An Old Journal Post

Hello all! It has been quite a while since I posted in this blog..but that’s life for you! I hope to resume writing posts soon and share life’s experiences with all of you.

Today I wanted to show you excerpts of a journal entry I wrote on 12/31/2013. It was roughly 4 years ago that I wrote this and right before the new year, 2014, kicked in. Hope it gives you some inspiration!

It is 12:13 AM and I am sitting in my room. Boy, I just went over one of the older journal entries and it is funny just how much life changes year to year. I am deciding, for the first time, to not make resolutions this year. Every year I make resolutions, they barely go through. I feel like I have already started so many resolutions within the past year that I should just continue them. So in a nontraditional manner, I am not going to make 2014 resolutions, but am going to reflect on what I learned in 2013 and why, in my opinion, it was the most fruitful year for my evolution and growth.

I learned that not everyone is meant to stay in your life, and even some that stay in your life are not meant to stay there forever. In reality, the only thing that is constant in my life is me. I learned that you should focus your time and energy on the people that will help you grow into a better person and not let you fall back into bad habits. I also learned that some people are meant to be there in your life for only a phase and will help you get through that phase, but then their expiration date appears. I am forever grateful for both those people that do and don’t have an expiration date because they taught me this important lesson and have helped me become who I am today.

I learned that social media shouldn’t dictate your life. I used to be so upset if no one liked my status or if no one responded back to me, but I don’t care anymore. I use social media because I am simply a social person. I am not trying to become famous, get compliments, or have a reason to get an inflated ego, but I use it as a way to see what others are up to. I admit, I get jealous at times and sometimes I think I bring that upon myself, but I have learned the important lesson that social media doesn’t define you unless you let it define you.

I learned that gratitude goes a long way. I started a gratitude journal in November and started a daily writing journal in August and I swear that by doing both, I have seen a significant improvement in my life. I don’t mean improvement as in my life got better, but improvement as in my way of thinking has changed. I used to be so negative and my attitude would make me see the world in a negative light, but the act of daily gratitude has changed all of that. Now things that usually upset me either don’t upset me at all or upset me considerably less. Of course I am human and I am not perfect, so I have my days where I become very sensitive and all my walls are brought down, but I can happily say for the most part that gratitude has really changed my life.

I learned that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and I can attest to that myself. I have learned in 2013 that, along with gratitude, forgiveness goes a long way. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily need to vocally involve the other person, but just forgiving someone can let the mind be at peace. I learned to try not to stay angry at people if they’ve wronged me in any way. Everyone is trying their best to be a good person and are doing what it takes to make themselves happy, even if it hurts you in the process. I do the same to others and stay positive that they forgive me too, and usually they do. I know. Sometimes it’s better to try to understand how someone else feels in a situation and try to step into their shoes, which goes hand in hand with gratitude for me. I feel like a lot of situations that would’ve normally really upset me, ended up making me feel gratitude for other people or scenarios.

I learned in 2013 that sometimes letting go is the best thing to do for yourself. Not necessarily in personal relationships, but in every day decisions. I learned to not stay too attached to the outcome of a scenario or whatever your mind creates, because sometimes the unknown shows you how beautiful it is. Now I try not to stay too attached to scenarios, especially if I am just assuming something. Sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do for yourself, and if the situation involves other people, it can be the best thing for them. I have let go of anything that is holding me back against my potential in life and my life has drastically improved with learning this.

Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself in 2013. I learned what makes me happy, what makes me sad, and learned what makes me curious. I learned that I am a strong and independent person, but am very loyal at the same time. I am loyal to my family and I am loyal to those I consider friends. I strive to see the best in everyone and try to make other people smile. I am a good person and I know I have a good heart. I know my self-worth and know that I deserve to be appreciated, loved, and cared for. I am really happy with who I have become and even though I still have a ways to go, I have started the climb to the peak. Here’s to 2014 and continuing that climb.

Much love and hope everyone is doing well!

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The Science of Gratitude

Happy April, everyone! Spring finally feels like it has come here to stay for longer than short periods at a time. I am grateful to be able to enjoy the sunshine and spend more time outside.

