4 Paths to a Bold, Fearless Life

woman in white living fearlessly

Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.

Les Brown

I absolutely love this quote because it faces you think: am I truly living my dreams or am I living my fears? That is a legit question.  Many people may say they are living their dreams. But when they think about every time, they second guessed themselves or not giving 100% of their effort into something, the answer may change.  A lot of people live at least a portion of their lives in fear.  Some of this fear may be legit but some of it may be fueled by things that can be controlled.  The following are a few ways you can begin living your dreams.

Find the Source of Your Fear

This may take a bit of time, but it is imperative that you find the true source of your fear.  Once you determine the source of your fears, you can begin to break whatever it is into small, manageable chunks so you can overcome it and truly begin to live your best life.  Some of the solutions to overcoming these fears may require the assistance of a counselor or therapist.  It will be worth to really take the time to really dig and find the source of your fear so that you can live your life freely.

Change Your Mindset

Sometimes we start out living our lives vicariously, but we end up living lives filled with fear due to our mindsets that may shift over time.  We sometimes start out with growth mindsets where everything is going well and all breaks are seeming to go our way.  When all is well it is quite easy to believe that you can learn more, work harder, and keep reaching for your goals.  However, if you have a fixed mindset and you have allowed fear to creep in, then fear will become a part of your thinking and it will be difficult to move forward.  To be successful, you must minimize any fear that you are experiencing and adopt a growth mindset.

stylish dreamy black woman with afro hairstyle on blue background

Practice Mindfulness

If fear has crept into your life and seems to occupy most of your thoughts, you can attempt to control it through various methods.  Meditation is one technique can be used to help you face your fear and make it less intimidating.  Deep breathing can also be helpful when you need to move forward but you begin to feel fear creep in. This deep breathing can help calm you until the fear subsides. Journaling can also be a technique to put your thoughts on paper and work through your fears through your entries.  You will be able to look back and see how you have overcome your fears in the past to motivate you to work toward overcoming them now.  Also, positive thinking and reframing of negative thoughts into positive ones can help your fears not to appear to be so big that you cannot overcome them.   

Do Not Give Fear Energy

Feeling fear is sometimes just a part of living.  When you are trying something new or in an unfamiliar situation, fear is likely to arise.  The main thing is to not lean into the fear.  This can be challenging but the most beneficial thing to do is to let the fear come, acknowledge it, and then let it pass.  It can sometimes be challenging, and this may take a lot of practice.  Denying fear, the opportunity to completely consume you will take time and practice.

woman living fearlessly on beach

Do you feel as if you live life fearlessly? What advice would you give those who strive to live fearlessly?

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3 Symptoms of Mental Fatigue

Mental fatigue can be caused by many things but what it refers to is the stress that you experience over an extended period.  It can be caused by long term trauma, lack of sleep, financial stress, or grief, just to name a few.  Those individuals battling mental fatigue may find that they feel that they are operating in a brain much of the time.  Others may feel that fatigue most intensely after they have had to use a lot of mental energy. This mental fatigue can affect a lot of things including your responses to circumstances.  The following are some ways that you can be affected by mental fatigue.

Depression

Being mentally exhausted can leave you with zero energy.  This exhaustion can be so pronounced that you do not have any energy left for the things that you have to, much less the things you like to do.  You may find that you may begin to lose interest in the things that once brought you great joy.  This can lead to you becoming depressed.  Depression and mental fatigue can be so closely aligned that it can sometimes too hard to tell if the depression is causing the mental fatigue or vice versa.  Mental exhaustion can cause you to feel drained to the point that you lose your zest for life. You may find yourself feeling sad, lonely, or hopeless and these feelings can pull you further into a depressed state.

Irritability

Have you ever noticed that when you are sleepy or tired that you become irritable and have almost no patience?  The same thing applies to mental fatigue.  Mental fatigue can put you in a place where irritability becomes a state of being.  You may find that your level of tolerance is not where it normally is and those around you may start asking you why you are so cranky or in a bad mood.  Being mentally exhausted and not being able to function normally can frustrate you and drain you to the point where you are irritable all the time. 

Feeling Overwhelmed

Mental fatigue can get you to the point where you do not have the physical or mental energy to do anything.  This lack of motivation to get anything done can lead to tasks and responsibilities going undone.  You may soon find that procrastination will begin to take over as you keep pushing back the things that need to be done.  The feeling of being overwhelmed can take over as you look at all the things that you have not done.  This can lead to even more mental exhaustion as you continue to think at the mounting list of things you have not done.   This can be the start of a vicious cycle.

Have you ever experienced any symptoms of mental fatigue? What symptoms did you experience? Comment below with your thoughts.

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4 Health Benefits of Positive Thinking

positive woman smiling

There are many benefits to positive thinking.  Many people belief that if you start the day off with positive thinking then you have a greater chance of having a good day.  Another school of thought suggests that positive thinking attracts good people and good things to come your way.  I believe both things to be true.  A positive mindset will put you in a much better position to not see every challenge or difficult situation as the end of the world.  The great news is that a positive mindset also comes with some health benefits.

