Alison's Notebook | Self Care and Personal Development
I'm Alison. I run Alison's Notebook as a resource for average people looking to find more happiness and contentment in day-day life. I have been a professional Marketing Strategist and blogger since 2011. I started this blog as a place to share paintings and sell them. I aim for this site to be entertaining, helpful, inspirational and for the most part light-hearted.
Wondering how to practice better self care for bosses? Well, one size does NOT fit all, as we have our own needs for time management and self care. Keep reading for some fabulous self care advice from Maria Tan, Success Coach… Self Care For Bosses: Energy As a serial entrepreneur and socialite, I have to be extremely good at managing my energy. Energy for me is the totality of my well-being: Energy = time management + stamina + mental health + emotional being + spiritual health. I can’t be… “Busy” to deliver on what I said I would. “Exhausted” to show up during launches and other events. “Frustrated” to meet my clients’ needs. And to keep myself in good energy, I am very aware of who I am and how I’m wired. I need space to process my thoughts on a regular basis. This is why I create space for downtime daily. I can get extremely excited before BIG events (launches, speech, projects, charity). This is why I try to stay away from caffeine a week before the event. Otherwise I would appear as though I have ADHD. I feel things intensely. This is why I journal or do yoga at least 3 times a week. It helps me ground my energy and recenter. Otherwise, I would appear bi-polar. Use the image below to share! The Perfect Self Care Routine… Doesn’t Exist Most of the entrepreneurs suffering from overwhelm and burnout tend to get sold on the picture-perfect idea of a self-care ritual or routine. Believe me, there is no such thing. In fact, there are days when I don’t journal just because I’m too hyped. Millions of solid ideas pop into my head so I have to work on what’s feasible fast. There are also days when I get this melancholia that makes me simply want to pull back and cocoon. As a woman who works with her natural rhythm, I also do bare minimal work during my menstrual cycle. Use this as a metaphor: Some machines need to be maintained weekly, some monthly, some quarterly, some yearly. How one machine is built is different from another. The same goes for you. How you’re built may simply be different from others. Most people have the impression that I’m a workaholic and I don’t sleep. The reason why they think that is because of the way I show up when I do. The secret? I am very good at doing me and this leads to very good energy (the totality of my well-being). Remember: Energy = time management + stamina + mental health + emotional being + spiritual health. Here are some questions to consider before choosing how self-care is going to work for you. And please, answer with what comes natural for you. How To Make Self Care Work For You Most people get this wrong because they tend to give ideal answers. Consider this an audit of who you are instead of a vision of your ideal self: How long can you work on one thing? How easy can you get distracted. Do you need to be doing multiple things at the same time? Are you naturally a multi-tasker? Do you need to be involved in different things all the time? Can you focus on only your work? Or do you also need frequent chill-out with family and friends? Do you think out loud? Or do you think silently? What makes you want to “hide” or “escape”? Do you tend to defend what you do or the choices you make? After you answer the above, really reflect on what you need in terms of time, space, stamina, emotional & mental well-being and spiritual health. For example, I’m an extremely passionate person and when I am on a roll or in the zone, I can go 16 hours on one thing. I love what I do and don’t mind working on the weekends. A common misconception people would make after reading this is that I don’t relax or take the time off. Actually, I do. I love getting massages, hosting & entertaining people and I enjoy socializing a lot – both intimate and big groups. But there is something about the weekend (especially Sunday) that give me the great space to just create, plan ahead and do the minutia. This is probably because I don’t have kids. So I do the massages, the hosting of people , the big group socializing during the week. And for the business side of things, I simply implement what was planned so it really doesn’t have to be hard. Plus, I have people working with me on deliverables. Give Yourself What You Need I also need the space to process new emotions and thoughts regularly – so I make sure I over-estimate the time needed to execute something. For example, when I relocated to the Philippines after living in Taiwan for 13 years and being very active in many professional and social initiatives, I knew I needed at least 3 months to resettle. I gave myself 6 months. Write down your BIG VISION for yourself or your business. Then break it down in milestones. Think reverse engineer. Say you want to be known as the next Oprah. Define that and what that looks like – in actual words. Break Down The Vision Next, you break down half of that vision. Then half again. Until you get to what’s 1% of that vision like? What people don’t realize is they’ve actually achieved 1% of the vision by simply writing it down. And most have already achieved at least 5% when they really do a very good assessment of where they are. After you have those milestones, put the timeline in. And then plan ahead – give some space for things to occur. A lot of people fall into the trap of instant glory and instant “go”. They would like to believe that because they thought of a great idea, it would be like clicking a button and then they can do what they said they would in the next 24 hours. But each change comes with its own need for cultivation. Each decision comes with its own need for upleveling. Each function you add to yourself comes with its own need for integration. You can’t shortcut your way to a self-care system. When you are fully aware of how you’re wired and accept that’s just how it is, you can make self-care work for you. At the crux of it all, self care starts at self acceptance. You can’t care well for something you don’t know well. About The Author: Maria Tan is a Success Coach, Author and Speaker. She helps Misfits, Multi-Passionates, and Millennials confidently identify what makes them unique and leverage that to create a successful career path. She has trained, coached and mentored over 1000 people from all across the world, both in-person and online. She’s famous for her extreme authenticity and non-fluff approach to things in life. You can read more about her at maria-tan.com and follow her on Instagram @maria_k_tan