I want to focus this post on gratitude and go into the science of why implementing it into our daily lives can really help us experience more positive emotions (even amidst negative situations). I really want to highlight this topic because I have personally found that even a single thought of gratitude can dramatically shift my mood from negative to positive and turn a bad day into a good one. You might think, “Wow, a single thought?” Yes, most definitely a single thought! Gratitude can be a very significant tool in helping us lead the kinds of lives we want to live.

The positive psychology field has been very successful in garnering scientific researchers to tap into the effects of how gratitude affects our lives. One of the most informative studies came from the efforts of three scientists, Dr. Emmons at UC Davis, Dr. McCullough at U of Miami, and Dr. Tsang at Baylor. The collaboration between these researchers in 2002 resulted in a famous study (made up of four smaller studies) that assessed how grateful disposition (choosing to be grateful) affected the quality of life (along with numerous other lifestyle factors) in study participants. To measure grateful disposition, they developed a 6-statement Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6), which was given to the participants who had to self-report their ratings on a scale from 1-7, with 1=strongly disagreeing and 7=strongly agreeing. You can see and download the questionnaire here and read the original research article here.

Below are the 6 statements that were on The Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6) and the four studies that the researchers performed:

  1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.
  2. If I had to list everything that I felt grateful for, it would be a very long list.
  3. When I look at the world, I don’t see much to be grateful for.
  4. I am grateful to a wide variety of people.
  5. As I get older I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.
  6. Long amounts of time can go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.

Study 1: The researchers recruited 238 undergraduate psychology students to take the GQ-6 and self-report their life satisfactionvitality, subjective happiness, optimism, hope, positive and negative affects, and psychological symptoms (anxiety/depression/etc). They then wanted to look at the correlation between grateful disposition and the above measures of positive well-being, in addition to prosociality, spirituality/religiousness, and the Big Five traits.

Study 2: This was similar to Study 1, but the researchers involved non-students through a web survey on the internet and wanted to see the correlation between grateful disposition and positive and negative affects, the disposition to forgive, spirituality, and the Big Five traits.

Study 3: The researchers looked at the correlation between the factors considered in Studies 1& 2 and grateful disposition, but also looked further into a relationship between materialismenvy, and grateful disposition in 156 undergraduate psychology students.

Study 4: From Studies 1-3, the researchers found that disposition toward
gratitude was correlated with the Extraversion/positive affectivity, Neuroticism/negative affectivity, and Agreeableness traits from the Big Five assessment. In this study, they wanted to see if there was any correlations that existed independently of these Big Five traits and retroactively performed correlation statistics by keeping certain Big Five traits constant in their re-analysis.

So what did the researchers conclude from these studies? They had numerous findings and conclusions, many of which were laid down as a foundation for future gratitude research, but overall, they found that grateful people are higher in positive emotions and life satisfaction and lower in negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, and envy. Even more interesting is that most people report being grateful (an average rating of nearly 6 on a 7 point scale). Gratitude really is all around us!

Interestingly, the study showed that a grateful disposition didn’t necessarily diminish unpleasant feels (i.e. make our problems go away), but did enhance pleasant emotions. Dr. Emmons states on his lab website that, “Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.

What does this all mean for us going forward? It’s absolutely GREAT news and shows us that, while gratitude doesn’t make our problems go away, it can certainly enhance our ability to experience positive emotions in life. Also, even if one is born with a lower grateful disposition, there are ways to cultivate more gratitude in life. I find that gratitude helps me get to a better mental state of mind that increases my ability to find clarity in unpleasant situations and gain the strength to find solutions to problems i’m facing. Gratitude is my catalyst to making better decisions in life. Was I always like this? Absolutely not. By making it a goal to practice more gratitude every day (through the suggestions I make below) has truly made a dramatic change in my life for the better.

With all of this being said, what are some ways we can cultivate more gratitude in our lives?

