Monday, May 21, 2018

The Ultimate Guide To Banishing Negative Self Talk

Fact: we all have an inner critic.   Perhaps some of them are louder than others, but sure enough, we all have one.  Your inner critic is that negative voice inside that fills our mind with self-criticism, blame, and shame.  I don't think I need to point out how destructive that can be if you pay too much attention to it. 

I'm so thankful for a reader who was honest about this struggle and reached out to me for help.  In fact, the person who reached out is actually someone I know personally and it blew me away to know that they have a deep struggle with self-doubt and self-worth.  Why?  Because this person is someone that I look at I'm constantly amazed by them.  To me, they epitomize "having it all together,"  they're highly skilled in so many different areas, and I truly admire them so much.  So it was kind of shocking to me to hear this person say that they really struggle with negative self talk.

This goes to show that none of us are immune to negative self talk.  I, for one, have absolutely struggled with it.  I've told you about my struggle with mom guilt and I shared about forgiving yourself last week.  Truthfully, all of these topics go hand in hand.

Negative self talk is not something we're born with - it is something that we develop over time. There may have been messages we received in elementary school (i.e. if you were bullied), or at some point growing up, or perhaps you just looked around our culture and thought "I don't look or feel like that, so I don't fit in." Wherever those messages came from, we learned them at some point...and now, we must unlearn them.  Or rather, we must learn something new.  

The trick to getting rid of that inner critic (or at least not letting it have so much power in our lives) is to retrain our brain with thoughts that are truthful and affirming.  One thing I really like to do for this is positive affirmations.  It may feel very uncomfortable, especially if you are struggling with an inner critic issue or have critical negative self talk.  However, in order to overcome anything difficult, I would posit there is always a degree of discomfort let's not let that stop us, my friends!

Start by writing down some thoughts about yourself -  some things that you love about yourself.  A great place to start is to write down compliments other people have given you.  You can also write down things you like about the way you look and things about your personality that you appreciate. 

To be honest, I like to keep track of really nice things that people have said about me.  If someone watches an Instagram Live and DMs me to tell me how much it helped them, I will literally screenshot it...not because I'm a narcissist, but because on a bad day when that negative self talk begins to take over, I can go back to it and remember that one person was really helped or encouraged by something I said. 

Feel free to keep track of those compliments in a journal, use a printable, keep notes on your phone, or screen shots of nice texts that people send you. Begin to really notice when people speak kind and affirming words to you.

Another thing that helps me with negative self talk is my faith.  I'll be honest, at various times in my life, I have  had to constantly fight the battle against negative self talk.  When I really start notice my thoughts taking a negative turn, I know that I need to be prayerful and be talking to God and my close friends and family members about how I'm feeling.  

If this is also a struggle for you, come back to the people who you trust and love, and let them speak loving truth to you.  Allow those people to be the soundtrack that replaces that negative inner critic.  The more you can hear and speak and write these words of affirmation, and of lovingkindness toward yourself, you're going to start to retrain your brain.

My challenge to you is that this will require consistent effort; my encouragement to you is to wake up five minutes early and write down affirmations about yourself and speak them out loud before you begin your day.  Over time, you will reap the reward of a tendency toward self-love and self-compassion, rather than a constant onslaught of negative self talk.  

On that note, I've got some VERY exciting news to share with you!  June 1, I'm releasing my first ever issue of my monthly digital workbook/magazine/self care community, My Self Care Bestie.  Each month, I'll be taking an in-depth look at a mental health, wellness, or self-care topic and sending you a beautifully designed workbook full of handouts, activities, and insights pertaining to that topic.  You can learn more or subscribe here!  June's topic (wouldn't ya know it?!) is getting rid of negative self-talk! 

I'm beyond excited to share this new venture with you, and I hope you'll have as much fun reading and experiencing it as I have had creating it!  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me!  I hope to see you at 3 pm on Thursday for my Instagram Live, where I'll also be answering any questions you might have about all things mental health, therapy, self-care, etc.  Have an amazing week, my Besties!


