What’s Inside Your Head?

How stressed are you?  If you’re a parent, have a job, are in a relationship or are alive today, chances are you have some stress in your life.  May is Mental Health month in America.  It is really important to not only have discussions to remove negative stereotypes around some of the mental health challenges that people have, but also to do all you can to support your mental and emotional health.

Let’s start with our eyes.  This is one of the two main ways that you can help to improve your mental state.  Don’t watch the news, period.  Limit your TV watching to a few hours per day (preferably 1-2).  Also limit your newspaper and online reading to as little negative or depressing stuff as possible.   We’re in a culture where we’re surrounded by bad news and sad stories.  If enough people stop watching certain programs the TV stations will have to rethink what they’re offering to their viewers.  So when you’re not watching the news and TV, start reading the good news, books that will educate you and uplift your spirit.  (Same goes for the kids!)

Second, our ears.  This is a more difficult because you can’t just turn off the coworker who always complains that the sky is falling.  What you can do is be proactive with your words.  When you’re hearing something you don’t like, ask to change the subject or turn the discussion from a complaining session to a discovery session coming up with options on how to fix or remedy the complaints.  The same goes for friends and family who always point out the tough stuff.  Limit your exposure to things that aren’t good for your ears.

Finally, support your mind.  First, put good stuff in.  That means the food and things you read and hear, should be carefully selected.  Do your body and mind a favor by feeding it with good stuff.  Second, give it support.  Get enough sleep at night, exercise weekly, and don’t have bad habits like smoking or drugs.

Get connected with Mental Health America, National Institute of Mental Health, and WebMD to learn more.  There are also thousands of groups online (check out Facebook for some), and in your local area who you can connect with and get support on a more personal level.

Don’t let mental health get bypassed in your life.  Do all you can to support the brain that helps you function.

Your Choice of Power

“Minds are like parachutes- they function only when they are open.”  Thomas Dewar

This month we’re talking about empowerment.  There are a lot of people who have chosen to put their parachutes in bags and hide them, or let people walk all over them rendering them useless.  Dewar is right.  We all have a choice.  Do you open up your parachute and float through life, or do you free fall past opportunities until you’re at the end of your life?  This month I encourage you to take little steps to gather your power back and to make sure you’ve always got your parachute open for both your mind and life’s sakes.

To open your mind means to think for yourself.  It means not accepting as fact everything you hear.  It means listening carefully to what someone is saying and creating your own opinions about it.  It means being honest with yourself and with others about yourself, and about how you feel.

Opening your life means to act for yourself.  It means standing up for yourself and saying “no” when you need a break or don’t agree with something.  It means not taking a job just so you have money.  It means caring for the earth throughout your day, not just when it’s convenient for you.

This month we’ll be talking about some different things you can do to empower yourself and help you live an empowered life.  First though, you have a choice: will you choose to live an empowered, open life?  What do you think?  Are you ready to not be walked on anymore, to make your own decisions, to live the life you were meant to live, to be with the people you feel safe with and make healthy choices?

What one step will you take today to regain your power and open up your parachute?  Share your step below.

Puppies, Peace and Pausing

As we’re thinking about family this Friday, I thought we would talk about pausing.  What does it mean to pause in life?  Well, if we think about the end of winter, it seems like life pauses right before we get to spring and all then of nature explodes.  It means taking a deep breath before you rush to your next meeting. It means taking time to count to 10 before you yell at your partner or kids.  It’s about stopping when you see that cute YouTube video of those puppies to just enjoy a minute of their cuteness (warning: these videos are addictive, only watch one per day).  It’s about taking the time to properly answer an email instead of typing out a quick answer and sending it out with spelling mistakes and lots of (inappropriately) abbreviated words.

Why pause?  Well, it lowers your blood pressure.  You’re a much more enjoyable person to be around.  You have less stress and think clearer.  You’ll have better relationships and people will enjoy being around you more.  You will be more respected at work and you’ll be more professional too.

Stop, pause, take a deep breath, stretch, or close your eyes for just 10 seconds an hour or five minutes a day and you’ll be amazed how much more focused, relaxed and patient you are.  Make pausing your default action instead of yelling or freaking out.  Another great activity to do during your 5 minutes of pause time is yoga.  By doing the movements each day you’ll be more flexible and feel better about your body.  Take a deep breath right now, and enjoy the rest of your day!

These thoughts are part of one of my Path Plan Track courses, “10 Daily Habits”.   Click here and scroll down about 2/3 of the page to learn more about my “10 Daily Habits” course and other courses and programs I offer.

Do you take time each day to pause?  Have you saved yourself or a situation because you paused?  Share your thoughts below.

What do you see in the mirror?

Sometimes we just don’t like what we see in the mirror. A little makeup, good food and exercise can help with that.  But, what if you don’t like what you feel on the inside?  Today I’m sharing some thoughts to help you transform what you find inside.

Read
Pick up inspiring books by Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, John Maxwell and other great individuals.  Find books that help you learn about yourself and inspire you to greater things.

