Happy Monday! I hope your weekend was a good one! I had an extra great day with the kiddos yesterday while they helped me with a project at home. (I’ll be sharing it in our Notes from Home video this week!)
Today, I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop looking at a list of ideas I had for future posts on my blog. A couple of weeks ago, I kept thinking of something that I wanted to share with y’all. It wouldn’t leave my mind, so I wrote it down as a possible post idea.
It wasn’t about a renovation project, or home decor, or what’s going on in our family’s life.
Instead, it was something that I struggle with sometimes, and that is stress and negative thinking.
Now, I am not a negative person. I’m a positive, glass-half-full kind of person. I see the potential in people and things, and I LOVE life! I have no problem being positive about others.
But I DO struggle with being positive toward myself sometimes.
Sometimes the voices in my head are louder than other days, but I am tend to beat myself up for not being a good mom, or a good cook, or a good friend. I look at myself and struggle with getting older and things “changing” in the way I look. I compare myself to others and wish I could do or be more like someone else.
I don’t think I’m weird for struggling with these thoughts. On the contrary, I think I am VERY normal. I think this is something all people struggle with, especially women. (Why are we so hard on ourselves?!)
So, I started thinking about the practical things that I do to help me whenI am feeling stress or struggling with negative thoughts, and I thought I would share them with you.
They are nothing earth shattering, but they have definitely helped me.
From what I read, to what I do, to what I eat….here are my top 7 ideas!
#1 Spend time in God’s Word.
The living, breathing word of God is powerful and life changing. When I read his word, it transforms my heart and mind. the Bible is filled with His blessings and promises, and when I spend time reading it, it brings me peace and the negative thoughts begin to disappear.
I could spend hours listing scripture that encourages me, but here are two I love.
For it was You who created my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well.
My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began. Ps.139:13-16
Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
I will NEVER be able to say enough about the power of God’s word.
#2. Listen to uplifting music.
Guys, music uplifts the soul! Whenever I start to feel stressed or overwhelmed, I go to my pandora station and listen to a station I have created of instrumental hymns. Hymns were the soundtrack of my life in church as a child. They bring back memories of peace and security, and when I listen to them, my heart is still.
And I love to listen to other types of music when I need a mood booster. I love listening to upbeat songs from the 50’s and 60’s, or maybe some upbeat country classics. And I also listen to a LOT of my son, Jonathan’s songs.
Whatever your jam is, listen to it! If you are like me, you start to sing along, (maybe even dance around!) and slowly those negative thoughts and feeling begin to disappear, and they are replaced with joyful feelings.
#3 Get off Social Media.
I’ve noticed that a lot of the time that I feel negative about myself or my situation is when I have been spending too much time on social media. It’s a catch twenty-two because my job is social media. #ugh. But even though my job is social media, I still have the power to chose when and how much time I spend on it.
One thing I try VERY HARD not to do is get on my phone first thing in the morning. It’s tempting to grab my phone when the alarm goes off and check emails or comments or messages. Buy y’all, when I do that….it starts my morning off on the wrong foot. I start feeling overwhelmed with all that I need to do, or maybe inadequate compared to others on social. That is NOT the way I want to start my morning.
So I have started not checking my phone until at least an hour or more after I wake up. This has been HUGE for me and sets the tone for a successful day.
I also try not to be on my phone right before bedtime. There is a ton of research that says we should not be on technology for at least 30 minutes before bedtime. If not, it interrupts our sleep and does not set us up for a productive morning.
I don’t spend much time on Facebook, (Instagram stories are my guilty pleasure,) but I know that sometimes you can find a lot of negative “chatter” on Facebook. Reading that stuff throughout the day can affect our own thoughts and attitude. It is SO IMPORTANT to put GOOD THINGS in our minds! Please be careful what you allow to enter your mind. I stress this to my kiddos all the time.
