Health Is Wealth : How to Cope When You're Feeling Poorly

 

Health Wealth
 

For the past nine days, I've had a headache, a dull, persistent pain that will not go away, no matter what I do or what pills I take. The only thing that's brought me any relief is lying on my back with a warm compress on my head, a position that doesn't lend itself well to working, playing, socializing, or pretty much anything. (You might have noticed the Positively Present Picks were missing on Friday. This is why.) It's been an incredibly boring and frustrating time and, to be honest, it's been challenging my positive, present mindset quite a bit. But, of course, it's when we struggle to be positively present that we need positivity and mindfulness the most. 

So, with a throbbing head and an oddly positioned laptop (in order to better balance the compress on my head), I'm going to share all the tactics I've used to cope over the past week or so. 

 

TRY YOGA / MEDITATION. 

I kind of got out of doing yoga for a while, but this week I decided to pick it up again and see if they could help me feel better. It did! I've been doing Yoga with Adriene every day this week, and I really feel like it helps. I also did a little bit of meditating (I struggle with it so much!), and that also helped. I generally am more of a pill taker when it comes to coping with pain, but I'm really starting to see the benefits of holistic, natural activities like yoga and meditating.

 

KEEP A GRATITUDE JOURNAL. 

At the beginning of the year I started using my Every Day Matters diary as a gratitude journal, and it's been so amazing, especially this past week. I know I talk about gratitude a lot, and I know it's kind of a cliché topic in the personal development community, but it really does work. Thinking about all of the things I have and the things that make me happy has been such a useful tactic for a combating The stress of not feeling well.

 

FOCUS ON CAN, NOT CAN'T. 

One of the most important things I've done over the past week is focused on shifting my thoughts from what I can't do to what I can do. Since I've spent most of the week lying down, almost everything I do becomes a small little victory. So, while it was incredibly frustrating not to work all week, instead of focusing on that I would focus on the things I could do, no matter how small. 

 

REST. AND THEN REST SOME MORE. 

I'm a big fan of resting, but it can be frustrating when it's not a choice and you have to rest. Still, rest is so so important and I've done my best to make it a priority this week. Even when I started feeling a little bit better, I did encourage myself to keep resting, and I really feel that resting is some of the best medicine you can give yourself.

 

DO RELAXING THINGS. 

Because I was so stressed about not feeling well, I knew I had to make relaxation more of a priority or I would start to feel panicky at the thought that I might be sick forever. (Dramatic I know, but that's how my mind works!) relaxation is a very individual practice. For me, a book and a bath tub works wonders, but it's important to do whatever feels relaxing to you.

 

ALLOW FOR A MINI-MELTDOWN.

When you're unable to do almost anything, and you have to lie down for days at a time, you're bound to be pretty frustrated. I did my best to stay as optimistic as possible, but I also gave myself a pass to having a little bit of a meltdown. It's OK to get frustrated to cry and to not be 100% positive every second. Allow yourself a good cry, and you'll feel a lot better! 

 

BE OPEN TO NEW SOLUTIONS. 

If you're dealing with something that's not easily fixable, it can be really aggravating when traditional treatments don't seem to work. Over the past week, I've been doing my best to open my mind to new possibilities. Rather than focusing solely on pills, i've been giving essential oils a try. I'm certainly not going to stop following the doctor's orders, but I feel much more open to exploring new solutions as well. An open mind is important in life, and it's extra important in health.

 

I also found a new solution to my inability to write for long periods of time. This whole blog post was dictated into my phone and then copied into the website! Obviously it's not the same as actually writing, at least for me, but it's an example of finding a solution when you can't do what you've always done.

 

PS: If you have any suggestions for coping with chronic headaches, let me know!

   

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Why You Should Read Your Horoscope (Even You Think It's Nonsense)

 

Stars

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved any and all kinds of fortune-telling. As a kid, I’d dutifully read my horoscope in The Washington Post before I went off to school each morning. Every time my family ordered Chinese food, the main attraction for me was the fortune cookie. (I’d always take the first one I touched or saw, reasoning that it must be the one meant for me.) I'd peruse the Astrology aisle at Super Crown and B. Dalton, flipping through pages until I found information on my sign. (In later years, I'd do the same, making sure to check the sign of my latest crush as well.)

Though I'm older and (a little bit) wiser now, I'm still fascinated with all kinds of fortune-related things: astrology, tarot cards, fortune cookies, and even psychics (I've yet to visit one, but every time I drive by a sign, I feel a little tug of curiosity...). As much as I'm fascinated by these things, I've also spent most of my life flip-flopping on the validity of them. In my heart, I want to believe horoscopes are written by people who understand deep meanings held in the stars, but my logical brain reminds me that horoscopes are written every day around the world and certainly not all of these people could have some sort of deep understanding of how balls of fire in the sky relate to human lives. 

