Motivational Mondays: How to Create a Work-Life Balance

Yesterday on Facebook, my profile asked me to write an introduction about myself. I had no idea what to write. It’s weird how difficult it is to describe yourself, especially when you’re trying to sell yourself. And you know what I wrote on? I wrote about my career(s). I talked about being a therapist and blogger. It’s interesting that I chose my career(s) as the defining feature of who I am, and what makes me, me. But a lot of us do this! We often get so consumed with our careers and it’s not hard to do. We spend half of our week at work, and if you’ve got kids, or if you’re in school and working full time like me, it can be hard to find time for yourself. Finding a work-personal life balance isn’t easy, and often takes tough decision making, but it is possible. So today I’m going to tell you how I’ve learned to achieve this balance through my own experiences.

As a therapist, I can’t bring my client’s problems home with me. This is made easier by confidentiality issues so I can’t even talk about any of it with anyone. Knowing that I ethically cannot take their issues home with me makes it much easier to leave everything at the door. It prevents burnout and I never feel overloaded. At work, I have learned the power of not responding at all. Sometimes a co-worker will intentionally do or say something to you to antagonise you or get you into trouble, but getting riled up pushing back could actually make the situation worse, especially if you’re not good at compartmentalising your emotions. Then there are times when I have to say no, even if it comes off as mean and insensitive. It’s not easy, but if you have the kind of co-workers or boss that understands, if you can just take the time to explain your needs, it should be easier. For me, I ask that no one even speak to me if I’m eating, because of my health-related issues and I don’t attend extra-curricular events that infringe on my personal time away from work. It’s all about creating boundaries and making it known.

This is why the key to creating a healthy work-life balance is living intentionally. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of work, home, sleep, repeat. Living robotically will never bring you happiness; and waiting around for happiness to find you isn’t the best game plan either. You must intentionally seek your own happiness, through an activity you really enjoy. The best activities are the ones that get you out of the house, excite you and teach you something new. Attending church regularly has really helped me to wind down and prepare my head for a new week in the office. The praise and worship, teachings and enlightening conversations with my friends all help to keep me feeling positive and refreshed. I have even declared a Sabbath so that I have one, do-nothing day per week. Maybe there’s something you need to cut-out, or something positive you need to add. When you know what your life is supposed to look like, it’s easy to decide what doesn’t belong.

A simple practice of intentionality: before you do the next action online or at work, pause a moment, close your eyes and mentally say your intention. Why are you doing this? Is it out of compassion for others, or yourself? Is it to make someone happier? To improve the world? Out of gratitude for the work and kindness of others?

And then as you do the action, be mindful of your intention. This is a small step, but in those few moments you will be living an intentional life.

Ephesians 5:15 NIV “Be very careful, then how you live – not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity…”

How do you achieve the right work-life balance for you?

Everyone is different, so you all might have some different tips than the ones I just shared. Leave yours in the comments below—I’d love to read them.

XOX,

 

10 Morning Mood Boosters That Guarantee a Better Day

Hello Lovely,

I don't need much to get me in a good mood today because today I shall be reunited with my beau, whom I haven't seen since New Years! Long distance relationships can be tough, but we're definitely making it work. One of my favourite things to do with him when we're together, is simply rolling over in bed and saying good morning! That makes mornings so much better!

Start your a.m. off right with these easy tricks.

Have you ever noticed that what happens during the morning hours often sets the tone for the rest of the day? When things go smoothly, you tend to feel more relaxed and ready to face whatever the day may bring. However, when things get bumpy before you've even managed to get dressed, you're more likely to remain grumpy until bedtime. While some hassles can't be avoided, you can make mood-enhancing decisions during the a.m. hours that will set the stage for the next 16 or so. There are at least 10 "pick-me-ups" that will have your mood rising like the morning sun. Try one (or all!) of them for a happier and healthier you. 

1. Pick one "spoil-me" task to do.

This one's a no-brainer. When you wake up, give yourself 30 seconds to think of at least one nice thing you can do for yourself that day…and then do it. It may be as simple as fixing your favourite meal, wearing your favourite dress or visiting a local farmers market. Do something nice for yourself!

2. Eat a well-balanced meal.

Start your morning with a nutritious mix of complex carbohydrates and proteins that will last you until lunch, such as oatmeal or toast with peanut butter (include a sprinkle of cinnamon, which one study linked to improved mood and alertness, for an extra boost). Other research found that a moderate amount of caffeine (200 mg, or the amount in about two cups of coffee) elevated mood and mental sharpness, so enjoy some joe or black tea with your breakfast. Looks like I have that second cup of coffee after all!

