How positive affirmations help you become the person you want to be

We all have a thing or two we want to change about ourselves. Same goes for our life. And positive affirmations are a very powerful instrument to help us with that.

Positive affirmations: Woman smiling at herself in the mirror

What are positive affirmations?

To understand how positive affirmations can help us become who we want to be, we first need to know: What are positive affirmations?

“Affirming” something is the act of validating or confirming a fact, according to Merriam Webster. Basically every time you say a sentence that is not a question, you could call that an affirmation. Saying “I am cold” would affirm to yourself and others your feeling of being cold.

Even if you just think sentences like that, your brain uses those thoughts as an affirmation of facts.

Now I don’t know how aware of your thoughts you are. You might know that many of the things going on in your head are not necessarily positive. And this is where the concept of “positive affirmations” comes in.

So what is the positive in positive affirmations?

Positive affirmations are selected statements of a positive nature. Rather than just saying a fact, you make it a point of saying a positive statement. You would repeat those to yourself in order to plant a certain belief, attitude or value in your mind.

What are positive affirmations picture: Thinking bubble with a lightbulb inside It is important to note that not only the topic of the statement will be positive. For example love, wealth, happiness… Also the wording should avoid negative formulations. Instead of saying “I am not sad today” you would say “I am happy today”. This is important, because your brain actually likes to ignore words like “not”. So in order to not affirm sadness to yourself, you would use the second variant.

How affirmations work

Now that we have established what positive affirmations are, let’s have a look at how affirmations work.

Do affirmations work?

First of all we need to ask the question if affirmations work at all. The short answer is yes, they do have an effect on your thought patterns. Especially if you use them regularly.

The longer answer is: Affirmations do something to you. But they might not work exactly as you hope they would. While there are numerous studies on affirmations and their effects, their exact mechanism of working is still unclear.

Positive affirmations and the brain

We do know though, that the effect of using self-affirmations can be measured in our brains. According to another publication on how affirmations work, people who had used affirmations showed more activity in certain areas of the brain. (Compared to people who hadn’t used any affirmations.) Specifically brain regions that have to do with “self-related processing” and reward were more active.

How Affirmations work: The power of affirmations

So how powerful are positive affirmations? How affirmations work: Woman showing thumbs upAccording to a publication by Geoffrey L. Cohen and David K. Sherman “affirmations can decrease stress, increase well being, improve academic performance and make people more open to behavior change”. Quite a mouthful, right?

They are basically saying, that affirmations can change our life for the better in quite a few ways. In their abstract they also mention that those benefits sometimes last for months or even years. Powerful stuff.

As with any good thing, there has to be a word of warning as well though. Another psychology paper found affirmations to be harmful under certain circumstances. In their study, people with low self-esteem actually felt worse than before, after repeating the statement “I’m a lovable person”.

And I can see how that makes sense. If I am convinced that I am not lovable, saying that statement would make me feel horrible. And make me think of all the reasons why I am not. In that case, my first step should be to work on my self-esteem.

So using affirmation to improve your life can work. Just make sure to not use affirmations going against your own deeply held beliefs.

Find the right positive affirmations for your goal

In order to successfully use positive affirmations for personal development, you first need to figure out what your goal is. Who do you want to be? What should your life look like?

List of positive affirmations

For many topics there are already long lists of affirmations out there. To give you an impression of what they look like, I am gonna list a few affirmation examples for common topics here.

positive affirmations for anxiety

Disclaimer: Anxiety is a special topic. While I am going to give a few examples for affirmations for anxiety, I want to make something very clear. Like I wrote above, affirmations can help, but they can also be damaging. And they are certainly not a replacement for professional care. If your anxiety is a clinical condition, please get professional advice.

Some examples for affirmations that could be used to help states of anxiety:

  • I’m in charge of my breathing, and I can slow it down.
  • I am calm and mindful.
  • I am solution-driven.
  • I look forward to new challenges.
  • I am curious what life has in store for me.

I personally very much recommend the last one. Changing my attitude to curiosity the moment I start feeling anxious has changed things for me! New things become less threatening and more playful.

beauty affirmations

Beauty affirmations can simply be “I am beautiful” affirmations. But they can also go on a deeper level and focus on inner values and attitude.

  • I radiate beauty.
  • I have great posture.
  • I am confident.
  • I find it easy to think positively.
  • I am healthy and attractive.
  • I am beautiful exactly the way I am.

positive affirmations for kids

Yes, even kids can already successfully use affirmations. Making it a fun and playful exercise, it can help them shape positive attitudes.

  • I am loved.
  • I enjoy learning.
  • I make friends easily.
  • I am perfect just the way I am.
  • I like myself.

For a huge list of affirmations for children, check out this article on “Planet of success”!

affirmations for depression

Disclaimer: Depression, like clinical anxiety, is not simply “fixed” by using affirmations. Like I wrote above, affirmations can help, but they can also be damaging. And they are certainly not a replacement for professional care. Please make sure to get professional advice!

  • I find and enjoy the simple pleasures life is offering right now.
  • I am good enough.
  • I choose to forgive myself for the mistakes made and learn from each one.
  • My depression is separate from me.
  • I am resilient and getting better.

affirmations for happiness

Happiness can mean many things to different people. So these example affirmations are rather general. They’ll still work!

  • I choose to be happy every day.
  • I deserve happiness.
  • I spread happiness to others and get happiness back.
  • I am grateful for my wonderful life.
  • Being happy comes easy to me.

healing affirmations

Healing affirmations can be used together with medical care to support the healing process. Please do NOT use them as a replacement!

  • I am healing.
  • I am getting better every day.
  • My body is strong.
  • Every atom of my body does what it’s supposed to do.
  • Peace flows through me like a healing stream.

health affirmations

Same as above. Health affirmations will work great to support your health. What we think directly influences our body chemistry, after all. Still, health affirmations cannot replace a healthy lifestyle.

  • I am healthy.
  • It’s easy for me to choose healthy habits.
  • I enjoy healthy food.
  • I love moving my body.
  • I give my body what it needs to keep it healthy.

love affirmations

Love affirmations: Giving your heart to someone elseLove and relationship affirmations can help a great deal with your attitude in your close relationship and love life.

  • I am love.
  • I find it easy to love myself and other people.
  • I attract positive and healthy relationships into my life.
  • My heart is open to love.
  • I give love to people around my and I get lots of love back.

money affirmations

Money, wealth, abundance and prosperity affirmations are a very common topic in the world of positive affirmations. And it makes sense. Especially women often have trouble asking for money for their products or business services. A first good step to help with that is to change our mindsets regarding money.

  • I am worthy of making money.
  • Money flows to me easily.
  • I am surrounded by abundance.
  • I deserve prosperity.
  • I am open and receptive to all the wealth life offers me.

motivational affirmations

Need a little push to get that motivation back? Try these examples of motivational affirmations.

  • I am motivated.
  • I am a go-getter and I will keep pushing until I reach my goal.
  • I love taking advantage of opportunities.
  • I am full of energy and inspiration.
  • I easily motivate others.

affirmations for strength

No matter if you want to affirm physical or mental strength, the following affirmations fit both cases.

  • I am strong and getting stronger every day.
  • It’s alright to be strong.
  • I feel strong in all circumstances.
  • I feel the strongest I have in a long time.
  • I breathe in strength.

positive affirmations for stress

I admit, this headline is a little confusing. Obviously the following example are not positive affirmations for stress, but to help with stress.

  • I am relaxed.
  • I will be okay.
  • I am letting go of my worries.
  • I release all tension from my mind and body.
  • I am finding it easier to release excess tension and worries.

affirmations for success

Who doesn’t want to be successful?

  • I believe in myself and my ability to succeed.
  • I am committed to achieving success.
  • I attract successful people who encourage me into my life.
  • I focus on success.
  • Small successes build up into large successes for me.

positive affirmations for work

No matter if you work for yourself or if you are employed, positive affirmations for work can help you get your job done.

  • I’m excited about my job.
  • My work day is going to be productive and fulfilling.
  • I look forward to getting things done today.
  • Work gives me a sense of fulfillment.
  • I am a reliable and responsible worker.

morning affirmations

Morning affirmations: A cup on stone in front of a foggy valley.Any of the affirmation examples listed here can be used in the morning. If you want specific morning affirmations, find a few ideas here.

  • I wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
  • Today is going to be a great day.
  • I am grateful for this new day.
  • I cannot wait to see what this day brings.
  • I am full of love and happiness this morning.

affirmations for self esteem

If you want to boost your confidence generally or for certain situations, positive affirmations can help.

  • I believe in my abilities and skills.
  • Confidence is my second nature.
  • I approve of myself.
  • I am capable and confident.
  • I am courageous.

weight loss affirmations

Losing weight can be quite some work. So why not use some weight loss affirmations to help you get there?

  • I love getting physically fit.
  • My body is getting healthier and stronger every day.
  • I deserve to be healthy and happy.
  • I can achieve my weight loss goals.
  • Eating healthy comes naturally to me.

