Take A Day Off

As March is winding to a close we here are Smart Modern Women are ready for a day off. The cold weather of the past month has us all itching for a day of unwinding and relaxation. It’s important that every woman takes the time to chill out after she’s made it through a turbulent period in her life. So we’re keeping today’s post short and sweet and encouraging you to visit the spa, take a bubble bath, dive into a good book, or go for a walk. Hell, we’ll even endorse a good ol’ Netflix binge today. So take a hint, and let the stress go.

Since we care too much about your wellness to leave you hanging, here’s a quick list of suggestions for how you should spend your next day off:

  • get a massage or facial
  • read a book in the quiet of a library
  • go to the beach and soak up some sun
  • buy a new bubble bath and test it out
  • slip into your best pjs and refuse to get out of bed
  • watch an old classic movie
  • make some tea and write in your journal
  • spend an hour meditating
  • go to your favorite park and enjoy being outside
  • make your favorite cocktail and do some day drinking
  • have a girls night in

Let us know what you end up doing.

Sweat In Style

Making it to the gym can be quite a struggle, and to be honest it doesn’t happen often. However, I find that I am more excited about spending time sweating it out if I have something fabulous to wear. Since fitness is an essential part of every SMW’s life, and we’re here to inspire you to reach your full potential as such a woman, I thought I’d share some of my favorite places to find awesome workout clothes.

  • Old Navy: Their compression pants and capris are THE BOMB! The come in great colors and patterns, make my rear end look perfectly perky and don’t create a muffin top. If you look on the sale rack you can find them for under $15! What gets better than that?
  • Victoria’s Secret: when it comes to sports bras and yoga pants, this is the place to go. They’re a bit more expensive, but they last forever and are ALWAYS in style.
  • Nike: If you want the best and brightest shoes, this is the brand to go with. Plus if you go to a Nike store their experts can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Gap: When it comes to jackets, Gap definitely makes the best. I can throw one on in the winter and not only is it warm but it’s flattering and my phone doesn’t fall out of the pockets when I run…which makes it great. Also, this brand makes great tanks and tees. If you go by the store in March you can find items on their last chance sale racks for super cheap. I found a shirt that I LOVE for only $2.99.

Where’s your favorite place to find workout gear? Let us know in the comments!

Stressin’ Much?

Spring can be a very stressful time. Between everything you have to do, everywhere you have to be, and all the events that are now going on because the weather is finally nice enough to venture outside it is VERY easy to get stressed out. However, the modern woman is unfazed by all this. She manages to move through life with ease and is never tense.

Well, that’s the idea anyway.

Given that everyone is human, we’re all bound to get stressed at times. Here are our favorite ways to unwind and destress when things start to feel like they’re too much to handle.

  • Practice your yoga breathing. There’s a reason why yoga is a form of relaxation, as well as exercise. Take 10 deep breaths (five counts in, five counts out) with your eyes closed.
  • Take a bubble bath. Sometimes you just need to take a break from reality. Find your favorite bubble bath (we recommend anything lavender or eucalyptus scented) and soak in hot water for 30 minutes. Not only will your mind relax, but your muscles will feel better too.
  • Sweat it out. Go for a run, walk, bike ride…anything that gets you moving outside. If you can, leave your phone at home, or put it on Do Not Disturb (seriously the best invention ever). Breathe some fresh air and work out all your tension. Once you’re home (and showered) you’ll feel renewed enough to tackle your to-do list.
  • Make a cup of tea. Do it the old fashioned way where you boil the water and let the tea steep for at least 15 minutes. During this time (and the time you spend drinking said tea) do nothing else. Focus entirely on making the best tea you possibly can and enjoying every drop. This is an exercise in staying present in the moment, and doing so whenever you find your mind spinning out of control will significantly improve your mental clarity (and stability).
  • Essential oils. There’s an entire range of essential oils and homeopathic recipes dedicated to stress relief. Do some experimenting until you find what works for you.
  • Lose it. There’s a lot to be said for throwing a good old fashioned temper tantrum. Go ahead, scream, cry, throw things (maybe nothing glass). Release all that pent up energy, I mean, it has to go somewhere right? Better to put it all out in the world than to internalize it. Just be sure you’re not yelling (or throwing things) AT someone during this process, they definitely won’t be able to handle it.
  • Write it all down. Journaling can be a cathartic experience. I personally feel a lot calmer if I take ten minutes to write down my thoughts before bed each night. It helps me sleep better and analyze situations with more clarity.
  • Talk with someone. Call your mom. Seriously, she was used to you venting to her in high school, and she’ll be happy to do it now. If she’s not available for whatever reason, call your best friend, or even leave a voicemail for yourself expressing how ridiculously crazy your life has gotten.

