Soulful Goal Setting; How To Feel Fulfilled Every Day

With 2019 now well and truly upon us, I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for the year. It’s so easy to get sucked into the old “New Year, New Me” craze that sweeps through the last week of December and into January. 

While the new year is a great time to sweep out the metaphorical spiderwebs, and feel like you’re having a fresh start, there are certain ways of thinking about your goals that can inspire you to follow through.

I was first introduced to a soulful way of goal setting by Danielle LaPorte. I’ve been a huge fan ever since I discovered and read her book “The Desire Map”.

Her philosophy is centred around how chasing your goals makes you feel. She isn’t solely concerned with the outcome or end result, but instead encourages you to focus on how this goal makes you feel. She’s all about enjoying the process, with fulfilling the goal a bonus.

There is no point in training for a marathon, if you hate running. The thrill and pride of completing a marathon would be amazing, but if each training run fills you with dread, what’s the point? Instead, you could set a modest goal for running, say once or twice a week, with a view to completing a much smaller race first.

Changing your goal from a marathon, to adopting a running habit, means you can feel a sense of achievement after each run, and any races you work up to is the cherry on top!

I am a recovering unrealistic goal setter, so I absolutely understand wanting to declare to the world you’re going to achieve these incredible things, and then realise you didn’t quite consider the dedicated every day effort they could take. 

If you’re only striving to reach the end, and pass the finish line, you’ll have a momentary high before you start chasing the next goal. 

But if how you want to feel is at the forefront of your mind, you’ll live your life in a joyful state every day. Whether you achieve your desired goal starts to matter less, because the process is so enjoyable. 

This way of considering goals has really helped me. You can feel encouraged and proud of yourself after each yoga practise, language class, book read, or painting completed.

So, how do you want to feel in 2019? What steps could you take each day to get there? As my favourite yogi says, “find what feels good”, and strive to live your life joyfully. 

Real Talk; Reigning in Anxiety & Feeling Inadequate

I am trying to write about things I don’t care about right now. I don’t care about smoothies, and recipes, or about writing schedules and to-do lists. 

I will never make a career in writing, make my soul crave writing, if I don’t let it run free. 

So today I’m writing about mental health, and fear, and that panicky anxious tightness I feel in my throat when I think about whether or not I can manage to build a career, and life, of my dreams. 

Recently I’ve been anxious almost to the point of tears, about how I will build this blog. I’ve thought about how I haven’t written in weeks. I’m not feeling inspired or motivated. I feel overwhelmed and doubtful if I’ll ever succeed.

Rationally, I know this is negative, and untrue, and not helping me in any way. But negative self talk and low self esteem often makes it feel like truth.

Instead of pulling myself out of this feeling, I’ve let anxiety wrap itself around my throat, cutting off oxygen and common sense. It’s made me believe every unfounded worry and lie that creeps in. 

I know everything I have to do to beat this. Stay active, flood my brain with endorphins, eat well, sleep well, and above all else, WRITE. I need to keep my negative thoughts at bay, and write every day; even if it's just ten minutes.

I’m finding it so damn hard to stay positive recently. Willow has been getting her baby molars, and the poor lamb is getting bug after bug, wailing, dripping snot and drool every two seconds, and wanting to do nothing but breast feed and throw tantrums.

Of course I feel for her. I want to comfort her and love her and make her feel well. But, damn, breastfeeding a toddler around the clock is hard. Listening to a wailing toddler who cannot be calmed is H A R D. 

I’m struggling to find the energy to care about anything other than keeping Willow happy and finding a quiet moment to lose myself on instagram. 

Along with the mum guilt that seems never ending, I also feel guilty for not pursuing what I’ve said I will. I feel like a liar; to be writing about gratitude lists, and fitness challenges acting like that’s what I do. When honestly, I’ve had one yoga practise in the last few weeks, and I ate leftover mac and cheese for breakfast the other day.

It’s difficult being a mother. And that’s ok. I sometimes feel such enormous pressure to be everything, to everyone, all at once. It’s ok my house is messy, it’s ok I haven’t kept on top of everything. 

