Plant Positive Seeds: 3 Stress-Reducing Habits

 

Positively Present - Little Deeds

 

Feeling stressed? Yeah, you're not alone. Most of us experience stress, particularly at this time of year when we're reflecting on the months that have passed and looking forward to the typically-busy months to come. If you're stressed, you're probably thinking of in-the-moment things you can do to quell the chaotic feelings (deep breathing, taking breaks, spa-like activities, etc.), but one of the best ways to combat stress is to develop regular habits that keep you calm. Planting positive seeds in the form of stress-reducing habits can greatly reduce your stress level, in part because you don't have to think about things to help you reduce your stress -- they'll already be habits! 

There are tons of ideas for habits that reduce stress -- eating well, exercising, spending time with loved ones, etc. -- but here are three of my favorite stress-reducing habits that you might want to consider adopting. Even if you're not currently stressed, putting habits like this in place can help you when you're facing stress in the future! 

 

START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I'm sure this isn't the first time you've heard "gratitude journal" in connection with stress reduction, but there's a reason that it's a popular topic in the self-help community. Spending time reflecting on what you're thankful for really does help cut down on stress. Studies have shown that gratitude is good for your health and, on a personal level, I've found that tracking things I'm thankful for on a daily basis really does help me feel less stressed. 

 

PICK UP A BUNCH OF FLOWERS

Surrounding yourself with beauty and nature is another great habit to embrace if you want to stress less. New research shows that people who lived with flowers in their homes for just a few days reported a significant decrease in their levels of stress and improvements in their moods. The simple act of making it a habit to have flowers around can help you stress less! This is a great example of how a small habit -- putting some pretty flowers in your home -- can have a meaningful impact on your stress level. 

 

OFFER TO HELP SOMEONE ELSE

Another great habit to consider adopting is regularly helping out others. Whether it's volunteering for a local charity, assisting a coworker, or helping those you love, helping other people is a habit that will cut down on your stress. It might sound counterintuitive -- adding another thing to your to-do list to reduce stress? -- but studies have shown that volunteering is good for your mental health, and the more stable your mental health, the better you'll be able to cope with stress! 

 

Nobody likes being stressed, but hopefully the three habits detailed above will inspire you to consider incorporating a stress-reducing, positive habit into your life on a regular basis. While deep breaths and mindfulness techniques can help combat stress in the moment, it's a good idea to create regular positive habits that will counteract stress without you having to even think about it. So consider adding gratitude journaling into your nightly routine, picking up some flowers on the way home from work, signing up to volunteer (or any other positive habit that cuts down on stress!) and see how simple, small things can have a big impact on your stress level! 

 

 

On StreetThank you to the Society of American Florists (SAF) for kindly sponsoring today's post! Whether it’s paying for a fellow commuter’s toll, or leaving a generous restaurant tip, “paying it forward” and “random acts of kindness” give people hope and inspire kindness towards others. SAF and the whole floral industry is taking part in this movement. It started with a small idea, that grew into everyone wanting to take part. Floral industry members know the power of flowers — they see it every day in their work. Whether to give or receive, flowers make people happy. For more information on the scientifically proven benefits of flowers including new university research on how living with flowers decreases stress, visit www.aboutflowers.com/research.


Positively Predictive Text: Life Advice from My Phone


Positively Present - Could Be Happy

 

"You are amidst all this drama and you can decide to be friends with your life."

That sentence was written using predictive text on my phone. You may have seen the trend that was popular awhile back where people would use predictive text to write their life stories or finish the sentence "I was born...", etc. It was silly and fun and I loved it. Last night I was playing around on my phone and the sentence above came together with predictive text, inspiring me to wonder, What kinds of advice might my phone have for me?

Obviously the advice isn't completely created by my phone since I choose the initial letter of the sentence and choose from three options predicted following each word, but it's still a fun little adventure to see what the phone (and, in reality, the average person since I assume that the predictions come from data gathered?) will suggest. 

As I've been working on my next book on creativity, I keep coming up against the concept of limitations and how, contrary to what we often think, they can be really liberating. As Kierkegaard put it, "Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom." Too much freedom in a creative activity -- writing, drawing, etc., -- can be overwhelming, which is why using the predictive text function is so fun. It limits in a way that's liberating. Plus, it's just fun! 

