Attitudes, values, opinions, interests, way of life

Let’s Be Zen: Ways to reduce stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life. The good part is that there are ways to reduce it. With a little bit of preparation, a tweak to your routine and a change of mindset, you can be zen (or at least as close to zen as possible). Here are some ideas on ways to reduce stress:

-Get up 15 minutes earlier. If you like hitting the snooze button, set your alarm to 30 minutes earlier than you need to get up. That way you have an extra 15 minutes to keep hitting your snooze button. Getting up 15 minutes earlier allows for the inevitable morning mishaps that can occur like wardrobe malfunctions or the things that you are not prepared for like misplacing your keys.

-Have a station right by your door for all your must-haves for leaving the house such as your keys, your phone, your shoes, your lunch and your bag.

-Prepare for the morning the evening before. Set the breakfast table, have the breakfast ready to heat up or serve, make lunches and have them ready to put in the lunchboxes, prepare and lay out clothes and put all your must-haves right by the door the night before.

-Plan ahead. Make sure you have enough gas in your gas tank and that you have a well stocked food shelf.

-If it’s an appointment you have to get to on time, allow 15 minutes extra to get to that appointment. This allows for unforseen traffic or anything that you are not prepared for on the way out. Sometimes this extra 15 minutes is just enough to get to your appointment right on time. And if you are 15 minutes early, use that time to decompress or relax before your appointment.

-When leaving with a group of people, like your family, tell them it’s time to go 5-10 minutes before your intended time to leave. That way by the time they gather their belongings and make it to the door, it’s right on time.

-Keep an appointment book or put your appointments in your phone calendar with an alert. Make a to do list with a due date in your appointment book or calendar. Don’t rely solely on your memory.

-Schedule a realistic day. Allow enough time in between appointments and places you need to go for breathing room. Allow 15 minutes extra to get to appointments. If at all possible and if convenient, try not to schedule any back to back appointments.

-Maintain your car, your house or any other important appliance, equipment, gadget or item that you need to keep your life running smoothly as possible.

-Be flexible when things don’t go as planned. Go with the flow. Have a back up plan.

-Say no to extra projects or social activities that you don’t have time or energy for. It’s ok.

-Disconnect- unplug yourself from your phone or computer.

-Take a nap.

-Read a good book.

-Meditate. Meditate before you get up from bed in the morning, when you are feeling stressed and whenever you feel like it.

-Learn to delegate. You can’t do everything. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

-Get enough sleep.

-Tackle your most unpleasant tasks first so that you can get them out of the way and enjoy the rest of your day.

-Try not to worry. I know this is easier said than done. But it doesn’t hurt to try.

-Try not to multi-task if possible and focus on one thing at a time.

-Stay organized.

-Take a time out. Breath in deeply three times. You will actually feel yourself relaxing.

-Spend time in nature. Some ideas are stargazing, hiking, fishing or bird-watching. It can also be as simple as taking a walk outside or sitting on a park bench.

-Try a yoga pose. There are many yoga poses designed that help alleviate different symptoms. One yoga pose that is great for relaxation is the child’s resting pose. The body faces the floor in a fetal position with the knees and hips bent and with the shins on the floor. The chest rests on the knees and the head is stretched forward towards the ground with the forehead touching the ground if possible. The arms may be stretched forward in front of the head or backwards towards the feet. Do some breathing exercises in this pose.

-Plant a garden.

-Do at least one thing a day that you enjoy.

And most importantly,

-Take it one day at a time.

-Be fully and truly present in the moment.

-Start each day with a grateful heart.

-Love. Add a little bit of love in everything you do.

-Forgive. Don’t hold anger in your heart.

-Be positive. Keep an optimistic mind. Train your mind to see the good in everything.

I am grateful for love, forgiveness and optimism.



Different ways to journal to fit your lifestyle

There are different ways to journal and different types of journals to fit your lifestyle. Journaling is a great way to document your life, express yourself and reflect on your progress and growth.

Daily Journal These type of journals are great to record the moments of your life that you want to remember. I started a journal when I was about 10 years old. It was a black and white composition book. I would write about activities that I did with family and friends that I enjoyed, my favorite T.V. shows (with pictures that I cut out from the T.V. guide), my favorite snacks and my favorite things to do. Now that I think about it, it was very similar to what I write about now (in this blog). Basically, a few of my favorite things.

Secret Diary A diary is a great way to journal your feelings. I had a secret diary. I wrote my secret thoughts about my friends, family, my crushes and later, my boyfriends. I kept my diary as safe as I could. I wrote religiously in a diary until I was in college. Once I got married and had a baby, I stopped altogether. Then I started a baby journal.

Baby Journal These types of journals are a great way to document your child’s special milestones and memories. I had one for my daughter. I had a little notebook in which I wrote down her developmental milestones like the first time she rolled over and the first time she walked. I wrote down her first words and all the words that she said after that. She was a very talkative baby and she started talking early so it was fun to document the words and phrases that came out of her little mouth. When she got a little older, I started scrapbooking.

