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GUEST POST | WAYS TO IMPROVE SLEEP.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Let’s face it; when we have a bad night’s sleep, we feel pretty ratty the next day. If you can’t seem to achieve a deep level of sleep most nights, poor sleep can become a real problem and affect other parts of your life.

However, there are lots of small improvements you can make to your sleep routine and bedroom environment that can help to ensure you are achieving a high quality of sleep each night.

Photo Credit


Why Poor Quality Sleep is Unhealthy


As well as affecting our mood, insufficient sleep can create a multitude of other mental and physical problems.

The NHS website explains in detail why a lack of sleep is bad for you. It can have serious consequences if left untreated over a prolonged amount of time. It can lead to other severe health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, not to mention it is also responsible for decreasing a person’s life expectancy.

However, the damaging effects of inadequate sleep don’t just stop at your physical health. It can also negatively impact your mental health and develop into disorders such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, a poor amount of sleep can be responsible for creating a cycle of stress and tiredness, with a lack of sleep affecting your stress levels and vice versa.


Tips for Improvement


Below, I take a look at how to review your sleep routine and environment. If you feel like you are suffering more severe symptoms of lack of sleep and experiencing periods of insomnia, please seek the advice of a medical professional who will be able to give you tailored advice and support.


A mug on a bedside table with a bed in background

Establish an Evening Routine


Sometimes the simplest things can go a long way, and creating an evening routine which you can stick to can help to regulate your sleep and improve your body clock.

An evening routine is there so you can unwind at night and prepare your body and mind for sleep. This means that you need to avoid any strenuous exercise late in the evening and choose activities which will help to ease your mind.

For example, you might find the below comforting:

  • Reading a book.
  • Writing in your journal.
  • Listening to a podcast.
  • Drinking a hot drink.
  • Having a bath.
  • Evening yoga.
  • Meditating.

Whatever makes you feel more relaxed, do it and schedule it into your evening at exact times. The more often you do this, the more your body will get used to it, and it will become habitual.

Try to Keep on Top of Your Stress Levels


There is nothing worse than tossing and turning at night, worrying about the next day. Sometimes, there are certain life events where this feeling cannot be helped. However, it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence.

Organise Your Morning the Night Before


There are plenty of small things you can incorporate into your evenings to help keep on top of your stress levels, including preparing for the next day in advance. Things such as packing your bag, choosing an outfit, knowing where your keys are and prepping lunch can all be completed the evening before, which will reduce any unnecessary pressure in the morning.


Soothe Your Mind


Use techniques such as meditation and yoga to help calm any racing thoughts or worries. You can do specific yoga for sleeping which will help to relax your body and mind as well as invest in meditation apps, such as Calm and Headspace, which offer guided meditations for sleep.

You can also take CBD oil for sleep which helps to reduce feelings of anxiety, meaning your mind is more prepared to rest at night. It is definitely not a miracle cure, and shouldn’t be treated as such, but it can help to reduce levels of stress for some.



A laptop on a wooden table

Turn off Your Screens


Many people blame poor sleep on to their evening interactions with technology. This applies to laptops, phones, tablets and TVs.

Not only can looking at emails and messages cause feelings of stress, but the blue light which they emit also affects your body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Instead of sending us to sleep, the light keeps us feeling awake and alert.

It is good practice to turn them off, or at least put them on a nighttime setting which reduces any blue light, to help your body prepare for sleep.

You may want to factor this into your sleep routine too. For example, stop using your phone at 8 pm. Prepare for the next day and then read a book with a hot drink at 9 pm ready to sleep at 10 pm.



A bed with a white duvet and a bedside table with a plant

Create a Good Sleep Space


Ensuring you have a comfy sleeping space is essential when trying to improve your sleep. There is much to consider to ensure your bedroom is a healthy place to sleep. You may want to adopt the following points:

  • Keep the bed for sleep and sex only. Anything else can interrupt how quickly you fall asleep as your brain starts to associate the bed with other things that are not sleep-related.
  • Ensure your room is the correct temperature and open windows or invest in warm blankets if not.
  • Invest in earplugs, blackout curtains or eye masks if the surrounding environment is too loud or bright at night.
  • Make sure your mattress, pillows and duvets are comfortable.
  • Hopefully, these tips will help to ensure you sleep better and deeper! Remember to seek medical support if you feel like the changes you make for the better are not working.

