In recent years, “self-care” has been a buzzword or phrase that is plastered just about everywhere! Literally, every other Facebook article, blog post, and self-help video is about the importance of self-care. These articles tell us the hows, whys, and whats of self-care that are supposed to help us to lead happier, less stressful lives. I totally get it; do a couple face masks, get a massage, take a weekend getaway, polish your nails, curl up with a glass of wine and a good book whilst taking a night off from your usual work.
Administrators always love to remind stressed, overworked, overwhelmed, teachers to “do something you enjoy” or “spend time with family” during the tough times throughout the school year. I mean after all, bosses have to say encouraging things to keep their employees and acknowledge their pain, right? However, what I’m not quite buying is the whole “self-care yourself through the toxic situation” mindset especially when the to-do list feels absolutely never-ending.
I don’t have a problem with the actual act of being kind to yourself. We should be gentle with ourselves, love ourselves, and most importantly treat ourselves well. We only get one mind and one vessel. It is soooo important to heal ourselves from our every day emotional labor and physical work. There is space for this kind of self-care. Self-care is important and that means something different to everyone. I can’t deny any of that. In fact, I believe all of that.
Here is where the issue lies. The issue lies in settling for a life you don’t want and coping with your choices by practicing “self-care”. If you continue to stay in toxic situations and forcing yourself to be content by going to a weekly yoga class or treating yourself to a massage, you are making a huge mistake. I don’t hate self-care by itself. But, it is absolutely gut-wrenching that people use self care to cope with their lives.
Self-care is not a band-aid for your toxic flesh wound of a relationship, job, or family issue. Self-care is not a remedy for having the life sucked out of you at a job you hate, being unhappy with someone who you have settled for, or continuing to have a relationship with a family member who turns your life upside down every time you speak. Self-care is not any of those things and self-care doesn’t
1. solve issues that exist in your life or
2. breathe life into dead situations that make your life less enjoyable.
Sometimes, self-care isn’t a facial, manicure, or binge watching a show on Netflix. Sometimes self-care actually presents an inconvenience to others and sometimes it makes others uncomfortable. Sometimes, it makes you unavailable for a while. Sometimes self-care is ceasing to feed dead situations. Sometimes self-care is travel.
Sometimes, self-care is walking away.
Welcome to the second post in my multi-blog series about relocating! This post will be one that is centered around the mental health issues that surround relocation to a certain extent. I think that people should be able to read this post and really evaluate their reasons for an upcoming relocation or even their reasons for wanting to relocate. This post might also help you to plan a crucial conversation with a family member or friend who is thinking of moving away.
A Bit of Background:
My relocation count is currently at 3ish with another planned for July 2019. My first taste of relocation was to a college over 250 miles away from home (6 hour drive). That relocation was so important for me and I truly consider that transition a relocation because I was 17 years old and I was only able to make it home a couple times a year (besides summer vacation, of course).
My second relocation happened after college graduation. I moved to a city about an hour away from my hometown. Although it was close by, I was in a whole new world and I had some amazing experiences!
Both of these relocations had one thing in common. In both of these instances, I moved away from issues that I faced in my life including family issues that caused anxiety. My mental health caused me to make decisions from a pretty young age that were based in fear and overwhelm rather than confidence and agency over my life.
EVERY TIME I moved out of fear or anxiety, I sought some sort of happiness that I realized was always going to be out of reach, unattainable. I realized that I went from place to place carrying my baggage with me, setting it down for a while and picking it back up again and again to move onto the next location yet again. Your problems follow you. Your emotions follow you. Your mental health or unhealth follows you. Time after time, I would move and find myself wondering; Why am I still unhappy? Why don’t I like it here?
On the contrary, my third relocation of over 1,400 miles as well as my pending relocation have both been for completely different reasons. I have had agency and ownership over these experiences. My mental health hasn’t really guided the decisions and that is the most freeing feeling.
