6 steps for coping with fear

Fearful

 

Last week I wrote about how to find the positive when you're not feeling well, something I've been struggling a lot with recently. After having had two minor surgeries over the past week (one of which was very unexpected!), I'm actually feeling better than I have in quite some time. However, though my physical pain has subsided somewhat, my emotional distress has increased immensely over the past week due to the more serious, under-anesthesia surgery I'm scheduled to have this week. Having never had "real" surgery before — and also being very iatrophobic — I've been struggling a lot with staying positive and present in the face of fear. 

I've never encountered a fear like this before. I've faced my share of fears, but they've always been more abstract and emotional — fear of not succeeding or having my heart broken or taking a big career risk — and much easier to overcome. This fear is incredibly tangible and forceful. It's physical and has a deadline with a very specific date and time. It's doing its best to trample my attempts at staying positively present.

But, scared as I am, I'm determined not to let it take over. I'm trying as best I can to make the most of the time I have between now and my surgery date without letting fear rule my life. I know I won't be able to completely eradicate the fear, but I can learn to cope with it. Here are some of the steps I've been taking to cope with my fear. (Note: Though these are highlighted by my specific upcoming-surgery experience, these six steps apply to coping any kind of fear!)

 

Step 1: Recognize that you're afraid

The first — and maybe most important — step when it comes to fear is realizing you're afraid. Fear can manifest itself in all sorts of forms that may make it seem like something it's not. Personally, I've found that a lot of the time when I seem angry or annoyed, I'm actually afraid. It's not always easy to identify the source of fear, but if you spend time thinking about it (much you as might not want to!), usually the root cause of the fear will be made clear. Also, fear is something we usually want to avoid so sometimes we ignore it or downplay it in order to convince ourselves (or others) that we're brave. Remind yourself that being afraid isn't a weakness, and the sooner you recognize the fear, the sooner you can discover ways to cope with it (and hopefully move past it).  

 

Step 2: Get to the heart of the fear

After you've identified what you're afraid of — for example, for me, I'm afraid of having surgery — it's time to dig a little deeper and define why you're afraid. For me, the fear of surgery is actually due to fears of (1) not being in control, (2) not knowing exactly how I'll feel when I wake up, and (3) not having experienced anything like this before (aka, fear of the unknown). When trying to get to the root cause of fear, it's helpful to ask these questions:

  • Have I ever been afraid of this before?
  • What are you really afraid of?
  • What makes you feel more afraid of it? Less afraid? 
  • How do you feel when you're afraid? (Physically and mentally)
  • When are you most likely to feel afraid? 
  • Does your fear have a purpose? 

Recognizing what causes the fear, when you experience it most, and what's at the heart of it will help with the coping process. Also, sometimes simply understanding why you're experiencing something can make it a bit easier to manage, making the coping process a bit easier. 

 

Step 3: See fear as an opportunity

Fear is no fun to experience, but it's often presented to you as an opportunity to take on a challenge, overcome a difficult situation, or grow stronger and braver. (Cliche, I know, but I swear it's true!) In the midst of fear, it can be difficult to find the opportunities there, but it's worth considering what they might be, especially because this is an excellent exercise in striving to find the good in a bad situation. For example, in my situation, I've spent my entire life being iatrophobic, terrified of doctors, needles, any sort of medical procedure. Though I'm currently still quite scared, I'm hoping this experience will make me braver and make it easier to cope with any medical situation I encounter in the future. I also know for a fact that this situation has made me so grateful for my health and once this is all over with I'll have grown more appreciative of what it means to be healthy. 

 

Step 4: Focus on your body

The way your body reacts to situations and thoughts can give you a lot of clues about how you're feeling, especially when it comes to fear. For example, you might tense up when hearing unpleasant news before you've even actually processed what it means. Or your heart might start racing when you think about an upcoming presentation. Our bodies give us so much information about our emotions, and we can use that information to our advantage. For example, if your palms start sweating and your mind starts racing when you start thinking of something you're afraid of, it might be a good time to try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Or if you find your heart beating really fast, you might want to try progressive muscle relaxation. Paying attention to the body's reaction to fear is useful because you can then counteract those reactions with more positive ones (deep breaths, relaxing muscles, etc.). 

