How I Self-Cared in January

I was planning to go easy on the posting this week — I just made my big move from WordPress and feel like I may still have some site-designing to do. BUT this is my last post of January and I made a commitment to write about my self-care practices at the end of each month, so I’m doing it! I’m trying to stick to the goals I set for myself this year – crazy, right?

Relax & Glam

I took a long vacation from work for the holidays, and I took advantage of it by pampering the f out. My sister got me my first Lush products – a face mask and a bath bomb – and I couldn’t believe how much I loved them! If you’re a bath-taker, I highly recommend you try a bath bomb. It’s kind of a chalky sphere that you just drop into the bath water once you’re done filling the tub, and you watch it fizzle, spilling out an amazing color and scent. It must have essential oils inside it to make it smell so good, and I also thought it made my skin softer. It’s perfect for when you really deserve a treat. The face mask I got was freshly made, so it had an expiration date of about two weeks after purchasing, and I thought it was cool that the ingredients are so natural. 

Read

I’ve been loving Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly so much that I’ve already written a post based on it…and I haven’t even finished the book! No matter how much I love a book, I can find myself getting eager to start the next one about halfway through the first, but I’m really trying to stick to intentional reading this year. I want to commit to one book (or okay, one fiction book and one nonfiction book) and use that as motivation to read more, finish the book quicker, and move on to the next one! I’m certain I’ll write more posts based on Daring Greatly. Brene uses actual research to support her thoughts, but she writes in a seriously approachable way. Her book is sort of a model for what I want this blog to be; a resource that inspires women to get comfortable with their thoughts and emotions, take ownership of them, and always try to be the best version of themselves possible. 

Listen

I’m a pop music lover through and through, which often leads to embarrassingly over the top enthusiasm when a Justin Bieber song comes on at a restaurant. In high school and college I was a true music elitist, which in some ways was great, because I just loved music so much that assessing it as good or not good and analyzing why was fun and meaningful for me. But in another way, it kind of negatively influenced my ability to just think, “Hey, I like this song!” without internally agonizing over whether I was too embarrassed to listen to it. So…thats something I’m working on. But in the meantime, I’m comforted by the album Art Angels by Grimes, a super up-beat, feel-good pop album that also is something you can talk about at parties for a couple extra cool points. 

Etc.

  • TV: This month I finished watching the Netflix series Making A Murderer. Guys…I don’t even know if I’d recommend it. It’s super depressing in regards to how the social justice system works, and it just really crystallizes the ways that class, education, and family history shape what happens to us. Definitely an interesting and eye-opening series that has taken the nation by a storm because it makes just that crazy of an impression on you.
  • Health: This month I stocked up on mason jars so I could have easy grab-and-go containers for smoothies and overnight oats. These are some recipes I’ve been using: Peanut Butter Overnight Oats (really perfect for bringing to work) and a Berry Smoothie with only a few ingredients!
  • Fitness: I wrote about my 2016 goal to get more active, and I’d say I’m doing…okay. Which is a lot better than bad! I have been stretching almost nightly and am going to do this yoga video for the second time this month today. This goal is allowing me to practice the thought that doing something (no matter how small) is always better than nothing.

How did you practice self-care this month? Comment below!

I’m Moving! (On the Internet)

In my Introduction post, I wrote about how I had tried blogging before and it had never really worked out consistently. I’m almost three months in to posting on this blog twice a week, and I’m so thankful that I’ve stuck with it.

road-fashion-vintage-bag
pexels.com

It’s not always easy – I do a lot less laying around and watching makeup youtube tutorials. But writing these posts and updating this site is something I genuinely look forward to, and it’s something that I take meaning from. It’s helped my confidence, and it has helped me feel connected to the mental health world in a way that I really value.

That being said, I’ve decided to go all in. I have really liked using WordPress, but it’s time for a little upgrade. I’m moving to Squarespace, and along with it is coming a dot-com address. Which feels very serious and very awesome.

I’m going to try to figure out how to get this site to redirect to my new one, but I wanted to post about it here first because a decent amount of my web traffic comes from WordPress Reader. I’ve found such incredible value in your comments and discussion, and I am so grateful for every word you have read.

If you are a WordPress reader and you still want to see me in your feed, you can!

  1. Go to WordPress Reader
  2. Click the “Manage” button next to “Followed Sites”
  3. Click the blue “Follow Site” button
  4. Enter in http://www.morningwellness.com

And you should be all set! Again, thank you for all of your support, and I am super excited to be upgrading my site and continuing to talk mental health and wellness with you smart, insightful, amazing women ❤

Lindsey

Beating the Boring & Finding Excitement in the Routine

So…it’s Wednesday.
Sigh.

ashleyelladesign.com
ashleyelladesign.com

Wednesdays are boring. Winter is boring. January is boring. Life is boring?

