I remember when I first started to try to be healthier. My thought process went a little something like this: “How the F am I going to afford all of this? Being healthy is expensive.” I now realize this isn’t true, but it is a common misconception. Any lifestyle can be expensive or inexpensive, depending on how you choose to live it. Like, being unhealthy can also be expensive…feel me? Kombucha, collagen, vitamins, matcha, “natural” skin care products, group fitness/gym memberships, high-quality activewear, the list of what some consider to be “healthy lifestyle MUSTS” goes on and on…and that shit adds up.
I’m definitely guilty of purchasing things I didn’t need in the long run, but since becoming vegan and making my health a top priority, there are also things I’ve purchased that made being healthy MUCH easier. To save you some grief (and hopefully cash), I’ve compiled them all into a list. Some of these are specific brands, and some are general concepts. Some are brands I’ve worked with, some are not. Overall, though, I believe they’re all worth investing in.
healthy lifestyle essentials, according to G
Investing in a QUALITY, high-speed blender is seriously life-changing; no matter what your diet looks like. Before I got a Vitamix, I was eating vegan food. After getting a Vitamix, I was experimenting with, creating with, and LOVING ON vegan food. Here are a few things I make with my Vitamix that I couldn’t make with my first blender: homemade nut milk, vegan raw desserts, vegan versions of traditionally non-vegan sauces and dishes, juices, soup…the list goes on and on. Investing in a quality blender up front is worth it in the long run. I like my Vitamix because the blade is stainless-steel so it will blend through basically anything, it has up to 10-year full warranty, and it’s available in big sizes, which makes meal-prepping for the week a breeze.
*TIP: You can a Vitamix refurbished for WAY cheaper, and they come good as new!
a LEGIT waterbottle
…or a few, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll accidentally leave a trail of them all throughout Manhattan. (Let us take a moment of silence for every water bottle I’ve lost.)
A legit waterbottle is essential for a few reasons. First off, it’s better for the environment to minimize how much plastic you use. (Duh.) Second, it encourages you to drink more water, which is basically #1 on every, “What to do to be a healthier human in general,” list on the internet. (Here’s mine!)
books, books, books!
It seems silly that I have to mention this but it is SO IMPORTANT. Every life-changing decision I’ve made or positive mental shift I’ve experienced has been because of a book I read. If you struggle with finishing books or taking the time to sit down and read, buy them on audio and listen to them on your commute, while you’re cooking dinner, or whatever. Some of my favorites include The Secret, The China Study, You’re A Badass, Co-Dependent No More, How Not To Die, The Universe Has Your Back, and Woman Code.
I know, I know…buying organic groceries is more expensive than it should be. However, in my opinion, it’s worth every penny. Buying organic helps keep our water clean. It also helps protect animals because pesticides sneak into their habitats causing them to suffer. It also helps with soil erosion and lessens your chance of consuming GMOs. If you’re on a tight budget, I suggest searching, “The dirty dozen” on the internet. This is a list of 12 foods you should always buy organic, even if you’re on a budget.
I’m not talking about having a bunch of random free apps on your phone. I’m talking about investing in a yearly subscription and making these apps part of your daily/weekly routine. My personal favorite is a meditation app called Headspace. To find the app that’s worth investing in for you, I suggest two things. 1. Look inward and ask yourself: What areas of my life could I improve on? Narrow it down to categories (health, fitness, organization, etc), and go from there. 2. Practice a TON of trial and error. Obviously, you’re not going to love every app you come across. But once you find one that feels natural to your routine, don’t half-ass it; commit to it and buy it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Set yourself up for success. You can definitely be healthier and mindful without fitness trackers, bullet journals, and organization apps, but why would you make it harder for yourself to succeed and refrain from investing in things that will make your life easier? In my experience, tools like these have held me accountable. They make me excited to exercise, plan out my day, and cross things off my to-do list. A few of my favorite productivity tools are my apple watch, my 5 Minute Journal, and my planner.
I used to wash my hair once a day. Now, I wash my hair once a week max; and it’s all thanks to oil training.
*The first part of this post is my personal journey with oil training. If you just want some tips/answers to FAQs, scroll down!
If you’re one of those people who can’t go a day without washing your hair because of how greasy it gets, I can totally relate. I used to envy friends who would complain about how dry their hair gets because, after 24 hours of not washing mine, my head would look like a mop. No problem, though; because after a while, I accepted that fact that I was one of those people who just had to shampoo my hair every day to avoid looking like I hadn’t showered in weeks. Right?
