Therapeutic Benefits Of Weighted Blankets, Plushies and Lap Pads

The weighted blanket craze has been opening up the conversation around mental health and anxiety. People of all different backgrounds and neurotypes are experiencing the benefits of weighted therapy items. Therapy toys can be used by people of all ages as they can help anyone who is experiencing difficulty with coping day to day.

Me having a doona day, in my lounge wear snuggling the woma python I designed and crocheted.

I combined my passion of crochet with my desire to help people and make people smile to come up with a few cute weighted plushie designs. The featured image at the top of the post is the cute crocheted weight crocodile I created.

Me getting cuddles from the crocheted weighted crocodile plushies I designed and made.

There is a lack of colourful and lovable lap pads and weighted blankets out there. These therapy items can be so enjoyable and soothing. So I decided to design a lap pad with stimming bits to preoccupy your hands while watching TV.

A progress shot of my stimming lap pad while I was sewing the seams up. It’s a sky and sea theme with (clockwise from top left) 2 clouds, a sun, sea anemone, star fish and a bubble.

I filled the centre of the lap pad with foam so it has structure while it sits on your lap.

You can email me at fullcupwellness1@gmail.com to order your custom crocheted therapy items. All ideas are welcome. Let’s get creative together.

See my crochet creations that are up for sale here (including the weighted crocodiles!)

Check out my YouTube channel for more The Full Cup Wellness with me, Queeenvk

Everyday Hormones That We Experience Every Day

Hormones are signals that tell the organs in your body that it’s time to perform a particular action. For example, when to sleep, when to digest food, when to increase your heart rate and when to feel happy.

Notable hormones for your health throughout each day:

Insulin/Glucagon – Work together to regulate blood sugar concentration.

Leptin/ghrelin – regulate hunger signals. Leptin suppresses hunger signals and makes us feel full. This hormone is controlled by our circadian rhythm (daily cycle) so make sure you’re getting a decent 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, otherwise your hunger signals will be out of whack. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes us feel hungry. Ghrelin levels increase before a meal to signal when our body requires more food then decrease after we eat so that we no longer feel that hungry feeling in our gut.

Endorphins – You may have heard that exercise brings on a rush of endorphins. This hormone is a natural pain killer and sedative which means it reduces anxiety too. And bonus, it signals your brain to increase serotonin too so you feel happy and calm.

Dopamine – Reward systems in the brain are controlled by dopamine. Repeated rewards lead to reinforcement of the behaviour which lead to the reward, for example when you train an animal with treats you reinforce a particular behaviour because the animal will continue to expect a reward each time. The same goes in our human brain. In this way, dopamine indirectly controls our behaviour and helps us to learn how to relate to the world around us.

Serotonin – Sometimes serotonin is called the happiness hormone because it is known to stabilise mood and make you feel happy. Serotonin is involved in many areas of our physical health including sleep regulation, appetite, communication between brain cells and improved memory and cognition. People with low levels of serotonin can be prescribed anti-depressants that involve keeping serotonin levels stable in the brain.

All of these hormone levels fluctuate throughout each day to keep your body functioning. Knowledge is power, the more you know about the hormones that create signals in the body, the more understanding you have of your own personal health.

Stay safe!

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Which type of boredom are you feeling?

You can listen to me read out this post on my Podcast channel. Click here to listen.

There are multiple types of boredom. Studies have discovered that there are 5 types of boredom. Knowing which type you are experiencing can help you address your personal needs to improve your state of mind. Here at The Full Cup Wellness we’re all about keeping healthy on the emotional and physical levels and all of the levels in between.

Why would we need to feel bored? What is the purpose of boredom?

Boredom can create a state of searching for something better.

Boredom has been shown to boost creativity.

After learning a new skill boredom can indicate that you are ready to introduce another level of difficulty to the skill and advance your experience level.

What types of boredom are there?

Indifferent boredom

The best kind of boredom. It’s the definition of a lazy weekend being a couch potato. Sometimes you just need to unwind and recharge and do a bit of nothing.

