What Does Self-Care Really Mean?

What Does Self-Care Really Mean?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of self-care recently. It has become quite a popular concept, one that I see mentioned on social media all the time. But what does it really mean? And how do I know if what I am doing is “self-care” or if it is actually having the opposite effect?

I recently had a lightbulb moment where I realized self-care is really very simple. It is anything that makes me feel better, lifts me up, puts me in a better mood. It is anything that helps me recharge, as opposed to something that drains my metaphorical battery. So I started paying attention to what lifts me up throughout my week, and what brings me down.

Things that lift me up

  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Exercising
  • Getting outside on a nice day
  • Crossing things off my to-do list

Things that bring me down

  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Spending time with negative/toxic people
  • Overeating or eating when I’m not really hungry
  • Binging Netflix to avoid responsibilities

I had this moment of clarity last week when I realized, if I just do more of the first list and less of the second list, I should feel better on a daily basis! It seems really obvious, but I think a lot of us, myself included, tend to give in to what we want right now instead of stopping to think about what will actually make us feel better.

For me, self-care is all about treating myself with the same kindness and respect as I would treat others, and keeping in mind my Future Self and how she will feel about the choices I’m making right now. I may be tempted to eat a bunch of junk food when I’m feeling sad, or spend my entire day watching TV, but I know that’s not going to actually make me feel happy. Instead, I could choose to go on a walk or text a friend and ask if they want to do something fun.

My new goal is to take care of myself every day by doing more of what I love, and less of what I know isn’t good for me.

What lifts you up and what brings you down? Leave a comment and let me know!

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years

A little over a week ago I turned 25, and something about this age has made me reflect on everything I have learned in my life up until now. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am still very young in the grand scheme of things, and I have a lot more to learn about this thing called life. But I also feel that I have learned a thing or two on my journey thus far, so I thought I would share 25 nuggets of wisdom today, in honor of the 25 years I’ve been on this earth.

  1. If you’re afraid to do something, I ask yourself “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” This is what my mom always asks me when I’m feeling nervous. Something about acknowledging what I’m really afraid of helps me think logically about the situation, and often makes me realize there isn’t much to be afraid of in the first place.
  2. If you want to get to know someone better, they probably feel the same way about you. Ask that coworker to eat lunch with you. Reach out to that new friend you just met to see if they want to grab dinner. After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?
  3. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves to be judging you. This is something I like to tell myself when I’m worrying too much about what others think of me. If you feel like you made a bad first impression on someone, I guarantee that person is thinking the same thing about himself/herself.
  4. Don’t put things off. If not now, when? I’m just as guilty as the next person of procrastinating, but I always feel so much more satisfied when I get things done. Speaking of which…
  5. Write to-do lists. I write lists of what I want to get done both at work and in my free time. I’m looking forward to crossing write blog post off my list after this!
  6. Try to say yes more. I’ve been testing this out a lot lately, and I’m already seeing positive results. In the last few weeks, I’ve said yes to going on a trip to Costa Rica in April, going to a trivia night for the first time, and attending an event with my coworkers where I ended up making some new friends! But with that being said…
  7. Know when to say no. As much as I am an advocate for saying yes, I have also been working on knowing my boundaries and when I need to say no. For me, that normally manifests when I find myself doing too much for other people and not paying enough attention to my own wants and needs.
  8. It’s important to get “me time” every week. I have a fairly busy schedule between work and my social life, and I’m the type of person that needs time to recharge. That’s where saying no comes in, as I sometimes have to turn down invitations from friends in favor of staying in and relaxing for a night.
  9. The most important relationship you have in life is the one with yourself. Be your own best friend, your own biggest supporter, and your own #1 fan. When you truly love yourself, others will love you even more.
  10. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. I’ve written about this quite a lot. From my time taking an improv class, to starting a YouTube channel, I’ve been pushing myself to do the things that scare me more and more as I’ve gotten older. And the kicker is, I never regret it!
  11. Don’t ignore your passions. Find ways to do more of what you love. A recent example for me is that I’ve started teaching myself to play piano again, after not playing for many years.
  12. Be selfish sometimes. My first instinct is to think about the other person and how they feel or what they want. This is a great quality to have, but I often need to remind myself I deserve to get what I want sometimes too.
  13. Don’t dwell on the past. In the end, this only brings you more pain, and holds you back from truly appreciating what you have.
  14. Always remember to be grateful. When I’m feeling down, I like to remind myself of all of the positive things in my life. No matter what you’re going through, there is always something to be grateful for.  
  15. It’s okay to fail. Nobody is perfect, everyone messes up from time to time. Plus, failures often teach us the best lessons and help us grow more than our successes.
  16. The logical and emotional parts of your brain don’t always agree. Sometimes your head knows something is a bad idea but your heart doesn’t want to listen. Or vice versa. The best thing you can do is just go with your gut instinct.
  17. Spend as much time outside as possible. Nothing makes me happier than going on a walk on a nice sunny day. Nature can truly feel healing at times!
  18. There’s no shame in going to therapy. You always hear people talk about exercising and taking care of your body by eating right, but we still don’t talk enough about taking care of our minds. Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health!
  19. You’ll have bad days, weeks, months, and even bad years. But there is always something good amongst the bad. Focus on the good.
  20. Feelings aren’t facts. Just because you feel one way, doesn’t mean everyone feels that way. At the same time, just because someone feels differently than you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Nobody can control how they feel.
  21. Hindsight really is 20/20. It’s the unfortunate truth that situations and events in life become much clearer when they’ve become history. Don’t beat yourself up for not seeing something in the moment. Be thankful you can learn from your mistakes and move on.
  22. If someone annoys you, they probably remind you of yourself. This is a lesson I learned from my dad. We don’t like to see ourselves mirrored in others, which is why opposites can attract in friendships and romantic relationships. Whenever I express dislike for someone, my dad always asks me “what about that person reminds you of yourself?”
  23. Don’t be afraid to let people really know you. I’ve been trying to push myself to share more of my life with friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who read this blog.
  24. Be fearless in the pursuit of your goals and dreams. I truly believe I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I try to set a lot of goals for myself, both in my personal life and my work life, so I always have something to be working towards.
  25. Never stop learning. I’m sure in the next 25 years of my life I will learn many more valuable lessons. And who knows, maybe I’ll still be sharing them on here!

