How gratitude soothes the anxious mind – my story

To put it bluntly, anxiety is a bitch. It is a crippling condition that controls literally every aspect of your life at any moment. It’s something that creeps up on you, it’s something that remains dull in the background as you try to live your life, it’s something that puts your brain in a kebab skewer and punches each part of it as your brain spins around, it’s just UGH.

Coupled with a side of tomatoes in balsamic dressing known as depression, your mental health is in for a ride.

It really does suck. This time last year, I was unable to even think properly without my anxiety and depression paralysing my thoughts. This year, I focused on my recovery and did almost everything that came to mind to get rid of this anxiety and depression that has plagued me for so long. Some things worked, others were a waste of time. But what I realised, one thing that consistently made me feel better was gratitude.

There are tons of avenues in our lives that teach us to be grateful. For Muslims and other religious people, we’re always taught to thank God to show that we aren’t demeaning him. Take God out of the equation and we’re still taught to be thankful because things could be worse, or to not seem ungrateful to what is around us. When we’re taught to be thankful in this way, we’re in a way taught to settle and are shamed for wanting to evolve. We’re blackmailed into being grateful, which is why we never see the fruits of it.

In reality, gratitude not supposed to snap us out of a self pity party in the slightest. Gratitude is food for the soul.

Gratitude teaches us to be present. When you’re thankful and counting your blessings, you’re snapped out of the regrets of the past and anxieties of the future. It’s just that moment. Look at this moment. Look around you. Nothing in this moment can hurt you. The future will always have its unpredictable nature that can put us in a whirlwind of emotions and the past will always make you look back and cringe, or drown in sorrow on what could have been, but those are out of your control.

I don’t entirely believe that the past and future are sources of negativity. I do believe you can look at them strategically to fuel you, but that’s another blog post for another day. It’s also something that you can only do when you master the power of being present.

Look at it this way: focusing on the present means you’re pooling all of your energy on what is. You’re not procrastinating by drowning in fear and regret. You thank yourself for what you do have, even if you’re not fully convinced that you’re thankful and you just live.

To be grateful also means you’re not so harsh on yourself. Think about how hard it is for you to find motivation when you have someone breathing down your neck, reminding you of your “incompetence” daily. Now think about it again in the context of your own internal dialogue telling you that you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not rich enough, etc.

These notions have a root. Somewhere throughout your life, you convinced yourself that you aren’t worthy of your desires, which is strange because we’ve decided that we have limitations that we didn’t even know about when we were born. That only means we learned them along the way as our lives progressed.

We’ve decided that things are tough – that it’s impossible to be at our healthy weight, that money is unattainable, that our jobs will always be suckish. We look at our present reality, which may not be the best and we decide that we’re stuck this way. There’s no progression.

We can lie to ourselves and pretend that everything is okay with the intention of hiding, but that only takes us so far. Something bad happens or we remember that we don’t have our ideal job/relationship/health/etc and we’re back down. What’s problematic is that people think this is how you “affirm” to get where you want to be.

Then there’s affirming what may not already be ours, but feeling like we’re lying to ourselves because we think the mere thought of us even edging closer to a dream is farfetched.

Keep going. Keep giving thanks for what is around you even when you don’t feel very grateful and you want to punch the universe in the face.

By practicing gratitude and affirming that you are where you need to be, you’re rewriting your story. You’re breaking connections in your brain that you’ve spent years cultivating. You’ll meet resistance and you’ll feel like you’re lying to yourself because the thought of you being good enough is so foreign to your brain that you’ll want to quickly fall back into old habits.

When you feel like you want to get back into those comfortable debilitating old thought patterns, thank yourself. Thank yourself for all of the hard work you’re putting in (even if you feel like there’s no work being put at all) and just keep going. Allow yourself to feel shit, but know it’s a feeling and it will pass. Don’t block it and don’t drown in it. Let it go through you. Whilst you’re doing that, keep doing the inner work. Eventually you’ll find your emotions, your thoughts, your feelings and even your actions align and take you to a much healthier place.

Yes, anxiety and depression may come and visit you, but eventually, you’ll be able to mentalise better when these ebbs do hit because you’ve been training your mind to look at a picture that extends your limiting beliefs.

Here are some affirmations you can use:

  • I am a magnet for money
  • All of my relationships are healthy and happy
  • I am more than enough
  • Daaaayuuumnn I look goooood today!
  • Kindness is oozing out of people around me
  • Everything I think about manifests

I’m going to be off now – but this post is just an overview. I’ll get into detail with each topic later on. Just let me know which ones you want!