Monday, May 14, 2018

How To Forgive Yourself

Is it possible to learn how to forgive yourself?  Especially if, for most of your life, you have struggled to do so?  Forgiving others may come easily (depending on the person and the situation), but I have found that many of my clients find it especially difficult to forgive themselves.

Forgiving yourself requires that you practice self-compassion and  self-love, which are very much interconnected.  Forgiving yourself is not something you can do one time,  by saying, "ok I want to forgive myself" and then you do some work and you never think about it again.  Honestly, it's something you have to work at over and over again.  Today, I'm going to share some strategies that can help you do just that.

First, think about how much this situation is distracting you and taking you out of your everyday life.  Why do you think it is so hard to forgive yourself in this case?  

Journaling To Forgive Yourself 

One way you can try to answer that questions is through journaling.  I've said it once, and I'll probably say it a million more times, so bear with me! :)   It's just really wonderful to have a place where you can process all your thoughts and write everything down without fear of having to censor yourself in any way.  Journaling allows you to "say" what's on your heart without worrying what anyone else will say or think.  If you are at a loss for how to start, write about why you're having trouble forgiving yourself; maybe think about a time in your life when that first started for you.  Was it always this way from the time you were a child?  Do you remember another time you had trouble forgiving yourself easily?  Do you feel like there are (or were) people in your life who withhold forgiveness from you?  And did that, perhaps, play a role? By asking yourself questions like these, you can really get to the root of why it is hard to forgive yourself.

How Therapy Helps You Forgive Yourself 

If journaling isn't your thing (some people love it, but some people don't), that's totally fine.  However, in that case, it would be beneficial to talk to someone about what you're experiencing.  Talking to a therapist is an especially good idea; it's a safe space for you to say whatever you need to say and process through your feelings.  I may be slightly biased (as a therapist myself), but I believe therapy may even be more helpful for this particular circumstance.  Why?  Because therapists will ask you the questions that you might even be afraid to ask yourself.  

Friends, therapy doesn't have to be a life-long commitment, either.  Many times therapy can just be an as-needed thing, something you do when you feel you have something to process through privately, and with a professional.  Obviously, certain problems require more intensive therapy but for most people, by and large, just checking in with a therapist is a really good idea to maintain your good mental health. 

Figure out what would be best for you, but I firmly believe having a place where you can go and say anything, and have that therapist then ask you questions that maybe your closest friends would never ask you will really help you understand why you're not forgiving yourself.  Then, and only then, will you be able to show yourself compassion and forgiveness.  

Forgiving Yourself Requires Support

So yes, this is may sound like a big push for therapy.  I'm ok with that.  After all, it is Mental Health Awareness month; this may be the perfect time to take that first step and make that first appointment.  Going to therapy doesn't mean there's something wrong with you; it simply means you are willing to do the hard work of leaning into what you are feeling and experiencing, uncomfortable as it may be.  

We have to end the stigma around mental health and that is my sincere hope whenever I publish a blog post or do an Instagram or Facebook Live. We all have problems and difficult emotions at times; let's not allow stigma to hold us back from making that appointment with a therapist, if needed.  

Lastly, allow me to share a few other blog posts about self-love and self-compassion, which you may also find helpful.  

Let me know if you have additional questions or concerns, my friends!  As always, I'm all ears!  Have an amazing week and I hope to catch you at my Instagram Live on Thursday at 3 pm (EST).  


Monday, May 7, 2018

How To Reduce Anxiety When Traveling Without Your Kids

Question:  Should a mom leave her young kids for a girls weekend even if she is quite anxious about being away from them? 

A friend recently messaged me about this, as she began to feel uneasy about being away from her children for the first time overnight.  She told me that she is struggling with worry, particularly with thoughts of all the things that could go wrong.  Though she admitted it did not feel rational to be consumed with thoughts of catastrophe, she just couldn't get the worst case scenarios out of her mind.

