How to Have a Sex Life with Chronic Pelvic Pain

The first time I had sex, it hurt. And despite what the media tells girls these days, it’s not supposed to! Little did I know that it wouldn’t get easier over time, as the media also told me. The reason why? Pelvic pain caused by my endometriosis.

It’s amazing how quickly my doctor could pinpoint the pain I was feeling during my exam. What’s less amazing is how long it took me to be heard in the medical system. I was still in high school when I first started seeing doctors for the pain I felt during sex. By the time I was in college, I was avoiding sex regularly due to the pain I was in.

I distinctly remember telling myself at one point that I could live without sex — and sure, I could. But that isn’t the point. I shouldn’t have to, and neither should you. That’s why sex is an important quality of life measure when doctors are assessing the extent of chronic pelvic pain: sex matters!

Sex allows us to build and deepen relationships, provides health benefits and relieves stress. Plus, it just feels good — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

As someone living with chronic pelvic pain, I know it can feel like sex is a part of life you’re doomed to miss out on. But despite those feelings, it isn’t. You can and will enjoy sex! You just need to understand where your pain is coming from and how to manage it — not to mention, how to cope with the difficult emotions surrounding your sex life.

Pelvic Pain and Your Emotions

When sex feels painful or even impossible, the emotions that arise can be equally painful. Whether you’re in a relationship or not, you’ll likely feel a sense of loss or frustration, among an amalgam of other complicated feelings surrounding sex. Here are just a few of the ways pelvic pain can impact the emotions that surround our sex lives.

Guilt

Conditions that cause pain during sex — such as endometriosis, pelvic floor dysfunction and vulvodynia (I have all three because I’m #blessed like that) — can also cause lack of interest in sex, difficulty becoming aroused and inability to reach orgasm. If you suffer from one or more of these side effects of pelvic pain, you might feel guilty for the way they affect your sex life.

As someone in a relationship, I know how difficult it is to feel like you’re the one always saying no to your partner’s advances. Or, you might feel bad for “taking too long” in bed or needing more stimulation to remain aroused during sex. You may even feel guilty for caring so much about your sex life in the frst place. Whatever it is, sexual guilt only furthers the problems caused by pelvic pain. In order to reclaim your sex life, you must let go of the guilt, and allow it to give way to pleasure.

Depression

Dealing with pelvic pain sucks, especially when it feels like you just can’t catch a break. Low libido can result directly from pelvic pain, or from the feelings of depression associated with pelvic pain. When our pelvic pain leaves us feeling hopeless and disinterested in our usual activities, of course our sexual desire is going to plummet as well. The subsequent relationship problems caused by constantly avoiding sex then maintain the depression, creating a vicious cycle of loneliness and low self-esteem. In these cases, learning to cope with the limitations of pelvic pain and finding happiness in what you can do may increase your libido and improve your sex life.

Frustration

When you suffer from any chronic condition, at some point you will probably find yourself wishing you could just be “normal” again like everybody else. These feelings can easily give way to frustration and resentment, especially if you fall into the comparison trap. Pick up the latest issue of Cosmopolitan and skim through the pages — I guarantee you’ll feel like everyone is having more orgasms than you, or at the very least having more sex (and enjoying it more, too).

However, it’s important to remember that you are more “normal” than you think, and that these media tropes are merely a mirage! In reality, 75% of women cannot climax from penetrative sex alone, 10-15% never climax at all and 20% experience some type of pain during sex. It’s natural to be frustrated by the pain you face, but don’t forget that you are not alone in your suffering. No one’s sex life is perfect, no matter what they say in public!

Tips for Pain-Free Sex

If you suffer from chronic pelvic pain, you probably think you’ve heard it all: try a different position. Try woman-on-top. Apply heat or cold after sex. Achieve orgasm on your own if you can’t with a partner. But these tips aren’t the end of the line when it comes to enjoying pain-free sex. If they were, most women with chronic pelvic pain would never learn to enjoy sex again!

Sadly, many women do give up and avoid sex altogether — but you don’t have to be one of them. Instead, you can decide to fight your chronic pelvic pain and reclaim control of your sex life. Empower yourself not to give up on sex by trying some of these tips to manage the pain you feel during sex:

  • Reduce external irritation. Amy Stein, author of Heal Pelvic Pain, recommends in her book applying pure Vitamin E oil to the vulva twice per day to reduce any external irritation. It’s also important to wear 100% cotton underwear, to switch to menstrual products free of fragrances or chemicals and to never, ever douche. EVER!
  • Use a quality lubricant. A safe, water-based lubricant is a must-have for any woman experiencing pelvic pain! Stein suggests avoiding lubricants with propylene glycol, an irritating ingredient.
  • Explore your sexuality outside of penetrative sex. If penetrative sex is too painful, Howard I. Glazer and Gae Rodke, authors of The Vulvodynia Survival Guide, recommend trying oral sex, mutual masturbation, sensual massage or even talking dirty to your partner to keep that spark of passion alive.
  • Set the mood. If you are going to have penetrative sex, go into sex as relaxed as possible. Light candles, put on sexy lingerie, use an aromatherapy massage oil…. Whatever you can do to reduce stress and promote relaxation prior to sex will help loosen your muscles, preventing the worst of your pelvic pain.
  • Bring props into the bedroom. I’ve previously written about the Ohnut, a flexible disk worn at the base of the penis to help partners explore comfortable penetration depths during sex. You can get $7 off your Ohnut purchase by using my promo code LOVELYLAZY7 — click here to check it out! If you (like most women) can’t orgasm from penetrative sex alone, you may also consider bringing a vibrator into the bedroom.

Want to join my FREE 7-Day Getting Endostrong e-course? Click here!

Beauty Essentials Every Anxious Girl Needs

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive payment for any items you purchase through my blog. All opinions are still my own.

