Taking Control of Your Life

I find myself in a difficult situation. I finished my undergrad, and rather than going home to the safety of mom and dad, have decided to stay out on my own. I know that more often than not, most undergrad students return home immediately after finishing their degrees, but for me, it’s just not possible.

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I love my parents and my home town (enough to write a post about it even…) but mentally, I just couldn’t do it. I felt like going home would be like taking three steps backwards, reversing any kind of personal progress I’ve made in the last four years. This is because I still need to learn how to maintain a level of control, while in the comfort and safety of others.

There is nothing wrong with going home. I know several friends who have done it: for financial reasons, for lack of an attachment to their University town, or because they simple desired to. I don’t think there is anything wrong with returning home to live with your parents after finishing your degree, as long as you’re still in control of your life. 

Maintaining your control at home

When moving back home, lines of communication must be made, boundaries set, and freedoms established. It might be easy to just jump right back into the life you had in high school, but for your own sake, try and avoid this. You aren’t the same person you were back then, you’ve grown, you’ve experienced, and you’ve changed. Celebrate these accomplishments by continuing on your path, with the reigns grasped firmly. 

Accept the fear, and all that comes along with it

If you have decided to stay out, congratulations! Welcome to one of the scariest experiences of your life. There is no comfort of returning to school, no mandatory routines set for you, or even constant human interaction. It’s all up to you to keep up your life and keep trudging towards your dreams. But that’s what’s great.

You have the authority to do whatever you want/need to do in order to achieve your goals. The flip side to that is you also have a responsibility to yourself to uphold as well. Make sure you stay focused in this tumultuous time, when you’re riddled with anxiety and fear. Have the courage to put yourself first, and maintain a good balance in all areas of life. Call your mom often, don’t cancel on your friends and remember: pancakes for dinner are always a good idea.

Shelbs xx

17 Ways to be Mindful in 2017

If 2016 was the year of realizing things than 2017 is going to be my year of being mindful of all those things I apparently ‘realized’. Mindful of my surroundings, mindful of the people in my life, mindful of my choices and mindful of my life. I don’t plan on wasting a second of it!

If you’re looking to add meaning into your everyday routine, check out my 17 ways to be mindful this year.

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  1. Wake up earlier. Set your alarm a few minutes earlier than you normally would (excruciatingly hard for me but I’m gonna work on it) and spend the extra time just lying there. Don’t check your phone, just think about your day and find something to be excited about! Find your reason for getting out of bed – even if it’s just to eat a kickass breakfast.
  2. Before bed, do some stretches, think over your day and ask yourself what you accomplished. It can be as little as making it to all of your classes, or that you managed to call your mom, or it can be as big as landing a new job. Celebrate these little steps towards your goal and you’ll go to sleep feeling grateful.
  3. Do not mindlessly consume social media. Cut back on the amount of time you spend scrolling through feeds, or use an app to track your consumption. You can even set specific times during the day for when you want to check your social media, rather than reaching for your phone every ten minutes.
  4. Be mindful of your television habits, i.e. don’t watch tv while you’re eating dinner. Not only will you eat more, but you’re multi-tasking and won’t enjoy your food as much if you’re not focused on actually eating it. Likewise, don’t check your social media while you’re eating either.
  5. Be mindful of what you put in your body. Although McDonalds is a lot easier than cooking yourself dinner, you’ll feel a lot better after making your own food. Plan your meals out and pack a lunch a few times a week to reap the benefits to your waistline and your wallet.
  6. Shop when you need something, not when you feel the itch to buy something for the sake of buying it. It’s so easy to click that Amazon button and have that shit delivered right to your door, (hello – Prime) but try and avoid being the mindless consumer.
  7. Be mindful of how you spend your free time. Take advantage of the spare minutes and do something that adds value to your life like a quick home workout, or a meditation session or a scroll through the Globe and Mail.
  8. Make plans with another person and stick to them. Don’t cancel because you both don’t feel like leaving the house – make the effort to see your friends. You’ll both be happier afterwards.
  9. Be present when you’re with other people. Don’t take out your phone as a safety net if the conversation gets quiet. Don’t make to-do lists in your head for the next day. Just be present in the moment.
  10. Keep your life balanced. Be mindful of spending too much time on one of your priorities and not giving enough attention to the other ones, i.e. make sure to spend time with friends when school gets busy, or make sure to schedule in a workout when your weekend is jam packed with social events…
  11. Unplug for an entire day… make no plans, just see where the day takes you. Or, unplug a couple hours before bed to really get in a good sleep.
  12. Get outside. Go for a walk after dinner and leave your phone at home. Notice your neighbourhood and the area where you live. Take the time to appreciate how lucky you are to be alive. Your mood will be elevated in seconds.
  13. Create something. Paint or draw or write or whatever gets your creative juices flowing. Set aside some time to just see what you can create, you may surprise yourself.
  14. “Unitask”. Work with only one browser open. Use one app at a time, rather than switching back and forth between them. Focus on one thing you need to get done and work at it until it is finished – no checking the time or your phone. You will be much more productive this way and find your mind to be a lot clearer.
  15. Be mindful of your emotions. When you feel upset or angry at something, take the time to notice why you’re feeling this way. Acknowledge it, do whatever you need to do to feel better, but most importantly, let yourself feel those feelings. Being aware of your emotions and not attempting to control them is beneficial.
  16. Be positive. Try not to get too upset by the actions of others, those you cannot control. Try and look at the world with an optimistic point of view, good karma will come your way. When people are trying to cause trouble – just don’t engage. Be aware that they might be the type of people who prefer drama and know that you don’t need that in your life.
  17. Practice gratitude. We need constant reminder of the good things in our lives, to keep us grateful for the time that we have here. Make a legitimate list and carry it around with you, with all the things, little or big, that keep you feeling grateful. If you start to feel sorry for yourself, remember all the good things you have to be appreciative of.

