As we’re about to flip the calendar to a new month tomorrow (one day closer to Spring – yeah!), it’s a great time to consider decluttering your space to make room for what you truly need and want in your life.
Let’s face it, currently you most likely have way too much stuff that you’re not using all over your home.
Bedroom closets are filled with clothes you either no longer wear or don’t feel confident in, causing you to reach for sweats instead
Drawers are filled with junk that you don’t need so you can’t even find the scissors
Your desk is strewn with paperwork with no organization making it difficult to focus
Your kitchen pantry is packed with processed foods making it difficult to stick to a healthy eating plan that will support weight loss and overall health
When we hold on to unnecessary clutter, it definitely slows our progress toward the life we want to create. It makes us feel heavy and burdened. It can even make us feel guilty for not being more organized.
However, when we allow ourselves to purge unused items, it opens up physical and mental space that we can use for higher level decisions and habits.
Experts have made correlations between excess clutter and sleep quality, brain function, digestion, immune response, and weight.
Sleeping in a cluttered bedroom can affect how you fall asleep. If you’re looking around at everything that needs to be put away, you’re revving yourself up when you should be winding down, preparing for dreamland.
Research shows that constant visual reminders of disorganization and clutter actually decreases your focus, working memory, and productivity. Looking at what needs to be done, distracts you from the task at hand which is a huge time waster.
Other research shows that living with chronic clutter can produce higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), which if left unchecked over a long period of time can lead to adrenal fatigue and other health complications.
Interestingly, multiple studies have shown that there’s also a correlation between clutter and poor eating choices, which can lead to unwanted weight gain or systemic inflammation, which puts unnecessary stress on your body.
So why do you find yourself struggling to let go of all the things?
One of the reasons I think we avoid decluttering is that it feels so overwhelming. I get it!
When you’re busy working, taking care of children, volunteering, it’s easy for sneaky piles to add up all over the place. You may feel as though you don’t have the time to add one more thing to your to-do list.
But let’s be frank. We all have the same 24 hours. How we spend our time comes down to our priorities. If feeling calmer and more relaxed in your home can free you up to develop other healthy habits, isn’t it worth it?
If you’re sentimental, letting go of certain objects can be even more challenging. For instance, you might not want to donate a dress that you wore for your child’s preschool graduation ceremony, even though you’ll never wear it again. You might struggle to donate books or knickknacks that you inherited from your grandparents because you feel that if they were important to them, perhaps they should be important to you. You may struggle parting with all your children’s art work through the years.
Then there’s the guilt of not wanting to waste or feeling as though you’re being ungrateful. You might not want to throw out unhealthy food because you spent money on it and people are starving in the world, right? You may not want to donate the gift your friend gave you even though you’ll never use it.
Finally, decluttering requires you to make decisions and sometimes that can feel exhausting when you’re already dragging from a hectic schedule. That’s why it’s important to start small and ease yourself into the process.
So how exactly do you start?
1. Decide on the amazing benefits of having a clutter free home.
This will be unique for each individual. Will the sense of peace that you experience make you more patient with yourself and your family? Will being more relaxed help you to dream and take action on your God-given desires?
2. Make a plan for what you will do with items you are releasing.
Will you donate them or sell them? Where will you drop them off? When will you do it? The more detailed your plan is, the easier it will be to stay on track.
3. Start small and set realistic expectations.
Your clutter didn’t accumulate overnight so expecting to clean out the house in a day (or even a weekend) is not realistic. Choose one area that you will work on per week and acknowledge yourself for even the smallest amount of progress.
Once you get started, you will be amazed at how much lighter you’ll feel. When you feel lighter, you feel calmer and more relaxed, which benefits you physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Recently, I took one small area of my kitchen counter and reorganized it. My son takes a lot of supplements several times a day and the bottles were always all over the counter, even though I had a two tier basket to organize them. I realized that it wasn’t the right system. So, I went back to a simple box that held everything neatly. A week later, I’m still smiling when I look at that part of my kitchen. When you feel in control of small things in life, it helps you handle the bigger stressors with more grace and ease.
