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    12 Hacks to Hold Yourself Accountable with Your Resolutions

    It’s that time of year again: we’re putting away Christmas decorations, coming back from holiday break, and setting New Year’s resolutions. But will 2021 be any different than 2020, 2019, or any other resolutions of New Years’ past? If you’ve never even remembered your goals by the end of most years (much less reached them), you’re not alone. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of resolutions fail (depressing, right?).So what does it take to be in the 20 percent that succeeds? We all say #newyearnewme every January 1st, so how do we make sure that 2021 will really be “our year;” the year where we become happier, achieve our healthiest body, and get that dream career? The answer: change your approach. Here are 12 hacks to keep you accountable and help you be in the 20 percent of resolutions that succeed. Look out, 2022! 

    1. Get in the right mindset
    You probably already have your 2021 resolutions, but do you know why you set those resolutions? The first step to holding yourself accountable is to put meaning behind the goals you set. For example, “going to the gym every day” or “getting a raise” are fine resolutions, but you need to look at the bigger picture goal as well. Why do you want to go to the gym every day? Is it to be stronger, feel more confident, or live longer? What about getting a raise: do you want to be more financially independent or feel valued by your company? If you’re not looking at the “why” goal, the surface-level goal will never feel motivating enough to last until 2022. 
    Bottom line: set your resolutions, but make sure you’re also reminding yourself why you care about achieving them in the first place. Take some time to reflect or journal about why accomplishing this goal is important to you and how it will make a difference in your life. Months from now, when the newness of resolutions wears off, you won’t be thinking, “I have to wake up at 7 a.m. to exercise.” You’ll be thinking, “I want to wake up at 7 a.m. to exercise because it makes me feel so much happier and healthier throughout the day.” 

    2. Set smaller goals that are easy to reach
    Trust me, “losing weight,” “running a marathon,” or “reading 100 books” are far off goals that will leave you disappointed and unmotivated, no matter what. Instead, break down big resolutions into smaller, more specific goals throughout each week. On Sundays, think about what you want to achieve just that week: fit in four workouts, run three miles instead of your usual two, lift 10 extra pounds, or add greens to two meals a day. By the time the week is over, you’ll feel accomplished, proud of yourself, and more motivated to set harder goals for the next week. If week-by-week is not your thing, start in small increments to get to where you want. For example, start with two push-ups a day. Once push-ups feel like a habit, increase a couple more reps or exercises each day until you get to your fitness goal.

    3. Prepare what you need in advance
    If you prefer morning workouts, lay out all your clothes next to your bed, untie your sneakers, and fill up a water bottle. If you work out in the afternoon, change into your workout clothes first thing in the morning so you’ll be ready to go whenever you can fit it in. Having everything ready will not only make it easier to work out, but will put you in the mindset that this workout will happen. Preparation works for nutrition goals, too: meal prep makes it much less likely for you to resort to takeout after a busy workday or snack on unhealthy choices like chips and cookies. Likewise, if you want to have a better morning routine, lay out your clothes, fill up a bottle of water, set out your skincare lineup, and get out the meditation pillow. Bottom line: set yourself up for success to reach your resolutions by preparing in advance. 

    Source: @kateogata

    4. Get a buddy
    Do you have a friend, significant other, roommate, or work wife who also wants to stick to their resolutions? Make them your accountability buddy and motivate each other by exchanging healthy recipes, sending motivational quotes, and checking in to see how the other is feeling or keeping up with their goal. You don’t have to have the same resolutions to motivate each other, but it certainly helps if you plan to hop on a Zoom yoga class with a friend or set up weekly meetings with your work wife to see how your career resolutions are coming along. You’ll be much more motivated feeling like you’re in this together.

    5. Schedule resolutions into your calendar
    When appointments, meetings, or tasks are on your calendar, you know they’re going to get done. And you’ll probably show up on time, be fully prepared, and never skip. Just because a workout, meal prep session, or personal budget check-in are not work meetings does not mean you shouldn’t prioritize them as such. Honor your resolutions like you would any other appointment on your schedule. For example, either sign up for an online workout class in advance (the cancellation fee in itself will be enough to hold you accountable) or put “going on a jog” in your calendar. Not only will scheduling resolutions make it more likely you’ll do them, but you’re also more likely to prioritize them. Treat a workout, check-in, reading session, meditation time, grocery shopping, etc., like you would anything else on your calendar: show up on time, be prepared, and don’t cancel.
     
    6. Set up your environment for success
    Maybe you are what you eat, but you are where you live too. Surround yourself with motivating images and rearrange your home environment to help you with your resolutions. If mantras are your thing, come up with your own, write it down, and post it on your mirror, computer screen, and fridge. Start a vision board filled with motivating images like a picture of yourself from when you felt healthy and happy, or a magazine cut-out of someone achieving your goal (like crow pose or running a 5k). You can also post healthy recipes or pictures of women you admire. Visually seeing your goals as often as possible will keep you motivated. Beyond vision boards and mantras, make sure your home is setting you up for success. Keep your blender in an accessible spot, display healthier cookbooks on the shelves, leave your yoga mat out, and turn your bedroom into a relaxing oasis if you want to get more sleep this year. 
     
    7. Journal your progress
    Journaling creates a space for mindfulness, thoughtfulness, and purpose, and can help you achieve all of your goals (powerful stuff, right?). Use a blank notebook for morning pages, record your daily goals in your planner (shoutout to The Everygirl planners at Target!!), or use the Notes app on your phone. Not only will journaling about your resolutions keep you motivated, but knowing you’re tracking your progress will hold you accountable. It’s a lot less tempting to skip the workout or order takeout when you know that you’ll be writing about it later. More importantly, journaling will keep the resolution in the front of your mind, so you’ll prioritize it.