Na. Not anymore. Thank you, oil training!
I started oil training when I first became a cycling instructor. Though I exercised nearly every day before I became an instructor, teaching multiple classes a day on top of exercising on my own started to really take a toll on my hair. Not because I sweat so much; though, but more so because I would wash my hair multiple times a day to try and avoid excess sweat and grease. Let me say that again: Sweat wasn’t damaging my hair. Over-washing it was.
After about three weeks or so of teaching/exercising/shampooing my hair multiple times a day, I started noticing some unpleasant changes in my hair health. My ends started becoming super frizzy. My hair would get knotted much easier than it did before. I’d lose A LOT of hair in the shower. AND, it would get greaser even faster than it used to. You’d think that the more I washed it the less greasy it would become…
In hopes of someone having some suggestions on how I could avoid damaging my hair any further, I started asking my friends and colleagues for advice. I had only mentioned it to a few people before another instructor mentioned how Lee From America—a blogger she followed—didn’t wash her hair regularly. “I think she oil trains?” she said. “Maybe you should look into that.”
The idea of washing my hair less than once a day literally made my skin crawl, but after doing my research on oil training and the benefits it could provide, I started to wonder if this was something I could get into. “I’ll try it for a day or two,” I thought to myself, “and if I truly can’t stand it, I’ll just wash it.”
I decided that since I was a serial washer, I’d first start small and only wait an extra day in between each wash. First I’d wait two days, then three, etc. Eventually, I’d build up to a full week without washing, and then I’d wait anywhere between five and seven days after that (depending on what I had going on socially, how greasy my hair would get, etc.)
The first few days were ROUGH. After the first time I went three days without shampooing my hair, it looked like my hair was wet all the time. I definitely had to swallow my pride a bit and rock a LOT of “slicked back bun and big earrings” looks. After three or so weeks of pushing through, I noticed my hair was less and less greasy each time I’d go shampoo it. Just like I had read, it was working. So, I pushed myself even further and started experimenting with different oil-training tactics.
Long story short, after 5 or so weeks of oil training, I got to a point where my hair wouldn’t start to get greasy until 6 to 8 days of being shampoo-free. Now, I usually wash my hair once a week, and I LOVE IT.
Q: What is oil training, and why do you do it?
A: Oil training is when you refrain from washing your hair as much as you can so that once it’s trained, you can wash it less. The more you train, the less oily your hair will get after a few days of not washing it. The overall goal (for me, at least), is not to NEVER wash your hair again. It’s simply to wash it less and not depend on shampoo.
I oil train for two reasons: 1. In my personal opinion, it’s damaging to stop our bodies from doing anything it does naturally. (Ex: birth control, antiperspirants, and stripping or hair from natural oil it produces.) I’ve found that after I oil trained my hair and refrained from shampoo, it was MUCH healthier in every way. 2. I used to shampoo my hair every day, and ain’t nobody got the time/money/patience for that.
Q: Do you get your hair wet when you shower?
A: I personally do, but I know many people who don’t. Some claim that getting your hair wet while oil training spreads the grease, however, this isn’t my experience. Also, as an instructor, my hair is a HOT MESS after I teach; and getting it wet makes it easier for me to style after teaching a bunch that day. (Yes, I often dry my hair with sweat in it. I don’t think it’s gross. You do you.)
Q: Do you use dry shampoo?
A: Na. In my opinion, if you’re dry shampooing, you might as well shampoo. My natural version of “dry shampoo” is baking soda and APCV. I apply the baking soda on my roots a few minutes before I shower when it’s dry (get it ALLL up in there), and then I apply about half a cup of APCV on my hair in the shower once it’s wet. I only do this in a do-or-die situation; like, if I have a social event and I don’t feel 100% about where my hair is at but I don’t want to wash it. In other words, I only do this on days where I would usually wash it but want to train it longer.
Q: What do you do when you’re going out but your hair looks or feels greasy?
A: Braids, buns, bold lips, and big earrings. Oil training has actually pushed me outside of my comfort zone to try different styles/looks. I’ve grown to love the bare-faced, bold lip, slicked back hair look now; which prior to oil training I would have NEVER done. It makes you OWN your shit, ya know?
Q: How long did it take you to get to a place where you are only washing once a week?
A: A little over five weeks. PUSH THROUGH I PROMISE IT’S WORTH IT.
Q: I tried oil training for a few days and my head is itching. Is this normal?
A: YES. Week 1.5 the itch was REAL. It goes away!
