7 Reasons Why You Should Write

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Life can be hard. It can be confusing. It can also be comforting. Every now and then, most people find a way to relax and let go of their emotions and thoughts. Some will take walks, others will have a conversation with a friend, while many will write and journal. Writing doesn’t mean you have to sit down and publish a book. This habit takes on various forms, depending on the writer. One day you can be creating a story that’s been in your mind, the next day you are creating a list of your hopes and goals, and lastly, you are writing down characteristics about a passed loved one you miss. Once a pen hits a piece of paper, or a person’s fingers hit the keyboard, a powerful thing occurs. Plus, there are health and lifestyle benefits to writing. If you have been wanting to journal and haven’t known where to start, let me persuade you with a few facts, as well as some tips and tricks.

  1. You will eliminate stress. Don’t we all want to get rid of at least a little bit of stress in our lives? By journaling, you are creating a clear list of everything you are worried about, therefore, allowing those thoughts to come out of your head. In addition, it helps you to see what you are stressing about and whether or not you actually need to be stressing about them. Something in our heads may seem big when, in reality, it is tiny.
  2. You’ll gain a sense of awareness of your reality. Our minds can only take so much before they “explode.” Just like with stress, writing down what you have on your mind, what you are going to complete, achieve, and how you feel, will help you realize who you actually are and what you are feeling. Plus, writing down your thoughts will assist you in making better decisions.
  3. Between gaining a sense of reality and eliminating your stress, writing makes you happier. Researcher Laura King stated in the article “The Psychological Benefits of Writing” that keeping a gratitude journal will increase your happiness and health because you are able to focus more on the good things in life.
  4. Periodically journaling your thoughts, daily life, and memories soon become a historical record for you to keep year after year. Some people fill notebook after notebook with their writings.
  5. A common reason for people to write is to channel and understand traumatic events, as well as hard memories. Journaling about your difficult times can help you realize the feelings and emotions you might have held in. However, studies have found that it is best to wait until about six months after the event for the benefits to sink in; otherwise, you could become more depressed. It is also important to note that this type of writing shouldn’t be forced; let it flow.
  6. Journaling can make you a better learner. Writing does take time and thought. You sometimes have to be in a zone to put words into sentences. Yet this creative outlet lets you express ideas and encourages critical thinking. In return, you are more introspective, explore more interests, and are more willing to dive deeper into ideas.
  7. One final benefit of writing is that it can keep your mind in shape. This habit motivates your brain to stay sharp and can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The power of writing, whether it’s every day or a couple of times a month, can have a big benefit on your health. Also, it is a creative way for self-care, putting yourself first, and clearing your mind.

xoxo,

Megan

Why I “Work Smarter, Not Harder”

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Every day I try to use the motto “Work smarter, not harder.” Everyone has their own definition of this phrase, but it generally means using your thinking skills to minimize tasks and extra steps, so that you use your time wisely and more effectively to get things done quickly. For example, instead of putting something off that would take five minutes or less to complete, do it immediately and move on to the next task.

The main purpose behind the “work smarter, not harder” motto is that you, as the individual, are able to prioritize your own needs and build upon your strengths and weaknesses. You are able to visualize what you need to focus on, see if there is anything you can cut from your workload or lifestyle, ask for help if needed, and figure out how you work in the quickest and most effective manner possible. Everyone has their own answers and meaning to the motto. Now, the question is: how do you work smarter, not harder? Take a look below to see some of the tips on how you can put this motto to use in your life.

  1. Move and work in blocks. Instead of working hour after hour, divide up your work into equal sections. For each section of your to-do list, change up your location for working, whether it is inside, outside, or at home. The most important thing is to not set exact time limits for when you’ll finish a certain section, but to move when you have a certain section finished. Be sure to take a quick break or a fast walk to refresh yourself after each task.
  2. Check your email first thing. This is mainly where I get the bulk of my to-do list. See what items you need to prioritize and get those done first. Then, move on to the smaller tasks that will take less time to finish.
  3. Communication is key. Collaboration and communication can either make or break a project. Communicating effectively with other team members will help eliminate any mistakes or misunderstandings, or having to rework parts of the project.
  4. Don’t multitask. As much as we love to do so, multitasking can actually cause more trouble (and work) than needed. Stay focused on one task at a time and complete that task before moving on to the next.
  5. Create a routine and stick with it. When it comes to your work, to be more effective and efficient, it is best to try and do most of it at the same time each day. According to research, when we establish routines, our brains become in the habit of completing the task over and over again. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to accomplish a task quickly with less preparation. Essentially, you do the job on autopilot.
  6. Relieve stress. When you are stressed, it can be hard to achieve anything on your to-do list. Let’s refer back to tip #1. The breaks between the sections of time will help you ease your stress and stay calm while working. Also, having a clear mind allows you to think through your task and helps prevent mistakes and misunderstandings.
  7. Use your “GPS.” In her book, It’s About Time! author Mitzi Weinman explains GPS as “goal, purpose, and scope.” According to Weinman, this system can be used to get the whole picture and how you need to accomplish it. For example, you can see a task completed and then envision the various steps needed to completing it. Also, “GPS” can help you set goals for each of those steps until it is done (goal). Always ask yourself “why” we are doing something and how it fits into the larger goal (purpose).

“Work smarter, not harder” is a motto everyone should try at least once in their lives. Give it a shot – you might happily discover you are able to get more done in a shorter amount of time.

xoxo,

Megan

Make Sunday a Day of Rest with These 5 Relaxing Ways

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Recently, I heard the phrase” Sunday – a day of rest, not stress.” How true is this statement? After working hard all week, everyone should take at least one day of the weekend, Sunday, to relax and rejuvenate. However, I have trouble relaxing…

I always feel as if there is something I need to be doing or should be doing.  As I grieve my grandmother’s death, I have learned that there is no shame in taking a day (or two) off to unplug from everything. And that is exactly why I am renaming Sundays to “My Day of Rest, Not Stress.”

In my usual fashion, I decided to research “how to make Sundays more relaxing.” Yes, that is the exact phrasing I used in my Internet search. I came across numerous ideas and thought I would share my favorites with you. After all, everyone can use more relaxation in their busy lives.

Ways to Make Sunday A Day of Rest, Not Stress: 

  1. Ignore the chaos and unplug. Put aside your email, social media, calendar, etc. All of these communication forms can be overwhelming and heavy to take in at times. Instead, do an activity that “sorts out the clutter and puts the pieces together,” such as a puzzle or following a recipe.
  2. Spend time with your loved ones. Before my sister and brother-in-law moved to Kentucky, they would come over every week for Sunday night dinner. So, why not bring back the Sunday night dinner tradition with your loved ones? Other activities to consider include playing a game, watching a movie, or going for a walk together.
  3. Catch up on a good book. Reading is something I never have enough time to do. Yet, I have discovered that there is nothing better to do on a Sunday.
  4. Have a leisurely meal. Take your time making and eating one or all of your meals.
  5. Get out of the house, even if it is just to go outside. A breath of fresh air can make all the difference.

When you make Sunday a day of rest, you start the new week a better, more relaxed version of yourself.

xoxo,

Megan

Self-Coaching Yourself to A Better and Happier You

Dictionary.com defines “life coach” as “a person who counsels and encourages clients on matters having to do with careers or personal challenges.” The role of a life coach includes helping others set goals, organizing different areas of a person’s life, making a huge change or decision, overcoming a tough challenge, and more. They are there to provide support and accountability during a time of improvement in a person’s life. Most of the time, people turn to a professional life coach for assistance. Yet, did you know you can be your own life coach, also known as a self-coaching, and assist yourself in these same situations as a life coach would?

According to professional experts, self-coaching occurs when you apply the same techniques as a life coach would to your own life and do it yourself. It is important to understand that determination and dedication are needed to self-coach. As a teacher, I encourage my students to use a growth mindset. This type of thinking means a person’s abilities, goals, and skills can be developed and accomplished through dedication and hard work. It is a mindset that energizes people to never give up and stay positive. When a person self-coaches, having a growth mindset is a must and a basis for it all. Along with the support of using a growth mindset, a life coach can provide timeliness, accountability, and motivation. All of which a person can provide for themselves.

One of the hardest things can be deciding when to start something new or make a change. Think about the situation and what you are changing or working towards. Did you receive a promotion or new job offer? Are you wanting to lose weight? Then, ask yourself: are you anxious, depressed, or restless about a certain part of your life? Are you ready for something new? Will this make you a better person? Honestly answering these questions can signify to you whether you are ready or not to self-coach.

