Staying Positive

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It is just a fact of life that some days we struggle more than others to find that positive flow.  We may have a really good and obvious reason for the struggle and some days we are just in a funk that we cannot really explain.  Trying to force yourself out of the funk and to be positive is just impossible and actually not recommended.  Sometimes it is best to just fully feel the funk and own it, but in this process have a little talk with yourself.  I know the idea of talking to yourself may sound weird but the truth is most of us spend our lives in our heads having conversations we never really share out-loud with others.  So go ahead and call yourself out on your own crap and then start assessing what is going on in your life.

I don’t care who or where you are in life there is always something to be thankful for.  If there is a will there is a way to focus on the little things in life that bring you joy, I don’t care if its petting your cat or sneaking in to peek at your beautiful sleeping baby…maybe its just being grateful you have running water or clothes on your back.  Just find some starting point to be grateful and run with it.  Once you start in the process of listing all the things you are grateful for then you may want to try some other techniques to find your positive vibe.  I often use a focus wheel which can be Googled and found easily.  The basic concept is to write your intention in the middle of the circle and the ‘spokes’ of the wheel are positive intentions that help you zero in on the center goal.  You can find many examples and even free printouts, or simply create your own.  Now, these are two great starting points, but lets go a little deeper into the real quest for finding your positive.

When I am really struggling to find my mojo I ask myself a few question:  How has my diet been?  Am I drinking enough water?  Have I been getting enough exercise?  Have I been drinking more alcohol lately?  I am a big believer in the mind and body connection and how everything we process through our senses affects us to our soul.  So choose food wisely and before you consume it take time to be grateful for it and ask it to bless your body.  We already know how important water is to the body so make sure you are drinking enough because being dehydrated will affect your mood.  I believe we have all heard by now that exercise can also boost the mood so if you are not moving every day you need to find time to amp it up!  A simple walk in the early morning or after dinner in the evening is a great way to boost energy and mood.  My last question is about alcohol, but you should take into consideration all drugs or meds you may be ingesting.  Alcohol is a depressant and I can tell it has a definite affect on my mood, especially the day after consumption.  I am not talking about a hangover, I am talking about just a couple of glasses of wine will push me over the edge if I am already struggling with something in my life.  Be self-aware of what you are putting in to your body and how it may be affecting you.  What we see, hear, taste and touch affects us on a deeper level than we may realize. So consume wisely.

I am a big consumer of podcasts, audiobooks, youtube videos, guided meditations and even uplifting music when trying to find my positive mojo.  I also incorporate incense, candles, and essential oils into my home so I am receiving positive smells.  I am a big believer in massage, meditation, yoga, chiropractic adjustments, and tapping.  I incorporate all of these into my wellness process to keep a healthy, positive flow within my body and mind.  When you are taking care of yourself and creating personal spaces at work and home that give you a sense of peace it is so much easier to find your positive flow.  We all lead such crazy, busy lives that it is easy to hit a bump in the road and just go on a downward spiral.  Having a game plan and things that work for you to practice easily throughout your day can help you refocus.  I wake up each morning listing off everything I am grateful for as I go through my morning routine.  I listen to my positive music, podcasts and audiobooks on my drive to and from work.  I light a candle or incense and use oils in my bath in the evening and then do a little quiet meditation or tapping session before bed.  Sometimes I replace my morning caffeine with an herbal tea if I am feeling bummed because I know it will be more soothing to my soul.

Find your routines and explore new concepts to get you in that positive flow.  I am always looking for new ways to improve my life.  I think nature is one of the best ways to fully get mindful and realize, whatever struggles we may be going through, we are all part of something bigger, we are not alone, and knowing that makes this big, beautiful mess of life so much sweeter.

With love, health, happiness…and hopes for you all to have a fantastic and blessed day!

Stacy

The Five to Thrive

I have recently completed Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis.  If you haven’t read Girl Wash Your Face or Girl Stop Apologizing, you should.  She is a real woman just telling it like it is and baring it all.  She is not only easy to relate to, but raw and funny.  With all of that being said, she also gives some great tips on how to be a better version of yourself along with proving by her success that she has applied them to her own life.  I have always applied these five things in my life, but never considered or seen them grouped together as a sort of mantra for life.  Once I did I was hooked on the concept.  These five rules are great for everyone, especially those of you who are just dipping your toe into the idea of where in the world to start on the path to self improvement.

The five rules include, getting up an hour earlier than you normally do and use that time for yourself, workout at least 30 minutes a day, drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day, give up one food category you know you shouldn’t be eating, and finally, write down 10 things that you are grateful for each day.  I have been practicing this list for a while and steadily adding to it with other ideas that help me keep my life better organized, healthy and productive.