Music
Listen to inspiring music.  Putting something good between your ears is one way to dramatically improve your thoughts of yourself.  If you watch more than 2 hours of TV a day, cut back.  Don’t watch news period.  Every day I hear people say “I don’t have time for that” or “I can’t afford that.” If you watched one less hour of TV a day and listened to inspiring musicians while you built a side business, not only would you have more time, you would also have more money.

Seminars
I’ve always attended seminars but about a year ago I discovered that there was such a thing as a ‘teleclass’ and a ‘telesummit’.  This means that you can attend a seminar or class virtually, from your home, on your computer or phone, in your pajamas, often at any time you can.  I share any seminars or telesummits that I learn about in my weekly Business Newsletter.

Talk with a coach/counselor/friend/pastor
There are so many people in this world who can give you encouragement and guidance about what you feel inside.  I believe that everyone has the potential to shine and do amazing things with their life if only they try.  You don’t have to be perfect or a big star, you just have to be you.  Coaches, counselors and pastors know how to help you if you’re really struggling, but often a friend is just what you need.

These are just four of the things you can do to change what you see and feel inside.  Don’t forget to make sure you’ve got great people around you who inspire and encourage you and not drain you.  What have you done to improve who you are?   Share your insights below.

Accepting What Is

It’s almost Valentine’s Day!  This year I’ve tried hard to make many of my tweets (@growwithlaura) and blog posts single-friendly.  You don’t have to have a date for Valentine’s Day.  Matter of fact, if you don’t love yourself, no matter how many partners/friends you have, Valentine’s Day will still stink!  A lesson I’ve been learning lately is about appreciating what you do have.  What I have at the moment is LOTS of time.  So I’m planning my week to put that time to good use, or to be flexible if work does come up.  So how do we appreciate and make use of what we do have?

First, accept that it’s not easy to learn.  You need to be super proactive and gather a lot of support for this.  Tell your best friend when you’re struggling, and ask them to support you either with a daily text, email or just a hug.

Second, do what you need to do now.   Make a list of the things you want to do in your life like making a plan for your finances, trying lots of new ice cream flavors, starting a business, ending bad habits or relocating.  Also plan any trips and time with family you want to take part in, but don’t necessarily want to drag anyone along for.

Third, learn about yourself!  Spend at least an hour a day reading books, articles, blog posts and other things that will help you discover who you are, what makes you tick, and what you’re meant to do.  Do activities to develop your creative side and to help yourself relax.  Spend time learning how your body works, and learn how your body needs to be loved.

The bottom line is that if you’re single, and even if you’re not, take advantage of the time you do have.  We’re all on earth for a certain, limited, amount of time.  Each and every moment should be used for something important, even if that important event is taking 5 minutes to quietly watch the birds play on the snow or your dog play at the edge of the ocean waves.  The more you love yourself the more love you will be able to give to the rest of the world, and you’ll receive more too.

Share what you love best about yourself below!

Loving Yourself

As I was preparing for this blog post, I asked myself “What does it mean to love me?”  As I thought about what it means for me to love me, I came up with a few ideas about how to love yourself.

1. Put time aside to be alone.  I encourage you to either take daily time to be alone, even if it’s the 5-20 minutes you take to stretch or meditate each day, or to dedicate an hour or two a week all to yourself.  No kids, no partner, no coworkers, no family, no working, cleaning or stressing.  It’s so important to care for yourself and to give your brain the quiet time it needs to tell you all it can’t tell you while you’re planning schedules, doing work or contemplating the future.  You could walk outside, sit on a rock or swing, be sitting on your bedroom floor or relaxing in the hot tub.  Whatever you choose, make that time to relax, rest and listen.

2. Be kind to yourself.  So many people go around telling themselves and others the ways they screwed up, apologizing for personality traits and crucifying themselves for little, rather insignificant mistakes.  Don’t do it.  Give yourself a pat on the back and a hug each day.  Eat that mini chocolate bar.   Add meat/fish to your salad at lunch.  Give yourself extra time to do things so you’ll not have to rush.  And don’t forget to forgive yourself for things you’re holding against yourself from the past.

3. Not judging but growing.  It’s a guaranteed fact that you will make mistakes throughout your life. But we’ve all got the opportunity to learn from the mistakes, not be ruined by them.  Even if the mistake happens to cost us a relationship, friendship, job, money or something else, your attitude towards life doesn’t have to be ruined.  Take each happening in stride and learn what you can.  Then move on.  Dwelling on problems, and not learning from them not only hurts you, it hinders your opportunities to be helpful to others and live a full and happy life.

4. Doing what’s right for you.  This is something not many people do.  Take responsibility and make the best decisions you can that support who you are, what you like and who you are made to be.  Learn how to say no and when to say no.  Look into opportunities and doors that open to you.  Open your mind to new things and learn what possibilities are available today for you.  I encourage you to live with values, guidelines and a plan.  Let those be your guide, and make sure that the people and opportunities are right for you, not right for all the people who think you should take said opportunity.

5. Balance.  Above all, do your best to balance your life.  Eat a little sweet and a little healthy.  Walk every day, and if you feel like it, run or swim.  Spend time with friends and alone.  If you strive for 1 month to set a balance in your life, and do your best to keep that up, you’ll be very comfortable saying no and saying yes to opportunities that come along in the future, and you’ll be better at scheduling the good opportunities into your life.

