8 Ways to Sleep Better

Some of you know that I struggle with depression and it seems to come in waves. I am going to be totally honest when I tell you that I am struggling with situational depression this month. If we were having coffee and you asked me how I was doing, I would tell you that I am not fucking fine. I don’t swear a lot so I want to emphasize and drive home the fact that things are not sunshine and rainbows over here. Mentally, I am struggling to come to terms with things. I am in no mood to explain what these things are but I might write about it in an upcoming blog post. I am just tired of receiving bad news all the damn time and I do not want to drag all of you down with my negativity.

Whenever I am really struggling with situational depression, my sleep schedule is usually the first thing to go. This week, I have been extremely sleep-deprived as I was staying up until 0500 – 0600 and waking up at 1030 to send my daughter to school. It is hard to find balance when I am dealing with these strong, negative emotions and lack of motivation. I am barely functioning from lack of sleep. Last Wednesday, I missed sending my daughter to school because I slept through my alarm. I feel like I am failing as a mother and this is not one of my prouder moments.

Redefining the Way You Sleep ✨🌙

In case you missed my post about Improving Sleep Hygiene, I highly recommend reading it first. From years of struggling with insomnia as well as excessive worrying, I know that sleep is vital for a person’s health and well-being. I also know that sleep is even more important for those who struggle with #mental-health and mood regulation. If you are currently experiencing sleep problems, then I suggest checking out my list below ↓ Here are some ways to help you get some sleep for a more productive day! 💁‍♀️

Redefining Sleep: 8 Ways to Sleep Better

1. Figure out how much sleep you need. If you are not getting enough sleep, then your body and mind are not going to function the way they should. You will feel tired and groggy, even when you wake up early. If you don’t address it now, then sleep deprivation can ultimately wreak havoc on your health. If you want to get some rest, you can start by making a plan to determine how much sleep is right for you. While some people can get away with 4 hours of sleep each night, others require more sleep.

2. Have a nighttime routine. Do you find yourself waking up during your sleep cycle? Chances are, you’re probably not getting enough REM sleep. During REM sleep, your body is working hard to replenish and repair itself. Having a nighttime routine can help get you into bed faster and fall asleep quicker, and it may even help regulate your circadian rhythm by teaching your body to start winding down at the same time each day. This might sound counterintuitive, but having a set bedtime and morning routine can actually make it easier to fall asleep at night.

3. Be consistent. We are all guilty of not always following what we say we are going to do. However, one good way to keep a consistent sleep schedule is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends and holidays. Also, don’t doze off for an hour in front of your computer or TV late at night; if you can’t fall asleep by 2200, get up and go to bed anyways.

4. Hello, sunshine! 🌞 If you’re having trouble sleeping, then a lack of natural light might be to blame. Spend some time each day getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight and your body will get used to feeling more awake (and alive) in the morning. Sunlight also helps reset your circadian rhythm, which is your internal clock and plays a role in sleep regulation. Since we associate darkness with going to bed, getting sunlight will trick your brain into thinking it’s time to wake up! ☕💕

5. Reward Yourself. When you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, make it easier on yourself. You could try starting your day with a refreshing shower or a short walk outside. Exercise can also help improve your quality of sleep as well. Making time for #self-care is an important part of sleeping well at night. If you still can’t fall asleep, try adding some relaxing activities before bedtime such as taking a bath or listening to relaxing music.

6. Plan the Next Day. It is natural to have an off day or a bad week from time to time, but it can also be difficult to get back on track if you fail to plan for these mishaps. Instead of waiting for the morning, plan your next day prior to bed. In 30 minutes, you can figure out what needs to be done tomorrow and how much time each task will take. 

7. Turn off social media. The blue light from social media keeps you up at night. If you have trouble sleeping, I suggest that you deactivate your account and read a book. And please don’t bring your phone with you into bed. If you must use your phone as an alarm clock like many people do, then you need to check out this blog post for a sans phone solution.

8. Eat light before bedtime. While a few crackers won’t hurt, too many late-night calories could lead to weight gain. It is important not only to avoid eating close to bedtime but also skipping meals altogether, as that leads your body and mind into starvation mode, which can leave you feeling tired and cranky in addition to losing precious hours of valuable shuteye.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Sleep is a critical part of staying healthy and it is not just limited to your physical or mental well-being. Like eating well and exercising regularly, it is important to make sleep a priority in your life. If you want to be at your best, then you need your beauty sleep. And while everyone has their own way of sleeping better, there are some general tips that can help you start getting more—and better—sleep every night. Do you agree with this list of suggestions? Is there anything that I missed? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ #Sweet-dreams

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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5 Things I No Longer Buy

(◔_◔)っQuestion: What are some items that you no longer buy?

