What’s The Least You Could Do? Do That.

I know it’s going to be “one of those days” today.

I can already tell from the way I woke up that am just not feeling ‘it‘ today.  You know what I mean? You feel you either didn’t sleep enough, or you slept too much, your head hurts, your eyes – heavy, and you feel as though your mood didn’t get the memo that your mind had all of these productive plans for you to tackle today. 

grumble…grumble…

It doesn’t matter that I took 10 minutes last night to plan out my day, just like those people who have their lives together suggest that I do. It doesn’t matter that I got my recommended 7-9 hours of sleep, nevermind the fact that I probably only had 2, maybe 3, REM cycles…if I was lucky. And it doesn’t matter that I drank water when I woke up, made my bed, opened my curtains for the light of the day to come through, nope, nope, nope. I followed all of the “rules”, played by the book, had a routine… all of which I know to be true to help and yet it wasn’t helping.

Today was just not happening for me.

I moped and pouted my way around for a while this morning, angry at the world for making me wake up in this mood with absolutely zero desire to do anything. I didn’t want to make breakfast, exercise, or go about my day doing all of those peppy, productive things I had planned. I could barely stand the thought of changing clothes*, how was I going to get anything done today?

*For the record, I did change clothes. I had put on jeans and a decent T-shirt, only to change back into sweatpants and a pullover not even 4 hours later. The point is, it was the least I could do.

“What’s the least I could do”,

I thought to myself. If I couldn’t stand to do anything today, then I could just muster enough energy to spend my day doing the “least I could do” for all of the things I had originally planned.

Sometimes we have ‘days’.

Having ‘days’ does not mean we quit, are lazy, are not working hard towards our goals, or that we are anything less than we are on any other day of the week, month, or year.

It’s the Universe’s way of either: A, testing us. Or B, telling us we need a freakin’ break to calm down and chill out.

Today, the Universe was telling me to chill out because I have been on hyper-drive this past week, working my butt off on endless mentally rigorous and physically laborious projects.

Doing the “least I could do” was my master plan for today. I wanted to find a good balance between surviving the day and owning the day. So, ok, I wasn’t going to exercise for a full 30 minutes or even take a shower (don’t judge), but I could at least stretch for 10 minutes, and take a bath (see, I cleaned up).  That, my friends, was the least I could do. And today, was a “least I could do” kind of day.

The day I had planned and the ‘least I could do day’ that actually happened looked a little like this:

The planned day

  • Get up at 7:00 AM, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
  • Make a green tea
  • Cook a delicious and elaborate breakfast complete with avocado toast, two sunny-side-up eggs, and chicken sausage. Yum!
  • Go for a run along the river trail for 30 minutes
  • Take a hot shower, put on nice clothes and do my hair
  • Clean the entire home (Wednesday is cleaning day); the dusting, sweeping, mopping, toilets, windows, vacuuming, trash, etc. AKA, the works.
  • Read something stimulating for 30 minutes to get my mind in a ‘work mood’ for planning my business and side hustle projects.
  • Make a delicious lunch, something like pumpkin ravioli with turkey bacon and feta cheese, drizzled with honey. Yes, I make good food.
  • Spend the afternoon in ‘work mode’, watching education videos for my coursework, working on my professional sites, finding more freelance work.
  • Make homemade chicken wings and homemade pizza for dinner. For real.
  • Do the full evening routine, which today, would have included: evening walk, making a pot of tea to enjoy in the loft while I read philosophy books, write an elaborate introspective piece in my journal, clean up from the day’s happenings, and pack for my day trip tomorrow.