I definitely have to work on making my mental health and my passions a priority, because when it comes to having to make a sacrifice, my time and my needs are often the first to go. 

So, mothers, soon-to-be-mothers, anyone and everyone reading this; if you’re feeling in a funk or out of sorts, know I’m right there with you. It’s all a balancing act and I’ve definitely wobbled and fallen off recently. 

All we can do now is take a breath, have a laugh, and get back to the crazy topsy turvy-ness of our lives. 

Having an off day? What do you do to snap out of it, or turn your mood around? Let me know your coping techniques and how to get out of a funk! Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me on instagram! Can't wait to read all your ideas. xo

How To Survive Postpartum Periods

Postpartum periods were not something I thought about during pregnancy or after giving birth. I was planning to breastfeed for as long as I could (we’re half way to 2 years!) and I heard your period didn’t return until breastfeeding was over. 

I settled in for a nice period-free 2 year stretch, only to be surprised and disappointed when the bloody devil arrived after 6 months. 

It wasn’t just the inconvenience and mild cramping of my pre-pregnancy periods either. It was a fire-breathing demon that brought excruciating painful cramps, the wildest off-the-chart-crazy mood swings and general misery for myself and anyone within a 10ft radius. 

To say I was unprepared is a gross understatement. 

After a few months I’m glad to report the cramps have calmed down to almost nothing, but I do experience mid-month ovulation pain (which I didn’t even know was a thing). It floors me with the pain for a couple of hours, but if I take ibuprofen as soon as I feel the twinges the whole ordeal is limited to thirty minutes or so. 

You might be lucky and not experience this intensity or ovulation pain (my Mum, having had three children, had never heard of it either), but incase you are a new member of Team Postpartum Periods From Hell or are thinking you might be a member soon, here are my top 5 survival tactics: 

1. Prepare Yourself

If I had known what was coming my way, I could have made proper preparations. Emotionally bracing yourself for your own fiery wrath is a good idea.

Stock up on ibuprofen, hot water bottles, some comfort food, and a really relaxing playlist of music. And tissues. Don’t forget tissues. I have cried over literally every little inconvenient or mildly frustrating thing. 

2. Go Outside

I know this one isn’t always easy. Calgary has been below -10 most of the last week, and I have locked myself inside and refused to move. But whenever Ben coaxes me out, and we go for a drive, or a short walk around a mall, I feel so. much. better. You’re forced to focus on something else rather than how awful you feel, and how annoying you find your kid today. 

3. Talk To Your Loved Ones

I found it so hard to control my mood swings in the beginning (and let’s be honest, every single time still) that I’d find myself losing my cool over nothing, saying things I didn’t mean, crying uncontrollably over burnt toast or dish washers that didn’t run properly (FYI real life examples).

I frequently, in a raised voice or through tears, tell Ben I’m not annoyed with him, I’m sorry I’m being so difficult, but I am just losing my mind with this period and please don’t take it personally. It also helps that I’ve been blessed with the most patient and understanding manfriend on this planet.  

4. Practise Self Care

This looks different to everyone. It might be a long hot shower, or bath, reading a book, taking a nap, writing in your diary. Whatever it is, try to take some time to yourself when you’re feeling rough.

I know this can sometimes seem impossible when caring for a baby, but wait until your partner is around so you can tap out, until baby is sleeping, or ask family or friends to come over.

I don’t have many people I can turn to, with my family being in Scotland, not having met a lot of other mums, feeling somewhat isolated, and Ben working full-time, but I can always find a little bit of time, here and there, to do something for myself. The difference I notice in my mood when I treat myself kindly is immense. 

5. Remember This Is A Phase

Like so many things in pregnancy, your hormones have been all over the place. You’ve grown and birthed a child, and your body jumps right into healing itself. It’s a lot, not only emotionally but physically.

There are so many intricate and complex processes your body goes through, and as your periods start back up, it can take a while to regulate everything. I felt like my terrible periods were just one more thing difficult thing in my life and this upset me, especially when I already felt overwhelmed.

