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Affirmations & Gratitude | A Beginner’s Guide

Writing down affirmations and keeping a gratitude diary are two of my secrets for maintaining a balanced, positive outlook on a daily basis.

Are these foolproof?

Hardly.

Stress happens. Bad moods happen. But these two practices help me start my day on the right foot, which can often improve my ability to tackle the hurdles that inevitably come up throughout the day.

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Affirmations:

An affirmation is a positive thought that’s written down and repeated. The goal is reinforcing your positivity through repetition. It may seem a little strange to write the same thing over and over, but you’ll discover that it can be very empowering.

Two key things that I like to keep in mind when I’m writing new affirmations are:

  • Use the present tense
  • Be positive!

Not sure what I mean? Rather than “I will start being more assertive” you would instead write “I am assertive. I will ask for what I deserve.” You’re not going to make a change in the future, the change has been made and you’re going to reinforce that mental switch through your affirmation.

Gratitude:

Some people are great about laying in bed and going through a mental list of things that they’re grateful for each day. Or finding another time throughout the day to focus on this topic.

I for one, like to write it down. I set a calendar reminder for myself that goes off every morning and I pull out my gratitude journal and jot down what’s on my mind.

You can even combine these two practices and write down your daily affirmations and what you’re grateful for in the same place each day.

Are these practices that YOU think you could benefit from?

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Busy Busy Bees

Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew? Planned too many events or social engagements for a weekend? Scheduled too many meetings for an afternoon?

This post is for you!

Multitasking is the word dejour.

I am continually impressed, and frequently amazed, but the sheer volume of things my friends are able to accomplish in a given day, week, month, quarter… I have a friend who worked full-time and went to law school at night. And another who commutes hours to work (damn you Southern California traffic!) and still has time to train and kick booty at marathons and bike races. And another who is a law school student while working full-time for a law firm and still has a social life my 18-year-old self would envy.

Then there’s the rest of us… And by us, I mean me.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot about myself, my capabilities, my strengths, my weaknesses. I, for one, am much more productive on days when I have a million things to do. I schedule, I make lists, I get sh*t done! Whereas on a day that I have a single thing to do, I’m much more inclined to skip my appointment and make a date with my couch and the Indian food delivery guy.

Staying on track with everything and making sure that I breathe every day has made me a ninja – if I do say so myself – in the art of scheduling. I have a planner (I’m jealous of those who can enter everything into electronic devices but I remember more when I write things out), a journal and a dozen or so post-it notes with me at all times.

I’ve found that with my busting-at-the-seams schedule the most important things for me are (1) staying in touch with how I’m handling things and (2) staying healthy. I can’t get anything done if I’m frazzled or sick!

When I was feeling overwhelmed in college my mother passed along something that she found helpful for staying focused – the art of affirmations. Writing down goals, making positive statements and putting your hopes for yourself on paper. I’ve always been an avid journaler, but I found writing these short, declarative statements to be both motivational and inspirational. 

Each morning I write down something in my calendar, a goal or plan or hope, that I can keep in mind throughout the day. Something that keeps me focused and centered, and keeps me from wallowing or descending into helpless “why is this happening to meeeee?” moments.

  • Find a view on the walk home and take a minute to appreciate how lucky I am
  • Embrace that I’m a work in progress
  • Be grateful
  • Make someone else laugh
  • Think about what makes me happy
  • Relax
  • Realize that it could be much worse
  • Smile for no reason
  • Don’t dwell

When I start to feel overwhelmed or can’t remember why I’m trying to do all of this, I go back and look at what I wrote that morning, that week, that month. I take a deep breath and I’m centered again.

Each day does not go as planned. Schedules are changed, classes are skipped, appointments are cancelled, rain days are a must. But the goal isn’t to be perfect, the goal is to get through the day with my sanity in tact and a sense of humor.

That brings me to my second key to sustaining an overwhelmingly hectic life, keeping myself healthy. Stress, long hours, trudging between appointments in the rain, not getting enough sleep… All of these are guaranteed to at the very least make you feel rundown, but more likely you’ll end up getting sick.

While you’re not always going to be able to slow down your schedule in order to stave off illness and fatigue, there are a few things that I’ve learned over the years that can help keep your immune system in fighting shape and your body healthy enough to get you through your busy days.

[1] Drink your water! I cannot stress enough how important this is. Water flushes toxins and waste out of your body so drinking enough is key to keeping your system clean. And bonus, it’ll hydrate your body and keep your skin from getting tired, dry and wrinkly after a long day. I keep a water bottle on my desk that I refill during the day, one on my bedside table, one in my locker and one in the fridge for an extra cold post-workout drink!

[2] Try to get enough sleep. Between late evenings at the office, social obligations and trying to turn an overworked brain off at night, getting enough sleep can be a challenge. The negative effects of sleep deprivation should motivate you though: reduced mental clarity and memory, weight gain, overeating, puffiness… Not good! If you’ve having trouble getting to sleep at night, try a walk after dinner or a session of stretching or yoga before hitting the sheets. Part of my pre-bedtime routine includes packing food/snacks for the next day, getting gym clothes ready and prepping my work outfit. Once all of that’s done, I find that I relax into sleep much, much better.

[3] Get your nutrients! Eat your fruits and veggies, get enough calcium, protein, B & D Vitamins. While sitting down for multiple well-balanced meals a day may not always be feasible, try to stay away from packaged and processed foods, load up on fresh, whole foods in any form you can: smoothies, blended salads, raw/whole food bars like Larabars & Raw Revolution bars, add whole food supplemental powders to water if smoothies are too much effort (highly recommend Vega’s Whole Food Health Optimizer) and/or take vitamins and calcium supplements if needed.

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