    Source: @devyn.p.miller

    8. Have a plan B
    So you slept through your alarm and missed your morning workout? Or you’re extra hungry and aren’t in the mood for your usual smoothie? Have an easy and flexible backup plan, so that you don’t completely give up when your plan doesn’t work out. Going on a 30-minute walk after dinner or doing a yoga YouTube video before hopping in the shower are great ways to fit in movement and keep you feeling motivated. Likewise, have a few different healthy meal options so that when you’re not in the mood for your typical go-to’s, you don’t opt for fast food takeout. Having a backup for when your plan falls through is crucial to staying on track.
     
    9. Fit resolutions into your routine
    Your resolutions can be lofty, but they have to fit into your life. For example, if you hate salad, don’t force yourself to eat salads. If you want to get fit but can’t run a mile to save your life, don’t try to run five miles. Instead, find healthy foods you like and exercises that are fun or make you feel good. Learning how to enjoy achieving your goals will help them stick. Experiment with healthy recipes like plant-based versions of your favorite foods, and test out workouts to find one that you’ll not only enjoy, but will look forward to.
    Also, don’t vow to wake up at 6 a.m. for meditation and a workout if your alarm clock typically rings five minutes before you have to be on Slack. Start with a meditation while your coffee brews, some calf raises while brushing your teeth, and going on a walk while you’re on a conference call. There are dozens of ways to fit your resolutions into your likes and routines, and those ways are the key to reaching goals by 2022.

    10. Read, listen to, or watch something positive
    I love Real Housewives as much as the next girl, but let’s be real: bingeing it every night before bed and on my lunch break certainly does not help with motivation (been there, done that). Instead, take a break from your usual Netflix binges to listen to a motivating podcast, read a chapter from a self-improvement book before bed, or (if reality shows really are your cup of tea) stream a show like Queer Eye that will inspire you to be your best self. Filling your time with inspiration and motivation will make you excited to reach your goals. Don’t worry, there will always be time for Real Housewives or The Bachelor, but remember that nutrition isn’t just what you eat; it’s what you read, watch, and listen to as well. 
     

    Source: @twentysomethingplus

     
    11. Look for one small victory every day 
    The key to resolution success is not to look at what you have yet to accomplish. Instead, the key is to focus on what you’ve already done. Looking at how far you’ve come (even if it is just baby steps) will boost confidence and motivation to inspire you to keep going. Every single day, look for a victory you made towards your final end goal. It could be doing an extra 10 crunches, having a smoothie for breakfast instead of getting an Egg McMuffin, or going on a walk during your lunch break instead of bingeing Hulu. Taking steps towards your final goal (no matter how small) will feel much more motivating than a distant goal that’s out of reach. Let each small step be its own victory, and get excited for whatever victories you’ll accomplish tomorrow. You’ll reach your end goal in no time–2022 will be so impressed.

    12. Be flexible and trust your gut
    Remember those aforementioned “why” goals? Maybe your resolution is to work out more, but the reason for that is to feel more confident, or perhaps you want a raise, but you want a raise because you want to take a step in your career. The secret to achieving your resolutions (instead of forgetting about them by February) is to focus on the “why goals” and be flexible with resolutions. From now until 2022, there will times when you’re too tired to work out, need to take a mental health day from work, or want to enjoy a glass of wine and an entire Dominos pizza on a Friday night. And those times don’t mean you’re failing at your resolutions; they mean you’re listening to what your body needs.
    Reality check: if you’re not flexible with your resolutions, you’ll never be able to keep them. To hold yourself accountable, stay focused on the overarching goals like feeling more confident, progressing in your career, or treating your body well. It will help you stay motivated to keep your goals, but most importantly, you’ll be listening to your body instead of external expectations. Even resolutions need balance, not perfection.

    How are you holding yourself accountable with your resolutions this year? More

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    6 Things to Stop Doing in 2021 (and 6 to Start)

    I get a new notebook entirely to plan out my goals every year. It’s my bliss to set, track, reflect on, and plan dozens of goals the few days before a new year. Dec. 31 is for partying for some; for me, it’s about sitting down with a notebook, at least five variations of my favorite pen, and a whole lot of time to myself.But in 2021? I didn’t even order a new notebook until Jan. 2, let alone set a single goal. 
    2021 already looks different than any year we’ve probably ever experienced. Setting goals when you don’t know what the rest of the month will look like, let alone the year, feels like an impossible task. So, we’re calling 2021 the year of anti-resolutions. Big, lofty goals like “eat healthier” and “get a promotion” and “run a marathon” simply aren’t it. 
    But if you’re like me, you’re craving the joy and motivation of a new goal. You’re dying to have something to look forward to. So instead of those big goals, we’re sharing simple, easy, and attainable swaps you can make in your daily life. What can you leave behind in 2020 and bring into this year instead? 

    1. Mindless scrolling
    Social media isn’t the devil; I’d be the last person to say that. But when you’re trying to watch The Bachelor with your friend or sitting at the dinner table eating or taking a restful break during the workday, your phone doesn’t also need to be in hand. Being present in those small moments of your day will make you appreciate them even more.

    2. Overworking
    Stop spending your precious evening “getting ahead” on the next day’s work, emailing clients, or catching up on what you couldn’t finish earlier in the day. I’m not saying you have to abandon your to-do list, but you also aren’t helping your clients, your company, or yourself by burning yourself out week after week. Set a time to stop working every night, set an alarm, and do what you can to stick to it. 