At the end of the day stress is temporary. Realize that the world will keep spinning even if you don’t cross everything off of your to-do list. Nothing is so important that it can’t wait until tomorrow. (Just ask Scarlett O’Hara.)

Seriously, it will.

Music That Moves You

Exercise is an important part of life. If you want to be a Smart Modern Woman, you have to have enough stamina and energy to meet the demands of your life. Exercise can help you develop those qualities, along with improving your health and looks.

However, working out can be extremely boring – and that’s where music comes in. Here at SMW we believe that your workout is only as good as the music you listen to, so we’ve assembled a playlist of our top workout songs:

  • Break the Rules, Charli XCX
  • Ghost, Ella Henderson
  • Outside, Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding
  • Baby Don’t Lie, Gwen Stefani
  • The Nights, Avicii
  • Come With Me Now, Kongos
  • Miss Jackson, Panic! At The Disco feat. Lolo
  • Counting Stars, One Republic
  • Blank Space, Taylor Swift
  • Centuries, Fall Out Boy
  • I Bet My Life, Imagine Dragons
  • Animals, Maroon Five
  • Bang Bang; Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj
  • Elastic Heart, Sia
  • Habits, Tove Lo
  • Don’t, Ed Sheeran
  • Blame, Calvin Harris feat. John Newman
  • Black Widow, Iggy Azalea feat. Rita Ora
  • Rather Be, Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
  • Boom Clap, Charli XCX
  • First Love, Jennifer Lopez

Now get moving!

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is quite possibly the most important thing we do in our daily lives. It revitalizes us, lets us heal, improves our mood, and helps us think clearly. Without sleep there is no way we can get through life. Basically, sleep should be your number 1 priority.

Doctors recommend that we get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. However, each person has their own unique needs when it comes to sleep. Our recommendation is that you figure out what’s right for your body. Sleep when you’re tired and wake up without an alarm. It may be helpful to get into this pattern while you’re on a vacation or don’t have to be anywhere in the morning. At first you’ll probably sleep in a good bit, especially if you’re currently not getting enough sleep. However after a few days you should start figuring out a normal number of hours you need, and can adjust your schedule accordingly.

Start getting enough sleep, you’ll notice everything in your life improves.

Feeling Beautiful

It doesn’t matter what you wear, how you do your makeup, or what you weight – if you don’t think you’re beautiful, you won’t feel beautiful. Being comfortable in your own skin can be challenging. Trust me, after years of battling eating disorders and dissatisfaction with my appearance I have come to realize that learning to feel beautiful on the inside is the most important part of loving yourself. I spend a lot of time on this blog discussing outer beauty, but today I think it’s important to address inner beauty.

How can we discover our inner beauty?

This has been this most challenging question of my life. There are some days when it is still impossible, however I have developed some ways to help me when I start to get down on myself about my appearance (or anything about myself).

  • Get My Appearance Pulled Together: Yes, this is about inner beauty. But in the same way that inner beauty reflects outwardly, outer beauty can help you feel better inside. It’s amazing what freshly washed hair and a bit of lipstick can do for you. I always find I look on myself more positively when I’m clean and put together. That way I can look in the mirror and say to myself, “I may not be a size 2 but damn my hair looks fabulous.” Pampering yourself is totally worth it.
  • Find Beauty Around Me: Everyone sees the world through different eyes. Sit down and ask yourself what around you is beautiful? It could be the way the sun is shining through the window, or the photo on your desk. Taking time to notice small moments of beauty can do wonders when it comes to your inner happiness.
  • Realize that Nobody Is Perfect: You’re probably trying to hide something from the world. Realize that everyone is doing the same thing. We all have imperfections, they make us unique and uniqueness is always beautiful.
  • Get Outside of Yourself: Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Preferably someone who is worse off. Now look at yourself objectively. What makes you beautiful? What makes you valuable? Write a list if you need to, just don’t forget that you are beautiful because you are alive.

It’s easy to be pretty, it’s hard to be beautiful inside and out. That’s okay. Realizing that you’re beautiful to others is the first step to feeling beautiful yourself. And trust me, you are beautiful!