Are you looking for free self care for mental health ideas? How are we supposed to focus on self care for mental health when we are feeling stressed, suffering from depression or too busy or broke to adjust or lives? The National Alliance on Mental Health suggests that one in 5 US adults experience mental illness in a given year and 1 in 25 adults suffer from a mental illness that substantially interfere with major life activities. These numbers are staggering. If you work with 25 people, that means that 5 of them are currently suffering from mental illness, and at least one is partially debilitated by it! (It’s me, you guys. I’m the one who is debilitated, haha!) Yet in today’s world we are supposed to be everything to everyone, be successful, stay busy (because business is valued!). As a woman I am supposed to work like I’m single and be full time mom like I don’t have a job. I am supposed to nurture, provide, be a superstar everyday and then have time to “take care of myself.” Self care is crucial for mental health, but how am I supposed to fit it in? If I am struggling mentally I might have a hard time organizing my time, especially if I have a more serious mental illness I am trying to treat. Maintaining self care for mental health is all about integrating manageable activities into our day to day lives. We don’t have to spend money and we don’t have to block out hours of our day. Start small. And remember: being busy is not a virtue. Be easy on yourself. If someone you have not seen for a while asks how you are and your answer is, “You, know, just been busy,” this might be an indication that you could benefit from rearranging your schedule to find some time margin in your life. But that topic is for another day! Here are some suggestions on self care for mental health that are simple and affordable. Create a Safe Space This can mean creating cozy in a room of your home with candles, pleasant things, images that make you happy… Whatever that means to you. It might just be a yoga mat in an uncrowded space that is always available. The idea is to have somewhere that is set up for you to have “quiet time.” I am a huge advocate of meditation. If the idea of sitting quietly alone for several minutes makes you want to gouge your eyes out, try guided meditations. I found them really useful when starting out to have something to focus on besides the squirrel running around in my head. Nurture Good Sleep Habits I know this is easier said than done, but getting enough sleep is vital self care for mental health. If you are under rested it is easy to get sick, be overwhelmed, not be able to focus. My problems and lack of ability to handle them are always magnified when I am tired. If you are busy this can be difficult. If you are restless at night, try getting up for a few minutes and changing scenery before going back to bed. Don’t let the bedroom become a place you don’t sleep. Get the TV out of your bedroom and leave your phone in another room on a charger. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, just keep the phone out of reach or spend eight bucks on a cheap clock. It is worth it to build good habits to achieve better rest. Allow Yourself to Cry Tears that you cry while releasing emotions are chemically different than what comes out when your eyes are simply watering. You are literally releasing hormones when you cry which is why it makes you feel better. Sometimes I really need to cry, and it can be hard when I feel the need to release coming but I am making dinner for the kids or sitting at my desk. Allow yourself to step away. I am lucky to have a husband who is so supportive of me freely expressing my emotions, especially crying. If you just can’t step away, schedule a cry session. This may sound really dumb, but I’m serious. Pick a night, put on a super depressing Hallmark movie and cry until you can’t anymore. You need to allow yourself to release those emotions and hormones. Being honest emotionally is a huge part of self care for mental health. Do Something Fun One of my favorite things about having children are all the opportunities I naturally have throughout my day to play. This can be difficult when I am tired, but find something fun that you all enjoy. Maybe it is a silly board game, maybe it is tag or sitting and coloring. Maybe playing for you is going out by yourself and taking a hike in a nature preserve. Exercise or physical activity is great for mental health. Call a friend you have not seen in a while and go to lunch or an arcade. The idea is to integrate recreation into your life. Surround Yourself with Positivity I recently deleted Facebook from my phone. While I love seeing photos of my friends’ dogs and kids, the first day of kindergarten, people’s Christmas photos – I also had a hard time filtering the negativity in between. I really love seeing the positivity in people’s lives. It’s too bad that social media is riddled with negativity I just don’t need to see. There is a difference between getting passionate about something I have the ability to be proactive about and reading news feeds that make me angry, sad, disgusted, horrified… that I can’t do anything about. It is okay to delete negativity from your life and surround yourself with positive people and things. Focus on consuming positive news (generally not the type of news that our local stations prefer to zoom in on.) Distance yourself from negative people in your life, even if it’s just temporary while you get yourself a bit back together again. Self care for mental health does not mean pleasing everyone else in your life. It’s time to focus on yourself and your needs. Self Care For Mental Health Need more resources on self care or mental health? Go here to find more free resources.