    3. Foods that make you feel “blah”
    And I’m not just talking about stereotypical “junk food.” If eating Brussels sprouts makes you feel blah as much as a bag of potato chips, say goodbye! This will take time, and no, it doesn’t have to include an elimination diet, Whole30, or something else that will make you want to throw in the towel a few days in. Instead, make mindful shifts in your diet as you notice foods that simply don’t work with you, or that you just don’t really love. (For me, I’m giving up the idea of falling in love with quinoa “eventually.” It won’t happen, and I’m not wasting time or money on a freaking grain any longer.) 

    4. Overthinking
    Imagine how much of your time, energy, and focus is spent on overthinking. Playing out scenarios in your head before they happen, reading into situations, going off of feelings instead of facts—it’s doing nothing for you and is a waste of time. 

    5. Not setting or following boundaries
    In 2021, we’re kissing those moments of wondering how we got roped into doing something goodbye. Whether it was working late when you really were looking forward to at-home date night, seeing people even if you didn’t feel safe, talking about your dating life to extended family whose business is nothing of the sort, and simply doing or saying anything you just don’t really want to, setting a boundary and following it will be your saving grace.

    6. Exercising because you “need to”
    Exercise shouldn’t be a punishment or an item to tick-off your to-do list, and I stand by that if it is, you’re not doing the kind of exercise that you actually enjoy. Viewing exercise and movement as a form of caring and loving yourself will propel your fitness journey far more than following a plan because you ate too much over the holidays or had a “cheat meal” (go ahead and also ditch the idea of “cheat meals” in 2021, please). 

    1. Enjoying food in the moment
    2020 made me realize that I enjoy food so much more when I’m sharing it with friends or family. I enjoy takeout on my living room floor when I’m sharing it with my best friends way more than when I pick it up after a long, stressful day because I “deserve it.” Savor those food-related gatherings and view them as more than just eating a meal. When you’re with friends, pizza isn’t just pizza; it’s a memory. Focus on these moments and make a point to add them to your calendar. 

    2. Attentively listening and validating
    After a year full of struggles for everyone, being able to effectively listen and validate people when they’re sharing something vulnerable is a strong trait. Instead of zoning out on your phone or thinking of how you’ll respond before they’ve even finished a sentence, take a moment to think about what they’re saying, see how you can share that you understand what they’re going through, and then move onto your response. You’ll notice a shift in your friendships, and it’s exactly what you’d expect and hope from others too. 

    3. Love
    This might seem really straightforward, but it doesn’t have to be only about loving your partner. How can you show more love to your mind, your body, your intellect? What about your career? How can you show love to your friends and family? How can you love yourself spirituality? Showing love is only one way of showing gratitude toward every aspect of your life, and we all know the impacts of cultivating gratitude. 

    4. Tailored, actionable goals
    Telling yourself you’ll “eat healthier this year” is not a goal; it’s basically an empty promise. It’s amazing if you want to eat healthier, but if you actually want to feel like you accomplished something, not get off track easily, or make a habit, you must create highly-tailored action-steps you can take to truly make that goal. Maybe it’s eat a vegetable with every meal for a week. Maybe it’s to finally use up the bag of spinach you bought. Perhaps you’ll research and find a new supplement or daily vitamin to add to your routine. This can be done for every area of your life and basically any goal you can think of, and it’s the true, sure-fire way to actually reach those big goals you have. 

    5. Learning a new skill
    With an indefinite amount of time left spent stuck at home, we could all stand to find something productive to pour our time into that isn’t work, exercise and heath, or endless hours of Netflix. The key to this goal is choosing something and sticking to it rather than deciding you want to take on five new skills and learning a bit about each one and never actually mastering it. Need some ideas? Here are over 20 hobbies you can start right now. 

    6. Rest
    You might think that because we spent the majority of 2020 at home that we’re all super well-rested and ready to take on 2021. Quite the contrary! 2020 was inundated with stress, worry, uncertainty, more stress, so much anger, confusion, seriously more stress—it’s no surprise that many of us feel incredibly spiritless going into this new year. In 2021, shift your focus from these “unprecedented times” and instead on processing all of those negative emotions and how you can properly receive a little relief and rest. Tip #1: journal it out, baby.  More

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    6 Things to Do This Month to Kick off Your New Year Right

    After a very trying year that was shaped by a global pandemic that halted our personal and professional lives, we are all cautiously optimistic for a brand-new year in 2021 after the holiday season. For many, the only New Year’s resolution is for a more pleasant year than last. The top of a new year brings on new chances to improve yourself, reset, or simply take a break after a stressful, eventful year’s past. Even though there’s no surefire way on how to start a new year off right, here are a few ways you can usher in a new year this month to strive to be your happiest and healthiest.  

    1. Prioritize your health 
    After a stressful year for all, your physical, mental and emotional health at the top of another year should take priority in order to kick off your new year right, as your overall health is crucial in getting through another year. Whether you’ve sought out help in 2020 or are still trying to prioritize your health in the middle of a pandemic, your overall health is important and should not be ignored in the new year.
    Make time to assess your health mentally and physically and schedule time to seek out resources and small ways to help you kick start your year with the help you need. Whether you are looking to be more physically active or to better yourself mentally by attending therapy, use the top of the year to focus on ways you can be healthier holistically. 

    2. Consider switching up your daily routine 
    If you’ve been looking to start and end your day more positively, the beginning of a new year is a great time to switch up or refresh your daily routine. A healthy daily routine improves your productivity and your mood throughout the day and keeps you focus and grounded as you move throughout your day. 
    Establish a daily routine that meets your needs by evaluating what makes you happy throughout the day, whether it’s finding time to meditate, spending time with your partner, your family, or your pet, or having time to pamper yourself in the mornings or evenings with your beauty routine. Identify what brings you joy and make it a priority to incorporate it throughout your day. 
    If you already have a daily routine, refresh what it looks like and be more mindful of prioritizing yourself first, avoiding just “getting through” your day robotically. A new year is a great time to shake up your schedule and make room for yourself and new, healthy practices that will carry on throughout the year. 

