Tis the season to be jolly…

Hello lovely ladies and gents,

It’s been a over a week since I last posted but I have a valid excuse.. the festive season is upon us and I’ve been out and about so much that days have just flown by!

So what have I been up to? Well, the last pinkbananashoes adventure of 2012 was hula hooping, and let me tell you – it. was. awesome! I officially have a new girl crush on my professional fire hooping teacher (I don’t remember this being an option at my career talk!?) I went along to the class one cold and dark Monday with my friend Elaine. We sprinted through a very dodgy looking estate in Vauxhall (very pleased I wasn’t by myself)  to find about 30 assorted people of all different levels hooping away in a school dance hall. Any shame faced guilt at being late was pushed aside by the lovely Anna who gave us a hoop each and sent us off to find a space (we passed on the middle to find a couple at the back. The great thing about the class was how informal it was, we had enough one to one attention to ask questions but in general we were shown a ‘move?’ and then left to practice. Turns out that there’s no one way to wiggle and, ok so I couldn’t spin it round my neck (yet!) but by the end of the class I was pretty certain that my career in the circus was still possible – and if nothing else, I DEFINITELY want to be able to rock a hoop as my party piece. This is one happiness activity I’d totally go back to.

And so it’s only 13 days till Christmas!

I was thinking about writing a piece about how to stay healthy over the silly season, but as I did my research about ‘the top 10 tips to make sure you don’t overindulge’ I just rolled my eyes. Why? Because, I LOVE Christmas. I love Christmas so much that it’s almost embarrassing. I start getting excited from the 1st December when shops start to trickle in the first Christmas tune to subliminally make you part with your cash early. Shamefully, I literally squeak with joy the first time I see the coca-cola advert. Holidays are coming… eek! I know that’s it’s over-commerialised and in times recession perhaps I should be as gloomy as the economic forecasting, but I just can’t be. For me, it makes the crappness of winter worthwhile.

Ok, so I admit it. I’m not a Christian and for me Christmas is about fun, food, family and friends and not the birth of baby Jesus (sorry if that upsets anyone and if it does you should probably stop reading as this post doesn’t get any deeper.) 

Anyway, for me to give me top tips for a healthy Christmas would be very hypocritical – although in a vague attempt to keep in line with all my hard work here, I’ll try to stick to my five a day and try to stop at only a handful of chocolates instead of a box. (I’ve already got ‘gym guilt’ but I’m pushing that to the bad of my mind till January when I’m very aware that I’ll be another statistic of people dragging their slighter bigger bums through the door.) 

So in tribute to my ridiculous love of the season, here are my top 10 favourite things about Christmas. This is probably not an exhaustive list and not necessarily in the right order but counting down… 

10. Christmas Sandwiches – Exceptionally delicious yet totally unacceptable to eat outside of December. Me and my siblings always manage one at about 10pm on Christmas day, fighting over the good bits of what’s left of Christmas dinner. In fact I should add general Christmas gluttony to this point – Mince pies, Christmas cake, mulled wine. mmm.

9. Christmas songs – Miriah, Bing, Wham. Oh man, I love them all. Michael Buble croons away often in my flat over December much to boyfriends gritted teeth. he panda’s to my ridiculous Christmas love.

8. Ice skating – my friends will tell you that I hate the snow (bah humbug honestly) I can’t stand the white stuff, i hate the cold and it’s just a pain the the arse. But I love Christmas Ice skating – this year we went to Somerset house. Awesome. The one time of year I wish I was Canadian… or just good at ice skating.

7. General festive cheer – everyone gets a bit nicer including cabbies, tube staff, shop keepers – all cheerier! (Bus drivers remain stubbornly joyless. fact.)

6. Acceptable alcoholism – Monday night drinking – Why not! it’s Christmas!

5. Decorating the tree – it’s always bee one of my favourite things to do. Mull up some wine and get on the Christmas tunes. Except this year when me and boyfriend accidentally bought a tree about 1/3 bigger than last year and spent about an hour moving our furniture around trying to fit it in. Me in hysterics and lovely boyf trying to solve the issue. Our living room is now a shrine to the massive tree.

4. Christmas lights – making even the crappiest parts of London look lovely.

3. Christmas sparkle – oh glitter how tacky you are for 11 months of the year. Come December, bring it on!

2. Christmas movies/Christmas TV Specials –  Miracle of 34th Street, Elf, White Christmas, Friends. A little bit of magic which just feels wrong at any other time of year. 

