two women smiling
Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

A Sense of Pride

Why do we think of pride as a negative emotion? The message I think we all get from culture, is that pride is a bad thing and something hide or feel ashamed of. The message is that pride makes you cocky and arrogant. The message I propose is that you SHOULD be proud of your accomplishments and SHOULD be comfortable discussing them with your friends and family!

Pride is defined as:

a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

Pride is knowing that you did a great thing or achieved a big accomplishment. It is knowing that you did the hard work needed to live with integrity. Pride is a necessary component of self-esteem and self-worth. Pride is not the same as bragging, bragging is when you take your pride too far and talk about it TOO much, to a degree of annoying others. Arrogance is taking pride and self-esteem too far, making it the only thing that matters in your life. Pride is simply recognizing your accomplishments and not being afraid to take ownership of the hard work you put in to achieve them!

That being said, I’d like to share the things I am most proud of:

  • my work ethic (cue song from Flash Dance “she work’s hard for her money…”
  • my sense of adventure and willingness to do hard things (ie: backpacking, hiking, home renovations, yard work)
  • my sewing and cooking skills (my mom taught me so many homesteading skills!)
  • my parenting (we are playing the long game, trying to instill values in our kids, even when giving them a tablet would be easier)
Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

Achieving Goals More Consistently

I absolutely love goal setting. Historically, I was really good at setting goals, being very passionate about them for a week(ish) and then forgetting about them. This blog is to help you make changes in HOW you set goals, so that you might make more progress in achieving them. In the last two years, I have developed a love of bullet journaling because it is a creative and visual way for me to set, track and evaluate my progress toward goals. The visual and doodle-encouraging nature of bullet journaling is more successful in holding my interest.

Another thing I have found helpful is to recognize and accept that DAILY goal tracking is not my goal; of course I will forget and have days where I don’t achieve my goals! In the past, I had an all-or-nothing approach and would give up if I lost my “streak”. Now I set a goal of hitting the goal xx number of times per month, and honor my body’s needs for off days!

I am old-school and prefer a paper and pencil approach; there is something about putting ink on paper that I find cathartic and pleasing. My journal is set up with monthly pages in the beginning of the journal to check in on at the start of each month. Those pages include: travel tracker, books read, budget tracker, loved-one birthday list, debt reduction tracker, and yearly goals. Following those pages, my journal follows the year in a monthly format. At the start of each month I pick a few habits to focus on for that month and create a habit tracker, a page to record gratitudes, a goal list, a to-do list, and any other relevant pages for that month. Below you can see some of my 2022 templates for growth.

I will add habits to focus on in the center of the circles and will shade in the days that I achieve the goal.
To track daily gratitude’s, I do not number them, I generally haphazardly write and doodle them as not to pressure myself to hit “every day”
I love to read, this is where I track any books I complete – audiobooks, tangible books, books for my job, etc.
This page is in the yearly section because these are goals that are consistent every month. I have left space to add goals that pop-up through the year.
We LOVE to travel, we try to at least take a mini adventure trip each month, such as a hike in a neighboring town each month.

If you are not an artsy person and want something printable, consider printing this free habit tracker! I love, love, love that this includes a reward that you identify for yourself each month!

woman in red t shirt looking at her laptop
DBT, Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

STUCK.

What do you do when you are stuck?

  • Stuck in a meeting
  • Stuck in traffic
  • Stuck in line at the store
  • Stuck at home
  • Stuck at the airport
  • Stuck in quarantine
  • Stuck in the parent pick-up line

The reasons for stuck-ness are many…mandated attendance, weather, the person in front of you can’t move; however the feeling is typically the same.  Anger.  It may start off as slight irritation, moving into annoyance and frustration before moving into full blown anger; however typically, being stuck makes us mad!

So how are we going to get through this UNENDURABLE situation?  To start, stop exaggerating! It’s not unendurable.  It’s not typically as bad as we make it out to be in our head.  Let me give you an example:  I like Starbucks (fact), but the line at the drive through is absolutely ridiculous (opinion).  My problem solving skills lead me to park and go inside every time I go there.  I was very content with this decision.  One day, while inside, I was so excited to see that there is a screen for the baristas that tells them how long people have been in the drive-thru.  I expected to see 10 minutes….15 minutes…FOREVER, because let’s face it…waiting in that line is AWFUL! To my amazement, the longest wait time was 2 minutes 45 seconds.  Really??….the line was LONG when I walked in…like wrapping around the building and almost to the main road! Then it hit me: I’ve been inside for about 3 minutes too! Why is it that being trapped in my car causes me to perceive time moving so much slower?  I felt stuck!

