The steps on the road to self improvement:

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A while ago, when I wasn’t as busy because of sickness and had been spending a ton of time in prayer, I was hyper focused on self-improvement. And let me tell you, It’s a lot easier to improve yourself when your life is at a standstill. I had a ton of time to think about my bad habits and how they formed. I was able to come up with lists of good habits I wanted to create, and since I wasn’t doing anything else, they were easy to make time for. But when my life picked back up I dropped a lot of the work I was doing, not because it wasn’t important, but because I was so busy that things were getting forgotten, or I simply didn’t have the time to chart it all so I lost some of my accountability.

Life happens like that, it comes through and sweeps us off our feet and it takes us sometime to get them back under us.

My life hasn’t calmed down any, in fact, it’s gotten busier. I’m starting a new treatment plan for my Lyme Disease, Chris and I are planning a wedding, and we’re buying a house. A lot is happening, but I’m starting to feel the tug to revisit that list of good habits I wanted to create, because after all, being busy isn’t a very good excuse for not bettering yourself.

It’s harder than it should be to get back in that zone. It’s hard to think about good habits once a day and it’s even harder to make time to form those habits. So what is a girl to do? It seemed much more black and white when I was bedridden.

  • Make a list of everything you want to accomplish. Want to be a morning person? Want to do more small acts of kindness? Need to pray more? Struggling to nourish our body correctly? Make a list of all the key traits your best self would have. If you need to make smaller points with steps you need to take to make it happen add those. Once you have it in writing you have a goal to reach.
  • Carve out time to review your daily goals and report on your steps to self improvement. Maybe you keep a journal with boxes to check off like I do, or maybe you keep a list on your phone that you simply scroll through, either way, taking time to remind yourself what you’re trying to do and seeing if you’re producing results is a good start.
  • Don’t focus on everything at once. It gets so overwhelming if you do. You’re not going to be able to pick up ten new habits at once. You’re not going to be able to stop all your problems cold turkey, and that okay. Pick the ones that our most important. Prioritize your list. What do you really want done now and what can wait till your farther along this journey. Sometimes we need to make progress before we can even start to look at the details. That’s perfectly normal.

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Self-care: What counts towards it and why it often looks like hard work

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I have briefly talking about this topic before when I talked about five important parts of self-care that are often over looked. I said that self-care doesn’t always mean face masks and a glass of wine, in fact, it often doesn’t mean that. Self-care also doesn’t always mean wasting time watching TV. Of course you deserve down-time, but rest is only one thing our body needs, and as a society, it’s the only part of self-care people seem worth mentioning. Which is fine if you’re the type of person who schedules to much on their to do list and are always running around, but if you’re someone who likes to spend most of your time off work relaxing, than that void is filled.

I’m not going to repeat what I posted on my last post, but I am going to really go into the things you need to do to take care of yourself, in the truest meaning of the word.

  • Take care of your finances. Self-care can mean spending for some people. They get into the Parks and Rec. “treat yourself” mindset. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself, everyone should do it from time to time, but when your idea of self-care is shopping you need to take a long look at if that’s actually taking care of anything. Sure it gives you a brief rush of endorphins, that’s why people have shopping problems to begin with, but saving can bring similar emotions. You see there is nothing quite like the giddy pride of seeing your savings account grow, and there is nothing like the moment when you get to take the money out when you need it to care for yourself later on. You don’t need a new purse to care about your mind, but you might need a savings account to care for your broken wrist later on.
  • Take care of your body. You only have one, it needs as much help as everything else in your life. Maybe you need to feed it healthier food. Maybe you need to learn how to cook healthier food. Maybe you need to get up and go for a long walk that will both get your heart rate up and clear your mind. Maybe you need to start going to the gym. Maybe you should sweat it out in the sauna. The thing is your body needs some love, and often when we think of self-care, we’re treating our mind. After all, working out seems like a chore, but clearly it doesn’t have to be. For me, riding my horse counts as working out. My body and my mind both love it. As for salads, I stack mine with fruit, but maybe you just need to do a few days of eating right to set your body back on track, that’s alright too. Learning what your body needs and giving it to it is ultimate self care.
  • Take care of your life. Life can seem like an endless to-do list and sometimes stepping away from it can feel like the ultimate self care, and sometimes, it really is. But sometimes getting up and taking care of business is the ultimate act of self care because you’ll reap the rewards from it later on. That to-do list has the things on it that you need to complete to advance or live in a clean environment. Life comes with a lot of burdens, you have to get through them to  have them lifted, nothing proves that more than the feeling you get when you finish a to-do list.

