Monday Motivation

“Imagine your life is perfect in every respect; what would it look like?” – Brian Tracey

This is a question that I ask my therapy clients all the time; if you woke up tomorrow and everything was perfect what would be different? What would have changed? What’s your answer?

What is one thing that you can do today that will bring you closer to your perfect life?

 

 

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Ten Steps to Improve Your Mood Today

In my work as a therapist, I often implement a style of therapy called Behavioral Activation Therapy. The Behavioral Activation Model, in short, says that difficult life events, such as trauma, loss, daily hassles in life, or a biological predisposition to depression, leads to people experiencing low levels of positive reinforcement in their lives. Likewise, the behaviors that people often utilize to cope with their negative feelings, while possibly helpful short-term, do not provide a high enough level of positive reinforcement and are not beneficial long-term. For example, when you feel down or depressed, you might not have any motivation to get out of bed. There might even be a day or two where you just stay in bed and watch Netflix. While I’m not going to lie and tell you I don’t have days here and there where I just wish that I could spend the day in bed watching Netflix, it’s also pretty obvious that it’s not going to fix your bad mood, depression, grief and loss, etc.

Basically, negative behaviors (or seemingly neutral behaviors) lead to increased or sustained depression. Positive behaviors lead to positive reinforcement, which leads to a positive mood.
So what the behavioral activation model does instead is help the person identify small steps that they could take in addressing their personal struggle and attaining some positive reinforcement.

Think baby steps.

So why am I telling you all of this?

Because behavioral activation is something that you can use in your everyday life in any area that you want to manifest change. It starts with one simple question: What is one thing that I can do differently today?
Make a list! I prefer writing things down to have a visual reminder, but a mental list will work to… you just have to stick to it!

To get you started, here is a list of 10 smalls things that you can do – starting today – to begin to change your environment and reinforce change.

1. Journal – write down your thoughts and feelings, positive or negative.

2. Go for a walk, jog, run, bike ride – move. Get the blood flowing again and release some endorphins.

3. Grab a cup of coffee – make a pot at home and sit somewhere peaceful to drink it slowly, or call up a friend and go to a local coffee shop to sit and talk as you enjoy a latte.

4. Visit a park – spend some time out in nature. Take in your surroundings. Breathe.

5. Try a grounding exercise – this is super simple and can be done anywhere. Pause. Be aware of your 5 senses. Describe them. What is it that you taste right now? What are you hearing? What can you feel underneath your hands? On other parts of your body? Are there any distinct smells that you notice? What do you see? Look a little deeper than you are used to… are there things right in front of you that you usually miss? This activity only takes a moment or two, but it helps us come gently direct our focus back to the present.

6. Cook something new – expand your tastes by trying something you’ve been meaning to make but haven’t had the time for. If you’re at a loss, try one of the recipes on my site 😉

7. Find something beautiful and photograph it. Try to get pictures from multiple angles. Be ever aware of the beauty in the world that hides right in front of our eyes.

8. Reconnect with an old friend or family member – perhaps you had a falling out with a friend and you have always regretted it. Maybe you feel guilty because you never call your grandma. CALL. Talk to someone and build up your human connections.

9. Create something. Maybe you love to paint, knit, or you are secretly incredibly gifted at hand lettering. Or maybe not! Find a tutorial on Pinterest and make something that brings beauty to your environment.

10. Go to a concert, an open mic night, or a museum. Observe what others have created or are creating. Let yourself marvel at the new things that you experience.

What might you add to this list to personalize it? What struggles are you currently facing that you feel this approach might be helpful for?

Disclaimer: Not all approaches will be appropriate or helpful for everyone. This post is not meant to be used in place of working with a mental health practitioner, but is simply a tool for self-growth. Please consult your doctor or a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, grief, loss, anxiety, or are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else.
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Eight Healthy Changes You Can Make Today

Let me see a show of hands of everyone who’s ever made a new year’s resolution? A bunch of you, right? How many of you stuck with the resolution all year (you don’t have to raise your hand).

If your goals didn’t stick, turns out you’re not alone: only about 8% of people actually achieve their new year’s resolutions. So does that mean that you should just throw in the towel and break out a bag of doritos? Nope! By setting small, quickly attainable goals instead of major life-overhaul resolutions, you’re able to stick with your goals and see quick results. Keeping in mind that health is a continual process, not a final destination, here are eight small things that you can start doing TODAY to get yourself on track towards your health goals. What would you add to this list to personalize it to your goals?

  1. Drink More Water. I know, it’s super basic, but I know that I get busy and forget to drink enough water alllllll the time. Aim for 9 glasses a day if you’re a woman and 13 if you’re a man. Drinking enough water not only helps to keep you hydrated, it helps to flush out toxins from your body, boosts your immune system and your energy, and helps with your complexion. So chug!
  2. Walk more. Or just move more in general. Get a fitness tracker and set a step goal every day. I usually aim for 10-15,000 steps a day. Make a game of it! Challenge a friend to see who can get the most steps. Moving every day not only helps with weight loss and management, but hello? It puts you in a better mood too!
  3. Take the stairs. I work on the 7th floor of my office building a few days a week and I’ve created a ‘No Elevator’ rule for myself. That means I’m hauling my pregnant booty up 7 flights of stairs several times a day. And if I can do that, you can do it too. Tone those legs and buns!
  4. Eat a piece of fruit and a veggie with every meal. Fill up on the nutrient-dense good stuff! The more fruits and veggies you consume, the more your body will learn to crave them and when the munchies hit, you’ll be more likely to reach for veggies and hummus than chips and dip. Perfect practice makes perfect!
  5. Take Time to Reflect. Carve out some time each day for intentional reflection. That could mean journalling, reading something that manifests spiritual growth, or simply sitting in silence and doing breath work. Even 15 minutes a day creates the potential for great personal growth!
  6. Laugh Often. Laughter is good for your soul… and your heart, your blood pressure, your hormonal levels, and your abs. So find a reason to laugh every day. Surround yourself with people who make you smile and laugh as much as possible. Watch silly youtube videos. Go to a comedy show. Talk with a toddler (Ransom always makes me laugh with his crazy stories).
  7. Get Outside. Spending time outdoors is a natural antidepressant, plus you’ll probably be moving around and getting extra steps in while you’re out there. Take a walk on your lunch break, go kayaking, or run around the backyard or the park with your kiddos. The hubby and I love to load up Ransom in the Ergobaby and walk down the road to our neighbor’s horse farm so Ransom can see the animals. Have fun and try to be in the moment, recognizing whatever unique sights and smells strike you along the way.
  8. Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Your body needs around 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and without that your physical and mental health take a major downwards spiral. If sleep is a problem for you, start by practicing good sleep hygiene. That means going to bed at the same time every night (approximately), turning off screens an hour before you want to fall asleep (no scrolling through Facebook or Netflix binging), and creating a relaxing bedtime routine, like a warm shower and reading a book, or sipping on a hot cup of herbal tea.