Self Love Sunday, Series, Uncategorized

Self Love Sunday

Assalaamu alaikum, everyone and welcome back to another Honest Hijabi moment! Today I want to talk about self-improvement/self-love and how to begin. I put improvement and love together because I don’t think we can have one without the other. I don’t believe that self-love is solely accepting ourselves as we are and not pushing ourselves to be and do better. Showing love to our minds, bodies, and souls takes work and sometimes that work is not easy. So to begin, the steps below talk about the mental work we need to do. For a long time I didn’t realise how powerful having control over my mind would be. Oh how I wish I could go back to 14 year old me and drill that into my big stubborn head. But I’m learning it now and let me tell you that it comes with so much freedom that you never realised you could have. So without further ado, let’s get started!

Step 1: Set up a solid base to work from.

We all know the saying that goes “Without a solid foundation, a structure cannot last.” Or something like that. Same thing goes for us. If we try to glow up only through shallow methods while ignoring the deeper changes that need to take place, our transformation will be temporary. A shallow glow up would be buying new makeup, changing up your hairstyle, and buying new clothes. Fun? Yes. Trans-formative? Absolutely. Impactful and long lasting? Not so much. So for a glow up that never stops glowing, we start with mental and physical health. This involves strengthening our deen, meditation, practising mental self-discipline, therapy, getting your levels checked, getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, getting physical, etc. This can also go deeper into letting go of relationships, things, and habits that bring you down. From this we can create a much smoother canvas to start painting ourselves onto.

Step 2: Build your character.

This one should be simple but some of us, like myself, didn’t have the best role models in this area growing up so we have to learn on our own. Character basically encompasses your moral values and personality. Having good character can look like being kind, keeping promises, acting with compassion and empathy, being generous, following through, being honest, being loyal, etc etc. These are really good traits to build up in ourselves but come with a lot of practice. These will carry you forward in life and bring you across all kinds of people and situations that will allow you to grow your personality as well. When we have these traits in place, we can build our personality around it to be whoever we want to be. We will also make friends easily and gather up beautiful life experiences that add more to us.

Step 3: Get to know yourself and stop over adapting.

One thing with growing up shy is that you tend to form a habit of adapting to those around you in order to blend in and survive in social situations. Couple this with my parents’ lack of social skills and a smooth social life and I entered my 20’s so bored of myself. Of course I had a personality but I was always so concerned with stepping on people’s toes or messing up that I suppressed a lot of it. I only gave answers that I thought people wanted to hear and therefore, no one ever really got too close to the real me. It’s hard to make friends that way and only makes you feel bad about yourself. So, stop it. Stop adapting so much to the people around you that you disappear completely. You are beautiful as you and you have every right to be yourself and have opinions as they do. You’ve worked on your character so if you act and speak through that, you have nothing to apologise for if someone chooses not to like you anyway.

Also, start journaling so that you can become familiar with your inner thoughts and feelings. This is also a great way to ramble and get all of the word vomit out of your system (just in case you struggle with that like I do). You can also conduct mini interviews with yourself where you write down lists of simple, easy to answer questions about you and answer them as truthfully as you can. This really helped me figure out what I liked and what I’m like so that I can stop being a doormat who just says “I like everything” whenever someone asks my opinion.

Step 4: Detach from other’s expectations and criticisms of you.

Something I wish I had known a long time ago is that you cannot become attached to what other people think of you. You shouldn’t become attached to the people themselves either. Just think of this: if you didn’t care what other people thought of you, what would you go out and do with your life right now? Go write that question down and then answer it in writing and reflect on it. What would you do without all of the unnecessary attachments to unnecessary people and their opinions? If that person is not close to you and they’re not someone that supports and encourages you, then what their brain comes up with about you doesn’t matter.

I used to want everyone to like me so bad so I would end up so attached to how they perceived me. I wouldn’t even really care for these people myself but for some reason I still wanted to be a certain way so they would like me. I would still sacrifice my precious time to go bore myself hanging out with them just to get some kind of invisible reward. This isn’t to be mean or dismissive of anyone. This isn’t about being petty and snobby and nasty to people. This is about learning to set boundaries so that you can live your best life. If there are people that are freely putting you down or expecting a lot out of you without giving much in return, then they are not the people for you. Why are you so worried about what they think of you? What do you think of that person? Do you like them? Are they fun to be around? Are they worth your time? You are not at everyone else’s mercy when it comes to your own well-being and social life. These are things that you build up for yourself and it’s time to be more discerning about who we let onto the building site.