When it comes to getting up an hour earlier, this one was the biggest struggle, but also the holy grail to everything else in my life.  I am able to get so much stuff done before I even sit down at my desk at work by accomplishing this one rule.  I get up and go at 5 a.m. and I use another rule from another great book, The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, to make this happen each day.  I also have an incredible morning routine programmed into my mind and body so I don’t allow myself to think about any other options (like staying in my warm, cozy bed another 30 minutes).  I jump up, wash my face, and put on my workout clothes and grab my gym bag.  I make myself a warm travel mug of lemon water and grab a bottle of water for after my workout.   I always listen an audio book on my drive to the gym.  This is when rule number two comes in to play.

I do a 30 minute workout and then I get changed and ready for my work day.  I always arrive early to work and usually I allow myself one cup of coffee while I finish my water from my workout and I usually have a granola bar and a piece of fruit for breakfast.  I get the office opened up and ready for the day and then I sit at my desk before anyone else arrives and I write, check emails and social media.  Once that is complete I start my work for the day.  When lunch time rolls around I have usually already had about half of the recommended water required to meet half my body weight.  When it comes to lunch, sometimes I bring my lunch to work and sometimes I have lunch with friends and coworkers or just grab something and go sit at the park and read.  The food groups I have removed from my diet include any and all sweets and soda’s.  I do my best to make my meals primarily veggies, fruits and a lean protein, I love fish!

On my way home from work I listen to my audio book or sometimes some music to motivate me if I have a lot I want to get done when I get home.  It is about a 30-45 minute drive for me and I hate not being productive while driving.  Once I arrive home I usually tackle everything I need to do to prepare for the next morning, laundry, making my lunch, getting my gym bag packed, then I eat dinner, shower, skin care and take time to review my calendar for the next day so I have mental game plan.  Then I crawl onto the center of my bed and take the time to be thankful, pray and meditate.  On Friday nights, if I am not making it a date night, I usually tackle some kind of household project.  This week it is my personal walk-in closet.  I usually start a project on a Friday evening while am watching one of my favorite Netflix shows and I try my best to finish the project before noon Saturday.  Lately I have been helping my significant other at his restaurant on Saturday nights and I value my Sundays as a day of rest, relaxation and time with those I love.

Building these routines and habits into my life has brought me a sense of comfort, confidence and happiness.  I love feeling organized, efficient, productive, and healthy and I have found a way to work all of the things that are most important to me into my daily life.  What habits or routines do you value in your life?

With love, health and happiness,

Stacy

Coping with Stress

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When you start to live a truly full life it can be exciting and rewarding.  I have a full-time job managing a busy counseling office, full time college completing my counseling degree, part-time waitress & bartender at my boyfriends restaurant, a mom of a teenager, a sweet dog and 3 lazy cats, paying the bills & the mortgage, trying to stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine, keeping up my look with hair, nails and fashion.  From self care to balancing work and school and financial responsibilities it can all add up to a lot of stress!

Research has steadily proved that stress is one of the leading causes of health problems. The need to deal with it has become more of a need to just cover-it-up and avoid by incorporating things that may not be any better for us than the actual stress itself.  Some of us eat more because of stress, some smoke, some drink, increase caffeine intake, some take medications (maybe you do all the above)… all to deal with the stresses of life.  When we adopt these bad habits we are actually just making matters worse.  After reading and listening to thousands of books, articles and research journals I have experimented with many different methods.  In this process I have come up with a few that really work for me and are much healthier.

  • Routine

When I first started my personal journey to de-stress my life I found the number one tool was having a routine.  Having consistency in your life makes life much easier and less stressed.  Important routines are morning and bedtime routines.  Having a certain time you go to bed and wake-up each day will not only give you the proper rest you need to fight off sickness, but it will make life feel a lot less chaotic.  I can tell when I stay up too late the night before and it throws off my routine the next day.  I don’t want to get out of bed and then I feel rushed when I finally do motivate at the last minute.  Planning out what you will wear and what you want & need to accomplish the next day is a great way to mentally prepare you before you go to bed.  Have a routine of washing your face, brushing your teeth, adding a nice night cream to your skin and listening to a meditation at the same time every night.  Also, (as most of us already know), reduce your screen time and remove technology from the bedroom as much as possible so you are not tempted to stay up late watching TV or getting on your phone.

