Categories
conscious living

Relief for Political Stress

Columbus Circle, March 2016

Just the other day I was thinking about my anxiety level. “Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve felt nervous,” I thought to myself.

I shared with my mom how great I had been feeling.

“That’s wonderful! Are you taking any medication?” she asked.

“No!” I replied, feeling accomplished with my healthy habits and natural stress-relieving skills.

Then, Inauguration Day came. Trump smiling on TV, angry social media posts flowing and dismal news reports speculating the fate of our nation made me think, “where is the Xanax when I need it?”

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Although I’ve been able to maintain a relatively even keel for some time now, the ignorant political messaging, bigotry and utter hatred triggered my mood.

I’ve worked too hard at serenity to let politics interfere with my zen.

Instead of starting a Twitter war or self medicating, I stayed calm and indulged in two days of self-care this past weekend. My roommate and I ordered pizza, enjoyed girl talk, and focused on happy things. I wore pajamas all day, snuggled with the cat and started Brené Brown’s book, I Thought it Was Just Me (But it Isn’t). In addition to self-care, a few other things helped me get out of my political agitation and back into a place of positivity.

Self-Improvement

Reading always gets me out of my own head. I’ve found a variety of grounding books that have helped me put life into perspective; from Eckhart Tolle to Gabrielle Bernstein. When I look at life from a higher, spiritual place, my mind is put at ease and my thoughts become much more peaceful. I have to remember that I am not in control of the universe, but I am in control of my thoughts.

I also began watching Matt Kahn videos on YouTube, who has a wonderful website called True Divine Nature.

My favorite video discusses soul contracts, soul mates, twin flames and the most important- being your own best friend before you can truly connect with another soul. It’s definitely worth a watch!

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Photo: Brené Brown

Know Yourself

As much as I wanted to march in Boston on Saturday, I knew it would trigger my anxiety. I’ve never done well in crowds, so instead I showed my support by sending my friends messages of encouragement. It’s been a little over two months since my last anxiety attack (yes, they’re real, and yes- they’re scary).

I always recommend stepping out of your comfort zone, but don’t put yourself into a situation that will make you feel worse, not better.

Limit the Social Media

My anxiety level went from zero to one hundred when I read a status calling Saturday’s marchers “oppressed, spoiled, and entitled.” I wanted to reach through the computer screen and shake some sense into this person (to put it nicely). Instead, it came out in a moderately condescending Facebook comment. Did I need to comment? Of course not. Did I do so peacefully? Yes, I believe I did.

The takeaway from my social media experience? Use it sparingly. Instead of filling my extra time with social media (an open invitation for an anxiety attack), I try to pick up a book, write down my thoughts in a journal or take action, bringing me to my final stress-relieving suggestion.

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Get Involved

The Women’s March on Washington was only the beginning! I highly suggest joining the 10 Actions for the First 100 Days campaign to speak up for causes you care about to take a stand toward equality.

Whether it’s speaking up about violence, reproductive rights, women’s health, LGBT rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, religious freedom, environmental justice or anything else that matters to you, now is your chance! You can print your own postcard to send to your senator and check out ideas for your message here.

Trump Rally in Columbus Circle NYC 2016
Representing Nasty Women on Inauguration Day in Boston
Categories
self discovery

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe


Have you ever noticed how your social circle may change throughout different stages of your life? Where I am at mentally is mirrored in the friends I spend time with; both positive and negative. Life is short, so it’s important to surround yourself with the people who inspire you to be your best.

One of my favorite phrases is “your vibe attracts your tribe.” The Law of Attraction is a powerful concept I have implemented into my life, and has made a great difference in my overall happiness. This theory focuses on positive or negative thoughts bringing positive or negative experiences back to you. As I have begun to live a more mindful, meaningful life, my fear of other people and rejection has lessened. I’ve learned the value of quality of quantity and the power of positivity in my everyday life as well as my friendships.

So, are you still trying to find your own tribe?

