Forget Resolutions, Focus on These 5 Achievable Goals Instead

Shannon Smyth
The new year often brings a sense of motivation and desire for change, leading many to set ambitious resolutions. However, research shows that most resolutions fail by mid-February. This year, instead of setting yourself up for disappointment with unrealistic resolutions, focus on these 5 achievable goals that will lead to real, lasting change.

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Why Self-Care is Essential for Physical, Mental, and Emotional Well-Being

Shannon Smyth

Self-care is more important now than ever before. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic causing stress and uncertainty for many people, it is crucial to prioritize taking care of oneself. Not only is self-care important for physical health, it is also essential for mental and emotional well-being.

Read: Why nature is good for your mental health

One of the main benefits of self-care is that it helps to reduce stress and improve overall physical health. When we are stressed, our bodies produce the hormone cortisol, which can have negative effects on our health over time. By engaging in self-care activities, we can help to lower our cortisol levels and improve our physical health. Some examples of self-care activities include exercising, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and practicing mindfulness.

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5 Tips for Empowering Yourself and Overcoming Life's Obstacles

Shannon Smyth
Life is full of obstacles and challenges, but it is possible to overcome these difficulties and emerge stronger. One key to overcoming life's obstacles is empowering yourself. By taking control of your thoughts and actions, you can develop the resilience and strength needed to overcome even the most challenging of circumstances.

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Essential Oil Blends for Stress Relief

Shannon Smyth
List of essential oils for stress. #essentialoils #stressfree Millions of Americans are walking around with at least some level of stress. While stress has become more and more common in today’s lifestyle, one thing remains the same. Stress can negatively affect your health. High blood pressure, headaches, sleep changes, muscle pain and tension, and digestive issues can all be caused by stress. Chances are you’re reading this post because you’re currently dealing with stress. You’re not alone. Many people find stress hard to handle. One thing you may not have considered is the power of essential oil blends for stress relief. Let’s take a closer look.

Essential Oils to Use for Stress Relief

You can blend any of these oils to create your own blend. The important thing is to find a blend that you enjoy the fragrance of so that you can reap the benefits of the oils without hating the scent. Lavender – Lavender is one of the most recommended oils when it comes to stress relief. The scent is soothing, but the properties of the oil actually help support the nervous system. This can help reduce the feelings of anxiety that come with stress. If stress causes you to lose sleep, consider using lavender oil before bedtime. You can even create a lavender spray using equal parts rubbing alcohol and water along with lavender oil. Spray your pillow 15 to 20 minutes before bed to allow your pillow to dry before laying down. Ylang Ylang – Ylang ylang works to calm the nervous system and reduce cortisol levels. Not only that, but the oil also replaces the feelings of anxiety with feelings of optimism and positivity. Ylang ylang is popping up more and more in body washes, lotions, and other skin products to make it easier to reap the benefits. BergamotBergamot oil can also help reduce stress. It is recommended to blend the oil with lavender oil to create a stress relief blend. One thing to keep in mind is that exposure to the sun when using bergamot can cause a reaction. It is best to use the oil in the evening and not be in the sun for 12 hours after. ChamomileChamomile is well known for it’s sleep inducing properties. The oil helps remove feelings of stress and replaces them with feelings of peace. Do not use this essential oil if you are allergic to ragweed. VetiverVetiver should be considered in a stress relief blend for serious stress. The oil is often used to help trauma patients. It also helps with panic attacks, jitters, and hypersensitivity. You will feel a sense of tranquility when using this oil. RoseRose oil is, to many, hands down the most effective essential oil for dealing with stress. It is recommended to use it in aromatherapy situations. An equal blend of rose, lavender, and bergamot oil will greatly increase the stress reducing effects of the rose oil. Smell each essential oil and create a blend that smells good to you. You can use skin products that have essential oils. You can use a diffuser. You can even apply the oils to the skin once mixed with a carrier oil. Always test oils on your skin before applying heavily. There can be allergic reactions. Also be careful of essential oil use around pets who may be sensitive to the scents. Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Or check out our natural bath and body line!

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Hygge - The Secret to Happiness?

