Raise your hand if the clutter and messiness of your home overwhelm you? Raise your hand if the business of your calendar has you down? I knew I couldn’t be the only one! And that is exactly why Week 4 of the Wellness Challenge Series is going to focus on living the simple life! Simplifying your obligations, your calendar, and your home will help reduce anxiety in your life because there will be fewer tings vying for your time and energy! If you dedicate your time to a few essential tasks: work, family life, house cleaning; then you will have more energy to devote to each task. This will leave you feeling more accomplished and less anxious! If you simplify your home, keeping the necessities, and finally purging all the things you always mean to thrown away but don’t then there will be less clutter to stress you out, and will take less time to clean in general! This post will also contain my simple daily and weekly cleaning schedule that helps me keep the clutter to a minimum! There are two main places that we need to focus on when it comes to simplifying our lives: our calendars and our homes! I am going to speak to how to simplify and remove extraneous obligations and possessions and how doing so will promote wellness in you and your family! And as promised I will also be sharing how I am doing so in the New Year to help simplify my own life.
Simplifying your Calendar
Who else’s calendar already looks like this??
I know I am not the only one, and those are just the regular obligations like work, that doesn’t include spontaneous events or those events yet to be planned (obviously)! But what would happen if we didn’t have something scheduled every day? You know what would happen, we wouldn’t be run ragged, we could rest, and much to contrary belief our heads won’t fall off and nobody will be disappointed in us! Now we can’t give up work or spending time with family, or taking care of our pets (that is most of what is scheduled on my calendar right now – and its already jam packed!) but, we DO NOT have to say YES every time someone asks us to help organize a function, attend a function, be classroom mom, volunteer at the homeless shelter 4 times a month, and attend every exercise class that we are invited to. While none of these things are bad in and of themselves they can distract us from our priorities in life. So Step 1 in simplifying your calendar is IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES. The priorities I have are: my work, this includes babysitting (my only form of paid income at the moment), volunteer work, and my blog (which I hope to grow into a source of income); family time- both extended and with my husband; and bible study (I attend weekly bible study one day a week – PWOC for those in the Military Family, it is a wonderful source of community).
Step 2 is now that those priorities have established, figure out what events on your calendar align with your priorities and which don’t. If you have an overwhelming amount of events on your calendar that don’t align with your priorities then it is time to examine why you are involved and if you can step back from those commitments. IF you have to step away understand that while it may be difficult and uncomfortable to have those conversations, most people will understand and appreciate your honesty. And in the long run, nobody will be disappointed in you. So know that it is 100% ok to step back from activities, committees or groups.
So now we have simplified your calendar so you can focus on your priorities! YAY! What a relief to think about starting off the year with less commitments! Leaving you more time to relax and enjoy the spontaneous parts of life (like a night out on the town with the hubby or trip to the dog park with a friend)! You will have more time to spend with the kids so you won’t look back and say with regret all the things you missed when they were little or whatever else you feel like you are missing out on now because of the business of life. Now let’s turn to simplifying your home!
Simplifying your Home
Now I am not the poster child about livin’ in a minimalism style, that’s just not me. If you were coming to my house, well right now it’s still decorated for Christmas, but normally would be a rustic chic style with lots of pictures everywhere. It’s full of memories in still life form and trinkets from all parts of our lives. But I try to declutter as often as I can. Knowing that I will be moving this summer I am already mentally prepping for the purge, even though we just went through one last summer when I moved here! So here is the list of things I will be purging this time around: duplicates of anything (I have 156 cups in my kitchen or so it seems anyway); old files, bills, pieces of paper that are not necessary; old calendars (I am so guilty of keeping my old calendars and agendas when I get a new one); anything that is broken (I am the queen of I will fix it one day); clothes I don’t wear- that don’t fit, have holes in them, stained beyond repair; books I have read and will never read again.
If I threw away (or gave away or sold) just those things, I could probably fill several garbage bags, the big black ones. And it wouldn’t take me very long if I just sat down and did it. I am a sentimental pack rat so for me I have to take emotion out of the process or find a way to consolidate - I think this is where my scrapbooking hobby comes from! If you can’t throw it away yourself ask a friend or your husband to help, as the items may have less sentimental value to them. Now I am not talking about throwing away memorabilia from your wedding or babies or any other special moment, but do you really need to keep your notes from your high school classes (yes, I graduated in 2010 and just threw them away, still have my college ones though…) or that rock collection you have that came mostly from your grandmother’s gravel driveway (yup, guilty again).
Finally, and this is really the biggest point: Do you feel relaxed in your own home? If the answer is yes than you are doing ok! If the answer is sometimes, figure out why sometimes you just can’t unwind – is it because it’s cluttered, messy, things don’t have their own place, it’s not cozy. Then just work on that area. If it is clutter, then get rid of the unnecessary stuff, garbage on the table and counters, put pens in a jar, use baskets to organize like items so it looks neat on the shelves. If its messy then find a cleaning schedule that works for you. HERE is the cleaning schedule I try to follow in my house, it’s not a deep clean, but it makes the house feel neat and tidy. If it’s not cozy the try adding fun pillows, blankets, candles and lamps so that your living spaces are warm and inviting!
You don’t want your own home to make you anxious, you want home to be a safe haven from the crazy world outside The less your home makes you anxious, the less you will schedule to keep you out of the house (see how I put those two together)! Having down time will allow you to recuperate, relax, rest and recharge for you to tackle your next task! Without that you will run yourself into the ground! Obviously exhaustion is the opposite of wellness, our goal of happy and healthy selves in the New Year. So give yourself a break, you don’t have to do everything & you don’t have to have a Pinterest worthy home, as long as its relaxing for you!
So who is ready for the first part of the wellness challenge! I thought the first place to start was with one of our most important relationships (after our relationship with God), our marriage! The health of our marriages is extremely important! People in healthy marriages live longer (250% longer for married men and 50% longer for married women), promotes mental wellness and protects against mental illness (are less anxious and depressed), it lowers your chance of being a victim of violence both for men and women, there are financial benefits as earning potential increases for maried couples, and a better sex life (which can boost immunity, reduce stress, ease tension and headaces and all sorts of other physical benefits, as well as increasing intimacy with our spouse), leading to great self-esteem, self-worth, and feeling desired and wanted.
When our marriages are happy and healthy, we are more happy and healthy individuals and when we are more happy and healthy individuals we have happy and healthy marriages (we don't really know what comes first, its like the chicken and the egg - but regardless they occur together). Marital health and satisfaction is directly related to our overall wellbeing, which in turn will make our marriages better! But, a good marriage doesn't come without work. We need to put effort into our marriage, pray with and for our spouse, listen to them, talk to them, respect them, and cherish them. Sometimes we let our marriage fall to the way side because we become so comfortable with our partner that we stop striving to make our marriages better, but this is just harming your wellness and your spouses!
So now we know why it is important to our overall wellness to have a happy marriage, here comes the challenge!
Do you have goals for your marriage for 2017? I recently got a new planner and I am so excited! One of my favorite things about a new year is getting a new planer, looking at all the vast possibilities. This year my planner has an area exclusively dedicated to goals. What your goals for the year in several different categories: financial, personal, social, and business. It then breaks it down quarterly so you can break down your overall goals into manageable chunks. And as I was preparing my planner for the year I started to think about what I want my goals for 2017 to be! I want to grow my blog, develop professionally, learn how to save some money, and nurture my relationships. Those would be my big overall goals, and then break them down into manageable chunks.
New Year Resolutions v. Goals
Now I know everyone makes a New Year’s Resolution, but those are often broken before mid-January. Goals are more impactful, and longer lasting than a New Year’s Resolution, especially if you put it in writing. As we enter January and prepare ourselves for the coming year focusing on wellness and how we are going to live well this year remember all facets of life are important.
As you can see in the categories above my planner didn’t have a space for any marital, or relational goals. I know that not everyone purchasing the planner would be married or in a relationship, but I think this area of our lives often gets overlooked when we make goals, especially if things are already going well. We don’t really try to improve unless the relationship is on the brink of dissolution. Goals often focus on health, financial success, work, or academics. But those of us who are married or in committed relationships need to make goals concerning where we want our relationship to end up. That is why I am making goals for my marriage this year! As I am just entering my second year of marriage I want it to be even better than the first. And after all, I ask my clients to make goals for their relationship all the time in counseling so we know what we are working towards. Why would I recommend to my clients to make goals concerning their relationship if I do not do so in my relationship. I ask them to make goals because it is an effective method of charting where you want to end up and the progress you are making to get there. In counseling this is particularly effective because there is someone to hold you accountable to working towards your goal. So here are my marriage goals for 2017:
A Challenge to All
I encourage each of you to make goals for your marriage this year, write them down, and post them somewhere in your house where they can be seen on a regular basis. When making your own goals, keep it to three to minimum and five at a maximum. A manageable number will ensure that you will not get overwhelmed and forgo your goals. Make them measurable. For example, one of my goals was “to attend church at least twice a month, if not more” not just “attend church more.” This is specific and measureable. I will know if I have achieved this. Make sure your partner is on board, this helps if you sit down together to make the goals. This could be a fun date idea for ya’ll to start off the New Year. If they are joint goals they will be much easier to accomplish, you can hold each other accountable to achieve your goals. If you need further help staying accountable maybe you can partner up with another couple that you trust, share your goals with another couple and ask them to help you stay accountable, check in regularly; and you can do the same for them.
What are some of your goals for your marriage this year? Let me know in the comments!
Check out Week 2 and Week 3 here!
As I started planning out my blogs for January I began noticing an unintentional theme as I prepare to kick off the New Year! So I have decided to make January the month of wellness as we prepare our relationships, mind and body for the next year and all the adventures that lay ahead! So join me on a wellness Challenge this month! I promise, you won't regret it!!
So Next Tuesday the blog will feature the first wellness goals! What could be more important than our marriages ladies! So that is where I am going to start! I am excited to take this journey to wellness with you and I hope you join me in the challenge! See you next Tuesday!