And, yet, even with all of the knowledge in the world, I can't quite turn away from horoscopes. I can see both sides: the logic and the heart, a tell-tale trait of my Leo/Virgo cusp star sign, haha! (I wrote this line as a joke, but then when I found a link to explain it, I was once again blown away with how accurate it is, which, I suppose, brings me to my point...) I believe individual, daily horoscopes are fictional, but I'm not entirely sure that astrology as a whole is completely made up (here's an article with arguments as to why it should be taken seriously).

Regardless of whether or not I believe in the validity of astrology, I still reach for them constantly, and with excitement, which is an odd thing to do since everything else I read is clearly marked as fiction or fact (or, at least, it seems that way for the most part). The whole "fact" concept has gotten a big makeover lately, with all kinds of untrue or inaccurate things being published, and it's made me think a lot about what it means when it comes to things like astrology. As I was reading my horoscope last week, I had to pause and ask myself, “Why am I doing this? What do I get out of it if I don't really believe it's true?” (After all, this is my Year of Self-Love, and I’ve found that one of the most important, self-loving things I can do is pay attention to things I do and try to discover why I might be doing them.)

Every time I read my horoscope, I’m torn between the between facts (I know it’s been written by a normal human just like me, even if that person does know more about astrology than I do) and feelings (there’s just something so satisfying about reading something that makes you feel understood or provides guidance seemingly tailored for you!). I’ve never really known what do about this “facts vs. feelings” inner dialogue so I’ve mostly ignored it, reading my horoscope when I wanted to, taking from it what I needed, and shushing the part of my brain that piped up, “But this is just nonsense some random person wrote!” All this changed a couple weeks ago when, in the midst of a little self-love reflection, I had one of those a-ha! moments.

I finally understood why I love horoscopes and fortunes so much — and why it actually doesn’t matter that they’re not factual. The reason many of us love horoscopes — regardless of whether or not we believe in them — isn’t because of the specific guidance or insight they provide. It’s because, no matter what is written, we take away from it what we need. Horoscopes provide insights not because they’re so insightful, but because they prompt us to think about how the words — whatever they might be — apply to our lives.

Horoscopes get us thinking about our lives in ways we might not when reading, for example, the news or a fiction book. They claim to be tailored to us specifically and, as a result, we’re constantly looking to agree with or disagree with them. And that alone — the desire to find meaning or to discredit them — is a unique kind of soul-searching, introspective experience. It tells us more about what we feel, what we want to believe, or what we think is true than if we didn’t pause and read them. Of course, we can get these benefits from reading other things as well— self-help or inspirational books, in particular — but not everyone will take the time to do that. (I know you probably would, since you’re reading this article, but not everyone has the time or interest for soul-searching, even though everyone benefits from it.)

So, here's my thinking. We should read horoscopes, even if it's just for the opportunity to do a tiny bit of soul-searching. If you already read your horoscope, use tarot cards, see a psychic, etc., keep at it — but strive to be mindful of your responses what you read, see, and hear. (Remember: your responses tell you much more than the words or images ever could!) Rather than simply taking the words and moving on with your day, sit with them for a minute and ask yourself why you agree or disagree with what’s in front of you. Doing that is where the value is — not in the content itself.

And if you don’t read your horoscope because you think it’s made up (it is), you think tarot cards are for witches and hippies (stop judging!), or you believe psychics are just scammers (perhaps...), consider giving it a try and see how you feel. Remember the value is not about what’s in front of you; it’s about how you react to it. As Shakespeare once wrote, "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves." We control our destinies, but we can actually learn more about what we want that destiny to be by looking at messages from the stars. 

For those looking to expand or begin a fortune-seeking practice, here are a few recommendations:

  

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5 Tactics for Coping with a Meltdown

  Okay

 

Did anyone else have an existential crisis, freak-the-hell-out meltdown last week or was it just me? 

It was sure a rough week for me, personally and professionally, and, though I wanted to curl up on the couch and escape the world with a book (really loving The Animators right now!), I knew this was a perfect time to put the words I write each week into practice. I knew I had the tools to figure out a way to make the most of things, even though I was feeling pretty helpless, so decided to give them a shot. Here's what I did to cope this week. Hopefully these tips will help you if you're feeling meltdown-y, too. 

