THE GOOD LIFE BLOG
THE GOOD LIFE BLOG
YOUR LIFE IS RIGHT NOW, NOT SOMEWHERE IN THE FUTURE! START LIVING THE GOOD LIFE NOW!
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It's been a while now since I started on my own journey towards a better life. It wasn't bad to begin with, either, but I came to a point where I didn't feel good about where I was and what I was doing, and I knew I couldn't go on in the same way any longer. There had to be a change. I felt that I was running around in circles, trying to be the best possible mom, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, employee, friend (the list goes on!) - in short: I felt that I was trying so hard to be the best version of me that I could possibly be, but somehow that was never enough. What I was really doing was that I was trying so hard to meet the expectations I thought everybody else had of me, and I felt like a complete failure in all areas.
So after many years this way, I felt exhausted. I knew I couldn't go on living that way. But what could I do to change it?
I knew I had to get clarity around my situation, so I started doing what had always helped me before: I started writing things down. All the things that I felt wasn't working for me in my life, and also the things that did. I made a list of what I actually wanted, and I started thinking about how I could make them happen. What would I need to do? How could I live the life I truly wanted and be true to who I am? How could I live The Good Life?
I won't bore you with the details, but the result of my writing and the clarity I gained, meant making some tough decisions, which I'm happy to say that I managed to make eventually. And although it's been challenging at times, it's been worth it.
Long story short: I'm now living my life at a slow pace. I'm living what I feel is The Good Life for me. I'm taking time to do the things I love and really savor each moment. Because life is happening here and now and not somewhere in the future.
Happiness isn't something that will suddenly occur once you get that thing that you're hoping for, whether it's a new house, a more fulfilling job, that special someone to share your life with, or a whole lot of money. When you reach one goal, you'll probably set another, and that's how life is. But if you're not happy with where you're at right now, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get clarity around what it is that you really want, and then start doing something about that. Step by step.
I also believe that the key to getting all those things that you want, is to start appreciating what you already have.
Wanting more is natural, and having goals is a good thing. Just don't allow yourself to feel miserable because you don't have everything you want yet. You have so much going for you, and you're totally capable of getting all those things. It just might take some time, and you probably need to start focusing a bit more on what you really want, instead of constantly thinking about what you don't want or don't yet have.
Because that's what we often do, isn't it? We spend a lot of time thinking about the lack of things, and we worry too much about worst case scenarios. What might happen if we can't pay that bill, or what if we try this thing that we want to do, and then we fail... What if other people laugh at us for dreaming too big, or disrespect us for not seeing things through when we said we were going to do something ...?
And just like I did, you might also be running around in circles, trying to meet some expectations that you think other people have from you. And it makes you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and maybe even like a failure.
But you know what? F#"& all that! Because here's what I've experienced:
The more you focus on worrying and thinking about the things you don't want, the more you're actually drawing those things to you.
What you think is what you get.
It's really as simple as that.
And the more you put everyone else first and neglect your own needs, the less you have to give in the end.
Now you may think that this is just bullshit.
You might say: "But Else, you don't understand. I have such a lot of problems in my life, and it's not that easy. I have a lot of obligations. I can't just forget all about it and pretend they're not there."
Well, maybe not. And then again: Why not?
Because it takes the exact same amount of energy to focus on the good things as it does for you to focus on the bad.
Chew on that for a moment.
And those expectations that you think others have, might just be in your own head. In fact, they probably are! Most people have more than enough with keeping their own shit together, and don't think about you or what you should or should not do at all! Not because they don't care about you, but they don't EXPECT anything from you. Just think about it for a moment: Do YOU think a lot about other people and what they should or should not do? Do YOU have expectations from the people close to you? Probably not. You're probably too busy trying to meet the expectations you think THEY have!
So why not decide to focus all your energy on the things that are good in your life and on what you really, really want, instead of losing your happiness over stuff you can't really do anything about and that you're worrying about, and which in most cases (more than 80 %, actually) won't ever happen anyway?
All your worrying does for you, is take away the joy you should have today.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying you should be unrealistic. Some things in your life may need you to step up your game and take responsibility in order to change your situation. This could be a money situation or health issues that you need to address.
But - as Marie Forleo puts it: "Everything is figureoutable."
And when you start looking into things and decide to figure them out,
I'm 100 % certain that you will find a solution.
In fact, I'm going to suggest one thing for you now that can help you start figuring things out sooner than you would imagine possible, actually in as little as 5 days! Step by step, you'll find the clarity you need to start turning your life around for the better, and you'll be able to decide what you need to do next in order to get the life that you truly want. What YOU think is The Good Life.
So do something today that the future you will thank you for. Don't keep it off any longer! Decide that today is the day when you will start prioritizing yourself and your own happiness, and that you will start living NOW, and not in some distant future. Because if you don't take care of yourself first, you will not have anything to give to the people you love, either. But when you make sure you have a good life, your cup will flow over and everyone around you will benefit from it, too. I promise you!
And here's what you can do right now: Sign up for my 5 day-email course "Kick-start your new life in 5 days" and get started today! You won't regret it! And I'll be there to support you, every step of the way, so you're not alone. See you inside the course!
If you found this blog post useful, please feel free to share it with someone you think might like it, too, and also leave a comment below. I'd be really happy if you would follow my blog and maybe sign up for my newsletter to make sure you don't miss any new blog posts or updates.
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What you do on Sunday can determine the week ahead of you. If you spend your Sunday prepping for the following week, you can set yourself up for success. And it doesn’t need to take more than an hour.
Over the past few years, I have realised that the way I spend my Sunday greatly affects the rest of my week.
“Spend your Sunday wisely, and you’ll set yourself up for success in the upcoming week”.
But what does that mean, and isn’t Sundays for relaxing?
Yes, Sundays are for relaxing. But I find that if I spend all of Sunday relaxing, I feel unprepared for the week when I wake up on Monday.
And so, spending just one, maybe two hours out of the whole day, in order to prepare for the upcoming week is what helps me.
What to do, the breakdown
What you need to do to feel prepared for the week may differ from person to person. But I like to break it down in categories: making the house feel fresh and ready, going through papers and digital clutter, making a game plan, and making myself feel fresh and ready.
Making the house feel fresh and ready
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When preparing for the upcoming week, I like to start with the house. This is usually what is most time consuming and labour intensive, so I like getting it out of the way.
What I do depends on a few factors, but I always make sure to take the rubbish out and clean the kitchen. Which means, I’ll start by emptying and reloading the dishwasher and wash any dishes that needs washing by hand.
I then continue on to scrubbing the sink and wiping down the counters.
The rest depends on what needs doing. I might tidy up things that are out of order or fold and put away clean laundry. Because we all know laundry takes 4-5 days, right? 1 day to wash and dry and then 3-4 business days to get folded and put away, haha!
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By doing these little things, the house feels fresh and ready for the week.
Going through my papers and digital clutter
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Papers and digital clutter have a tendency of sneaking up on us. That’s why I like to spend a little time just going through them to see what I need to do with them.
Papers are easy enough, you know: checking my notes, checking if there is a bill that needs paying, is there any junk mail that I haven’t thrown out yet?
Cleaning up digital clutter may take a little bit longer, depending on how much there is, but I strongly recommend you take 10-15 minutes to go through it.
I like to go through the screenshots on my phone to note down what’s important and delete what’s not.
I also sort and delete e-mails and unsubscribe from newsletters. And I’m quite hard on newsletters, I unsubscribe from both the ones I don’t want, but also the ones I signed up for because I wanted them, but never end up reading.
Making a game plan
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After cleaning, tidying, and going through my papers, I sit down to make a game plan for the upcoming week. And when I do, I ask myself these questions:
- What are the chores I need to get done?
- Do I have any appointments I need to remember?
- What will I be making for dinner?
- Is there any particular workout I want to get done?
I plan these things out, because it takes the decision making out of the day-to-day. When I have written down what needs doing, I can spend my energy on different things.
Usually, I also try to not have any more than 3 items on my day-to-day to-do lists. Any more than that, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
I also prioritize the list, so I have one important task every day. The rest are “nice to do” if I have the time. If not, they can be done some other day.