  1. Keep a gratitude journal and use it to write down all the things and people in life you’re grateful for. This is a wonderful reference you can go to during moments in life when you feel negative emotions. You can also create a daily exercise and write down 3 positive things that happen every day, which is is a great way to seek out the good things that happen to us on a daily basis.
  2. Write a gratitude letter to people you are grateful for. Show them how thankful you are for them being in your life. On that note, write a gratitude letter to yourself and highlight what parts of yourself you are grateful for. Show yourself the same gratitude you show others!
  3. Meditate with a lovingkindness meditation (also called Metta meditation) that evokes compassion towards yourself and others by repeating loving phrases towards yourself and others. My meditation teacher (in the Saturday morning group meditation class I used to go to regularly) would always include this Metta meditation at the end of our 30 minute individual meditation practice and I often felt my heart open after doing this.
  4. Count your blessings and try to circumvent negative thoughts that pop in with something that you’re grateful for. I like to personally ask myself during hard times, “What can I learn from this? What is this situation teaching me?” and try to use every negative situation as an opportunity to grow and/or learn more about myself.
  5. Make cultivating gratitude a shared effort and have a shared Google doc/Skype date/club meeting/journal/list/e-mail thread with someone else or a group of friends who is/are trying to cultivate more gratitude into his/her/their life/lives as well. Just like finding a workout buddy, our goals can be more easily obtained (and fun!) if we share them with others and have someone else hold us accountable for what we are trying to achieve. I also find it helps to find more motivation when someone else is participating in a goal with you, and luckily this gratitude goal will benefit all included party members in a very positive way.

I hope this article has inspired you to cultivate more gratitude in your life. What are you grateful for? 🙂

A Delivery of Calm Every Month

Hope everyone has been doing well. I am grateful that the first day of spring is fast approaching (I even have a countdown on the front of the blog website) and the days are starting to feel longer! Even though my internal clock has been a little off, I am grateful to have the sun shining longer. For those of you in the midst of the snowpocalypse on the east coast, please stay safe and warm! This is a fantastic time for self-care, especially the warm and cozy kind. 🙂

As you may have noticed, I am a big supporter of self-care and engaging in mental, spiritual, and physical activities that make you feel better. One of the new self-care strategies I’ve recently tried is a subscription box. I have heard of people getting subscription boxes for razors, geeky gear, beauty products, coffee, spices, etc, but I really wanted to get one that would be focused on self-care. That’s when I came across calmbox, a monthly subscription box that promotes mindfulness and self-care. The subscription box includes 5-8 carefully selected items that may range from inspiring books, music, tea, candles, natural minerals and crystals, aromatic herbs, motivational reminders, physical de-stressers, and much more. Even better, a portion of the proceeds from the monthly subscription goes to a different organization or charity selected for that month.

I decided to make this a Valentine’s Day gift to myself (treat yo’self!) and subscribed in February. I received it on Valentine’s Day, which was perfect timing not only because of the particular day, but because it was during a time when a pick-me-up would have been very much appreciated. Receiving the calmbox was like a perfectly timed reminder that I needed to take a moment to slow down and take care of myself.

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I literally used every single item that was included in the box. I (still) read from the Self-meditation book every day since it includes tips and reminders for mindfulness. I light the incense cones on days when I feel especially tense since the smell of sandalwood, lavender, and geranium instantly produces a feeling of calm (and makes the home smell amazing). The tea tree mint soap made my morning showers more calming and the essential oils in the soap with the steam was like a home spa treatment. I loved lighting the lavender candle at night to help promote better sleep. I had the lavender + chamomile tea packets whenever I felt like reading a book and cozying up in bed. The lemon and raspberry hard candies were instantly consumed by my boyfriend and I and were so addicting that i’ll likely always have these in the apartment at all times. 🙂 I love knowing that I have all these calming products during those days that stress will play a big role. I see it as a way of treating myself and feel excited knowing that i’ll have a little box of surprises (in a positive way) coming my way every month. Having something to look forward can always help brighten the mood.

As March approached, I was eagerly awaiting for the “your calmbox is on its way!” e-mail so I could keep track of when it would arrive. It arrived earlier this week and contained a new set of awesomely mindful products that i’ll be using on a daily basis this month.

