Gratitude is Self-Care

Yesterday was a gorgeous Sunday here in NYC (so much that I was in a very grateful mood). It got me thinking about how gratitude improves our overall mood and increases our energy. And how it can be a part of a great self-care plan.

Oxford defines gratitude as: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. These days, some people wake up dreading the day (after all it’s Monday) and I’m guilty of that sometimes. But, my way of challenging the dread is to start off my day with gratitude. This positive habit is one that’s all over the internet with big names such as Oprah, Lin Manuel Miranda and others practicing it in real time. But, why?

Martin Seligman, psychologist and creator of Positive Psychology, notes “we think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives.” We get stuck in all the negativity in the news, internet and social media. Even the thought of stepping outside can bring on the dread of this negativity. So how do you change that?

In his book Flourish, Seligman writes “too keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well.” We need to actively look for the good in our lives, especially as a daily practice to reduce how negativity affects us. Our thoughts, feelings and behavior can all be affected by negativity.

In the book, Seligman has an exercise called the “What-went-well” Exercise (also called “Three Blessings). Note, you can use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but you need a physical record of what you wrote. (Note: the event doesn’t have to be a huge thing, but can be important like the birth of a healthy baby.)

  1. Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep.
  2. Write down 3 things that went well today. Ex: My father asked me to hang out.
  3. Next, write down why they went well. Ex: It went well because he was thoughtful for including me in his plans.

If you’re feeling weird about this, it’s normal. If it’s not your usual thing, it’s okay for it to feel strange. Aim for doing it every night for a week and it’ll get easier. It’ll become more natural the more you do it. Seligman states “the odds are you will be less depressed, happier and addicted to this exercise six months from now.”

And that’s true for me, too. But, I don’t follow Seligman’s practice. I created my own after years of writing in a daily journal.

At least 5 days a week, I start off my day with my gratitude list in my journal. It’s part of my morning prayers and self-care plan. What this practice does is keep me reminded of the blessings I’ve got. All of the big and little things that show up in my life everyday that let me know that life is worthwhile and full of joy.

I do mine in the mornings and first I write out all the junk first. All that stuff that mentally weighs me down goes first and then I write everything I’m grateful for. Not only is this my gratitude list, it’s my daily prayer exercise. And when I don’t do it, I feel it. I feel the pressure, stress and the heaviness because geez, our mental life is ON 24/7. So when I skip it, I find that the negativity I feel will push me right back into my daily routine.

It’s also a great way to start off the day on a positive note. I’m in a great headspace to write, explore ideas and tap into positive energy first. If you already do this everyday, good for you for practicing good self-care. If not, read on below for two ways to practice more gratitude.

Remember, gratitude is the quality of being thankful. Try these two exercises and see how they work for you. They don’t have to be complicated and they don’t take very long. 5 – 10 minutes everyday is all you need. Try it and let me know how it works for you in the comments.


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Rainbows follow the Rain

close up of silhouette against blue sky
Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

It’s a rainy day here in NYC. Typical Spring weather. April showers bring May flowers and all that jazz.

For some of us, rain brings us down. We want to stay in bed, keep warm under the covers and wait for the sun to shine again. But, we can’t. We can’t just hide.

Because there are bills to pay, families to take care of and work to be done. People and things that pull our attention.

The title for this post came from a tweet I sent to one of my pals who was feeling down. She’s been battling significant medical problems and now is dealing with an insurance provider who won’t pay for services. (It’s horrible how people with chronic medical problems have to fight for the services they need to stay alive and healthy. But, I digress.)

She needed and asked for a pick-me-up. If you follow me on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram), you already know that I love sharing quotes and posts to increase joy, elevate mood and uplift the spirit. Because it’s self-care. And because I can’t STAND to see people suffering. So I sent her the mantra below. (Note: Edited for her privacy.)

Rainbows & Rain

Spoken from my heart, because that’s the reality of life. There are times when life gets us so stressed out, frustrated, vulnerable and depressed. So much that it’s hard to see the good things, the blessings we have and believe that things will get better.

See, the thing is rainbows DO follow the rain. We can’t enjoy the good stuff if we don’t have the bad things to teach us how to appreciate the good things we have.

And as busy working moms, that’s exactly how life can be. We’ve gone to college, developed our careers, established a family with our partner.  Hit those wonderful expectations that have been passed down to us by our own families growing up or by society at large. We push ourselves to the edge of our sanity to meet all the demands that are placed on us. Staying late at work at the last minute, worrying about the chores that need to get done at home or losing sleep because we just can’t slow or shut down our brains.

This is where self-care can help. Using mantras like the one above, taking 5 minutes to meditate or write, self-care is the thing that can reduce stress, uplift us and give us that energy to keep going. To be gentle with ourselves throughout the day so that we can show up as the best of who we are for other people – while also caring for ourselves.

