Get a Head Start This January – How to be on Top of Your Game

The festive season has just begun but before you know it, it will suddenly disappear just as it had come. The New Year is crucial because it signifies yet another opportunity for you to set new goals and targets. One of the most famous traditions of the New Year is to have a set of resolutions. However, most of us these resolutions are not pursued beyond the second or third months.

How To Stick To Your Resolutions

New Year resolutions are meant to help you to abandon old detrimental and unrewarding habits and adopt new ones that will make you a more productive individual. One reason we don’t achieve what we plan to do in the New Year is lack of focus. We fail to concentrate on the goals we set. That is why most of our plans are stillborn.

However, there is a strategy you can use to make sure you see your resolutions through. I know you might be like many who decided to be realistic and stopped making plans for the New Year. After breaking their resolutions year after year (most of them before the end of February) they chose to live without resolutions. This is like throwing out the baby and with the bath water. That is why you need to understand and practice a strategy that will ensure you are on top of your game in the New Year.

Mindfulness Is The Solution

Mindfulness is the state of being aware of what is happening within you and your environment without being judgemental. A person who is mindful accepts what is happening around him or her and does not label events and experiences as being right or wrong. Mindfulness requires that you live in the here and now without trying to stifle the past or obsess with the future.

When you become mindful, you concentrate in what you are doing at the moment. Nothing else matters. Focusing on the event you are undertaking is the secret to accomplishing much more than other people do. I know you have listened to people waxing lyrical about multitasking and how this habit can help you accomplish more in a minimal time. What these people don’t tell you is that in actual sense, you accomplish less and do not exhaust your abilities when you perform many tasks at the same time.

As observed earlier, lack of focus is the reason many of us fail to accomplish whatever it is we set out to do. Studies have shown that the ability to focus has a powerful bearing on how well we control our emotions and our ability to meet long-term goals. It does not matter what profession you are in; as long as you cannot focus on one task at a time, you will not achieve the exact results you wanted. Worse still, you are likely not to achieve anything.

You normally set New Year resolutions with the belief that you are going to achieve them. I have never heard of someone who decides they will become worse people in the New Year. We all dream of becoming better students, parents, employees, employers, leaders, managers and so on. Why then do some people become what they planned to while others remain stagnant in their unwanted circumstances and behaviours yet all of them set positive and virtuous New Year resolutions?

The Answer…

Let us review some scientific findings. Did you know that a child who controls his or her impulses and attention is less likely to be a criminal or to become a drug addict compared to those who don’t have control over their feelings and actions? The same children are likely to have happier marriages. Did you also know that having the ability to focus is a better measure of academic success than IQ? Irrespective of how academically gifted you are, if you cannot concentrate, you are going to fail in whatever you are doing.

One way of practicing mindfulness is to meditate. Meditation is an ancient practice that teaches one how to relax and focus on feelings and sensations in the body. Meditation provides one with an opportunity to reflect on positive issues and to be thankful for what they have. If you can focus on your breath, for example, for about twenty minutes without shifting your thoughts to other issues, then you are mindful.

In the same way, if you meditate on your resolutions daily and determine to approach them one by one, you will achieve them. Whatever you focus your mind on becomes easy to achieve. You will be on top of your game as you begin the New Year if you learn to practice meditation mindfulness. You will be surprised at how effortlessly you will achieve your New Year resolutions when you begin to focus and concentrate on one task at a time.

What are you new year’s resolutions? What is your plan to stick to them? We would love to hear: you can see us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/graceguru.net, send us a tweet: www.twitter.com/_graceguru_ or use our instagram hashtags #graceguruloves or #gracegurulifestyle

Enjoy the last couple of days of 2015! 

With Love,

Your Grace Guru 

xxx

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Beat That Dreaded Bulge – A Quick and Simple Detox After a Period of Indulgence

Christmas is a time of indulgence – good and bad alike. The festive season provides an opportunity for us to unwind after a long busy year. At the end this season, many of us will be exhausted. Hangovers, lethargy, illnesses and irritability will be common as we try to deal with the aftermath of our drinking sprees and binge eating.

Before you think you are being judged for your excessive behaviour, remember you are not alone. All of us indulge over Christmas and New Year, it’s one of the best parts of the holidays! There are numerous visits to other people as we also receive visitors. In between, there is the temptation to eat and drink beyond normal to please our hosts or guests.

The only problem is that you will be left to deal with the repercussions. When all the niceties have been said, the music has died down and everyone has returned to their day to day lives, you will be left to argue with the weighing scale that dreaded bulge (erghhhh).

