Giving Up Social Media

How do you feel about social media?

I’m hearing a lot of people talk about it these days.

I hate Facebook!

Instagram is making me crazy!

I wish I could get off social media!

I totally get it. Social media affects almost all of us -even if we don’t have accounts of our own! The constant connection, comparing and sharing – while maybe not all bad – certainly has an impact on our mental health.

  • How we see ourselves and others
  • How we feel about our kids, our parents, and our friends
  • How we make decisions in our lives, both big and small

So what can you do if you want to make a change? Try life without social media?

Start small, but do something. Take the social media apps off your phone. Delete just one social media account. Don’t post a comment/status/photo for just one day. Pick one small thing and do it. Once you get the hang of that, try adding on another goal.

Put it in its place. Do we really need to check our social media accounts every time we have a free moment? Do we really need to take our phones into the bathroom? Probably not. Again start small, but try banning the phone from just one place: Dinner table, bathroom, kids soccer practice, doctor’s waiting room – somewhere that you usually pick up your phone and browse. Try doing something else: Read a book, bring a Sudoku puzzle – or, you could go crazy and DO NOTHING! Just sit and be. I assure you, it is possible.

Notice the changes. While ceasing to bring the phone into the toilet stall won’t radically change your life, decreasing the amount of time (or eliminating it altogether!) you spend on social media will likely make a difference in your mental health.  Try keeping a journal about how your behavior change affects you, both psychologically and physically. If you make note of the good things happening, it will help you stay motivated!

Good luck!

How Are Your New Years Resolutions Coming?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been almost a month…do you remember what your New Years resolutions were?

Have you made huge changes in your life? Little changes? No changes at all?

If you haven’t thought about your resolutions since January 3rd, don’t worry – you’re not alone. That’s why I thought I would check in to see how things are coming along.

I tried something a little different this year: Instead of a list of goals/resolutions/changes I wanted to make for 2018, I thought of a word I wanted to focus on. Sort of like a theme word for the year. This felt a little more do-able and interesting than what I’ve done in the past. Stuff like:

  • Save more
  • Meditate more
  • Eat more vegetables

Those sorts of goals just get boring after a while. Instead I have picked a theme for the year – a word I can hopefully reflect on through the year. I’m hoping it provides some inspiration and guidance as the months tick quickly by. Sound interesting? It’s not too late to pick a theme word of your own! Here are some ideas:

  • Quiet
  • Present (as in engaged and aware – not people need to give me more gifts (though that might be a good one too 😉 )
  • Genuine
  • Flourish
  • Joy
  • Particular

You get the idea. Happy New Year!

 

Are Work, School, Activities Getting In the Way of Your Life?

Is this what dinnertime looks like at your house? Yea, me neither…

I have a million good intentions at the start of each week:

  • I’m going to exercise
  • I’m going to meditate
  • I’m going to watch less TV
  • I’m going to cook fresh foods for every meal
  • I’m going to finally weed the garden
  • I’m going to clear out my email inbox

You know the drill: We all have the best intentions to live in calm, healthy ways. But then reality sets in and all the plans get blown up. I recently wrote an article about how to carve out time – at least a couple of times a week – to slow down and eat a meal with the ones you love. Here’s my favorite tip:

Want to read the entire article? Check it out:

Flying of Flying: There’s An App for That?

I was recently interviewed by the online publication, Mic. The writer let me know she had some questions about flying anxieties. I answered her questions, felt a little anxiety of my own (flying is NOT my fav), and then forgot about it. I recently read her completed article, and it kind of blew me away.

In the article, the writer describes using a new app aimed at helping folks manage their flying phobias and fears – in REAL time. As in, in the air. I was intrigued for several reasons:

  • I have some flying fears of my own
  • She used the app instead of the usual medications she needs to manage her anxieties
  • I think we are glimpsing the future of technology and health care

Here’s a bit about the app:

For the most part it seemed like the app was pretty cool, and actually helpful. Other than this:

Hmmm, that part didn’t sound so great. So, I had this to say:

So, not a perfect fix for flying fear, but a start anyway. Happy flying!

How To Eat Dinner As a Family…Without Yelling, Screaming or Crying

Does dinnertime at your house look like this?

Freedom from Want, Norman Rockwell,1943 oil on canvas, Norman Rockwell museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Or like this?

The Scream, 1893 by Edvard Munch

Few of us have the happy, healthy, technology-free family dinners we think we should have. In fact, many families almost never eat at the same table at the same time (let alone eat the same thing). I recently wrote an article over at Produce for Kids about where to start when you’ve never eaten as a family. The prospect can be daunting, so I tried to offer some simple strategies for sharing meals together – and have fun doing it. Check out the full article:

New Year…New You?

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Happy 2017!

I’m not a huge fan of New Years resolutions. But I do think that the start of the year can be a good time to reflect on where we’ve been – and where we’d like to go. We all know that losing weight and being more careful with money are top goals for many. But I think other, more introspective goals are more interesting, impactful and do-able.