My dears, she is not alone.  So many mamas have this exact same struggle, particularly before they leave their kids for the very first time.  So first thing's first:  any time you do anything for the first time it's scary.  So give yourself grace and permission to feel what you're feeling.  Of course, Anxiety is a stinker and makes us super uncomfortable, but since Anxiety doesn't seem to want to change tactics anytime soon, we must learn to cope. 

Maybe you noticed that I didn't say anxiety, but Anxiety, with a capital A. That's no typo, my friends. Sometimes it's helpful to think of Anxiety as an actual person, with human traits and tendencies.  If there's one thing I know for's that Anxiety is a huge liar. Anxiety's favorite thing to do is put "what if" scenarios in our mind and makes us feel like these situations are actually going to happen.  Anxiety tricks us by taking us out of our present moment, thereby stealing our opportunity for present moment joy.  So not cool.  No wonder Anxiety has, like, no friends.

Alright, enough about that loser. 

The # 1 Way To Reduce Travel Anxiety

My first bit of advice may be difficult to receive, but I'm just going to say it.  This is one of those things that you just have to do.

Honestly, this reminds me of when I put my son on the bus to kindergarten for the first time.  Prior to the bus's arrival, he seemed to be fine; he said he was excited, even.  That is, until the bus pulled up. All of the sudden he was no longer fine - in fact, he was literally digging his heels in; he certainly did not want to get on that bus please and thank you.  I basically had to physically put him on the bus (to which the bus driver replied "there's no moms allowed on the bus!" which was truly helpful for the newly discovered anxiety, I'm sure). So I scurried back off the bus, and with as much enthusiasm as I could muster said "okkk bye!" And then he was gone.  But you know what happened next?  Aside from me wiping my tears away over a mimosa with my mom?  Yep, he came home, after doing just fine at school.  

Obviously, it's very difficult, but at the end of the day,  you have to make yourself do the hard thing.  The basic premise of cognitive behavioral therapy states that if you change your behavior, you can change your thoughts and then you can change your mood. 

The Brain's Attempt To Cure Travel Anxiety

Another reason why the first step is changing your behavior is that our personal experience is our mind's most reliable source of truth. Say you could know 100 people who go away on girls weekends all the time and they leave their kids and everything's fine and all the people consistently stay alive.  More than likely, you will still feel anxious, and your inner monologue would likely still be reading: "But I could be the one; this could be the time where it all goes wrong." 

Again, that's Anxiety being a liar.  In order to make things a little easier for yourself ahead of your trip, try taking into account  the evidence for the scary thing happening ( i.e. the news shows bad things happening all the time) and evidence against the scary thing happening (i.e. nothing bad has ever happened to anyone I know; nothing bad has happened to me when traveling before).  

Friends, our brains just want to tell us a story that is certain.  The brain doesn't care if it's telling a story that's true  - instead, it merely wants to know that something is certain because it is not a fan of ambiguity. So what ends up happening many times is that your brain convinces you that something bad is going to happen if you leave your kids for the weekend...and then you might just stay home, where all is safe and controllable.  

Well, not so fast.  Rationally, we must take a step back and realize that you're not actually any more in control of what happens to you  at home or on vacation.  Another way Anxiety lies to us is by telling us that we actually have more control than we do.   So if you don't have control if you choose to go, and you also don't have control if you don't go, it's time to consider the benefits of going vs. not going on your trip.  

Find Your Reason For Traveling Without Kids

Which leads me to my next point:  you have to think about WHY you are going.  You have to think about the reason why you would go on this trip.  It could be self-care; it could be just doing something good for you, getting a much needed break. Friends, I'm giving you permission to take that break, whether you're a mama or not.  Now lean in because what I'm about to say might be the most helpful tidbit I can give you today. When you leave your kids, you are actually doing something really good and really healthy for them.  You're modeling healthy coping; you're modeling healthy behavior.

