31 Self-Care Activities

Taking time for self-care is vital to our well being; making it a habit – a regular practice – can be a total game changer. There are certain self-care activities that I try to work into my every day routine, like drinking warm lemon water in the morning and fitting in a yoga session each day. But on the weekend or the occasional free time, I like to incorporate something extra.

Below is my go-to list of self-care activities. I keep it handy so that in those moments of free time, I can reference it and find something that works. Whether you have five minutes or an entire weekend, you’re sure to find something on this list.

31-self-care-activities

  1. Gentle Yoga – this Intro to Yin Yoga video is amazing!
  2. Read a new book.
  3. Watch your favorite TV shows.
  4. Go to the local coffee shop.
  5. Bake something – try a new recipe or an old favorite!
  6. Meditate.
  7. Turn your phone off for 1 hour.
  8. Take a long, hot shower.
  9. Paint your nails or go get a pedicure!
  10. Deep condition your hair.
  11. Dance around the house to your favorite upbeat music.
  12. Go for a leisurely walk.
  13. Watch a funny movie or stand up comedy show.
  14. Make a smoothie (green power smoothies are my fave!)
  15. Go to the lake or beach.
  16. Watch the sunset.
  17. Write in your journal.
  18. Read something inspiring.
  19. Take a nap.
  20. Go for a drive.
  21. Eat at your favorite restaurant or get your favorite take-out.
  22. Stay in your pajamas all day.
  23. Have some warm tea (Chamomile is very calming!)
  24. Write a gratitude list.
  25. Make breakfast for dinner!
  26. Play cards.
  27. Write down 5 things you like about yourself.
  28. Eat chocolate.
  29. Listen to a funny or inspiring pod cast.
  30. Buy an adult coloring book & colored pencils.
  31. Write an empowering quote on a sticky note & put it on your mirror.

 

These are my 31 go-to self-care activities. Do you have any that aren’t on this list? Share in the comments below!

Looking for even more self-care resources? Check out my resource page here.

15 Self-Care Ways to Transition Into the New Year

It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about New Year’s resolutions, setting goals, and turning things around. Personally, it can be a bit overwhelming. I tend to either over do it – with unrealistic goals and fifteen different spreadsheets with 150 steps to accomplish each goal – or I throw my hands in the air and completely give up.

So I got to thinking… there has to be a better way. How can I bring a self-care approach to the new year? How can I truly set myself up for a healthy and happy new year that addresses not just my physical body but also my mind and spirit?

Below are 15 ideas I think will help us transition into the new year mindfully. Check them out and find what works for you. As always, take what you like and toss what you don’t. We’re all different. We’re all tending to different needs. We all deserve to develop a self-care plan that works for us.

Reflect.

Take some time to journal. Write about all the things that went really well in the past year and all the things you’d like to improve in the upcoming year. Writing can be very therapeutic and this journal is for you, so be as honest and as silly as you’d like.

Celebrate!

Take all the positive things you wrote down – the things that went really well in the past year – and celebrate them! Treat yourself to a night out (or a night in!). Do something nice for yourself to celebrate the good.

Let It Go.

All the negativity you’ve built up in the last year, anything you wrote down that didn’t work out so well, the things that tripped you up in the last year – let them go. Tear those pages out of the journal and trash them. Clear the screen. We’re starting fresh.

Declutter.

In the spirit of starting fresh, declutter your house. Go through your closet, dresser, office, cabinets. Are there things you haven’t used all year? Box them up and donate them or have a year-end garage sale with friends and neighbors. If you need a little more inspiration, check out my blog post about how Decluttering Your Life.

Clean the Kitchen.

I know it’s hard to get rid of excess sugar and unhealthy food during the holidays, but now is the time to do it. Out of site, out of mind. Set yourself up for success by clearing out all the junk food and stocking up on all the goodness; fruits, veggies, etc.

Create Mindful Goals.

Choose the top three most important things you’d like to accomplish this year and make a plan to focus on them – goals, new years resolutions, intentions, whatever you want to call them. By choosing just a few, it allows you to focus on the things that are really valuable to you (and also avoid becoming overwhelmed by too many goals!)

Use the Buddy System.