“Did You Like My Photo Yet?”

“How did your photo do yesterday?” 

“Not very good, didn’t even reach 100, but I posted it at a bad time”

“Delete it and post it again tomorrow!” 

“Yeah, I should probably wait until prime time, probably around 7”

Is any of this familiar because I feel like these exact words have come out of my mouth several times in the last couple months. When did “prime time” mean something other than television? Why do I feel inadequate if my photo did not do as well as I expected? How do I know that photos with myself in it will get the most likes? WHY DO I CARE ABOUT ANY OF THIS?!

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Story Time

The story goes: take a million photos of the same thing, edit the crap out of it, post it online on some kind of forum and then await the validation.

And it comes. It really does. I wish I could say it doesn’t, but it does. When I reach that 100th like, or I get more than 5 comments, my confidence soars. I feel like the baddest bitch around, a girl that can conquer anyone and anything. I feel wittier (even though it took me 20 minutes to come up with that caption, with the help of my friends in the group chat), I feel cuter in my outfit (even though all of it is borrowed and took me forever to put together, making me late for work), and I just generally feel like a better version of myself.

But the kicker is, I do feel like these things even when I haven’t just posted a photo on Facebook or Instagram. I feel witty when I make my best friend laugh, I feel cute on my way to the gym (weird, I know), and I feel like a better version of myself when I plan a great event at work and I can see my hard work paying off. How do we hold on to these sentiments without feeling the need to post?

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Balance

With a balance, I think that social media validation is not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re feeling yourself and you want to share the world, post a photo! Or better yet, post your photo and then go meet a friend for coffee. If you like a quote, post a screenshot of it and then go tell someone how much it spoke to you!

I think that when social media becomes your only source of validation, there is an issue. If you turn to social media to fix your problems, I think that’s an issue. Ideally, we’d all like to be able to pull ourselves out of the self-esteem hole and feel confident all the time. This is not realistic, we need other people to help us. Just make sure those people are your close friends and family, rather than that girl that you followed three years ago, have never met, but you like all of each other’s photos.

Slowing Down

I think another good idea is to try and view social media for what it is. I wrote a post a couple years ago about the truth behind my social media and I stand by my points that I made then. Social media is not always what it looks like, no one’s life is that perfect.

Once you realize that, you won’t feel the pressure to post every two days, at the perfect time with the perfect outfit. You can go back to enjoying social media without resenting it.

I will still post my selfies, outfits and photos with friends on my Instagram. I will still edit my photos until I am happy with it, but I won’t place the primary source of my validation on it. It’s fun to get likes, it’s fun to get comments, but they aren’t everything. Once you take the pressure off, you can use social media in a healthy way. I love taking photos, I love editing them and I love posting them, none of that will change, but my perspective definitely has.

