Getting Out of a Slump

Getting Out of a Slump

During these past few months, I have been in such a slump. It is one of the reasons I haven’t written a blog post in awhile. I know I am not alone. The more people I reach out to, the more I realize how many are feeling this same way.

I wanted to share the steps that I have taken to get myself living well again. Hopefully, you will find something to help you if you are searching for something to pull you out of your own slump.

Make a before & after list.

I didn’t see how much I was resisting to the changes happening around me until I made a list of “life before and life after Covid.” This process helped me to see on paper how drastically my life had changed and how many really good habits I stopped doing since March. I could see exactly what I needed to adjust to get my life back on track.

Adjust one habit at a time.

Many of us have traded the habit of going to the gym with sitting on the couch and snacking. Hence, we have added the Covid 19 to our waistline. So look at your list and pick one change you can make right now to improve your life. For me, I decided to exercise every morning (and stop snacking). After about two weeks, I was still snacking (but not as much) and I added the exercise. I was already feeling better and then an added bonus, my gym reopened. So today, I had a really good workout.

Create a strong morning routine.

I am a firm believer that the way you start your morning, sets you up to have either a really good day or a not-so-good day. Choose just a couple things to do each morning to insure you have a great day. One of my morning habits is meditating. It takes me only 10-15 minutes, but what an impact this small amount of time has on my day. You may have other things you enjoy in the morning such as journaling, walking, or reading. Whatever helps you start your day should become part of your morning routine.

It’s simple actually. There is no secret formula to make life better and I haven’t shared anything new or anything that you probably didn’t know already. It is just making the decision to want to change your life, get out of a slump, and care enough about yourself to do the work.

No more slumping! You got this! Make your life better!

If you have any tips to share that have helped you, please share them. We learn from each other!

Featured photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash.

Spooky Season

Spooky Season

Autumn has so many things to do! If you are a nature lover like me, you are enjoying the leaves, the crisp air, and apple or pumpkin everything! The season may have started on September 22 this year, but we still have two months of fall to embrace. Here is a list of fifteen things you might like to do:

  1. Start one of your mornings with a pumpkin spice latte, a cozy sweater, and a journal.
  2. Take a walk in nature and collect leaves.
  3. Visit a pumpkin patch and buy some fall decorations.
  4. Make a large pot of soup.
  5. Add candles to every room of your house.
  6. Sit outside with a thick blanket and cup of spiced cider.
  7. Watch a scary movie.
  8. Bake a new fall dessert or a pie from scratch.
  9. Carve a pumpkin.
  10. Go on a picnic and bring wine, cheese, and crackers.
  11. Bake some bread.
  12. Simmer some spiced cider on the stove all day.
  13. Make some cinnamon dough ornaments.
  14. Gather some twigs, pinecones, and leaves to decorate your table.
  15. Bake a casserole, maybe a childhood favorite.

Take pictures of your fall adventures! I would love to see them!

Featured photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

Your New Normal

Your New Normal

Last week, I met a friend for coffee.  Later that day, I ran a few errands and even stopped by TJ Maxx. My daughter and I scheduled pedicures in a nearby town. Other than the face masks people were wearing, things were starting to feel “normal” again.

This week, stores are closing for a second time. Until a solution for the Corona Virus is discovered, this may keep happening. The progress of returning to normal vanished as soon as businesses close their doors. After our pedicures, the salon was also shutting down, but at least we had that one last pampering before we shelter in place again.

It is time to accept that this is the new normal and we must embrace it.

It occurred to me that I hadn’t exercised for several weeks. I was waiting for the gym to reopen. Each week, I think that surely next week it will open again. Guess what? It is still closed and now it has been months! I realized I needed to figure out new ways of doing things instead of waiting for “normal” to return.

Create a new plan – I took a look at how my life was and how I can still do the same things, but in a different way.

1. Exercise at home

Going to the gym most days was part of my routine. I used the weight machines and then ran on the elliptical. Since I don’t have access to the gym, I took a look at what equipment I do have at home. Now, I use my free weights and for the first time, I ran outside. I loved it! Running in the open air is really good for the soul. This is something I would not have tried because I am much more comfortable in the gym.

2. Meal plans delivered

I enjoy going out for lunch with friends. I love sitting outside and making a meal last with good company and a tasty dish. Since this is not available right now, I started getting meals delivered and I cook at home. I had to try several companies before I found one I love, but now I look forward to my food box. I am learning little tips about cooking and trying dishes I probably wouldn’t have experienced on my own.

3. Make income from home

So many people are financially struggling right now because they are unable to work. This is not a situation that I want to be in so I had to shift the way I want to do my business. My new partner and I are turning our business from a face-to-face service to an online one. I am so excited about this because if another outbreak occurs, we will still be able to work.

Stay social – After shelter in place protocols began, I shut myself inside for about three weeks. But my emotions started to take a toll on my well-being, and I knew I couldn’t do handle many more days inside. I had to make a change.

