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Create a Sleep Routine and Improve Anxiety

Fashion, Healthy, How To, Inspiration, interior design, Lifestyle, StyleCrystal JacksonComment
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In college and in my twenties I was hands down the worst about getting enough sleep. I am one of those people who have a ton of energy (I’ve been accused of that on more than one occasion) and I would rise before 5am and rest after midnight. Years of trying to meet deadlines, quotas and being hard on myself required me to work diligently into the wee hours of the night. It was exhausting but every day I would push through. Well, fast forward to my 30’s. All of that stress added up and took a toll on my body. Lack of quality sleep became a big factor in developing paralyzing anxiety.

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Anxiety is one of those disorders many people suffer from. You can have varying degrees of it but I got to a point where it was taking over my life. I started fearing EVERYTHING to include passing out in the car (which I’ve never done) to forgetting if I locked my door and obsessing all day about it. When I finally sat down with a psychiatrist last September we discussed what was going on and he talked to me about the importance of sleep. Sleep directly impacts anxiety.

I explained during the visit that I have trouble sleeping. When I lie down at night I suddenly have thousands of thoughts fly through my brain. It’s exhausting mentally, but my brain is so stimulated I can’t find a way to relax and rest. Humans can’t be on the throttle full time every moment. My psychiatrist and I worked on a plan to create a better lifestyle and improve my mental health. It’s now been four months later and although I still have nights where I’m just awake, I have a strategy for getting better consistent rest. Here are a few ways to create a sleep routine if you also struggle in this area:

Create a Nightly Routine

Even though I have bursts of energy and creativity that make spontaneity a huge part of my life having a routine morning and night helps keep me grounded. I have both a morning routine and nightly routine to make sure no matter where I am I feel some sort of stability. French people do routines really well. They love to focus on the balance of life and ensure their bodies are getting the nutrition, exercise and rest needed to fuel them. I did some research and found that routines create a rhythm for all of us. Here’s what a typical night looks like whether I’m on the road or at home:

  1. Take a bath - I start almost every evening by soaking my muscles in warm water. A nightly bath does two things for me. The first is to ease the pain of soreness and relax my muscles. After working out or having a long day, it’s the first step in my nightly routine. It’s almost like hanging your hat when you get home from work. The second is that it is alone time (away from kids, phone calls, etc) and helps my brain move into a relaxing mode. I also start with a bath so it gives my body a few hours to cool down before trying to sleep. Afterwards, I always slip into cozy pajamas and this nightgown and robe is perfect for winding down for the rest of night.

  2. Review tomorrow’s plan - Before I start to get too tired I give my calendar a quick glance to make sure I am aware of anything due tomorrow. Sometimes it’s work related while other times it’s just to see if my child has an event the next day. Knowing where I’m headed tomorrow gives me the chance to jot down a few tasks to do and clear my mind. I also set reminders on my phone (alarms actually) for anything I need to be prepared for or complete.

  3. Journal - Even if you are not a big writer, taking a few minutes to reflect on my emotions or the prior day. I’m REALLY hard on myself and somewhat analytical. If I receive criticism or had an emotional day I oftentimes will keep obsessing over it trying to solve the issue at hand. Being able to release those thoughts on paper also helps give my mind ease and I know if I need to refer back to something in the future I have it written down. Journaling also allows you too spot patterns if you are going through something tough in life.

  4. Play a mind game - This may be different for you, but sometimes giving my brain something to do tires it. Some evenings I play a few rounds of Wordscapes. Lately I’ve been working through logic questions to sharpen my mind using the LSAT Prep app. I really prefer that since I have to work things out on paper and spend less time looking at a screen. You can also buy a word scramble workbook or even just read instead of TV. The idea is to tire your brain a little so it can go to sleep.

  5. Meditate - The last thing I do is turn on Headspace and meditate. I love the new sleep podcasts they’ve created for people with busy minds. Meditation is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I started it back it 2015 when I was going through one of the lowest points of my life. Meditation helps you train your mind to focus on breathing. The deeper your breaths are the more oxygen is sent throughout your body and you can relax. If you don’t want to pay for an app, set a timer on your phone or use your breathe app (one of my favorite features of the apple watch) to focus on deep breathing.

  6. Create a restful environment - One of the ways I’ve achieved this is to have a somewhat tidy bedroom and no TV. Yep, I do not watch TV in bed. In fact, I don’t even get in bed if I’m not trying to go to sleep. I complete my journaling, mind games and daily planning from my couch or desk instead of taking those tasks into my sleep space. If you live in a studio or smaller space then try not to use your bed for anything but sleep. Once I do crawl in bed I turn on headspace and my body knows it’s time to let go for the day. Having nice sheets, comfy pj’s (you can check out my Cozy Winter Pajamas post from December here), the fan on and low lighting also helps!