Now that you have decided the time is right, try to focus on only one aspect of your life at a time. Go back to your answers for the questions above and think about the situation to which they applied.  Was it for your career, health, finances, etc.? Sometimes it is not possible to focus on only one area. If this is the case, break your actions for the different areas into small steps and complete one at a time. Martha Beck, a professional life coach, states in the article, “Tips from the Pros: How to Be Your Own Life Coach,” to start with the “area of least satisfaction. If a person has a good life, but there are some things that aren’t great, work on the stuff that’s not great. If you have a terrible life, work on what’s most terrible.” Then, turn your area for improvement into a goal with a timeline.

According to Doctor David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, goals should be short and able to be stated in three to seven words. As for the timeline, the goals should be approachable, achievable, and realistic. For instance, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, consider how much time you realistically need to accomplish it. However, don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to make a change here or there. Just don’t stray too far off track. A way to hold yourself accountable with your goals is by using a journal. Write down everything you do each day that pertains to that goal – good and bad. In addition, use your journal to rate your “quality of life” as you are working towards something. Beck recommends using a scale of zero to ten and rate your quality of life daily. Ten is super happy and zero is miserable. In the same article, she says, “The purpose is to look back and see what you were doing on the days you felt bad. It’s a way of looking at: where did my happiness go? Where did I find joy?”

Lastly, be sure to use a growth mindset and change how you think about your goal. Instead of thinking that you have to do something, think about it in terms that you get to do something.

Anyone can be a life coach for their own lives. Through using the techniques of self-coaching, you can be on the way to a better and happier you. Plus, you’ll feel empowered for accomplishing goals you might have been putting on the back burner for a long time.

xoxo,

Megan

7 Ways to Make Time for Yourself

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Let’s be honest with ourselves – life is busy. The days are filled with work, family, errands, appointments, and more. Sometimes we become stressed and tired, especially if we spend more time caring for others and neglect caring for ourselves.

Whether it is five minutes a day or an hour a week, make it a goal this new year to add self-care into your schedule. Some of the many self-care ideas are below. However, it is important to always choose an activity that is fun and relaxing for you.

  1. Exercise: Take a walk, join a gym, or participate in a fun class at the Y. Being active is good for your mind, body, and spirit. Research suggests aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Don’t consider yourself too busy to exercise. If 30 minutes seems too much at one time, break it into smaller increments. Try 10 minutes at a time and then build up to adding 30 minutes into your daily schedule.
  2. Schedule a digital detox: We are attached to our electronic devices and rely on them most of the time. However, when we are dedicated to a screen, such as our phones or computers, we are detached from those around us and from ourselves. Make it a priority to devote an hour or two per day to place your devices in a different room and not to touch them. Then, try it for an afternoon or whole day during the weekend. Think about it – don’t you feel stressed out by constantly checking your emails, looking at social media profiles of others, comparing your life to theirs? The more time you spend away from your device, the more time you’ll feel relaxed and more confident in your own life.
  3. Develop a new hobby just for yourself: One of the main things in self-care is making sure you are putting yourself first. It isn’t a time to feel guilty that you aren’t taking care of others or indulging in something you normally won’t do. It is a time to better yourself, so you can be a better person for your loved ones. A way to do just that is by developing a new hobby or restarting one that you had given up, one that is just for yourself. Maybe it is reading a book each night, sewing, coloring in a coloring book, or listening to a podcast. A hobby should be something you enjoy and want to do in your “me time.”
  4. Declutter: For me, I can get stressed out when things are all over the place and in a mess. To help with that, decluttering and cleaning up is the key. Every now and then, declutter a certain area in your home. It might be changing your wardrobe every three months and giving away pieces of clothing that you haven’t worn in a long time. Or you could use five minutes of each day to tidy up a corner of a room until it is done. When things are in place, our minds are calm.
  5. Educate yourself and learn something new: If you or a loved one are dealing with an illness, major life change, etc., research the situation and learn about all the different elements of how you are able to help. Sometimes being in the know about something takes away a great deal of stress. Also, learn something to broaden your horizons. Have you always wanted to learn another language or how to do a special skill? Now is the time.
  6. Change things up: Take a different route to work or go to that new restaurant you have always wanted to try. It is pivotal to have a routine, but every now and then, be spontaneous and try something new. An example could be making each Friday night the night to do something different. Do a new activity with your family and friends each week.
  7. Reward yourself after accomplishing a small or difficult task. Overcoming all types of obstacles should be celebrated. Reward these times with a pedicure, going to a fancy store, etc.

Self-care needs to be a priority for everyone and a part of a person’s to-do list. Find something that helps you and don’t feel bad taking the time to focus on you. As mentioned above, self-care makes you a better person.

xoxo,

Megan

When is the Best Time to Buy…?

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Once again the holidays have come and gone and it’s almost a brand new year. Spending money on new purchases is probably the last thing on your mind. However, never fear, because you can plan your wish list around the months of the year. After all, a great bargain never goes out of style. Each month is known for its special deals on different items. According to experts, these deals are based on sale cycles, but some exceptions include fluctuations in prices and a retailer’s inventory. In addition, some products have seasonal specials, as well as being on sale at different times of the year.

January:

  • Holiday Decorations
  • Calendars and Planners
  • Toys
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Televisions
  • Bicycles
  • Houses
  • Small Appliances
  • Air-conditioning

February: President’s Day is a great time for retailers to have sales.

  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Cameras
  • Televisions (especially big-screens)

March:

  • Winter Clothing
  • Luggage
  • Camping Equipment
  • Toys
  • Outdoor Furniture

April:

  • Snow Blowers and Shovels
  • Computers
  • Electronics
  • Car Care Supplies
  • Home Improvement Supplies
  • Vacuums
  • Cookware
  • Auto Parts

May:

  • Easter Decorations
  • Grilling Tools
  • Mattresses
  • Pet Supplies
  • Refrigerators
  • Cookware
  • Vacuums
  • Gym Memberships
  • Party Supplies

June:

  • Gym Memberships
  • Tools
  • Dishes

July:

  • Jeans
  • Winter Coats
  • Furniture
  • Party Supplies
  • Grilling Tools

August:

  • School and Office Supplies
  • College Textbooks
  • Kitchen Accessories
  • Pool Supplies
  • Pillows
  • Linens
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Outdoor Toys
  • Outdoor Furniture

September:

  • Computers
  • Swimsuits
  • Pool Toys
  • Summer Clothing and Shoes
  • Large Appliances
  • Cars
  • Trees, Shrubs and Bulbs
  • iPhones
  • Lawn Mowers

October:

  • Air-conditioning
  • Lawn Mowers
  • Patio Furniture
  • Large Appliances
  • Tires
  • Jeans
  • Grills

November: Don’t forget about Black Friday!

  • Flooring and Carpeting
  • Grills
  • Halloween Decorations
  • Cookware
  • Electronics
  • Tools

December:

  • Cars
  • Golf Clubs
  • Gift Cards
  • Computers
  • Cell Phones
  • Flooring and Carpeting
  • Electronics
  • Winter Clothes

Before any shopping trip, it helps to do your research, especially when it comes to making larger purchases, such as digital cameras or cars. Websites, including consumerreports.org and amazon.com are great places to start. On these sites, you can read customer reviews and learn more about the product. There is nothing wrong with shopping around, whether at stores or online. Shopping around allows you to see where you can get the same product for the best price.

Along with doing your research, it’s important to plan things out. Buy a calendar or make a list of when to buy different things. This is helpful particularly for larger shopping trips. A calendar and list are great for keeping coupons in order, too. Coupons are available in the Sunday newspaper, online and through phone apps. Another option is looking at coupons.com for deals. If you are shopping online, search for the store’s name and coupon codes before making a purchase. If you are a frequent shopper at a certain shop, ask about their loyalty rewards program. Most likely they will have one and it will be beneficial to join. Many of these programs give their members special deals and coupons to use. In addition, some programs give a percent back or discount on your purchases.

Try to schedule your shopping trips around holiday and seasonal specials. Holidays, such as Presidents’ Day, Black Friday, and Memorial Day, are known for their big sales and special deals. When it comes to sales, no matter if it is a special time of the year or not, it’s helpful to read the sales advertisements and flyers carefully. The small print could contain information that would limit or prevent a deal. Lastly, the days of the week also play a factor in when products are discounted.