Candyce Ross2 comments
creating hygge via @agirlsgottaspa Believe me when I say that, at times, I am the biggest culprit of trying to do a million things at once. Whether it be applying my mascara on the bus whilst scrolling through Instagram and talking to my mom in Australia on the phone. Or watching the latest episode of Homeland (okay, I'm about 4 seasons behind...bear with me!) whilst reading the latest issue of Women's Health mag and touching up my nail polish... I've developed a terrible habit of feeling 'lazy' if I am not trying to cross at least 3 things off my to do list simultaneously. Society has glorified the ability to multi-task and living in the city has only fuelled this habit. It seems as though everyone is doing it all around us - we all know those stressed out business people on the tube in the morning balancing a Pret coffee and bacon roll in one hand and the morning's copy of City A.M in the other, trying to catch up on the news....whilst on a conference call. It feels like there's a stressful vibe all around us wherever we go. I recently visited Copenhagen where I was absolutely amazed at the happy, relaxed and blissful nature of the Danes. I spent a short weekend in the capital city with a girlfriend, but unlike the usual ‘hurry scurry’ of a weekend city break-away (think minimal sleep, rushing onto the Gatwick Express after work on a Friday and back at your desk Monday morning before you know it, not knowing your head from your tail, wondering where your weekend went), we returned relaxed...quietened.... refreshed! creating hygge via @agirlsgottaspa We both noticed that the pace of life was a lot more relaxed. People walked slower, they took time to talk to each other in the street, the shop windows were lined with candles and the cafes actually wanted you to stay, to linger, to savour the moment. Our favourite was Laundromat Café where we spent what felt like hours; precious hours of quality time, playing board games and chatting over herbal tea. And unlike what can sometimes be the case in cafes, we didn't have the waiter popping over asking the almost rhetorical question of, "Would you like anything else...?" which we all know is code for, '"Seriously, you've been here for ages, can you please either order something else or leave." These cafes encourage guests to stay - even if you only order one cup of tea each and lose track of time as you immerse yourself in a game of chess like we did. The Danes must be doing something right. They’ve been voted one of the happiest nations on Earth, they have one of the longest life expectancies and they’ve mastered work-life balance. One of the main reasons behind this happiness is the concept of Hygge – pronounced HUE-gah. Hygge is uni-tasking, it’s the art of enjoying the simple things in life, living in the moment and replacing the feeling of guilt with enjoyment and pleasure. It’s the company of family and friends, the scent of your favourite soy candle burning whilst indulging in a bubble bath, a warm cup of tea in front of the fire, having a warm shower and hopping back into bed on the weekend and the sound of the pouring rain outside. Hygge is taking time out from the ‘go, go, go’ of everyday life. It’s cosiness, being relaxed and balanced, the feeling of togetherness, the absence of anything annoying or stressful…it’s a bit like that, but it’s more. Hygge can’t really be described – it has to be felt. So how can we incorporate hyge into our lives? Make Time – set time aside to hygge. Start by setting aside just ten minutes a day to switch off and do something you love. Sink into a warm bath, savour the taste of your warm tea, sit down and have your breakfast without any distractions instead of eating at your desk scrolling through your inbox. creating hygge via @agirlsgottaspa Atmosphere – a major part of the stylish Scandi minimalist look is lighting. Create a space that you feel relaxed in – it’s all about lamps, fairy lights, and warm bulbs. Transform your space into a hygge haven with cushions, rugs, throwovers, candle light…now that’s super hygge! I spray Neom De-Stress Home Mist on my pillow each night before I go to bed to help create a tranquil atmosphere. Hygge - the secret to happiness via @agirlsgottaspa Be Cosy – snuggle up on the couch with that soft fleece blanket that you love and those woollen socks that you’ve had for way too long, but can’t face getting rid of. These cashmere socks look blissful…Christmas wish list anyone? Be Grateful – keep a gratitude journal, take time to think about all the things you are thankful for, write to your loved ones and tell them how much you appreciate them. Hygge the secret to happiness via @agirlsgottaspa Bake – I have such fond memories of going on road trips in South Africa with my family as a child, stopping at bakeries along the way for ‘provisions’ as we liked to call it! Who doesn’t love the smell (and taste!) of a freshly baked chocolate cake or homemade bread? Going to your local bakery is very hygge or why not create a masterpiece in the kitchen and invite a friend over for some ‘taste testing’ and chats. Be Still – switch off from the rest of the world from time to time, have technology-free hours. No Instagram, emails, Twitter….I know, I feel you! Get in Touch with Nature- being in nature helps clear your mind, helps us to put things in perspective and reduces stress levels which helps boost self-esteem and energy. Being in nature reminds us to enjoy the simple things in life – the fresh air, sound of the birds, the lack of congestion. Organise a day trip to the countryside or a walk in a forest. Be Mindful – eat together at the dinner table with your loved one, family or housemates each evening, take your time to eat, be mindful of what you are eating and the conversation you are engaging in. Be present. Spoil Yourself – buy that beautiful bouquet of flowers from the corner shop you pass on your way home from work every day. Quite literally taking the time to smell the roses can bring such joy to your home. Go for a massage or have a home spa day with your favourite products. Togetherness – start a new tradition, invite friends over for tea once a month, a board game evening, or movie night. Create memories or why not reminisce of past adventures whilst looking over old photos together (although on second thought, cringing over that fringe you were rocking in 2008 may defeat the hyggely state you’ve just tried to create!) For more tips, and for a hyggely afternoon of reading, try The Little Book of Hygge. How do you hygge? Leave a comment and let me know!