DATE NIGHT IDEAS DURING LOCKDOWN (AND AFTER).

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

[this is a collaborative post but all words and opinions are my own.]


The current state of the world has forced a lot of couples not living together into online or long-distance relationships, because of household lockdown rules. My partner is currently on the other side of the world so even as lockdown rules start to ease in individual countries, some of us still have to wait a bit longer until border restrictions are lifted *sad times*. Whether your country is still preventing meet ups, or you finally get to see your partner soon, here are a list of date ideas whether online or in person. 



1. Open a bottle of wine. 



If you're an extrovert, chances are you've had a few FT or zoom calls with friends or partners throughout the lockdown period including alcohol am I right?  In my case there is a 8 hour time difference with my boyfriend, so I have to make sure I have a pretty big lunch before starting the day drinks on a Saturday. If you want to make things more interesting, you could use the time to ask each some deep questions about them and your relationship (Thought Catalog has loads). 

2. Watch a film together on Netflix Party. 



It's not quite the same as going to the cinema, but at least you can chat about the movie without disturbing anyone right? The Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension and allows you to share what you're watching with someone else. Your screens will sync so the movie will start/stop at the same time, and there is also a chat option on the side.  

3. Play games using the House Party app. 



Everyone went crazy for this app back in March and then the hype kind of died down, but if you enjoy playing games then you'll enjoy this if you can't be in the same room as your partner. You can video chat whilst also playing 'guess the drawing' or heads up or trivia questions. 

4. Send each other a surprise takeaway. 



Who doesn't love free food? If you know what your partner likes then either plan to send each other a surprise take away and then eat together on FT or maybe don't tell them and just send a pizza to their door without their knowledge, no one will ever be disappointed with that! 

5. Buy something nice for when you get to reunite. 



One of the biggest struggles for couples being apart during lockdown is the lack of intimacy and being able to touch your partner. But it's also nice to think about how great it will feel when you'll finally get to hug them, and another things. Have your partner pick out some sexy lingerie for you or leave the element of surprise and pick out a few things yourself. 

6. Have a picnic in the park. 



So in a lot of countries it is now fine for you to meet up in a park with members of another household, but if restaurants aren't open yet then why not go old school and put together a picnic in the park. Buy some rose, bring a blanket, and if you're not up for preparing food just bring along a meal deal. 


7. Be tourists in your hometown. 



Since it may be a few months until we can travel abroad again, why not plan a day out 'from a tourists point of view' in your own town or city? You'll be surprised what places close to home you haven't actually visited or restaurants that you pass by everyday that you've never eaten in. 


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HOW TO SPEND 48 HOURS IN KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA.

Friday, 1 May 2020

During my two month trip at the beginning of the year, Kuala Lumpur was the only place I actually ended up travelling to by myself. I knew I was going to have some time to do solo travelling, and KL seemed like a relatively safe place to do this (more on that later). When I arrived at the end of January, there wasn't really much talk on the coronavirus, and there was 1 case in Malaysia. I still run to 5 different stores before I was finally able to get my hands on a face mask.

tea with gi kuala lumpur


Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur 


Reggae Mansion Hostel (budget) 


If you're looking to get a peaceful night sleep then this probably won't be the hostel for you, as they have a rooftop bar that goes off every weekend. Their shard hostel rooms still give you a sense of privacy as you get a curtain in your bunk, although getting to the (very high) top bunk whilst also trying to carry my laptop, water and book up the ladder wasn't the easiest. The rooms come with lockers and you also get complimentary basic breakfast in the morning. Rooms were priced at £5 per night.

Upper View Regalia Hotel (best views)


At £25 a night it's slightly more pricey for Asia, but still pretty cheap in comparison to other places. I was going to spend a night here to get one of those iconic photos in their rooftop pool with the KL skyline but alas, it was going to be too much effort to change accommodation for 1 night and well, I didn't have anyone travelling with me to take photos for me. 

