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  • LIFE Lifestyle

    Yoga for Self-Care: Why It’s My Go-To

    Looking for a new form of self-care? Try yoga! Yoga is great for healing your mind as well as your body. Here’s why yoga for self-care is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

    Yoga for Self-Care
    Image courtesy of Shutterstock

    Self-care is all about taking care of yourself and doing what feels good to you. It can be what feels good to you in the moment (taking a nap), or something that you know will help you in the long run. It doesn’t always have to be bubble baths and shopping, it can be eating a cookie, playing with your dog, filling out paperwork, literally anything that makes you feel good and happy. But my ultimate form of self-care, the one that I always turn to? Yoga.

    Yoga is one of the most popular forms of self-care. It’s great for calming down your brain, easing your stress, and helping you stayed centered. But on top of all that, it gets you in shape. And I don’t know about you, but easing stress while getting in shape at the same time sounds like a win-win to me.

    My favorite part about using yoga for self-care is that yoga is all about you and where you’re at that day.

    It’s totally tailored to you, and you can modify anything you need to. Feeling a little sore? Modify the poses! Feeling energetic? Push yourself to try new poses you’ve been nervous to try. Let me introduce you to my favorite yoga channel on YouTube: Yoga with Adriene. I’ve been hooked on her channel for about a year now for a few reasons:

    • There’s a wide variety of yoga routines, so there’s something for however you’re feeling. There are harder, strength-building routines like power yoga, all the way to slow-paced breathing exercises.
    • It’s easy to follow along to her routines without looking at the video because she describes everything so well. I’ve watched a ton of yoga videos where I need to be constantly watching the screen because they don’t call out the poses or explain how to do anything.

    I’ve followed along to a ton of Adriene’s yoga flows, probably about 90% of them, and I’m still enjoying them. Through Adriene’s channel, I’ve discovered power yoga, and now it’s the type of yoga I turn to most often. Power yoga includes all of the calm, relaxation, and breathing techniques of regular yoga, but it gets your heart rate up and keeps you moving. It’s a fantastic workout, but also great for keeping me distracted on those days when I need a little extra self-care.

    Once I started doing yoga regularly, I realized that it could be my self-care every day of the week. Some days I’ll get in a good workout, and some days I’ll enjoy a calm, easygoing, slow-paced yoga to give my muscles (and brain!) a break.

    Have you ever tried an at-home yoga routine? If so, do you use YouTube videos or just do it on your own? Let me know in the comments!

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  • LIFE Lifestyle

    Easy Zero Waste Swaps to Make This Summer

    I’ve been trying to become more eco-friendly this year, as I’m sure a lot of people have. Every day, tons of articles are published regarding the state of our planet and how we can help make it better. It can be overwhelming and cause you to feel helpless because you’re just one person. But one small thing we can all do to make a huge difference is to start implementing zero waste swaps, which means we swap out some of our everyday essentials for plastic-free or eco-friendly ones.

    Easy Zero Waste Swaps to Make This Summer

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I earn a commission if you purchase through those links (at no extra cost to you!). Thanks for the support that makes Panthers & Peonies possible!

    Landfills are one of the biggest contributors to pollution. By recycling or switching to no-waste products, we could prevent up to 80% of landfills. This type of information has caused a surge in no-waste living, and the materials to do so have become cheap and easy to find. Here are a few easy, stress-free, cheap zero waste swaps you can make in your own home!

    Reusable water bottles (vs. plastic water bottles)

    This is one of my favorite zero waste swaps, and the first one I really committed to. When I read that 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown away every hour (in the US alone!), it really opened my eyes and I ran out to buy a bunch of reusable plastic tumblers. At first it can be a little tough to remember to bring your own tumbler, but soon it will become second nature. Bring your tumbler to work, to Starbucks (if you’re in the drive-through, just let them know that you brought your own cup!), to hang out with family or friends, or even to a restaurant.

