8 March 2020

What It Really Means To Be Kind To Yourself

When we think of kindness, we often confuse niceness & the two of them are not the same.
When we are being nice, we are being placid & non-responsive. We are not aggravating, we are not triggering, we are not pointing out anything important, we are not addressing what really needs to be said. We are washing over our natural & essential reactions for the sake of not disputing someone else's waters, even if in all honesty, that's exactly what they need.

We behave this way because it's not always our place to tell someone what they need to hear.
It is always our place to maintain that type of honestly with ourselves. Being kind to yourself is often doing the thing you least want to do.

It is very often prioritising your future needs over your current wants. It is awakening yourself to your destructive habits, it is recognising your self-defeating patterns, it is learning how to self-heal, it is setting good boundaries first with ourselves & then with others, it is recognising our power & remembering how we have neglected to use it. That is kindness. Everything else is a distraction.
The kindest thing to do is not always going to be the easiest. It doesn't always come with a sweet smile & a comforting hand. It doesn't always soothe us to sleep. True kindness is a fire that wakes you in the night. It's a calling that you can't ignore. It's tough love, it's seeing reality for what it is. It is acceptance, it is choice, it is reclamation.

When we are truly being kind to ourselves, we are actually in a process of reparenting ourselves.
We are doing for ourselves what we always relied on others to do - and we are doing it for the sake of our long-term & overall wellbeing.

We are taking ourselves up on an opportunity to do what is right as opposed to what is easy. We are choosing to do what is important over what is yet another way to numb & cope with the discomfort.
Kindness is loving ourselves enough to do that.

It is believing in our potential enough to choose better. It is caring enough about ourselves that we decide we're going to stop accepting a life that's less than what we deserve. It is fighting for who we are & who we might be one day.

There is nobody in the world who can show you the type of kindness that you can show yourself.
Yes, through understanding, empathy & compassion & through the commitment to see yourself to a type of life in which you can do what you were born to do, be who you were born to be & create the destiny you want to create. You are meant for that. The only thing you have to do now is decide whether you're going to choose it.

B x

5 March 2020

Setting Personal Boundaries & How To Enforce Them

At one point in my life, a few years back, I thought I had this boundary thing all figured out. I set boundaries appropriately with the people in my life & I knew what I needed, I knew what I wanted & I communicated that appropriately. I'm killing it, right? Wrong.

I quite often talk about how it good to have boundaries set in place, but what are boundaries? Boundaries are limits that give us a sense of control over our physical space, body & feelings. Basically, anything that that is important to us. It could be our personal space, emotions & thoughts, sexuality, possessions, time & energy, values, culture & religion. We have the right to have our boundaries respected & we also have the right, obligation even, to enforce those boundaries within our lives. And none of the makes us unloveable or less valuable.

"A lot of people find it easy to state their boundaries, but fewer people are willing to follow through & act on their boundaries. And a boundary isn't actually a boundary unless it's enforced through your actions. If you say you won't tolerate drama, or disrespectful people, or liars or cheaters but you stick around after someone continues to create drama, or disrespect you, or lie, or cheat, them I'm sorry but you do actually do tolerate those things." - Mark Manson

Not holding true to our boundaries is also known as self-abandonment. This means that we tend to self-abandon our feelings, emotions & thoughts. And we put other people's feelings & needs before our own. For a while there, I thought I could fix anything or anyone, that I could do or say something that would make us all happy. Spoiler alert! When this happened, I only ended up sacrificing my own needs & wants. So, the question is, how do we set boundaries & how do we enforce them?

Setting Boundaries
To start off with, I found defining what was important to be really beneficial. Ask yourself, what are my rights & what do I value? Make a list. Do you value time to yourself? Lots of communication? Then there should be boundaries around these & it's important to remember that boundaries can vary based on the relationship.