The ‘least I could do’ day that actually happened

  • Finally get out of bed, groggy-eyed, and flat-tailed at 9:30 AM
  • Still made a green tea. Luckily it’s a 3-step process that I could do in my sleep. 
  • Made cereal. So much for the elaborate breakfast. I did add in a chopped banana, though, and that took effort.
  • Instead of the run, I stretched for 10 minutes. Ok, more like 5 minutes. But I also played with my cat and she likes to run around so that counts for something.
  • No shower, but I took a hot bath for 20 minutes. Much better choice. And I did put on real clothes, decent ones, and sort of fixed up my hair. A little. Basically, I brushed it.
  • Hooray – I did clean! Instead of ‘the works’, I did the ‘once over’. You know, I swept the areas that were obviously dirty, used a swiffer for like, a minute, vacuumed only the most used rooms of the house, and wiped down countertops. Still, it looks pretty clean in here.
  • Instead of reading a novel written by someone successful and who totally has it together and built their dream business or changed the world or something like that, (hey, I don’t need that kind of negativity today), I skimmed a few blogs. 
  • Lunch was frozen pizza. Nuff’ said.
  • For the afternoon, I worked. On my Netflix watching abilities, in my sweats, in bed. To be fair, I made myself a homemade coffee, and did send some work-related emails and spent about 25 minutes doing work-ish things. But that was the least I could do and that’s all I did. Then it was me, coffee, and a movie in bed.
  • Homemade chicken wings still happened, thank you very much. With another frozen pizza. 50% is still greater than 0% last time I checked.
  • The evening….well it’s evening now. I will not be packing for my trip but will think about packing for my trip. I will not be making a pot of tea but will make a cup. And instead of reading and learning some more, I am going to zone out with a magazine instead and maybe doodle in my journal instead of reflecting. 

And there you have it. That’s how you do the least you can do. Every day is not going to go according to plan. It’s impossible to always have it together. Even the people who claim to always have it together, don’t. I don’t know why people would claim that. And the ones who advise you to “give it your all” each day or to “suck it up” are giving you some pretty bad advice. It’s not about seeing how much you can do each day or killing yourself to get all of those things done that you said you would get done for the sole fact that you said you would. One day will not sabotage your goals or plans.

When life throws you a curve ball and you find yourself lacking the energy and lacking the motivation, all of those self-help types of blogs and books won’t necessarily help you. You know yourself better than those people do and sometimes those tricks to get motivated or find inspiration just don’t work. If you’re having one of those days, like I did today, ask yourself “what’s the least I could do” and go with it. 

How to Get Over Your Own BS

It’s all about the stories (lies) we tell ourselves.

If you were to write down your perfect day, what would it look like? Who would be in it? What would you be doing? Where would you be? Maybe you’re at home, curled up with 4 books piled around you, a to-do-list is non-existent, and the only thing you take a break to do is to have gourmet food served to you on a platter by the fire. And maybe chat it up over the phone with a few super smart friends about the meaning of life, latest stock market trends, and leadership techniques while you make your own house wine. Perhaps your day is filled to the brim with one adventure after another, planned snorkeling in the Maldives followed by zip lining and attending an exclusive beach party where you mingle with some of the wealthiest people you’ve ever met. And yet, maybe it looks like a day with your family taking a leisurely road trip to a local landmark and singing along to songs with everyone. You have a picnic in the fall leaves and play games and laugh until your bellies hurt.

Now think bigger. What about your life? Who would you be? What would you have? Where would you be? Go ahead, get wild and really put it all out there.

Would you have the short hairstyle that you’ve always wanted but are too afraid to try, wear fancy hats regardless of what anyone else thinks, have a different look every single day because you are so diverse in your tastes and in what inspires you or expresses who you are and why the hell not? Maybe you would be 20 lbs lighter or happy with your current size because you volunteer your time to more nobler causes than body-image and #donthavetimeforthat so everyone who thinks you could stand to lose a few pounds can go kick rocks. You know who you are.

Would you have a million friends or none at all? What would these friends and you do together?

Would you be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a freelance artist (a very successful one, of course)? Is your dream job a stay-at-home ____ (mom, wife, just a stay-at-home person, for all we care). Do you want to jump ship and make a major career change into something you have no experience in and sort of no idea exactly what it entails, but you just want to do it anyway?

Would you have two homes, one in Naples where you spend your summers, and one in Montana in the mountains because you’ve always loved ranches and dreamed of having a horse, or 4. Would you live overseas, a new place every 6 months so you can explore and immerse yourself in cultures across the globe? Would you make a killing in this lifestyle and be a travel journalist? Or food Vlogger? Would you be exactly where you are now, but maybe just upgrade the design style of your home, invest in some fancy-ass furniture that you keep eyeballing at West Elm, finally build out a master suite above the garage, and throw away all the ratty old things you keep holding on because “you have to”?

By now you’re probably smiling, feeling a little inspired, and totally ready to tell me to just shut up and tell you how to make this all happen already, amiright?

You can have everything you want, be your truest self, see all of the things you want to see, do all of the things you want to do, and live the life of your dreams

How?