Find someone to join you in your goals. Are you joining the gym this year? Find a workout buddy. Want to read more books? Find a reading partner and schedule monthly trips to the library. Everything is more fun with friends AND you are way  more likely to stick with it if you don’t go it alone.

Come Up With A Plan.

Write down some how-to’s for each goal. Find a good planner, journal or notebook to track your progress. Schedule times to check-in and evaluate how you’re doing on your goals throughout the year. Adjust as necessary.

Keep An Open Mind.

Life happens! Have your goals, clarify your priorities, work hard… but be flexible and keep an open mind. Things might not always go the way you envision them – work around it, work with it. Allow life to flow as you work towards your goals.

Make Yourself A Priority.

Consider ways to integrate Self-Care into your daily routines. Taking care of yourself allows you to be your best self, to nurture others around you better, and to be more fulfilled in life. You can read about the value of Self-Care here and find some resources here.

Decide What Is NOT Important.

Just like choosing your top three priorities so you know what’s important, you need to know what you’re NOT going to focus on, too.  This will help you say no to things that will distract you, hinder your progress, or muddy the waters. Clarity is important.

Love Yo’ Self.

Know that you are good just as you are. With so much emphasis on getting in shape and having the perfect body, it’s vital to create a sense of self acceptance. I have always struggled with this. For a little inspiration, you can read my story here.

Make It Fun!

No matter what your goals are, find ways to make it fun. Remember to celebrate small accomplishments along the way, be silly, and laugh (maybe even at yourself). Life is too short to not enjoy the journey.

Take A Time Out.

The holidays are fun and exciting but also busy and hectic. This can create a lot of stress that you don’t want to carry into the new year. Carve out some time when you can be quite, calm, and still. Find something relaxing and allow yourself to unwind.

Adopt A Positive Mindset.

No matter what gets thrown at you in the next year, train yourself to see the good. Squint if you have to. But find it, see it and celebrate it. Everything is better when you can see the good.

So there you have it – my self-care plan to transition into a happy, healthy new year. Hopefully this will inspire you to create your own plan; take some of these ideas and make them your own! Create a life that feels good, that is nurturing, and gratifying.

Let me know how things work for you and what you’re doing to move into the new year!

How to Pull Yourself Out of a Bad Mood

We’ve all been there. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Things aren’t going well for you. Or maybe they are and then someone does something or says something negative that sends you in a tailspin.

Whatever the reason, bad moods happen. And when they do, it can be hard to snap out of it. So how can we move ourselves in a more positive direction? These are five tools I’ve used to  help pull myself out of a bad mood. Give one or two a try, see what works for you.

how-to-pull-yourself-out-of-a-bad-mood

Work Out

When I have trouble shaking off negativity, one of the most effective ways I have found to remedy that is to work out. It doesn’t matter what you do; run, walk, go to the gym, yoga. Just get your body moving and sweat it out. One of my favorites is this Yoga with Adriene video Yoga For When You’re In A Bad Mood. It’s easy, it’s free, and it definitely helps boost your mood!

Talk It Out

Talk to a friend, talk to yourself, or write it all down in a journal. When we allow things to stay locked inside, it festers and grows and only makes things worse. Sometimes expressing the frustration and grumpiness is all we need. I’ve been known to have full on conversations with myself in my car as I’m driving home from work.

Laugh

I love to laugh! And one of the quickest ways to break down barriers is to laugh. It’s hard to stay mad or uptight when you have a smile on your face. Humor can lighten the mood, help us to lighten up about ourselves, and reminds us to not take everything so seriously. A good stand up comedy show or a favorite funny movie is always a great go-to trick for bad moods!

Meditate

Often times when we are mad or angry or in a bad mood, the last thing we want is to be still or to be quiet. The thoughts are raging around in our head, our emotions are all over the place, and we have tons of energy just rushing around. It can feel pretty out of control. But if we just slow down, pause, remember to breathe, we can find a peace and calm that will help ease us out of that negative space. It doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. Just sit quietly for five minutes and listen to the sound of your breath.