Scrapbooks Scrapbooking became a passion for me. It was my way of keeping a journal of my daughter’s special milestones. I have so many scrapbooks of my daughter. In each page, I wrote whatever came to my mind and special memories that I wanted to remember about each event. I also dedicated scrapbooks to special events, such as a school days scrapbook. In it, I wrote down the name of her friends, any nicknames she had, her favorite things and what she liked to do. She has her class picture and group picture for each grade as well as special artwork that I wanted to keep. I have each grade documented until she graduated from high school. It’s all in one book. I also dedicated a scrapbook to her Christmas memories. In it is every picture she took with Santa Claus, her letter to Santa Claus, her Christmas list and pictures from each year of her opening presents. I confess that when my son was born, I didn’t dedicate myself to the art of scrapbooking his memories like I did with my daughter. But I do have a few scrapbooks for him. I had found another way to document his memories. I started blogging.

Start a blog In 2013, when my son was 5 years old, I started this blog. For me it was a gratitude journal but it also documented some of the special moments and memories of his life. It’s fun to look back and read those posts. They are so special. Many people have blogs to document their lives. It’s a fun way to share your special memories.

Fitness or weightloss journal Another type of journal is a fitness or weight loss journal. These days, there are apps specifically for this purpose. They make it so easy to document your progress. To journal your fitness journey, you can write down your weight loss and fitness goals. You can document your weight and measurements each week (or day if you chose). If you are counting calories, you can write down all the foods you ate in the day as well as how many calories each was worth. If you are counting carbs, you can do the same. You can also write down what you did for exercise, for how long and if you know, how many calories you burned. Doing this helps keep you on track. It also helps you see the progress you have made.

Dream Journal A dream journal helps you figure out your dream and your subconcious mind. In a dream journal, you can write down your dream, what happened in your life that might have sparked this dream and what you think your dream could mean. There are dream dictionaries that you can use for this purpose such as Keeping a dream journal is an interesting way to figure yourself out. I know that when I kept a dream journal, I tend to over analyze way too much. So I stopped doing a dream journal and I started a gratitude journal.

Gratitude Journal This is my favorite kind of journal. You can start off by listing three things each day that you are thankful for and if you have more than three, even better. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. I start each morning, before I even get out of bed listing at least 3 things in my head that I am grateful for. I try to list three different things each day. Some days, it is the same three things. And some days, they are simple things that make me happy. When I started my blog in 2013, it started as a gratitude journal. It’s reflective to look back and read all blessing I have to be grateful for. If there is any type of journal you should have, it is a gratitude journal. I highly recommend it. It will change your life.

Goal Journal/Bucket List If you are an ambitious person with lots of goals that you want to meet, a great journal to have is a goal journal. You can write down all of your goals for the year, for the month or even for the day. Then check off which ones you have met. It’s like a roadmap for your life.. A journal like this is a powerful tool that will keep you on track, keep you inspired and keep you motivated to accomplish those goals that you have set for yourself. I suppose this kind of journal is like a bucket list because you are documenting the life experiences that you want to experience and the goals that you have for life.

Bullet Journal A bullet journal is another type of journal that is very popular these days. I don’t have one but I suppose my weekly and monthly calendar is like a bullet journal. I write down my appointments for the day, my goals for the day, the things I need to do for the day and sometimes I even write down quotes that I like. However, I think bullet journals these days are more organized and comprehensive. Some people sketch and doodle and create some really good art in their bullet journals.

Mood Journal A mood journal is great to record your moods like when you sense your mood is changing, what happened, when it happened, the trigger for this mood and solutions. If you are experiencing a variety of moods and you want to know why and help yourself, a mood journal might help.

In all of these journals, you can add a motivating quote for the day. I feel that quotes help to process, motivate and inspire.

I recommend starting a journal of any kind that fits your lifestyle. They are a great way to motivate, reflect and inspire. It’ a great way to express yourself.

Happy journaling!

So, why a gratitude list?

June is here. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a gratitude list. Spring has been a very eventful season. A lot of life changing events, good and bad, and for awhile, I was not motivated to blog. I finally pulled myself together to write a few posts in May, but they were mostly product review posts that didn’t require too much emotional thought.

So why a gratitude list? I remind myself that I started this blog to get me through a very emotional and difficult time. It was my gratitude journal.  I look through my old posts with fondness and a filled heart.  As I read them, I think back and remember life’s simple moments, “my favorite things”, which were listed in my gratitude list so that I can be grateful for everything and every simple moment that made me happy. Having a gratitude journal during an emotional and difficult time helped me realize that I have so much to be thankful for. Gratitude continues to help me through life and the difficult times. Gratitude continues to fill my heart with happiness. 

Enjoy the little things in life for someday you will realize they were the big things.

Gratitude is being thankful for your blessings, even the simple pleasures and acknowledging all that you have received, including difficult times and challenges. Because even in that, you have something to be thankful for- a life lesson, an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to build your strength and character and to appreciate all that you already have. 

Shifting your focus from what your life is lacking to one of abundance helps you LIVE fully in the present. It helps you to see what you already have to be thankful for. 

By living fully in the present, there is no lack. By being fully present in the moment, there is mindfulness. With mindfulness, comes gratitude and with gratitude comes happiness.