Dealing With Toxic Friends

One of the greatest compliments anyone can give me is, “you have such a good friend group, you all seem really close!” Why yes indeed I do. Within my closest friend circle, I feel like I have a place. I can literally count on them for anything and I know they will be there. We fight sometimes but it is always squashed immediately because we know each other too well and appreciate one another. Even when we eat each other’s food, wake each other up way too early in the morning, or text 10 times in a row to get a response, we really do love each other.

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I am also grateful that I have a lot of other great friends from many different areas of my life and I appreciate them all for everything they do for me (and for putting up with my constant whining!). I love my childhood best friend who lives a million miles away, I love the friends I’ve made through work, I love my sisters from my sorority, and I love my middle school best friends who know me way too well…

But it has taken me a long time to get here and a lot of really fake people before I found my #squad. I have dealt with the worst kinds of people and a lot of the time, it was my fault. I surrounded myself with people I thought I wanted to be like, and got burned in the end. So if you feel like you may be in a similar situation, keep reading.

You find yourself exhausted after hanging out with your friend(s)

Friends should lift you up and make you feel positive and grateful after spending time with them. If you find that the conversation seems to always be about something negative, or this friend never has anything nice to say about anyone, it could be time to have a chat… Some people tend to be more on the pessimist side (myself included) and sometimes need a reminder of all the good things they have in their life.

They are shady

If a friend is constantly being shady or sketchy – take this as a warning sign. Example: you lend them money and they are always making excuses about giving it back. Or they cancel on plans without a reason and you’re left wondering why you bothered in the first place. Try and find honest, genuine people to surround yourself with.

You never know where you stand

Ever feel like your tip-toeing around friends? Nervous you’re going to say the wrong thing and be deleted from the group chat? Upload a photo and wonder if your friends are making fun of you behind your back? Well I have and it sucks. Don’t be around people that make you question your self worth.

Passive-aggressive behaviour is a no

This is one of the biggest things I have learned since living with my best friends. There is no time for passive-aggressiveness in true friendships. No, that does not mean you have to confront them about every little thing, but if something is bothering you enough that you find yourself talking behind their back, bring up the issue with them! Don’t let it fester and ruin the relationship. This kind of toxic behaviour is negative for both sides.

If you’re reading this and you see any of these traits within your friend group, that does not mean you need to drop your entire circle and start over. It takes time to find a good support system.

If you do decide that enough is enough, you are allowed to cut ties. It is always hard to say goodbye to a friend but in the long run, you will be better off. Slowly decide who you value in your life and who values you.

That being said, always try and see the good in everyone and a little honest communication goes a long way.

How to Stay Motivated

Whether you’re right in the middle of your studies, or you’re in between jobs, or you’re trying to lose weight, staying motivated is key to achieving anything. Having drive is the catalyst to making the life you want. I know that some people get really lucky and their life seems to just fall into place, but most of the time, behind the scenes, a lot of time and hard work is in place.

Staying motivated can be difficult when there is a gap between what you want and what you think you deserve. I see this a lot with my family, friends and myself. For some reason, people are satisfied with the status quo and are content doing the same thing over and over again, to achieve the same, mediocre results. People hate change, and I get that, but the only thing constant in life, is change. Why are we selling ourselves short of amazing? Because we think we can’t get anything better or because we think we don’t deserve it?

I find comfort in the fact that I do deserve happiness, I am capable of greatness, and I am in control of the outcome of my life. That’s not to say that shit doesn’t happen – it does. But when it does, I’m confident that I will be able to roll with it. It’s how you react to circumstances that shape you, not the circumstance itself. Now that I’ve decided that I am worthy of a great life, motivation is what will get you everything you want. And that, in itself, motivates me.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

I like making lists as much as the next human, but what really bothers me, is when I have a giant list of crap to get done, and I make it through three, sometimes two, sometimes none of those things. Nothing makes me feel worse than knowing I haven’t accomplished anything I wanted to. Keep your to-do lists small and realistic. Yes you can look into the future towards all the upcoming commitments, but focus on the really important stuff and you will feel a lot better when you’re able to cross everything off.