Filling my own cup – #BlogItIntoExistence September 2018

So, for the month of August, I didn’t blog apart from my #BlogItIntoExistence series! Sorry! Those who know me know it was a very hectic month. I was very uninspired most of the month and I didn’t want to write half-hearted posts that I’d rush just for filling a quota.

I also started my Instagram for my blog (mainly food) and I’ve been busy with it experimenting. So yeah, follow me!

View this post on Instagram

My loves, here’s an amazing breakfast idea for those with a sweet tooth. Healthy chocolate moose! I made this after I went for a blood test and needed an iron boost. 1 ripe banana 2 frozen dried figs 1 tbsp flaxseed 1 tbsp hemp seed 2 tbsp of raw cocoa powder Half a handful of pumpkin and sunflower seed mix 3 walnuts (or six walnut halves) Around 20 pieces of raw pistachio (enough to fit the palm of your hand Around 8 raisins A tiny tiiiiinnnyyy splash of orange blossom water (only if you like the taste of it – I’m obsessed) Around two to three splashes of almond milk (add more as you go along if needed) Put it all in a high speed blender or a food processor and whizzzzzzzzzz!!! And then add some fruits of your choice for topping. You can also add cinnamon, or nutmeg or vanilla or even zest like orange/lemon zest for flavouring either in the moose or as a topping. #vegan #breakfast #dessert #foodie #palestinian #healthy #iron #veggie #london #vegandessert #vegandesserts #vegandessertporn

A post shared by Diana Alghoul (@flowerknafeh) on

Anyway, this month, I’m working on changing my perspective. I’m working on trying to find the joy in life and chasing it in order to keep my focus.

What the f^%£?????

Basically, I’m working inwards to change my outward situation. There are so many things in life that I want to change at this stage. There are things that are a huge source of my anxiety and things that I am trying to manifest into my life. I know my energy is focused more on the anxiety of what I don’t have rather than trying to put in the spiritual and physical work to get what I want. It’s tiring, draining and disgustingly counterproductive.

I know with what I’m trying to manifest into my life isn’t a straight arrow the way manifesting everything else has been. Previously, I wanted good grades, so I studied hard. I wanted a nicer body, so I trained hard.

Then there were times I wanted to find my path and find out who I am, but it was nowhere near linear. I was stuck in my mind. I was floating between making choices, accepting fate and walking around with a blocked nose — I was able to see a road, but unable to smell it to know if it stunk or not. I just had to keep walking and hope for the best.

I’m in one of those situations right now. This time, however, I want to do it differently. I don’t want to stress about it. I don’t want to get scared. I don’t want anxiety to take over me. I want to be in control in this uncertainty and embrace it for the beautiful awakening journey it is.

I’ve been trying hard, but I recently came to the conclusion that the only way I do that is to quite literally “keep my eyes on the prize”. Everything above, below and around is just a part of the journey. I aim to embrace the journey, give thanks and understand that regardless what my situation may be, this is all prep-work for when I reach my destination.

I am letting go of the “how” and I am accepting that no matter what, I’ll get there. All roads lead to home. I will be okay, eventually. So why keep stressing? I believe that God will answer my prayers but I have tests to pass and lessons to learn on my journey. I need to be content without what I want in order to be in the healthiest and least co-dependent state to receive it.

Today, my day was completely made because I bumped into an old school friend (apart from parking being BRUTAL in London, this is one of the reasons I prefer public transport over driving any day) on my way to meet a current friend, whom I absolutely had an amazing time with. When this old friend and I saw each other on the train platform, we literally just hugged and spoke about everything that there is to talk about in the short time we had.

Him and I both had perceived unconventional career paths (I won’t be giving the details of the conversation out of respect for his privacy). He had a clear goal in life and a clear passion when he was at school and so did I. Writing was my passion from childhood and his passion was one I immediately remembered him by.

At school, we were both told that we wouldn’t amount to our passions and we should find something more realistic. With me, race was a huge obstacle because being 8 when 9/11 happened and feeling the first wave of post-9/11 style institutionalised Islamophobia in the Western world as a Westerner myself, I was told my view was one that could not be vocalised in the media.

For the longest time, I thought my only hope in journalism was if I left the UK and became one in a country where my views were more “accepted” — or just sell out where I’ll still find difficulties because my middle name is Mohammed.

Despite this, we both manifested our dreams. Alhamdulillah. I was so happy for him. The common denominator? I think it was love. Love for our hobbies and passions, which later turned into our careers. Because we were working from the heart, our hearts led us to our destination. I didn’t even study journalism and I was applying for safe jobs. I got rejection after rejection and found a way to do what I always wanted to do.

I’ve decided to take this lesson with me.I learned it a long time ago, but I never really processed it. When it comes to my latest goal, I want to experiment with having tunnel vision. I will be open minded with the “how” part, but I will not settle for anything less than the prize that God has written for me.