    Reusable canvas grocery bags (vs. plastic bags)

    This is one of the most popular swaps, especially in California where they charge for plastic grocery bags. Not only does it save me money to bring my own bags, but my reusable canvas bags also store 2-3x more than a dinky little plastic bag! Plus you’re saving marine life, as 80% of the negative effects on ocean life are caused by plastic.

    Reusable produce bags (vs. plastic produce bags)

    This swap is becoming so popular that most grocery stores carry their own line of reusable produce bags, and they’re usually stored right next to the produce! Produce bags are super durable and made of natural materials, which means once you get home, you can keep your food stored directly in these bags.

    Metal or silicone straws (vs. plastic straws)

    I was a little late to the metal straw game, as I usually save my plastic straws and use them until they fall apart. Gross? Maybe. But it made me feel a whole lot better than just tossing them. But then I got some silicone straws and I’m obsessed. They fit perfectly in any of my reusable tumblers, plus you can throw them in the dishwasher to make it even easier on yourself.

    Glass soap dispenser and bulk liquid soap (vs. small plastic soap bottles)

    This swap is not just good for the environment, but also good for your wallet. Refilling your own soap dispenser can save so much money in the long run. Plus, whenever you want a new soap dispenser, you can buy a new one and recycle the old one. Did you know that glass can be recycled indefinitely without losing its quality?

    Waterpik (vs. regular dental floss)

    I finally bought myself a Waterpik (on sale at Target, $30!). I still use regular dental floss once a day (at night), but I use my Waterpik in the morning and any other time I need it. That’s still cutting down waste by 50%!

    A regular coffee pot (vs. non-recyclable K-cups)

    I’m going to be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Keurig coffee machines. They’ve just never appealed to me, mostly because I need a whole lot more than one cup of coffee in the morning. I’d rather brew one pot than keep coming back to make another cup! Plus the K-cups always seemed so wasteful. However, a while back they introduced a reusable plastic K-cup you can use every day with your own coffee grounds. I love that, but I still think the best option is a good old-fashioned coffee pot. Plus the filters and coffee grounds are compostable, so it really is a no-waste product!

    Disposable paper plates and silverware (vs. regular plates)

    The average American uses roughly two trees every year in paper products. Sometimes these paper products are unavoidable, but it’s best to cut down wherever we can. Use plastic, stoneware, or wood plates at home, and try to avoid plastic cutlery whenever possible. There are tons of portable reusable cutlery sets out there, most of which are $10 or less!

    Reusable silicone food bags (vs. Ziploc plastic bags)

    This is a huge one. Cutting down on Ziploc bags and plastic wrap can have a huge effect on our planet. Try switching to reusable silicone food bags to carry your lunch or store leftovers. The best part is that most of these bags and microwave and dishwasher safe, and some of them you can even cook in!

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  • LIFE Lifestyle

    30 Self-Care Ideas: Avoid Stress & Stay Healthy!

    Are you feeling tired, burnt out, and stressed? Maybe you need a little self-care! Here are 30 of my favorite self-care ideas for a better weekend. Treat yourself, and stay healthy!

    Hello, friends. I’m back after a short time away from the blog. I feel like I say that at least once a month, but this whole burnout thing is real. On top of managing this blog, hobbies, and keeping a clean house, it’s almost impossible to stay on top of everything. Add stress and lack of self-care into it, and it is impossible.

    30 Self-Care Ideas: Avoid Stress & Stay Healthy!

    I struggled for so long trying to figure out what exactly my blog is about. I have friends or family ask and I always sort of stutter over the answer:

    “Uhhh, it’s kind of just about whatever makes me happy.”

    “OK… well dessert recipes make sense with your pastry background, but what about DIY or other vegan stuff?”

    “Yeah, it’s got some of that too.”

    It’s hard to explain because there are so many things I love doing and so many things I want to share. And then a few nights ago I collapsed on the couch and sighed, and thought really hard about what is important to me. And all of a sudden, it hit me. My blog is about all things self-care.