Ever since I started to wear the same outfit everyday, I’ve had a lot of questions about why, and what some of the benefits are. While I wear a variation of the same outfit everyday, do add variety. One mistake many budding minimalists make is getting rid of things that still bring joy and have value. So in my own journey, I didn’t want to donate a bunch of clothes that fit me, are comfortable and are simple. That said, I have worn the same outfit everyday this week with a different sweater or jacket over it, and when I traveled for work last week? Packing was easy as pie! Keeping reading below and discover some of my favorite benefits of wearing the same outfit everyday. #1: Save Time Everyday Wearing the same outfit everyday saves a ton of time. I used to decide what to wear in the morning, and my outfit choice depended on many factors. My my plans included for that day Whether or not I felt bloated from the day before My mood The weather Now, I have simple staples for all occasions, and have few enough clothes that decisions became easy. Is it hot outside? I’ll wear my t-shirt. Cold outside? Collared shirt and a sweater. Important work meeting? Throw a jacket on. Formal event? Black dress. I spend so much less time making clothing decisions, and I love that the decision is so easy. “Our greatest currency is our time and we cannot save it. Spend it wisely and never waste another’s or your own.” ― Kyle Barger #2: Reduce Decision Fatigue Decision fatigue refers to how the quality of our decision making deteriorates as we make more and more decisions throughout the day. So, the fewer decisions you have to make, the better decisions you’ll make. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making. More on that from Wikipedia below. For instance, judges in court have been shown to make poorer quality decisions late in the day than they do early in the day. Decision fatigue may also lead to consumers making poor choices with their purchases. Trade-offs, where either of two choices have positive and negative elements, are an advanced and energy-consuming form of decision making. What I found really interesting about trade-offs is that they are responsible for keeping people in bad decision-making cycles, like what keeps some people in poverty for example. If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. ― Deepak Chopra #3: Reduce Stress Less decisions equals less stress. No worrying if my outfit will work for a specific occasion. No more regretting my outfit decision halfway through the day, or half way to an event. I feel great in my collared shirt or t-shirt and black pants or dress, and have ways to dress things up or down with shoes, accessories and jackets. You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway. ― Steve Maraboli #4: Always Feel Put Together Another benefit of a minimal wardrobe and wearing the same outfit everyday is always feeling put together. When you curate an outfit that fits your lifestyle and your personal preferences, you’ll always be wearing something you love that looks great on you. This was a huge benefit of my first traveling experience as a minimal dresser last week. Packing was incredibly easy. I had 4 outfits for 2 days that all made me feel comfortable, confident and put together. I packed these items with a laptop, workout clothes and extra shoes and made it for 4 days with just my small messenger bag. It. Was. Fabulous. Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together. —Vincent van Gogh #5: Save Money When you wear the same outfit everyday intentionally, you reduce the number of necessary clothes you bring into your life. I used to clothes shop all the time out of boredom, but often it didn’t lead to happiness. I ended up buying many clothing items that didn’t suit me or flatter me. These are clothes I ended up never wearing and eventually giving away or donating. When I did my minimalism challenge, I ended up decluttering hundreds of items of clothes I never wear. I felt ashamed and wasteful, and I’m determined to never do that again. “Never spend your money before you have earned it.” —Thomas Jefferson Summing It Up: Why I Love Wearing the Same Outfit Everyday Wearing the same outfit everyday saves me time, money, stress, energy making decisions and gives me confidence. Its a life change I’m truly grateful for. Have you tried it? Let me know in the comments! Share this post.
Should I hire a counselor or a coach? Many paths exist for seeking guidance in your life. This may lead you towards questioning the difference between counseling and coaching. Though in the same category of for helping others, similarities and differences when looking into your options. What are the goals of a counselor, a coach, a mentor and sponsor? How to I choose the best one for my personal needs? Which one fits into my budget? Let’s discuss the difference between counseling and coaching. Before we do, take a look at a few definitions for the different types of help professionals. Should I Hire A Counselor Or A Coach? Definitions What is a sponsor? A sponsor is generally defined as someone willing to financially support a cause or individual. They supply funds for projects that they support. However, sponsor can have alternative definitions. Recovery communities use the term to define an individual who will “show you the ropes” if you will. Historically in recovery circles, in the beginning groups were so small you literally needed someone to bring you in to even be invited. Groups were very anonymous and private. In modern times a sponsor is simply someone who shows you how to do what they did. It is suggested you find someone who has personal qualities you are looking to achieve and discover how they met their personal life goals. TIP: Use a sponsor if you need financial support or a mentor in recovery. What is a mentor? A mentor is an experienced individual willing to train and or advise you on something they are well informed on based off of personal experience. They generally do not require formal training, but many have invested in personal education via mentors who have come before them. The most valuable thing we have in life is time, and mentors can save someone time and money by offering their personal life experiences and testimony to their success. The role of a mentor can range from simple emotional support and motivation to more formal avenues and paid training programs. TIP: Use a mentor if you need help learning a new skill or are just looking for advice from someone with more personal experience than you. What is a coach? A coach is a helping professional who may or may not have formal training. Coaches sometimes see themselves as more beneficial to future growth. Some coaches criticize counselors for spending too much time focusing on the past while they are focused on success in the future. Coaches are concerned with the present and the future, not the past. The International Coach Federation has defined coaching pretty specifically as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Coaches should help clients produce fulfilling results in their lives by observing their personal strengths and encouraging them to succeed with assets they already possess, as stated by the ICF. “The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources and creativity that the client already has.” TIP: Use a coach when you are looking for guidance on how to turn your present goals into a future reality with an actionable plan. What is a counselor? A counselor generally experiences the most training from any of the help professions listed above. Counselors become experts for providing guidance on personal, social or psychological problems. If you have diagnosed psychological issues, a counselor becomes your best choice because of their training and medical and psychological knowledge. Counseling is more concerned with moving someone from a point of dysfunction to a point where they are empowered and healed. TIP: Use a counselor when you need help healing from the past, working through trauma and are also looking for guidance into a healthier future. So, what is the difference between counseling and coaching? The two main differences between counseling and coaching and the amount of formal education required to practice and their main focus. Why choose a coach? So, when deciding on whether I choose a counselor a coach, consider the following… If you are not struggling with any past trauma or psychological issues and are simply looking at how to streamline your life, creatively meet your goals and receive educated and guided encouragement, a coach is perfect for you. A coach is going to focus on your present and how to meet your future goals with strengths that you already have. If you know what you want and are just not sure how to get there, a coach can guide you in the way you want to go. It is always easier to see things from an outside perspective. Have you ever been able to diagnose your best friend’s problems so clearly, and struggled with a similar issue in your own life without being able to follow your own advice? I know I can relate to that 100%. A coach is trained and experienced at giving you guided advice that applies to your personal circumstances. They will be able to see things in a fresh way and use their experience with success to help meet your personal goals by listening, being personable and building a relationship. Why choose counseling? The best thing about a counselor is that they can do anything a coach can do and help you clean up the past a bit, too. This was one of the main differences between counseling and coaching. Even if your past trauma is not deep or scarring, sometimes small things can be holding us back from progressing with full potential. Though coaches deal mainly with the present and future and can help with personal guidance, they are typically not trained to deal with past psychological issues. The great thing about counseling is that once you are engaged with someone and building a relationship, they are fully trained to fulfill the roles of a coach and deal with the past as well. In other words, a counselor can do everything a coach can do. So once you have dealt with your past, you can move forward without switching helping professionals. So, should I hire a counselor or a coach? It depends on my goals. After reading the above, which do you choose for helping you live your best life today?
