3 Reasons to Choose Affirmations Over Resolutions

Young lady looking at herself in the mirror and pointing while she says her affirmations

What a year this has been! As we prepare to enter 2021, what are you thinking about? Are you making resolutions, or do you see them as a waste of time? This time last year I was challenging myself to come up with a list of resolutions that were different than previous the years. It seemed like every New Year’s brought the same resolutions – eat better, exercise, more self-care. Well, my list ended up looking the same except for one resolution: to start and maintain my blog. That was my only different resolution and the only one I kept. This year I decided to do something a little different. Instead of going into the new year with resolutions, I am going into the new year by doing affirmations.

Affirmations are something I have been hearing and reading a lot about and want to incorporate into my daily routine. Resolutions are the things you want to see happen while affirmations are those things that you want to make happen. They are positive statements about yourself that work best when you are intentional about what you are saying. Here are three benefits of affirmations.

Lady with pink scarf on head looking at herself in mirror

Speak desires into existence

We can sometimes limit ourselves by the way we speak and the way we think. When you only think negative thoughts, negative words are far more likely to come out of your mouth. Speaking affirmations almost forces you to speak positively. When you hear yourself repeating these positive statements over and over, the hope is that you will eventually begin to believe them. So, speaking an affirmation surrounding healthy living can help fulfill the resolution of eating healthier. Healthy eating will almost come naturally after affirmations concerning your health and the desire to live healthily.  Affirmations utilize the power of your thoughts and words to create a desired change.

Build Self-Confidence

As stated earlier, negative thoughts will have you giving up before you even start. We often have lofty resolutions that we often do not keep due to our own lack of self-confidence. You can have a resolution of writing a book or going after your dream job but if deep down you do not feel like you really deserve it, it will not happen. Repeating affirmations and believing what you are saying can lead to your self-confidence rising to the point where you begin to make decisions and take actions that line up with your goals.

Become Aware of Negative Thought Patterns

Some affirmations are also helpful because you can see which ones are difficult for you to wrap your head around. If you already feel that you are loved, you will be able to say these types of affirmations easily. But if you find it hard to let go of your past mistakes and forgive yourself, then those affirmations that encourage you to forgive yourself may not come as easily.  This will let you know what areas you probably need to work on in your journey of personal growth. Your thought patterns and self-talk will become more evident as you begin saying affirmations.

stylish dreamy black woman with afro hairstyle on blue background
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Hopefully, these benefits of affirmations will help you begin to incorporate them into your daily life. Do you already do affirmations? Do you feel like they help? Comment below with either your experience with affirmations or whether you want to start saying affirmations.

5 Self-Care Tips for the Holidays

Christmas gifts to help promote self-care
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I think most of us would agree that this has been an extremely challenging year.  Many of us have experienced a lot of loss.  Some of us have lost loved ones.  Some of us have lost jobs.  And some of us have lost our homes.  The holidays can be tough when you are trying to adjust to loss of any magnitude and this year may be more challenging than most.  The following are what I hope to tips to help you practice self-care of yourself through these holidays.

The Power of No!

Holidays can be full of invitations.  The celebrations may look and feel a little different this year, but the invitations will probably still come.  You may feel obligated to attend or participate in these events because you were invited or because the event may be something that you would have attended in the past.  There is power in the word ‘no’.  I am talking about a good, old fashioned, solid ‘no’.  The kind of no that does not come with an explanation or an apology.  You deserve a holiday that does not leave you feeling overwhelmed and drained.

Stay Thankful

Holidays are a great time to reflect on our many blessings.  A great way to practice self-care is to think of the things that you must be thankful for.  A good way to do this is to keep a running list or journal to serve as a reminder of all the things you should be thankful for.  Revisiting your list or journal entries and thinking back on all the things you have to be thankful for can help a great deal. 

Allow Yourself to Feel

When those sad or unpleasant feelings begin to overwhelm you, your natural tendency may be to press them down and ignore them.  Doing this can lead to these emotions “eating you up” on the inside.  Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion that comes your way.  If you feel like laughing, laugh.  If you feel like crying, cry.  If you want to be to yourself because it is just too much to be around people, do that.  You can often do more harm to yourself than good when you try to suppress these feelings.  Be open to your feelings and allow yourself to feel them in their totality.  Accepting your feelings is a form of self-care as you allow yourself to feel emotions and work through them.