If you’d like to connect with other Christian women who are learning to manage their stress by prioritizing healthy habits, we’d love to have you join my private Facebook Group, Christian Women’s Stress Relief HOPE Circle.
I’m on a mission to help Christian women manage their stress so they can show up full of confidence, purpose, and peace.
Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms out there! I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful day with your family this past weekend.
So, my hubbie and I enjoyed a big night out this past Saturday.
We went to Lowe’s looking for shrubbery. 😉 We are finally starting to tackle some overdue landscaping projects. I’m sure our neighbors with pristinely manicured properties are rejoicing!
On our way there, we decided to grab something to eat. Initially, I was in the mood for Olive Garden (the shrimp scampi was calling my name), but when my husband pointed out that we might not be eating until 8 pm, I quickly pivoted and chose Panera Bread.
Since he’s the tech guy with all of the apps on his phone, he handed it to me to place my order (I really wonder why I even have an I phone – I use only a fraction of its capabilities – am I the only one?).
I happily began choosing from the menu options. When I was ready to submit the time to pick up our order, “ASAP” wasn’t an option so I chose the “Later” option.
When I clicked on that button, it said, that the next available pick-up time was 4 days in the future (Sorry for the inconvenience).
Huh? That can’t be right. I tried it again, thinking I needed to refresh the app.
Same procedure, same results.
I relayed this information to my husband and handed his phone back to him. “What’s our plan B because they’re not taking orders until next week?” I informed.
He then proceeds to do what most guys would do. He tries to order himself while stopped at a red light. 😉
“How’d that work out for ya?” I ask.
“Don’t you trust me?” I inquire.
“No,” he teasingly replies. “Do you trust you?”
Something about that seemingly innocent question hit me like a ton of bricks.
After several seconds, I emphatically replied, “Yes, I do trust myself!”
I just completed a 6-month commitment to myself and God, so there is a part of me that trusts myself.
In all transparency, though, there are times that I don’t trust myself.
Can you relate?
I say I’m going to do something and then I talk myself out of it.
Here are some of the excuses I’ve used or still use:
It’s too hard.
I don’t have enough time.
My family’s needs are more important than my own.
I don’t know how to do this (translated, I’m not enough).
No one cares what you think (Again, I’m not enough).
Psst…I’m wrangling with thoughts right now in my mind about not sharing this with all of you.
Here’s what I’m realizing.
Learning to trust yourself starts with making a simple commitment to yourself and keeping it. Period.
It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering. Actually, if you struggle keeping commitments to yourself, start small, but start.
Did you make a commitment to get up earlier so that your day runs smoother? Set your alarm to wake you up 5 or 10 minutes early. Then actually get out of bed (put your phone or alarm clock across the room so you physically have to get up to shut it off).
Did you commit to exercising more regularly? Choose a specific time and day, put your sneakers on and get outside no matter the weather conditions, even if it’s only 10 minutes. If it’s raining, grab an umbrella and dance in the rain.
Did you commit to making more time for pleasure? Schedule a long, soaking bath once a week (to start) or schedule time to read, watch or listen to something that makes you laugh before dinner.
Commit to stop eating after dinner? Schedule a fun activity with your family (bike ride, tag, board game) or call a friend for a quick check in to diminish the emotional eating triggers.
Commit to deepening your relationship with God? Give Him your best. If you’re a morning person, have coffee with Him. If you’re a night owl, light a candle or listen to some worship music before bed.
So, I’m curious, on a scale of 1-10 (1 – I hardly ever keep my commitments to myself …10 – I keep all my commitments to myself), how committed are you to YOU?
In what area(s) do you struggle the most to trust yourself?
Leave me a comment and let me know what is one area you’d like to develop a higher level of commitment to yourself.
And, if you’d like to receive support around developing healthy habits that will help you feel more in control of your life, I invite you to schedule a Manage Stress with HOPE Clarity Call . I’m on a mission to help Christian women manage their stress so they can show up full of confidence, purpose, and peace.