I highly recommend you give it a go on your own phone, but, before you do, check out some of the life lessons my phone came up with (along with a few thoughts about this predictive-text-driven advice):  

 

Today is the day you can decide what you want.

Ooh, this was a good one! How often do you have an idea / task / dream that you defer to tomorrow? Sometimes it feels like my entire life is just endlessly re-writing the items on my to-do list that I didn't do the day before. Part of the "deferred dream" problem, I think, is that we don't really know what we want. We may or may not spend time thinking about what we want, but true action (and change!) happens when we decide what we want. 

 

The best way of making it work is to do it. 

Alright. So this isn't the most life-changing bit of advice (just a tad cliche, wouldn't you say?), but it is pretty accurate. There's often such a chasm between want we want to happen and what we want to do to make something happen. Sometimes this lack of action is a good thing -- a sign that we're not on the right path and should reconsider -- but avoiding the work is the reason most of us don't have what we want in life. If you want it, do it

 

After a while, it seems like a good idea.

Hmm... I'm not sure if this is (good) advice, but it is relatable. Every bad idea starts out with uncertainty, but the more times I make the same bad choice, the more I start to rationalize it. The more time that passes, the more reasons I can come with for why something might actually be good for me (no matter how obvious the evidence to the contrary). I guess the advice here would be to consider how it was in the beginning and remember that we're really good at rationalizing so it's important to pay attention. 

 

Waste your hours on your phone, but it’s not worth your time. 

Obviously spending less time on your phone is good advice, but let's focus on the second half for a minute. Worth your time. That's an important thing to think about. How do you spend your time each day? Are the activities you engage in (and the people with whom you engage in them) worth your time and effort? It's always a good idea to check in with yourself and make sure you're spending your time wisely! 

 

Get it back to you.

Oh, interesting! I like to think of this one as a reminder not to let other people dominate your story. We're all meant to be the lead characters in our own stories but, depending on who you surround yourself with, you might find your story being dominated by someone else's drama / needs / etc. This ties in with the notion that self-love isn't selfish. If you get yourself in a good place, you can be good for others. 

 

You know how to get out of your way.

This bit of advice is so important. Not everyone knows how to get out of their own way, but most of us have a good idea of what we're doing that's not helpful to the people we want to be. We make choices that aren't healthy or helpful for a variety of reasons, but we frequently know which choices are "bad" for us. Pay attention to what's not working and work on changing it. 

 

Optimism is a little better than the other side.

Intriguing! This one is powerful to me because sometimes I feel like people think that optimism is some cure-all magical potion that will make everything in life perfect. In fact, it's just a mindset that helps to make everything a little bit better -- the highs a little higher and the lows a little less low. It's not a panacea. It's just a little bit better than choosing negativity. 

 

It’ll probably be better tomorrow. 

Yes, yes, yes! When you're going through a difficult day (or days), it can seem as if things will never get better (even when you've been through difficulties before and know, logically, that things have to improve!). I like the "probably" here because, let's be real, sometimes things aren't better tomorrow, but, in my experience, I've found that time -- whether it's getting through the night or through a tough season in life -- does improve things. Keep going. 

 

Stop being what you don’t want to be.

Well, this is certainly good advice! It's not always easy to implement (isn't that the case with all good advice, though?!), but the first step is knowing what you don't want to be. A lot of the time we focus on what we want to be, which is great and can help us move forward in a positive direction, but what about what we don't want to be. Knowing that can be really useful too! 

 

After everything, you could be happy.

I don't know why, but this one made me tear up a little bit! There's something so hopeful about it and yet the "could" makes it seem like happiness is still uncertain. It also makes it seem like happiness is a choice, like it might be chosen from a bin of options for how you could be in the future. I like the sadness that I'm reading in this one, even if it's meant to be hopeful. (It's not "meant" to be anything other than what you want it to be, I suppose!)

 

Make it easier for yourself.