I don't think I have to tell you that kids are SPONGES.  They are excellent observers and rarely does anything escape them.  Think about it: if you never ever ever leave your kids until the time they're 10, 12, 14 years old, you are subconsciously communicating to your kids that leaving each other is not safe, that it is not good and we don't do that in our family.  You're communicating through your actions that we are safest when we just stay home and stay together and you could potentially be promoting anxiety in your kids.  Everything we do and say, whether we want to admit it or not does have an impact on our kids.  Now, I'm also a firm believer that everything can be undone and unsaid and apologized for and made right, so please don't be anxious about that.

It also behooves us to consider what we are communicating to our kids if we do go away.

My husband and I are going to Hawaii this summer and it will be the longest we have ever been away from our boys. I know I will miss them so much, but what are we modeling to our kids by taking this vacation, just my husband and I?  Well first of all, we  are modeling that our marriage is very, very important and that our relationship is the foundation of our family. In fact, even when we do a date night together, we talk about this in front of our kids.  Why?  Because we want them to do the same thing some day.  We want them to go into their marriages someday and be the husband who says "I'm going to initiate a date night; I'm going to be the husband who says 'you know what babe, let's go away  just the two of us.'" 

We are giving our kids a gift when we get some time alone and away together. You're giving your kids a gift when you do a girls weekend.  I'm certain you will still be feeling anxious about leaving your kiddos, and that's ok.  If you're looking for additional help coping with anxiety, check out my free 5-day anxiety reducing email course in which I outline the exact skills I teach my clients.   You can sign up here!

One last thing...I know these are scary, big deal things I'm telling you to do.  It's not easy, but I totally believe you can do it.  Keep yourself in the present moment by saying "right now I am shopping with my friends" or "right now I am having dinner with my friends," or "right now I am having some draaanks!" or whatever it is you're doing. Be where you are and return to now as often as you need to when you catch Anxiety at his same old tricks.  Please don't hesitate to reach out if you'd like more guidance on this topic or anything else.  Have a beautiful day, my friends!




Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How To Adjust When Your Family Changes

On a recent Instagram live, a reader shared she was having trouble adjusting to the idea to her dad starting to date again.  You see, her mom had passed away about a year and a half ago, and though she was accepting (as much as one can be) of her mom's death because it ended her suffering after a 7 year battle with cancer, it had been an emotional 18 months.  Her question to me was, "how do I adjust to the idea of my dad dating and possibly adding someone new to our family?"

I think this is something a lot of people can relate to and grief is such a tricky thing; it is so full of every emotion. Any time a family changes, for any reason (be it death, divorce, remarriage, or even birth/adoption/foster care), there are so many emotions.  At times like these, it is natural to feel unsure what to do with all of them...some feelings may take you by surprise.  Last week was a particularly rough one for our family, as my husband and I began to realize that our boys are already struggling with the idea of adding someone new to the family via foster care.  As I sat down to write this post, it dawned on me...everything I shared with my dear reader on the Instagram Live is also advice I need to be implementing with my boys at this time of our own family's changing.  With that in mind, I hope this can be of use to many of you who may be coping with all sorts of family changes for all sorts of reasons.

Some of you might be familiar with the five stages of grief -  the work of Elizabeth Kubler Ross - but one of the first things I learned when I worked at a bereavement center during grad school is that you don't go through the five stages of grief in order - while you may at some point experience all the stages of grief, loss and change are not a neat little package.  On the contrary, it is typical for one's feelings to be all over the place at any given time.   So it is absolutely normal, first and foremost, to feel that way, and you should know, for that matter, that whatever you're feeling is ok.  Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you're feeling because in grief, loss, and change there is no right or wrong.  