Does putting makeup on make you anxious? Whether it’s the number of products lining the shelves at Sephora or the pressure to perfect a smudge-free cat eye, wearing makeup can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth for those of us who suffer from anxiety.

But there’s good news, too: if you’re an anxious girl who loves putting on makeup, your Ulta habit might actually help your anxiety. Okay, maybe not the part where you overspend on the latest release from Tarte — but applying makeup allows you to maintain a sense of control, encourages mindfulness and even includes elements of aromatherapy.

If you’re someone who loves makeup and hates her anxiety, then this post is for you. Today I’m sharing the foolproof beauty essentials to help combat your beauty woes, so you can stop feeling sick to your stomach and start feeling in control of your daily makeup routine again.

If you think there’s too many choices….

If you’re overwhelmed by the number of products at your local beauty store (WTF is “priming milk,” anyways?!) then you’re not alone — but that doesn’t mean you need to shy away from makeup altogether! All-in-one kits and multitasking palettes allow you to purchase multiple products in one fell swoop, instead of spending hours upon hours scouring the shelves.

Laura Geller’s Multitasking Cream to Powder Trio in Meet the Nudes offers three versatile shades that can be used anywhere on the face, all for just $24.

Or, for absolute beginners, Charlotte Tilbury’s The Sophisticate Look Set comes with everything you need to start a makeup collection: for $230, you get an eye palette, eyeliner, mascara, blush, three lip colors and a chic bag to carry it all in.

Charlotte Tilbury The Sophisticate Look Set Image 2

If you’re worried about making mistakes….

What keeps you up at night when it comes to makeup? If it’s a fear of making mistakes (that everyone will see), don’t stop wearing makeup. Instead, look toward products that help make your life easier when it comes to flawlessly applying your favorite makeup.

Case in point? The beautyblender Liner Designer. At just $8, this triple-edged little guy helps you master the hardest makeup trend of all time, a.k.a. the perfect cat eye. (Plus, it comes in a cute carrying case to boot!)

Image result for beautyblender liner designer

And for those days when all hell breaks loose on your face, it’s nice to know you have a back-up plan. The MakeUp Eraser is a washable, reusable makeup removing cloth that lasts up to three years and removes makeup with water alone. (Yes, even your waterproof mascara!) Not to mention, it helps save the planet by getting rid of the trash that comes with disposable makeup wipes. Not bad for just $20!

Makeup Eraser - The Original MakeUp Eraser® Makeup Remover Cloth Pink 7" W x 16" L

If disorganization drives you crazy….

Perhaps your problem with makeup isn’t the makeup itself — it’s how to store it without it turning into a giant, jumbled mess. Don’t worry, anxious babes…. I’ve got you covered!

I love my Caboodle makeup storage case, which breaks down into so many shelves, nooks and crannies it’s absolutely insane. You can get one from Modcloth for $18 — order in-app for 25% off your first purchase!

Four Ways to Celebrate Mental Health This Valentine’s Day

Happy almost Valentine’s Day! This is one of my favorite holidays — but it’s not a happy day for everyone. In fact, 1 in 3 people aren’t satisfied with their love life, making a holiday that celebrates love pretty painful.

I may be part of the lucky few, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get what it means to be single and bummed out on V-Day (or in a relationship and bummed out!). Whether you’re in a long-distance relationship that makes it impossible to celebrate or if you’re disappointed to be spending yet another Valentine’s Day alone, this day presents mental health challenges for many of us.

So, if you aren’t in the mood to celebrate love, why not celebrate mental health this Valentine’s Day? Here are four little things you can do to get into the festive V-Day spirit while honoring the mental health challenges so many of us face this time of year!

1. Buy yourself a gift.

If you don’t feel like celebrating romantic love, try celebrating self-love this Valentine’s Day! Buying yourself jewelry or flowers can be far more satisfying than receiving them from a partner, anyways. Might I suggest this necklace by Jen Gotch x Iconery? Not only does it raise awareness for depression, anxiety and bipolar, but all proceeds from this jewelry line will also be donated to a mental health charity.

'Depression' pendant hanging from chain.

2. Take a mental health day.

Or, why not take an entire day off to celebrate yourself? Take a mental health day from work or school this Valentine’s Day to spend the day doing something you love. Whether it’s going off the grid to hike or booking a massage at your favorite day spa, a mental health day can be just the thing you need to rest and rejuvenate yourself so you can get back to taking on the world.

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3. Send compassionate cards.

Don’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day for yourself? Try celebrating it for others in need! Write cards to people you know who may be struggling with their mental health, or even get in touch with a local mental health charity to see if you can write cards for members of a support group or a treatment center. Print out these free mental health-themed Valentine’s Day cards to send a message of compassion to those you care about.

Free Mental Health Valentine's Day Cards

4. Donate to those in need.

If you’re struggling with mental health on Valentine’s Day, you’re not alone — and not everyone is lucky enough to receive treatment for their mental health needs. This Valentine’s Day, show a little love to those people who might not be able to afford mental healthcare by donating your time or money to one of the following organizations:

  • Cleveland, OH:
    • FrontLine Service provides mental health services to the homeless and helps youth victims of trauma and violence in their recovery.
  • United States:
    • NAMI chapters nationwide support people in mental health recovery and their loved ones with support groups, events and more.
    • NEDA supports eating disorder recovery with education and advocacy nationwide.
    • Samaritans works toward suicide prevention, and is also active in the U.K.
    • Active Minds supports college students in their mental health journeys.
    • The Buddy Project pairs people in need with mental health “buddies” to prevent suicide and self-harm.
  • United Kingdom:
    • Mind strives to reach young people before they reach a crisis point.
    • Heads Together is changing the conversation around mental health by reducing stigma.
    • Beat is the U.K.’s eating disorder treatment and prevention charity.