    I do yoga or dance every day because it makes me feel good. I usually eat a cookie every day because that also makes me feel good. Sharing recipes makes me happy, but so does sharing lists of my favorite Amazon purchases. It all ties together in this weird way. And unknowingly, that’s what my blog has been about this whole time.

    Self-care is a relatively new concept to a lot of people, myself included.

    I’ve struggled with being mean to myself for so many years, and I hate admitting that, but it’s true. I pushed self-love to the side and made fun of it (it’s just some hippie mumbo-jumbo) until I realized about a year ago that I need it more than anyone. Self-care is nothing more than just taking care of yourself.

    Self-care is literally anything that makes you feel better, anything that helps you to take care of yourself and recharge your batteries. Without it, we hit a wall, get that famous “creative burnout”, and even damage our immune systems. So without further ado, here are 30 self-care ideas for whenever you need it most.


    1. Full-on spa treatment.

    Fill a bubble bath, put on a face mask, light some candles, and give yourself the relaxing spa experience in your own home.

    2. Go on a nature walk.

    Getting out in nature has a way of calming me down instantly. Even just going for a short walk around the neighborhood will give you the same feeling!

    3. Meditate.

    4. Get a coffee at your favorite coffee shop.

    5. Go to a park or the beach.

    Sitting in a beautiful park or walking along the beach is the perfect way to calm your mind.

    6. Unplug for an hour. Or two.

    Social media has a way of completely overwhelming us, so it’s really nice to give your brain (and eyes!) a break from the screen. Spend an hour away from your phone and see how much more relaxing it is.

    7. Read a book in bed.

    8. Play video games.

    On stream, I play fun, exciting games where I can laugh and talk to people. But when I want to relax, I’ll play house-building or exploring games, like The Sims or Fallout (just the house-decorating aspects, though!).

    9. Take a small weekend getaway.

    10. Do yoga.

    11. Eat your favorite meal.

    Whether that means spending hours in the kitchen cooking for yourself or ordering in your favorite Thai takeout, eating your favorite meal will definitely improve your mood.

    12. Listen to your favorite music.

    13. Lay on the couch and watch your favorite movie.

    Snuggle up on the couch and give yourself permission to do nothing for a while.

    14. Start a gratitude journal.

    If you don’t want to start a whole journal, try just naming 10 things that you’re grateful for, right now. They can be small things or big things, or materialistic or not, just say the first 10 things that come to mind!

    15. Play with your pet.

    16. Paint, play an instrument, anything that sparks your creativity.

    17. Take a nap.

    When the burnout hits, you’re tired and cranky and lack any sort of energy. Sometimes the best solution is a good old-fashioned nap!

    18. Eat a healthy snack.

    As humans, getting stressed usually means reaching for the junk food. But eating a healthy snack instead will make you feel better for multiple reasons: it’ll literally help you feel better (vitamins and minerals!), and you won’t feel guilty afterwards. As I’m writing this, I’ve got a big bowl of carrots next to me, but boy did I want a slice of cake at first.

    19. Paint your nails, dye your hair, do whatever makes you feel beautiful!

    20. List 5 things that you’re good at.

    Refocusing on yourself and your skills helps beat that overwhelming feeling of I’m not doing enough.

    21. Go see a friend.

    22. Get a massage or facial.

    23. Take a minute to just relax.

    Light some candles, burn some essential oils, plop down in a comfy chair. Take some deep breaths and relaaaax.

    24. Learn something new.

    Learning something new is not only fun and challenging, but also completely distracts your mind from stress.

    25. Watch a funny YouTube video.

    26. Garden (or get some new plants for the house!).

    27. Clean the house.

    Distracting your mind with cleaning will help you not only feel more relaxed, but you’ll also have a nice clean place to settle in at the end of the night. Two birds!

    28. Find a new podcast to listen to.

    29. Stand up and stretch.

    This is the easiest thing you can do during the day. Take 5 minutes to stretch, and see how much better you feel.

    30. Daydream.

    Daydream about anything you want. It can be more serious, work-related things (you finally finished that huge project and your boss loved it!) or more freeing, adventurous things (I’m on vacation in Mexico with a margarita in my hand, and boy is it awesome). Daydreaming can help clear up your mind as well as reinvigorate you to push forward.