Do Something New

Break out of your routine and try something new; go somewhere different, learn a new craft, experience something out of the ordinary. Doing something that will break out of your current surroundings and get your mind off the current situation is a great way to bust out of a bad mood. Instead of dwelling on what’s wrong, we can let it go for a bit and turn our attention to something else.

These are just five ways I’ve learned to snap myself out of a bad mood. For other self-care and wellness ideas and resources, check out the Resources page. Let me know what works best for you. What are your go-to tricks for beating a bad mood? 

 

7 Ways To Be Happy Right Where You Are 

7 Ways To Be Happy Right Where You Are 

For the longest time, I believed that I would be happy once I had certain things. I thought having more money, getting a better job or getting married would be my golden ticket to happiness. I quickly came to realize that those things only brought with them a new set of issues. It was disheartening, to say the least.

I was complaining to someone one day about my job (the better job I had gotten) and they looked at me and said, “Well then quit.” I thought that was unfair and said, “I don’t want to quit.” To which they responded, “Then what do you want?”

I thought for a moment and said, “I just want to be happy.”

“Then figure out how to be happy.” 

That response changed the way I thought about happiness forever. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals or that there aren’t bigger and greater things I want for myself. There certainly are. But in the process of finding or accomplishing those things, I want to be happy.

7 Ways To Be Happy
On my journey to figure out how to be happy right now, right where I’m at, I discovered that it’s actually pretty simple. Often times it is, as they say, in the little things. It does take conscious action though. These things might seem minuscule, or even kind of silly, but they work.

The next time you find yourself searching for happiness, give one of these things a try (or do all of them – find what works for you).

Smile.

The easiest thing you can do to instantly move toward happiness is to put a smile on your face. Don’t feel like smiling? Fake it till you make it, baby. The more you do it, the more your brain will believe it. Or better yet, find something to smile about!

Laugh!

Laughing is one of my favorite things. It helps me to let go of the stressful things I tend to hold on to and it reminds me not to take life (or myself) too seriously. When I need a good laugh I watch a funny movie or I find a stand up comedy show on YouTube. There’s also tons of funny memes and jokes online that get me cracking up every time.

Listen to Upbeat Music.

If you really want to make yourself laugh, put on some happy music and dance like crazy. I have actually done this alone in the kitchen before and felt completely silly until I busted up laughing and couldn’t help but smile. Music is infectious. Turn it up and let loose!

Do Something Nice for Yourself.

Life is hard! Cut yourself a break and treat yo’ self! Seriously though, if you’re anything like me, you are hard on yourself day in and day out to do more and be better. Balance it out with a little self-love. Go get coffee with a friend or ice cream to eat by yourself in front of the TV. I won’t judge.

Meditate.

Before you stop reading and think this is all getting too hippie-dippie, hear me out. Meditation is simply clearing your mind and allowing yourself to be still – to do absolutely nothing. When is the last time you just sat still for five minutes? It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before.

Set Goals.

I know I just said to cut yourself a break, so what’s up with goal setting? I’m not talking about major, life altering goals here. Just the opposite, actually. Find something you’ve always wanted to do, something you’ve wanted to learn or explore and create a goal to get it done. Having a small project can help you focus more on things you enjoy and less on things that stress you out.

Resist the Urge to Compare.

Comparison is a happiness killer. It is so easy to go down the road of self-pitty, comparing yourself to everyone who has what you want or who has it easier than you. One way I have found to turn my thoughts away from that is to keep a gratitude journal. Whenever you find yourself obsessing about everything you don’t have, start to think about all the good things in your life. This might be hard at first. But once you begin to see the good, it just keeps on coming. Write them down so the next time you’re struggling, you can refer to your list and be reminded.

These are all tools that I use to find happiness right where I am, even when I’m not under the best of circumstances. What about you? What’s your go-to happiness trick? What can you start doing to create more happiness in your life? Take the time and put in the work because happiness is right in front of you; you just have to look for it.

5 Ways to Declutter Your Life

5 Ways to Declutter Your Life

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, like everything is complicated or difficult, it might be time to declutter your life. Clearing out space in your home and your mind can help simplify and organize your daily living experience. It doesn’t mean throwing out everything you own and sitting quietly in an empty home (although that might be a nice break). It also doesn’t need to be a huge, stressful overhaul.

