How To Find Your Design Style

Designing a room can feel overwhelming. But you don’t need to be an interior designer to have the room of your dreams. Here’s how to find your own design style and put it to work:

  • Download the Pinterest app (or web: www.pinterest.com) which is a social media platform that provides inspiration from interior design ideas to recipes. Simply search for room ideas and “pin” your favorite ideas onto your Pinterest board.
  • Look for inspiration at home: take a walk around your home and in your closet. Pick out your favorite pieces and before you know it, you’ll be able to identify trends in your design choices. Perhaps you go for neutral tones, mid-century modern furniture, or lots of texture. Or perhaps you’re more minimalist. Identifying trends will help narrow your style search.
  • Buy a design magazine and create a mood board: Check out your local store for interior design magazines. When you get home, go through the pages and cut out any images that stand out to you. Glue them onto large piece of cardboard and create a collage of your favorite design ideas.

There is no right or wrong way to find your design style. It will become second nature before you know it. As you practice, you’ll start to notice that you have an instant reaction to design ideas, and more pronounced likes and dislikes. Trust your instincts!

Make Your Self-Care Plan Work For You

Various studies show that many of us suffer from stress and anxiety, and more so during difficult times. Taking care of ourselves should be our number one priority, but somehow it often gets relegated further down our personal priority lists.

Here is how to build a self-care strategy that focuses on your mental and physical well-being, and also fits into the busiest schedules.

  1. Choose rituals and practices that are realistic for you. It’s all very well choosing the most stress-relieving practice there is, but if you can’t see yourself doing it, it won’t be something you keep up with. Before committing to any self-care activity, think about how realistic it is and if you would actually enjoy it and DO it. Plan from there.
  2. Plan out self-care. It is easier to stick to a self-care plan if you block out time in your schedule for a self-care or de-stressing activity. You don’t need 90 minutes for a yoga class; try starting small first. Block out 20 minutes to stretch at lunchtime, or 15 minutes to practice a meditation first thing in the morning before work.
  3. Be organized. While you can and should be flexible with your schedule as things change throughout your week, being organized about self-care can help you stay on track. Practice doing a certain activity on a certain day, or at a certain time during your day. Repeating that each week will encourage the practice to become a habit.
  4. Prioritize sleep. This self-care activity is a no-brainer, but it is often the one most under-utilized. Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night. Prioritizing sleep will help manage stress levels and can even help you maintain a healthier weight.
  5. Aim to exercise. Exercise improves sleep, reduces stress levels, and helps to keep you on track with your health goals. Experts advise getting around 150 minutes of exercise a week, which may feel like a lot, but it’s only around 20 minutes per day! Start with a walk around the block before bedtime and see how your sleep improves.

5 Signs You May Not Be Taking Care Of Yourself

Juggling the needs of work, family, and home often makes us forget the most important needs—our own. Rather than being selfish, self-care is critical. Without it, everything we’re juggling comes crashing down.

If you’re not taking adequate care of yourself, your body will let you know. You just have to be paying attention to what it says! Here are a few signals your body can send that indicate it’s time to recharge your own batteries. If you notice some of these symptoms, it’s best if you start by having a chat with your physician.

  • Increased Forgetfulness: Forgetting occasional things might be normal but walking around in a fog all day is a problem. This may be a sign of simply not getting enough sleep, but it’s good to consult your doctor in case it’s a sign of a hormone imbalance.
  • Constant Fatigue: Do you wake up in the morning feeling tired? That might be a sign of something like inadequate levels of iron or other vitamins, or even sleep apnea.
  • Skin Changes: Our largest organ, skin, shows signs of ill health that are hard to ignore. If your skin is unusually dry, it might mean your diet needs more fatty acids. And sudden breakouts could also be a sign of stress or poor diet.
  • Muscle Twitches: If you notice random twitches in your leg muscles even when you’re relaxing, it may not be so random. It may stem from a lack of magnesium in your system. A blood test by your doctor will be able to identify that.
  • Mood Swings: If you’re more stressed or irritable than you think you should be, this can be a sign that your cortisol levels are too high. Your doctor can order a cortisol test, and regular exercise and proper sleep can help lower cortisol if it’s too high.

Many low hormone or vitamin levels stem directly from an unhealthy diet, which means some of the issues listed above can be addressed with changed eating habits. Talk to your doctor about what you should be eating more of—and what to avoid—to feel healthier.