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The art of setbacks and motion:

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Life is a funny thing that catches us completely off guard. We think something is going fine then we turn around and everything falling apart… then again, three weeks later everything falls back together. It’s a nonstop roller coaster of “I’m alright” and “oh shit!”. It’s nice to believe that we’ll finally come across a day when it’s all good, and it stays that way, but that just isn’t true. Even on the days where most things are good, something little can bring you down. The question isn’t how we stabilize the good, it’s how we come to view the bad.

And that’s to stop looking at it as a threat.

If we start looking at the bad as natural we stop giving it the power to destroy. We need to look at it as a spill, something we need to clean up and then keep moving on past. A hiccup if you will, a small ditch that we have to walk around instead of a giant crater- No matter how big that ditch seems there is always a path around things. To get into the mindset of treating everything as a diversion not a set back is a really hard mindset to master. But it’s something we must master if we ever want to move forward.

Advice to Take to Heart:

215Someone is going to ask me about my phrasing, but there is just something about being at peace and in complete bliss that makes you feel light, like your soul weighs less. The weight of the world no longer seems so crushing.

My life has been improving consistently in the past three years. You could say adulthood is treating me well, but a big part of it is I’ve learned how to treat myself well. That right there is an under appreciated art form.

Here are my top tips to do just that:

  • Clean Out: Delete friends off social media that you don’t actually enjoy seeing on your main page. Delete old text message conversations. Clean out your contacts on your phone. Go through your desk, vanity, and closet. Get rid of the stuff you haven’t even thought about using in the past few months. Get rid of the weight of the past and make room for the things you actually need.
  • Make the Effort: You know that friend that you love but never see? Those people who you’ve always wanted to get to know but never have? Make the effort for them. Don’t do any of this “they’ll text me first” nonsense. That doesn’t work anyways, if everyone waits for someone to text them first no one would ever talk again. People are busy. You are busy. Make time for one another.
  • Journal: Blog, Photo journal. Do something to release the feelings and the memories. It’s a great way to distress and an even better thing to go through later on. You’ve felt this before, next time you do you can read yourself through how you got through it.
  • Stop Feeding Your Negatives: Stop reading the sad novels every time you pick up a book. Unfollow the depressing blogs. Download happier music.
  • Believe Your Beautiful: Tell it to yourself every time you look in the mirror. Check yourself out. Wear things that look good on you. When struggling, you just have to fake it till you make it.
  • Get Lost in Nature Every Now and Then: It’s easy to forget what being still means in a city. It’s important to emerge yourself in the great outdoors. Talk about distressing and recharging.
  • Engage: If you’re going to be on Facebook, WordPress, Tumblr, Twitter, than comment, send people pm’s. There’s a study that proves that people who interact on social media are happier than those who do not.
  • Wash your Towels and Bedding More Often: This sounds a little silly, but honestly it’s such an underrated pleasure.
  • Do Something New: There is more to life than just living, right?
  • Learn to Laugh it Off: How many posts do you see about “remembering the embarrassing thing you did three years ago”? And how often does something like that ruin your day. Everyone makes mistakes. You looked stupid. It’s okay, it’s all good, and in a movie you would laugh at it. Do it now. Let it go. Force yourself to the next topic.
  • Drink More Fluids: Water is the best, but tea is almost as good. Just rinse out some of those toxins.
  • Get Inspired: Read a book on something you strive for. Read a blog. Listen to a friend of role model. Listen to a tedtalk.
  • Set Realistic Goals: It’s nice to dream big. Hell, you should dream big. But make your goals possible. Nothing is more discouraging than planning for a one in a million chance and not getting it. High hopes, realistic expectations.
  • Let God into your Life: This can mean different things to different people. Figure out what it means for you.
  • Never Stop Creating: It doesn’t matter how good the end result is. It’s good for the soul, and it’s good for the mind.