4 Things that Help Me Relieve Stress

Things that help me relieve stress

Hey y’all, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and I was inspired to start blogging again while I taking a long drive in the country today. A lot has happened in my life since I last posted…I began my dream job, had my year anniversary in the Dallas area, and connected with a solid group of Jesus loving friends.

As a quick update, I have been working as a case manager at a foster care agency for the past 6+ months. This job is both super rewarding and extremely stressful. I’ve had to really focus in on managing my stress over these past months because I LOVE what I do and want to be good at it. Good social work = good self-care.

Here are 4 things I’ve added to my life that have helped me stay zen in the midst of utter chaos:

  1. Yoga Ball

    A couple of months ago, I found my back was hurting A LOT. I decided to go buy a yoga ball to sit on at work because I heard it’s supposed to help with posture and strengthening your back muscles. I picked up a really nice Adidas yoga ball at Homegoods for about 12 dollars. Not only has the yoga ball helped my back, but it also cheers me up/relaxes me/energizes me at work. There’s something about bouncing on a yoga ball that makes me feel like a little kid. Get yourself one…you won’t regret it!

  2. Essential Oils

    I am by no means an essential oils guru like some people out there, but I think they are really helpful. I have a diffuser at home and a little one shaped like a whale on my desk at work. First of all, having a little whale diffuser spouting delicious smelling water vapor while I’m working is absolutely lovely.  I really enjoy an essential oil I got at Hobby Lobby for about 4 dollars. It’s called Uplift and has Bergamot and Lemon oil. It smells SO GOOD! I use it when I’m stressed and need to focus and it really seems to help.

  3. Yoga with Adrienne

    Adrienne is a yoga guru from Austin, TX who has a full library of YouTube videos that are easy to follow. She has workouts for any stage of yogi, from beginner to expert. Just listening to Adrienne chills me out and when I put her on the TV, my pup Willow chills out too. Seriously, check her out. This is by no means an affiliate thing by the way (nothing else in this post is either).

  4. Calm

    THIS APP. It’s free and soooooo helpful for stress/anxiety. There are some features you can pay for but I am completely satisfied just using the free version. There are breathing exercises, meditations, soothing noises, and sleep stories which really help if you have trouble falling asleep. I love turning on the crackling fire noise at work when I’m cold and pretending I’m warm and cozy.

These 4 things are so simple but have really helped me get my stress and anxiety under control. Let me know what you do to de-stress. I’m always looking for suggestions!

Peace y’all!

-Lauren

 

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Why Gratitude is Key to Self-Care

Why Gratitude is Key to Self-CareHave you ever just been in a funk that you can’t seem to get out of? There’s no rhyme or reason, you just feel blah. I’ve been in a depressed, anxious mood for the past week or so and it’s been such a struggle to get out of this state. I know what would be helpful: exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating, quiet time, and coloring. Even though I am such a big advocate for self-care, it can be extremely difficult to actually practice. Can anybody relate to this? If you are wondering what this post has to do with gratefulness, keep reading!

Today I finally had a little breakthrough and had some quiet time. It was a huge accomplishment for me to sit down, light a Christmas candle, turn on some worship music, and rest. Taking a moment to just be still and let my anxious thoughts settle was so good for my soul. I didn’t feel the need to meander around the apartment restlessly, trying to find things to clean (in a 760 square foot apartment there is only so much to clean anyways). This was a rare moment of peace in my anxiety-filled world.

I also read a few chapters from a book that was a crucial part of my spiritual development in college. It’s a lovely book written by Henri Nouwen called Life of the Beloved.  I highly recommend this book if you haven’t read it before. You can finish Life of the Beloved in one sitting and it is an easy but powerful read. Go ahead and grab the book, find yourself a cozy chair and soak it in!

Gratitude as an Antidote to Anxiety and Depression

One thing struck me from the book that I wanted to share with you is the importance of gratitude. Anxiety and depression often result in bitter, worrisome, pessimistic thoughts wreaking havoc on the mind. However, in Life of the Beloved, Nouwen reminds me that gratefulness is such a strong antidote to negative, pessimistic, and anxious thoughts. Gratefulness is a choice that can be made consciously. It takes practice to notice the things we can be thankful for on a day to day basis: a kind cashier in the Target checkout, a lovely Christmas tree warming up your living room, a husband who brings Chipotle home for lunch, a stranger who lets you merge in front of them in traffic. These are all moments we can chose to pay attention to and be grateful for.

Nouwen says, “What fascinates me so much is that every time we decide to be grateful it will be easier to see things to be grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude as love begets love.” 