 

Step 5: Distract yourself from the fear

Last week, I wrote a little bit about distraction in my post about finding sunshine when you're under the weather, but I'm bringing it up again now because it's been a lifesaver for me lately. Seriously, if I didn't have a ton of great distractions, I'd probably be curled up in a ball shaking in fear for the next few days! Fear and anxiety can spiral out of control very quickly if they're allowed free reign in the mind,  and one of the best ways to keep it under control is to focus on something other than the fear. Over the past week, I've become a master at distraction, doing anything I can to focus on anything other than my upcoming surgery. Here are some of my favorite distractions: reading, writing, watching movies (especially old favorites), grown-up coloring books, jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and being around other people. When I'm distracted, fear doesn't completely dissipate, but coping with it is much easier. 

 

Step 6: Visualize the best case scenario

One of the most scary things about my upcoming surgery is that I don't know exactly what kind of surgery I'm having until the surgeon begins the procedure. There are a variety of situations that could happen, ranging from not-too-bad to ugh-whyyyyy. My mind has, unfortunately, been wandering toward the negative side of things, imagining what will happen if I have to have the more complex surgery (that often involves additional surgery), but thinking this way is doing me no good. What I need to be doing is focusing on the best case scenario and visualizing that as my outcome. I read this quote recently and it's so true: "Worrying is like praying for what you don't want." Instead of focusing on what's the worst that could happen, it's much better to take a look at your fear and ask yourself this, "What would it be like if everything goes perfectly?"

 

Though I'm admittedly still battling a lot of fear about my upcoming surgery, these six steps have really helped me to better cope with my fear. If you're facing any kind of fear or change in your life, I hope these steps will help you too!

I'm not sure exactly how long I'll be in recovery so if you don't see posts from me in the next couple of weeks, don't worry — I'll be back as soon as I can sit up and write again! In the meantime, I'll probably still be posting over on Instagram (@positivelypresent) so follow along over there for some daily bits of positivity. :)

 
  

 

Finding-Self-Cover

Facing fears can offer up a great opportunity to reconnect with yourself. Start some soul-searching with the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own soul-searching copy here.


10 ways to handle your heartbreak

Love-Miss
 

 

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from Catherine,* a young woman suffering from the heart-wrenching pain of losing her first love. In the email, she told me how her boyfriend had recently broken up with her. Even though the relationship was not a positive one (he broke her trust, flirted with others, gave less than he took, etc.), she was crushed by the relationship's end. She knew she was better off without the him, but that knowledge didn't make the loss easier to bear. She wrote,* "Being with him was like a high. It wasn't a healthy situation and ultimately he didn't make me happier, but I am still sick after losing him." 

Immediately upon reading her email, I was transported back to a time in my life when I was young and desperately in love for the first time. That first love is a wild thing, so consuming and intoxicating, and the end of it was like the worst kind of withdraw — a physical and emotional ache that felt endless. Heartbreak is always hard, but the first time is the worst because you haven't yet survived it, and it feels like you'll never get past the pain. 

Reading Catherine's email, I could remember just how it felt to be in her shoes. Even though I'd been the one to end the relationship back then, the pain had been raw and real and it had felt as if nothing would ever ease the ache. Straightaway I wrote her back, hoping I could used what I learned from my first heartbreak (and many subsequent heartbreaks!) to help her cope with the loss. The most important thing to remember, I wrote to her, is this: one day you will feel better. It might take a long time (it's different for every situation), but it will happen. You will also find love again. It might not feel like it's possible in the midst of losing that first love, but it will happen.