3. Get some fresh air.

Head out for some "green exercise"-physical activity performed in an outdoor setting-even if you only have a few minutes to spare. Sometimes at work, I'll walk around to the teachers to deliver messages or collect registers just for a chance to get outside. A change of scenery does wonders for my mood! Researchers found that people experienced an enhanced mood and higher self-esteem after just five minutes of various types of green exercise, including walking and gardening. The study also found that exercising near water amplified the effects, so if you live near a lake, river or waterfall, even better. 

4. Listen to the sounds of nature.

Capture the benefits of the great outdoors, even if you can't get outside, by listening to recorded nature sounds. In a recent study, participants recovered from a stressful situation more quickly when they listened to a recorded combination of running water and bird sounds. I used to have one of those spa CDs, that I listened to on repeat for several months, before I lent it out and never got it back. It was so soothing, so I know this works. Open your window in the morning so you can hear Mother Nature's music as you get ready, or invest in an alarm clock that eases you awake with nature sounds. 

5. Focus on feeling good.

Right after waking up, Robyn McKay, PhD, a psychologist based in Tempe, Arizona, and founder of the Smart Girl-Modern Goddess coaching program, recommends taking five deep breaths and making the decision to feel good for the day. "Imagine that, even when you encounter frustrations and surprises, you will remember to breathe and respond mindfully-rather than react mindlessly-to your circumstances," she says. Dr. McKay also suggests that, throughout the day, you "take five deep, intentional breaths and remind yourself of your decision to feel good." 

6. Drink hot chocolate.

We all know that cocoa is good (it's right there underneath coffee for favourite morning beverage for me), but a recent study found that sipping a drink containing cocoa flavonols improved participants' moods and levels of alertness-even as they worked on a series of challenging maths problems. So go ahead and savour some hot cocoa made with low fat or skim milk and dark chocolate (or Bailey's, I'm not judging). The protein and carbs in the milk will help keep your blood sugar levels stable until lunch, which will help you hold on to your mood momentum. 

7. Take a moment to assess yourself.

Don't jump out of bed right when you open your eyes in the morning. Instead, take five minutes to pay attention to your body and notice if you feel any stiffness, then do some light stretching while breathing deeply, suggests Lynn Louise Wonders, LPC, RPT-S, RYT, a psychotherapist and yoga teacher in Marietta, Georgia. She notes, "Before racing off to the hundred things on the day's to-do list, it can be tremendously beneficial to claim these five minutes to tune in to your body and your breath. You'll find that you are more 'present' and better equipped to deal with the busyness of the day ahead." 

8. Envision the negative.

You've probably heard that gratitude is a mood elevator, but here's a surprising twist to that tactic: Think about a positive event from your life-how you got your dream job or met your ideal partner, for instance-and then imagine what your life would be like if the event hadn't happened. Though it seems like this would have the opposite effect, it actually improved the mood of one study's participants more so than simply thinking of the positive event itself. Sometimes I think about how my life would be had I not met someone or had I not started blogging, just to remind myself of why I do it in the first place.

9. Breathe in some mint.

Researchers found that sniffing peppermint enhanced mood and attention while also fighting fatigue. Try keeping a bottle of peppermint essential oil or bag of peppermint tea on your nightstand so you can inhale the positive scents right as you wake up. Another happiness helper is chewing gum, which elevated the moods, alertness and attention spans of another study's participants. Pop a piece of peppermint gum after breakfast for a double-duty perk-up. I also found that any leafy green with an herbal scent, like rosemary or thyme could perk me up if I don't have any mint.

10. Smile.

There's one thing you can do just about anywhere: Smile. "Remember," says Dr. McKay, "smiling is a simple way to change your mood-and the mood of those around you, too." So spread your good-mood wealth by baring those pearly whites as often as possible in the morning as well as throughout the day.

The Only New Years Resolution You Need to Make

It's a new year and for many people, it's the first day back to work or school. This is usually the time when people become chronic list makers, especially ones filled with New Years resolutions that never get completed. I'm bad at making lists of things because I either forget to write it down, lose the object I wrote it on, forget to look at it after writing it or forget to tick it off that it's completed.

But no matter what your plan for the new year is, remember, the sooner you start, the sooner those dreams will come true!

Right-click and save image to download. It is an 8.5 x 11 photo. You can print it smaller to fit your jar size.

Right-click and save image to download. It is an 8.5 x 11 photo. You can print it smaller to fit your jar size.