1. Presents!… ha. only joking. No. 1 is my friends and family. Especially as I now have a nephew and niece (and one more on the way!) Christmas is especially magic again. And I think that this time of year, religious or not, makes you appreciate the people in your life. So for all the parties and the inevitable hang overs. This is what I enjoy most.

So there you have it, a rather self-indulgent and frivolous last post for 2012.  I hope you have a great time – eat, drink (in moderation.. or at least give your liver a break by drinking enough water) and be merry! It’s been a really great experience starting to write this blog and I thank all of you who have reached out and let me know that you enjoy my ramblings. This is my last post till the New Year (providing that the Mayan’s aren’t right and we’re all about to expire.) 

Peace.Image

xxx

 

 

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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The Answer to the Question – Is the glass half empty or half full?

Hello!

With the first ‘World Report on Happiness’ being published last week it seems that happiness is now a serious issue, one which governments are willing to take into consideration alongside gross domestic product.

Turns out that living somewhere sunny doesn’t make you happier… (although I’m just putting it out there that it would DEFINITELY make me happier)  Coming out on top was the great land of Vikings, Bacon and The Little Mermaid, yes Denmark officially has the happiest folks, closely followed by Finland and then Norway.  So what do these (cold) countries have which we don’t?

Well, it’s more than just good feelings (Scandinavia is notorious for high rates of depression and suicide) The research found that the two most important factors needed for national happiness were: Trust and Equality. This (epic) study showed that people who feel they have the freedom and equality to choose what they want to do are happier than those who feel that their decisions can be changed by someone else. The countries at the top of the list also felt more trust towards other people and their national institutions (hence the fact they don’t mind paying astronomical taxes because they believe in where they’re going.)

As I don’t live in, or have any plans to move to Denmark (I’ve already told you I need sunshine!) I thought I’d see what I could do to increase the happiness in my world, and here’s what I found…

The secret to success?

Leo Bormans is one of the leading psychologists of happiness who has spent years putting together ‘The World Book of Happiness’ says that it is proven that a lot of society’s problems could be helped with a dose of optimism. He’s found that optimists are happier, healthier and more successful.

Whereas pessimists will talk about ’I, the past and problems,’ optimists talk about ‘we, the future and solutions.’ Optimistic people don’t dwell on what’s happened in the past or feel challenged by obstacles in the future.

Bormans insists that the correlation between optimism and happiness is as strong as the one for smoking and lung cancer – isn’t this statement crazy?! Apparently true!?

The positivity percentage

Psychologists have found that 50% of our optimism can’t be altered because it’s entirely based on our genetics (anyone else surprised by this amount?!) A further 10% of our happiness stems from our circumstances e.g. where we live, work etc so if we’re lucky enough to have a house then this is going to increase the good feelings.

However, the final 40% is totally interpretational and entirely in our hands.  You can choose how to see the world and as I’ve written about before, you can think yourself happier. Not only that, but happiness is catching! Optimism spreads more optimism and those who look on the brighter side of life give double the weighting to happy events than pessimists do.  (Forget ‘misery loves company’, go find someone chipper and let their magic rub off on you!)

What Leo Bormans has found is that it’s not about instant gratification but long lasting satisfaction – so put down that spliff and send that naked beauty packing. Haha.

To get ramped up in the satisfaction stakes we need to learn to value our: relationships, health, freedom and work (apparently we need structure and meaning through work… again, I beg to differ but ok.)

Money can’t buy you happiness

Although money cannot be written out totally as a factor for happiness (wealthier nations out scored poorer African nations considerably) it’s been found that having an excess of money leads to increases jealousy and egocentricity. It seems the more money you have the less you are able to except life small pleasures (so that unexpected cup of tea or marshmallows or other random nice gesture falls on to a rich dead soul)

Half empty or half full?

And so, the eternal question: is the glass half empty or half full? The solution: change the glass. (Shut up, this is not a cop out!)

By changing the glass to one which can be filled with water we learn to be grateful for what we have, and the strengths and experiences we’ve already got. While pessimists focus on who they are, optimists focus their energies on who they might become and what goals they need to set to reach it.