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Every box comes with a cute information card that describes each item in the box and also has a nice mindfulness reminder/intention to think about. 🙂

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I am so excited to use these products! It’s nice knowing that I have treated myself to a self-care package and will have a great set of items that’ll help with those (inevitable) days when I need a little pick-me-up.

Interested in trying out calmbox? Get your first box for $5 off by using the coupon code NINA. 

Hope you all have a fantastic rest of your week and have a fun St. Patrick’s Day!

Every Day Is Your Time To Shine

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Can you believe March is almost here already? I certainly can’t. 2017 is going by so fast, but with that being said, remember to always make time to slow down and savor every moment. 🙂 Not to mention, spring will be here soon!

Today I want to shine (you’ll soon realize this is a completely intended pun) the light on a fantastic new startup called Shine that has been mentioned in CNN, Mashable, Glamour, and TIME, and deserve every ounce of acknowledgement received in these articles. These ladies are truly inspiring in ways I can’t describe; my only regret is not knowing about Shine earlier, which is why I want to spread the word about this awesome service.

So what is Shine all about? It was started in 2015 by co-founders Naomi Hirabayashi and Marah Lidey and is a daily, and free texting service that aims to inspire you and start your morning off on a positive note.

We are talking about a #MotivationalMonday EVERY day during the week for you fellow Facebook- and Instagram-ers! How amazing is that? I previously talked about ways that you can start your day on a positive note and repeating positive affirmations was one of the suggestions I had. Shine is essentially a positive affirmation that is sent directly to your phone every morning at 8:15 AM in your respective time zone. I personally know how hard it can be to develop a habit of repeating positive affirmations for yourself, so Shine is a fantastic way to build up that practice for you and help suggest a healthy intention to set each day.

When you sign up for Shine, you get to choose a focus out of the following: a) confidence b) productivity c) creativity d) presence & joy, and e) health. The texts you receive every morning are catered around your goal and include actions you can take to achieve this in the form of articles, funny GIFs, quotes, and more. Even better, you can “Check In” each day and even mark your mood at the end. Nothing feels better after a week goes by and you realize you’ve committed to improving your mental health & life every day that whole time! 🙂

Want an idea of what a daily Shine text looks like? Let me walk you through my presence & joy text I received today:

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I absolutely LOVE waking up to this or seeing it when i’m drinking my morning coffee. Whatever mood i’m in, this text always finds a way to make me smile because I know as soon as I click on it i’ll be dedicating a few minutes to working on myself. What’s great is that you even have your own customized link! The following welcome screen is what shows up when you click on your personal link in the text:

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The greeting eventually fades out, and the page starts out with an inspiring quote:

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You get a link to an article that can help improve some aspect of your life, perhaps one that you’ve been struggling with. I love having this reference in my phone because I know I can always pull it up in those moments I am not being mindful about my intention. 🙂 Clicking on “Do it” will provide you with a written intention you can set for that day:

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Just like that, you’ve checked into your goal and can go about your day being mindful about that intention. 🙂

If you don’t want to stop there, clicking on “Tell me more” elaborates on the daily intention and allows for you to eventually log your mood as well:

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I have found that most days there is comedic relief included (like this article that was included in a Shine text from last week–i’m still cracking up!), which is always great since studies show how laughter is so great for your well-being. Plus, who doesn’t like to laugh? It feels so darn good!

After you log how you feel (and be honest with yourself), you can see how other people in the Shine community feel the same day:

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This is so great, because it reminds us that we are never alone and we are part of a big community, even if it doesn’t feel like it some days. There is comfort in knowing that other amazing people are reading the same words you are and are setting the same intention for the day, not to mention that we are all doing our best to live a happy and content life. 🙂

Join me in taking a few minutes out of your day to set a positive intention for yourself. Even better, become a part of the ShineSquad and spread the love to others!