A few months ago, I stumbled upon this blog post which made me reflect on my own life and spending habits. My intention was to answer her question in a timely manner, but we all know how long it takes me to post a blog post response. Bee is a 30-year old blogger who runs a popular blog called Mind. Beauty. Simplicity. She writes blog posts about intentional living, self-growth, lifestyle, and anything in between. I recommend checking out her blog and following her if you haven’t done so already.

These days, I am on a similar journey as Bee. When it comes to living intentionally, I am still far from perfect but I have learned to be more mindful about my spending and to avoid buying things that aren’t going to add value to my life. Keep reading if you are interested in learning what I added to my list! 🙌


•✽ 5 THINGS I NO LONGER BUY ✽•

1. Bath & Body Works I have nothing against Bath & Body Works. In fact, it is a great store and I still like their products. I am wiser now that I am older, but when I was a teenager, my life revolved around this store. I was in love with their products and the shopping addiction got pretty bad whenever there was a sale, which was pretty much every week 😆 I would buy all sorts of things: lotions, shower gels, candles, fragrance mists —you name it. When I couldn’t go through the products fast enough, I would make lists of the products that I wouldn’t have to replenish. The lotions and body mists lasted so long to the point where they would expire and end up smelling horrible. Once I realized that I was wasting money, I stopped shopping at Bath and Body Works.

2. Subscription Boxes These days, subscription box services are catering to everyone’s tastes. You can pretty much guarantee that the subscription box model isn’t just limited to food and books – there are monthly boxes for everything from candles to clothes. Want new socks and underwear but don’t want to think about it? There’s a box for that. And as tempting as these subscription boxes are, it is important to note that these services usually charge an upfront fee as well as recurring fees each month. I cannot justify paying a high price for items that I might not even like or use! 🤦‍♀️

Note: I want to make a clear distinction between subscription boxes and subscription services. We have access to Netflix and at one point, we paid for a Spotify account. We are thinking about renewing the Spotify subscription since my husband regularly uses that platform. We also have a Costco membership and I finally upgraded to a Premium WordPress Plan last year. When I was in nursing school, I subscribed to www.nursng.com after failing a clinical rotation in Spring 2019. At one point, I also subscribed to www.coursehero.com and even uploaded my own summary notes to share with other students. Subscription services are valuable tools when used for their intended purpose.

3. Bottled Water When you stop and think about it, it is pretty insane to pay for water when you can get it for free out of your tap. Sure, bottled water isn’t bad for you; there are worse things that you could be drinking such as soda or beer. If you are not active enough to need a drink with extra electrolytes and if drinking from a reusable bottle helps reduce your plastic consumption, then why would you bother spending money on something that is so easily accessible? The water you get from your faucet is much more affordable and safer for you. Also, by using a reusable water bottle like this one, you’ll be saving money as well as doing your part for Mother Earth. 🌎

4. Starbucks Did you really think that I was only going to throw shade at Bath & Body Works? I also like the fancy coffee drinks from Starbucks, especially their Frappuccinos. The vanilla whipped cream is absolutely divine! ❤ Plus, if you are anything like me, I do not go to Starbucks just to order a basic cup of coffee. I usually go to Starbucks to spend money on these fancy, empty-calorie Frappuccinos which typically cost around $5.50 -7.50 CAD. I prefer to save these treats only for special occasions rather than treat myself every time I go to the mall or local Starbucks coffee shop. ☕💕

If you are a coffee drinker like my husband, getting a good cup of coffee doesn’t require waiting in line. It just requires learning how to make a good cup of coffee at home. Next time you are shopping, skip the Starbucks line and make coffee at home. If Starbucks coffee is your thing (for the record, MCDs coffee is my thing), you can buy the coffee beans and make it at home for a fraction of the price. Even Costco sells Starbucks coffee beans. There is really no excuse to buy takeaway coffee anymore.