Making myself feel fresh and ready
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As I touched upon earlier, Sundays are for resting. Which is an important part of feeling fresh and ready for the upcoming week.
It depends a bit on my mood, but on Sundays, I actually prefer having a quiet morning and mid-day, before doing the prep-tasks in the afternoon.
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Usually I prefer doing tasks and chores before relaxing, but there is something special about a quiet Sunday morning with a nice cup of tea or coffee.
After completing my prep-tasks in the afternoon, I like having a shower or a bath to relax, and spend the evening reading or watching a movie or a tv-show.
It may seem daunting, but do it anyways
Doing all of this may seem daunting, but it really doesn’t take as long as you think it will. I usually spend less than an hour on tidying, cleaning, sorting papers and planning.
And when everything is done, I get to relax more.
Spending ONE hour on Sunday preparing for the upcoming week, just makes everything run more smoothly.
I hope this article was of value to you! If so, I hope you'll follow my blog and also share the article with someone else who may be interested.
Are you especially stressed out right now because of the upcoming Christmas season? Check out my Christmas planners! They can make it easier for you to plan 1) Advent Calendar Gifts (maybe a bit late, but there's still time!), 2) What you are going to clean, 3) What you are going to bake, and 4) What you are going to give as Christmas presents this year. The planners are totally FREE! Just download and print them from this link, and you're good to go! They're my present for you!
HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT THE HEALTHY WAY
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For the last decade or two I've been struggling with overweight. It's been frustrating, and even depressing at times, because I've felt that the person looking back at me in the mirror has been kind of a stranger. It's not been me. Not the real me. Because I've always been lean and strong and fit, and that just hasn't been the case for the last 10-20 years. My overweight hasn't been extreme, but it's definitly not been healty.
Sometimes I've wondered "What the heck happened!?" - and I've tried everything to get back in shape, - but I actually do know what happened: It's been health issues that have prevented me from being active the way I used to, and stress and worries around that have just added to the equation. I've been struggling with fatigue, and also dizziness, and this has made it hard for me to exercise the way I used to. I've also had a few periods where I've been through some difficult times emotionally concerning other areas of my life, and this has also added to the stress, - and it's actually been scientifically proved that stress has a tendency to add to the weight gain, especially around the waist.
I haven't really been obese, but I'm not so tall (I'm 163 cm), so going from being a person who never weighed over 60 kilos up until the age of 40, to then gaining almost 20 kilos extra over a very short time, - was definitly not good for me. I didn't really notice it at first, but going from always having been an active person to suddenly - almost over-night - not being able to do much exercise due to (among other things) fatigue and dizziness (caused by a blow to the head which resulted in Post Concussion Syndrome) - it soon got me into a state of overweight and a negative development healthwise. My BMI (Body Mass Index) has been around 28 (the BMI of obesity is around 30), so I've not been happy with the situation. (You can read more about BMI and obesity on WHO's website.)
I don't want to get too scientific in this article, because my main focus is going to be on what you can actually DO to lose weight in a healthy way, and which is the way I myself am slowly but steadily getting back into shape now. Let's just look at a few facts first to get this topic into perspective and why I find it so important to address it:
According to WHO (World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. Let's look at some key facts published on WHO's official website - and I quote:
Until now, obesity continues to be a serious problem and is predicted to reach epidemic levels within a short period of time.
And here's the thing, and the reason why I decided to write an article on this, for you and me both:
One way to prevent this scenario is to make people aware of the risks of being overweight or obese.
So education on this topic is very important, and I've decided to get as much knowledge about it as possible, because I want to help myself and other people to heal from overweight and obesity and get our health - and our lives! - back.
Not to scare you, but here are some diseases that you are putting yourself in risk of if you are carrying a lot of extra pounds:
1. heart disease
Losing weight helps to prevent and control these diseases.
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Let me just make it clear right away:
The quick weight loss methods which have spread like fire these days do not provide lasting results. More often than not, dieting methods which involve dietary drinks, foods and supplements or pills do not work. If they do, the results are just temporary. It is better to rely on a healthy weight loss option which will provide lifetime results. You have to set realistic goals and not expect to lose a lot of pounds in a short span of time.
Here are some tips on how you can lose those unwanted pounds the healthy way:
1. Do not starve yourself.
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The key to a healthier way of losing weight is: Do not diet. You may seem happy and feel that you are losing those unwanted flabs on your belly and thighs by skipping meals. But remember that this would not last long. Your body cannot tolerate having insufficient food to fuel the energy that you use up everyday.
If you get used to skipping one or two meals a day, your stored calories will be used up instead of the energy that should have been provided by your meals. So if you
just eat one huge sandwich in one day, it will end up straight to your problem area (i.e. thighs, buttocks, hips).
2. Start your day right.
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Mothers always say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Have a healthy meal in the morning to jump-start your metabolism.
Your food intake after you wake up will be used to burn fat all day long.
3. Eat small, healthy meals frequently.
Five small-serving snacks per day is better than three hearty meals. Eating more frequently, and in small servings, can prevent overeating. This will also increase your metabolism and make calories burn faster.
4. Decide on how much weight you want to lose.
Keep your goals realistic. In the long run, it is virtually impossible for you to lose 40 pounds in 2 weeks. Have a mindset that you want to eat healthy to stay healthy for the rest of your life. Once you have decided on a weight loss plan or program, stick to it and make sure that you follow your own set of dieting rules.
5. Drink lots of water.
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Your body needs sufficient water to burn fat and keep your cells hydrated and healthy.
6. Avoid too much sugar.
Plan your meals around lots of fruits and vegetables, some bread, rice or pasta for that carbo fix that you need, plus lean meat and protein-rich foods.
Sweets, sodas and pastries should be once-in-a-while indulgences only.
7. Watch your fat intake.
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Fat is not the culprit to being overweight. You need this to keep your weight at the proper level.
There is such a thing as healthy fats. Olive, peanuts and canola oil have them. Tuna, salmon and mackerel have omega-3 fats which is good for the heart.
Leave your car if you are only going a few blocks from home, take the stairs instead of the elevator, jog, cycle or skate. Use these activities and other home chores if you are too lazy to go to the gym and take exercise classes. Make sure that you do this regularly and you will not even notice that you are already shedding pounds with these mundane activities. It does not matter how much weight you plan or need to lose. What is important is
that you set realistic goals for yourself.
Go slow. If you have already lost 5 or 6 pounds, give yourself a break then try to lose the next 5 pounds.
Eat healthy, drink lots of water, have enough sleep and exercise. This will give you a higher chance of losing weight and improving your health, which would result in a new, healthier you.
I also suggest that you take advantage of my other FREE resource on this matter, which is my brand new Year of Activity Calendar 2022. Each month has a beautiful and inspiring picture of people doing some kind of activity and tips on what you could try that month. It's downloadable and printable and completely FREE! Get it now!
I hope you have found this article to be of value to you. If so, please feel free to share it with others and also follow my blog.
Other articles you might like: 12 Ways You Can Get Chic And Fit Like A French Woman Without Even Breaking A Sweat, 8 Reasons Why The French Don't Diet, And Why You Don't Have To Either, and How To Put Togehter A Meal Plan And Eat Your Stress Away
FRENCHIFY YOUR HOUSE CLEANING
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Do you find cleaning your house a drag?
You're not alone! But we all know that a certain amount of cleaning is necessary to keep our home a healthy place, so it just needs to be done, doesn't it?
But how can you stop feeling so bad about that particular side of homekeeping? My answer is:
Do like the French!
I must confess: I have never liked scrubbing floors, toilets etc., or handling garbage. Some people quite enjoy it. I don't. I kind of like doing the dishes - that's more therapeutic and gives room for reflection, the way I see it - but the other stuff ... well, I used to find that more of a drag. That is: Until I learned how the French do it. Oh happy day! It was a revelation! It took away the stress of it for me, and I feel that it's my pleasurable duty to share it with you so you can finally be a peace with it, too. From this day forward you'll suffer from no more "cleaningfobia" (I don't even know if that's a word, but if it is, I've had it...)!
Here are the 3 simple rules I have learned from the French when it comes to keeping the house clean:
#1: The French don't look upon cleaning as another chore
The word "chore" implies that there is work to be done, right? And more work often means more stress, more obligations, and we don't want that. We want to have a good time, enjoy our house and spend our time doing the things we love.