I am so incredibly grateful to be part of an inspiring group of men and women who seek to improve not only their own lives, but empower others to find ways to improve theirs as well. Let’s endure this journey together in making every day a bright one. 🙂

Let Go of Being Perfect

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season and stayed warm and cozy if you happen to be in a cold climate this time of year. 🙂 The holiday season, for me, was one chock full of love, fun, and cheer, but also included a lot of tough reflections about myself I had to embrace, accept, and plan to change for the better. One of the thoughts that I kept ruminating over and over in my head was my innate desire to always be perfect and my struggle in being able to let things go. Funny enough, I didn’t even realize that I had been holding off writing this blog post for fear that it wouldn’t be “good enough” for people to read. Thank you, Kristen, for inspiring me to finally get this out topic out of my head and into words, perfect or not. 🙂

So if you look around social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc) you’ll often find at least something that involves “letting go”..heck, you’ll even find shirts, mugs, and jewelry that people use as a reminder to let go of whatever it is that they need to. So what does it mean to let things go? I don’t mean literally throwing things away (Though there is a huge advantage to decluttering) or letting a balloon/kite go up in the sky (That DOES sound fun! No, don’t stop writing and go find a kite to fly..), but I mean letting go of what brings harm and negativity into your life. To me, there is no limit or expectation as to what you can or should let go of. In my life, I’ve made it a goal to let go of thoughts, objects, past mistakes, behaviors, and people that do my life more harm than good.

This struggle with being able to let go isn’t new for me at all, but has been one I’ve been mentally struggling with for as long as I can remember. It’s been very easy for me to let go of objects and people, but negative thoughts, past mistakes, and behaviors has been much more of a difficult journey. If you were a reader of my old blog, I wrote two articles, one in March 2014 and one in January 2015, that were relevant to this topic and included one of the many antidotes I’ve personally found helpful in taking the steps to let go of perfectionism: self-compassion.

In my old articles, I emphasize a situation of a friend coming up to you feeling upset about something they failed at, made a mistake at, and/or did a sub par job of. Let’s imagine this friend coming up to you in the following scenario:

Friend: I made a mistake doing [insert task here] and now I feel stupid and like a failure. I’ll never be good at [insert goal here].

What would you say back to this friend?

A) It’s okay, dear friend! None of us are perfect. We are all doing the best we can, like you did, and now you can learn from your mistake and try again. You’re doing great and don’t give up!

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B) Yep, you are a failure and stupid too. Why aren’t you perfect?!?! You should just give up trying your best, dwell on your mistake over and over again, and might as well catastrophize the worst case scenario for this stupid mistake you made.

Chances are you chose A and showed compassion and kindness to your friend and did what you could to comfort him/her. (If you chose B, please click “x” on the top right of your window browser and go see a therapist ASAP. Ok, just kidding, but not really…at least go pet some fluffy little animals and think about some things.)

So why is it that we can show others so much love and compassion, but we struggle to show ourselves love and compassion in the same way? Perfectionism is essentially a built-in tool for failure because we will never be perfect, no matter hard we try. Perfectionism is an energy drainer that sucks out energy we could use for so many other productive activities or people in life. Why should we even want to be perfect? Making mistakes and being imperfect is what drives us to grow and change our lives for the better. Being imperfect gives us a reason to become mentally stronger and more resilient. Being imperfect is a quality that we, as humans, share and bring us together through our families, friendships, support groups, online message boards, social media, and more that we use for love and support during hard times.

With all of this being said, I’ve made 2017 the year of self-care and self-compassion. It’s about time we show ourselves the same compassion we show others and treat ourselves with kindness. We, together, can strive to let go of the belief that we are not good enough, imperfect, or deeply flawed.

I challenge you to have an internal conversation with yourself when you start having self-defeating thoughts and ask yourself, “If my friend came up to me feeling upset about this situation, what would I say to him/her?” So, instead of wasting our energy on thinking about our failures, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful (and more beneficial) to do with that energy:

  • Start a gratitude/bullet journal — I am SUPER excited to start my new bullet journal! I plan on making bullet lists of what i’m grateful for, activities I can do when I start thinking negatively, positive affirmations, fun books I plan on reading, activities/trips I want to do/go on, hobbies I want to try, recipes I want to make, people that I can call when feeling upset, etc. Use it as a way to refocus your thoughts on activities and people in life that bring you joy. 🙂 Find out how to start one here and find more ideas on bullet page lists here.
  • Keep a list of qualities you like about yourself and things you’ve done that you’re proud of – This can be included in the bullet journal above as a page! Make copies of this list and keep it in areas that you have access to–your purse/bag, on your cell phone, in a document on your Computer, in your pillow, etc. Whenever you start finding yourself being flooded with self-defeating thoughts, remind yourself of what you’re proud of and all the great things you’ve done. 🙂
  • Set some healthy goals for yourself – Instead of focusing on what you lack, focus on healthy things that you can add into your lifestyle and let go of ones that do you harm. As an example, I’ve made it a goal to exercise for at least 30 min 3x a week (anything that gets me off the couch/apartment and moving) and to cook more healthy meals. I’ve also told myself I want to meditate every day, even if for 5 minutes. On the flip side, I want to let go of unhealthy eating habits and cut down caffeine intake (Don’t worry, I still love coffee!) and sugar consumption. The key is to not be hard on yourself if you don’t meet your expectations. So what if I have an especially tiring week and I need to catch up on sleep? No problem! So what if during this same tiring week I don’t have the energy to cook healthy meals and want to just have mac n’ cheese and ice cream? I’ll happily have that mac n’ cheese/ice cream and not beat myself up about it, but re-frame it as an act of self-care for an especially tiring week. Show yourself that same love and compassion that you’d show a friend who is upset at not meeting his/her expectations.
  • Schedule some self-care time during the week – I have dedicated a whole Pinterest board to self-care activities as part of my 2017 resolution. What does self-care time mean? This means you will set aside time in your busy schedule to do something for YOU. Not anyone else, but you. It can be as little as 5 minutes to a whole day in the weekend, maybe even the whole weekend. This is where it’d be helpful to have a list of things you enjoy doing. Maybe it just entails listening to your favorite song or taking a short walk outside. Maybe it means watching a guilty pleasure of a TV show or reading a book you haven’t had time for. It could simply mean closing your eyes and meditating. Whatever self-care is to you, try to make that a priority at least 1x a week even if it’s for a few minutes, even 1x a day if you can manage it! We all lead such busy lives, and this can be especially difficult to balance when other family members and children are involved, but it’s important to take time to recharge your own battery so that you can truly be present for the loved ones in your life.
  • Start a journal/exercises to challenge self-defeating thoughts you have – I read this great book last year by Dr. David Burns called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy and, I have to say, it did a number on making me more aware of my thoughts (Here’s a TEDx talk by him too). One of the things I remember most from his book is how to defeat ANTs, or automatic negative thoughts, and how challenging them could be useful in our everyday lives (whether clinically diagnosed with a mood disorder or not). For every self-defeating thought you have, challenge it with a TRUE statement. Often, our self-defeating thoughts are misrepresented facts that are influenced by our emotions at the time. Here’s an example of challenging an ANT:

ANT: I said something insensitive to Person X and accidentally hurt their feelings. I am a bad person and don’t deserve to have their friendship/relationship/etc.

ANTI-ANT:  I said something that this person found insensitive, but that was not my intention at all. I care about this person and meant no harm. I will apologize if I haven’t already and will not let this define who I am because I know it doesn’t reflect who I am.

So, instead of making the ANT start an endless cycle of why you’re [insert negative criticism here], stop the cycle and state a true fact. (Disclaimer: For this and the other suggestions I made in this post, if ANT exercises/journaling end up doing more harm than good and doesn’t help, then stop and let it go.)

  • Seek help – This 100% goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism. It’s easy to fall into the trap that “you’re crazy”and imperfect/flawed/insertcriticismshere if you seek professional mental help. This may especially be the case if you are inherently hard on yourself, but you absolutely not crazy for seeking mental help when you need it. I repeat, you are are not crazy for wanting to improve your quality of life and trying to make positive changes for yourself. If your perfectionism and self-defeating thoughts have started to take a toll on your daily life and nothing (like the examples above) seems to help over the long run, it’s okay to seek help outside of your support network of family and friends. I’ve done it (no shame at all and happy to talk about it!) and I know many others that have done the same at some point in their lives. Your well-being and quality of life matters and doesn’t deserve to be sacrificed for the fear of what others might think.