Just stop getting in your own way. Stop feeding yourself B.S with all of these stories and lies that keep you from living out your life.

The stories that we tell ourselves (aka, the lies) are what is preventing us from doing anything we want in life. Sometimes, we do things we want, right? But how much of a struggle is it to get to that point? How hard was it for you to do something you wanted, the last time you did it? And was it a small thing, or was it actually a big thing that really made an impact on yourself or your life? Chances are, it was a small, little baby want. But if it was in fact, a big want and you did it, AWESOME – how did it feel? I bet you felt pretty BOSS-like, huh? Wouldn’t you like to carry out that fire and passion and act on your wants and manifest your dreams into reality every single day?

Many of us want to call out our BS and say goodbye to it forever, but we lack doing what we need to do in order to be successful.

Do you tell yourself that you really want to be the new Director at your current job, the position is open, and you have the natural skillset to absolutely crush it, but you tell yourself (pay attention, this is the B.S; the story, the lies) that you’re not qualified enough or don’t have the right experience and likely won’t get it anyways, so you don’t even bother for it? This is what I’m talking about.

So often when we say we’re not qualified for something, what we’re really saying is that we’re too scared to try it, not that we can’t do it – Jen Sincero

Maybe you want lots of friends, but right now you have none. You tell yourself you’ll never have any friends because there isn’t anyone out there who “gets you”, you’re too misunderstood so everyone gets too offended by you or doesn’t invite you to do anything. This is the story you tell yourself, so guess what happens? You likely use it as an excuse to not try to put yourself out there, meet new people, hang out where smart people go, insert yourself into conversations, or invite other people to do things with you. Ergo, you are friendless and your story remains “true”.

We don’t have the things we want, the life we want or are not the people we want to be is because we tell ourselves that we can’t, shouldn’t, won’t, or aren’t enough

That, and we don’t do the things we need to do in order to make them happen

This ends today.

Start making progress towards the life you want by paying attention to your current stories. Why don’t you have the things you want today? Why are you not being who you really are? Why aren’t you in the job that you want? Spend some good time thinking about these stories and write them down.

How do these stories benefit you? There is a reason we tell ourselves these things. Do you tell yourself, in the case of the job instance, that you are underqualified or not well-liked enough to get the job? That you don’t measure up to their ideals, or that people won’t like it if you got it. How does this benefit you? Well, if you don’t go after the job and you stay in the job you have, you don’t have to deal with change, you get to stay nice and comfortable. If you don’t go for the job, you won’t have to work any harder than you do now, so you get to keep your cushy work schedule.

In most situations, the stories or lies we tell ourselves are for the purpose of protecting us, keeping us safe, and for lessening the chances of anything negative happening. But if we don’t face fear, get a little uncomfortable, and change our stories, we risk being miserable sacs for the rest of our lives, never fully living out our dreams or expressing who we really are. That is a heck of a lot sadder, dontcha think? So once you know your stories and know why you’ve been telling yourself these things all along, get rid of them! Literally and metaphorically.  Throw out the paper, rip it to shreds, wipe the slate clean. Then write some new stories. What do you want to start telling yourself instead for each of these?

Once you’ve settled on your new stories and you’re feeling a little inspired and motivated, set a plan to get out of your routine. You will risk telling your old stories to yourself again and continue to have a hard time living out your new stories if you keep the same old routine. If you keep not going after a job, if you keep putting off furthering your education, if you keep avoiding places where you know successful people hang out, if you don’t make small talk with people who interest you, etc. Really work at it. The universe will make it hard for you, but that means you’re making a big, positive change and are on the right track. Don’t be a quitter, new stories are not an overnight thing. You need to start living it and keep at it every single day until they become your habit, your truth.

Lastly, don’t fall prey to the downward spiral. When something goes array (because it almost certainly will at some point), whatever you do, do not go into a drama-filled suckfest with every area of your life, just because the one is off today or this week. Meaning, no doing this: This meeting new people is too hard. I have been out 3 times each week for 2 weeks and still didn’t meet any good new people. I will never find any good friends to have deep connections with. It’s likely why I can’t find a partner either. Nobody gets me. I’ll likely end up alone for the rest of my life, never get married, and never have kids. And because I am so pathetic with people, there’s no way I’ll ever go on my dream vacations because that involves other people, but that’s just as well since I can’t get a high-enough paying job for those trips since no one likes me at work. I’m the last person they would think of to promote. Yeah, none of that, please. Let it be what it is in the moment for the one thing, and move on.