We were all a little more optimistic then we could create a more collective happiness … which would filter into society and then perhaps we could give Denmark a run for its money.

Next week I’m definitely trying something new.. I’ve had a couple of weeks off the crazy so it’s about time I got out there again.

Always lovely to hear from you as always!

Peace

x

If you want to read more about the World Report on Happiness click here or hereLeo Bormans site click here

How to stop that hedgehog feeling…

Well winter is finally here and if you’re anything like me you’re already pining for those long warm evenings, beer gardens and bare legs. As the nights draw in (though the lack of sunlight I get working in a basement means it could be dark all day for all I know!) I suddenly find that only mashed potato and hot chocolate will do. (not together!) Personally I’d love it if I could spend all Autumn getting fat, have a massive sleep and then wake up skinny and refreshed in time for summer… sadly hibernation isn’t possible so I’ve found some ways to beat the winter blues.  

One of the main reasons we get seasonal depression is due to the decrease in the amount of light we get. Light triggers messages to a part of the brain called the ‘hypothalamus’ (No relation to the animal haha) This part controls sleep, mood, libido and appetite so a decrease in light has an impact of how effectively the brain manages these functions – i.e. we’re moodier, sadder, sleepier, ‘hungrier’ and less sexier. Brilliant.

So, what can we all do to try and put a bit of spring in our booted feet? Although these may not get your leaping out of bed at 7am in the same way you can in July – I hope that’ll at least help make climbing out from under the duvet a little easier (and maybe I can put that potato masher down.)

  1. Run around a bit  –  One of the easiest ways to improve your mood is to get more light! There are recommendations a plenty about light boxes but much as I’d love to splash some cash on a giant light bulb it’s not a financially viable solution, so the next best thing is to get outside moImagere. Combine this with some exercise and you’ll not only be getting the most of the light (and stopping any sort of Vitamin D deficiency!) but exercise is famously as effective a treatment of depression as antidepressants. Gotta love those natural endorphins.  (If the thought of jogging in your lunch break is pretty replusive, like me, you could always go for a wander at lunch and take some other form of exercise later to get the same effect. This lady loves lunchtime yoga)
  2. Put a B in it!  Vitamin B to be precise – needed in the body for energy. B6 boosts the neurotransmitters in your brain-box needed for mood balancing. Fantastic feel good foods rich in B6 include sweet potatoes, eggs (also a egg-cellent source of Vitamin D), fish and avocado (these last Imagetwo will also give you lovely shiney hair too, cause you’re worth it.) Also in this category are bananas, blueberries, brown rice and beef. Beginning with B and also excellent for turning that frown upside down by increasing seratonin. Lean red meat is one of the best sources of protein which stops energy levels from crashing causing you to reach for that biscuit tin.
  3. Have a cup of zen – Consider swapping your regular cup of joe to green tea. ImageYes coffee gives you that kick up the bum in the morning but it can also lead to anxiety, muscle tension and er… gut issues apparently! Research shows that green tea can help as an antidepressant and it’s also thought to boost your metabolism (anything to stop a potato pot belly!) 
    Give it a go – look how chilled out she looks!
  4. Pop a pill – St.John’s Wort, Tyrosine and 5-HTP are all natural supplements which lift your mood. Cod-liver oils will not only give you lovely lubricated joints but they’re also a dose of Vitamin D when the sun’s not.
  5. Get zesty – Researcher have found that just the smell of oranges can give you a pep. Citrus fruit are also famously full of Vitamin C which can ward off winter colds – which can only be a good thing cause, lets be honest, who feels sexy with a cold?!
  6. Have a laugh – if you’re feeling blue get out and socialise. Socialising releases endophines and scientists have found that those who laugh more live longer! (click here to see more benefits of laughter and what happened when I tried laughter yoga) 
  7. Jump on a flight – Nothing really is as good as some genuine sunshine so if funds allow, book yourself a winter holiday. Not only will it give you something to look forward to but you will reap the Imagehealth benefits of the extra light, (you lucky things – only London lunchtime walks for me sadly.)

So there you have it – no need to go into hibernation just yet. Let me know if you have any other tips for getting me out of the house, circus class is definitely next on the list.

I should say however if you are suffering from winter seasonal disorder of a more serious nature you should consult your GP and don’t suffer in silence.

Good to hear from you as always.

Image
More soon.

Peace.

x