Well, to the French, keeping a house nice for your family is to "faire le ménage", which can be translated with "make the household", and they see it as just part of the little things you do every day to keep the surroundings nice and enjoyable for all. It's included in the other little daily routines and not really a chore of its own. This mentality takes the stress out of it, I think, and here's another reason why:
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#2: The French keep it simple
The French usually don't have one whole day set aside for cleaning every week. Instead, they do the cleaning and tidying as they go along, like making the bed as soon as they have aired it in the morning, hanging clothes into the closet instead of letting them lie around, putting a book back on the shelf when they've finished reading it, putting the dishes in the dishwasher when they've finished a meal - you get the picture.
The French also don't have the same fixation about disinfecting all surfaces like many other Western nations do, but they like to keep things streamlined and organised. They might also sweep the floor with a broom instead of dragging the hoover out every time the floor needs a bit of cleaning up.
#3: The French don't clutter
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The French generally go for quality over quantity in all things, whether it's their wardrobe or their home, which means they have less things that need cleaning and dusting. A good excuse for doing some decluttering, I'd say! Besides, it's been scientifically proven that clutter is a cause for low-anxiety disorder, so there's also a medical reason for getting rid of some clutter in your home.
So if you have lots of children's toys lying around, piles of papers and books everywhere, an unmade bed, or anything else that is like an eye-sore to you in your home, I suggest that you start with assigning everything its own place and start putting them back where they belong after each time you've used them. A little bit of tidying "on the go" is so much better than having to spend hours clearing everything up once a week or so.
You might also want to consider sweeping your floors with a broom on a regular basis, rather than dragging the hoover out every time they need a bit of cleaning up. This is especially recommendable if you have wooden floors or other smooth surfaces that can easily be swept instead of hoovered or washed every time.
These habits are straightforward and easy to implement, and they'll save you time in the long run to do more fun things in your life. I suggest that you start doing this little by little and work it into your daily routines. It's far less time consuming than you'd think, and you could be on your way to a cleaner and more "chic" home in no time at all.
When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional ‘comfort’ foods like big meals, take-away, fatty foods, sweet foods, and alcohol. I'm sure we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset. This isn’t a good permanent solution, though.
If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.
To ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems, filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of the diet is the best way. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties which help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.
Some of the best stress-fighting foods include:
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Avocado is a creamy and versatile fruit which can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings and dips, or in a smoothie. This nutrient-dense fruit have the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to its high glutathione content which specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as it is high in fat.
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Swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially antho-cyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress.
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Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you're feeling. Drinking liquids which are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
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Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can have a chocolate bar every time you're stressed out. Chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Dark chocolate in particular is best for you, as it contains more flavonols and polyphenols, which are two hugely important antioxidants that can help combat stress more than many fruit juices.
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Grass-fed beef is not only kinder to the planet and to animals, it’s also good for people, too. Grass-fed beef has a huge range of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and Vitamins C and E, which can help your body fight stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for more reasons to spend a little more money on organic, grass-fed beef, it’s also lower in fat than grain-fed beef whilst being higher in omega-3.
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Oatmeal is great in that it can be a filling comfort food, but it also has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. As it is a complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal causes your brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, helping you to feel calmer and less stressed.
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If you’re looking for a healthy snacking option thatwill help you to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. They have a sweet, pleasant flavor, and they can be a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a desert. Walnuts are also great for salads, or you can include them in a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake.
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Pistachios is another food which is great for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term. Studies have found that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. The rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually also be quite therapeutic. :)
Leafy green vegetables
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Leafy, green vegetables should be an important part of any diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants which help to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized.
Dark leafy greens, for example spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall.
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Last but not least, eating fermented foods such as yogurt can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually in turn will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The beneficial bacteria which are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, actually have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.
Putting together your meal plan
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Planning your meals wisely is key to not only staying physically fit and healthy, but also to staying mentally strong and being able to best manage your levels of stress. Knowing which foods to avoid and which are the best to reach for to snack on when you’re feeling worried and anxious is important to helping you get control over your emotions and fears.
Having stress-busting snacks such as fresh berries, dark chocolate, yogurt, walnuts or pistachios, or even a fruit smoothie with avocado and leafy greens in it, can help you to feel better in both the short and long term when it comes to stress. The most important thing is to make sure that for the most part, you're eating a diet that is healthy and balanced.
To stay on track, it’s a good idea to make a meal plan for your week. Plan ahead to make sure that you have a good selection of these stress-busting foods in your kitchen, so you can make meals and snacks from them when you’re feeling like stress-eating. Making sure that the majority of your meals include foods such as lean proteins and leafy green vegetables will not only make you feel healthier overall, but can improve your mental health and stress levels, too.
A good example of a healthy, stress-busting menu could be:
Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries or a fruit smoothie with avocado and berries.
Mid-morning snack: Natural yogurt with fruit or a handful of pistachio nuts.
Lunch: A whole-grain pasta salad filled with plenty of leafy greens.
Afternoon snack: Dark chocolate.
Dinner: Grass-fed beef with vegetables.
Before bed: Chamomile tea.
This was just an exampel of a menu, to give you a good idea.
Remember to exercise good portion control when eating foods such as nuts, chocolate, yogurt or avocado! As the saying goes, you are what you eat – so make sure that first and foremost, you’re filling yourself up with foods which are good for your mental health.
I hope this article was of value to you. I'll be writing more about health and nutrion on a regular basis, so if this is something you're interested in, I hope you'll like and follow my blog. Feel free to share it with someone else who might like it, too.
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Every year I hear many people complain about how stressed out they feel before Christmas. Even though most people enjoy the holiday itself, many of us seem to stress around to get everything prepared in time. So, today I want to talk to you about how you can make your December stress free.
1. PLAN AHEAD OF TIME
I know we’re only in November, but time flies, and December is just around the corner. I know there are always lots of things we want to do, and feel like we have to do before Christmas arrives, and I think the best way we can tackle this is by planning.
That’s all well and good, but what should you plan?
I suggest sitting down with a nice hot beverage, and make a list. What is it that you need to get done? I have some suggestions for common things, so let’s look at the categories together:
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Cleaning your house or apartment
If you live in an apartment you’re kind of lucky – there are fewer spaces for you to clean. But if you have a house, there is more to do. I know my ex mother in law would clean the walls and ceilings for Christmas, but unless you feel it is really necessary to do this, I suggest you skip it!
However, there are a few cleaning tasks you probably want to do: cleaning the windows, vacuuming and washing the floors, washing the bathroom and dusting.
You might feel stressed out about all the cleaning you need to do before Christmas, but realize this: you most likely have a regular schedule for most of these tasks. The only extra activity is cleaning the windows, which you probably do a little less often. And maybe washing the floors, which you might do less frequently than vacuuming.
To make it easy for you to plan your cleaning, get my FREE downloadable list!
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So, sit down and check your calendar: When is Christmas this year? I mean: What day does it fall on? If you have a regular cleaning schedule where you vacuum, do the dusting and wash your bathroom on a Friday and Christmas falls on a Thursday, you simply follow your normal routine up until the week of Christmas. So you’ll do your regular cleaning the Friday before, then again on Wednesday, right before Christmas.
Then you wash your floors on that same Wednesday. As for the windows, I suggest washing them one or two weeks before Christmas.
Plan your baking & cooking
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The next point of planning I want to talk about is baking and cooking. Do you have a habit of making cookies for Christmas? Or do you have any special meals you like to cook? Well, plan it ahead of time.
I've made it easy for you by creating this FREE downloadable and printable Christmas baking plan.
In Norway we have a tradition that says you should bake 7 different sorts of Christmas cookies. And that’s a lot of baking if you’re going to follow tradition. With our modern lives it may be hard to fit this in between everything else that’s going on.
So, before December knocks on our door, I like to plan when I’m going to bake my cookies. Sometimes I like to make several types of cookies in one day, to reduce the number of baking days. But then I always make sure that if one cookie is particularly laborious to make, the other ones are easy to make.