The Whys of Relocation
The most important thing to be aware of is that relocation is not an answer to the problems we face in our current location. I know, because I’ve tried it and it never works. I want to make that very clear before I talk about my amazing experiences & adventures in the posts that follow. I don’t want to sensationalize relocation or long distance moves.
If you are suffering internally, handle it before or immediately after making a big move. Go to therapy, do some soul searching, reconnect with yourself. I only say this because there is one huge lesson I have learned from my many relocations and travel adventures; Happiness is not a place. Instead it is a state of mind that we merely carry with us in our travels.
There are SOOOOO many buzz words that are popular right now to describe the things that we would like to accomplish in the new year. Some people still call these “resolutions” which is a somewhat dated, but widely used. Some people simply create yearly goals for themselves. However, lately the word “intention” has been highly popular and has stuck with those who take any interest in mindful living or practices.
Whatever you call these goals, coming up with a clear vision for your year and your life is super important. It has been said time and time again that we create our own realities. We manifest the things that happen in our lives. We visualize and speak truth over our lives, as crazy as it sounds. I one hundred and fifty percent believe this to be true whether in a positive or negative fashion. I believe that if I tell myself that I suck at something repeatedly, that will be my reality. If I tell myself that I will be wildly successful, then that will be my reality. Now, this doesn’t mean that suddenly I am going to sing like Whitney Houston or grow 6 inches and be an international supermodel at 26. What it means is that, so much is possible if we actually believe that good things can happen to us and that we are deserving of those good things. Being able to clearly define what you want to accomplish or be more aware of makes you more likely to make it happen in your life.
I wanted to share the intentions I have set for 2019 with you to motivate you to really think long and hard about what your focus is for this new year and for your life in general. Now, I do believe that goal-setting and intention-setting are a bit different. In my opinion, setting intentions is more like defining focus areas for your year rather than explicitly listing items one would like to accomplish in a checklist format. I think that intentions can have a more spiritual overtone and are about living your life on purpose in a different way than goals. However, I also believe that there is a ton of overlap between the two. So anyways, here is my short list of intentions for 2019:
- Build my business – I want to eventually work for myself completely so this is a no-brainer
- Take care of my body – I want to eat better, listen to my body, exercise sometimes, and rest when I need it
- Make more friends – I really want to master the art of making friends as an adult because as of now I could use some help in that department and that is OKAY.
- Buy a home – I literally just want to be cozy and have lots and lots of space in addition to creative control over the place.
- Slow downnnnn – I want to be more present, work less, feel more, enjoy every moment.
- Travel often – This goes without saying but like literally I love traveling and I want to take every opportunity that comes.
If you haven’t set your intentions for 2019, think about what your high impact improvement areas are currently. I emphasized mental health this year because last year was mentally challenging for me and I saw through blogging and just talking to friends, that we really do create our realities and have the power to shift those realities by making changes to our habits. A second high impact area for me was career/finances because I consistently struggle with fulfillment in any job, especially those with longer hours. I really wanted to focus this year on moving past my disdain for working for someone else and into my desire to live a life that is full of so much more than what I do for a living.
What are your intentions for this year? I’d love to hear some of your goals, resolutions, or intentions for 2019!
For the past few weeks, I have been swamped at work. I have been surviving on crackers, breakfast bars, and 5 hours of sleep. I have been eating takeout and drowning in mostly job dissatisfaction and a little bit of “I hate that I don’t have enough time to…”. Trying to “adult” is truly so hard and there is really no other way to say that. It’s that weird time in my life when I have to learn how to perform a balancing act. However, I’m continually dropping the balls of life and trying to re-focus my efforts. During these times, what helps me the most is taking a day, an afternoon, even an evening to get my sh*t together. Sound familiar? Read on for details on my GYST routine.
The following list of things is just a bunch of stuff I do when my life is something like organized chaos and I am barely getting everything done. This is simply a list of things you can do for a soft reset on a tough week or month or to just re-focus yourself and organize your life if you are feeling unbalanced.