Are you wondering how to organize your life and how to declutter? Here are 6 different ways to declutter your life. Decluttering is a huge component to simplifying your life. And I don’t know about you – but simplifying my life is a huge part of my mental health and self care. The video below will give you ideas on how to cut the clutter, clean your space, different ways to declutter and hacks to simplify your life. What do YOU think? Sound off below! The first four tips have to do with your *physical space* and the last two deal with clearing more space and decluttering aspects of your *life*. I’m not a minimalist, but there is value in keeping things minimal and simple regardless how how minimal you choose to be. Tip #1: How to Declutter: Give Something Away Everyday The first tip I have for how to easily start decluttering is to give something away every day. By the end of the year, you’ll donate 365 items—which seems challenging until you try it! Recently, I started a 30 Days to Minimalism Challenge (I’ll go into more detail this week on my YouTube channel), and I was amazed that on the first day, I collected four bags of donations. That’s huge. I literally had no idea I owned so many things I don’t use. And that was just the beginning. When I went through my kitchen, I gave away at least 100 items. Perfectly wonderful drinking glasses, tupperware, pots, wooden spoons, other utensils, plates. I did all that through a minimalism challenge. But if you want to start becoming more intentional about what you own – start small by giving away one item everyday. Tip #2: Fill Up A Trash Bag In addition to that, twice a year, go through your closet, kitchen, junk drawers, garage and office and try to fill a trash bag with items you want to get rid of. And yes, I hear you: eventually you won’t have that much to give away. But if you have kids, pets, and partners you won’t always be able to stay on top of what comes into the house on a day to day basis. So, becoming intentional by clearing a bag twice a year is a great way to keep physical clutter from becoming overwhelming. I’m guessing a lot of these things will be donations, but finding trash around the house is great too. Some areas I recommend focusing on: Pantry Refrigerator Closets Laundry room Junk drawers (we all have them!) Linen closet You don’t have to sift through all of those areas every time – focus on one or two areas to keep it extremely manageable. Once you’ve worked on how to declutter and obtained more simplicity, it will become harder to find full bags of things to get rid of and you can move on to maintenance mode. I hope I get to that point soon… Tip #3: Make A List Of Areas You Want To Declutter In the minimalism challenge I did, the organization was mostly structured around areas of my physical spaces and my life. I began by listing what room were in my house, and what areas existed in those rooms. The biggest projects and the ones I felt most excited to tackle were: Master bedroom Master closet Master bathroom Kitchen Living room The guest room was pretty much already decluttered, and my husband’s office is a mess – but its his, so I’m leaving that alone for now. Haha. The master suite and kitchen are where I spend most of my time, so it was extremely rewarding and motivating each time I worked through an area. List the rooms and areas in your life that you want to declutter and decide on a rough schedule for going through them. Prioritizing them in order will help you see quick wins and find motivation for the next project. And remember to go easy on yourself and keep your expectations low. Do what you can, when you can, and give yourself a big pat on the back each time you take a step! Tip #4: Store Paper Electronically Another way you can practice how to declutter is storing your papers electronically is a great way to declutter. When you get mail, try to go through it right away. Recycle the junk, and only hang on to the things you know you need to keep. Scan everything else and store it in Google Drive (it’s free). Or, better yet, try to opt-in to electronic documents whenever possible. I do this with my bank, water bill and phone bill and I 10/10 recommend. Tip #5: Reduce Your Commitments The last two items on my list have more to do with decluttering your LIFE rather than your physical space. Usually my spaces only become cluttered if I’m too busy to practice self care. When I’m overwhelmed, I’m not able to make enough time for myself. Tip #6: Reconsider Your Routines Lastly, if your space and your mind are cluttered…reconsider your routines. I discuss this in The Tiny Happiness Project, but creating small routines is a great way to build time in your schedule for self care. If clutter is something that bothers you that you are NOT making time for, create space for it as an act of self care. Your mind and body will thank you for it. Next steps? I realize that the tips above are pretty brief—but choosing a couple of the items above is a great way to start decluttering your life. If you want more on how to declutter, follow along with my 30 Days to Minimalism Challenge! Click Here To Follow Along If you op-in above, you’ll get updates as I post them AND free downloadable worksheets I create as I go through the minimalism exercises.
