Well-Being

Spring Cleaning: How to let go of anything holding you back

Winter is a great time to turn inwards and do some deep self-reflecting, but now that it’s spring it’s time to bloom! But how can you do that with so much heaviness still weighing you down from winter?

This is where the idea of spring cleaning comes in.  

Our physical environment has a huge impact on our mindset, attitudes, and happiness levels. So as the world and ourselves start to blossom, it’s important to tidy up and clean out. This allows us to make space for what’s coming and let go of anything holding us down.

Do you ever feel like your head is just so full of thoughts? You can’t seem to calm your mind down, you become really forgetful, and you feel like you need a reset button?

Well, take a look at your environment. Is your room messy? Your workspace cluttered? Are you running from event to event without taking time in between? This is all a reflection of what’s going on inside your head.

As you being to declutter your environment and get organized, you’ll also noticed your mind feels more at ease too. That’s because you come home to a clean, neat, inviting space. There is room to breath, room to be. So, let’s dive in a little deeper

What is Spring Cleaning?

I’m sure most of you have heard this term before. It simply refers to the big, deep clean people tend to do when it hits spring time. They are cleaning up from the winter, the holidays, and everything they accumulated the previous year.

Why should I spring clean?

It’s a great way to get organized, and get rid of items that no longer serve you. It allows you to declutter, take inventory of what you have, and organize your living space.

Creating a clean, minimalist, organized living space can help you feel more relaxed and at-ease. If you’ve ever noticed yourself struggling because of overthinking, anxiousness or forgetfulness that can partly be a reflection of your environment. If you come home everyday to a messy space, are always looking for something, and have piles of to-do’s that creates more unnecessary stress in your life.  

Remember: A simple environment, is not a stressful one.

How do I spring clean?

If you haven’t read Marie Kondo's book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I highly suggest you do that. In this book she gives great advice on how to declutter.

First, she tells us to tackle categories not spaces. For example instead of organizing your closet, focus on shoes. Instead of organizing your desk, focus on books. This is because many of us scatter the same item throughout the house. So it is important to collect them all into one area and go from there.

Second, discard items before organizing them. Get rid of everything you no longer want, before you start to organize and place. This makes it easier, because you know exactly what you’re working with.

I can already hear you, "I have the hardest time getting rid of things! What if I need it?"

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Trust me, I’ve been there too! I’ll hold to that one special dress just in case I get invited to that one special event. And guess what, I never end up wearing it!

Marie Kondo has a great answer to that problem as well. When deciding if you should keep an item ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is this useful? Is it rare? 

  2. Does this bring me joy?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions then keep the item, otherwise it has to go. Eventually you’ll find you’re only surrounded by items that serve you.

As we start to organize, clean and let go. You’ll notice huge shifts in attitude, because emotionally and mentally you’re letting go as well. Physically and emotionally tidying up makes you feel lighter, and opens up space for what the universe has in store.

Happy Spring! 

7 Mood Boosting Activities To Help You Beat Those Winter Blues

Photo by:  Cara Stott

Photo by: Cara Stott

Once the busyness of the holidays slows down, and the excitement from the New Year has run dry, January becomes a cold + long month.

I live in Utah, where January seems to be the longest month of the year. It’s cold and snowy with short, dark days — and I definitely feel it affecting me. I have no energy, no inspiration and no motivation by the end of the month. It’s hard to do anything that I used to do to feel good.

So, when you are feeling down and it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, here are some tips re-energizing and lifting your spirits during the long winter months.

7 mood boosting activities to help you overcome those “winter blues”:

  1. Exercise
     

    Finding time to exercise and move might just be the best way to get you through these months. Exercising gives you energy, boosts happiness, builds confidence, and improves sleep. All of which, seem to be thrown off during the winter blues.

  2. Get Outside
     

    It is so easy to become a hermit and stay indoors — especially if you don’t ski or snowboard. But getting outside, midday when the sun is highest + brightest can drastically improve mood. Whether you go for a walk, sip coffee outside for 2 minutes, or just make a point to be aware of the sun shining down, this can all boost your mood.

  3. Morning Routine
     

    Creating a morning routine gives you a reason every morning to get out of bed and start your day. Have your morning routine be very warm + comforting. Maybe it’s sipping on coffee while you write down three things you’re grateful for. Or maybe it’s bundling up in blankets as you do a five minute meditation. Just find something that you look forward to doing every morning.

  4. Focus on the Positive
     

    It’s easy to forget what good things we do have going on in our life, when we’re feeling down. To help you focus on the positive and what good is happening, everyday write down three things you’re grateful for and three good things that happened that day.