How to guide to get unstuck:

  1. Realize that the trick isn’t actually to get unstuck, it’s to change how you feel about being (what you perceive as) stuck.
  2. Stop judging. Words like should, always, terrible, OMG, worst, never…are typically attached to a judgment.  Instead, be descriptive.  Explain how you feel and why. Ex: Repleace “this is the longest line EVER, I ALWAYS get stuck in long lines” with “I am sitting in line at Starbucks, this has happened before”
  3. Observe your posture. Ex: Take your fingernails out of the steering wheel, let your shoulders fall from your ears back to their relaxed state, remove the scowl from your face…
  4. Consider other possible alternatives to catastrophizing Ex: I finally have time to respond to those text messages (safely while not driving), I can plan the next few hours of my day, I can sit here and remember a positive memory to improve my mood, consider things you are grateful for.
  5. Stop fighting reality. In conjunction with #4, the reality is that you are in a situation that you can’t immediately get out of; catastrophizing is an example of the situation worse.  Accept that you are where you are (this will reduce suffering).

I am wondering if you are willing to give it a try?   It’s amazing what changing your interpretation of a situation will do for your mood!

green typewriter on brown wooden table
DBT, Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

Self-Assessment for the End of Year Pondering

As the year comes to an end, I believe it is a great practice for us all to slow down and assess where we are achieving and where we are struggling.

I have created this “worksheet” of sorts to to help people identify where they might have room for growth.  We all have areas for growth, we all have areas of strength. Consider these questions to guide you in your journey (with a therapist or without)! This is also a great exercise to do as a couple and as a family to set some goals, with intentionality, for the new year!

In what areas are you (or we) making emotionally based choices?

Consider the following areas. Do you (or we) tend to give into short term impulses in any specific areas?

  • Food/eating ____________________________________________________________________
  • Time management (working/playing) __________________________________________­
  • Anger impulses _________________________________________________________________
  • Social Anxiety ___________________________________________________________________
  • Fears ____________________________________________________________________________
  • Sleep schedule__________________________________________________________________
  • Self-harming behaviors__________________________________________________________
  • Substance abuse ________________________________________________________________
  • Emotional urges _________________________________________________________________
  • Trying to “fit in” __________________________________________________________________

Questions to journal on:

What changes would you like to see in those areas?

What are you doing to self-sabatoge?

What are you doing to set yourself up for success?

Are you able to identify any areas that you do well in exercising restraint against urges and making more mindful choices?

What changes are you willing to make in the next month, to work on moving in an effective direction for yourself?

If you want more help with managing short-term urges in order to achieve long-term goals, consider checking out my book Adulting Well (available in the Wellness Shop tab above)!

Inspiration, Journaling, mental health, parenting

How Do You Do It ALL???

I’m sitting here on my back patio listening to my 2 year old cry because I am not pushing her on the swing, my 6 year old is asking 5 questions per minute that I’m half-heartedly trying to answer, and my 8 year old was forced against her will to being her Barbie’s outside to play. I am home with my kids while my husband got to have his early morning photography time – something we try to build in once or twice per week. I am trying to work on this blog and grow my business (Your Mental Restoration).

I don’t do it all. I won’t do it all. I cannot possibly do everything and I accept that! I CAN choose where my attention goes. I CAN give myself permission to feel accomplished when I tackle something mindfully. In this moment, I am empowering my children to learn to play self-sufficiently (against their will), I am empowering myself to carve out time for my interests and values and I am empowering my husband to grow his photography business by practicing his skills. I could choose to look at the scenario through a fatalistic lens: I’m failing as a mom because my kids want my attention and I am not giving it. I am failing as a housekeeper because the chores are not being attended to. I am failing as a writer because I have distractions. I fundamentally reject the fatalistic lens. I believe it comes from comparison (ahem Instagram feed) and the belief that other moms, other wives, other writers, etc. are somehow achieving their goals without any barriers. I reject that notion because I talk openly with others and that allows me to know their truth: it isn’t true! Instead of letting shame take over and convince you that you struggle more than anyone else does, I invite you to talk with your friends, peers, and families about the realities of their lives. I think you will find validation and comfort in the fact that they are also having to choose what to prioritize and what to ignore. They have to choose not to beat themselves up for their perceived failures.