Be Yourself

Throughout the years I have made a variety of friends, yet haven’t always stayed true to my own values. I’ve learned to be myself and not to be afraid to speak up- as Dr. Suess said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Find Communities 

Get involved! I can’t stress enough how important is to put yourself out there and find communities that fit your interests. It’s not easy to jump into an unfamiliar situation, but you’ll feel better once you do. Join a yoga class, book club, team or networking group. I love Meetup for learning about new events and to meet new people.

Stay Positive

Misery loves company,” they say, so if you’re looking to bring positive energy into your life, reconsider spending your time with those who bring you down. Stay positive and put your energy into the things that make you happy. Don’t be discouraged!

Patience

Friendships don’t happen over night! Be patient in forming your own tribe- you’ll meet new people along the way, figure out which friendships are long-lasting and learn more about yourself, too. Remember- quality over quantity!

So, think about this: are you the kind of person you would want to be around?

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Categories
self discovery

Table for One- Enjoying a Date with Yourself

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Coffee at one of my favorite NYC spots, Cafe Lalo

Dining alone has been one of my favorite pastimes through the years, from solo meals during travel to lunchtime people-watching along city streets. I’ve never been uncomfortable eating or showing up places by myself- from movies, museums, bars to concerts- I enjoy my own company. I love being in my own little world, the lack of small talk, and coming and going as I please.

I remember one particular evening a few years back when I took myself on a date. Yes, a date- with myself. I was living in San Francisco and had a free Friday evening; no plans, no friends around, no dates lined up. I thought to myself, “what would I do if I did have a date? What would I want to do?” I was in the mood for sushi, so I decided to take a stroll to Japantown, where I indulged in a glass of wine, sushi rolls and a movie at Sundance Kabuki. It was the perfect Friday night with me, myself, and I.

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Looking back, not much has changed in the past six years. I still thoroughly enjoy my own time and space and have lived in three other cities since that San Francisco evening. It goes without saying that I don’t have a problem adjusting to new, unfamiliar environments. However, this move has been different; this time I haven’t made much effort to be social. I’ve been given opportunities and have been asked out on dates, but lately something clicked:

Being alone sure feels good.

No compromising, no miscommunication, no confusion. Time to myself- time to reflect, learn, and grow. Time to be me. Whether you’re single or attached, there is something priceless about becoming your own best friend. As Carrie Bradshaw said,

“The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

Being alone has taught me to be my own best friend, my spirituality has become my support system, and staying in the moment has kept me grateful for what I have.

Until the day comes when I meet someone who is worth sharing my chocolate lava cake with, I’ll enjoy every bite to myself. After all, the best things are worth waiting for- and I won’t settle for vanilla.

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Categories
self discovery

Creating Your Happy Space

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Home is where the heart is! After two weeks in my new apartment, I decided it was finally time to put a personal touch on my place. Since I arrived in Massachusetts with just a few weeks of clothing and my bare essentials, I was in need of a (minimal) shopping trip to find some cozy bedroom decor.

Since living a “less is more” mentality, I decided to keep my room clutter-free and organized. I used to think it was necessary to go over-the-top when buying home goods, but continually found myself purging everything with each move. This time I shopped for things to keep me organized, yet won’t be a huge burden when I do decide to move (hopefully not in the near future!).

Stay Minimal

It’s easy to start picking up unnecessary knick-knacks. I only keep- and put out- things that have meaning or bring positive energy into my life. Everything I have sitting out serves a purpose- storage, easy access or decoration.

My one exception to my minimalist rule is with pillows- I can never have too many pillows. I picked up a Buddah pillow to start my new collection- there is nothing better than snuggling in a nest of pillows with a good book!

Personal Touches

After finding my Buddah pillow I decided to stick with classic golds to accent my space. I found a few pineapple pieces while shopping, which is a symbol of hospitality, friendship and warmth. The pineapple keyholder was a perfect complement to my wall, and prevents me from misplacing my keys! I find so much more in control of my life when everything has a place, with rhyme and reason.

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Affirmations

A lot of the decor I chose was my own art- coloring pages, inspirational quotes and doodles. I was told once by a therapist to write down positive affirmations on a post-it note and stick on my mirror every day, so I followed this advice and chose some of my favorite Gabrielle Bernstein wisdoms for my wall.

The more you subject yourself to positivity and uplifting statements, the power of thought will become apparent in your life. Take a look at these affirmations thanks to the Huffington Post. Remember- you are what you think!