Knowing Yourself Deeply (+ Free Printable Journal Prompts)

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve been writing a lot about self-love here on Lovely & Lazy. I firmly believe that the first step to loving yourself is knowing yourself deeply. But how do you do that?

So often, we’re blind to ourselves — our faults, yes, but most of all, our talents. We refuse to recognize our own strengths, whether in modesty or low self-esteem. But it’s knowing yourself, and knowing yourself deeply, that allows you to love the person you truly are!

That includes the good, the bad and the ugly of who you are. Knowing yourself deeply is so much more than knowing your favorite color or which Gilmore Girl you are. It’s understanding why you do the things you do, what your greatest hopes and dreams are and, most importantly, what your purpose is for being in this world.

If you’ve struggled with depression, like I have, you may not believe that you have strengths or that you’re meant to be on this planet for a reason. But believe it or not, learning more about yourself can also be a powerful tool for overcoming depression.

Understanding who you are, the good and the bad, can help you improve your self-esteem and make peace with your prior mistakes. The result? A happier, healthier you. Here’s how to start.

Read to the end of this post to discover how you can get to know yourself deeply. If you stick around, you’ll also get my free printable journal prompts to help you get to know yourself better!

Personality Quizzes

No, I’m not talking about the aforementioned Buzzfeed quizzes that will tell you which Hogwarts house you belong in (though knowing this is obviously critical to knowing who you are!). I’m talking about personality inventories backed in psychology — tests like the Big Four and the Enneagram.

Below, I’ve included a list of some of the best personality tests for uncovering your strengths and weaknesses, as well as links for where you can take them yourself:

  • Enneagram Test. Your enneagram is best described as one of nine personality types, calculated based on how you describe yourself and your behavior.
  • Myers-Briggs Test. The Myers-Briggs Test breaks personalities down into four traits with two options per trait, and is calculated based on self-description of yourself and your behavior.
  • Big Five Personality Test. The Big Five test rates to what percentage you express five key traits identified in psychology.

To get the most out of these quizzes, make sure you take the time to read the descriptions of your type offered to you at the end of each test. You never know what might resonate with you or what you might uncover about yourself!

Journaling

Keeping a journal is my favorite way to stay in touch with what I’m thinking and feeling. I try to write in my journal every day to purge myself of negative emotions and get to the bottom of how I feel about my life.

Starting a journal can be intimidating if it isn’t something you’ve tried before. Answering daily prompts is one easy way to get started when you don’t know what to write about! Below, I’ve listed a few sample prompts to get you started with journaling.

  • What do I love to do?
  • What am I afraid of?
  • What do I need right now?
  • What is my favorite thing about myself?
  • Who do I admire the most?
  • What are my goals for this month?

Want more journal prompts to help you get to know yourself even better? Scroll to the bottom of this post and you’ll also receive my free printable journal prompts with even more questions to provoke self-discovery!

Values Questionnaire

Last but not least, one of the best ways to understand who you are as a person is to understand what you value. You can learn more about what you value by completing a values questionnaire. These are often performed in therapy to help patients’ clarify their values so that they can start to act in ways that align with what they really value in life.

Some values you might or might not want to live by include:

  • Loyalty
  • Kindness
  • Honesty
  • Bravery
  • Perseverance
  • Humor
  • Beauty
  • Knowledge
  • Wealth
  • Respect

So, how can you figure out what you really value? Click here to print out a Values Clarification worksheet from TherapistAid and rank your top ten values. Once you learn to act in ways that support your values, you’ll find yourself happier and more fulfilled with the life you’re currently leading.

How to Get Your Free Journal Prompts

Alright, alright — I know this is why you’re all actually here, so I won’t delay you any longer:

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE PRINTABLE JOURNAL PROMPTS FOR KNOWING YOURSELF DEEPLY!

Conquering Financial Anxiety (feat. Ellevest!)

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive payment for any items you purchase through my blog. Affiliate links like these help keep Lovely & Lazy alive!

In 2019, I had the pleasure of working with a client who’s a financial therapist. She uses psychology to help bread-winning women say f**k it to patriarchal viewpoints and financial anxiety.

I learned a lot from working with her, and it really made me examine my own relationship with money. For example, I have a lot of bad money habits stemming from my anxiety, as I’m sure we all do:

  • I get too caught up in the “what ifs?” to plan for my financial future by saving; instead, I just worry about it and hope it will all work out.
  • Looking at my bank statements makes me anxious, so I’m often too scared to check my account for errors.
  • I’ve even maxed out my credit cards because I thought buying something would be the “magic solution” for my anxiety. (I’m looking at you, $150 yoga pass I used twice.)

Thankfully, I also learned some ways I could reduce that financial anxiety by reading her blog and watching her videos. Combined with the research I did for this article, I’ve come a long way in the past year when it comes to understanding my money and conquering financial anxiety.

By no means have I cured my financial anxiety, but I have learned a tip or two that I think will help you get to a better place when it comes to your money! Here’s some of my best advice when it comes to reducing financial anxiety, and what you can do to better plan for your financial future….

What is Financial Anxiety?

Financial anxiety: 85% of Americans have it to some degree. But that doesn’t say much about what it is…. or why we should care about it enough to read an entire blog post about it!

About 2/3 of Americans report that money is their largest source of stress — enough so that therapists have coined the colloquial term “money anxiety disorder” to explain the phenomenon.

According to credit reporting company Experian, the following symptoms might be signs that you suffer from financial anxiety:

  • Overspending. You get stuck in a vicious cycle of being anxious about money, enjoying the release of a shopping spree and digging yourself into a deep hole of guilt (and potentially debt).
  • Hoarding. You’re so afraid of what could happen that you’re excessively frugal, to the point where you might have storage unit full of stuff you “might” need someday.
  • Dishonesty. Are you covering up your credit card bills, hiding an account from your spouse or otherwise lying about your spending or saving habits? You might be committing something called “financial infidelity.”
  • Generalized anxiety. Sometimes, our money worries can become so overpowering that they overshadow everything else in our life. You might find yourself on edge most of the time, even about things that have nothing to do with your wallet.