Another good one! How often do we make it harder on ourselves than we need it to be? How often do we stay in negative situations because we're afraid of the unknown? Or set ourselves up for failure by making choices that might feel good in the moment but will later lead to regret? As someone who tries to stay in the present, sometimes it's hard to set up the future so it'll be easier on me, but this bit of advice made me think about what I can do now to make life easier on my future self. 

 

I hope you have something to learn today.

Not so much advice, this last one is more of a statement, but it's still a good one. I'm personally obsessed with learning. What I'm learning about shifts depending on where I am in my life, but I'm always striving to know something now that I didn't know the yesterday. The thought of not continuing to grow or learn -- or the notion that their wouldn't be something to learn (brought to mind by the word "hope" here) -- saddens me and reminds me to make an effort to keep pursing knowledge about myself and the world. 

 

I had a lot of fun making this post and I'd highly recommend playing around with the predictive text on your phone (and it's now coming to Gmail, too!) to see what kinds of insights you can uncover. While the phone does provide some limits and ideas, the end result ends up telling you more about your own inner dialogue than it does about the inner workings of the device in your hand. Give it a go -- and if you come across any inspiring words of wisdom, leave 'em in the comments below! 

 

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The Magic of Autumn: A Round-Up of Fall Favorites


Positively Present - Magic Things
Get this print in the shop!
 

Another October, another reminder that I'm forever in love with fall. Even though the season hasn't quite arrived yet (these 90° days are killing me!), I can't help feeling my annual autumn obsession arise once again. To celebrate the season, I thought I'd share some of my favorite posts and inspiration about this time of year...

 

October: A Reminder to Live Slowly

October is, hands down, the best month of the year. Not only does the weather turn cooler (byeeee, humidity!), but the trees are ablaze with color (and, as you probably know, I'm a big fan of color!). It's the best. But it's also a nice pause before the chaotic end-of-the-year months of November and December. Check out this post if you need a reminder to slow down. 

 

14 Reasons to Fall in Love with Fall

This is one of many posts I've written about the joy of autumn, but, being the longest one, it incorporates most of the many reasons I love the season. Check out this post if you need a reason to love fall (I know for a lot of people it's the first sign of the depression-inducing winter months so perhaps this will inspire some positive thoughts about the season), or check it out if you want to reaffirm your belief that autumn is awesome. Related: pop over to the Autumn Obsession Pinterest board for a round-up of my favorite autumnal things. 

 

Let the Dead Leaves Drop: Lessons from Autumn on Letting Go

While this post isn't necessarily about the season itself, it does provide some valuable information on how we can learn from the acceptance and release so prevalent in nature during this time of year. Spring and autumn are the seasons of big change, and we can learn a lot from the way things work in nature, particularly when it comes to letting go. Check this one out if you need to let something go.

 

Embracing Autumn: 6 Ways to Enjoy the Season

Similar to the "14 Reasons to Fall in Love with Fall post," this one highlights some of the best ways to take advantage of fall fun. We're all busy and embracing the seasons isn't always something we make time for, but, when it comes to autumn, it's worth it to enjoy the season (particularly if you're not a fan of winter and will be trapped indoors by the frigid months to come). Check this post out if you need inspiration to get out and enjoy autumn.  

 

Why Halloween Makes Me Happy

Anyone who knows me knows I love Halloween. Always have, for some unknown reason! This post focuses on my beloved holiday and why I love it. If you're a Halloween fan, be sure to check this one out. If you're not, check it out anyway and see if it might spark some Halloween-lovin' feelings in you. Related: check out my Halloween Happiness Pinterest board for all things spooky and cute. 

 

Hygge: What It Is + 11 Ways to Do It

Hygge, a Danish word that doesn't have an exact English equivalent, but means something along the lines of enjoying cozy intimacy, celebrating by candlelit surrounded by friends, feeling content in the moment, isn't specifically relegated to autumn, but autumn sure does bring out the hygge vibes in my home. Check out this post if you love all things cozy and warm and candlelit. Related: check out the Heartwarming Hygge Pinterest board for cozy inspiration.

 

Do you love autumn? Or do you dread its arrival? Let me know in the comments below what you love (or don't) about the season!