In an older post I talked about why it is good to have an international friend. Since that time I've picked up snailmailing again, and I would like to tell you all about it!
What is snailmail?
It's basically old fashioned mail. You know, the kind with the stamps on it. Yes, that still exists. It's called snailmail because it's slow, especially if you write to people overseas. Basically you write each other letters and send each other small items (though that's optional). It's expensive if you have a lot of snailmail penpals, but it's a lot of fun too. Kinda like a hobby.
How do you start?
Well you start by finding a penpal! You can find people on sites like Interpals and Postcrossing. But I found mine on tumblr. I used this and this blog to post an ad and respond to ads. Basically what you do on both blogs is submit an advertisement where you introduce yourself and tell people what you're looking for in a penpal. You leave your email address or social media links and wait for people to respond! Or you can respond to other people's requests, if you'd like that. You can write people from your country, but I prefer to find people from other countries. It's just more fun to me!
What do you write?
Writing the starting letter is always a bit difficult, so i usually just introduce myself. I tell people what I study, what I like to do, what my interests are, and other things about myself. I then usually tell a little bit about the things that happened the past few days, or about to happen, and then slowly work towards the end of the letter. Your letter doesn't have to be long, but make sure the other person has something to reply to!
After the first letters have been exchanged it's kinda like a really long and slow whatsapp conversation. I always try not to contact my penpals through social media, because if I would talk to them every day there would be nothing to discuss in the letters. Because of the time that passes between you writing the letter and actually getting the reply, you'll have enough to talk about in your letter because usually all kinds of things happened during that time. If not, you can always just respond to what the other wrote and talk about that. Usually when I do so I find new things to talk about because the other's experiences remind me of similar experiences in the past.
Well writing a plain letter is kinda boring, isn't it? That's why I always decorate the envelope, use pretty writing paper, and add things to the letter. For example, as an ice breaker with new penpals I include a small list of questions. It could go from "what is your favourite colour" to "if it was normal to have the ears of an animal, which animal ears would you want?", just be creative!
Sometimes I include lists with songs I listen to, book or movie recommendations, drawings, or quotes I like. Often people (including me) send teabags or coins from their currency. Other things I've sent were a piece of my favourite candy, a dried leaf, and stickers. But I've received dried flowers, a cute badge, a small glass shell, and lots of other cool things!
A few more tips
- When sending a letter it's always a good idea to include your own address on the back of the envelope. This way it will get sent back to you if the mail was unable to deliver it.
- If you send coins, tape them to a small piece of cardboard. On multiple occasions I've received letters in which there was supposed to be a coin, but which was missing. There would be a small cut on the side of the envelope, big enough for the coin to fall through. If you tape the coin to a piece of cardboard they can't get it out. Usually they won't even notice there is a coin in it either.
- NEVER give information you aren't comfortable with giving. Especially not things that are involved with money or your bank account.
That was all! I hope it inspires some of you to start snailmailing, as it's become a very fun hobby of mine and I like to share it! If there's anyone wanting to be my penpal, just contact me!
The past few months I've been trying to take better care of myself by getting more sleep, drinking enough, and take my moments to relax. To accomplish my goals, I used a couple of apps to help me with them. Today I'm going to share them with you, in hopes of helping you improve your life!
1. Sleep Cycle
I've been using this app for a couple of years now, although I stopped using it for a while and only started using it again a few months ago. This app is not just an alarm clock, but it also measures your sleep pattern and wakes you up when you're in a light sleep phase. This makes you feel less tired when you wake up. It also collects data from your patterns and after a few days you can see statistics, such as your average bed time, average sleep duration, and some other things. You can also add notes to see if you slept better when you were in a cold room, or after having drank milk before bed.
Personally I love this app because it makes waking up a lot easier. Even if I get only 6 hours of sleep I can feel myself being more rested than when I'm woken up by a regular alarm. I'm not sure if it's free or not, because I've had the app for a couple of years now. Back then I bought the app for €1.99, but I believe there now is a free version available too. It's available for iOS and Android
2. Relax melodies
I always use this app when I go to bed, because I have trouble sleeping in a quiet room (it's weird, I know). But this app is also great for when you're meditating, or just need some relaxing melodies! You can choose from a lot of different sounds and you can combine them to make your own personal melody. I now have the premium version, and I love just mixing different melodies to find calming combinations. You can get this app for free for iOS, Android, and Windows!
3. Plant Nanny
Up until a few months ago I often got headaches due to dehydration. Not on purpose, though. I just forgot to drink. So when setting my goal to drink more water I remembered this app that I once tried for a week or so before giving up on it. That app was plant nanny, and I don't understand how I could've given up on it.