What are some things you do to feel beautiful? Share them in the comments and help someone out!

Taking Care of Yourself

One of the most difficult things about being an adult is having to take care of yourself. When you were little there was always someone there to kiss your scraped knee, soothe you when you got dumped, and make you chicken noodle soup when your nose was too stuffy for you to breathe. Now it’s your own responsibility to do all that for yourself, and that’s easier said than done. It’s really hard to pick yourself up in the middle of a rough patch. That’s why self care is so important.

Self care is not something you do only when you need it. It is something that should be a regular part of your routine. Preventative medicine is the best medicine – think of self care as preventative medicine for your soul. There are even bonus points because practicing caring for your soul also helps with caring for your body.

Here are some tips for how to take care of yourself regularly. A number of these were originally published on Greatist, and I’ve added some of my own. You don’t have to do them all at once, but if you make a point to regularly include these steps in your routine I bet you’ll notice a difference.

  • Get outside.
    Ditching the comfort of your home is a great way to improve mental and physical health. Similar to meditation, spending time out of doors benefits the brain [1]. Other research suggests that being outside in nature also makes us feel more alive. Even living in an area with more green space (i.e. parks and gardens) is associated with greater life satisfaction and less mental distress.

    2. Try an outdoor workout.
    Consider taking your sweat session into nature, too. Research shows that working out in the Great Outdoors boosts mental health, and may decrease tension, anger, and depression [2] [3].

    3. Pay it forward.
    By helping others, we actually help ourselves, too. Lending a hand not only boosts mental health, but may also lead to a longer life [4]. Volunteering also positively affects self-confidence, self-esteem, and general wellbeing.

    4. Breathe the right scents.  
    We know that breathing techniques can help us relax. But what we breathe might be just as important ashow we breathe. While the benefits of aromatherapy are debated, research suggests that citrus scents — orange essential oil in particular — can help slash stress and anxiety, and getting a whiff of rosemary may boost memory [5] [6].5. Stress less.
    By now, we all know that stress is really bad for our health. Research suggests that stress may be contagious, and the more stressed we think we are, the worse it might be for our heart health [7]. But between work, relationships, family, and whatever else life throws at us, it’s difficult not to succumb to it. Use these strategies, which range from drinking tea to practicing progressive relaxation, to keep the stress monster at bay.

    6. Be mindful.
    Focusing on the present — without judging how we feel and what we think — can be both a liberating and healthy practice. Studies show that getting in-tune with ourselves through mindfulness slashes stress and depression, helps us see ourselves in a truer light, and may even help keep our minds from wandering [8].

    7. Be happy!
    We all know that happiness feels good, but it’s also great for our health. Research suggests that feeling happy may even prevent disease, including heart disease [9] [10]. But being happy is easier said than done, right? Turns out there’s actually a simple way to feel more upbeat: Just crack a smile!

    8. Meditate.
    Meditation is proof that it doesn’t take a ton of time to do a mind and body good. Just a few minutes of quieting your mind can help relieve stress [11] [12] [13]. Other benefits include a boost in compassion and emotional stability, and some research suggests that meditating could even keep winter illness at bay [14]. The best part? Its benefits continue even when we’re not meditating — consider it the gift (to yourself) that keeps on giving. Sneak some meditation into day-to-day life with these 10 awesome techniques.9. Dance around.
    Shaking your booty doesn’t just make for a fit physique. It may also improve both mood and body image, lead to a better outlook, is associated with a lower risk for dementia, and even help you make friends [15]. Consider this your cue for a silly impromptu dance party.

    10. Turn up the tunes.
    If you’ve ever noticed that certain songs bring a smile to your face, you’re not alone. As it turns out, science has taken note, too. Research shows that listening to music makes already positive emotions even more intense, and upbeat music in particular can do great things for your mood. Plus, jamming out can also improve heart health [16].

    11. Eat more fruits and veggies.
    Adding more fruits and veggies to our plate is a great way to practice self-care all throughout the day. Research shows that eating berries boosts brain health while noshing on peppers prevents Parkinson’s[17]. And in case we needed another reason to load up on nature’s goodness, filling up on seven portions of fruits and veggies per day might make us happier.12. Swear it off.
    Though a potty mouth isn’t appropriate in a lot of scenarios (work… church… on a date… you get the picture), dropping an F-bomb might be an easy way to blow off some steam. Research also shows swearing can reduce physical pain, and may even boost confidence and self-esteem [18]. But, as they say, timing is everything — so be sure to filter your expletives to avoid adding embarrassment to stress.