How to write affirmations

In order to have your own set of affirmations, you might decide to write your own affirmations. Awesome! Let’s go over a few tips on how to write affirmations!

How to write affirmations: Empty sheet of paper with a pen

1. How to write affirmations: Use positives

I already touched on this briefly in the definition of positive affirmations. Always say what you want, not what you don’t want. Why would you want to repeat a negative every day? Exactly.

2. How to write affirmations: Keep it short and specific

As you will want to repeat your affirmations daily, keep it short and simple. If you feel like now you have to leave something out, no problem. Just make two affirmations out of it!

3. How to write affirmations: Pull your wish into the present

Okay, it might not be entirely clear what I mean by that. In other words: Write down a sentence that states your wish as a present time fact. Still not quite clear? Maybe an example helps. If you want to become wildly successful, your affirmation would be: “I am wildly successful”. State it as a fact. In present tense.

Make sure to use the positive affirmations regularly

Now that you figured out the perfect affirmations for yourself, it’s time to use them! Probably the most important aspect of using them is consistency.  For many people, simply thinking of them once is not enough to get into the habit of using positive affirmations regularly. So let’s look at some possible helpers.

daily affirmations app

Apps can be perfect little helpers for so many things. Why would positive affirmations be an exception? You can find daily affirmation apps for iOS just as much as for Android devices. I personally haven’t used any so far, so I cannot give you a specific recommendation. But judging by the numbers of downloads, those apps seem to help huge amounts of people!

audio affirmations

Audio affirmations are great for when you are in your car, in public transport… Pretty much any time you can listen to something. You can buy audio affirmations on various websites.

But my favorite version of audio affirmations are affirmations I recorded myself. I don’t know how it is for you. But my inner voice, the one that starts nagging be about everything, it sounds like my normal voice. So recording my normal voice with positive messages and listening to that has a huge impact on me.  You can easily try it by recording your own affirmations with your phone and listening to them for a few days. See how that feels.

affirmation books

Another help in using positive affirmations regularly are books. There are myriads of them out there. Some have specific topics, like affirmations for success. Some just generally list positive affirmations. Either way, they can be very helpful if you prefer something physical to hold in your hand.


positive affirmation cards

Similar to affirmation books, but a bit more lightweight. Unlike a book, you can easily carry your daily affirmation card around or put it in an easily visible place. For example on your desk or next to the mirror.


affirmation meditations

Probably my favorite affirmation helpers are affirmation meditations. I like using them as part of my morning routine or to listen to them before going to sleep. There is a Youtube channel called “The honest guys” and their videos just always work for me. So when I look for affirmation meditations I will always start with theirs‘. Absolutely recommend!

printable positive affirmations

In the wondrous wide web you can also find countless printable affirmation resources. Something I found very cute are the printable affirmation cards from Maria over at tinselbox.com. You can download the printables and then follow the instructions to make some really cute cards.


Regardless of which version you pick, if you want to successfully use affirmations to make a difference in your life, make sure to use them regularly. Implement them in your routines. Also put a reminder on the coffee machine. Give it a real chance and you will notice changes in your mindset.

Now as usual, I would love to hear your experiences. Have you used positive affirmations before? If yes, how was it? If no, what held you back? Let me know in the comments! And if this article was helpful to you, why don’t you share it with someone?

Have you heard about using positive affirmations for changing your life? I wrote a detailed article about what affirmations are, how they work and included a list of affirmation examples. Read more about how affirmations can help you become the person you want to be!

How to fix your posture for an instant confidence booster

Recently I went to see the movie “Black Panther” – a movie full of beautiful images and colorful impressions. But there was one specific thing that impressed me. There is a scene where King T’Challa enters a nightclub, accompanied by his two sidekicks Nakia and Okoye. Those two women simply beam pride and confidence, even though they are just seen from the back. I instantly thought “I want to feel and look like that!” and that know-it-all little voice in my head replied “Well, fix your posture!”

Woman doing Yoga: One way to fix your posture

Confidence and posture are closely related

Everyone knows what a confident posture looks like. People who are confident seem to always have good posture. They stand straight and tall and keep their head high. And the same can be said the other way around. When you imagine someone shy and timid, what do they look like in your head? Hanging shoulders. The whole body kind of ducking, as if they expect something to come down on them.

What if I told you, that you don’t have to be super confident to have great posture? What if I told you that it can actually work the other way around? When you fix your posture, you actually get an instant confidence booster!

By now there are many studies about how how our posture influences our confidence and can even ease symptoms of depression. Improving your posture is basically the quick version of “fake it till you make it”.

For example, the next time you sit in the dentist waiting room, sit as if you were deeply relaxed. You will feel automatically feel less anxious. And the next time you feel insecure about something, stand as if you were wearing Superman’s cape.

Woman with great posture exuding confidence

Where does bad posture come from?

Unfortunately, poor posture does not only stem from low self esteem. In fact, our lifestyle today encourages us to slouch, round our shoulders and  push our neck and head forward.

How do you usually look at your phone? You hold it down in front of you, right? Neck bent, your whole upper body  curling down on that magic device.

Or how do you sit when you work on your computer? Most people I know pop their head forward. And the upper back and shoulders are rounded. A friend of mine calls this position lovingly “the turtle”.

If you look like this turtle: Fix your posture!So all that sitting and using electronic devices is clearly not helping with our posture. But what is worse, it directly affects our mood and confidence. Oftentimes without us noticing.

So what does the perfect posture look like?

Posture types (vertebral column) classification by Staffel
via Wikimedia Commons

Everyone who has taken a Yoga class has heard the term “alignment”. Yoga teachers always want you to stack everything. Hips over ankles, shoulders over hips, ears aligned with the shoulders. Then they tell you to slightly pull the lower belly “in and up” and “point the tailbone downwards”. And just like that, they made you fix your posture. Well, for the moment. Unfortunately, this usually is a focused effort and the posture goes back to what it was as soon as we stop paying attention.

If you look at the graphic above, you can probably think of a person for any of these postures, right?

How can you fix your posture?

So if we can just listen to the instructions of our Yoga teacher to get into the right position, that means we just need to remind ourselves of those instructions regularly and we’re good, aren’t we?

Unfortunately, fixing your posture might not be quite that easy. While that approach could technically help a lot, I see two difficulties with it.

One: Let’s be honest. We are not gonna remind ourselves of our posture several times a day for a minimum of 30 days to make it a habit.

Two: Depending on what is off with our posture at the moment, we might need to strengthen or stretch some muscles first. This way, our body is actually able to get into perfect posture without strain.

The body is a very adaptable and sophisticated machine. It adapts to what you do all the time. Looking down on your phone for example. And it tries to avoid strain if possible. So if your hip flexors are super tight from sitting all day, your body is not gonna stretch those. It’s gonna give you anterior pelvic tilt instead. Congratulations! (By the way: If you feel insanely stressed – as crazy as it sounds, maybe you just have a tight hip flexor. You really want to stretch those!)

Exercises to improve posture

So we already determined that you might have to work on building or stretching some muscles. But which exercises are the best for straightening your posture? As usually, it depends.

Compare yourself to the posture graphic above and ask yourself: Which one are you? If a body part pushes forward more than it should, that means the muscles pulling it forward are too strong or the ones holding it back are too weak or tight or both.

Whichever seems to be your “biggest problem” regarding posture might be a good first step to work on. But be warned. The whole skeleton is interconnected. If you want to fix your posture, you need to get everything into balance.

Youtube Channels like FitnessBlender have whole playlists on building better posture. If you want to start smaller, have a look at the most common posture problems and an exercise for each.

correct forward head posture

“Forward head posture” looks exactly what it sounds like. A very easy exercise to improve this is to stand with your back to a wall. Make sure your butt and shoulders are firmly pressed against it. Then lengthen your neck and touch your head against the wall as well. (Just tilting the head back is cheating and will not help.) Assuming your wall is straight, this is correct posture. Just keep coming back to this position regularly. This way your muscles and your brain get trained for correct head position.

fix shoulder posture

If you happen to sit at the desk a lot, hunched over your computer, you might want to correct your shoulder posture as well. An easy way for which you don’t even have to get up is to clasp your hands behind your back and straighten your arms as much as possible.

Improve anterior pelvic tilt

“Anterior pelvic tilt” simply means that your hip tilts forward and your belly and butt stick out. Yes, that might make your butt look bigger and rounder. No, you do not want this posture. It puts a lot of strain on your body, especially your lower back. This is where the famous hip flexor comes into play. Yoga poses like that cobra stretch those.

The Cobra Yoga pose: Fix your posture by stretching your hip flexorsSo now that I told you all my findings about how you can fix your posture, let me tell you how I will proceed. I still want to stand tall and proud like Nakia and Okoye. And I want to feel confident all the time, not only when I accidentally remember to straighten up.

So I will create a little “30 day posture program” for myself. 30 days, because this is how long it takes on average to make anything a habit. If you are interested in joining my little adventure and improving your posture along the way, just sign up below. As soon as I am ready I will start sending you a daily “task” or exercise and also share my progress with you.