    3. Find an accountability partner for your new year’s goals
    The new year brings on resolutions and goal-setting to ensure a productive year ahead. If you need that extra push to get you going, identify a friend or your partner to hold you accountable to reach your goals. Having an accountability partner helps you put your goals into perspective and holds you to reach them. 
    Your accountability partner can also remind you to show yourself more grace and patience throughout the year, as the effort to reach New Year’s resolutions can make us harder on ourselves. Find someone who is not only your coach, but your cheerleader and confidant who can remind you to press forward, but to also take a break and reset when your expectations are weighing heavily on you. 

    4. Check in on family and friends 
    We have all been through a tumultuous year, so make sure to check in on family, friends, and loved ones in the new year to express your gratitude for them and to give yourself some joy as well. Positive relationships with family and friends help us get through rough times but also helps us celebrate good ones, so start your new year off right by cultivating and prioritizing those relationships before the year picks up. 
    If you can’t physically spend time with family and friends due to the pandemic, schedule some Zoom time or even just a quick phone call or text to let them know you’re thinking about them as the year gets started. If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, is that everyone is going through a struggle that you may or may not know about, so connecting with your loved ones can help them get through the beginning of the year and the end of another. 

    5. Practice gratitude 
    Ring in the New Year practicing gratitude this year, which helps boosts your mood and refocuses your attention on positivity versus the challenges of the past year. Practicing gratitude helps put another year in perspective, helping you usher in another year on a positive note and being thankful for the year behind. It also helps you reflect on the good in your life rather than the negative, looking ahead in an optimistic, more productive way. 
    You can practice gratitude in a variety of ways to start to your year. Here are a few great ways to practice gratitude at the beginning of the year: 
    Give back monetarily or volunteer your time to an organization or charity that could use some assistance in the new year 
    Practice mindfulness by using meditation as a guide to stay present and aware of yourself and your mental health going into another year 
    Write down what you’re grateful for from the past year by either journaling or making a simple list to recognize your own hard work and perseverance
    Treat yourself to an at-home spa day, give yourself a gift, or spend the day resting to show yourself some appreciation 
    Express your gratitude for someone else by sending them a gift or kind words to start their new year off with appreciation 
    Gratitude is all about appreciating who you are, what you have, and loved ones around you in the moment; celebrate a new year by giving thanks to yourself each day. 

    6. Give yourself a moment to rest 
    We all need a little break mentally and emotionally from the whirlwind that was 2020. Give yourself a much-needed break at the top of the year and find some time to wind down and rest, putting aside the hustle and bustle (and stress) of what a new year brings. 
    Before ringing in the New Year with a mound of work, New Year’s resolutions, and a host of productive tasks to jump-start your year, give yourself permission to rest before overexerting yourself too early. Rest and relaxation is just as important to your overall health as productivity and goal-setting. If available, carve out some time before jumping back into the swing of things after celebrating the New Year to relax and focus on self-care. Whether you hop right back in the bed to get some much-needed sleep, or binge your favorite TV show or Netflix movie, give yourself some time to decompress to refocus your New Year’s energy on yourself first. This downtime will help you jump start another year at your best physically, and most importantly, mentally.  

    How do you plan to start your new year off the right way? More

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    14 Mantras for Your Best Self Ever, and When to Use Them

    What do you do when you’re in a stressful moment? When you’re anxious about giving a presentation, or your friends hang out without inviting you, or you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see? What about when bad things happen, or you make a mistake, or you doubt whether or not you’re good enough to have all that you want? Some people cope with stress and anxiety with a yoga flow, a Netflix show, or a sleeve of Oreos. While I still resort back to all those coping mechanisms here and there (healthy or not), the one thing I always have with me is a mantra.Technically, everyone has a mantra, whether they’re aware of it or not — it’s that one phrase you hear in your head over and over or tell yourself repeatedly. Some lucky people have great mantras: I’m awesome. What a beautiful day outside. I love my life. And then there are the mantras that many of us are plagued by: I’m not as pretty. I’m not good enough. What if something goes wrong?  Many of us hear these phrases in our heads so often that we believe them. So what if we could replace these thoughts with phrases that are not only better for us, but can help us be confident, feel less stressed, and live our best lives? The secret to achieving your best self might just be a mantra away…

    What is a “mantra?”
    The term “mantra” is an ancient Sanskrit term, used in Hindusim and Buddhism to mean a phrase that was repeated frequently in meditation. Nowadays, everyone from yogis to modern psychologists are relaying back to the ancient technique as a powerful therapy tool. Neurologically, mantra training can reduce distractions and calm the mind. It’s also been proven to reduce stress because repetition and focus regulate chemicals in the brain, releasing endorphins and blocking stress hormones like cortisol.
    Beyond just the physical benefits, a mantra puts you in a more positive mindset, and the repetitive nature trains your brain overtime. In other words, remember those negative thoughts? With mantra training, they will be a thing of the past, because you’ll naturally think more positively.
    Mantras can be repeated as a tool for focus during meditation, used as a tiny, consistent reminder throughout the day, or looked to when you’re in a moment of anxiety, stress, or lack of confidence. The goal is to find the mantra that clicks for you; the one that just makes sense. It’s the phrase you need to hear, and the repetition to allow you to actually hear it.
    Here are the mantras that have changed my mindset, my confidence, and my life. Memorize the one that clicks with you, write them down and tape them to your walls, or copy them in your phone notes to look to whenever you need it.  Get ready for your most powerful, confident, passionate, and best self, yet:

    1. “I am enough.”
    This is the reminder we all could probably use every now and then. It’s human nature to think we could be better, or there’s always someone better than us — it’s what drives competition and keeps us pushing ourselves to be better. But sometimes, that pushing becomes a lack of appreciation for who we are now, causing insecurity and self-doubt. Use this mantra when you’re worried about being liked, struggling with insecurity, meeting new people, or entering a new job. Remind yourself that you are pretty great, just the way you are.

