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.


7 Things I Hope Autumn Will Bring


Autumn_Wishes

 

HOORAY! It's officially the best time of year -- AUTUMN! Per usual, I'm pretty pumped at the arrival of my favorite season. Typically the season brings to mind one of two things: (1) the concept of letting go (à la, the leaves) or (2) the notion of fresh starts (that new-school-year vibe). This week I'm going to focus on the latter, specifically on the hope that comes with a new (school or calendar) year.

With a fresh start of any kind (a new season, job, location, etc.), we're often motivated to think about what we'd like the newness to bring. This kind of resolution-style thinking is frequently reserved for the start of a new year, but I see no reason why we can't do a little reflecting at the start of each season. (In fact, it's probably a good idea to do it every few months rather than wait for January 1 to roll around!) 

While I drew this illustration last year, the desires in it remain the same. I'm not sure if that's a good thing -- look how persistent I am! -- or a bad one -- look how much I didn't achieve in a year! -- but, regardless, these are still things I'd like more of this autumn...

 

MORE SELF-LOVE

Ah, self-love. It's something I'm on an endless quest for, and something I don't know if I'll ever fully possess. After all, we're all living in a world that's pretty much designed to make us question and doubt ourselves (typically so we'll buy things or buy into ideas) so it's a constant battle to remain self-loving. But, in my opinion, autumn is a great time for doing some self-reflection to increase self-awareness (which is, after all, the beginning of self-love). If you're looking to do some soul-searching this season, check out Finding Yourself and Loving Yourself

 

NEW POSSIBILITIES

New season, new possibilities, I always say! Okay, I've never said that, but that doesn't mean it isn't true! Every season can be a fresh start with all sorts of untapped possibilities within it. The trick is knowing how to spot them and making an effort to take advantage of them when you do notice them. Opportunities don't always come out of nowhere. You have to go out and get them! This season, I'm going to do my best to follow my own advice (see: Hide and Seek: How to Find Opportunities) and actively seek out the possibilities I want to see brought to life in my own world. 

 

HOPE

Hope has always been a bit of a tricky word for me. It can seem so passive and future-focused that my positively present mind tends to struggle with it. But, after having had quite a few months (or is it years...) of feeling a bit hopeless, I'm making hope a priority this season. The key, I think, is going to be about finding a balance between having hope and living in the now. Too much focus on the future can be dangerous, but believing things will improve is worth the risk. 

 

A SENSE OF CALM

Calm is one of those feelings that's always been a bit elusive for me. Excited, anxious -- those two come easily. Calm? Not so much. However, I do find the autumn a relaxing, introspective time of year (in a way, the calm before the end-of-year storm) and it's my hope that, channeling the vibes of the season, I can learn to chill out a bit. For someone like me, calm takes effort, but I'm pretty sure it's worth the work. (Perhaps I'll download the Calm app to get started!)

 

LESS PHONE TIME

As you probably read over the summer in the series of posts I did about my phone addiction, putting my phone down is something I struggle with a lot. I've gotten better at coping with it, but I'm still a long way off from being "normal" when it comes to phone usage, which is why I'm hoping that I can continue to work on this throughout the rest of the year. I'm guessing it's going to be an ongoing struggle for me, but I'm hopeful that the insights now available via iOS 12 will help me increase my awareness (and decrease the amount) of phone time. 

 

GOOD IDEAS

Ideas are something I rarely struggle with (in fact, having too many of them might be one of my downfalls!), but good ideas, well, that's a different story. As the year comes to a close, I'm going to do my best to really pay attention to the value of my ideas and assess them thoughtfully before excitedly pursuing them. Typically it goes like this: idea → excited pursuit → overwhelm→ abandonment. Instead of following that path, I'm going to work on thoughtfulness, patience, and careful assessment before rushing after my own thoughts. 

 

DOGS

And, finally, I hope that autumn -- and all seasons -- bring lots of cute dogs into my life. While I'm dedicated to my little pup, Barkley, I really love dogs (anyone who knows me in real life can attest to my borderline-unhealthy obsession with them!) and I'm always hoping to see them. Whether it's online or in-person, I'm hopeful that my life will be filled with pup-fueled cuteness and joy because, honestly, almost every situation (and season!) is made better if dogs are involved. 