Here are five quick ways you can declutter your life and move toward more mindful living:

 

5-ways-to-declutter-your-life

[This post contains an affiliate link, which means if you click and purchase an item, there’s no additional cost to you, but I’ll get a small kickback that helps me keep this blog alive and the lights on. Thanks!]

 

1. Declutter your home.

If this immediately freaks you out, relax. Make a list of things to clean out, then tackle one thing at a time; bedroom closets, kitchen cupboards, junk drawers, storage bins. You don’t have to do this all in one day. Take your time and be mindful. Donate excess items or have a big garage sale with friends.

For some extra help on cleaning out your closet, check out A Guide to Decluttering Your Closet by The Blissful Mind. She has excellent suggestions, makes it really easy, and walks you through the whole process.

2. Declutter your car and purse.

Basically, declutter anything you have with you on the go; your car, purse, gym bag, school backpack, work bag, etc. That way you’ll always have the essentials and you’ll avoid the stress of leaving home without something you need (or with way more than you need).

I like to clean everything out of my car and only keep an emergency bag with an extra pair of boots, socks, a hat, travel first aid kit, water and paper towels. I also keep my reusable grocery bags tucked in the back so I won’t forget them when I rush off to the store. Do the same for any other type of bag you use on a regular basis.

3. Declutter your diet.

Clean eating and staying hydrated is so important for mindful living. It helps keep your body fueled, your mind clear and your energy levels high. Clean out the pantry of any overly processed foods that don’t add nutritional value to your meals. Do the same with the refrigerator and kitchen cupboards. Keep water on hand at all times so you remember to hydrate.

4. Declutter your mind.

There is so much information being thrown at us on a daily basis that our minds are constantly processing. This can be stressful, cause anxiety and depression, and wreck havoc on our well being. It’s important to disengage from technology at times, take a break from social media, and limit TV.

A great way to declutter you mind on a daily basis is to start a journaling practice and use a bullet journal, like this one. Creating lists and writing everything down takes pressure off of yourself to remember everything. It’s a creative way to relieve stress, manage goals, and be mindful.

5. Create a simple morning and evening routine.

Your morning can set a definite tone for the day. Imagine what your ideal morning would look like. Make a list of all the things you’d like to do if you had no time restraints. Then choose two or three of those things and work them into your morning. It might mean you get up a little earlier each day, but making time for things like working out, drinking warm tea, meditation and journaling, will totally change your day (and your life!)

Your nighttime routine is important as well because we all know that getting a good night’s sleep can make or break your morning. Find ways to relax in the evening and unwind. This 20 minute yoga Bedtime video is a great way to release the day’s stress and ease into your evening.

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These are just a few ways to declutter your life and live mindfully. It won’t happen over night and you have to be intentional, but take it one day at a time and you’ll begin to shift into a more balanced and content lifestyle.

For more tips on mindful living, check out 5 Ways to Be More Present

A Wellness Library: Top 12 Books On My Shelf & What I’m Reading Now

A Wellness Library: Top 12 Books On My Shelf & What I’m Reading Now
[This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and purchase an item, there’s no additional cost to you, but I’ll get a small kickback that helps me keep this blog alive and the lights on. Thanks!]

 

Reading has been a life long passion of mine. Books can challenge your way of thinking, fuel your imagination, and encourage a healthier life. I’ve read books for fun, for work, for inspiration, even for a little distraction.

Right now I’m reading The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor. Each year my boss takes myself and my co-workers on a planning conference where, among other things, we share ideas that we’ve gleamed from a book of our choice. This was my book of choice this year, so I’ll be reading it over the next couple of weeks, hoping for a little work place inspiration.

a-wellness-library

At home I have several bookshelves stacked with books. Among them are crime scene dramas, biographies, self-help, humor commentaries and the like. The following are the top 12 books on my shelf, to date. If you’re looking for a good read, I’d recommend any (or all!) of these.