When I’m feeling super out of whack, I literally go through my clothing, shoes, accessories, household items, old mail, and get rid of any unwanted items. I make space, organize items, and just remove anything that is outdated, no longer needed, and generally no longer brining me satisfaction. Later on, I can replace the items with new ones or make the decision to just do without them. For example, I declutter my closet and every so often I find at least 6-7 clothing items I either sell or donate. The lack of clutter can also bring much needed mental clarity by clearing up physical space.
I mean I guess this one seems obvious, right? When I feel like I need to reset my life, I always clean and organize. I take the time to deep clean things like laundering every dirty or frequently used item in the house, including not only clothing but rugs, kitchen linens, and throw pillows. I wipe down or dust hard surfaces and rearrange items in the house for a more polished or organized look. I am always sure to put laundry away neatly and sometimes I organize that messy towel cabinet or dish cabinet that needs attention. Try to clean or organize something that you have been wanting to clean for a while. It generally gives you a sense of accomplishment to check it off your mental to-do list.
3. Light candles & journal
Seems like a bit of an odd combination, but this can be really relaxing to do as I sit in a clean, well organized room in my house. Burning essential oils or lighting candles gives your place a relaxed vibe and journaling is an important part of self care. When I am performing my GYST routine, I usually take time to write down things I am grateful for and some things I want to manifest into my life in the next week or maybe month. I have so many different kinds of journals that I use to really invest time in myself when life gets hectic.
4. Meal Prep for the next couple days or just cook something
Honestly, cooking doesn’t happen as often as it should sometimes in my house because at the end of a long day sometimes cooking is the last thing on my mind. Part of my GYST routine is to cook a large meal that I can possibly continue to eat for the following couple of days. It makes me feel so organized because its one less thing I have to do. I can use my time the next day working on some other thing on my to do list. Once it has been done, cooking makes me feel like I have plenty of time to get things done. the illusion of time in tun makes me feel like I have it together. Also, being able to grab a pre-made healthy lunch and just go to work is probably one of the best feelings known to man or woman.
Put together a to-do list, update your calendar and planner, and just organize your agenda. This is so important because it really puts you on the right track to staying organized for a while. Making sure that your agenda is solid and you have reset your method of organization of dates and plans really makes things a little bit easier, especially when you stay consistent. Make a to-do list of all the small things that have been getting overlooked like making that doctor’s appointment, going to the dmv, getting an oil change, etc. This step will motivate you to get those little things done and feel more organized in the process.
There are so many other things you can incorporate into your GYST routine. Please comment below with things that you do when you need to get it together and get organized after rough week or month.
Growth Mindset Vs Fixed Mindset is Nothing New
We float along in our careers, relationships, and personal matters subconsciously writing a narrative for our lives. We paint our strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and quirks through these stories. Then one day, something happens that totally rattles the foundation of everything we believed that story to be.
Recently, as I gave thought to the shift happening in my life and the long overdue career shift that needs to happen for good, I had a conversation and an epiphany. The conversation was around growth vs. fixed mindset and how we do or do not limit ourselves in everything we do based on our adoption of one or the other. As I started to discuss what growth mindset meant to me, I realized that I have been limiting myself for so long based on the idea that I am not “good” at certain subject areas or things. I had subconsciously floated along with the attitude that I couldn’t do something because I wasn’t good at it. The problem with that attitude is that it implies that in life, we are what we are and we get what we get. It implies that we, as human beings cannot grow, cannot change, cannot learn, and cannot master new things. This simply is not true.
Knowing about growth mindset and living it are two completely different stories. I have always known the definition of growth mindset, but I have never truly lived it. If for just one week, you adopted a growth mindset about things and changed some of the limits you have placed on yourself, your life could change in measurable ways. However, imagine if we changed many of those limits over the course of our lives. Our lives could be written completely differently. We could be living more abundantly, learning more, growing more, and more quickly finding our purpose through challenging ourselves.