Where to eat in Kuala Lumpur 



One of my favourite things about travelling in Asia is the amount of good food I can get for less than £10. The first thing I googled when I got to my hotel room is what dishes I needed to try, and where to try them. I had wandered to the KLCC Mall and stopped by the food court for lunch. I went to the Malaysian stall and didn't know what anything on the menu was, so I googled Nasi Lemak and though that was a safe option. It's a dish cooked in coconut milk and it usually comes with a bunch of extras like fried anchovies, a boiled egg etc. There was something on the plate that was a bit spicy, so the cucumber was useful! 

Jalan Alor Night Market 


This night market was a 15 minute walk from the Reggae Mansion hostel so I actually ended up here twice. Here you can find stalls serving snacks and treats that range between £2 - £5 or a range of Chinese, Malaysian and Indian restaurants where plates are around £10. I saw a very aesthetically pleasing wheel of dumplings when I was walking through the market, and the lady working there said she'd pick a selection of 10 for me for £4. Half the time I didn't know what I was biting into but it was a range of chicken, pork and fish.

jalon alor night market

Dining in the Dark KL


If you're looking for a unique experience then definitely make time for this! Like the name suggests you're immersed in a dining experience in complete darkness. I went with some people I met at my hostel and it's interesting to see how people communicate when you can't see each other, and eating without seeing what's in front of you also heightens your senses. 

Tapak Urban Street Dining 


Another food market that has a more international focus and various food trucks. Just make sure you come here with an appetite because I was lying like a potato in bed for hours after I left because I was so full. I bought the mac & cheese burger from 8th Street Cafe and wow, for £2.50! I also saw stalls selling Mexican food, churros and some Malaysian dishes. 

Arch Cafe 


I was actually looking for a different restaurant that turned out to be closed, and I spotted a lot of people in this one next door so stopped here for lunch. It seemed to be popular with the locals and I decided to have another plate of nasi lemak. I also spotted a durian tart at the counter and decided to try that too, although I must say that wasn't really for me and you've probably heard about the potent taste and smell of the fruit.

arch cafe kl



What to do in Kuala Lumpur 



It's relatively to get around KL with their metro system, but because I was only there for a weekend I hopped from place to place using Gojek (Asia's version of Uber) as it was cheap and would get me there quicker, and less chance of me getting lost. 

Batu Caves


Probably the most popular thing to in KL. I'd seen many colourful pictures of what the Batu Caves looked like from the outside, but I was intrigued to see what it would look like inside. The caves are a 30 minute drive from the city centre, and a grab there cost me around £6.

 I wanted to get there by 9am to avoid the crowds but travelling alone also means it can be harder to get out of bed when you're running on your own schedule. I got there around 11am and it was packed. Make sure you don't skip breakfast as to get to the temple you'll have to climb up 272 colourful steps, and in hot humid weather. 

TIP: You'll have to have your legs and shoulders covered to enter the temple, there are sarongs to rent at the entrance for £1. 


batu caves

Petronas Towers


If you're into checking out impressive buildings then you'll love this one. The towers stand at 1,483 feet and they're pretty easy to spot, so you won't have to rely much on google maps when making your way there. Luckily when I was trying to figure out how to get a picture with them, a woman asked if I wanted my picture taken, as she understood the struggle! I recommend visiting at night too as it looks beautiful when it's lit up. 


KLCC Mall 


If you're not looking to shop on your trip, you might just want to pop in for the air con or a bite to eat. You'll find this mall at the foot of the Petronas Towers and it features a range of luxury and high street international brands,  a cinema, an art gallery and a concert hall. 

KL Forest Eco Park


This is also in walking distance from the towers so you can get a lot done in a day! It's free to do and you'll get some great photos as you walk along the suspension bridges between the trees, with the contrast of skyscrapers in the background. 

