4 Ways to Live With Intention

I did not make any New Year’s resolutions this year, choosing instead to reach my goals through affirmations and intentional living.  So often we have dreams and desires but are not intentional with the way we go about achieving them.  What does it mean to be intentional?  Being intentional is having a goal and consciously ensuring that you are making decisions that will help you achieve your goal.  We often have goals that do not get reached because we are not intentional in making sure they are achieved. The following are 4 ways to help you live more intentionally.

Eliminate Distractions to Live Intentionally

lady looking intently

Eliminating distractions is a must when you are making the decision to live with intentions.  And by all distractions I am including your own negative thinking and negative self-talk that could veer you off the course of you reaching your goals.  The company you keep can also be a distraction.  Being intentional about reaching your goals also means taking inventory of who in your circle can help you reach your goal.  Take a moment to think about what it is you want to be intentional about.  After establishing what it is you want to be intentional about, be mindful of your habits.  The books you read, the music you listen to, and the conversations you hold can all be distractions if they are not serving to help you live with intention.

Make Each Day Purposeful for Intentional Living

A big part of staying intentional is outlining your day with purposeful steps to help you achieve your goals.  You must be mindful about making decisions and completing tasks that will get you closer to achieving your goals.  Your goal must always be in the forefront of your mind so that you can begin each day by thinking of what one or things you can do to move you toward your goal.  Maintaining your focus and remembering why your goal was initially made will help make your days purposeful and filled with intentional living.

Check Yourself to Ensure Intentional Living

People use many ways to remain intentional and hold themselves accountable.  Some people use daily affirmations to help them stay focused and empowered to keep striving toward their goal.  Other people hold themselves accountable through journaling so that they can review their progress over time.  This allows them to see where they are doing well and areas where they need to improve.  Accountability partners work as well if you are comfortable sharing your goals and being reminded of them if you veer off track. However, even if you use an accountability partner, you should also have some type of self-check system in place to ensure that you are living with intention.

Create Balance for Intentional Living

lady smiling with intention

If the goal that you are being intentional about is a new goal, it most likely involves breaking old habits. If you find yourself continually going back to your old ways of doing things you may need to be honest with yourself to determine if you are indeed ready for this change or if you just maybe need to work on your self-discipline.  But remember, you will most likely have days where you miss the mark or fall short on your mission to reach your goal.  Reward yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be mindful of yourself talk. If you fall short, do it again. All new things take a little time.

Have you been living your life with intention? Comment below with what has and has not worked for you.

Free Yourself: 5 Benefits of Journaling

Woman writing in her journal

I have always been aware of the idea of journaling but I have never heard it advocated as a practice as much as I have this year.  I am sure that is due to the challenging year that this has been.  Journaling has been suggested by many as a healthy way to process the many emotions that may be felt during these times.  Many people often confuse keeping a journal with keeping a diary.  They are similar but the main difference is that a diary is a record of what happened.  A journal is a record of your thoughts and feelings.  There are several benefits to journaling.

Journal to Relieve Anxiety and Stress

Have you ever had so much on your mind that it was just too much to process?  And after you talked it out you realized that your issue was not as bad as you thought?  Journaling is similar to talking something out with a friend.  Anxiety and stress can be eased when you write out your thoughts concerning those things that are making you anxious.  Journaling can provide you with clarity if it is a decision or circumstance that is causing you stress.  Writing out your thoughts on the issue that is making you anxious could greatly assist you with solving the issue or allowing you to see the big picture.  Either of these outcomes can ease stress and anxiety.

Journal to Recognize Patterns

Whether we realize it or not, we all have patterns.  If you talk to your friends about a situation enough they can probably tell you where the situation is headed based on similar conversations.  Journaling can help you see those patterns for yourself.  As you write about how different situations make you feel or your thought process around certain decisions, you will begin to notice patterns.  You may notice that use negative self-talk or you may notice that you do not have as much confidence in yourself as you should.  Patterns can be seen as you write and then reflect on those things that you have written.  Reading past entries can provide you a new perspective on your behavior.