5. Alcohol This is an easy one to add to the list because I was never really a fan of alcohol. I don’t understand the hype around it, I don’t like how it makes me feel, and I don’t crave alcohol like some people do. Sugar on the other hand is a different story, which you can read about here. Personally, I think that there is too much sugar in alcohol, which is not limited to Vex, Smirnoff, and those cocktails with cute little umbrellas! I am tired of harping on the fact that alcohol isn’t good for your health and overall wellbeing. When you think about it, what kind of benefit does consuming alcohol bring? None that I can think of…. so yeah, I seldom drink alcohol 🙄 I would suggest cutting out alcohol from your budget if you are looking to save some money. It is an easy way to pocket extra cash without feeling like you are missing out on anything. There are other ways that you can socialize with people: going for walks, playing board games, or setting up a game night at home. Remember, you don’t have to stop socializing altogether.

👉 Image: I went on a trip to NYC with Nick and his friends, but I don’t remember what year this was 🤷‍♀️

Choosing to live a simpler, more intentional life is a conscious decision that affects each and every choice we make. Try thinking about the things that you can live without, specifically things that no longer serve a purpose in your life. What are some items that you no longer buy? Let me know by joining the conversation below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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How to Quit Sugar For Good

(っ◔﹏◔)っ I have a confession: I am addicted to sugar. 🙇‍♀️

I’ve had a sweet tooth since the day I was born and given a choice between candy or food for survival without the repercussions, I would have chosen the candy 🍭 Unfortunately, I inherited a sweet tooth from my grandmother and it runs in my family. Even though I minored in Nutritional & Nutraceutical Sciences (NANS), I didn’t need to study nutrition to know that sugar is addictive. And If you’re anything like me, you probably know that sugar is incredibly difficult to quit. The last time I tried quitting sugar, I managed to detox for 21 days only to relapse during the Christmas holidays. My recommendation is not to try quitting sugar during the holidays, especially if you are just starting out.

I know that I am not the only one who struggles with this addiction and if you are reading this blog post, I am guessing that the title intrigued you. My intention wasn’t to use clickbait, and to be totally transparent, the longest I’ve gone without sugar was #21days. They say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit and I want to ditch the sugar, regardless of how many times I relapse. This past weekend, I ate sugary foods and now I am paying the price with a lot of bloating, mood swings, irritability, and more sugar cravings. That being said, these past two weeks have been nothing but bad news for my family, and by now I am well aware that my coping mechanism is sweets and treats 🎂😋


Disclaimer: This blog post was inspired by blog.paleohacks.com. I added some of my own anecdotes to help emphasize the key points from their list (see image below ↓) I hope you know that sheer willpower alone will likely lead to a relapse. If you want a more sustainable, long-term solution for quitting the sweet stuff, then we need to treat sugar like the drug that it is. Let’s get started, shall we?

Easy-Ways-to-Cut-Sugar-Out-of-Your-Diet-infog
👉 Image source: blog.paleohacks.com

Easy Ways to Cut Sugar Out Of Your Diet

Stop Buying Processed Foods If you stop buying processed foods, over time you will accumulate much less of them in your house. If you really want to quit cold turkey, dump your sodas down the drain and toss the rest of your empty-calorie snacks in the trash. We poured the sugar-laden sodas and drinks down the drain which was very therapeutic for me. Some people might say that it is a waste of money to throw food in the trash and I agree with them. However, we should not have purchased these products in the first place.

Make Your Own Spaghetti Sauce I have not tried making my own spaghetti sauce. We try to buy brands that are low in sodium and contain the least amount of questionable ingredients. Look for spaghetti sauce when they go on sale and stock up on the good brands.

Swap Fruit Juice with Whole Fruit I quit this bad habit years ago and I don’t feel deprived by diluting fruit juice or skipping it altogether. Whenever I drink fruit juice such as 100% orange juice or 100% apple juice, I water the juice down with 3/4 water. To this day, I cannot drink non-diluted fruit juice. It is way too sweet!

Avoid Flavored Yogurt There is a lot of hidden sugar in flavored yogurts and that is scary! In a single serving of flavored yogurt, I have seen as much as 20 grams of sugar. Yikes! This doesn’t even include the hidden sugars and sneaky sweeteners that are usually added to flavored yogurts. Opt for plain yogurt and flavor it yourself. It is pretty tasty with a little maple syrup and sliced banana.

Make Your Own Salad Dressing I have not tried this yet but both my mom and husband started making their own salad dressings. I can see the appeal in homemade salad dressings and I plan on making my own one day. Please tell me that I am not the only one with 20+ bottles of salad dressing? I cannot bring myself to throw away store-bought salad dressing.