Bukit Bintang 


This is Kuala Lumpur's fashion and entertainment district and it's pretty easy to spend an afternoon here, especially if you're travelling with friends as there are quite a few popular bars and restaurants along Changkat so it's a great place to start your night. Some of the recommended ones are Havana, The Rabbit Hole and Pisco Bar

Some other places of interest to check out are Berjaya Times Square, where you will find Asia's largest indoor theme park. Central Market where you'll find a range of boutiques, handmade crafts and souvenir stalls. Sri Mahamariamman Temple and the Chan See Shu Yuen Temple can also be found here. 

Helipad Lounge Bar 


If you're after some great views of the city at night, whilst enjoying a few cocktails then head to Heli Lounge Bar. It costs £10 to get to the top of the 38 floor building, which also includes a drink with the ticket. Drinks there also cost £10 so will be slightly pricier than in other bars, but in the end you are paying for the view and the experience. 


helipad kuala lumpur



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HOW TO GET YOUR PLACE BOOKED UP ON AIRBNB.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

[this blog post is written in collaboration with GuestReady but all words and opinions are my own]

Nowadays there are so many choices when it comes to booking accommodation for your trip - booking.com, villas, apartments, Airbnb rentals and even bungalows in the middle of the jungle. As a traveller, this gives you a world of choice, but if you're trying to book out your private accommodation it can be a bit harder to stand out from the crowd. A lot of people who either have second homes or travel a lot, have been able to make another income through renting out their spaces, which is a great way to make money if you're continuously travelling. Airbnb makes it really easy to do this, but as with everything there are always a few ways to better market your property. 

tea with gi airbnb

1. Market for your target audience. 



Social media has made marketing cheaper than ever. One of the strategies many hotels and property owners use is influencer marketing, where a content creator is offered a discounted or complimentary stay in exchange for coverage and review. I even wrote a blog post on why hotels should be working with bloggers. This is a good way to get your property out there because you can reach a large amount of people in whatever niche you want to focus on. If you want to target young travellers, then seek out young content creators, or post your listing in backpacker groups or on Instagram. If you want to target business travellers, then publishing some articles on LinkedIn with reference to your Airbnb can help you reach the right people. 

2. Use a management service. 



Using an Airbnb management service like GuestReady takes out all the hassle of making sure your accommodation is ready for your guests and that everything is running smoothly, especially if you are out of the country! They operate all over Europe, from London to Bordeaux. They offer a range of services depending on how much you want them to be involved. This includes writing a listing for your apartment, professional photography, listing and price optimisation, house-keeping, guest approval and check-in and key exchange. 

3. Write an interesting listing description. 



When I'm searching for an Airbnb to stay in, if the listing only has a couple of lines and a long list of 'NO's' then I'm instantly drawn away. You're more likely to catch people's interest if you go beyond a description of the apartment and also include recommendations of things to do in the area, transport options etc. 

4. Add little touches. 



Adding little touches that you wouldn't normally find in a hotel is always great. I stayed at an Airbnb in Australia where the owner left us several packs of Tim Tams (aussie biscuits), another in London that had a whole shelf of books for us to borrow, and an apartment in Spain that came with a bottle of wine and a cheese selection for us. They all make for memorable stays and your guests are much more likely to write you a better and more detailed review. 

5. Use fair pricing.



You don't want to sell yourself short, but you don't want to put the price point so high that your only guests are business travellers in peak season. Do some research into what your competitors are charging per night, and maybe offer discounts for long-term stays or during low seasons. Normally prices will rise around holidays and special events, so that's also something to take into account. 


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GUEST POST | 5 HEALTHY LIFESTYLE TIPS TO HELP REDUCE ANXIETY.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Person holding smiley face balloon

Anxiety affects people in many different ways, and anyone who suffers, or has suffered, with anxiety in the past will know what a troubling time it can be. Fortunately, with awareness increasing and the wellness industry booming, many people can find ways to help reduce the impact of anxiety on their daily lives.

We all want to be happy and healthy, which ties in wonderfully with much of the advice that surrounds tips on how to reduce those anxious feelings and worries. Here are some healthy lifestyle choices you can make to help.

Mindfulness


Mindfulness is one of those things that many of us do without even realising it. If you’ve ever taken a minute to enjoy the moment, be that in nature or with friends and family, that’s you being mindful. To use mindfulness as a tool to reduce anxiety, you need to use it regularly to connect with your body, thoughts and emotions. By taking the time to get to know yourself, you can begin to understand what may be causing your worries and anxieties.