    2. “I am ready to be healed.”
    Use this mantra when you’ve been having a particularly hard time and you’re ready to move on, or need help moving on. It’s so easy to get into a funk because we’re going through a hard time — maybe we lost our job, went through a breakup, or have just been feeling sad with winter blues. While grieving and downtime is important, and emotions should never be ignored, this funk can turn into a vicious cycle of self-pity and wallowing. The first step of moving on and feeling better is to acknowledge that it’s time to be healed and it’s ok to be healed. You’ll start to subconsciously seek out your own healing.

    Source: @metricdisco

    3. “I am discovering my inner superstar.”
    There is an inner “superstar” in all of us, even when we don’t think there is. I call it “superstar” because the word makes me smile, but you might call it your best self, your true self, or your own hero. Use this mantra when you need some extra motivation and inspiration to achieve your goals, and to believe in yourself. The wording of this mantra is particularly nonjudgmental. Rather than expecting yourself to achieve greater things (and the possibility of feeling disappointed or unconfident if you don’t achieve them), you’re acknowledging that you’re in the process of discovering your best self, without expectation or judgment.

    4. “I return my body to optimal health by giving it what it needs on every level.”
    Use this mantra when you want to resist the box of donuts at the office, or you know your body needs to be (and deserves to be) healthier. Rather than forcing yourself to eat healthy or exercise for vanity reasons, this mantra is allowing you to reflect on what your body actually wants and needs, whether that means having that piece of chocolate or adding in some leafy greens, or sleeping in and taking a rest day versus getting up before work to go to the gym. Remind yourself to listen to your body and act for the sake of nourishing it.

    5. “I am open and receptive to all good.”
    When you seek the good, you won’t notice as much bad. The issues you run into in your everyday life, like your train being late or your internet running slow, won’t feel so bad. Use this mantra when you need an extra boost of optimism. Train yourself to be a glass-half-full kinda girl by repeating this mantra whenever you start to complain or notice a negative thought. There’s so much good, whether it’s in a situation, a setting, or in a person. We just have to allow ourselves to be open to it.

    Source: @carlycristman

    6. “Today is about pleasure. I am living this day for the sole purpose of enjoying it.”
    What if you lived as if the purpose was to enjoy — not just to check items off your to-do list or just get through the work day until 5pm? Use this mantra when you notice you’ve just been going through the motions instead of living. Notice and value indulgences that truly make you happy — a new candle, a long hot bath, a bouquet of flowers you picked up on the way home from work. Fit small pleasurable activities into your day, and when something stresses you out like a tough deadline or a boss in a bad mood, remember that this day is for you to enjoy, and don’t let little problems bother you like they normally would.

    7. “Stop making people wrong.”
    You know the times when you’re in a fight and you just feel so annoyed, or sad, or angry? Maybe your roommate is annoying you about doing the dishes, or your kids are making you mad by not picking up their toys? Use this mantra when you’re in one of those times. If your mom missed an important event, your best friend has been too busy for you, or your significant other said something you don’t agree with, remind yourself to think about the other’s perspective. Be compassionate to their point of view and voice your feelings with the understanding that your loved ones don’t mean to make you feel bad. Remember that how the incident affects your relationship is not based on their actions, but the way you take them. Seek the right in the people you love instead of making them wrong.

    8. “Be the person who feels like sunshine.”
    Use this mantra when you’re in a social setting you don’t feel confident in. It might be tempting to be the girl that acts too-cool-for-school, or make jokes to get laughs (even if it’s at the expense of others). When we’re not feeling confident, these are easy defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from being disliked. But this mantra reminds me that what people actually like to be around is someone who exudes kindness, and is warm and happy — someone who feels like sunshine. Besides, what if your main purpose was to lift others up? Give them compliments, make them laugh, help out when you see they need it — how much happier would you be?

    9. “I give myself permission to be ok where I am. I know that I am doing my best.”
    We’re always thinking towards the next goal, always feeling behind or focused on the future so much that we don’t feel good about the present. It’s not often that we actually let ourselves be ok with where we are in our lives, knowing that it is exactly where we are meant to be and all good things will come. Use this mantra when you’re feeling anxious about the future.

    Source: @teresalaucar

    10. “I am seeking contentment, not perfection.”
    Use this mantra if you can be too much of a perfectionist. From the outside perspective, no one would expect me to call myself a “perfectionist” — I can be messy, my right brain is way more dominant than my left, and I’m a Libra (a social, charming, romance-obsessed sign — not a perfectionist). And yet, I find myself rewriting articles because they never feel good enough, obsessing over my hair when it’s not curling the way I’d hoped, or feeling anxious and stressed when something didn’t go the way I pictured. Sound familiar? Remind yourself that the goal in life is not for everything to be, look, and seem perfect. The goal, instead, is to be happy. It makes all the little things I worry about seem insignificant.

    11. “I trust that I, and only I, know what’s best for me.”
    We can so often be completely plagued by self-doubt, especially when we’re making huge choices like college decisions, getting into a relationship, moving cities, or which job to take. Oftentimes, we want validation because we don’t listen to the gut instinct, or maybe can’t hear it at all. Use this mantra when you’re making big life decisions. Listen for your gut reaction, and trust that you don’t need to listen to or seek out anyone else’s opinion because the answers to even your biggest life questions is something only you can know.