Most of the regrets actually emanate from poor planning of the holiday season and a carefree attitude. It is like a dog that has been unleashed and given a few hours to indulge in its most-craved activities before being tied up again.

The following are our quick and effective methods that you can use to detox your body after indulging in binge eating and excessive drinking:

1. Go Water Crazy

Your body is predominantly made up of water. Water is life and without it your body cannot function (especially on a hangover where you are more than likely to be extremely hungover and have a lot of salt in your system from that guilty pizza, kebab or burger at 3am). Water is also a cleansing agent, working with the kidneys and the skin. After mistreating your system during festivities, you will do well to cleanse your blood by drinking a lot of water.

Mixing warm water with lemon is also known to remove any toxins from the night before. Similarly, peppermint tea and green tea can be extremely helpful with relieving symptoms of bloating, constipation and other digestion problems. They can also act as a temporary fix to speed up a process of loosing any weight you may have gained from having one too many minced pies. (Yay for herbal tea!)

2. Squeeze In A Workout

It is ironic how we throw caution to the wind when the festive season arrives. People who used to flock fitness centres all of a sudden take a break. The few exercises you used to do at home evaporate from your mind and schedule. You sleep late and wake up when the sun is up. By the time you celebrate the New Year, you have added kilos.

Hard as it may sound, hitting the gym just once will help so much. Not only will you feel better within yourself, you will also jump kick the return of the fitness bug ready for the new year!! Even if you take a short jog round a local park, or along a river, throw yourself ahead of the game and in front of everyone else (don’t deny those mini competitions that will arise with your friends come January).

3. Ditch Carbs

Now that you want to detox your body it is important to remember where it all began. It all started with uncontrolled eating and drinking. Similarly, your path back to the ideal weight and healthy body is through diet. You must start watching what you are eating. More importantly, eat foods that help you to clear the bad stuff you have eaten over the previous weeks.

To begin with, don’t bloody skip breakfast! I don’t know what time you will have to wake up, but irrespective of your busy work schedule, make sure you enjoy a heart and healthy morning meal. The food items on your breakfast table should be well-balanced. High levels of fibre and protein are key.

Secondly, ditch the heavenly carbs. Oh yeah we’re talking pasta, pizza, rice, bread – the whole team. Feeling lazy and craving a Big Mac, or Fish and Chips? Hell no, you can forget about that. Ditch all processed foods, put the phone down what do you think you’re doing ordering Dominos Pizza or that lamb curry? We’ve just had Christmas! The time for guilt-free indulging is over! You will without doubt begin to feel the difference if you stop eating carbs and processed foods even after a couple of weeks!

Lastly, You cannot detox your body if you don’t watch the portions you are eating. Your lunch should not be as heavy as your breakfast. Actually, the best way to ensure you don’t overeat during lunch is to eat well in the morning. Keep your lunch to leafy greens and some protein, mix with some delicious salad recipes and dressings so that it encourages you to keep eating healthy.

4. Get Your Zzz’s

In addition to water, exercise and diet, give your body adequate rest. Part of the reason you have gained weight over Christmas is lack of sleep. Eat a light dinner some two or three hours before sleep. Got to bed early and give your body ample rest. Your mind needs detox just as the body. Make sure your house is well-ventilated, and surround yourself with your favourite music. Practice positive thinking especially as you face the challenges of January. If you are religious, revive your spiritual life.

Practice this and you will recover quickly and effectively from any excess weight and psychological complications of the holiday season and face the New Year confidently.

If you have any special tips that work for you, we would love to hear about them! You can see us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/graceguru.net, send us a tweet: www.twitter.com/_graceguru_ or use our instagram hashtags #graceguruloves or #gracegurulifestyle

With Love,

Your Grace Guru 

xxx

 

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The Importance of Giving For Your Soul

We live in a world where materialism reigns supreme. We are all guilt of competing with our loved ones for the most up to date product, self indulging and boasting about our material possessions on social media. While capitalism has resulted in the improvement of the quality of life for many, millions still live below the poverty line. We have forgotten the benefits of giving at a time when the world is deeply divided between the rich and the poor.

Giving is an act of sacrifice. We can all relate to the struggles of spending your own money on something or someone, rather than yourself. It’s a conflicting feeling when you know there is a lot you can do with the money you are giving to charity. However, you decide to forego your rights and privileges over the money to bring relief and cheer to another human being. You give because you have seen a need that can be fulfilled by the resources you have!

In contrast, if you give simply because you have no use for the materials you are giving, you may not feel like you are sacrificing. While giving from abundance is not prohibited or unethical, it is a fact that giving makes more meaning when it is done out of the desire to help another person even if that means that the giver will have to waive some benefits.

From the time we are born, we are accustomed to receiving. As new-borns, we experience the warmth of other people. Our parents, siblings and relatives receive us with a lot of joy. Gifts come our way even if we don’t know it. As we grow up, we receive gifts during birthday parties, Christmas and other festivals and events. As long as we remain under the custodianship of parents and guardians, we expect to be recipients.

Sooner or later, though, we become adults and realise that we are expected to start giving and stop expecting others to give us. That is the moment when we realise the gifts we used to unwrap were actually sacrifices from other people. Society now expects us to give to the less fortunate and to our family members. In a way, the moment we begin to give is the moment we begin to live.

What Then Is The Importance Of Giving?

Giving is an expression of our humanity. A human being is expected to be like a lake with an outlet. When the lake receives water, it must allow some of the water to flow out so that it can receive more. The movement of water energises the lake and gives life to the animals and plants within it. In contrast, when you stop giving, you become like the Dead Sea, a water body that receives without giving, and cannot support life. In essence, you give because you are created to give and that is how you prove you are indeed human.

It is also important to give because by so doing, you will help another human being to live and enjoy life. At the same time, you will be happier because you are helping others. You are lucky if you have everything you need. There are many more who cannot afford one meal a day. Millions have no place to live at a time when some people have more than one place they call home. If you rush to the doctor whenever you catch a cold, you need to know that there are some patients who cannot afford to see a doctor. If you are a parent, grandparent, child or grandchild, remember there are millions of orphans and homeless people on earth.

Giving is important to the soul because it is the best weapon against unfettered materialism. Materialism is a form of disease that is destroying the soul of humanity. A soul that does not give eventually dies out. When we allow selfishness to engulf our hearts and make us callous, we kill the very essence of our being. Giving, therefore, gladdens the soul because the soul was not created to be selfish. Shunning greed and selfishness is the best way to ensure that the resources on earth reach each and every inhabitant.

The soul is spiritual and thus amenable to giving. The Supreme Being, whatever name you choose to give it, is a force for good. One cannot claim to be spiritual if they don’t give. In some religions, a portion of one’s earnings are donated to the poor either directly or through a religious order. It is ironical for one to claim to believe in a Supreme Being yet remain immune or dumb to the needs of others. Religion always teaches how generous the Supreme Being is to humanity and thus expects that adherents will be kind to other believers and non-believers alike. We, therefore, give to follow religious instructions and to connect with the higher being. The soul finds happiness in giving because it is accustomed to God unlike the body and the mind.

We give because it is in generosity that we find the meaning of life and this fulfils the soul’s desire.

Merry Christmas!

We would love to connect with you more, you can see us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/graceguru.net, send us a tweet: www.twitter.com/_graceguru_ or use our instagram hashtags #graceguruloves or #gracegurulifestyle!

WIth Love,

Your Grace Guru

xxx

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How To Refresh The Energy In Your Home

Your home is your palace and temple. It is a palace because it is your little kingdom where you rule like loyalty. Here, nobody can come to belittle you or make your life miserable. Your word is authoritative. Your home is also a temple because this is where you commune with yourself and the Supreme Being. Home is the space where you feel most fulfilled and most spiritual.

Why You Need An Energy Renewal in Your Home

Such an important facility requires the best form and level of maintenance and care. However, as you become busy, it is possible to fall into a routine and forget about the care of your home! After a while your home may not inspire you as it once did. That is the point at which you need to allocate some time and refresh your surroundings.

Let us look at this issue from a different angle too. Many of us spend time, especially during some weekends, cleaning up our houses. We take time to arrange documents and take out any form of dirt to dump it in the rightful place. Despite such efforts, you may realise that your house is still not as energising as you may want it to be. In essence refreshing and renewing the energy in your home is not a one-off activity but a continual process of identifying areas that need change.

What then are some of the activities you can engage in to rejuvenate your domestic space?

  1. Fresh Air

There are reasons for keeping doors and windows shut – security, to keep off dirt and to prevent ourselves from the elements. In most cases, when we are away at work we ensure all windows and doors are locked. Not any of us dare leave windows open at night for fear of intruders, including wild animals. For those who don’t have time over the weekend, their houses rarely have time to ventilate adequately. Such an environment is full of foul air even if you don’t realise it. Your thinking and creative abilities are effected significantly when there is no fresh air in your house. This festive season, let gusts of fresh air have their way in your house for positive energy.