1. Walk daily

I started to take a long walk every day. Having a dog helps and she benefited as well. (I think it was taking a toll on her too!) Getting outside every day breaks up the monotony of being indoors.

2. Zoom call or facetime with friends

A phone call is great on most occasions, but when you are able to see someone’s face, you almost feel as though you are in the same room. It is a wonderful way to feel connected to the people that are important to you. The isolation disappears and you know you are not alone.

3. Plan picnics

Another way to stay connected with those who live nearby is to have a picnic. You can practice social distancing while enjoying a meal together. It is amazing how just a few hours outdoors with family or friends can uplift your spirit.

Keep my sanity – The seclusion of being at home day after day, gives us extra time to think (maybe too much time), to worry, or to experience anxiety. In order to take care of myself emotionally, I started to practice some daily habits.

1. Daily self-care

Each day I choose something I will do to take care of myself. It could be painting my nails, or taking a bubble bath, or reading a book. Self-care isn’t complicated. It is just making yourself a priority, without guilt, to do something nice for you.

2. Journal each morning

I was not a journaler. (Is that a word?) I joined this online group and each day we journaled and posted it. Somedays I did not post because it was too personal, but the point is that I was held accountable to journal every single day. Some days, nothing exciting was written, but other days, I was surprised by how much I was learning about myself through this daily process.

3. Learn a new hobby

This is a great time to experiment with different hobbies. Find something you enjoy doing or making besides work. Try something new. There are so many online classes available through Creative Bug, You Tube, or LinkedIn Learning. You might even be able to make a new business for yourself.

Changing my perspective on our new “normal” has helped me to embrace and accept what is happening instead of resisting it. The stress and anxiety are lessened, and I am now able to move forward in the best way I can. I am creating new routines to fit my new way of life and it is okay. Hopefully, some of our old ways will return, but in the interim, make your current life the best it can be.

Featured photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash.

Framing & Reframing

Framing & Reframing

Before sheltering in place began, I went to the grocery store. I wasn’t going to the store to prepare for what was coming, just to get my weekly groceries. I didn’t realize that people were already stocking up and most of the food bins were empty. I was shocked. I asked one of the workers in the store what was going on. “Should I be worried about getting food?” He told me no. Food was getting delivered normally so don’t worry. He thought that people were stocking up unnecessarily.

It is all a matter of perspective.

Depending on how we look at a situation, we can either be positive or we can be negative. From the grocer’s point of view, food was being delivered regularly so there was nothing to worry about. From the people’s point of view, food may not be available so I better stock up while I can. (I did stock up a little just to be sure.)

We can always change our perspective.

Sheltering in place began and at first, it was like a forced vacation. My daughter and I played games, finished puzzles, watched movies, baked cookies, and just had lazy days in our comfies. After three weeks, it wasn’t fun anymore and I got a little down. Depressing thoughts like, “Is this the end of the world?” flooded my head. (I know, a little dramatic!) But then it hit me. I want to turn these thoughts around.

Looking at a situation from another point of view is called reframing.

Your original perspective is how you framed a situation or problem. However, you CAN change the way you choose to see a situation by reframing it. I decided to turn my doom and gloom thoughts about the Corona Virus and sheltering in place. I made a conscious decision to see the opportunity in being forced to stay home.

The first change I made was to enjoy this time that my daughter and I had together. We had so much fun hanging out. Next, I decided to set some goals that I could accomplish in just three weeks. (I reorganized my kitchen for starters!) Finally, I changed my attitude to accept the changes that are happening in the world and not resist them.

When you shift your perspective, a bleak situation can open up amazing opportunities.

Life is not all roses, but the way we choose to see all the ups and downs we experience can determine whether we are troubled or happy along the way. We can reframe almost anything. Once I reframed sheltering in place, I decided to look for ways to work from home and still be able to help people. I met a wonderful friend and we will be offering some classes together in the near future. I am not sure our paths would have crossed in the same way without sheltering in place.

Choose something in your life that you are not happy about and see if you can reframe it with another perspective.

Maybe that annoying neighbor could be your path to grow in compassion. Maybe the weight you want to lose could be your push to take better care of yourself. There is always a more positive light waiting to be shed on your situation. Find it and reframe you thinking!

Here are a couple links to articles about the clinical use of reframing from the Very Well Mind website:  “Using Cognitive Reframing for Mental Health” written by Amy Morin, LCSW and “How to Reframe Situations so They Create Less Stress” written by Elizabeth Scott, MS.

Please share some examples of reframing in your life!

Featured photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Morning Walks

Morning Walks

There are many ways to start your day on the right foot. I have many rituals, so-to-speak, that I do each morning help me get ready to have a wonderful day.

One of the things that I do regularly is take a morning walk.

