New Year, New Routine? 10 Things I Do To Keep Myself Feeling Happy, Healthy & Magical!

My RoutineScanned from Kate Spade’s Things We Love.

I’m fascinated by personal routines. The way that other people structure their day is completely riveting to me.

I obsessively read about other people’s personal systems, wanting to know what they do, how they do it, & the superhero-esque results they net from it. Leo Babauta, for example, wakes up at 4.30am. Go Leo go! Lifehacker’s top 10 ways to upgrade your morning routine is pretty great too. (Push-ups in the morning, YES!)

Sometimes I think, in some twisted way, ‘If only my routine was PERFECT, then my life would run 100% smoothly & flawlessly!’ Or you think that if you adopted someone else’s habits, some of their magic would rub off on you.

Of course, this will never be the case, but occasionally I allow my mind to go there. I think a lot of us do. ‘If only I could manage to go to yoga three times a week, I would become Gisele Bundchen!’ ‘If I could manage to meditate every morning before work, I would be sublimely happy always!’ You get my drift!

Getting your routine sorted out is not the be-all & end-all. But it does have benefits. I know that incorporating more positive activities into my life will make me happier & more productive. I recognise the power of ritual, & I acknowledge that when my day has pattern & purpose, everything else is more likely to go well.

In the spirit of the new year, here’s my routine. My patterns change regularly–I’d say this is due in equal parts to my extremely low boredom threshold & my ongoing & perpetual curiousity about how I can “improve” everything! So, this is where I’m at now.

Early to rise

Early to risePhoto by Timothy Keen.

Waking up before the sunrise is my goal. It can be really hard, especially in winter, but it is always worth it. I can get SO much done in the hour and a half before the rest of the house wakes up!

This morning, for example, I was awake at 5am. I slid out of bed, washed my face, put on a peppermint face mask & meditated. Then I planned my day & wrote up this article, showered & dressed.

It’s really nice to get this stuff out of the way early on! I used to wake up at 7.30, walk the dogs, then sit around in my pyjamas all day writing! It’s ridiculous how much better I feel when I’m actually dressed! The rest of the world is clearly hip to this already, though! Haha!

Raw food

Raw food

I’m so pleased to report that I have recently returned to “the raw side”! Those of you who have been reading since the very beginning will remember that I ate raw–meaning I ate only uncooked fruits, vegetables & nuts–for about a year in 2007/2008. I often look back on those days fondly. I have literally never felt better in my life than I did when I was eating a high percentage of raw food. My skin was flawless (& it really did glow), I had energy to burn (I would often have to go & do a second workout at night because otherwise I couldn’t sleep), I needed less sleep generally, was insanely creative & productive, & I also felt totally euphoric a lot of the time!

Contrast this with how I feel when I’m consuming large amounts of processed foods, pasta, meat, dairy… blech.

This point was driven home to me when I started to come down with something around Thanksgiving. When I finally got to the point where I was bundled up on the couch feeling like death, I decided to DO something about it. So I ordered orange, lemon & grapefruit juices, coconut water + coconut meat blended smoothies, & drank them like my life depended on it. I chugged water. I ate vegetables & lots of garlic. I had a good sleep & stayed warm. I felt 100% better the next day! This is not a coincidence, & it reminded me how important it is to feed your body with wonderful food!

The only kicker with eating a lot of raw food is that it requires organisation. Your fridge needs to be stocked, otherwise you’re likely to just go for whatever is easiest. This is especially true if you leave your food choices to the very last minute, by which point you’re starving & ready to gnaw off your own arm. If you have your fridge stocked with fresh fruit & vegetables, it’s simple–if you don’t, it’s less so.

But hey! I live in America now, & there’s a legendary raw restaurant (Quintessence) two blocks from my house! My favourite juice bar (The Juice Press) will deliver to my door! No excuses Miss Gala!

So here’s my plan: at least one juice or smoothie per day. I like to set the bar really low, so it’s easy to succeed. My ideal situation would be a 60/40 raw diet, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself!

I also bought a Blueprint Cleanse ages ago through a Gilt sale… & I’m going to finally use it!

Water

Water

I bought a glass milk bottle a couple of months ago with the pronounced intention of upping my water intake. It holds a quart, which is almost a litre (946mL). I drink at least one bottle of water a day, & sometimes more. Is it weird to say that being super-hydrated feels really sexy?! It does! The more water I can get into my system, the better. Go team H2O!

