4 Steps to a Kick Ass Day

You wouldn’t start a workout without a warm up (at least I hope not!), so why jump head first into your day without a transition period? Ever since my husband and I started doing these 4 things in the morning, we have been getting a lot more done each day and are feeling a lot happier and more satisfied with our daily lives. And just like doing a tough workout without warming up, on the days we don’t do our morning routine, I feel a lot more disjointed and don’t seem to be as productive. Plus, it makes the transition from our warm, comfy bed into being a functioning adult a lot smoother.

So here are our 4 steps to having the kick ass day of your dreams!

1. Get up as soon as your alarm goes off. You know that you’re not going to get any quality sleep once you’ve woken up, but it feels oh so good to just lie there, right? Fight the urge to snuggle and just get up! Snoozing means that you’re going to be groggy, and the chances of you sleeping past your absolute latest wake up time are big, and that just starts the day off hurried and rushed, and that’s no way to live.

2. Make your bed. It seems so simple, and so many arguments can be made to not do it. “I’m just going to get into it tonight, what difference does it make to spend the time making it in the morning??”, you say. Well, think of it this way: once you have made it, you have already completed a task. Right out of bed, and you’ve already gotten something done! That feels awesome! And you can think of your made bed as a reflection of your mind; it’s clean and organized and now you are too!

3. Exercise. You know that exercise keeps you in shape, but did you know it also helps your focus and concentration for hours after you do it? Plus, getting it done in the morning puts your body in calorie burning mode, and that morning workout just might help you make healthier choices going forward for the rest of the day. You don’t have to do anything crazy; even a nice brisk walk is effective, and you’ll have less chance of talking yourself out of it like you might if you wanted until the end of your day to work out. So get moving!

4. Set goals and intentions for the day. This can be as simple or as involved as you need it to be, but taking a few moments to figure out what you want to get done in a day will lead to a much higher chance you will get those things done. I think the visual of seeing your daily goals on a whiteboard, a bullet journal, or even just a piece of paper helps put your day in concrete terms and focuses you on what is important for the day. Personally, we use a whiteboard system, which I will show you in a future post, so you can see what works for us!

That’s it! That’s our morning routine, and that’s the order that we do it in. Of course, there is breakfast and showering and such in there, too, but these are the unique bulletpoints that we try to work into every day, and we have found that the more we do this and stick to our routine, the more productive and effective we are.

What are some of the ways you prepare for your day? Let me know what works for you!

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My Latest Lip Haul!

I love lipstick. I previously mentioned (in my post about dressing up when you’re feeling down), that putting on a swipe of lipstick when you need a boost is a great way to fake some confidence until you are feeling better for real.

Of course, your go-to secret beauty weapon doesn’t have to be lipstick, but for me, lipstick is my favorite beauty treat. That’s saying something. I have a bit of a problem buying too much makeup (I don’t think it’s too much, but my husband begs to differ!), and lipstick is my absolute favorite indulgence. I’m also a bit of a lipstick snob. For me, the packaging is just as important as what’s inside of it. I love the feeling of pulling a luxurious tube of lippy out in public. It’s just a little bit of glamour for an otherwise blah day.

I went to Sephora yesterday and treated myself to a couple new colors, and I thought I would share my haul with you!

Lipstick haul from Sephora

Clockwise from left: Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain Liquid Lipstick in Pink Tea, Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge in Coquette, and Sephora Collection #Lipstories Lipstick In Take a Spin

I don’t normally buy three lipsticks at a time, but they were all so pretty. I just knew I would be bummed if I left without all of them, so home with me they came! It’s particularly grey, rainy, and yucky here today, so having a bit of color and shine will certainly pick me up every time I apply!

What is your favorite makeup must have? Let me know in the comments!

Makin’ A List

Anxiety is a bummer. A huge bummer. In the moment, it can feel pretty awful and overwhelming. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do about the negative effects of a panic attack, to take back your feelings of control and power over the situation. We’re going to talk about one specifically today, and it’s one of my favorites, because it involves having fun and treating yourself!

