2 In Soul

Ramadan Reflections

15 days have gone by and we’re already half way through Ramadan?! SubhanAllah! Time has seriously flown. I can still remember preparing suhoor on the first day, and panicking thinking I overslept. Unfortunately, I’m not able to fast due to being pregnant, but alhamdulilah I gain the reward of fasting, through feeding my hubby (Love you hubster!)

So for this Ramadan I decided to keep a journal for each day. In it, I wrote all my thoughts; what I’m thankful for, how I wish to improve myself, my emotions, thoughts etc. Reading through, I can see a transition of my being. I can sense a profound change in my character alhamdulilah.

So here goes. I hope you enjoy reading this post and take some benefit from it insha’Allah.

1. Be grateful

I lost my job, just before Ramadan started. Those who know me personally, know that when I’m not talking about natural living; I’m teaching English to Saudi students. And I love it.

As any human being our instant reaction is to get angry and frustrated. And that was mine. My inital thought was that I had sacrificed being with my mom, for this job. The thought cut me so deep. I was an emotional wreck for days.

As I entered Ramadan, I still had that resentment towards the situation. It was so intense, that it actually affected my ibadaah (worship).

I wish I had quit in January, when mom was admitted to hospital. That way, I wouldn’t be here wishing I could call her. I wouldn’t be stuck here, wishing I could’ve had just 1 more day with her. I should’ve just quit in January.

All I could think of was my mom. I was feeling guilty, regretful; just utterly devastated. I tied the pain of losing my mom, to losing my job. It was like a huge slap in the face.

After making lots of dua and praying, I had a dream about my mother. She was holding my hand, comforting me, repeating ‘don’t worry Rose, everything’s going to be fine’. The next day I woke up, thanking Allah so much for allowing me to see my mother in my dream. This is the first time since she passed.

I woke up with such a thankful heart that day. I realised that there is so much in my life that I should be grateful for, and that Allah only removes you from a situation for your benefit.

Now I see the wisdom in losing my job. I missed out on so much with my children. My mother was a full-time homemaker; just having her with us everyday made our family that much closer. Now everytime I look at my children, I imagine my mother looked at me the same way when I was little; with such a grateful heart and constantly counting her blessings.

Lesson: Be thankful that Allah hasn’t placed you in a worse situation. Allah never burdens a soul beyond what it can bear.

2. Emotions are temporary

As you can imagine, losing my job was a hardship that affected my whole family. Unfortunately, my children were most affected. Being at home with them wasn’t easy. I was so used to dropping them off to daycare and going to work, that I had forgotten how to actually interact with them.

Yaqoub is driving me crazy. OMG! This boy! If I have to tell him one more time to leave Maryam alone, I’m going to lose it!!

As hard as it was for me to write that for the world to see, I no longer am that angry mother who hated  her child. Yes I say hated. I remember the exact moment. Yaqoub had just dropped his sister on the floor and she started bleeding from her mouth. My instant reaction was to shout at him, and make him feel worse than he already did.

And it all backfired. He just threw himself on the floor in a rage. I didn’t know what to do, but just to stand there and scratch my head. But I let him vent.

I was still feeling annoyed over the situation so thats why I wrote that excerpt. A few days later, Yaqoub came over to me and told me he acts naughty sometimes because he wants to tell my things but doesn’t know how to.

Hearing this broke my heart. I felt like the worst mother in the world. My instant reaction was to hug him and cry and say sorry a million times over. I feared the day my child would not be able to come and express his emotions; and it was happening at the tender age of 5.

After a good hug, we spoke about all the things he loved (dinosaurs, spiderman, his cousins… ). We spoke for a good hour and after he thanked me for listening.

Lesson: Emotions are not a weapon, but a tool. Embrace them lovingly and with patience.

3. Focus on the end goal

I remember reading an instagram post about how nowadays, we’re so forced to find our passion; but what if our passion is just to be living life and enjoying it? And it made me question everything.

All my life I’ve been driven by my ambition to be self-made. To live that entreprenurial life and be a millionaire. Honestly, doing that has made me lose touch with my real goal in life; Jannah.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m really living for Jannah, or just living up to people’s expectations of me. I’m getting tired of trying to be successful when all I want is success in the Hereafter. Isn’t that enough?

Ramadan 2014 was my best Ramadan to date. My eemaan was soaring high and I really tasted the sweetness of that month. That month, I tried so hard to strengthen my ibadaah, and by Allah it was such a blissful year. I had just divorced my husband and was raising my son alone. But I felt content and at peace. As long as I had Allah, nothing could harm me.

As years went on, I lost that feeling. I thought in order to find myself, I had to have something tangible, for the world to see. I placed value in what I could show people.

This Ramadan has been such a wake up call for me. From realizing that my mother never got to see this Ramadan, to losing my job; it has been the turning point in what I really want; and that’s for Allah to be pleased with me. Now, I’m focusing on ways to improve my eeman rather than improve the image that people percieve.

Lesson: Pleasing Allah is easy. It’s the only way to Jannah.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading my post. What’s 1 thing you’ve learnt so far, this Ramadan? Feel free to comment below.

 

0 In Health

Top 5 House Plants That Detox Your Home

Given that people spend around 90% of their time at home (unless your a traveler), then chances are you’re exposed to an array of chemicals.

Furniture, paint and cleaning materials can emit a variety of toxic compounds such as formaldehyde. Indoor air pollution can also be affected by bee pollen, bacteria, mold and even car exhaust fumes that pass through an open window.