A lot of times when I work with grief clients I'll hear people say "I feel like I should be feeling differently about this..." or "I feel like I should be moving on by now..."  or "I feel like I shouldn't still be so sad."  And those are the times when I just look at people and say, "No, there's no should in grief."  Actually, I pretty much say that for any client that is stuck on "should" because it just connotes guilt and shame...truly, nothing good comes from it. Friends, it's times like these when you must give priority to being gentle with yourselves.   

If you're feeling conflicted all of the sudden now that dad (or mom) is thinking about dating again, that's ok. Even if you truly want your parent to find happiness with someone else, there will still inevitably be conflicting feelings as that process begins. Because of the nature of grief and this new idea of an expanding family, I would absolutely say you need to process through what you're feeling with someone.  One of the tricky things about grief, especially a shared loss in a family, is that you may find yourself questioning "who is my safe person in the family?" Or rather, "is there someone in the family I can talk to about this without risk of judgment or guilt?"

In some families, you may be able to talk directly to your parent who is considering dating/remarriage.  It all depends on your relationship with that parent.  Another option is to talk to a trusted friend, but even so, sometimes people aren't sure of how even their best friend will respond when they say something like:  "I'm feeling conflicted about my dad getting back out in the dating world after my mom's passing."  Ideally, your friend would provide compassionate listening and support, but sometimes (especially in very comfortable friendships), a well-meaning friend can say something to the effect of:  "REALLY?  It's been a year and a half, let the man live!"  Which, may have the unintended side effect of causing you to feel guilty...the exact thing we want to avoid, if possible.

Honestly, that's why I really recommend speaking to a therapist.  With any type of grief/loss/change in a family, each member will be adjusting to a "new normal." That's one thing we say a lot in grief or bereavement counseling - everyone knows life will never be the same, so what will it look like to find your new normal? As  time passes, and you adjust, you're going to discover it, and then you're going to discover it again and again.  Any type of change in a family is dynamic, just as the people within it are,  and so through all the transitions that happen in life, it's so beneficial to have somebody to talk to.  One of the best gifts I can offer my clients is a place to go and say anything at all; the rare experience of saying exactly what it is you're feeling in a judgment-free zone.

Certainly, if you have a person in your life who can do that for you, absolutely talk to them - just do what you feel is good for you. Another helpful strategy is to give yourself time and space to journal everything you are thinking and feeling.  It's amazing what can be processed on the pages of a trusty notebook.  Remember to  trust your gut...tune into that inner voice telling you what you really need to hear.  If you or a loved one is struggling through family changes or anything else, please don't hesitate to email me.  I'm happy to be a resource and help whenever I can.  

Have a wonderful day, dear friends!




Monday, April 23, 2018

How To Let Go Of Mom Guilt Once And For All

One of the reasons I started blogging about self-care is that it's what I needed more of in my life.  One of the things that most got in the way of me practicing self-care?  Mom guilt. 

I was in the thick of it just a few years ago with my boys; they were probably three and one at the time.  I wasn't making any time for myself.  It was such a weird dissonance for me because I would go to my office as a therapist and tell people "Take care of yourself! Take care of yourself!" and then in my own life I wasn't living it out.  Eventually, I got to the point where I was like: "This is ridiculous, I've got to start taking my own advice!" And shortly thereafter, this little blog of mine was born.

I now know this is a problem that is common for so many moms, - it's hard enough to find some time for yourself in the day, let alone to make it a regular practice.  And then when you do, it can feel like you should be doing something else... because this whole mom gig is never-ending.  As a mom, there's always something more that you could be doing.  You're just never all the way done with it.  This demanding job continues for 18 years...but truthfully, it continues well beyond that...just ask my mom.  She still does a ton for me, including but not limited to answering my frantic questions about the freshness of meat...and basically cooking in general.  It ain't my strong suit, friends.

Mothering is a huge, all-encompassing job.  And while being a mom is a blessing and an incredible honor, it can come with a high price tag in the form of that never-ending mom guilt.

