Have you ever been in one of those life ruts– you know the ones where you feel like life has got you down, nothing seems to be going right and your daily routine has become mundane. Perhaps on more occasions than you would like to admit, you have thought about up and leaving your life to pursue your passion or go on a dream vacation. Maybe your love life could use a boost or maybe your boss doesn’t give you any credit for all the hard work you put in. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of a sudden your life got more exciting, you found a new love interest and you didn’t wish your whole week away with hashtags on social media– #itsonlyTuesday #humpday #Friyay!?
The truth is life is not going to change on it’s own.. it’s up to you to take control of your life and pursue whatever makes your soul happy. And that is where the word empowerment comes in. So what is empowerment? Well according to Google, “it is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights”. So here are 5 ways for empowering yourself to live a happier, healthier, more well-balanced life.
This one may seem simple enough, but how many of us actually come up with a daily affirmation each day, write it out and repeat it throughout the day? Probably not very many.
Personally, I recommend the Five-Minute Journal: each day there is a quote or challenge to read, you jot down 3 things you’re grateful for, 3 things that would make the day great, an affirmation and at night 3 amazing things that happened and how you could have made the day even better. That’s it– simple, easy, 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night to get you focusing on the positives in your life! But of course, you can always resort to the good old-fashioned sticky note on your mirror.
I am not saying quit your job today and go travel the world without a dime to your name. For those of us who are not millionaires, I am suggesting you start by trying something new here and there such as going to a yoga class by yourself or taking up a new hobby. A great place to start is Meetup.com where you can connect to new people with interests ranging from book clubs to outdoor activities, music, food and drink– you name it. Just make sure you pick something that is out of your comfort zone so you are challenging yourself for personal growth.
Associate Yourself With Only Positive People
This one can be a little tricky, but it is a must if you truly want to empower yourself. First evaluate those in your inner circle: family, friends, romantic partners, mentors, etc. Next ask yourself: Do they support me? Do they celebrate my successes? Do they believe in my hopes and dreams? Do they constantly complain or speak negatively about others? Do they inspire me? Do they challenge me to be a better person and accomplish my goals?
If you answered no to one or more of those questions then you need to seriously re-evaluate the people you let into your inner circle. And if you suddenly feel like you need new #squadgoals then sit down and make a list of the qualities or traits that you desire in a friend, colleague or confidant. It might take a little getting out of your comfort zone to put yourself out there and meet new positive people!
Actively Focus On The Present
This step is better known as practicing mindfulness and can be really challenging for those of us who are always on the move– or worse who are always thinking and over-analyzing. Sometimes it may seem down right impossible to turn off our brains and solely focus on the present moment. But I promise you it is in the moments of anxiety or depression that you need mindfulness the most. Something I always tell clients (and myself) is that when we dwell on the past, we tend to feel depressed and when we stress over the future, we tend to become anxious. If you need some ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine, you can pick up CALM 50 Mindfulness and Relaxation Exercises To De-stress and Unwind from Barnes and Noble for super cheap!
[Be] Attuned To Your Body
The bottom line is you cannot improve your mental health, if you do not first work on your physical health. These two things are more intertwined than some people might think. For example, studies report that over 75% of all doctor’s visits are for stress-related complaints. Think about it– your heart problems, your body aches and pains, your sleep problems, your digestive problems and even your acne can all be caused by stress or at the very least it can increase your susceptibility.
Take a minute and do a body scan to listen to what your body is telling you. What does it need most to heal right now– Exercise because you have been sitting at your desk all day? Yoga because your muscles could use a good stretch? Sex because you could really benefit from physical intimacy? Water because you are dehydrated and have been drinking caffeine all day? A doctor’s visit because you can’t remember the last time you had a physical? Whatever your body may need, listen to it. Your mental health will never improve if you are not taking care of yourself physically.
It is never too late to reinvent yourself, but just remember a total life change won’t happen overnight. So start off by implementing these small changes and show yourself some compassion in the meantime– its okay to be a work in progress!
— Amanda Schofield, MA, RMHCI