Let’s do this together, shall we?

Subscribe to be notified when the 30 day posture challenge is ready




Did you know that posture correction can actually help with insecurity? If you are interested in improving your posture or your confidence, read my article about the connection between the two. And maybe join me in my 30 day posture challenge! Did you know that posture correction and a confidence booster can actually be one and the same? If you are interested in improving your posture or your confidence, read my article about the connection between the two. And maybe join me in my 30 day posture challenge!

How to balance hormones naturally: everything you need to know

Anyone who has suffered from a hormonal imbalance has probably wondered at some point how to balance hormones naturally.

Personally, I have struggled with this for a long time. I suffered from hormonal acne for years  and had visited various doctors and none of them had any input for me on how to deal with my problems.

So I started reading a lot about the topic. One by one, I implemented changes in my life to get my hormones back to balance. Today, my acne is under control and I feel better than I have in a long time.

For that reason, I want to share the things I learned about how to balance hormones naturally. I hope this will help some people as it helped me.

That being said, I am no doctor. All the things written here are to the best of my knowledge, but none of the con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, is intended or should be con­strued as med­ical advice. If a reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

What is hormonal imbalance in women?

So what is hormonal imbalance? Many people think of hormones as “that stuff that makes teenagers wild”. But hormones are so much more than that.

What hormones do in our bodies

Actually they are responsible for thousands of tasks in our bodies. Hormones are responsible for how we feel, for the quality of our sleep, regulating blood sugar levels, our immune system and even cell growth. It is safe to say that in everything you do or feel, those little chemicals play a part.

The simple answer to “What is hormonal imbalance?”

In order to deal with that many tasks, the human body uses about 50 different hormones, created in various glands all over the body. (See the info graphic for details.) And they not only affect you in pretty much anything, but they can also strongly affect each other. This can change the “perfect” hormones ratio to a less desirable one. It really is as simple as this. This is what is hormonal imbalance.

Info graphic about hormones in the human body and where they are produced

Now there are no hormones that are generally good or bad. Especially when it comes to hormonal imbalance in women, there are misconceptions. We often read about a lady having too much of a male hormone. This can create the impression that women shouldn’t have those. Instead the opposite is true. Male hormones like testosterone play a very important role in the female body as well. In fact, one extremely common female hormone imbalance is estrogen dominance. This means there is too much estrogen (THE female hormone) in relation to other hormones. In a nutshell: We need all hormones, both male and female. What matters, is how to balance hormones naturally.

Causes of hormonal imbalance in females

There are many causes of hormonal imbalance in females. As explained above, we have a big variety of chemicals in our body. All of them interact with each other and we influence them with what we eat, do and even think! Still, there are some reasons for hormonal imbalance that are more common than others in today’s world. Let’s have a look at those.

Common causes of hormonal imbalance in females

1. Stress

Many people know that there is such a thing as a “stress hormone”, also known as cortisol. When we are stressed, our body gets flooded with cortisol. Now you might wonder why your body has this built-in function if cortisol is not good for it. Again, there are no bad hormones. Cortisol is vital for many important body functions. It regulates metabolism, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reduces inflammation and helps with our memory, to just name a few.

But when there is too much stress, the body starts using up progesterone to make more cortisol. So now there is not enough progesterone. Which again has an effect on other hormones… And there we go, our hormones are out of balance and the chain reaction starts.

2. (Natural) Hormonal changes

Puberty, pregnancy and menopause. While those stages of life are all natural, they seriously impact our body chemistry and its’ balance. This makes at least two of them unavoidable causes of hormonal imbalance in females. In puberty new hormones join the party. In pregnancy, our bodies create a very different hormone-cocktail than usual to grow new life. And in menopause some chemicals just leave the mix.

3. Illnesses, Disorders, Tumors

As our body is a very detailed and finely tuned machine, any changes or “defects” in it affects our hormonal balance as well. So if any of our hormone producing organs gets sick, we have another chain reaction of hormones doing all the wrong things at hand. A typical example is hypo- or hyperthyroiditis (or under- or overactive thyroid). But also tumors and diabetes will greatly change the hormonal balance.

4. Diet

As you can see in the info graphic above, many of our digestive organs do work themselves when it comes to producing hormones. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our diet can be a huge factor when it comes to hormonal imbalance. Very generally speaking, there are three main ways in which our nutrition can throw us off balance hormonally:

– We eat food that badly influences internal hormone production. For example a diet that regularly provokes huge insulin spikes. High insulin levels in turn can cause the ovaries to make too many androgen hormones. And this can definitely cause trouble for females!

-We consume food that already contains hormones, thereby sending confusing signals to our body. From cow milk to tofu, many foods contain hormones. And while so-called “phytoestrogens” or plant based estrogens can help with hormonal imbalance, they can also cause them. Your body could think “Oh, okay, we have enough of this stuff. Let’s just stop producing it, we got enough to do already!”

– We simply don’t eat balanced enough to get all the nutrients our sophisticated body-machine needs. This means, it cannot produce all necessary chemicals in the right balance.

5. Lack of sleep

While we sleep, our body uses the rest time to level out and organize plenty of things. It metabolizes stress hormones, trains new cells for our immune system, produces melatonin and growth hormone, adjusts reproductive hormones and many more things. And what do you think happens to those tasks when we don’t get enough shut-eye? Exactly, they don’t happen. Or only very insufficiently. So it is safe to say that sleep is critical for hormonal imbalance.

6. Medication

Last but not least, medication is one of the common causes of hormonal imbalance. Most substances we take as medication can throw our hormones off balance. In many cases, this is the lesser of two evils. After all medication saves lives! But there are also cases in which we take pills that might solve an inconvenience, but have very strong effects on our hormones. Yes, I am looking at you, contraceptive pills! Hormone drugs can confuse our natural hormonal production for years, even after not taking them anymore.

Info graphic: 6 common causes of hormonal imbalance in females

Common hormone imbalance symptoms

There are countless hormone imbalance symptoms. And while they are usually not distinct enough to give a clear diagnosis, it is hard to miss the signs and effects of hormonal imbalance. Let’s look at some common symptoms of unbalanced hormones a little more in detail.

Hormone imbalance symptoms: Hot flashes

Surely one of the best-known side effects of hormonal imbalance. Many people think that hot flashes are only happening during menopause. But anyone with an estrogen dominance has a high chance of experiencing hot flushes as well! So far it is not known what exactly causes them.

Hormone imbalance symptoms: Hormones and weight gain

Weight gain also belongs in the list of the better-known signs of hormonal imbalance. Similar to hot flashes, hormonal weight gain usually comes from an estrogen dominance. High levels of estrogen can lead to higher insulin levels. This makes you store more fat and negatively affects your thyroid and sleep. All of those factors lead to weight gain. As a result, people suffering from this imbalance and wanting to lose weight can feel discouraged. It can seem as if it doesn’t matter what they eat. Luckily, that is not true.

Hormone imbalance symptoms: Hormone imbalance weight loss

The exact opposite, but nevertheless one of the symptoms of unbalanced hormones can be weight loss. Losing weight despite normal to increased appetite and normal calorie intake is usually related to an imbalance of thyroid hormones. Although sometimes people jokingly say they’d wish to have this problem, weight loss due to hormonal imbalance is no joke. We are not talking losing those few extra pounds here! This kind of weight loss is a symptom that something is seriously wrong with your hormones. And this along with the accompanying side effects is certainly not desirable.

Hormone imbalance symptoms: Hormonal imbalance acne

Acne is not only one of the signs of hormonal changes like puberty. It can also be a symptom of hormone imbalance during other phases of your life. Hormonal acne is one of the hardest to get rid of, but I can personally vouch for it being possible! After years of suffering from severe hormonal acne, I finally managed to balance my hormones naturally. My acne was not the only symptom that disappeared, but certainly the most noticeable for friends and colleagues.

Hormone imbalance symptoms: Hormonal imbalance hair loss

Another pretty disheartening signal of a hormone imbalance, not only for people with long hair like me. Additionally the hair loss due to hormones is easily visible to everyone else. Unfortunately it can be caused by not only one, but several hormonal issues. Estrogen dominance, excess testosterone, insulin resistance and thyroid issues all can lead to hair fall. Hormonal hair loss is also common after a pregnancy. Luckily, in that case it usually dissolves by itself.

Hormone imbalance symptoms: Psychological effects

Our hormones don’t only affect our outward appearance. They also have a huge effect on our psyche. So naturally among the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance there are a wide range of psychological issues. Mood swings and depression, anxiety, low libido, fatigue and insomnia are common signs that your hormones might be out of balance.

Hormone imbalance symptoms: Menstruation issues

Anything that might be off with your menstruation means that whatever is bothering your body is hormonal. Irregular cycles, not getting your period at all anymore, very heavy bleeding, painful periods… All of those are clear signals that it is time to get your hormones checked!

