If you aren't on my email list yet- what are you doing with your life?
But actually, even if you are, you may not remember these tips. This post is a combination of some of my favorite wellness tips from the Messy Authentic Newsletter throughout the year and will hopefully give you some reminders as we move through thes final days of holiday chaos and into a new year.
Easy ways to improve mental health
Get enough sleep. Yeah, I know people say this all the time. Sometimes, things get repeated because they are actually good advice. Sleep is when your mind and body have time to restore and reset for the next day. If you are a poor sleeper (like me), here are some suggestions that work for me most of the time
Turn off your screens at least an hour before you want to fall asleep. The only exception to this is in the second tip.
So some gentle yoga or stretching before bed. I love using YouTube or Peloton for this. My go-to search is "20 minute evening gentle yoga" or something like that.
Make sure your room is cool enough. They say that between 60 - 68 degrees is optimal for sleep. That way you can get all cozy in your blankets. 🛌
Ear plugs and eye masks!
Listen to music to fall asleep. Some of my favorite playlists on Spotify are: Spa Lounge, Floating Through Space, and Atmospheric Calm.
Ok maybe I need to write a separate piece about sleep because I can keep going, but we'll move on.
Practice Gratitude. Again, repeated often because it works! Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative, because that teaches us how to survive. “Avoid danger, live longer” is the brain's motto. But in order to start to have a more positive outlook on life, we need to train our brains to focus on the good, at least some of the time. I am by no means saying ignore the bad- I’m saying to let yourself allow in some more of the good because life is about balance.
Move your body! Walks, weights, running, hiking, dancing, swimming, lifting weights, yoga, tai chi, pilates, cartwheels in the park, jumping- it doesn’t matter. Just move in a way that feels good to you. Every day.
Stop worrying about what other people think. Ha! Easier said than done, right? I know, I know. But seriously! No one gets to live your life but you- so why do it for anyone else but you? As a recovering people pleaser I can tell you that it is absolutely impossible to please everyone- and let’s pretend that somehow, you magically make everyone around you happy… it is not likely that you will actually be very happy.
How to set good Boundaries
So what are boundaries? I like to think of boundaries as requests and as guidelines. Boundaries are also limits. You are giving people guidelines on how to treat you or interact with you, and you are requesting that they adhere to them. They can choose not to do so, or they can decide that they will.
Let’s talk best case scenario first: they decide that they want to listen to your boundaries and do what you ask. Great! Here’s what you need to know:
Make your boundaries specific and easy to follow. Don’t ask them to “spend more time with me.” Ask them to “take me out on a date and leave your phone in your pocket so we can talk to each other.
Expect the person to make mistakes and forget, not do it right, or something else. It’s a new behavior that a person is trying to do for you, behavior change is hard. If they are showing up for you and trying, then you should cut them some slack as they learn.
Expect that you will have to tell them multiple times. Don’t be afraid to remind them of your boundaries. You can even ask if there is anything you can do to make it easier for them.
Show appreciation. This person is choosing to change a behavior to make you more comfortable. Let them know that you see them and that you appreciate them.
A healthy, connected relationship should have enough safety and respect in it that setting boundaries in this way will not be a big deal. It takes intentional work for two people to come together and blend their lives, and it very rarely happens by accident in a way that feels good to both people.
But what about worst case scenario? They decide that they don’t want to respect your boundaries, then what?
Well my friend, then it is up to you how to proceed. Do you want to end the relationship or do you want to pull away a bit to protect yourself? There is no right or wrong way to respond to this. Well, I suppose if you try to force them to respect your boundaries, that would be a “wrong” way to respond, because you can’t take their autonomy away from them.
If you decide that the boundary is important enough to you to warrant ending the relationship, then that’s ok. Let them know how you feel and end it. Walk away. ✌🏼
Sometimes you can’t end the relationship, your lives are too intertwined; it’s a family member, you work together, or whatever the reason is. If you want to change the relationship a bit, that’s also ok.
Real life example: A friend asked me about a family member who tends to drink too much at parties. My friend had set a boundary asking the family member not to drink when she was around, and the family member refused. It was then up to my friend to decide how to proceed. She didn’t want to stop attending family functions just to avoid one person, but she was really uncomfortable with spending too much time with that person when alcohol was involved. My friend decided that she would arrive at family functions a little bit earlier, spend time with people she wanted to see, and then leave early before the one family member had time to drink to an uncomfortable level. It’s not a perfect solution, no. But we work with what we have in the Messy Authentic Community right?