Good morning Sunshine! Or, if you’re in my neck of the woods, it may be good morning gray skies and blowing snow flakes!
If you’re like me, you don’t necessarily jump for joy when your alarm clock goes off and you feel like you could sleep for at least 3 more hours.
But what if you had a morning ritual that you looked forward to? What if your morning routine was something that your mind and body eventually craved (like a good piece of dark chocolate)? How would that affect the rest of your day? How could it impact your mood, your energy, your productivity? Who would it allow you to show up as?
– A more patient mom?
– A more loving wife?
– A more supportive friend?
I’ve been doing a bit of an experiment lately with my own morning routines and the results are dramatic.
On the days that I follow my routine, I feel so much better mentally, physically, and spiritually. On the days when I linger in bed and don’t follow any routine (Fridays/Saturdays), I feel anxious, scattered, and cranky.
According to Aristotle, “We are the sum of our actions, and therefore our habits make all the difference.”
So, what habits seem to make all the difference for me? Here’s a few that seem to keep me feeling more in control of my day:
Not hitting the Snooze Button
Although lingering in bed after you wake up is so tempting, I’ve found that it actually makes me feel worse, especially if I stay too long which puts me behind schedule. Nothing worse than starting your day feeling rushed. It sets the tone for the rest of the day and makes everything feel 10 times harder than it needs to be.
Getting Up Before My Family
I choose to get up an hour before my family because I need to start the day with peace and quiet. There’s something so soothing about a quiet home early in the morning. It helps me ease into my day without any interruptions, even from our sweet puppy. It’s also an opportunity to hear, see, or perceive things that the normal hustle and bustle of life can cause you to miss. Sometimes on these cold winter days, I’ll light a candle and just look out the window appreciating all the natural beauty surrounding us. Today, I was blessed with the sight of a bright red cardinal peeking through snow-covered branches. Simply beautiful.
I know that since the pandemic hit, you may not feel the desire to wear anything but comfy pull-on pants. I get it. You may also not be inclined to put on make-up (if you did in the past) or do your hair.
You may be thinking, “I don’t really go anywhere so why should I go through all that trouble?”
Well, I’d like to challenge you with a thought: How do you feel when you don’t get dressed, have no make-up on, and pull your hair into some type of ponytail/bun concoction? If you feel great, great! I celebrate you! But if you’re like me, you don’t feel your best when you’re not pulled together.
Now I’m not talking about donning a silk shirt, jewelry, heels, spending 20 minutes perfecting a cat’s eye with your eyeliner, and straightening your hair for 30 minutes.
I’m talking about picking out an outfit (preferably the night before to save time) that makes you feel good (a cute top and your favorite jeans will do), putting on a little eyeshadow or lipstick (if that’s your look), maybe putting on a pair of earrings, and taking 10 minutes to style (or 2 minutes to comb) your hair.
I really believe that taking the time for this self-care routine can boost your mood. Before you leave the bathroom, don’t forget to look at yourself in the mirror and state out loud (even if quietly so as not to wake anyone else), “Girl, you’re going to rock this day!”
Hydrating and Taking Supplements
After sleeping all night, you need to rehydrate. Drinking a tall (16 oz.) glass of warm lemon water is a great way to start off the day. If you don’t like lemons, try pieces of sliced cucumbers. Morning hydration helps you go the bathroom and flush out toxins, lubricate stiff joints, and rev up your metabolism (who doesn’t want that?!).
After drinking some water, I also take my thyroid medication and all the supplements that work best when on an empty stomach. Always check with your doctor to ensure you are taking your supplements correctly. My husband was erroneously taking vitamin D on an empty stomach until I informed him that it needs to be taken with food in order to be adequately absorbed.
Spending Time with God
After I take my supplements and make myself a cup of tea, I settle onto the couch with my Bible, a Devotional, and occasionally a journal.
I’m going to admit, that I talk to God a lot. I mean I picture Him saying, does she ever stop chatting? 😉
My struggle is being quiet long enough to hear what He has to say. So, I will typically read some passages and then ask the Holy Spirit for insight. It’s definitely an area I need more practice in, but at least I’m aware of it.