Everyone knows that self-care is good for them; I don't think anybody would argue with that.  Yet the question remains: how do you combat the guilt that comes along with taking some time for yourself, or taking a regular time for yourself if you're a mom?

First of all, you must think about why you practice self-care in the first place.  For me, I need to be reminded of my reasons over and over again.  I'm a better mom and a better wife and just a better person when I'm taking time for myself, when I'm being intentional about having alone time.  I confess that I'm pretty much the biggest extrovert in the world...I know, I know it's tres chic to be introverted, but I am who I am.  ;)   I love being an extrovert, but ever since I became a mom, I've become a bit of an ambivert (that's a thing, right?).  I definitely have a more introverted side to me these days... I begin to crave some time by myself after a while.  

It's so important for me to set aside some time just for me and  to continually give myself permission to do that.  But I'll be honest, sometimes that was easier said than done.  Sometimes I would find myself looking to other people for that permission; I would look to my sister or other moms I knew and wonder are they practicing self -care?  Or are they just  cleaning their house and playing with their kids all the time? 

Other times, I would look at my husband and be wonder: is it really ok for me to take this break? Often, I would feel guilty thinking that  he just got home from work and now he's going to have to take over with the kids right away in order for me to go for a walk or get a break.  But eventually I realized (and he essentially told me) he's a much happier dude when I get some self care! He truly offers to go to the store for me so I can take a nap on the weekends because we both know that everyone is happier and healthier when I'm doing that.  

Another important thing to remember is that we have got to model self-care for our kids.  One of the biggest gifts we can give our kids is to model healthy coping for them.  Intentional focus on healthy coping simply wasn't a parental priority in the generation I grew up in. But these days, we have such an opportunity to do things differently.  Regardless of how old your children are, when you engage in self-care and they see you take that break, you are showing them that it is ok for them to do the same thing.  And that is a huge blessing.  That's going to set them up in life so well when they grow up, go off to high school or college, and eventually become full-fledged adults.  

In my private practice, I work a great deal with adolescents and I get so sad because these kids come in and they're stressed out; they're burnt out and they're overworked and they don't get enough sleep at night, and they are on the edge...and when I suggest they take something off their plate or take some time for self-care, they look at me like I'm speaking a different language.  Similarly, many of us have been conditioned from a young age to be more and do more and it turns out to be a very sad and frustrating existence if we don't interrupt that way of thinking.  It's all about retraining your brain and knowing there are so many more reasons to engage in self-care than to refrain from it.  

One last thing to remind yourself of:  you're never going to be able to give enough of yourself to your kids.  No matter how much you are present with them, no matter how much you play with them, they will take as much as they can possibly get of you. So rather than thinking: "Are my kids getting enough of me today?", think about what "enough" means from your perspective as a mom.  

A few years ago, I was reading this mom blog...this mom said something truly profound as she was struggling with mom guilt.  She asked herself each night before she went to bed "how did I connect with each kid today?" And if she had some intentional time with each child, however brief, she could let herself off the proverbial hook for the day.  So I challenge you to begin to think about your day like this, where you are looking for what you did right as a mom rather than focusing on what wish you had done differently.  Did you make a snack after school and ask your child how their day was?  Did you tuck them into bed and ask them their high and low for the day?  It doesn't have to be this huge, big deal thing like a trip to the zoo or a pool party.  You're looking for ways that you're connecting with your kids, you're looking for the ways that you're being a positive role model and a positive influence on them in the way that you care for them and in the way that you care for yourself.  

Friends, being gentle with ourselves teaches our kids to be gentle with themselves.  And, in a way, everything that we do for ourselves is something we are also doing for our kids.  So let that marinate while you go make yourself a nice hot cup of tea, or an icy cold margarita for that matter because, mama, you've earned it!