Two bible verses that speak to this are…
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phillipians 4:8
If you want good fruit, you must make the tree good. If your tree is not good, it will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it produces. You snakes! You are so evil. How can you say anything good? What people say with their mouths comes from what fills their hearts.Those who are good have good things saved in their hearts. That’s why they say good things. But those who are evil have hearts full of evil, and that’s why they say things that are evil. Matthew 12:33-35
#4 Get up and MOVE!
This step goes with the previous one. Usually, we are sitting or laying down when we are on social media. #notgood
Getting up and moving is one of the BEST WAYS to combat negative thoughts. It doesn’t have to be exercise. Just get up and do something. Do laundry, make a meal, drive to the store, paint something, work on a project, ANYTHING! As long as you are moving, that will work!
Sometimes when I am on social media, and I start to feel the negative creep in, I say to myself, “GET UP and DO SOMETHING, Traci!”
And when I do, it helps 100% of the time. It gets my mind busy on something good, and I feel productive, which in turn makes me feel good about myself! yay!
#5 Focus on Others!
I’m sharing this one because it is the one my mom would always tell me do. Whenever I felt stress or overwhelmed, maybe depressed even, my mom would say, “Traci, stop thinking about yourself and think of others!”
She wasn’t saying the to be mean. She was saying that beause she KNEW it would help me. And truthfully, I tell my boys this all the time. #thanksmom
When we live our lives “self-focused,” it will lead to depression. Seriously. When we live our lives “others-focused,” we will have a more joyful, purposeful life! TRUTH.
Even though it is directly opposite of what the world tells us…”SELF FIRST.” I’m sorry…but the world has it wrong. Life is not about YOU (or me,) it is about OTHERS.
Make cookies for a neighbor, read a book with a child, visit someone in the hospital, write someone a letter, volunteer at your church or local non-profit. It doesn’t matter what it is, but if you are focusing on others more than yourself, y’all, your heart will be BLESSED!!!
#6 Get Oily!
Y’all know I love my essential oils! But I hesitated writing this step because I didn’t want you to think I was “advertising” for you to sign up with me. I promise, I’m not. Don’t sign up with me. Sign up with someone else, but get you some oils!
*BUT NOT the oils you see at Walmart and HomeGoods and Walgreens! Those are not therapeutic grade oils. Get you the good stuff (and yes, they will cost a little more money, but they are WAY MORE powerful!)
So here’s the thing, essential oils have the ability to affect our mood and emotions. They are “God’s medicine,” and he created the molecules so small that they can pass through the “blood brain” barrier in our head.
Once they pass the blood brain barrier, they are able to make it to the limbic system where our emotions are stored. Essential oils have been proven to boost moods when used.
Here are some of my favorite oils for emotions:
Stress Away, Joy, Peace & Calming, Lavender, Valor, and many more!
Do you have any favorite essential oils to help support healthy emotions? Feel free to share in the comments!
#7 Maintain a Healthy Gut!
Did y’all know there is science that supports the fact that what we put in our stomachs directly affects are brain? An unhealthy gut has been linked to depression, stress, and many diseases. It’s actually mind blowing (no pun intended.). I know that my brain affects my gut. When I am extremely stressed, I get an upset stomach. When I’m nervous, I get “butterflies” in my stomach.
Well, the brain and gut are connected and it works both ways. When we have an unhealthy gut, it sends unhealthy signals to our brain and makes us feel depressed, stressed, and even causes diseases!
“You are what you eat,” is SO TRUE!
Since I have been eating healthier on the FASTer Way to Fat Loss, I have noticed a difference in my mind. When I eat good, I have more energy, I’m more focused, and I think less negative thoughts.
I found THIS article about the gut-brain connection. You can also click on the picture to learn more. It’s promoting the use of probiotics and has interesting info.
If you don’t want to read it, you can easily do the research yourself. Just google “the importance of a healthy gut,” and you will find a wealth of helpful information.
Okay, so those are 7 of the things I do to help fight against stress and negative thoughts. I’m sure there are other things that you and I can do, but those are the ones I do the most.
If you have other ideas, PLEASE share in the comments so we can help each other out. I would love to hear your ideas.
Have a blessed day!