  5. Bright Environment
     

    Because it’s so dreary outside in the winter, having a bright space to live in creates a welcoming environment. To create a bright + uplifting space replace dark colors with whites + pastels, hang up string lights around your room, invest in a happy light that simulates the sun rays, or an alarm clock that simulates the sun rising.

  6. Stay Social

    Like I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to become a hermit and stay indoors all winter long. With that being said, it is just as important to make time to visit friends. Having weekly social time helps get you out of the house and breaks up your usual schedule.  

  7. Vacation
     

    If you really feel like splurging, go on a vacation. Visiting a new place and getting out of your comfort zone can significantly increase happiness. It gets you out of your everyday routine, exposes you to many new experiences and leaves you with a changed perspective + attitude. Want to take all the stress out of planning for a vacation? Join me, Monique on an amazing yoga + adventure retreat ;)

Here are a few daily activities to help you break those winter blues. By focusing your mindset on self-care and making little changes, you will soon feel your spirits lifting.

How To Avoid Holiday Stress

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I’m sure everyone agrees, the holidays are stressful AF. We are obligated to attend party, after party. We spend time with people we normally wouldn’t see. And we often break our bank buying unnecessary presents.

By the time we get to actual Christmas Day it has been so worked up in our head that we often leave feeling disappointed — like maybe we didn’t get what we were hoping for, or the gift we gave wasn’t good enough. Or maybe there is the classic family drama that breaks out after we’ve had one too many eggnog cocktails.

Whatever the reason is, the holiday season can be draining emotionally and physically. Even though, everyone’s goal is to get through it with a smile on your face.

To help you get through these crazy times and make the most of your Christmas Day,

Here are 3 tips to having a happy Christmas:

  1. Morning (or evening) meditation — Because the holidays are so demanding we often neglect our alone, or self-care, time. We usually stop doing what makes us happy because there are so many other things that need to get done. So, the morning of Christmas (or before we go to bed on Christmas Eve) before all the chaos starts, just take 1-minute to yourself. Focus on your breathing, reminding yourself of all the positive things about Christmas. This will start your day in a calm, happy tone so you don’t feel rushed, tired or overwhelmed.

  2. Let go of expectation — Perhaps the biggest buzz kill on Christmas is expectation. We build up this day for months. We put so much planning + prepping into this day that if it’s not all perfect, it doesn’t feel good enough. But the reality is, there is always more you could have done, something bigger you could have gotten, or a better gift you could have given. So go into the day knowing that somethings will go wrong but it is OKAY.

  3. Give more than you receive — I’m sure you’ve all heard before the true gift of Christmas is giving. And as cliche as that sounds, it’s real. When we focus on what we are getting, we unintentionally fall into a scarcity mindset — always feeling like we need more, and like our last gift wasn’t good enough. But when we shift our focus on the gifts we give to other people, and how happy that made them feel, we begin to share their positivity + joy.

So, this Christmas allow things to just be, stay present in your environment, and don’t worry too much about how you think things should be.

Want tips on making 2018 your best year yet, too? Click Here to register for the FREE Zen AF Webinar.

Is your life out of balance? How to know and what to do about it.

Last month, September 2017, I was travelling through Bali when my taxi driver made a very interesting comment and really got me thinking.

Photo by Nelson Nieto

Photo by Nelson Nieto

As we drove along the small, crowded streets with the dense jungle on either side there was one tall building sticking out above any trees — higher than anything else around it.

He pointed to the building and said something along the lines of, “Do you see that building? It has brought up so much conflict in our city.” After seeing the confused look on my face, he continued on. “This is the tallest building in the entire city, higher than any tree, it is not natural and its height throws our whole environment out of balance.”

He paused, and asked me, “How can we live in harmony if our environment is out of balance?”

That last statement really struck me. I am from the U.S. and everything we have pushes to be bigger, faster, better. We don’t think about keeping our world in balance, we strive to have the most or the best.

More than just our cities being out of balance in many ways, my own life is out of balance in smaller ways. I work too much, sleep too little, don’t see my friends enough, over eat and my room is a constantly cluttered. It’s no wonder I feel so overwhelmed, stressed and out-of-balance when the world I am living in is not in balance either.  

Have you heard of work life balance? Most Americans, including myself, are constantly trying to find a balancing point between work and play. We are expected to do the most, because if we don’t someone else will. Competition is bred into our society and we think we’ll feel happier when we have more, but that only leaves us exhausted, run-down and still craving more.

The key to finding balance is to understand what you need to feel content. 

