Tag: self-care

Practicing Gratitude

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” -Zig Ziglar

Building a practice of gratitude and positive thinking is easy for some people, but for others, it is a struggle. It may be challenging to break the habit of looking at life through a pessimistic perspective at this particular moment in time, as the world grapples with a pandemic and social unrest. However, through consciousness and practice you can change that. When your thoughts begin to move towards the positive spectrum, your eyes will naturally open to gratitude. In other words, it is almost impossible to be a negative thinker and have gratitude.

To grow your gratitude, look at how you feel about yourself and the people in your life. Do you gravitate towards trust, kindness, doing the right thing? How is your self-esteem? When you feel good about yourself, you can feel good about others. Positive thinking begins from within. If this is a battle for you, try repeating affirmations. Veer away from overly critical people in your life. Read uplifting material that encourages you and allows you to let go of fear. Recognize negative thoughts as soon as they pop up. Focus on your breathing, consciously slow it down and imagine with each exhale, you release negativity.

Implement noticing all the little things that are good about your day, your life. To change the hole in the bucket syndrome (no matter how much you have it’s never enough) redirect your focus to what you do have. Health, friends, a flower growing in your yard, your loving pets, two hands, a working mind. Make a gratitude list.  Once you get started you will see there is a lot to be thankful for!

Gratitude is active. It champions goodness, sincerity, earnestness and is meant to be shared with others. The more you give it away, the more it is like the one seed that grows into a field of flowers. Walk away from anything or anyone that is toxic in your life. You don’t need it. Most people that are negative about others are expressing their feelings about themselves

Positive thinking and gratitude reinforce each other. As your gratitude grows your belief in the goodness of others and the universe grows. From that point of view positive thinking is only natural.

This may sound sharp, but when you indulge a pity party for too long you may forget that you can leave at any time. Life is made of ups and downs, ride them out and learn the lessons. Let go, and move onward, don’t overly chastise yourself for mistakes. If you got a raw deal, it more than likely had nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person. Realize the good in a bad situation, things could always be worse. Find those little thank goodness’s that didn’t happen and be grateful. Practicing gratitude during difficulties builds stamina and helps you grow stronger and more positive.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ― Lao Tzu This is a simple, yet profound reminder of being awake, being mindful. Paying attention to positive thinking, words, and actions has a ripple effect and over time influences every aspect of your life. When your inner dialogue begins to judge, complain, or criticize yourself or others, stop them in their tracks. Gently remind yourself, that you are learning to practice positive thinking and gratitude.

Gratitude begets gratitude. The more you express it through actions, the bigger it becomes. Be grateful for the lessons learned while you worked through a challenge, gratitude comes in many shapes and sizes. Practice acts of kindness, smile more, say hello, receive the day with an open heart thankful for another chance to learn and love. Then watch as your positive grateful living, blossoms into powerful changes.

 

 


Small Acts of Self-Care

Starting to incorporate self-care into your routine can positively impact your outlook, productivity, self-perception, and interactions with others. But during busy seasons of life it may feel like a challenge to set aside time in your days to practice self-care. Luckily, there are many small ways to weave self-care into your schedule – some of which you may not have considered before!

#1: Read a Book

Turn off your phone, step away from your laptop, and crack a book you’ve been wanting to read for a while.

#2: Take Yourself to a Show

Whether you prefer live music, or you want to see the latest movie in theaters, take yourself out on the town. Work can always wait – and you’ll appreciate getting out of the house to decompress.

#3: Take a 5-Minute Break

Short on time? Try a 5-minute meditation break. Take deep breaths, clear your mind, and pull yourself out of stress and into the present moment.

#4: Eat Well

When you’re in a busy season of life, eating habits can slip. Try to prepare healthy snacks and meals for yourself ahead of time or at the beginning of the week. You deserve to eat healthy, filling food to fuel you through your day.

#5: Dance

Relaxed breaks can be calming, but the endorphins released during movement can be equally beneficial. Take a few minutes at the end of your day and sway to your favorite song.

Self-care doesn’t have to be the stereotyped examples you read about in magazines. You can find a system that works for you – whatever that looks like. Care for yourself in a way that brings joy and peace to your mind, body, and soul.

Small Acts of Self-Care was originally published on Bridge of Life


Finding Light After Loss

The blog this week deals with devastation, loss, and ways to cope and recover.  After the horrific damage caused by this year’s hurricane season, many find their homes ravaged or completely destroyed, pets lost or knee deep in wreckage that may take years to repair. How do we cope with such loss?  How do we go on?   

Grief is inevitable with loss of any kind and it comes in hundreds of colors, shapes and sizes and looks different on everyone. One thing that may help is the concept of impermanence.  In Buddhism, (you don’t have to be Buddhist to embrace this), everything both happy and sad are malleable.  As a good friend of mine has said to me, “one thing we can count on is change.”  When going through bereavement, knowing that you won’t always feel this horrible, or helpless, does help…eventually.  It takes time to heal and it is important to your recovery to acknowledge your feelings.

Allow yourself time to collect your thoughts, try not to make any hasty decisions until after the fog has lifted.  When you are in the throes of emotions, you may feel like running away or starting over somewhere far away, unfortunately your feelings will follow you.  Wait to make life-changing decisions until you feel stronger and clear to exam the pros and cons. Give yourself permission to put things on the back burner and focus on what is essential in the moment.

Start slow and chunk out tasks.  If you have to start over from a natural disaster, you may begin to feel the light poking through as soon as essentials are dealt with. Don’t take on everything at once.  Prioritize, what you need first and foremost, then work from there.  In other words, don’t put all of your worries and concerns in the same basket, it will be way too heavy a burden.  Take care of your basic needs for shelter, food, safety first. Everything else can wait. Take help when it is offered, people often want to contribute in some way, be it bringing meals or watching your children.  Let them.