Challenging Your Money Worries

So, how can you get to work challenging those money worries and getting back to being your badass self? My client Lindsay wrote a blog post where she shared an exercise from her upcoming book, The Financial Anxiety Solution, on how you can challenge your fears about money.

The exercise is based in the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT — a form of therapy commonly used to treat anxiety. Here’s how it works:

Step One: Choose an anxiety-inducing thought you have about money. For example, “I’m too dumb to understand investing.”

Step Two: Examine the evidence for and against your thought. This is kind of like making a pro/con list: for example, if you previously made an investing mistake, put that on the mental “con” list. If you rocked your college finance class, put that on the “pro” list.

Step Three: At the end, reexamine your original thought. Does it still make sense given the number of pros and cons against the thought? Chances are, the answer will be “no.”

Once you learn to let go of the false, limiting beliefs you hold about your relationship with finances, you’ll soon find your financial anxiety lessened enough to start making smarter decisions with your money!

Prepping for Your Worst Case Scenario (feat. Ellevest!)

As I mentioned previously, financial anxiety often fuels our bad money behaviors; it can lead to overspending, hoarding, being miserly or avoiding planning for the future. Changing our thoughts can help change our behaviors — but so can learning to change those behaviors that are part of the cycle of financial anxiety.

One thing that has helped me tremendously in learning to tackle my financial anxiety is taking control of my financial future — and by that I mean starting an investment account with Ellevest. (I’m not paid to promote Ellevest, but I love it enough that I’d definitely take a deal! #sponsorme)

Ellevest is a financial investment app by women, for women. It offers easy investment portfolios with the option to transfer money automatically every month, helping you save without thinking about it. Plus, you can opt into their Impact Portfolio, which benefits women-owned companies to help empower women around the globe.

Sign up for Ellevest by clicking here and you’ll receive $20 in credit toward your first investment!

The Best Self-Love Gifts for Valentine’s Day

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a portion of the proceeds from any purchases made through my blog. Thank you for supporting Lovely & Lazy!

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love of all kinds. Unfortunately, one of the types of love I see drastically underrepresented on V-Day is self-love!

I love being in a relationship, but I also love myself. Valentine’s Day as its portrayed in the media doesn’t allow much space for both: either you’re blissfully happy in a relationship or you’re miserably single. There’s no room to love yourself and your partner, or to love being on your own.

Thankfully, things are changing, thanks to the rise of women writers on sites like Bustle and Refinery29 telling our stories the way we see them. However, I still wanted to take a moment to appreciate self-love here on Lovely & Lazy!

As a woman in a relationship, I think it’s important to remember that being in a relationship is about two whole people coming together — not finding someone to “complete you.” And that’s what practicing self-love is all about, and why I’m advocating for buying yourself a self-love gift this Valentine’s Day.

Read on to check out my list of little gifts that you can buy yourself this February 14th to enhance your practice of self-love!

Gratitude Candle

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time of year to get intentional about self-love and gratitude. Now, ban.do has launched a line of intention candles (to go with its bestselling necklaces) for you to light to reaffirm your goals in the New Year. Get yours for $38 at ban.do — and don’t forget to use my link for $10 off your order of $20 or more. Click here!

Satisfyer 1

Here’s a scary stat: there’s more than a 20% orgasm gap between the number of times men and women climax during sexual activity. In case you haven’t heard it lately, you deserve to orgasm just as often as a man — even if that means taking matters into your own hands! Last year, Bellesa launched a Valentine’s Day campaign where they donated money to Planned Parenthood for every view of a porn video on their website. Grab yourself a $29 Satisfyer from their boutique and get ready to participate.

Lace Babydoll

Why wear lingerie to look good for a guy when you could wear it to love the way you look in the mirror? Don’t wait for your S.O. to buy you something slinky and lacy for Valentine’s Day — buy yourself something, and keep it all to yourself! Auden is the latest (affordable) lingerie brand that Target-lovers are raving about; you can get a sexy red babydoll for just $22. Try it on, look at yourself in the mirror and try saying to yourself out loud, “Damn, I look good!” Welcome to your new favorite self-care practice.

Perfume Palette

Scent is powerful; it can trigger negative memories or help us create positive new ones. I suspect that’s one of the reasons why perfume is such a popular gift on Valentine’s Day: so you associate the smell with your S.O. whenever you wear it. For a twist on the classic tradition, buy yourself perfume and spritz it on as part of your self-care routine. Whenever you wear one of these fragrances from all-natural brand Skylar, you’ll think of your commitment to loving yourself and feel reaffirmed in your mission. Get the Skylar Perfume Palette for $20 at Sephora.

Practice You Guided Journal

One of the best ways to get to know yourself is from the inside-out. As a writer, I might be biased, but I love writing in a journal as a way to get into my own head and get to the bottom of what I’m thinking and feeling. This guided journal by self-help guru and yogi Elena Brower is titled Practice You in honor of the thing you do best every day: just being yourself! The $15 guided journal is available at Amazon, and will help you get started with journaling by prompting you to answer questions that will make you recognize the best in yourself.

Stitched XO Bar Soap

Need to wash something (or someone) out of your hair? A cleansing bath or shower is often just what you need to rid yourself of toxic vibes. Practice self-love by taking a long, hot bath or shower using this stitched bar soap (available for $9 at Anthropologie). Take time to enjoy the scent and steaminess as you revel in your sacred alone time. As you run the soap along your body, don’t forget to take a moment to say “thank you” for everything your bod does for you! Even if you don’t love the way you look, you can always find it in your heart to accept yourself as you are presently — and that, my friends, is the first step toward unconditional self-love.