Now the above routine didn’t happen all at once. I started with creating a good environment and a bath then slowly added what worked best for me. Sometimes, I’ll have a cup of herbal tea or put lavender oil in my diffuser. Whatever routine you decide to start, begin as early as you can and be as consistent as possible. See what works best for your body and make notes. Last but not least, if I am wide awake I will get out of bed go do a few tasks or read and attempt an hour or two later.

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What are ways you try to get better sleep? Any suggestions?

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Spring Bucket List: Have a Picnic

Fashion, Style, Photography, LifestyleCrystal JacksonComment
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Being an avid list maker, every season I try to make a point to list out my season "bucket list." It started a few years ago by simply scribbling on a notepad and then posting to Instagram but has developed into a much more robust system. I can't say I've crossed everything off every single season, but I usually make it to 75% of what I set out to do. There's something about putting your goals on paper that brings them to fruition.

First up for Spring (although we are still a day away), was to have a picnic in the park. I've always been one to love picnics. After finding this picnic basket at an antique shop last year, I've been awaiting to take it out for a spin. Picnics don't have to be an ordeal. All you have to do is pack a few items in containers, grab some bottled drinks and a blanket. I opted to bring carrots and hummus, a delicious egg and spinach salad with La Croix sparkling water to drink. It was a light but yummy lunch! I keep paperplates, napkins and plastic silverware on hand at all times in the basket for easy grab and go. Finally, you'll want to use a blanket. I've found in the past tablecloths work excellent and if the ground is wet you can easily add a plastic shower curtain underneath for protection. This is my go to for every beach picnic. 

Here are a few other things on this Spring's Bucket List:

  • Visit the lavender fields in Blanco, TX.

  • Tour the Shiner Brewery in Shiner, TX.

  • Float the Guadalupe with a group of friends from college.

  • Bake macaroons in pastel colors.

  • Hike in Big Bend and go camping.

For this post I had a picnic in the Heights on Heights Blvd. The trees were just starting to bloom and although it was a little cloudy outside the weather was perfect. Gingham is the perfect picnic print and my love for the pattern runs deep (see here, here and here). I especially like this dress I picked up in today's post from Amazon. It has the sweetest hankerchief hemline and just the right fit in the bodice. I liked it so much I picked it up in red, too! Although you can't see from the photo, I paired it with a pair of gingham flats and a navy cross body I've worn numerous times. 

What are some of the things on your bucket list?

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Perfecting Your Morning Routine

interior design, Lifestyle, HealthyCrystal JacksonComment
Photograph taken at the charming -  Victory Rose Bed & Breakfast

Photograph taken at the charming - Victory Rose Bed & Breakfast

I’ve noticed over the past two years that my morning routine is pretty similar every day. I used to leave in a flurry every morning but now that I have to get my daughter ready and have a dog I’ve had to be a little more organized. I also have been conscientious of having better health from hydration to eating a good breakfast. It all adds up! Here are a few ways I’ve perfected my morning routine:

Keep it Simple

I oftentimes only shower at night instead of a second shower in the morning, but I keep my getting ready routine to 30 minutes or less so I still have time to walk the dog. Usually I put my makeup on once I get to my destination (preferably in the car so I have natural lighting). I also have a few go-to hairstyles I can do in 5 minutes or less to make sure I don’t get overwhelmed in the morning.

Good Skincare Goes a Long Way

This is an area I don’t scrimp on anymore. I start by washing my face in the shower or if I don’t shower I cleanse at my sink. I usually use toner pads for a quick swipe. I apply lotion to my whole body before getting dressed while the toner is setting. Finally, I add spot treatment (if needed) and moisturizer to my face. Since I wait a while to put my makeup on after that it allows the moisturizer to soak in and I’ve noticed results when doing this consistently.

Take a Walk

Whether it’s just around the block or good twenty to thirty minutes, a walk really helps get me going every morning. Now that I have Violet, it’s important for me to make time for her to get a little exercise before I leave for the day. It also puts an emphasis on exercise for the day and immediately adds a good 1,000-2,000 steps in before I’ve even left the house. Typically I can walk 1,000 steps in about 10 minutes.

Hydration and Vitamin Intake

This is a newer part of my morning routine but I drink a large glass of water and add EmergenC’s along with two gummy multi-vitamins every morning. I had pneumonia earlier this past Fall so making sure I get plenty of vitamins and minerals is a huge priority. I also prefer to drink water before I have my first cup of coffee to ensure I stay hydrated.

Eat Breakfast

I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but I used to skip breakfast and just live on coffee in my twenties. Now, I find breakfast to be imperative. I usually eat it once I’m at the office (about an hour or two after I awake). I keep this oatmeal at my desk or I’ll bring cooked eggs and fruit. It’s usually on the lighter side, but breakfast is so important to get your metabolism going. If you aren’t one who likes a lot in the morning try eating a banana or making a smoothie.