On Christmas we also like to serve traditional food for our lunch and dinners. These meals often take a lot of time to prepare, and there may be several operations happening in the kitchen at the same time. To reduce the amount of stress, I like to see if there is anything I can make ahead of time and just reheat it when the day arrives.
With a lot of dishes, they even taste better when they’re reheated!
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One thing that comes to mind is gravy, but many desserts can also be made ahead of time and frozen.
Plan your Gifts
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We all love gifts, don’t we? But at Christmas, you often have so many people you need to think of that it becomes stressful to find a gift for everyone. So, start now, and make a list of everyone you plan to give a gift. This takes away the stress of being afraid you’ve forgotten someone. You're more than welcome to use my FREE downloadable list if you want to.
When you’ve made your list, start looking for gifts. Some people are easy to give gifts to, but if you’re uncertain of what to give, ask people what they want (or need)! And, for people who have everything they need and then some, you can give edible gifts. Some chocolate or a bottle of wine (if they drink alcohol) is always appreciated, as it is a gift they can use.
I know this next idea is a little late to do it this year, but I know people who start buying gifts in January! Talk about being ahead of the game! But I guess it’s because a lot of things are on sale in January, so you could save a lot of money if you buy most of your Christmas presents then. However, I would only do this if I absolutely KNOW that this is a gift that the person will like a year from now.
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If you want ALL my FREE downloadable Christmas planners, you can get them in one bundle here.
2. REDUCE WHAT YOU'RE COMMITTING TO DO
As always with intentional living, I should mention that to make your December stress free, you might want to reduce the amount of things you’re doing.
Don’t overdo the cleaning
For some reason we have this feeling that we have to clean in excessive amounts before Christmas, even though most of us have regular cleaning schedules we follow throughout the year that are more than enough to keep our homes clean and tidy. But for some odd reason a lot of us feel a need to clean in bizarre places before Christmas, like the bottom of the drawers in our dressers... I mean ... come on! It doesn’t hurt if people understand that we actually sit, breathe and live in our houses! There’s no need to exaggerate!
So: If you feel stressed out about cleaning, reduce what you clean. As I mentioned, I don’t see the point in washing my walls and ceiling, so I don’t do that. And no one dies if there’s a little dust in a corner. Really, I promise it will be fine!
Keeping to your normal cleaning routine can help make your December stress free.
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Keep the baking to what you will actually eat
Another thing you can reduce is the amount of cooking and baking you’re doing.
Is there a cookie you make every Christmas that no one really eats? Or is it simply too many cookies to manage eating them all before they go stale?
Well, reduce the amount!
As I mentioned, there is a tradition of baking 7 different types of cookies for Christmas in Norway. But for the most of us, it’ll be too many to consume (and to have time to bake them all).
I know that even though I like baking, some years it’s only achievable to bake maybe 2 or 3 types of Christmas cookies. And that’s fine! Christmas will come anyways. And when I understand that I will only have time to bake a certain amount, I prioritize what I bake. So I only bake our favorites.
If you absolutely want a certain kind of cookie but don’t have the time to bake, there are a few options:
One option is to buy the cookies you want. Most stores sell the classics, so you can get your hands on them without baking.
Another alternative is to arrange a cookie-swap with friends and family. If you only have time to bake 1 type of cookie but have 4 friends or family members who are also baking, you can arrange for everyone to bake something different and swap. So, you’ll have 5 types of cookies from the effort of making 1!
Another tip (as mentioned above) is to reduce the recipe, so you have a more manageable amount to eat.
Gifts and advent calendars
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As much as we all love gifts, we also appreciate good food and good company. And we could all do well to focus more on that.
Not only do most people have what they need, it’s also better for the environment to reduce the amount of stuff we give each other.
So rather than stressing about finding physical gifts for people, gift them time. This time could be something you do for them (like cleaning, baking or helping them with something) or an activity they can do (or that you can do together).
I also know that a lot of parents (myself included) love making advent calendars for their children. However, a lot of the time these calendars are filled with trinkets that are fun right there and then but are soon forgotten about or broken. It can also be a bit stressful to go around finding 24 (or 25) little gifts and wrap them all.
I prefer filling the advent calendar with a combination of things they need (like socks, notebooks etc), some candy (but not every day!), and then things like face masks, nail polish and other beauty products (for my girl), Christmas decorations for their room, snack bars, small candles, etc.
You're welcome to use this downloadable FREE Advent Calendar Gift Plan if you want to!
Alternative advent calendars:
-A Christmas book: find a book with 24 (or 25) chapters, so that they can read a chapter a day (or you can read to them before bed). This shifts the focus towards spending more time together.
-Reversed advent calendar: with this one, your child gets a packet of 24 (or 25) bows or ribbons at the first day of December. The bows will be used to mark a toy or a piece of clothing they no longer use, and can part with. Mark one item every day. Collect the toys and clothes and donate them so they can go to someone in need.
For younger children you can tell them that the toys are taken to the North pole so Santa can “fix them up” and give them to other children. In return, Santa will bring some new toys for them for Christmas (make sure to not promise that Santa will replace everything they give away, though!)
For older children it’s nice to explain that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. It’s nice for them to learn about the joy of giving, and most children who are old enough to understand will be happy to be able to help someone else.
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-Activity calendar: instead of getting things in their calendar every day, you can give them an activity each day. This may sound like a lot of effort, but this can be activities you’ve already planned for, and activities that don’t take too long to do. For example: you can wrap a cookie cutter for the day when you’ve planned baking cookies. Another gift can be hot chocolate after dinner, a round of cards or staying up 15 minutes longer to read an extra story at bedtime. Your imagination is the limit!
3. MAKE YOUR OWN TRADITIONS
I find that stress is often caused by things we’ve committed to do, but don’t really want to do. In order to make December stress free, I want to suggest to you that you make your own traditions.
You might think this is counterproductive, adding more things to what you do, but hear me out.
What I mean, is that sometimes we follow traditions simply because they’re traditions and because that’s how we’ve always done things.
I’m here to tell you that if there are traditions that you have, that you are committed to only because they’re traditions, it’s okay to cut them out.
For example: If you don’t enjoy participating in the "Secret Santa" tradition at work because you find it stressful to try and find a gift for a colleague that you might not even know very well, it’s okay to opt out of it.
You can make your own traditions
Instead of following old traditions that don’t suit your lifestyle and don’t mean much to you, create your own. Maybe instead of exchanging gifts with your friends you want to arrange an informal lunch at your house? (You could even order the food!)
Or maybe there are things that you want to add to your routine to slow down? Some activities can release stress even if they’re an addition to what you usually do. Spending time with your loved ones is one of such activities.
Or maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to do before Christmas that you never got around to? Maybe there's a certain Christmas movie you want to watch, or maybe you want to go to the ballet to see the Nutcracker performed.
Or maybe you just want to do something simple to add more “hygge”, like lighting a candle every night while you drink a cup of tea, or get up 15 minutes earlier each morning to take a little extra time with your breakfast.
These are all things you can do to make December stress free for yourself.
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I hope this article has inspired you to really think about what you spend your time and money on this December, and hope the things I’ve covered are things that are really meaningful to YOU. If not, it’s okay to cut something out and add something else in order to make YOUR December stress free.
And remember: My FREE downloadable and printable Christmas planners can make it even easier for you, so I suggest you get them right now!
PUT YOURSELF FIRST
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Taking care of yourself is essential to living the best life possible. And it's not just about the physical body, but also your inner being, or your soul, if you like. How you feel mentally has a huge impact on how you feel physically. And that's not just something I'm saying. It's been scientifically proven.
Stress in all forms and shapes affects our body. That's something I've experienced personally. I've been fighting a silent battle with PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome) for almost 20 years (you can read all about that in an article I've written). Stress is something I should avoid at all cost, but I haven't always managed to keep it away from my life.
But I've learned a lot over the last decade or so, and I've found techniques that have helped me live a better life in so many ways. Not only with PCS, but I've also gained wisdom that have made me look at life itself in a different way than before.
Like I said at the beginning, health and wellbeing is about more than the physical body, but physical activity does definitly also have an effect on your mental health. They're mutually important. Actually, I don't think you can have one without the other.
One year ago, I often woke up feeling completely exhausted, even after a whole night's sleep. So I tried not to have too many plans for the day, but take things more as they came.