Give Yourself a Quota Going cold turkey is hard, and let’s face it: we are going to slip up from time to time. If you are used to eating fast food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, then you may want to slowly cut back on sugar and gradually introduce healthier alternatives like fruits and vegetables. If you must have dessert, save your cheat treat for a time when you will really enjoy it, such as date night. I did not grow up in a household where I ate dessert every night and I seldom ate fast food, so, fortunately, I haven’t developed a habit of gluttony and instant gratification.

Try Stevia, Monk Fruit, or Xylitol I have a hard time loving stevia. I find the taste of stevia awful but a lot of people have jumped on the stevia bandwagon and they embrace it with open arms. I don’t mind monk fruit but most often, it’s not made primarily of monk fruit. The one I have is erythritol with monk fruit extract. Erythritol on its own has a cooling aftertaste but gives me stomach aches, so I use it sparingly. I also use maple syrup and coconut sugar in some recipes to replace cane sugar. For days when my sugar cravings are intense, I might try sugar-free gum.

Set Dessert Rules Do you ever implement new rules, end up failing and feel worse than when you started? This method does work with strict discipline but even my family and friends haven’t had much success with it yet. You will likely end up relapsing if you feel too deprived, undergo an uncontrollable binge, or experience withdrawal as you wean yourself off of sugar. What is the best way to overcome potential drawbacks? Decide to make a change and commit to it for a month.

Don’t Keep Treats in the House Preach! 🙌 I stopped buying treats and we rarely have treats in our house. If we really want treats, we have to go out of our way for ice cream, or we make homemade french fries and chips (air fryer or baked). It also forces me to get creative. I have made recipes I would have otherwise never made, such as paleo mint chocolate truffles and chia seed pudding. If you’re going to make desserts, then at least make them paleo! Paleo desserts are naturally healthier and less processed compared to store-bought food.

Eat Dark Chocolate Ideally, you want to eat dark chocolate that is at least 70% solids. I do consume dark chocolate on a weekly basis, and I prefer to bake with dark chocolate which is naturally lower in sugar compared to conventional milk chocolate varieties.

Avoid Mixed Alcoholic Drinks Just avoid alcohol like the plague. Alcohol won’t help you lose weight, is chalked full of empty calories and it wreaks havoc on your kidneys and liver. There are other ways to have fun, like writing blog posts *laughs* In a more serious tone, alcohol is a toxin and I have been around too many alcoholics in my lifetime to know how batshit crazy alcoholics and drunk people can be. Didn’t know alcohol is a drug? FYI alcohol is a depressant. Look it up!

Cut Out Soda If you’re going to drink soda, you might as well drink liquefied candy washed down with a glass of lemon juice. I don’t need to explain why soda is bad which is pretty much self-explanatory. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that diet soda is any better. Diet soda contains similar ingredients as regular soda plus several questionable artificial sweeteners. It’s not even the sugar that is the most cringe-worthy ingredient, or the high fructose corn syrup for that matter. It’s the caramel color that is notorious for staining and corroding your teeth, and the highly acidic nature of both diet and regular varieties. Love the carbonated bubbles but don’t want to quit soda cold turkey? Try flavored sparkly water like Perrier, Bubbly, or Spindrift. Although acidic, these unadulterated sparkling waters are still healthier options.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Well, there you have it! If this blog post inspired you to join me on this sans sugar journey and/or you are currently embarking on a similar journey towards a healthier lifestyle, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments!

Also, if you would like to have your recipes featured on sereneluna.net, you can get in touch with me through my contact page or e-mail me @hilary_harm_7@hotmail.com 💌 There is no set deadline for recipe submissions. Ideally, I am looking for recipes that are wheat-free and sugar-free. Stevia, monk fruit, and xylitol are more ideal than added sugars. However, I will accept recipes that use small amounts of honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc. anything of that nature. Thanks so much! 🍨💕

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March Goals | Spring 2022

This is the beginning of a new month which means that we have a fresh start (yet again). I am not waiting another day for a fresh start, since we already know that January and February 2022 were bleh months for me. I am still catching up on the comments from January. No, I have not forgotten about you all. To all of my loyal readers and blogging friends, thank you for putting up with my sloth-like self. What I really need right now is a steeped tea and a calm place to escape to which does not exist in my world. As I continue to search for my quiet sanctuary, I often think back to life before the pandemic started 😷 When I was at U of Calgary B.C. (before Covid-19), I used to escape to the arboretum on campus. I really miss that place. *Le sigh*