Serene Space

A calming bedroom is key to relaxation and serenity. I love coming home to a cozy space with a warm aura- candles are a must. It’s also important for me to be able to set the mood with lighting- open windows, candles, my overhead dimmer or with a lamp.

For those moments of mindfulness, I picked up a new mat for yoga and meditation. Having the mat out is a great reminder for the times I forget to take a breather and need a quick meditation. My day is always better when I start out with stretches!

Having mindful reminders throughout my bedroom helps me stay in the moment, creates a sense of home and sets a positive tone for the day.

How have you created a more mindful home? I’d love to see it! Share with me on Instagram or Twitter.

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Categories
self discovery

Quit Hiding Your Magic

The coffee’s brewing and the sun is shining- it’s time for another work week. After three days of reading, reflecting and relaxation I gave some thought to my life here in Boston and how different it is compared to just a few months ago. I spent most of the long weekend in my new home, snuggling with Clarissa the cat, indulging in Netflix and writing- but most importantly, enjoying each moment. It was nice enjoying me time to recharge.

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Although I have always beat to my own drum, I have actually lived my life looking over my shoulder, always wondering what everyone else had to say about what I was doing. Despite bold moves, impulsive behavior and living a pseudo-nomad lifestyle, I still sought approval from those around me. What a waste of time.

I’ve begun to wonder how I have subconsciously allowed people to hold me back from true happiness- from fulfilling my purpose because I was scared.

I have shied away from opportunities because I was fearful of failure or what others would say about my work. I’ve listened to naysayers who told me that my dreams were too big or that I would never make it. I also wondered, “what do I want?”  Everyone’s version of success is different, whether your dreams are to become a doctor, a parent, an actress or an athlete- if your dream is to travel, to write, to create art… that’s wonderful, too. There’s magic all around us… what is yours?

Variety is the spice of life- so quit hiding your magic. Now is your time.

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Categories
conscious living

Refuel the Soul: Weekend Self-Care

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Happy Friday! Another week has come to an end, so it’s time to rejuvenate and relax. Self-care is crucial to our everyday health and happiness, but many of us push it to the side as we maneuver through our busy schedules.

It’s important to spend time to reflect on how your week was, consciously recognize how you’re feeling and what you need to do to have a productive week ahead.

Alone Time

Each weekend I put aside time to myself to do the things I enjoy and make me feel good about me. Whether it’s yoga, writing, going for a long walk, enjoying a homemade breakfast or sipping coffee with a good book, my alone time is imperative to my self-care and overall mood.

Instead of feeling like I have to be “on the go” all of the time, I balance my time between self-care and social interactions. It makes me appreciate my friends and family much more when I have a balance; I can easily get burned out if I don’t take some time to myself (typical introvert, of course).

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Gratitude Journal

You can’t be unhappy and grateful at the same time! Documenting my daily gratitudes have helped me immensely when I’m stuck in my own head or feeling down. Start a special journal and write down a few things each day that you’re grateful for. It’s wonderful to look back on them when you’re in a funk, too! It’s also a great way to get into journaling (which has been proven to increase happiness and improve health).

Exercise

Whether it’s the gym, a sport or taking a class, get out there and exercise! The weekend is a perfect time to burn off energy from your busy schedule and prepare for the week ahead. Although I’m not a fan of the gym, I walk at least five miles a day, take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator, attend yoga class and love outdoor activities. Find what works for you!

Art Therapy

Drawing, painting, crafts and coloring can be very therapeutic and are wonderful activities for mindfulness. I like to keep a coloring book and pencils with me for when I’m stressed, killing time or commuting. It’s amazing how a little creativity can elevate your mood! Inspirational coloring pages are my favorite- here are a few of my favorites for you to print.

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Eat Well

Thinking about picking up a pizza and living off leftovers for the next day? That’s fun every now and then, but try to be more conscious of what you put in your body when you have that extra time to prepare your meals and think about what you’re consuming. Saturday morning is my favorite time to grocery shop- I used to buy my produce that day and prepare juices for the weekend and pack lunch for the days ahead. Take this time to learn a new recipe, too! I am a big fan of Jessica Seinfeld’s recipes (yes, she is married to Jerry); they’re perfect for the person who claims they can’t cook or are nervous to try.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No.” 