Are you wondering how to practice intentional living with chronic illness? Intentional living; yet another popular term coming to the forefront in this world filled with constant distraction. But what does it really mean? And is it even possible to achieve an “intentional life” when you are facing a chronic illness that can turn a good day into a bad one at the flip of a switch? As a person who lives with a chronic illness, I know all too well how much my condition can dictate my day. It keeps me from giving the absolute best parts of myself to my family, friends, colleagues and patients. But just because it can have such an impact on my life, does not mean that I am going to let it devalue my purpose on this earth. I am more than just another chronic illness warrior. I have goals, passions, valued relationships and a soul that deserves to have attention. No one, but me, can give me the life I want. And so, to answer the question, yes! Absolutely yes! You CAN lead an intentional life with chronic illness, and this is how. Intentional Living With Chronic Illness: The Mind, Body, and Soul Connection The fact is, your body functions as a whole unit. Yes, you may have different systems in the body, like the neurological system, digestive system, etc. But all of these systems work together to keep you alive and breathing. And that is exactly what so many of us tend to forget. We are ALIVE and BREATHING. I so often find myself focusing on my symptoms, ailments, disabilities, or whatever else might be bothering me. This can be extremely detrimental to my mental health, which leads to a worsening of my overall well-being. It’s important that we all recognize when we are doing this, so we can stop it in its tracks. It’s time we stop the negativity. It’s time we lose the “woe is me” mentality; something I catch myself doing at times too. Because at the end of the day, we are ALIVE and BREATHING. So, there is no question as to whether we should live intentionally, because as chronic illness warriors, we NEED to live intentional. Intentional living is what will allow us to look back on our life with pride, knowing that we did everything in our power to live a life WE LOVE, despite our illnesses. So what is Intentional Living? Simply put, living intentionally means to live with a purpose. But it does not end there. The only way we can truly fulfill the purpose we see in ourselves is to put it into action. This can be a difficult feat when you have daily obstacles like fatigue, pain, depression, anxiety, etc. But difficult does not mean impossible. Designing a life you love is achievable! Once you have embraced the notion that you are more than your diagnosis, then you will be able to put into action your purpose. It’s all about mindset and not allowing the negative thoughts or words keep you from living out the life you want. Essentially, you are in charge and responsible for your own life; the way you live, think, and act. Make each action purposeful and you are living intentionally. What Are Your Intentions? No, I’m not talking about marital intentions… If you want to live intentionally with chronic illness, what are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? What relationships do you want to feed? How do you want to impact the world around you? Think of the holistic life you want to lead; meaning everything you want and everything you do should line up and point to your whole purpose. Maybe your chronic disease relates to your purpose in life. I have found that to be true for myself. My chronic and incurable condition, called endometriosis, has opened up this new calling to use my gifts, compassion, and education to help other people like me. Honing in on your purpose is key to living intentionally. But don’t let this scare you. You don’t have to decide on everything now. As humans, we are endlessly evolving and wanting better for ourselves. So intentional living will always be a never ending process. Setting Goals with Intention. Start by setting short term and long term goals. Setting goals fills our human need to accomplish things. They give us something to look forward to each day, and make each day feel as though we have made one small/large contribution to the world around us. In the end, every goal should represent your true identity, your core values, and what you want for YOU. That being said, one of your goals should be to listen to your body. Because, sometimes what is best for you, is giving your body the rest it needs to recuperate. Intentional Living With Chronic Illness May Look Different For Somebody Else. You may find yourself comparing your purpose to someone else’s purpose. Or comparing your timeline to theirs. But it’s important that you not let their life sway yours. Chronic illness may mean that your timeline is a little longer than your peers’ timeline. But that does not make you any less valuable. You are a unique person with a unique perspective. Be gracious with yourself and do the best you can. Always keep your goals and purpose at the forefront, never letting it become a competition with your peers. Intentionally Choose Healthy Over Comfort. We all know that we are supposed to eat healthy, but when you are down in the dumps, sometimes all you want to eat is processed and fried comfort foods. However, this will only set you back from achieving your goals. Eating unhealthy foods can exacerbate inflammation within the body, causing chronic symptoms to worsen. On the other hand, if you intentionally decide on healthier foods, you may find that your chronic symptoms improve over time. Leaving you with the ability to move forward without as many obstacles. It’s okay to intentionally say “No.” Remember, you are in charge of making your decisions. Often times, my chronic illness can leave me feeling so fatigued or stressed out that it becomes difficult to complete mundane tasks or socialize at family events. If you need to rest, rather than go to a family event, then just say no. Allow yourself the time to rest so that you can accomplish the goals you set for your life. As I said earlier, one of your goals should be to listen to your body. Don’t overbook yourself or wear yourself thin. Be realistic with time and don’t allow others to make you feel bad about doing what is best for you. Intentionally Surround Yourself with the Right People. As a cancer nurse, I see almost every day how essential it is to find your people. Even more so, I see how strong, hopeful, and full of life cancer patients can be, despite their diagnosis. And I think we all need to aspire to be this way. But we need to understand that we can’t do it alone. Having the support of one single person can make all the difference in your journey through life with chronic illness. But having a community of people is even more powerful. There are communities all around us. For example, people are connecting online because of their shared diagnosis. We live in a world now that allows us to connect with people who just get it. So, go find your people. And maybe even, distance yourself from the people who make you feel shame. Some people will make their negative thoughts known when it comes to your life, symptoms, and condition. But it’s YOUR life, not theirs. Let them have their opinions. And find people who will let you have yours. Final Notes on Intentional Living As you can see, living intentionally is not limited to your work life. It also includes your home life, your diet, and the relationships you feed. Additionally, it is not a one and done process. Intentional living is a lifelong process that can reap so many benefits, especially when it comes to living with a chronic illness. You are so much more than your diagnosis! You CAN have it all. But you need to be willing to create the life you want. Take action, redirect your thoughts, and be graceful with yourself. Think of it this way . . . In the future, when you look back on the life you have lived, all you should see are accomplishments, maybe some failures, but absolutely no regrets. About The Author: Melissa Velasco Melissa a Registered Nurse and has spent over 6 years providing education and care to adults battling illness and disease. In 2017, she was diagnosed with Endometriosis. Since then, it has become very apparent to her that endometriosis affects so many people (without regards to gender). She has also noted how much we all struggle with the diagnosis and the lifestyle changes that help to alleviate symptoms. For this reason, it is so important to find a supportive community of people who understand the journey. Melissa knows that endometriosis can affect activities of daily living, leaving it almost impossible to lead a “normal life.” Go here to learn more.