    13. Indulge in some retail therapy.
    Shopaholics, rejoice! Hitting the mall can help ease mild depression and make us more confident, according to some researchers. Another study suggests that purchasing new clothes can lift a person’s mood. Science aside, treating yourself to something shiny, special, and new (it doesn’t have to be expensive!) is a pretty surefire way to put a smile on your face.

    14. Have a spa day.
    One of my favorite ways to care for myself is to put on a detoxifying face mask and give myself a manicure. It allows me to unwind, take a break from any stress I may be experiencing, and has the added bonus of making my skin look damn good.
    15. Become a bookworm.
    Contrary to what some middle school bullies believe, reading is cool. Plus, it’s actually really good for our health. Research suggests that reading on a regular basis keeps the mind sharp as it ages, and reading fiction in particular makes for more creativity and a more open mind. Cracking open a book may alsoimprove sleep and make us more empathic [22].

    16. Laugh out loud.
    There’s a reason people say laughter is “the best medicine”: Chuckling and giggling benefit our mental and physical health, especially when combined with exercise [23]. Giving into a case of the funnies canimprove our overall quality of life, while getting goofy with other people can help us connect with the people we laugh with and foster our relationships. Your plan of action: Watch a funny movie or a comedy on television—those reruns of How I Met Your Mother may actually be good for your heart [24].

    17. Look at something cute.
    Instant mood booster: looking at pictures of baby animals. Thanks to Pinterest, that’s incredibly easy (Just take a look at this board — it’s chock-full of super cute furry friends.). Plus, browsing through these photos may even help you when you’re on the job. Research suggests it may boost your productivity at work [25]. Just, uh, don’t let the boss catch you.18. Get enough Zzz’s.
    There tons of things that can sabotage our sleep, whether it’s a late night at the office, a wild night with friends, or just catching up on Scandal. The problem is, skimping on shut-eye can hurt job productivity,make us choose to eat larger portions, and may lead to diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Prioritize snooze time for a healthier, happier you — even if it’s just a quick cat nap during your lunch break.

    19. Declutter.
    Some researchers believe that clutter can stress us out and bring us down. On the flip side, sorting through and purging unorganized papers, clothes, knickknacks, or whatever else is crowding our lives may help us be more productive, cheerful, and calmer. I personally reorganize my house whenever I have a big project coming up that is keeping me from sleeping.

    20. Pound the pavement.
    Not only does it torch calories, but running is a mood-booster that can help reduce anxiety [26]. Long-distance running in particular may even provide pain relief. Exercise in general is linked to decreasing symptoms of depression, so lace up your sneakers the next time you need a mood lift [27]. Walking works too, and for added benefit invite a friend. You can catch up while getting happier and healthier. What’s better than that?21. Indulge in a massage.
    Set aside some time to experience the complete and total bliss of a massage. It soothes both the mind and muscles, improves sleep quality, and reduces stress [28].

    22. Cuddle.
    Whether you’re the big spoon or little spoon, cuddling is good for you. Studies show that physical contactreduces stress and releases a hormone called oxtocin that boosts happiness. Even if you’re cuddling with your dog or petting your cat you can reap the benefits.

    23. Get your Om on.
    It comes as no surprise that yoga is a healthy practice. It helps relieve anxiety, stress, and depression, all while boosting energy levels and improving our overall sense of well-being. Don’t think you have to commit to a full-length yoga class to reap its health benefits. Just 20 minutes on the mat improves focusand boosts the brain [29] [30]. Try these restorative yoga poses to erase any built-up tension.24. Unplug.
    These days, it feels like everyone’s glued to a phone, laptop, or both at the same time. Deliberately taking a break from social media, e-mail, blogging, and so on can help us recharge and gives our brain the downtime it needs to work at an optimal level.

    25. Get out of town.
    When it comes to taking vacation, most Americans don’t do a lot of it. But skipping out on time away from the 9-to-5 does more harm than good: Studies show that skipping the family vacay is associated with ahigher risk of heart disease in both men and women [31]. Whether booking a trip to an exotic location or going somewhere nearby, time away from work can help refresh our focus, and being exposed to a new location or experience may boost creativity. Plus, everyone deserves a break!