Sunday:

  • Groceries
  • Major Appliances

Monday:

  • Cars
  • Electronics

Tuesday:

  • Movies
  • Airline Tickets

Wednesday:

  • Groceries
  • Jewelry

Thursday:

  • Clothes
  • Handbags

Friday:

  • Gas
  • Accessories

Saturday:

  • Department Store Items
  • Jackets, Coats and Outerwear

Shopping can be fun and hectic, especially when it comes to larger shopping trips or purchasing bigger products. It is important to remember and use some of the tried and true shopping tips. These tips can help take some of the stress out of the adventure. After all, shopping is supposed to be retail therapy, right?

xoxo,

Megan

Are You Lying to Me? The 411 on How to Catch a Liar

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It happens to most people. Every once in a while, during a conversation, you think, “Is this person lying to me?” You then spend unnecessary time going over their words in your head, thinking about whether or not what they said is true. However, sometimes detecting a liar is something that can be easily done in less than five minutes. All you need to look for are certain actions and movements a person does when they are lying. Body language says it all, and I’ve got your tips and tricks for spotting a liar.

  1. According to Dr. Gregory Jantz, in his article “6 Ways to Detect a Liar in Just Seconds,” more than 80 percent of lies go unnoticed. To prevent this from happening, start by asking neutral questions. Listen to how a person responds to questions about the weather, their hobbies, etc. Be attentive to their body language when they are telling the truth by watching their eye movements, stance, and hand positions. This will help you suspect any unusual actions for when they answer questions that are in the so-called “lie zone.” These questions are ones that aren’t rhetorical and require more in-depth responses.
  2. After the neutral questions are complete, begin observing a person’s facial expressions, responses, and body language as a person replies to personal questions. Surprise questions are another way to bring out lies. Most of the time a person pulls their body inward when lying and shrugs their shoulders. Also, they might become squirmy, jiggle their feet, and hide their hands to prevent fidgety fingers. Lastly, look for any hand gestures towards the face. These gestures, along with the other body movements listed above, are signs of distress and dishonesty. Research shows that President Bill Clinton touched his nose 88 times during his Lewinsky testimony.
  3. Watch for any facial changes and microexpressions, which are brief expressions that are used to conceal emotions. Sometimes a person’s face can exhibit a light shade of pink color as if they were flushed, or they may flare nostrils. Other ways to tell include biting their lips, blinking quickly or not at all, and perspiring. Shifts in body language and facial expressions occur during lying because there is an increase in the person’s brain activity.
  4. In the article, “An FBI Agent’s 8 Ways to Spot a Liar,” former FBI agent Justin Bariso states to listen more than you speak, meaning liars will talk more and in more complex sentences to stop the truth from getting out. He suggests being on alert if a person speaks faster, louder, and has a cracking in their voice. All are indications that the person is stressed. Repetitive coughing and clearing of the throat are clues of tension, as well.
  5. Bariso also notes that one should watch as someone says the word “no.” A person might be lying if they do one of these characteristics when answering “no”: looking in a different direction, hesitating, closing their eyes, stretching the word out, and replying in a singsong manner.
  6. Along with paying attention to the way a person speaks, pay attention to what they say. Some signs of a lie are: refusing to give details to short answers or providing too many details, speaking more formally, over-exaggerating or giving numerous compliments, and making contradictions to early parts of a conversation. Also, look for repeated phrases when talking. Sometimes a person will have prepared their answers for expected questions. When caught off-guard, they are more likely to show inconsistencies and stressful behavior.

Unfortunately, almost every person in the world lies at least once in their lives. However, some lies have more negative impacts than others. If you suspect someone is lying to you, use the tips above to decide fact from fiction.

xoxo,

Megan

Why I Am Quitting Doing “More”

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All of my life, I have gone above and beyond on everything I did. Whether it was my job, school, being involved in a dozen different activities, or even reading, exercising, and writing, I was a perfectionist. There was never a limit to how much I would do or how long I would work. However, about a week ago I saw the picture above on Instagram and it made me think, especially #10: forget doing “more.”

Often times, I call myself a “recovering perfectionist.” Since seeing this image, I have tried to put tip #10 to use. Before when I hadn’t completed a task or gotten as far on something I feel as if I should have, I would have been hard on myself. The negative thoughts flooded my head and my self-esteem would fall. But, since I have starting using the “quit doing more: technique, I have discovered that I am happier and more relaxed with a higher self-esteem. It is just one of my many practices for self-care.

You see the key trick to “quit doing more” is to just do your best and take comfort in that. There is no guidebook or rules as to how much a person has to work, the number of activities a person has to be involved with, or how much time one has to spend on a task. Just do your best. There is no shame in not finishing a task in one sitting or not completing a chapter before going to bed. Listen to your mind and body and don’t over do it. Remember, in everything that you do, you are enough and important.

xoxo,

Megan