Ever since wearing the same outfit for 21 days, and then creating a capsule wardrobe for myself… I’ve realized how many things in my wardrobe I didn’t enjoy. Now my wardrobe is extremely simple, and i often stick to the basics. And while I keep my wardrobe simple, I also chose to keep things that fit my “dress code”, even though it would be easier to buy 10 of the same outfit and donate the rest. Think About Lifestyle When choosing a personal uniform, consider what you do on a normal week-to-week basis. How do you dress for work? What do you do on the weekends? Consider seasons and weather. I live in Houston, and there are basically two seasons here: hot and cool. That means that while I need a jacket for cooler months, one heavy jacket just about covers my winter needs. That said, its hot for most of the year. So I needed to make sure that most of my clothes were comfortable in warmer months and could be easily layered for work. Choose Staples The next thing for consideration when creating your uniform involves choosing staples. Your uniform should consist of basic clothing items that can easily be worn in most occasions. My personal uniform includes a white button down shirt. Its flattering because its shaped well. White and loose, so its comfortable in warm weather. And casual enough for the weekends, but easily dressed up for work. The pants for my uniform are dark skinny jeans, which can be worn in my office and are obviously easily dressed down. 4 Steps To Simple Style: Wondering how to create a capsule wardrobe? Download the guide below… Consider Your Color Palette When choosing a personal uniform, I strongly recommend choosing primarily neutrals. This makes your uniform as flexible as possible when deciding on accessories and occasions. And on that note… Don’t Forget Accessories Accessories are the easiest way to change up your outfit without owning more variety than you need.
Recently I visited a friend’s new house, and after touring her closet I began thinking about these 10 tips to simplify your wardrobe. Simplifying my wardrobe has been my absolute favorite part about decluttering and simplifying my life. I never realized how often I fell victim to trends that didn’t suit me. Or how often I bought things that felt a bit too small or a bit too big. Then, once I bought an item that wasn’t quite right for me, I’d hang on to it for YEARS. I already spent the money… Why not wait until the time I finally wore it? So, I filled my closet with items that lacked cohesion, and items that I rarely wore. Decluttering my closet and implementing the tips below helped me to wear AND love everything in my closet. Not only that… But I actually *LOVE* how my closet looks with empty space and great organization. Below are 10 tips to simplify your wardrobe. 10 Tips To Simplify Your Wardrobe Tip #1: Start with the “low hanging fruit”. Start decluttering your closet by removing items with tears and stains. Items that you no longer wear can be donated or re-purposed into rags and cleaning cloths. But removing them from your wardrobe creates a quick win in simplifying your wardrobe. Tip #2: Get rid of clothes that don’t fit. I know you’re just five pounds away from your favorite pants that you wore in college… But I think its time to let them go. I GET IT. They looked so great in college, or in the store, or in your head. And I don’t think you should give up on living healthier and feeling better. But if your goal in living a healthier lifestyle is JUST so you can fit into those pants… I think you’re going to soon need longer term motivation. If you own clothes that fit too large or too small, its time for someone else to gain use out of them. Let them go, and take a deep breath at the new freedom you just gave yourself. Tip #3: Simplify your accessories. I used to keep so much jewelry for special occasions or events. but, I also used to pretty much wer the same jewelry every day. I think jewelry really elevates and outfit. Because my wardrobe is pretty simple, I think jewelry can also help an outfit look more professional. But I realized I need very little variety. A couple necklaces, a couple pairs of earrings, and that’s pretty much it. I also only own three purses: a small neutral canvas bag, a bright red bag, and a really cool purse made from seat belts. Its enough variety that I seem to have what I need for any occasion. In the future, look or accessories that match what you currently own. Stop collecting items for “someday”. Tip #4: Organize seasonal clothing items. Items that you haven’t worn in over a year should be removed, and seasonal items like heavy coats can be moved to a closet that you can access when you need it. Removing rarely worn seasonal items will help prevent these items from cluttering your every day closet. Tip #5: Evaluate purchases based on trends. This was a big one for me. When browsing websites or magazines, I feel often shop with current trends in mind. I don’t even realize I’m doing it! Many trends styles unflatter me. That’s the reality for most of us, probably. Fast fashion helps the industry find and regularly create more items consumers buy. Instead of falling victim to trends, discover what clothing items are your favorites, and the most flattering, and stick with what works. 4 Steps To Simple Style: Wondering how to create a capsule wardrobe? Download the guide below… Tip #6: Touch every item in your closet. I started simplifying my wardrobe by doing a quick pass using the tips above. But once I donated a few things, I then took everything out and reorganized it. I found so many clothes I’d never worn, but it took actually handling every item in my closet to discover them. When they’re hanging, its hard to really see everything. So, consider taking it all out. Tip #7: Think about the one thing. Try to consider the idea of *one* whenever you can. What one dress feels appropriate for work, events, weekends and date nights? What *one* pair of shoes feel easily worn for both a lot of physical activity and a move night? A closet you fill with only things you love becomes a closet that you’ll love to use. Tip #8: Pick a number to simplify your wardrobe. If you want to try experimenting with creating a capsule wardrobe, pick out 10 items to move aside in your closet, and see if you can stick with them for a week or a month. I