I will not lie, right now, it seems like nothing really is happening for me with this goal and this part of my life feels so incredibly stale. This moment is irrelevant though because it’s a moment in a greater journey. It’s a moment I have taught myself to appreciate because I’m learning to fill my own cup.

I’m going to start posting regularly again. Sorry for the unannounced hiatus!!

Love you all xoxox

Affirm: You are worthy #BlogItIntoExistence

I actually cannot believe I fell through with July’s Blog it into Existence!! I am absolutely loving the plant based life. I thought it would be a month of moping without cheese and yoghurt but I don’t even miss cheese. I have no desire to even buy vegan cheese! I’m learning so much about cooking and I’m learning how to make vegan meals that I can de-veganise easily and quickly if I’m cooking for non vegans.

Anyhoo, even though these Blog it into Existence posts don’t get much traction at all, I’m going to carry on with them because they’re good for me. Life isn’t always about clicks and retweets after all, right?

This month, I’m embarking on a conscious journey of healing. Without going into detail about my personal life, there have been things I have been struggling with, with one in particular being at the centre of my worries. 2018 has been characterised by healing the past misconceptions I carried on this one thing I’m trying to heal from. Now it’s time for me to superspeed this healing. I’m going to accelerate the process so much that I will shock myself with the results I’m setting myself up for.

I will read this blog post either half way through the month or in September with a smirk. I promise myself. I will remember the moment of sitting in the garden and drinking my aloe vera, strawberry and cucumber green tea and promising myself justice and smile at my own success.

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Hi future self – remember this? 🤗

The way I will do this is through self love. I have spent so many (necessary) months of beating myself up for something that has been so out of my control. I loathed myself into my own demise, though I thank myself or doing so because I stuck myself into a rut so deep that I had to do something about it.

I spent so long trying to “fix” things that I broke myself. I spent so long trying to ask God to rectify the situation in a way that would have belittled me that I undermined my own worth. I spent so long trying to find outside solutions that I threw away my inner self. Then came that time I tried to fix myself only to fix what is outside of me. Does that even count?

So if none of that worked, why not do this one selfish act and try to heal for myself? I will undo all of the debilitating thoughts in my head. Try it with me. We all have them. Think of something you want but can’t have, write down the debilitating misconceptions you fuel yourself with and come up with opposite affirmations.

For example, if you can’t find a job – you would most likely be telling yourself that the job market is difficult.

If you’re finding it hard to make money – you could be telling yourself that it’s hard to make money and that the rich have monopolised it all.

If you’re finding it hard to find love – you may be using the phrase “men are trash” everywhere or “women only want ….” and you’re embedding thoughts that you can’t have a good partner because there are none. I know “men are trash” is a more political phrase, but for the purpose of this, try to undo these thoughts. You’ll find yourself laughing at yourself and cringing, but you’re also cringing at the thought that there are no good men out there. This is an exercise for you.

Once you’ve made your affirmations, write them down and keep saying them. Keep telling yourself that you’re worthy, that you’re enough. We’re automatically programmed to belittle our worth and potential and it hasn’t been helping us, so what do we have to lose if we do the opposite?

I will do daily exercises to track my progress and to make sure I stay on track. A lot of them will be writing stuff down, creating a vision board and believing in the vision board and finding the happiness that my vision will give me in myself at that particular moment.

The thing is, we can experience the happiness we want without the things we think we need to achieve it. The irony is, without this happiness and conviction that we deserve what we want and it is possible to attain it, we will never reach it.

So for me, I am going to believe in myself. Believe in my power and believe in my happiness. I am going to give myself what I am seeking and I am going to watch it flow into my life. I may not need it to, because my trust in God’s plan is like no other, but I know it will.

Excited!

By the way – don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already! You won’t regret it, I promise 💕

Click here to learn more about the Blog it into Existence series and here to view older posts

Hard truth: People see what you see in yourself

Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. Life taught me this lesson the hard way. Thinking back to how I got to where I am is so traumatic but at the same time I am so thankful because God knew the only way I could learn this is if he put me through so many trials. I was always told that I am what I think I am, but I never believed it until I hit rock bottom and had no choice other than being positive. I had nothing to lose and was already used to disappointment, so whatever if this whole thing ended up fake and I disappointed myself even more.

It wasn’t fake.

I’ve proven this to myself time and time again – we all have. It’s just, our confidence came naturally and things started working out for us. The trick is when you’re feeling down and you have to get yourself out of a spiral through affirming what you ultimately question or don’t believe about yourself.

Trust me, I know how shit it feels to tell yourself you’re successful when you feel like you’re at the bottom of the pit. I know how it feels to tell yourself you’re loved when you feel lonely. It’s a joke. But the irony in which is beautiful because the joke becomes your reality.