Step 5: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

This is so important because taking oneself too seriously can undo so much work and make things stressful and weird with those around you. While it’s important to set boundaries and make necessary changes, remember to have fun with it and maintain a good attitude throughout the process. When you need alone time, don’t just shut your loved ones out. Let them know it’s all good, you just need some time to yourself. If someone jokes with you about what you’re doing, don’t immediately take it to heart in a negative way. Usually they mean well and as long as they’re respecting your new boundaries, it can be fun to laugh about it and bond over it. People gravitate towards chill, easygoing people and the more you can laugh at yourself and have fun with life, the more you’ll be that person. So those are my 5 quick steps to starting self love.

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beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Food

Hey guys! I’m back with another instalment to the Organic Beauty series. Today’s topic: food. One of the most under appreciated topics in the beauty industry. Usually we just focus on food for weight-loss with crazy fad diets and broken dreams but it goes way beyond that. The foods we eat can also play a big role in our hair, skin, nails and mood.

We are what we eat. How many times have we heard this? Probably too many to count but it’s true. Whether the consequences are visible or in hiding, our diet plays a big role in our lives. One of the simplest ways to feel a little bit more beautiful is to focus the way we eat around what our bodies need. For example, eating a healthy source of omega fatty acids results not only in cognitive brain function but allegedly softer, smoother skin. Dark leafy greens are filled with vitamins A and C aiding in cellular turnover and a brighter complexion, also eye health.

The Prophet (SAW) actually encouraged us to make a habit to eat from necessity rather than pleasure. We are encouraged to eat as He (SAW) ate: 1/3 food 1/3 water and 1/3 air. While it’s fun to treat ourselves every now and then, doing it all of the time can end up with us feeling ill, bloated, irritable, and our skin a wreck. Even if you’re one of the blessed few that doesn’t see these effects now, they’ll show up eventually. Just like how smoking, drugs, alcohol, and lack of sleep eventually make themselves known, food has its own way of creeping up on people through premature ageing, weight gain, and medical issues.

The only diet that’s right for everyone is one that is balanced and governed by moderation. Everything else is individual so you have to figure out what works for you. From experience, I know that most meat besides seafood, tomatoes, and dairy don’t make me feel so beautiful and wreak havoc on my skin. So I stay away from those when there’s no pizza around and instead eat the things that my body does love which tends to include lots of green veggies, beans, olives, hummus, lentils, and chocolate (antioxidants and all that). This will look different for everyone so the easiest way to figure out what your body wants and needs is to pay attention to how you are feeling after you eat. Go with the foods and drinks that make you feel like your best self and don’t force yourself to eat things that you absolutely can’t stand. If you know you need to eat more vegetables, start with the vegetables you like. If you’re not the biggest fan of veggies, start with the most tolerable and eat them in small portions.

There are also so many fun foods and drinks that you can find recipes for on Pinterest that are packed with nutrients but also taste delicious. Eating doesn’t have to be boring but the more we see food as a tool, the closer we can get to feeling our best and most beautiful. I think this may also help us repair our relationship with food, insha’Allah. It’s not about extremes, it’s about balance and doing what is truly good for us. For more on this kind of topic, check out Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution. This book goes deep into food and how we can use it to our advantage.

So that’s all my rambling on food for today. I wish you happy and beautiful eating!

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beauty, Uncategorized

Modest Shopping Hacks

While I am all for a conscious and ethical approach to our purchases, sometimes we can’t find what we’re looking for. Most of the ethical companies that I used to love don’t carry clothes that I would choose to wear now that I dress more modestly. So, I’ve resorted to searching elsewhere for clothing and learning to take care of the items I buy so that I can get the most use out of them. Today, I want to highlight some of the hacks that have allowed me to find inexpensive, modest clothing that is still stylish.