Trust you instincts. What is your gut telling you? I also found it helpful to check in with myself while identifying any boundaries. How are you feeling, emotionally or even physically, when you think about someone crossing the line? If it's not good, you probably know where the line needs to be drawn.

Enforcing Boundaries
Now that you have an idea of what your boundaries are but people are going to test them, both intentionally & unintentionally. Now what?

First big thing what learning to say no. No is a powerful word but it can be scary to say at times. Most of the time, the person you're saying no to won't get mad or angry. Maybe they'll be a little shocked if they're so use to you saying yes but the shock will wear off. And if saying no does make someone angry, then too bad! You could always say, "Thank you for thinking of me but no." or you could always say "Sorry, I'm not available." But at the end of the day, no explanation is really needed. Don't feel like you have to explain yourself.

Being direct is something I've also found extremely important but also helpful. When I say be direct, I mean being assertive & firm without being aggressive. Using "I" statements are effective. You're taking ownership of your feelings & are stating what is needed. "I" statements can be hard in the heat of the moment when we are feeling all kinds of emotions but I feel as though we get much better results if try to control those emotions.

So now you're aware of your boundaries & you can start enforcing them! It's not easy & it does take practice, thoughtfulness, self love & self esteem to get here so be proud of that! Remember, boundaries aren't concrete walls. They're more like cardboard boxes. Sometimes they can be flexible, they can be picked up & moved closer or further away from you. But the decision is entirely yours to make.

B x

3 March 2020

Living Without Smartphone Stress

Do you ever get that overwhelming feeling of urgency that you need to check your phone, like right now? And if you don't, you'll become stressed out. Your hand is magnetised to your phone, rummaging in your handbag desperately just to see how many likes you have on your breakfast Instagram post. Well, you may, like many of us are these days, be a tad addicted to your smartphone - possibly leading to something called smartphone stress.

But when our smartphone is causing us to feel stressed & unable to switch off our minds, it can become troublesome. Well, the best way to deal with that is to cut down our usage. The more you check your phone, the more you'll feel the need to keep on checking it! Here are some of my tips & things I've done which might help you to reduce any smartphone stress.

Work/Life Balance & Being Aware
Being aware of the time spent on your phone & what apps you tend to use the most is really beneficial. Moment is an amazing app for this. The app enables users to see how much time they're spending on their device & set up warnings if self-imposed usage limits are breached. Alternatively, if you're an Apple user, there is a feature called 'Screen Time' where you're able to see daily & weekly averages plus what apps you tend to the most. I highly recommend using these apps & features to help you out & you'll be surprised & pleased to rediscover the pleasures of being in control.

Turn Off Notifications
Does checking one notification turn into a half-hour of phone browsing? It's just all too easy to get sucked into the social media world through one alert. If you disable all unnecessary notifications, this is less likely to happen. Even muting your device to stop audio alerts can help end that impulse we all have to check our phones whenever the buzz or ping.

Set Up Phone Free Periods
Look at times in your day where you're not going to need your phone. You don't need it in the bath, you don't need it while watching a movie & you don't need it whilst eating your dinner. So set times of the day, like these, to just put your phone on airplane mode & put it away for a while.

Re-Train Your Brain
If all else fails, you can try something called tech breaks. This was something I read about online & while it's not something I've tried myself, it could be something that works for you. Start by looking at your phone for one minute & checking all forms of communication, including texts, calls & social media. Then turn it off, set an alarm for 15 minutes & place it down in plain sight. The upside-down phone reminds your brain to not release stress & anxiety neurotransmitters. The next time it rings or buzzes, check it again for only one minute. Keep going with this method until it feels natural not to check in & see that you didn't miss anything. Increase your tech break by five minutes every week or so & soon you'll be able to not check in for an hour or more without getting anxious about what you may have missed.