Journal sitting on desk

Journal to Become Empowered

Journaling can give you a sense of empowerment as you can write your deepest, most intimate thoughts.  Whether writing about your experiences or through journal prompts, you will begin to gain more clarity on how you think and how certain experiences have shaped you.  Journaling can help you discover more about yourself.  You can discover what makes you happy, what causes you stress, as well as those aspects of yourself that you wish to improve.  Discovering your personal strengths and the power you possess in these strengths is a wonderful feeling.  But discovering those areas that you may need to work on to enhance your personal growth can be life changing.

Journal to Track Goals

Journals can help you track progress toward an established goal.  After identifying your goal, a journal can help you determine both your good and bad habits that may be helping or hindering you from achieving your goal.  It could be your innermost thoughts or the company you keep but reflecting on past journal entries will help you to begin to see what your barriers are.  Likewise, you will be able to see who or what promotes a healthy path to your goals.  You will be able to learn a lot about yourself in the process and this will make future goals easier to achieve.

Journal In a Safe Zone

Have you ever just wanted to be brutally honest with someone regarding the way you felt but was leery due to the judgment that may follow this honesty?  All of us feel vulnerable from time to time.  A journal is a safe place to write what you feel in a safe space.  No one will see your inner most thoughts except those you choose to see them.  A journal is a place where you can be your most authentic self.  Feel free to write honestly as being candid is one of the main ways to get the total benefits of journaling.  You can learn a lot about yourself when you allow yourself to be vulnerable. 

Open journal on desk

These are just a few benefits of journaling.  Do you journal?  What are some benefits of journaling that you would add to this list?

Follow The Serenity Room on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!

Self-Care for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Mother kissing child

As a special needs parent, your self- care regimen is important. Caring for a child with special needs can be stressful.  In fact, the word stressful may be an understatement.  We all can attest that there are great days where our kids achieve something that we thought would not happen as soon as it did.  Your fellow special needs parents can understand the joy of a child eating a new food or acquiring a new skill or even speaking after countless doctors have told you that your child is nonverbal and will remain that way.

There is another thing I think we all can agree with when it comes to being parents of children with special needs and that is the fact that we often neglect to take care of ourselves.  As a busy mother of four children – one having an autism diagnosis – I am guilty if not taking care of myself like I should.  The following are a few ways that we can practice self-care.

Take 5-10 minutes for yourself

Depending on your situation, this suggestion may seem virtually impossible.  But you can do it.  You can spend this time mindlessly doodling.  Or you can use this time to just taking deep, cleansing breaths.  Deep breathing allows your body to relax and release any stress while giving you a boost of energy.  The life of a special needs parent can be very hectic and stressful.  Taking mental breaks can be just the thing you need to get you through your day.

Every day is not going to be a good day

We would all like to think that we can hold it together all day every day.  We hold the belief so tightly that we often think we have failed if we have a bad day.  Every day is not going to be a good day.  A bad day does not make you a bad parent. A bad day does not mean that you are not cut out to be a special needs parent or caregiver.  A bad day does not make you a failure.  Try your best to keep things in perspective.  Some days are just going to be hard but, as cliché’ as it sounds, tomorrow is a new day.

Allow yourself to feel

Life can be challenging as a special needs parent.  There is the constant worry that all of your child’s needs are not being met.  There is the isolation that your family may experience due to your child not being able to be around large crowds or loud places.  You may feel hesitant to honestly express yourself due to not wanting to sound like you are complaining.  But it is imperative that you allow yourself to feel whatever you may be feeling in the moment. Whether you journal or whether you have a good friend you can share your feelings with, allow yourself to feel. Allowing yourself to feel is a form of self-care because this can release some of your anxieties.

Be kind to yourself

Sometimes we can be our own enemy. We can often become hindered by own negative self-talk and negative thoughts. Do whatever you can to remain positive.  Remind yourself of the great job that you are doing. Find something to do that is just for you. Read a good book even if you can only read a couple of pages a day. Find a show that you like on TV and watch it even if it takes forever to get through the whole series. The point is to not lose yourself and to stay connected to what you enjoy. So write if you like to write, read if you like to read, do whatever it is that you like to do even if you can only do it every now and then. Doing what you like to do it a form of self-care.

Take care of your mental health

Special needs parents experience a wide range of issues. There is guilt, anxiety, stress, depression, the list goes on and on. It is imperative that you take care of your mental health. Surround yourself with people who encourage and uplift you.  This can be achieved through support groups or through connecting with people who have a similar circumstance to yours. Be aware of your mental health and do not hesitate to see a therapist if you feel that that is what you need.  In other words, your self-care journey includes taking care of your mental health needs the same way that you take care of the needs of those that you care for and love.