So whats the solution? Plants!

Yes those green-leafy beauties aren’t just for admiration. They host a variety of benefits that detox your home and make your air cleaner.

Now we probably don’t want 100 plants in our homes. So I’ve narrowed the list to the top 5, low-maintenance yet highly effective plants. You can find these plants in your local plant nursery or any plant store.

 

1. Snake plant

Image result for snake plant

It’s also know as the mother-in-law tongue (no idea why) and is perfect for the forgetful type as it can survive neglect for weeks.

Snake plants are famous for filtering out formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene which are common in cleaning products, tissue and personal care products.

Interestingly, they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night (opposite process of what most plants follow). So it’s definitely a good idea to keep these green leaf wonders in your bedroom.

2. English Ivy

Image result for english ivy house plant

My mother-in-law’s house is filled with plants, and mainly English Ivy. The beautiful contrast of the white and green leaves really add some vibrancy to the home.

Not only that, a study found that these beauties filter out airborne fecal particles (yuck!). And yes it’s amazing for filtering out formaldehyde.

There is conflicting information regarding maintenance of English Ivy. Some claim them to be an aggressive invader.

However upon my experience they are low-maintenance and work well in moist soil and only four hours of sunlight.

 

3. Spider plants

Image result for spider plant

This plant doesn’t attract spiders, so don’t worry. It’s given it’s name because of it’s long leaves that look like spider’s legs.

Spider plants are considered one of the most adaptable houseplants and easiest to grow.

They work well in cool temperatures around 55 F to 65 F, and there’s no harm in cutting the root once in a while.

They look great in hanging baskets and really liven up your living space.

 

4. Aloe Vera

12 Plants For Your Bedroom to Help You Sleep

Aloe Vera is know for its health benefits in curing skin conditions and relieving burns. It’s also an amazing house plant.

It’s a  succulent plant which works well in dry conditions and doesn’t like being watered too much. So make sure your pot has plenty of drainage holes. Also, they thrive in bright light so make sure they are facing a window.

Aloe Vera plants are know to remove formaldehyde from the air and studies have shown that it improves sleep by producing oxygen at night (like the Snake Plant).

It was also dubbed the plant of immortality by the Egyptians, because they reproduce easily. So if you buy one you’ll soon have a family of Aloe Vera around your home.

5. Peace Lily

Image result for peace lily

It topped NASA’s list for removing all three common pollutants found in the home – formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It can also combat toluene and xylene.

HGTV Gardens says peace Lilies are renowned for their easy care. “The peace lily is hardy, forgiving, and will even let you know when it is thirsty — look for the telltale droop.”

They thrive in consistent temperature between 65 and 80 F. They liked to be watered a lot at once but need time drying out. Like the Aloe Vera, make sure your pot has plenty of drainage holes.

Not only that but they really do make your home look peaceful.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading. What’s your favorite houseplant and why? Comment below

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2 In Mind

Business 101: How to keep motivated

If you’re a procrastinator, chances are you feel like giving up every time you try to start on your business.

It’s not your fault. It’s just the way your brain reacts to getting started.

Trust me when I say; I know how you feel. I’ve had so many ideas, stayed up all night researching just to find myself not interested by the end of week. It was a sad state of affairs.

Don’t worry I’m not going to teach you how to write goals (like all the other blogs out there). My aim is to share what works for me. Hopefully it will work for you too.

 

Vision Board

A dear friend of mine (you know who you are), got me hooked on vision boards. It’s kinda like a piece of art hanging on your wall. Only it has cut out pictures of all your dreams, hopes and desires.

You can cut pictures from magazines, newspapers, whatever you like. It doesn’t have to be pictures either. You can cut titles, words and letters. Something like this;

Source: www.lifecoach2women.com

The point of the board is to get your intentions in order; why are you doing what you do? You can have a picture of the Maldives and your intention is to be so self sufficient, that you can travel around the world.

It’s best to keep this board hanging where you work. Wherever that is, make sure it’s in sight because every time you sit down to work on your business, it will motivate you to keep going.

As an EX-procrastinator, this really helped when I had the ‘business-blues’; when I felt like a failure and when it felt like everyone around me had their life and business in order. Which takes me to my next point.

Stop looking at what everyone else is doing. Just STOP!

It’s so easy to scroll through hundreds of entrepreneur websites, admiring the intellect and success of the individual. But let me tell you; their journey is COMPLETELY different to yours.

You don’t know how that person started his/her business, why he/she started and most importantly, what resources that person had to get started. I’m not saying you can’t admire that person’s success, but comparing them to your business is not the way forward.

I love this saying;

Stop comparing your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 30; you’re just setting yourself up to fail.

Again, trust me when I say this. Looking at what others are doing, will not help your business. It will just leave you feeling like crap, and worse, giving up on your dreams. I’ve been there and done that. I’ve scrolled through other nutritionist businesses and have had a minor heart attack every time.

It only left me feeling disheartened and demotivated. So stop looking at others and look at what you have within yourself. Believe me, you have something to offer.

Organise, organise and organise some more

When I set up Umm Natural, I started selling pure black seed oil on Ebay. This gave me some insight into what I really wanted to do.

But the one thing that got in the way was my lack of organisational skills. It was appalling. I had orders coming in but no overheads, spreadsheets, data entries, loss and profit margins; nothing. I was just selling on a whim and it really affected how I felt about running a business.

