Happiness & Self-Care

Do you take care of yourself? I mean beyond basic hygiene, sustenance and sleep. What does it mean to truly take care of yourself? The term “self-care” is one we have all heard but what does it really mean? Is it Starbucks and a manicure? It might be, for some. What you need in order to truly care for yourself is entirely unique to you.

I tend to sacrifice my own needs and desires for the benefit of others. Most of the time the “others” in this scenario didn’t ask me to do this, they probably don’t even know of my own personal sacrifice on their behalf. I am not a saint and I don’t prioritize others over myself out of some unusual goodness within. I make these choices because I more easily see value in other people’s happiness than I see in my own. Over the last few years I have discovered that motherhood can easily take this tendency to an all consuming way of life. Of course parents will give anything for their children, at any cost to themselves! But is that really what the child needs, or even wants? If you are drained, unfulfilled and out of touch with who you are deep down, are you really the best example you could be for your children? I don’t believe a person can truly be happy if they aren’t investing time and energy in themselves. When I made the decision in my own life to dedicate part of each day to self-care I was still sceptical and hesitant. I’m not a manicure and facials kind of person, and back then that kind of superficial pampering was all you could find about how to do self-care. The information and practical advice available has exploded since then but when I first started looking I needed to turn away from the advice online and look within myself for the answers.

When, where, what, how, and why? These are the things we need to ask and answer before we can effectively implement self-care into our lives. Self-care is just like any other healthy habit, difficult to maintain, easy to forget. Train yourself to prioritize this part of your day. Teach yourself how important you are.

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Happiness Series: Organization

There is a reason the internet is overflowing with ways to organize your home, life and schedule. Organizing your life and reducing stress makes room for filling your life with happiness!

Living with anxiety, as I have most of my life, has taught me how important it is to have an organized life. Even the smallest decisions can spiral into paralyzing anxiety, leaving me stuck in inaction and stress. When learning to manage my anxiety, organizing my life was the first major step I needed to take. Having a clean house is important, but I’m talking about organizing all aspects of your life to make space for your own happiness! This post has taken longer to write than planned because I recently allowed the chaos of life to rule my time. Between the holidays, a sick toddler and finding, buying and moving into a new house, I sacrificed my writing time. I will be taking my own advice now and getting my life back to balance.

It’s estimated that as adults we make roughly 35,000 decisions a day. The easier you can make your decisions and the less stress you create in your life. As well as the more availability you have to focus on the things that really matter to you.  Organizing your goals, your space and your time helps you focus on creating happiness rather than reacting to chaos. Organizing your life can feel like a daunting task upfront, let me help you implement some helpful habits into your life to make it a little easier! 

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Happiness Series: Creativity

In our modern consumer society, the majority of people have lost the creativity spark. A lack of creativity is, in my opinion, the biggest danger to our personal happiness. We consume things bought from a store, information and entertainment fed to us through books, TV, social media and the internet. What do we give back to the world? Don’t get me wrong, these things aren’t inherently bad. What is important, is to have balance between that which we consume and that which we create.

Most of my life I truly believed that I “had no creative ability”. It wasn’t until my mid twenties when my astonishingly artistic husband changed my perspective on the concept of creativity. I had always been envious of creative people; my sister with her photography, my grandmother with her painting and crafts. I was convinced that the creative gene skipped me on my family tree. I attempted creative endeavors; my grandmother tried to teach me to paint, sew, weave and bake. The only one of those that stuck was baking and I didn’t consider that creative because I was always following someone else’s recipes. I tried photography, which I really enjoyed but my pictures were never as good as my sisters, so I never considered photography my “thing”. I used to write short stories but was never brave enough to share them with anyone. Did I lack the ability to be creative? No, I lacked the self confidence to consider my creative talents valuable. I lacked the proper perspective of what qualified as creative. My husband passionately believed that I was a creative person who just needed to find my outlet. He ignored my protests that I wasn’t creatively inclined, and I am so grateful that he did. Writing (obviously), cooking, herbalism, photography, and jewelry making are just a few of the creative passions I have incorporated into my life. It wasn’t easy and it took years (and I’m still working at them) to feel confident in my creative talents. Don’t expect your creative talent to come naturally, learning and practicing is an essential part of the creative process. Learn more on my continued learning post.

Research has well documented the connection between creativity and better mental and physical health. Expressing our creativity quite simply makes us better, happier people. I would go so far as to say, to be creative is to truly live. I personally feel, we cannot create true happiness without creativity. Every person in the world has the ability to be creative. The only thing standing in anyone’s way is a lack of action. Find your creative spark and fan it into a life changing flame!

To create something, is creativity. Creativity can be a physical item, a visual creation, something audible or simply an idea. It doesn’t even have to be something completely new. Taking pieces or ideas that already exist and putting it together in your unique way is creativity. Your creativity cannot be compared to creations of others. It cannot be bad or less than. Creativity is an expression of you and your unique perspective of the world. Not everyone will appreciate your specific creativity, but it isn’t for them, it’s for you. Here are some examples and tips for how you can add creativity to your life.