How to Fix your Mindset to Promote Growth
For 10 years, I told myself that I couldn’t pursue a career that had anything to do with science or math because I was never “good” at those subjects. I placed educational and career limits on myself. When I look back and think about where I could be if I allowed myself the space to grow and be fearless in the pursuit of my purpose, my only regret is not truly believing in the power of growth. Growth mindset in action can change your life. Fix your mindset to promote growth by:
- remembering that it is never too late to do anything
- having faith that skills and strengths can be learned and developed
- being willing to put in the effort to see results
- avoiding thought patterns that tell us we are born with the skillset we will have throughout our lives
I have always been a person who says “if you don’t like something, change it”. One of our truths is that we can change the things about our lives that we don’t love and we are powerful beyond measure. We have the power to paint our lives the way we want them to look, using vivid colors in some areas and neutral tones in others. Love yourself, but also grow yourself. The only limitations are the ones you put on yourself. The sooner you realize that, the more you can accomplish.
There’s a lot to be said about gratitude journals. They are effective and work for different people in different ways. I find that when I am extremely anxious and need to wind down before I step foot outside my workplace, writing down a few things I am grateful for can shift my focus a bit. I look at those things and I tell myself that life could be a lot worse. I mean everyone has something that they can be thankful for in one way or another. However, what do you do when gratitude journals don’t do it anymore? What do you do when your stress level is beyond the point where a gratitude journal even scratches the surface on your anxiety and stress?
I find myself asking these very questions everyday because realistically, we lose control of our stress level sometimes. I find myself looking for other things to take my mind off work, all the work I do, all the work I need to do, being at work, working, and did I mention work? How do we take back control over our lives in ways other than writing down a couple things we are grateful for here and there?
Here are 5 things you can try other than writing in a gratitude journal to take the edge off the anxiety and stress. No guarantees, but it never hurts to try something new.
- Do Yoga
My go-to stress and anxiety buster is yoga. When I’m at the end of my rope with the muscle tension caused by daily stress, I run to the nearest yoga class and force myself onto the mat. It isn’t something I do regularly out of a lack of convenience and desire to commit to a membership. However, I recently discovered a cheap online yoga membership and am eager to see how that works out for me. Yoga melts the tension away and allows me to actually wind down and relax after a hard, long workday.
2. Read a Self-Help Book
I will say it is hard to sit down and read a book with a super busy schedule. However, nightly reading can take the edge off and give you something else to think about and reflect on during stressful times. I particularly love self help books because they relax you while simultaneously making you at least think about improving yourself.
I write posts for a blog so I mean…
Even if you think no one else will read what you write, just write something. I literally brain dump into the notes app on my iPhone some nights because there are so many thoughts I have to just evict from my mind. If you aren’t a writer, type. No one ever has to see it. Just stop letting negative thoughts, anxiety, and stress make a comfortable living space out of your brain.
4. Beautify yo’ self
Do your nails, hair, face mask. Doing some sort of self care, even if it is just one thing, can work wonders on your confidence and distract you from the stress. Making yourself look better makes you feel better. We don’t always have the time or money for a full makeover, but doing something, anything can make a small difference. Just try it and you will understand. I bought a gel polish kit and whenever Im feeling meh, I give myself a gel manicure that lasts for two weeks. I decompress and I enjoy my cute nails, making the investment totally worth it.
5. Meet up with friends or potential friends
I just moved to the Austin area about a year ago and for the longest time, I would make excuses about not having friends. I would barely leave the house unless it was for work or shopping. Recently, I went to my first happy hour with people I met on the Meetup app and it was like a whole new world opened up to me. There are so many apps, venues, and organizations that allow you to meet like-minded people who also don’t have a ton of local friends. I can’t use the “I don’t have friends” excuse much longer because it’s been a year since I’ve been in the area. Go out, live a little and don’t be afraid of being social. Having friends and a social life can really take a small bite out of the everyday stress bubble we allow ourselves to live in.