Common hormone imbalance symptoms females

How to get your hormones checked for imbalances

If you suspect something might be off, go get your hormones checked for imbalances. While you might feel certain about having a specific imbalance after reading things online, don’t rely on that. Our body and especially our hormones are an incredibly complex system. So make sure you get a proper diagnosis.

See a doctor for hormonal imbalance

Your next item on the agenda should be to see a doctor for hormonal imbalance. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a “hormone doctor” right away. The important thing is that you get your hormones checked for imbalances by a professional.

If you have a general physician that you see more or less regularly, it can be a good idea to go there first. Your general physician knows you and your physical state. This could already help a lot with the diagnosis.

If you want to go directly to a doctor, who specializes in conditions related to hormones, visit an endocrinologist. Or if you are having symptoms that are period related, your OBGYN will know what to check.

Get a hormone test done

Once you picked a doctor, the next step will be a hormone imbalance test. There are different types of hormone level tests. Depending on the specific hormones the doctor will have you take a saliva or blood/serum test.


While there are various hormone level tests available online*, those cannot replace seeing a qualified doctor! As said before, hormones are a complex topic and the interpretation of hormone test results is too.

How to balance hormones naturally

As varied as the reasons for hormonal imbalance can be, as varied are the ways in which you can treat it.

Medicine for hormonal imbalance

Depending on what your doctor finds, they might give you hormone balance pills or even hormone replacement therapy. I personally don’t have any experience with this, as my doctors always told me that in my case artificial hormones would just imbalance my hormonal system even more. So I stayed away from hormone imbalance medication and instead focused on finding ways how to balance hormones naturally.

Let me tell you about which things I tried, what worked for me and what didn’t.

Hormone balance supplements

There are thousands of supplements out there, promising to improve all kinds of things. Naturally, there are also quite a few hormone supplements on the market. The two main groups of supplements I focused on where herbs and vitamins.

hormone balancing herbs

When looking at natural remedies for any problem, there will always be some herbs on the menu. So far, I tried the following herbs to balance female hormones: chaste berry, spearmint, saw palmetto, milk thistle and shatavari.

I drank chaste berry, milk thistle and spearmint as teas. While you can argue about the taste, I could definitely tell effects on my skin and my cycle. Unfortunately, not all of them were good… Chaste berry specifically seemed to disturb my hormones more than to balance them, so I stopped drinking it altogether.

My favorite hormone balancing herb so far: Spearmint

Spearmint on the other hand really helps in minimizing that monthly breakout I have been suffering from for a few years by now. It is effective against androgens which are responsible for the bad skin before your period.

Something important I had to learn here, too, was that dosage matters a lot! First I just started drinking spearmint tea* every day. (I really wanted to get rid of that acne!) But soon, my cycle seemed to be even more out of whack. So I realized that I might be overdosing on this herb.

According to studies, drinking spearmint tea only twice a day for 5 days a month will already significantly improve your hormone mix. Therefore I started drinking spearmint tea only 5 days per month. And with a little trial and error I found which days work best to not even get a breakout anymore. Nowadays I start drinking the tea when ovulation happens and then just do it for 5 days. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be a lasting effect (yet). Once I skip a month, I get the usual breakout.

Saw palmetto, milk thistle and Shatavari

On those three I don’t have a clear opinion yet. I have been taking Shatavari* daily for a few months now and couldn’t see any negative effects. On the other hand, I am also not sure how much of my hormonal improvement I can attribute to it. Like all the other lifestyle changes I did, Shatavari will work over a longer period of time. Therefore it is harder to track.

Milk thistle* is something I just stopped drinking, because I simply didn’t like the taste of the tea much. And saw palmetto* is my newest herb. I will try replacing the Spearmint tea with it, as they are supposed to have very similar effects. But the saw palmetto is simply better studied. That makes me more comfortable taking it.

vitamins to balance hormones

Ideally you get all the vitamins and nutrients from the food you eat. But we all know we are not living in an ideal world. Plus, once you developed a vitamin deficit, it will be hard to impossible to fill it with food only.

Vitamin D3

When I started my mission to balance my hormones naturally, I first had a detailed look at my blood results from the doctor. Most of the values were okay, but one of them really stood out: Vitamin D. The sun hormone.

Now, as someone living in the more Northern part of Western Europe, it is normal to have too little Vitamin D. In my specific case, it was so low, that if would’ve affected my bones, had I not started taking supplements in high doses.

Subsequently, I saw a huge improvement in my mood, my sleep, my appetite and many more things. I was happy and recommended taking Vitamin D* to all my friends.

But again, I had to realize that dosage and timing matter! After getting rid of my deficiency, I kept taking lower doses of vitamin D throughout the winter. Soon enough I started getting breakouts. Those miraculously stopped when I wouldn’t take the vitamin anymore. So I did a little more research on the topic.

Important to know, Vitamin D is not really a vitamin. It is a hormone. Meaning, it directly affects our other hormones. Specifically, it is part of making testosterone in our bodies.

So for someone with hormonal acne like me, it is important to not push my male hormones too much on the wrong days of the month. I started taking vitamin D only in the first half of my cycle, when the female hormones are naturally “stronger”. Since then, I didn’t have any more problems with my skin and could still make sure to keep my vitamin D level in check.

Omega-3

Omega-3 is important for so many things! And not only does it matter that you have a healthy Omega-3 intake. It is also important to get a good ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6. If you manage to get those in good balance, it will definitely also help with your hormonal balance.

For me personally that wasn’t doable without taking Omega-3 supplements*. I don’t eat fish and couldn’t make up for the amount needed with walnuts etc. And while I cannot directly prove how it helped me, I am sure, that Omega-3 supplements were one of the major factors in regulating my hormones and eventually healing my acne.

Hormone balancing foods

Another important factor for getting back to balance are hormone balancing foods. “You are what you eat” might be overused. Still, this sentence is absolutely true and cannot be stressed enough. Especially when it comes to hormones, you have to look at your diet.

general diet advice To Balance Hormones

Find balance. Make sure, you get all your nutrients. Cook fresh and leave the artificial wanna-be meals in the supermarket. There is no way to heal your hormone imbalance while sticking with a bad diet.

Minimize sugar and fried stuff. Enjoy your food. An upset gut equals upset hormones. Our digestive system is a major player when it comes to hormone production and balance. Plus, most of the “happy chemical” serotonine (about 90%) is produced in our digestive tract.

Another thing to look out for are hormones in food. Avoid cheap meat, eggs and milk. Instead, go for the organic option. If you have a plant based diet, make sure to not overdo it on soy products. Or any other foods that contain big amounts of phytoestrogens.

What helped me improve my diet a lot was Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen app. (Available for Android and iOS.) It is basically a checklist with things you should eat every day. Using it daily for a while showed me where I could improve. And my diet upgrade made a huge difference to not only my skin and hormones, but also to the rest of my life!

Specific foods that help to balance hormones naturally

Next to general healthy diet habits, there are some foods that are really active in healing hormonal imbalances. During my healing process, I’ve tried a few of those hormone balancing foods.

Maca

Maca* is quite well-known as a way to push your libido. But the Peruvian root can also boost energy and stamina. Sadly, for me Maca didn’t work well at all. My cycle became very irregular and I had several symptoms that indicated it wasn’t helping me at all.

I’ve read that this happened to other people as well, but there are also many who swear by it’s effects. Everyone’s different.

Ginger

I used to not like eating ginger very much. Hot and spicy is simply not my favorite flavor. But after finding out how ginger not only boosts your immune system, but also can help with hormonal imbalance, I got over myself.

First, I started drinking ginger tea. (Made from fresh ginger, mind you!) But apparently it is not that easy to get a high enough dosage of ginger this way. So my approach for the past few months has been to put grated ginger into my morning porridge or various sauces for lunch. I can often hardly tell it’s there. But behind the scenes it’s working!

Ginger is something I would absolutely recommend among the  hormone balancing foods, as it has so many health benefits.

Still, don’t overdo it. At the  moment the recommended maximum dose of ginger is 4 grams per day. This is the studied dose at which no side effects were observed. And for females it is important to note that ginger can increase bleeding. Just pause on consuming it during that time of the month.

Kurkuma

Kurkuma* is the Indian/southeast-Asian sibling of ginger. So you can expect similar benefits, but also similar warnings.

While ginger is still not my favorite taste, Kurkuma has a really nice savoriness to it. It is one of my must-have spices at this point.

Lifestyle for hormonal balance

To heal your hormonal balance, it is important to also look at your lifestyle a little more in detail. Generally saying, all things that are good for you will be beneficial for your hormonal balance as well.

Use exercise to balance hormones

Exercise. Everyone knows it. It is good for body and mind. But did you know that exercise or the lack of is also very closely related to hormonal problems?

Now, when it comes to hormones, things are not quite as black and white as with other topics. For some hormonal disorders, you might actually make things worse by training like a beast five days a week! Depending on what is off balance, high intensity workouts might not be for you.

But you cannot go wrong with making sure you move your body regularly. For example planning a 30 minute walk each day. This is very light cardio and at the same time you might get some actual, real daylight! (Yes, daylight is also very important for healthy hormone production in humans!)