Of course, most of us have heard these things before. I know how meaningless these words can sound when your heart is breaking, so I offered up some practical advice to help her manage the heartache: 

 

  1. TAKE A SOCIAL MEDIA TIME-OUT. 

    First and foremost, social media is a gateway to checking up on your ex — something that's never healthy or productive. If at all possible, delete him or her from your accounts so you aren't tempted to look at (or accidentally come across) updates. It might sound extreme or petty, but if it helps you get through it, who cares what your ex thinks? Also, avoiding social media in general for a little while can be helpful; it's really hard not to compare where you are to where others are. Seeing pictures of happy, smiling couples will only reinforce any loneliness you're feeling. 

  2. FIND A NEW SOCIAL OUTLET. 

    When you're newly single, you have a lot of extra time on your hands. All the time you used to spend with or talking to your ex is now free time. This can trigger loneliness and sadness, which is why it's important to find new ways to spend all of that down time. Some ideas: make more plans with friends; join a local group or club; check out meet-ups in your area; join a recreational sport team; sign up for classes at your local college; take creative classes (art, dance, etc.). Whatever you do, it's important to find positive ways to spend your time. This can be tough if you're more introverted, but at least give one or two things a try. 

  3. SPEND TIME WITH HAPPY PEOPLE. 

    It might sound counterintuitive to surround yourself with joy when you're feeling sad, but the more time you spend with happy, positive people, the more their happiness will rub off on you. It's been proven that happiness is contagious and, from personal experience, I know this to be true. When you're hurting, it's very tempting to spend time alone or maybe even with other people who are in a negative state of mind (it might feel like they "get" you), but you'll benefit the most from surrounding yourself with uplifting people. 

  4. DON'T FORCE FRIENDSHIP (RIGHT AWAY). 

    One of the questions Catherine posed in her email was whether or not she would be able to be friends with her ex. When you're losing someone who has become a big part of your life, it's hard to envision not having them (even in some form) as part of your social circle. However, unless the break-up is 100% mutual, it's not the best idea to focus on creating a friendship right away. In the future, a friendship might come to be, but post-break-up, this shouldn't be something you worry about. This is the time to focus on you, not your ex. 

  5. AVOID "NEVER AGAIN" THOUGHTS. 

    After a break-up, it's hard not to have thoughts like "I'll never see him again" or "I'll never kiss him again," but these are not help for two reasons: (1) you never know what will happen — I've reconnected with many an ex, which is generally not a good idea, but it does happen — and (2) those kind of thoughts only stir up more despair. These thoughts make up "all-or-nothing" thinking, and they make you feel as if there is no other option other than "never again." Try to avoid these thoughts at all costs; they will only bring you down. 

  6. WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU WANT.

    After a particularly tough break-up, I once wrote down everything I wanted in the next guy I was going to date. And guess what? The next guy I met had almost every single trait! It sounds a bit unbelievable, but it worked for me and I know it's worked for others too. Instead of focusing on what you've lost, you're redirecting your attention to what you want — which makes it much more likely you'll get it. Plus, if you're struggling with staying present (as one does during heartbreak), focusing on the (positive!) future is much better than dwelling on the past. 

  7. DO NOT CONTACT HIM / HER.

    This can be incredibly difficult (especially if you were in a relationship in which you were in constant contact with one another), but don't do it. Delete the number; remove the email from your contacts; block social media accounts if necessary. Have a break-up buddy — a friend you can call/text when you want to reach out to your ex and use that buddy often. Also, don't give in to any excuses. You don't need to tell your ex about a funny article you saw or a video of his favorite celebrity. You don't need to ask her, "Hey, what was the name of that place where we...?" or wish him a happy random-holiday-that-no-one-cares about. No contact. No excuses. 

  8. START DATING AGAIN.

    Even if you don't feel ready, it feels nice meet new people and go on dates and it gives you something to do other than sit around at home and wallow in your new single status. Dating isn't always fun and it's a lot of work sometimes, but getting out there will be good for you — and you never know, you might just meet the love of your life! Important reminder: when on dates, do not talk about your ex. First of all, this is just rude. And, secondly, this new guy or girl doesn't (yet) care about your pain. Save your sob story for your friends and try your best to have a positive attitude with new people. 