If I have time, I’ll often jot down my gratitude list, or pour out my heart to Him in a letter. If I’m running short on time, I’ll just dive into the devotional and soak up as much as I can.
Spending time with God doesn’t have to look a certain way. I think sometimes we feel like if we can’t go to a special room, light a candle, and spend 30 minutes on our knees then it’s worthless. I’m here to share that some of my most powerful moments with God have been while I’m brushing my teeth. Proves He just wants us, all of us, anytime, anywhere.
Exercising While Listening to Something Inspirational
This is a two for one habit.
Once my devotional time is finished, I pop downstairs and hop on the elliptical and then the treadmill. I try to get in a 20-minute workout but if that doesn’t happen, I do what I can. I always tell myself that something is better than nothing.
This is when I listen to podcasts I enjoy. Although I enjoy exercising, I quickly get bored staring at a wall, but if I’m listening to something engaging, it makes it a cinch to achieve my goal.
So, there’s a sneak peek into my morning ritual that helps keep stress at bay. I’d love to know what your morning looks like and I’d love for you to share your unique routines with me. Sharing inspiration with each other makes life so much better.
If your mornings feel rushed and make you want to climb back into bed and pull the covers over your head, ask yourself this question:
What could be possible if I committed to begin my day in a way that fostered joy and positivity?
Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts!
P.S. If you’d like support around developing healthy habits that will help you feel more in control of your life, I invite you to schedule a Healthy Habits Clarity Call. I’m on a mission to help women create the habits that will help them manage their stress and regain their confidence.
After the past year we’ve all experienced, I think most of us are probably looking for a fresh start.
2020 definitely brought it’s share of stress for a lot of moms I know. Some lost jobs and loved ones, some personally battled the virus, most had their routines completely disrupted, and many experienced some degree of cabin fever and isolation which led to sadness, frustration, and overwhelm.
Turning the calendar over to 2021 didn’t change much in most of our lives, YET, but hope is on the horizon!
In order to have a different experience, though, we must decide to do things differently.
Sounds simple enough, but sometimes stress feels like a wrecking ball that is knocking over every area of our lives. So, where do you start?
First, decide how stress is affecting you personally. Look at the various parts of your life and determine where it is showing up the most.
Is it interfering with your sleep?
Is it affecting your relationships?
Is it causing muscle tension/pain?
Is it causing you to stress eat and gain unwanted weight?
Is it causing you to get stuck in negative thought patterns?
Once you pinpoint how stress is impacting you, you can develop a plan of action to take back control of your days.
Start looking at your habits and see which ones may be contributing to your stress symptoms the most.
Is staying up late to watch the news robbing you of much needed sleep?
Is preventing to plan your day causing you to feel completely overwhelmed to the point you’re in tears?
Is not taking a break to do something you enjoy making you snap at your husband or kids for no apparent reason?
Once you know what’s not working, decide which area you want to focus on first.
If you want to focus on improving your sleep, what is one action you can take today that will help you to get the recommended 8 hours? Perhaps it’s as simple as setting a timer 60 minutes before your head hits the pillow, so your body can begin unwinding naturally, preparing you for a restful night’s sleep.
Finally, once you decide on an action plan, decide you how you will commit to it everyday so the simple changes you are making will move you toward the energized, patient, and focused version of yourself you know and love.
If you’re ready to commit to relieving your stress by changing your habits, I invite you to join my new, Free Community, Stress Relief Habits Club for Moms, on Mighty Networks where I offer strategies for conquering stress so that you can take back control of your life and make 2021 a year to remember!
So, here we are several weeks into a new year and perhaps the enthusiasm you felt on January 1st about getting a handle on stress and improving your health is already waning. I understand. The dark, cold days often make it more difficult to maintain a high level of motivation. There are a few strategies that can help you get back on track and stay committed to your goals.