I’ve started squeezing lemon into my water, too. There are so many excellent health benefits to doing this. Lemon helps to detoxify & purify the body. It’s also alkalising–which means that it lowers the amount of acid in your body. Drinking lemon water every morning is GREAT for your skin, wonderful for the digestion & the super-high Vitamin C content means it also helps to keep you healthy. In other words, it’s one of the easiest & cheapest ways to astronomically improve your health!

The best way to do it is to roll a lemon (or a lime, if you prefer, they have the exact same health benefits!) across the kitchen counter to soften it a little. This will help you extract the most juice! (It’s better to do this than to throw it in the microwave–when you do that, you alter the molecular structure, & it’s not as effective!)

Then, start your day with a glass of room temperature lemon water. It’s a fantastic way to hydrate (especially before your morning coffee, if that’s your style, because caffeine is tremendously dehydrating) & get your system kick-started!

Read Top 10 Benefits of Lemon Water if you want more info!

By the way, I also gave up coffee & soda in September. IT FEELS SO GOOD. Soda is disgusting (sorry–it is), & while I LOVE the taste of coffee–& the kick it affords me–it also makes me kind of nuts. I had been feeling much more aggressive than I needed to be, & the kind of work I do runs much more smoothly when I am not out grinding my teeth in a rage somewhere!

I know a lot of people said, “I could NEVER give up coffee!” when I mentioned it the first time. In my experience, where there’s a will, there’s a way! I don’t even miss it, & it hasn’t been difficult at all, even though I thought it might be! So if you want to give it a try… you should! (My skin looks way better too, if you need any additional motivation!)

Exercise

Exercise

My gym membership lapsed sometime back in September (!!!) & I was so busy that I kept putting off its renewal. Thankfully, I recently went back, & I’ve NEVER been happier!

I always thought that “exercise makes you feel so good!” was a lie perpetuated by athletic, sporty people to guilt slobs like me into going for a run every now & then. Turns out, it isn’t! I apologise, athletic, sporty people! It really does make you feel amazing.

When I leave the gym, I am floating on a cloud of euphoria. It is often my favourite part of the day. It’s not just the charge of endorphins from lifting weights for an hour, either–it’s that I left the house, I kept my promise to myself that I would go, & I did my absolute best.

Plus, my trainer is ace. We like to sing along to Kanye West & talk about our favourite rappers while he punishes me!

I go to two personal training sessions a week & I like to do pilates & yoga a couple of days a week too. I used to go to training at about 6pm, but I’ve since switched it up. I now go around lunch-time, which is really great for me–it creates an essential break in my day (something I used to lack), & when I go back home, I am jazzed & ready to work through the rest of the afternoon.

Dry-brushing

Dry brushing

I’ve started dry-brushing my skin before I jump in the shower. It’s really easy & doesn’t take long, & it’s very tingly! By the time you get out of the shower & dry off, you wouldn’t believe how soft your skin feels!

The benefits of skin-brushing are many. Firstly, your skin is your largest organ! One of the most efficient ways for your body to get rid of toxins is through the skin, so when you stimulate it with a brush, it’s able to do this more effectively. It also helps to break down cellulite, cleanse the lymphatic system, aid digestion & strengthen the immune system. It makes your skin look & feel amazing, too!

It’s easy, it’s inexpensive (a long-handled brush with natural bristles is about $5), & it’s a brand spanking new part of my routine.

If you’re interested, you can learn how to dry-brush your skin here!

Meditation

Meditation

I’ve been meditating every morning since September, & oh. OH. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is.

The length of time varies, but usually I just do five minutes. This is probably a teeny droplet, but right now it works for me because it’s not a threatening amount of time. Anyone can find five minutes, even, as it turns out, me!

I’m finding the process of meditating in the morning really restorative & positive.

I don’t know whether I can attribute this to meditation alone, but I can’t think of any other reason for this. Lately, my days seem very, very long–in the best possible way! I work all morning, & when I’m done with all my writing, emailing, photo editing, what-have-you, it’s only noon. Amazing! I have so much time, & the space it has created in my life is so wonderful.

I’d like to learn transcendental meditation sometime soon, but have a hard time justifying the cost. (A course is about $1000, & all I can think about is how many plane tickets that would buy me!) One day! For now, just sitting down & clearing my mind for a few minutes every day seems to be treating me very well.

Smoking

Smoking

(Cough, cough!) Most people don’t know this, but I used to be a smoker. A pretty heavy one. I started on Camels at age 12 (ohhhh, sad trombone for real), progressed to Marlboro Reds & eventually settled on my cigarette of choice, Lucky Strikes.