Okay, it isn’t. I really don’t think it is. But on some days…some January Winter Wednesdays…it’s hard to remember that.

When nothing particularly exciting is happening (or has happened) for a few weeks, things can start to feel…blah. You get up. You go to work. You come home. You make dinner. You watch TV. You sleep. You repeat.

It can feel a bit mindless. We fall into our routines so simply and easily, to the point where we might start to just live life on automatic. This really doesn’t help the ever-famous quarter-life crisis. When we fall too hard into our routines, we start to feel bored, and that makes us question our choices — am I in the right job? The right city? With the right friends? Could I make changes in my life so that things don’t feel so dull? These questions then incite panic. What if I’ve been living my life wrong this whole time? Am I wasting it?

Here’s what I think: I think that even your role models (you know, the ones with the exciting careers, inspiring creative opportunities, and perfect families, all somehow steadily documented on Instagram?) get bored with life sometimes.

One of the reasons Exposure Therapy (the intervention in which you face your crippling fears head on with the help of a therapist) works is because the feeling of panic isn’t sustainable — you can be in the same room as the thing you fear for 3 hours, but you will not spend every minute of all 3 of those hours being at Level 10 panic and fear.

I think excitement in life is kind of the same. Life’s going to (hopefully) last us like, 85 years. It’s probably unrealistic that we will spend all 31,025 of those days super excited (yes! I did math). So I think there’s some level of “accepting the boringness” involved, but also…we are mental wellness warriors over here. We are not the kind of girls to let our lives slip away.

I’ve got two ideas for Beating the Boring out of your day:

#1: Purposefully and intentionally integrate something new and exciting into your routine. This is for the go-getters out there who really want to experience the most they can out of life. The approach is simple — just be mindful of how you feel on a daily basis, and when things start to get boring, don’t let yourself sink into it. Instead, make an easy change that can feel exciting. For me, reading can really transport me to a different place and time, so start reading a juicy, for-fun book (I recommend The Girl on the Train if you like a quick, thrilling mystery).

Make little challenges for yourself daily; for instance, on Monday, challenge yourself to start up a conversation with someone new at work, and on Tuesday, challenge yourself to go check out that gallery down the street you’ve always been curious about. This approach is for people who want to take action. I don’t think our lives get boring because we run out of ideas of things to do — they get boring because we stop challenging ourselves to do them.

And, approach #2: Fall in love with your routines. This approach is for when you feel good about settling into a life of routine and stability, but don’t want your days to become mundane because of it. This is all about falling in love with the little things. My favorite example of this comes from my previous resistance to washing my face at night. Two years ago I hated doing it, and often didn’t, even though I knew it would be better for my skin to keep it clean. One day I decided to look up different kinds of face cleansers and buy a new one to replace the $4 drugstore one I had. This simple step sparked in me a total obsession with skincare! Taking the time to research this part of my nightly routine and invest in a product that excited me took things to a whole other level, and now my nightly skincare routine is my ultimate self-care.

Something similar happened with my daily showers; instead of treating them as an annoying necessity, as I had my whole life, I stopped to really feel the shower when I take it, and how relaxing and comforting it feels. I started to view it as a way to cleanse me of my stresses and worries. Just shifting my mindset made this part of my routine much more enjoyable. This can be done with all of our “annoying” routines – dishes, laundry, picking up clothes. Find one little thing you might kind of like about it. Shift your focus to be on that — on how great you feel when your home is decluttered, and how comfortingly simple it is to scrub a bowl and focus on nothing else but that. Be in the present, and realize how truly grateful you are to be there, boring or not. 

How do you keep life exciting during its lulls? Comment below!

Beating the Boring & Finding Excitement in the Routine

So…it’s Wednesday.

Sigh.

ashleyelladesign.com5.jpg
ashleyelladesign.com

Wednesdays are boring. Winter is boring. January is boring. Life is boring?

Okay, it isn’t. I really don’t think it is. But on some days…some January Winter Wednesdays…it’s hard to remember that.

When nothing particularly exciting is happening (or has happened) for a few weeks, things can start to feel…blah. You get up. You go to work. You come home. You make dinner. You watch TV. You sleep. You repeat.

It can feel a bit mindless. We fall into our routines so simply and easily, to the point where we might start to just live life on automatic. This really doesn’t help the ever-famous quarter-life crisis. When we fall too hard into our routines, we start to feel bored, and that makes us question our choices — am I in the right job? The right city? With the right friends? Could I make changes in my life so that things don’t feel so dull? These questions then incite panic. What if I’ve been living my life wrong this whole time? Am I wasting it?