Everyone struggles to juggle the identities, roles and tasks in their lives.

How many basketballs do you think you could hold?

I’d venture to say that at any given time, I could probably hold three…but not well. I think of the various life “shoulds”, to-do list tasks, expectations and roles as metaphorical basketballs. I cannot hold them all at once. If I try to hold too many at once, I end up dropping them and making a fool of myself! I CAN decide which ones I choose to pick up and carry, I CAN decide what I am going to prioritize and where I am going to put my attention. This morning, I’m carrying my “writer ball”, “mom ball” and “self-care ball”. I can switch between making the three of them my top priority (when I get stuck on writing, I play with my kids!) None of them are getting my full attention; however, because I am willing to accept the limitations of time, I absolve myself of any guilt related to the state of my house, my inbox, my friendships, etc. I’ll pick up those balls later…

So how do I do it all? I don’t! I do what I can, when I can. I allow myself the freedom to NOT have intense levels of guilt and shame over the things I do not do, while allowing myself to feel pride and satisfaction in the tasks that I DO accomplish.

Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

5 Daily Routines to Ease the Creep of Anxiety

Anxiety has a way of creeping up on you, increasing it’s grasp and intensity as the day goes on. As a mom of three and a human with anxiety issues, I have devised a set of daily rituals that help slow (and sometimes stop) the creep!

Keep a hand written to-do list.

Anxiety tries to convince you to ignore. Ignore tasks, ignore lists, ignore expectations, ignore feelings, etc. The inverse of that concept is to approach. We need to learn to approach that which we are afraid of in order to conquer our day! Anxiety will try to convince you that if you write everything down, you will not be able to handle it; however, I am telling you that writing it down will EASE your stress because it will allow you to see the tasks and forge a path forward!

Create a morning routine that maximizes productivity.

Here’s the deal, you are unlikely to have more motivation and energy later in the day (as we try to convince ourselves will happen). I have found, after many trials and errors, that front loading my chores into the first 90 minutes of the day makes for much smoother sailing. Here’s my morning routine:

7am wake up, be sure their floors are picked up (their responsibility the night before) and put food in front of kids. While they are eating, go start the Roomba upstairs (where the bedrooms are) and get dressed. The Roomba will run for 90 minutes while everything else is happening. Check to see who needs a load of laundry started…seriously, someone will! Start the load of laundry. Pack the lunches and bags for all the humans. While the kids are doing their things (brushing teeth, going potty, running around like crazy people) unload the dishwasher (also enlist their help, even little can put some things away) and reload. Bring Roomba back to it’s base to charge. Set it to run in a different part of the house when I’m gone.

Drink a lot of water.

Pop culture would have you believe that this line should say “drink a lot of coffee”. That is not the case! Drinking things that give you false energy (such as coffee/sugary drinks) will only leave you feeling jittery and cause a crash about 90 minutes after drinking. I generally limit myself to one coffee or caffeinated tea each morning and then switch to water. Water will give you energy and motivation to continue with other healthier habits for the rest of the day. It will also make you have to pee a lot which will force you to get up and move around (which also gives you more energy!)

Eat produce.

Similar to the above tip. We have a tendency to reach for carbs and sugar when our energy is dipping; however, this is sure to increase our sluggishness, fatigue and mood swings throughout the day. Carbs and sugar aren’t banned; however, increasing them isn’t going to help you. When your energy is dipping, try to eat things that are more natural and from the produce section of the grocery store! Fruits and veggies contain so much natural sugar, antioxidants, etc. which is what you need to have sustained energy throughout the day.

Early to Bed.

As I mentioned in the first bullet point, your energy isn’t going to magically increase throughout the day. I strongly suggest you bump your bedtime up! I generally try to get to bed close to 9pm, with 10pm as a deadline. I have learned that going to bed after 10pm is a sure fire way to sabotage my next day.

DBT, Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

Self- Assessment

I have created this “worksheet” of sorts to to help people identify where they might have room for growth in therapy.  We all have areas for growth, we all have areas of strength. Consider these questions to guide you in your journey (with a therapist or without)!

 

In what areas are making emotionally based choices?

Consider the following areas. Do you tend to give into short term impulses in any specific areas?