You have the power to control your own life. You can change it anytime you want and you can keep changing it as often as you’d like. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can’t have what you want, that you can’t be who you want, or any other excuse-laden reason to not fulfill your deepest passions. We can manifest anything we want into reality by calling out our BS, and rewriting our own stories.

Photo by Min An from Pexels

Do You Know What Your Beliefs Are?

I recently started reading You Are A Badass, by Jen Sincero and immediately am in love with her writing style and her insights. More specifically, it’s her explanation of our conscious and subconscious minds that I want to share. Jen starts her book off with helping us understand how the heck we even got the way we are today, taking a deep dive of our minds, both our conscious mind and our subconscious mind. The part of our brain that does the thinking, tells us we want to change ________(fill in change), and the part of our brain that actually drives what we do (or don’t do) is the subconscious mind. These two parts are completely separate from one another and most of us don’t understand that we have two parts and if we get that, we lack the awareness of our subconscious minds and the beliefs responsible for our behavior day in and day out.

Because we aren’t fully aware of our beliefs and why these are the stories we tell ourselves, we have the impossible time of trying to implement real, lasting change in our lives. This keeps us from living our truest lives and creating our own versions of happiness.

The conscious mind is where we do all of our thinking, analyzing, worrying, etc. This part of your mind thinks it is in control, but it is sooooo not. And our subconscious mind doesn’t do any thinking, but is really the one in control; that dictates all of our actions and holds our beliefs. The kicker? The beliefs you have are likely not your own! You’ve been living a life according to someone else’s beliefs and that’s why you are so frustrated and unhappy.

So many of us are living our lives based on beliefs in our subconscious that aren’t our own. If we can wake up to these beliefs, we can have the power to change them and live the lives we’ve always dreamed of for ourselves.

If you’ve ever told yourself that’s it, I am doing this once and for all. I am going to __________, only to find that yet again, putting action to those thoughts is nearly impossible and no matter how many times you try, you can’t just seem to stick to it or make it happen, it’s because we are living our lives based on beliefs that we have held onto for our entire lives. Most of us are unaware of them so we continue to go about our days acting in accordance with our beliefs, of which are not our own, no matter what you say you want or will finally do or change once and for all. These are the beliefs you have about money, about careers, about family, about fitness, about food, etc. These are learned from childhood and through your adolescence that family and friends have taught you through their words or even actions; things that they believe and now they’ve passed them onto you, which has you thinking they are your beliefs. But, are they?

When we aren’t aware of why we are doing what we are doing and the stories we are telling ourselves, our behavior stays the same and we spiral in the thoughts and frustration of why can’t I ever seem to have more money; why can’t I lose these 25 lbs if I know that I need to be healthier; why aren’t I pursuing my deepest dreams if I know that they are truly what I want?

If you do not run your subconscious mind yourself, someone else will run it for you. – Florence Scovel Shinn

The key to breaking through is to dedicate time to start analyzing your own beliefs. Take a look at some of your less than impressive areas of life and start thinking about some of the underlying beliefs that could have created them.

If you are feeling a constant up and down relationship with money, for example, and no matter what you do, cannot seem to get a grasp on making more money or having more money? Grab a journal, notebook, piece of paper – whatever floats your boat – and write the first 5 things that come to mind that you think of when you think about money. Answer additional questions to help you understand these stories you have about money (aka your beliefs). What was your parent’s relationship like with their money? What about others you were around, how did they handle money? What were your friend’s beliefs with money and how was their relationship with money? And even take a look at people in your life now. How are the relationships with money of the people that you surround yourself with every day? Are there any correlations between these beliefs and relationships and your own?

Once you go through this exercise with a key few areas of your life that you truly want to see change, you’ll have the awareness and understanding of what your beliefs are and where they came from. This gives you the power to change those beliefs. You have to go from wanting to change them to deciding to change them. It all starts with awareness.

What have you learned about your beliefs today? What will you believe in now? How will you rewrite your beliefs?