Sleep to heal a hormonal imbalance

We already talked about the importance of sleep when we looked at reasons for hormonal imbalance. So how to improve sleeping habits? There are many tips and tricks for that and those alone could fill their own article.

What is most important is that you get enough sleep. Whatever is holding you back from getting that, tackle it first!

If you don’t seem to have the time, make sleep a priority. It is just as important in your calendar as finding time to eat!

Make sure your bedroom is as dark and quiet as possible. Ban electronic devices and any other disturbances. If you have trouble falling asleep start a soothing evening routine.

De-Stress regularly to balance your hormones

This goes without saying. People are very different and what is relaxing for one person, can be crazy stressful for another. Make sure you are not sucked into doing things that stress you, because “people do it”.

Find your own way to relax and make yourself a priority regularly. Maybe meditation is not for you, but driving across the highway for a while, alone with your thoughts.

Maybe you need to spend the whole weekend just sitting on the couch and wondering what penguins think. Or maybe you need to dance the night away.

The more you make your personal de-stressing a part of your schedule, the better you will know what works for you. Watch yourself with the kindness of a parent watching their child. You don’t have to give in to any bad craving you have, but you also don’t have to only work. You will find balance.

 


Are you interested in more input on how to balance hormones naturally? Sign up below and I’ll send you my “Cycle Optimization Cheat Sheet” for free! It contains suggestions for exercise, diet and ideal schedule during the 4 menstrual phases.

Subscribe & get your free Cycle Optimization Cheat Sheet




How to balance hormones naturally

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

An Android Developer Scholarship and a new perspective

My Android Developer Scholarship from Udacity and Google is a love story in two parts. Why? Because the scholarship I want to write about today is not the first one I got.

Android Scholarship Love Story Part I

Last year I was one of the super lucky Udacity students to get a scholarship for the Android Basics Nanodegree. Meaning I got to do the whole Nanodegree with the help of experienced mentors and an awesome community of fellow learners. I had applied without really believing I could get in. My job has nothing to do with coding and my efforts of learning to code so far had been a lot of fun. But they were very far from being proficient. Anyways, I got in.

It was an amazing experience! The learning, the community, the feeling of accomplishing things I didn’t think I could do. Every week! It was addictive. So when I received my certificate for completing the Android Basics Nanodegree, I knew that wasn’t the end of it.

My Certificate of completion of the Android Basics Nanodegree (ABND)While my cohort was finishing the scholarship, there were rumors about a new one for the next step: The Android Developer Nanodegree! Maybe you have to be geeky like me or have gone through the experience of a Nanodegree to understand what that made me feel. Thinking to finish that degree and taking the certification to become an Associate Android Developer gave (and still gives) me butterflies! Naturally I kept my eyes peeled for any tweets, e-mails or other signs of another scholarship.

Trouble in paradise: Is my Android love story over?

When I finally got wind of where to apply for an Android Developer Scholarship, I was thrilled. And it didn’t take me long to apply. Or write my application. By now I knew what excited me about this opportunity. In the meantime I kept working on my own app and started taking the first courses for the Android Developer track on Udacity. (In case you are wondering: the courses themselves are free, you can start learning anytime! The free version just comes without the very valuable mentor support and all the other cool support functions I had the privilege to enjoy before…) And then that e-mail came. Telling me I didn’t get in…

Paper robot holding a broken heart after not getting the Android Developer ScholarshipI won’t lie. I was quite sad about that. Not necessarily because I had lost the opportunity to learn. No, as I said above, I was already learning the contents of the course. And I was determined to finish it as well. What was upsetting about this was that mean little voice inside that I had known from before. And now it came back full force: “You are probably just not good enough for this. They just know that you won’t be a proper coder anyways. You don’t have what it takes. Forget about your app, you don’t even have a Google Play Developer account yet.”

You know this voice as well, don’t you? What helped me get out of this mood was to remember what our teachers had told us in a live hangout in the Android Basics Nanodegree. They had told us about impostor syndrome, how even those among them who have coded professionally for years have it. How it’s normal to have it. And how you should never give in to this silly little voice. So I didn’t.

Reviving the romance

Without giving much more thought to not having gotten the Android Developer Scholarship, I chipped away at my own app. Funnily enough, the biggest challenge was the content creation, while the coding part went easier and was a lot of fun. It was amazing to see how many things I could do without even checking any documentation. How much I had learned about making a “real” app, by taking the “Basics” course. So obviously I also wanted to soak in all the content of the next course, getting even better. And then I saw it again: another possibility for getting a scholarship from Google and Udacity: the Google Android Dev challenge 2017! As now I knew I could survive another “No” without it impacting my morale to much, I went for it. And just a little later (Don’t be fooled, it felt like MONTHS!):

My heart still beats faster when I look at this! So happy! So grateful!

Now let me tell the next few weeks of my rekindled Android romance in tweets:

It was like the first time all over again. Amazing community on slack and in the forums, learning difficult concepts made so easy by the instructors, this feeling of getting over yourself when you think you’re not clever enough for this – and then you do it anyways!

I finished the challenge course a little ahead of time. And felt empowered enough to finally register for my Google Play Developer Console.

(FYI: It’s just a few clicks, the gravity of the registration is in my head!)

Does the Android love have a future?

Yesterday, the first part of the Android Developer Scholarship ended. And it will be one week until we get to know who advances to the next stage. Am I a little anxious about the result? Of course. Do I worry about it impacting my Android future? Not really. I will finish the course anyways, just probably much slower without the mentor help and community support. I will publish an app. And learn loads in the process. And be proud of myself for learning so much, for becoming part of that special group of people who can build a little part of our world.

Why did I tell you so much about my Android Developer Scholarship romance?

I wanted to share this so as many people as possible can take away the following three messages:

  1. If at first you don’t succeed, just try again. You got nothing to lose and so much to win!
  2. Do not ever listen to that little voice telling you you can’t learn something new! Or do something out of your comfort zone! You can do it!
  3. You don’t have to build houses anymore to be a builder. You can learn to code and make your own things! No matter your background or your gender. (Shoutout to my favorite Android scholarship slack channel #women_techmakers!)
  4. Udacity’s Android courses are awesome. Seriously. If you cannot get a scholarship and cannot afford to pay for the Nanodegree, take the free version. You will learn a new skill well enough to use it in real life.

Thank you for reading this pamphlet. If I inspired just one person to go for it, I have already reached my goal.

All about my Android developer scholarship

Starting a bullet journal: Why and how to

How starting a bullet journal can get you closer to your goalsStarting a bullet journal was one of the best things I did last year to optimize my morning routine. Since then I have done my daily writing pretty much every day and I am not planning to stop. You might have seen bullet journal ideas on Pinterest or Instagram. And you might have gotten the impression that this is only for artsy people. But let me tell you, the basic idea and the most important part of it has nothing to do with creating fancy weekly spreads. Nor do you need Washi tape or colorful stickers.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

What is a bullet journal

So let’s start at the beginning and summarize quickly what a bullet journal is. As the name implies, it is a form of journal. With this type of journaling, you don’t write out all your thoughts in a fluent text. Instead, you only write down short notes. And this is where the “bullets” come in. The “bullet” part of the name comes from the very clever system of keys that are used.

The bullet journal key logic

The bullets you will be writing down can be divided into three categories: tasks, events and notes. To make it easy to distinguish between those categories, the symbol or “key” in front of it will look differently. Let’s go through those quickly!

Tasks

As we know all too well, tasks can be in various stages on our to-do list. Either we just write them down and they are waiting for us to take care of them. Or we postpone them. (Bullet journaling calls postponing “migrating”.) Sometimes we have already scheduled when to do them. And in the best case, the task is completed.

In bullet journal key tasks can look like this:

Bullet Journal Key for tasks, super important for starting a bullet journalEvents

Events are things you have already planned in your calendar. You write events down like this:

Event Key in Bullet JournalBasically you are just using an “empty” bullet, or an “o”.

Notes

Notes can be anything that you want to write down, that doesn’t fit in the other categories. Ideas, thoughts, learnings…  The bullet journal key for them looks like this:

Bullet Journal key for NotesAnd this is pretty much the most important knowledge you need for starting a bullet journal. For more detailed information you can always check out bulletjournal.com.

Why you should be starting a bullet journal

Going through these instructions above, you might be wondering why this is such a big deal. After all, it looks like just a fancy way to take notes. Honestly, you are right about this. It is simply taking notes. But take a moment and think about the following: How often do you take notes usually? And where do they end up? How great would it be to have all of your notes, to-dos and planned events in one place? Pretty great, I can tell you!

Still, the organizing part is not the best part of a bullet journal. At least in my opinion. What makes this such an integral part of my day is something else. It is the fact, that writing down my goals for the day makes me so much more likely to actually DO the stuff! While you might not take my word for granted, this is a proven fact. Just googling “writing down your goals” will provide you with a plethora of credible sources. All stating how writing down your goals is THE thing to do. Unless you don’t really want to achieve them, that is. In my opinion, this is the biggest selling point for actually starting a bullet journal.