  1.  Think Happy Be Happy, by Workman Publishing Company
  2. The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz
  3. The Art of Stillness, by Pico Iyer
  4. Work; How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day, by Thich Naht Hanh
  5. The Little Teal Book of Trust, by Jeffrey Gitomer
  6. Good to Great, by Jim Collins
  7. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
  8. Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler
  9. A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis
  10. The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou, by Maya Angelou
  11. Brave Enough, by Cheryl Strayed
  12. The Art of Happiness, by Dalai Lama

10 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

10 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

The holidays are here!

Everyone has a different reaction; some are thrilled, some go into hiding and some of us break out into a full blown panic attack. Wherever you fall on the holiday spectrum, there are ways to manage holiday stress and come through unscathed and maybe, dare I say, even enjoy the season.

Take some time for self-care, consider the season ahead, and find a few things you can implement from the list below to help you manage any stress you experience during the holidays.

Find a way to make it your own.

10-ways-to-manage-holiday-stress

1. Plan ahead.

Grab a calendar or use your phone – anything to help you keep track of where you need to be and what you need to do. Parties to attend, gifts to buy, cookies to bake for that work party; there are a lot things to keep track of. Write it down and plan it out to avoid rushing and last minute stress.

2. Carve out some time for yourself.

Enjoy some alone time, read a book, or meet up with a friend for coffee. Schedule time to allow yourself to re-energize, relax, and enjoy a mindful moment or two. It’s okay to make this a priority! Write it in your calendar so you won’t run out of time before you get around to taking care of yourself.

3. Give yourself permission to say no.

You don’t have to say yes to every invitation. Planning ahead will help with this one! Know when you’re available and how much time you have. You’ll avoid double booking yourself and avoid unnecessarily stressful situations. Allow yourself the freedom to graciously decline invitations to things that don’t contribute to your enjoyment of the season.

4. Make time to exercise.

It’s easy to bail on your workout routine when you have so much to do and so many extra holiday activities. But if you want to truly relieve stress and keep your mind right, find some time to work out. It can be a family walk in the morning, going for a quick run, doing yoga at home or hitting the gym with a friend. Exercise is vital to mental and physical health. It can be a life saver during the holidays and can also be a good excuse to take a break from the crowds.

5. Don’t abandon your healthy diet – at least not completely.

Along the same lines as working out, eating a healthy, balanced diet will help you avoid extra stress. Excess alcohol and sugar can fuel stress and drive your holiday season into the ground. I’m not advocating avoiding these things all together, but consider being mindful about how much you consume. Keep healthy options in the kitchen and don’t forget to hydrate! Keep a water bottle in the car, so you’ll have it on the go, too.

6. Adjust your expectations.

Let’s be real, you can’t always avoid grumpy Aunt Margaret, but you can set yourself up for a more positive experience by not setting your expectations too high. Know what you’re getting into, don’t take things personally, and choose to have a good attitude. You can avoid a lot of disappointment by allowing people to be who they are and remember that everyone else is dealing with holiday stress just like you. Tis the season to cut them some slack.

7. Identify your stressors and make a game plan.

Speaking of your grumpy Aunt Margaret, take some time to identify those things (or people) who really stress you out; the party you feel anxious about, the gift you’re stressing over, etc. Whatever it is, acknowledge it and make a game plan – how can you find a sense of ease in the situation? Maybe plan to attend the party for a set amount of time or talk to someone who can help in the situation.

8. Connect to a childlike wonder.

Step back and look around; the lights, the décor, the excitement. Allow yourself a moment to detach from the cynicism and stress. Watch the children’s eyes light up as they stare up at the huge Christmas tree. Let yourself go and enjoy the people around you.

9. Practice mindfulness.

Staying in the moment helps avoid a sense of overwhelm. Find a way to connect to the present moment – meditation, breathing, etc. Being mindful allows us to slow down and truly be present, experiencing the season instead of rushing through it.

10. Remember that this won’t last forever.

Maybe you’re one who really struggles with the holiday season. Maybe it’s something that brings a sense of sadness or loneliness. Know that you’re not alone and the vast majority of us wrestle with these feelings every year. Find solace in knowing that it is a season, and it will not last forever.

Don’t let the stress of the holidays steal your joy! Take whatever works for you from this list and work it out.

Do you have a go-to tip for managing holiday stress? Share it in the comments! Let’s help each other have a stress-free season and have fun!