  9. COMBAT YOUR ANXIETY.

    You might be feeling more anxious than usual, post break-up. Your life has been turned upside down in some ways and this can be hard to cope with. When you're feeling anxious, try focusing on your five senses. When your anxiety is bad and you feel panicky, it helps to pay attention to things happening right this moment (what you can see, smell, taste, feel, and hear). It won't completely take away the pain, but it'll bring you out of that endless cycle of panic that can come with the heartache. Try your hardest not to focus on the past (it's over) or the future (it hasn't happened yet), and you'll feel a lot less anxious. 

  10. HAVE A HOPEFUL HEART.

    Remind yourself (over and over again) that it will get better and you will find love again. It's hard to believe this in the midst of heartache and pain, but it's true and telling yourself this (even if you don't 100% believe it) will help you have hope. And when you have a hopeful heart, any pain is a lot easier to deal with. Hope can also help you take it one day at a time. Use a hopeful attitude to remind yourself, "I can get through today," or, when it really sucks, "I can get through the next hour. Or ten minutes. Or one second." Hope is really powerful!
 
If you're coping with a broken heart (or a loss of any kind), I hope these tips will help you. It can be hard to follow through on all of them (believe me, I know — I struggle to take my own advice a lot!), but don't give up. Keep trying to get through it and one day you will be on the other side of the pain, looking back on it and probably feeling thankful that you didn't end up with that person.
 
Also, never forget: you are enough. It might feel like you couldn't make a relationship work or the other person didn't want you, but know that some people aren't meant to be together (no matter how much you might want it) and the end of one thing can be the beginning of something else. It'll be scary to love again and risk being hurt, but don't let a broken heart deter you from loving again in the future because loving people is the very best thing you can do.  
 
For more inspiration on surviving loss and a broken heart, check out: 
 
 
30 Lessons I Learned from Love (for hope that you will find love again!)
 
 
 
 
*The name and details of the email have been changed or paraphrased to protect her privacy. Should you ever want to email me with a situation in which you're struggling to stay positive, you're more than welcome to reach out to me. However, it's important to keep in mind that I'm not a mental health professional or a therapist so any advice I give is based purely on my own experiences or research. 
 
  

 

Finding-Self-Cover

A break-up can be a fresh start and a great opportunity to reconnect with yourself. Start some soul-searching with the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own soul-searching copy here.


word of the month : nurture (+ tons of great quotes!)

Nurture
  

This article is part of the 2015 Word of the Month series, based on the monthly theme featured in the Every Day Matters 2015 Diary I designed for Watkins Publishing. In the planner, each month has a theme highlighted in the weekly illustrations, quotes, and activities. This month's theme is NURTURE. 

 

In our lives, there are so many things we can nurture — our bodies, our relationships, our minds. This month I plan to focus a lot on nurturing my mind, reconnecting to some of my core beliefs, and sparking interest and curiosity for new ways of seeing the world. 

For me, as a writer, one of the best ways to nurture my mind is to read and read and read. Through the words of others, I'm inspired and enlightened. When I absorb new ideas in the form of stories and poems and quotes, I expand my mind and think about the world from a fresh perspective. 

I encourage you to nurture your mind too this month. Pick up a new book, research an unfamiliar topic, or scour the internet for words of wisdom or novel insights. To get you (and me!) started on this mind-nurturing quest, I've rounded up some of the words that, over the years, have changed the way I see things or inspired in me to think in a new way. I hope these words will help you nurture your mind too...

 

“You cannot be a prisoner of the past against your will. Because you can only live in the past inside your mind.”

Augusten Burroughs, This Is How

 

“Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.”

Angela Carter, author of Burning Your Boats

 

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

Mary Engelbreit, Words to Live By

 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

 

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947

 

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

Thich Nhat Hahn, No Mud, No Lotus

 

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

 

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” 

Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

 

“Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” 

Rumi, The Essential Rumi

 

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” 

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

 

“I feel so intensely the delights of shutting oneself up in a little world of one’s own, with pictures and music and everything beautiful.” 

Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out

 

“If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.” 

Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

 

“Lying is done with words and also with silence.”

Adrienne Rich, On Secrets, Lies, and Silence

 

“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Roald Dahl, The Minpins

 

“Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” 

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

 

“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden    

 

“Forever is composed of nows.”

Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

 

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

Eleanor Roosevelt, This Is My Story

 

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” 

Neil Gaiman, Coraline

 

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.” 

Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano

 

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.” 

Stephen, Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” 

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

 

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” 

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

 

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning —

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

 

“What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?”

John Green, An Abundance of Katherines

  

These are some of the many, many words that have changed my life in some way. Reading them has nurtured my mind, grown ideas, and transformed the way I think. Do you have any great mind-nurturing quotes that've changed your life or the way you think? I'd love to read them in the comments section below!

 

 

Finding-Self-Cover

Another great way to nurture your mind is to get more in touch with who you are. Start some soul-searching with the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own soul-searching copy here.


how to cope with a terrible, no good, very bad day

Bad-Day
 

 

Not too long ago, I found myself in the middle of a terrible, no good, very bad day. Everything seemed to be going wrong and my mind would not stop returning again and again to negative thoughts and envisioning worst-case scenarios. It was one of those days when I felt like, no matter what, I couldn't stop ruminating on what had/could go wrong and I felt far, far away from the present moment.

All I really wanted to do was curl up on the couch and contemplate all the things that weren't going right, but I knew that definitely was not the best way to stay positive or present so I set about trying to come up with the best ways to make the most of my terrible, no good, very bad day. Below are the ten things I did that day to make myself feel better. My problems didn't instantly disappear at the end of the day, but I definitely felt a lot better than I would have if I'd indulged in my own little pity party. 

 

1. CLEAN (AND DANCE!)

One of my favorite things to do when I'm in a low mood is to clean my apartment while blasting some of my favorite pop songs and allowing myself to pause from cleaning to break into an impromptu dance party. This might sound ridiculous, but it really helps. It's really, really difficult to stay sad or upset when you're having a dance party. For one, it takes your mind off of whatever you're worrying about. Two, it's actually productive (unlike laying around moping and feeling sorry for yourself). And, three, if you give the dancing part a try, you get those endorphins going and those little buddies can have a very positive impact on your mood. 

 

2. TAKE A SHOWER OR BUBBLE BATH

After sweatin' it out with my clean/dance party, I (obviously) like to shower. But even if you don't do any physical activity, taking a shower or a bath can be a great way to copy with a terrible day. Kind of like the cleaning thing, it gets you out of your rut, is a productive activity, and all that steam and soap can feel really good. There are also two things you can do in the shower that can really help: (1) think about your problem and possibly come up with a solution (get some aqua notes if this happens to you!) or (2) have a nice long cry (it's sad sometimes but it can feel so good after!). 

 

3. GIVE YOURSELF A MANI/PEDI

If you enjoy painting your nails (I'm a big fan of it because I'm a nail-bitter so when I do have long nails, I absolutely love making them look pretty!), give yourself a manicure and a pedicure. Both of these things require concentration, which can actually be a great way to stay mindful of the moment and not allow your mind to run wild with negativity. Plus, it's another productive activity that you'll feel good about after doing. If mani/pedis aren't your thing, consider some other at-home, spa-like treatment (a facial, a massage, a mud bath? ha!). Treating yourself will make you feel special (and a little bit better!)

 

4. EAT A DELICIOUS TREAT

Okay, I'm well aware that food should not be considered medicine. (When people use food to feel better about themselves it can lead to a not-so-healthy relationship with what they put in their bodies.) That being said, sometimes you just really need to treat yourself. When I was having my very bad day, I decided I was going to have an ice cream cone (something I would almost never indulge in). I marched myself down to the market a couple blocks away, bought some cones and a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, made myself an ice cream cone, and enjoyed it. It was an out-of-the-blue treat and it definitely perked me up!

