Moving On From Those Kinds of Days

This article was originally published for #AllTheVibes, a collaboration between I AM THAT GIRL and Biossance Skin Care. I really loved writing this because it gave me a chance to pass along practical tools for stress management that I’ve learned in my professional and personal studies. Let me know if you find any of these tips helpful in the comments! 

creativeconvex.com
creativeconvex.com

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Some days, we could really use a reset button. We’re stressed out about a test, recovering from a painful breakup, or totally bummed about not making the volleyball team, and the whole day seems lost in bad feelings. Finding your way out of a rut can feel impossible – but the good news is that it isn’t. Here are some ideas about how to move on from those sucky days in a healthy way and be our own reset button.

·      Repeat the mantra: I am enough.

Dealing with stress, heartache, or feelings of rejection can really affect our self-esteem. Close your eyes, put your hands over your heart, and say out loud, “I am enough.” Regardless of the test grade you get or your status as single or taken, you are worthy of love, just the way you are. Once you believe that, there is less reason to stress.

·      Accept the situation.

Ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to change this situation?” If the answer is no, we need to learn to accept it. The poetry magazine came out and your poem wasn’t selected to be featured. Right now, you can’t do anything to change that. Accept that this is the situation in the present moment – but find peace in knowing you will have so many future opportunities to excel.

·      Practice deep breathing.

When we’re stressed, our breathing quickens, our heart rate speeds up, and we start feeling like we had too much panic-flavored coffee. When we practice deep breathing using our diaphragm, a large muscle found at the base of our lungs, oxygen levels in our blood increase and our heart rate slows down, returning us to calm. Put one hand on your chest and another below your ribcage. Inhale through your nose, counting to 6. Feel your stomach expand as your lungs fill up with air, and feel your chest remain as still as possible. Exhale through your mouth, counting to 8.

·      Visualize your worries floating away.

If you’re really hung up on a particular worry, try this visualization technique. Close your eyes and imagine that you are sitting beside a slow, steady river. As you watch the river, you notice a leaf on the water in the distance. Imagine that the leaf represents your worry. Watch it come closer toward you, floating on top of the clear, fresh water – and then watch the leaf pass by. Watch it float along the river into the distance, and notice it getting smaller and smaller until you can’t see it anymore. Like the leaf, imagine that your worry has floated off into the distance, becoming something that you can no longer see, hear, or feel. Let your worry disappear.  

It can be tempting to sink into bad feelings, because it’s tricky to pull ourselves out of them. Shifting perspectives and choosing positivity is a powerful way to reshape even the worst of days, and we all have the tools inside of ourselves to do it. 

How I Self-Cared in April

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April is coming to a close and I’m here to tell you a little bit about how I self-cared this month. As always, the intent is not to be self-indulgent, but is instead to remind myself to engage in intentional self-care every month, and to hopefully give you a couple ideas of how to do the same.

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I’m writing this Sunday night, and I have to be real: blogging is not on my self-care list for tonight. So, I’m gonna make this a short little post and then give myself the self-care time I need (which will involve reading, meditating, and watching Silicon Valley).

Reflect

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This month I dove back into journaling, and I’m really, really happy I did. I have been journaling since I was in like, second grade, so I’ve always considered myself a journaler (which, guys, is apparently not a word. Identity Crisis: Ensue). What I realized though, after I entered a stable relationship, was that so much of my past journaling was just musing about crushes! So cliché, right? But I found that when I sat down to journal about greater life things, actual exploration of personal goals and flaws and challenges, it was…harder. It wasn’t as fun to write about something that was bothering me and dig into the deeper reasons why. So I kind of put it off. I recently realized though that I missed it, and not even just missed it, but I thought I might need it. I had so many thoughts in my head that bothered me, but then just stayed on the surface and festered. I finally reached a breaking point of muddled thoughts and picked back up the journal. It’s been great. It’s still not always easy to initiate writing, but after I do it I feel like I just did a little brain detox. Released the bad stuff and gained a little clarity. It’s nice to spend an hour with a candle and your thoughts once in a while.

Pamper

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Tatcha Polished Rice Enzyme Powder: A gentle exfoliant that rids the skin’s surface of its dead skin cells. This product leaves your skin so soft without scratching it with harsh beads or particles, like so many other physical exfoliators. Exfoliating is important because it allows your other serums and moisturizers to penetrate deeper into your skin.

Fresh Rose Face Mask: This is one of those products that maybe does nothing for my skin but I just loveeee how luxurious it is. If you sign up for a Sephora card, you can get a mini of this mask for free during your birthday month. It’s supposed to be hydrating, but I mostly love it because it feels cooling and smells like roses. So perfect for self-care Sundays.