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Prioritize your life

Whenever someone says, “I don’t have enough time for that”, what they are really telling you is, “It’s actually not a priority”. This isn’t a bad thing and can be applied to your own life. If you’ve been wanting to lose weight for years and years and aren’t accomplishing it, it’s probably because it really isn’t a priority. If something is that important to you, you will make time for it. Do a little life auditing – figure out where you’re spending the most time and why, and then rearrange to fit in your new goals. Make the time for the people that matter and spend less on the stuff that doesn’t.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

I cannot believe I just wrote that title, my friends and family are probably laughing at me right now but this saying is so true! Yes I did read that book by Richard Carlson and yes it did infact change my life. Nothing could be more true – do not worry about the small stuff, and it is all small stuff. In regards to motivation, don’t let small setbacks deter you from your overall goal. Missed a workout? No big deal, try again tomorrow. Failed a midterm? No worries, put in a bit more work next time. Don’t let the little failures (and I hate to use that word) of the day, make you feel less worthy of success.

Stick to your values

If you’re the most successful person in the world – but you had to mow over everybody else to get there, you’re not going to be very content with your life, I guarantee. While it is important to do what is best for you, always keep in check with your values. Do not do anything that makes your heart uncomfortable in order to get ahead. Be motivated by the idea of happiness, the idea that by being a genuine and honest person, will lead you down the right path, regardless of the end point.

Do not compare

We’re all on our own journey and even though your end goal might be the same as someone else’s, your path to getting there is going to be totally different. We’re all unique individuals, looking at life through our own lens, and approach life in different ways. Even if you do the exact same things as your mentor, you will not find yourself in the same place. Accept that you have your own way of doing things and that things happen for a reason. You will get there!

Look at the big picture

If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself when looking at your goals, make them bigger. Look ahead into the horizon without scaring yourself and realize that there is a bigger plan set out for you. You’re meant to be great, and this time in your life is one step in that plan. Keep checking back to the bigger picture – it makes all the challenges stepping stones rather than boulders to climb over.

Thanks for reading!

How to Overcome Self-Doubt

Self doubt is probably one of the worst things ever. It’s a self-inflicting mindset that prohibits you from doing the things you want to do. It keeps you from even trying anything new for fear of failure. And when you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to fail, you will never learn.

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It’s all in your head

When self doubt kicks in, do your best to try and kick it out. The thought of failure shouldn’t scare you, the thought of staying the same, never improving, should. Know that these thoughts you’re having (feeling not good enough, feeling left out or rejected…) are normal, but also only in your head. Once you realize that you’re in control of how you feel, you will be able to push past the self-doubt. Nobody else can dictate your feelings, no matter how hard people try.

Stop comparing

We’re all on our own journey, our own path. You may have similar end goals as someone else but in the end – we’re all just trying to find happiness. If your path doesn’t line up with someone else’s, don’t sweat it; you have your own obstacles to overcome, your own triumphs. Try not to compare your life to anyone else’s, this is your story to write, not theirs.

Stop asking people for their opinion

Have you ever wanted to try something, suggested it to a friend, only to be scoffed at and told that’s not cool? I bet that made you feel less inclined to try it! And I can tell you that’s wrong. Don’t let anyone else get into your head and make you doubt your abilities. Real friends will support you and your crazy ideas so don’t worry about what they will think.

I think people depend too much on what their friends and family think. Don’t look for reassurance in other people – find it within yourself. Yes their opinions are important – but we rely too heavily on their idea of what success is. Next time you’re unsure if you should pursue a passion, weigh the pros and cons and then just do it. Don’t accidently persuade yourself out of doing it because you had a long talk with your best friend who told you that one time her friend’s friend tried to do the same thing and it didn’t work out for her and now she’s struggling to get back to where she was and blah blah blah…

Don’t be afraid of humiliation

I am perpetually embarrassed. My face turns bright red in a matter of seconds at the mere mention of high school (I try not to think about that phase in my life). But really – what is the worst thing about humiliation? That you feel a little anxious, or that you start reliving the past? No one else is thinking about it, and even if they are, that’s not your problem. Don’t let the fear of embarrassment stop you from going out and trying something.