But, please, try to remember it will get better. Like everything, your body will regulate and learn to run smoothly again. 

Everyone’s periods will differ: those lucky few will go much longer without one, for others it’ll arrive back way sooner than expected. You might find it difficult, like I did, or it might return without much drama at all. 

Regardless, remember to allow yourself the space to deal with this new transition and treat yourself lovingly. 

Simple Self Care For New Baby Mamas

Your to-do list can increase exponentially once your wee one joins the party. It can feel like any minute baby doesn't need you is a great chance to catch up on the washing, or put the dishwasher on, or any number of things. 

But next time you feel like whizzing around trying to catch up on everything, take a breath; your mental health is so much more important than menial chores.

Instead of filling the time baby sleeps with extra to-do's, breathe deeply, and take some time out for yourself.

  1. Take a hot bath, or steamy shower
    When your tired, achy, sleep deprived body meets warm water magic happens. Include bubbles, essential oils, candles; whatever leaves you feeling zen. Rinse and repeat whenever necessary.

  2. Make yourself delicious food
    When I make the extra effort to cook myself delicious, healthy meals, I feel so much better. Self care comes in may shapes and sizes, and can be as simple as a bowl of steaming mac and cheese at the end of a hard day.

  3. Get a manicure
    If my nails are painted, I feel powerful and in control. I've always been a fan of tidy hands; but for some reason panted nails make me feel accomplished. It surprises me how motivated I feel to get things done and treat myself well when I have a cheeky painted nail peeking up at me. Let someone watch baby for an hour and go have someone make your hands fancy.

  4. Have your hair cut
    In the same way a manicure can make you feel brand new, a haircut works wonders for refreshing a tired Mum. Since I maintain my buzzcut at home I do miss out on the salon experience. But even a trim in my bathroom and a soft fresh cut makes me feel better.

  5. Go for a walk
    Getting outside can be amazing for combating stress, loneliness and feeling stagnant. If you spend as little as fifteen minutes outside walking, it'll help boost your mood. The fresh air and gentle exercise will make you feel calmer and able to return home feeling relaxed and able to deal with whatever comes your way.

  6. Exercise
    Alternatively, if you can't get out for a walk then some light exercise in the house will have the same effect. Gentle stretching or an easy to follow yoga sequence will loosen up any kinks and boost your circulation. You'll feel loose and relaxed. My favourite youtube channel for yoga is Yoga With Adriene. I seriously recommend her teaching style and variety of workouts! She's been my favourite for years.

  7. Listen to music
    While I was deep in the baby blues in the weeks and first couple months after Willow was born, I suddenly realised one day (while feeling particularly blah) I hadn't been listening to music. All I'd been hearing for countless days and nights was a crying baby and our own tired voices. There is such a change in outlook and mood when you listen to some cheesy dance tunes, or mellow out with some classical music.

  8. Have a creative outlet
    Whether your thing is reading, writing, painting, sketching, or just dancing around your room like a loon - take a minute to be creative, or to nurture your creativity. For me, a free flow on my yoga mat, or brain storming blog ideas helps me feel centred. It's nice to work on your interests or hobbies, even if it's only for ten minutes. It helps remind you that you're still you as you go through the murky identify shift from me to Mum.

  9. Nap while your wee one does
    I know you've heard it before, sleep when the baby sleeps. I rolled my eyes so hard at this advice because it felt impossible. How on earth can I sleep while she sleeps when the house is overflowing with mess and dishes and clothes that need washed, a dog that needs walked, a bathroom that needs scrubbed...sleep when the baby sleeps? HA.
    But, seriously, this is a golden piece of advice. I started napping with Willow after a hard night/day/week when I felt overwhelmed and desperate. After one or two of these defeated naps I realised....I wasn't defeated, I was re-grouping. With some time to catch up on your precious sleep you have more energy, and lets be honest, more will to live through another day with a newborn.

I know it can feel like waaay too much; looking after yourself in the midst of everything else you have going on. But it is so important. If you can't function, you can't look after your baby. And while there are so many things in your life that your little love trumps, your mental health isn't one of them.