What to do for starting a bullet journal

In my opinion, you don’t need a huge amount of supplies for starting your very first bullet journal. You will need to pick a notebook that fits your needs. A pen. (And you really don’t need a full collection of bullet journal pens to start!) And then I would very much recommend to watch this video made by the Bullet journal creator.

The best bullet journal notebook

So, which notebook to pick for your bullet journal? Many people will say that the Leuchtturm 1917* is the best bullet journal notebook. I think, the most important reason for that is the fact that Leuchtturm offers dotted lines. That gives you a lot of freedom in designing your pages and using different layouts.

And since bullet journaling has been around for quite a while and has convinced millions of people of its effectiveness, by now there are also myriads of notebook variations available.

While I see the appeal in being able to draw your own layouts and boxes, it is not necessary to start your own bullet journal. In fact, I am still using a simple black moleskine notebook*. It’s ruled, so layouts tend to look a little less cool.

A weekly spread in my bullet journalBut then again, most of the times I don’t even make a layout. Instead, I really just use the logging technique described above. And it keeps me on track!

Integrating Bullet Journaling into your day

In the morning, you can just sit down for 5 minutes, journal your tasks, events and thoughts for the day. And in the evening, you can go through them again. Checking them off, migrating and scheduling. The more you do it, the more you will become aware of what you are really doing in one day. And after one or two weeks, you will be able to read through that and see, if it aligns with your goals.


Thank you for reading my thoughts on starting a bullet journal. If you’d like, let me know about your experiences: Have you tried bullet journaling yet? If no, why not? And if yes, which benefits did you see?

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

The KonMari method of Tidying: How to tidy your life

A single flower pot surrounded by clear space: Impression of how an apartment can look after cleaning with the KonMari methodWith the KonMari method of tidying I achieved something I never thought possible. A permanently tidier apartment and regularly some kind of weird joy when neatly folding my laundry. For your background: I didn’t even use to iron my clothes before… But let me explain a little bit first, what the KonMari method is. And why the heck everyone who tried it seems to be crazy about it.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

What is the KonMari method of tidying?

The KonMari method is named after its inventor Marie Kondo. Marie used to love tidying since she was a little kid. (Freaky, I know!) Over the years she tried and perfected different techniques for tidying. Until at some point she realized, that it would make so much more sense to just keep a place tidy continuously. Without needing to go through huge efforts every time. So she invented the KonMari method of tidying and tested it with many of her clients. It became so popular, that she actually wrote a book about her method of cleaning.

The KonMari method book

Probably the most-sold book on the topic of tidying and decluttering, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing“* has been published in more than 30 countries. Now you might wonder how a book on such an unsexy topic like cleaning can get such a huge fan base. Well, it’s simple: Her method works! Marie Kondo even goes as far as saying that none of her clients ever relapsed back into their “messy state” after having gone through her program.

In her book, Marie explains, how instead of looking for things to throw out, we should be looking for things to keep. This will make sure, we only have things around us that we actually like. And it enables us to find a place for everything, making regular tidying unnecessary.

Bedroom after using the KonMari method of tidying. So much space!
Bedroom after using the KonMari method of tidying. So much space!

The two steps of the KonMari method of tidying

To get to that blissful state where our home is effortlessly tidy and you never need to clean, there are only two steps. But those steps mean really going down to the heart of your messiness!

Step 1: Decluttering

This is not your usual “throwing out some old postcards” type of decluttering. Instead you will do this decluttering all at once. (Meaning up to 6 months.) No “I only want to declutter my closet”. Everything. You will systematically go through everything you own and only keep things “that spark joy”. That is Marie Kondos criterion for items to keep. No reasoning about how you might still need that box of cables at some point. Just taking every item into your hand and feeling your physical reaction to it.

I admit that this sounds weird at first. But after going through the first 10 to 20 objects, you will notice a clear difference between “Meh, might need it” and “I like this”. As the goal is to create the perfect environment for you, take this seriously. It does work and it is a lot of fun!

As Marie knows that it is easier to declutter some areas than others, she developed a thought-through order in which to discard of things. Starting from clothes, which are easily replaced. Going on to books, paper stuff and “Komono” or miscellanea all the way till keepsakes. I know, that’s a lot. She breaks down those big categories into way smaller, better digestible ones. (For a full checklist, scroll to the bottom of this article!)

For every category, you will take EVERYTHING in that category that you own and put it on the floor. In the same room. (Forgetting something means automatically to get rid of it.) And then you go through the items one by one. Touching them and asking yourself, if they spark joy.

All of my clothes on the floor before discarding with the KonMari method of cleaning
All of my clothes on the floor. And no, not all of them fit the frame…
Step 2: Organizing

Now that you already have everything ordered by category, things need their permanent place. One suggestion by Marie Kondo is to “keep like with like”. All clothes together, all paper clips together, all books together. This way, you will always know where to find it. And where to put it. Which brings me to her second very important tip. Make it easy to put things away. Not to get them.

Oftentimes we rather think where we need things and put them there directly. But when you want to get something, you are motivated to do so. Putting it away… not so much. So make it easy for yourself, to put things back in place. If you use something all the time, make “it’s place” somewhere easily accessible.

Another specialty of the KonMari method is her way of arranging things by “heavy” to “light”. This can mean starting with dark colors and working your way up to the lighter ones. Also it could mean going from thick winter coats up to flimsy sun dresses. Being honest, I haven’t completely followed through on this advice. Just my clothes do get ordered by color. It gives an awesome effect in the drawers!

The KonMari method folding

Ah, the KonMari method folding. As I wrote earlier in this post: I am actually weirdly enjoying folding my laundry now! Marie Kondo has a special way of folding clothing, so that you can put them in the drawer standing up. Who better to explain this than the master herself?

Some people complain that it would take them forever to do their clothes like that. Obviously I can only speak for myself, when debunking that. Anyways, it doesn’t take me longer than my old way of folding clothes. And afterwards my clothes basket looks like this:

My laundry folded after the KonMari method of tidyingI don’t know why, but it makes me feel really good about myself! And it makes it so much easier to see all the things you have! Going to my drawer I now feel like I got my life under control. Very recommended feeling!

The KonMari method checklist

As promised above, I prepared a KonMari method Checklist for you. It lists all the categories and subcategories. And if you print it, you can have the satisfying feeling of checking off the little boxes one by one! Just sign up below and I’ll send you your free checklist right away. Enjoy, share and let me know how KonMari worked for you!

Subscribe & get your free KonMari checklist




*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Is tidying up always difficult for you? Do you feel like you need help to declutter and organize? Try the KonMari method of tidying. Read my experiences with it, how it works and get the tidy house you deserve! You don't need decluttering ideas, because you are already in love with the KonMari method? I got just the thing to help you with tidying up! Find my free printable KonMari checklist here. And then have fun decluttering your home! Do you know what KonMari folding is? In this blog post you will read what the KonMari method is. And how to declutter and organize your home. Additionally you can find a free printable KonMari checklist attached. Time for tidying up!

Memrise review: The smart new way of unlimited learning

I am in reviewing mode this week, so today you can read my Memrise review. And how it enabled me to learn 2000 romanian words in one month, spending only 5 to 10 minutes daily and without paying one cent.  But let’s start at the beginning!

Memrise review: How to learn efficiently

Memrise review: What is Memrise?

Memrise is an online learning platform. You can either learn by using their website or by installing their app. As of today, they support Android and iOS. They use a freemium model, meaning you can use them for free or decide to buy a membership opening a few more options for you. As a paying member, you can see more statistics about your learning behavior, for example.

Like other online learning offers, they have a wide variety of courses to pick from. The topics range from languages over history and geography to professional and career. As I haven’t really used anything but the language courses, my Memrise review will focus on those.

Memrise review: What is special about Memrise?

So far, it doesn’t sound mindblowing, right? I know. And to be honest, I would’ve probably stayed with Duolingo if not for two very important factors.

1. Course variety:

Memrise enables users to make their own courses. This can be a disadvantage, as obviously the quality control is not the same as with a curated language course. For me, it was a huge advantage though, because I had decided to learn Romanian. And guess what, at that time that course had been in development on Duolingo for YEARS. The estimated release date was another few years down the line. So clearly I needed an alternative. And there was Memrise, with hundreds of Romanian courses to pick from.

2. learning efficiency through science

(Yes, I mean efficiency, not effectiveness. Even though it’s also effective, of course. Efficiency = doing something without wasting anything, like TIME. Effectiveness = good at achieving results. Rambling over.)

A lightbulb, symbolizing the science behind the Memrise learning algorithmMemrise prides itself in having a very clever learning algorithm. Do you remember learning for a test in school? Repeating everything a hundred times, till you knew everything? Well, that can be effective. It is not efficient. And Memrise has a really cool solution for that. When you start learning vocabulary, the algorithm will remember how well you do with every single word. And depending on that it will make you repeat that word sooner or later. This means not wasting any time on words that you already know very well and instead focusing on the ones where you’re still struggling.

