How I Self-Cared In March

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Good morning! With the closing of March comes another post about my personal self-care activities this month. I’m typically an introvert but this was my birthday month (woohoo!) so I felt like I had more going on socially. I think it’s nice for introverts to switch things up a bit sometimes and get out there…which can be weirdly challenging if you’re a lover of coffee-and-pajamas in bed (all day). Which, don’t worry, I spent a lot of time doing too. 

READ

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In the latter half of this month I really recommitted to spending more time reading (embarrassingly enough, likely inspired by Rory in all those Gilmore Girls episodes I’ve been watching). I’ve been really loving waking up an hour early before I get ready for work and just spending that time reading. It’s low-energy and relaxing – something I can do easily while my coffee seeps into my veins (yikes. The obsession is too real), and I find that it gives my brain a nice little boost to start the day off. 

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I finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I bought and started reading long ago but finally really committed the time to it. The book is about creative living and tackling the roadblocks that inevitably come along with engaging in creative practices.

My review is mixed. I was honestly initially not very into it. It reads like a blog, almost – very colloquial, short sentences, tightly wrapped up into bite-sized 1-4 page sections that cover specific ideas or anecdotes. It makes the book a very easy read, and if you’re into the topic but don’t really consider yourself a “reader,” you’ll probably love the format. I think it’s just that, with nonfiction self-help-y books like this, I prefer more structure and support from outside quotes and academic research (similar to how Brene Brown writes in Daring Greatly). The first half of the book also goes into Elizabeth’s belief that ideas come to us and we have to catch them, or else they leave us and find someone else. Sometimes ideas need to be found by someone else and it’s okay if we let them escape, but other times we must hold onto them firmly and commit to manifesting them.

Guys, I’m not above new age thoughts. I love creative visualization, affirmations, and I even own a crystal or two. But something about that concept just didn’t do it for me. I just can’t pretend I believe that ideas bounce around from one consciousness to another in some weird supernatural dimension. To me, creativity is thrilling and igniting, but framing it as “mystical” or “magical” doesn’t inspire me much. I ultimately enjoyed the second half of the book much more, because I felt it was more practical. It touched on persisting through rejection, avoiding the “tortured artist” archetype, and trusting the creative process. The book was a fun read and I’d be curious to hear what you thought in the comments if you read it – but for me, I don’t think it’s one that I’d recommend for those who are really looking to dig deep into a practical guide on creativity. 

EXPLORE

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My friend came into town for my birthday weekend and we spent a wonderful few days exploring around Los Angeles!  My favorite parts of her visit were going to LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and hiking a tough trail in Burbank. 

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I am always so inspired when I visit museums. I’m not an artist, but I wish I was – and even though I’m not, I find paintings and prints insanely inspiring. My favorite part of looking at old paintings is imagining the artist’s life. The things that inspired him, what her studio must have looked like, the people he must have known, the things she must have seen. I romanticize artists, which may be dangerous because they’re human and imperfect like us all. But I give in to the dreaminess and the stories I make up about them in my mind. And I’m glad I do. 

 

NOURISH

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My favorite way to get my fruits and veggies is absolutely through juices and smoothies. I don’t have a juicer so when I’m at home I’m all about that smoothie life. It’s a great way to get some nutrition, and half the time it tastes more like a dessert than a healthy snack. These two recipes have been on rotation – a Mixed Berries and Banana smoothie from The Food Network and an Almond Butter Spinach smoothie from What’s Gaby Cooking. Both fast, easy, and delicious! 

I hope you all had a wonderful March and are looking forward to April! My April goal is to journal at least once a week and to engage more fully in books and articles that support my professional growth. 

And PS: I am sending an apology to anyone who had previously signed up for post updates through Bloglovin’! A little birdie told me that the site sends a ton of extra emails to your inbox, which I don’t want happening. Now if you sign up for email updates, you’ll get them through Mail Chimp, which seems to be working well so far. If you previously signed up for emails through Bloglovin’ and have been getting unwanted emails, feel free to cancel and then resubscribe using Mail Chimp, at the bottom of this page. Thank you!!

Healthy Choices in the Morning: How They can Change Your Whole Day

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Good morning, lovelies! I’ve got a post today that I’m hoping will especially inspire you if you’re reading in the AM, so grab your coffee, slide open your curtains, and let’s do this.

(And if it isn’t morning when you’re reading, that’s ok. Please keep reading. Dear God, please do not leave. I have readership goals to achieve, here.)

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deathtothestockphoto.com

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This weekend, I had a particularly productive Saturday morning, including (but not limited to!) reading, stretching, yoga, running, working on my blog, and cleaning. All this for a girl that’s susceptible to hours of Internet stalking, donut eating, and ultimately feelings of super crankiness if she doesn’t watch out? That’s pretty good.

It got me thinking of a concept that is so simple and almost certainly leads to better habits and more satisfying days, and that concept is this:

All of our choices are interconnected.