  1. De-Clutter

Over the last year, your home may have become one big rubbish dump. Some of the dirt is not hidden because it comes in the form of old pairs of shoes which you don’t need any more. How about those clothes in your wardrobe that you used to wear but haven’t thought about for nine months? There are some useless documents and papers that have no value to you yet they still take up space in your drawers. It is time you kicked out all the unnecessary stuff from your house since this will allow more positive energy to flow into your space.

  1. Nature

It is time you brought in some other living entities to share with you. How about beautiful plants that can recycle the air you breathe out and give you more of the air you need. You can even become a gardener and use unwanted containers in your house to give a home to one such plant. These plants will attract some insects and natural processes of life and growth will be taking place right inside your house. As you nurture these plants, they will absorb foul air and energy and imbue your house with life and positivity.

  1. Fly On The Wall

What decorates the walls in your house? When was the last time you brought down that 10 year old family portrait and hung a new one? It is time you gave the visual image of your house a new face. Look for artworks that are more in tandem with your current feelings and desires and hang them on the walls. Look for images that inspire you to change your life for the better. Remove those photos and paintings that do not reflect good memories or intentions for you.

  1. Animal Lover

We share a rich heritage and genes with animals. Pets know what is happening around them and feel the same way we do. If you don’t have a pet, consider the options and benfits. Share your house with another living thing that can express itself in a way towards you. As long as you have space and time to take care of that cat, dog, fish or other favourite animal, do not hesitate to introduce it into your life. Such a decision will bring you positive energy and a new way of looking at life.

We would to see images of your newly renewed homes, or pics of your kittens and puppies! You can see us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/graceguru.net, send us a tweet: www.twitter.com/_graceguru_ or use our instagram hashtags #graceguruloves or #gracegurulifestyle

With Love,

Your Grace Guru

xxx

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Unexpected Ways The Weather Can Affect Your Health

As we begin to embrace the cold weather, we need to be aware of the ways the drop in temperature and the high wind speeds can affect our health. The fact that winter is a gloomy season means we need to look for ways and means to be merry instead of allowing ourselves to be restrained by the cold. However, even with all efforts to lift the misery and remain positive, we need to remember that winter often makes us vulnerable to severe health complications and even death.

So, what are some of these risks and how we can prevent them from occurring in the first place?

  1. Fluctuating Moods and Depression

This may not be what you may call a clear-cut problem but when observed closely, but feeling down in the dumps is actually a major problem for many of us during winter. Cold weather has a way of making people gloomy, sad, exhausted and withdrawn. Perhaps it is because in general we spend a lot of time indoors, with limited exposure to sun light and feel closed out from the rest of the society. Maybe the dull weather outside affects us psychologically to feel as if all is not well!

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), as it is called, can make us less mobile, overweight and likely to over-eat starches. During this time, some people fall into depression, feel unworthy and may even resort to suicide. It is important for us to keep an eye out on our loved ones who may be feeling low, anxiety and mild depression is common during winter seasons visiting a counsellor can also help! In addition, maintaining your social networks and exercising outside the house when the weather is favourable will bring back positive feelings that can ward off depression!If you would like to know more about mild seasonal depression you can read more here:http://graceguru.net/how-to-ward-off-winter-blues/

  1. Cold’s and Flu’s

Although you can contract colds or flu at any time of the year, the cold season makes us more vulnerable to these conditions. The viruses that cause these conditions enter the body through the nasal passage. On the other hand, during the cold season, the flow of blood to the nostrils is affected negatively and this means that fewer white blood cells, which fight infection, reach the nasal passage. In addition, cold weather is rich ground for the flu virus because the latter thrives in cold dry air.

Colds and flu have similar symptoms although the latter exhibits more severe symptoms. Generally, we will usually experience a sore throat; have a runny nose; headache or even sneezing. Your nose may also experience blockage while your body may feel lethargic. Expect muscle aches as well as low appetite. Ehh… the joys of feeling under the weather!

To avoid getting colds and flu, ensure you are warm during the cold season! If you are also particularly concerned topping up on flu jabs is a great way to limit your chances of catching a nasty bug! If you are already infected, take a trip to see your local GP so that you get the right kind of medication. For the one week or so when you will be affected, ensure you take warm liquids particularly those with ginger, mint and other flu-fighting elements. (yummy – see our favourite ginger tea recipes here: http://graceguru.net/why-you-should-eat-ginger/

  1. Allergy, Asthma and Pneumonia

Another set of serious problems that can affect many of us during the cold season is an allergy, asthma and even pneumonia. Allergies vary from person to person. However, there are people who develop a cold every time they are exposed to cold conditions, even if it is not winter yet. Similarly, there are people who are affected by the behaviour of plants during the cold season.