Mother and son

It is not easy being the parent or caregiver of a special needs child. You always wonder if you are doing enough and you can sometimes be your own toughest critic.  I am here to tell you that you are doing a great job. You get up every day and do it have to be done for your family. Keep doing what you are doing and remember to take care of yourself.

What other self-care ideas would you add to this list?

Follow The Serenity Room on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!

5 Benefits of Positive Thinking

Woman thinking positively and smiling
Photo by Caio Cardenas on Pexels.com

My last couple of posts have been on barriers to positivity and ways to achieve mindfulness.  This week’s post is going to focus on the benefits of positive thinking.  It can often be challenging to think positively and to always look at the bright side. Although it is challenging there are so many benefits to positive thinking. 

Woman holding firecracker and thinking positively

Positive Thinking Gives Hope

Have you ever been in a situation where the only think you had was the hope that everything was going to be all right?  Hope is often lost when you only dwell on the things that can go wrong.  By its definition, hope is the expectation and desire that something will happen.  When things are beginning to look bleak and your thoughts are beginning to shift to the negative, positive thinking can help you get focused on positive outcomes.  Positive thinking can often give you renewed hope in situations that you felt were hopeless. 

Woman looking resilient due to thinking positively

Positive Thinking Leads to Resilience

Consistent positive thinking leads to positive thinking becoming a habit.  It will become second nature to see the good in a situation and you will find that you do not always consciously talk yourself into thinking positively.  Resilience will make you better able to respond to adversity of tough circumstances with the belief that everything will work out in the long run.  Focusing on positive outcomes, and only positive outcomes, can help build the resilience that you need to make it through tough times.

Attract Other Positive People

Having a positive outlook on life will make it more likely that you will want that for other people.  Your positivity will lead you to encourage others and to want nothing but positive outcomes for them.  Consistent positive people will either attract people to you or drive people away from you.  Those with a not so positive outlook will either adapt or slowly distance themselves.  In the end, your circle will consist of those individuals whose positive thinking matches yours.  This will lead you to having a more positive set of friends and acquaintances who will consistently reciprocate your positivity.

Gratitude

Positive thinking helps you to see the positive side of things – even the things we often take for granted. When you consistently think negatively, you can miss the good things that are happening around you.  Negative thinking can sometimes have you thinking that nothing is going right and that there is nothing to be grateful.  Positive thinking will open your eyes to see the many things that you should be thankful for.  This gratitude can help you enjoy life more as you remain grateful for all that you have. This gratefulness can go a long way while working towards the things that you desire.

Better Mental Health

When you focus your energy on thinking positively, you may feel that a lot of the worries and heaviness that you carry around is alleviated.  Having a more positive outcome can help to ease anxiety which can lead to less stress.  As many of us know, stress is one of those things that can take a life of its own.  Positive thinking has been shown to lessen bouts of anxiety and depression and leading to a more consistent positive outlook on life.  Positive thinking can also help you gain a more positive view of yourself which can lead to more positive self-talk which increase your sense of self-worth.

Woman celebrating improved mental health because she started thinking positively

As you can see there are quite a few benefits to thinking positively.  Over time and with practice, hopefully you will begin to experience these benefits.

What would you add to this list?

3 Ways to Achieve Mindfulness

Woman in orange shirt achieving mindfulness
Photo by Oluremi Adebayo on Pexels.com

A lot of us have heard the term ‘mindfulness’ when conversations about positivity and positive thinking comes up.  But do you know what it really means to achieve mindfulness?  And do you know how mindfulness is related to positive thinking?  This post will be about the benefits of achieving mindfulness and how it relates to positive thinking.  My previous post talked about barriers to positivity.  Read it here so you can be aware of the things that can prevent positive thinking and mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being totally aware of how you are feeling in this current moment.  It is being aware.  Being conscious of your emotions, how you are physically feeling, and just being aware of your mind is.  Mindfulness is something used in the context of being happy, joyful, and positive but you can achieve mindfulness and come to the conclusion that the thoughts you have are mainly negative thoughts.  Or you can come to the conclusion that you are emotionally off.  Mindfulness if awareness – an honest awareness – of how you are feeling in a specific moment.