Once I get up in the morning I like to exercise first thing and then shower and ease in to my day with a light breakfast, morning news and a cup of coffee while I get ready.  I listen to an audio book on my drive to work and I like to get in my daily water intake as I go through my morning.  I drink water upon waking and throughout my workout, then another bottle after my workout while I am getting ready and then a third bottle on my drive to work.  I usually have half my water intake complete before I even sit at my desk in the mornings.  Having routines at each part of your day can be very beneficial.  I have a routine I go through once I arrive at the office as well, to insure I am as productive and efficient as possible.

  • Preparation

The next valuable tool I have learned and applied in my life is preparation.  Being prepared saves you time, money and frustration.  Have a certain place you always keep your phone, keys, wallet/purse and other important items so you are not always looking for them.  Lay out your workout clothes/shoes and work clothes/shoes for the next day so you don’t have to waste time in the morning looking for them.  If you have a certain travel coffee mug you like make sure it is washed and next to the coffee maker the next morning.  Check your calendar the night before and prepare by making a list of any errands or special events you need to take care of in your day so you are not caught by surprised or miss something important.  People who follow certain diets do meal preparations so they have healthy food choices, this is a great example of how being prepared can keep you on track.  Walking yourself through your day the night before is a great way to do a mental check-list to be sure you have everything together.

  • Organization

Organization goes along with preparation in a lot of ways, but it gets a little deeper.  Anyone who have recently read the book or watched the show Tidying Up knows how helpful and refreshing the look of a truly organized home can be.  A clean and organized home can drastically reduce stress in life.  Be diligent about cleaning out pantries, closets, dressers and cabinets.  Throw away or give to charity what is not serving you anymore.  I have slowly been doing this in my house and it does create a better feeling when I come home each day and go into my kitchen to prepare a meal.  Opening the kitchen pantry and refrigerator to see it clean and neatly organized is very rewarding and encourages me to cook more instead of eating out.  Having my closets and dresser neatly organized with clothes I love motivates me to immediately put away my laundry instead of leaving it in the basket or piled on a chair in my room.  Organizing my bathroom has been the most helpful, having makeup and other beauty products neatly separated in baskets makes getting ready each day a breeze!

  • Mentality

Lets be honest, you can have routines, be prepared and organized and still have mountains of stress.  Your mental capabilities really come in to play when the going gets tough.  Are you a Negative Ned/Nancy or a Positive Paul/Pam?  Your brain and thought processes are like muscles in the body and you need to be honest with what process you choose when shit hits the fan.  Are you instantly thinking the worst and giving up by pulling the covers over your head, or are you a person who tackles the tough stuff head on with grit and determination?  You can train your brain to handle things in life just like you can train your body to run a marathon.  For many people, once they adjust how they perceive the world around them then their entire lives change.  Your mental loop can make or break you in high stress situations.

I am taking an online class and I had logged on to take a quiz.  The quiz allowed me 20 minutes to answer 15 questions and as soon as I hit the button to start the quiz the page just froze.  The quiz would not load on my lap top and I felt the panic rise within me because I had no idea if the time was ticking away on the quiz as I was waiting for the page to load.  It took me 15 of that 20 minutes before I was finally able to get the quiz to load on my computer and I then had only 5 minutes to answer 15 questions!  Needless to say, I did not do well on the quiz and for about 5 minutes I felt frustration, anger, and stress.  However, instead of going into a complete meltdown I simply emailed my professor and explained what happened and went on about my evening.  My younger self would have let it ruin my whole evening but the fact is, shit happens and sometimes there really is no matter of preparation, organization or any special routine that is going to stop the flow of shit.  That is when you have to be able to depend on your mental strength to logically evaluate the situation and decide if you have truly done your best.  There is no sense dwelling on things if you have sincerely tried and done all you can do.  Acknowledge your anger, frustration or any other emotions you are having and then move on.  Never feel bad for being emotional but never remain in that emotional state.  Allow yourself to cry or vent about the stress in your life and then let it go or do something about it, but do not be the person who constantly cries with no action or effort to fix it.

  • Wise Choices

Last, but certainly not least, take responsibility for choices you have made in life.  We all make mistakes, we may rack-up debt and have financial stress, we may not take care of ourselves and end up sick, only you know the truth of why some stress is in your life.  Owning your role in it is a bit of a relief in itself.  Once you stop pointing fingers you can focus on what steps to take to remedy the issue.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Andy Stanley:  In light of my  past experience, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?

I believe the main goal in life is not to just survive but to thrive.  In order to do this we must constantly learn and grow as individuals.  When a person has something to strive for they are usually happier and healthier.  Having hopes and dreams that you choose for yourself can be invigorating.  Do not focus on what others think you should do, not even what may be considered the right or wrong thing for you to do, instead ask what is the wise thing for you to do?  Nobody else knows what you want in life better than you and if you are unsure maybe you should explore those questions.  Making choices for yourself instead of living the hopes, dreams and expectations of others can relieve a lot of stress.  Without a plan you cannot possibly know where to start and that can be stressful.  What do you want out of life?  Are you making the wise choices to make it happen?