    12. “Don’t go in your mind where your body is not”
    Are you a worrier, or, like me, a constant worrier? Do you overthink whether or not your friends took your joke the wrong way, if your boss won’t like the work you did, or how a (perfectly normal) doctors appointment will go? Me too. Many of us torture ourselves by thinking about what might happen, we often forget to focus on what is actually happening. This mantra helps me remember I’m making up the worry in my mind, and I need to work on being present to what’s happening in the here and now. Use this mantra when you’re worrying about something.

    Source: @gypsykait

    13. “All is well.”
    Though simple, this powerful mantra serves as a constant reminder that everything is okay and will be okay. Use this mantra when you’re feeling anxious. Anxiety happens because you’re constantly telling yourself that something negative is happening, and your mind starts to believe it. Counteract that anxious voice by giving yourself peace of mind.

    14. “I surround myself with those who make me better.”
    Have you ever heard that study that says we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with? It’s an important study and makes a lot of sense — when you spend a lot of time with someone, you can adopt their mannerisms, their habits, and even their morals. Do you want to be like the 5 people you spend the most time with? Or is it time for a change? Use this mantra when you’re dealing with a toxic friendship or jealous coworker, and to remind yourself you have control over who you let affect you. 

    Which mantra do you use? Which one of these do you relate with the most? Let me know in the comments!

    This post was originally published on January 5, 2019. More

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    5 Small Changes to Make for a Happier New Year

    New year’s resolutions have never been productive for me. I imagine that many of us —including myself—are finding it difficult to set goals considering what this year has looked like for us globally. This year I found that adding small changes to my routine has helped me not only cope with the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve felt this year, but they’ve also helped me find new interests and even helped me reassess what’s important in both my personal and professional life. Because of my success, I wanted to share a few small tips to help make this new year more balanced and joyful. 
    1. Make sleep a priority 
    A study conducted by the CDC found that one in three Americans regularly don’t get enough sleep. I used to be one of those people until I figured out that sleeping gave my brain time to recuperate from staring at the computer for hours. I once thought that the longer I stayed up and got things checked off my to-do list, the longer I was productive. However, I often found myself having to spend more time on certain tasks because my eyes and mind were too tired. 
    My body’s reaction to my unhealthy sleeping habits makes sense given our bodies repair themselves each night as we get our well-deserved shut-eye. The amount of sleep each of us needs is unique to us within an average of 7-9 hours. I find that being mindful of what time I stop watching Netflix, texting, and lounging helps me make sure I’m in bed by 11 p.m., as that is my personal sweet spot. Experiment with different times to find what works best for you and adjust from there.  

    2. Add a mindful act of self-care to your routine
    A few weeks ago, I asked my therapist if she thought self-care was really helpful. Of course, her answer was yes. As we talked, I questioned how something as simple as a cup of tea could help with mindfulness, and in my case, anxiety. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but what I took away from our conversation was that by taking the time to make a cup of tea or draw a bath, you are saying you deserve a moment reserved for yourself. 
    Even with us being in our homes most of the time due to the pandemic, there’s still a lot to get done, and prioritizing ourselves is still important. We’re even working during a time where the physical boundaries of work for many of us are gone, which means closing our laptops when we’re “off” is even more difficult. Whether it’s meditation, tea, a bath, meditation, a walk, therapy, painting, or whatever you dream up, finding something small to do that gives you even a moment of peace is worth it.  

    3. Find a workout activity you enjoy
    At the start of the new year, it feels inspiring to embark on a new workout journey. However, sometimes we can get lost in physical transformation, and not take the time to figure out what activities we really enjoy that we’ll want to stick with even after the celebratory feelings of the new year have worn off. Exercising in the past has felt like a chore, but I found my thing in quarantine. Seeing my body change has been great, but the energy boost and anti-anxiety benefits I get are why I don’t skip more than a day of working out. 

    4. Get organized
    Organization is something I struggle with, especially when I feel like I have accumulated too much stuff. Decluttering your space isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, decluttering is proven to impact your mood.  No one has time for that considering there’s already enough going on around us that triggers our stress. Investing in organization products is a great place to start, but going through items in your home and donating and tossing unwanted things helps make your room for a clutter-free environment. This includes home goods, clothes, makeup, and whatever else that is making you ask yourself, “Do I ever use this?”

    5. Set boundaries with your phone and social media 
    Setting boundaries with my phone, social media, and technology, in general, is an ongoing struggle—one that I often try to amend with no success. Going cold turkey feels pretty impossible, so I have adopted a subtle, but consistent approach to this one. For starters, I no longer roll over and check my phone the moment I open my eyes. Secondly, I shut down my screen time at 9 p.m. each night.
    Social media can have a positive effect on our lives, but like most things in our lives, overconsumption can bring about negative effects—in this case, sleep disruption, anxiety, and depression. If you’re like me and are looking for ways to have a healthier relationship with social media, Start with silencing notifications, sleep with your phone across the room (or in another room), and avoid social media an hour to 30 minutes before bed. Each of these tips are expert-approved suggestions that can help us find balance with technology. 
    I find myself saying this a lot lately because I know it to be true: small changes can lead to a big impact. Find small things that work for you and your world. More

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    The Hacks My Therapist Taught Me That I’m Using to Make 2021 My Best Year Yet

    After the complete dumpster fire of a year 2020 was, I was sure as hell due for a sit-down with a therapist (virtual, luckily). Everything “seemed” to be going just fine in my life, and I really had nothing on the surface to complain about. This year really put into perspective that having a job and housing, being healthy, and having a few close friends and family members are really all you need in life; the rest is just extra. So, why the heck was I so depressed? For one, I don’t want to downplay the absolute role of ~brain chemicals~ in all of this. I’ve suffered from clinical depression for as long as I can remember; the pendulum suddenly swings opposite my favor every now and then solely because my brain feels like it, and as much as I can try to meditate and journal and do yoga and become a freaking zen master, I’ll still deal with depression. But there are times when my anxiety and depression can stand for a little upgrade, and that’s where talking to a therapist about coping mechanisms comes into play. 
    I’ve long been aware of the concept of limiting beliefs: those thoughts you believe about yourself to be utterly true even though they’re almost rarely based in facts. I can tell my friends up and down when they’re speaking through a limiting belief or they’re making up ideas assuming them as truths. But when it comes to myself… LOL. I don’t have such a handle on how negative thoughts can be so all-consuming. 