Naturally, this was a HUGE selling point for me. I love learning and I love efficiency. This way you can combine both!

Memrise review: Learning 2000 words in 1 month

Coming back to the title of this post. Yes, I really learned 2000 romanian words in one month. And it only took me 5 to 10 minutes a day. Although I have to admit, that I played more with the app on weekends. Because it was so much fun! But the goal of 2000 words would have been reached without that, too.

In case you are wondering, 2000 words in any language means to have a pretty good basic vocabulary. So if you have been planning on getting to know a new language for a while now, listen up. (Read up? Does that work?) I will tell you how exactly I made it happen and how you can, too!

Steps to Memrise success

1. Install the app. While learning on the website works totally fine, I just don’t carry my laptop around all the time. And for making it easy for yourself to keep learning, you just want to have the material with you.

Learning with the Memrise app on the go2. I made “reviewing” part of my morning routine. Just the words that Memrise showed me as “ready to review”. That doesn’t have to mean taking extra time out of your morning for learning. Use idle time you already have. Waiting for public transport? Time to review vocabulary. Bathroom time? Learn a few words! (Come on, you have your phone with you anyways, admit it!)

3. Make sure to get a balanced mix of reviewing and learning new words. If you haven’t used Memrise yet, this might sound confusing. What I mean is this: the app will prompt you to review words regularly. Depending on your setting you will get a notification. For learning new words, that doesn’t directly happen. You will need to open the app without reminder and learn a little. At least if you want to achieve a certain number of words.

4. Keep at it for a month. As usual, consistency is important. As a result it will be easier to remember the words. Plus, you know what they say about habits. Doesn’t take an active effort to keep them. Still, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Unless you miss a whole week, your goal will still be absolutely doable.

Memrise review: Conclusion

And that’s it! You are well on your way to learning a new language! By now, I also refreshed my French with Memrise and even tried Arabic. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t very consistent with that one. The different characters threw me off my game.) Consequently I will keep recommending Memrise to everyone who asks me about language learning. Compared to the approaches and tools I have used before, this has been by far the easiest and most enjoyable way to learn new vocabulary. And I haven’t even told you abut the Mems! I guess you will have to find out all by yourself…

So tell me, are you gonna try it?

How I learned 2000 Words in a new language in 1 monthlearn a new language with Memrise

“The optimized woman”: A fascinating way to look at yourself

Today I want to share my review of the book “The Optimized Woman: Using Your Menstrual Cycle to Achieve Success and Fulfillment*” by Miranda Gray. Unfortunately I do not remember how I stumbled upon it, but I am so glad I did! It doesn’t even matter if you have a cycle yourself or if you live or work with someone having a cycle. This book will give you a new and more positive understanding of how females and their hormones work.

The optimized woman celebrating sunriseDisclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

The author and her mission statement

According to the website optimizedwoman.com Miranda Gray is a published author, artist, an alternative therapy practitioner and Company Director of a multimedia production company. “The optimized woman” is not her first book about the power of the menstrual cycle either. The first book “Red Moon*”  was published in 1994.

So why this fascination with that time of the month? Well, according to the author we have been (wrongly) casting negative judgements regarding our period far too long. She even goes to far to say that those changes we undergo each month give us “an unrealised powerhouse of tools”. This view is reflected in the books’ tagline “If you want to get ahead, get a cycle!”

Miranda is dissatisfied with personal development literature and coaching for not taking into account that we are changing throughout the month. And we are changing significantly as she details in a few chapters. Different brainwaves, for example. Hormones giving us heightened abilities in some regards and taking away skills in other areas. Reading through this was as baffling as it was enlightening. And to be honest – I felt found out more than a couple of times!

In a nutshell, Mrs. Gray wants to help women become aware of what she calls their “Optimum Times” and associated abilities. This way she wants to help us become more successful and happier in our daily lives.

So how do we become the optimized woman?

Miranda breaks down our cycle into four phases, each about 7 days long. The length of those can be adapted depending on your personal cycle. She also states clearly that everyone is unique and that this is a generalization to help women become aware of general patterns. So don’t worry if you don’t find yourself in every detail, nothing wrong with that!

For each of these phases there is a separate chapter, detailing which skills we will most likely have in that time. And also which areas of our life might be more difficult for us. While it is impossible to give all the details here, I want to roughly summarize the phases for you.

1. The Dynamic Phase

In the book the dynamic phase is regarded as the start of the cycle, even though it refers to cycle days 7 – 13. Pre-Ovulation. Why, you wonder? Well, as the name indicates, it is a phase of new energy after our period. We emerge like phoenix from the Woman feeling powerful after creating a morning routine including exercisesashes and are ready to tackle a new cycle. Accordingly, this phase is the Optimum Time for anything that requires mental or physical energy, focus and structured thinking or simply a lot of confidence.

2. The Expressive phase

The expressive phase: Two optimized women talking over a coffee Cycle days 14-20, the days around ovulation or the so-called expressive phase. In those days we will be more sociable and empathetic. So Miranda suggests to use those skills for teamwork, meetings, working on our relationships with clients or in our private lives.

3. The Creative phase

This is the phase most of us dread. The pre-menstrual phase or the phase of wildly ranging emotions and trouble with ourselves and others on cycle days 21-28. According to the book though, this can be a perfect time for The optimized woman using her creative phase to generate ideascreative solution-finding and problem solving. If we can manage to give ourselves the understanding of what is going on within us, we can use this phase to our advantage instead of fearing it. Miranda does recommend to get a lot of alone time though.

4. The Reflective Phase

And finally, the menstrual phase. The time for resting and reflecting.The reflective phase: Woman taking some time to herself, thinking. Interestingly we are almost naturally meditative in this state, so we can use this time to really think about the big picture. According to the author this is also the best time to take big decisions as we will be most in tune with ourselves. If we take the time, that is.

What I loved about “The optimized woman”

I have been reading self development literature for quite a while now. It motivates me, it teaches me, it helps me grow. And still, sometimes I felt like I am completely lacking consistency with my newly learned techniques. Like I kept discovering them not working for me after all. Imagine my relief when Miranda writes about how many women feel that way, especially when it comes to self development. And when she says that we are not inconsistent. We are cyclical!

Of course I wasn’t as easily convinced. But reading through the different chapters, I kept finding myself in the descriptions. Patterns, worries, also strengths. So even if you do not intend to work through the “Optimized Woman Daily Plan” for a whole cycle, just reading this book will give you valuable insights.

Personally, I did work through the plan for one month now and I intend on keeping doing so. I liked the actionable advice, no matter your situation. Obviously it is easy to avoid meetings if you work from home, for example. But Miranda always keeps in mind that this is not the standard lifestyle and has ideas for everyone.

Weak points of “The optimized woman”

At some point, it does get a little repetitive. Understandable, as this book is about a cyclical subject. Still, at some point I felt as if I had read certain formulations way too many times by now.

At times the choice of language. Miranda Gray writes more like an artist than a scientist – which is perfectly fine, don’t get me wrong. There were a few occasions though when the formulations were too esoteric for me. Obviously this is definitely a matter of personal preference. And I only remark it, because it sometimes made it really hard for me to understand what she was trying to say. Then again, maybe this is just my lack of educations in metaphors.

Do I recommend “The Optimized Woman”?

Absolutely. Especially if you suffer from PMS, PMDD or any other hormonal imbalance. I know how that might make you doubt if nature knew what she was doing. But also if you are “just” female, if you live or work with females. Or if you just want to admire female nature. After reading this book and consciously experiencing my cycle and the various strengths it brings, I am in awe of what the female body and mind can do. So yes, Miranda, I agree. If you want to get ahead, get a cycle!

Subscribe & get your free Cycle Optimization Cheat Sheet




The Optimized Woman: If you want to get ahead, get a cycle - Pin*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

My Morning Routine: a tool for focus, success and growth

My morning routine has been the most powerful tool for me to go from wishful thinking to actually start making changes in my life. I have already written about how creating a morning routine will bring you closer to the life you want. Today I don’t want to go so much into the why. Rather I want to share my personal morning routine and how I developed it.

My Morning RoutineDisclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

My morning routine: How it all started

At some point last year I was fed up with my life situation. I did not like going to work. I felt stuck personally and professionally. Why did nothing ever change? I took three (!) weeks off from work to have some time to myself and figure out where this huge dissatisfaction was coming from. Or better even, how to do something about it. I had been interested in personal development before, but this was the moment I really dove in. Listening to podcasts, reading blogs, watching countless TedTalks on Youtube. Soon enough I noticed a recurring topic. Something that apparently all successful people had and every self-developing person was getting into. You guessed it, everyone stressed the importance of a morning routine.

My morning routine: Borrowing from the Magic Morning

Once you start reading about morning routines, you will inevitably come across Hal Elrods book “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)*“. Don’t worry, the essential idea is not as bulky as the title of the book.