 

The start of a new season is a great time to reflect on what you'd like more of in your life. Whether it's the start of autumn or spring where you life, take a moment to think about what you hope the next few months will bring. If you'd like, let me know what you're hoping for in the comments below!  


Announcing... Positively Present on Patreon!


Patreon Screen


For years, I've been working solo on Positively Present, and I absolutely love what I do, but I've been looking for ways to expand on my work and on the Positively Present community. Like many who create primarily online, I've struggled a lot with friction between wanting to create and share and not feeling as if my work is valued (and, in some cases, stolen, even by large companies). 

The world of online creating is still a bit like the wild west. We're all trying to learn the rules, to figure out how we can consume and share and create in thoughtful, productive, and rewarding ways. A lot of online creators choose to run advertisements or work with brands. I've done these (and may continue to do so), but, at times, it feels disingenuous. Even if I love a brand or product, it's turning me into a salesperson when I'm a creator. I want to make things you like and I want to be able to afford to do it, and I don't want to have to sell you random stuff you don't need (even if it's my own stuff!) in order to do so. 

I'm not the only creator who feels this way. Luckily, someone came up with the awesome idea for Patreon.

 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

Patreon is a membership platform that allows patrons (people like you) support creators (people like me) while getting access to exclusive benefits. What I love about it is that it's a direct relationship between the creator and the patron. It's a way to show creators that you value their work and to support those who spend their lives trying to make the world a better place online. 

Creators set up a series of tiers and the more a patron contributes each month, the more rewards s/he receives. You can see the various tiers (starting at just $1/month!) on the right hand side of this page. Basically, it's like this: you pay a set amount each month and you get access to cool things you wouldn't otherwise see. 

  Patreon


WHO IS PATREON FOR? 

Every creator's Patreon platform is unique, but, for Positively Present, Patreon is for... 

  • People who love Positively Present and want to support my work
  • People who want to support writing and art in general 
  • People who don't want ads or sponsorships interfering with content
  • People who want behind-the-scenes looks at what I'm working on
  • People who want access to exclusive digital content
  • People who want to contribute ideas and inspiration for Positively Present
  • People who want to download Positively Present artwork
  • People who long to learn more about creativity and digital art
  • People who get something valuable out of daily (free!) posts

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE? 

If you've never heard of Patreon before, you might be like, Wait. What is this? I still don't get it. Don't worry! You can learn more about it by checking out the Patreon page or my FAQ post. And, of course, you can reach out to me via email if there's anything you want to know more about! 

 Patreon

 

I've been hard at work setting this up, but it's still a work-in-progress, so stay tuned for updates (and even more rewards for each tier!) coming soon. I know the idea of directly supporting a creator might sound odd at first, because it's still relatively new, but the digital landscape is changing and more and more of what we use and consume is going to be online. If you are regularly consuming something you enjoy — whether it be a piece of digital art or a piece of delicious cake — you should want to compensate the person who created it. Yes, it feels like you get content for free, but nothing is really free. There's a give-and-take for everything. If you're consuming something that someone else worked hard on without ever giving something back, that leads to an imbalance that puts a lot of pressure on the creator.

The creator either has sell you a product (which can be great, but isn't ideal in a world where we all have so much stuff or where people have come to love the digital work and don't necessarily want things), sell an ad for another product (leading to the same problem of more consumption and/or the often icky feeling that comes with selling things randomly -- take note of all of the creators pushing Audible or Skillshare...), or sell a service (which isn't always doable or reasonable to expect of someone who already has a job creating content on a daily basis).

The more creators have to balance advertising, sponsorships, brand deals, etc., the less time they have creating content that you really love and find valuable. When you join a creator's Patreon, you'll have access to extra cool rewards and a community of people who love the same stuff you do. Plus, you become a real-life patron of the arts, which, let's be honest, just sounds fun and fancy! 

I've been so excited working on this for the past few weeks and I'm so excited that it's now going live! If you have any questions / comments / etc., let me know in the comments below or via email!