There Never Seems to be ‘Enough Time’

Once upon a time (1.5 months ago), I was working a full-time desk job. I was spending “all of my time” at work. When I wasn’t at work, I was thinking about work. When I wasn’t thinking about work, I was dreaming about work (yes, scary). It seemed my life was ruled by this work. I enjoyed the field I was in, but not the work I did. It ate up “too much” of my time and left me “no time” for anything else I wanted to do.

Does this sound like something you can relate to? If it’s not your job taking up your time, it’s something else. I am fascinated by how we see TIME. How much value we place on it. How we talk about it, think about it. How very little we understand it. It’s the most precious thing we have as humans and yet we have no idea how to manage it properly because we have such a small lens into what time is or does for us. Really here, in my scenario, which is a very true depiction of how I felt is not a result of there not actually being enough time. How can you say something takes too much time at the same time you say you have not enough time? See how silly this is? The issue is me blaming how I felt on time itself, which can’t actually be responsible for anything, because it doesn’t control anything. We are the ones in control.

In reality, I am just struggling to manage myself.

Not convinced? The story goes on…

I left my job (for many reasons), so now I should have all the time in the world, yes? Great! Only, I still was (am) feeling as though I don’t have “enough time” to get “everything done”.

How is this possible?

Let’s address what we’re really doing when we are using phrases such as “I don’t have enough time for that”. We have the tendency of needing to connect how we feel to some concrete piece of what we think is evidence of our feelings, but really, the “time”, or lack thereof, in this particular instance is just a scapegoat. Instead of allowing feelings to pass through us and just be felt for what they are, we need to anchor them to something else in order to essentially lay blame on something other than ourselves. In this case, it’s the lack of time that I am blaming my not getting to other things I wanted to do, which made me feel burnt out and frustrated. 

It’s not a matter of managing time, but managing ourselves. You cannot manage time, because you cannot change time, but you can change yourself. Until we can learn to manage ourselves, we can manage nothing else.

Why do people think they don’t have enough time?

Now, let’s talk about some reasons as to why people may feel as though they don’t have “enough time”. Essentially, these reasons can be attributed to a feeling of a lack of control. Those feelings cause us to then blame something for our lack of control. Again, it ends up being ‘time’. Here are the top reasons why people think they don’t have enough time.

  • They lack focus
  • They lack direction
  • They multi-task
  • They are not organized
  • They don’t prioritize
  • They don’t have a routine
  • They are unsure of their goals
  • They are negative and have poor attitudes
  • They focus on urgent rather than important

To sum it up: they don’t know how to manage themselves. That lack of control is a feeling. If we allow the feeling to be more than just that, it can become our reality. The good news is that we have the power to become in control. All we have to do is get a little better at managing ourselves. If it seems overwhelming, there’s really nothing to it! Once you have a clearer understanding of yourself, your goals, your priorities, your needs vs wants, etc, you will manage yourself, and thus your “time”, with ease.

Check out my other posts on dreams, self-reflection, and positive thoughts to gain inspiration!

Can you manage yourself? What will you do differently today?

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Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stuck in A Rut: Ways to Shake Up Your Routine

The same thing happens day in and day out. You awake at the same time every day, perform the same morning ritual, take the same route to work, work on the same projects, and have the same evening activities waiting for you when you get home. Boring!

There is both good and bad in routines. On one hand, a morning routine, in particular, helps us stay on track and keeps us focused on the first part of the day. We as humans find comfort in knowing exactly what we will be doing at any given time. Uncertainty is not our friend (more on this in another post). And it is true that routines can help us all be a little more productive, right? On the other hand, when unforeseen circumstances throw our beloved morning routine out of whack, we have an urgent need to fix the problem. We’re not agile and oft find ourselves having more difficulty in dealing with these small changes. What do you mean I overslept. Now my entire morning is thrown off and my day will be bad. See what I mean?

Although habits that lead us towards long-term objectives are rewarding and beneficial, all too often we find ourselves partaking in our routines simply out of habit and not out of gain. Avoiding new situations can hold us back.

If you find that your routines have started to lose their luster, or let’s be honest, have lost their luster years ago, it’s time to do something different. Why? Because any routine you have that creates additional stress, unnecessary pressure or has just become stale and unfathomably boring, is not doing you any favors. 

Never underestimate the power of small changes. Hence, the term: shake-up.