Are there other ways that you show love to yourself?  Share them below.

10 Steps to a Fresh Start

Today I’m excited to share 10 ways you can start each day off fresh.

1-smile at yourself in the mirror

2-have a real breakfast with fruit and something healthy to eat

3-clean up before you go to bed

4-wash your face/shower

5-drink tea/water

6-meditate

7-stretch

8-take 5 deep breaths

9-spend 5 minutes planning for your day

10-step outside and spend 5 minutes with nature

What things do you do so you have a fresh start each day?  Share your ideas below.

True Meaning of Christmas

Every year there is a “battle” that ensues between Santa, Baby Jesus and all other Christmas/Holiday traditions.  I believe that it’s completely unnecessary and totally makes us all miss the point of the holidays.  Today I’m sharing the TRUTH about the holidays, regardless of what you celebrate.

The holidays are about:

Love: Even if you can’t give anything else, give love.  Although it is the hardest thing for many people to give, it’s also the most valuable.  Love isn’t just about the fuzzy warm feeling you get deep down inside, it’s about sharing how special someone else is to you.  Don’t be afraid to let your heart grow 3 sizes larger (just like the Grinch’s did).   A bigger, more loving heart is a better heart.

Family & friends:  This is such a special opportunity to spend with family and friends.  Whether you have big gatherings or just go out for coffee, spending time with these important people is extra special in the holidays.  Instead of dreading these occasions, always find the good in them, and be cheerful even when others aren’t.  (Don’t forget to be extra patient with schedules and planning things!)

Special feelings: Whether you call it the magic in the air, or the special feeling from God at Christmas, most would agree there is something extra special about this time of year.  Don’t ignore those feelings, embrace them and let them fill you with that Festive Spirit.  (Think Ghost of Christmas Present from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)

Community: Giving back is easy in the holidays.  There are Santas seeking donations at many food stores, community drives for food, and even some outreaches to the homeless community you could assist with.  Even though you’re busy with family and other commitments, don’t forget to attend a Christmas play, Holiday choir concert, church service or other festive gathering in the community.

If you are in the mood for a traditional (Jesus) Christmas, check out my other Christmas post.

Share your truths about the Holidays below 🙂

Organizing your Mind

With the holidays it’s easy to lose track of things, forget things or misplace things.  Today I’m sharing some tips for helping your brain work better and assist you better.

Simple things to do to help you help your brain:

Make lists: making a list is the easiest and most practical way to keep track of all the things you need to do now, and need to do soon.

Use technology to remind you: there are many technologies out there, from calendar reminders on your phone to different internet tools that will help you with your productivity.

Use a timer: setting a timer for a particular amount of time can encourage you to do one thing at a time and really get it done.

Take a nap: the occasional, brief nap is known for its restorative properties.  If you’re feeling stuck or frustrated, try laying down for a bit.

Ask for help: sometimes the best thing you can do is get help.  Delegate some activities, and ask for assistance with others.

Ways to improve your brain:

Listen to good things: listen to teleseminars, uplifting/meditative music and inspiring speeches. This will help your brain grow and create new pathways.

Watch minimal news: news watching is notorious for depressing people and helping them focus on the wrong stuff.  Do your best to limit your exposure to negative news.

Eat brain foods: check out this list from WebMd and this one from BrainReady.

Read: reading books, nonfiction, fiction, biography etc, especially those with educational topics, can really help to keep your brain working well.

Sleep: while the jury is still out on the number of hours we each need every night, all scientists agree that sleep is essential for your brain to work best.

Meditate: doing meditation or other spiritual practices is known to help improve your brain, as well as other areas of your life.

Subscribe to inspiring blogs/newsletters: this ties into reading books and listening to good things.  Check out the newsletters I offer, including one that features other inspiring newsletters.

Keep learning: do your best to learn something new each day.  Watch educational programs on TV, visit museums and attend seminars and engage with people in discussion.  If you’re learning, your brain can’t get lazy.

~What do you do to keep your brain in top condition? Share your thoughts, resources and ideas below!

Be Your Best This Christmas

The holidays are notorious for filling schedules and draining checkbooks.  If you haven’t checked out my blog post about giving yourself some holiday cheer and reducing some stress, I encourage you to do so.

Today I want to share some thoughts about what love is with you,

“Love is a feeling directed at someone which acknowledges their goodness.” Dr. John Gray

Love is “The willful intent to serve the well being of another” M. Scott Peck

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Bible

“Love is like quicksilver in the hand. Leave the fingers open and it stays. Clutch it, and it darts away.” Dorothy Parker

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.” Love Actually (movie, 2003)

I could share pages and pages of quotes with you today.  But my aim is not to expose you to two dozen perspectives about love.  Rather, my hope is that you will be reminded of what it feels like deep inside to love yourself and love others.

I strongly encourage you to think of and act on one way you can show love to yourself today, and one way you can show love to another today.  And don’t just do it today, do it everyday!

Feel free to share what you are going to do for yourself and for another below!