My smoking patterns fluctuated a lot over the years. There were times where I didn’t smoke at all, & times when I chain-smoked. The latter mostly occurred when I lived alone, & thus there was no one to disgust with my habits. Though I also dated smokers, which further ingrained the habit. I think I’ve only dated two non-smokers in my life.

Anyway–when I was 12, I told myself I would quit smoking when I was 26. In my infinite 12 year old wisdom, 26 was “old”, & I had decided that smoking past that age would be gross.

I turned 26 in 2009, & I quit smoking. I don’t have any tricks as to how I did it; I didn’t do the gum or the patches or the electronic cigarettes. I just decided I was done, & stopped. I wanted a cigarette a couple of times when I was drinking, but I didn’t have one, & the craving just went away.

I feel really good about quitting. Smoking is SO expensive (cigarettes are about $10/pack in NYC), it stinks, it’s gross, it makes you sick & it makes you look terrible! If you break out a lot or you’re seeing your first few wrinkles, remember that every puff you take is exacerbating the problem!

I don’t want to be one of those preachy ex-smokers (even though I am pretty sure I have become one), but if you make one change to your life this year, cut back on your cigarette consumption. Your body will feel–& look–so much better!

Face masks

Face masksPhoto by Amorette Dye.

The winter plays havoc with my skin! The heating in our apartment is really intense & it dries me out like mad, so in winter I have to be really careful to get enough water into my system! When you don’t drink enough water, you absolutely see it in your skin–it looks dry, thin, blotchy, etc., so it’s worth making the effort!

Another way to keep your skin in tip-top condition is to do regular face masks. I think this is especially important if you’re someone who wears make-up on a regular basis; you need to ensure your pores are getting a good clear-out!

My favourite face mask at the moment is Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. I had heard about it for years, but wasn’t living in the U.S.A. so I could never get my hands on it. Flash-forward to a few years later, where I’m a recent transplant to New York City & I’m browsing around a Ricky’s store. (Ricky’s sells make-up, hair products & skincare… It’s a beauty superstore & they’re all over the city!) I saw a tube of the Mint Julep Masque on a shelf & it was love at first sight!

I’m STILL using that tube! It’s a wonderful mask, it really cleans you out & is great to use a couple of times a week.

Lush also do excellent fresh face masks, which need to be kept in the fridge. Catastrophe Cosmetic & Cupcake have always been my favourites.

If you want to indulge in an amazing scrub, but don’t want to go out & buy something expensive which may or may not make you break out, try this home recipe instead. Pour a little extra virgin olive oil into a saucer, & add a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. Mix it together, then take it into the shower with you & use it as a facial scrub. Rinse off with hot water, & pat your face dry. The olive oil works as a moisturiser, so you may not need to use your usual one, but touch your face to see how it feels. This face mask is DIVINE & works better than almost anything else!

Bubble baths

Bubble baths

Well! What can I say about bubble baths that you don’t know already?! I love them & am making an effort to have more of them!

A really great bubble bath, of course, hinges on the quality of the bubbles. Lush REALLY does do the best bubble bars–the scents are divine, they’re multi-serve & have minimal packaging. Oh, by the way, most of Lush’s products are vegan, organic, & made with fresh fruits & vegetables… Nice one. I used to manage a Lush store & up until I started this website, it was my favourite job of all! It’s a rad place.

My favourite Lush bath products are Flosty Gritter, Creamy Candy (back when I used to own a washing machine, I would throw a chunk of this in with my laundry!), Butterball, Honey Bee, FAIRY JASMINE (A+++++ best bath bomb ever), Something Wicked This Way Comes & MMM Melting Marshmallow Moment. Lovely.

Did you ever stop & think about how much happier everyone would be if we all took more regular bubble baths? Lead the charge, I say!

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

Other things I like to make time for every day: Opening fortune cookies (today’s: “Your present plans are going to succeed”) Vitamin obsession (Multi+ Daily Glow, Perfect Skin, O3mega Glow, Dermalipid & 5HTP when I feel I need it) Visualisation (I like to take a few minutes a day to close my eyes & “see” what I want to manifest) Writing down my top 3 most important tasks of the day, straight after meditating & before I even look at my email Reading my horoscope (hey, it’s MY routine!) Plenty of laughter Puppy cuddle breaks! One-person dance parties Cleaning my office Drinking a whole lot of coconut water… !

What's your routine?

If you write about your routine, submit your link here & I’ll round them all up!

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