This is the power you have.

Your words have matter and have the ability to quite literally change your life. Your words dictate your relationship with God (or the universe or whatever source of life you believe in). It’s not a coincidence that everything you’ve faced difficulty with are the things you told yourself would be difficult, or have shown a form of lacking in. It’s no coincidence that when you tell yourself money, love, etc are hard to come around, they become and remain hard to come around.

These views are not something that come out when you face difficulty. These views are embedded in you from past traumas, events and experiences that have shaped your life experiences. They are a product of things you have been told from childhood. You know yourself, you know where your insecurities lie and you know your own story. Stop running away from all of these things — face them head on and defeat these thoughts. Fight them. Tell yourself you are worthy of love, you are worthy of abundance, you are worthy of financial stability, you are worthy of your customers/clients taking you seriously.

It can be as simple as affirming your professionalism if you are a businessperson and you want a friend to take you seriously and not expect discounts from you because of a service. Before seeing this friend, you will refer to them as a client in your head. You will keep reminding yourself that your products/services are worthy to be sold. You will keep reminding yourself that you are professional and you will act on all of these things. Yes, you may want to go into gossip mode during the meeting, but that’s your insecurities telling you to do so because you’re afraid of not being taken seriously enough if you do attempt at putting on a more strict mask.

Hence, affirmations.

I know I’m always banging on about these, but they are so important. Be kind to yourself. Fill your personal internal space up with kind words. Even if you don’t believe the kind things you’re telling yourself, even if you feel like everything is spiralling away from you; be kind to yourselves and believe. Eventually, what you want will manifest.

Take each day and each moment as it comes. Be thankful even when you’re in a rut, not because it’s the “positive” thing to do, but because you know you will come out stronger no matter what.

Last week, I was walking from the gym in Strand and I thought to continue walking until I got to King’s College (my old University). I kept walking towards Temple Station and I remembered all of the times I took this route with heavy weights on my shoulders, considering dropping out, fearing failure and feeling like an incompetent piece of shit. It never occurred to me that four years on, I would have passed my Masters, I would have been in a job that I’m happy in, yet still managing to blog and I would never in a thousand years considered myself a failure.

Moments like this will keep happening. Things will recycle and repeat themselves. You’ll find yourself walking paths you currently walk, weeks, months and years down the line and smiling at how things panned out.

But to trust that this will happen, you need to trust yourself. To trust yourself, you need to be kind to yourself.

How to reclaim your power with repetition

If there’s one thing we underestimate, it is the power of repetition. Because our minds register absolutely everything, without realising, we absorb information that our conscious doesn’t know exists on a daily basis and unfortunately, whether we like it or not, have a huge role in forming our opinions.

I noticed this in myself recently when I saw myself giving into a form of pressure without realising. With everyone around me wanting me to “hurry up and get married before I expire”, and me being told by various people on an almost daily basis that I am going to end up alone if I don’t take advantage of my beauty and youth while I still have it to secure that part of my life, I almost felt myself starting to believe them and panicked for a tiny bit.

Why? I don’t believe in their crap. I never have and I never will. I believe naseeb is naseeb and I believe that we should never turn such matters that are out of our control into something we stress about.

The reason their mentality started to creep into my mind is because of how often I hear their reasonings and the conviction they use to express them with.

Essentially, repetition is key.

Thankfully, I unlocked that quite fast because the thoughts that have begun to creep into my mind are so out of my actual opinions and have a clear source. So why not use the power of repetition to my own advantage if it’s this powerful?

What we tell ourselves is so important. The inner dialogue we have with ourselves not only manifests itself because the conversation dictates the kind of energy we put out to the universe, but because it tells us what we can and can’t do. We physically limit ourselves based on the limiting beliefs we impose on our mind.

Dictate your own story

We’ve been telling ourselves the same story about ourselves for years; some which we can trace the source of, some we can’t. Some that we’ve had since childhood, some because they’re just comfortable to say because we’re too scared to set ourselves up for disappointment. Ironically, this is what holds us back.

Make conscious decisions to leave your mental comfort zone and tell yourself stuff that you don’t usually tell yourself. The power of repetition has been used against us since birth, telling us that we aren’t good enough in so many ways. This only proves how powerful repetition is, so use that power to your advantage instead.

It’s easy to tell ourselves that we’re unfit when the evidence is in front of us, but it’s painfully difficult to tell ourselves that we are fit and we are getting closer to our goals every day, especially if we don’t feel it. Why? Because we lean to what is comfortable and the discourse that we’re used to. Deep down, we don’t believe we can reach our goal, which is why it’s so hard for us to affirm. Let go, take the risk of being kind to yourself and watch yourself move forward.