If you knew me IRL, my life would probably bore you. If I am not doing mundane, mind-numbing chores, I am probably working or taking care of my 5-year old kinder and 9-month old baby. That being said, I want to be more organized this month so I think it’s only fair that I hold myself accountable somehow. Since I haven’t used Instagram since 2019, I don’t see the point of using IG stories, even though I have had some success with it in the past. Right now, blogging is the main platform that I use so it makes sense to share my goals here with my readers. Just a quick note that my goals this month are rather vague and I have not gone into much detail yet regarding my current diet. Perhaps I will elaborate more about my weight loss journey and plans in a future blog post if anyone is interested. FYI I am not overweight but I want to lose belly fat, specifically visceral fat. I fit the definition of skinny fat which is annoying because I cannot wear cute clothes without hating myself. 😓

The Daily Grind ☕💕

By now, we all know that I lack the motivation to grind away at writing, editing, and uploading new content for this blog. Even on my days off, I am too lazy to get off the couch and actually do something productive. The recipes I made earlier this week were not “Insta worthy” so I didn’t bother snapping photos. I would like to share my low-carb recipes with you, but the perfectionist in me is stopping me from actually following through with it. Perfectionism is a B.I.T.C.H. 🤦‍♀️ I currently have 31 drafts on WordPress + ideas in my head + ideas that live on a notepad on my iPhone. That being said, I refuse to upload half-baked blog posts just for the sake of gaining more views and followers.

Old News is New News

In other news, I was sick (again) during the month of February. To add to this series of unfortunate events, I was unable to find a habit tracker because Costco didn’t carry them this year and the calendar store is closed until further notice 🙇‍♀️ I am a visual learner and seem to do better when I can physically see what goals I need to achieve. Right now, I lack direction and feel a bit lost when it comes to setting short-term and long-term goals which is no surprise considering that I haven’t been using a planner at all. At this time, I am thinking of sharing my goals with you to keep myself accountable for the month of March. I really seem to struggle with finding the energy and motivation to stop being a lazy potato.

It is hard to believe that one year has passed since I last posted my goals for March 2021 🌸 You can also read about how that went down here. 🌸 I have decided to keep the same layout this year. Below ↓ I will show you my list for the month of March 2022. My daily lists are very similar except that daily lists include mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning. So what does my list for the month of March look like? Here, let me show you:

March Goals 2022

Career Goals:

  • Continue to work weekends and Fridays, preferably evening shifts
  • Bid on shifts so I average 7-9 shifts per month
  • Renew and review courses on MLL
  • Attend 2 online wellness seminars

Personal Goals:

  • Publish 1-2 blog posts per month
  • Publish 2-3 recipes and/or poems
  • Keep tabs on doctor’s appointments/pending appointments
  • Continue to declutter house every day
  • Have an IRL meeting/get-together

Health Goals:

  • Follow a low carb diet for 3+ months
  • Continue Intermittent Fasting (IF)
  • Slash 90-95% of wheat products. Slash 70% of refined foods including refined sugar 🧁
  • More cooking and baking at home
  • Daily walks and sunshine if weather permits ☀️

Not that anyone cares: My scale needs new batteries so I don’t know my actual weight. The way my clothes fit is a better indicator than a stupid number on the scale. I don’t care about weight as much as the way I feel on the inside and I know that my BMI falls within the healthy range of 18.5 – 24.9. And yet, people often tell me that I do not need to lose weight, but they aren’t me. What I do know is that I don’t feel good on the inside. I want to feel healthier and my body looks (and feels) tired. Ideally, I would like a flatter stomach by summer so that is what I am working towards. More importantly, I want to get rid of my inflammation as a result of sensitivities to certain foods. The last time I felt comfortable in my own body was in 2015. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but affirmations and mantras about body positivity do not make me feel better about myself. I also came to the harsh reality that I haven’t made much progress since 2017 when I wrote a blog post about my dieting woes called No Carbs, No Life.

“Oh I don’t need real food. I’ll just live on this raw cabbage. I’m so happy. This is fine. Everything is fine.” — Jenny Lawson

Do you have any goals that you are trying to achieve this month? If you do, what are they? Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments. I am working this weekend, so I will reply to your comments and catch up on blog posts when I have time.

Thanks for stopping by! ♥

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