Asthma and pneumonia are cold-related illnesses. Most of us have mild forms of these illnesses. Some have inherited these conditions. While the illnesses may lie idle during other seasons, winter creates the right atmosphere for the respective viruses to thrive. This is the time many people suddenly realise that they are asthmatic. It all depends on the level of exposure to severe weather conditions! Hayfever is my worst enemy!

While these conditions may not be cured, it is important to keep off severe cold by all means. Simple things like remembering an umbrella so you are covered by the rain, or a bring a pair of gloves to keep you hands warm can be super beneficial! Remain indoors and warm as long as is necessary. Avoid cold baths and ensure you sleep under warm beddings.

  1. Heart Attacks

You may wonder what heart attacks have to do with cold weather because you know the conventional causes of this often-fatal condition. What you may not know is that many people suffer from this condition in winter more than the other three seasons. Why is this so? The fact is that your blood pressure is low during the cold season which in turn pressurises your heart. Moreover, because of low temperatures, your heart must work extra hard to pump blood thus making it vulnerable to attacks.

Beware of uncommon chest pains, sudden bouts of dizziness, excessive sweating, irregular heartbeat and nausea among other signs. Always remain warm and use the right medication in the recommended way if you are under treatment. More importantly, ensure your telephone line is working because you may need to contact 911 when the unfortunate happens. 

Winter is a time to be very cautious. We need to be aware of inherited and opportunistic illnesses and other complications that we can aggravate or contract during this cold period. More importantly, we need to keep warm, exercise and have positive attitudes to keep of negative health conditions! Although this article has followed a more negative path, it is also important to how amazing the autumn and winter seasons are, if all you need is a little boost for your health visit this page for out top tips: http://graceguru.net/amazing-nutrition-tips-for-a-super-healthy-fall/

We would love to hear any tips you have for maintaing your health during winter! You can see us on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/graceguru.net or send us a tweet: www.twitter.com/_graceguru_

With Love,

Your Grace Guru

xxx

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Super Easy & Super Healthy Workplace Habits

Your workplace is one of the most important spaces in your life. The place where you make your living. It is in this space that you build a career and nurture social relations with your colleagues. A significant chunk of your life will be spent working, which makes this place all the more important. But apart from work, what else can you do to make your workplace a more comfortable space?

Not Always Blissful!

Let us face the truth. Workplaces are not always comfortable and desirable. A slave driver of a boss does not make your life pleasurable. Nosy colleagues may create a scenario that you wish to run away from. Clients can be difficult to deal with. Sitting behind a desk and computer the entire day may not be your cup of coffee. In essence, you are not guaranteed enjoyment in your work station. You have to find a way to lighten your burden and bring cheer to your day!

Maintaining Your Health And Sanity

That is why you need to learn new super easy and super healthy workplace habits to incorporate in your daily schedule! We are talking about habits that help you to remain healthy and sane throughout the day. Believe me; you can easily lose your mind, although momentarily, when certain stressful situations arise. The following habits are worth learning and practicing in your workplace:

  1. Mindfulness

Mindfulness means that you are aware of yourself, your environment and the happenings within that surrounding. It also implies that you can observe what is happening but defer your judgment. In other words, you can detach yourself from events surrounding you so as to concentrate on one issue that is important to you. You also avoid reacting spontaneously to issues and choose rather understand what is happening.

In the workplace, you can practice mindfulness by reminding yourself of your roles and responsibilities every day before you begin working. It is also important to recall the mandate and objectives of the organisation. With this in mind, your mind will not wander a lot. You will also avoid working on issues that do not add value to the organisation. Mindfulness will help you to be productive because you will accomplish one task at a time.

A person that exercises mindfulness also leaves workplace issues behind before going home. More often than not, we steal joy from our homes when we carry home the stress we should have left at work. Mindfulness means that you reflect on your accomplishments before leaving your workplace and ensuring that chapter is closed until you return the next day.

Young woman doing yoga on the mat on the roof, sitting in lotus posture, looking at camera and smiling

  1. Meditation

Whenever meditation is mentioned, some people think of long sessions of silence and prayer. While there is some truth in such beliefs, the truth is that you can actually meditate for short durations in your workplace. Before we get to the specifics, we need to understand that meditation can calm your mind and help you to focus on what you are doing thus eliminating many of the casual mistakes you make daily.

You can meditate at regular intervals (say one hour) if your work station and schedule allow. Alternatively, you can take time to reflect when there is no much work. Whichever way, ensure you are comfortable. Preferably, have a mat in your workplace if circumstances and regulations permit.