 

CRY IT OUT

Like most adults, I'm not a big crier. Crying is generally reserved for heartbreak or loss (or seeing roadkill on the side of the road -- if there's any sort of animal death/pain, I will cry), but this week I had a good ol' cry. I'm talking about the shoulder-shaking, sobbing-like-your-pet-just-died kind of cry, the snotty, ugly cry that necessitates more than one nose-blowing after you're done. It wasn't pretty, but it actually felt good.

Most of the problems I'm currently facing aren't new; I've just been avoiding them for so long that it felt good to acknowledge to myself (in the form of tears) that things aren't going well. It's unpleasant, but acknowledgment is the first a step on the path to making things better. I'm certainly not going to cry every time something goes wrong, but this week I really took note of how good to feels to physically feel your pain and release it in a way that, even though it hurts, ultimately feels good. 

 

TALK IT OUT

After I allowed myself that cry (and, yes, it was an allowance -- so many times I want to cry, but I don't because it tell myself it's a waste of time or insist to myself that I should strong), I decided to open up a bit and talk it out. Usually when things aren't going well -- especially professionally -- I tend not to talk about it with anyone else. One of the downsides of running your own business is that it's somewhat an extension of you in a way that doesn't happen with other jobs. If my business is failing, it feels like I'm failing as a person.

I'm sure others feel this way about their work, too, but there's something about running the show (and being the sole performer in the show!) that makes the professional deeply personal. So I generally keep it to myself when there's trouble, and do my best to find a way to work it out. But this week I decided to open up a bit more, sharing my struggles with friends (and now with you, in a way!). None of the talking resulted in immediate solutions or major a-ha moments, but it felt good to open up, to get feedback, and to not keep everything in my own head. 

 

DANCE IT OUT

Okay, this one might be a personal preference, but when I'm feeling low, one of my go-to moves is to put on a great, upbeat song and have a little dance party by myself in my apartment. (Putting that in writing, I'm now wondering if that's an odd thing to do, but I'm pretty sure I can't be the only one who does that, right? Also, by "dancing," I mean "awkward flailing that usually scares my pup, ha!) If you don't like dancing or listening to uplifting music, I bet there's something that instantly puts you in a positive mood, no matter how low you're feeling. 

Post-cry-session, I decided I was going to flip the mood by turning on the songs I'm loving and getting moving. (Exercising probably does the same thing, getting those endorphins going!) Of course, this doesn't solve any of my problems, but it certainly improves my mood, putting me in a more level-headed state where I can make more positive decisions. I decided to make a little playlist for you, if you're feeling like you need to dance it out. Find Dani's Dance Party here on YouTube

 

LAUGH IT OUT

Laughter, for me, really is the best medicine. Watching something hilarious has always been one my best strategies for coping with pain, and this week it served me really well. I spent a lot of time seeking out things that made me laugh -- silly YouTube videos, comedy specials on Netflix, funny friends. Like dancing, laughing doesn't really fix anything, but it does shift your mindset from pain to pleasure, and in that more positive state, I feel like my thinking is clearer. 

Apparently, laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and triggers the release of endorphins, which promote an overall sense of well-being and even temporarily relieve pain. So, even though laughing might seem frivolous, it has some major physical and psychological benefits, all of which can help a great deal when it comes to having a mental meltdown. 

 

WORK IT OUT

Once I got through some of the emotional stages of my meltdown, it was time to get to work. If things aren't going well and they're within your control (unlike, say, the loss of a loved one -- though any sort of emotional reaction to that is more about the pain of loss than it is about meltdown), it's up to you to take action to make things better. Having a meltdown is cathartic and all, but if you don't use that emotional freakout as a catalyst for change, it won't be long before you find yourself again in Meltdown Town. 

So I got out my laptop and I got to work on planning how I'm going to fix the multiple messes I've found myself in. These aren't the kinds of things that'll be fixed over night, but they'll never be fixed if I don't start trying to repair them. It felt good to admit to the problems, to feel them, and to start taking positive steps to rectifying them. There's still pain and I know it goes deep because I'm currently shaking off a horrific nightmare that was so obviously, perfectly symbolic that I woke both scared of and impressed by my own mind. But I'm ready to make progress now. And, really, isn't that what a meltdown is for, to shake us up, to get us to pay attention to what's not working so we can transform it to something that is? 

 

As I was finalizing this post, I heard Shonda Rhimes' voice coming from my TV screen. She said, "The idea that there's suddenly no plan is breathtaking in its terror." That sentence so adequately describes how I'm feeling right now. It's a terrifying place to be, but terror is freeing in a way. When nothing is determined, anything can happen. It's tempting, when plan-less, to imagine the worst, but if anything can happen, then that means amazing things can happen, too. 