personally started with… 4 shirts 2 pants 2 jackets 1 skirt 1 pair of shorts Forcing yourself to select a narrow range of items pushes you to think about what you really wear and love. Tip #9: Create a transition area. I got rid of so many clothes that I created a “transition area” for clothes I wanted to get rid of after I’d narrowed down a lot. What you don’t want to do is declutter so much that you end up needing to buy more. So, if you’re on the fence about how much to narrow down, remove questionable items from your closet to get them out of sight and out of mind. If you don’t revisit them after a few months, its probably safe to do away with them. Tip #10: Reorganize your closet. I can’t believe I didn’t do this sooner, but after decluttering, I didn’t reorganize right away. Once I did, I was amazed how much empty space there was in my closet. Here are some tips. Organize your shoes. Once I did, I realized I only needed one shoe rack instead of two, which opened up a lot of space. Put long items at the end. I know this sounds like logic, but I didn’t do this until recently and my closet looks so much more tidy now. Organize shirts by color. This helps me easily put outfits together. Organize shirts by type. This helps me dress for the weather quickly and easily. Next Steps In Decluttering Your Wardrobe The next step to simplify your wardrobe involves getting started! Use the guide below to begin creating your capsule wardrobe. Or, go here and learn how to create a capsule wardrobe in more detail. 4 Steps To Simple Style: Wondering how to create a capsule wardrobe? Download the guide below…
Today we will dig a little deeper into slow living and think about slow living for busy people… Earlier this month we talked about slow living, what it is and what it is not. It does not mean doing everything as slowly as possible. It is not just about living simply. What is slow living? Slow living is an approach to life that emphasizes enjoying a higher quality of life by slowing down everyday activities. To revisit our intro to slow living, check out our blog from earlier this month. Why I Need Slow Living Due to my prior career choices, being fast has always been an asset. Time economy is important to me and multitasking is a specialty of mine. Though it is usually a skill, my desire to be fast has over time increased my impatience. Most of my mistakes, in and outside of work, come from simply doing things too fast. I get frustrated when my 5 year old interrupts me while I am doing something else. I’m so focused on streamlining everyday tasks to be efficient that I miss things going on around me. I get stressed out easily and have trouble focusing on one thing at a time. I am tired of not making the most of my time, especially with my family. I am only busy because I make myself feel so busy. So let’s talk about slow living for busy people. Slow Living For Busy People Slow living for busy people at work. I have implemented slow living at work by only focusing on one task at a time. I tend to make mistakes simply because I am too fast and focus on speed rather than being careful. I work in customer service, and when focusing on a critical task sometimes I turn my phone off for 5 minutes to minimize distractions instead of worrying about multitasking. I keep my space clean and organized. There are studies that show that clutter can cause stress. So I keep things neat and find it brings me great peace of mind. I take breaks often in the form of walks around the block, or I will walk to grab lunch and clear my head or just get away from the screen. When I eat I try not to eat while watching my screen either, as tempting as it is. It has become such a habit for me (and my family) to be entertained while we eat instead of focusing on our meal and each other. Slow living for busy people at home. Like at work, I declutter my space. Again, a cluttered space can actually cause mental stress. I am a proponent of the idea that if I need a storage solution I likely have a stuff-problem. If you find yourself constantly picking up, try paring down and get rid of more belongings. All my kids’ toys can fit in a small toy box and they are capable of throwing everything in there on their own in just a few minutes. I don’t choose my phone over my kids. I know this might sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how often I have been in the middle of reading or scrolling only to be annoyed when interrupted my kids’ need for attention. If I play on Facebook it’s for about 20 minutes before bed after everyone has fallen asleep. Be intentional with your tech time instead of filling empty space and time with noise. Or cut it out altogether and fill that 20 minutes with some stretching, quiet time or meditation. Slow living for busy people in relationships. I remember when me and my husband were earlier in our relationship how easy it was to just rent a bunch of movies and sit in front of the television all day. We ate in front of the TV, snuggled in front of the TV, and fell asleep in front of the TV which was right in front of our bed. Now we prefer walks together or quiet snuggle time. If we choose background noise it is something slow, usually classical or instrumental instead of whatever is on the television. There are several days in a row now where the television stays off, and we are contemplating getting rid of it altogether. Healthy habits of slow living for busy people. As mentioned- no more eating in front of the television! Focus on your meal. Eat outside. Consider meal prep to make the rest of the week more simple, or batch cooking large meals and creating variety with seasoning choices. Instead of trying to be efficient with cooking dinner, involve the kids. Be willing to get messy. Take your time and be engaged in the activity instead of thinking of it as another chore to check off the list. Replace technology with activity! Get outside or be artistic. TLDR: What now? We need slow living for health, happiness and overall wellness. We need to slow down and be in the moment and focus on what really matters to us. Slow living for busy people is important at home, at work and for our health. I want to challenge you to integrate slow living into your life today. Download the minimalism challenge worksheet, and get started on slow and intentional living today.