It is also becoming more and more popular to apply mindfulness to exercise; this is a brilliant double-up as exercise can help to reduce the body’s levels of cortisol, which is the hormone responsible for feeling stressed. Win-win.

Pink tree blossom in spring

Self-Care


Practising self-care can be beneficial to anybody, but those suffering from mental health issues may find it particularly helpful in providing a much-needed mood boost. Self-care is defined uniquely by each individual as it is simply a broad term used to cover any activity that makes you feel happy and calm. This can be treating yourself to something new, having a relaxing soak or just chilling out doing nothing.

The trick to self-care is ensuring that you make time as it is often something that gets left at the wayside when our schedules get hectic. It is important reflection time, and a little self-indulgence is perfectly okay.

Reduce Social Media Time


While on the one hand, social media is a fantastic way to stay connected with friends and family, on the other, too much of it can be damaging to our productivity and self-esteem. Furthermore, studies have shown that too much time spent on our favourite platforms can promote feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety.

If you feel as though you’ve been scrolling too much, put down your tablet or phone and tell yourself you are not going to use it again for an allotted time, an hour for example. Use this time instead to take a walk, watch some TV or a film you love or do something creative. Remember that the way that people portray their lives on social media is not reality.

Person holding smartphone and scrolling

Hemp Oil


Hemp oil is having a bit of a moment, and the general consensus is that it is for a good reason. There are several reasons that hemp is used for anxiety. Firstly, multiple studies have shown that hemp can help to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety in sufferers, as it is thought that hemp may help to boost serotonin production.

Secondly, hemp is also known to regulate sleep cycles and improve the quality of sleep. Sleep is so important when it comes to both mental and physical health, and sleep troubles are often a prevalent symptom displayed when people are suffering from mental health problems. Using hemp oil regularly before bed can help you to drift off into a peaceful sleep.

Avoid Stimulants


Anxious feelings may tempt us to reach for a comfort snack or a cigarette, but it’s actually better to avoid stimulants during this time. Caffeine is also best avoided as research shows that stimulants can worsen the symptoms of anxiety and even trigger them.

What are your best anxiety-busting tips? Share the love in the comments!

10 EXPERIENCES TO HAVE IN BALI, INDONESIA.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

If like me you are daydreaming about the days you'll get to travel again, then why not start planning your trips for 2021? Although I would advise against actually booking anything yet because of the current situation, unless it's through booking.com and it comes with free cancellation. So in January I finally got round to visiting Bali, and it was just as I expected it to be - hot, vibrant and full of tourists. I had a great time and we had a perfect mix of relaxation, adventure and cheap cocktails. I spent 9 days in the area - staying in Ubud, Gili Trawangan and Seminyak. If you're a first time visiter to Bali, these are some experiences I recommend.

tea with gi bali guide


1. Mount Batur sunrise hike.  



If waking up at 2am is out of the question then skip to the next point, but it's definitely worth it! We got picked up and then had a 2 hour drive to the start of the hike. The climb is 1717m and takes around 2 hours to reach the top. In terms of difficulty I would say 6/10, I think I found the way down harder as there were so many small rocks and I fell on my bum within 5 minutes of our descend *face palm*. The view is 100% worth it though. 




2. Take part in a Balinese cooking class. 



One of my favourite parts about travelling is eating, of course. So I thought it would be fun to sign up for a cooking class with a Balinese family. Our hosts were lovely and there was only 5 of us in the group (two friends and me, and a couple from Singapore) which made it more of a personal experience. We made 8 traditional dishes, sampling them as we went along and then they were placed in a buffet style for us to eat later. The samples were so filling that I struggled to finish my plate afterwards, but I still ended up eating dessert after obvs.