Tell yourself amazing things, even if you don’t believe them. Allow yourself to feel silly telling yourself that you’re beautiful, fun, fit, radiate attractive energy etc and watch everything manifest into your life.

When you affirm your positive attitude to yourself through repetition, not only do you eventually start to believe what you affirm to yourself, you become more patient in attaining what you want. You know it’s coming, so you won’t resist it as much. You know you deserve what you want and you know you’re not standing in your own way. You know you’re good enough for it, so it’s just a matter of receiving it at the right time. You know a kind, merciful omnipresent higher power dictates such timings. It always turns out okay.

Self-sabotaging blessings

One of the reasons we self-sabotage our blessings is because we believe we don’t deserve them. We don’t think we’re good enough. We believe we don’t have what we want because we think don’t we deserve what we want – the moment we get it, we ruin it because we don’t think we deserve it.

This is how powerful our thoughts are. Not only do they dictate what we manifest in our lives, but they dictate the course of how they manifest. Prepare yourself for your blessings by not only believing they will come, but believing you deserve them.

Honestly, relax. This moment can’t hurt you. When you feel yourself regretting the past or worrying about the future, reconnect yourself with your breathing and absorb the moment. We may not always be able to control how we feel, but we can control what we tell ourselves to dictate our future later on. Even when you’re feeling like shit and you would never believe the positive stuff you’re telling yourself, while you’re connected to your breathing, affirm as you breathe in and feel the release of your tension when you breathe out.

In the morning, even if you don’t believe it, just tell yourself that you’re going to have an amazing day. Keep doing it even if you don’t actually have an amazing day.

Forgive your past self, be kind to your present self and know your future self will appreciate it.

Good luck xox

♡Blog it into Existence – June 2018

Hi guys! Welcome to the first post for the Blog it into Existence series!

So what I’m going to do is each month, I’m setting a list of goals that I want to achieve and steer directions into how to achieve them. I initially wanted to start a series reviewing the last month, but we really should be focusing on the present and future. Leave the past in the past.

We should all get into the habit of being present and thinking about the future in a positive way. Retrospectively reflecting on things is a good idea, but if we find ourselves worrying about the future, that means we’re stuck in the past. These are habits we need to actively undo.

A lot of my goals are very general and they are useful for others, so you’re probably going to find some useful things if you want to set similar goals. I have two this month 🙂

  1. Balance exercise and nutrition

    So before Ramadan, I was exercising at least 3 times a week. During Ramadan, I began doing well with my exercises, but I just began to lag. I also gave myself a leeway to relax a bit. But my nutrition was terrible; which I fixed in Ramadan. I taught myself how to make quick breakfasts in the form of last minute suhoors, I stopped eating junk food and I’m currently relying a lot on salads.

    I know when I get back to the gym, I will be completely motivated again (shoutout to Charline) and I know that I can balance my nutrition and not eat crap. So what I want to do is bring them both together so I can be superwoman.

    I’m going to meal prep, I’ll measure out and plan my snacks on days I’m at work and always have healthy nibbles in my bag for when I do go out. But with not eating or drinking for 19 hours a day, I’ve kinda proven to myself that I don’t need to eat when I get hungry. It’s a mental olympic.

  2. Read more books

    So, I’ve always loved reading and I don’t really have much space for more books because of the sheer amount of stuff I read (even when my mum throws out my books secretly as if I won’t notice that fiction book I read in 2012 has gone missing). I also don’t have as much time anymore. I switched to e-books last year and downloaded books on my iPad which did help, but I realised with that, I only ever read when I’m at home.

    It was difficult for me to read outdoors on a sunny day because of the glare and taking a huge arse iPad with me everywhere was inconvenient. So, I invested in a Kindle which is much lighter, puts less strain on your eyes and means you’re less likely to procrastinate because sometimes you can’t help going on Twitter in the middle of reading a book (sorry!). It’s also amazing because Kindle connects to Goodreads which means it’s easier to keep track of the books I’m reading and I can find stuff to read on the go at the same time.

    I’m really excited because I know I’ll be reading  a lot more this month. I’ve downloaded The Emotion Code. I can’t wait to review it.

    Feel free to add me on Goodreads and update your book journey with me: SuperKnafeh. If you guys want, I’ll do an Amazon idea list as well for recommended books and products.

Click here to learn more about the Blog it into Existence series and here to view older posts

Who needs a gym? Tips to exercise at home

Hey! So, I’ve had a few people for many reasons message me after my last blog post and tell me that they don’t have access to a gym and want to start implementing their fitness routine at home.