  • Food/eating _____________________________________________________________
  • Time management (working/playing) ________________________________________­
  • Anger impulses __________________________________________________________
  • Social Anxiety ___________________________________________________________
  • Fears ___________________________________________________________________
  • Sleep schedule____________________________________________________________
  • Self-harming behaviors_____________________________________________________
  • Substance abuse __________________________________________________________
  • Emotional urges __________________________________________________________
  • Trying to “fit in” _________________________________________________________

 

Are you able to identify any areas that you do well in exercising restraint against urges and making more mindful choices?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

DBT, Journaling, mental health

Self-Encouragement

Today I want to introduce you to the skill of SELF-encouragement. In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) it’s taught as one part of the IMPROVE acronym. I believe that it is one of the most overlooked and under-utilized skills in the book. In short, self-encouragement is talking to you self as you would talk to a friend.

inspirational pooh

We would NEVER say to friends the negative statement that we say to ourselves. If a friend is crying to you about a life problem, I doubt you’d say “suck it up”, “get over it”, “what’s wrong with you”, etc…So why on earth would you say those things to yourself?

Furthermore, would you keep a friend around who talked to you in that way??? NO! You would avoid them like the plague.

 

So get with it and take a page from Hobby Lobby or Instagram’s book…
– print out those cutesy phrases
– follow inspirational people on social media
– splurge on that wall art that moves you
– set the backdrop of your phone and/or laptop to be motivational
– use a dry erase marker on your mirrors
– use bathtub crayons in your shower
– buy a positive though-a-day calendar
– buy the jewelry with the catchy calming phrase on it

self encouragement

Take control of that inner critic, silence the stadium full of nay-sayers in your head and BE NICE to you!

Feel free to share your favorite self-encouraging ideas, quotes and plans in the comments below.

 

Updated from original post on Edit“Self-Encouragement”

Inspiration, Journaling, mental health

The Sound of Silence

In 2005 I took a trip as a college credit across the United States in a 15 passenger van with 12 other students that I really didn’t know.  The purpose of the trip was to experience different cultures and create art in ways that I could not experience in my Midwestern campus life.  The most inspiring part of the trip for me, that has left a lasting imprint on my psyche was a hike down into Canyon de Chelly in Arizona.  Hiking down into the basin of the canyon was the only time I have every experienced true Oneness with the world.

I recall a specific moment during the descent in which I subsequently felt minuscule and gigantic…and immediately started crying! In this one moment, I remember seeing a small flower growing out of a rock.  I was so much more complex, large, and evolved than this plant AND at the same time I looked across this canyon and realized that I am a tiny speck on this planet.  The hike into the Canyon is 1 1/4 miles each way and I would estimate that I had this experience about 1/3 of the way down.  I hiked the rest of the way with complete awareness of the awe of nature.

This is the sound of silence.

 

View of Canyon de Chelly

 

How would you capture silence in a photograph? Is it a positive image like this one, showing a much-needed break? Or is it the opposite, revealing the lack of communication in a friendship or the dangers of not speaking out? Show us your interpretation in a new post.

Journaling

Gratitude

It seems that some people love to sit in misery.  I say that with sarcasm…however that may be what you are doing when you journal.  Writing in your diary about all of the terrible things that happened during the day is a risky move.  Rehashing your day in print can go one of two ways: it can assist in your mental processing and help you reach a conclusion OR it can bring up and intensify the negative feelings. Only you know the effect writing has on your emotional state.  My advice to you is to be aware. Don’t get me wrong, journaling can be a fantastic coping tool.  If you need distance from a situation, need to rehearse what you want to say or want to keep a record of your growth, I’d say writing is a great option.  I’d worry if the nightly writing becomes a depressive trigger. 

An alternative to traditional journaling is to keep a gratitude journal instead.  A gratitude journal is where you keep a log of things you are thankful for each day.  As you may imagine, this task is easier some days than others.  When I keep a gratitude journal, I do it in list format.  Each day I only write the date and three things I’m grateful for in list form.  This creates a great record and tool I can look back on for inspiration.  In fact, just now I looked back through mine and felt a rush of satisfaction, happiness, love, and pride.

This post has reminded me how much the gratitude journal means to me and I’ve fallen away from the practice recently…So today I’m grateful for:

  1. Not procrastinating
  2. Having time to re-read my past gratitude lists
  3. New pillows