Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
By Sara Cole MFT
I am starting this off with a little self disclosure, because it feels easier to trust someone who has had the same struggles as yourself. Believe me. I have struggled with mornings. I have never felt like a " morning person" and then when I became a mom, there was even less time to think about me when my daughter started springing out of bad at 6 AM. I have been known to forget about taking care of myself. It takes practice to stay on track and staying on track is what brings the positive changes to your life. Starting the day off right is about self care, mindfulness and intention. It's also about understanding that you won't always get it right. No one can do all the right things all the time, but maybe try to start doing a couple of these things and I promise you will notice a difference in how your day unfolds. I know I do.
So without further ado, here are some of my favorite ideas for how to start the day out right....
Make Your Bed
I know, I know. What am I your mom or something? But seriously, this small thing can improve your day. Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project”, explains that a simple way to be happier is to make your bed as soon as you get up, every morning. By taking this small step to create outer order, you create inner calm. It’s something small and totally doable which gets your day off to a great start.
Let the Tech Wait
Let it wait until you have at least made your bed and had breakfast or coffee. You have plenty of time to check emails and facebook and tweets and texts and calendars, etc. Give yourself a chance to wake up and get off to a positive and mindful start. Starting the day thinking about the here and now helps you get in the habit of mindful thinking for the whole day ahead. All that we know for sure is that we have this moment to live our lives and be present. Staying in the here and now allows you to appreciate, focus and fully live the life you have.
Make a Mini Game Plan.
Start each morning with a mini-planning session. Because our mind and body are fresh, take advantage of your “clean slate.” Resist the urge to replay yesterday's soundtrack, or get sucked into worrying about tomorrow. Stay in the here-and-now, and think steps, not lofty goals. Set two tasks that are attainable and then if you get more done, great but no pressure. Don't overthink this. You don't need highlighters or a minute by minute planner. Mini is the key word here. For example you could say to yourself or write down "lets see, the two most important things I want to get done today are take the cat to the vet and finish that report." That's it, that's the whole process. I know you can do that.
Meditate (only 3 minutes required)
Meditation does not have to be overwhelming and long. You don't have to travel to India or study for years. You can do those things, but you can also keep it simple and start like this:
Ease Your Body Into the Day With a Few Stretches.
Not much explanation is needed for this one. Do each of these movements slowly like you are moving through thick honey and take nice deep breaths.
Take even a few minutes to groom.
Grooming is a way we show care. Mommies groom their babies. Animals groom each other. Grooming yourself is a way of showing self love. Take the time to brush your teeth and hair and put on clothes you feel good in. This makes a difference because it is a way of caring for yourself and reminding yourself that you are important and deserve special attention. If you feel good in your clothes, you carry yourself differently and your self esteem improves.
Let me know how you start your day out right. I am always looking for new ideas to share and try myself.
Sara Cole MFT is a therapist in San Diego with offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill. She has been practicing in San Diego for over 10 years. To find more ideas about self care or how she may be able to help you with her therapy services, visit www.saracolemft.com or call (619)316-3171.
Unhealthy ways of thinking and reacting to things can cause depression and anxiety, actually make problems worse, and create a chronically stressed states of mind that can negatively affect your heart health and immunity. Negative thinking can get into anyone's head from time to time. Let's talk about how to shift to the positive. If you keep redirecting your negative thinking over months and years, you may even change the patterns of connections in your brain so that you react to life’s events in more grounded ways, with less panic and judgment. Here are few tried and true tricks to use when you want to get positive.
1. Notice your thoughts.
This may seem obvious but stopping to notice your thoughts takes practice. Thoughts often feel automatic, but you can retrain your brain. When you notice that your thinking starts to get repetitive and negative, make yourself break the cycle and stop. Get up and go for a walk, talk to friend, read a book, listen to music, etc. You can retrain your brain, but it takes practice. Stopping the habit when you notice it is the first step in the retraining process. Try to change your thinking to a problem-solving focus that is more realistic and strategic. For example, maybe you notice that you just thought "no one will ever love me". Ok, how do you know this? Is this even a likely prediction? Is there any evidence that this is true? Has anyone ever loved you?
You get the idea. Now you can change the the thought to something more realistic. "I don't feel loved right now, but that can change" or "there are people who love me and more people will love me in the future".
2. Look for evidence.
I sort of already started doing this in number one, but let's look at this trick a little more closely. Negative thoughts are often all or nothing types of statements or blanket types of judgements. For example, "these kids never listen to me". Is that true? They NEVER listen to you? Is there any evidence to prove or disprove this statement? Is this an over exaggeration? When you start looking at the facts and reality, it becomes clear that things are not so black and white. There is alot more gray area. Once you disprove the statement or thought, you can come up with a more accurate replacement.
3. Replace the original thought with something that more closely reflects reality or even looks on the positive side.
Back to the statement "the kids never listen". When you start to think about it and look around, you realize that "Actually, they listen most of the time. They are just not listening right now." So how can you change this statement to be more accurate? How about "I get frustrated when the kids don't listen" or "the kids usually listen. They must be tired right now, because they are having a hard time". Do you see the difference? Even typing these words, I get a different feeling in my body. The all or nothing makes me feel hopeless and heavy. The rephrase suggests hope and possible solutions.
4. Practice chilling out.
Overthinking is a common habit that can result in anxiety. Melanie Greenberg Ph.D. explains in her psychology today article, "Overthinking is when you go over and over different choices in your mind, trying to imagine every possible outcome and everything that could happen in the future, to make sure you make the perfect choice. Your focus is on avoiding mistakes and risk. The problem with overthinking is that it’s an attempt to control what isn’t controllable."
Practicing mindfulness and relaxation in other areas of your life can help lower your anxiety. Anxiety is often the cause of over thinking. So, don’t be so hard on yourself: You are only human, and it’s not the end of the world if you make a mistake. You can learn from it. Overthinking results from anxiety, so practice stress-management techniques like yoga, running, nature walking, meditating or other activities that you find enjoyable and relaxing. For a quick de-stressing exercise check out this blog post.
Sara Cole MFT has been practicing in San Diego for over ten years and is dedicated to helping people live their best lives. To find more information and ideas or to see how Sara can help you, check out www.saracolemft.com. She has offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.