In your meditation, ensure you feel every part of the body. Practice breathing deeply and make sure you feel the sensations travelling through your body. Once you have blocked off distractions in your environment, sit still, relax and breathe rhythmically. As you do so, identify one part of your body that you want to ‘listen’ to. It could be your feet or even your heartbeat. By the end of your exercise, you will have strength and motivation to face the next challenge.

caucasian business woman in eyeglasses relaxing neck,stretching arms - short break for exercise on chair  in office

  1. Physical Exercises

Space within which you operate may not be big enough, but you can still stretch out your body. Deskbound living is damaging our bodies. However, since most of us work in such circumstances, we need to find ways of making the body active. There are quite a number of exercises that you can engage in without much hustle in your workplace.

For example, you can stretch out your body while supporting it using furniture in your office. You can improvise push-ups or other forms of exercise as long as your body is not injured. After sitting for a long duration, you can perform squats or stretch out your legs or hands. Walking around the office after sitting for some time will also help to stretch out body parts which have been constricted after sitting for long.

Exercises in the workplace will keep your mind and body healthy and also promote interaction since you will be forced to leave your desk and visit other people’s stations to see what they are doing. The most important issue is that you don’t spend all the time seated and that you take the time to move around and stretch out your body. Remember you can significantly improve your workplace experience through mindfulness, meditation and simple exercises.

With Love,

Your Grace Guru

xxx

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Our Top European Weekend Get-A-Way Locations!

People who associate winter with absolute gloom do not know Europe well. Winter is not the time to hide indoors and moan, waiting for the seasons to change. If you live in Europe or you would like to tour this great continent, plan your tour to coincide with the cold season and you will be surprised at the many exciting adventures and sceneries that await you.

If you are thinking of planning a weekend adventure or romantic gateway this winter, there are many European cities that will provide you with an unforgettable experience. One BIG advantage of visiting European gateways at a time when tourism is in low season is that in general you will spend less money than you would during summer. So, without further ado, here are our 5 top romantic European gateways to include in your bucket list:

  1. Amsterdam

iStock_000017929544_Small

For those who have never been to this exquisite city, your mind may initially think of the famous Red Light District. But please let me assure you, this is definitely only one side of Amsterdam. There are exceptional sights seen in the outstanding architecture and vast amounts of canals and bridges that structure the city! With amazing food markets, coffee shops and museums you will have plenty of opportunities to explore. In peak tourist season the roads and pathways can be super crazy with locals and tourists travelling through the city on bicycles! But with visiting in low season may reduce the crowds, and regardless I would highly recommend hiring a bike and taking a spontaneous adventure around the city, you never know what hidden treasures may on the outskirts of the city!

One downside to Amsterdam is it is slightly more expensive than other cities in Western Europe, but travelling prices are cheap and it is also easy to find a good hotel deal so your entire trip can be successful on a relatively low budget! All I would say is remember to pack enough warm clothing as it can get quite chilly in the spring season!

  1. Salzburg

Beautiful view of the historic city of Salzburg with Festung Hohensalzburg in winter, Salzburger Land, Austria

Another great European city to visit is Salzburg, if I say this is where Mozart found his inspiration, and it was the setting for the film “The Sound Of Music” you can imagine how incredible this city is. There is a certain buzz about the city and you get the feel that this is the place where almost everyone wants to hold a concert or festival. Chances are that your gateway may coincide with one of these exceptional celebrations of music or other social event! The city is enticing and enchanting particularly because of its beautiful vies of the Eastern Alps. Make sure you visit numerous castles and fortresses in the city, and grab a taster of delicious German cuisine to sample at the Old Town and other places in the city. This is just a snapshot; the real story awaits you in the musical city of Salzburg.

  1. Lisbon

Cityscape of Lisbon in the beautiful sunset. PorugalPerhaps because it has not been the subject of a lot of publicity like other European cities, the capital of Portugal is not understood as it should. This is the perfect getaway considering the city’s laid-back nature. This city encourages relaxation with its beautiful vibrant colours and hilly contours guaranteeing you will see great views from every corner you visit! Choosing to vacation in Lisbon this winter means you will have the opportunity to walk the city’s alleys without the inconvenience of crowds.

You will also be surprised with the way in which a modern city can grow within a village setting yet the incredible traditional antique architecture remains. Yes, the ancient bleached limestone networks rival skyscrapers for beauty and grandeur in Lisbon and this is where the air of romance begins to blow on your face despite the cold. Make sure you take coffee in the many cafes on the streets of this city, watch bullfighting, and lie of the tranquil beaches.