    I can tell my friends up and down when they’re speaking through a limiting belief or they’re making up ideas assuming them as truths. But when it comes to myself… LOL.

    I have limiting beliefs about all kinds of things. “They’ll think I’m weak and unstable” if I open up or get vulnerable with people, or I “can’t meet a partner until I lose weight, because no one would want to be with me as I am now” are examples of really specific ones I have. But they also come up naturally: “I could never start a business,” “I’m not good at that,” “I’m bad at relationships.” I have limiting beliefs about my performance at work, my friendships, my relationship with my family, my habits, my productivity—you name it, and I’ve probably created a false reality about it in my head. Limiting beliefs can even be pretty specious, to the point that you might not even recognize at first that it isn’t actually factual.
    After a few sessions, my therapist caught on to a few of them and suggested I start reframing these thoughts. At first, I was like, “Yeah, sure, that’ll work.” In practice, it doesn’t seem like it could be that effective. “I’m bad at everything” becomes “I am open-minded and try everything, which makes it hard for me to become a master at any one thing.” But when we got more specific and took more time to focus on how I could reframe that thought, fireworks went off. Immediately, I noticed that my mood and ability to cope with negative emotions improved. 

    I have limiting beliefs about my performance at work, my friendships, my relationship with my family, my habits, my productivity—you name it, and I’ve probably created a false reality about it in my head.

    Since this has helped me so much the last couple of months, I’m ramping it up in 2021. The positive, healthy, mentally-well me has arrived! Here are a few ways I’ve used thought-reframing to manage my emotions and adjust the self-talk I experience, plus a few tips you can use to make 2021 your healthiest mental year yet:

    Keep A Journal
    My therapist recommended I dedicate a journal entirely for thought reframing. She said that when I have really negative thoughts that seem to pervade me—or even as time goes on, focusing on the little thoughts that come up throughout the day—to immediately write them down. And don’t judge yourself. If your first thought is that you suck and are the worst person ever, same! The whole point is noticing how often you have these thoughts. It makes sense why we’d feel down or sad if we’re constantly telling ourselves that we do, in fact, suck. 
    Then, at the end of the day or week, I go through all of the thoughts I’ve compiled and work on how I would reframe them. And when I really need a minute to calm down and regroup, I’ll do it right there, sometimes in the notes app on my phone. This has been a game-changer for me. I slowly am starting to see patterns in my thinking and discovering how I’ve managed let these intrusive thoughts take over for so long. 
    Some examples of thoughts I’ve reframed:
    “I look so ugly today” → “I’m really proud of how I did my hair and makeup today.”
    “I never have any good ideas” → “I prioritize ideation, and it’s a skill that I’m proud of at work.” 
    “I’m a bad employee because I missed a deadline” → “I am working so hard to produce work that is high-quality, and sometimes that is sacrificial.”
    “I’ll never meet someone unless I lose weight” → “I want someone to love me for me as I am right now, not someone who wants a different version of me.”

    If your first thought is that you suck and are the worst person ever, same! The whole point is noticing how often you have these thoughts. It makes sense why we’d feel down or sad if we’re constantly telling ourselves that we do, in fact, suck. 

    Source: rawpixel

    Try hot-to-cool thinking
    When reframing an entire thought seems a little daunting, hot-to-cool thinking is what my therapist recommended. Basically, instead of going from “I’m the worst” to “I’m the best!” you go from “I’m the worst” to “I’m working on it.” We don’t have to immediately love ourselves; that takes time. And even if you do love yourself, you get tripped up and have negative thoughts, maybe even often. It’s human, unfortunately, to be hard on ourselves and go to a negative place when we want to avoid feeling an emotion we don’t like, such as jealousy, sadness, fear, or anger. So, simply cool down your thoughts.
    Some other examples: 
    “I’m bad at my job” →  “I’m facing a few new challenges right now.” 
    “I’ll always be single” → “Being single doesn’t feel great right now. I would like to work on meeting someone.” 
    “I’m ugly” →  “Everyone has different taste; who I find attractive is not the same as who someone else does. Because of this, looks are so subjective.” 
    “I’ll never have enough money to live comfortably” → “I can provide myself the necessities right now, but I’ll have to find another stream of income to have extra spending money.”

    It’s human, unfortunately, to be hard on ourselves and go to a negative place when we want to avoid feeling an emotion we don’t like, such as jealousy, sadness, fear, or anger.

    Recognize when an intrusive thought is taking over
    The second you start to recognize that you’re catastrophizing or getting stuck in a loop of limiting beliefs, simply recognize it. Notice how it feels. Are your palms sweaty? Did you tense up? Is your posture hunched? Do you feel a temperature change? For one, when we can see how our body naturally responds to stress, it’s easier to understand how and why it’s not good for us. When you notice your jaw lock during a particularly stressful day and you move around to try to help it, there’s an immediate release involved. 

    Notice how it feels. Are your palms sweaty? Did you tense up? Is your posture hunched? Do you feel a temperature change?