I must confess that I have a dog, Piper, and because I need to take her outside in the morning, it is easier to keep this morning habit. If you don’t have a dog, maybe you could meet a friend. However, what I like most about my walk is the quiet time I have with myself (and my dog, of course)!

The first thing I notice when I head outdoors is the sense of peace and calm.

It doesn’t matter if it is cold, windy, rainy, or hot. I get to be alone with my thoughts. This “alone” time is essential for me. It is where I get to show up for myself. Most of us have such busy lives that we don’t make time for quiet time. A morning walk lets you experience this peaceful time before you get too busy in other tasks.

A morning walk is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness.

Being mindful is about living in the moment you are presently experiencing. In other words, if you are walking, then you are walking with your mind on walking. It is not the time to talk on the phone or scroll emails or social media. Just be present with walking. Notice the sounds you hear like the crunching of leaves under your feet. What kind of things do you see? Or hear? The more you notice your surroundings, the more mindful you are being.

Doctors recommend a thirty minute walk every day, rain or shine.

A morning walk is a healthy habit to develop. You can make it a vigorous walk to burn extra calories or a casual walk to enjoy nature. Either way, by walking in the morning you are doing something healthy for your body.

A morning walk can also be meditative.

Many apps are available that guide you through a meditation while you are walking. You can focus on your breathing for part of the walk. This will help to clear your mind. Another way to use the walk as a meditation is to think of one thing, maybe a question, a quote, or an affirmation. Then only think about this one thing while you walk for a certain amount of time.

Here is an example of one way to take your walk.

Start with the first five minutes, noticing the sights, sounds, smells around you. Are you holding something? How do you feel? How does your body feel?

The next twenty minutes, focus on breathing and clear your head of other thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking, just release it. Say to yourself, “I don’t need to think about that right now.” To keep your attention on your breathing, you can count. Inhale – one, exhale – two, inhale – three, exhale – four, etc. up to ten. When you reach ten, start over.

If you get tired of counting, you can listen to the sound of your feet. The idea here is to keep your mind clear and stay in the present, focusing on your walk.

The last five minutes, notice your surroundings again. How do you feel? What are your senses telling you? Enjoy this calm and quiet.

Walking in the morning does not have to be complicated.

There are no rules for taking a morning walk. You do not have to DO anything. Just walk. Just breath. Just enjoy the time.

Featured photo by Adrien Tutin on Unsplash.

It’s Spring!

It’s Spring!

Today is the first day of spring! At the start of every season, I am excited to do all the things associated with that time of year. Spring is all about new growth, new beginnings, and fresh air.

My favorite thing about spring is hearing the birds chirp in the morning. I miss this sound and when I hear them for the first time, I get excited. This year, I had an extra surprise! A dove laid an egg in my planter. I am not sure why these birds picked my balcony because my dog sits out there all the time. However, I now get to watch this special event at close range.

Spring cleaning is the first thing that pops in my head when I think of this season. Since I love to clean and organize, I get excited to dive into that task. I love the feeling that everything is back in place and when I open a drawer it is neatly organized. However, you do not have to spring clean just because it is spring. Also, you do not have to do it all at once. I usually break it up over a week or two and just start with one room at a time and do a little each day until it is done. I also decide how I will reward myself, so I am motivated to finish.

That is the literal interpretation of “spring cleaning.” How about a different way of looking at this concept?

Our calendars, our lives, also become cluttered and dirty. This might be a good time to clean out all our commitments and get back to what is important to us. It may be time to start a new membership at the gym or decide to leave that book club or maybe join one. Basically, spring cleaning can be a nice time to reevaluate your time and clean up your calendar.

Spring is also a good time to set one new goal. Just one. Pick something small and doable. Maybe you want to start a new journal or run a certain distance. Achieve it and you will feel great!

Here is a list of 30 ideas to do in spring.

  1. Plan or design a garden.
  2. Plant seedlings.
  3. Put out bird feeders.
  4. Clean out your closet.
  5. Pack up winter clothes.
  6. Get your bike ready.
  7. Go for a bike ride.
  8. Have a tea party.
  9. Eat dinner outside.
  10. Fly a kite.
  11. Walk in the rain.
  12. Find a four-leaf clover.
  13. Notice the budding trees.
  14. Sleep with your window open.
  15. Plant flowers.
  16. Go for a hike.
  17. Spring clean your home.
  18. Put flowers on your table.
  19. Try a new recipe.
  20. Plant herbs.
  21. Declutter.
  22. Start a new book.
  23. Walk to the market.
  24. Clean your patio, balcony, or outdoor space.
  25. Have breakfast on your patio.
  26. Paint a room.
  27. Buy fresh pillows.
  28. Buy a hammock.
  29. Visit an art gallery.
  30. Write in your journal.

These last two ideas aren’t really spring related but I just needed a couple more to hit thirty! But you get the idea. Enjoy this season. Add to the list and share any other ideas you have for things to do in the spring!

 

Featured photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash.