How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Burnt Out | Whether you are putting off the gym, slacking on work, or simply struggling to get out of bed, here are some ways to spark some motivation when you face a burnout!


As a second-semester high school senior, I can attest that “senioritis” is a very real thing. I’ve witnessed the plunge in motivation among my peers and personally experienced this affliction.

After months of drafting, revising, and editing what felt like a million college essays, it was the biggest relief to finally submit all my applications and be done. Half of me wanted to jump for joy and half of me wanted to face-plant onto my bed.

Over the past month, my motivation has definitely been lacking. I am still achieving good grades in school, but doing so feels like more of a climb than it used to. Writer’s block has prevented me from producing consistent blog content. My goal to read the Bible daily has been a challenge to meet as I have felt less inclined to open His Word lately.

January is the month we grind to hit our goals, but you may be faced with burnout once February comes along. Whether you are putting off the gym, slacking on your work, or simply struggling to get out of bed, here are some ways to stay motivated!


REST AND RECHARGE


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Everyone needs a break from time to time.

I am the type of person who wants to do it all. I hate saying “no” and I tend to test the limits on how much I can get done in X amount of time. When I fail to complete an impossible number of tasks, I often beat myself up over it. This inevitably leads to burnout.

If you feel stuck or tired, give yourself grace. Your mental health will suffer if you do not set aside time for rest. Recharging with a good night’s sleep, some acts of self-care, or stress-relieving practices will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take action.


REMIND YOURSELF OF YOUR “WHY”


It can be easy to get lost in the steps we must take to achieve our goals and forget about why we set them in the first place. If there is no reason behind your actions, trying to stay motivated will feel impossible.

Ask yourself why you are doing what you’re doing. How will your hard work pay off? Will you or those around you benefit? How will you feel when you reach your goal? What could life look like if you continue to pursue? Reconnect with your purpose and write it down.


 RECONSTRUCT YOUR GOALS


The feeling of being stuck in a rut often stems from setting unrealistic goals. When we place the finish-line too far away, the amount of work put in seems far greater than the progress yielded. Reevaluate your existing goals and edit them to better fit your life. Breaking up overarching tasks into several smaller ones will make them appear more manageable and within reach.

You can also try creating completely new goals for yourself. If there is something you’ve been dying to try or master, make it a priority to achieve. Working towards something entirely different than what you are used to is sure to spice things up and ignite some motivation!


GET INSPIRED


Motivation starts with inspiration, so surround yourself with as much of it as possible! Listen to an interesting podcast, play an energizing Spotify playlist, read a book, create a mood board…whatever will get your creativity juices flowing.

It’s important to remember that while inspiration can spark motivation, you must find a balance between consuming and creating. Scrolling through Pinterest will only get you so far! Don’t allow getting inspired to become a form of procrastination.


 SWITCH UP YOUR ROUTINE


Getting caught in the same old routine can lead to going through the motions of life instead of performing with passion and innovation. Sometimes, a little change in pace is exactly what we need to spark some motivation.

Take a different route to school, exercise at a park instead of the gym, do work at a local coffee shop, set your alarm 30 minutes earlier, make spontaneous plans with friends…anything to snap yourself out of autopilot mode! Try to shake up your surroundings and break free from rigid routine.


SURROUND YOURSELF WITH ENCOURAGING PEOPLE


The outlook of those around you will greatly influence your own. Filling your social life with unfulfilling relationships and negative people can ultimately limit you from reaching your goals. What good is it to have “friends” who aren’t supportive and only tear you down?

Surround yourself with people who will cheer you on, push you to be your best, empathize when you struggle, and celebrate your successes. It is also extremely motivating to be around others who are working towards their own goals, whether similar to yours or not. Overall, welcome people into your life who have drive and cultivate positivity.


Motivation gives you the spirit to start, but it can disappear as quickly as it came. That is where self-discipline comes into play. However, re-igniting your motivation can help you get back on track with achieving your goals. I hope you found this post helpful! How do you stay motivated when you feel burnt out?

5 Things To Stop Worrying About Right Now | Worry is inevitable, but some things don't deserve any of your nervous energy. Here are 5 things to stop worrying about right now so you can focus your thoughts towards enjoying life!


My tendency to overthink sets me up to be a major worrier. From mentally racking through my to-do list to wondering what so-and-so meant by that comment to stressing about deadlines…I could worry allllllllll day long.

It may not be possible to live a life entirely absent of worry. However, once you understand the damage it causes to your mental health, you can finally learn how to snip those strings of negative thoughts.

Anxiety can’t be turned off like a light switch, but over these past few months, my worries have gradually diminished. This change has led me to gain more joy from life than I have in a while. The less energy I devote to fretting, the more I can fully appreciate each moment as it comes.

Here are 5 things I have decided to stop worrying about, and you should do the same!


1. BEING PERFECT


I used to think my perfectionism was not problematic, but I eventually realized that it was doing more harm than good. Striving for perfection can easily lead to procrastination. I often put off drafting blog posts because I fear that my work won’t meet my high expectations. It can also result in an all-or-nothing mentality. Take dieting, for example. If you “mess up” and eat a cookie, you may become consumed by food guilt and ditch your healthy eating habits altogether. You weren’t able to follow the diet to a T, so you give up on it (just another reason why diets are a no-no!).

Whether you are concerned about writing the “perfect” paper, or eating “perfectly” healthy, or giving the “perfect” speech, or having the “perfect” hairstyle…drop those expectations. Perfectionism is unobtainable, so don’t waste time worrying about reaching it!


2. THE PAST


Overanalyzing conversations I’ve had or decisions I’ve made is one of my (toxic) specialities. Did I sound stupid when I asked that question? What if I made a mistake? Could the other choice have been a better one? There is no benefit to worrying about what can’t be changed. What’s happened has happened. Here’s a rule of thumb: If it is not going to matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes stressing about it.


3. THE FUTURE


I worry a lot about what’s to come. It might be a presentation I have to give in class the next day…or where I will go to college next year…or what my life might look like a decade from now. The part of me that finds security in control hates that the future is so hazy, but lately, I’ve found excitement in the unknown.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34, NIV).


4. WHAT OTHERS THINK


It is human nature to want to be accepted by those around us. However, people probably don’t care about you as much as you might think. As sad as it sounds, most thoughts we have are self-centered. You are not the forefront of others’ minds. Overall, it’s important to remember that your life is your business, you know what is best for you, and you are the one who will be stuck with the consequences of your choices. Do not conform to beauty standards that don’t make you happy, say things you don’t mean, or do things you don’t enjoy.


5. WHAT YOU COULD BE DOING


Delaying your to-do list to hang out with friends is okay. The occasional Netflix break from homework will not kill you. I am guilty of worrying about the things I could be getting done instead of being fully present in a conversation or indulging in much needed rest. Productivity is great and all, but incorporating self-care, integrating stress-relieving practices, and getting a good night’s sleep are just as critical. If a task is really pressing, then get it done. But if you are actively choosing to rest, allow yourself to be at peace without worrying about other responsibilities.


There are certain things that don’t deserve your energy, and these were 5 of them. Some worry is inevitable, but I hope you found this post helpful! What is something you will stop worrying about?

Beauty Standards: To Participate or Pass? | From flat stomachs to pouty lips to sleek hair...the media bombards us with expectations of what a "beautiful" woman looks like. Where do we draw the line between harmless and harmful beauty standards? Here are 3 questions to ask yourself before deciding whether to participate or pass on a certain standard of beauty.


Recently, I attended my school’s winter formal. The time preceding the dance was filled with the following: getting a mani-pedi at a nail salon, getting a blowout at DryBar, and spending 2+ hours on my makeup. This doesn’t include the preparation that took place before the actual day of formal, which involved ordering three potential dresses, applying nightly face masks, and debating whether or not I should try tanning in 60 degree weather (…it didn’t end up happening).

I love getting dolled up, but the amount of time, money, and effort I dedicated to my appearance for a 3 hour dance is a bit absurd.

As females, we are expected to conform to certain standards of beauty (of course, males face similar pressures). From flat stomachs to thigh gaps to big butts to pouty lips to flawless skin to sleek hair…the media bombards us with expectations of what a “beautiful” woman looks like.

The reality is that beauty standards have existed for ages and will continue to exist. These standards shift based on what costs the most resources to attain and is most difficult to maintain. For example, today’s culture appears to value thinness, but plumper bodies were ideal in early time periods.

Beauty standards are inevitable, and I am not against all of them. Some are generally harmless, like shaving your legs or applying mascara. However, certain standards can be damaging. This is where we need to pause and make a conscious choice of whether we will participate or not.


3 Questions To Ask Yourself


  1. Is it harming my health? While many beauty standards are nondestructive, this is not always the case. Thinness as a standard of beauty can be problematic. I am all about making healthy lifestyle changes– eating nutrient-dense foods, integrating enjoyable exercise daily, getting a good night’s sleep, and incorporating self-care and stress-relieving rituals are extremely important for your wellbeing. However, many people are under the impression that restricting their caloric intakes and working out obsessively are both “healthy” and will help them achieve slimmer frames, which is not true. These practices are detrimental to one’s physicality by ruining gut health, hormonal health, etc. and to one’s mental health by evoking food guilt, anxiety, etc. Before pursuing weight loss (or another beauty standard), it is critical to consider the possible harmful effects.
  2. Is it becoming obsessive? A beauty standard should never be idolized, nor should it be a way to measure your worth. If meeting a specific expectation is all-consuming, that is a clear indicator of a standard you should not participate in.
  3. Is it making me unhappy? Straightening your hair every morning might feel like a chore. If you think those 20 minutes could be devoted to something that will bring you more joy, put down the straightener! Don’t waste your time on things that are unnecessary and will not contribute to your happiness.

Remember…


As cliché as it sounds, your exterior does not reflect your true beauty. Beauty is created through your attitude, behavior, and actions. It isn’t wrong to want to conform to certain beauty standards, but there is so much power in loving yourself as you are. Learning to love yourself is a process– you must tolerate your flaws before you can accept them, and you must accept them before you can embrace them. Then, you may come to the realization that your “flaws” aren’t actually flaws at all. They make you, you. And you were fearfully and wonderfully made.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV).


I hope this post challenged, inspired, or uplifted you in some way. What are your thoughts on beauty standards?

5 Ways To Set Yourself Up For A Better Night's Sleep | If there's one thing we all need more of, it's sleep. But getting quality sleep can be a challenge (cue the nights of tossing and turning until the early A.M.). Here are 5 ways to prepare for a good night's sleep!


If there is one thing most of us need more of, it’s sleep.

Hit the gym and drink all the green smoothies you want, but without adequate sleep, your physical and mental health will suffer.

Sleep is crucial to repair your body’s damaged cells, boost your immunity, and maintain a healthy weight. Without enough rest, you put yourself at greater risk for feelings of depression and loneliness. Your concentration will plummet, your gut health may decline as a result of increased inflammation, and you become more susceptible to all sorts of diseases.

Basically, hit the hay if you don’t want to kick the bucket.

Okay, that might be a tad dramatic, but there is no question that sleep should be a priority in all of our lives. However, getting enough quality sleep can be a challenge, even if you put forth the effort (cue the nights of tossing and turning until the early A.M.). Today, I’m sharing 5 ways to set yourself up for a better night’s sleep!


1. BE CONSISTENT


I often find myself going to bed at 10 p.m. one night and midnight the next. It can be hard to stick to a regimented routine when life gets hectic.

Nevertheless, following a sleeping schedule can improve the quality of your sleep dramatically. Your circadian rhythm (aka your “internal body clock”) relies on consistency, so going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will align your body to these rhythms.

Choose a bedtime that will allow at least 7-8 hours of sleep. If this requires going to bed much earlier than you are used to, you may find it difficult to doze off in a reasonable amount of time. In this case, begin with setting a consistent waking time. Waking up at the same time every day will build your drive to sleep later.


2. EXERCISE STRATEGICALLY


If you remain sedentary all day, you are setting yourself up for a restless night. Collapsing on your bed sounds very appealing when you’ve burned off some energy…not as much when you’ve already been lounging around for a while.

Getting in as little as 20 minutes of movement per day can increase the duration of your sleep. The effect of the intensity and timing on sleeping patterns will differ from person to person. For some, exercising at night may be too invigorating. For others, it may exhaust them so much that they’ll be out the second their heads hit their pillows. No matter the timing, make sure you actually enjoy the exercise— dreading your workout will only promote stress!

Experiment with different workouts at varying times and log your sleeping habits. You will learn what works best for you!


3. UNLOAD YOUR BRAIN


Whether I am mentally sifting through my to-do list, reflecting on conversations from the day, or fantasizing about the events of tomorrow…my mind is always moving at a million miles a minute. Somehow, the stillness of the night seems to speed it up even more.

Not only is journaling a great form of self-care, but doing so before bedtime allows me to flush out my thoughts and declutter my headspace. Dozing off is nearly impossible when your brain won’t shut off, but a clear mind will allow you to fall asleep with ease.


4. ESTABLISH A WIND-DOWN ROUTINE


Just like a consistent bedtime will help you fall asleep faster, a nighttime routine will wind you down and prepare your body for rest. This routine should not include your phone, computer, or TV. Don’t get me wrong, I am very guilty of scrolling through Instagram, typing up a blog post, or finishing an episode of The Bachelor minutes before hitting the sack. But if you are having trouble snoozing, electronics could be the culprit.

There’s plenty of evidence that the blue light emitted by devices suppresses our melatonin production, thus messing with our ability to sleep. Beyond the science, though, technology is simply distracting. You may decide to check social media for just a minute before bed, but then a minute becomes 15…and 15 minutes becomes an hour…you see where this is going.

End your night with some (electronic-free) stress-relieving rituals. Follow an evening skincare routine, sip on a cup of tea, or do some light reading to relax.


5. CREATE A SLEEP-FRIENDLY SPACE


“You are either in your bed or in your shoes, so it pays to invest in both.” -John Wildsmith

A sleep-friendly space begins with a high-quality mattress and bedding. Mattresses and accessories can add up in price, but if you are lacking comfort while sleeping, it is well worth the investment.

Additionally, keep your space dark, cool, and quiet. Artificial light will mimic daylight, making it a challenge to fall asleep. Shut your curtains, unplug any night-lights, and power down the electronics. Your body temperature drops as it prepares for rest, so keeping your space cool will aid in that process. Noise is obviously very distracting when trying to sleep, but some sounds are beyond your control (traffic, noisy neighbors, loud roommates…). If this is the problem, a soothing sound machine or the hum of a fan could do the trick.


A blissful slumber will boost your well-being and energy, allowing you to be fully present and enjoy each day in its entirety. I hope you found this post helpful! How do you set yourself up for a better night’s sleep?

3 New Year's Resolution Alternatives | New Year's Resolutions often lead to failure and guilt...so let's ditch 'em. Here are 3 New Year's Resolution alternatives that will set you up for a successful year to come!


I, along with millions of others in the world, have always set resolutions for myself by the time January 1st rolled around.

I have a proposal for you: Let’s ditch the New Year’s Resolutions.

Look, I am all about goal-setting and self-improvement. However, the idea of “new year, new me” poses some issues. We become consumed in guilt when we think about what we wanted to accomplish in 2017, but didn’t. Then, we overwhelm ourselves with a list of things we need to get right in 2018, often setting ourselves up for failure due to unrealistic expectations.

Making resolutions that we will implement starting on January 1st is the equivalent of the all-too-common “I’ll start eating healthy on Monday”. You pig-out over the weekend, and when you accidentally eat a cookie on Monday, you decide to start eating healthy next week instead.

New Year’s Resolutions encourage procrastination by putting off your goals until January. This mindset leads us to constantly plan, wait, and look ahead to next week or next month or next year. We forget to be fully present and live in the moment.

Change can happen at any time, not only after the ball drops.

With that being said, here are 3 New Year’s Resolution alternatives that will allow you to reflect on 2017 and set you up for a successful year to come!


1. CHOOSE A WORD


Instead of creating a lengthy list of bad behaviors you should reverse, pick one word to focus on for the new year. Choose your word based on how you want to feel, what you hope to experience, a characteristic you wish to embody, and/or what you desire God to reveal to you. Maybe your word is “intentional”, “space”, “grace”, “strength”, “trust”, “consistent”…the options are endless! Find a word that speaks to you and keep it in mind as you go about each day. Unlike a restrictive resolution that is easily “broken”, a word can be applied to a variety of situations and allows room for growth.


2. WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER


Grab a pen and paper, get comfy, and write a letter from your future-self dated January 1, 2019. Imagine where you will be in one year and reflect on your (hypothetical) personal development over the course of 2018. Thank your present self for what you have already accomplished. Offer yourself advice as you head into the new year. Alternatively, write a letter to your future-self about how you hope your life will have evolved and open it on January 1, 2019.


3. CARRY GOOD HABITS INTO THE NEW YEAR


We tend to get caught up in everything we did wrong over the past year. Don’t beat yourself up for your shortcomings. Instead, reflect on the positive changes you did make during 2017. Maybe incorporating self-care into your busy schedule helped boost your mental health. Or maybe eating more healthy fats allowed you to heal your gut and improve digestion. These habits can be extended into the new year by continuing to include stress-relieving practices and adding nut butter to your breakfast every day. Whatever good changes you made, aim to continue your progress in 2018.


Which one of these New Year’s Resolution alternatives will you be trying?

Coping With Loneliness and Unfulfilling Relationships | Ever feel lonely even when you are not alone? Everyone experiences this from time to time. Here is how to deal with loneliness and unfulfilling relationships.


The other day, a few of my friends and I had a conversation about “perfect” friendships and relationships. Seeing couples that are #goals on Instagram and walking past cliques tighter than Lululemon leggings at school leads us to believe that such a thing exists.

But, alas, perfection is unattainable. The more we strive for it, the more disappointed we become. And the more disappointed we become, the more lonely we feel.

It is common to feel lonely even when we are not alone. You could be surrounded by a million people and feel isolated nonetheless. Nobody likes to admit it, but everyone experiences a bit of loneliness from time to time.

In the past, I was unsatisfied with my friendships and this led me to feel detached. I have grown a lot over the past year and now find so much joy in the connections I have built. Today, I am sharing what helped me in coping with loneliness and unfulfilling relationships.


 SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS


My idea of a “true” friend was once nearly equivalent to a “perfect” friend. I wanted someone who would know me better than I knew myself, give the right advice at the right time, have a sense of humor that aligned exactly with my own, constantly understood my way of thinking, never hurt me intentionally or unintentionally, etc.

Besides realizing the impracticality of these expectations, I also learned that one friend can not fulfill every need. There are some people who will ponder the meaning of life with you, and others who prefer to chat about the latest celebrity gossip. Some will bring out the loud, crazy side of your personality, while others will highlight your calm, composed side. Some will sit and listen to all of your problems, while others will vent about their own as you offer advice.

There are certain people you will bond with who can do all of the above and even more. However, expecting this out of every friendship is unrealistic. Realize that it is okay to have a broad range of friends, each one bringing different experiences and amplifying unique parts of your character. Do not put all of the pressure on one person.

The point here: No one is perfect and every relationship is limited to some extent. Remain hopeful and optimistic, but also remember to be realistic in your expectations.


 STOP COMPARING


Everyone wants to find “their person” (*cough cough* Grey’s Anatomy reference). But the relationship you cultivate with “your person” may not look exactly like Meredith Grey’s friendship with Cristina Yang, not to mention one sole human can not belong to you nor satisfy your every need (refer back to a few paragraphs ago).

The relationships portrayed in TV shows and movies are often unrealistic. There is never a dull moment between characters, and when they fight or face struggles, they always seem to come out of them stronger than ever. Although you will experience plenty of exciting moments with your loved ones, real-life relationships are not exhilarating 24/7. And arguments do not resolve as flawlessly as they do on the big screen.

Clearly, it does not make sense to compare your relationships to those in TV shows and movies. The same idea applies to what you see on social media or in public. A group of friends may post a million photos of them laughing candidly, but that doesn’t mean they never have drama. A couple may be holding hands and smiling in the hallway, but that doesn’t mean they never argue.

The point here: Do not compare your life to the lives of fictional characters, and avoid making assumptions about people in general. Real relationships have real problems.


EMBRACE ALONE TIME


Coping With Loneliness and Unfulfilling Relationships | Ever feel lonely even when you are not alone? Everyone experiences this from time to time. Here is how to deal with loneliness and unfulfilling relationships.It is easy to feel sad when you lack company. Solitude can be uncomfortable. However, having time to yourself should not automatically make you feel lonely. It is an opportunity to grow independently as an individual rather than thriving off another person.

If your happiness is usually dictated by other people, it is important to get comfortable with being alone sometimes. There are so many things that can be discovered about oneself through solitude. Use alone time to pick up a hobby or practice self-care with some stress-relieving tactics.

The point here: Spending time alone does not make you lonely. Learn to enjoy the “me, myself, and I” moments.


SEEK GOD


People will always fall short.

It is disheartening, but true. I talked earlier about how relying on one sole person will only let you down in the end. Yes, you can connect with a wide range of individuals, but still, no other person, or people, can “complete” you.

I am not saying that people are better off apart, because that is definitely not the case. We are told in Ecclesiastes 4:9 that “two are better than one”. Humans are meant for companionship, but they are not meant to fulfill.

God fulfills.

This realization has given me a sense of peace. It has led me to lift the pressure off of myself to cultivate perfect friendships, and off of others to meet my expectations. It has drawn me closer to God and allowed me to fully enjoy what my earthly relationships have to offer.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV).

The point here: Abundant life is not found in people. It is found in God.


Loneliness happens every now and then, but these mindset shifts have made these feelings short-lived. I hope you found this post helpful! How do you cope with loneliness and unfulfilling relationships?

How To Find Balance During The Holidays | There is no doubt that the holidays bring plenty of stress. Your waistline expands as your wallet shrinks. Your to-do list lengthens as your sleep shortens. Here is how to find balance during the holidays!


According to Andy Williams, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”. I can’t argue with him on that one. How could you not adore the twinkly lights, steamy hot chocolates, and fireside snuggles?

However, there is no doubt that the season brings its fair share of panic and stress. Your waistline expands as your wallet shrinks. Your to-do list lengthens as your sleep shortens. Unfortunately, it’s not all “kids jingle belling” and “gay happy meetings”, Andy.

I am constantly striving to find balance in all aspects of my life, which becomes even more crucial around this time of year. Today, I am sharing how to balance your time, body, and money during the holidays!


BALANCING YOUR TIME


1. Prioritize your tasks. There is nothing more daunting than a never-ending to-do list. Rather than overwhelming yourself with a million things to complete, choose the three most important tasks you want to accomplish each day. A realistic to-do list will help you to stop procrastinating, and focusing on what is most urgent will ensure that you are not wasting time or energy.

2. Volunteer. When we get caught up in our own lives, it is easy to forget that a world exists outside of our subconsciously-created bubbles. Volunteering will broaden your perspective and remind you to be grateful. While you might be thinking, “I don’t need another thing to add to my to-do list…”, giving back to those in need is one of the best uses of your time. I personally enjoy preparing and serving meals at my local soup kitchen. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters are flooding with volunteers during the holidays, but don’t forget that help is needed year-round.

3. Set boundaries. I am all about saying “yes”. An attitude of “yes” can lead to new opportunities and long-lasting memories. On the other hand, there is power in saying “no”. With the busyness of the holidays, it is common to over-commit and end up with way too many responsibilities. Turning down requests and invitations can be difficult when you feel like you are letting others down. However, keeping your social schedule and number of tasks reasonable will relieve stress and make the yeses much more enjoyable.

4. Make time for yourself. The idea of “self-care” has been thrown around like confetti throughout 2017, and for a good reason. Much of your time is probably devoted to others during the holidays, but we need to show ourselves some love, too.  Incorporating self-care is essential to boost your mental health. If you feel short on time, set aside 10 minutes each morning or night to do something simple you enjoy, whether that is journaling, stretching, reading, or watching a Youtube video.


BALANCING YOUR BODY


5. Eat what will make you feel good. Many experience a constant internal battle surrounding food, especially during the holiday season. Should you choose the salad for dinner, or give in to the honey-glazed ham and mashed potatoes? Should you pass on the pumpkin pie or indulge in a slice? Ultimately, pick what will satisfy both your body and soul. One day, chocolate chip cookies might be tugging at your heart, so eat some without letting food guilt get to you. The next, your body could crave veggies, so whip together a green smoothie for breakfast. My advice is to give yourself full permission to eat what you want. Maybe you fear that this freedom will result in you eating junk 24/7. However, once you realize that those cookies aren’t going anywhere, you will find the right balance between eating for physical health and eating for pleasure.

6. Move intuitively. Curling up under a pile of blankets sounds much more appealing than going for a run in the cold winter weather. That is completely understandable, but lounging around every day will not make you feel your best in the end. Lethargy can be avoided by incorporating gentle movement regularly. There is no need to create a strict routine that you must follow to a T– this could lead to your workouts feeling like a chore, when in reality, you should enjoy exercise. Instead, move intuitively. If you are feeling sluggish and sore one day, go for a leisurely walk or do some yoga. If you have more energy the next, bump up the intensity of your workout. Exercise according to how your body is feeling.

7. Stay hydrated. You’ve heard it countless times, but we could all use the reminder to drink more water! In the winter, we often overlook the importance of staying hydrated. Just because you aren’t panting and sweating under the beating sun does not mean you need any less H20! Drinking enough water will banish dry skin, improve digestion, and keep you energized all winter long.


BALANCING YOUR MONEY


How To Find Balance During The Holidays | There is no doubt that the holidays bring plenty of stress. Your waistline expands as your wallet shrinks. Your to-do list lengthens as your sleep shortens. Here is how to find balance during the holidays!

8. Go the homemade route. Christmas shopping is fun and all, but it sure does some damage to your bank account. Instead of buying all your gifts, make something for your friends and family. Whip up a sugar scrub, decorate a DIY ornament, put together a scrapbook…get creative! The time and effort that goes into a homemade gift is much more meaningful than a store-bought item.

9. Be a selective shopper. In the past, I wanted to buy something for nearly every person in my life…partly because I love to give, and partly because I worried that I would receive a gift from so-and-so and not have anything for them in return. However, it is unnecessary to shop for everyone, and this mentality leads to a quickly shrinking wallet. Choose only the most important people in your life to purchase presents for. Bake cookies to hand out to the others; this gesture can be equally as thoughtful, while saving you money.

10. Participate in free activities. Staying at a ski resort and seeing The Nutcracker are great, but there are plenty of free activities available during the holiday season that are just as exciting. Drive through a decorated neighborhood, have a Christmas movie marathon, build a snowman (if you are blessed with a white winter)…there are tons of options that won’t break the bank!


Balancing your time, body, and money will allow you to make the most of this season. Always remember to be fully present and live in the moment because the holidays only come once a year! I hope you found this post helpful. How do you find balance during the holidays?

How To Fight Food Guilt During The Holidays | There is no reason to beat yourself up for indulging during the holidays. Learn how to fight food guilt so that you can focus solely on celebrating the joys of the season!


I love the holiday food scene, from the creamy mashed potatoes to the cheesy casseroles to the sticky stuffing…and don’t get me started on the sweets. Nothing brings more joy to my tastebuds than a sizzling slice of pie with a scoop (or five) of vanilla ice cream.

Although holiday food is undeniably delicious, its presence causes anxiety for many people. Diet culture encourages us to pursue an unrealistic body type by cutting out foods deemed “bad”. This mindset is toxic, especially during the holidays when you are surrounded by these forbidden foods 24/7.

In past years, I constantly battled between what I “should” and “shouldn’t” eat. I felt miserable seeing other people enjoying treats that I denied myself, but if I indulged, my guilt weighed me down.

Now, my outlook is completely different. I eat intuitively and do not restrict anything from my diet. However, I know that not everyone has found balance with food. After Thanksgiving, several of my friends and acquaintances were beating themselves up, feeling disgusted because they “ate way too much of X” and “probably gained 20 pounds” and needed to go “work it all off”.

The stress and guilt tied to certain foods can definitely escalate during the holidays. Today, I’m sharing how to fight food guilt so that you can focus solely on celebrating the joys of the season!


DUMP THE FOOD RULES


The food rules we impose on ourselves probably came from something we’ve read, heard, or watched. Over time, it becomes engrained in your head that “dairy and gluten are the devil” or “eating past 7 p.m. is bad” or “carbs make you gain weight”. ETC.

Obeying these rules can give you a sense of control. However, this becomes dangerous when you take it to the extreme and become overly obsessive. Your internal dialogue about whether or not you should eat something might become all-consuming. The joy gets sucked out of food.

Instead of asking yourself if you can have something, ask yourself if you want it. Trash the rules! The shame they cause does not serve you. Allowing yourself full permission to eat whatever you want whenever you want may sound scary, but this mindset shift will subdue your urges to leap at every food that was once off-limits. Sure, you might have one too many cookies at first…but eventually, you will realize that they are not going anywhere. This freedom will relieve stress around food.


DON’T SKIP MEALS TO “SAVE SPACE”


During the holidays, it becomes common to skip breakfast or lunch in order to “make room” or “save calories” for a big dinner. It sounds harmless, but this practice can set you up for a binge later.

You don’t need to eat a 12-inch stack of pancakes for breakfast if a feast awaits you in a few hours, but there is no reason to omit a meal altogether. Your body deserves to be nourished at least three times a day. Plus, eating regularly beforehand will ensure that you are not ravenous come the feast, which will only lead you to overeat (and feel guilty about doing so).


WEAR CLOTHES YOU FEEL CONFIDENT IN


I love high-waisted skinny jeans and crop tops, but they just won’t cut it on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Knowing that the holidays might result in a slightly fuller belly, pick an outfit that you will feel comfortable in no matter what. If trying to squeeze into a bodycon dress makes your body feel anything less than beautiful, ditch it. Wear something that you can embrace with confidence, whether you end up eating a kale salad or an abundance of buttered bread rolls.


EATING FOR PLEASURE IS OKAY


It sounds very doable to “eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied”. This idea has good intentions, but it completely ignores the fact that we humans have souls, not just stomachs. My stomach might not need a second serving of sweet potato casserole, but my soul sure does.

There are going to be occasions when you eat for experience rather than to ease physical hunger. Your body can manage it if you eat past fullness sometimes. In fact, a full belly can actually aid in improving digestion by prompting the process of moving things down. One day, a second plateful could be totally worth it. Another day, you might decide to honor your physical fullness and pass on an extra helping. Either way is A-OK.


ENJOY THE COMPANY


Hyper-analyzing food prevents you from being fully present and living in the moment. When you are too busy cloaking yourself in judgment, you are unable to wholly enjoy the people around you. Your memories should be centered around your loved ones, not the guilt you felt after dessert.

Engaging in conversation can distract you from your worries about food and remind you to direct your energy towards more important things. The holidays come once a year, and they are probably one of the only times you get to reunite with certain family members and friends. Cherish these moments!


INCORPORATE GENTLE MOVEMENT


Exercise should be a form of self-care, not a form of punishment. An extra slice of cake does not mean an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill. Our bodies are fully equipped to handle a little more food than normal on any given day. You do not need to interfere by working out strenuously.

Now, I am not telling you to forget about exercise. Movement is good for your body. But if you are not enjoying exercise, you are causing yourself more harm than good. Maybe intense HIIT sessions and 7 mile runs are your jam. If that’s the case, go for it! But gentle movement, like walking and yoga, are just as awesome.


How To Fight Food Guilt During The Holidays | There is no reason to beat yourself up for indulging during the holidays. Learn how to fight food guilt so that you can focus solely on celebrating the joys of the season!


Overall, remember that one meal, or even several, will not make or break you.

I am not saying that the holidays are a time to give up on healthy eating, but I think our society has a skewed definition of “healthy” eating. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and the anxiety and stress that many experience around certain foods can be more damaging than the foods themselves.

At the end of the day…eat that slice of pie. Enjoy it. Savor it. And don’t feel one bit guilty about it.

How do you fight food guilt during the holidays?

How To Incorporate Self-Care Into A Busy Schedule | You probably don't have enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list, let alone squeeze in self-care. But showing yourself love is vital to your overall well-being and should not be ignored. Here are some practical ways to incorporate self-care when you feel like you have no time!


We could all use a day devoted to nothing but a deep Thai massage, mani-pedi, and nap that lasts for hours…or a week of lounging on a beach in the Bahamas with a book and Piña Colada in hand…

buuutttt let’s get real. Most of our tight schedules do not allow for 5 minutes of disconnection, let alone a full day or an entire week.

Self-care is essential to boost your mental health, heal your gut, and simply stay sane in this “go-go-go!” culture of ours. Regular spa days and tropical vacations might be unrealistic, but giving yourself a bit of love shouldn’t be forgotten altogether.

There is no need for anything extravagant– simple acts can make a huge difference in your overall well-being. Today, I am sharing some tips for sneaking self-care into your busy schedule.


TAKE STRETCH BREAKS


How To Incorporate Self-Care Into A Busy Schedule | You probably don't have enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list, let alone squeeze in self-care. But showing yourself love is vital to your overall well-being and should not be ignored. Here are some practical ways to incorporate self-care when you feel like you have no time!

You may be on-the-go a lot, but there’s a good chance you spend more time on your butt than on your feet.

One of my favorite ways to move my body is through hot yoga. It eases my mind, relaxes my muscles, and leaves me feeling energized. However, driving 30 minutes to and from a one-hour yoga class is not feasible when I have a million-and-one things on my to-do list.

On days when I am desk-bound for a long time, taking frequent stretch breaks is a must. Stretching stiff muscles throughout periods of sedentary behavior relieves tension, improves circulation, and helps me to refocus. Try setting an alarm every 20-30 minutes reminding you to get up and take a 2-3 minute stretch break.


PRAISE YOURSELF


Self-care does not always need to be a physical activity or reward. A positive thought can be even more effective than a bubble bath or facial when it comes to showing yourself some love.

When you have a list of tasks that need to be crossed off, you might plow through one after the other without recognizing the accomplishment of completing each one. Pausing after each task to give yourself a mental or verbal pat-on-the-back may sound silly, but that extra encouragement could be just what you need.

Overall, maintaining a positive internal dialogue will boost your confidence and happiness. Whether it’s reminding yourself that you are smart and capable, or noticing that your hair looks extra good one day, filling your mind with kind thoughts is bound to keep you in good spirits.


RECHARGE WHEN YOUR DEVICES DO


How To Incorporate Self-Care Into A Busy Schedule | You probably don't have enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list, let alone squeeze in self-care. But showing yourself love is vital to your overall well-being and should not be ignored. Here are some practical ways to incorporate self-care when you feel like you have no time!It’s easy to get lost in technology for longer than what is healthy.

When you see that your computer battery has reached the red zone, you probably plug it in and continue tapping away. But just like our computers and phones need recharging, so do we.

Instead of plugging in your computer while you work, take it off the charger until it is close to dying. Once you’ve used up all its juice, plug it in, step away, and give yourself the opportunity to re-energize. Knowing that you have a limited battery life will motivate you to be productive and prevent procrastination. Of course, you will also be giving your mind a well-deserved break.


BOOKEND YOUR DAY


Once your day has started rolling, it feels impossible to carve out any spare time. Forcing self-care into the middle of the day can be unrealistic when life is hectic. Try practicing it first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier and devote the extra time to stretching, sipping on lemon water, or preparing a delicious breakfast. End the night with light reading, a face mask, or a cup of tea. Bookending each day with some stress-relieving strategies will help you to set the mood each morning and unwind for a good night’s sleep.


Making time for self-care is difficult, but it is certainly doable (and well worth it). I hope you found this post helpful! How do you incorporate self-care into your busy schedule?


Gut health has been all the rage this year, and for a good reason. According to Hippocrates, “all disease begins in the gut.” Research has revealed that an unhealthy gut can lead to a wide range of problems, from diabetes to depression to cancer. Yikes.

People jump straight to cutting out food groups when they experience digestive distress. But before you flee from gluten or dairy, consider all the other factors that could be influencing your gut health. Let’s discuss how lowering stress, eating mindfully, and incorporating specific foods can resolve digestive problems before creating tons of dietary restrictions.

Besides, why would you want to eliminate any foods with the holidays just around the corner? #GimmeAllTheTurkeyStuffing.

It’s time to get to the root cause of your gut issues. We’re about to get a bit science-y here, so bare with me!


 THE IMPACT OF STRESS ON GUT HEALTH


Before giving a public speech or going on a scary rollercoaster, do you ever feel like your stomach is in knots?

This feeling is a result of your gut-brain axis, which refers to the bidirectional connection between your central nervous system and enteric nervous system (often called “the second brain”). The two-way relationship between your gut and brain means that increased stress will lead to decreased GI function, and vice versa.

PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

The Autonomic Nervous System regulates digestion, and it consists of two divisions: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The SNS is responsible for your “fight-or-flight” response (cue red flashing lights and screeching sirens), which puts your body in battle-preparation mode. This system is activated when you are bracing for a plane crash or running from a tiger…but it is also initiated by small stressors, like sitting in traffic, dreading a workout, or procrastinating. Either way, the SNS diverts energy from certain body functions, including digestion.

The PNS, on the other hand, is responsible for your “rest-and-digest” mode. This mode allows your body to do exactly what it sounds like — restore, rejuvenate, and digest.

The thing is, only one branch of the Autonomic Nervous System can be active at a time. I can tell you rather confidently that your “fight-or-flight” mode is probably on waaaay more than the alternative. If this is the case, your digestion may be suffering.

So, how do you activate your PNS to optimize gut health?

INCORPORATE STRESS-REDUCING PRACTICES DAILY

Stress is inevitable. We can’t run or hide from it, but we can manage it.

Turning to some simple stress-relieving practices will allow you to cope in healthy ways when you feel overwhelmed. Some of my favorite mechanisms include going on walks, taking hot yoga classes, reading my Bible, and spending time with friends and family.

BREATHE

Deep breathing is a great strategy to boost your mental health. Taking a few belly breaths whenever you feel anxious will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Try to focus on making each exhale a few counts longer than each inhale, and pause for one count at the top of the inhales and at the bottom of the exhales. Using this breathing technique before meals will calm you down and ease digestion.


HOW TO EAT FOR OPTIMAL DIGESTION


We’ll get to the what later. For now, let’s discuss how we can eat to optimize digestion.

SPACE OUT LARGER MEALSHow To Heal Your Gut and Improve Digestion | If you think eliminating gluten and dairy will improve your gut health, think again. Before cutting things out of your diet in an effort to solve your digestive distress, let's get to the root cause of the issue. This post discusses how stress management, eating mindfully, and eating certain foods can heal your gut for good!

Somehow, our society has come to glorify the idea of consuming smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. While “grazing” may work well for some people, spacing out your meals and increasing your portion sizes could help alleviate digestive distress.

When the intestines are fasted for 90 minutes or longer, a wave called the migrating motor complex kicks in. Think of this wave as a broom that “sweeps” any leftover undigested material through the GI tract. If you tend to nibble throughout the day, there is a good chance you do not let 90 minutes pass before eating again. Giving your gut longer breaks will allow it to completely digest food.

Your portion sizes also play a role in digestive function. Snacking on a handful of almonds here and a piece of fruit there does not always signal to your body the process of moving things down. Don’t glaze over your hunger by nibbling until you feel neutral; eat solid meals that will fill you up completely. Larger meals will get things moving along and satiate you for longer periods of time.

CHEW

I am the slowest eater around. It takes me twice the amount of time to finish meals than it takes most people…apologies to my friends who have to wait for me in restaurants!

Gobbling up food without properly breaking it down will lead to incomplete digestion. Digestion begins in your mouth, and you do not want to let large particles of food end up in your stomach. Focus on thoroughly chewing to make the rest of the digestive process much easier on your body. Chewing mindfully requires practice, but eventually, it will become habitual (as it did for me).


GUT-HEALING FOODS


Like I said earlier, people often think that eliminating food groups will solve their digestive problems. What they don’t realize is that cutting things out decreases the bacterial diversity in their guts, making their stomachs even more sensitive.

With that being said, there are definitely cases when a food is truly harmful to a person, and there might not be many ways around it. However, I believe that restricting foods should be the last resort. Rather than taking things away, let’s see what we can add to our diets to heal and seal the gut.


PROBIOTICS

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that balance your gut and allow it to thrive. They reduce the harmful bacteria in the intestines, thus preventing inflammation and infection in the GI tract. While taking a daily probiotic supplement can be very beneficial, here are some foods that are naturally rich in probiotics:

  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi
  • kombucha
  • sourdough bread
  • aged, soft cheese
  • miso
  • tempeh

PREBIOTICS

More people have started sippin’ on kombucha for extra probiotics, but the importance of prebiotics is often overlooked. The good bacteria existing in your gut must be fed with prebiotics, which are a type of non-digestible dietary fiber. Foods rich in prebiotics include:

  • garlic
  • onion
  • asparagus
  • leeks
  • apples
  • under-ripe bananas
  • jicama
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • chicory
  • dandelion root
  • honey

HEALTHY FATS

Healthy fats will coat and soothe your gut lining, leading to smoother digestion. Incorporate more of these fats into your diet:

BONE BROTH

The collagen and gelatin found in bone broth seals the gut lining, reduces intestinal inflammation, and fights food sensitivities. While making your own bone broth is ideal…ain’t nobody got time for that (and kudos to you if you do!). I love Bonafide Provisions Bone Broth, which can be found in the freezer section of health food stores. All you have to do is heat it up in a pot for a few minutes. Easy peasy!

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

Raw, organic apple cider vinegar undergoes a double fermentation process that aids in the production of healthy gut bacteria. It increases stomach acid which helps break down food if you experience indigestion. Try taking a teaspoon of ACV diluted in water when you wake up in the morning or before going to bed.


How To Heal Your Gut and Improve Digestion | If you think eliminating gluten and dairy will improve your gut health, think again. Before cutting things out of your diet in an effort to solve your digestive distress, let's get to the root cause of the issue. This post discusses how stress management, eating mindfully, and eating certain foods can heal your gut for good!


REMEMBER, YOU’RE NOT PERFECT.


You won’t always have time to make avocado toast with a fried egg and a forkful of sauerkraut for breakfast…not to mention chewing each bite 30+ times. Some days require scarfing down an Eggo on the way to school or work. The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up over it.

Thinking about how “bad” the gluten in that Eggo is can lead to more GI distress than the gluten itself (this is known as the nocebo effect— basically the placebo effect in reverse).

The point here: don’t stress about being perfect. You’re only doing your gut more harm. And have patience! The stomach aches and bloating won’t disappear overnight. Reversing damage to the gut takes time.


I hope you found this post helpful! What steps will you take to heal your gut?

I love fall and winter. My skin, on the other hand, begs to differ.

I can’t say that fall has brought changing leaves and chilly air here in SoCal, but I think we might be on the cusp of weather that sorta-kinda resembles autumn (my expectations aren’t very high).

With the cooler temps and lower humidity, this is the time of year when my skin begins cracking and flaking. One of my goals for this month was to rehydrate my dry skin, and after incorporating these 5 products into my routine, my face has felt much more soft, smooth, and supple!



  1. Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream – I find that intense night creams are one of the best solutions to repair dry skin, so I went on a search for one that wouldn’t break the bank. This product has made a huge difference ever since integrating it into my nighttime routine, and at under $20, you can’t go wrong! A little goes a long way, so you won’t run out anytime soon. The formula is thick, but it doesn’t feel heavy and it absorbs quickly. My skin is moisturized and plumped when I wake up!

  2. Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Eye Cream – Concealing dark circles looks cakey and flaky when the skin is so dry. This cream has been a lifesaver! It is gentle and lightweight, but effective for hydrating the skin around the eye area. After applying the night cream, I squeeze a few dots of this product underneath my eyes and on my lids, then pat it in softly with my fingers. No more cakey concealer!


  3. Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil – I am a big fan of5 Products To Banish Dry Skin | The cool temperatures and low humidity of fall and winter brings the dreaded dry skin. These 5 products will keep your skin soft, smooth, and supple! Smashbox. Their Camera Ready BB Cream, which is one of my favorite foundation alternatives, has been a longtime staple. Although this oil is a makeup primer, it looks and feels a bit too greasy for my liking when used directly before applying face makeup. Instead, I’ll smooth a few drops onto my face before bed whenever my skin is feeling extra parched. The oil is completely absorbed in the morning and leaves a seamless base for blending makeup!

  4. Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater – This is my go-to product for a mid-day pick-me-up. Whether I am wearing makeup or not, a few spritzes is perfect for a boost of hydration. My skin always feels instantly refreshed, not to mention the scent is so soothing. This mist is versatile (it can be used as a primer, setting spray, toner, etc.) and doesn’t feel oily. Plus, you can snatch it for only $7!


  5. Coconut Oil – I couldn’t exclude coconut oil from this post! We all know that it’s not just for cooking anymore. Use it as a natural alternative to your typical store-bought moisturizers. I rub it onto my face and body after showering for nourished, radiant skin!


If your skin has been suffering from dryness, I hope you give these products a try! What are your favorite products to hydrate dry skin?