Here’s what I think: I think that even your role models (you know, the ones with the exciting careers, inspiring creative opportunities, and perfect families, all somehow steadily documented on Instagram?) get bored with life sometimes. One of the reasons Exposure Therapy (the intervention in which you face your crippling fears head on with the help of a therapist) works is because the feeling of panic isn’t sustainable — you can be in the same room as the thing you fear for 3 hours, but you will not spend every minute of all 3 of those hours being at Level 10 panic and fear.

I think excitement in life is kind of the same. Life’s going to (hopefully) last us like, 85 years. It’s probably unrealistic that we will spend all 31,025 of those days super excited (yes! I did math). So I think there’s some level of “accepting the boringness” involved, but also…we are mental wellness warriors over here. We are not the kind of girls to let our lives slip away.

I’ve got two ideas for Beating the Boring out of your day:

#1: Purposefully and intentionally integrate something new and exciting into your routine. This is for the go-getters out there who really want to experience the most they can out of life. The approach is simple — just be mindful of how you feel on a daily basis, and when things start to get boring, don’t let yourself sink into it. Instead, make an easy change that can feel exciting. For me, reading can really transport me to a different place and time, so start reading a juicy, for-fun book (I recommend The Girl on the Train if you like a quick, thrilling mystery).

Make little challenges for yourself daily; for instance, on Monday, challenge yourself to start up a conversation with someone new at work, and on Tuesday, challenge yourself to go check out that gallery down the street you’ve always been curious about. This approach is for people who want to take action. I don’t think our lives get boring because we run out of ideas of things to do — they get boring because we stop challenging ourselves to do them.

And, approach #2: Fall in love with your routines. This approach is for when you feel good about settling into a life of routine and stability, but don’t want your days to become mundane because of it. This is all about falling in love with the little things. My favorite example of this comes from my previous resistance to washing my face at night. Two years ago I hated doing it, and often didn’t, even though I knew it would be better for my skin to keep it clean. One day I decided to look up different kinds of face cleansers and buy a new one to replace the $4 drugstore one I had. This simple step sparked in me a total obsession with skincare! Taking the time to research this part of my nightly routine and invest in a product that excited me took things to a whole other level, and now my nightly skincare routine is my ultimate self-care.

Something similar happened with my daily showers; instead of treating them as an annoying necessity, as I had my whole life, I stopped to really feel the shower when I take it, and how relaxing and comforting it feels. I started to view it as a way to cleanse me of my stresses and worries. Just shifting my mindset made this part of my routine much more enjoyable. This can be done with all of our “annoying” routines – dishes, laundry, picking up clothes. Find one little thing you might kind of like about it. Shift your focus to be on that — on how great you feel when your home is decluttered, and how comfortingly simple it is to scrub a bowl and focus on nothing else but that. Be in the present, and realize how truly grateful you are to be there, boring or not. 

How do you keep life exciting during its lulls? Comment below!

Asking Yourself The Miracle Question

People in their twenties don’t know what’s going on. I learned that from gif-heavy Buzzfeed articles and faux-philosophical Elite Daily posts. It doesn’t matter that I don’t visit these sites — I see them still because they are constantly reposted on Facebook and retweeted on Twitter by peers around my age. There’s a sense of what do I want and what am I doing? that really resonates with people, especially those who recently graduated from college and are starting their careers and entering serious relationships.

These life changes come with genuine questions that often turn into problems. You might ask yourself, “Do I really like my job?” You might then realize the answer is “Nope, definitely don’t.” But then what? What job would you like? Maybe you dream of being an artist and you made a goal to paint more this year, but you are having a seriously hard time actually doing it. Why is it so hard to sit down and paint at night?

Sometimes the answers to your problems can be really hard to figure out.

I’ve written before about solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), an approach that really resonated with me because it’s so action-oriented and measurable. I also like this approach because it’s useful for people dealing with lots of different things – severe stuff like addiction or depression, but also that feeling of just being kind of “stuck” in life.

One of the main SFBT interventions is asking The Miracle Question. In class, I learned about how to ask a client The Miracle Question — slowly, carefully, and patiently. As I’ve stated before on this blog, Morning Wellness (or online psychology-related sites in general) shouldn’t be treated as a substitute for therapy, but I do think there’s value in reading about psychotherapeutic interventions and seeing if you can take anything from the thoughts they inspire in you.

The Miracle Question, created by Steve deShazer, goes something like this:

Suppose, after we finish here, you go home tonight, watch TV, do your usual chores, etc., and then go to bed and to sleep. And while you are sleeping, a miracle happens and the problems that brought you here are solved—just like that! But because this happens while you are sleeping, you cannot know that it has happened. Once you wake up in the morning, how will you [know] that this miracle has happened? (deShazer, n.d.)

