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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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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5 Hang-in-There Holiday Tips

 

You Are Not Alone


I love the holiday season (if you couldn't tell, from all of my holiday-themed posts!), but with all of the joy, glitter, and fairy lights also comes a level of stress and pressure that's unprecedented during the rest of the year. Even if you're in a great place emotionally, financially, and mentally, the holiday season is bound to present some challenges that aren't present during the rest of the year. And, if we're honest, most of us aren't in that perfect emotional / financial / mental place so, around the holidays, whatever troubles we're currently facing are compounded by a number of factors:

 

  1. memories of past holidays (both good and bad),
  2. recollections of those no longer in our lives and a kind of re-mourning for them,
  3. increased financial expectations in the form of gifts and holiday-related obligations,
  4. stress related to trying to give (and hoping to receive) the perfect gifts, and
  5. societal pressure to suddenly have the most merry, festive, Instagrammable life ever.

 

Top all of that off with the end-of-the-year thoughts about what we did (or didn't...) do over the past year and the looming expectations to make the coming year the "best year yet!," and it's no wonder most of us have trouble staying positive during the holidays! Even for the most positively present person, these additional stressors can cause a lot of emotional challenges, and they can be even harder to cope with when it seems as if everyone around us is embracing the holiday spirit. 

The holidays can be -- and often are -- a really wonderful time of the year, but it's important to recognize the level of additional stress and pressure they bring to our lives, and make sure we're addressing it (rather than convincing ourselves that we should be enjoying every single moment). Here are some of the best ways to do just that. 

 

  1. Take note of what's working out. When it comes to the holidays, it's tempting to think everything has to be just perfect. For some, there are annual traditions to adhere to. For others, holiday parties to look picture perfect for. And, as you're probably well aware, life doesn't always go according to plan. With so many expectations around the holiday season -- buy the perfect gift! wear the most festive outfit! kiss your partner in the snow! wake up to a Lexus in your driveway! -- some of them are bound to be unmet. And that's okay. Instead of focusing on what didn't go as planned, direct your attention to what is working. Maybe you weren't able to afford a new, sparkly dress for a party, but you were able to get your nephew that hard-to-find gift he really wanted. During the holidays (and in general!), it helps to keep expectations low and to celebrate the things that are going right. 

     
  2. Know you're not alone in how you feel. The holidays -- through advertising, celebrity culture, and social media -- make us feel like we should be happy 24/7 all throughout the month of December, but it's important to remember that what you see online (and even in real life) isn't the whole story. All of us go through bouts of stress or loneliness or sadness or discontent at some point during the holiday season, and that is completely normal. We're being sold picturesque images of the perfect holiday everywhere we look, and it's no wonder that we sometimes feel disappointed that our lives don't look like the ones we see online. Remember: not everyone is falling in love, unwrapping the most fabulous gift, surrounding themselves with laughing, happy friends, or joyfully riding in a horse-drawn sleigh. 


  3. Make the holiday what you want it to be. Think, for a moment, about what a "perfect" holiday would look like. What you're picturing is probably an amalgamation of images you've seen online, watched in films, or read in books sprinkled with a bit of your own unique holiday experiences. It's important to remember that your holiday is yours. It doesn't have to look like what you see everyone else doing. Most of us (myself included!) do what we're expected to do around the holiday season because it's what's socially expected. But don't forget that you don't have to do what everyone else is doing. If you're into the traditions, the events, the decking-of-the-halls, go for it. But don't feel like you have to do all of the expected holiday things just because everyone else is doing them. 


  4. Shift your focus away from consumerism. Gift-giving is one of my favorite things to do, and always has been. There are few things that thrill me more than finding the perfect gift for someone I love. But, in case you missed it, the holidays are extremely consumeristic. From the gifts to decorations to sparkly attire to hostess gifts to festive fare and more, there are so many things to purchase around this time of year, and, even if you're super into it all, it can be a lot. One of the best ways to combat the consumerism is to make time to give back. Whether it's a donation to a charity, time spent at a soup kitchen, or simply helping a neighbor hang lights, there are countless ways you can give back. Doing so will help remind you what the holiday season is supposed to be about: love, giving, kindness, and joy. 


  5. Pay attention to what's real. With the holiday season comes a great deal of fantasy -- images of reindeer flying overhead, two people falling in love beneath the mistletoe, unwrapping an amazing gift, having the most fabulous time at a party are a few that come to mind -- but it's important to remember that, as magical as the season feels sometimes, we're still living in real life. People are going to be imperfect; situations are going to be flawed. The more we focus on the fantasy, the harder it becomes to appreciate the little joys in reality. If you're focusing on what things should be, you're missing out on what they are, and that's almost certain to cause discontentment. (Read more about this in Why You Need Lower Expectations.) When it comes to the holidays, expect less and you'll enjoy so much more. 

 

As wonderful and festive as this time of year is, it can also be such a challenge because most of us expect so much. We want every holiday to be the best ever, which is a lovely goal to have, but that goal can also cause a lot of distress (especially if it's literally impossible, such as when you're facing the first holiday after the loss of a loved one or if you're going through a very difficult time emotionally). If you're struggling, remember that you're not alone. There are many, many people who are going through difficult situations and, while you cannot necessarily remove yourself from pain, here are some things I've written in the past that might help: 

 

  

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