My one determination, though, was to do my Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge routine. I had come across it on the internet, and ordered the program because yoga seemed to be a form of exercise that I would be able to do even though I had some health issues. So I started doing it every second day.
(I wrote an article about this back in May 2019. The article is called Why I Love To Do Yoga As Exercise, Even When I Have Zero Motivation, and is about my experience with The Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge, a great program created by Zoe Bray-Cotton. Please note that the link to the program is my personal affiliate link, so I may earn a small commission if you sign up for the program through my link, but at no extra cost to you, of course.)
In my first week, I found it invigorating and not too hard to commit to, so I actually believed that this was something I was going to stick with. (Unlike any other work-out or exercise routine that I'd tried in the past.)
The Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge is a 12 weeks' program, and I seriously thought I'd be able to see it through. The benefits were obvious: Better over-all physical condition, better health, better ME!
Hopefully, I'd even lose some weight and get a more toned, lean and strong body, which was very high up on my list of short- (and long-) term goals, and still is.
It was something I definitely considered to be a part of my Freedom Journey, because to me, freedom is also feeling free in my body. Feeling comfortable in my own skin. Even though I know my body is quite satisfactory the way it is, I still have a strong desire to lose some weight and get a leaner and stronger body, like the one I used to have before. Simply because the way I am now, doesn't feel like me.
I was always lean and strong in my younger days, even after 2 child-births, - but then 20 years ago I had an accident. I got a head injury which then caused PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome) as I mentioned at the beginning of this article. It set me back physically and got me into a downward spiral with less exercise and gain of weight.
When I slowly started to come back to normal, I decided to try and find some kind of exercise that I could do. It wasn't easy, though.
I tried jogging for a while, and I'd always liked running, so I was very motivated when I soon experienced some positive results. But I did my jogging mainly in the streets, on hard surfaces, and this eventually took a toll on my knees, so I had to stop.
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Then I tried following a work-out program with Jillian Michaels, the "30 Day Shred" program, and I really enjoyed that and quickly saw results. To this day, I actually do parts of that program now and then, but not on a consistent basis.
Then I tried the Yoga Burn Total Body Challenge, which I actually followed for quite a long time ... and then I quit that, too. But mind you: That had nothing to do with the program itself, because to this day I truly believe that it's a great program and that anybody who is able to stick with it, will benefit from it!
Problems with following routines
That's just been the story of my life ever since I gained weight. I've had a tendency to fall back into old habits after a few weeks and haven't been able to stick to any program long-term. As much as I enjoy them - and I do, really! - I just can't seem to stick with them.
This has frustrated me immensly and has made me mad at myself more often than I care to think about. Why the heck has it been so hard for me to follow through?
I've been thinking about this a lot, and my conclusion is that I'm just the kind of person who doesn't like to follow routines. I need variation, and I need exercising to not feel like an obligation or some extra task that I have to fit into my schedule. I need it to come naturally.
That's why the solution for me has been to not follow one specific program or routine, but go back to the lifestyle I had when I was in my twenties, which was the French lifestyle.
I've always been a Francophile, and when I was in my teens and early twenties, I was highly influenced by my French friend, whom I met when I was 14 years old. After watching her and her mom and the way they lived, and also visiting France and really get a first-hand experience with the French lifestyle, - I started following the same routines when I came back home. (I've written an article about this before: Why I swear by the French lifestyle.)
Just to recap a little: Back then, I was physically active all the time, without even thinking about it. I had fun with friends. I ate everything I wanted to without putting on weight. I enjoyed food. I walked a lot, played with my young nieces and nephews, played badminton with family and friends in the summer, and I went everywhere on my bike, because I didn't have a car (or even a driving licence) at the time.
I was lean, strong and fit. Life was more or less stress-free. I had no heavy responsibilities in my life. Well, I had my concerns, but they were mostly manageable. I had a good life, most of the time.
But then things started to happen, and everything changed, slowly but surely. I eventually found myself in a situation where keeping up my former lifestyle became more and more difficult. So much so that over the years, I slowly fell into habits that were not at all healthy for me, and it became more and more difficult to turn things around.
I've written at length about that in earlier articles, so I won't repeat any of that here. Let me just say that after a few decades where I've been struggling with PCS (Post Concussion Syndrome) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which lead to less physical activity and resulted in me putting on weight and slowly experiencing more and more health issues because of that, - well, it's fair to say that I've learned a lot about the connection between mental and physical health.
Well, I've known for many years now that I had to reverse this situation, and I've tried so many things in order to do just that, - like some of the activities I've mentioned above. But the results have not been significant enough to really change my life for the better. I mean: The results haven't been visible. At least not as visible as I'd like them to be. Mainly because I haven't been able to stick with the routines.
That's why I've returned to the French lifestyle, and now, very slowly, I'm beginning to see results. I've lost a few pounds and a few inches around my waist, and - best of all: I'm feeling less stressed out.
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So what have I done?
# 1) I've gone back to incorporating exercise into my daily routines, rather than making it an extra task that I have to do, which (as mentioned above) I've never been able to stick to for more than a few weeks at the most.
# 2) I do follow some of the programs I mentioned now and then, because I really love them, and they're perfect for the kind of variation I need in my life to keep things from getting boring, - but I no longer beat myself up about not being able to stick with one program over many weeks.
# 3) I've started to enjoy my meals more, to sit down and eat and not just grab a bite "on the go".
# 4) I eat smaller portions and stop when I'm full, instead of over-eating.
# 5) I try to get enough sleep.
# 6) I drink more water.
# 7) I make sure that I take time to do things that I enjoy, like reading,
watching a movie, spend quality time with family and friends.
# 8) I listen to motivational podcasts, talk nicely to myself and remind myself that I'm good enough just the way I am.
# 9) I take time to think about the things I'm grateful for in my life.
# 10) I try to savor each moment and not constantly rush to some new thing on my "to do" list.
# 11) In fact, I try not to have a long "to do list"! Just a few things each day that I want to get done.
# 12) I have (more or less) stopped being a people-pleaser and have started
making ME a priority.
# 13) I have started to declutter my life, physically and mentally, and make more room for the things I really want.
Less attachement to things.
Less house-work and constant tidying up, which means less on my "to do" list.
More purpose to my days.
Visible (positive) changes to my body (mostly to myself so far, but I know others will notice them, too, in a little while).
The list goes on.
This has been transformational for me in so many ways.
That's why I'm on a mission to share my experiences with the French lifestyle with as many women as possible.
That's why I want to impress on you the importance of taking care of yourself first, before taking care of everyone else.
Taking care of your health is so important. And your mental health is actually the most important thing, because it will have a direct influence on your physical health as well.
So tell yourself that you are enough.
Tell yourself that you are just as important as anybody else in your life, and that you need to put YOU time on your schedule and not just make everybody else's "needs" a priority.
Tell yourself that your dreams are important.
Tell yourself that there is nothing you can't do, be or have.
Tell yourself that there's nothing you have to do. You have a choice, every single minute of every day. Do what's important to you, right there and then.
And do things that make you happy. Every single day.
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WHY BEING A PEOPLE-PLEASER PREVENTS YOU FROM LIVING THE GOOD LIFE THAT YOU cOULD HAVE HAD
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Have you ever watched the movie "Runaway Bride" with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? Well, I have, and I just love that movie!
There are several reasons for why I love it so much: I love Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, I love romantic comedies, and I love that there's always something to learn from the story.
In this particular movie, I learned the importance of knowing what you want. I learned that it's important to do things because you love doing them, and not just because you want to please someone else or avoid hurting their feelings.
Still, that's very often what we end up doing: We do certain things because we don't want to look bad in someone else's eyes, even if we hate doing it or at least don't really enjoy it. Maybe you can relate?
Maybe you agree to go on a hike in the mountains even when you don't feel like it. Maybe you say yes to helping people out every time they ask, even if they never do things for you in return. Maybe you always let your friends choose the movie, even if their taste in films is very different from yours. But you never say anything because you don’t want any drama or conflict.
Being a people-pleaser
If this sounds like you, you should stop that. Seriously. It will make you ill.