Know when you are incapable of dealing with the loss and ask for help.  If you find yourself unable to function or to get out of bed, reach out to a professional.  There is a huge difference between profound depression and grief.  The latter is temporary and may simply need time to fade the other requires treatment.  If you are prone to depression, a significant loss may trigger symptoms, reach out to those around you, tell them your true feelings and get help.

Understand though that in reality, you need to give grief time and space to dissipate. You may begin to notice less sadness in three months, but don’t be surprised if you’re still glum, at least some of the time, months after your loss. For most of us, it takes about a year before we have consistent grief free days.  

Let the light of laughter in when it shows up.  Although there may be a string of dismal days allow the curtains to open and set aside your worries.  Perhaps a laugh with friends over funny memories or a dinner you’ve been invited to.  It is okay to give your grief a time out, to find joy again.


Laura Baker is my guest Blogger: Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The Best Tips On Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder affects about five percent of Americans, leaving them with a feeling of sadness during fall and winter months that won’t abate until the weather gets warm again. The symptoms can be intense; feelings of depression, an increased appetite (which can trigger a loss of self esteem), lowered energy, an inability to think clearly or focus, substance abuse, and a major change in sleep habits; yet many people are unaware of just how much people who live with SAD are affected, shrugging it off as “the blues” or something that can be easily overcome.

For most, it’s not the simple. If you suffer from SAD, it’s important to be familiar with some easy tips on how to cope with it during the hardest weeks of the year. Here’s how to get started.

Modify your home

Your home is where you go to feel safe, comfortable, and stress-free, so it’s important to make sure it works in your favor where Seasonal Affective Disorder is concerned. Paint the walls with bright colors, or decorate with colorful artwork. Use sheer curtains or light-filtering mini blinds to allow as much natural light to come in, especially in the most-used living spaces. On sunny days, try to get outside if possible and soak up the vitamin D.

Practice self-care

Taking good care of yourself is essential when a disorder makes life harder. Do something that makes you feel good, such as indulging in a pedicure or massage, as often as possible. Eat right–dark, leafy greens, nuts, fish, and berries are a great start–and get in daily exercise. It might help to get up a little earlier than normal to take advantage of all the daylight you can, since the days are shorter in colder months.

Get health-conscious

Making your health a priority is always important, but never more so than when you suffer from a disorder that can affect your sleeping and eating habits. Talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement and make sure you get adequate rest while still leaving several hours in the day to get things done. It’s tempting to go to bed early when it gets dark at six p.m., but that won’t lead to productivity. Build a DIY home gym so you can stay busy, or invest your time in a hobby such as woodworking or crafting.

Spend time with animals

This might seem like an odd way to ward off depression, but animals have actually been proven to significantly benefit our mental health. The unconditional love we get from our pets is especially beneficial. If you have a pet, make a point to spend some extra time playing or cuddling with them when your SAD kicks into high gear. If you don’t have a pet, find other ways to get some quality time with a four-legged friend. For example, you might become a pet sitter or offer to take a friend’s pooch to the dog park.

Get creative

Even if you’ve never felt particularly creative, it’s a good idea to mine those feelings of sadness for a spark of something else. Write in a journal, paint, sing, or play a musical instrument. Think of what makes you the happiest and give it a try; you never know what might come out. In fact, most types of art expression are a very valid form of expression and are used to help individuals with PTSD, disabilities, and depression all the time.

If none of those sounds appealing, try keeping a journal. Writing down your feelings and thoughts every day can be helpful and will allow you to vent.

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Life Balance

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Balance is an essential part of life. When elements in nature become unbalanced, they eventually correct themselves. The more out of synch the elements in nature are, the more intense the correction—what we call “natural disasters.”

If a houseplant is completely ignored, or only taken care of sporadically, the plant will not do well and might even die. If you give it too little attention—keep it away from sunlight, deny it water, or fail to plant it in the right soil—you can’t expect it to flourish. This is analogous to not taking care of an area of your life. By the same token, spending too much time and effort in a particular area of life is not healthy either. It’s like over-pruning the plant or providing it with too much water or sun.

As in nature, when we experience imbalance in areas of our lives—working too much, ignoring our finances, not taking time for self-love—there will be subsequent results.

There are 4 main areas of life most of us can identify with as being significant:

  • Relationships – Our interactions with and connections to family, friends, and community.
  • Finances – The money we earn, save, invest, and spend.
  • Career – What we do (for pay or not) that contributes to our profession or career goals.
  • Self – Our spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs and desires.

Every life area is important and needs attention to foster balance. When we spend most of our focus in one area—say, putting all our attention on our career—then another area will most likely suffer—for example, relationships or self-care.

Take a few minutes to determine what percentage of time and energy you spend in each of these areas. Are any of them lacking? Is there a way you can bring those areas into greater balance? What is one step you could take to do so? Perhaps it’s consolidating one or two workdays each week in order to spend that time with family. Or maybe it’s scheduling a monthly massage or earmarking 10 minutes each morning to journal. If your finances need attention, maybe consulting a financial advisor or a friend who excels in budgeting is in order. Commit to taking at least one action step in any life area that is out of balance, no matter how small it seems.

The amount of attention each life area needs may be different. Determine the amount of focus and energy that feels right for you. It may initially take a bit of focus, discipline, and effort to keep our life in balance, but like anything else we keep practicing, it will soon become second nature.