Monday, March 26, 2012

Thankfulness Project Monday

"If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul."
-Rabbi Harold Kushner

Awesome quote, isn't it? We so often focus on the negative in every situation that we can easily miss the good in the situations. I try to be intentional about trying to acknowledge the good, but sometimes it can be tough! That being said, here are a few of the good things I've noticed in different situations recently. I'm feeling thankful for:

  • Good Quotes: I just finished quote week here on the blog, and I think I fell in love with quotes just a little bit more. They're Just. So. Good. 
  • Thought provoking books: I love a good book, and enjoy reading "for fun" books. However, books that make me think, provide information, or give me new ideas for my job are always winners in my book. I'm thankful for books!
  • Clementines: I've been enjoying clementines for the last few months, but I don't think I've ever put it on a thankful list. This is unfortunate because I really love them and get excited when winter hits and they are back in season. Yummmmmm.
  • Fresh Air: I live in an area where I don't breathe in constant pollution and smog, and it's never really something I stop to think about when I walk outside. However, I'm very thankful that I can walk outside and breathe in relatively clean air. 
  • My Little Lifesaver: Allergens have been much worse this winter then in previous winters (probably because we haven't gotten much in the way of a good freeze), and I've been battling with a lot of sinus migraines because of this. My little lifesaver has helped decrease the strength of my headaches, and has allowed me to keep functioning throughout the day. I love this thing! 
And those are a few of the things that I'm feeling thankful for right now. 

Now it's your turn!
What are you feeling thankful for today? How do you handle allergies (if you have them!)? What's one of your favorite books? 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Great & Noble Tasks

It's the end of Quote Week:( I enjoy passing along quotes, and hope that something from this week has stuck out to you, and you've found a quote that is helpful to you. Here's the last quote for this week:

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble."
-Helen Keller 

Helen Keller has a number of fantastic quotes that I enjoy. This one in particular stood out to me, because I know that most people at some point in life (including myself) has felt frustrated that I'm not doing anything that I feel is big or noble. I feel like I'm doing very normal, small tasks that won't make a difference in the grand scheme of things. We cook meals, do laundry, mow the lawn, check off to do lists at work, or drive our kids around. We accomplish many little tasks that we don't enjoy doing, or feel that the tasks we do waste our time. It's easy to feel beaten down and frustrated when we feel trapped in the small tasks.

I like how Helen Keller looks at those little tasks. I'm wondering how our lives would e different if we viewed the little things we had to do in life as if they were great and noble? How would we start to do engage in those tasks? Would we feel more joyful and content in life? It's an interesting thought...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Courage & Willingness

It's Quote Week here on my blog, so make sure to check out earlier posts this week if you've missed any of them. Here's the quote for today:

"Courage to start and willingness to keep everlasting at it are the requisites for success."
-Alonzo Newton Benn

Success. We strive for it, and we can easily become a slave to it. Success isn't bad, but when we allow it to become our master, it can get unhealthy. However, I know it's also easy to feel like we aren't successful at the things that we want to be successful at. Sometimes, when it comes to success we forget that it involves a "willingness to keep everlasting at it". We try for a week, a few months, maybe a year, but it's really hard to keep at it if we don't see the results that we were hoping for. Sometimes, to be successful, we not only need the courage to start (it's scary to try something new!), but we don't the willingness to keep going at it, even when it seems impossible.

Do you have the courage & willingness needed to be successful at those things in which you want to be successful?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Striving For Excellence, Not Perfection

It's Quote Week here on the blog, and I hope you've been enjoying reading some of my favorite quotes.

"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing."
-Harriet Braiker

About a year ago I did a series on perfectionism. Perfectionism robs us of that which is excellent. Striving for perfectionism can drive us mad because we cannot be perfect. We are not perfect people. We can be people of great excellence, but we won't be perfect. Are you able to let go of the striving for perfection in order to grab hold of that which is great and excellent?

For more information on perfectionism, check out the following posts:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Time To Relax...