Leave the past in the past

Always keep looking ahead – never looking back. If something happened in the past that is making you doubt your abilities, your character or your worth, leave it in the past. Keep learning from your mistakes, but don’t hold onto them in a negative way. Let them teach you the lessons they need to – and then let that shit go.

Thanks for reading!

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10 Self Care Tips

It’s a Wednesday. Which means for most, it’s the middle of the work week. Meaning, we still have two days left of work, we still have two more days of gym routines and we still have two more days of food prep. Two more days of schedules, meetings and planned activities before the freedom of the weekend hits. And we’re all looking forward to the weekend…

But how can we enjoy the right now? In minimalism, (the idea of limiting stuff, in order to increase happiness) one of the main goals is to enjoy the present. Really live for the moment, rather than living for the weekend.

I’ve come to realize that it’s really the little things that will make you happy, if you let them. It’s also the really little things that will upset you, if you let them. So it’s time to start enjoying the little things, and then the really big things will follow. No disappointment, no resentment, no wishing for the end (end of the workweek, end of the school year, end of an internship…). See below for my ten self care tips! 

  1. Wake up a teensy bit earlier than you would normally. This one is literally the hardest thing for me – I love my extra 20 minutes of sleep! But by waking up a tiny bit earlier, you’re in less of a rush, you have more time to yourself, and you start the day off better.
  2. Similar to step 1, make an actual breakfast. I’ve been on the smoothie train for the last three days and it’s actually been great! Rather than starve myself until lunch cause I didn’t have time to make anything or didn’t want to spend money on a takeaway, I can sit at my desk and drink my super-healthy smoothie. On the days where I do manage to complete step 1, I’ll make avocado toast with a poached egg on top! Taking the time for yourself in the morning and making sure you get to eat is such a positive experience. It might sound weird, but really appreciate your breakfast. You woke up and there was food ready for you. Yes it might have taken some preparation, but you still have food. This kind of appreciation should transcend into the rest of your day.
  3. Do something for someone else. I know this is a self-care article but by doing things for other people, you open yourself up to good karma and you feel good that you did something for someone else. It can be something little – start the coffee machine for your roommate, wash your dishes before you leave the house (this one’s a personal one, can’t you tell!!!) or take out the trash before anyone has a chance to mention that it needs to be taken out. The words of appreciation you’ll get from doing these little things will also help fuel your day and make you appreciate the things they do too!
  4. Give yourself treats. I don’t mean this literally, although a sweet treat might be your thing! I find that if I focus on the good things that I get to enjoy, I enjoy them that much more. I.e. coming home and turning on Netflix with a glass of wine (my favourite kind of treat…), going for a nice long hike rather than a sweat at the gym, doing a calming yoga routine to help put you to sleep…These little things that make life awesome should be a huge part of your day. That being said, work needs to get done, but allow yourself to have these treats.
  5. Speaking of work, how can we enjoy this aspect of our lives more? My tip is to think about why you’re doing it. For me, I love my job and am so lucky to have it but there’s things about it that can sometimes be mundane or boring. During those times, I think about the bigger picture. These little tasks that I don’t particularly enjoy, add to my job as a whole, and without them, nothing could happen. So I focus on doing them to the best of my ability while thinking about how lucky I am to be working here. IF you’re not in the same position and you don’t feel particularly passionate about your job, focus on the good within the job. Working at a grocery store? Relish the random conversations you have with customers, appreciate your co-workers for their work ethic, and really take in the feedback from your boss. You’re providing a service for people, while getting yourself to where you want to be later in life.
  6. Spend some time alone. This tip has been huge for me this summer. If you never spend time alone or the idea of it freaks you out, trust me, you will learn to appreciate it, and sometimes even crave it! Spending time alone allows you to re-set your mind and body. So if you’re feeling grouchy, rather than chew out your roommates, go to your room and sit for a bit. You can really think about how you feel, why you might be feeling that way, and then choose to get over it or address it. This mental process takes time and consideration and is hard to do when sitting in a crowded room. Also if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with choices or decisions that need to be made, being alone really helps tell you what you want to do, without the opinions of others affecting your choices.
  7. Contrary to the above point, I find that sometimes the inner monologue is too much, and I need to be with other people to distract myself. To really be in the present, leave your phone somewhere, shut your laptop and just be with the people you’re with. Enjoy their company, ask them questions, take an interest in their lives. By being more engaged with people, you’re more in the moment and able to appreciate them.
  8. Practice yoga or meditation. The benefits of meditative practice are huge. I literally just set up my laptop in my room, pull out my yoga mat and follow along to whatever yoga video I’ve picked out for the day. I also spend a few minutes each day meditating and have already seen improvements to my mental health. I don’t care what anyone says, you can meditate anywhere, anytime. If you are at school and feel like you need a mental break, go to the bathroom and meditate. If you’re at work, take a walk outside and meditate. Meditating is the definition of being present, and will help you appreciate your life so much more. The first time I tried meditating, I was on a plane, and I haven’t looked back since.
  9. Stay positive. Be grateful for what you have. Really focus on the good in your life, especially when you’re feeling down. If you can read this, you’re one of the luckiest people in the world. Take that in every. single. day. We’re all allowed to feel blue sometimes, but don’t let it get the best of you.
  10. Be genuine. Say exactly what you mean. When you’re not fine, don’t say you’re fine. When someone has upset you – let them know. Try and be the most genuine person you know. That way, when self-doubt rolls around (and it will, it always finds us), you’ll know you did everything right. Being honest lets you live peacefully in the moment, you’re not caught up in what you wish you would have said; you said it already. This self-care tip not only benefits you as a person, but it allows you to spread positivity and integrity to the people around you.