Keep a Routine

There is often great comfort in routine.  Knowing what is coming next can often ease a lot of anxiety.  There is a lot going on around the holidays and there is often a lot of pressure to get into the holiday spirit.  If you begin to feel down, sometimes the easiest way to get back to feeling like yourself a little is to continue your routine.  It may not be easy, and you may not feel up to continuing your entire routine but doing those things that are familiar can help prevent you from falling into a prolonged period of not feeling like yourself.

Keep Moving

There are so many benefits to physical activity.  Whether you are running, walking, or just moving around your house, physical activity decreases tension and stress while giving you a natural energy boost.  It can also reduce your risk of becoming depressed during this time.  When you stay in bed or start to become inactive, you may feel sluggish and your mental health may begin to be affected.  Move around even it is just to walk to the mailbox.  A part of self-care is to keep moving so that you can keep your energy level up and hopefully your mood elevated.

Christmas tree to help promote self-care
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Hopefully, these self-care tips will help ease any unpleasant feelings that you may feel throughout this holiday season.  Remember that all these feelings are normal and that you may have to intentionally put yourself first. 

What are some things that you do to practice self-care during the holidays?

The Serenity Room wishes you a Happy Holiday Season!

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?

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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?

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5 Benefits of Positive Thinking

Woman thinking positively and smiling
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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
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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
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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?

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4 Common Barriers to Positivity

Stressed lady

So I am going to start this off by acknowledging that there are many barriers to positivity. Getting and remaining positive can be a challenge.  It may be even harder during these times because so many not so positive things are happening right now.  People are losing jobs, businesses are going under, parents are trying to work from home while supervising children who are attending school virtually.  It is a lot.  It is easy to feel that there is not much to be positive about.  I have often thought this myself.  But sometimes positivity is exactly what you need in times like these. 

Looking at Your Reality

It is hard to be positive when your reality appears very bleak.  Our day to day lives are stressful and can feel like a rat race.  We go to work, we take care of our children, we run our errands, and then we wake up the next morning to do it all again.  When our lives look the same day in and day out, it is not so much that you are sad, it is just that there is nothing especially positive happening.  Your rut can put you into a space of accepting that your rat race is all that life has to offer.

Nothing Positive is Happening

You ever experience a space in time where it seems like nothing is going right?  Or let’s make it more relevant to what is going on today.  What if you have had your hours cut on your job due to COVID-19 and now you are wondering how you are going to pay your rent or mortgage.  Then your job search is hindered because you have to supervise your school age children while they attend school virtually.   I have been in situations where people have advised that I be positive and I have challenged them to tell me to find the positive in my situation.  It is very, very hard to think positive when your perception of your reality is very negative. Your perception of your reality can be a huge barrier to positivity.

Making Speaking Negatively a Habit

We all may engage in a little negative self-talk from time to time. Read my previous post on eliminating negative self-talk here.   The key is to not to give that negative voice too much of a place in your thoughts.  If negative thinking and negative self-talk is what normally goes through your mind throughout the day, then it has become a habit.  It is very hard for positive thoughts to break through when the negative thoughts are easier to access.  Negative self-talk can become a habit without you even realizing it.  This can make it very hard for you to think positively.

The Company You Keep

You ever had someone in your circle who always has something negative to say?  Some people call these type of people Negative Nancies or Debbie Downers.  The bottom line is that it is very hard to keep a positive outlook when you have people around you who constantly remind you of what could go wrong, where your shortfalls lie, and why you will not achieve a certain goal.  The company you keep and what they feed your spirit is almost as bad as negative self-talk.  Positive thinking is hard when you surround yourself with negative people.

lady by water who is trying to be positive

So I have acknowledged a few barriers to positive thinking but I am sure there are more.  As you can see, positive thinking is a choice and there are many things that can keep you from thinking positively. 

What other things do you consider to be barriers to positivity?

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