It's Quote Week on the blog, meaning I'm sharing some of my favorite quotes with my readers. Here's the quote for the day:

"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it. "
- Sydney J. Harris

This quote, which is short and sweet, hits the nail on the head. When we get overloaded, stressed, and having a list a mile long of things to do, one of the first things we give up is self care activities. What we need most is to take a few moments to relax, reground, and take care of ourselves, but it's one of the last things we want to do. This is a difficult thing for many of my clients to see, and if they can't force themselves to break that cycle and relax when they don't have time for it, they often hit a period of burnout or breakdown. Taking time for ourselves, especially when we don't have time for it, is incredibly important. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Spirit In Which We Face Circumstances.

It's no surprise that I'm a fan of quotes, and often start out posts with a quote that I've found. Sometimes I like to take a break from regular posting and do some posts about my favorite quotes. Guess what? This week is the week! Each day I will be choosing a favorite quote and sharing a few thoughts about it.

"I find that it is not the circumstances in which we are placed, but the spirit in which we face them, that constitutes our comfort." 
-Elizabeth T. King

This quote has recently been a bit convicting for me. It's tough when we find ourselves in tough situations, or situations where we feel like we cannot survive. It's hard to know what to do, and all we want is to be "ok". I think the phrase "the spirit in which we face them" is interesting, and it is that which convicts me. We don't always get to choose our circumstances at all, but we do get to choose how we face the circumstances in which we find ourselves. When you find yourselves amidst an unpleasant situation, do you stop and think about the spirit in which you choose to face them? Do you stop to think about healthy ways to respond, or do you react poorly? It's tough to recognize that we have the power to choose how we face different circumstances, and it's even more difficult to own the power that we do have.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How To Survive A Break Up {Part 3}

"No one told me that grief felt so like other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. "
-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, p. 3

Welcome back to another edition of how to survive a breakup in a healthy way that will allow you to become a healthier individual in the future.

Here are a few more tips to survive the breakup in a healthy manner:

  • Focus on getting through today, not the next week or month. 12 step programs focus on staying sober "just for today", because thinking about going without their "drug of choice" forever is overwhelming. We can do anything for today. Instead of being miserable that you'll be without this person for forever, can you focus on surviving and grieving in a healthy way "just for today"?
  • Continue to engage in healthy behaviors as much as you can. It can be incredibly difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle while you're grieving, but it will help you stay healthy and grieve in an effective way if you can manage. Maintaining a consistent daily schedule is important. Continue to eat balanced meals, exercise as best you can, sleep 7-8 hours a day, etc... 
  • Find fun activities to distract yourself, or pick up a new hobby. Sign up for a cooking or sewing class, or perhaps sign up for a few sessions of personal training in order to better learn a new type of exercise. Go out for a fun girls or guys weekend away or have a "staycation" at a friend's house.
  • Make sure to not create negative messages about yourself. It can be pretty easy to internalize messages like "I'm not good enough", "I'm unloveable", or "I don't have any attractive qualities". Believing these messages will keep you depressed and won't allow you to grieve in healthy ways. Focus on the positive attributes and skills you have, and combat your negative thoughts when they come up. 

Now it's your turn!
What are some of the fun activities you use to distract yourself when you're stressed or going through a tough time? 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wellness Wednesday: {Boundaries at Work- Part 1}

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! If you're interested in other posts in this series, check out my Wellness page here. Right now I'm discussing Life Task 3 from the Wheel of Wellness, which is work and leisure. Past posts on the "work" component of wellness include:

Today I'm going to expand a bit more on the idea of work overload, and what to do if you find yourself working too much overtime, to the point of exhaustion (or the other signs & symptoms I posted above). 

Cloud & Townsend, in their book Boundaries, have a few thoughts on work overload. They state the following: "If you are in a situation in which you're doing lots of extra work because you "need the job" and because you are afraid of being let go, you have a problem. If you are working more overtime than you want to, you are in bondage to your job. You are a slave, not am employee under contract" (Boundaries, p. 198). 