  

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What Do You Really Want? (+ Worksheet!)

 

What Do You Really Want Positively Present
 

After declaring this the Year of Self-Love, I've been doing a lot of thinking about it -- like, way more than I've ever done about any topic before. When you start looking for something (or, in some cases, the lack of something), you see it everywhere. That's what's been happening to me over the past few weeks. Self-love (or lack of it) is in everywhere, connected to everything. It impacts every single aspect of life in every single person, which is pretty crazy, as far as writing topics go.

At times it can feel overwhelming, the idea of transforming (or trying to transform...) every aspect of the self. But it's also kind of liberating as well. There's a freedom that comes with knowing that, though you don't have control over so many aspects of your life, there are still things you can positively influence. 

That being said, it's still a ton of things to work on, and the only way to take on a huge project, in my opinion, is to break it down into manageable bits. So that's what I'm planning to do -- to pay attention to the parts of self-love that jump out at me each week and share them in some way here (while, of course, bringing positivity and awareness into the mix!). What's been coming to the forefront this week is wanting

The word "want" has two main definitions: (1) have a desire to possess or do something; and (2) lack or be short of something desirable or essential. 

That feeling of desire -- and of lack -- is one of the things that stands in the way of self-love. And the more I started paying attention to the idea of wanting, the more I realized how much I was doing of it all the time. I started keeping a list, writing down all of the things I thought or said I wanted over the course of a few days, and it was kind of astounding how lengthy it got. Here's a sample of some of the things I wrote:

 

  • I want a the newest iPhone.
  • I want to see wolves in the wild.
  • I wish I had this cute sweatshirt.
  • I want to declutter my apartment.
  • I want a German Shepherd.
  • I wish I had better filming equipment.
  • I want the new Ban.do products.
  • I wish I had a new book contract.
  • I want to read the book Chasing Slow
  • I want to make more money. 
  • I wish I had some Tate's cookies.  
  • I want this shirt in my size. 
  • I wish I could afford this class.  
  • I want to create a newsletter.
  • I wish I had these silver sandals.
  • I want to donate more money. 
  • I want all Adam J. Kurtz's stuff. 

 

Most of these desires were "someday" types of things -- "I want a German Shepherd one day" or "I could really use a new phone so I don't keep getting that damn 'Storage Almost Full' message" or "I'm trying to keep only healthy food in the house but I could really go for a cookie right now" -- and some aren't even inherently bad. But, even if it didn't feel as if my life was majorly lacking without those things (i.e., I wasn't really bemoaning the fact that I couldn't get a new dog at that moment), I had to wonder:

 

What is all this wanting doing to how I feel about my life and about myself? Do these thoughts -- even if they don't make me feel as if I'm lacking as a person -- have a negative impact on my sense of self? And, more importantly, would I have wanted these things had I not seen them online, by complete and utter chance? 

 

We all see so many images all day, every day, and many of them make us want something other than what we have -- whether that be a physical product (like this cute notebook!) or an abstract concept (like love, success, etc.). I know not everyone might be exposed at the level I am -- I'm a bit obsessive with social media and follow tons of brands and people who create cool things so I see a lot of stuff and ideas every day -- but I still think most of us have those "I want..." or "I wish I had..." thoughts at least once a day. 

All wanting isn't bad, but the idea that I'm wanting so much, all the time, even in subtle little ways, seems very at odds with the notion of loving one's self. Instead of celebrating all that I have, I find myself looking for new things to desire, and, while the desire itself isn't negative, it's often misdirected (and often does so in a way that negates self-love, positivity, and mindful acceptance). Desiring things absent-mindedly or by default isn't the best way to create a life you love. 

So, what do we do about this? We're obviously going to want things (and by "things" I also mean people, ideas, jobs, achievements, feelings, etc.), and I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all -- so long as we're wanting them for the right reasons and so long as they will, in fact, provide us with what it is that we desire. And that's where the solution comes in. We have to examine what we're wanting and we have to determine if it's real

 

Wanting

Click here to download the free PDF!

 

Actually figuring out what we want (and whether we'll get it from the thing we desire) isn't always the easiest, but it doesn't have to be too tricky. I made the worksheet above to help me sort through my own wants this coming week, and I'm sharing it with you so you, too, can track what you want. 

My challenge to you (and myself!) this week is to do the following, using the worksheet:

  1. Pay attention to every time you find yourself thinking or saying, "I want" (or some version of it, like "I wish I had..."). Write what you want in the first column. (If possible, try to keep the list private so that you feel free to write whatever you've been wanting without any fear of judgment.)