Fast forward to 2 years later, I now keep all my business objectives in one book. I have a spreadsheet with all my client’s information and I also keep nutritional assessments secured under one file. My laptop and folders are labelled and in order and it feels so good.

As I’m not selling products (at the moment, but will be soon so watch this space), my ‘business objective’ book contains where I need my business to be in 6 months time.

I also use it for blog post ideas. I write the topic, do some research and get to work.

Now some of you maybe thinking why I don’t keep an editorial calendar for my blog posts. Well, as I tend to have a short attention span (my mother said it’s because I’m super talented), whenever I feel like quitting, I look back at my ideas and BOOM it gets me motivated again.

Kinda like the vision board.

Also keeping your work space neat and tidy helps keep your brain in focus. There’s no point having clutter around you, it will just feed your brain to do the same. So keep your work space, separate to your living space. Take note peeps!

Accountability

When you have someone to push you towards fulfilling your dreams; it really does motivate you to finish what you started.

My dear husband set me a challenge; to write at least 10 ideas every day that will help my business prosper. If I missed one day then I have to pay him £2, and he will spend that on something I hate.

So far I’ve paid him £10, and it killed me!

Another thing that goes towards accountability is being around people who motivate you to do better.

I love this quote;

If you’re surrounded by broke people, chances are, you’ll be the same

Now what I infer from this quote isn’t money (being broke), but being broke mentally, physically and spiritually. But if you’re around people who are rich in personality, dreams and spirit; there is a 100% chance you’ll be the same.

By holding yourself accountable to the company you keep, it really does change your perspective on your life and business.

Fake it like you’ve made it

I know you’re gasping in shock and horror. Fake it? How can I fake success?

Simple. Act like you’ve already made it. You see that figure you have written down on paper, on how much you want your business to make in a year. Yeah, imagine you’ve already that money and add tax to it.

When I studied NLP, my trainer explained the problem with goals; our subconscious secretly records them as unfinished business. So instead of saying ‘I want to be a millionaire’ or ‘I want to start a naturopath business’,  say this instead ‘I AM a millionaire’, ‘I’ve started my naturopath business and its so successful’.

Language is very important; instead of speaking in the future tense (I will, I want etc) speak in the present tense (I am, have etc).

Just dua it

I remember feeling so frustrated every time I hit a brick wall with my business. When I lost money, made a mistake or just couldn’t get the idea right; it all took a toll on my motivation.

And then one day someone sent me a video about rizq (wealth, success etc). The scholar explains that Allah has written everything for you. From every dime you earn to everything you possess; it is written. Nobody can change that, other than Allah.

I made so much dua; to place so much blessing in what I’ve been given, so that I can do more with it. I make this dua every time I start on anything related to my work and I always end up completing my tasks and feeling fulfilled.

Another dua I like to make is asking Allah to make me a benefit to the Ummah. I don’t do what I love for money; I do it out of the love of helping people and making someone else’s life better.

The key to your success is in Allah’s Hands. Just remember that.

 

There you go folks. I hope you enjoyed reading my tips on keeping motivated. How do you keep your business going? Comment below.

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4 In Soul

Things I’m learning from death

Two months ago I lost my best friend; my mom. It has been a painful journey of anger, regret, denial, sadness and unbearable pain.

Regret, because I was thousands of miles away from her when she passed. Painful, because I wasn’t there to tell her one last time, that I love her and to forgive me for all the pain I ever caused her.

I’m writing this post today, not to tell you how to cope with grief, but to hopefully inspire you. That you can still find strength, through the storm of losing a loved one.

Regret is a beast

The days leading up to my mother’s death were difficult. Doctors couldn’t do much for her so my family brought her home.

Her lungs were still filling with fluid, and her heart was getting weaker. Alhamdulilah her kidneys were improving with the daily dose of cannabis oil, but still it was too late.

The last time I had seen my mom was in January. Although she was in hospital, she was laughing and talking like usual. But a few weeks later she began hallucinating, became incoherent and started forgetting a lot of things, which was unlike her.

So, it was at this point that I made so much dua to Allah; that if it’s better for her to live then let her be healthy and if not then let her die in peace and grant her Jannah.

I remember the last conversation I had with her. She asked when I was coming to visit and I told her inshaAllah soon. I had just shared the news that I was expecting my third child, and she was so happy and was adamant it’s going to be a boy. I told her to hang on, because her grandchild needs to meet her. But Allah had a better plan

Two days later, my family had been frantically messaging and calling me saying mom is not well and is not going to make it. But as I’m three hours ahead of the UK, I didn’t look at the messages until my mother had sadly passed.

Seeing the messages on my phone was traumatizing. It was the hardest thing for me to comprehend, that my mom had gone. I broke down like never before. I never thought I could feel that much pain and regret at the same time.

Straight away all I kept saying is “it’s my fault, I should have been there, I could have helped her”. The regret I felt was indescribable. It still is. I felt so guilty, like I was a bad daughter, unworthy of my mother’s love.

But of course that’s not true. Whatever happened, did so by the will of Allah.

And that’s the beauty of it all. The way my mom died, was peaceful. She took her last breath and her soul departed from this world.

 

Grief and gratitude

I took the first flight I could find and begged my family to not bury her before I come. She passed Saturday 18th March.

On the plane I could not stop crying. It was an overwhelming feeling that burned my throat and made my heart pound.