    But there’s also importance in recognizing the thought so you can give yourself compassion. My therapist is constantly telling me to just stop and place my hand on my heart. Engage in self-compassion and love. Remind yourself that it’s OK to feel negative emotions. This alone has been a game-changer, and it’s so simple and can be done anytime, anywhere.   More

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    New Year’s Sucks When You’re Plus-Size—Here’s How to Manage the Weight Loss Pressure

    Every New Year’s Eve on the dot, I grab a fresh new notebook and write some goals. And you might be surprised to know that even as a proud, plus-size woman who is in recovery for an eating disorder, without fail, “lose weight” always weasels its way onto the list. Somehow, I always manage to convince myself after years of trying and failing that “this year will be the year!” And almost always, it doesn’t start with me creating a workout plan or trying to become healthier; I retreat to negative emotions and behaviors that mimic disordered eating patterns I thought I’d left in the past.
    But why do I make this lofty goal every single year? Because we’re told it’s the #1 goal to make, especially if you’re overweight (which, might I add, is so subjective and means very little about someone’s overall health). Every year, we see commercials, ads, magazines, articles, and more about the best ways to lose weight, how to drop the pounds (usually with some form of “finally!” or “once and for all!”), and I expect in 2020, how to lose all the weight you gained in quarantine. And as a plus-size person, it’s damn exhausting. 

    We’re inundated with reasons why looking like us is a problem
    It’s one thing to make a goal to get healthier. I think it’s a goal most of us should have every year. We could all stand to drink a little more water, try therapy, find a new vegetable you love, and hit a fitness goal or milestone. But as a plus-size person, seeing hundreds of people on social media, in ads, and more make it their #1 goal for the year to lose 10, 15, 20 pounds just makes us feel like our bodies are wrong.
    Of course, it’s optimal to want to feel and look your best; and for many people, losing weight helps them do that. I don’t want to take that away. But it’s always rooted in fatphobia. People are horrified that they’ve gained weight because being anything but thin is the worst thing there is. This time of the year, it feels like I’m being thrown reason after reason why my body isn’t what people want to look at. 

    This time of the year, it feels like I’m being thrown reason after reason why my body isn’t what people want to look at. 

    Not making a weight loss goal is often seen as “brave”
    But then, we have the people who want to call us out when we don’t make a weight loss goal. When I say that my #1 goal of the year is to love myself, regardless of my size or how I look, people respond as if sharing my authentic self is courageous and brave, when I don’t have a choice. Why are we brave for simply choosing to not give into the pressures of diet culture? Why is it brave to not have the mental capacity to try keto or paleo or whatever random diet being shoved down our throats in that blip in time? I’m not brave for choosing to love myself instead of promote the thin ideal, and to say so makes the point that wanting to lose weight should just be the norm, when in fact we should be actively moving away from that ideal.

    My body constantly looks like a before picture
    We’ve probably all seen the memes about “expectations and reality” on Instagram, sharing how posing can make your body look different. I appreciate and love the message that all bodies are beautiful, and I think it’s important to see that even people you think are the most beautiful and thin have insecurities. But as a fat person, I don’t have the option to pose in a way that makes it look like I don’t have rolls or so you can’t see my double chin—my natural body looks like the before picture for some of these memes. The body positivity movement was created by fat people, for fat people, and it’s frustrating to see these posts that are still entirely rooted in diet culture and white thin privilege be spouted as “loving oneself.” It’s crushing to constantly see a body that looks like mine be torn apart or told that it’s wrong; that having love handles is undesirable, that the sheer nature of becoming thinner will make you a happier person, when my body looks just like all of these pictures we’re supposed to be disgusted by. 
    Like I said, I want people to be healthy and happy, and I cannot deny that for some, losing weight can be a healthy process that makes them feel better about themselves physically and mentally. If losing weight is something you can do in a healthy way, I’m so into it. And having before pictures to recognize your progress might be a good tool for you to use. But watch how you talk about yourself in them. You were beautiful before; there was nothing aesthetically wrong with your body before. 

    When people we already deem as thin are told to lose weight, it sets the ideal that even thin bodies aren’t good enough
    Since I was young, I’ve had a hard time discerning how someone who’s already thin could be insecure. My weight has been a topic of anxiety my whole life; how could one possibly feel bad about themself if they already have everything I’ve ever wanted? But when it’s a goal for everyone to lose weight, what’s the ideal? If thin bodies aren’t good enough, what does that make mine? It feels like I’m chasing after something I can’t even achieve because even once you achieve it, you’re expected to do more, be more. 

    So, how can you deal? 
    There’s no way for us to get around New Year’s resolutions, but there are ways to handle the season without feeling like the punchline all the time.

    Set boundaries with loved ones

    If you have loved ones who make comments about weight often, engage in assertive communication about how it affects you. There’s nothing worse than working on something within yourself all to have to deal with the people around you not understanding it. Set boundaries for the communication you have with each other, whether it’s talking about meals, health goals, how much or how little you’re eating, how much activity you’re engaging in, and more. 

    Set intentions

    When you feel the weight loss pressure come along as you’re working on being healthier, it’s important to set really clear intentions for yourself. What do you truly want to accomplish? “Get healthier” might feel like an easy goal, but it’s easy to get jumbled. Make this goal tangible, like do 10 pull-ups or eat more protein three times a week for a month. 

    Address all-or-nothing thinking

    When you feel yourself leaning into the mindset that someone smaller than you wanting to lose weight has a reflection of your own self-worth, it’s time to reassess your focus. Is there fact in what you’re thinking, or are you creating this narrative in your head because you’re self-conscious? Therapy is a great tool to learn coping mechanisms to help with this type of thinking, or I love journaling. More