Date Night Fund Jar

We schedule date nights with our significant others — but why not with ourselves? Whether it’s a drop-in yoga class you’ve been dying to try or a movie that no one but you wants to see, scheduling dates with yourself is one of the best ways to become comfortable spending time in your own skin. You are your own best company, so buy yourself this $8 date night jar at American Eagle this Valentine’s Day and start dropping your spare change in. Once you’re ready to cash out, use the money to treat yourself to a special self-care date all by yourself! At last, a date that doesn’t come with an argument about what to get for dinner….

Sex Bomb

You don’t need a partner to enjoy the aphrodisiac scents in this $8 Lush bath bomb! You don’t even need to be having sex to reap the benefits of its sensual energy. Use the Sex Bomb during a self-care bath to infuse yourself with magical, sexual energy and to encourage yourself to practice self-love. Soon, you’ll find yourself absorbing confidence and feeling ready to take on the world with your newly-heightened sex appeal.

Love Truffles

There’s nothing like savoring a delicious piece of chocolate to help you be more mindful — there’s even a famous chocolate meditation dedicated to the practice of mindfulness! For $5 at Thrive Market, you can treat yourself to a batch of sweet, luxurious, all-natural truffles made with the finest chocolate earth has to offer. Really notice the color, scent, texture and flavor of the chocolate as you dig in, one piece at a time, for a unique and delicious self-love practice you won’t soon forget.

The Cutest Anti-Anxiety Home Decor (& How to Hack Your Home)

If you have anxiety, the sheer thought of decorating your home — especially if you just dealt with the stress of moving like me and David did! — can feel overwhelming, or even impossible. But did you know that you can actually reduce your anxiety by carefully choosing your home decor?

The way we decorate our spaces says a lot about us. Likewise, the space we live in greatly influences our mood. Clutter in our home can reflect mental clutter, meaning that periods of high anxiety can create a messy environment — and that our messy environment can create a vicious cycle of more anxiety.

These are just a few reasons why you should consider your anxiety while decorating your house. Here are my favorite tips to hack your home for reduced anxiety, as well as some of my favorite pieces of adorable home decor to lessen your anxiety. (I promise it’s not just a weighted blanket!)

Decorating Tips for Reducing Anxiety

Beyond choosing the right items to reduce anxiety, you can also follow a few simple ground rules when it comes to decorating with your anxiety in mind. Here are some of my favorite home decorating tips for enjoying less anxiety at home:

  • Use color psychology. Color psychology explains how different colors influence our emotions. Take a nod from color psychology and choose calming colors like blue, green and white when painting or decorating your room.
  • Minimize clutter. As I mentioned previously, a cluttered space can reflect a cluttered mind. Keeping bookshelves and surfaces as clear as possible will minimize the space that your stuff takes up in your already-busy brain.
  • Get inspired by nature. Natural elements like plants and running water reduce anxiety and clear the home of negative energy, according to the ancient Chinese philosophy of feng-shui.
  • Light it up! Maximizing natural light in your home will elevate your mood, especially if you live in a part of the world that doesn’t get much sunshine. A study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh found that hospital patients exposed to natural light were far less stressed than those who were not.

My Favorite Anti-Anxiety Home Decor

Calming Candles

Here’s another thing to add to your constantly-full Target cart: these three-wick ceramic candles by Project 62 cost just $13 and feature calming scents like eucalyptus and ylang-ylang.

Stone Diffuser

If you haven’t already hopped on the aromatherapy train, now is your chance! This $119 stone diffuser by Vitruvi is an elegant way to fill your room with soothing essential oil scents.

Meditation Cushion

20-30 minutes of deep breathing per day can drastically reduce anxiety and stress. Elevate your breathing practice with a cozy cushion reserved especially for deep breathing, like this $59 meditation pillow from Crystal Cove.

White Noise Machine

Parents use white noise machines in their nurseries for a reason: their sounds are incredibly soothing and encourage better sleep! Take a nod from my therapist’s office and opt for the Marpac Dohm Elite White Noise Machine, available for $50 at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Ceramic Fountain

Love the sound of falling rain? Then you might want to consider a ceramic fountain in your home. The sound of running water can be incredibly calming, so check out this $45 fountain featuring the koi fish from Foreside Home & Garden.

Fairy Lights

Like color, lighting has the power to transform our mood. There’s a reason why dim lights are called “mood lighting:” they put us in a relaxed state that’s not just great for sex, but also for reducing anxiety! Catch these simple string lights for $39 from west elm while they’re still on sale.

Indoor Planter

Studies have shown that active interaction with house plants — like touching and smelling them — can reduce stress and anxiety. Go ahead and channel your green thumb with these $54 ceramic planters from World Market.

Weighted Blanket

You knew it was coming! We all know that weighted blankets feel like being wrapped in a warm hug — but this one from Tranql is also infused with the soothing scent of lavender to take those anxiety-reducing benefits up a notch. Get it in an adorable lilac shade for $159.

Book Review: WomanCode by Alisa Vitti

I’m not going to lie: when I first read WomanCode, the book didn’t resonate with me the way it does now.

I first picked up the book hoping to learn a little something more about my hormones and the female body — which I did. But it didn’t teach me anything I couldn’t have learned in a sex ed class, if my school had actually taught me sex ed.

Now that I know about my endometriosis, however, I set out to reread this book, figuring that my hormones had become a much more important part of my everyday life. And I was right!

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Rereading WomanCode taught me so much about bringing my hormonal issues in check that I even preordered Alisa’s second book, In the FLO, and started working on the preorder challenge. (Follow along on Instagram @lovelyandlazy, where I’ll be holding myself accountable throughout the challenge!)

Here is my honest review of WomanCode, which is in no way sponsored by anyone affiliated with the book, and why I think women everywhere should practice the cycle syncing method.