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5 Surefire Ways Pampering Helps Boost Your Mood (and Confidence)

Shannon Smyth15 comments

Disclosure: I’m sharing #MyOliaStory #ad as part of a Garnier® sponsored series for Socialstars™

You've probably experienced this scenario yourself - you're in a rut and feeling meh when you decide to take a moment to yourself to rejuvenate. Sometimes it's something simple, like a bath or it's something a little more dramatic (like chopping your long locks.)

Regardless of the act, it suddenly gives you that restoration of spirit you needed and that spring in your step is back. Happiness and confidence go hand in hand. When I am happy, I feel my most confident and like I can achieve anything. When I'm feeling down, it often feels like my goals are not within reach.

We've all been there. So what can you do to give yourself a kick in the pants? You want my honest answer? Self care. Pampering yourself is is the most natural mood booster I know. It's not selfish by any means, it's transformative.

Here are 5 tips for pampering yourself to boost your mood (and confidence):

Get a haircut. There's something therapeutic about cutting off what's weighing you down while venting to your hairstylist. Other things I love about it - the head massage, the hum of the hair dryer, the eventual amazing hairstyle that I can never duplicate at home. I recently decided to chop my long hair. It felt like magic and all of the compliments I got just made me feel really, really good.
5 ways to boost your confidence via @agirlsgottaspa #MyOliaStory #ad
Color your hair. Go lighter, go darker or just refresh what Mother Nature gave you. Either way, in between haircuts, coloring your hair also has a transformative effect on the way you look. It makes you WANT to look at yourself, smile and say, "Damn girl, you look good!" I'm currently stepping down my hair color with Garnier Olia® 6.0 Light Brown from super dark brown to hopefully a super light brown/dark blonde by the time I'm done. It's giving me shiny hair with 100% gray coverage. I also love that it smells nothing like hair dye. (Check out my getting summer-ready post about it.)
red lip confidence
Go red. I cannot speak the praises of red lipstick enough. You're never too light or too dark to wear this confidence in a tube. I used to think so until one day I basically asked Twitter to find the right shade for me and tweeted a pic of myself. Some beauty editors answered the call and told me the type of red I needed, along with some recommendations. Once I found my perfect red, I haven't looked back. In fact, I now prefer red over any other lipstick color in my makeup bag. It'll make you feel sexy, glamorous and confident.

Take a walk. Get those endorphins going, boost that seratonin. Me and exercise aren't really friends, but going for a walk doesn't seem like work. When I lived in the suburbs, I would park my car in a neighborhood I wished that I could one day live in and just walk through it. I made up stories in my head about living in this house, being friends with someone in that house, etc.

Now that I live in the Pocono Mountains and have a lake in front of my house, I love walking the mile around and taking in the beauty. Many times I go with a friend or with one or some of my sons. By the end of my walk I always feel much better. The French Manor Inn and Spa, Le Spa Foret, massage review via @agirlsgottaspa Get a massage. This favorite spa treatment isn't just about indulgence. It releases tension, decreases stress and simply quiets the mind. Massage helps to drain the lymphatic system which boosts your body's ability to heal itself. Going to a spa is obviously my first choice for this because you also have the added benefit of aromatherapy and stepping away from interruptions, but getting a shiatsu massager for at-home use is always an option as well.