The other day, I found myself in my car, sitting in the parking lot of a crowded grocery store wondering when life became so routinized. My weeks have become bogged down with work, eating, sleeping, and doing it again. Meanwhile, my weekends have become laundry, cleaning up the mess that has accumulated throughout the week in my tiny room/apartment, meal prep, working out, and catching up on the sleep that I was deprived of during the week. My reality has become doing these things over and over and over and over. It has become so routinized that I have fallen into the rut of going as far as eliminating things I used to enjoy and replacing them with errands, chores, the busywork of life.
So there I am, in my car having a mini meltdown because I realized that my once joyful and creative life has become an extended business trip. Why do we prioritize things that bring us no joy and that bring little value to our life over things that make us happy? Why do we sacrifice so much of ourselves to get the busywork of life done? I asked myself this question this week and I ventured to find a solution to the rut I had found myself in so many times.
I decided to make a list because lists solve so many problems, right? I made a list of all the things that bring me joy in life like being with my significant other, hanging out with my closest friends, traveling, etc. My list consisted of about 12 items that really brought me sheer and utter happiness. Then I read through the list and checked off the number of things that I experienced on a daily or at least weekly basis. Of the 12 items that bring me the most joy in life, I experienced 3 regularly! THREE! How is that? If this was my truth, how had I gone on so long this way?
My big takeaway from creating the list was that it is so important that we incorporate joy into the everyday, especially when we find ourselves unintentionally eliminating the things that make us happiest because we are “busy”. After looking at the list, I decided that I would gradually try to reintroduce some of the things on my list back into my life. For example, I used to always binge watch shows on Netflix and now I NEVER do. Yes, television is poison and I should be reading books and doing yoga blah blah blah. However, I am a firm believer that everything we love should be enjoyed in moderation.
As 20 somethings, some of us get caught up in careers, money, problems, chores, responsibilities, love, and we forget to do what we love to do for ourselves. I challenge you to make your list! List all the things that bring you the most joy and then see how many you incorporate into your life regularly. You may be a pro at this. You also might be failing miserably at incorporating joy. It’s your job to find out and to rediscover what makes you happiest, then do it.
With that being said…..
I’M GOING TO THAILAND! More on that soon.
All week, I have been planning on writing a travel post about relocation and why I have relocated twice since I graduated from college. That post will definitely come later if people are interested. But, my intuition told me to write this post because of where I am currently. I thought that a post about this weird millenial, quarter-life crisis thing that most people experience in their 20s (and really at any time) would speak to so many people.
Sometimes I tend to get overwhelmed and have a lost feeling when it comes to my career and my life’s work. I literally feel unfulfilled and like there are a million things I should be doing, a million places I could be. But, part of me has no idea what those things are and what those places could be. These are things that I do to help me to navigate those times when I feel like I have no freaking clue about anything! Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by the amount of possibility that life offers compared with the potential I feel that I have. Then I end up feeling defeated and overwhelmed. It happens but this is how I find my way when it seems impossible…
- Revisit Life Goals: When you feel lost, it is super helpful to revisit your life goals. What have you done lately to push yourself to reach those goals? What things are you doing today to help you reach those goals? What will you do this week to help you reach those goals? This motivates me in every way to get up and go do something that really contributes to accomplishing a goal. In the grand scheme of things, you have a lot to accomplish and a lot to be passionate about. Once you have written down your life goals, you have more direction for your life than you think. Most of the things you do should be related to reaching those goals in some way. Read them, internalize them, and make moves.
- Find Inspiration: When you feel like you lack direction, listen to a podcast, watch a Youtube video, read a personal growth blog or book. You should be dedicating some time each day to this. I find myself feeling the most lost when I haven’t invested time into myself and my personal growth. Invest in yourself so that you have passion and dedication to give to everything in your life. A lack of direction causes a lack of passion and that is something that begins to diminish your ability to reach the goals you have set for yourself. My personal favorite Youtubers are KalynNicholson, LavendaireLifestyle, and AmbrosiaMalbrough. I love listening to GaryVee on IG or his Podcast. There also several other Podcasts I love and listen to regularly for inspiration in addition to the books I read.