  1. Vienna

Vienna, aerial view at night, with danube and cityscape

Okay so I know that Austria has already been mentioned but I cannot leave Vienna out! Famous for the culinary speciality Sachertorte, if you’re a fan of chocolate cake this is the getaway for you! Along with its highly recognised imperial palaces, Vienna has emerged as a contemporary city where the new and the old exist side-by-side.I would highly recommend visiting the Vienna State Opera which dates back to the mid-19th century, and rather than purchasing tickets to see the opera you can find opera tours which allow you to grab a snapshot of the Opera House for a less expensive cost.

  1. Budapest

The Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Basilica and the Budapest Eye

I have not yet had the chance to visit this city but Budapest has been highly recommended by friends who insist it is enticing and romantic right from the moment you arrive. How about a city of two halves, aptly named Buda and Pest? The magnificent and renowned River Danube is the perfect demarcation of the two sides of this must-visit getaway. Each of the twin sides of this city has unique places to visit and wonderful sceneries. The restaurants are relatively inexpensive but high quality, and the nightlife is completely different to that of Western Europe yet will always provide you with a night to remember!

Considering the dipping winter temperatures, you will appreciate that this metropolis is called the city of spas, some stretching as far as the 16th century. Budapest is the perfect travel destination for anybody who appreciates incredible architecture and wants an experience that is very far from the landscapes of Western Europe!

I hope that one of these cities has caught your eye, if you do get the chance to visit one of these amazing locations we would love see your experiences! You can tag us on instagram @grace_guru or use any of our hashtags #graceguru #graceguruloves #gracegurulifestyle!

With Love,

Your Grace Guru

xxx

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How To Ward Off Winter Blues

Winter is here once again and so are the blues. The temptation to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary movement is very strong. Everywhere you look, there is gloom. The weather accentuates your feelings of misery and enslavement to your small space. You long for the day the sun will shine again. Is there a way to lift your spirits before then?

How can you overcome the overwhelming depression that often hits you during this gloomy season? This is the time that sleep takes a flight because you feel very cold. Many people are also lethargic and are not ready to venture outdoors. Did you also know that you are likely to overeat during winter? Perhaps it is because there is little activity and you spend much time indoors. You probably know someone who becomes irritable during winter; this is a symptom of winter blues. Winter is the time that you also feel like not socialising.

There are several strategies you can use to lift the gloom and actually enjoy winter instead of enduring it.

  1. Avoid Passive Life

Winter will nudge you to remain indoors but you need to avoid this temptation if you are to fight off the gloom. I am not saying that you should remain in your house as I am against locking yourself inside the entire day. Rather, dress in warm clothing as winter demands and give your muscles some walking workout. This will remove the strain from your legs, give you some exercise, refresh your brain and lift the gloom off your face. Yes, you can take a walk in winter and actually enjoy it.

  1. Get Fresh Air

Just as with taking a walk, you need fresh air. The air inside your house can get contaminated. You need to move out and absorb fresh air outdoors. This you can do especially when it’s brighter outside or during midday when there is a little warmth. You will also do your body a favour if you sit near windows where you can see what is happening outside. There is still a lot of excitement and life outside your house and you need not lose touch with nature simply because of winter.

  1. Watch Your Diet

One of the best strategies to keep off the blues during winter is to eat well. Invest in a balanced diet. A well-fed person is able to overcome the extreme cold that is associated with winter. Avoid junk food and eat healthy, natural and fresh food. Look for the foods that are in season during winter. For example, incorporate sweet potatoes, lentils, onions, leafy vegetables, oranges, ginger and so on in your diet. Take lots of warm water as well as teas, coffees and soups as they will help you meet your daily fluid requirements easily.

  1. Stay Warm

As the temperatures dip in winter, so do moods. Depression and irritability result from such situations, not to mention illnesses such as asthma, the common cold and pneumonia. You cannot afford to suffer from any illness during this gloomy time. You need to keep your body warm at all times. Choose warm clothing; eat warm food and drink warm beverages. Make sure there is a system to regulate temperature in your house, particularly to safely keep you warm. Do not venture outdoors in light clothing even when your body seems to have no problem with your actions.

  1. Let The Light In

Winter has a way of keeping away natural light at times. Sometimes you cannot tell whether it is night or day. Having gathered enough provisions and remained indoors, you may begin to lose acquaintance with natural light. Whenever you have the opportunity, let natural light into your house. Make sure the lights in your house are working and keep them working for as long as possible. You may want to invest in a light box which will offer an alternative to natural light especially on the days when winter is at its peak.