As I arrived to my mom’s house the first thing I could think of was running inside and hugging my mom. But the sofa was empty and my family grief stricken,

As Muslims, we do the ghusl (washing) of the deceased before burying. It had not hit me yet that mom is dead. Seeing her body on the table, lifeless, was painful. She looked so peaceful but we were far from it. We were so used to relying on our mother for comfort, support and strength. She was our rock, our mother and father. The one we used to run to for advice. And she gave some amazing advice allahumma barik laha.

Washing her body was my way of accepting that she’s gone. Alhamdulilah I’m glad I was able to do that for her. And that’s when I began feeling so grateful to Allah; that He chose to take her soul when she was suffering the most. She was only 54, but Allah was so Merciful, to bring her suffering to an end.

Both my brother’s died when they were young and my mom, kept patient. So I was grateful that He took our mother away, before one of us. I don’t think she could have coped with the loss of another child.

 

Love and loss are two sides of the same coin

Going back to normality has been tough. Knowing my mom is buried is a really weird feeling that I can’t put into words.

Little things that happen, the first person I want to tell is mom. My daughter started walking but she isn’t here to see it. My son asks about her all the time  and all I can do is look at him with tears in my eyes. He wants to visit her in the holidays, and all I can say is ‘Nani is not there’.

Little moments like this are heartbreaking but I think to myself that if mom lived longer, the pain of losing her would probably be more intense. Especially for my children.

 

It’s a blessing

“Verily with hardship there is ease”. (Quran 94: 5-6)

Allah says twice with hardship there will be ease; not after hardship. It’s a promise from Allah, that you will be able to cope with whatever trial you go through in life. He tests you, but He also gives you tools to cope with the test.

Looking back, I can see the ease from Allah. My mom was in hospital for 3 months, so I couldn’t call as much as I usually would. My brothers and sisters got used to her not being around. This was such a mercy from Allah. T

Although I’ve lost my mom recently, the pain is easing slowly. I’ve belly laughed, read a good book, admired the sunset and appreciated the little things. I’ve slowly caught my breath. The wound may never heal and I may never be the same person again, but I know the memories will help me move on.

 

May Allah forgive my mom for all her sins, and grant her Jannah al Firdaws. Aameen

 

Thank you for reading!

 

 

1 In Health

Top 5 essential oils for a healthier home

Had enough of poisoning your home with chemical cleaners? I know it can be daunting switching to making your own products. Especially when you’re so used to grabbing a bottle of bleach.

Combining essential oils with apple cider vinegar, baking soda or castille soap are all healthier ways of keeping your home clean.

So here are my top 5 favourite essential oils.

1. Lemon oil

This is probably my go to favourite out of all them. Not only does it give an uplifting and invigorating scent but it’s great for cutting grease and cleaning the kitchen sink. I love cleaning my floors with it.

I use;

30 drops lemon essential oil

10 drops sweet orange oil

half a bucket of hot water

And voila! You have an amazing floor cleaner that leaves no residue and has your house smelling delicious!

2. Sweet orange oil

You guessed it (probably from above), that love citrus smells (more so when I’m pregnant). Sweet orange oil is a natural limonene (a natural occurring solvent) that is used in most household cleaners. It’s antiseptic properties make it a great cleaner for counter tops, chopping boards and bathroom tiles.

I love adding a few drops to my laundry and soap nuts.  It has my house smelling like an orange orchard and the great thing is, its all chemical free.

It also makes a wonder air cleanser via diffuser.

I make an overall household cleaner by mixing the following ingredients;

30 drops sweet orange oil

10 drops lemon essential oil

10 drops tea tree essential oil

5 drops eucalyptus essential oil

1 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups water

Honestly you need to try this! It will have you throwing out all those chemical laden products in a jiffy! This cleaner is packed with so many anti-bacterial, anti-fungus properties that you’ll question why bleach was ever invented

3. Tea Tree oil

Besides lemon oil, this is the most popular essential oil in cleaning products. It is know for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, disinfectant, insecticide and antiseptic properties. It has a very distinct scent so its good to mix with other essential oils that are sweet such as sweet orange, lavender and lemon.

I use tea tree essential oil in ALL my cleaning products.

4. Citronella

Is it mosquito season in your area? If you live in a hot country, chances are you are being bitten by those annoying mosquitoes.

Citronella is a great repellent. Research shows that it offers the same protection against mosquito bites, as the infamous poison DEET (which is found in all those supermarket repellents).

Like tea tree oil it has a really distinct scent.

It also has potent anti fungal properties that help suppress the growth of fungi species. You can mix it with coconut oil and apply to your nails, if you suspect fungal growth.

I like to use citronella for the drains. As I live in a hot climate, the drains are always smelling rotten. Just adding around 10 drops with hot water really does keep them smelling fresh and clean.

5. Clove oil

Got mould? I recently discovered the beneficial use of clove oil in fighting pesky, bathroom mould. It is potent antiseptic, antiviral and anti-fungal properties, really does help tackle the problem head on. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of clove essential oil with 1 litre of water. Spray the area, leave for a few hours and then wipe off. Spray again to stop the mould returning

Not only that, but it’s an excellent weed killer. So instead of spraying poison in your garden mix 1/4 clove oil with a bottle of water and spray on those weeds.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this short post. What are your favourite essential oils? Comment below and don’t forget to subscribe.