So, I think if you don’t have access to a gym for one reason, you’re most likely not going to use it anyway. If you’re a student and can’t afford a membership, you probably wouldn’t have time to take some time out of your day to go to the gym. Exercising from home is a lot more efficient and you don’t need to waste time travelling back to study or go to work or whatever.

Some YouTubers I love: TiffanyRothesWorkouts, Blogilaties, Bexlife, YogaWithAdriene, XHIT Daily, Lucy Wyndham-Read, FitnessBlender, Popsugar Fitness, Yoga With Tim, PsycheTruth, Elliot Hulse, The Body Coach. Share yours!

If you have just had a baby and can’t gym it, maybe you’ll overdo it. If you have kids and you have no time, maybe quality time taking your kids out to the park to exercise with them to help them lead an active lifestyle.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. With something like exercising, you don’t need a gym. I’ve frozen my membership during Ramadan and I am currently relying on at-home workouts, along with going to my local park.

For motivation, find out why you can’t get a gym membership and see the flip side to it to help you feel mentally adequate. If you’re bummed out by not having a gym membership, you’re literally only making excuses for yourself. It’s the equivalent of having one and not being bothered to go. Get into the mental headspace of being fit and healthy, set your goals and just do it.

Act like you’re working out
You just got out of bed feeling crap, you washed, drank a glass of water and ate something and decided to do your first workout. You’re still in your pj’s. You go to your room and start a video. You get demotivated and shut it off, or you complete it but don’t repeat.

Sound familiar? In order to have a proper workout, you shouldn’t treat your workout at home any different to the gym. Put on your exercise gear, tie up your hair, have your amino acids with you, eliminate distractions. Your workout time is yours. Unless there’s an actual reason to, don’t do a yoga video with no bra.

Your workout time is yours and you need to respect it as such.

Intend a good workout
I won’t get into the spiritual aspects of this, but if you don’t intend to have a good workout, you won’t. If you feel like you’re lacking because you don’t have a gym membership, it’ll show up in your workout.

There’s a huge misconception among aspiring fitness buffs that you need a gym to be healthy. Okay, gyms do have their advantages, but they also have a lot of disadvantages – especially if you’re paying for a membership that you don’t have time for. If you enter your workout with a lack, you will come out of it with a lack. One summer, between my last year of school and first year of university, I lost a lot of weight with absolutely no membership. Only dedication to look better so I can find a husband at university (lllloooooolll @ my 18-year-old self).

Use what is around you
Buying equipment, resistance bands, etc is really helpful but only if you use them properly. If you have stairs, or even a few steps, use them (I did non-stop running up and down the stairs until my chest hurt for my cardio – the stepping machine at the gym that simulates this exercise). Best thing to do is to start off with working out without equipment and when you have an idea of what equipment you need, head out to buy them.

Research if you don’t know. Type in “workouts using a chair” on Google and I guarantee you’ll find a lot. But don’t get wrapped up with choice and actually plan your workouts. Plan doing a specific video, or plan doing four exercises, three sets and 15 reps of each, or whatever else you’re thinking. If you want to do an hour and you finish quicker than you expected, do more sets, or take that time to do some HIIT training or stretches.

Calisthenics!
This is where real strength lies. Your own body weight. Take advantage and learn calisthenics. There are books, videos, apps, etc that can help you. Research what works for you and go for it. You’ll probably at some point find yourself being able to plank for longer than someone who goes to the gym 5x a week.

The great outdoors are amazing if you want to get a good calisthenic workout. Take advantage of the monkey bars at the park while the weather is still nice. If it’s raining, get yourself some outdoor workout gear and goooo!!!!

Exercising is a beautiful thing. It’s your own journey. Don’t let capitalism fool you into thinking you can’t get fit without a gym membership. Yes, gym memberships are helpful, but only if you use them properly. Trust the fact that you can’t get a membership because it’s better for you to workout somewhere else and take advantage of that extra time spent travelling or being in nature.

Good luck my loves!! xoxox

Counterintuitive chronicles

This is going to sound like one hell of a massive contradiction, but considering how life in itself is a massive contradiction, do contradictions really make us wrong?

It’s weird. We could really want something , yet when it comes to figuring out how to get there, our minds can sometimes become our worst enemy. We become so rash and try to find the easiest “quick fix” approach to dealing with our discontents. Sometimes there are no decisions that can be made to make rash ones, which could seem worse at some points. We just sit in a limbo state. Waiting. Our minds want to zoom up and take us out of this state we’re in, but nothing can be done.

The art of doing nothing

The concept of doing nothing has become almost like a lost art. Its cousin, laziness, only has as much to do with doing nothing as your own scale of laziness. If a friend was horrible to you for no reason and you choose to do nothing and ignore that person, you’re not being lazy – you’re taking yourself out of a situation which would lead to more fights and petty arguments.