Whenever I watched a video in class of a client getting asked this question, the client looked  at the therapist like, “What, crazy person?” So that’s maybe what you’re thinking.

But think about it: your main problem right now. What if you went to sleep, woke up, and the problem was gone? What would be the first sign that tells you the problem isn’t an issue anymore?

Answering this question does a few things:

  1. It helps you identify the effects that your problem has on you. When coming up with an answer to The Miracle Question, the first miracle that pops into your mind is probably related to the factor that has the biggest negative influence on your daily life.
  2. It reminds you that things aren’t hopeless. It lets you imagine life how you want it to be – without the problem.
  3. It motivates you to start working toward fixing the effects that the problem has on you.

So, let’s say your problem is that you are super stressed because you “have no time.” If you were asked The Miracle Question, you might say, “Well, I’d wake up feeling refreshed, and I’d walk into my living room and start doing yoga, slowly and mindfully, and I wouldn’t be worried about the clock or all the things I have to do.”

That gives you some good stuff to work with – you want to be well-rested, have more peaceful mornings, practice yoga without worry, and move at a slower pace. You’ve identified the things that will help you feel as if a miracle occurred; your problem was solved.

Now how are you going to work to make that miracle real?

For more about The Miracle Question, click here!

Thumbnail photo by Brooke Cagle.

Asking Yourself The Miracle Question

SPRINGTIME.jpg

People in their twenties don’t know what’s going on. I learned that from gif-heavy Buzzfeed articles and faux-philosophical Elite Daily posts. It doesn’t matter that I don’t visit these sites — I see them still because they are constantly reposted on Facebook and retweeted on Twitter by peers around my age. There’s a sense of what do I want and what am I doing? that really resonates with people, especially those who recently graduated from college and are starting their careers and entering serious relationships.

These life changes come with genuine questions that often turn into problems. You might ask yourself, “Do I really like my job?” You might then realize the answer is “Nope, definitely don’t.” But then what? What job would you like? Maybe you dream of being an artist and you made a goal to paint more this year, but you are having a seriously hard time actually doing it. Why is it so hard to sit down and paint at night?

Sometimes the answers to your problems can be really hard to figure out.

I’ve written before about solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), an approach that really resonated with me because it’s so action-oriented and measurable. I also like this approach because it’s useful for people dealing with lots of different things – severe stuff like addiction or depression, but also that feeling of just being kind of “stuck” in life.

One of the main SFBT interventions is asking The Miracle Question. In class, I learned about how to ask a client The Miracle Question — slowly, carefully, and patiently. As I’ve stated before on this blog, Morning Wellness (or online psychology-related sites in general) shouldn’t be treated as a substitute for therapy, but I do think there’s value in reading about psychotherapeutic interventions and seeing if you can take anything from the thoughts they inspire in you.

The Miracle Question, created by Steve deShazer, goes something like this:

Suppose, after we finish here, you go home tonight, watch TV, do your usual chores, etc., and then go to bed and to sleep. And while you are sleeping, a miracle happens and the problems that brought you here are solved—just like that! But because this happens while you are sleeping, you cannot know that it has happened. Once you wake up in the morning, how will you [know] that this miracle has happened? (deShazer, n.d.)

Whenever I watched a video in class of a client getting asked this question, the client looked  at the therapist like, “What, crazy person?” So that’s maybe what you’re thinking.

But think about it: your main problem right now. What if you went to sleep, woke up, and the problem was gone? What would be the first sign that tells you the problem isn’t an issue anymore?

Answering this question does a few things:

  1. It helps you identify the effects that your problem has on you. When coming up with an answer to The Miracle Question, the first miracle that pops into your mind is probably related to the factor that has the biggest negative influence on your daily life.
  2. It reminds you that things aren’t hopeless. It lets you imagine life how you want it to be – without the problem.
  3. It motivates you to start working toward fixing the effects that the problem has on you.

So, let’s say your problem is that you are super stressed because you “have no time.” If you were asked The Miracle Question, you might say, “Well, I’d wake up feeling refreshed, and I’d walk into my living room and start doing yoga, slowly and mindfully, and I wouldn’t be worried about the clock or all the things I have to do.”

That gives you some good stuff to work with – you want to be well-rested, have more peaceful mornings, practice yoga without worry, and move at a slower pace. You’ve identified the things that will help you feel as if a miracle occurred; your problem was solved.

Now how are you going to work to make that miracle real?

For more about The Miracle Question, click here!