Friday, April 20, 2018

Stress Less With This Time Management Technique

I constantly encourage people to email me, and/or message me on Instagram or Facebook if they have therapy or mental health questions (or any questions for that matter!) because you are the people I want to be a resource are the people who matter to me.  If something is troubling you or causing you stress, I'm here to help!  And even if you're not interested in a monthly check in with me or my book or Etsy shop, I still want to help you!  The whole reason I started blogging was to be a resource to as many people as possible, and I love how social media especially has enabled me to do that! 

That said, a dear reader reached out to me via Instagram the other day and shared that she was having trouble breaking the cycle of being stressed about everything she has to get done, but then being so tired from the stress that she loses motivation to get started on her work.  This is a really common problem for a lot of people; it's really hard to feel motivated if you're feeling stressed.  And side note:  I love how this person said it's a stress cycle... because it is.  

For starters, here are a few things to consider:

1. Think about what you have tried to help you combat this stress cycle in the past.  Why do you think those techniques haven't worked for you? 

2. Think about a time when this was not a struggle for you.  What was your life looking like at the time when stress and time management weren't a problem for you? Maybe it was all the way back to when you were a child; maybe it was just a year or two ago.  If you can, try to take aspects of that time in your life and apply them to now.  So maybe when you were a child you just spent a lot more time doing self-care (though at the time you might have simply referred to it as playing) and life felt more balanced to you.  From there, you could determine: I know I need to do my work but I also do need to have time for me.  

Unfortunately, there's no magic motivation pill that will solve this problem for you. If you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed, yes you need to do your work but you also need to take time for you.  Until you resolve the stress issue, it's going to be very difficult for you to find motivation.  So think about what you can do to practice self-care. If you're in need of some inspiration, you can sign up here to get a FREE 65 Suggestions For Self-Care Printable:


You can check out more info on how to increase your productivity to reduce your stress here because it pretty much goes without saying that by being more productive you can reduce your stress.  When you get things done you feel good; you feel productive.  And that, in turn, motivates you. Essentially, this is cognitive behavioral therapy - you have to make yourself do that thing that you don't want to do in order to get the feelings that you want, which in this case are feeling peaceful and productive.  

Because we are generally motivated by rewards, here is a list of  25 ways to reward yourself for a job well done that may also be helpful. You can tell yourself "as soon as I get this project done, I'm going to reward myself with listening to some music and a candle and a cup of coffee" or whatever it is that's motivating for you (hygge, anyone?). Give yourself something to work towards and you may find your motivation increasing by leaps and bounds.

Lastly, I just found about a time management technique called a "timed list" while at a conference in Washington, D.C. last month.  The seminar itself was all about stopping rumination, and interrupting anxious thoughts.  The timed list, in particular is designed to combat thoughts related to the fear that you won't get everything done that needs to get done in a given day.  

So here's what you do:  write down everything that you need to do in your day.  Next, look at your list and re-prioritize it in order or importance. Then, write down how long you think each task will take next to each one.  So if it's doing the dishes maybe it's 10 minutes; if it's running errands maybe it's an hour, and by all means, if you need to take a nap, put in "take a nap" for 30-60 minutes! 

Now look at your schedule and each item on your to-do list cut off your list when your time constraints force you to do so. Realistically, do you actually have enough time, based on the time you think it's going to take you to do these things, to do all the things on your list?  If not, then maybe you need to start thinking about moving some tasks over to tomorrow.  

This method reduces worry for people because you're not thinking "will I have time?" You already know "NOPE! I don't have time for that today!"  Or, "yesss!  I will get to all the things today!" It brings you a sense of relief and peace because you know for certain whether or not something is going to get done.  

It may seem like it will take more time to do this than to just start in on your tasks, and I know some of you might be thinking this sounds like too much work.  However, if you try this method, it might work for you!  Sometimes you need to try a few different things before you find the thing that works best for you, and that's fine.  Just remember to keep trying until you find something that works. 