Employers can take advantage very easily of people who choose to not say "NO" when asked about increasing job opportunities. If they know someone won't say no when they ask someone to stay late, don't you think that the employer is going to take advantage of that? If you are constantly working overtime, what do you think that does to your health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) and your relationships? It's not so great. 

Here are some tips they offer for dealing with this issue (quoted directly from book, p. 198):
1. Set boundaries on your work. Decide how much overtime you are willing to do. Some overtime during seasonal crunches may be expected of you. 
2. Review your job description, if one exists. 
3. Make a list of the tasks you need to complete in the next month. Make a copy of the list and assign your own priority to each item. Indicate on this copy any tasks that are not part of your job description. 
4. Make an appointment to see your boss to discuss your job overload. Together you should review the list of tasks you need to completely in the next month. Have your boss prioritize the tasks... You may also wish to review your job description with your boss at this time if you think you are doing things that fall outside your domain. 

A few of my own thoughts- I like the list above, and think many people would benefit from following these steps. ALWAYS get a job description. This will give you ground to stand on and help you determine what is and is not reasonable for your job responsibilities. If you don't have a description, how will you know what your expectations are? 

Now it's your turn!
Are there some boundaries you need to set in the workplace when it comes to working overtime or doing too many things that fall outside your job description? How do you try to maintain health while you're at work?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How To Survive A Breakup {Part 2}

"If you're going through hell, keep going."
-Winston Churchil 

Today I'll be continuing my post on surviving a breakup. Breakups can be incredibly painful and overwhelming, and while you might not have actually had any say over the break up, you do have the choice of how you deal with it.
Here are a few more tips on surviving and grieving in a healthy way:

  • Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion comes in the moment. It’s OK to cry or to feel devastated. If you feel happy in the moment, allow yourself to feel happy while knowing that this doesn’t negate your pain. Allowing the emotions to come and go as they want helps.
  • Put healthy boundaries in place. If you are feeling attacked by your ex or his/her friends, remind yourself that you don't have to put up with it. Refuse to pick up the phone, walk away if you happen to run into them, etc... Do what you need to do in order to put distance between the two of you. (for some basic info on boundaries, click here)
  • Engage in healthy coping skills. In times of distress, we tend to use whatever we know works in order to cope. However, using unhealthy coping skills (i.e. food, alcohol, sex) will only create more problems instead of less. Implementing healthy coping skills is crucial in going through a break up or any sort of grief.
  • Help others help you. Others around you will want to do what they can to help make this time easier for you, but often feel awkward asking what they can do. Tell others what you need and what you would appreciate (i.e. a home cooked meal, a weekend away, a listening ear). You'll get what you need by being open and honest with others.

Remember to keep checking back for future posts in this series. Here are some of the past posts in this series:

  • How To Help A Friend Through A Breakup {Part 1}

  • How to Help A Friend Through A Breakup {Part 2}

  • How To Help A Friend Through A Breakup {Part 3}

  • How To Survive A Breakup {Part 1}

  • Now it's your turn!
    What's difficult about giving ourselves permission to feel whatever emotion we feel in the moment (another way of looking at it: Why is it difficult to allow ourselves to feel sad or happy while going through a break up)? 

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Thankfulness Project Monday

    "But the value of gratitude does not consist solely in getting you more blessings in the future. Without gratitude you cannot long keep from dissatisfied thought regarding things as they are."
    -Wallace Wattles

    Happy Monday! I love including various quotes on gratitude and thankfulness at the beginning of these posts. I think they stop and make you think for a moment on your perceptions and attitudes. Alright. Onto some of the things that I'm feeling thankful for today. 