Balinese cooking class - £14.79

bali cooking class

3. Bali swings and coffee tasting. 



You'll find there are a number of 'Bali Swing' activities around the area, differentiating in price. RealBaliSwing being the most expensive. Our driver took us to 'Intan Sari Luwak Coffee & Bali Swing Bukit' which cost us a fraction of the price, and there were also some extra nests for photo spots. We also got to sample 15 different coffees and herbal teas. There's a coffee in Bali called 'Luwak coffee' which essentially, is coffee made out of the droppings of the animal.

bali swings

4. Relax in a flower bath. 



My lovely best friend Daniella booked this for me as a Christmas gift and ahhhh it was heaven. You get to soak in a warm bath full of flowers for 45 minutes. The lady was also in there for 5 minutes trying to take the perfect Instagram photo for me, and she kept insisting on taking more lol. You can do this on your own with a book like I did, or with your partner.

Flower bath at the Udaya Resort & Spa - £35 (approx)

bali flower bath

5. Hop over to the Gili Islands. 



So the whole idea of us travelling to the Gili Islands was to see the underwater statues, but we were so hungover the day after that we only managed a bicycle ride around Gili Trawangan and some snorkling. Even that made me feel a bit queasy.

We stayed at Mad Monkey's on Gili T and we had our own private Tipi, and the communal showers were pretty modern. The atmosphere at the hostel was great and hosted pool parties too. Only difficulty was that the clubs and bars are on the other side of the island, which you either have to get to by foot (40 minutes), by bicycle or on a horse and carriage.

TIP: The Gili Islands consist of 3 main islands - Gili Trawangan is the most popular amongst backpackers and people looking for a bit more atmosphere, whereas Gili Air is better for a relaxing stay or a family holiday. Gili Meno is where you'll find the famous underwater statues but you can also hop from another island to get here. 

Transfers to and from Gili Islands - prices starting from £20 one way depending on speed of boat you choose. 

gili t

6. Visit the monkey forest.



If you're from Gibraltar then this probably won't impress you that much because we've got over a 100 macaques roaming around on the rock, but it was still a cute experience. You can find over 1000 monkeys here and the entry fee is around £4.

ubud monkey forest


7. Swim at Banyumala Twin Waterfalls. 



If you've got a driver in Bali then they'll probably suggest this 'lesser known' waterfall which is further up north. It wasn't too busy although you might be slightly out of breath when you're making your way back up to the carpark. Whilst you're here you can stop by the Handara Gate which is a 20 minute drive from here, and is where everyone takes the iconic photo below.

TIP: Don't let the photo fool you, the water effect is achieved by the camera man holding a mirror below the camera lens - it still looks awesome though! You can also expect to queue up for a photo here, luckily when we arrived at 9:30am there weren't many people there, but when we drove passed later in the afternoon there were at least 20 people waiting in line. 


handara gate

8. Go Temple hopping.



If you're not very religious, then I suggest picking a few you really want to see and stick to those, or else you'll be paying for entry fee every time you enter and you can end up wasting a lot of your day driving from place to place. I'd suggest visiting Pura Tirta Empul Temple and Ulun Danu Bratan. At Pura Tirta you can 'get purified' in the water, so if you plan on doing this make sure you pack a change of clothing!

TIP: I'd definitely recommend hiring a driver, it will save you a lot of money on taxis as you can usually hire a personal driver for 10 hours for around £40 a day for the whole car. We were recommended Dessy and the service was great. 



9. Watch the sunset at the Campuhan Ridge Walk.



The signage for this place isn't very clear, so when you follow google maps you might still have to ask a local nearby how to start the walk. We kind of left it too late and we were only arriving as the sun was already setting, so make sure to check when sunset is so you're not stuck in the jungle in the dark! We were also sweating buckets because the jumpsuits we bought from the market weren't exactly very breathable, so our photos didn't quite turn out as planned.

campuhan ridge walk

10. Eat in a warung. 


Warung translates to a family owned business or restaurant, and is where you will find authentic balinese food when you want a break from all the instagrammable acai bowls. Some of the best ones we visited were Warung Mendez, Warung Bintang and Warung Puspa. You'll find meals here range from £2 - £10.

warung ubud


Have you ever experienced any of these activities in Bali? Or do you have any others you enjoyed on your trip? 


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tea with gi bali travel guide





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