Josie Maran Pure Argan Milk Treatment: This Argan oil-based treatment is super hydrating and feels like heaven sinking into your skin. I love putting this on before bed and letting my skin soak it up while I watch an episode of Gilmore Girls. Just one of those luxurious, fancy feeling products that makes my night feel special whenever I use it.

How did you self-care this month?? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Thumbnail photo by Julia Janeta

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!

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!

2016: New Year, New Goals

There’s nothing like the beginning of a new year for me. Honestly, I get giddy at the thought of all of the possibilities ahead. A fresh year, an untainted start, a chance to achieve something that makes me proud and makes me better.

ashleyelladesign.com
ashleyelladesign.com

It doesn’t matter if it’s January 1st or not, but I like the excuse of it – all of the articles that start popping up about goal-setting and self-improvement, and the buzz of optimism in friends, family, and, maybe even for once, the feared and dreaded “comment section.”

My main goal for 2016 is to practice intentional self-care every single day. I know myself, and I know it would be way too ambitious to set a goal for an hour of self-care a day or something.

Sometimes I’m too busy, and sometimes I’m honestly just in a bad mood. When making my 2016 goals, I want to plan for those days and be gentle with myself, allowing some room for flexibility and flow.

I want to practice self-care in some way every day, and that can range from anywhere between ten minutes to a whole entire day.

This year, I also want to find a fitness plan that works for me. I am all about mental health (which is hopefully clear by now??) but I have admittedly fallen short of taking care of my physical health. I don’t struggle with illness or with my weight and I’ve never been very into sports, so I think I’ve just never really had a reason to commit to fitness. I know that working out is still incredibly beneficial for increasing mood, and I want my insides to be strong and healthy. This year, I want to incorporate working out into my self-care routine, and find a form of exercise that fits my preferences and lifestyle.

As for some smaller (but still very important!) goals, this year I’d like to:

  • Read 15 books
  • Be a guest blogger for 2 websites
  • Continue posting to Morning Wellness twice a week
  • Maintain a weekly budget
  • Learn about nutrition & create more balanced meals
  • Visit a city I’ve never seen

I know that, in order to actually achieve these goals, I need to be all about preparation, habit cultivation, and developing routines. If I get lazy after work and waste time on my phone laying around, I won’t be able to follow through – and sometimes it’s really hard not to get lazy! I’m hoping that my previous posts about making SMART goals and creating a self-care calendar will help me stay on track.

So now it’s your turn (because I genuinely do want to hear it)…what are your 2016 goals? And does anyone have any tips about staying motivated to work out? I think that one will be my biggest challenge!

2016: New Year, New Goals

ashleyelladesign.com10.jpg
ashleyelladesign.com

There’s nothing like the beginning of a new year for me. Honestly, I get giddy at the thought of all of the possibilities ahead. A fresh year, an untainted start, a chance to achieve something that makes me proud and makes me better.

It doesn’t matter if it’s January 1st or not, but I like the excuse of it – all of the articles that start popping up about goal-setting and self-improvement, and the buzz of optimism in friends, family, and, maybe even for once, the feared and dreaded “comment section.”

My main goal for 2016 is to practice intentional self-care every single day. I know myself, and I know it would be way too ambitious to set a goal for an hour of self-care a day or something.

Sometimes I’m too busy, and sometimes I’m honestly just in a bad mood. When making my 2016 goals, I want to plan for those days and be gentle with myself, allowing some room for flexibility and flow.

I want to practice self-care in some way every day, and that can range from anywhere between ten minutes to a whole entire day.

This year, I also want to find a fitness plan that works for me. I am all about mental health (which is hopefully clear by now??) but I have admittedly fallen short of taking care of my physical health. I don’t struggle with illness or with my weight and I’ve never been very into sports, so I think I’ve just never really had a reason to commit to fitness. I know that working out is still incredibly beneficial for increasing mood, and I want my insides to be strong and healthy. This year, I want to incorporate working out into my self-care routine, and find a form of exercise that fits my preferences and lifestyle.

As for some smaller (but still very important!) goals, this year I’d like to:

  • Read 15 books
  • Be a guest blogger for 2 websites
  • Continue posting to Morning Wellness twice a week
  • Maintain a weekly budget
  • Learn about nutrition & create more balanced meals
  • Visit a city I’ve never seen

I know that, in order to actually achieve these goals, I need to be all about preparation, habit cultivation, and developing routines. If I get lazy after work and waste time on my phone laying around, I won’t be able to follow through – and sometimes it’s really hard not to get lazy! I’m hoping that my previous posts about making SMART goals and creating a self-care calendar will help me stay on track.

So now it’s your turn (because I genuinely do want to hear it)…what are your 2016 goals? And does anyone have any tips about staying motivated to work out? I think that one will be my biggest challenge!