Thanks for reading! Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on these life lessons, and share some of your own!

Also, I’d love to connect with you on social media! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

CitySTRONG: My Interview With Erin Oprea, Shawn Booth and Kaitlyn Bristowe

CitySTRONG: My Interview With Erin Oprea, Shawn Booth and Kaitlyn Bristowe

Sometimes in life, you get opportunities that seem a little too good to be true. This was definitely how I felt when I was offered the chance to not only attend the CitySTRONG event in Austin, but get media/VIP access to meet and interview Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth from The Bachelorette Season 11, and celebrity fitness instructor Erin Oprea.

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know I’m a fan of the Bachelor franchise, so meeting Kaitlyn and Shawn was basically a dream come true. Not to mention, it’s not every day you get to chat with the woman who helped Carrie Underwood achieve her famous legs.

citystrongblogheader
Photo credit: Zach Harrison Photography

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with CitySTRONG, it is a one hour workout lead by Erin and Shawn, with hilarious commentary and music provided by Kaitlyn. While the workout was no joke, and I am still sore today, it was also a lot of fun.

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-4-19-20-pm
Photo credit: Zach Harrison Photography (@zachharrisonphotography on Instagram)

CitySTRONG has events across the country, with all proceeds going to a great cause: CreatiVets. This cause is particularly important to Erin, who is a former U.S. Marine. CreatiVets provides disabled veterans with the opportunity to use art, music and creative writing to address the psychological and emotional needs that arise from service-related trauma.

Now that you have a bit of context, let’s dive into my interview with Kaitlyn, Shawn and Erin. They were all so friendly and willing to answer all of my questions. It felt more like a casual hang-out than an interview, and overall I’m really proud of how it turned out.

Shelly: To start off, can you tell me how you came up with the idea for CitySTRONG, and what the experience has been like so far? 

Erin: My husband Sean, Shawn [Booth], and I were out on bicycles riding through the city of Nashville, and we just came up with the idea together. And three weeks later, we had our first workout! That was in September of last year, and from there it just grew. 

Shawn: We really just wanted to share our passion with others on a larger scale…

Erin: But in a fun aspect too. I didn’t want it to just be a serious workout. It’s more like a party – with the exception of wine today. 

Kaitlyn: I normally drink wine but I’m doing 30 days without it right now.

Shelly: I’m sure that’s tough!

Kaitlyn: It really is. 

[Kaitlyn’s commentary during the workout included many references to the lack of wine, including my favorite line from her of the day: “Oh good, I’m still funny without wine! Good to know.”]

Shelly: What would you say is the main goal of CitySTRONG?

Erin: I want people to realize that sweating doesn’t have to be boring. A lot of people think working out is boring and I want to show people it can be fun, especially if you have a workout buddy that energizes you. 