Guys, I think this is such an important lesson to remember and put into practice, especially during the holiday season. It is so easy to get caught up in the things that go wrong in our days. Trust me, I am a pro at magnifying the little things that go wrong and letting them consume my thoughts and my emotions. The fact that we can chose what we allow to fill the space of our minds is so empowering. I want to encourage you today to notice five things you are thankful for.

Christmas tree

Five Things I am Grateful for Today

  1. My adorable labradoodle puppy who gives me cuddles.
  2. My favorite soft burgundy cardigan, fresh out of the dryer.
  3. My sweet husband who made my coffee this morning.
  4. Cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies that make me feel better about life.
  5. The fact that the sun is finally shining, making it a beautiful December day.

What are you grateful for? Maybe you can make it a practice to end the day by writing down five things you appreciated during the day. I might try doing that this week to see if I can continue to improve my mood by focusing on the things that are going well rather than the things that are not.

Thanks for stopping by and reading. Wishing you tidings of comfort and joy!

-Lauren

*I am not paid to endorse any product. All opinions are my own.

Why Gratitude is Key to Self-Care

Heading Home for the Holidays

As we are gearing up for Thanksgiving tomorrow and the upcoming holiday madness to follow, I have a few thoughts for you that I hope will help put you in the right mindset to face this season.

If you have plans to spend the holiday with family or friends tomorrow, I hope this post will be an encouragement to you. For some, the holidays are a wonderful, stress-free time of love and laughter. However, others might experience a great deal of anxiety, stress, and even loneliness as they head home to spend time with loved ones.

heading-home-for-the-holidays

The Holiday Mask

This holiday season, I think it is especially important to remember that we are all human beings. Whether your relationship with your family is filled with conflict or filled with love and laughter,  I want you to remember that all humans long for connection and a place to belong. Sometimes we feel an immense pressure to present ourselves a certain way to the ones who love us most in order to belong. We buy into the lie that we have to plaster on a happy face and pretend everything is just great when the opposite may be true.

Just Be

The reality is, some of us have had a tough year. Maybe the trip home won’t be filled with happy life updates and humorous anecdotes. Maybe your job didn’t turn out like you hoped it would. Maybe that relationship you were excited about fizzled into nothing and you’ll have to tell grandma yet again that you’re single. Maybe your financial situation is less than stellar and you’re embarrassed that you won’t be able to purchase presents for everyone on your list.

Whatever your situation, I hope you will feel comfortable enough to be honest about it with your loved ones. I hope you won’t let the weight of your burdens rest solely on your shoulders. You don’t have to go into details or share about your situation if you don’t feel comfortable doing so…but you also don’t have to spend a miserable holiday using all the energy you can muster to pretend you are fine. You might be surprised by the support and love you will receive if you find it safe enough to open up and share. A simple, “It’s been a tough year” can remind others that they are not alone in their struggles and can lead to further honesty and vulnerability.

Love your Loved Ones

On the flip side of things, if you are doing well, share your support and encouragement generously with your loved ones. Be an understanding, listening ear.  Accept your loved ones in the state they are in and allow them to be. You don’t have to offer them advice or solutions for their situation. Simply be with them and seek to understand. By doing this you will help them to feel less alone and they will likely leave feeling strengthened.

Remember, as humans we share a desire for deep, genuine relationships with one another. Instead of leaving Thanksgiving dinner feeling drained from parading around with a smile plastered on, allow yourself to let down the facade. Let others in if it is safe to do so. If you are happy, be happy. If you are sad, be sad. If you are a mess of emotions, that’s okay. The holidays can be a difficult time for many. I think if you give yourself permission to just be, you will find yourself much more refreshed and rejuvenated this holiday season.

And if the holidays are particularly stressful for you, practice some good self-care! Here are 15 Self-Care Tips you can use to relax and unwind during a busy time of the year.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

-Lauren

Heading Home for the Holidays

C.S. Lewis Inspirational Quote

3 Quotes in Three Days Challenge

Hi friends! Today is the second day of my 3 quotes in 3 days challenge. If you are unfamiliar with this challenge, here are the rules:

  1. Pick 3 quotes for 3 days and write about what they mean to you.
  2. Nominate 3 different bloggers each day.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Send the bloggers you are nominating a quick message so they can participate.

The quote I picked for today is short and sweet. I found it sometime during my grad school days, similar to the first quote I shared.

Courage, dear heart. C. S. Lewis Quote

Side note: You can find this picture by following my Pinterest profile Glimpses of Beauty and Hope and going to my Inspirational Quotes Board. 