It’s simple: you just need a list of things that self-soothe and/or distract you from the less-than-desirable emotions and feelings that accompany a panic attack. A list, basically, of your favorite things to do when you are feeling down, the activities that take up your attention, are engrossing, and make you feel good!

The key to this skill is preparation. You need to make this list when you are not going through any emotional stress. Coming up with a list of positive activities isn’t going to work when you are distressed and can only look at the negative in a situation. In the emotional moment, nothing is going to sound appealing, so that’s why it’s so important to prepare and plan ahead while you are feeling stable and well-balanced.

Sit down and make this list, and then keep it on your phone or, if you’re more old school, on a list you keep in your purse, pocket, or wallet, so you can easily access it, no matter where you are. Then, when you aren’t feeling so hot, take your list out and pick something that sounds attractive and is easy to do in your current surroundings.

If the first activity you pick doesn’t work, if it doesn’t bring your emotional distress down, don’t give up! Just pick something else, go onto the next item, and keep with it until you’re feeling a bit better.

Here’s a list of ideas for self-soothing and distracting activities to get you started on your own list:

  • Give yourself a manicure
  • Watch a beauty tutorial on YouTube and follow along
  • Go for a long drive to nowhere in particular, listening to your favorite music, LOUD
  • Bake or cook something, try a new recipe or cook your favorite dish, whatever takes more of your focus
  • Read a good book
  • Give yourself a beauty treatment, face mask, foot mask, the works
  • Create something! Paint, draw, knit, write…whatever makes you happy!
  • Exercise!
  • Watch a funny show. Laughter is great medicine!
  • Declutter something. Clean out your closet, for example. This is a double-whammy, because not only will you feel accomplished, but donating to those less fortunate is another mood booster

This is just a small list to get you started, and remember to make them specific to you and your interests. It doesn’t do any good to calm yourself with an activity that you don’t even like to do.

So there it is! A skill for your anxiety toolbox, so you can take control of a situation and get yourself into a different mindset. Please remember that this is no substitution for medical care and/or professional mental health counseling, but it is a great self-empowering activity. So get busy and make your list when you’re feeling ok, and then next time anxiety hits, pull out your list and get busy! For more details on this skill, and for more emotional regulation skills, check out any book on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, where this idea is adapted from.

What are some of your favorite self-care activities? Let me know, and good luck with your list!

My Top 5 Handbag Essentials

Handbag Must Haves

I love to look in other people’s bags! I feel like it’s a little insight into who they are! So, I thought I’d share my top 5 essentials so you can get to know me a little better!

Tide Pen

I always have a tide pen on hand, and I think just having it in my bag helps me spill less! You know, Murphy’s Law and all…I feel like, why tempt fate? I learned my lesson when Dan spilled coffee all over his light colored shirt right as we were headed to Easter services at my parents’ church, and we had to stop at an AM/PM to get one. Ever since then, you will find one in my bag!

Lip Balm

Where would we be without lip balm?? I have the driest lips, and I have a habit of messing with them when they are dry that basically makes it ten times worse, so I always have at least one kind of lip balm on me, and I’m a sucker for a bag that has a special place to store lip balm. Michael Kors bags are usually good about having special small pockets to store little things in them, and every Rebecca Minkoff I have has a little business card pocket on the back wall that I love to designate as a lip balm pouch!

Pill Holder

I am not going to make many people happy when I say that I have the best pill holder ever, and they don’t make them anyone. I have no idea why Coach stopped making these awesome little pill cases, but I am very happy for the high quality, because I have had this one for years, and it still shows no sign of stopping, which is good, because you can’t get them! Check out Amazon for something similar, or Etsy for some cool vintage pillboxes.

Pens

I rarely write by hand anymore, so much so that my handwriting has gone from award winning (third grade penmanship award, baby!) to just plain awful. Obviously writing a blog, I’m just typing all of the time! However, that doesn’t mean you will ever find me without at least one pen in my bag, because I love to be prepared, and you never know when you’re gonna need it! I find I use it most when filling out a birthday card at the last minute in the car, and if nothing else and I need one around the house, I can instantly put my hands on one.