Shawn: And that you can do it anywhere. Like today, we’ll do a full body workout using just your body. There’s no weights involved. So if you’re at home struggling to get to the gym, or you’re traveling, it’s something you can do wherever.  

Shelly: I think that’s really important, because a lot of people (myself included) make excuses about being too busy or not being able to make it to the gym. So reminding people you can do it anywhere is great. 

Erin: Yeah I hear that all the time. There’s no good excuse, because you can always do ten minutes, go back to work, and then do ten more minutes later in the day. You can always fit it in, it just has to become a priority. When it becomes important enough to you, you’ll do it. 

Shelly: That’s so true. So what advice would you have for someone who is struggling to stay motivated or to put fitness as a top priority in their life? 

Shawn: Set short-term goals for yourself. I think a lot of people give up or get discouraged if they don’t see progress being made within a few days, so if you set goals for yourself such as ‘I’m going to work out three times this week’ it makes it easier. Take it day by day, meal by meal, workout by workout. 

Erin: I think an important one for women is to monitor based on how your clothes fit, not what you see on the scale. The scale sometimes can be the death of all of us women. 

Kaitlyn: My mom refuses to own a scale.

Erin: I just got my first scale of my life, I’ve never owned one. And I shouldn’t really even own one, it’s just stupid. 

Shelly: Erin, you wrote a book, The 4×4 Diet. Can you tell me what readers can expect from it?

Erin: It includes tabata workouts, which are my favorite. They’re 8 round bursts of 20 seconds of high-intensity moves, followed by 10 seconds of rest. The book also goes into having a clean, healthy diet that you can have forever, not a quick crash diet. 

Shawn: No fad diets here!

Shelly: What has been the best or most rewarding part of the CitySRONG experience so far? 

Shawn: We get the pleasure of meeting hundreds of people after the events, and just hearing their stories and how inspired they are by us keeps us motivated to keep doing what we do. 

I had so much fun at the workout and chatting with Erin, Shawn and Kaitlyn. Hope you all enjoyed reading the interview, and learned a thing or two about health and fitness. Be sure to check out CitySTRONG’s website to see if they’re coming to your city, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook. You can also find Kaitlyn, Shawn, and Erin on Instagram.

 

 

How to Stay Body Positive

How to Stay Body Positive

I was watching a YouTube video the other day, and in the video the YouTuber stated her weight. I looked through the comments and found many young girls saying things such as: “I’m only 14 and I weigh more than her” and asking if that was okay or if they were too big.

I replied to as many comments as I could, telling the girls that it isn’t healthy to compare yourself to others because every body is unique, and as long as you are healthy and happy it doesn’t matter what you weigh. But I know this message is easy to say and not quite as easy to believe.

I have definitely had my fair share of anxiety about the way my body looks, but I do feel I have learned some helpful tricks over the years to remain more body positive. Hopefully some of these tips will help those of you who might be struggling.

Stop comparing yourself to others

As I told the young girls commenting on the YouTube video, it does no good to judge yourself based on the standard others have set. Not only does it inevitably lead to negative thoughts, but it is not productive or logical. Every single person on this planet has a different body, and no matter how hard you try, yours will never look exactly like someone else’s, and you will be left feeling disappointed if you constantly covet another’s body type.

Do things that make you feel strong, healthy and confident

The healthier alternative to comparing yourself to others is to focus on your own mind and body, and do things that make you feel good. For me this includes taking a yoga class every week, going on walks at least three times a week, hiking in the greenbelt at least once a month, and going shopping or dressing up every once in a while to feel more confident.

Be nice to yourself

Next time you catch yourself criticizing your appearance, turn your thoughts to what you love about yourself instead. Whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I try to think of something positive instead of immediately jumping to something negative. You can even pretend you’re complimenting someone else instead of yourself, if that helps! It’s much easier for us to find the beauty in others, for whatever reason.

Keep track of the compliments you receive from others

Speaking of complimenting others, another good trick is to take note of the compliments you receive, and be sure to repeat them to yourself when you’re feeling down. Whether it’s that you have nice nails (something one of my coworkers always tells me), or maybe even just that someone liked your outfit one day. Reminding ourselves of how others see us is very helpful when trying to stay body positive!.

I hope this helped you, or just added a little positivity to your Sunday night! Try these tips out this week and see how it changes the way you feel for the rest of the week. Also, if you’re looking for some general positivity tricks, check out my How To Stay Positive post.