If you’re taking a break from life to meditate, you’re not being lazy. You’re focusing on your mindfulness which will make you more productive. If you take “meditation breaks” during work outside of your break/lunch hours, you’re being lazy.

 

The major thrust behind doing nothing is realising that not everything is in our control. When we want something more than anything, desperately scrambling and stressing when you know your stress is counterproductive, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Yes, strive. Yes, allow yourself to feel stressed when things get really bad. We’re human. We’re allowed to stress and feel like shit. But when you’re doing something for the sake of doing something even though you know pretty damn well it may lead to nothing, sit down and just do nothing.

Spooky-ookie-vibes

When I first read about the Law of Attraction, I honestly thought it was a load of bullshit. I didn’t understand how “raising your vibration” will lead you to having a better life. To me, it consisted of visualising and then letting go, so you have to pretend you have what you want but at the same time let go of the thought and forget about it? And then I was desperately trying to manifest something into my life so I was scrambling to read about it and practice it even though I didn’t believe in it but I had to do something and, ugh!!!

Really, the principle isn’t some new-age crap. It’s all about striving to get what you want, but not being emotionally attached to it and never thinking our happiness relies on getting what we want to manifest. Just know you’ll be okay – because it’s a universal fact. It’s also true that when we’re emotionally attached to a specific outcome, things don’t come to us because we don’t allow them to. We send out such negative vibes to God that even though he is all merciful, he asks us to show gratitude for us to give him more. We need to be thankful for what we have and okay with who we are. Nothing from our personal spheres, be it a person, a salary, etc will make us happier, because happiness comes from within.

Being counterintuitive

The main principle of being counterintuitive is to relax. Just know things come and go. So do people. Usually, you find yourself in win-win situations. For example, if you’re speaking to someone and they suddenly ignore you, an urge that was socialised into you would be to salvage the conversation or the budding friendship, because one of our deep driving desires is companionship. It only makes sense to chase after people, no?

The counterintuitive approach, however, would be just allow that person to do their thing. If someone isn’t making an effort with you or is being toxic, put aside your innate desire for companionship and do what is best for you. The person will either stay away from you, saving you from yet more disappointments, or will come back and apologise.

We’re all taught to work hard to succeed, but as we all know, working yourself to the grave is not exactly the best idea, to say the least. So what should we do? Take breaks. That’s counterintuitive.

Same goes for wanting to be in a relationship. The quest to find someone is situated on finding another person, so surely, you would need to be on the look out and have your eyes open. Yes. Of course. But don’t forget to blink. And sleep.

When we are so fixated on finding someone, we lose ourselves, which makes it harder for people to find us. Let go and stop stressing. Trust that it will come to you.

It seems so heavy at times, but really, being counterintuitive all comes down to one thing: trust. Trusting God, trusting yourself and trusting the process. If you don’t trust yourself, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Trust that you will get to your goals and they will come. The more you stress, the less connected you are to your inner being and to the world around you – which in turn means the further you are away.

Journaling…

I always say this, but: bloody hell, long time.

Gosh, I miss when my website was called www.dianaism.com. I need to contact WordPress and get my old domain back.

Anyway, I completely forgot about this blog when I saw no use for it. Maintaining it became a chore and I was uninspired to the point I lost all touch with even documenting the beauty around me. Did I want it to become a food blog? Did I want to conceptualise and write solid articles? But why do that when I could just pitch to magazines?

Well, my journaling story and being cuckolded by depression and anxiety have answered all of my questions for me. I have been trying to recover using so many means from the outside, because I felt like healing from within is useless and overrated. I felt like mindfulness, yoga and meditation were all band-aids and ways to trick myself into recovery. Every time I felt something “strange” happen, which looking back were mini revelations that I suppressed because I wasn’t taking myself seriously, I would stop and start scrolling through Instagram.

How fucking toxic?

Work, gym, home, friends and repeat. My only real sanctuary was writing in my diary, which in all honesty, I would only do when things got too much. It was temporarily therapeutic, but did nothing for me in the long run because I was irregular. I mean, who has time to write two pages a day about how shit life is?

It wasn’t until last month I was with a friend, her niece and her sister. The niece got restless so we took her outside and ended up in Waterstones. There we saw a one line a day journal, which my friend’s sister has and she started to talk about how amazing it is. You have one page for one day, enough for five years. You fill in the year and write a memory. I got curious. I then saw a similar one in which you answer one question per day; so being indecisive, I got both.

diaries
My babies ♡

I usually write before bed, which forces me to have a good enough bedtime routine so I’m not too exhausted to write. It’s as much of a must as removing my makeup.

