Keep Moving Forward: 5 Steps to Get Going


MLK-Positively-Present

 

Lately I've been struggling a lot with motivation. There are so many things I want to do and make (and be!), and I've gotten to that point where I feel so overwhelmed that, instead of taking action, I just want to lie down, throw the covers over my head, and do nothing. (And, of course, whenever I do that, I feel guilty and terrible and even more overwhelmed.)

Indecisive about wanted to write about this week, I was sitting here (very unproductively watching endless episodes of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee) and it occurred to me that maybe this struggle — the frustration and disappointment that comes with feeling overwhelmed and, rather than tackling the tasks, doing nothing instead — is exactly the thing I should be writing about. So, rather than write about what I've done, as I often do, I'm writing today about what I plan to do to take small steps to make positive progress! 

 

STEP 1 : ACCEPT WHERE YOU ARE

The first step to tackling any problem, I've found, is acceptance, and I think that's quite true in this situation. First and foremost, I've got to accept where I am instead of frantically worrying about what haven't yet done or fretting uselessly about what I want to accomplish. The complaining and worrying and freaking out is (clearly!) doing no good, so I've got to start by accepting where I am — much as I dislike this particularly unclear and frazzled time in my life. Once I begin to realize that this is where I am (and remember that it's not where I'll be forever!), I bet I'll be able to feel just a tad less overwhelmed and a bit more able to take on what needs to be done. 

 

STEP 2 : USE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE

This step is actually what made me finally sit down and start writing. I was struggling and then I thought to myself, Why not try working backwards? Instead of writing and then creating an image for the blog post, why not look at the images you've recently created and see if you're inspired by any of them? Of course, the first one I spotted was the one I made for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — and the perfect prompt to remind me that, wherever I am, I can get started using what I have. I might have some limitations at the moment — both physical and mental — but I still have a lot that I can work with! 

 

STEP 3 : MAKE A (SHORT!) LIST

I'm a chronic list maker (could you tell from my listicle blog posts? ha!), but the older I get, the more I notice that lists aren't always as productive as I think they are. Sometimes, as I mentioned, I look at that long list of to-do tasks and feel so overwhelmed I just snap my iPad shut and avoid them all together. This week I'm going to try making short, specific lists. Rather than something vague like "write next week's blog post" it'll be "write 5 tips about X." Getting specific and direct with my lists might (hopefully!!) me take more action. 

 

STEP 4 : DO THE HARD STUFF FIRST

We all have limited amounts of will power that apparently diminish over the course of a day, which means it's important to get the stuff you really don't want to do out of the way first. I've recently gotten into the habit of starting my days out slow and working more later in the day, but this week I'm aiming to get back on a get-up-and-get-to-work schedule, tackling the tasks I dislike first so that it's more likely I'll get them done. 

 

STEP 5 : TRY DIFFERENT METHODS

Staying motivated, particularly if you feel like you don't have access to the tools or mindsets you need, is challenging (which is why there are tons of books on productivity). One method that worked for me for awhile was keeping a "Done" lists alongside my "To-Do" list, where I'd  track what I'd accomplished — however small! I'm going to revisit that one this week, and explore some other productivity habits (like the Pomodoro Technique, which has always intrigued me). We're all different (and we all change, too!) so it's probably a good idea to explore new methods when in a rut. 

 

Wish me luck as I try to get a handle on this — and feel free to share any ideas or resources in the comments section below. I'd love to know what you do whenever you feel overwhelmed with a mountain of tasks that you've been putting off for months. Advice and resources greatly appreciated! 

 

Taking my own advice, I'm doing one thing that's been on my mind but I've been putting off: finding out what's on your mind! I have so many ideas for this year, but I want to know what you want to see from Positively Present in 2018! Click the link below to take the one-question survey.  

 

TAKE THE ONE QUESTION SURVEY! 

 
Thank you so much!
Can't wait to get create some
wonderful things for you this year!

 


The 5 Best Ways to Beat the January Blues


Hey Its Okay Positively Present

 

Happy 2018!

2017 was... interesting (to put it nicely), and I can't deny that I'm looking forward to a fresh start, with 12 whole months of possibilities ahead. That being said, January is always a bit of a tough month for me. For some people, there's the excitement of a fresh start, the glow of the coming year's opportunities, and I want to embrace all of those things too, but more often than not, it's just stressful. The beginning of January often comes with a mix of make-it-the-best-year-ever pressure and it's-ages-before-my-favorite-season (autumn) rolls around again. 

Like many people, January often finds me either fretting about what I didn't do in the previous year or worrying about all that's yet to come. Plus, the holidays are over, the days are short, dark, and often gloomy, and it's cold. It's not the greatest month for a lot of us, but that doesn't mean we can't do our best to stay as positively present as possible! 

Here are some of the tactics I'll be using this month to try tackling those January blues. All of these I've tried before and they've really helped me ward off the doom-and-gloom of the new year. Hopefully they'll help you too! 