Check Yourself: Are You Humblebragging?

Although false modesty is by no means a new phenomenon, a new word for such behavior is: “humblebrag.” Bragging while acting like you aren’t bragging can make you seem insensitive, dishonest, or just plain arrogant—none of which are endearing qualities.

People who humblebrag may find their friends become less and less interested in being cheerleaders. Companies can engage in humblebragging, too, which can turn off loyal customers. And whether boasting is thinly disguised as self-criticism or not, braggarts are rarely our favorite people.

Here are a few things you can do to not be the humblebragger your friends or customers start to avoid.

  • Exercise transparency. Social media has trained us to present the veneer of perfection to the world, never mind how far that image is from reality. By sharing more of your real-life experiences (that includes your cooking disasters, anxious moments, and bad hair days) you become more authentic as a whole person others can relate to.
  • Strip down your statement to its simplest form. Before you hit send or post online, try to read your sentences without their colorful descriptions to get to the root of what you’re saying. “My diet is going so well that I don’t fit into my clothes anymore” can be boiled down to “I have lost a lot of weight,” and adding the faux complaint at the end makes it harder for others to share your excitement and may make them resent your success.
  • Celebrate success with humility. None of this means you shouldn’t celebrate your successes—quite the contrary! We are enthusiastic supporters of people we love, so long as they don’t make us feel like that enthusiasm is an obligation. If you’re surprised at winning an award, be straightforward and sincere. If you get praise for a work project, acknowledge and express gratitude toward those who helped you.

If you’re concerned that you won’t recognize your own humblebragging, try the “tone detector” on Grammarly (grammarly.com) to gain insight into how your writing might sound to others.

Healthy Snack Alternatives For Late-Night Cravings

It turns out that having a snack long after dinner isn’t inherently bad for you. What can be bad, however, is eating the wrong things just before bed.

A general rule of thumb is to choose snacks that are higher in protein or fiber rather than sugar and carbohydrates. Beyond that, though, we need something that is tasty and satisfying—or we’ll just keep snacking.

Here are a few healthier alternatives to what you might be craving late at night.

Instead of: Try this:
Potato chips or pretzels Pistachios, roasted pumpkin seeds: Salty and crunchy, and also packed with protein
Chewy
candies
Goji berries, tart cherries: Chewy and sweet, and also
nutritious superfoods
Ice cream Greek yogurt, protein smoothie: Cold and sweet, and
also has probiotics or protein
Sandwich Whole wheat toast with peanut butter, carrots with
hummus: Savory and filling, and also fiber and protein-rich
Chocolate Almond butter with banana or dates: Rich and sweet,
and also has fiber and healthy fats

You know your tastes best, so let your palate be your guide for the healthy goodies to keep handy in your kitchen.

Common Cleaning Mistakes

Doing the housework isn’t usually fun, but it’s even worse when you realize that some of your cleaning habits might actually be making your house dirtier! Here are some common cleaning mistakes you may be making—and how to fix them.

  • Scrubbing carpet stains: All that effort to scrub away a stain could make it spread more or even push it deeper into the fabric of the carpet. Blotting instead of rubbing is the better idea.
  • Using Magic Eraser on everything: Those white sponges make shiny surfaces (like countertops, wood floors, high gloss painted walls, and oven or microwave windows) look dull, not clean. 
  • Bleaching rust and mold stains: Bleach will actually make rust problems worse, since rust requires oxidation and that’s exactly what bleach does. Bleach also makes mold look like it’s gone when it’s not, a deception that can be toxic. Use a product like Bar Keepers Friend on rust and simple hydrogen peroxide on mold (or call a professional).
  • Not cleaning the cleaning tools: It’s crucial to periodically clean the tools you use to ensure that they’re not simply depositing yesterday’s grime onto today’s surfaces. Wash your sponge or dishcloth at least once a week. Make sure the toilet brush is dry before you put it away. And clean the vacuum’s filter when you empty the canister.

Car Maintenance You’re Wasting $$$ On

Maintaining a car can be a costly activity–but it might not be as costly as you think. Most mechanics don’t want you to know most of the following tips. That’s because some maintenance really isn’t necessary, or isn’t required at the “recommended mileage.”