Apathetic boredom

Comes from neither a positive or negative emotion. Often expressed as a lack of will to improve the current situation. Can be a symptom of depression.

Calibrating boredom

When you’re not doing anything and you feel bored but you aren’t sure why. That discontented feeling when you have nothing planned to do but you’re not willing or able to do anything to relieve that discomfort. This type of boredom often causes one to daydream, fantasise or engage in mental escapism through games, books etc.

Reactant boredom

This is a very negative and emotional type of boredom that is normally caused by being stuck in an inescapable situation. For example, a road trip or long plane ride, a work meeting, a lecture at uni or lesson at school.

Searching boredom

Happens when you’re feeling frustrated and discontented. Often when you feel this type of boredom you’re actively searching for a solution to your boredom. This is the type of boredom that can lead to the creation of new ideas or solving a problem that you’ve been sitting on for a while. Start writing down ideas and work on problem solving when you get into this type of head space. You might be surprised by what you come up with.

Personally I have a few techniques to help me on those days I wake up feeling bored and discontented. Often I am able to banish boredom by actively changing my mindset and incorporating goal setting habits in my daily life. The feeling of ticking things off the To Do list is so rewarding and keeps me motivated throughout each day.

What tips do you have to bust boredom? Comment below!

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Environmentally friendly leather?

Click here to hear me read this post on my podcast

Have you heard of the term vegan leather? Sometimes it’s called pleather or plastic leather and is made from polyurethane (PU). More recently some new types of materials have been created to mimic the durability of leather without using plastic or harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process. I had a look into some of these new plastic-free alternatives and compared them with leather and pleather by weighing up the pros and cons.

Leather

I’m including real animal hide in this list as a comparison against the leather imitation materials out there.

Pros: Durable. Natural resource.

Cons: Non-vegan product as it involves animal cruelty. Modern tanning and dyeing chemicals are toxic to humans and the environment.

Pleather

Fabric coated with plastics to imitate leather.

Pros: No animal cruelty. Waterproof. Cheap to make.

Cons: Contributes to plastic waste in landfill and microplastic pollution in our environment. Created from harmful petrochemicals. Fossil fuels used to make plastics aren’t renewable.

Pinapple leather (Pinatex)

The leaves from pineapple plants that are normally thrown away after harvest time are turned into a durable fabric.

Pros: Income for small communities in The Philippines. Using waste products from the pineapple industry. Certified non-harmful chemicals are used in the tanning process.

Cons: The certified safe chemicals might not be healthy for the environment? It’s unclear how these chemicals are certified as non-harmful for the environment. Plant leathers, including Pinatex, are less durable than animal leather.

Mushroom leather (Muskin)

Made from mushroom skins that are treated to become a fabric that feels like suede.

Pros: Low water and carbon usage in the production process. Tanned using a chemical-free process.

Cons: Less durable than real leather.

Washable paper

The bark of some trees, such as the Kozo tree in Japan, can be turned into a leather-like material. Only the outer layers of bark are used, the tree remains unharmed.

Pros: Made from a renewable resource. Kozo trees grow quickly.

Cons: Synthetic latex is used as a coating to make the paper waterproof. This means the final product is not biodegradable and uses non-renewable resources.

Lab-grown leather

Also known as bio-leather, microoganisms such as bacteria and fungi are used to grow materials like leather without being harmful to animals.

Pros: No animals are harmed in the making of this material.

Cons: This technology is currently very expensive and only very small quantities can be made at a time.

There are many more new options for natural materials out there to explore too. Have you tried any new or up-cycled materials? Comment below!

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Nutritious Delicious Fungi

Mushrooms are the meat of the vegetarian world. But they are neither meat nor vegetable. They are classified as fungi because of a few specific characteristics, for example, the cell walls are made of a material called chitin. This is why mushrooms are more nutritious when cooked because those chitin cell walls are too tough for us to digest to reach the goodness inside.

Fun fact: The mushroom part that pops out of the ground is actually the fruiting body of the fungus. You’re picking the fruit!