What are some of the things you do to help boost your mood and self confidence? 

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An Easy Way to Squeeze in Fitness

Gail Lewis11 comments
Zobi fitness review via @agirlsgottaspa I'm one of those people who truly enjoys working out. I absolutely love how I feel after a workout and actually dread missing my gym time. There are those times though, when life happens and my hectic schedule just does not allow for driving to the gym and putting in an hour plus long workout.  During those times I still try my best to incorporate some form of fitness into my day, which is where the Zobi comes in very handy. Squeeze in fitness anywhere with Zobi via @agirlsgottaspa The Zobi is a total body tool that helps you to condition muscles, burn calories, and work your core.  The ergonomic shape of the Zobi makes it is easy to grip. Due to its versatility, I can use the Zobi for a total body workout, including cardio, or on days when I am targeting specific muscle groups. The Zobi also comes with a workout DVD for those days when you want to mix it up by incorporating new workouts into your routine or if you do not have a routine and need some ideas. Total body workout with Zobi via @agirlsgottaspa Don't be fooled by the look of the Zobi - it is 7lbs and absolutely works those muscles! It's just the right size and weight to be effective while also not being difficult to travel with. When I'm on the road for my modeling shoots, sometimes finding a gym is easier said than done. Taking the Zobi along with me means I can squeeze in a workout from the comfort of my own hotel room. Using the Zobi is an afforable way to incorporate fitness into your daily life. Just set aside 30 minutes a day and you'll be amazed by the results! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! Disclosure: Press sample

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Pre-Natal Massage at The Lodge at Woodloch

Shannon Smyth
Pre-natal massage review of @lodgeatwoodloch via @agirlsgottaspa Your aching back, your swollen cankles, your sore shoulders... if you are in your third trimester of pregnancy, I'm sure you can relate. There's so many things to look forward to with your impending arrival, but feeling like your body is falling apart is not one of them. As someone who absolutely loves her spa massages, pre-natal massage was something I was curious about since massage during pregnancy can have some unwanted side effects (especially if you are considered high risk, like myself.) Before heading to your local spa to indulge in a pre-natal massage, make sure that the therapist is trained in pre-natal. There's pressure points, etc. that are to be avoided during pregnancy because they can trigger contractions (some even say pre-term labor.) And there are certain essential oils you should stay away from. You should also get the all clear with your doctor/mid-wife first, as well. The Lodge at Woodloch, located in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, has staff that are trained in pre-natal massage. Once I had the all clear from my mid-wife team for massage, I ventured up during their Beauty Event Weekend in June.  The Lodge at Woodloch offers 50 and 75 minute Pre-Natal Massage, 50 minute Pre-Natal Shiatsu Massage, a 25 minute Gentle Belli Facial and a 50 minute Nuturing Body Polish. The treatment rooms at The Lodge at Woodloch are always relaxing with low lighting, soothing fragrances and tranquil music. When my therapist told me I would first lay on my back, I was surprised. I was worried that it would be uncomfortable or that I'd have difficulty breathing, however the massage table is manipulated in a way that you don't actually lay flat. It was quite comfortable, in fact. Pre-natal massage at The Lodge at Woodloch includes massaging your shoulders, scalp, arms, legs, ankles and bottom of your feet with Mama Mio Skincare. For the massage I had, they used O.Mega Tender Touch Massage Oil which contains avocado oil, jojoba oil, borage seed oil, rose hip seed oil and combined it with an essential oil blend of citrus, lavender and ylang ylang. Avocado Oil - rich oil that readily penetrates the skin due to the presence of Palmitoleic Acid. Avocado Oil is best suited for dry skin applications. Jojoba Oil - the closest oil to your skin’s own sebum; it is very soothing, helpful in healing and protecting skin from the ageing process. Borage Seed Oil - very high in the essential fatty acid Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA – Omega 6), making it extremely valuable in skincare formulations. Numerous studies have shown the topical application of oils containing GLA will effectively repair severely dry skin. Rose Hip Seed Oil - high in Linoleic and Linolenic essential fatty acids, which are key components of the epidermal lipid bi-layer. This oil is beneficial for the treatment of damaged and distressed skin by providing intense moisture. It smelled amazing. Who knew how much my feet were in need of a massage until the therapist touched them? She then moved to my belly for a brief belly massage. I warned her that my son may kick her in the process. However, he must've have felt how relaxed his mom was and didn't move the entire time. Once the front portion of your body has been tamed into relaxation, you then lie on one side with a pillow between your legs, a pillow under your head and a cloth covering your eyes so that a portion of your back can be massaged. Maybe it was just me, but the pillows were literally the fluffiest most comfortable pillows I have ever experienced and I wanted to drift off to sleep. You then switch sides so that she can give the rest of your back the attention it needs. When the 50 minutes were up, I told the therapist I would be OK if she just left me there to sleep. Unfortunately, others needed to be pampered so I couldn't take a nap. Darn. This pre-natal massage was glorious, my only advice is to go with 75 minutes. Take in as much pampering as you possibly can before your little one arrives. My husband gifted me a gift certificate for The Lodge at Woodloch that I intend to split between a pre-baby pedicure (because I honestly can't each my feet anymore) and a post-baby Tension Tamer massage when my upper back will be in dire need of soothing. If you've had a pre-natal massage at The Lodge at Woodloch, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too! *Disclosure: This massage was comped. However, all opinions and glorious relaxation are all my own.