0 In Health

Stress and how it affects your health

Stress, worry, tension, panic, mental exhaustion, anger, rumination, sadness, anxiety, fear, burnout.

When felt intensively or often, then you’re subject to ‘psychological stress’. But, how many ways can psychological stress damage your health? You may be shocked. In fact, you will be if you keep reading this article, as you’re going to get an education on the nasty impact that mental stress can have on your body in three particularly sneaky ways.

I’ll start by separating ‘normal’ stress from major life stressors and go onto explain how they can both end up damaging your health in some pretty alarming ways.

‘Normal’ stressors

Normal’ stressors are those daily crunches: meeting deadlines, paying your bills, commuting to work, juggling family responsibilities, couple communication challenges, finding time to exercise, planning dinner, and a lack of sleep, just to name a few.

They have a weight of their own, but by themselves, they don’t exactly squash you.

If they’re piled together, that’s another story.

Major life stressors

Then there are the bigger ones: chronic illness and disease, tragic accidents, having a loved one pass away, moving home, dealing with a bad boss/colleague/client, losing your job, family issues, personal relationship problems, planning a wedding, and even holidays! Stressors like these can increase your risk of illness.

Obviously, the answer is wide open depending on what’s going on in your life. However, it is clear that stress can trigger a tsunami of negative reactions and automatic responses that flood us at various levels.

Stress can affect us physically through stomach aches, tension in our shoulders, diarrhoea, cold sores and headaches. You’ve probably experienced at least one of those in the past – probably all of them.

What you may not be considering are the insidious ways stress damages your health — emotionally, cognitively, and even on a deeper systemic level.

Here are three significant ways stress damages your health.

 

1. Stress rips your gut apart

We’re not just talking about aches, ulcers and diarrhoea. That’s bad enough. Our gastrointestinal track, otherwise known as the gut, is impacted at a much deeper level than simply digesting, assimilating and eliminating the food you eat.

When you’re stressed, three major things happen in your gut:

  1. nutrient absorption is decreased,
  2. oxygenation is diminished and
  3. blood flow slows as much as four times.

Chronic stress can slowly decimate gut health; especially if you’re cutting off oxygen and blood flow.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a kind of umbrella term for diarrhoea, discomfort, cramping, constipation, and bloating, affects up to one in five people in Britain.

Those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome often notice symptoms during stressful periods in their life. Even healthy people can have an escalation of these symptoms during stressful life events.

2. Stress weakens your immunity

If you experience short-term drips of stress, the body can usually deal with it. Sometimes there are even benefits of this sort of stress, as the fight-or-flight response can keep us mentally sharp by boosting our brain with an adrenaline rush.

However, long-term stress will play havoc with the immune system. Researcher Professor Sheldon Cohen, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, says: “The immune system’s ability to regulate inflammation predicts who will develop a cold, but more importantly it provides an explanation of how stress can promote disease. Because inflammation plays a role in many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders, this model suggests why stress impacts them as well.”

3. Stress prematurely ages you

Ever heard of telomeres?

Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes (DNA molecules) that affect how quickly your cells age. They are sort of like the plastic at the end of shoelaces, keeping the end of chromosomes tied.

Scientists have evidence that lifestyle changes to reduce stress can prevent the chromosomes in our cells from unravelling.

Unravelling is bad.

You see, stress shortens telomeres. And shorter telomeres impair the ability of cells to divide properly. This means cells either undergo death or continue to function poorly. And these hobbling-along cells will alter the balance of your body and the success of healthy ageing.

On average, women with high stress levels have shorter telomeres. That’s equivalent to at least one decade of additional ageing compared to low stress women.

That is an incredible, eye-opening statistic that links telomeres, stress, and premature ageing.

And if that wasn’t enough damage, telomere shortening is associated with many forms of cancer, brain stroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

Conclusion

All three of these ways actually come full circle and tie in together.

Chronic stress decimates your gut health. This gut response produces inflammation. Inflammation in the body weakens your immune system. A weakened immune system will shorten telomeres. And shorter telomeres have been compared with a ‘bomb fuse’ that can detonate cancer and accelerate ageing.

You see how it works?

All these treacherous ways stress damages your health, your body cells and your well-being.

So, what can you do about it?

Simple things like listening to Quran, deep reading, getting enough sleep, putting on a sweat every now and then, nurturing your body with superfoods, and even yoga and focused breathing can protect you, your mind, and your DNA from the negative effects of acute stress.

What do you think?

Have you suffered ill effects from stress? If so, in which ways? How did you deal with it? Share your story in the comments section below.

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0 In Mind

You don’t need a new year, for a brand new start

So you counted down the seconds to January 1st 2017. You have a list ready of all the new amazing things that you’re planning to do this year.

You’re excited, motivated, thrilled and just overjoyed that you’re starting the year with so much enthusiasm. The first day starts off with a bang; you’ve joined a gym, you’re beginning a new business venture. You feel confident, fulfilled and just a better person. But a few days after, all that motivation comes crashing down. Why?

 

It all begins with intention

Research shows that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolution, were able to achieve their goals. Only 8%! I’m guessing 92% of the people who failed to achieve their goals started with the wrong intention.

As Muslims, we begin most things with Bismillah (In the Name of Allah), and we aim to always renew our intention before beginning an action.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said;

Verily actions are judged by their intentions (Bukhari and Muslim).