"But what if the other person gets offended or hurt if I refuse to oblige them on things that are important to them? Shouldn't I just sacrifice my own needs to make that other person feel good?" you might ask.
Well, I'm not saying that there aren't occasions where we should absolutely do that. If someone is having a difficult time, maybe you can help them by putting your own feelings aside for a little while.
And sometimes we all have to compromise. But what I’m talking about is not that. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t always do that. You can’t always do what everyone else wants you to do.
We're not doing anybody any favor by being totally self-effacing. Not in the long run. We're definitly not doing ourselves any favor by it, and - believe it or not: We're actually just as important as any other person!
You see: I have first-hand experience with this. I used to be like that. More often than not, I felt that I had to say yes to things when I really wanted to say no, and it didn't make me feel happy. In the long run, I will go so far as to claim that it actually made me ill. At least it definitly wasn't healthy.
My point is: you’re not helping anyone by being a people-pleaser.
“I would never end up like this …”
Take Maggie Carpenter in the movie "Runaway Bride": She was so eager to please her boyfriend and "be a good sport", that she was willing to go along with any of his plans, whether it was leisure activities, what they should eat for dinner, - or whatever - even if she didn't really like the things he suggested.
It wasn't until her wedding day that she realized that this wasn't what she really wanted, and ended up leaving the groom at the altar - three times.
Of course, this is the extreme version of people-pleasing. You and I probably wouldn't take it that far before realizing that a relationship or a situation isn't right for us, and that we have to take our own true feelings into consideration .... Or would we??
Let me give you some examples of how I became a people-pleaser, and see if you can relate:
How do we end up as people-pleasers?
I don’t know what your childhood was like, or what you’ve experienced in life. But I grew up in the 1960s and '70s in a small town, in a Christian family. My parents were the best parents you could wish for, but they were very religious and brought me up according to their beliefs.
Because of when and where I grew up, and my family's religious beliefs, there were a lot of activities I felt I couldn’t participate in. It wasn't what was "proper".
Because I didn't want to stir up emotions or create conflict and drama, I ended up just trying to please my parents and my peers and not pursue other interests. I kept it all inside, but I felt bad about it and thought that I was probably not a "good Christian".
I felt that I should try my best to make my parents happy and just do what I thought they'd approve of. So that's what I did. I became a people-pleaser.
In addition, I’ve always hated conflict.
Ever since I was a little girl, I've had a highly developed conscience and I was always in complete agony if I did anything I shouldn't or had even the most innocent argument with my best friend.
If we had words and fell out, I would torment myself for hours with guilt, and could be seen paving the street back and forth outside my friend's house until her father told her to go outside and put me out of my misery and become friends with me again.
She told me this just recently, and I just had to laugh when I heard it, because it was quite typical for how I was back then. I never knew, though, that her father could read me so accuratly and actually told her to go out and talk to me.
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So with me hating conflict and not wanting to disappoint my parents, I did a lot of people pleasing.
Not just as a child, but as an adult too
And I was like this for many, many years, even after becoming an adult.
Even when I was in my late twenties I felt guilty if I did something I thought my parents wouldn't approve of if they had known, like drinking wine or going to the movies. It was crazy!
I understood that I had to change this, because I couldn't go on living my life just to please others, - or be restricted in what I could do or not do because of some misunderstood obligation to my family or religion or someone else.
Because it was misunderstood. Nobody expected or wanted me to behave like that. It was just the little girl in me, the one who didn't want to upset or hurt anyone, that sort of sat on my shoulder and whispered in my ears all the time.
Just like Maggie Carpenter in "Runaway Bride" I had to address each issue and find out what MY opinion was. Did I think that drinking wine was a sin? No! It might not be good for me to consume large amounts of alcohol, but then I never did, so what was the problem? I decided that I liked red wine, and that it was perfectly OK for me to drink some as long as I felt that I was in control.
And did I think that going to a movie theater was a sin? No! I love watching movies, and there are so many good ones out there!
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How always putting everyone else first is self-effacing
Little by little, I started to get out of that destructive pattern of always considering what others would think before I said or did something. I had to work hard on myself to not feel guilty about following my own heart, but I gradually got better and better at it.
But I guess it had been a part of my life for so many years and sort of had become second nature to me, that getting rid of this behavior completely was really, really hard for me. It actually went on for many, many years, - decades, actually. Even after I got married and had kids.
I just didn't feel good about drama and conflict, so I tried to avoid it by being "nice" and put an end to any discussion or bad feelings.
But over the years, it made me feel resentful towards some of the people closest to me, because this pattern of behavior told them that I would accept things if they just stood their ground, so this happened again and again.
I said yes to doing them favors or go along with whatever they wanted to do, even when I'd rather do something else. And they didn't consciously try to manipulate me, either, - they just had more confidence and didn't have any problem with doing what they wanted to do, so that's what they did, and I accepted it.
Over the years, this made me feel more and more bad about myself and my life, and - like I said - it made me feel resentful towards some of the people close to me, because I felt that things mostly went their way and not mine, and that I was somehow being manipulated, even though that was nobody's intention.
I knew that it was really up to me to teach others what I would or would not accept, and that hey couldn't possibly know what I preferred if I never spoke up about it. So of course they did what they thought was best, and never gave it a second thought as long as I never protested. So it was really my own fault.
I knew I couldn't go on like this anymore.
I felt that I had somehow lost myself over the years, and I had felt for so many years that I needed to be someone other than who I really was, in order to be accepted or liked, - even wrongfully so.
This made me feel really bad. I knew something had to change, and as time went by, I became more and more aware of that.
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A life-altering experience
Then, in 2008, something happened that made me realize this to the fullest. I won't go into details about it, but let me just say that I went on a bus journey, and during that trip I had a travel companion who was 20 years younger than me.
We had so much in common, even the same kind of humour, so we laughed and talked and I felt that I could be completely myself all the time without feeling that I embarrassed anyone with it.
When I came home from that trip, I felt different. I felt that I had become more confident about who I was, and that I was actually completely OK when I was just being ME. There was nothing wrong with me at all.
I was just different from some of the people I had around me, and I needed to let them see it if were to have the good life that I knew I should and could have. I had to start being unapologetically ME. No more excuses for that!
From then on, I started searching for ways to manage this change inside. I searched for tools that could help me navigate new waters, navigate myself into a new future where I could live in alignment with who I was.
The power of saying no
That's when I came across some books about how our thoughts create our reality, and as soon as I started reading, I knew that it was true. It resonated with something deep inside of me, something I'd always known, but kind of had forgotten about. And I realized that to live in alignment with who I truly was, I had to find out what was really important to me.
I had to be honest with myself. Dig deep and find out what it was that gave me joy. What did I truly love? What would I do if I could do anything in the whole world? And I had to learn to say NO to other people when they asked me to do things I didn't really want to do. I had to stop being a people-pleaser. Set some boundaries.
I also had to learn how to silence or shut down the negative chat-box in my head. The voice that was constantly talking myself down and taking away my confidence. Because that was something that was deeply rooted in me: My ability to excuse everybody else and beat myself up whenever there was a situation of conflict in my life.
So I did the work. I started analyzing everything in my life. I got clear on what I truly wanted and what was right for ME. And I learned that to be happy, I actually have to choose it. Happiness is a choice.
What happened after that "awakening" on the trip in 2008 is a long story. It's a process that's been going on for over a decade now, a process that has lead to big changes in my life.
The short version is that I got divorced, moved to a new town, started a new life. And my personal inner journey has continued to this day, and will probably never end.
It hasn't been easy, but I'm feeling happier, more fulfilled and more in alignment with myself than I've ever been. I know what I want. I know who I am.
I haven't managed to stop being a people-pleaser all together, - I guess that went on for so many years that it became almost second nature to me, so getting rid of it completely has been hard, - but at least I've reached a point where I correct myself quickly when I notice that I'm back on that path, and I do it with more and more success every time.
Stop being a people-pleaser and start living the life you want
Being aware of these things is a big step in the right direction, and also knowing that I don't have to please everybody else or be the one to make excuses for my opinions or my behavior all the time.
And you don't have to, either. In fact, you shouldn't. You might end up losing yourself and not knowing who you are anymore. I hope my story has convinced you of that.
You need to teach people how to treat you. Set some boundaries, and be clear about them.