Basically with this app you keep yourself hydrated by taking care of a plant. The app reminds you to drink, and when you drink you need to water the plant. If you don't drink, and thus don't water the plant, it dies. You can get different plants and watch them grow! This app really helped me staying hydrated and I now am the proud owner of 6 plants (and counting!).
This app is free and available for iOS, Android, and Windows.
Alright, so this app is for that time of the month. A few months ago I quit anti-conception pills, which I took to regulate my period. I quit it because it's just junk, and I didn't need it. But despite feeling a lot better, my period is back to being as irregular as possible. So that's why I tried this app.
This app shows you your menstrual cycle, and by adding data to it every day you can see patterns that indicate when your period will be. For me personally, the cycle isn't accurate because of my irregularity. But ever since using it I did notice the signs that tell me that my period will start soon. You can add things such as your mood, energy level, cravings, fluids, blood loss, sex drive, and a lot of other things! If you are interested in getting pregnant, this app shows you when is the best time to do it, because it shows you your fertile window. This app is free and available for iOS and Android.
This app doesn't really help with any of my goals, but it is a very nice and relaxing app. Basically, with this app you can nurture a plant and watch them grow in real time. Whenever I'm stressed I turn to this app, because I love plants and the soundtrack that the app plays is super calming and just beautiful!
I actually downloaded it so I can listen to it when I need it. And you need to take care of the plants every day or else they'll die, just like with real plants!
Bonus: there is a cute little snail on the side of the plant pot which I just adore. You can get this app for free for iOS and Android.
Are there any apps you use often? Let me know in the comments!
Well.. It surely has been a while, hasn't it? I don't really have an excuse for it, other than the fact that I've been quite busy. But no need to get into detail about that. I want to talk to you about getting a new routine. When the summer break ended I told myself to get a new and better routine, instead of constantly being lazy, procrastinating, eating unhealthy and getting too little or too much sleep. And I managed to do it! So now I'm going to tell you how to do the same.
1. Write down your goals
I think that this is quite important. You can't just randomly start a new routine. You need to know what you are doing it for, and what things you want included in your routine. Once you visualise it by writing it down, it will become more clear what you'll have to do. For example, I wrote: eating healthier, staying hydrated, exercise more, procrastinate less, be more positive, sleep better, and a few other things.
2. Make a slow start.
Once you've written down your goals, you should pick one or two to start with. You can't just start with all of them at once, or else you might fail at keeping up with them. So don't rush it. I started with getting more sleep by going to bed earlier and not sleeping in too much, and I started to eat healthier. Once you've got those down you can move onto the next one or two goals.
3. Keep it up.
There will be days where you won't feel like sticking to your routine, but it's important that in that moment you kick your own butt and keep going. If you do fail to keep up with your routine make sure you reflect on it. What went wrong? Why? What can you do to prevent it from happening again? For me personally it helped to start a bullet journal, in which I keep track of my goals.
4. Celebrate your success.
Sometimes you need to praise yourself a little for your hard work. So treat yourself with your favourite ice cream when you've been keeping up with your new routine for two weeks. Finally buy that dress after a month, and allow yourself to take a day off from your routine once you're certain you can pick it up again afterwards. You're allowed to be proud of yourself!
I know these steps seems simple, and maybe you're left wondering "is that it?", but you have to remember that discipline is key. You can't start a new routine if you're not willing to put effort in it. These four steps are just some things to make it a little easier. I've been working on my new routine for a month now, and I still haven't put all my goals in it. But I'm very proud of the progress I've made. So be patient, and don't give up!
Do you have a routine? Or do you want to start one? Let me know!
I think I started communicating with people outside of the Netherlands when I was about 14. I met a group of people who loved the same tv show as me. They were all from the USA and it was nice having people to talk to who had the same interests. Ever since I've gotten many more friends from all over the world. In my opinion it is one of the best things that happened to me. And I would like to tell you why everyone should find an international friend.
Your English will improve.
I met most of my international friends on twitter, and since they did not speak Dutch, I would have to speak English. By talking to them daily my English improved rapidly. I learned so much more online than I did at school. I learned so many new words and phrases. And because I was (and still am) mainly on twitter I would have to shorten my messages, which taught me to play with words and shorten them. Now I have friends from all over the world. Not only the UK and the USA, but also Sweden, France, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Denmark. China, Japan, Australia, and many more countries. English makes it possible to communicate with all those people, and I think that's pretty special.
Your view of the world will change.
Because I've met so many people from different countries my view of certain topics in the world really changed. I've become quite open minded and way more understanding about certain things. I realised that living here isn't always that bad and that I'm quite lucky with the freedom I have here. But I also realised that some things are way better in other countries and that my country should really work on that. I've also learned a lot about racism and how it affects certain people.
You'll learn many things.