For those who may be new to my Motivation Mondays, here’s a little run-down of how it works:

I usually share something I heard either in church or read somewhere that I found to be inspiring and think you would be inspired by. This could come in essay form of photo. This time, it's a plan, with a free printable. 

The best way to make sure you don’t miss a week, is to stay connected through my email mailing list. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so right here:

So how are we doing this?!

memory-jar-2.jpg

This year, instead of making an endless list of how you plan on making 2016 THE year, try making a memory jar. It's one of the easiest things to do. I wanted to do this last year, but of course forgot. Maybe by putting it out on my blog, I'll have something to hold myself accountable on. Instead of relying on Facebook to remind you of your greatest memories for the year, cherish all of your memories, big or small, especially the teensy things that tend to get forgotten.

You can keep a canning jar on the kitchen counter with a stack of colourful paper and a marker. Every few days, jot down something that made you laugh or smile. On New Year’s Eve, I’ll be emptying out the jar, unfolding each paper and reading them one by one.

Next year, a new jar will begin again — and the best part is we can bring out past jars any time to remember the little things that shaped our lives. You'll be surprised by how much positivity you can find in your life once you start this journey!

XoX,

Olivia

 

DIY Nautical Themed Wedding

DIY Nautical Themed Wedding

I had the privilege of shooting Cameron & Tanishka Parker's wedding in Abaco on 7th November. I loved how they took charge of their own day and had fun with it. They came up with a lot of their poses in the spirit of the moment and brought a lot of energy. I saw genuine happiness in both of them, wish them nothing but the best going forward and thank them for allowing me to be a part of something so amazing! Here's just a little bit of their love!

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Random Acts of Kindness

 

I remember a time on my last job, years ago, when everyone in my office sent me to a restaurant up the street to get their lunches. On my way back, my hands were so full that I struggled to open the door just to get into the building. What angered me about this experience was that just off to my right, a group of men sat ogling me, but none of them even flinched to help me. I stood there trying to balance food containers, swapping them from one hand to the next, as I tried to get a grip on the door to open it. Finally, a young Filipino woman saw me struggling and ran up to open the door for me. She really only opened it because she needed to get inside as well, but the fact remains she helped me nonetheless. Not the group of men who openly admired my beauty, but sat on their bums. A random woman came to my rescue. And while it shouldn't matter who the help comes from, I couldn't help but feel that in that moment, chivalry really was a dying characteristic.

But this morning one of the teacher’s in the school that I work at brought me, as well as at least 6 other people, a bag of rosemary and Spanish thyme. I was so happy! It was such a kind gesture and now I would be able to try so many other recipes I've been looking at (which I'm sure my family will be thankful for)! So whenever someone does something nice for me, I'm always surprised. Today people are so consumed by their own lives, or electronics, that they don’t notice the things and people around them. But we can’t be like that. For Christ calls us to “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

In the spirit of giving, with Thanksgiving soon upon us, make an extra effort to do something nice for someone. So where to start? It’s easy. Make a list. I jotted down a bunch of different ideas that I thought would make someone’s day.  Whether it was simply surprising someone with something special, or making their day run more smoothly, I made a note of it. I intentionally chose things that I often struggle with, but hopefully by writing it down somewhere public, I could hold myself accountable the next time I see someone in need of a blessing. Here are some ways you could show random acts of kindness:

  • Pay it forward: pay for someone else’s coffee or tea on your next visit to Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks.
  • Bring a treat for a co-worker you know is having a hard time.
  • Give up your seat on the bus/train/subway.
  • Be patient in traffic. Let someone out in front of you. We all know that feeling.
  • Return your shopping cart instead of leaving it in the parking lot.
  • Tip your grocery packer or waitress. Even if the service was bad (they may be having a rough day). Most of them rely on commission.
  • Try to leave a positive review on your last order. Even if it wasn't perfect, find something positive to say.
  • Open doors. Hold them open for a large group of people.
  • Give up control of the remote for one night so that your partner or family member can watch their favourite show.
  • Send a good morning text to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Give someone a ride even if they're not going your way.
  • Compliment a co-worker today, whether it's on their outfit or work ethic; find something nice to say to them.
  • Listen attentively to that co-worker or family member that’s always trying to talk to you.
  • Offer assistance to the customer that comes to you before or after office/store hours.

Don’t be afraid to lend a helping hand. And don't do something nice just for a reward, that's not the point of this challenge. I challenge you to join this tradition and jump on the kind train with me. Let’s change the world. Let’s spread light!

 +What are some ideas that you have? Have you shown or experienced a random act of kindness lately? Let me know in the comments section!