Glance Back Before Sprinting Ahead
Before you keep pushing full steam ahead, may I suggest pausing and looking back for a moment?
I think it’s a great practice to look back and acknowledge what we have accomplished and how far we’ve come. Rather than beating yourself up about how far you have to go to reach your goals, pause and give yourself a pat on the back for how much progress you’ve already made.
Perhaps you’ve decided to start walking more to shake off all the stress, even on those cold winter days.
Perhaps you’ve decided to drink more water or skip the fries when you order out.
Maybe you practice breathing exercises and spend time praying before you start your day.
Each of these seemingly small steps makes a big difference in the long run, so don’t underestimate the power of celebrating the small victories.
Take It Slowly
Learning to manage your stress and develop healthy habits is an ongoing process. Just like anything worth having in life, it takes time and effort. So many of my clients get frustrated when they think about everything they need to do in order to feel more in control of their lives. That’s why it’s crucial to choose one healthy habit at a time to focus on. If you’re feeling exhausted and you notice that you’re having to drag yourself out of bed every morning, then you may want to consider prioritizing your sleep routine. If you’re crashing in the afternoon and you’re reaching for coffee or a sweet treat, then you may want to focus on consuming more energizing foods that will keep you focused and productive at work and patient with your family. Trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle in a few weeks isn’t realistic. Remember, steady progress wins the race.
Be Honest About What You Really Want and Why
Jumping on a specific diet or exercise bandwagon may initially feel exciting when you hear others talking about doing it, but if you’re not clear on WHY you want to do something, it will likely not keep you motivated for long.
Ask yourself, “What is my real motivation for doing this?” You may want to exercise more this year because you want to have more energy to play with your kids, more focus at work, and more patience overall.
If your goal is to get a handle on stress eating, ask yourself why this is an area you want to improve. Is the stress eating causing you to gain weight which is causing you joint pain? Is it causing you to have digestive upset that keeps you up at night? Is it causing you to silently beat yourself up for not having self-control?
The more specific your reason is and the more you can picture the benefits of practicing a new habit consistently, the easier it will be to stick to your plan.
Create the Space for What You Want
When you feel ready to begin making lifestyle changes, your next step is to create the space physically and emotionally for what you want.
For instance, if healthy eating is one of your goals, clean out your pantry and replace the processed snacks (that you know are your weak spot) with healthier alternatives.
If more movement is your goal, schedule specific times when you will put on your sneakers and hit the pavement for a walk or run, or pull out your yoga mat for some stress-relieving poses.
When it comes to creating time for self-care rituals that will energize, relax, or uplift you, you may need to begin setting clear boundaries with certain people in your life. This can look like enrolling your spouse into taking care of the kids every Sunday afternoon so that you can take a relaxing bath, read a book, or grab a cup of coffee with your bestie.
These are all areas I support my clients throughout my Choose HOPE (Healthy Habits On Purpose Everyday) Stress Relief Program. The more committed you are to creating space for what you really want, the easier it is to develop new habits that will last.
Track Your Progress
Documenting your progress as you upgrade your habits can help you stay motivated when you’re not feeling particularly inspired to stay on track. Using a journal, calendar, or phone app to keep track of your progress can be extremely helpful.
Start paying attention to those signs that you’re on the right track. For example, you look back and see that you haven’t snacked after dinner in two weeks. You realize that recently you’re sleeping more soundly and your favorite jeans seem to be fitting better. Woo-Hoo! These are encouraging signs that what you’re doing is working and will definitely inspire you to keep going!
Be Kind to Yourself When You Fall Off Track
Falling off track with our goals is not only common, but it’s to be expected because we’re human. Sometimes we simply have a bad day and can’t muster the mental or physical energy to do what we know will move us forward. Rather than beating yourself up or punishing yourself the next day, practice self-compassion and commit to starting again tomorrow. The quicker you offer yourself grace, the less stress you feel and ultimately the happier and more motivated you are to pick up where you left off.