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Happiness Series: Continued Learning

Remember back in childhood when each day was a magical adventure? When did we lose the awe and wonder for life? I watch my toddler explore every aspect of life with the wide-eyed excitement that comes with each new and unique experience. I don’t remember the last time something as simple as a spider crawling across the sidewalk was an amazing, mind blowing experience. She has taught me that the more knowledge and experiences we gain, the less wonder and joy we have in our lives.  

To children the world is unfathomably large, and every day brings a brand new first to figure out. How can you not be excited to jump out of bed and start the day when any number of new magical things you have yet to imagine could happen to you at any moment. As adults, we often get bogged down in the stagnated routines of our day to day lives. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Yes, we have lived (much) longer than those wide eyed two year olds. We aren’t likely to get excited about velcroing our shoes all by ourselves. However, we certainly haven’t experienced everything there is to experience! Bringing excitement and wonder back into your life is as simple as making a real effort to keep learning new things!

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Happiness Series: Digital Detox!

Technology has fundamentally changed how we live our lives and not entirely for the better. The dangers of texting while driving and cyber bullying become more apparent every day. As a society we have started putting laws and policies in place to protect us from these dangers. What about the more subtle dangers that we don’t think about? Each of us should also consider within our own daily lives, how is technology affecting our happiness?

I had to ask myself a very uncomfortable question recently. “What brings you more happiness, Facebook, Instagram and Game Apps? Or reading Dr. Seuss and dancing to baby shark with your toddler?” The answer is easy, playing with my daughter brings me more happiness than anything else in the world! So, the real question is why do I spend so much time absorbed in my phone instead of doing what makes me happiest? Why can’t I make it through one movie on the couch with my husband without checking my phone?

I am a millennial, but I didn’t grow up in the same environment as most people I know my age. I didn’t grow up with technology in the same way my friends did. We had one TV in the house, and it was a turn dial TV (You might need to Google what that is). We never owned a video game system of any kind. Once I was a teenager, we had one desktop computer with dial up internet that was kept in my Mom’s room and only used for homework. I was basically the last person in my generation to discover social media. But now as an adult I’m just as addicted as everyone else…

I decided to commit to a 48-hour digital detox! The days preceding the weekend long detox I was more anxious than I had expected to be. I am so glad I stuck with my commitment! I learned a lot from this experiment, and I encourage you to participate in a digital detox of your own!

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Happiness Series: Nutrition

How does the food we eat effect our happiness? On the surface, the food we eat can physically make us feel good or gross, but I have found there is more of a link to happiness through food than just how our stomach takes it. The food we choose has a huge emotional impact. Food can be nostalgic or comforting. We view some food as a reward or a guilty pleasure. Craving “junk” can make us feel ashamed or deprived. Trying something new can make us feel adventurous. Food can be beautiful and sensuous, and artistic! Food can give us energy to live life! Food can even cure illnesses! 

It feels like everywhere I look there is a new fad diet popping up. The sheer volume of shaming and conflicting information we are bombarded with regarding food is overwhelming. Page after page of “Don’t eat this” and “Don’t eat that”, what are we left with? Searching for ideas on how to incorporate a healthier diet into our life, could almost convince me to give up on food altogether. But I love food! I refuse to live on a diet of celery and cucumber water. On the other hand, I don’t want to live on donuts and potato chips either.

We should want to fuel our bodies, so we have the energy to do the activities we love! We should be able to eat a wide variety of food that tastes wonderful and still provides the nutrition our bodies need! Let’s not aim for perfection, let the goal be balance!

I am not a medical professional and I needed guidance on what a balanced and healthy diet looked like. I consulted my primary care doctor and was referred to a nutritionist in my area.

From that first appointment my life and view of food was changed forever! 
These tips might just change your life too! 

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Happiness Series: Yoga

Interview with Tiffany Ironside of Ironside Yoga
Follow her at @ironsideyoga on Instagram

When I started exploring the concept of happiness not as a destination but as a practice, I was almost immediately lead to yoga. Yoga can have a profound effect on our happiness by means physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Yoga is an excellent place to start if you aren’t sure how to start your intentional happiness journey or anywhere along the way to take your journey deeper. Yoga can make such a profound difference in everyone’s life that I knew it deserved its own dedicated post in this series. Having only dabbled off and on (pathetically I might add) in the subject myself I did not feel qualified to write about it, so I contacted someone who is.

Tiffany Ironside is a roaming yoga instructor and founder of Ironside Yoga. Tiffany provides services such as, large and small studio classes, one on one or small group private classes, kids yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, and more. She also offers, energetic healing, tarot readings, spiritual work and is currently working on a skin care line. On top of all of that she is a wife, and mother of two wonderful children, who she homeschools.

Tiffany is an inspiration to me personally and interviewing her was an exciting opportunity! The interview lasted hours so I will paraphrase her answers for this blog. Please know these responses do belong to Tiffany and have been reviewed by her for accuracy. I know you will enjoy her insights as much as I did! Let’s get into it!

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