  • You don’t need to have your oil changed every 3,000 miles. In fact, most manufacturers say that most cars don’t need an oil change for 7,500 miles. Check your manual for certainty.
  • An additional warranty may be unnecessary. Most car manufacturers will guarantee cars for up to 70,000 miles, so be sure to check this before buying an additional warranty package.
  • Be smart about your inspection. Some car companies will sell you a $350 inspection deal, but in the process that means they will look for other things to fix that may not yet need fixing. For example, they may tell you that your brakes are worn down by 50 percent. Here’s the thing: you don’t need to replace your brakes until they are worn to about 85 to 90 percent of their original thickness.
  • Question flushes. Some mechanics may encourage you to flush the car of brake fluid, power steering fluid, or transmission fluid. This isn’t always necessary. Most of these fluids, depending on the car, only need to have the fluid changed if something is wrong. Ask the mechanic to show you the fluid, explain why it needs to be changed, and then do some research online about what signs to look for that might indicate that the fluid needs to be changed. Again, check your car’s manual.
  • However: Pay for quality materials! It may seem that you’re saving money by buying generic brake pads, but cheaper ones aren’t necessarily good quality and may wear out more quickly. Brake pads are worth splurging on in the long run. So is high-quality synthetic motor oil.

Bottom line: every car is different. Be sure to look at your car manufacturers’ manual and recommended maintenance schedule as a guide. Also, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.

Important Bike Safety Tips

Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

Some of the rules that keep roads safe for drivers and cyclists apply primarily to drivers. Some of the responsibility, however, falls squarely on the shoulders of bike riders. If you love to ride, keep these in mind:

  • Go with the flow: Cyclists should ride on the same side of the road they’d be on if they were driving in a given direction.
  • Stay in your lane: Even if there isn’t a designated bike lane, it’s best to stay off the sidewalk. You should typically ride as far to the side of the road as you safely and comfortably can (this varies by state).
  • See (and obey!) the light: These apply to cyclists, too! Riding through a stoplight or stop sign is just as much of a no-no for bikes as it is for cars.
  • Signal your intentions: Bike riders have a set of hand signals that communicate the same messages. Learn how to signal actions like turning and slowing. This is especially important if you’re on the far right side of a road and need to cut across a lane to make a left turn.

Finally, don’t forget that a bike helmet isn’t the only garment that will help keep you safe. Wear reflective clothing for day and night riding. Check your outfit for loose shoelaces, straps, or scarves that could get caught in chains or spokes and secure the bottoms of long skirts or the cuffs on loose-fitting trousers before you start pedaling.

How To Trade In Your Phone

Have you ever traded in a phone? Most carriers have their own programs that you can learn about on their website or through your account. However, there are other options out there too, offering cash for both Android and Apple devices. Here’s how to get the best deal:

  • Shop around. Don’t just take your carrier’s word for it, be sure to check multiple providers to find the best offer. Try these sites after checking with your provider: GadgetGone.com, ItsWorthMore.com.
  • Before cashing in, fix that broken screen. Some carriers will reduce the price for the phone to next to nothing if it has a broken screen. However, most screen fixes are quick, can be cheap, and will increase the value of your phone. Do your research.
  • Delete. Delete. Delete. Be sure to delete all personal information after you have backed up your phone. Once you’ve saved your data, restore the phone to its factory settings to avoid any potential fraud or your data getting into the wrong hands. 

How To Cope When Plans Fall Through

No matter how much we prepare in advance, chances are very good that plans will have to change along the way. Some people are adept at going with the flow when this happens, but for others, a sudden schedule change can be debilitating.

There’s no magic solution that makes plans bullet-proof or changes easier to handle, but there are some things you can do to help your brain cope with the stress of change. And most of the following tips can be implemented at the moment plans fall through, or even afterward, so it’s not all about planning ahead for changing plans!

  • Have a Plan B. And maybe even C. Unexpected changes are most difficult to handle when we don’t have a backup. Think ahead of time about how you might pivot if you needed to, and you’re more likely to be able to make the shift gracefully.
  • Focus on what you can control. It’s upsetting when changes are beyond your control, and it’s also important to remember that worrying about those things won’t help. Instead, look at the elements of a plan that are in your control and do what you can with those.
  • Look for learning opportunities. This may come after the fact, but if you can reframe the experience as a chance to learn something it may be easier to let go of anxiety.
  • Treat yourself kindly. There is no point in berating yourself about your reaction when plans fall through, or piling shame on top of whatever unhappiness you were already feeling. Give yourself the chance to feel and acknowledge your feelings without judgement and you’re more apt to be able to move on.