Types of mushrooms that you can eat:

Make sure you only eat mushrooms that have been picked by a professional. There are many mushrooms that contain toxins that they use to protect themselves from being eaten since they can’t run away from predators. Sometimes these poisonous mushrooms look very similar to safe mushrooms, which can prove fatal if you eat them. There have been recent reports of families being poisoned after they picked mushrooms in Australia that look almost exactly like the safe mushrooms from other countries. It is vital that you don’t go and harvest your own mushrooms without the proper knowledge.

There are so many types of good eating mushrooms all around the world. They all have different flavours so I encourage you to explore the exotic mushrooms at your grocery store. Some really delicious mushrooms you may have heard of are:

Enoki or enokitake

Shimeji

Shitake

Oyster mushroom

Vitamins, minerals and other benefits of eating cooked mushrooms:

Vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, D, E, folate,

Trace minerals such as potassium,

Amino acids,

Low calorie source of fibre and protein,

Antioxidants, especially when grilled or microwaved.

Best ways to cook mushrooms:

Grill or microwave mushrooms to get the most nutritional value out of them. These methods leave the antioxidant activity in tact (Source). You can also fry, boil or bake mushrooms to enjoy the beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Fun fact: The largest organism in the world is a fungus that spans a few km across in a forest in Oregon, USA.

What are your favourite ways to prepare mushrooms? Do you stuff them? Fry them with butter and garlic? Those are my favourite ways to enjoy mushrooms.

You’re worth more than a number

[Listen to me read this post out for you on Spotify]

You’re worth far more than any number on a scale.

If you don’t have to, seriously, NEVER weigh yourself.

Is it actually useful to know your weight and how it fluctuates daily, weekly, monthly? Be honest.

Instead, it’s far more useful to note how your body is feeling. How are you feeling at the moment? Are you a bit bloaty? Are you in pain? Are your clothes tight or uncomfortable?

If stepping on the scales makes you feel so crappy that you lose motivation then remove that toxic bitch from your life!! No BODY has time for that negativity.

If you’re losing confidence and beating yourself up because of those scales, get yourself out of that depressing cycle.

You have the power to remove those negative influences in your life and become more productive in your journey through life.

And remember, our weight fluctuates so much that we weigh differently at different times of the day. The amount of water you drink or whether you’ve emptied your bowels will make a lot of difference. Even the amount of sleep you get will change your weight!

So weighing youself day to day doesn’t actually matter. You know what does matter?

How strong you are becoming as you train your muscles to lift weights.

Holding that yoga pose or nailing your pilates routine.

Reaching your goal of running a few km or completing a marathon.

Feeling confident when you look in the mirror.

Loving yourself because you’re worth it!

It’s rare that I check my weight anymore. When I do, I accept the number that appears on the dial. It’s only a number.

Working towards fitting into a pair of jeans or a slinky dress is a great goal, but you deserve to love yourself and feel worthy in the clothes you are already in. No matter the size.

The health benefits of deep restful sleep

Sleep is linked to multiple aspects of our health because it affects different organs and hormone levels throughout the body. Deep restful sleep is also known as slow wave sleep and occurs as the third stage of non-REM sleep. The REM stage of sleep comes after this deep sleep stage. During deep sleep the brain detoxifies itself from harmful proteins that build up during the day and sorts out your recent memories. We cycle through the stages of sleep multiple times during the night. However, people who snore or have sleep apnea are less likely to reach the deeper stages of sleep as they are waking themselves up multiple times during the night.

For the adults, you want to make sure you’re having 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night. Everything is better in moderation. Teens and babies need different amounts of sleep depending on their age.

Less than 7 hours of sleep or poor quality sleep can cause:

Your blood to thin leading to an increased risk of low blood pressure and dizziness. Fewer red blood cells are made so your blood ends up being thinner than it should be.

Reduced cognitive abilities. Lack of sleep can affect you in the same way as too much alcohol. Don’t drive while sleepy, it’s as bad as drunk driving!

Poor memory recall as your recent memories aren’t effectively processed by the brain.