They lead into one another. Healthy choices encourage other healthy choices, and unhealthy choices perpetuate more unhealthy choices.

And the good news: starting our day off with healthy choices makes it way, way easier to continue making healthy choices throughout the day.

Take my Saturday, for example. I had gone to bed early enough that I was well-rested on Saturday morning – this was Healthy Choice #1, and it set the foundation for the whole day. Because I was well-rested, I was able to really enjoy leisurely take some time practicing self-care by reading (HC #2). Indulging in self-care satisfied my need for relaxation, making me totally down to take some time exercising and engaging in physical activity, like stretching, yoga, and running (HC #3).

Working out at the beginning of the day encourages tons of healthy choices, making things that are normally a struggle for me something I want to do — like drinking tons of water, which makes us feel fuller, eat less, and stay energized (HC #4), and taking a cold shower, which boosts our immune system and is great for our skin and hair (HC #5).

Starting the day with a workout also sets up how we eat for the rest of the day. Sure, I may still give in to that Taco Bell craving for dinner, but in my experience, I’m much more likely to follow up my workout with a healthy snack or green smoothie (HC #6), because my mindset is stuck on continuing the healthy choices I’m making.

When we make daily life choices, we feel the results of them. We know how bad it feels to wake up at noon with a hangover, to spend 5 hours watching Netflix, to eat fast food 3 nights in a row and feel our credit card bills racking up. And alternatively, we know how great it feels after we tidy up our apartment, go for a walk, call our mom, practice yoga, or eat a healthy meal.

We feel great. We feel nourished. We feel confident. We start to believe that we are the kind of person who makes healthy choices, and that feels really good.

So my food for thought this week is this: let’s not make it hard on ourselves. Let’s make good, healthy, positive choices from the moment we open our eyes in the morning, so that it’s easy to keep making them. Keep it simple. Start your day off with some morning wellness – let’s see where it takes us.

(Hey, Morning Wellness! Now I get it 😉 

The Answer to Your Stress: Asking for Help

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Recovering from a sickness and becoming accustomed to a new job has been a little bit of a stress overload for me. Like, I’m supposed to be an awesome new employee + write for this blog + write features for other blogs + catch up with my friends and family + practice self-care, all while feeling like my stomach’s a wavepool? Can I even do that when I’m not sick?

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I kept thinking of that Sarah Jessica Parker movie I Don’t Know How She Does It. Which no, I didn’t see, and yes, I laughed openly at the trailer. It was actually a pretty weird reference for my brain to keep pulling, out of all the media I’ve consumed over the course of my 20-something years.

It came, I’m sure, from me internally saying to myself: I don’t know how I do it. And so now I’ll ask you…do you know how you do it?

And a better question: Why do we do it?

The huge cultural emphasis on being busy makes us think this constant hustling and catching our breath is normal; and not only normal, but expected. We’re supposed to be able to do everything (on time, perfectly, and by ourselves).

But it’s damaging. We’re overwhelming ourselves. We’re taking the fun out of our passions and cluttering up our mind with schedules and deadlines, and sometimes we’re just straight up dropping responsibilities all together, because procrastination and avoidance is the only way we know how to deal with not being able to handle our tasks.

So let me ask you this: when was the last time you asked someone for help?

There are a lot of reasons we don’t ask for help. There’s the fear of burdening others. The fear that we’ll look weak. The fear that we’ll look silly asking for help, because our problems and responsibilities aren’t half as overwhelming as other people’s.

But here’s the weird thing: those fears aren’t grounded in any truth.

A Psychology Today article titled, “Friendship: The Laws of Attraction” shares the following research:

In one classic study, participants won “contest money” from a researcher. Later the researcher approached some of them and explained he’d actually used his own money and had little left; could he have the money back? Most agreed. Later, the researchers found, those asked to do the favor rated the researcher more favorably than those not approached.

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So, the people who received free money liked this guy less than the ones that were asked to give the free money back. Kind of weird, right?

The article suggests that the outcome implies that we believe that our choice to go out of our way to help someone means that he or she must be worth helping, which makes us like them more.

But I think it’s more than that. I think we all want to feel wanted by people. We want to feel like another person trusts us and views us as capable enough to help them. We want to be the person that someone thinks of when she is really stuck, and needs someone reliable and dependable to lean on.

Think about the fears that you have associated with asking for help. Now think of the last time someone asked you for help. Did you think that person was weak? Incompetent? Irresponsible? Probably not. So if you asked someone for help, why would that person think those things of you?

I’m willing to bet you’ve got some amazing people in your life. When you’re stressed and overwhelmed and ready to pull your hair out, remember that they are there to help you. They want to help you. It might even make them like you more if you ask them to help you.

You don’t have to do it all by yourself.

And hey, maybe that’s the moral of that Sarah Jessica Parker movie. I’ll never know, because I’ll never watch it. But it could’ve been good. But probably not. But I’ll probably still think about it every time I’m stressed to the point of saying in my head, “I don’t know how I do this,” so who’s really the loser here?