 

5. TALK ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL

When I feel down, I generally don't like to share how I feel with the people around me. I try my best to have a positive attitude and I don't like to bring others down by talking about my problems. But when I do reach out to those around me to talk about what's going on, I feel so much better. When I was struggling with my terrible day, I spend a good 45 minutes talking through my troubles on the phone with my mom and after the call I felt a lot better. I didn't have a clear-cut solution, but I'd had a chance to get some feedback and share what I'd been struggling with and it really helped. If you don't have someone to talk it out with (or it's not something you want to share), try writing down how you feel (even if you end up just throwing it away). 

 

6. AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA

During my no good, very bad day, I tried my best to avoid social media. (This was very hard, but I really tried!) When you look at sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all you see are people having the best time and sharing their best-of photos. When you're not feeling great about yourself (or your life...), this can be like little pinpricks of pain and jealousy to your heart. It can hurt to see people having such a good time when you're feeling so lousy so to avoid adding additional pain to your already aching heart and mind, take a little break from the social sites. You won't miss much and you'll save yourself the unnecessary stress of wishing you were feeling / doing something other than what you are. 

 

7. GO TO YOUR HAPPY PLACE

On my terrible day, after pacing around my apartment for awhile, I decided I needed to get out and do something so I took myself to one of my favorite places: the art store. A change of scenery can do wonders for a stressed-out mind or an aching heart, and visiting a place where you feel happy or at peace can be such a nice reprieve. While at the art store, I picked up some supplies for a new project (something to look forward to!) and got to focus on something other than my troubles. If you can't physically go to your happy place, try envisioning what it was like the last time you were there. Doing so can take your mind off of what's troubling you (if only for a little while). 

 

8. LET YOURSELF CRY IT OUT

As my very bad day progressed, I felt more and more like crying. I kept telling myself to suck it up and try to focus on something else, but after hours of this, I had this thought: What if I just let it all out? What if I just shed all the tears I needed to and felt how I needed to feel? So often we try to push away any negative feelings, but sometimes you just gotta let it all out. So cranked up some of my favorite sad songs and just let it happen. I cried and cried and cried until I didn't think I could shed another tear. And you know what? It felt really, really good to just get it out and stop holding it in. I highly recommend allowing yourself a good cry any time you feel like you need one! 

 

9. FIND A GOOD DISTRACTION

When I'm having a tough time, I have a really difficult time not wallowing in how I'm feeling. While I certainly don't think avoiding feelings is a positive way to handle difficulty, once you've talked it out and cried it out, sometimes you need to take a step away from the emotions and just distract yourself. For me, the best distraction is a really good book or a Netflix binge, but you've got to find something that works for you, something that will really take your mind off of your troubles for a bit. This can be tough sometimes (the mind is so powerful!), but when you find a good distraction, allow yourself to indulge for a little while. 

 

10. DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL

If your mind is racing with all the things that aren't going right, it can be so hard to escape the (often negative) thoughts in your head. One of the best ways I've found for getting out of my head and into the moment is doing yoga. It's a physical activity that's a challenge for me so I really have to concentrate on what I'm doing, which doesn't allow me to wallow in what's going wrong. Other than yoga, I'm not all that into physical activity, but there are tons of things you can do that will challenge your body and, as a result, help your mind stay more in the moment: lifting weights, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, etc. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can boost your confidence and help you stay present (instead of in the past / future of your mind). 

 

Not every day is going to be a good day, but some days really are the worst. It can be tough to get through them, but if you try to make the most of the day using these ten tips, I promise you'll feel at least a little bit better (and sometimes "a little bit better" is all you can ask for, right?). 