Because – real talk – you’re not a robot. You’re an amazing human being who has grown other humans, given of yourself to help others and worked to get things done. And you just like your kids, spouse and all other humans, you DESERVE and NEED self-care.

A car can’t run without gas or regular maintenance. And neither can you. Daily self-care – even 5 minutes at a time – can help you maintain your physical, emotional and mental well-being so you can be the person you want to be.

Today, if you’re feeling down because of the rain (or any other stress) remember, rainbows follow the rain. Things WILL get better. Believe it!


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Quit Being So Hard on Yourself

Erma-Bombeckquotes-7

I love this quote from Erma Bombeck. Her book, Forever Erma is a collection of her hilarious columns all about life and motherhood. (Read it and it’ll crack you up!) I found her book at a flea market somewhere. (It was such a long time ago, but this book really uplifted my spirit.)

She’s been gone since 1996, but her words still matter today. Because seriously, who has ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed?

The world won’t fall apart if you have dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Or if you give your kids junk food from a local place when you don’t have energy to cook. Or if you have the kids to grab some snacks themselves (age appropriate of course). After all, you are the one who lives your life. No one knows what it’s like to be in your shoes unless you clue them in.

I (and Erma) believe that motherhood is what you make it. You get to decide the kind of mom you want to be. It’s already a huge job to grow a human being in your body, get them out and then teach them to be great people WITHOUT the added guilt and pressure from the world around you. You rock, busy working mom!

Find what works for you and quit being so hard on yourself if things aren’t perfect. It’s impossible to live a perfect life because we aren’t perfect. We mess up, make mistakes and keep going.

So, if your kid falls asleep on a messy bed, enjoy the fact that they are sleeping (or napping) and take time for you.

Write in your journal for 5 minutes.

Drink coffee.

Read a chapter in your favorite book (or read Erma’s book).

Just breathe and enjoy the moment.

Quit being so hard on yourself. You ARE good enough. You ARE deserving of quiet time. You MATTER. And you ARE amazing!

Have yourself a great start to the week by enjoying the moment. Take the time to be gentle with yourself and get the self-care you need to have a great day!

Cheers!

Heiddi


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The One Time Management Hack that got me a 3.79 GPA while Working and Parenting full-time

Being a working mom is hard. Throw in being a college student and you’ve got one hell of a challenge. Keeping the kids and partner happy, the house in order and the chaos under control is all part of the wonderful world of working motherhood.

I’ve been a working mom for the last 18+ years (if I also count the 9 months I was pregnant). It has been an adventure full of highs and lows with lots of growth in between. The biggest challenge for busy working moms is figuring out how to get things done while also accomplishing goals such as getting “me” time, working out, getting ahead in your career or, as in my case, getting a college degree.

The Hack: Maximizing your alone time

My oldest was 4 when I went back to school for my master’s degree. I spent 3 years in grad school while working full-time and being a full-time mom and partner. And I earned a 3.79 GPA by maximizing my alone time.

With my family taking up all of my focus and concentration at home, I quickly realized there was NO way that I’d be able to do any of my assignments. Getting home at 10pm after class to get everything ready for the next work/school day for all of us kept me very busy. In addition to cleaning, prepping meals and family time. I tried squeezing every bit of my time to stay on top of everything.

In my last year of undergrad, I learned to quickly review my schedule (168 hours/week) and get rid of time wasters so I could focus on studying. Stealing my time back. This method came with me to grad school and was the easiest way for me to get everything done for school without sacrificing any more time with my family.


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Maximizing my alone time helped me get all of my schoolwork done without sacrificing more time with my family.

The Commute: I took the train everyday for at least two hours a day for work and school. Tuning out the noise to read and write became my expertise. Reading on the train was easy for me because I love to read. Yes, even reading for school. I even bought a portable word processor (this was 2005 y’all) to write on the train. It was even better than a laptop because it was only for writing and didn’t have a screen big enough to enjoy surfing the web (the screen was 2 inches high and 8 inches wide).

  • Productivity Tip: Use earplugs to tune out the noise on the train. I didn’t like them, but I noticed other commuters using them. And every little bit helps.
  • Relationship Tip: I also used the hour-long gap of time I had after work and before class. I’d meet my partner at his job to spend time with him (since he worked near my school) before heading to class. And then he’d pick up our son from pre-school. Because it’s not just you trying to achieve a goal, your family plays a role in that too.
  • Support Tip: Ask your family for help. Yes, I know that’s tough to do, but, if it means getting a happier mom and partner, it’ll be worth it.

The Lunchbreak: I loved using my lunchtime for homework. My word processor and I were BFF’s while I outlined and wrote my papers as I ate. To focus on my schoolwork, I cut back on hanging out with my lunch buddies. And since they all supported me in my goal to graduate, they understood that.