Better Heart Health and Positivity

There is scientific evidence that says that positivity can lead to a healthier heart.  When we think negatively or have a negative outlook, stress hormones are released.  This results in a higher heart rate and a rise in your blood pressure.  Having a positive mindset leads to less stress hormones being released which limits the amount of stress being put on your cardiovascular system.  A positive mindset can help ensure that your health is not under any additional or unnecessary stress that can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.

Positive Thinking Can Increase Life Span

A positive mindset can add years to your life.  It can sometimes keep you away from those things that unhealthy thoughts can lead you.  Negative thinking can send you down a rabbit hole that can lead to self-destructive behaviors such as alcoholism, drug use, or unhealthy eating habits.  All of these things can lead to a decrease in your life span.  Those individuals who keep a positive mindset are more likely to do those things that make them feel good and are healthy.  Exercising, healthy eating habits, and lower stress levels can add years to your life.

Positive Mindsets and Increased Pain Tolerance

Your positive thinking can even impact how much pain you can tolerate.   For example, When you are in pain or when you are thinking about something that may be painful, the way you think about the pain can impact your experience.  Thinking you are not going to be able to deal with your current or impending pain increases your stress levels which increases your pain levels.  Thinking positive thoughts reduces your anxiety and helps you to focus on something other than pain. This lowers your stress levels which can lead to an increase in pain tolerance.

Positive Thinking And Better Coping Skills

Positive thinking enables you to see the most positive outcome in a situation.  Negative thinking can lead you to make one bad decision that can lead to other bad decisions.  This cycle of perpetual bad decision making can lead to bad outcomes such as hopelessness, high stress levels, and chronic anxiety.  Positive mindsets lead to positive coping skills. These are the coping skills that relieve anxieties and not perpetuate it.  Mediation, journaling, and seeking therapy or counseling are all healthy ways of coping with challenging situations.  You are far more likely to choose positive coping skills when you have a positive mindset.

positive lady smiling

Comment below and tell me how you maintain a positive mindset?  What are some other health benefits of a positive mindset that you would add to this list?

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5 Surprising Symptoms of Anxiety

woman experiencing anxiety

Anxiety often presents itself in different ways.  Most of us have experienced some level of anxiety at one point or an0ther.  Sometimes we can experience it in the form of sweaty palms.  Other times it can be in the form of a racing heart. But there are times that you can be under such a heightened level that it presents itself in different – less obvious ways.  It is one of those things that can alter your whole personality and the way you do things without you even realizing about it.  Here are 5 surprising ways that anxiety shows itself.

Digestive Issues

The brain and your stomach are very closely related.  This can be seen when you get butterflies in your stomach just by thinking of something.  Or when your stomach is in knots as you prepare for a big event or decision.  But these are both instances where you are fully aware of why you have butterflies or why your stomach is in knots.  When being anxious becomes such a normal part of your day-to-day existence, you may not realize that your heartburn, upset stomach, or acid reflux as a result of the anxiety that your body is experiencing.  Sometimes it takes the ruling out of many other disorders or medical issues to realized that your digestive issues may be the result of anxiety.  Once you see it for what it is, you can have better control over it.

Anxiety can Lead to Confusion

Anxiety can cause you to feel very confused or if you are walking in a fog.  Even if you do not realize that you are operating under a heightened level of anxiety, you may still feel these effects.  You may find that you become confused when trying to remember details.  Or you may find it difficult to follow conversations or formulate logical thoughts.  This confusion can be due to either your mind going blank or because there are too many thoughts running through your mind.  Most of the time this confusion comes and goes as opposed to happening of the time.  General confusion or the feeling of having disjointed thoughts can be a symptom of anxiety.

Anxiety Can Cause Tiredness

Did you know that anxiety can physically tire you out?  The truth is that it can and often does.  When you body is experiencing a great deal of stress, your muscles tense.  This can tire you out and make you very tired without you even realizing why you are so tired.  When you are under a great deal of stress, your body will begin to shut down as a way of protecting itself.  As discussed earlier, anxiety can lead to confusion and disjointed thoughts.  Trying to process these thoughts can be mentally draining and can lead to physical tiredness.  You may not realize why you are suddenly so tired or taking frequent naps, but it could be related to anxiety.

Perfectionism

Those fighting anxiety may also find themselves fighting perfectionism.  It will tell you that everything must look or be a certain way and, if it is not, you are a failure.  It may also tell you that you are not where you need to be in life or that you are unworthy of any good thing that happens to you.  Anxiety tells you these things and the quest for perfection is what we do in response to these feelings.  Perfectionism is a lesser-known symptom because people sometimes fail to realize that it stems from the desire to do things perfectly on the first try.  This leads to perfectionist behaviors that, ironically, the anxiety perpetuates.

Frequent Colds

Anxiety releases a great deal of chemicals and hormones that prepare you to be able to respond to tense situations.  Your immune is given a boost when this happens.  In most circumstances, your immune system returns to normal.  But in circumstances where you frequently experience a high level of anxiety, your immune system does not have time to recover.  This leads to being much more susceptible to illnesses.  The compromising of the immune system is a surprising symptom to many, but it is good to know so that you are aware of how seriously anxiety can impact your health.

woman looking confidently into camera

If you battle anxiety, have you ever experienced any of these things? Comment below if you have ever experienced these or any other surprising symptoms of anxiety.

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?

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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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.

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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.

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