12 post-surgery life lessons : part I

About two weeks ago, I had surgery and I'm finally feeling a bit like my old self. I still have a while until I'm 100% back to where I was before (and I have the joy of another surgery to look forward to as well. ugh.), but I'm happy to say that I'm here and I'm writing again. YAY! 
As you can imagine, I've learned a lot over the past few weeks — about myself, about facing fears, about staying positive and present even when it's really difficult to do so, and, importantly, about what it's like to face a situation in which I was forced to spend days and days in bed, recovering and taking care of myself. 
It wasn't easy, focusing on taking care of myself. I felt completely and utterly unproductive. I felt bored and useless. And, of course, I felt the oh-so-unpleasant pinches of physical pain. But, as challenging as it's been, I have to say it's been a great eye-opener in terms of life lessons on self-care. I've learned so much from facing my fears (though I didn't really have a say in the matter, as surgery was my only option!) and about managing my (often negatively-skewed) mindset. 
As I was lying in bed for days on end, ideas and lessons came to mind and, as they arrived, I'd type them into the Notes app on my phone so I could recall them later. (Because, I'll be honest — those pain meds can do a number on your brain!) Some of these lessons relate specifically to life after surgery, but most of them can apply to any difficult situation. 
I'm a huge fan of routine. I love creating patterns and sticking to them. It gives me a sense of peace and order in a sometimes chaotic world. However, when a health issue presents itself and there's no other option that to have a surgery that involves a six week recovery, routines pretty much get thrown out the window. Like it or not, you have to adapt. And I've discovered that this can actually be a very good thing. Breaking my routines helped me to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems I'd been having. Changing things up forced me, in little ways, to change myself. 
Nothing is worse than being in a situation you don't want to be in. A couple of weeks ago, I experienced one of my worst fears — having an IV put in. In the past, I'd thought to myself, If I ever need an IV for any reason, I'm just going to run away. I don't need medicine. I'll be fine so long as I don't have to have a needle that stays in my handEven now, thinking about it, I feel a little shiver of fear run down my spine. But I had no choice but to be in that moment, to experience one of the things I'd most feared. (And, as it often happens, what I feared that most really wasn't all that bad!) Staying in moments like that one was difficult, but the more I focused on acceptance, the easier it was to cope. 
Having surgery is no walk in the park. It's not fun and it's hard to make it seem fun — but! there are some small joys to be found, even in the most unpleasant of situations. For example, I got to spend a lot of time resting and reading. Reading is one of my favorite things to do and I can't remember a time before now that I felt completely guiltless spending an entire day just reading (other than when I was on vacation, which was always prime reading time!). Instead of focusing on what I couldn't do — work, for example — I tried to enjoy the down time, to embrace all the words I got to read, and do be incredibly thankful for wonderful parents who took care of me day in and day out. 
While I was resting, I started daydreaming about how I would spend my time once I was back on my feet. I'd go running! I'd take my dog on walks in the woods! I'd have more dance parties! I'd go on more adventures! All of these grand (and active!) plans were very un-me, but after lying around for so long, all I wanted to do was get up and move. I realized that this new desire to move around, to hunt down adventure, might be a lesson.  I'd been spending a lot of time on my couch, watching Netflix and reading. Back when I was well, I'd been spending a lot of down time on my couch by choice. But when I was forced to be on the couch and it wasn't a choice anymore, I realized how much I'd been wasting my health lying horizontally on the sofa. Surgery taught me this lesson in a way I might not have learned otherwise. 
Health has never been a huge priority for me. Exercise is something I'd rather not do (though I did get into a lovely habit of yoga, which I hope to resume as soon as I'm better). Eating healthy always seems to take too much effort. And caffeine and I have become soulmates over the years. But when I was forced to change — to spend my time focusing on my health and recovering — I managed to make some great changes. I started eating healthier, incorporating vegetables and fruit into most of my meals. I cut my caffeine intake way down. (What did I need caffeine for if I was just going to be lying on my bed reading?) This unfortunate situation was the kick in the pants I needed to change some of my bad habits. 
Wow, did I learn a lot about the people in my life when I went through this tough time! People I hadn't spoken to in years reached out to me; people I see on a weekly basis said nothing. Some people sent gifts and texts and checked up on me. Others rarely inquired about how I was doing. When you're going through a tough time, you learn a ton about the people around you — and some of that knowledge will be really surprising. Sometimes it will hurt. Sometimes it will erupt in unexpected joy. It's an incredible way to see the people around you for who they really are. Those who are there for you are the ones you should devote your attention to; those who are not should not receive much of your time and energy. I will never forget the way people treated me during this time and it will forever shape how I view the character of others. 
Thinking of these lessons and trying to find the positive in a negative situation was extremely helpful for me while I was going through this. And, to be honest, I'm not sure if I would have been as focused on having a positive, present mindset if it weren't for the knowledge that there are people out there like you, reading what I write and seeking inspiration from my words. You might not realize it, but just by reading Positively Present, you've inspired me to be more positive and more present. So, thank you. Thank you for inspiring me to write these words and thank you for reading. 
Stay tuned for PART II of this post next week! Once it's been published, you can read it here.



PPGTL-Get-the-BookWant to explore how to have a more positive, present life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)

6 steps for coping with fear



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. :)




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



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: 



    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. 


    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. 


    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. 


    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. 


    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. 


    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. 


    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. 


    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. 


    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. 


    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. 



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!)


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!




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



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. 



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. 



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!). 



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!)



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!



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). 



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. 



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). 



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! 



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. 



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?). 





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