  • Productivity Tip: Prep your lunches the night before or on weekends. That way you only have to worry about heating and eating.
  • Relationship Tip: Every morning, I spent quality time with him getting him ready and taking him to school.  I made sure to call my partner during lunches to stay connected. And on the weekends, it was all about family time.
  • Support Tip: Get some cheerleaders. If you’re still reading this and thinking, “Heiddi, this is all fine and good, but I can’t do this.” You know what? There were many times I didn’t think I could do it either. But having the support and encouragement from friends and family REALLY helped me stay on track. I had professors, classmates, family and co-workers cheering me on. So every time I wanted to throw in the towel, they all made sure to help me hold on to it. They reminded me of the people I could help once I got my degree.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you’re motivated and get the support you need to get things done. Whether it’s getting your college degree or making more time for self-care. You CAN do it. So go out and MAKE IT HAPPEN!


And if you want someone to cheer you on as you make time for you, book a call so we can chat!

Let’s chat, Heiddi!

Self-Care Sessions – Ep. 3: Single Mom Truths

Hiya readers! Welcome to Episode 3 of the Self-Care Sessions!

Snapchat-111750867This time around I wanted to share the story of fellow single mom, Andrea Cunningham who runs the hilarious Instagram account, Single Mom Truths.  I’ve NO idea how I found her (probably when I got stuck in the vortex of the search function on Instagram), but I’m so glad I did! She makes me laugh, lets me cry (because let’s be real – sometimes needing to cry and getting permission is SO helpful) and reminds me to give myself a pat on the back for being a great mom. Read on below to learn more about Andrea and Single Mom Truths.

Hiya doll! I’m so happy that you’ve stopped by to visit. So let’s jump right in! How did Single Mom Truths get started?

I was seeing a lot of funny parenting/mom/single memes on Pinterest and Facebook and they would make me laugh and smile. I could relate to so many of them and thought that posting them on Instagram could be a fun way to reach out to other single moms (or single dads, married parents, single people, etc). Maybe they could be the source of encouragement to someone who needs it, or put a smile on someones face on a stressful day.

Oh yes! Humor is a great way to encourage others. I love it! What started this journey for you?

I have been a single mom for over 8 years now and its been a struggle, emotionally, physically, financially. And I don’t have anyone in my personal life who can relate to my journey as none of my friends or family are single moms who work full time. I found it hard to find anyone to talk to about my struggles because none of them had gone through what I had. Single motherhood has been a lonely journey for me, and I was trying to make it less lonely for me, and others.

I can definitely relate to the struggles of being a single mom. That’s why I’m so glad you started Single Moms Truths! So, what’s your mission with Single Mom Truths?

I don’t really have a mission! Its more like I just hope that silly memes, or words of encouragement that I post can help make someone smile and feel less alone.

Well on behalf of myself (and everyone who comes across your hilariousness) I want to thank you so much! Because I definitely feel lighter and more understood because of your silly memes.  And I do feel less alone. Who do you seek to empower with your work?

Mostly single moms! Single working moms like me. But really anyone who needs support or a laugh.

I’m glad that you focus on single working moms (myself included) because they sorely need encouragement. It’s awesome that everyone else can enjoy your posts, too. After all, everyone can use humor as self-care. What does self-care and wellness mean to you?

Oh gosh, I don’t really know how to answer this one. To be honest, I’m not really good at self care and wellness! Working and taking care of my kids can be very overwhelming, and oftentimes I find myself close to a break down! But I think Single Mom Truths is part of my self care. Especially in recent months as more and more people message me saying how much my page has helped them! Makes me feel good.

I think moms in general have a hard time with self care. Mom guilt is strong! You feel you need to give your all to your kids, but in order to be a good mom, you need to take care of yourself as well. So for me, I try to read or write, or find a good Netflix TV show!

(See ladies? Andrea is giving you permission to take care of YOU. ) Yes, the mom guilt is very real. And you already know that Single Mom Truths is part of my daily self-care because girl – you’re so dang funny! Now, tell me one fun fact about you that people wouldn’t know by looking at you.

Fun fact about me……hmmmm….well I don’t know if its a fun fact, but I collect Barbie Dolls! I LOVE Barbies.

Ooh, I’d love to see pics of your collection. lol You may have some that I had as a kid. So, what can folks expect from you and Single Mom Truths in 2019?

I think more of the same, funny and encouraging memes. But I am also going to start working on videos on Instagram and some Vlogs for my Single Moms Facebook page. I think videos are a good way to make a personal connection with people. And will probably be therapeutic self care for me at the same time.

Awesome! It’s great to know that single moms (and everyone else) will have more funny and encouraging messages to look forward to from you and Single Mom Truths. Happy dancing here! Thank you so much for sharing here, Andrea. 

There you have it friends. Isn’t Andrea amazing?! Love her! Please make sure to follow her on Instagram and check out the Single Moms Facebook page. You won’t regret making Single Mom Truths part of your daily self-care.

Cheers!

Heiddi


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