So when you joined that gym as soon as the clock struck midnight; was it on a whim? Was it just to check the box on your ‘to do list’? What was the real motive behind joining a gym?

When you break down your intention you really get to the focal point of why you do certain things, rather than making a meaningless list, that you’ll probably throw away after a couple of days.

So why did you join a gym? Of course to lose weight (unless you only joined to use the steam room). Try this; before going to the gym ask yourself why? Remind yourself that you’re doing it to become fit and healthy, or to stay in shape. If you renew your intention before any action, you are more than likely to stick with it.

 

Start now

Right from the start ‘resolutions’ have failure and procrastination built into it. Although we start with good intentions, part of the problem is that we set unrealistic goals, with the assumption that we will be a completely new and different person every year. To top it off, the problem is further exacerbated when we hear about the flamboyant goals of our friends. It thus becomes a competition rather than an actual chance for self-development.

However, despite these connotations it’s never too late to start now. In reality, change happens in small steps over time.

With New Year resolutions we expect ourselves to change as soon as it hits midnight. Like Cinderella at the ball, we race against time instead of taking our time. After a few unsuccessful attempts at achieving our goals, we are struck with a heightened feeling of failure and thus discouraged from setting goals, later on in life.

So if you want to do something,  I urge you to do it now.  Start now. Don’t wait. Even if it’s something as small as making sure you wash the dishes before you go to bed, do it. And then celebrate it. Be proud of that achievement no matter how small it is.

Goals vs values

This is an area which is often misconstrued and causes further anxiety in people. When we say ‘goal’ our subconscious mind quickly tries to find something that is attainable. It looks for something tangible, specific and achievable. So if you say ‘my goal is to become a millionaire’, your subconscious automatically goes into one of your filing cabinets, at the back of your brain, and pulls out a picture of you rolling around in lots of money whilst screaming in joy.

There’s nothing wrong with having that picture in mind. The problem arises when you can’t achieve that goal, and be that happy person rolling around in money. When you experience failure you are more than likely to feel unfulfilled, undervalued or simply not worthy of being that person you imagined.

However if you simply change the way you value something then your outlook on your future, seems that much more attainable. So instead of saying you want to become a millionaire you can rephrase and state you want to live a life without financial worries. Instead of a having a fixed goal, you change what you value. In this case, money.

Values are broader and imply moment to moment decisions. Therefore you’re not stressing over a time frame and schedules, because values are much deeper than that.

 

Secrets of success

People naturally do more of what makes them feel good, which I like to call good habits. Good habits are what make you successful. If you’re not doing something over and over again, then chances are you don’t take it seriously and will just revert to feelings of failure and back to dreaming of your goals. Dreaming about goals is one thing, but acting upon them is what makes you successful.

This reminds me of the following hadith;

“The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was asked, “What deeds are loved most by Allah?” He said, “The most regular constant deeds even though they may be few.” He added, “Don’t take upon yourselves, except the deeds which are within your ability” [Sahih Al-Bukhari].

SubhanAllah (Glory Be to God). Two things we can learn from this hadith are to keep at it and to never give up! 

I would also like to highlight the point of doing things within your ability. This is so important because I’ve seen people setting goals/tasks that are completely out of their ability. For example setting up a brand new business and wanting to become a millionaire overnight (honestly people have told me this).

I really admire their ambition and that kind of ambition is amazing to have. But the problem is the goal that’s been set. Unless you know another millionaire than can lend you a million pounds (dollars for my American readers), then it’s nearly impossible to set up a business and become a millionaire overnight (If you’ve made a million pounds/dollars overnight then please comment below with how you did it).

One book that really helped me develop good habits is 7 habits of highly successful people. I highly recommend this book! Stephen Convey teaches you how to be proactive instead of reactive to your circumstances and really makes you think outside the box of your comfort zone. (If you enjoy listening then you can downloaded them here).

 

Do it for yourself

This is probably the most important part of change; doing it for yourself. A lot of people set goals to compete, or to be praised or envied. They announce on social media that they are going to do something, hoping for people’s approval and likes. And when things don’t go the way as planned, guess what happens? Feelings of shame and embarrassment ensue.

If your confidence is already low then having these feelings are most likely to make self-esteem issues even worse. You become paranoid thinking people are talking about you and then start feeling jealous or resentful over other people’s success.

I like this quote;

Set some goals. Stay quiet about them Smash the hell out of them. Clap for your damn self!

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. What do you find most difficult when committing to a goal? Comment below.

And don’t forget to subscribe for weekly updates.

10 In Beauty

Tips on growing long healthy hair

All my life I’ve had thick hair allahumma barik alaayki (May Allah bless it).

When I was 6 years old, I caught lice and my mom put a cereal bowl on my head and cut around it. I subsequently wore a cap for a few months and everyone called me a boy. Lovely! Looking through old photos is traumatizing.

But one thing I remember is my mom drenching my hair in coconut oil and within 6 months my hair grew to about midway, down my back.

Since then I have gone through many phases. From blonde to red hair, short bob to long hair. You name it, I’ve probably had all hair styles. Right now my hair is really long and thick with little breakage, despite exclusively breastfeeding a 9 month old, allahumma barik alaayki (May Allah bless it).

So in this article I’m going to share with you my secret tips to gorgeous, long, thick hair.

Please be aware that these tips are not overnight miracles. I don’t believe in the blogs that claim you can grow your hair in a week. It takes good nutrition, dedication and patience  to grow healthy hair. Nonetheless, these tips aim to point you in the right direction towards healthier hair.