    • The personal stories my readers choose to share. Especially with this latest series on breakups, many of you have left comments sharing parts of some of your stories. THANK YOU for that. I appreciate your input and willingness to engage with me and others here. 
    • Daylight lasting later. I know that we lost an hour of sleep, but the fact that it is now light past 8 o'clock is well worth it in my mind. I love it!
    • Inspiring quotes. Quotes have a way of encouraging, motivating, and causing us to think. They are something we can help ground ourselves in, or pull out in a situation where we need encouragement. 
    • The Office. I was really skeptical when Michael left last season, but I've still found myself enjoying current episodes and laughing throughout. What do you think?
    • Blankets. I'm cheap, and really dislike spending much money on heat. I'm thankful for blankets because they keep my nice and warm when it's cold in my house. Plus I feel more relaxed when I'm all snuggled up. 
    There you go. A few little things I'm thankful for today. 

    Now it's your turn!
    Do you still enjoy watching the Office, or did you stop watching when Michael left? Do you like Daylight Saving Time? What are you feeling thankful for today? 

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Friday Favorites

    Favorite Tiny Delight of the Week
    The weather hitting 70 degrees this week! How's that for a little delight? (i'd actually call it a pretty big delight) I whipped out some dresses and sandals and enjoyed not wearing a coat to work in the mornings (or having to scrape my windows)! 

    Favorite Quote of the Week
    "I find that it is not the circumstances in which we are placed, but the spirit in which we face them, that constitutes our comfort." -Elizabeth T. King

    Favorite Post By Someone Else
    Raw Protein Energy Snack- I haven't personally tried making these yet, so I can't vouch for their taste. However, they LOOK delicious and they sound healthy too. The perfect mix. Check it out.

    Favorite Past Post
    I am only one, but I am still one.- This was posted March 9, 2011, and I love the quote that this post is about even more today then I did a year ago. Check it out! 

    Favorite Search Term
    • breakup messages to encourage you
    • how to help a friend through a breakup
    • funny pics of waking up
    • guinea pigs cooking (how many people search this? I'm getting multiple hits a week on this search term. funny. )
    • catastrophizing

    Now it's your turn!
    What's one of your favorite joys from the week (it can be big or small)? 

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    How To Survive A Breakup {Part 1}

    "Letting go doesn't mean that you don't care about someone anymore. It's just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself."
    -Deborah Reber

    Today I am continuing my series on breakups, but this time I'm looking at it from the angle of the person going through the break up. Going through a break up is hard. In many ways, it can feel like a wrecking ball has smacked into you, tore you to pieces, and it is now left to you to put yourself back together again. Break ups can feel like you're grieving the death of someone, and essentially you are grieving the loss of a relationship. We can't do anything to make that grief magically vanish, but there are things you can do to grieve in healthy ways. Perhaps you felt like the break up came out of nowhere, and now feel powerless and hopeless. You still have power! You have the power to choose how you will grieve, and if you will choose a healthy or unhealthy route. Over the next few posts, I will be discussing some ways you can survive a breakup in a healthy way.

    •    Disconnect from your ex. Sometimes people try to jump into being friends with their ex almost immediately. Most of the time, this just complicates the grieving process and keeps you too connected to your ex. To grieve and move forward, it’s important to disconnect and put a distance between you and your ex. Maybe you can be friends at some point, but most of this time this doesn’t work right away. Another part of disconnecting is hiding the person from your facebook feed (you don't need to see constant updates), and forcing yourself to stop reading and re-reading texts and emails. Dwelling will only hurt you. 
    • Don’t jump too quickly into a new relationship. While it can help fill the gap where your ex once was, it really doesn’t help the grieving process. You need a chance to heal and be ok with yourself once again before you can make room for a healthy relationship. 
    • Don’t isolate. Some alone time can be healthy, but isolate tends to fuel depression. Isolation also gives you the space to ruminate on and dwell on the break up and your pain. 
    •   Create a strong support network full of people you trust. Don’t keep critical or non-understanding people in your closest ring of support. Choose people who can listen without giving advice, and who will be ok being a shoulder to cry on when you need. Rely on these people as a source of comfort.
    Check back for more posts in this series. Previous posts from this series include:

    Now it's your turn!
    What do you feel is the hardest part of going through a breakup? 