Hal Elrods “Miracle Morning”

Hal suggests five main ingredients for a truly success inducing morning routine. He uses the acronym (life) SAVERS, which makes them easy to remember. The letters stand for:

S ilence: Get some quiet time in. No electronic devices, no TV, no chit-chat. Just you.

A ffirmations: Enough has been written about the transformative power of affirmations. Whatever your goals and dreams are, have some affirmations for them ready.

V isualization: Now it’s time to visualize what it’s gonna look and feel like to have achieved your goals. There is this video of Tony Robbins on Youtube, where he talks about the power of visualization. (If it’s too long for you to watch, skip to 10:29 where he shows the two guys how instant the effect can be.)

E xercise: Move your body in some way. Stretch a little, do some cardio or even go for a full blown workout session. But do some kind of exercise for your physical body. Weak body, weak mind.

R eading: Read at least a few pages of a book. This is not referring to entertainment literature though. Hal talks about reading books that teach you something. Self-development books, for example. Something to educate yourself.

S cribing: Write down your thoughts, your to dos or whatever comes to mind. Basically journaling in some form.

Building my own morning routine around it

As I could clearly see the advantages of each of these six habits and as they gave me a good starting point, I built my morning routine along those letters. Luckily it is not as hard as it might sound. And does not need to take 2 hours. Actually, it usually only takes me half an hour most mornings. One hour if I have time and enjoy the process. 15 minutes if I am short on time and skip some steps.

Meditating

Usually I wake up with my alarm and simply sit up in bed for a few minutes of meditation. Nothing complex, just following my breath while slowly waking up. If I feel motivated, I set a 10 minute timer. Otherwise I just do the Meditating to learn how to deal with uncertainty and as part of my morning routineexercise as the whim takes me. On those days when I feel really uninspired or have a bad case of monkey mindedness, I resort to videos of “The Honest Guys”. They are awesome!

(If you want to incorporate Meditation into your daily life while also becoming more resilient read my article about learning how to deal with uncertainty. In it I review a program that helped me so much doing this. It’s free and does not take any crazy commitment from your side.)

Looking forward to something

Another short thing I do before going any further is to find something I look forward to that day. It can be something small and insignificant like my morning porridge. Or it can be something big like an important, possibly life-changing appointment. However, I definitely find something to look forward to every single day before getting out of bed.

Affirmations

Afterwards I open my eyes and turn on the light. Depending on where I am in my cycle, I might opt for doing some affirmations here. Sometimes I skip it. When I do it, it takes just a couple of minutes.

Deciding for or against affirmations cycle related might sound weird to you. But if you are female with a cycle that actually might make a lot of sense for you, too. For further information let me refer you to the book “The optimized woman*“. I am planning on writing a more in depth review about it soon.

Visualizing

The visualization exercise happens sometimes, but I am not very consistent with it, to be honest. Definitely room for improvement there, as I can tell a huge difference in my mood when I do it. Honestly, it is worth doing it just for that. Putting yourself mentally in the situation where everything is perfect, you reached your goals, feeling what it feels like… It is like a mini vacation and huge mood booster. I am also doing visualizations with some physical goals. Difficult Yoga poses, to be specific. Simply out of curiosity, if this will get me closer to the poses without actually physically practicing them. I just like experiments.

Exercising

Happens pretty much every day. I can already hear your objections. “Not enough time in the morning. I already get up super early. Don’t want to go to the gym before work.” Relax. Sometimes my exercise is just a few gentle Yoga stretches in bed. Sometimes I do a real Yoga session on the mat. Most of the times I just go on my beloved stationary bike for ten minutes. (My  bike looks similar to this* one, just not as fancy. Seems like mine is not on Amazon anymore.) Doing this wakes me up and helps me get into the shower, as even just ten short minutes on the bike can get me sweating. Because of the integrated mini-desk, I can even combine my exercise with reading, learning vocabulary on Memrise or doing some brain training with the Elevate app.

Reading

Ah, this has to be my favorite ritual of my morning routine. Most of the times I already start doing it while still on the stationary bike. (So it mostly doesn’t even add to the time for the morning routine.) This happens reliably, every day. Most of the days I will be reading some self-development book  on my kindle. Sometimes I swap it out with the “Blink of the day” from Blinkist, if that happens to be a topic interesting to me. Even less often I might be reading a blog article about a topic keeping me busy at the moment.

Scribing

This one is usually quite quick, too. As I haven’t been much of a journal keeper before, I adopted bullet journaling around the time when I also built my morning Bullet journaling as part of my morning routineroutine. If there was a really inspiring or note-worthy thought during the reading session, I will write it down now. Otherwise this is mostly making a short to-do-list for the current day. Additionally I write down whatever I am looking forward to that day  and one thing I am grateful for. This helps me focus on the things I want to achieve, while approaching them with a positive mindset.

 

Obviously showering and  a nice and healthy breakfast are also part of my morning. However I don’t really count them as part of “my morning routine”. Should I? How do you do it? Do you have a morning routine? And has it helped you achieve your goals?

My morning routine, morning routine women, morning routine bullet journal

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Learning how to deal with uncertainty – an interesting experiment

How to deal with uncertainty when you don't know the way?“How to deal with uncertainty” is a question I have asked myself, people around me and Google a lot recently. One of the main reasons for that was my plan to leave my comfortable office job and turn to the wild and unknown world of freelancing. I have been pulled towards that for a long time for various reasons. And still, the fear of the unknown held me back. One time googling around on how to overcome my fear of uncertainty, I stumbled upon a program by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. (In case you don’t know his blog yet, I highly recommend browsing through it!)

As it was becoming more and more clear to me that I HAD to try for my desired lifestyle, I also knew I had to learn dealing with my insecurities. No way around it. So I signed up for “The 44 Training Program: Turning Uncertainty & Discomfort into Mindful Openness”. Sounds exactly what I needed, right? I am proud to say that I stuck with the program for the whole duration of the 44 days. And even before going into the details I can already say that the 10 minutes invested every day were absolutely worth it! But let me tell you more in detail what happens in this program and how it impacted my daily life.

Program setup

The program is planned for a duration of 44 days, as the name implies. During those 44 days, you  will do a short exercise of five to ten minutes every morning, directly after waking up. (Personally, I usually just sat up in bed to not fall asleep again and started right away.) After signing up for the program, you start receiving E-mails with instructions every few days. In total you will do 11 exercises, practicing each of them for four days in a row. For me that was a good rhythm to “learn” the exercises and still not get bored. A good flow. And not knowing what the next exercise will be is a little training in how to deal with uncertainty in itself, no?

The exercises

All of the exercises are some kind of meditation. It starts out with various forms of awareness exercises and then pretty quickly goes towards the harder stuff. Training discomfort and uncertainty. Leaning intMeditating to learn how to deal with uncertaintyo it, even welcoming it. Taking it in fully and learning how much capacity for “taking in difficulty” you actually have!

In abstract words this might sound simple. But without the respective preparation exercises I am not sure I could have done meditations like the Tonglen practice. It basically makes you imagine fully breathing in whatever negative thing you are dealing with. Imagine breathing in red hot, fiery, gooey stuff. Into your nose, down your respiratory system. Believe me, this is way harder than it sounds! Accordingly, this exercise was the most challenging, but also the most rewarding for me. Effectively it felt like confrontational therapy and made me confront my fears head-on. Like they say, sometimes the only way out is through.

Effects on my life

Generally, I can distinguish between two main types of effect after having done the whole program.

One of them started happening already shortly after starting the program. That effect was a heightened awareness throughout my day. I noticed my emotional reactions to things before I acted on them. So sometimes I just decided to not act on them. Basically, I did not take all of my thoughts and emotions as reality anymore. Instead, I accepted them as being there without necessarily letting them drive me. Even my fiancé, who I did not keep posted in detail about this program, told me he noticed positive changes.

The second effect is something that took a little more time to develop. But it feels like a huge learning to me. Going through this program, doing all those exercises, I ended up being so much more courageous. Yes, that kind of was the reason to start doing this in the first place. However, to be completely honest, I did not expect such a big effect on my mindset. My view on challenges, on scary or simply unknown situations has changed so much! I no longer avoid them. Not that I am seeking them out like some kind of adrenaline junkie now. But things that I pushed away for so long out of fear – I just do them now. And I notice that rush of anxiety and I know I can deal with it. I actually learned how to deal with uncertainty.

One example for this is how I now deal with a topic that is just completely unavoidable as a self-employed person. Tax. Don’t ask. I cannot even explain to you why this has been such a scare to me for so long. Guess what. I am dealing with it now. Do I love it? Definitely not. Does it hold me back any longer? Definitely not!

Do you want to learn how to deal with uncertainty?

Then take this program. It doesn’t matter where your uncertainty is located. Those exercises and the mental tools they will equip you with will make your life better. I am convinced of this. And no, this is not a sponsored post. I have no affiliations with Zen Habits whatsoever. I am just deeply grateful for this free program and would like to share this with as many people as possible.

Learning how to deal with uncertainty, how to deal with anxiety, how to deal with stress