As 2018 moves forward there are a few more things I’d like to add to my routine to include reading daily inspirational things – maybe a book or a blog. I’d also like to add 15 minutes of yoga onto my morning routine for toning. I am pretty consistent with getting steps in, but terrible about consistent structured workouts. I’d love to hear any suggestions you guys have for making your mornings better?

How To: Keep Your Cool Over the Holidays

DIY, How To, Lifestyle, Holiday, interior designCrystal JacksonComment
Three Heel Clicks - How To Keep Your Cool Over The Holidays
Bamboo Cutting Board: Farberware // Cheese Knives: Target

Since Christmas is just five days away I thought it would be a perfect time to discuss how to keep your head on straight over the next 120 hours. It's really easy to get caught up in last minute things and forget the true reason for the season. Being with those you care about and celebrating spiritual beliefs is much more important than running around with your head cut off like a chicken! Here are a few ways to keep yourself sane and enjoy time with those you love.

Day 5

If you haven't grocery shopped today would be a good day. Save yourself trouble and order your groceries online for delivery or pickup. I've used a few different services and haven't regretted the decision. Made life so much easier and didn't have to fight the crowds. Probably the last day you would want to pick up stocking stuffers or order anything on Amazon as well.

Day 4 

Pick out your outfits for Christmas Eve, PJ's, and Christmas Day. If you haven't already, go ahead and layout then try on your outfits. Hang them all together including any jewelry, slippers and handbags. Trying to pull everything together at the last minute can make things feel so hectic. Also, I like to slip on a new pair of PJ's for my family and myself so today would be a good day to pick some up if you don't have something presentable for Christmas morning.

Day 3

Fill up your gas tank for the next few days if you are traveling. If you are staying home, I would go ahead and pull out your dishes and serving utensils for Christmas dinner. Depending on whether or not you are hosting an event on the next few days should dictate when you set the table. I prefer to set my table the night before a dinner so I just have meal prep. Also, if you are prepping food today is a good time to chop up veggies, fruits and pre-portion as much as you can inside individual containers.

Christmas Eve

Now is the time to put your stocking stuffers inside your stockings and add any last minute embellishments to your gifts to place under the tree. Also, if you are adding any cards to your gifts you can set aside a few minutes to jot something thoughtful down. Try to relax today and spend time with those around you. Also, if you are attending services or parties this evening give yourself extra time to do hair, makeup and get any kiddos ready. Remember, it's better to have more time left over than to feel rushed. 

Christmas Day

Now is the time to sit back and enjoy the day. I like to stay in my PJs and eat frittata made the night before or cinnamon rolls. They are always quick and easy to pop in the oven while any little ones are opening their gifts. Also, it's fun to set up a hot chocolate bar and a few carafes of juice for everyone to help themselves as needed. It's good to make a list of the gifts received as you are opening them so that thank you notes are a breeze. After getting dressed it's great to set out a veggie or cheese plate so people can nibble throughout the day. My family usually makes lasagna since it's easy to assemble the day or two before and we just pop it in about an hour to an hour and a half before we are ready to eat.

I hope you guys find this little guide helpful and have a wonderful next few days preparing and enjoying your Christmas. Also, I'd love recommendations on other ways to make life easier during the holidays! Please send them over!

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Dreamy Design: Rustic Bathroom Counters

interior design, InspirationCrystal JacksonComment
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Today I'm beginning a new inspiration series called Dreamy Design where I share images I've found inspiring. Mostly, these will be sourced from Pinterest. I realized I have thousands of pins and wanted a way to group and categorize some of the trends I've seen. First up includes these rustic bathroom counters. 

Shop a Few Bathroom Accessories

My style tends to gravitate to an eclectic mix of modern, vintage and chic. I like mixing rose gold details and textures like sequins against flea market finds or pieces from nature. In my home now I have everything from pine cones to acorns and rocks I've picked up on my travels (yes, I'm a bit of a nerd - I actually have a rock collection!) One of the newer ideas I've seen is taking a piece of reclaimed wood and having it sanded then sealed for a bathroom counter. I really like the idea of adding a simple rounded white bowl sink on top.  

If using this in a space, I'd mix in a few delicate details like a plush rug, towels and accessories on the modern side. If a bathroom counter seems like a stretch, you can always add a few rustic pieces like a shelf or soap holder. I really like taking items like baskets and turning them into either a hamper or a place to hold towers. Don't forget you can always use a tray on the backside of a toilet to hold a few candles. I've picked out a few items below if you are interested in giving your bathroom an eclectic yet modern feel. I'd love to hear about other ideas you are seeing trend right now!

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You can find the sources for all images here.