The notepad below is my diary I’ve had for years and it’s the one I’m hardly regular with. It’s more of a vent book. Being a writer, I undoubtedly have a crazy amount of notebooks lying around, so yesterday I decided to rip out the used pages of the watermelon and coconut one (which I initially used when I was doing vox-pop interviews for work) and turn it into my mantra book.

One mantra per page and the rest of the page, I elaborate with bullet points, other quotes, Qur’an verses, etc.

I have been journaling daily for a month now and I find that even though I only write a few lines a day, my mind is less cluttered. I’m able to think. I’m able to meditate and I’m unafraid of my own thoughts when doing so because at least I know I can figure them out after. My mind re-arranges itself and I affirm and assert through my writing.

With my mantra book, so far, I’ve been trying to advise myself through either quotes I’ve already heard or read, or stuff I’ve made up alone. I realised very recently that I have an attachment problem, so I used it to project the attachment onto myself instead. I’m using it to become my own self-love coach.

There are so many ways to journal – usually, do what your soul needs. Do you need to vent? Do you need to have a journal for a thought which you unpick daily/weekly to see how it develops? Do you want to compare and contrast with five year journals that you can use as a time capsule? Do you want to journal your goals? Your recovery? No one can tell you how to do it. It’s your own story that you’re writing for yourself, and will look back at for yourself.

Pop into Waterstones or stationary stores that do journals and try to find a customised one. Or just look around on Amazon. A simple Google search does the job with different ideas for a blank journal, or structured journals like the five year Q&A one I have. I’ve even seen a journal for those who are experimenting with the law of attraction.

Here are some titles and themes – you can either buy specialist journals or use your own notebook and turn it into a themed journal:
– 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal
– Good Days Start With Gratitude by Pretty Simple Journals
– Five Year Memory Journal by Sterling Publishing Co Inc (I found this on Urban Outfitters website)
– Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy: A Happiness Journal By Robie Rogge and Dian G. Smith
– Diet journals
– Exercise journals
– Prayer journals, rather than writing about what you’re anxious about, turn it into a prayer. Pray for your broken heart to be mended, get fit, etc
– Picture scrapbook – either draw or print photos out and write underneath
– Song lyric journal – write one lyric that relates to you and elaborate
– Self love/confidence journal – write one thing that you like about yourself and elaborate
– Or just old fashioned venting in a notebook

THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ABSOLUTELY ENDLESS! I would say take your time, but it’s only journaling. Just do what feels right in the moment and keep it up. You’ll find that going with your gut is the best way. Deep down, we all know what we need. Best thing to do is to ask yourself what you feel lacking in your life and do something about it. I started the mantra journal when I needed guidance.

Good luck and God bless.

xox

Lessons from ‘yaqeen’

يقين – yaqeen – a word which has no real translation in English.

It’s a cross between certainty and conviction. It’s like taking a blind, yet somehow calculated leap of faith. In Islam, when we pray, we pray with a sense of yaqeen, knowing that God will answer our prayers. He is there, he is listening and we will get what we want, even if it’s not in the way we imagine.

This notion can sometimes be a daunting one when coupled with a stubborn demeanour. We want something, we want it now and God will give it to us for as long as we pray for it and stop at nothing to achieve it.

We forget life doesn’t work out this way. We’re imbeciles, to say the least. We lock ourselves in our dungeon of desire, where we allow dreams to rob us from very grim realities in front of us. We use yaqeen as a shelter from the truth.

“It will happen, I know it will happen. I prayed for it to happen and I’m certain God will make it happen and God will reward me for having faith in him.”

The tides start to turn against you, everything you do in obtaining this gem of a prayer seems to be faltering, you’re finding yourself forming an uphill struggle and you even lose yourself in trying to get this prayer answered. You become someone else; even do things you never thought you’d do.

This is not yaqeen, it’s a masked addiction.

To pray with yaqeen is to be able to let go. To be able to see the bigger picture. To know when your heart is so attached to something that your ontology is drastically skewed by an air of disillusion. Yaqeen is not an excuse to hold on, it’s to give you the courage to let go.

It’s hard. It’s hard to admit that we were once wrong. It’s hard to come to the reality that our dreams may not be materialised. It’s hard to wake up and fix our mistakes.

Over the years, I learned that praying and acting with true conviction, with true yaqeen, means to face tough choices and make them. To pop your bubble and leave your comfort zone.

Be prepared to break your own heart and to realise people whom you may care about may not feel the same way.

Swallow your pride by putting yourself in a risky situation and cry as you escape what could have been a cycle of toxicity. You’ll thank yourself later.

If the risk proves that things are going right, thank yourself regardless.

Either way, rest assure. It will be okay.

Alhamdulilah.