In conclusion, stress is just part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over your life.  To keep a healthy balance it requires really knowing yourself.  Your routines, level of preparation, organization and mental strength will be different from everyone else.  Don’t add stress to yourself by trying to take on a morning persons routine if you are a night owl.  Be realistic and create a lifestyle that works for you!

With love, health, happiness & less stress

Stacy

 

What Does Healthy Mean to You?

When I hear the word healthy it conjures a certain image in my head of me walking my dog on a nature trail with sunshine, fresh air and backpack full of healthy snacks like apples, granola bars and baby carrots with humus.  I think of yoga on the beach with a great tanned, toned body and my long red hair blowing in the ocean breeze as I clear my mind of all the stresses of life.  The truth is, looks can be deceiving when it comes to health.  There are actually individuals that fall into the healthy weight category and smoke, drink excessively and eat nothing but junk food.  Then there are individuals outside their healthy weight category who don’t smoke or drink, but may struggle with food.  It is absolutely possible that the person first mentioned is much more unhealthy than the individual who just looks outside what we picture in our minds as healthy.

It seems we all have this preconceived notion of what we are supposed to look like and what we should be doing to look a particular way and lead that particular lifestyle.  The truth is, we are all unique and what works for one person may not work for you.  We have morning people and night owls, we have people who eat like crap and never gain a pound and those that just smell a chocolate chip cookie and gain 5 pounds.  The key is to listen to your body and what it is telling you about everything from your water intake, sleep schedule, and energy levels, even what kind of food you crave can tell you something about what is going on in your body.

I have learned that early to bed and early to rise is a motto that actually works for me, but will probably never work for the man in my life.  I like breakfast in the morning, a average size lunch and very little food for dinner and he seems to be exactly the opposite.  I am more motivated to complete work projects, errands, and chores around the house when I first start my day and wind down as the day progresses.  My boyfriend is a guy who likes to sleep in and pick up momentum around noon before phasing out later in the evening. I am in my forties and he is in his fifties so these are patterns that are most likely set in stone for who we are and we should take that into consideration when creating a schedule & routine for our lives.

People who try to force themselves to get up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym when they are night owls, preferring to sleep in and skip breakfast, are probably never going to stick with that early morning routine.  We all read the articles about successful individuals who suggest getting up early and tackling your day with the gym and a healthy breakfast and go to bed early in the evening, but if that is just not who you are then you cannot force it or you will be miserable.  My boyfriend is a perfect example of a man who made his lifestyle work around his needs.  He owns a bar/restaurant that is only open in the evenings.  This gives him the ability to sleep in, go to the gym, and run a few errands as he eases in to his day and by afternoon he is hitting his biggest work load.  When he is just getting warms up around 4 or 5 p.m. I am just ending the biggest work load of my day and heading home.  I have found when I work at the restaurant in the evenings to help my boyfriend with his business I am exhausted when I get home and usually head straight to bed when he is capable of watching at least an hour of TV.

Even on the weekends, when I am not at the office, I find myself getting up early in the morning instead of sleeping in.  In winter or when it is dark and rainy outside I tend to find myself sleeping in and wanting to hibernate a bit more, but usually I am up and going no later than 7 a.m. on weekends and no later than 6 a.m. throughout the week. My boyfriend can easily sleep in to 10 a.m., which I am somewhat envious of.  The truth is, I like my routine, I feel more efficient and less like I am wasting my day when I get up early and do all kinds of things before noon when my boyfriend hasn’t even got going yet.  I have heard him say more than once that he feels like he has wasted a day, especially when we first started dating and he would see me getting up early.  In the passed 3-4 years he has started getting up earlier and going to bed earlier, not sure if that is my influence, his age, or the fact that he has started going to the gym more regularly, probably a combination of all.

At the end of the day just ask yourself if you feel rested, nourished, accomplished, productive; are you fitting everything in to your routine easily or do you feel tired and like you are forcing yourself through life?  The goal is to find your own path and enjoy each day to the fullest.  If getting up early to read or watch the news while sipping coffee is important to you then make it happen.  Our personal routines are important to having a healthy and fulfilling life and it doesn’t have to be the same routines that everyone else is doing.  We are all unique and what makes you feel healthy and happy may not be the same for your significant other or anyone else.  We don’t have to look a certain way or follow a certain method to be healthy or happy.  Just do you!

With Wishes of Health & Happiness,

Stacy