 

ACCEPT THE DOWN-AND-OUT VIBES

When it comes to dealing with a difficult situation — no matter what it is! — the first step is acceptance. If you try to pretend you're not struggling or you try to push away the sad or stressed emotions, they'll come back even worse (and often in unpredictable and bizarre ways!). If you're not feeling the "new year, new me!" vibes, don't worry — you're not alone. It's a challenging time for a lot of people, and the first step to making it easier is recognizing that it's okay not to feel super excited and optimistic about the year ahead. Twelve months is a long time, and you don't have to be jumping for joy on day one. Allow yourself to feel how you feel, and try your best not to judge yourself or tell yourself that you "should" feel a certain way. You feel how you feel, and that's perfectly okay. 

 

DO SOMETHING YOU PUT OFF LAST YEAR

Part of the not-so-great feelings that can come along on January 1 involve believing that you didn't accomplish everything you wanted to last year. You've probably heard about the high failure rates for new year's resolutions so if you didn't get all of your bad habits under control last year, you're not alone. You can't change everything that happened last year, but you can take a positive action right now. Think of one thing you could do right this month (today even!) that you wanted to do last year. It doesn't have to be something big — could be cleaning out a closet, donating some old clothes, writing an email to an old friend, visiting a museum you've been wanting to check out — but pick something and do it. It'll make you feel good, and it'll set a positive, proactive tone for the year ahead. 

 

START A NEW (POSITIVE!) DAILY HABIT

I know, I know — this is the most cliched new year advice in the world, but for the past few years I've started doing Yoga with Adriene's 30 Day Yoga Journey and it's been amazing for me. Working out is hard (especially if you're not a fan, like me) and this is an easy way for me to get into a routine without too much effort since I can do it at home anytime I want. Plus, because she's been doing these for a few years, I start a old video series in February and it keeps me on track for a few months. It apparently takes about two weeks to start a habit so why not incorporate something into your daily routine now? It doesn't have to be a major shift (sometimes that whole "resolution" concept feels daunting!), but doing something (however small!) new on a daily basis will give you a nice little focus for upcoming gloomy month.  

 

KEEP YOUR HOME FESTIVELY HYGGE

Last year after Christmas, I decided I was going to leave up the lights all year 'round. I'd decorated my bookshelves and windows with them and I knew that taking them down was one of the hardest bits of post-Christmas de-decorating because it meant a lot of the light would be taken out of the room. Keeping up lights always seemed too college-dorm-room to me, but once I decided to embrace them, it was kinda awesome. I generally don't use them much in the warmer months, but they keep my place feeling cozy and hygge-like all winter long. Lights might not be your thing, but try to do something at home that'll keep you feeling cozy and uplifted throughout the darkest months of the year. Even a little thing can have a big impact on your mood!

 

MAKE A STAY-THE-SAME RESOLUTION

Years ago, I wrote New Year, Same Me: 6 Stay-the-Same Resolutions, and I think about it every year when all of the articles and blog posts on making and keeping new year's resolutions start popping up everywhere. There's always so much focus on what we want to change and what we hope for in the year ahead (or reflections on what happened the year before), and most people don't pause to think about what they want to stay the same in the upcoming months. Resolutions might work for some people, but I personally find them frustratingly ineffective. Since I wrote that post back in 2010, I've found it a lot more useful to think about what worked well in the previous year and direct my focus to creating more of that in my life. Instead of focusing on what you don't want to be (or don't feel you are), try zeroing in on what's working about you and your life, and it's sure to make January a bit more joyful (and perhaps a little less judgmental, too!). 

 

If you're struggling right now, don't forget: you're not alone. A lot of us have a hard time during this time of year, and the best thing you can do is do what you can to make the most of it. Hopefully these tips will provide some inspiration for the weeks to come, but if you're really feeling down and can't seem to shake the January blues, I highly recommend seeking advice from a professional. Therapy (and light therapy!) can work wonders for the toughest time of the year. 

 

PPGTL-Footer Love-Self-Footer Find-Self-Footer


 

 


Mastering Mindfulness (No Meditation Required!)

Masters-of-Mindfulness-Positively-Present
 
 
 
When many people hear the word "mindfulness," what comes to mind is a serene-looking yogi chanting mantras softly from atop an embroidered cushion. Many people equate mindfulness with meditation — a nice activity to aspire to, but one that, for a variety of reasons (time, cultural expectations, etc.), often feels unattainable. Meditation, while it does offer many incredible benefits to those who practice it, isn't the same as mindfulness. Meditation can be a wonderful way to cultivate a more mindful life, and with its rise in popularity in recent years, there are tons of sites and apps to guide those interested in it, but mindfulness is about so much more than meditation.
 
Mindfulness isn't just about deep breathing and motivating mantras (though those can be wonderful!). Mindfulness is, as Masters of Mindfulness founder, Monica Ortiz, says in this video, "just about being present, about being aware of where you are, what you're doing, how you're feeling, what you're thinking, and what's going on around you without being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is going on."
 