Facts About Female Hormones

Do you think about your hormones on a daily basis? Probably not — but your hormones are affecting every move you make, whether you realize it or not! I recently attended an online webinar by Alisa Vitti, author of WomanCode, where she shared some fascinating facts about female hormones. For example….

  • Over 47% of women say they struggle with hormonal problems.
  • 60% of women report being sexually dissatisfied.
  • Most diet, fitness and medical research is performed on male subjects and is not actually applicable to the female body.
  • Your brain is up to 25% structurally different across your cycle, known as the infradian rhythm.
  • Many people are practicing Alisa’s cycle syncing method, including the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team!

Alisa’s Story & Advice

When Alisa Vitti was in college, she was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Her doctor told her that her only option for treatment was basically to take birth control pills and hope for the best. So, Alisa asked, “What else can I do?” The doctor was stumped!

Fast forward years later, and Alisa’s research on women’s hormone health has led her to start FLO Living, a holistic wellness center for women based in NYC, as well as to develop the WomanCode protocol, a method for what Alisa calls “cycle syncing,” or adapting your diet, exercise and activities to the four phases of your menstrual cycle: menstrual, ovulatory, follicular and luteal.

In her book WomanCode, Alisa not only outlines her protocol, but also explains what the heck these four phases are and how women can tell what phase of their cycle they’re in by observing their bodies and their symptoms. She also explains the various hormones produced by the pituitary glands and other systems in the body, and how they affect our day-to-day lives.

My Takeaways

As a woman, and especially as a woman with endo, the idea that my cycle could work with me, rather than against me, was completely foreign to me…. until I picked up this book. WomanCode showed me how I could nurture my body and be more gentle with myself by adjusting my activities to match my cycle, rather than “pushing through” my menstrual fatigue or mid-cycle pelvic pain.

One of my favorite parts of Alisa’s WomanCode protocol is that it isn’t all “eat this, work out like that.” She also stresses the importance of tapping into your feminine energy and seeking balance in your life. While some people on Goodreads thought this part of the book was sexist, I think they’re missing the point. You shouldn’t have to act like a man to be respected like a man. You can still be loving and nurturing, and embody traditionally female characteristics, while totally kicking ass. Just look at Elle Woods!

Another highlight of the WomanCode protocol is Alisa’s chapter on sexuality. It’s my opinion that female sexuality has been ignored and woman’s concerns about low libido brushed off for far too long. As someone who’s often struggled with low libido due to depression and pelvic pain, I found it incredibly enlightening to learn about how my sexuality changes throughout my cycle and what I can do to naturally improve my sex drive.

My main issue with this book is its emphasis on diet and exercise, particularly Alisa’s “every meal, every day” mantra. The WomanCode protocol isn’t a diet, exactly, but it may trigger you if you have a history of an eating disorder — because unlike in other parts of the book, Alisa only very briefly mentions the idea of balance when it comes to following her nutritional recommendations.

Alisa does mention that you don’t need to be perfect when following the dietary protocol, but she also advocates for ditching dairy and gluten altogether, demonizes caffeinated beverages like coffee and neglects to mention that some “less healthy” foods, like dark chocolate, are actually fantastic for your health! She also has a detox plan listed in the book, which is utter B.S. considering that our liver, colon and other organs are literally designed to detox our bodies without any additional support.

Thus, my advice is to read the dietary section with caution (or skip it altogether) if you come into WomanCode with a history of an eating disorder, like many of you guys do. However, I did find value in what WomanCode had to say about female hormones and do believe that every woman would benefit from tapping into her female sexual and spiritual energy, whether at work or at home!

Where to Buy Cute Stationery Online

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a portion of the proceeds from any purchases you make through my blog. Thanks for supporting Lovely & Lazy!

Anyone who knows me knows that stationery is a passion of mine, right up there behind blogging and buying expensive coffees, only to leave the half-finished. (Think I’m kidding? Ask my boyfriend.)

They say to write what you know, so today, I’m writing about stationery — as in, where I buy it online. I’ll be sharing my favorite stores for buying online stationery, along with why I like them and what you can expect if you shop with them.

Because I’m just so gosh-darn excited to be writing about one of my favorite things, let’s get started!

Blippo Kawaii Shop

Blippo Kawaii Shop brings you the cutest stationery straight from Japan and Korea. In addition to stationery, they also sell other items like accessories, plushies and even Asian candy!

Pros: Blippo is super affordable — and even sends you a free kawaii gift with every purchase over $25. Shipping is always free; if you want order tracking, it costs only $2. They carry character-themed stationery (including Sanrio and Tsum-Tsum), if that’s your thing. If you can catch items while they’re still new, you can choose the style of product you want. There’s an option to get a stationery goodie bag for just $20, or even to subscribe to their monthly kawaii box.

Cons: The website shows you items that are out of stock, meaning you end up with a lot of FOMO. Many times, only one style of a product will be available (and it’s usually the less cute style), meaning you need to keep track of what’s new to get the latest stuff. When I paid $2 for shipping, I never received my tracking number; however, the $2 shipping is faster, so I still recommend it!

Recommended Product: Pudgy Hamsters 2020 Desk Calendar ($5)

Mochithings

Mochithings sells tools to help you get organized. From stationery to home decor, they will help you whip your life into shape until you barely recognize the girl you were a month ago.

Pros: The products are a bit more sophisticated than Blippo, if that’s your preferred style. Many of the products are designed with daily, weekly or monthly planning in mind, making them great to use with your agenda. There’s a huge selection, and products are almost always in stock.

Cons: Shipping is unfortunately very slow for me. (For reference, when I last ordered, I still lived in Boston.) You also must pay for shipping, and the costs of the products are not quite as affordable as other stores on this list. They carry some brands, like Nekoni, but don’t carry Sanrio, Tsum-Tsum or other characters in their store (though I highly recommend their brand Suatelier).