So now the question becomes, how do I shake up my routine? Good news: it is not necessary to completely change everything you have done up until this point. In fact, having routines in place is very strategic and helpful to reach goals. For example, if you want to become less stressed and made a promise to yourself to meditate daily, then by all means, keep that routine. It is only necessary to make small and subtle changes and tiny shifts in your current perspective and mindset. If you have been meditating for 10 minutes right when you get out of bed, try brewing your cup of coffee first and sitting by a window instead of your usual spot besides your bed.

Try to remember why these routines or habits started.

Do you remember why you wanted to start waking up at 5AM? Or why you chose to dedicate 2 hours each weekend to practicing your instrument? Try this: get a piece of paper and pen. Write out all of your current routines or habits – yes all of them. Next to this, write out your “whyThe purpose: You may find that some or even many of your current routines are stale and boring simply because they no longer serve your key values or goals in life. And that’s ok! We are human. We change our paths constantly and we want different things for ourselves. It’s part of growing (and no, we never stop growing). This exercise may help you realize that not only do you need to shake up your routine but maybe it’s time to retire some current ones completely.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and maybe start from scratch.

Just as we are constantly evolving, who we may have been 5 years ago may be different to who we are today – in terms of our preferences and at the very least, our situations. So while you may have previously been a morning person, maybe now your schedule works in favor of you sleeping in, so in fact, there is no need to force your routine of 5 AM when you can adjust and stay up an hour or two later and try that on for size. Or vice-versa. If you eat the same thing for lunch every day, you could either make a small change and tweak some ingredients or condiments for that lunch, or get really crazy and do something completely different for lunch every day. Watch out world! Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to keep it manageable for you. There is no benefit or point really, in changing something so drastically that trying to manage this new routine is actually more stressful than the boring, old, stale one you had. Beware of decision-fatigue! Don’t make it harder on yourself.

Alright…

Have you analyzed your current routines? Did you check to make sure they still serve a greater purpose or help propel you to a specific goal of yours? Great – you’re on the right track! What’s left is just thinking through your current situation and finding where you can be a little more flexible or creative in your approach to these routines. You may find that you just need a small, subtle change in order to fall in love with your routine again. Or you may find that you need to abandon all hope, say goodbye to a routine and completely re-invent it. That’s ok, too. Sometimes when we do that, we come back to our original routine with a fresh perspective and appreciation. And sometimes, we find something entirely new that ignites a new fiery passion within us that keeps us going.

And when you find that it’s not working again, keep tweaking. This is the beauty of our lives. We are not meant for static, stale lives. Yes, we are creatures of habit, but that doesn’t mean the habits have to be boring.

How Being In Nature Impacts Your Health and Wellbeing

More than two-thirds of people choose a natural environment when they are feeling stressed. Why? Simply because Nature gives us a relaxing environment – one in which it’s easy to let go of all of our pent-up stress. While in nature, we are able to rejuvenate our minds and bodies, gain clarity, and reduce stress levels. In turn, this makes us happier, kinder, and more creative people!

When you were last outside enjoying nature, do you remember feeling good? The fresh air, possibly the sun, open space, and the wonderment of it all gave you an “I’m letting go of it all” kind of feeling. You were happy.  We know that nature tends to do this, which is why we all love it so much and find ourselves yearning for it at times (like during stressful, busy days, or if we have yet to get out), but do we know why we benefit so much from time outside? Here are 5 ways that time spent in nature helps regulate our health; giving us properly functioning bodies and a healthier, happier mindset.

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1. Your Brain Gets Much Needed, Down Time

In a study published in the National Academy of Sciences, conducted by a group studying the Psychological effects of city dwelling, walking in nature resulted in less blood flow in the subgenual prefrontal cortex. This is the part of our brains that is responsible for the broken-record fretting. You know the, why are there so many things wrong with me, why isn’t my life better, why don’t I have these things, thoughts. The act of continually having these negative thoughts is called rumination. When studying adults who lived in cities – it was found that a walk along the paved sidewalks vs. a walk along tree-lined paths are not the same. Only in the ladder case, when one is truly walking in nature, does this part of our brains become less active.

2. Fresh Air Improves Blood Pressure, Our Heart Rate, Makes us Healthier, and is Good for Our Digestive System

Wow, what? Yes – getting out of heavy-polluted environments and high-traffic areas gives our body a full detox, all thanks to the increased oxygen that you’ll breathe-in in nature. Fresh air increases the flow of oxygen, which in turn, helps us digest food more effectively. Oxygen helps our white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections and bacteria, keeping us nice and healthy. Fresh air also helps improve our blood pressure and our heart rate, because of the decrease in pollution. Talk about a body detox!