I've learned so much about other cultures and I've also learned a few words in foreign languages. I love learning about other cultures and religions and talking to people all around the world helps me to do that. It also made me respect other cultures a lot more.
And of course you'll have a place to stay in other countries.
This is also worth mentioning, because now that I know so many people from different countries I always have a place to stay if I were to visit that country. And even if I don't stay there, if I do visit the country I can ask for advice and tips about what to do and where to go. So far I've only stayed with someone once, which were two lovely girls from the UK. But I'm going to Stockholm this summer and my Swedish friend offered to help me sort things out, which is very nice.
Conclusion: having an international friend is loads of fun, and in my personal experience it truly improved my life. If you want to find yourself an international friend I suggest signing up for InterPals. I signed up about a week ago to see what it was like, and I already met many interesting people!
Do you have an international friend? Let me know!
No, this is not gonna be a post with cliché tips to be your best and happy self. Because quite frankly, those things don't really work. But lately I've made a few small changes in my life which really made me happier.
I've been fighting depressive feelings for a long time, and along with that came a lot of stress. But since a few months or so I've been feeling much better. I wondered why, so I made a small list of the changes that I made. I found out that they're mainly small things, so I figured it might be worth sharing.
1. Allow yourself to be sad.
I think this has been a very important change for me. I used to fight that depressive feeling, trying to force myself to be happy. Well let me tell you a secret; you can't do that. You can't force yourself to be happy. So instead you should do the opposite: allow yourself to be sad. It's totally okay to feel sad. Just know that eventually it'll pass. When I'm really down I always take a deep breath and say to myself: "You're sad right now, and that's perfectly fine. Just put on some comfy clothes, make yourself a cup of tea and go to bed early tonight. Tomorrow will be better. And if not? Then that's okay too. Because eventually it'll pass."
2. Try not to worry too much.
Now, I know this is easier said than done, but it really does help. I used to worry about everything. I was always worried about what people thought of me and my actions, I was worried about the future, about whether or not I was doing the right thing, and so on. Just stop. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that it'll be fine. Really, comforting yourself, how weird it may sound, often helps. As for worrying about the future: just do what you love. Of course, you need to keep an eye on the future, but don't let that stop you from doing what you love.
3. Look good, feel good.
Okay this subtitle does sound cliché, but it's true. I've noticed that I feel way better when I think I look good. I don't really wear make-up, but dressing nice makes me feel really happy. And if the clothes you want to wear are a little strange, or at least to society, just wear them anyway. Don't worry about what others think. If there's one thing I learned from the days on which I wore some strange clothing combinations, is that if you wear it long enough you'll stop caring.
4. Know when it's okay to force yourself and when not.
Now, while it's not good to force yourself to be happy, it sometimes is good to give yourself a little push. For example, if you've been doing nothing for days because you feel sad, it's time to kick your own butt. Go do something, even if it's going outside for one minute. Doing nothing all day will only make things worse.
But then there are also cases where it's not good to force yourself. For example, if you've been overworking yourself and you have more work to do, it's time to stop. Take a break, take good care of yourself. Make yourself a cup of tea, watch your favourite movie, read a book, listen to some good music, go out with friends, whatever you'd like to do. Allow yourself to take a break.
5. Plan ahead.
This is more like 4b, instead of 5. And I don't mean plan ahead as in "plan the rest of your life". I mean that you should plan things ahead to avoid stress. Going to an unknown place by train? Plan the journey. Look up when the train leaves and arrives, what trains you can take in case of a delay, and look for alternative routes. Also plan the journey back home. I always do this and it saves me a lot of stress. Also if you have a lot of (home)work to do, write everything down. Write down when the deadlines are, what you need to do, and how much time you think you'll need for each task. You don't have to make a day-to-day schedule, just writing things down clears up a lot.
6. Know when it's time to ask for help.
I think this one is very important. I am very well aware that if you're truly suffering from depression it will be very difficult to use these tips. But I do hope that in that case, you will use this one. If you think you're suffering from depression, ask for help. It's absolutely okay to do so. It doesn't mean you're weak, or can't fix things yourself. It means you're brave enough to realise that you need help. I always thought I would be fine going on the way I did, but at one point I realised that maybe I should go talk to a doctor or psychiatrist. I wish I had done it years ago. After a talk with the psychiatrist I was given fluoxetine, a light anti-depressant. I've been using meds for most of my life, so I didn't mind taking one more. But I know that many people are against using meds. Well let me tell you, sometimes meds can really help. And it's totally okay to use them. For me it worked really well and I'm just glad that these meds exist. There's nothing wrong with asking for help and using medication in order to feel better. All that matters is that you'll get better.
That were most of the main things I came across. I hope that this will help some people who are feeling low. Remember that many people have these problems and that they can be helped.
Anyways, I hope you all will have an amazing end of the week <3