It’s about time we all embrace the fact that we will always be perfectly imperfect and strive to show ourselves the same love and compassion that we, so openly, give to others. Much love to you all and wishing you a New Year full of love (the self-love kind, too) and care!

Positive Morning: Ready, Set, Go!

Do you ever wonder if some of the first morning actions we perform or emotions we wake up to influence how the rest of our day will go?

I remember one morning, a few weeks ago, I woke up in tears after having a pretty awful nightmare. It really did set a cloud hanging over the rest of my day even though I knew the events in the dream did not happen in real life. Then there are other mornings, like today, where my morning started off on a wonderful and positive note that has set a delightful tone for the rest of the day.

You know that saying, where you can wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Sometimes I feel like that holds true, but often times we do have the power to change our mindset and set a different tone for the rest of the day. Life happens, and we will not be happy 100% of the time, but it never hurts to perform acts of self-care, self-compassion, and self-love in addition to treating others in the same accord. Either way, this post is about ways that we can start our days off in positive ways. 🙂 Feel free to suggest anything in the comments below on any morning rituals you have to start off your day on a good note.

1. Music: You know that happy feeling you get when you listen to your favorite song(s)? It’s a damn good feeling, isn’t it? Channel that feeling as soon as you wake up and throw on your favorite song or two! Even better, program your phone to play your favorite song as your alarm. I can tell you that it really does work, because this morning started off with awesome songs and I woke up in a really great mood. My boyfriend and I decided to play songs that make us happy and found ourselves dancing before we even got out of bed! Want some suggestions to start off? Our song choices this morning were:

Two Princes by Spin Doctors – I challenge you to not want to rock out to this song.

Canned Heat by Jamiroquai – The message in here is awesome. Yes, I will dance my blues away, thank you very much.

Good Morning Good Morning by The Beatles – My boyfriend chose this song and not only was the song great to listen to, but hearing his attempt at a British singing voice contributed SIGNIFICANTLY to my positive mood this morning. 😛

2. Positive Affirmations: Positive affirmations are statements that you can repeat to yourself, and research studies show that these can increase our feelings of self-worth and help us respond to threats more effectively. Here’s a great list of some morning affirmations you can start out with, but over time you’ll likely end up creating ones that fit into your  view of life at that time. They can really make a dramatic difference in mood and often result in us feeling more grateful towards the things in life we take for granted. Try it and see if it works. 🙂

4. Warm Beverages/Food: Disclaimer: I am not an expert on health nor nutrition. Obviously by my blog title, I love starting off my morning with a cup of coffee. It makes me feel all warm and gooey inside. What’s your go-to beverage to get that inner gooey feeling alive and kicking? Sometimes just having a warm beverage or something yummy in the morning can get us going for the rest of the day, not to mention give us the energy we need to complete tasks.

5. Positive Images: During grad school when my anxiety/stress levels rose to an all-time maximum, I would immediately Google pictures of cute baby animals because who doesn’t soften at the sight of cute baby animals? Kristen: #2 is for you, girl! Even better, a Japanese study showed that looking at cute pictures increases not only our mood, but our productivity as well. Whether this study is legitimate or not, I don’t care because ALL HAIL CUTE BABY ANIMALS! 😀

The list can go on and on, but I suggest finding at least one thing to do every morning that will make your life easier. Maybe that involves setting the alarm so you can wake up a little earlier so you can squeeze in looking at funny websites like Buzzfeed, Reddit, or Imgur or savor that morning cup of coffee. Or maybe you can go for a quick jog/run/walk in the morning or be mindful when taking your dog on a morning walk. Maybe it will involve not leaving your home, but just waking up and writing down one thing you are grateful for in a journal. Gratitude is always a great way to start a morning. Whatever it is, try to set a goal of just doing one thing that can improve your mood, even slightly, every morning. There will be days when it’s not as easy to improve our moods, but that’s ok because we have many more mornings to come (and should be grateful for that fact as well). 🙂

We can’t control how the rest of the day will go, but we can at least take a little bit of time to start our morning off in a way that will keep our minds (and subsequently, bodies) as healthy as possible.