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Lemon Ginger Lavender Spa Elixir

Shannon Smyth

#DIY Lemon Ginger Lavender #Spa Elixir from The Umstead Hotel and Spa via @agirlsgottaspa

With the change of season it takes an extra dose of effort (and nutrients) to ward off dreaded colds. The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, N.C.) is treating spa guests to a soothing seasonal Lemon Ginger Lavender Elixir that will be more pleasant on the palate than cough syrup!

Chef Greg Gettles shares his recipe for a refreshing, vitamin-packed pick-me-up that combines potassium and calcium-rich Lemon, Ginger, which has antioxidant and direct anti-inflammatory effects, relaxing Lavender and Thyme, which helps relieve coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion.

Lemon Ginger Lavender Elixir Recipe:

· 7 lemons (peeled and juiced)

· 7 bruised and chopped lemongrass

· 3 oz. peeled and chopped ginger

· ½ oz. dried lavender

· 12 oz. lemon juice

· 16 oz. honey

· 7 oz. simple syrup

· 3 ½ oz. ginger puree

· 12 sprigs thyme

· 16 qt. simmering water

Method: Combine all ingredients in a cambro and pour over with simmering water.  Allow mixture to steep for at least 4 hours before straining.  Adjust seasoning and chill.

Enjoy and feel better!

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle too!

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DIY Thai Herbal Poultice

Shannon Smyth

DIY Thai Herbal Poultice #spatreatment

Whomever said that spa treatments are just to relax, never experienced the ones that go beyond relaxation and additionally treat an ailment. An old-time Thai remedy that is still used today, the Six Senses Thai Herbal Poultice, offered in Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives, increases blood flow and circulation, relaxes tense muscles, and alleviates pain and inflammations when applied directly onto the skin. Making your own herbal poultice is easy and the treatment is a great way to fight off the common cold, the flu, and viruses. The skin, our body’s largest organ and one of the first lines of defense against disease, quickly absorbs the herbs’ medicinal benefits for instant relief of stress, aches and pains. All ingredients are found on the islands of the Maldives, as well as in many of our supermarkets and pantries! Six Senses Thai Herbal Poultice Recipe What You'll Need: Fresh or dried herbs including Kaffir Lime, Galangal, and Lemongrass. (Before making your poultice with other herbs, be sure to research their properties to ensure they aren’t irritants.) Yarn/Thread White Cloth Bowl for mixing Steps: · Put 1 cup of each herb in a bowl and mix it well. · Take a large handful of the herbal mixture and place it into the center of your cloth, making a firm bundle (no bigger than a tennis ball in size.) · Tie the top with yarn or thread to create a handle for your poultice, keeping it tight so it will not become loose when in use. · Using a steamer or a hot pot, boil water and drop in the poultices until steamed, about 30-45 minutes. · For application, first check the heat of poultice on the inner forearm. Once the temperature is to your liking, place with pressure on the body on areas that are tense and or painful up to 30 minutes. · Use your Thai Herbal Poultice up to 4-5 times each before making a new one. If you found this DIY beauty post helpful, please Like, Share and Pin it! Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram and G+. Got a Kindle? We’re on Kindle tooShannon on G+

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