Here are 5 tips to help you  find balance + reduce stress in your life:

  1. Declutter - If your room is messy you’re going to feel a lot more overwhelmed because you’re living in a cluttered environment makes it more difficult to find things you’re looking for,   If something in your room does not serve a purpose nor does it bring you joy, then it’s time to let it go.  A great book about decluttering and organizing is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

  2. Develop an effective morning ritual - Waking up a little bit early and allowing yourself some quiet time to get grounded will help set a calm tone for the rest of your day. You can make your morning routine even more effective by answering these three questions:

    1. What are you grateful for? This gets your mind focused on positivity and abundance, by recognizing what you do have.

    2. What is your intention for the day? This will help keep you focused, motivated, and moving forward with your daily life. Even if you want a lazy sunday, set your intention as having a restful day and see how much easier it is to relax.

    3. What are your top three priorities today? Identify your priorities and then focus your day on getting those done.

      A great tool to getting your day started and ending your day is The Five Minute Journal. It has quick, short journal prompts designed to help you live your most productive and fulfilling day.     

  3. Get the most important thing done first - Similar to above, if you only had time to do one thing today, what would it need to be to feel productive? Get that thing done first. The activities we put off, give us the most anxiety. Likewise, if there is something you don’t want to do, do that first. By the end of the day you will feel accomplished and stress-free.

  4. Leave your work at work - This is important. How often do you come home from work and continue to think about what you need to be doing or are constantly checking your phone + emails? This can be difficult but understand that work is for work, and no where else is. It’s kind of like the idea that you only sleep in your bed, you don’t eat or read in it. To help you leave your work at home, make a list at the end of the day of what you need to do tomorrow. Creating a list will help you stop thinking about what you need to do later. Secondly, when you show up to work the next day you will know exactly what you need to do and where you need to start so you don’t waste a lot of valuable work time.

  5. Focus on one task at a time - We are living in the age of multitasking. It can be difficult but train yourself to do only one thing at a time. If you have not finished your current task at hand, don’t check your phone, facebook or emails. Set aside time in your day to look at your phone or scroll through facebook. You will find yourself a lot more focused, productive, stress-free and present with other people.

Start incorporating these 5 tips into your daily life and begin to feel more balanced and less stressed. 

Want to take these methods one step further? Sign up for our FREE GUIDE on How To Be Zen AF and receive 10 daily tips to living your most stress free and fulfilling life. 

Stay Calm, Stay Cool
Monique from Zen AF

There Will Never Be A Perfect Time

We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years to get a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive in.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
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We all have daydreams about what we want to do, how we’d rather be spending our time, or we imagine our perfect life to look like — though we rarely turn those dreams into a reality. We are always waiting for the next thing to happen, and then we say we’ll do it. Maybe we’re waiting until we save up X amount of money, maybe we’re waiting until we put our two years in our new job, whatever the reason is, we seem to always be waiting.

But, here’s the thing, there is always another benchmark to reach and there is never a perfect time to create your happiest, most fulfilling life. In order to have your Zen AF life, you must make some changes.

  1. Decide What You Want – Spend some time meditating, journaling, and really getting to understand yourself. Once you know yourself well enough, you will know exactly what you want. Once you know what you want it becomes easier to create your Zen AF life.

  2. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone – In order to create a life you love, you must do something you have never done before. You must get out of your comfort zone, break your routine, step into the unknown and then see what happen.

  3. Just Do It – Thank you Nike for giving us this simple yet brilliant message. Sometimes you really have no other option except to make it happen. Once you fully commit, you must do everything in your power to create your Zen AF life. There will never be a perfect time and things will always get in the way. But when you are committed and dedicated you will find a way to make it work, no matter how difficult.

So take what you have, from where you are and turn it into your happiest, most meaningful + fulfilling life.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Make Your Life Zen AF

Sure, you can read every self-help book on the shelf, get a gym membership, break-up with your boyfriend and move to a new city, but until you realize one thing not much in your life will change. In order to make your life Zen AF, in all areas, you must learn to take responsibility and accountability for your life.

Taking responsibility and accountability for your life means that you own up to mistakes, fight challenges head on, and show up for yourself. You understand that power is in your hands, and if you don’t like something, you take responsibility and change it.  

 
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Yes, some people are dealt not-so-great hands, but it is entirely up to you to create the life you want. There will be obstacles, things will get in the way, and at times it will seem impossible, but understanding the power you do have in your own life will lead to huge changes in happiness, fulfillment and meaning.

Learning to take responsibility + accountability for your life simply means that you understand the role you play in your happiness. It means no longer being the victim and no longer playing the blame game. When faced with an obstacle, you don’t let it defeat you. Instead, you ask yourself, “how can this move me forward?” or “how can I fix this?”.

Developing this attitude and taking responsibility for your happiness, puts you in control of your life. It allows you to decide what your life looks like and gives you the power to make those changes.   

So, how can you start taking accountability + responsibility for your life today? What small change can you make to put yourself in control, regain your happiness and make your life zen af?