3. Oxygen Affects Your Sense of Well-Being

In addition to the benefits that were previously mentioned to our bodies with the increase in oxygen, it also helps improve our sense of well-being. You may have noticed when coming indoors from being outside, you feel a little brighter, more refreshed, and ready to tackle what’s next? Oxygen gives our brains the ability to better function, resulting in increased concentration and a boost to our energy. Next time you feel a little unfocused, burnt-out, or have hit your afternoon “slump” at the office, find a nearby park to take a stroll in. You’ll come back refreshed and eager to tackle the remaining tasks of the day.

4. Natural Light and Fresh Air Help Regulate Your Sleep

Ok, so we’ve covered that more oxygen is pretty much the key to a properly functioning body, so it’s no wonder that fresh air helps us feel calm, happy and relaxed. Natural light is another factor that can help us snag more sleep each night. By getting ourselves out in the daylight (exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning is best), we produce more serotonin. Seratonin is a precursor to melatonin, which controls our sleep and wake cycles. So why is sunlight in the morning the best? Simply because by exposing ourselves to the sunlight during the sun’s cycles, we keep our bodies aligned with the natural cycles of light, better regulating ourselves and allowing our bodies to “wind down” during the evening time to prepare for sleep.

5. Bacteria In Soil Makes You Happier

Quite Literally. Scientists have found a harmless bacteria that only exists in soil that in a way, doubles as an anti-depressant. It has been linked to boosting our serotonin levels. Serotonin is a key player in the regulation of our moods and our general sense of well-being. And because low serotonin levels have been linked to multiple mental health issues, such as depression, we want to naturally boost these any way we can. This same bacteria also helps our immune system by decreasing inflammation, thus helping to alleviate symptoms relating to heart disease or diabetes.

By understanding just how nature can help us live healthier, happier lives, I hope this inspires and motivates everyone to get out there more regularly. No matter the weather, no matter the activity, just spending 5-10 minutes outside can do wonders for our mental and physical health. Won’t you make a promise to take better care of yourself and spend more time outdoors? 

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Sources: 
11 Scientific Reasons Why Being In Nature Is Relaxing
6 Benefits of Getting Fresh Air
How to Improve Your Sleep with Morning Sunlight

Photos: Pexels

6 Quick and Easy Ways to Declutter Your Mind, Now

According to scientific research back in 2005, we have about 50,000 thoughts per day (more recent estimates are 70,000), which in short, boils down 1 thought every few seconds. Further, 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of these thoughts we’ve had the day before. These thoughts have quite a toll on our physiology and physical health, weakening our systems and creating many of those illnesses we experience as a result of stress and other negative/cluttered thinking patterns. By the end of the day, we’re drained of our energy or worse, find ourselves feeling ill.

If we can learn to control our thought patterns and declutter our mind, we can be happier, more focused and positive as a result. It’s simple really, by becoming mindful of our thoughts and mind clutter, we can become intentional in how we choose to spend our time and energy, and where we focus our attention.

Here are 6 easy and quick ways you can take to declutter your mind, now.

Journal or make a list and prioritize

Journaling has been proven to help reduce stress, improve memory, and lessen the feelings of anxiousness. By writing out your thoughts, feelings, and goals into a journal daily you are allowing your mind to rid itself of hanging onto these thoughts day after day. A bigger payoff is the sense of clarity and assuredness that can come as a result of daily journaling. It has a wonderful way of opening our eyes to new perspectives or even confirming our inner truths.

If journaling isn’t your ‘thing’, just jot things down on paper. Even by jotting down a ‘to-do’ list, a ‘weekly goals’ list, or a ‘don’t forget’ list in a notebook or on a piece of scrap paper has the same positive effects on reducing mind clutter. As a result, you’ll have less things piling up in your mind day after day, with a significantly less chance of forgetting important things. Talk about win-win.

Exercise

Exercise has so many hidden benefits that it’s no wonder it’s recommended to get in at least 20 minutes of exercise daily. Ever feel more creative and inspired after a satisfying workout? Have you ever been able to more easily solve a problem or gain clarity on a situation during a workout? It is true that exercise leads to better problem solving skills, gives us the clarity we need in our mind, puts us in noticeably better moods, and allows us to work more effectively and efficiently throughout our days.