Have an Accountability Partner
Changing habits can be challenging when you don’t have support. Sharing your goals with a friend or family member can be beneficial. However, sometimes you may be the only one in your family who’s on a mission to improve your health and that can cause tension. It’s hard to reduce the amount of sugar you consume if your husband keeps buying cakes and cookies!
That’s why having a health coach in your corner throughout your journey can make it so much easier to stay on track. I help my clients stay committed to their goals by uncovering areas of resistance, anticipating and problem-solving obstacles, and strategically setting up the conditions for their success.
If you’re ready to commit to lasting habit change, and you’d like to be inspired by other like-minded women, I invite you to join my Facebook Group, Christian Women’s Stress Relief HOPE Circle, where I offer strategies for conquering stress so that you can experience increased energy, confidence, and feel more in control of how you are showing up in your life.
I’ve always loved autumn. It’s my favorite time of year. The colors, the scents, the warm days and cool nights envelop me as if I were a child wrapped in a comforting hug with my parents.
My husband and I got married in October amid a bright blue sky and orange, red, and gold leaves. Some of my favorite pictures of our son were taken in the fall with the glistening mountains as a backdrop.
This year, the approach of fall feels different to me; most likely due to quarantine. Rather than the typical back to school planning and excitement, we shopped for supplies and new clothes online. Rather than packing lunches and backpacks, we stocked the pantry with healthy snacks. Rather than meeting his new teachers and new classmates in person, he sat at the dining room table and looked at small rectangles of some familiar, but mostly unfamiliar faces.
Obviously, so much has changed since the beginning of quarantine. The normal rhythm of our lives has been temporarily shifted, but it is up to each of us how we choose to respond.
Initially, quarantine may have felt relaxing for you as all of the hustle and bustle came to a screeching halt. However, as the novelty wore off, you may have found yourself craving social interaction, going out to eat, shopping, and celebrating life’s milestones with family and friends.
As we prepare to enter a new season, how can we move forward with ease, gratitude, and hope?
First, I think it can be beneficial to look back over the last several months and acknowledge yourself for every accomplishment small and large. For instance, you may not have written the great American novel (or perhaps you did, and if so Congratulations!!), but perhaps you began working on your poetry book. You may not have redecorated or remodeled your entire house, but you may have cleaned out your basement and made room for more living space. Or you may not have run that marathon you were training for, but you walked in a charity walk, supporting a cause that is close to your heart.
Next, I believe it is healthy to acknowledge and mourn what you have lost during this time. Some of you may have lost loved ones. If that is you, I am so incredibly sorry. I send you my most sincere condolences and prayers. Some of you may have lost jobs, graduation ceremonies, or precious time with the people closest to you.
It’s okay to feel sad, frustrated, and angry about how this period in history was not what you planned or hoped for. Perhaps you can journal about your feelings to get them out of your head. If you don’t like journaling, record them in your phone or talk to a trusted friend or family member so that you aren’t holding on to negative energy.
One thing that can help you to accept the present and move forward is practicing gratitude. Research has shown that practicing gratitude actually positively rewires our brain. While expressing gratitude, our brain releases two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, which are responsible for improving or enhancing our mood. I always say that no matter how difficult a situation may be, there is always something for which we can express gratitude.
Finally, I believe it’s important to look forward with optimism and hope.
What do you want to be different about the upcoming months? Your attitude? Your eating habits? Your exercise routine?
How do you want to feel? Energized, confident, patient?
What will you do to ensure that happens even if current circumstances persist? Having a plan and having someone hold you accountable is key for your success.
In nature, autumn is the time of year when days become shorter and cooler, trees lose their leaves, and crops are harvested. This clearing prepares the earth for winter (a time of going inward), which is followed by the rebirth of spring. Perhaps you can view autumn as a time to release and clear away anything and everything that is holding you back from living the life you want. Consider letting go of whatever isn’t serving your highest self so that you can move forward with confidence and create a life you love.
If I can support you on your health and wellness journey, schedule a time when we can chat. It would be my privilege to walk alongside of you and help you achieve your goals.
Let me know how you plan to transition from the last days of summer to fall and what you are looking forward to the most.