 

 

 

Finding-Self-Cover

Sometimes when things aren't going well it's because we're not sure what we want in our lives. Start some soul-searching with the Finding Yourself workbook. Get to know yourself better, discover more about what matters to you, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own soul-searching copy here.


harnessing the positive power of no

Power-of-No 

 

This post is inspired by my exclusive interview with Whole Food Love, which will debut during a free event on Women’s Health & Wellness, featuring expert interviews from 25+ of the top sources in lifestyle advice. Listen in to this FREE event starting on May 11, 2015! 

  

No is a very powerful word when it comes to your relationships with others — and with yourself. When you first think about it, the word "no" might trigger thoughts of negativity, but harnessing the power of no can be a very positive thing. In particular, mastering the art of saying no is essential to distancing yourself from negative people or situations. Many people have a “yes” default setting when asked to attend an event or help with a project, which would seem like a positive thing, right? For the most part, saying yes to others — offering to help or showing support — is a good thing, but if yes is a default response for you, you might not be pausing to consider whether or not saying yes will have a positive impact on your life. When it comes to determining whether or not a yes is a positive or a negative consider these questions: 

 

DO YOU CONSIDER WHAT YOU REALLY WANT? 

Before immediately responding to a question or a request, take a moment (or a day to think about it) and ask yourself, "What do I really want?" This isn't to say you should just do what you want all the time and not go out of your way for others, but if you find yourself always saying yes (even when you don't want to), it's time to step back and think about your own needs. And keep in mind that putting yourself first isn't always selfish. Sometimes choosing to say no can cut out resentment in a relationship and that will positively impact you and others. 

 

DO YOU SEE "NO" AS A COMPLETE SENTENCE?

"No" has such a negative connotation that sometimes we’re afraid to actually say it without hedging or following it with an explanation. Instead, we say things like, “I’ll have to think about it…” or “I’m not sure, maybe…” These phrases not only confuse others (is that a yes or a no?), but also dilute our own thoughts. Don’t be afraid to say no when you’re 100% certain you don’t want to engage in a particular activity. Imagine if every time you said "yes" you offered some sort of explanation as to why you wanted to partake! Just like saying yes, saying no doesn't require an explanation.

 

DO YOU CONSIDER THAT SAYING "NO" IS SAYING "YES"?

Whenever you say no to something, keep in mind that you're saying yes to something else. You're freeing up your time (and, in some cases, your emotional bandwidth) to engage in another (perhaps more positive) activity. If you feel bad turning someone down, try thinking about what you're saying yes to instead. Reframing the no in a more positive way might make it easier to commit to. The more you focus on how you will be spending your time, the more effortless it becomes to turn down invitations or requests that aren't adding value to your life. 

 

DO YOU VALUE YOUR OWN TIME AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING?  

The more you value yourself, your thoughts, and your emotions, the easier it is to say no when necessary. When you remind yourself of how valuable your time is — and that it shouldn't be wasted on certain people or situations — you’re likely to feel less guilt or hesitation when it comes to saying no. Valuing your time and your emotional wellbeing helps you to create a strong sense of self, a trait that reminds you to preserve your positive moments by saying no when you need to. Remember: loving yourself isn't selfish.

 

DO YOU STAND YOUR GROUND? 

One of the toughest things about harnessing the power of no is encountering people who just won’t take no for an answer. You know the type — the ones that pepper you with questions or try to come up with creative solutions that will make it possible for you to say yes. When you encounter these types of people, stand your ground and simply repeat your initial response. (If you find yourself wanting to waver, consider reminding yourself of the reasons you chose to say no in the first place or what you're saying yes to when you're saying no.) 

 

It can be tough to say no sometimes, but learning how to do it without feeling guilty or unsettled is an essential aspect of living a positive, present life. The more you master the art of saying no when you need to, the easier it becomes to fill your life with activities and people who positively influence you. Saying no is also a vital skill for staying true to yourself, which is one of the most important ways to live positively in the present. 

 

 

Finding-Self-Cover

Want more inspiration for staying true to yourself? You can start by doing some soul-searching with the Finding Yourself workbook. Get to know yourself better, discover more about what you value, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your very own soul-searching copy here.