Recommended Product: Themed Mini Plan Memo Pad ($5, on sale)

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Kawaiipenshop

Kawaiipenshop is an exclusively online store that sells only kawaii stationery, totes and backpacks. If you’re a fan of all things pink and cute, Kawaiipenshop is the store for you!

Pros: Compared to sites like Mochithings, Kawaiipenshop is much more affordable (it’s not as cheap as Blippo, but definitely the second cheapest option). All orders over $25 ship for free, too! As their name might suggest, they offer a lot of high-quality pens and markers, which some of the other sites are lacking in.

Cons: Their selection is sometimes limited; many items sell out quickly, and they don’t get new items as fast as other stores like Blippo and Mochithings. Some of the products are identical to those sold on Amazon, but given the price of shipping, Kawaiipenshop is usually a better place to buy!

Recommended Product:

Japanese PP Pen Case

Muji USA

I was first introduced to Muji back in Boston, at the store on Newbury Street. I like to call it Japanese IKEA because you can get almost anything there: from clothing, to home organization, to stationery.

Pros: You can get a 10% off coupon by signing up for their email list. A few of their products are also available on Amazon — so if you’re a Prime member, you can get free one- or two-day shipping on a limited number of their items. Muji sells high-quality stationery, including pens, that lasts a long time. Some items are pricier than others, but for the most part Muji is affordable.

Cons: Their notebooks, etc. are pretty plain in style, though they’re extremely high in quality. Many of them are made from recycled kraft paper, which is great for the planet, but a little boring for those of us who like our stationery cute and colorful. Their stationery can get pricey, depending on what you’re looking to buy — I try to stick to their pens and desk accessories, since their notebooks and paper products run on the expensive side.

Recommended Product: Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Set ($12)

Gel-Ink Ballpoint Pen 0.5mm 12 Colors

Stickiiclub

Stickiiclub is the reason I no longer allow myself to buy stickers: for $10 a month, you get an adorable package of stickers sent straight to your mailbox. It’s the subscription box for stationery addicts!

Pros: Shipping is always $1, so your total subscription costs are $11 per month. Not only is that extremely affordable, but Stickiiclub does the work of shopping for you — and makes sure you’re getting the cutest new sticker trends. You can even choose from three styles: Cute, Retro and Pop. Or, if you want to buy some in the shop, you can do so for just $2.75 a sheet. Plus, you can easily sign up with my referral link by clicking here!

Cons: You don’t choose what goes into your sticker pack each month, which means you run the risk of getting a bunch of stickers you don’t like or won’t use. (In that case, I highly suggest you send them to me — LOL!) However, they do give you the option to skip your pack — and they post spoilers each month so you can see if you like them. In order to get free shipping in the shop, you need to spend over $85, which while highly possible, isn’t necessary feasible.

Recommended Product: Cute Pack ($11 per month, including shipping)

Wonton in a Million

What do you get when you combine cute Chinese foods with stationery? Wonton in a Million’s cute designs! Wonton in a Million sells stickers, Washi tapes and more in their online shop.

Pros: Shipping is affordable, at $1.50 for flat items and $3 for non-flat items within the United States. They have a wide variety of products, including stickers, Washi tape, digital printables, sticky notes and more. You can even buy Washi sample cards if you want to try before you buy the larger rolls. The founder is the daughter of a family that owns a Chinese restaurant, meaning you’re supporting an Asian woman’s small business when you shop from Wonton in a Million. Plus, they recently became available in Michael’s stores, making them even easier to find online and off!

Cons: Only single sheets are available online, and they’re $2.50 each — meaning their stickers are fairly expensive. However, at Michael’s, you can get a large themed pack for $5, which helps cut the cost! Still, they can be difficult to track down outside of the online store. Shipping takes 3-7 business days, meaning it can be a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to whether they’ll come quickly or not.

Recommended Product: You’re The Boba To My Tea Vertical Layout Sticker Kit ($15)

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12 Books By Women Authors to Read in 2020

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe in goals — and one of my goals for 2020 is to read a little bit every day. I also believe in elevating the voices of women, which is why this post is all about books by women authors you should read in 2020.

Even after all these years, women authors still have it so much harder than men. An analysis of over two million book titles found that titles written by women were priced an average of 45% lower than those written by men. As of 2010, men were more likely to be published by Random House, Penguin and The New Yorker, and more likely to be reviewed in The NYT Book Review.

So, what’s a girl to do if she wants this to change? Buy books by female authors of course! You can start with this list of 12 books I think you should read in 2020 (that’s one per month!) — and why I think you should read them.

1. Educated by Tara Westover

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The first time Tara Westover set foot in a classroom, she was 17. So many of us take our education for granted, yet Tara had to fight for hers. Born to survivalists, she fought hard to learn enough mathematics and history to be admitted to Brigham-Young University, where she learned about events like the Holocaust for the first time.

Why you should read it: My mom recommended this book to me, so I might be biased, but frankly, I think everyone should read it — especially if you had the privileges of going to public school or attending college. It adds some much-needed perspective to a time in our lives that most of us complained about, and will make you grateful for your 13+ years of formalized education.

2. P.S. I Still Love You

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In the sequel to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean has to navigate a relationship for the first time — which, if you remember what that feels like, is hard AF! — all while figuring out her feelings for a new potential love interest from her middle school camp.

Why you should read it: P.S. I Love You is becoming a movie on Netflix that’s getting released next month! As someone who has rewatched TATB 10+ times, I can’t wait to read this book — or check out the movie. Hello again, Noah Centineo….

3. Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan

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Veronica is at the top of her class when she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant — in Texas. When she doesn’t know where else to turn, she reaches out to her ex-BFF Bailey, and they embark on a road trip to the nearest abortion clinic. It’s a tale about fierce female friendship and reproductive rights, wrapped up in a neat pink package!

