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. 

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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. 

A Love Letter to all of My Haters

Dear Haters,

You know who you are.

You’re the ones who think about me a little too much. The ones who spend your precious time and energy that could be used elsewhere, on me. You’re the ones who don’t like me, because of this-or-that reason. I’m sure they are “good reasons”, or so you tell yourself. But really, you know those reasons make no sense at all. It’s jealousy, really. Unless I have done something absolutely god-awful terrible to you, which you know I haven’t, then it’s jealousy.

But still, you continue to hate. Using all of that energy to dislike me. Day in and day out, you make your disapproval, disagreements, and dislike known. Sometimes in subtle ways and other times in very obvious ways. You are a crafty one, I’ll give you that. You sometimes throw me for a loop, making me think you’re being sincere and then your true colors come out and my hopeful moment comes crashing down.

But let me tell you something, oh dear crafty hater: If you think for one second that you can beat me, you can’t.

If you think that you hating on me is going to make me quit and give up, it won’t.

If you think that your mockery, your judgment, and your disagreement is going to make me think I am wrong or change my mind, you are out of your mind.

If you think you are the one winning, I can tell you with absolute certainty, you are sadly mistaken.

The same time you are using for your contempt of me is the same time I am using to out-do you. The energy you exert in thinking of how you can deliver another sly remark or a passive-aggressive comment, I am using to work on my goals and am planning ahead. You take up no space in my mind. I give you no thought.

You see, if I stopped to care what everyone thought of me, I wouldn’t be where I was right now. I am faster, smarter, and closer to my goals than you ever will be because that’s where my time and energy goes.

The sad truth is whatever it is that you claim to “hate” about me, you actually hate about yourself. Mhmm. Because your perception of me, your view of me, is really a mirror of how you perceive yourself. Maybe not literally, but there are deep similarities there. That’s how our realities are created. So really, you spending day after day disliking me, is quite literally a waste for you. But it’s not for me.

What I am trying to say is this: Thank You.

For your time.

For your energy.

For your doubting me.

For your gossip and judgments.

For your worrying.

For your disbelief.

For telling me I would fail.

For saying that I can’t.

For saying that I shouldn’t.

For disagreeing with everything I ever say.

For hating on me.

You see, the thing is you fuel me. You are responsible for pushing me to new limits. For motivating me to work harder, get back up, and persevere through even my most trying of times. You inspire me to be better. Do more. Keep going. In fact, I often set such lofty goals because of you and what’s crazy is I achieve them! I achieve more than I think is possible because of your contempt. I am driven with a desire to be my best and the best because of your hate and disbelief.

Anything you have ever said I couldn’t do, I did.

Anything you have ever said I wouldn’t do, I did.

Anything you have ever believed about me, I proved wrong.

Anything you ever disagreed with me on, I proved right.

So, keep your dislike game strong. I’ll be far ahead of you, while you stay exactly the same.

Your biggest fan,
Me.

 

 

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

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

Instead of Looking to Others, Look to Yourself

The relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for the relationship you have with others.

Ever realize that so often you look externally for specific characteristics and qualities in others – whether it’s in a close friend, a spouse, a partner, a relative, or even a coworker – instead of being those things for yourself? We’re looking for specific things that we don’t possess or rather, that we want others to possess for us. Instead of finding the right person or friend, you can be that person to yourself. This is one of the biggest gifts you could possibly give to yourself.

Just like you would do these with or for a friend or partner, add the following things into your daily life to create and maintain a healthy relationship with yourself.

Treat Yourself to Some ‘Me’ Time

You don’t need to fill your time up with social events. It might seem scary or difficult at first, but work to spend some quality time alone – staying in or even going out. It doesn’t have to be extravagant with a solo vacation or an expensive shopping splurge. Just pencil in some time to do those activities that you keep thinking about but always pass off. Those things that you keep meaning to do or starting up again, but continually sacrifice. Having dedicated time regularly to yourself to do whatever it is that brings you joy is crucial to having a solid relationship with yourself. It allows you to explore your passions and interests and to invest in yourself, which in turn creates more happiness and satisfaction in your life. And bonus, if you go out alone and make that a regular habit, that really kicks butt in empowering your independent spirit. Warning: you might really like it.

Check-In Every Once and A While

If you’re finding yourself wondering who am I and what am I doing with my life or something similar, chances are you’re not asking yourself frequently enough. This is a sign that you’re a little out of touch with your self. Take some time to sit in a peaceful area where you’re most comfortable and check in with yourself from what thoughts are surfacing on your mind lately to how your body has been physically feeling. Ask yourself questions that you would ask to a friend whom you’re catching up with.

Truly Listen to Your Self and Take Your Own Advice

When you are consoling a friend in despair, it’s likely that you don’t interrupt with criticism or negative talk, so don’t do it to yourself. When you’re having a rough go, don’t let your inner bully try and dismiss your feelings or make you feel unworthy of feeling upset. We can be ultra hard on ourselves, never allowing ourselves to fully feel and process our feelings and emotions, making it difficult to move on from whatever it was that caused them to begin with.

Listening is only part of it though, you have to then carry out that conversation and give sound feedback and advice to yourself, but then also listen to that advice – without judging it, without shooting it down. Give yourself time to think through how you would help a relative in this situation or how you would help your best friend. You can be this friend to yourself, and in fact, it’s important that you do so. Being able to guide yourself through difficult times gives you the strength and abilities to be mentally present to help and guide others through theirs. Otherwise you’ll relate whatever your friend is going through to something you are personally experiencing and haven’t figured out yet – and that won’t be very helpful at all.

Evaluate What You Seek In Others and Why

Self-reflection is a major component into having a good relationship with yourself. This goes a little deeper than the am I happy with where I am questions and dives further into the why am I seeking xxx in others, what is it that I am truly missing or not experiencing that will allow me to feel fuller and more satisfied in my life? These can be terrifying questions for some that may not regularly work through these with themselves, but it’s really no different than doing this exercise for someone else. If it helps, write in a journal or even on a sheet of paper that you then throw out (hey, it doesn’t matter if you keep it, just that you do it).

Be Self-Serving, Not Self-Consumed

Essentially this means that we need to not spend so much time looking for ways that other people can serve us or help us, but rather, turn our energies onto helping ourselves and then helping others. So many people are losing what it means to have deep and valuable relationships because people are looking to others for the wrong things. Instead of seeking out relationships that we want to be a part of and nurture with support and compassion, most people look to find relationships that will serve them or benefit themselves individually. Ever notice how most relationships, although sad, tend to sway in the favor of one individual? Or at the very least, it’s very rare that both people in the relationship are elevated in equal amounts at the same time. You have the power to change this in your relationships by focusing your energy into being the person you need, for yourself. And then being that person for others, too. This is the more rewarding path.

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