Have you ever thought about setting boundaries in relationships? Its a great way to both practice self care and protect your integrity. Not only that, but learning and deciding on boundaries improves your mindfulness AND your self esteem. (And who doesn’t want that?) Learning how to set boundaries in a relationship is a topic that evaded me for most of my life. I always thought that setting boundaries had to do with teaching people how to treat me and telling other people to stop doing something. Sometimes that is a small piece of it. What I have discovered is that setting boundaries is not about trying to change other people. It is about defining what is acceptable to me and upholding that integrity in all my relationships. What are boundaries in relationships? Boundaries are not for me to teach other people. They are for me to establish for myself to follow. Boundaries help me to determine what I want in my life and what I don’t. Then I act accordingly. Personal boundaries in relationships are guides or limits I create to allow safe ways for people to behave around me and what and who I choose to allow in my life. In light of this view on how to set boundaries in a relationship, let’s discuss some ways we can determine and implement those in our lives. 1. Decide on your deal breakers. I believe in forgiveness and second chances, don’t get me wrong. But this should not be an excuse for other people to step on my toes over and over. Forgiveness is not an avenue for me to allow myself to be mistreated. I can’t tell you what your deal breakers are- they are different for everyone. Maybe in a romantic relationship cheating is a deal breaker for you. Perhaps in a friendship lying is a deal breaker for you. You need to determine your deal breakers before starting new relationships. If not you are likely to break those boundaries over and over. If they are not clearly defined those boundaries will be crossed. Deal breakers will lay a groundwork for how to set boundaries in a relationship. 2. Tune into your feelings. Ideally deal breakers are determined before a relationship, but the truth is that we are always constantly learning. We learn through experience. Unfortunately sometimes negative experience is the teacher of what we don’t want. This is why it is important to tune into your feelings when determining how to set boundaries in a relationship. Listen to your intuition. I believe that my emotions are like radar for my life. If I am feeling something strong, whatever it is, I need to stop and look at it. Why is my radar going off? Is it because of something that happened in the past? Is my intuition trying to tell me something new? One way to tune into your feelings more effectively involves learning and practicing better self care. Download the toolkit below to learn the basics of self care, and some of my favorite tools. 3. Be prepared to be direct. The hardest part about determining boundaries is enforcing them. I have made the mistake of angrily enforcing boundaries, and this is not effective communication. Be kind and be honest. Do not be afraid to be direct. But do not be angry. Act with love. I always tried to remind myself that sometimes I have to make a choice between what I want now and I want in my life ultimately. What I want in the moment is usually comfort and to avoid confrontation. What I want ultimately in my life is quality relationships. 4. Remind yourself… Remind yourself: you are not responsible for other people’s feelings. If I spend my whole life trying to please others, I will not be happy. Learning how to set boundaries in relationships involves identifying personal faults. People pleasing is one of them. I had to learn in my own life that other people were not responsible for my anger or my happiness. This is true the other way around as well… I am not responsible for other peoples’ anger or happiness either, even if fingers are being pointed at me. 5. Practice mindfulness. For more info on practicing mindfulness as a means to help establish personal priorities, you might check out our blog on slow living HERE. Being self aware and practicing mindfulness helps to build emotional intelligence. This is also a bit related to being in tune with your emotions when learning how to set boundaries in relationships. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. When I focus on the current moment I am much less concerned with my fears about what others think, or about the past or future. It helps me more easily focus on myself and my needs. 6. Self awareness inventory. Try writing a self awareness inventory for accountability. This can be in the form of a feelings journal, free writing, or something more guided and organized. I started the practice of taking an inventory when I felt strong emotions I was not sure how to effectively process. When angry, for example, I could put that on paper. It helped me see how I could be responsible for my own emotions. This translates to others not being responsible for my feelings. Being accountable for my own emotions is empowering. It takes away victimhood and is critical is learning how to set boundaries in a relationship. 7. Consider your past and present. Identifying patterns in my past helps me to determine what I want in the present. As mentioned earlier negative experiences can teach me what I don’t want. Patterns teach me how I can adjust my own behavior as well. This also relates to self accountability. Consider your present. What are your priorities? What do you spend most of your time doing? Who do you spend most of your time with? Is this the way you want your life to look right now? 8. Consider their past and present. Determining how to set boundaries in a relationship is partly about realizing that I cannot change other people. I can only be responsible for my side of the street. This is why it is important to consider the patterns not only in my own life, but in other people’s lives as well. It is easy to sink into the “I can change them” mentality. While it is loving to forgive and give people second chances… It is not okay to give people excuses to mistreat you repeatedly. Sometimes a person’s past can be revealing. Pay attention to how a relationship behaves around other people. If they behave differently around you than others it can be a red flag. Do not use someone’s past as a weapon against them. You are not trying to rationalize or be co dependent. The goal is to empathize, communicate better and set boundaries for yourself. 9. Prioritize self care. You are the most important person in your life. You are responsible for your own happiness. It is time to stop blaming others for any negativity in your life. Focus on what is important to you instead of fitting self care into a busy schedule. If you are too busy for self care… you are too busy! 10. Start small. Learning how to set boundaries in relationships is a process. It is something that will develop over time. It will probably be different today than it will be in 10 years. Take small steps towards figuring out what you want your relationships to look like. I think starting with mindfulness, slow living and self care is a great way to start.