You don't have to become aggressive about it. Just start showing others what you truly want, or what you can or cannot accept, and do it in a gentle way.
Find ways to show them that you're no longer willing to be treated like a door-mat.
You can do this!
If you've been a people-pleaser for a long time, you'll probably find it hard to change, but start training NOW. Little by little, you'll make it.
Learn more about living the good life in my course
If you want to know more about how you can stop being a people-pleaser and start living more in alignment with who you are and live with intention, you don't want to miss out on the course that I've created to help you kick-start your life in a better direction.
Sign up today, and you could be well on your way to living your best life in just 5 days!
HOW TO USE DOWNTIMES TO MOVE FORWARD IN YOUR LIFE AND START LIVING WITH INTENTION
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I originally started on a different article that I had intended to post here on my blog, but that was before the coronavirus affected us all. All of a sudden, the world as we know it completely changed. The freedom that so many of us took for granted, the opportunities that were everywhere, seem to have vanished overnight. Many people are in a panic state of mind, and maybe you're one of them. You worry - about getting seriously ill, about whether or not you'll have enough food to get by, about your job, about your economy ...
There's no doubt about it: These are challenging times. Many industries are seriously affected by this, especially the travel industry, - and businesses might have to shut down permanently as a result of the situation. People may lose their jobs, and thereby their main income, if the quarantine situation has to go on for weeks and months ahead. Of course you're worried!
And of course we must take this seriously. We must all do what we can to reduce the risk of this becoming a long-time situation. We must follow the instructions that the health authorities give us, and stay away from personal contact with other people as much as we can. Home quarantine is necessary in this situation, and we all have to accept that.
If you have a family, staying at home for weeks and maybe even months, can be a real challenge. Kids and parents alike need positive things to do, and at the same time, you all need time and space as individuals. Some alone-time. Depending on your living conditions, this can be a challenge and really take a toll on all of you. There's no question about that. And in this particular situation, which is different from anything we've experienced in times of peace, - FEAR is a big factor that needs to be addressed.
FEAR is something that feels very real for all of us. We all have fears. But if you think of FEAR as "False Evidence Appearing Real", you may have a chance of breaking through them.
Life has always been uncertain
If you think about your life up until now, you might be of the opinion that you've never really been afraid or had any real danger in your life before now. Truth is: You've been surrounded by danger all your life, on a daily basis. Even before the Coronavirus outbreak, the world has always been uncertain.
Just think about it: You've never been able to know for certain what the next minute, hour, day, month or year would bring. At any time in your life, there's been a possibility that you could learn that someone you love has just died, or you could have a car accident, or be diagnosed with a disease, or lose your job.
That's a fact.
Uncertainty has always been there. You just haven't thought about it on a daily basis. Because ... that's life, isn't it? If we were to think about all the potential threats all the time, we wouldn't be able to function. So we create stories about our life that serve us better. We plan for tomorrow, for next week, for our next holiday, like we would live forever. And that's good. That's normal. That's our survival mechanisms, and they usually work very well.
So even if the situation around the Coronavirus is somewhat out of the ordinary, there's really no more uncertainty in this world now than what there's always been and always will be. This, too, shall pass.
I hope this can help you put it all into perspective. FEAR is part of life itself.
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Feed you mind with positive insights and strategies
Even the people who seem most courageous, have fear. You see: Courage is not absence of fear, but mastery of it. This means that we can all learn to master our fear. Because the fear is really all in our mind.
"Fear itself is a creation of your mind. It does not exist independently.
Since it is a fabrication, you don’t have to fight it. Just understand it. Understanding is the key to freedom." - The Ancient Sage
Your brain is wired to keep you safe.
Tony Robbins says that a good way to fight fear, is to read. "Feed your mind with strategies and tools that you can use. You can't hope that good ideas will drop from the sky and come to you. Good ideas must be pursued."
And if you make it a habit to read a little every day, - and especially if you choose to read books that you can learn something from, - you will soon find that you'll gain wisdom and insights that can change your life and help you see things in a more positive light. Knowledge makes you feel less afraid. Fear disappears.
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Also be aware of what your outer environment is feeding you. Reduce the time you spend reading or listening to negative news, or listening to negative thoughts of people around you, however well-meaning they might be. They may have good intentions, like keeping you safe from harm, but they can also limit you and create fear in you. Like Tony Robbins says: "Stand guard at the door of your mind! Because what's getting in there is shaping you."
So if you really want to feel happy and fulfilled and overcome fear, feeding your mind with positive insights and strategies is the #1 tool. If you don't really like to read books, you can listen to books instead. There are lots of Apps for this nowadays, and I won't promote any particular app here, but Amazon Kindle, Audible, Goodreads and Storytel are some of them if you need a few names to get you started.
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This is a good time to audit your life
If your life up until this point has been dominated by stress and worries and a feeling of not having the life that you really want, this time of home quarantine can actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise for you, because now you've actually got a wonderful opportunity to take stock of where you are in life and create a new beginning for yourself.
Instead of focusing on your fear and worrying about what might happen in this pandemic situation, I suggest that you sit back and take a good look at your life. Find a nice place to sit, light a candle, brew yourself a nice cup of tea ... whatever you need to do to feel good and relaxed, and make sure you're not disturbed for a while. If you're on your own, mute your phone and close down social media and other distractions, and then just sit there quietly for a while and try to calm your mind.
First, if you're struggling, remember these things:
1) You've survived every difficulty you've experienced so far.
2) The best day of your life is still to come - and it will.
3) There are still people you haven't met, places you haven't seen and
things you haven't done, but rest assured: You will experience them all.
This, too, shall pass.
Then ask yourself these questions (and you might want to write this down in a journal or notebook to bring more clarity):
1) Where am I in my life right now? What's my situation?
2) Why am I not happy with the way may life is?
3) How do I want my life to be instead? What do I want it to look like?
What would make me really happy?
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Start living with intention by changing one thing at a time
Just reflect upon these few questions for now. A total life audit might take a little more time, and to not get overwhelmed by it, I suggest you just start with getting clarity around these important questions. Because to be able to plan for the future and start living with intention, you first need to know what your starting point is. Sounds reasonable, right?
Then, when you've gained this clarity, I suggest that - as a first step towards living with intention - you make a decision about ONE thing that you're not satisfied with the way it is now, and that you intend to change on a daily basis. ONE thing that you can change right now, while you're in confinement in your home. You can do this! It doesn't have to be hard. Actually, it might even turn out to be FUN!
Changing a habit isn't done from one day to another. Statistics have shown that we need 90 days to do that. That's why you should try not to make too many changes at the same time, but stick to changing ONE before you move on to the next. And make it do-able. Especially if it's a rather BIG change. Then you might need to break it down into smaller steps and do one step at a time until you've managed to change the thing you had in mind.
For example: If you need to change your financial situation, lose weight or work on your marriage, you will of course need to make small changes over a period of time. But once you've gained clarity about what the change need to be, you've already started moving in the right direction and have every possibility of accomplishing what you really want.
I've written several articles earlier about how you should trust your inner GPS, how your thoughts create your reality, why mind control is important, what you should do to start managing your money in a better way, and about goalsetting, just to mention a few. I suggest you click on the links and read them as well. I think you might find them useful. And while you're at it, I suggest you scroll down and read some more articles, now that you have plenty of time on your hands to start filling your mind with things that can help you live with intention.
This is your time. Use it to your benefit! This can be the best day and the best time of the rest of your life.
See you soon, I hope! We're all in this together!
If you liked this blog post, feel free to leave a comment below and maybe share it with someone else that you think might enjoy it, too.
I also invite you to join my tribe, The Sisterhood of Female Life Designers, which is absolutely FREE, of course! When you do, you'll get instant access to The Female Life Designer's Manifesto, which can help you get right on track to living your life with intention. Join today! I'll be delighted to get to know you!
WHY I DON'T THINK YOU SHOULD MAKE NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS, AND 3 SIMPLE THINGS YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD
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A new year has just begun. It's the time of year when a lot of people make New Year resolutions, because it seems like a good idea. You know: Fresh start, and all that ... Fair enough. We all need that from time to time.