My Plan for a Happy 2016

My Plan for a Happy 2016

Happy-New-Year-Resolutions-2016-

Hey everyone! I know January is already halfway over, but I figure it’s never too late to share my New Year’s Resolutions with you. My goals for this year all revolve around a specific desire to be happier than I was last year. Now, that’s not to say I wasn’t happy in 2015; last year was actually one of the best years of my life! But I think everyone is always striving to be even happier, so that is what I will attempt to accomplish in 2016.

With this in mind, I came up with a motto of sorts that I hope will define this year:

Take risks, and take care 

To me, this means that I want to focus on leaving fear behind me, and I also want to focus on self care and being more aware of how I am treating my own mind and body. I often feel frustrated or unhappy with my life, which I have talked about in past blogs. I want to take this new year to really take control of my own happiness and make changes in my life that I feel will improve my happiness.

I have separated some specific resolutions into two categories based on my new motto, along with a description for why they are my resolutions and how I hope to achieve them.

do-one-thingRisks:

  • Take an improv class

The idea for improv to be my new hobby came to me rather suddenly, and the more I think about it the more sense it makes. I used to love acting in middle and high school, and I took an improv class one summer and really enjoyed it. I think this will be an awesome way to get outside my comfort zone, meet new people, and pick back up an old passion. I signed up for a 6 week class already, and I’ll start in February!

  • Learn to cook

My inability to cook has actually been an insecurity of mine for a while. My mom and sister love to cook and I have just never followed in their path for whatever reason. I was always either too busy or lacking motivation to learn to cook in college, but now is the perfect time in my life to go for it! I put this in the category of “risks” because for me, it is a bit of a risk. I have always been scared to try new things, and cooking is definitely new territory for me. My plan is to learn to cook one new recipe per week this year. Wish me luck!

ByRePQsCYAAF2Fk

Care:

  • Exercise regularly

I got really good at exercising three to four times a week for a while, but as soon as I started my job in November that all disappeared. While it used to be easy to work out in the middle of the day if I wanted to, I am now constricted to either early in the morning, late at night or on the weekends. Unfortunately I let this slight hurdle stop me from even trying. This year, I plan to find a yoga class or another type of class at my gym during weekday nights, and also go to the gym to work out on weekends.

  • Make time for friends

This one is very important to me. Spending time with friends brings me a lot of happiness, and I don’t feel like I make enough time for my social life as of now. It’s just too easy to go home and watch TV every night. I think making an effort to see friends at least 3 times a week, even if it’s just for a quick dinner, will make a huge difference.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my plan to have a happy 2016. I’d love to hear what some of your resolutions or goals or just general thoughts are for this year!

Be Proud of Yourself

For the past few weeks I have been feeling a little down. Some might say I’ve been in a rut. This is due to not being completely happy with certain things in my life, putting a lot of pressure on myself to change them, and also just general feelings of sadness and annoyance that don’t seem to stem from any one thing in particular.

While working out today I had an epiphany of sorts, and I thought I would share it in case any of you are struggling with some of the feelings of doubt and unhappiness that I have been experiencing. My epiphany was that I do not do a good enough job of patting myself on the back for all of the things I am doing right. Instead, I focus on the negatives or what I think I could be doing better. This causes a lot of unnecessary stress and makes me feel upset at myself when I really shouldn’t be feeling that way.

So I came up with an idea which I think is a pretty good one, if I do say so myself. I am going to start acknowledging all of the accomplishments and goals that I have been achieving lately, in an effort to improve my spirits and just have a more positive outlook on life. Positivity is one of my words for having a happier fall, after all! (See ‘Happy Fall!’).

What I’ve Accomplished Lately:

  1. Over the past few months I have gone from not working out at all (besides the occasional short walk) to getting to the gym at least 4 times a week! I’ve always heard that working out can help make you feel happier and more energized, and I am already seeing how true that is. No matter how down I’m feeling, I always feel better after leaving the gym.
  2. I went from not blogging in over a year, to publishing five blog posts in the past few months! It is crazy that as I write this, I have 40-something followers already. I know that might not seem like a lot for some of you big-shot bloggers out there, but the thought that 40 people have read my blog and were influenced by it in some way is really awesome to me!

I know I could think of more to be proud of myself for, but those are the two main things that stand out to me as of right now. I already feel better just having acknowledged that I have succeeded in doing something, in changing something about my life in a positive way. Blogging and working out are both activities that make me feel happier, which is really the most important part of any activity.

What makes you happy? What have you been doing right lately that you haven’t given yourself enough credit for? Let me know in the comments, and write your own version of this blog if you think it will help you feel better! It certainly worked for me.

Positive-Quotes3

~Subscribe and follow me on social media if you liked what you read!~