 

Silicon drops

I recently attended a global health summit and was absolutely floored by one of the presenters. Andy Hnilo survived a near fatal car accident that left him with a severely broken jaw, broken ribs and a collapsed lung. He miraculously rebuilt himself by a strict diet and looks better than before the accident.

One thing he mentioned is silicon drops. Our skin, hair and nails needs silicon in order to grow. After oxygen it’s the most abundant element in the world. You can read more about the health benefits here.

If you’re deficient in silicon you will notice thinning of the hair and increased hair loss. I like to use Jarrosil silicon drops. I’ve been taking them for over 3 months now. Within the first month I noticed my hair stopped falling, and my hair felt thicker and stronger. I also noticed my hair grew twice as fast (about an inch after the first month).

As with any supplements, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult with a doctor before using.

Soap nuts

I’ve gone no-POO for almost a year now, and it’s probably the best decisions I’ve made. Ever! I started with shampoo bars, but I found my hair to be really greasy because of hard water issues. Not only that but if you’re lazy like me, I really couldn’t be bothered using apple cider vinegar to rinse off.

Then I came across soap nuts and I’ve been using them ever since. Soap nuts are native to India and Nepal and are traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine in treating skin conditions. Soap nuts contain saponin which is a natural cleaning agent. These are released when you soak the nuts in water.

So for my shampoo, I boil a handful of soap nuts in some filtered water and then add rosemary oil to preserve it. This is enough for one wash as my hair is long.

I wash my hair maybe once every 3 weeks. Shocking I know, but my hair will stay clean and not greasy for that long. You can check out this link  for a really simple soap nut recipe.

 

Black seed oil (cumin seed)

The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wasallam) stated that black seed is a cure for every disease except death. A year ago my brother was bald on the top of his head. I recommended he used black seed oil and within 6 months his bald spot was gone.

Black seed is full of vital nutrients that are great for hair. It has lots of antioxidants and antimicrobial properties that just nourish the hair.

I use black seed oil on my ends, as they can become a bit dry and thus knot. One thing I love about this oil is that it doesn’t leave a greasy feeling (if you have pure black seed oil. Some oils are mixed with other carrier oils to make them cheaper so be careful).

There are so many oils out there that are great for your hair. But it really depends on your hair type and the density of it. My son has 4c hair, so the only oils that work for him are shea butter, argan oil and avocado oil. Click this link to find out which oil is best for your hair type.

 

Massage your scalp

Circulation is key when it comes to growing hair. When we massage the scalp, blood rushes to the follicles and helps transport key nutrients and minerals to make your hair thick and shiny.

What I do is tilt my head forward and massage my scalp for about 5 mins everyday. Tilting the head forward helps the blood rush to your scalp quicker, so you’re not there for ages with an aching arm trying to magically make your hair grow.

 

Oil before you wash

I learnt this trick from my amazing mother allahumma barik laha (May Allah bless her). Before she washed my hair, she would always slather on lots of coconut oil and leave it to marinate (couldn’t think of  a better word), for around an hour and then wash.

There was no need to use conditioner after, and once my hair dried it felt silky, shiny and strong.

What I also like to do is warm the oil up on the stove and then massage it into my hair. Hot oil treatments penetrate the hair follicles quicker, thus retaining more moisture.

 

Good diet and multivitamins

Last but not least, I always stress the importance of having a good diet. If your not eating at least 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day then your diet is lacking key nutrients. I say 10 portions, because 5 is just not enough, given the quality of our food nowadays.

Foods that are good for the hair include all kinds of nuts, good fats such as salmon and avocado and lentils. Lentils are a great source of iron and protein which are the main nutrients needed for all your cells including hair.

Of course we can’t get all our nutrients from our diet so I like to take Dr Mercola multivitamins. The supplement is a wholefood, so there are no nasty chemicals, synthetics or binders in each pill. Honestly, since taking these vitamins my hair hardly falls off. It’s stronger and thicker than ever allahumma barik alaayki.

 

So there you have it. My top tips for growing gorgeous, long healthy hair.

What do you use on your hair to keep it healthy? Feel free to comment below and don’t forget to subscribe for weekly updates.

 

 

0 In Mind

Positive affirmations – Why they don’t always work

So you’re sat at home in your PJ’s, snacking on a tub of ice cream whilst watching garbage on the TV. You feel inadequate, unsuccessful, unlovable –  basically like nothing.

You feel so unmotivated, that you just cannot be bothered to change the channel. Your life is not the way you imagined it. You hate your job, your weight. You hate the food you’re eating, your relationship with your spouse and family. You’re falling into a world of inconsolable darkness.

You decide you’ve had enough of feeling low so you do a little research and come across the term ‘positive affirmations’. So you begin to repeat ‘I am amazing’, ‘I am successful’, ‘I am worthy’, and so on. Only to feel even worse.

Sound familiar? On my quest in finding WHO I am, I went through all these positive notions. I sat down everyday in front of a mirror and tried to convince myself that I was amazing. When in fact, I felt like a fraud.

 

Affirmations are not the reality

Yes, positive affirmations do work for some people. It works for people who already have great confidence and a high level of self-esteem. But if your self-esteem is real low, chances are you will end up going back to believing the absolute worst about yourself. In fact research shows that people with low-self esteem found that saying things like, ‘I am amazing’, only made them feel like  a joke.