  1. Boohoo/Pretty Little Thing/Fashion Nova: Okay, here me out. I know that these retailers are the last one to come to mind when one thinks about modesty but they have some hidden gems. They have quite a few basics such as long sleeved jersey maxi dresses that can be layered up. They have plenty of longer, tunic-like shirts, especially in the button up category. And they have a hefty selection of kimonos that come at a much more affordable price than most abayas. They also carry a number of gorgeous skirts that can either be worn alone or layered over leggings. They frequently hold sales with the most recent one being 50% off the entire site!
  2. Shop XL+: So many “regular” sizes still fit tight even if they are larger than your size. Shopping in the plus size department for items such as dresses, tops, and jackets allows you to find pieces that fit loosely and are long enough to cover all the necessary areas.
  3. Check out thrift stores: Modesty was a little more popular back in the day so on a good day, you may score big at a vintage or thrift shop!
  4. Buy mini dresses: This one didn’t occur to me until later on but there are so many mini dresses out there that make perfect modest shirts! Seriously, how did I not realize this before? Most of my tops are marketed as dresses but I tend to buy them a few sizes up if they are fitted so that I can have a basic, modest top. It works out perfectly!
  5. Marshall’s/TJ Maxx: These are two of my favourite stores to buy clothes from. They’re super affordable and when you go at the right time, they have some of the cutest styles available. I’ve found that if you go right before the season starts (I went at the beginning of September right before Autumn officially began), you get your pick of all the new arrivals.
  6. Amazon: Hijabs and maxi dresses galore! While the site can’t beat Southall prices for scarves, it’s decent for the styles and materials that can’t be found in American stores. They also have quite the selection of long-sleeved casual maxi dresses that are perfect for travel and lounging around.
  7. Modanisa: A crowd favourite for their affordable, hijabi-friendly fashion and countless different styles to choose from; Modanisa is the online center for modest fashion. They also guarantee the fastest, most efficient shipping no matter where you are in the world at no extra cost. However, I must warn you that their customer service can be a little tiresome to deal with and getting a refund can take awhile after a return. I suggest only ordering hijabs and more affordable things from them just in case you are in need of making a return and to stay on their case about receiving your money back.

These are only some of the many modest fashion hacks out there. As I stated above, I know that some of these options, like the fast fashions sites, are not ideal especially when it comes to their treatment of factory workers and their impact on the environment. Where you shop is up to your discretion. For me personally, I only order from these sites if they are the last place for me to find what I’m looking for which is usually a basic piece. Alhamdulillah, I’ve been able to build up a wardrobe from many vintage and thrift store pieces as well as bits and bobs from TJ Maxx. I’ve also finally graduated to that stage of adulthood where you realize how to wash and dry your clothes properly so you don’t destroy them (insert feeling of worth and accomplishment here). This was mainly out of financial necessity and heartbreak over losing some of my favourite pieces. But seriously, if you love your clothes look into how to wash them to preserve them and consider line drying instead of using a dryer. This prolongs the life of some of your favourite outfits and keeps you from having to spend more money than you want to on a new wardrobe.

What are your hacks for finding modest clothes? I’d love to hear about them!

Thank you,

Nahlah

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beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Sleep

A lot of talk surrounding inner beauty solely focuses on personality and values. While these aspects are very important, beauty from the inside also heavily relies on health, meaning diet and lifestyle. It is no coincidence that the most redundant beauty advice tells us to drink lots of water, cut down on junk food, and go to bed on time. It’s called beauty sleep for a reason.

From personal experience, I’ve come to believe that sleep is the start of it all. We are nothing without energy to go about our day and practice good habits. Our bodies need sleep in order to rejuvenate, detox, and function. This is the time that our cells get to work repairing and strengthening our bodies in ways that we often take for granted. If we discipline ourselves to get at least 8 hours a day, we ensure that we start off our days right, mentally, and physically. Keep this in mind, when our bodies are tired, they begin to shift their priorities towards the most necessary bodily functions while normal functions like appetite, sex drive, and short-term memory begin to lag behind a bit. Without proper sleep, I don’t have the energy to workout or stick to my skincare routine. My diet also tends to center around whatever is most convenient, which is rarely healthy.