Of course, we all know that's way easier said than done. Staying in the moment, being aware of what's happening but not feeling reactive or overwhelmed, is really challenging for most of us. It's so difficult, in fact, that most of us would rather not do it, choosing instead to hurry through our days, numb ourselves from awareness, or distract ourselves so we don't have to master the art of being mindful. 
 
But, as with most things in life, it's the really challenging stuff that offers some of the greatest benefits. Here are just a few of the positive things that mindfulness has been proven to do: reduce stress, offer insights into the self, discover deeper a understanding of life, experience better health, enhance job performance, improve relationships, and enjoy how we're spending our time. If mindfulness offers so many benefits, why are so many of us avoiding it? 
 
The reasons for avoiding mindfulness are plenty, but one of the main reasons, I believe, is that people don't know what to do to be more mindful. Mindfulness requires practice and repetition. It's kind of like exercise. We know it's good for us, but some of us aren't interested in going for a run. The thing is: running isn't the only way to get some exercise, just like meditation isn't the only way to practice mindfulness. 
 
When it comes to mastering mindfulness, the trick is to find what works best for you and incorporate it into your life as often as possible. You might have to play around a bit, trying different activities to see what feels right for you. Here are some ways you can play around with adding more mindfulness to your life. 
 
 
SEEK OUT INSPIRATION
 
You're already on the right path, just by being here on Positively Present! Seeking out inspiration is a great way to connect with a mindful experience. Just think about the last time you saw or read or experienced something that made you feel inspired. It caused you to stop for a moment and reflect, didn't it? Inspiration can be anything — a stunning piece of artwork, a glorious sunset, a smile on a child's face, a quote that feels like it was written just for you at this exact point in your life. Whatever inspires you, seek it out often because every time feel inspired, you're mindfully in the moment. 
 
 
GENERATE MORE GRATITUDE
 
Practicing gratitude might sound like cliched advice, but, trust me, it works. Nothing has helped me more in my quest for a positively present life than learning to be grateful for everything (even the not-so-great parts of life). I've been keeping a gratitude journal consistently for the past year (in my Every Day Matters diary!), and I've seen a huge difference in how I feel about the world around me (and about myself too!). There are many ways to practice gratitude, but a gratitude journal is an excellent place to begin. 
 
 
MONITOR YOUR MOOD
 
Paying attention to your mood is one of the best ways to not only be more mindful, but to use that mindfulness to create a more wonderful life. Knowing how you feel in certain circumstances, around certain people, and when doing certain tasks allows you to make adjustments — to include more of the positive aspects of life and to remove more of the negative aspects — and, while these adjustments aren't always easy, it's amazing what you can do when you remove what's not working. Get yourself a mood tracker, and you'll find yourself becoming more mindful of how everything makes you feel. 
 
 
REVERE RELAXATION
 
Relaxation isn't exactly revered in Western culture. It's usually reserved for vacations and lazy Sunday mornings. But learning how to relax leads to great moments of mindfulness. For many of us, relaxation can actually be really tough. We feel like we should be doing something. One way to give more reverence to relaxation is by surrounding yourself with things to sooth your five senses — soft melodies to listen to, calming scents to take in, comforting items to touch (a dog's fur is my favorite), serene images to look at, and foods that make your tastebuds rejoice. Make time for relaxation and you're making time for mindfulness. 
 
 
 
These are just a few of the many ways you can practice mindfulness without meditation (though meditation can be really amazing so definitely give it a try if you haven't!). There's also a great new app, Masters of Mindfulness, that's an excellent resource for exploring a variety of mindfulness techniques. The app includes everything you'd ever need to master mindfulness all in one spot: a mood tracker, a gratitude journal, healing songs, mindful living videos, upspirations (inspirational quotes with insights on applying them to your life), and, of course, meditation! Mindfulness isn't about adhering to one strict idea of what it means to stay in the moment; it's about using the techniques that work best for you so you can reap the benefits of being more aware of what's happening in your life. 
  
 
 
Blog-post-marketing-imageThank you to the new Masters of Mindfulness app for sponsoring today's post!
 
Masters of Mindfulness is the world's most complete mindfulness app, now available on iOS and Android. The app brings all the tools you need to become a master of mindfulness. Meditate with others in a live stream meditation, or on your own time with a library of recorded meditations. Track your Mood daily and discover what is affecting you negatively / positively and become empowered to change things up. Cultivate positivity through your very own Gratitude Journal. Relax and destress with healing songs in the Soothing Sounds section. Browse Upspirations, quotes meant to inspire, and learn how to apply them to your situation. Enlighten and expand your mind through video interviews with health and healing practitioners, mindful living teachers, and more in the Videos section. This app has everything you need to cultivate mindfulness.
 
Visit their website to learn more about the Masters of Mindfulness app, or download the app to get started today and watch your world change!