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Wellness Wednesday: {Work Overload- Signs & Symptoms}

    Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday, a fun mid-week look at the areas of wellness in our lives. To remind you, in talking about wellness I'm discussing the positive factors in life that help protect us from the events of life. Wellness is therefore not about the absence of the negative, but the presence of the positive. Remember that I am using the Wheel of Wellness to show the various factors of wellness in our lives.

    After introducing the ideas behind work & leisure and looking at an overview of the work factor, today we'll be looking in more detail at the factor of "work" in our lives.

    To remind you, here's the definition of the "work" factor of wellness:

    Activity that contributes to the well-being of self and others: perception of adequacy of financial resources (financial freedom), job satisfaction, feeling that one’s skills are used, perception of work overload, role conflict, role ambiguity (i.e., psychological job security), participation in decision making (i.e., feeling appreciated), satisfaction with relationships in the job setting

    Today I want to look specifically at the phrase "perception of work overload". This is an important issue in our society today, as more and more individuals are being overloaded by work. Here are a few signs and symptoms that you might be headed towards work overload:

    • working increasing hours that are unrealistic or are eating up your time with your family in the evenings
    • unrealistic expectations beyond your job description
    • pressure into working unpaid hours
    • eliminating healthy behaviors from your life in order to work more hours
    • consistently higher and higher levels of stress & frustration
    • Anger
    • Fatigue
    • Dreading going to work
    • Family complaining that you aren't present often, or aren't emotionally present when you're physically present
    • Depression
    • Stomach Pain
    • Migraines
    This is obviously a list of only some of the signs and symptoms of work overload, which puts a strain on your body, and will very quickly start decreasing your levels of health and wellness. 

    Now it's your turn!
    Do you think that you (or someone close to you) have every hit work overload? How does an overload at work influence the other factors of wellness?

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    How To Help A Friend Through A Breakup... {Part 3}

    This post is a continuation of my series on "how to help a friend or loved one through a break up". Here are the previous posts in this series:

    Again, it's important to remember that as friends and family of someone who is hurting while going through a break up, we can't fix the broken heart, but we can support, encourage, and love the hurting individual. 

    • Get your friend out of the house. This is similar to "distracting your friend", although distracting can be done inside your friends residence as well. Getting your friend away, maybe for a fun weekend get away, can be incredibly helpful (and fun!). 
    • Invite a friend for dinner, or cook dinner and take it over to your friend's house. Sometimes when a break up happens life becomes overwhelming, and it's easy to stop taking care of yourself. By cooking a healthy, balanced meal for your friend, it will allow them to get the nutrients they need to stay healthy. 
    • Don't talk badly about your friend's ex. Maybe your friend's boyfriend was a cheating jerk of a guy. Be careful not to say hateful things about him, because if she gets back together with him, that will just be awkward and uncomfortable with everyone involved. Remember that once words are said you can't take them back. While you can affirm that he didn't treat her properly, be careful about how harsh you are. 
    • Be a shoulder to cry on, even if it is 6 months post-break up. It can be uncomfortable to deal with someone crying, and we sometimes get caught up in knowing the "right" thing to say. However, simply being present with your friend or loved one and being a shoulder to cry on can say more than your words every could. 
    If you are a friend or family member of someone going through a break up, please recognize that you are not powerless in this situation. There are healthy things that you can do to try to help and encourage your loved on as she or he walks the path of grieving. 

    Now it's your turn!
    What do you do to help others when they are going through a loss or break up? What are some great ways to distract a friend or get them out of the house? 

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Thankfulness Project Monday

    "As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world. "
    -Adabella Radici

    Happy March! I can't believe how quickly the winter flew by, and am excited that spring is on the horizon (and that longer evenings of light start next weekend)! I chose the above quote today because I thought the image of the sun over the horizon being like the heart bursting forth with gratitude at the start of the day was beautiful. With that said, here are some of the things I'm thankful for this week:

    • The chance to catch up on some sleep. This past week was a pretty busy one for me, and while I still got a decent amount of sleep, it wasn't quite as much as I needed. I'm thankful that the lighter schedule of the weekend allows for a few extra hours of sleep.
    • Spring is on the horizon! I'm not a big fan of winter, so the fact that spring is coming quickly makes me very excited. 
    • Days full of sunshine. I know I've included this a few times in recent lists, but I have tried to not take a single moment of sunshine for granted throughout these winter months. We definitely had a few days of sunshine here this past week, and I'm thankful for that. 
    • funny pictures that have been pinned on pinterest. This is a pretty shallow thing to be thankful for, but having a good laugh over something is definitely something that I'm thankful for in my life.
    • There are things we can do to support others through a breakup. I'm thankful that, while we don't have control of the other person or the ability to fix a broken heart, there are things we can do to help encourage and support (here's an example of things you can do to support). 
    Those are a few little things I'm thankful for on this monday morning. 

    Now it's your turn!
    What're you feeling thankful for today? What's your favorite thing about the weekends? 

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Friday Favorites

    Favorite Tiny Delight of the Week
    Valentine's day treats! I still have a few little chocolates and candy hearts left, and I've been slowly enjoying them throughout the last two weeks. I've always enjoyed the conversation hearts, although I would certainly appreciate it if their were some humorous ones as well. Or some specific profession-related hearts. That'd be a good time. Either way, you all know I love all things holidays, and I've been soaking up all the pink and hearts I can get the last few weeks. 

    Favorite Quote of the Week
    "To be alive, to be able to see, to walk... it's all a miracle." -Arthur Rubinstein

    Favorite Post By Someone Else
    Do One Thing - A great post on just doing one little thing- taking one step forward. It's easy to feel stuck and frustrated, and this post sheds some great light on the next step to take.

    Favorite Past Post
    This week I'm whipping out a post from almost exactly a year ago: Plantains! I've been a huge fan on plantains for a number of years, but this was the first time I'd actually cooked them. If you haven't ever cooked them, check this post out and give it a shot. They are delicious and really easy to cook!

    Favorite Search Term
    • the decision you make today make the person you'll be tomorrow
    • chemical causes of seasonal affective disorder
    • identifying cognitive distortions
    • barrier to ocd treatment
    • cooked guinea pig (i really hope someone wasn't looking for a recipe with that search)

    Now it's your turn!
    What're some of your favorites from the week? Have you ever cooked plantains or tried guinea pig? What's your favorite Valentine's Day treat? 

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    How To Help A Friend Through A Breakup... {Part 2}

    A few days ago, I did my first post in the series of "how to help a friend through a breakup". In it, I discussed four things that you can do when someone you love is struggling through a breakup and grieving the loss of that relationship. Today, I will continue with a few other things that you can do to help:
    •   Be an encouragement. Going through a breakup, it’s easy for individuals to take on many negative messages about themselves. Encourage the individual with the qualities that you enjoy or appreciate in them. While they may be receiving negative messages from their ex or themselves, they need to hear positive messages around them. (examples of negative messages might include some of the following: "I'm worthless", "I'm unloveable", or "there's something fundamentally flawed with me).
    • Encourage your loved one to engage in healthy coping skills. Negative coping skills, while they work in the moment, tend to create more anxiety or depression in the long run, and they don’t actually help heal their heart. Try to encourage your friend or family member to try out some of these healthy coping skills.
    • Help distract the individual in healthy ways. Things that may be helpful include: taking a walk, going hiking, going fishing, going to a movie, watching a sport game, take a cooking class, or some other activity that the individual usually enjoys.
    • Encourage healthy behaviors. Eat regular & balanced meals, exercise regularly, sleep well, find ways to reduce stress, etc… Staying healthy will help the individual to heal faster than if they become unhealthy instead. 
    Remember that you can't FORCE your friend to engage in healthy behaviors or coping skills, but you can model healthy behaviors and coping, and you can encourage them to try some of them out. Be careful how hard you push, however, because many people are stubborn and will push back. 

    Now it's your turn!
    What are some healthy ways that you like to distract yourself? When you're upset or hurting, what's the first health behavior you let go of? How do you encourage those around you who are hurting?