  2. Reflect what you wrote in column 1. What makes you want that thing? What do you think will happen if you get it? If you don't? Is it something that will have a positive impact on your life? 

  3. Dig deeper. Consider whether this is something you do, in fact, really want or if it might be a reflex or habit. (For example, if a beloved brand comes out with a new line of something, do you actually want it or do you just think you do because you always get the newest items.). Also, assess whether the desire yours or if it's based on what you think you should want or what someone else wants. And, of course, consider whether this item is, in fact, a symptom of something bigger that you want. (For example, you want a new lipstick because you want to feel pretty because you want to be confident. Could it be possible to desire -- and pursue -- confidence directly?)

  4. Contemplate whether this item is a solution to a problem. For example, let's say you want a new notebook because you think it'll be a great inspiration for keeping organized this year. The last column is where you can determine if that specific notebook is, in fact, necessary to get the result you want. Do you already have a notebook you could use? Is there a notebook that might fit your needs even better? Is this really about a notebook or is it about motivation or organization or something even deeper? 

 

Reflecting on -- and, in many cases, adjusting -- our wants is an essential aspect of self-love. What we want (even if we don't end up getting it) influences how we feel and think and act. For me, it's often a default setting. I see something cool and my first thought is, I want that! I don't always (or often...) purchase something simply because I want it (as I used to, when I was younger and hitting up the mall on an almost daily basis), but that reflex is still in place, and I honestly don't think it has a very positive impact on me. 

I thought learning to control my spending impulses was a great act of self-love and I feel proud of myself every time I don't spend frivolously. But I think I can -- and should -- take it further, to break not just the habit of mindless spending, but also the habit of mindless wanting. Hopefully this worksheet is a start of a new way of seeing my desires -- and, if you're like me and struggle with the conflict between wanting and self-loving, I hope it'll help you, too! 

  

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2017: The Year of Self-Love

 

Positively-Present-Self-Love

 

Happy 2017!

Over the past (almost) eight years of running this site, one thing has become glaringly obvious to me: it's very difficult to stay positive and present if you don't love who you are

This truth has become so vital to who I am and what this brand, Positively Present, stands for, and that's why I'm making it a priority in 2017. Though I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, the start of a new year is a pretty great time to reflect on the past year, re-evaluate where you are now, and redirect your energy to where you'd like go in the next twelve months.

It was as I was doing my personal reflection and re-evaluation toward the end of the year that I realized just how absolutely essential self-love has been to me in 2016 — and how much more I actually need of it in my life. I talk the talk, but I don't always walk the walk. 

And I know I'm not alone in this. Almost every one I know struggles with self-love in some form. We all want to love ourselves, most us claim to, but we all struggle to actually do it fully. Maybe we love our work, but hate our bodies. Or we love the way we look, but hate how we act in relationships. Self-love is hard because it's all-encompassing. To truly experience it, you can't just love parts of yourself; you have to love it all. I believe we all struggle so much with this because we don't think about it enough. Over the past couple of days, I've been putting this "Year of Self-Love" into practice by asking myself this every time I have a thought or take an action: 

 

Is this a loving thing to do for myself? 

 

Sometimes asking this question changes how I act. (For example, maybe eating the entire large bag of M&M's isn't the most self-loving act. I pour a handful and put the bag back.) Sometimes asking it doesn't. (For example, maybe I'd be loving myself a bit more if I limited the amount of negative political commentary I'm reading on Twitter. I still scroll and scroll.) But even when asking that question doesn't change my behavior, it makes me stop and think — and that pause before acting is an important first step for making better, more positive choices. Maybe if I ask myself that enough every time I open Twitter, I'll start to limit the amount of time I spend on there. Or maybe I'll unfollow some of the more negative accounts. (In fact, I'm going to go do that right now!)

The important thing about this question is that it causes you to be more conscious of what you're doing, what you're saying, and how you're thinking and feeling. So many of us (myself included!) spend so much of our time operating on autopilot, doing what we've always done because it's been okay so far. But, I don't know about you, but "okay" isn't really what I'm going for in my life. And I believe self-love is the very best way to avoid the default path, to create a life that is way better than just okay. 

I've got some really exciting things coming up in 2017, and I can't wait to dedicate this year to loving myself more —and help you do the same! To start, let's keep asking ourselves that question — "Is this a loving thing to do for myself?" — as often as we can. It might not change every action we take, but awareness is the first step to making this the best, most loving year yet! 

  

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