The thing is, by mid-February most of us have already fallen off the wagon. We can't keep it up. It got too overwhelming. Too complicated. Too ambitious. Too ...... whatever. Fill in the blank.
The stats about New Year resolutions and managing to create lasting change from them, are actually rather grim. A study by the Journal of Clinical Pshychology showed that 54 % of people fail to keep it up past six months. And do you know what? Most people even make the same resolutions 10 times without success! Ten times! That's rather sad, don't you think?
Why does this happen, over and over again?
I think there are at least 2 reasons for that:
# 1) We are stuck in habits that we've had for so long that they've become second nature to us, and changing them simply isn't done over night or even in a few weeks. Changing habits actually takes at least 90 days if you want to make them stick, according to scientific research.
# 2) We make the New Year resolutions only in our mind, and that's where we keep them. We don't share them with anyone, because we're afraid we might fail, and that would make us look bad. And then of course that's exactly what we do. Fail, I mean.
Photo by Jonathan Andrew from Pexels
So screw those New Year resolutions, and try something else this year! Are you with me? Good! Let's dive right in and look at ....
3 SIMPLE THINGS YOU SHOULD DO INSTEAD
What I'm going to suggest here doesn't have to be difficult at all. The strategies are actually quite simple, but very few people use them, and therefor very few people get the results that they want. But if you follow the strategies that I'm going to give you, you'll probably be one of the people who do get the results that you want this year and who will succeed in creating a lasting positive change in your life.
Here are the strategies:
# 1 ) Write your goals down
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Did you know that you're 42 % more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down? That's what dr. Gail Matthews, professor of Pshychology at the Dominican University of California, discovered when she did a study on goal setting.
The reason why I mention dr. Matthew's study is that you may otherwise think that I've only made this strategy up in my mind, and since you don't know me, why should you listen to me? Because it almost seems too easy, right? And it is easy! Yet hardly anybody does this! I think that's rather sad.
So write down your goals. It does seem pretty basic, but I can assure you: Most things in life aren't necessarily hard to do. We just have a tendency to make them a lot more complicated than they need to be, because we think that's the way it's supposed to be! So we don't do them!
Maybe you've been taught this when you were younger, that "life is hard", and this belief got rooted in you and made you struggle a lot more than necessary. But you can change that. In other words: It's a choice you can make from this day forward. Tell yourself that life is easy! And then write down your goals, and believe that you'll actually achieve them.
When you write down your goals, don't just do it once and then leave it in your notebook or wherever you write them. I actually suggest that you write down your goals every day. Several times! Even if you don't think it will work. Heck, especially then! Because this isn't some kind of supersticion or whoo-whoo thing. It's about focus. Setting goals and writing them down every day will help you really focus on them. That's what makes it more likely that you'll succeed this time.
For example: If one of your goals is to be a successful writer, you could write down "I'm a successful writer" in your notebook, every single day, preferably several times. To make it even more powerful, you could also read it out loud to yourself, and put some emotion behind it.
I suggest you get yourself a pretty notebook (either buy one or make one) and a good pen, which will make it even more enjoyable for you to do this. And when something feels enjoyable, you'll want to keep doing it. Right?
Now let's move on to the next strategy.
# 2) Make a schedule for when, where and how you'll take action
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Scheduling time for focusing on your goals on a regular basis, and preferably daily, can be the one thing that will guarantee your success.
This has also been subject to research. A study on goal setting and motivation made by social pshychologist dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, showed that deciding in advance where and when you're going to take specific actions to reach your goals, can double or even triple your chances for success. Those are pretty good stats, don't you think?
So make it part of your "me time" every single day. Find a nice place where you can be undisturbed and really focus on what you want. And set a fixed day and time when you'll do it.
Let's say you've decided that one of your big goals for this year is that you're going to start living "the French way", because you love evertyhing French and you think that's a lifestyle that will be good for you, but you don't know how to get started. So your first goal should probably be to find out as much about that lifestyle as possible, and then your second goal could be to start implementing what you learn on a daily basis.
This is something that can feel less tangible than many other goals, so scheduling this will be really valuable. Writing down you goals, and then actually making time for them in your calendar and sticking to them, n'importe quoi (aka "no matter what!") - will make it so much more likely for you to reach your goals.
Let's say your goal #1 is "Learning about the French lifestyle".
Schedule a time in your calendar for when you'll actually do this. It could be once a day, twice a week ... early in the morning ... at 5 in the afternoon ... whatever you think will work for you. But remember: Don't set yourself up for failure! Make it doable. Ten minutes a day (or even per week) is easier to do than one hour. In other words: Short time periods ensures that you'll follow through and that you'll be able to celebrate wins instead of feeling disappointed in yourself on a regular basis. But I repeat: make sure you schedule a day and a time.
For example, if we break it down to smaller action steps, it could look like this: If you've decided to follow my blog about the French Lifestyle and want to make sure you get my weekly updates, a wise thing to do would be to schedule a time in your calendar every Monday, since that's when I'm publishing new blog posts. This would be your when, and also part of your how. You could also decide that your how would be to read my blog, sign up for my newsletter, join my tribe ... In other words: Take actions that would actually help you learn as much about the French lifestyle as possible and at the same time even help you with your goal # 2: Start implementing what you learn on a daily basis. I would also advise you to follow other blogs on the topic, but it would be wise to focus on just a few to begin with, to avoid overwhelm. Simplicity is always the best strategy!
Then write down where you'll take action. Will it be in your own home? Will it be in a special room? Will you need access to the Internet?
This was just an example, of course.
Depending on your specific goals, where you'll take action could be anywhere from your home to a gym, the seaside, a coffee-shop, a youth-club ... as long as it's a place where you're likely to actually take the action that you need to take in order to reach your goal(s).
Another thing I suggest that you do, is to also make a plan for what you'll do if something happens that could make it difficult for you to stick to your schedule. In other words: A sort of contingency plan, which means that you plan for problems that can occur, or setbacks that you know are likely to happen and that can throw you off track. The better you prepare, the more likely you are to succeed.
Now let's look at the last strategy, which is:
# 3) Tell someone / get an accountability partner
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This one is really powerful! Again, studies have been made on this, and this is what they've found: You actually have a 65 % chance of reaching your goals if you commit to someone. So give updates on your actions to a friend or someone else that you trust and find supportive! And guess what: The same study established that you if you actually have an accountability appointment with that person on a regular basis, say once every fortnight or every month (or every week, which I'd strongly suggest!), - this can increase your chances of success by up to 95 %! Isn't that fantastic!??
And you don't have to make this complicated. You could just make an agreement with your friend that you'll send each other a text message or email (or whatever), say every Friday at a certain time, just to report status quo. It doesn't have to be long, just a few words. That's it. No big deal! But when you think of the stats, - that your chances for success will increase by a whooping 95 % ...! Well, I'd say those few words once a week are worth it, - won't you?
Last, but not least, I will strongly advise that you also - when setting your goals for this year - write down WHY you want to set those goals. This will make your reasons for taking action and following through, even stronger.
Recap of the strategies, and today's Call To Action:
#1) Write down your goals for this year (and WHY you make them)
#2) Schedule when, where and how you'll take action
#3) Tell someone / get an accountability partner
If your goal for this year is to learn more about the French lifestyle and start implementing it in your life on a daily basis, I strongly suggest that you include following my blog in your strategy #2, because I’m on a mission to share everything I know about the French Lifestyle with you and make sure we both live with as much joie de vivre as humanly possible!
We’ll study and go deep into all aspects of «the French way of living», for sure. But slowly, with ease and elegance. Effortlessly! Comme une femme francaise! I’m looking forward to getting to know you, and help you on your way to achieving your goals!
If you're new to my blog and if the French Lifestyle is what interests you, here's a list of some of my previous blog posts:
Why I Swear By The French Lifestyle
12 Ways You Can Become Slim & Chic Like A French Woman Without Even Breaking A Sweat
8 Reasons Why The French Don't Diet, And Why You Don't Have To, Either
And if you'd like to make sure you don't miss any of my posts about the French Lifestyle in the future, sign up for my Newsletter!
If you enjoyed this blog post, feel free to leave a comment below and even share this with someone else who might enjoy it, too!
À bientôt! (aka "See You Soon!")