Find whatever type of exercise works for you; do what brings you joy and is fun for you and do it every chance you get. This can be any type of physical movement; working out doesn’t have to be boring ‘work’.

Zone out or meditate

Zoning out is not the same as removing yourself from reality and withering away in front of a TV. To zone out properly, we need to remove ourselves from anything that requires our minds to download or process any new information. Instead of reading or watching tv, try sitting in nature – or even on your front porch. Watch the wind in the tree leaves, hear the natural sounds of your surroundings and breathe in the fresh air. This type of zoning out can do wonders in helping your mind free itself from those never-ending thoughts.

For those who want a more ‘focused’ zoning out, meditation is a great way to empty your mind. There are several different ways to meditate and none is better than the other when it comes to mind decluttering. Simply choose to sit however you are most relaxed and comfortable and select something to focus on, whether it be your breath, an object, a mantra, etc and breathe deeply as you focus on your item of choice. By making meditation a part of your daily practice, even for 5 minutes, can help alter the state of your mind.  Over time and with much practice, you’ll be able to go into your meditative trance whenever you start to feel your mind begin to clutter, with ease at anytime or in any place.

Stop multiasking

Multitasking isn’t helping keep a clear, focused mind. In fact, multitasking is not only impossible, but it can contribute further to the stressed out or overwhelmed feelings that we have. This in turn, continues to feed negative thoughts and repetitive thoughts into our minds that are otherwise unnecessary to begin with. Although negative thinking can sometimes fuel productivity and spark action if used properly, negativity in this way is unproductive because we’re just trying to keep up with ourselves and pushing our minds into overdrive.

To clean up your mind is very similar to how we clean up our physical spaces. We typically select one starting point (a room perhaps) and clean and declutter this room fully before moving onto the next. For our minds, it helps to pick one task to focus on, set a duration, and do nothing else but that task for that time. It’s amazing how productive and efficient this method of single-tasking is.

Speaking of cleaning up your physical space…

Clean up your physical space

Many books and advocates will tell you that having a physically cluttered space is a definite way to give yourself a cluttered mind. When we can see physical disarray our minds translate this into more things we have to do, so we spend more energy producing these thoughts and adding to our negative clutter in our minds until the physical space is clean.

Tackle your physical spaces, even the ones you don’t actually see or don’t see on an every-day basis, but know are there (think closets, garages, sheds). Use whatever method works for you; you can tackle one room at a time or use the Marie Kondo method and tackle by category. Tidy up your paperwork, your desk space at work, your linen closet and every other nook and cranny of your living and work spaces. Everything should have a place in your space and if it no longer serves a purpose, remove it for good.

Be decisive and put routine decisions on auto-pilot

There’s no better way to clear our minds than by ridding them of an unnecessary thoughts or stressors. If there is something on your mind that you can easily remove by making a decision, please do so. There is absolutely no need to mull things over day after day, hour after hour, piling and piling the clutter in your mind. Any opportunity you have to clean up those lingering ‘to-do’s’, you need to jump all over.

If decision-making is not your forte, refer to this helpful guide on how to make decisions less difficult. The key is to make a choice and know that you can always make another one. In order to declutter your mind, you have to start somewhere and once you start to make a decision on one thing, they all get a little easier from there.

We as humans are inundated with decisions that need to be made, on a daily basis. Many of these decisions we can turn on ‘autopilot’ so that we need not think twice about them, freeing them from our minds. To put these more routine decisions on ‘autopilot’ means to simply remove any other choices from being an option. You can do this by eating the same lunch every weekday, wearing the same outfit on specific days of the week, workout at the same time every day, have a morning routine, only watch TV on Wednesday nights, do your laundry every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM, and so on. Without going overboard on ‘autopiloting” everything in your life, you can tackle a large part of your mind’s clutter.

Our minds are a powerful force. They have the ability to shape much of how we act, how we feel, and how we live our lives. It’s important that we take the time to take care of our minds so we can better take care of ourselves in turn. By taking some of the steps outlined to clear our minds, we will live our days more intentionally and focus our attention and energy on things that will better serve us. 

 

 Photo by Simon Migak from Pexels