Difficulty in maintaining weight due to disruption of levels of hormones involved in hunger (ghrelin) and feeling full (leptin). Studies have shown that less than 5 hours sleep cause a decrease in leptin levels. This is probably because your body wants to make sure you last the fast of the night but if you have a shorter sleep then your body thinks you need less leptin to keep you feeling full. Unfortunately ghrelin then comes in and makes you feel hungry before a meal. It isn’t affected by your sleep but I have noticed that if I’m not asleep by midnight I get those hunger pains that make it difficult to get to sleep without having a snack first. In the long run it becomes harder to maintain your weight if you’re always eating a second dinner before bed (which was me back in the day when I was up late studying for uni exams).

Lack of deep restful sleep to clear the build up of toxic proteins in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s. Current research indicates that Alzheimer’s might be caused due to build up of tau and amyloid-beta proteins in the brain that are created during the daytime. These proteins are cleared from the brain during deep sleep so it’s very important to deal with insomnia if you can.

Life span can be affected by poor quality sleep. Studies have shown that shift workers may have a decreased life span. Disruption to sleep patterns can cause insomnia as our circadian rhythm is a daily cycle consisting of different hormones released during certain times of the day.

Too much sleep can lead to:

Thicker blood which leads to increased risk of stroke and high blood pressure. More sleep doesn’t necessarily make you feel more refreshed. It can leave you feeling more drowsy if you sleep longer than around 9 hours.

Tricks to beat insomnia:

I know everyone says this one but it’s absolutely true: AVOID CAFFEINE. Caffeine has a lasting effect in the body so limit your intake to the morning and no more than one cup of coffee per day. Black tea contains less caffeine but it’s still there so limit cups of tea or make them weaker.

Blue light filter: Exposure to blue light suppresses your body’s natural melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that increases in your body during the evening, telling your body that it’s time to go to sleep and recharge. The release of melatonin helps to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and sleep cycles. Blue light is emitted from your TV, computer and smartphone screens. Use the blue light filter function on your smart phone after the sun goes down. You can set them to turn on and off at your chosen times. Personally, my smartphone’s blue light filter is set to switch on at 9 pm and off at 6 am. If your TV, computer or laptop doesnt have a blue light filter function you can purchase blue light filter glasses that look just like regular reading glasses. Search for them online. There are specialty online stores that focus on these light filtering glasses.

Meditations: Yoga nidra for sleep and mindfulness meditation. These types of meditation are like a brain training exercise to keep your thoughts on the present moment. Insomnia can sometimes be caused by us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. When we’re in the present moment we’re free to control our thoughts into something more productive. Specifically with yoga nidra mediation you will focus on each part of your body individually, making sure it is totally relaxed and ready for sleep. You willl often find that you’re only a quarter of the way through before you fall asleep, it’s surprisingly effective! Give it a go, there are guided meditation tracks online or in my favourite free meditation app Insight Timer.

Supplements: There are some supplements you can purchase from your pharmacy off the shelf. I like velarian root supplements. I’ve also tried melatonin with some success. Personally I haven’t experienced any side effects of using these but ask your doctor for more advice on these supplements and if they’re right for you.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Visit my Youtube channel, QueeenVK, for more Full Cup Wellness.

Keep your cup full!

Crafting with a conscience

**List to me read out this post on my Podcast instead! Click here**

Mindful crafting is a great way to enrich your creativity and exercise other parts of your brain. And besides, craft supplies are so colourful and fun. They are enticing. Winking at us from the art aisle. Although, how much do we know about the ingredients of the paints, pigments and glitters we buy? What effects do these non-food safe ingredients have on our environment or on us and our families?

Oil paints

Some oil paints are toxic because of the heavy metals used in some of the pigments so try not to eat them. The label on the paint tube will indicate whether it contains toxic chemicals. Other toxic particles that can be inhaled as the paints dry are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The effects of VOCs include respiratory irritation, headaches, nausea and they can trigger asthma attacks. For example, an increase in VOCs leads to reduced air quality. Picture in your mind the worst air pollution of a city. Smog is basically a bunch of VOCs polluting the air. Note that there are different types of VOCs and not all are considered hazardous. However paint and solvent fumes are in the hazardous column.