Taking note of things like:

  • How you spend your time – and who you spend it with
  • The words you use when talking about yourself and others
  • The way you interact with technology and social media
  • The roles, obligations and jobs you have – and whether they are still a good fit

Considering these and other aspects of life takes a little time and energy – but I think it’s worth it!

I wrote an article over at Produce for Kids about how to make changes that last.  My favorite tip from the article?

Make personally-meaningful goals. We can’t all care about everything. It’s not realistic to expect ourselves to be: never-cheater eaters, marathon runners, ultra-savers, perfect parents, top-notch employees, garden club honorees, award-winning volunteers, Pinterest stars…you get the picture. Instead of trying to be everything everyone else tells you that you should be, focus on being what you want to be. Not only will your goals be more meaningful, you will be more likely to meet them.

Here’s the whole article:

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Money, Debt and Stress

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Remember several years ago when you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing tips about how to manage on a budget and deal with unemployment?  During the Great Recession, the media was full of articles about how to manage money stress, how to make a dollar stretch and how to plan the best stay-cation (was that even a word before the Great Recession?).

While I certainly don’t miss that period of time,  I do think all those tips and tricks can still be helpful.  I recently ran across this oldie-but-goody article I contributed to way back in 2009.  Here was one of my tips for managing lack-of-money stress:

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There are quite a few other tips in the (pretty long) article. Check out the whole thing here:

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Are there any money management tips and tricks you learned during the Great Recession that you’re still using?

How To Make Changes That Last

Ugh…changing our behavior is so hard.  Honestly I think it’s made even harder by all the voices telling us what to change and how to change.

Eat kale!

Turn off electronics!

Exercise!

Save your money!

Tidy your house!

Drive less!

All great tips, but how can we actually make changes to our lifestyles that last more than a couple of days?

I recently wrote an article over at Produce for Kids that discusses this very thing! My favorite tip?

Make personally-meaningful goals. We can’t all care about everything. It’s not realistic to expect ourselves to be: never-cheater eaters, marathon runners, ultra-savers, perfect parents, top-notch employees, garden club honorees, award-winning volunteers, Pinterest stars…you get the picture. Instead of trying to be everything everyone else tells you that you should be, focus on being what you want to be. Not only will your goals be more meaningful, you will be more likely to meet them.

Here’s the full article with all the life-changing tips included:

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How To Become A Morning Person

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I’m not a real Coloradoan.  I don’t like to ski (too expensive and cold) and I don’t like to camp (too uncomfortable).  So imagine my surprise when I got a call from Backpacker Magazine a few months ago to offer some tips for an article they were working on.  Here’s how the interview started out:

Writer: “What tips do you have for folks who struggle to get going in the morning while camping?”

Me: “Ummmm…stay home?”

Yes, that was my expert tip: Don’t go camping.

Luckily, I was able to pull myself together and offer some (I think) useful advice on how to make mornings a little easier after waking up on a mountain top.  And actually, I think these tips can be used in the comfort of your own (warm, clean, not scary) home as well.  Check it out:

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Here’s my favorite tip:

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I don’t know what a “bear bag” is, but other than that I think the tip is useful no matter where you are.  Happy trails, campers!

Hold the Judgment: An Easy Way To Improve Mental Health

Judging others: So easy, so entertaining, so widespread.  But sadly, also completely contradictory to good mental health.

The other day I did my own little experiment and noticed how many times in an hour I made a judgmental comment (in my head – I was on the treadmill) about either myself or others.  I lost count at 25. Yikes.  Now, I didn’t speak these judgments out loud, but they were there just the same.  Things like:

“Why did she choose that shirt, ick”

and

“She totally looks better than me!”

and

“Who chose this awful music on the loud speaker?”

Oh boy.

All those judgments flying every which way got me thinking: How does a judgmental attitude affect mental health?  Here are some thoughts:

Passing judgment (on ourselves and others) keeps us from being fully present in our lives.  Life is full of things to notice and be a part of.  If we spend the bulk of our time formulating judgments, what might we be missing? A quiet, peaceful hour on the treadmill? The joy of watching our kids play sports or act on stage? A entertaining conversation with a friend?

No one ever wins. Judging ourselves, judging others; comparing ourselves to others. All these things lead to the same end: a downward spiral to misery and disappointment.  When it comes to judgment – no one ever ends up feeling good.

Judging others can make us paranoid that others are judging us, too.  Judging others has the nasty side effect of making us feel that we, ourselves are being judged – even when we’re not.  As in: “What are the neighbors going to think when they see me driving this old, dented car?”  See? Not so good.

We all want to spend time with non-judgmental people.  Think about some of your favorite people to spend time with.  I’d be willing to bet that most of them steer clear of judging, or gossiping about others.  Sure, it’s fun for a minute, but this behind-the-back judgmental attitude has a pretty nasty aftertaste.  Supportive, interesting (and interested), funny friends are the ones that give us longer-lasting feelings of warmth and closeness.