Feeling burned out? Listen to your body! Just because you have the spare time doesn’t mean you need to fill every second. Don’t fall victim to FOMO! Enjoy the peace and quiet, take care of the things you need to do and remember to take care of you!

Check out these other self-care practices thanks to Tiny Buddah.

Categories
self discovery

What Makes Us Happy?

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Lately I have been thinking a lot about what “happiness” looks like. When do we know that we have “made it?” When have we finally reached our potential? Are we ever really settled?

Do I have the ability to be content with where I am at right now?

I discovered a five-day course at Harvard called “The Surprising Psychology of Everyday Life.” Lead by Adam Mastroianni, the course is described:

“Who’s happier: lottery winners or paraplegics? The answer––like many insights from psychology––will surprise you. This course, taught by a psychology grad student and stand-up comedian, pulls together psychology’s most fascinating findings to answer some of life’s deepest questions: what makes us happy, why can’t we all agree, and are we really in control of our own thoughts?”

Thursday’s topic is Harvard Psychology Professor Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness, which is a book I discovered a few years ago. In my quest to live a more peaceful, meaningful life, I’ve often questioned and wondered what truly would make me happy. Yesterday I found an interested photo of a dog and a human while scrolling through Instagram, which perfectly illustrated how complex we are as human beings. I then thought, “I think I’ve got it.”

I will be happiest when I stop and enjoy the moment. When I am aware of my surroundings. When I push away negative thoughts. When I stop dwelling on the past and worrying about the future.

When I just am.

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I look forward to sharing what I learn at the course, revisiting Stumbling on Happiness, and continually improving my overall joy and contentment.

Categories
conscious living mindful at work

Seven Steps to Being More Mindful at Work

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The practice of mindfulness is not only beneficial to mental and physical health, but also increases productivity thanks to improved concentration and energy. Since making meditation and mindfulness habits in my everyday life, I have enjoyed coming into work each day, use my time more efficiently and have been able to work better.

Being mindful improves focus and awareness, so following these tips can result in being much more creative and effective in the workplace.

1. Be Present

Focusing on one assignment or project at a time is crucial to being mindful in the workplace. When your attention shifts from one distraction to another, it’s important to remember to go back to where you left off and become present in the task at hand.

2. Make Lists

Start your day with a list of “to-dos” to accomplish. Working on one project at a time will help you increase productivity and stay organized. Re-prioritize your list throughout the day if necessary.

3. Mindful Reminders

Write cheerleading statements on post-it note and stick them on your desk. These simple reminders will motivate you and help to stay in the moment. Don’t know how to get started? Begin with simple statements such as “This is only temporary” or “I can do it!”

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4. Take a Breather

Step away from the desk and enjoy a walk around the neighborhood or short break to re-group. Give yourself time and space to re-energize throughout your day to improve concentration and overall productivity. I always take a few minutes during lunch to grab a coffee, walk down to the harbor or take photos of downtown Boston. Enjoy the beauty around you!

5. Radical Acceptance

This is one of my favorite DBT skills.  Radical acceptance doesn’t mean you have to like everyone or each situation, but it does mean you must accept things for how they are. While you don’t have to agree with someone, it’s important to validate them by acknowledging their thoughts or opinions.

6. Gratitude

Interrupt anxiety with gratitude! It’s so easy to fall into a negative mindset when something doesn’t go your way. Instead of focusing on your triggers, shift your focus to your blessings. Remember: you’re working, you’re fulfilling a purpose, and you’re needed. Try and focus on the positives and have gratitude for your position, opportunity, coworkers or work output.

7. Mindfulness Exercises

There are a variety of mindfulness exercises you can do at your desk to keep yourself balanced throughout your day. The Harvard Business Review gives tips and a guided breathing exercise to keep you present. According to HBR, “Mindfulness helps increase effectiveness, decrease mistakes, and even enhances creativity.”

Learn more about mindfulness at work at Mindful.org.

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Enjoying my lunchtime stroll!