    What’s your favorite form of self-care?

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  • LIFE Lifestyle

    5 Tips for Better Mornings, & My Favorite Dirty Chai Recipe

    Do you wake up most mornings tired, groggy, and stressed? Are you lookin for a way to overcome that? Here are my 5 tips for better mornings, plus my favorite coffee drink to wake you right up!

    5 Tips for Better Mornings, & My Favorite Dirty Chai Recipe

    Every morning, we wake up with a whole new day in front of us. It’s exciting, but more often than not we’re tired, groggy, and hitting that snooze button. If that sounds like you, it’s ok! Waking up stressed and groggy is actually something our brain naturally does: it’s called the negativity bias, and it can be super difficult to control. But waking up early and sticking to a morning routine can help you overcome it, in addition to setting your whole day on track.

    Waking up early has tons of benefits for both your brain and your body: it enhances your productivity for the day, helps your mental health, kicks your body into go-mode earlier (which can lead to losing weight and having more energy), and can even prevent certain diseases. And once you get into a routine, waking up early can be super easy. Here are my top 5 favorite tips for better mornings!

    5 Tips for Better Mornings:

    Drink some water.

    Drinking water first thing in the morning is one of the healthiest things you can do: it instantly raises your metabolism, gets your system working, keeps you hydrated, and flushes out toxins from the day before. If you can’t drink a whole glass of water, it’s ok! A few sips is better than nothing.
    I also take a minute in the morning to fill up a gallon-sized water bottle for the day. If you have water right next to you during the day, it makes it a lot easier to stay hydrated.

    Make breakfast work for you.

    I’m one of those people who eats right when they wake up, usually before I even shower or get dressed or anything. But not many people are like that. In fact, only about 30% of the US population eats breakfast every day, and over 31 million people (about 10% of the US population) don’t eat breakfast at all!
    Yes, they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day: it gives you a boost of energy and gets your system working. But if you’re not hungry in the morning, don’t force yourself to eat. If you’re a little hungry, grab a granola bar. And if you’re really hungry, sit down and eat breakfast.

    Get up and move.

    It doesn’t have to be a full workout, but try to go for a 15 minute walk, do some light yoga, or just stretch to wake yourself up for the day.

    Make a to-do list.

    I usually find it best to write my to-do list the night before (or at the beginning of the week), but writing in the morning is helpful too. Write down everything you need to do for the day and everything that’s on your mind, either in a planner, journal, or on a scrap of paper. Just take a minute to get everything out of your head and onto the paper and feel the stress melt away!

    Take a moment to be grateful.

    Taking a moment before you fall asleep at night and a moment right when you wake up to say thank you is something that we should all be doing. Feeling grateful will put you in a good mind set for the day, and it’ll help you to start thinking more positively (a good step towards overcoming negativity bias!).

    But my top tip for a productive morning? Coffee. Here’s my favorite dirty chai recipe that really kicks my brain into overdrive. Enjoy!

    5 Tips for Better Mornings, & My Favorite Dirty Chai Recipe

    My Favorite Dirty Chai

    Prep Time15 mins
    Total Time15 mins
    Course: Drinks
    Servings: 1
    Author: Brit Wolfe - Panthers & Peonies

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup nondairy milk
    • 1 chai tea bag I like Tazo Chai Vanilla Caramel
    • 1 cup freshly-brewed strong coffee
    • Sugar to taste

    Instructions

    • Add the milk to a small saucepan, set over medium-low heat, and let warm until the milk is steaming and small bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan.
    • Once steaming, remove the pan from the heat. Add the tea bag, cover, and let sit 15-20 minutes.
    • Pour the milk into your favorite mug, top with freshly brewed coffee, and enjoy!

    Notes

    If you want your drink sweeter, add sweetener of your choice to the milk after you pour it into the mug.

    5 Tips for Better Mornings, & My Favorite Dirty Chai Recipe
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