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  1. Exercise

I know you may not have a gym in your house, but you can improvise. You need to stretch out your body as much as possible. Create space in your living room or bedroom and practice yoga, for example. Use your furniture for support. Get a mat or stretch out on your bed. Get a skipping rope and use it every day. Many of the lighter gym equipment are also easily available and affordable. Use the internet to learn new ways of exercising. Apart from keeping you warm, working out will ensure your blood is flowing optimally and that you avoid winter illnesses.

  1. Build And Maintain A Social Network

Don’t live alone during winter. Even if you are forced to live alone, keep your communication lines open. People need your help and you need to help them too. Mental blues have a way of compromising the mental health of some people. Keeping close to family and friends will ensure you can face winter blues together. Go out and meet friends in social events. Don’t lock yourself in because this makes you vulnerable.

Group Of Women Enjoying In Restaurant

If you have any other tips, or any secret practice that you know works for you we would love to hear about it! You can see us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/graceguru.net or send us a tweet: www.twitter.com/_graceguru_

With Love,

Your Grace Guru

xxx

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A Beginner’s Guide To Yoga Practice At Home

So, it’s coming to the end of the year, Christmas season is upon us. I know that I have been slacking with the Grace Guru lifestyle recently as work and social schedules are very hectic! During this season I start to brainstorm goals for my new year’s resolutions. If you’ve been thinking the same and trying yoga is one of your goals, this short and simple guide is just for you! We will talk you through the basics so you’ll be calmly yogi-ing your way into 2016!

A key benefit of starting yoga at home is that you are not committed to a specific time or place, you have no nerves about being in a room with strangers, or having anxiety about not being able to reach into a certain pose. The only promise you need to make is to a yoga mat!

However, you will require one form of commitment, a pledge to yourself. Yoga beginners will need an open mind and a lot of patience, mix this with determination and you will feel your body progress and see results in no time at all!

Step 1 – Breathing

Lay down flat on your back (on your yoga mat), feet shoulder width apart and hands relaxed to your side. Attempt to engage your diaphragm and take a long deep breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeating this 10-15 times will reduce your heart rate and take you to a much calmer place. You can also play calming background music, to help create a peaceful atmosphere and block out any surrounding noises.

If something has been irritating you during the day, think of this as you breath in and out, feel the tension release through your shoulders and down your limbs.

Top Tip: Remember to maintain a smooth breathing pattern throughout your yoga routine to help your body stretch and strengthen.

Step 2 – Stretch

Mountain Pose – stand tall with your feet together; let your arms rest to the side with fingers together. Feel your spin stretch from the bottom of your spine all the way to the top of you neck.

easy begginer yoga pose

Child’s Pose – this pose is perfect for resting! Start wit your knees and feet on the floor, with your feet touching. With your knees apart rest your belly and chest between your legs. Stretch your arms out in front of you and place your head on the floor.

Beautiful sporty fit yogi girl practices yoga asana balasana

Step 3 – Progress

5 Yoga Poses To Strive Towards!

  1. Tree Pose – stand with arms at your side, shift your weight onto your left leg and place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left thigh. With hips facing forward, when you have found your balance, bring your hands in front of you into prayer position.iStock_000012256061_Small
  2. Warrior – step your feet about legs distance apart and turn your right leg out to about 90 degrees. Take your arms out to the side and bend your right knee so it is above your ankle.virabhadrasana warrior pose #4
  3. Downward-Facing Dog – from the mountain pose hinge forward from your waist to place your flat palms on the ground. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart with your arms and back in a straight line. This may feel a little challenging at first, but remember to breath and relax deeper into the pose when you feel more comfortable.Business woman in conference room
  4. Cobra – lie facing down on the floor with your hands under your shoulders and your legs extended, tuck hips downwards as your squeeze your glutes, push through your thumbs and index fingers as you raise your chest.Yoga upward facing dog pose
  5. Bridge – lie on the floor with your knees bent and directly over your heels, place your arms at the side with your palms down, press your feet into the floor as you lift your hips. Bring your chest toward your chin and clasp your hands under your lower back. bridge

Step 4 – Cool Down and Relax

When you have finished a yoga-routine it is really important to lay down and completely relax your mind and body. The corpse pose is perfect for ultimate relaxation!

Relax your body, with your arms and legs by your side in a natural position that feels comfortable. Feel each muscle in your body start to relax, shut your eyes and breath deeply. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes to restore balance ensuring you will be re-energised after your first yoga session!

Beautiful sporty fit yogi girl relaxes in yoga asana Savasana

Which poses do you love to practice?

PicMonkey Collage

Namaste!

 

With Love,

Your Grace Guru

xxx

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