Hand Sanitizer

I learned my lesson the hard way as to why having hand sanitizer on hand at all times. On a family vacation to see my sister several years ago, we were visiting Huntington Beach and the only bathrooms available were these absolutely disgusting public restrooms. You know, the kind with overflowing trash, absolutely no soap, and a general vibe of being cleaned once a year. And there I was, in this soapless bathroom, with no hand sanitizer. It. Was. Disgusting. Ever since then, I keep some in my bag, and then I don’t have to worry if the hygiene situation on my adventures is less than satisfactory!

Of course, there is a ton more I schlup around on a daily basis, but those are my 5 absolute must haves! Is there something in your bag that you just couldn’t live without? Let me know!

Shake It Up

The mental construction of our daily activities, more than the activity itself, defines our reality. – Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage

As excited as I am to have FINALLY started my blog after wanting to do this for a long time, I still have been experiencing a lot of related anxiety. It’s mostly just the fear of the unknown, and the worry about putting myself out there, but I noticed yesterday that everything seemed like a huge, almost insurmountable problem. Parts of designing a website seem way beyond me, and it feels like I have no idea what I am doing. I’m sure you have had situations like that, too.

After a day of fretting, a thought occurred to me: what if these problems, though real, aren’t quite as bad as I currently think they are? Is it possible, even though I have no idea how I will solve these problems, that they are, indeed, solvable?

I think it is so important to remember that, for the vast majority of situations we find ourselves in daily, the problem is not the situation itself, but our reaction and perception of the situation. There is more than one way to solve a problem, but many times with an emotional mind in the moment, there doesn’t seem to be many options.

What I reminded myself to do, after having a nice little freak out, was to take a step back and do something else for awhile. This is where time waster sites come in handy, or getting out for a little walk or running an errand. Basically, shake it up! Do something different, get yourself out of the mind rut you’re in, and just be somewhere different. If you can, try shaking it up physically, if you have the luxury of being able to change your surroundings, or at least mentally, if you have to stay in the same place. There is no point in hitting your head trying to solve a problem when you only can see one solution to the problem!

When I came back to what I was working on, I was able to work with myself and my restored confidence in my abilities, and I was able to see the task from other sides. And, wouldn’t you know, I was able to find a solution, learn something new, and move on to the next challenge.

Basically, the take away is this: Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again, trying to push through a block and think that there is only one way ahead with a problem. Get yourself out of the situation, do something different, and remind yourself that you are creative and are capable of doing amazing things. I bet that when you come back to your task, you will have a fresh perspective and just might be able to tackle your to-do list with fresh eyes!

Take A Picture, It’ll Last Longer

I don’t necessarily think that checking that my stove is off is a sign of OCD, because I think it’s pretty normal to not want your house to burn down, and I do like to make sure my front door is locked when I’m going to bed and when I leave for the day. OCD comes into play when you check the same thing 50 times, because your anxiety won’t believe your brain when you tell yourself the task is completed. My OCD is under enough control that I don’t do that sort of checking, but I will bug Dan about it repeatedly, especially when we go away on a trip, and I’m reliant on my dimming memory of locking the front door.

But, I have a solution! And it’s super easy, AND you can use this solution to assuage yourself any time doubts or worries creep up. Just take a picture of you locking your front door, or the stove being off, or your dog having water…whatever you worry about, just take a quick pic of it, and then you can refer back to it when you start to worry. Best part, especially for your partner, roommate, or friend, is that you can silently check the photo as many times as you would like, and they will not hear one peep out of you asking to confirm. Win-win. Try it the next time you leave the house, and see if it makes a difference for you, and let me know how it goes!

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Dan making sure the door is locked before our trip to California!

Welcome, Glad You’re Here

Navigating life is tricky enough, and adding a mental illness in the mix can sometimes feel like too much. But having a mental health concern, or even just looking after your mental wellness, doesn’t have to take over your life, and there’s no harm in making the journey fun along the way! So, here you’ll find a kindred spirit if you struggle with mental wellness, but also just really like the finer things in life, and to treat yourself right. We can all work to have more balance in life, and who isn’t on the hunt for the perfect nude lip? Maybe we can find both along the way.

Here’s me and my amazing husband Dan

You’ll probably be hearing a lot about him because he’s amazing!