So, what is ideal when it comes to sleep? Yes, 8 hours is the recommended amount to achieve ultimate rest, but the time at which we fall asleep is incredibly important as well. I’ve found that I can sleep for 10 hours straight if I go to bed past midnight but do I feel refreshed the next morning? Absolutely not. However, I can only sleep for 7 hours if I go to bed at 10 pm and wake up at 5 am feeling ready to conquer the world. This can be explained by our body’s natural circadian rhythm. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.” Most of us have a circadian rhythm that responds to light which explains why we naturally begin to feel sleepy once the sun sets and why many of us can wake up naturally at the same time every day.

And last, but most certainly not least, how do we get enough sleep during the summer with prayer times starting so early and ending so late? My method is this: I finish all of my errands and physical activities before Maghrib as well as finish getting ready for bed (shower, skincare, teeth). That way when Isha rolls around, I can pray and fall right to sleep. I use the hour in between Maghrib and Isha to wind down for the night so that I may drift off to sleep in a peaceful state of mind. Winding down for me typically looks like reading a good book, journaling or writing drafts for blog posts (in a notebook instead of computer), and studying Quran. Now, in the morning for fajr I’ve developed the habit by the grace of Allah (SWT) of staying awake afterwards and getting my day started. I understand that this doesn’t work for everyone so by all means, go back to sleep so you can get adequate rest. But, I will say that forcing myself into becoming a morning person has been so beneficial for me in having productive and fulfilling days. I enjoy the early morning quiet that I get to myself where I can savour my tea and reflect on things before going for a good workout. It sets the mood for the rest of my day and I find that I accomplish so much more when I get started early.

Thank you so much for reading the first installment of our new Organic Beauty series! I hope that this brought something new to the table, so let me know what you think in the comments below! Also, what are your favourite ways to relax at night?

Wishing you all dewy skin and a full night’s sleep,

Nahlah

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beauty, Series, Uncategorized

Organic Beauty: Intro

With my own personal experience with beauty and working every day in a salon, I have learned a thing or two about what it takes to be beautiful. And today I want to introduce a new series on the topic of true, organic beauty. I don’t mean organic as in a label that guarantees the health of your products, I mean a beauty that radiates from every fiber of your being. A beauty that upholds integrity and health, that invites people in and embraces them in warmth and love, a beauty that is intoxicating because it is pure and kind-hearted. It is you through and through, no fakery, no homogeneity, just you. So, how do you achieve this kind of beauty?

Like all true beauty, it starts from the heart and mind. Sticking to the 5 pillars of Islam, studying Quran, improving upon oneself, fostering strong and healthy relationships with friends and family, practicing gratitude, controlling your response to your own emotions, seeking knowledge, practicing kindness and compassion, etc. etc. etc. Did you know that it has been said that waking up to pray Fajr on time contributes to a glowing, healthy complexion? Creating strong mental/emotional habits, as well as physical ones that aid in mental/emotional stability and harmony is key to achieving inner beauty that shines through the exterior. For example, I know that getting enough sleep is crucial for me to avoid under eye bags and dull skin, but it is also necessary for a bright and cheery mood and a heart that feels excitement and passion for my life and the people in it. When I compromise on sleep, I turn into a negative and apathetic person with emotions that run rampant.

As a woman, my emotions play a big role in my everyday life and my interactions with others. I have been learning recently how important it is to exercise control over my responses to emotional stimulation. Emotions are not always what they seem; I may feel upset at my husband for something quite menial but if I withhold from reacting and take time to analyze what’s really going on in my mind, I can usually find that that particular emotion is stemming from something entirely different (like hunger, lack of sleep, personal insecurity, etc). When I am disciplined and make myself go to bed early, I am at my best. My mind is clear, my heart is happy, and I have energy to focus on my iman, my work, my health, and my relationships.

This is only an insight to what I would like to talk about in this series. I have so many thoughts on this topic that I cannot possibly force them all into one article. I know you may even be wondering how this has anything to do with Islam. Organic beauty is actually based on many Islamic practices. This isn’t vanity, this isn’t solely focused on the outward appearance and gaining attention for it. This is a philosophy aimed at bettering ourselves and our lives in a way that worships Allah (SWT) and fosters beautiful relationships with ourselves and others. It is the only type of beauty that matters and lasts for the rest of our lives. I can sit here and talk to you about anti-ageing and the best way to apply eyeliner, but we all age eventually and the eyeliner always comes off at the end of the day. These things do nothing for our health, happiness, or character. So, please join me in a journey to learn about achieving a beauty that actually does.

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