Have a wonderful (and productive!) weekend, my friends!  And if you're looking for something to do tonight, join me over on Facebook for a Facebook live at 8:08 pm (EST).  You can ask me anything at all and I'll do my best to help!


Saturday, April 14, 2018

20 Writing Prompts To Spark Your Creativity

Writing is my jam.  I love it.  In elementary school, I would write pages and pages for every assignment.  I was writing "chapter books" by 3rd grade.  Also an avid reader as a child, as soon as I would find myself nearing the end of a Boxcar Children or Babysitter's Club book, you better believe I was also thinking about just what I would write for my own series someday.

Flash forward 26 years and here I am, writing away about that which I am most passionate about in my own little corner of the internet.  And while I definitely write to share mental health tips and tricks with the world, (because who doesn't need a little encouragement in that arena?) I also write for me.  This blog is my happy place, the place where my passion for helping people and writing converge.  Thanks for stopping by; it really is an honor that anyone would take the time to read my musings on mental health, life, and self-care.  

A few of my friends and clients have recently forayed into blogging and it got me thinking:  more people should probably be doing this. I think for many people an immediate wall goes up at the mere suggestion of writing something, be it a blog or anything else.  "I'm not a writer."  "I wouldn't know what to say."  "I've never been a good writer." 

One of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott wrote a book (all about writing, no less) called Bird by Bird.  In it, she writes "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people."  The point is, there is no comparing in writing.  Much the same way that there's no crying in baseball.   Writing is a way to create, to craft, to tell a tell your story.  And there's no right or wrong.  "You set out to tell a story of some sort, to tell the truth as you feel it, because something is calling you to do so."  That Anne Lamott.  She's so darn wise.

If anything in this post is resonating with you, if you find yourself with a story to tell, with truth to write, I encourage you to do it.  You can write a blog, a novel, a poem, or a journal entry.  But don't ignore that urge, my friend.  Tell your truth.  This world will be better because of it.  Need a little inspiration?  Here are 20 writing prompts to get those creative juices flowing.  

1.  Write about the thoughts that would keep you awake if you were to try to fall asleep right now.

2.  Write about the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.

3. "You have your own voice and you can use it." - Shauna Niequst  What do you most desire to use your voice to tell the world?

4.  Write about your biggest quirk.

6.  Write about the lesson you learned from your biggest mistake.

7.  Write about your middle school years.  Who were you then, what did you care about?  

8.  "Anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for his or her life." - Flannery O'Connor Write about some of your best material from childhood.

9.  Write about your first memory of school.

10.  Write about a decision you struggled to make.  What was so difficult about it?  How did you finally reach a decision?

11.  Write about a change you want your readers (if you wish to have readers, that is) to make after reading something you write.  How do you want them to be different because of they read what you wrote?  In other words, how do you want the world to be different?

12.  Write about what you care about passionately (another bit of advice from Anne Lamott).  What do you get in arguments about?  What can you not keep to yourself?  What are you driven to share with others?  Write about that. 

14.  Make a list of ten things you love.  What do you love about them?  When did you first start loving them?  How can you incorporate them more into your life?

15.   You just found a journal entry from this day in your life 10 years ago.  What does it say?

16. Make up a scientific theory to explain something you experience regularly in your everyday life.  Convince your reader that this is a real thing.

17.  Write about a time when you wanted something but did not get it, and how it actually turned out to be for your benefit.  

18.  Describe the coziest scene you can think of.  Be as descriptive as possible.

19.  Write a letter to yourself 10 years from now.  Bonus points if you actually stash it away somewhere and read it in a decade.

20.  Write down your favorite quote of all time.  Why does it speak to you?  How has remembering it served you?  Why do you need to remember this quote more than any other?

One last Lamott quote because it's probably my favorite:  "The act of writing turns out to be its own reward."  I couldn't agree more.  Happy writing, my Besties!


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