Like I said, this quote is short and sweet. However, there is something about these three words that makes me want to battle my fears head on. This quote comes from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader which is one of the Chronicles of Narnia books. If you have read the books, or seen the movies, picture one of the battle scenes or daring adventures the characters take part in. This quote draws up pictures of those scenes for me and reminds me that I am capable of much more than I think I am.

As someone who struggles with anxiety, fear about anything and everything plagues me on a daily basis. Whenever I feel myself becoming fearful or anxious, it helps to think to myself “Courage, dear  heart.” These words still my pounding heart and engender hope and strength within me to continue to face the day.

If you also struggle with anxiety or are facing hardship, I hope these words bring you encouragement today.

Today I nominate:

  1. Bea from Bea and Beauty
  2. Amanda from The Bellezza Corner
  3. Andrea from Cooking with a Wallflower

Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you have a great day!

-Lauren

3 Quotes in 3 Days Challenge-Day 2

My Favorite Self-Care Inspirational Quote

Hi guys! I’m so excited to be writing this 3 quotes in 3 days challenge post this lovely fall evening. I was nominated by Angela from the blog Ang and Mae. Thank you Angela! I am so glad you nominated me for my first challenge!

The rules for the challenge are as follows:

  1. Pick 3 quotes for 3 days and write about what they mean to you.
  2. Nominate 3 different bloggers each day.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Send the bloggers you are nominating a quick message so they can participate.

Let’s get started! The quote I am going to share with you today is from my graduate school days. I actually printed this exact picture out and put it on my locker in my work room at school as a reminder. I love this quote and think it is so powerful for self-care!

Be gentle with yourself quote

Side note: I found this picture and quote through Pinterest. You can follow Glimpses of Beauty and Hope on Pinterest at Glimpses of Beauty and Hope and look through my inspirational quotes board to find this picture, or you can visit http://thedailyquotes.com/be-gentle-with-yourself-4/. I would love it if you followed me!

These words are simple yet powerful, especially for anyone who tends to be hard on themselves like me. If you are a perfectionist or have a hard time with making mistakes, it might be helpful to print out this quote and either frame it or hang it up somewhere you will see it often. You could even fold it and put it in your purse, backpack, or pocket to look at when you need a reminder that the imperfect, messy, version of you is okay.

In my graduate program I focused a lot on learning how to practice self-care. As a baby therapist, the clinical work (and school work) was stressful as I faced so many new situations and wanted so badly to help my clients and see change take place. I oftentimes made mistakes, fumbled over my words, or just didn’t know what to do to help my clients. After a tough session or at the end of a long school day, it helped to look at these words posted on my locker to remind myself to practice self-compassion. There were so many days when my anxiety was soothed by these words: “Be gentle with yourself…”

It can sometimes be so much easier to treat other people with kindness, gentleness, and compassion, but the dialogue we have with ourselves is often harsh. Practicing self-compassion means that instead of thinking, “Lauren, why didn’t you say this instead of that?”, or “Ugh, you’re such an idiot,” I would think to myself, “It’s okay. That was a stressful situation and you did the best you could.”

Life is a lot better when you are kind to yourself!

For the 3 quotes in 3 days challenge, I nominate:

  1. Erica from My Pretty Little Life
  2. Meg from My Only Sunshine
  3. Hil from Sincerely, Hil

Thank you all for reading, I hope you stop by to read tomorrow’s post too!
-Lauren

3 Quotes in 3 Days Challenge-Day 1

How to Love Who You Are

We live in a world that tells us “You’re not good enough” constantly. The messages we are hearing tell us that we need to try harder, do better, look prettier, work longer, make more money. Whether the message comes from the media, your social media accounts, or from employers, teachers, professors, etc., we are under constant pressure to succeed and exceed expectations. And frankly, this whole mess is exhausting, drives us to perfectionism, and ultimately depression, anxiety, and frustration when we realize that our efforts have failed and our lives aren’t picture perfect.

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Loneliness & What to Do About it

Loneliness has been a struggle for me since I began my master’s program. My time was so devoted to my studies and my new husband that I had limited time, energy, or the emotional capacity to spend time with friends. I also knew I would be moving in two years and since I find saying goodbye to be really difficult, I had a hard time wanting to invest in new friendships. Let me just tell you that the past two years of my life were the hardest. They were the most spiritually dry, anxiety-filled, depressive years I have had in my short twenty something years. There were plenty of blessings and good things in this dry season though. I grew in my relationship with my husband, learned how to communicate and be more assertive, and became a more understanding, caring, and non-judgmental individual. All at the same time, my desire to engage in relationships waned.

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