged, we woke up and went downstairs to indulge in a three-course dinner, which was included in our stay.

We found out that we were actually the only people staying at the cottage at that time, I guess because January is a quiet time for them. This meant we got the BEST service you can imagine, and we could feel relaxed knowing we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Absolute bliss.

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I’m not sure if it’s because we live in a new-build house or what… but I’m a real lover of old cottages and country homes. There’s something about a Chesterfield sofa in front of a roaring log burner that makes me feel happy. We filled our bellies with tasty food and just spent the evening enjoying each others company.

The food was so good, and the chef even came out and told us about his family recipe for the curry – you don’t get this type of service anywhere else. It’s one of a kind and not your ‘run of the mill’ bed and breakfast.

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After a good nights sleep we leisurely checked out of the room. On the way back to Cornwall we decided to stop in IKEA, it would be rude not to! We didn’t have much room in the car but I thought we could pick up a couple of bits.

I ended up buying much more than anticipated including a lampshade with is significantly too big for our house, and it’s now sitting in the corner of the room because we’re not entirely sure what to do with it – Oops! We got some other nice bits though including a full set of pink crockery 😍, then we headed back home.

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It was such a lovely getaway. When was the last time you had a romantic weekend!?

February 11, 2019|Travel|

6 Reasons I Fell in Love with Indonesia 😍🐘

We Brits have a thirst for travel. Whether we’re backpacking through Australia and New Zealand, kayaking in South America, taking in a show in New York City, trying to navigate the beautiful chaos that is Tokyo or simply lounging on a beach in a mediterranean resort town like Cod or Gran Canaria, we do so love to get away.

Sure, we love our country, sure we’ve got some beautiful places on our doorstep, and perhaps we get a little bit edgy when we can’t get a “proper” cup of tea overseas. The struggle is real, as I didn’t have a proper cup of tea in 2 months because I was traveling! It’s doesn’t end there, there’s tons of home comforts we miss but fear not, sometimes brands just have different names (Data Label actually did some research on this! Definitly check it out before you sob about missing your favourite crisps whilst traveling #firstworldproblem). Before I digress…

The great thing is that the world is such a huge place that whatever our tastes, preferences or budget with the explosion in online travel even the most cash strapped of us can find a great place to holiday when we’ve had a little too much of the gloom and drizzle of dear old blighty. Every now and then, however we may fall in love with a holiday destination that is truly unique in its sights, sounds, tastes, scents, culture, politics and national identity.

Infinitely beautiful and exotic, Indonesia can be an intoxicating place for tourists to fall in love with. As a growing economic hub, many westerners travel to Indonesia for work, while its many gorgeous sights continue to draw tourists from all over the world. Whether you’re staying for the long haul or just for a fleeting visit here are just of the wonderful things about staying in Indonesia and why it remains one of my favourite countries in the world…

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Gorgeous scenery and wildlife

There’s absolutely no doubt that Indonesia is one of the most gorgeous places on the planet. Even if you’re staying in one of the country’s major conurbations like Jakarta, Surabaya or Tangerang, you won’t have to far to spend some time amongst lush greenery and breathtakingly beautiful views.

If you need to take a holiday in your down time you’ll find that you’re only a couple of hours from somewhere stunning like Kepulauan Seribu, the Thousand Islands where you can chill for a few days in a glorious overwater hut. It’s the perfect antidote to the cosmopolitan hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, yet just a short two hour boat ride away. Animal and bird lovers will also find a plethora of gorgeous and fascinating wildlife. There’s literally nowhere else in the world where you can see a komodo dragon in their natural habitat.

Affordable and luxurious accommodation

If you’re used to paying the exorbitant rents of major cities in Britain like Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester or even London itself, you’ll likely be astonished at how affordable good quality, even luxurious accommodation is across Indonesia. Just take a look at this link and see for yourself; https://www.rumah.com/rumah-dijual/di-area-pakuwon-city-idji29033.

You’ll see a range of luxury homes at the tiniest fraction of what their equivalents would cost here in blighty. In fact, private rent is an estimated 74% lower than in the UK, while aggregate cost of living is estimated at just under 50% lower. If you’re planning on moving to Indonesia with work, investing in property or starting your own business, you’ll find that your opportunities are bolstered by great living at affordable prices.

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We stayed in this place, and it was $15 a night and SERIOUSLY beautiful 👆😱😱😱😱

Amazing street food

If you think you’ve tasted real Indonesian street food because you’ve been to Wagamamas or Tampopo, think again! Indonesia’s street food is legendary and oh-so-cheap. You’ll never have a bad meal while you’re there!

Try the rendang curry which can be made with meat of veggies, gado-gado for guilt free vegetarian deliciousness or nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (fried noodles) if you like your tastes simple and spicy.

Incredible coffee culture

If you have a passion for coffee, you won’t find a better place to indulge your habit. Coffee culture is absolutely massive all over Indonesia and while you may find all the familiar coffee chains in the big cities, the best drinking is to be found in the lesser known areas.

If you’re up for a trek in the Sumatran highlands you’ll find some of the world’s most legendary coffees including the kopi luwak coffee made famous by the film The Bucket List in which Jack Nicholson’s character is mortified to find that his beloved and expensive beverage is made from coffee beans that have been eaten (and defecated) by the local Indonesian mountain goats. While it’s not the most savoury of thoughts, it does lend the beans a unique flavour that all coffee aficionados should try at least once.

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Friendly and welcoming locals

The people of Indonesia are uniformly friendly, warm and compassionate, and pride themselves upon treating visitors as if they were their own guests. As such, you’ll find an extremely warm welcome wherever you go.

Whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure, take the time to read up on local traditions, customs, etiquette and culture and you’ll find yourself a firm favourite among the local populace. Also, don’t forget to take the time to learn a little Bahasa Indonesian, however, and you’ll find that people really appreciate it.

Vibrant art and culture

Culture vultures are often drawn to southeast Asia for its unique art and culture and Indonesia is absolutely no exception. Historically, the country has often been a trading post that bridged the far and middle east. As such, a wide range of cultural influences have shaped the art, culture, religion and politics of Indonesia.

While predominantly Islamic, the culture has also been shaped by Hindu, Buddhist and Confucianist influences to create a style of visual art, literature, music, dance and theatre that are unique and breathtakingly beautiful.

Check out the National Gallery of Indonesia in Jakarta (it’s on my bucket list!) to see a comprehensive overview of the nation’s art, culture and tradition or the Art1: New Museum to get a sample of some of the vibrant modern offerings produced by the nation.

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Whatever brings you to Indonesia, and however long you plan to stay for, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this richly diverse country.

February 4, 2019|Popular, Travel|

What the World Can Learn from the Koreans on Skin Care

Back then, France and Japan were considered the leading figures of the beauty industry. However during the 1980s, certain French companies have expanded their operations towards Korea where a few of their experts have created their own quality products. Within a few years time, South Korea has emerged as a leading powerhouse in the beauty industry where they provided several contributions in the market like Skinfood.

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Korean skin care includes:

  • Sheet masks
  • Essences
  • BB creams
  • CC cushions
  • The infamous 10-step skin care routine

All of which ensure dewy and radiant looking skin. Thanks to their continuous research and development strategies, it’s not surprising that the country has inspired countless businesses in the west. With their influence growing ever stronger, here are some tips we can learn from the Koreans in regards to skin care:

1. Focus on prevention.

In Korean culture, prevention is often favoured over treatment which is why many mothers and elder relatives encourage their children to start a proper skincare routine at a younger age. This include applying SPF regularly which helps protect their skin from harmful UV rays while also encouraging women as young as in their teens to start an anti-ageing regimen immediately.

This belief is reflected in the products they offer in the market. Many of which include SPF coverage, anti-ageing effects, and moisturisers that retain moisture and keep the skin looking firm and supple. With countless of treatments readily available, many believe that starting a skincare routine earlier in life is better than paying for costly treatments that can bring a lot of risks.

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2. Utilising natural ingredients.

In the past, countless of beauty companies have include parabens, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients in their product line. Many of which are included to add more enticing scents into their products while also increasing their shelf life. For Koreans, many of their companies have made it a point to shift to organic substitutes and using natural means to enhance their products.

One example is their various fermented skin care lines. Compared to mainstream products, fermented beauty products utilise bacteria to increase an ingredient’s potency, making it easy for the skin absorb while also enjoying its numerous benefits. Since many of these fermented products use natural ingredients without added chemicals, they also pose as a great alternative for those who generally have sensitive skin.

3. View skincare as self-love.

Other than viewing skin care as a means of preventing harmful skin conditions, Koreans also view it as a means to express self love and relax. In a world where constant pressure and stressors pose as challenges for people of all ages, it is very important that one takes the time to relax by taking the time to treat themselves to various beauty regimens.

Many people may be under the impression that taking care of our appearance is seen as shallow and superficial. This couldn’t be farther from the truth as countless of people have stated that taking care of yourself reflects how you respect and present yourself to the world. People who generally put an effort in their appearance indicate that they love themselves and are ready to face the world head on.

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4. Make skincare routines fun.

Many people often see skincare routine as a chore rather than a way to relax which is why many people often opt to skip their nightly ritual. This can be a huge mistake especially since every moment counts when it comes to taking care of yourself and your body. When we neglect to take care of our skin, it can lead to consequences that can affect our overall appearance and self esteem.

In Korea, many of their products are packaged in colourful bottles and jars that makes it hard to ignore. The reason they do this is because they want to appeal to a wider market and emphasise on how skin care can also be fun. Considering that there are countless of products available, one can pick and choose which product works for them without feeling pressured to buy the latest trend.

In a nutshell

With these key principles in mind, it’s no wonder that South Korea continues to be a global leader in the beauty industry. With their research and development team being years ahead of their western counterparts, it’s no surprise that we can learn a thing or two from them.

This include taking an active role in making sure our skin stays healthy while also emphasising that everyone can benefit from this routine regardless of your gender, age, income, and lifestyle. Nevertheless, it is also important to consult with a dermatologist before starting any new skin care routines.

February 1, 2019|Beauty|
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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog written by me, Sam Charles! Ranked as Up and Coming on Bloglovin’, Strawberry Squeeze publishes content from health and beauty to travel and adventure.

I aim to updated the blog at least once a week (usually much more often!) with guides, inspiration and reviews. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook to keep up to date with all my posts 💕

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Strawberry Squeeze is a UK lifestyle blog but what exactly does that mean? Mediakix defines a lifestyle blog as “digital content representation of its author’s everyday life and interests”. This is perfect for fickle little me, that changes what they’re doing every 5 minutes.

Whilst my career, my fiancée and my home is consistent, my hobbies and interest are all over the place. Life is too short and I want to experience EVERYTHING. One weekend I’ll be climbing a mountain, another I’ll be surfing, then the next week I’ll be watching learning how to create macrame wall hangings.

I always wonder how successful I could make the blog if it was in a niche with a focus but alas, it just wouldn’t be me.

Do you run a UK lifestyle or fitness blog, and want to contribute to my Strawberry Squeeze? If so, I want to hear from you!🍓hello@strawberrysqueeze.co.uk

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