But, of course, what we strive for is positive mindfulness.  So let’s look at a few ways to achieve positive mindfulness.

man sitting near waterfalls achieving mindfulness

Slowing Down to Achieve Mindfulness

In order to achieve mindfulness you must slow down.  We run through life so fast that we do not often slow down to really take inventory of what we feel.  Are you taking deep regular breaths or are you taking quick shallow breaths?  Are your thought coming slow and steady or are they racing? Slowing down and becoming aware of your thought patterns can help you see what areas you need to focus on.  You may realize that you have a tendency to take things more personally than you should.  Or you may realize that you need to become more assertive.  You may even come to realize that your energy is low and that you may need to enhance your diet.   Slowing down to really analyze all aspects of your being is crucial to being able to maximize your mindfulness. 

Jump to Positive Conclusions

It is our natural inclination to sometimes jump to negative conclusions but we sometimes have to force ourselves to jump to positive conclusions and expect them to happen.  I am notorious for always thinking something will end badly and I defend this way of thinking but saying that I am just planning for the worst case scenario.  While that may be true, if I am not careful, I may also be setting an expectation that something will go wrong.  Imagine what would happen if I put as much energy planning for a positive outcome as I do planning for a negative outcome.  Being intentional about having the expectation that things will go as planned and have a positive outcome go a long way.  Training ourselves to jump to positive conclusions will eventually lead us to achieving mindfulness which leads us to having a more positive outlook on life in general.

Feed Yourself Positivity

We have all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.”  The assumption being that if you healthily then you will overall be considered healthy.    But if you do not eat a healthy diet you will likely feel run down and sluggish due to you not obtaining the nutrients needed to keep your strength up.  The same is true with positivity.  Be conscious of the company you keep – make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who speak positively and negatively.  You must be careful of what you allow yourself to read and hear.  Be intentional with what books you read, what music you listen to, and the conversations you have with people. It is a lot easier to be positive when positivity is continually being fed into your spirit.

man standing on mountain top
Photo by Loyale Tru1ea7n on Pexels.com

These are just a few of the things that you can do to try and achieve mindfulness.  It takes discipline but it is worth the benefits that can come from it.  Here are just a few of the benefits that has been shown that can come from achieving a level of mindfulness.

  • Better relationships
  • Become happier
  • Less stressed
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Becoming more creative

What else has helped you achieve a state of mindfulness?

Follow The Serenity Room on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!

3 Ways to Sustain the Changes that You Have Made

So maybe you have overcome or are working on overcoming a flawed mindset and may have even overcome some barriers to change.  Now comes the hard part.  Maintaining the change that you have worked so hard to make.  This in of itself can be a monumental task.  Here are a few things that you can do to maintain your change.

  1. Reset if necessary.  It is almost inevitable that you will slip back into old habits.  Do not become discouraged.  You are more than capable of making whatever changes that you desire to make.  Remember this as you reset and continue those changed behaviors that you have already began to implement in order to reach your ultimate goal.  Try not to dwell on your setback.  Just move forward and try again.
  2. Anticipate challenging areas.  The best way to achieve success is to know where your challenges lie.  If you know that you always eat unhealthy foods for lunch when you are at work, pack you a healthier lunch so that you do not even have to be tempted to buy something unhealthy.  Or if your goal is to journal or meditate or anything else that requires time that you feel you currently don’t have, try to wake up earlier and do whatever your goal is before you begin your day.   The goal is to see what could possibly present a challenge and plan around it.
  3. Maintain positive attitude.  Let’s face it. Change is not easy – especially when whatever you are trying to change is something that has become a habit.  Stay positive.  Remember why you decided to make this change and keep that in mind as you maintain your changed behavior.  Try your best to be kind to yourself and be mindful of your self-talk.  You can make and maintain your desired change!

What would you add to this list? Comment below with what you has helped you sustain any changes you have made.

Follow The Serenity Room on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!

4 Barriers to Lifestyle Changes and How to Overcome Them

In my previous post I discussed mindsets, now let us discuss some of the things people would like to change. Most of us have something that we want to change as it relates to our lifestyle. Some people want to eat better, some want to be able to sleep better some want to become less anxious or stressed, and others want to feel more satisfied. All these things go back to a change in lifestyle because all these things are connected.  Exercise and a better diet can lead to having a better mood. A better diet and more sleep can lead to less stress. Improving all these things can lead to improved mental health.

