Racism and its Role in the Health Crisis

April 7th is observed as World Health Day. The following statement was taken from the World Health Organization website:

On World Health Day, 7 April 2021, we will be inviting you to join a new campaign to build a fairer, healthier world. We’ll be posting more details here shortly, but here’s why we’re doing this:

Our world is an unequal one.
As COVID-19 has highlighted, some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others – entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age.

World Health Organization

Racism as an Epidemic

As a coach and helping professional, I bear witness to the wide and deep reach that this pandemic, not unlike any other pandemic, has on people. It has been a source of financial ruin, a spotlight on disparity, and the taker of lives. Today, I ask that you consider what I feel is the greatest health risk factor for marginalized groups in America today–racism.

I am not going to turn my little blog post into a white paper, though I could. Suffice it to say that several studies(hundreds to be sure), and increasing in complexity and number, have all teased out the many socioeconomic factors that create barriers and less than desirable health outcomes for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The verdict of the recent review by PubMed? Racism is at the heart of it all.

You may be wondering how exactly. Consider this. Racism is the foundation of every structure in this country, particularly public work structures like education, the justice system, wealth and resource systems, and the healthcare system. If BIPOC have been and continue to be marginalized, they are not accessing resources at the same rate or depth as whites. It all makes sense. I am not speaking about one offs–I am speaking in general terms. I am aware that there are folks that have transcended some of these systems successfully. But that is where racism steps in.

We have seen that despite education, influence, or affluence racism still persists. BIPOC are still treated as valets at fancy venues, harassed by neighbors in nice neighborhoods, followed by campus police where they are tenured professors, and experience hate crimes at the hands of the police and citizens.

It is the stress that racism causes that is being linked to the dis-eases that plague BIPOC. Hypertension, caused by elevated blood pressure, is one of them, along with mental health issues and dis-eases that result in weakened immune systems borne of the chronic stress such as heart and kidney disorders. Additionally, Blacks in particular, but other ethnicities, also suffer from higher occurrences of Type 2 diabetes and higher rates of infant mortality.

For further example, black children are about twice as likely as white children to develop asthma, health statistics suggest. And racial and ethnic gaps in infant mortality have persisted for as long as researchers have been collecting data. People with diabetes who are members of racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to have complications like kidney failure, or to require amputations. These disparities persist when all other variables have been accounted for. The fact that racism–the missing factor–is now being talked about as a preliminary cause can help illuminate the voices of people who have been rendered invisible.

The Body on Stress and COVID-19

Stress. Stress is known to actually alter the composition and function of a body. Particularly when a body is being bombarded long-term with the chemicals produced as a result of that stress. There is nothing as long-term as your race.

As stress hormones like cortisol circulate in the body, they turn fat into sugar that the body can use to fight or flee. Unused sugars are often then re-stored as fat in the midsection; this makes them accessible for future stress responses but can damage the kidneys, heart, and other organs. Because cortisol is made from cholesterol, many people who are chronically stressed crave fatty foods as a way to replenish their levels, Juster says, which can then lead to other health problems. And the elevated blood pressure and heart rate that prepare a person for conflict can also lead to hypertension and an enlarged heart. 

NOTE: Both of these heart conditions—as well as the diabetes that’s linked to chronic stress—can put people at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. And now we can better understand what the real co-morbidity issue was as the number of deaths for Blacks, which were the highest of any ethnic group, and the disproportionate numbers for Latinx stacked up.

In laymen’s terms, the chronic flooding of the circulatory system–whether it is frequent short bursts or longer periods without proper recovery–with stress hormones creates an overtaxed, overexcited immune system, which is less effective at recognizing a real foe and is prone to attacking the body instead.

In the short-term, stress hormones inhibit damaging inflammatory reactions. But over time the body becomes cortisol resistant, instead promoting the production of proteins from the immune system called “pro-inflammatory cytokines.” People with especially high allostatic load (for example, people from chronically underserved communities who experience severe trauma and racism), can be prone to producing too many of these pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can begin attacking other cells or tissues that aren’t a threat—the “cytokine storms” that have come to characterize some of the most severe COVID-19 cases.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/racism-stress-covid-allostatic-load/

Stress hormones affect the ability to think clearly, preserve memory, and exacerbate other mental conditions. The damage can cross the placenta barrier and affect fetuses when carried by a mother under this type of stress. This widespread damage from chronic stress also leads to a broad premature aging of cells, which have had to divide more often in order to repair damaged tissue. Each one of our cells is built to divide a limited number of times, explains Arline Geronimus, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan. And each time it divides, the caps at the ends of its chromosomes (called telomeres) shorten a little. Once a cell reaches the end of its telomeres, it can no longer divide. This process happens in every body as we age—but not at the same rate. People with chronic stress “have, in effect, an older biological age than other people at their same chronological age,” she says.

Developmental psychologist Virginia Huynh brings this dynamic back to the pandemic, pointing out that “Black people were already at a higher risk for health problems because of racism” and that structural and workplace inequalities have intensified during this time. “It makes sense they’re disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” she says.

Racism at the Cellular Level

Just being in this society, as a Black person or a brown person means the recognition that you are potentially at risk for some sort of negative encounter,” Parker Dominguez says, “whether it’s with the police or elsewhere. Your level of threat perception in the environment is higher.” That threat perception leads to hypervigilance, which leads to heightened allostatic load.

It’s that “pervasive, persistent” experience of stress that is damaging to the health of Black Americans and other marginalized communities, and permeates every facet of life. A BIPOC person, and Blacks more so , are always on edge–waiting to see when they will have to run or fight.

The research of Virginia Huynh  indicates that young people don’t need to be on the receiving end of racist behavior to be affected physiologically, nor does the behavior need to be overt or extreme for it to do damage. In one study, Huynh and her colleagues collected saliva from 300 teenagers over the course of a day to measure cortisol levels. Teenagers who reported experiencing discrimination had higher levels of cortisol that did not decline normally over the course of the day—suggesting that they were not only experiencing more stress but that they weren’t recovering from it fully. In a second study, a cohort of college students experienced increased levels of cortisol after simply witnessing or overhearing a racist comment, indicating that even vicarious discrimination can create a physiological response.

Huynh emphasizes that these daily experiences of discrimination are often less overt and more insidious, the offhand comments or small interactions sometimes known as microaggressions. “Years of being followed around in a grocery store or liquor market—subtle everyday slight insults—convey to people of color and marginalized communities that they don’t belong, don’t fit in,” she says. When it comes to allostatic load, “it’s often cumulative, a lifetime of experiences that affect multiple regulatory systems.”

In this way, subjectivity and individual perception can deeply affect health, she says. The stress of microaggressions reverberates painfully, regardless of original intent. “There’s often a number of explanations [for a microaggression], but ultimately the impact is that you felt it was offensive, racist, or discriminatory,” she says. “If you’re vigilant against someone being rude to you, and trying to figure out if it’s because of your race or gender, then your body is constantly feeling like it needs to prepare.”

Health in the Face of Racism

BIPOC alone should not carry and absolutely cannot carry the burden of coping with racism. Everyone needs to address structural disadvantage, socioeconomic deprivation, and institutionalized racism to reduce discrimination.

However, there is evidence to suggest that certain factors can help people cope with the negative effects of racism, both physically and mentally.

Fostering a strong sense of racial identity is one evidenced-based way to stave off the effects of racism. Studies have found a link between those with a positive self-image and decreased stress due to racism. Helping children and adolescents develop a strong and positive self-image can go a long way in mitigating the long-term affects of racism, which can transcend generations. To this end, Hunyh points to research showing that kids who feel a stronger sense of ethnic identity—whose parents have talked to them about what it means to be Black or Mexican or taught them Indigenous traditions—have lower allostatic load. Parker Dominguez points to California’s Black Infant Health Program, a program that provides social support and connection to resources during pregnancy to women across 20 regions of California and has made significant strides in closing gaps in pregnancy outcomes.

Engaging in critical dialogues about racist experiences, instead of bottling them up, have been proven to help a person process feelings of stress, anger, and frustration.

Having a strong support system to talk to for support, advice, and comfort can help people cope with racial discrimination. It can encourage a sense of security and identity and reduce negative thoughts and feelings, and even depression.  Research on resilience shows that social support, a sense of meaning, and feelings of control are “extremely beneficial in lowering allostatic load,” Juster says. 

Closing Thoughts

In this current climate, where conversations and movement on serious matters are taking place, I felt like speaking on this topic. I see the effects of long-term, or chronic stress, and I can an relate to the heightened sense of stress that I feel navigating American society as a Black woman. I can only empathize with those who have the additional intersection of being BIPOC and LGBTQIA or BIPOC and Fat, and so on. Stress kills and knowing how the stress of racism affects the body it is not a far-cry to say that even when a person is not murdered, that racism kills. This is the single most threatening variable in health care to BIPOC.

I would dare say that BIPOC the world over are experiencing the same kinds of chronic stress-induced conditions.

I stand with the organizations and individuals from all walks of life that are bravely showing up to end systemic racism. I will keep being a listener and an activist. I know that fighting racism will literally save lives.

Resources

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/racism-stress-covid-allostatic-load/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3258496/

Break Free from Boredom

Action Leads to Action

We all get stuck in ruts from time to time. You know you’re in a rut when every day seems the same, and those days aren’t very enjoyable. After a while, it’s hard to know the best way to bring about the changes that can make life exciting, interesting, and enjoyable again. Ruts tend to be self-perpetuating and require a decent amount of energy to get back out.

Focusing on the rut is not the way to break free from it! You grow what you focus on, so to get out of a rut, you will need to focus on activities, behaviors, and actions that you enjoy, that get the creativity flowing, or that will move you towards your goals.

But once you get that energy flowing, the actionable steps lead to progress, which will lead to repeated, consistent action. The progress becomes the reward and a motivating bonus is that you will see your goals began to manifest. Boom! Behavior based goal setting! A win-win for busting through a rut and creating your breakthrough!

Rut-Busting Strategies to Get Started

Realize that your discomfort is a good sign.

As humans, we tend to feel uncomfortable when we experience change in our lives. Accept the fact you might have some challenging feelings to navigate as you come out of your rut and get your life back on track.

Find a passion or interest to add to your life.

Now’s the perfect time to take up yoga or the guitar. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint or try out mountaineering, go for it!

  • Your concerns and worries vanish when you’re involved with something that fascinates you.
  • Make a list of the things you’ve never tried, but have always wanted to. Find one or two things that interest you the most and give them a shot.

Schedule your new activity.

Make your new hobby a priority by scheduling it into your life. It should get the high-priority status it deserves.

Look for a new job.

Work takes up a lot of our waking hours, so life is much more enjoyable when you like the field you choose. If you feel like you’re in a rut, maybe a career change is in order. There’s no reason to spend the majority of your adult life in a career that doesn’t interest and excite you.

Get physical.

Sometimes we spend so much of the day sitting and staring at a computer screen that we forget about our bodies.

  • A body can’t stay healthy if it doesn’t get the chance to stretch, move around, and exert itself a bit each day.
  • If you’re not active, consider adding some exercise into your day.

See the doctor.

If multiple aspects of your life seem to be in a rut, it might be time to see the doctor. It’s possible than an underlying health issue might be the culprit of your rut.

Start small.

It can be overwhelming to change every aspect of your life at once. Avoid trying to change too much too quickly.

  • Make a list of everything you would like to change about your life.
  • Start with either the easiest or most meaningful change.
  • Plan the best course of action for you at this time. You can always add in additional changes over time.

Set a goal.

If you’re lost, sometimes a goal is the best tool to refocus. Having a clear target can help you stay on track.

  • A goal provides a clear, measurable, and time-based objective.
  • The key is to pick a goal that will enhance your life.

Go someplace new.

Have you ever noticed you have a different perspective when you’re in an airplane and look down? Life just seems a little different.

  • Experience a new location. The different surroundings and people are bound to alter your outlook on life. You might only have to hop in your car and head for the city or mountains.

These tips to jumpstart your life today and get out of that rut can be applied to any aspect of your life. You can also try some of the additional strategies below tailored to your work life and your personal life, respectively.

Rejuvenating Passions in Your Professional Life

  • Reconnect with former colleagues. If you’re feeling more energetic now that the days are getting longer, use that time to look up people you’ve fallen out of touch with. Strengthen your network. Call up an old coworker to get together for lunch.
  • Learn a new skill. Ask your human resources department about any training programs available in your workplace. Order a catalog from your local community college. Take a course on project management or negotiation skills.
  • Brighten your office. Hang up new wall art or change your computer wallpaper to a new image like colorful birds or a country lane. Pick up a pretty desk lamp at a thrift shop.
  • Switch to a standing desk. Improve your health and boost your energy levels. Stand up while you work. Studies show that you may add an average of three years to your life.
  • Edit your resume. Give your resume the once over. Add in your most recent accomplishments. You’ll feel more motivated and better prepared for your next job search or performance evaluation.
  • Be kind to your coworkers. Helping others is the most effective path to happiness. Offer praise generously. Pitch in when you see a coworker struggling with their workload.

Rejuvenating Passions in Your Personal Life

  • Volunteer. Share your high spirits with others in need in your community. Spend a weekend afternoon sorting cans at a neighborhood food bank. Register for a walkathon for your favorite cause.
  • Exercise outdoors. Take a break from the treadmill. Join a softball league or play volleyball on the beach. Browse online for outdoor tai chi or yoga classes.
  • Update your look. When you look better, you feel better. Treat yourself to a spa day. If money is tight, give yourself some home treatments like a rose water skin toner or avocado hair conditioner.
  • Tend to your garden. Gardening is good for your body and mind. Mow the lawn and prune trees and shrubs that may have been damaged over the winter. Get ready for your pretty new flower beds.
  • Banish clutter. Give yourself more breathing room. Use spring cleaning as an opportunity to discard things you rarely use. List them for sale online or donate them to a charity shop.
  • Go on a double date. See your partner in new light by going out to dinner with another couple. You’ll have fun and discover new ways of interacting. If you’re between relationships, organize a group activity where you can meet new people with less pressure than on a conventional date.
  • Unleash your creativity. Make time for creative pursuits. Visit an art museum and really engage with the works. Tour an art supply store for new ideas for craft time with your kids. Build a birdhouse out of wood or from a gourd you grew yourself.
  • Indulge in spring vegetables and fruit. Seasonal produce is one of the greatest pleasures of spring. Whip up a parfait of mixed berries, granola and yogurt. Sautee asparagus in garlic and butter. Bake a rhubarb tart for dessert or toss chopped rhubarb with raisins and walnuts for an easy salad.

I hope that you can see the light at the end of your tunnel! Get into motion so that you can build the momentum of behaviors, actions, and rewarding progress that will pull you from a rut, sustain your motivation, and propel towards your goals today!

A Jumpstart Guide to Increasing Self-Acceptance

Introduction

There are many ways to look at self-acceptance. Some of them are more constructive than others. It would be a mistake to think of self-acceptance as a blanket acceptance of your weaknesses, bad habits, and negative tendencies in the absence of any responsibility to continue to improve

Self-acceptance isn’t an excuse for laziness and complacency. You can be content and still advocate self-improvement.

As it turns out, self-acceptance is not an automatic or default state. Many of us have trouble accepting ourselves exactly as we are. It’s not so hard to accept the good parts of ourselves, but what about the rest? Surely we shouldn’t accept our flaws and failures?

It also doesn’t mean that you accept your fate and determine that nothing can or should be done to change your life.

Part 1: The Basics – What is Self-Acceptance (and Why Does it Matter)?

Self-acceptance is a “state of complete acceptance of oneself that embraces the positive and negative attributes without any qualifications, conditions, or exceptions.”

This academic definition encompasses a lot. Think of it this way: Self-acceptance is a reckoning with yourself. It’s an acknowledgement of your shortcomings, character, strengths, habits, and tendencies. It’s about facing the truth and accepting that reality. Once you know where you are, you can make a reasonable plan to move forward.

Self-acceptance ultimately leads to contentment because you are no longer fighting with yourself. Because let’s face it, you cannot be both your #1 fan and your #1 enemy. It’s self-defeating.

The History of Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is common and powerful concept in areas such as counseling, coaching, teaching, and even parenting. Scientific studies have shown a link between self-acceptance and mental, emotional, and even physical health.

Although the ideas behind self-acceptance have existed for hundreds of years, there is no unifying theory of self-acceptance in psychology or any other social science. Professionals have studied self-acceptance and its relation to constructs like well-being, self-esteem, and mental health, but it is almost as if no field or sub-field has come forth to claim self-acceptance as its own.

However, the ramifications and influence of self-acceptance is perhaps more widely acknowledged today than ever before. Without self-acceptance, your psychological and even physical well-being can suffer, and often, beneficial interventions are less helpful for you than for others with higher self-acceptance.

In addition, if you feel negatively about yourself, the brain regions that help you control emotions and stress have less gray matter than someone with a greater degree of self-acceptance — that is, these regions actually have less tissue to “work with.” This lack of gray matter may also appear in regions of the brainstem that process stress and anxiety. Stress signals from these latter regions, in turn, disrupt the emotional control regions. So, poor self-acceptance may disrupt emotional control in two ways: directly, by disrupting the brain regions that control it, and also indirectly, by increasing stress signals in your brain that subsequently disrupt these regions.

Concepts to Know

Self-esteem – Self-esteem is defined as the evaluation we ascribe to the image we have of ourselves or, in other words, our judgment of our worth and how we feel about it. Another term for self-esteem is ‘sense of self-worth’ or ‘feeling of self-worth’. Self-esteem is more closely associated with psychological affect than self-acceptance. While it is an important piece in the global understanding of an individual, self-esteem does not alone create a psychological well human being.

Confidence (sometimes referred to as self-confidence) is having a belief and positive regard for yourself and your ability to succeed; self-trust. Additionally, self-trust comes a self-belief that you are able to exist and thrive in a range of different situations: personal relationships, the professional environment, social interaction, family life, and even the ‘unknown’.

Self-love – is regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic). Self-love is more about giving the mind, body, and spirit what it needs, not what it wants

Challenges of Increasing self-acceptance

Most people want to be different – or better – in some way. And it causes negative emotions such as envy, self-pity,  and self-doubt. The difficulty is how does one stop waiting for a better version of oneself or one’s life enough to just enjoy the life in the present moment? And then, how can it be possible to fully accept oneself and simultaneously pursue self development and growth? Common challenges to learning to accept yourself include:

Lack of self awareness (needs)

A barrier to developing self-accpetance is simply not understanding how to love yourself. Many people don’t fully understand what self-love means. They mistakenly think it is about doing things you want to do, rather than what you need.

Self-love isn’t just about treating yourself; it is about making sure you are fulfilling your needs. For example, if you want to lose weight, indulging in junk food isn’t going to help, even though it might be brining temporary joy. Instead, a healthier diet and exercise routine is considered a form of self-love as it helps you to become healthier and fulfils the body’s needs.

Perfectionism as a mindet – waiting for right time to start or finish leads to never taking action

Perfectionism is a major obstacle to self-love. While a little perfectionism can be a good thing, especially in business, it can also lead to disappointment, frustration, and unhappiness. When you feel like everything must be perfect, you aren’t going to be happy when you fall short. So, try and let go of your need to be perfect. Understand what draws your perfectionism and identify your triggers. Remember, nobody is perfect.

Self-Acceptance vs. Self-Improvement

It should be apparent that self-acceptance has nothing to do with self-improvement. It isn’t about “fixing” anything in ourselves. With self-acceptance, we’re just affirming who we are, with whatever strengths and weaknesses we possess.

The problem with any focus on self-improvement is that such an orientation inevitably makes self-acceptance conditional. After all, we can’t ever feel totally secure or good enough so long as our self-regard depends on constantly bettering ourselves. Self-acceptance is here-and-now oriented, not future-oriented. Self-acceptance is about already being okay, with no qualifications, period. It’s not that we ignore or deny our faults or frailties, just that we view them as irrelevant to our basic acceptability.

These are just some of the common obstacles to self-love you need to be aware of. By being aware, you’ll be able to figure out how to overcome them if they do arise. Finding people, you trust and who build you up is a big part of being able to practice self-love. However, don’t forget to be your own personal cheerleader too.

Part 2: Related Terms – Self-Esteem, Self-Love, and Self-Compassion, Oh MY!

Link between Self-acceptance and Self-esteem

Although self-acceptance is closely related to other “self” concepts, it is a distinct construct.

Its close cousin, self-esteem, is also centered on your relationship to yourself, but they differ in an important way. Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself—whether you feel you are generally good, worthwhile, and valuable—while self-acceptance is simply acknowledging and accepting that you are who you are.

As Seltzer (2008) puts it:

“Whereas self-esteem refers specifically to how valuable, or worthwhile, we see ourselves, self-acceptance alludes to a far more global affirmation of self. When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves—not just the positive, more ‘esteem-able’ parts.”

Full self-acceptance can lay the foundations for positive self-esteem, and the two frequently go hand-in-hand, but they concern two different aspects of how we think and feel about ourselves.

Understanding Self-Esteem

When you emotionally and cognitive evaluate your own worth and abilities, you are exercising your self-esteem. How high or low you judge yourself has a tremendous influence on how you think and feel as well as how you act. Psychologists who study human behavior and cognition agree that self-esteem is a helpful tool for their work because it can help to predict outcomes including satisfaction in relationships, happiness, overall achievement, and even criminal behavior.

What you need to remember about self-esteem is that it actually has very little connection to your actual ability or talent. You can be really good at something and still have low self-esteem about yourself in this area.

The experiences in your life play a vital role in the development of your self-esteem. Parents, guardians, and siblings are the primary source of your experiences when you are young and therefore have a considerable influence over your esteem development. How parents speak to children, give and withhold love, acknowledge achievements, and set expectations all play a role in forming your self-esteem from a very early age.

But your self-esteem continues to develop throughout your life. Your successes and failures, no matter your age, inform how harshly or kindly you judge yourself. Each of us has an inner voice that repeats the many messages we have heard throughout our lives, reassuring or punishing us for our various actions.

Other factors that influence your self-esteem over time include the success or failure of various relationships, your physical appearance, your socioeconomic status, and any mental health issues you may have.

How Self-Esteem Affects Your Life

When you have higher self-esteem, you are more likely to have more lasting and healthy relationships. You can trust others and value their input in your life. High self-esteem is also correlated with emotional stability, conscientiousness, and being extroverted.

Low self-esteem can lead to problems with depression or anxiety, social isolation, and loneliness. Those with a low judgment of themselves are more likely to feel chronic stress, which can lead to physical health issues. Low self-esteem can cause problems in your interactions with other people, including romantic partners, friends, and colleagues. Those who struggle with their self-esteem can have troubles professionally, as they try to compensate for their low sense of self.

Some common signs of a person with low self-esteem include being a perfectionist, blaming yourself for everything, comparing yourself to others, refusing to accept compliments, and being afraid of failure. All of these can have severe consequences for your behavior.

In some people, low self-esteem results in self-destructive or self-sabotaging behaviors. Substance abuse is higher among those with low self-esteem, as are actions that allow them to avoid disappointment or potential hurt.

The downward self-esteem spiral is a vicious cycle. You have negative opinions of yourself, which leads to forming negative expectations about what will happen in your life. When these things come true, it reinforces your poor self-esteem, increasing your chances of failure. This leads to blaming yourself and even lower esteem.

Final Thoughts

Having a higher sense of self-esteem is vital to accomplishing your goals in life, being happy with what you have, and learning to respect yourself and your talents. While some of our esteem comes from early life experiences, you continue to evolve this construct over time, which means it’s never too late to improve your self-esteem.

Link between Self-acceptance and Self-compassion

Accepting yourself is a process. It’s a habit. The little things you do, or fail to do, each day determine your level of self-acceptance. Developing these useful habits and dropping the negative habits is a huge step in the right direction. It’s hard to accept yourself any other way.

Kristin Neff’s research proposed that self-compassion was a healthy form of self-acceptance (Neff, 2003b). When you speak to yourself, imagine you are talking to your best friend. What you say to yourself matters. Self-flagellation is extremely harmful to your psychological wellbeing.

A good place to start practicing self-compassion is to practice forgiveness. Write yourself a letter to forgive those mistakes you’ve made, and forgive yourself for anything you’ve continued to punish in yourself. There are many more ways to work on self-compassion listed on self-compassion.org.

Learn from mistakes. Failure is a part of success. Adopting a growth mindset when facing errors and mistakes is a powerful place to learn. Understanding neuroplasticity and our ability to change our brains with effort, over time, can be very motivating.

Link between Self-acceptance and Self-love

You can be aware of your shortcomings and still be happy with yourself. Your self-confidence doesn’t have to suffer either. You can honest with yourself and still be a powerful force in the world.

You might be thinking, “I thought I was supposed to be honest with myself, not build myself up.”

This is being honest with yourself. If you had a truly accurate picture of yourself and your situation, you’d be a lot happier with yourself and a lot more excited about life in general.

Rejection and hurt can leave us feeling unfulfilled and disillusioned with how we expect relationships to play out. When they don’t go as we want them to we often blame ourselves and wonder where we went wrong… that’s not what it’s about.

1.         You’ll Be Large & In Charge

Instead of making bad choices because you’re being led by shame, guilt or fear – you will be empowered to make choices that truly make sense for who you are – meaning you will be living your authentic life. You will no longer be caught up with people pleasing, instead you will live a life that brings you satisfaction. Self-love means trying to honor yourself because you know your needs are just as important as others.

2.         You Set Boundaries & Stick To Them

Once you have the hang of honoring your needs you start to feel more confident, which means you are more assertive. Of course, this results in a more purposeful attitude, especially when it comes to dating. You start to see who is wasting your time and you’re strong enough to move forward without them. More to the point, you are strong enough to set clear boundaries with people and stick to them.

3.         The Approval Seeking Will Stop

When you truly love yourself, you stop worrying about what everyone else thinks about you – which means you’re a less defensive person and more confident about living a life that is authentic for you. Why would you need acceptance from everyone else when you truly accept yourself?

4.         You Will Be A Conscious Decision Maker

Loving yourself gives you the courage to cut things from your life that don’t truly bring you joy or provide you with ample space to grow. It’s easy to make courageous decisions when you value yourself and actively make choices that are intended to honor you, rather than risk harming you.

5.         You Will Enjoy Alone Time

A lot of people get caught up in keeping busy schedules simply because they’re terrified of feeling or being alone. You surround yourself with people, throw yourself into work, and make decisions that help you avoid that loneliness. Why would you do all of the things that you don’t love? You could be filling that time with things that you actually enjoy doing – whether it’s meditation, swimming, writing or watching a movie. It doesn’t need to feel scary to spend time alone, you should enjoy time with yourself. Self-love brings more comfort when you’re spending time in your own company.

6.         Happiness

You don’t need to find happiness in relationships, whether they’re romantic or not. The only love that you truly need to be happy is the love of yourself. When you start taking responsibility for it and stop giving your power away to everyone else, you will naturally feel happier. If you’re not in a romantic relationship you will find that you aren’t as desperate to be in one as you once were because you know you don’t need them. When the right person shows up, you will be ready for that love.

Part 3: The Building Blocks – Strategies to Boost Self Acceptance

Many mental health professionals believe that self-acceptance is necessary before change can occur. If you’re feeling stuck, a lack of self-acceptance may be the first challenge to overcome. Accepting your flaws allows you to change them.

Learn to accept yourself and enjoy the person you are:

  1. Let go of your parents’ behavior. Some parents are better than others. Overly critical parents don’t have bad children, they’re just lousy parents. There’s little to be gained by giving your parents a hard time for their inadequacies. The solution is to forgive them and release yourself from the past.
  • Avoid judging yourself based on the parenting you received. It’s a reflection of them, not you.

  • Volunteer. There’s no easier way to convince yourself that you’re worthy of self-acceptance than to volunteer your time with someone that needs you. Prove to yourself how great a person you are. There are countless opportunities to volunteer in your community.

  • Be proud of your strengths. It’s hard to accept yourself if you’re constantly reminding yourself of your weaknesses. Make a long list that you can return to in the future. List every positive thing you can about yourself. Even the smallest positive attribute is worthy of mention.
  • “I am a good person.”
  • “I can play the banjo.”
  • “I am loyal to my friends.”
  • Forgive yourself. If you’re harping on your past transgressions, self-acceptance will be in short-supply. Chalk your bad choices up to experience and move on.
  • Everyone does the best they can. There will always be moments where you’re less capable than others. You can do better next time.

  • Let go of goals that will never be reached. If you’re 57 years old, your childhood dream of becoming an astronaut is over. It is. It’s difficult to accept yourself when the life you’re living is very different from your original plans. There’s a time to let it all go. Let the present moment be that time. Make new plans that are plausible and that excite you.

  • Eliminate negative self-talk. You can’t accept yourself if you’re constantly insulting yourself. Give yourself a fighting chance to reach a state of self-acceptance. Speak to yourself the way you would a good friend. Be a friend to yourself.

  • Be authentic. When you put on a persona for the world, you’re not giving others the opportunity to accept you as you are. How will you be able to accept yourself? When you’re authentic, the love you receive feels infinitely more meaningful. Living honestly is scary, but surprisingly easy. People admire and respect those with the strength to be authentic.

  • Recognize your worth to the world. Fortunately, this isn’t something that must be earned. You’re born with it. How much could you contribute if you applied yourself? The world needs you. What could say more of your inherent value than the fact that the world needs you?

  • Forgive others. The ability to forgive others is proportional to your ability to forgive yourself. Practice forgiving others and you’ll find self-acceptance comes much easier.

Self-acceptance is fancy word for tolerating yourself. No one is perfect. You accept your friends and family even though they’re all flawed in a unique way. Give yourself the same latitude. Focus on your positive traits and forgive yourself for your flaws and mistakes. Accept yourself as you are.

Resources For Self-Acceptance

Looking for some additional reads? Check out the following resources:

If you’d like to learn more about self-acceptance, there are several books that can help you with your self-development. Some of the best books on the topic include:

  • The Gift of Imperfection by Brené Brown (Amazon)
  • Radical Acceptance: Awakening the Love That Heals Fear and Shame by Tara Brach (Amazon)
  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach (Amazon)
  • How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism by Stephen Guise (Amazon)
  • Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by Rosie Molinary (Amazon)
  • The Self-Acceptance Project: How to be Kind and Compassionate Toward Yourself in Any Situation by Tami Simon (Amazon)
  • 50 Mindful Steps to Self-Esteem: Everyday Practices for Cultivating Self-Acceptance and Self-Compassion by Janetti Marotta (Amazon)

Closing

Self-acceptance is the ability to see oneself as a whole human that includes virtues and flaws. It is valuing the self regardless of accomplishment or failure. It is the ability to effectively learn from mistakes, rather than allowing them to internally disrupt psychological wellbeing.

The ability to self-accept is essentially permitting yourself to be human. None of us is great at all things. None of us is terrible at all of them, either. Accepting what is, and not rating or self-punishing is a piece of emotional resilience that will improve wellbeing across ages, cultures, and genders.

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World Down Syndrome Day

#LotsofSocks

If you have read one post about my family then you know that the youngest member of the clan is a sweet & spicy, sassy & spunky young lady. She is smart, an excellent selective listener, wannabe twerker and chef. She also happens to have Down Syndrome.

By now, most folks know that is a spontaneously occurring chromosomal arrangement. It is also the most common one. Each person, like all people, are unique. The arrangement (please know regardless of how you feel, this is not viewed as a disorder or disability in my home) affects every one differently; there is a wide range of outward and inward variety, but there are some prevalent commonalities in personality and in accompanying medical diagnoses that are screened for very early in life.

A Girl with down syndrome in a blue swimsuit in a pool.
A Girl with down syndrome in a blue swimsuit in a pool.

I have a friend who also has a daughter with Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 21. Annually she writes these super cool posts about 21 things she loves about her girl. I tear up every year and vow to write my own, but alas! So, I am just going to say a few things in general.

Get over your grief

Get with it! Seriously. Individuals with DS or any thing or not are all just humans doing the best they can with what they have. And to be clear, these folks have a lot. They have abilities, talents, dreams, and feelings. Believe me when I say I meet folks all the time, including new parents to children with DS, who do not have this viewpoint. I honestly feel sorry them. But I also try to help them to understand that it is okay to grieve. Grieving the loss of the “life” you had hoped your child or family member *could* have had is normal. Especially when you view people like my Boo as some how intrinsically “less than”. But then, friend, find a way to get over it because life is going to come at you and there are a ton of things that you do not want to miss.

Embrace possibilities

Attitudes have certainly changed, but not enough or enough people. Fun fact: my daughter is the second child I have given birth to with DS. 15 years apart. There is a big difference in the way I viewed her birth and the subsequent confirmation of DS. This time I hit the ground running with information and lessons learned. My son died from complications of pneumonia when he was two. And even with the little experience I had as mom with him, I had racked up a few more years with my eldest daughter, who was 11 years old when sis came along. I took it one day at time as there was no other way. I went into parenting this child with eyes wide open and was proven wrong countless times when it came to setting expectations, especially limitations. So, we threw previous conceptions out the window and we’ve been hanging on for dear life every since. We are a bilingual household and she’s done well understanding in two languages. She’s learning to ride a bike and swim. She’s reading some words and learning to use a calculator. She’s a professional YouTuber…lol. She doesn’t see herself as limitless and we don’t impose any on her. She’s a joy; a student and a teacher. She’s also very bossy and stubborn and makes a lot noise. She’s a typical kid who happens to curse like a sailor. Ah, well. She’s belongs to us!

Love more fully

This last little bit isn’t so much about what you bring to the life of a person with DS, but more about what you can expect to learn from an individual with DS. There is no way for me to truly express how much wider and deeper love became with this kid. Not just for her but for everyone. There is something so magical about happens when you truly accept the sheer power of pure love. As much of a hellion she is, she’s also perpetually innocent. She loves unconditionally. She’s never known anything but that love reflected back so just gives that kind of love to everyone. It’s a kind of heart-pumping, soul-expanding love. Don’t get me wrong. She’s basically a horrible listener and it seems like she understands but really she doesn’t. Not in the way you want. She destroys the stuff of her older sister, still writes on walls, and the fear of her just going off with a stranger with snacks looms in the back of my mind. But, she’s sweet and genuinely loving and oblivious to flaws of mankind. She can ask you the same question for ever…Then when you think you’re going to lose it if she asks you one more time about slime, she puts those chubby little hands on your face and tells you she loves you. And means it. She waits patiently for you to reciprocate. Then she sits in your lap and hugs for like 5 minutes. And you’re like, okay I’ll order the slime. Then she’s like okay. And hugs you for five more minutes. And you weren’t expecting it so you’re in a bad position and your legs are numb because she’s heavy and totally relaxed and supported by you. But your heart is happy. Always.

So be ready for that part. It’s the one that you experience the most often. It’s the reason why I’m a better wife, mother, sister, friend, daughter. Because that is the love I’ve been gifted through this child.

As a way to bring awareness to these fantastic individuals, their worth, and loving influence, break out your attention-getting socks and wear them on 3-21. This day was chosen to symbolize a reference to their being 3 genes on the 21st chromosome.

Absolutely Incredible Kid Day!

This is just a short little post to honor all the incredible kids and encourage you to do the same!

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

Nelson Mandela
One young Black woman and one younger black girl standing close together wearing matching yellow t-shirts with the black sparkly hearts that say Melanin. There is a cream house in the background.

Absolutely Incredible Kid Day

This fun day of observance was started by Campfire Kids to acknowledge kids and the effect that building their self-esteem and being role models had on youth.

Today, especially, it is nice to have a reminder to celebrate my girls and other children in my life by letting them know how amazing they are!

My eldest daughter is a young adult who is hard -working, funny, and bright. She is still finding out what she wants to do but I love and admire her pluck! Parenting young adult children is all about respect, understanding, and boundaries. Some days I feel like I do some of right, others…weeelll, not so much. My hope for her is that she’s brave enough to live the life she wants and that she loves the life she lives. 🥰

That little one…WHEW! She is all sparkle and sass, sugar and spice. She has the highest self-confidence and is always determined to get what she wants! My hope for her is that one day she will use her powers for good and not evil! 😈

Please do not make this day the only time to give your kids a boost in their self-esteem and confidence. Easy, confidence-boosting practices can and should be done each day! Believe me, I know how hectic our lives and schedules can be. Growing our children into the best possible humans they can be is important and totally doable!

Why Self-esteem Matters

Self-esteem, positive opinion of oneself, is directly correlated to greater confidence. This can results in things like better grades in school, better choices, and better choices in friends! A confident child learns to tackle a greater variety of projects and handle them effectively. They build stronger skills in many areas, including socially. Bonus: They’re less apt to become a target of bullies or to bully others.

Kids with high self-esteem weather failures and losses better. In a word they are more resilient. They’re happier, more content with their lives, look to the future with greater optimism, and grow into happier, more responsible adults. BOOM! Parenting wins all around!

How to Boost Your Kids Self-esteem

  • Go beyond incredible. Admirable. Amazing. Astonishing. Astounding. Awe-inspiring. Brilliant. Extraordinary. Formidable. Gifted. Impressive. Inventive. Marvelous. Notable. Outstanding. Remarkable. Splendid. Stunning. Super. Talented. Unreal. Wonderful. It doesn’t have to be “incredible.” Send a message that’s as unique as the kid you’re encouraging. And highlight more of who they ARE, not just what they do.
  • Be specific about why they are incredible. Sure, it’s nice to be told you’re incredible. But it’s even better to know the details. Remember that we help kids develop a growth mindset when we praise their effort, strategies and progress. Don’t be shy with words that speak directly to the heart of who they are. That is where the real impact comes from, not to mention modeling kindness and appreciation of all people.
  • Make it personal. Why do they matter to you? What difference do they make in your life? What have you learned from them? Is there something you wish someone would have told you at their age that you can pass on? Put some of your own story in the message, and it will mean twice as much.
  • Keep it up. A few simple words of encouragement on a regular basis can literally change a young person’s life. Practice mindful conversations with your child and try to heart what they are really trying to express. This will provide insights on ways that you can continue to build your child’s confidence by valuing what they value or enjoy.
  • Use the platform they respond to the most! For a lot of kids, that is social media. Do they love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, email, or text messages? If you’re on social media, post a photo of the kid you want to praise, and try a caption like this for your post!
  • Campfire reminds us An absolutely incredible kids doesn’t have to be your kid. Don’t have kids of your own? Today is still for you! Are you a teacher who knows an incredible student? Are you a volunteer that has been inspired by the generosity of a kiddo you work with? Are you a social worker? A coach? A neighbor? A sibling? Aunt or uncle? How you know your kiddo isn’t important – it’s how they have impacted your life! Let them know you are honored to know them!

Your words are powerful. Encourage a child. Make an impact.

Focus on Your Passion

We all admire some people’s ability to concentrate, whether they’re training for the Olympics or solving a great societal problem. These folks with great focus have discovered something very important: If you’re focused on a goal, you have an easier time getting where you’re going. This type of motivation, extrinsic motivation, relies on “if-then” logic. It get the job done when the “then” of a situation is a tangible reward. For daily tasks, particularly those that require habit or ritual or less rewarding tasks, this type of motivation doesn’t cut it. What you need here is intrinsic motivation. And you need to be able to generate at will!

Creating more focus in life

Can you really create focus just by willing yourself to have it? Or is this trait a secondary characteristic of something else? I think so. Broken down, caring about something is the foundation of focus. You can agree that more passion you have about something, the easier it is for you to pay attention to it. To get involved with it. To work with it or through it. Focusing on something that holds no meaning to you can be hard. The other thing is that science has proven it. I am not going to bore you with that but consider the following:

Author Dan Pink, in a TEDtalk and book, describes intrinsic motivation as consisting of three parts: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Quickly, to clarify- 1) Autonomy: is the urge to direct our own lives. 2)Mastery: is the desire to get better and better at something that matters. And 3)Purpose: is the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. 

He talks and summarizes some key studies that show how carrot and sticks type of problems are solved most effectively and efficiently with extrinsic motivation. For example, the faster you fold towels, the more money you make. Easy task; many folded towels. However, real candle problems, are not resolved by extrinsic motivators. In fact, more often, the reward hinders the cognitive ability needed because the motivator limits the field of focus too much. WHAAAAATTT? If you are unsure of the what Duncker’s Candle problem is, click here and learn about it!

How we typically try to motivate others and ourselves is an out-of-sync practice, held over from days or circumstances that have skill-based solutions. I posit that today’s struggles are the other kind. 21st Century problems. Technology has made ABC easier, but I am dealing with XYZ-type challenges. Folks are undermotivated and burnout. That is a candle problem. They require intrinsic motivation. That motivation when all things are said and done, thrive on passion and purpose.

Where there is Passion, there’s a way


Reflect on your accomplishments. I am sure that you will see a trend emerge. The things you cared the most about most likely rank among the tasks most often completed. This isn’t just a coincidence. Passion fuels motivation.

Notice the people you know who really struggle with life. They are not happy with anything. Or they are interested and engaged, but it is short-lived. Dig deeper and you’ll likely find that they haven’t found something to really care about. Or worse, they are not confident enough to lean in–more on that to come! If you’re in this position, you can really suffer. However, when you’re able to open your heart and truly find something you’re passionate about, happiness is the result.

A red bound journal that reads The Passion Within on the cover
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


When I first to university, the pressure form my parents to be pre-med was enormous. I had the grades and the scholarship. I was grateful for the chance and really wanted to make my parents happy. I took the classes with energy and fervor. For three weeks. Then I was could not make myself do the assignments. They were not too hard. But they were beyond uninteresting. Except chemistry for some reason. And English class. Needless to say, my parents did not get their doctor (or lawyer). But to this day, I write (and read a lot!). To this day, chemistry and its applications are compelling reads for fun. I spent years floundering, not in touch with my passion (so I could not connect to my purpose) but fortunately, I made mistakes and learned a lot. But only because one of my passions is learning. Caring puts you into the perfect state of mind; you’re stimulated enough to take real action, but not to the point of feeling apprehensive or overwhelmed. In fact, when you truly care, it’s harder to not take action!

Discovering your passion


Let’s look at a simple process that will help you find your passion, your focus, and ultimately, greater happiness:

  • Make a list of the things that you’re truly passionate about. These aren’t necessarily the fun little things you like to do when you have some free time, though they might be. These are the things that you consider to be most important, the worldwide challenges you would fix if you were given a wish.
  • These should be things that fascinate you so much that you’d gladly spend your life studying them.
  • Organize your list. Put the items on your list in order by the amount of emotion you feel when you imagine yourself being part of each one.
  • If there is nothing on your list yet that makes you cry, keep writing. Don’t stop until you’ve found the one that does make you cry. You’ll know your passion when you see it.


Using Your List to Your Advantage


Now that you have your list, ask yourself how much discipline would be required to be part of those items. Consider:

  • Would you have to force yourself to focus on them? Or does the mere fact that you care about those items so much simply result in focus? Although each item will certainly involve times when you have to enlist some self-discipline, the big ones won’t take much.
  • If you feel it’s a challenge to focus on your career, relationship, or any other part of your life, that’s a great sign that something needs to change. Go to your list for ideas and options. Try a new career that fills you with a sense of caring and you’ll never have to “work” another day again.
  • Can you continue to focus on the positive aspects of the topic, even if it is hard. Folks do not go the gauntlet in medical school concentrating on the difficult subject matter, long hours, or costs. They focus on their passion of helping others.
  • Bonus: If you don’t have the ability to work in your passion, spend time once a week just doing what you love. It will help keep you motivated, boost your productivity, and increase your happiness!

Focusing on your passion will propel you on the days when you need that push. The energy you generate will separate you from most of the people you know in your social circles or in your professional networks.

March Forth and Take Action

Events in this country require that I inform you that this post is NOT about QAnon’s hope that he who shall not be named will return to power on this day.

Today–a completely made-up day of observance–is based on a play on the words March Forth (4th). It is a day for taking action and this post contains a couple of tips to help you to do just that!

Here we are, already in the third month of 2021. I know from coaching that motivation and focus is starting to wane. Folks are looking at their progress towards their goals and are wondering where the time has gone! Keep reading and get reenergized, motivated, and most of all, down to action.

How to Take Action Consistently


Actions speak louder than words. Talking and planning aren’t enough to make progress with most tasks. Some of us specialize in daydreaming and planning. We might have the best ideas, but ideas without action are a waste of time and mental energy. It’s important to spend the majority of your time actually doing something. Action is the key. Those with control over their lives and their time are able to take action on a consistent basis.

Actions speak louder than words illustration
Actions speak louder than words illustration


Become more action oriented and gain control over your time:


Realize that nothing changes until your behavior changes. Visualization and positive self-talk have their place, but they’re only effective if your behavior changes. You can try to wish your way to a new Bentley, or to make a million dollars by aligning your chakras with the universe, but it won’t happen unless you’re actually doing something different. Understand that a consistent change in your behavior is the key to real change.

Know the outcome you desire.

It’s not easy to take action if you don’t know what you’re attempting to accomplish. Be clear on your intention. Take the time to determine what you want to accomplish. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? What actions can you take today to move in that direction?


Start by taking small steps.

Do you want to jog for 60 minutes each day? Get started by jogging for one minute each day. You won’t get in shape by exercising for only one minute, but you will develop the habit of getting out the door each day. After a week, up the time by another minute or two.

  • After 4-6 weeks, you’ll have developed an exercise habit and can begin to exercise for real.
  • Does it seem like that schedule is too easy? Good! How much running did you accomplish in the previous 12 months? There’s nothing wrong with easy, provided you’re patient and can see the big picture.


Limit your planning time.

Those that are slow to take action love to plan, but the best plans are worthless until they’re executed. While you’re trying to work out the fine details, everyone else is already taking care of business.


There’s no reason to be hasty, but set a limit on how long you’re going to strategize before you actually do something.


Use rewards wisely.

Small, meaningful rewards can help you to get off the couch and get busy. Decide on a few rewards and when you’ll receive them. Get excited and begin taking action. When you’ve earned a reward, enjoy it.


Get started early in the day.

  • If you can accomplish something worthwhile before 9AM, you’ll be motivated to do even more during the rest of the day.
  • If you fail to do anything substantial by noon, you’ll feel bad about how you wasted the morning. Then you won’t feel like doing anything in the afternoon. Then you’ll let yourself off the hook by telling yourself that you’ll get twice as much done tomorrow. Many people make this process a habit. Avoid becoming one of these people.

Take a close look at the most successful people you know. Notice that there’s nothing exceptional about them. They aren’t smarter or more capable than you. But they do manage to get things accomplished each day by taking action consistently. The good news is that you don’t have to be spectacular either.


You only need to learn how to avoid wasting your precious time. Consistent action is the key to wealth, health, strong relationships, and anything else that matters in your life. An additional tactic I would like to suggest is the use of affirmations . They can boost your mood and self-belief, and we all know the adage: if you believe it, then you can achieve it. They have been very helpful to me and I am sure that the strategy is worth a try!

Repeat them until you have memorized them, or jot them on notes to read first thing in the morning. Record them on your phone and replay them during your commute. Additionally,

  • I take action.
  • I put my ideas into action.
  • I hold myself accountable. I live up to the commitments I make to myself. I avoid commitments that interfere with my priorities.
  • I focus on what I can do today instead of rehashing the past or trying to predict the future.
  • I build my confidence. I review my accomplishments and skills. I remind myself that I can handle hardships and deal with challenges. I think positive and focus on solutions. I give myself a pep talk when I need to raise my spirits.
  • I make plans without letting my preparations hold me back. I would rather bring my dreams to life than keep refining them. I stop procrastinating. I make a start right now instead of waiting for conditions to change.
  • I take things gradually. I break big projects down into smaller steps. Each small victory encourages me to aim higher.
  • I give myself credit for making an effort and taking risks. Even if I stumble, I can learn from the experience.
  • Today, I take responsibility for my happiness and success. I swing into action

Self-Reflection Questions:

  • How does taking action help me to overcome my fears?
  • How do I define being a doer?
  • What is one thing that I have learned that I could implement today?

Morning Movement, For the Win!

Man in hair bonnet and bathrobe, drinking coffee with smirk on face, waiting for toast to pop up in toaster. Text on picture says, "Actual footage of me working out."
Robert Blackmon.

I am certain that by now, the above image doesn’t represent any of you! I will admit, I don’t like working out in the morning. The science is out on whether or not it really makes a difference. For me, my mind is firing and I need to do brain work then. I like evenings, when everything is done and I can throw my booty in a happy little circle and not think about email, dishes, and the like. To be sure, I am of the school that believes the workout you will DO and ENJOY is the best one. Hell, it is really the only one you should be doing.

The following three strategies are ways to get you up and going! Have fun trying them all (if you do #1, please comment FOR SURE). The point of this month was to get you some morning motivation so that you can establish routines that support the tasks necessary to crush your goals this year! If you have gotten better about the routine but maybe are struggling to break down the goals, read this.

  1. Awake using the Wim Hof Method. Full Disclosure: I had not heard of this and have NOT tried it. It sounds a little to jolting for me. However, those who do it, rave about it and tout effects like decreased stress and improved performance. Taken from the website, the protocol is as follows: 1. As soon as you wake up, sit in a meditation posture. 2. Do 30 power breaths — inhale through the mouth or nose and exhale through the mouth in short powerful bursts (like blowing up a balloon). 3. Hold your breath until you gasp. 4. Take a deep breath in and hold for 10 seconds. 5. Repeat for three more rounds. 6. Have a cold shower. Meet me at #2.
  2. Rise and Shine 2.0: Years ago, I started following the Fly Lady. One thing she talked about was “Shining your sink” and getting “dressed to the shoes”. Those things have stuck with me and my wake up ritual consists of rising (to greet the day with a quick stretch), smoothing the bed (not making it as it still holds the hubby), and getting dressed and shining that sink while I drink water and make coffee!
  3. Move your body, of course. I know that are some people who will prefer to get their joyful movement in the morning. If that is you, go ‘head with your bad self. If it is not, maybe you can get in the morning magic and get your full on workout later! It does get the blood and thoughts flowing and I do enjoy walk breaks all day!
Man dancing and spinning on a fast moving treadmill conveyor belt.
Man Dancing on a treadmill.

I hope that these posts about starting your day have been useful to you as we start this year! In February–you guessed it!–I will be talking about the basis of love, self love. Cultivating that love is tantamount to you living your best life–now.

Join the free 5 day Self Love Challenge boost your self confidence starting on Monday, February 1st!

Morning Habits That Rock

Witch grumbles sarcastically about hating gorgeous mornings. She is wearing dark cloak and is in a candlelight dark room.
Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus

Today, I have a quick round-up of 5 doable habits to add to your mornings that will boost your mood–even if you are not a morning person!

  1. Get Enough Sleep. This one needs no explanation and is totally underrated!
  2. Get ready for the day while listening to positive or productive podcasts and TedTalks.
  3. Drink a full glass of water. I do prefer mine warm with lemon, while I make the coffee.
  4. If you can, do a brain dump of all the ideas you have and of things on your mind about the day. When you settle in to work, you can review and make sure critical tasks are being completed.
  5. Do something creative in the morning. Work on your side hustle; write a blog (YASS!) or page or two of your book. Sketch. You get the point. It will give start your day with something you enjoy and you can concentrate on work things!

What go-to habits are built into your morning routine? Do they help you or distract you? Drop a comment and let me know how you launch into your day!

College football fan dressed like astronaut, pretending to blast off, jumps and lands in hedge.
SEC Football Fans


Bonus: Take Time To Review Your Morning Routine Regularly

Creating routines and habits for your mornings are a great thing. They allow you to do what you need to do to move ahead without having to spend a lot of energy and time thinking about it. That’s a good thing. It’s can also be a dangerous thing when you’ve focusing on the wrong things and are in the habit of doing things that don’t help you reach your goals.
When we get into a routine, it’s hard to stop and ask ourselves if it’s working as well as it could be. Even more importantly, with a routine and a set of habits firmly established, it’s easy to keep going even when the circumstances changes. That’s why it’s important to take some time every now and again to review our routine and habits, including the new morning routine.
Set aside a little time every few weeks, or even months to review your routine. Put it on the calendar and make sure you do it. It won’t take long and it will be a very valuable exercise in the long run. Our lives and circumstances change. Our routines should change with it. Just because something has served us well over the past few weeks and months, doesn’t mean it will continue to do so. Which brings up a good point…
When you sit down to review your morning routine (or any routine or habit you’ve been working on for that matter), ask yourself this:
Is it working? Is it working really well?
If it is, simply carry on. If it isn’t, it may be time to make some changes and tweak it until you find something that works well for you at that particular point in time.
Another way to look at it is to find what you love and what you hate about the new morning routine. Change it accordingly until you get as close as possible to loving everything about it and still getting the results you want.
Remember, this morning routine will change and evolve over time as you, your circumstances, and the people in your life change and evolve. Embrace the changes and look at them as an indication that you’re making progress.
Keep tweaking and improving your morning routine and don’t be afraid to mix up your goals for it. Maybe you started out by making exercise a priority first thing in the day. As time goes by and you become more fit and make time for it later in the day, your focus may shift to meditation, or learning a new language. Keep evolving, keep changing, and keep using those precious first few hours of each day to establish some positive change in yourself and those around you.