How to Practice Self Compassion
I think that it is one of the hardest concepts to teach and to learn. People are so willing to give compassion toward others, to give them the benefit of doubt. But when it comes to ourselves, and our own perceived failure, that same energy is nowhere to be found.
Why is that?
I think it’s because you are fighting a battle to prove yourself, and you think that others have already done it.
I think its because you hold yourself to higher - nonhuman - standards, and you let others be imperfect humans.
I think its because it feels weak instead of strong to admit when you need help.
I am not upset about “failed” launches because I have compassion for myself. Because I have enough self awareness to know that no matter what- I learned something. And I completed the process.
Where can you offer yourself a little more compassion? What is something that you tend to be hard on yourself about?
Maybe it is how you show up to work. Or how you show up with your kids or your partner. Maybe its in your workouts or in your body image.
Whatever it is, my dear friend, I hope that you can learn something from my experience- and be a little more gentle on yourself today and every day.
How to be More Content with Life
What is contentment? It’s a similar concept to gratitude but it is more rooted in acceptance of the present moment. Contentment means “a state of happiness and satisfaction.”
To be happy and satisfied truly means to be ok with what is. To know that if nothing changes, you can remain happy and… well, content.
However, choosing to be content and accept the present moment does not mean that you do not want to change and grow.
I think the biggest part of contentment is to be ok with where you are, which means that if you are still on the path and not yet at your goal or destination, you’re cool with that. You’re satisfied. You are fine knowing that you are on the path. You’re also fine knowing that you need a break to rest. You are fine with what is. You can still want to improve and get better, while staying content with where you are.
Contentment is not resignation. It is not giving up.
Contentment, and acceptance, is being truthful about your current reality.
Do you want things to be different? Yeah, maybe. But you accept that it isn’t different right now.
Do you decide to quit working toward making things different? Absolutely not.
Do you follow me?
What are the things in your life that you could practice contentment around? What are you feeling discontent about?
For many of us it might be related to our job. How much money you make, how much you have to work, how much support you get, even what you actually do for work might be a source of discontent.
For others it may be your relationships. Your partner doesn’t show up how you want them to, you don’t have a partner, your friends aren’t who you want them to be, etc…
For others still it might be amount of money, family issues, body image,blah blah blah- anything can be a source of discontent and therefore anything can be an area in which to practice contentment.
If something is out of your control to change, practicing contentment can help take away the pain and suffering that it causes you.
Now, as I’m writing this, I want to acknowledge awareness of really horrific things that we can’t change, such as war. Practicing contentment about a war going on, doesn’t seem helpful, right? But let me use it as an example.
When we think about these really horrific things, our nervous systems react. It puts us into a state of stress, and on an unconscious level we become concerned with our own safety and wellbeing. That’s just how our brains work. If you're already stressed about some part of your daily life, adding more and more stress to that isn't going to help. You might get yourself stuck in survival mode, which prevents you from truly being available to others until you can create a sense of safety in your system.
So, assuming that if you are reading this email then you are not in an active war state, do you think that you can be of more use, and of more help to others if you are stuck in a state of stress, OR do you think you can be of more service to others if you accept the reality that something really shitty is happening… AND you are going to do whatever you can do to change that thing and to offer aid to those who need it?
Make sense? I know it's a gross oversimplification of much of the human experience but I think it's important to focus on.
This isn’t toxic positivity. This is fully accepting and acknowledging what is happening in your life, in the world we all live in, and remaining open to changing it however you may want to do so.
Alright, friend. I hope you got exactly what you needed from the above summary of emails that I send out to my community.
And if you aren't on the list, but want to recieve weekly emails to help you improve mental and emotional wellness, you can join the Messy Authentic Newsletter right here!
That link will set you up with a FREE self care guide tailored to the month and season, and you'll be signed up for the weekly emails and a new self care guide each month.
Kaylin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Intentional Self Care coach. She created the Messy Authentic Newsletter to give people simple tips to manage stress and improve wellness.
Kaylin is obsessed with all things wellness, and through her programs empowers stressed out 9-5ers and high achievers to transform their relationship to stress so they can overcome self doubt and achieve their goals with confidence.
With an all virtual practice, Kaylin is able to provide therapy to anyone in the state of California, and can coach individuals located anywhere.