Anxiety runs rampant across the holiday season! And chasing right behind it is its close friend, Depression. But wait, isn’t Christmas supposed to be one of the most joyous and happiest times of the year? Then why do so many people find themselves weighed down, lethargic, and lacking the motivation to make it through the last stretch of the year? My theory, is that this is supposed to be a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, time with family and friends who enrich and fill our lives, and it turns into an anxious and exhausting time for some!
There is conflict over who we are supposed to go visit this year and who we visited last year; busted budgets; for some the stress of entertaining and making the house look spotless; making incredibly delicious and beautiful food; trying to guess what everyone wants for Christmas this year. You name it, someone out there is stressing out about it! And suddenly we are in a state of dread, panic and Anxiety moves in, and then we are so anxious we can’t imagine doing anything, we have no motivation. That is when Depression catches up to join us and Anxiety for this not so fun unwelcomed Christmas party we find ourselves in. Like two miserable unwanted house guests, we just can’t seem to get them to leave!
As a counselor I am of the school of thought that thoughts are what drives everything in our emotional and behavioral repertoire. Thoughts give way to feelings which motivate certain behaviors. If we can find a way to change our thoughts about the upcoming hustle and bustle of the holiday and Christmas season we can change our feelings and the consequently our actions.
We start by identifying the negative thoughts that are driving the anxious and depressed feelings. When we recognize the thought, we are one step closer to being able to change them. One way I suggest to do this is to create a thought log like this one. This can help you become aware of your negative thoughts, and what events trigger them. For example, maybe your negative thought is, “I can’t enjoy the season because I just can’t do something for one more event.” This thought might come right after your fourth child comes home with a note in her backpack asking parents for donation for the classroom Christmas party. Now that you know the thought and recognize it as it comes across your mind, when baby number five needs something you can prepare yourself and instead of let the thought consume you and bring you down you can come up with a simple solution that does not stress you out.
Using simple solutions can eliminate unnecessary stresses we are placing on ourselves. There may be some basic requirements during the holiday season that extend us a bit further than the rest of the year, but most of it is unnecessarily placed on us, by our own selves! If we go back to the earlier example, the teacher ask you contribute to the class party, but she never asked for a gourmet dessert, store bought cookies or a box of candy canes will suffice just the same!
So now we are aware of the thoughts because we wrote them down, we recognize them when they come back, and are prepared for them because we know the situations which are most likely to provoke those thoughts! And we ask who is imposing the expectation on us, the outside world, or ourselves. If it is a self-imposed expectation, examine it and ask your-self the following questions:
Will you lose something crucial if you don’t complete the task? For example, in decorating, we might need to decorate the house a bit, put up the tree, hang stockings, set up the nativity. But we don’t need elaborate tablescapes, or our houses to look like the designer pictures on Pinterest! Nobody’s house really looks like that all the time
Don’t try to compare yourself to anyone else, no one else is in your same situation so you don’t have to compete with them. Nobody has it all put together, even if it looks like they do, they are probably hiding all the other stuff; everyone wants to feel put together. So like I said temper your own expectations of what you are able to achieve; especially during the holidays where we are spread so thin between shopping for everyone, making dishes for all sorts of parties, traveling, dealing with family, and hosting. Set reasonable expectations and remember when you begin to feel overwhelmed, slow down, breath, and ask yourself those questions above. If you need to scale back, do so, no one will judge you for bringing a store bought cheese platter rather than slicing it all yourself if you just don’t have the time!
Remember this is supposed time of celebration, so if you are approaching it more with dread than joy then perhaps you need to find ways to manage your own expectations of yourself, and find ways to scale back instead of over stretching yourself to the point of exhaustion. If you can find ways to do this, then you will reduce the anxiety and depression that might plague you during the holiday season! And then just maybe your unwanted house guests, Anxiety and Depression, will move out before Christmas Day!
So last night I threw my first, of what I can only assume will be many, farewell parties for a friend! I don’t like goodbyes, to quote Rory Gilmore, “It is a poorly named ritual.” But alas they are a part of life, and especially of military life. This is not the first one of my Army wife friends to move away, but it is the first one we’ve known about in time to plan a time to get together and send each other off into the next phase of our lives! As much as a regularity saying goodbye is in the military life, I don’t think that means it will ever get easier. And that is probably a good thing, means we are humans with a heart, and It means we didn’t become a recluse. Friendships are important, and deserve to be celebrated! Hoping that the military community really is as small as everyone seems to says, and we run into each other again! More about military friendships.
While I don’t like good byes, I love to host! And I especially love to host around the holidays! So when my friend and I decided that a farewell party was in order, I eagerly volunteered to host! I think one of my favorite things about hosting is all the delicious food I can make (that my husband won’t eat, so I never make), and an excuse to use all my pretty serving ware that we were given at the wedding, and that I purchased as a result of my obsession with T.J. MAXX! I also love ornaments and so my favorite holiday party idea is an ornament exchange! Here is the ornament I bought, and the one I got!
No party is complete without a wonderful cheese dish and dessert! So I am going to give you my recipe for salted caramel apple pie & peach, bacon, and basil baked brie! You can never go wrong with either dish, no matter the occasion! So without further ado follow the links above to find the recipe for each!