Disposal: You will need to be careful about disposing of your excess oil paints to avoid them polluting the environment. Oil-based paints are considered hazardous waste in many areas so they need to be taken to a household chemical waste collection point. Contact your local council for details on where to dispose of hazardous waste.

Oil paints are not water-based so they don’t dissolve in water, which is why you use solvents when working with oil paints and cleaning your painting tools. Solvents like paint thinners are considered hazardous waste so they cannot be poured down the drain, in the garden or thrown into the general waste bin. Contact your local council to find out where to dispose of hazardous waste.

Acrylic paints

Acrylic paint is water-based so you’ll be using water to clean your tools and thin the paint.

As with oil-based paints there are some pigments in acrylic paint that may be toxic. Check the labels on the paints for warnings of harmful chemicals. If the label says non-toxic then it doesn’t contain any heavy metals in the pigments. But it also doesn’t guarantee that it’s totally harmless. There are other components of the paint, such as binding agents and additives that produce VOCs and are harmful on skin.

Disposal: Don’t pour the paints down the drain or in the garden as they contain chemicals that are hazardous to the environment. The water that you rinse your paint brushes and tools in can be evaporated and the vessel can be discarded in the general waste. Extra acrylic paint can be dried and thrown in with your general waste. Pouring old paint sludge down the drain is a bad idea because it will cause blockages to build up in the pipes.

Glitter

The teeny tiny sparkly pieces of plastic that make up glitter are also known as microplastics. Microplastics and nanoplastics are pieces of plastic on the micro and nano-scale that have been made, either on purpose, or by nature of errosion from the breakdown of larger plastics. Read my post on microplastics to find out how they’re affecting us and the environment. Spoiler alert: microplastic pollution frightens me; The sheer amount of it, the chemicals that leach from it and their effects.

Disposal: To prevent your glitter from polluting the environment the safest way to dispose of these microplastics is in a sealed container in your general waste. The small particles cannot be recycled. Any cards or paper wrapping with glitter on it cannot go to the recycling bin either. Dammit, glitter, why you gotta be so evil?

Crayons

Crayons are often made of paraffin wax which is made of fossil fuels. Paraffin wax can emit VOCs when you burn a paraffin wax candle but the jury seems to be out on the toxicity of paraffin crayons. Many sources claim that paraffin wax crayons are non-toxic but they are made from toxic chemicals so they may decompose back down to these toxic components.

Harmless crayons can be made with soy wax or beeswax.

Disposal: Crayons are recyclable. You can use your oven to melt down old stubs into new crayons. There are also council collections that will take old crayons. Or you can donate unused crayons to schools or daycares.

Thanks so much for joining me today. Check out my YouTube channel Queeenvk for more Full Cup Wellness.

Keep your cup full!

Aussie Bush Tucker In The Kitchen

**Listen to me read this post out on my Podcast**

Do you love trying new foods? For me, it’s almost a hobby, I call it going on a food adventure. The best part about travelling is getting to experience new foods. New flavours and new textures. Even simple flavours like tomatoes taste different when you’re on the other side of the world. Food says a lot about the culture of a region. Think of the simple ingredients that are used to make a boring dish really amazing, like fried breadcrumbs on streamed veggies.

Travelling across the globe might not be possible for you but never fear! There are amazing flavours to explore in our own backyard.

Here in Australia I’ve been living in the city with my family. My parents migrated to Australia from Europe so Australian culture is a little different. It’s very interesting to compare cultures and histories, even how those cultures are affecting us in the multicultural environment of Australian cities. I adore the many cultures of Sydney where I currently live. There are many opportunities to go on food adventures as each suburb has a range of restaurants of different cuisines. So many flavours to explore!

Then I learn about Aussie bush tucker. When I was in primary school I thought of bush tucker as witchetty grubs and that’s about it. I had no exposure to Aboriginal culture other than the history they taught in schools. I have always had deep respect for their culture, especially since they were strong enough to handle eating those witchetty grubs. But in the suburb of Sydney that I went to school, the population was full of migrants and decendents from England so I didn’t learn about Aboriginal food and medicine until later.