Thanks for reading!

Bring Yourself Back Up

I don’t think we often realize the dangers of negative thinking.

I know I’m not alone in this when I say that once I start feeding into sad thoughts, a cycle commences:

I start to feel like I’m not worthy of anything.  I being to wonder how I even have friends. How does my family put up with me? Then I start to imagine horrible situations in which the people I care about the most, leave me. I then imagine what I would do without them in my life and that’s when it gets really depressing.

I’m then left feeling terrible and unmotivated to do anything – which restarts the cycle (didn’t get anything done…feel like crap…start thinking I am crap…etc.).

So how do we get past this? How can we skip over the cycle? Here are a few tips I’ve learned (I am by no means an expert on mental health but I think I have a pretty good grasp on some ideas that can be helpful to most).

  1. Imagine that every thought you have, has the ability to come true. This is the biggest thing that’s helped reshape the way I’ve been thinking. When I feel a negative thought come into my head and I can’t bare to think of it coming true, it helps push that thought away. I don’t even let myself imagine it happening for the fear of it coming true. This in turn will help fill your head with good thoughts that you’d love to come true!
  2. Confide carefully and quietly. When you’re feeling blue, it can help to vent to someone. However, make it one person and make it quick. Acknowledging how you’re feeling and discussing why you might be feeling this way is a good thing, but picking apart the entirety of your emotions with your friend is not helpful or healthy, it can sometimes make the situation seem a lot worse than it is.
  3. Distract yourself. Read a book, work on a project, go to the gym. Do something productive that makes you feel inspired and motivated. You might think that crashing on the couch for hours at a time watching Suits will make you feel better, but I find that when I’m feeling negative, I will only feel worse if I don’t take action. That being said, another tip is to relax. Don’t mindlessly absorb media but do something that will calm you down as well and motivate you out of your negativity.
  4. Get outside. It’s amazing what a 20 minute walk outside can do for your mental health. I usually grab my cellphone and a pair of headphones and call my sister when I’m in one of my moods.
  5. Contrary to point 4, turn off your phone. If social media is affecting how you’re feeling (FOMO, jealous about someone’s amazing Insta…etc.) then do the smart thing and turn off your phone or put it on silent. I have another post about minimizing my use of technology and I can honestly say it really does help. It takes away the “right now” feeling of necessity and helps me relax.
  6. Seek out familiarity. This is kind of a weird one but I find that when I’m feeling the negative cycle arriving I jump right into what’s familiar. I will read any one of the Harry Potter books (read them each approximately 50 times), I will turn on any of the Lord of the Rings films (seen them each approximately 50 times) or I heat up my mom’s pasta sauce that I have eaten since I was a kid… etc. All of these things are familiar to me and have become a part of who I am so enjoying them when I am at my worst just reaffirms who I am and that I don’t need to have doubts.

If anyone has any other tips on how to battle negative thinking I would love to hear them!

Thanks for reading.