B x

1 March 2020

4 Ways To Protect Your Energy

I feel like I'm an emotional sponge at times. If I talk to someone close & listen to their problems, struggles or issues, it's almost a guarantee that my energy will drop & I can even have trouble sleeping because I've taken on all the energy from said person as well as dealing with my own.
Certain people & places just have that effect on me. It's not to say that I don't care, because I do but I've just discovered that I very easily soak up other people's emotions & energies. Then I let them take over & I worry, I stress & then I worry some more. I knew something had to change & that I couldn't keep going the way I was & that's when I realised I had no choice but to protect my energy to stay sane.

Find Your Happy Space
A little secret to my sanity is that I turn my phone off or have digital free time often. On the days where I'm feeling emotionally drained there is no way I can pick up my phone, I just can't. Those days where I feel so emotionally drained don't necessarily mean something bad or tragic has happen or is going on. Sometimes it can be a difficult parent I've had to deal with or maybe I've been to a social event where I've had to interact with a ton of people.

During times like this I know I need to take a step back & re-center myself. For this to happen, I tend to go to the same place everytime. My bedroom is my wee happy place. I have candles, essential oils, my plant babies, my favourite books, my vision board, my journal & planner & also, if I'm lucky my fur baby will be curled up on my bed sleeping. The minute I enter that space, the space that is just for me, my energy shifts.

Find that happy space for yourself & it can be literally anything; your bathroom, your car, bedroom, kitchen. The best way for you to avoid stress & feeling emotionally drained & to protect your energy is to have a place for when those feelings begin to take over.

Be Aware
We absorb energy from other people, places & different environments. By becoming more aware of the things & settings that change your energy, you will be able to protect it better.

Pay attention to your mood, specifically places, people or situations that trigger negative, even if a a very subtle, energy shift. Who & what changes your energy? Do certain interactions leave you feeling emotionally exhausted? Do you find yourself saying yes to things that you don't feel like doing, just because you want to be polite or because you feel obligated to do them?

Set Boundaries
Here is another thing that I've been learning to do over the past few years. I needed to learn to detach myself from other people's negative energies & emotions. This is especially important to remember when dealing with people who tend to treat you like an emotional dumping ground. I'm not talking about chatting to a friend who's going through something difficult & needs to vent. I'm talking abut people to tend to talk about the same negative things over & over & over again, while also refusing to accept any feedback or advice to try working on improving those same things they are complaining about.

Through learning about protecting my energy, I've learnt that a part of protecting your energy is remembering thaet you can't force anyone to change. You can offer advice, shift their focus to a more poisitive direction but you cannot force anyone to accept it. It's something the other person has to be open to.

What you can do, is protect your own energy by setting healthy boundaries. Don't be afraid to set limits. Maybe you feel your energy levels drop when someone simply talks a lot without letting you get a word in. You don't have to sit there & listen until your energy finally drops to zero just because you want to be polite. Or, if spending two hours at a crowded event is all you can take before it stops being enjoyable, then that's your limit.

Take A Bath
Or a cold shower? Maybe you don't have a bath or maybe you don't even enjoy a bath but it's not about the actual act of taking a bath or a long shower. It's about that fact that many of us, those of us who are constantly busy, working, taking care of our families, interacting with others, the time we spend in the shower or the bath is the only time we truly get to disconnect throughout the day. It's the only time when we have a few minutes all to ourselves. Not everyone can afford to take an entire day off work to have to yourself so it's important to make the most of any space time we have available to us.

Something I've found helpful to do at the end of the day while in the shower, is to actually visualise my stess, anxiety & that unwanted heaviness & imagine them literally wash away. The warm water also helps ease & relax tense muscles that may have been caused from stress throughout the day.
When people, places & events give out positive energy, it's almost contagious. Unfortunately, the same thing goes for people, places & events that give out negative energy. The latter can leave you feeling dull & damaged.

Here's the thing to remember, most of the people who do drain you of your energy aren't aware of what they're doing. This is important to remember because you can use that as an opportunity to choose love instead of entertaining fear or frustration. You are in charge of protecting your energy, don't allow anything or anyone to mess with it.

B x