Leading a healthy lifestyle has so many benefits. There is absolutely nothing negative that can come from a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of a healthy lifestyle include a reduced risk of cancers and diabetes, improved memory, improved mood, improved cardiovascular health, among many other things.

Changing your lifestyle sounds easy but it can be particularly challenging. Let us briefly discuss some things that can be barriers to lifestyle changes.

  1. Not enough time. This is the first thing that is normally said when someone must incorporate something new in their lives. Between the responsibilities surrounding work, home, children, and so much more, finding time to implement anything new can be a challenge.
  2. Old habits die hard. If you have been doing something for many, many years and decide that you now want to change, it may not be as easy as you thought. What often happens is that change is easy in the beginning but once things get challenging, we often resort back to our old habits.
  3. Procrastination. The discomfort of the change in our routines and habits make us continue to procrastinate. Procrastination will have you talking about something forever but never moving forward.
  4. No motivation. Any kind of change is extremely difficult if you are not motivated. Lack of motivation to change your lifestyle will either have you not changing or not having sustained change even if you happen to change for a moment.

I do not want to spend a lot of time on barriers, but I think they barriers should be identified so that they can be recognized for what they are. You will be able more likely to make a sustained change if you can identify the things that will hold you back and make plans to combat those things. Now, let us talk about ways you can overcome those barriers.

Incorporate change into daily routine

Since the number one barrier is lack of time, try ways to make changes in your daily routine. It is hard to incorporate a major change like cooking healthy meals or starting an exercise regimen overnight. If the change you want to implement is your diet, start small. Purchase healthy foods at the grocery store or make healthy choices if you eat out. Or if you want to exercise more, instead of purchasing an expensive gym membership that you may then feel you have no time to use, try to incorporate more walking into your day. Park further away from the entrance to where you want to go or walk around while waiting for your child to finish their practice instead of sitting in your car. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, incorporate small changes into your daily routine.

Set small goals

 It is sometimes best to set small, attainable goals on your journey to change as opposed to making sweeping changes overnight that may not last.  This can be helpful when making a change such as eating healthier.  Instead of tossing out food from your old diet and buying all new food, you may want to consider slowly buying new food and incorporating your new, healthier food into your diet slowly.  Over time you can let your unhealthy food choices go and eat more of your healthy food choices until your entire diet is made up of your healthy food choice.  You may decide to eat healthy twice a week, the four times a week, before changing over to health food completely. 

Accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone who can ensure that you maintain the goals and commitments that are made when you are trying to change something.  Before you get an accountability partner, you need to ensure that this is someone who will be completely honest with you. You also need to ensure that you are ready to receive whatever feedback that the may give you.  The role of an accountability partner is to cheer you on when you are doing well but to also let you know if you start to slack off your commitments and goals.  Accountability partners can be great if you are looking to change and are willing to accept honest feedback.

Reward yourself

Rewarding yourself is a great way to stay motivated as you work to make a change in your lifestyle.  The caveat to this is to ensure that your reward is not detrimental to the change you are trying to make.  No matter what your goal is, it is okay to have a cheat day if that cheat day is not going to pull you back into your bad habits.  A good reward could be something such as binge-watching your favorite TV show, treating yourself to a night out or staycation, or allowing yourself a weekend morning where you can just sleep in. The point is to reward yourself for a job well done as you continue to make the changes that you want to make.

Be kind to yourself

Do not be hard on yourself if you have a setback.  Setbacks will inevitable happen especially if you are breaking a habit that you have had for an awfully long time.  If you have a setback, just get back on track and pick up where you fell off.  It is okay and no one is perfect.  Establishing a different lifestyle, even if it is a healthier lifestyle, can be hard to do so cut yourself a break.

So many things can be addressed when you say that you are going to change your lifestyle.  Lifestyle encompasses everything to your diet, your habits, your preferences, and even how active you are.  Changes to some of these will come easy while changes to the others will be a little more difficult.

Have you ever made a lifestyle change? Were you able to maintain it? Share what worked and what did not work for you.

Follow The Serenity Room on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!