Repeating affirmations only taps into your conscious mind, not your subconscious. Your subconscious mind is where all your thoughts lie and actually controls your thoughts. Your conscious mind just acts upon them.

So when you repeat these affirmations, your subconscious gets triggered and reminds you of all the times you felt inadequate. It will bring up your history of mistakes and failures, screaming “Stop lying, it’s not true”! That’s why you are left feeling worse than to begin with.

 

Affirmations don’t address the real issue

For those with low self-esteem, affirmations are like a band-aid; they only cover the issue, not go to the root cause. As the saying goes ‘treat the problem rather than the symptoms’.

Telling yourself that you’re successful over and over again, is like taking medication for a headache. It works the first time, but after the third or fourth time, your body becomes immune to it so it’s no longer effective.

 

Asking yourself is better

You probably thought I was slating people who tell themselves daily that they’re amazing. No, that isn’t the intention of this post. I’ve struggled with confidence issues all my life, until I studied NLP.

See when you ask instead of tell yourself, your subconscious automatically opens the ‘achievements’ cabinet and brings out dusty files and goes through all the times you felt great. It begins to remind you of all the resources you have, to address the problem.

In NLP that’s called internal representations; we all have images, words, sounds, feelings etc that internally represent how we feel about success, failure, our talents, abilities and so on.

One thing I’ve noticed when I ask myself a question, I get a better reaction to the situation. For example; I don’t feel like I’m a good enough writer, so I’ll procrastinate from writing a post. When I feel like this I ask myself ‘how can I become a better writer?’ ‘What resources do I have to write?’ ‘When did I feel like I was a good writer”? I ask myself until I’ve built enough confidence to write again.

 

So when you ask yourself instead of TELL yourself; your internal representations quickly shift from a negative state into a positive one. Try it, see how you feel after.

 

Accept the negativity

One thing that works for me, is accepting the negative feeling.

For example; you have to deliver a presentation about your skin care business in front of 100 entrepreneurs and your nerves have gotten the best of you. You buckle under the pressure and are ready to cancel.

In a situation like this ask yourself  “Am I really that bad at presenting?” “Has a presentation ever gone wrong”? You could go even further and accept that you’re ready to quit but then ask yourself how you can change these feelings;

“I know I’m nervous but how can I feel a little more confident”? “Will I give a speech that will inspire my audience”? “How can I expand”? “What if I have cue cards to help me when I feel nervous”? and so on.

Once you get used to asking yourself problem solving questions, you are more likely to be able to deal with negative thoughts more effectively. You could follow this process

  • Pay attention to the negative thought
  • Turn “I am” into “Am I”?
  • Try and solve these “Am I” questions with “What if”? until your thoughts become an enquiry.

By doing this, you are no longer battling with your feelings and thoughts. Instead you begin to productively use that inner sense of curiosity to build self confidence, which in turn brings out a better you.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading. What do you struggle with when trying to build your confidence? Comment below.

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0 In Health

Top 5 pregnancy signs

If you’re like me and can’t wait for that big + on a pregnancy test, then here are my top 5 signs.

(Please note that every woman is different. Not everyone has a symptom/sign. Some women don’t even know they’re pregnant until they go into labor. )

 

Cervical mucus

I had just suffered a miscarriage when I fell pregnant with my daughter. So when I missed a period, I was in complete and utter shock.

But leading up to my missed period, I noticed an increase in egg white cervical mucus. If you track ovulation, you know that at the time you release an egg, you have an increase in mucus.

So if you’re noticing more discharge, maybe your preggers. Just keep a pregnancy test handy.

 

Cramps

Around a week before my periods, I noticed a crampy-like feeling in my uterus area. I normally suffer from cramps around the time of my period but this crampy feeling was accompanied by a nauseous feeling.

It felt as though my periods were about to arrive. I even felt crampy the day my period was due, but nothing happened. A few days later, after my missed period I took a test, and hey hey you guessed it. There was a big + staring back at me.

 

Hot flashes

If you know me, then you know that I am always feeling hot. It could be -20 degrees outside but I won’t feel it. I never wear a jacket in winter because I’m always hot.

Leading up to my positive pregnancy test I remember getting a lot of hot flashes. Like I was going through menopause. They would last for a few seconds and then subside. My neck and cheeks would turn red and it literally felt like I was wearing 100 layers of clothing.

 

Cravings

A week before I found out I was pregnant, I had this urge to eat lemons, vinegar and sour candy. If it wasn’t sour it didn’t interest me. I also had the urge to eat lots of fruit and vegetables and completely went off meat.

I know many women have these cravings later on into their pregnancy, but for me it was right in there, way before I took a pregnancy test.

 

Intuition

Okay ladies, I’ll be totally honest; I had a gut feeling the day I fell pregnant. I actually knew when I ovulated and when my egg fertilized (I’m trying to sound professional).

As an empath (someone who feels things on a totally different level), I’m completely in tune with my body. When I get ill, I know where the pain is, why I got it and what I need to do to fix it. It’s really difficult to explain, but I know other empaths will understand (hopefully).

I knew the day I fell pregnant, I had that feeling that something foreign was in my body (again sounds weird, but it’s the best way I can describe it).

So when my periods didn’t come it was not a shock for me; I already had a gut feeling .

 

I hope you enjoyed reading my post. What signs/symptoms did you have before you found out you were pregnant. Comment below and don’t forget to subscribe.