Why you should read it: Like my previous pick, Unpregnant is also becoming a movie in 2020 — one I can’t wait to watch. However, it’s also extremely relevant to the world we live in today, where reproductive rights are becoming scarcer and scarcer. As someone who lives in Ohio, where a Heartbeat Bill has passed and abortion clinics are few and far between, I can relate to the fear that the novel’s protagonist must have gone through.

4. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

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NYT bestselling author Rachel Hollis is back with Girl, Stop Apologizing! This book is all about embracing your wildest dreams — and turning them into reality. Rachel examines the lies that hold women back from becoming “successful” (whatever successful means to them) and discusses how she overcame them in her own personal life and career. If you identify as a #girlboss or femtrepreneur, this book is a must-read!

Why you should read it: Speaking as someone who’s already read the book, I can honestly say that Rachel is a phenomenally funny, likable and relateable woman. She talks about her five to thrive, the five things she does every day to stay happy, healthy and sane, as well as other practical advice you can use in your life — without coming across like an unrealistic “wellness guru” or Insta-mommy. It’s the business-slash-self-help book you didn’t know you needed!

5. Becoming by Michelle Obama

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Who doesn’t love First Lady Michelle Obama? In Becoming, Michelle tells her story of growing up, marrying a politician and finding her voice to stand up for what she truly believes in. In other words, it’s a story about becoming — becoming who she was meant to be, in order to serve the people she was meant to serve.

Why you should read it: Michelle Obama is a living legend and an inspiration to women everywhere. From her tireless championship of women’s rights to her fierce-AF arm regimen, Michelle Obama is the woman I want to be when I grow up — and I think it’s important to read about our heroes, in order to truly understand who they are and where they come from.

6. She Means Business by Carrie Green

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Carrie Green wants to teach you to become a wildly successful entrepreneur — and she means business doing it! All you need these days to start a successful business is a computer and a dream. Carrie had both, and built a successful empire online. Now, she’s using her platform to teach you her trade secrets, so you can get into the #girlboss game.

Why you should read it: Because there’s no reason you can’t slay the entrepreneur game and become wildly successful! If you have an idea, then pick up this book and start turning your big business dreams into reality. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you except yourself — and that’s one of the things that Carrie is all about: empowering you to get out of your own damn way!

7. Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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Alex is the President’s son — and he’s got beef with Prince Henry across the pond. When the press catches wind of their altercation, his millennial golden-boy image falls to pieces. Their handlers stage a truce for damage control…. until their Insta-friendship becomes deeper, and more dangerous, than they ever could have imagined.

Why you should read it: This book won the Goodreads Choice Award in 2019, and for good reason: LGBTQ+ representation is essential, and Casey McQuiston has nailed it! Imagine the internal conflict when two of the world’s most powerful guys enter into a secret relationship — or as the jacket describes it, a “whirlwind romance.” Those two words alone are enough to entice me into reading this YA masterpiece.

8. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

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Free-spirited Gigi just wants to dance — but the very act might kill her. Gigi’s problem? The girls at her elite ballet school are willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top, including manipulating and backstabbing until the bitter end.

Why you should read it: I danced all throughout high school, so I’m still a sucker for a good elite ballerina drama. However, in my opinion, any book that’s described as Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars deserves to be read — and that’s exactly what I think you should do with this little black book!

9. Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison, RD

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Ready for the book to end all diet books? Christy Harrison is a Registered Dietitian who’s here to tell you that yes, you can eat whatever you want. And the key to happiness is giving up on your diet, perfectionism and all the pressures of having a body in the modern era.

Why you should read it: I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for the new age of “dieting,” where the best diet you can go on is one that isn’t a diet at all. That’s exactly the era I think this newly-released book is ushering in, which is why I’m going to tell everyone and their mother to read it until we live in a world where I no longer need to tweet “IDGAF about your diet, Susan.”

10. Dear Girls by Ali Wong

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Actress and comedian Ali Wong’s heartfelt and hilarious letters to her daughters made it to print in her book Dear Girls. The letters cover everything Ali thinks they need to know, from making it as a working woman to how she quote-unquote “trapped” their dad into marriage. Though addressed to her daughters, they’re bound to resonate with any girl.

Why you should read it: Until I saw Ali in Always Be My Maybe on Netflix, this was a book I didn’t know I needed. Now, I know better. And, since I’m all about lifting up women’s voices, it only makes sense that Ali’s feminist-inspired book on making a career in a male-dominated field (among other things, of course) would make my reading list for 2020!

11. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

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Written for a digital world, the soon-to-be-released novel Such a Fun Age tells the story of Alix Chamberlain, a blogger-turned-personal-brand, whose babysitter Emira is accused of kidnapping her child. Alix swoops in to “save” Emira, without fully understanding what she’s getting herself into. The book explores issues of race, class, money and privilege, all while following the lives of two compelling female characters.

Why you should read it: One of the best quotes on this book says that it “satirizes the white pursuit of wokeness.” As a white person, I strongly feel that this is a book that should be on all of our reading lists. Besides its racial overtones, however, it’s also a book by a woman with two strong female characters as the driving force, which is something I think we can all get behind.

12. The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

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Rhiannon Hunter helped modernize romance for the digital world with her dating app Crush — but her real love life? Not so simple…. especially once Samson Lima, a former pro-football player, enters her life. After ghosting her, Samson surfaces again by chance, in league with Rhiannon’s business rival Matchmaker. Will she be willing to risk her heart?

Why you should read it: After you finish Such a Fun Age, you’re going to be ready for a lighter option and The Right Swipe fits the bill. However, this book still doesn’t skimp on important issues, like the intricacies of modern dating in the online age. Plus, it’s written by a woman of color and driven by a protagonist who’s also a woman of color — so, talk about elevating marginalized voices!