- Do Something You Love: Doing something engaging that you love and that ideally helps you to reach a life goal is an integral part of maintaining direction in your life. I love to write and so I find that posting to the blog actually makes me feel full and accomplished, even though I shy away from posting when I’m having a tough time navigating life. Do something that brings you energy and good vibrations. Do something that reminds you what you love and guides you back to what you want to ultimately accomplish in life.
- Remind yourself that YOU are in control: It is SO important to remember that we are in control of our own lives (God ultimately, but he gave us free will). If you are stuck, it is because you made a decision to be that way. We are not victims of our circumstances but creators of our reality. It is important to realize that if we want to be somewhere else, we can. You can choose to do anything, be anything, go anywhere. Don’t choose to let it overwhelm you. Let it inspire you and motivate you to go in a direction and if you hate it, go a different way.
- Get in touch with your spirituality: My faith in god has allowed me to be able to meditate, engage in dialogue, and have some direction in and about my work. Having a spiritual place to go to regroup and reorganize the feelings you have about the purpose for your life has been absolutely life-changing for me. Find a spiritual place that works for you and lean into that when you are lost. Put your life into perspective. Ask yourself why you are here, now? Rewrite your life goals if you have to. Find a place that continuously pushes you back to your life’s purpose.
These are ways that I navigate through the times when I feel lost and uninspired. There are so many times when we go through those feelings of comparing ourselves to other 20 somethings, making difficult decisions that actually seem impossible, and just getting overwhelmed because we feel like we aren’t where we should be. Acknowledge those feelings, then let those feelings of anxiety die. Feed your purpose and your passions so much that they thrive.
There have been many moments where I have thought about my age and immediately started panicking about the fact that I haven’t accomplished something or reflecting on some insignificant measure of success. There have been times where I have literally given myself undue anxiety about the fact that I don’t own property (if you own property, that’s actually great). Society measures success by a list of standards and most of those standards make a person LOOK successful rather than truly telling me anything about that person. What is success anyways? I’ve discussed in a previous post that we define our own success and are responsible for creating our standards of success for ourselves as individuals.
However, defining our success can be difficult when society has created timelines for nearly everything that we do in our lives from getting married to owning a home and even having children. Society literally says we should have our own business by a certain age, only switch careers before a certain age, and refuse to take risks if the timing isn’t perfect. I also published a post previously about refusing to limit yourself based on the ideas that you believe are “realistic”. Free your mind of the box that someone has labeled “For women younger than 30” or “For people who are over 50” or even “For people who have money, house, car, etc.”.
I’m beyond tired of people creating rules for when things should happen in other people’s lives and it isn’t going to stop. But what we can do is create our own rules and choose to live by a unique standard that truly inspires others. Your timeline may not fit everyone else’s because your story is unlike anyone else’s so do what suits YOU. Keep writing your own story and living your own truth while creating your own standards and timeline for success.
If you know me personally, you know that I look much younger than my actual age. In my career, my reality has been that people have underestimated my experience and skill set because of their perception of my age and what they feel that my experience should be. That is unfair because it impacts my career mobility if I am not highly communicative about my abilities and experience (even while displaying those abilities in the workplace). I say that to demonstrate that we can’t push our “should be” mentality on other people. We can’t go around placing things in boxes because they are operating on a different timeline from what society has taught us to expect.
I want you to think intentionally this week about the things that you want to accomplish, why, and when. I want you to reflect on your whys and be sure that they fulfill you and not just other people’s standards of success. Then pat yourself on the back for what you have accomplished already because it is a lot more than you think and there is no timeline except the one that society has created FOR you without your permission. Yeah, no thanks.