Native Australian Ingredients For Your Next Food Adventure

Finger Limes

Inside the skin of the fruit there is a pulp of little bubbles filled with juice. The pulp is used as a fresh burst of citrus flavour in food or drinks. Goes great with seafood.

Lilly pilly

These are the super bright pink berries that end up covering the footpaths around Sydney. I didn’t know you could eat them! Then I tried them and I am hooked. They are subtly sweet with a hint of sour and are satisfying to bite into, like a very small apple.

Quandong

I haven’t tried these but I see the contestants on Masterchef Australia use these a lot. They sound amazing, sweet and tangy. Ususlly used in marmalades or pies. Sounds good!

Edible Pigface

I grow this one in my garden and eat it raw. It’s like salty aloe vera. Add it to salads for a salty topping.

Thanks so much for joining me today. Checkout my Youtube Channel for more Full Cup Wellness from me, QueeenVK.

Keep your cup full!

What’s the purpose of thinking positively?

**Click here to listen to me read out this post on my Podcast instead**

The title is a little dramatic. But sometimes our existence in our surrounding environment can feel awful.

Think about how perspective can make things seem more awful on one day compared with the next. Swing that perspective in another direction and things don’t seem so bad. Your boss was piling on the work without acknowledging your amazing report? You are affected by the person’s behaviour but you aren’t the cause of it. Perspective. It’s not your fault, you are amazing. Now you can communicate this with your boss or you can use the extra work to show that you deserve a promotion. You are in control of your present. See my previous post for why the present moment is so powerful and how to get there.

You are in control of your happiness if you want it. Hear me out. Happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a temporary feeling you can choose to enjoy. All emotions are temporary. Even anger and sadness. Yes, I suffer from depression and I’m going to share a brain training exercise that anyone with any level of mental heath can utilise. It takes pratice and won’t be easy to begin with. Your mind is so powerful that it can make new pathways when you keep pratising a skill until you master it.

Let’s practise right now.

Do a body scan and check in with yourself on how you’re feeling right now. If your shoulders are tensed and you’re biting your nails you might be feeling stressed or anxious. Relax your tense muscles and breathe deeply. Shallow breaths are a sign that you are not relaxed. You’re allowed to feel any emotions or think any thoughts but when any of them come into your mind imagine them floating back out of your mind. They can float down a stream as a leaf floating on the water’s surface, they can flow out of your body as you exhale. When you’re just noticing your breath or the sounds around you or just enjoying being in your body, that’s when you are in the present moment. You have found it! Well done.

Now that you have found the present you can choose your next thought or action or your next feeling. Feel happiness if you want to. Be without fear or pain if you want to.

The next part is a little more advanced but give it a go.

Look at the present you as though you are looking at yourself, a step away from yourself and outside of your own mind. Without your emotions. Look at yourself with kindness, as though you’re looking at your best friend. You want that person to be happy, content and safe.

Of course this all helps if you don’t struggle with self hatred…actually I do experience that myself so this is a helpful tool to get perspective on how I am treating myself. This tool can help you too. I have also felt the benefits of doing, what some people call, loving kindness meditation. Basically you send love and gratitude to yourself, your friends and family, then to your enemies and finally to everyone in the world. It’s a bit challenging when you’re mad at some people but to let go of that and feel gratitude and kindness towards those people is incredibly therapeutic. It’s easier if you remember that all people are like us in that they are also searching to be without pain or fear in each moment.

Surround yourself with positive thoughts and the positive things will continue to happen to you. It’s not that the number of positive situations increases but your perception of each situation changes the outcome. Perspective. It’s all perspective.

The 5 types of boredom The Full Cup Wellness

Which type of boredom are you feeling? You can read this episode as a post at https://thefullcupwellness.com/2021/08/20/which-type-of-boredom-are-you-feeling/
  1. The 5 types of boredom
  2. Environmentally friendly leather?
  3. You're Worth More Than A Number
  4. Crafting With A Conscience
  5. Australian Bush Tucker In The Kitchen