-use baking soda + APCV as shampoo alternatives. (See how-to above.)
-start slow…that’s what worked for me. I didn’t go seven days without washing right away; I started with two days shampoo-free, then three, and eventually built up to seven.
-plan your social life around the training. When I first started, I used to schedule dates, dinners, etc. around the days I knew I was going to wash my hair. NO SHAME.
-don’t knock it until you try it! I was such a skeptic but now I’m so thankful I pushed through, and my hair feels so healthy.
Right before and after January 1st, all of my social feeds become filled with endless, “how to keep your resolution” articles. Apparently, the media has caught on to the fact that the idea of keeping up with something for an entire year (or even a few months, at that) is pretty daunting. People love to set New Year’s resolutions for themselves because a calendar forces them to do so, yet there’s a universal, collective scoff at the concept of actually keeping them. I remember reading something last year that said 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Well, that’s encouraging!
I bring this up because the inability to “stay on track” is one of the biggest reasons people tell me they’re hesitant to eventry to be healthier. I often hear things like, “I could be vegan for one day a week, but that’s it.” or, “I want to be healthy but I couldn’t keep up with it.” Come to think of it, I’m definitely guilty of this thought process as well. I believe a huge part of how I’ve successfully eliminated things out of my diet was by telling myself at first that whatever I was changing wasn’t forever, just to take the pressure off. Wtf is up with that?
In my opinion, there are two big reasons that many people don’t feel like they can maintain a healthy lifestyle. The first reason is that food choices often turn into habits, and habits are hard to break. The second? Fear.
I’m definitely a creature of habit. Once I’ve found a routine that makes me comfortable and gives my life structure, breaking away from that can be extremely difficult. Especially if those habits stem from my emotions (sweets before bed). Once your brain has made space for a food habit at a certain time of the day, your life can feel empty without it.
I’ve come to find that when people ask me how I stay motivated in all aspects of my health, my go-to answer, “willpower” isn’t supppeerrrr popular. Here’s the thing, though: Over the years, my willpower has gotten MUCH stronger because before making any drastic changes or right when I started my journey, I prepared myself to do so.
My advice? Simple: Set yourself up for success by PREPARING. Mentally, physically, and emotionally prepare yourself for the changes you’re about to make. Don’t let a habit or fear dictate your decisions. You dictate your decisions.
8 things you can do maintain a healthy lifestyle
1. educate yourself
What are the factsbehind your decision? This has been really helpful for me when my emotions tempt me to make choices I normally wouldn’t. Before I went vegan, I read countless books on the lifestyle. This way, in a, “I want that slice of pizza and it’s making me sad I can’t have it, so I’m gonna have it,” moment, the logical side of my brain overrides the emotional and all of the FACTS behind why I became vegan pop into my head. You can do this with any lifestyle, form of exercise, etc. Read a damn book, peeps!
2. be honest with yourself about your reasoning
Why do you want to do this? Are you trying to lose weight, are you doing it for the environment, or are you just trying to experiment? There isn’t a right or wrong answer, however, there is an honest and dishonest answer. If you stay true to yourself and your reasoning, nothing can take that away from you; and it feels liberating as fuck.
3. surround yourself with like-minded people
I’m definitely not telling you to ditch your friends that don’t choose to live the same way you do. BUT, I definitely am telling you that adding more people into your life that do choose to live the same way you do makes the entire process a hell of a lot easier. I mean, who doesn’t want more friends?
4. find your “tools”
Imagine me saying tools in air quotes because these tools can be both a tangible and emotional thing. I’ve found a little bit of both work for me: journaling (physical and emotional), meditating, and running. For my personality type, fitness trackers really help with holding me accountable.
5. meal prep!
SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE FOODIES IN THE BACK. (Insert clapping emoji.) I can’t stress this enough. Obviously, you’re more likely to make a healthy choice if it’s waiting for you in your fridge. People are so hard on themselves when they make unhealthy meal choices, yet all they’d have to do to make choosing a healthy meal a no-brainer is prepare it ahead of time. It saves you money, you learn how to cook, the list of pros goes on and on. If you’re looking for some meal prep inspo, here’s my formula for quick, easy, plant-based meals.
6. share your experiences
I have amazing news: There is enough positive energy and abundance in the world for EVERYONE. So, why not share it with as many people as you can? Once I started noticing all of the positive things a healthy lifestyle did to my body and mood, I felt an overwhelming need to share everything I learned with others. Not only did this allow me to help people I cared about, but it also held me accountable. The more people I’d share it with, the more people that would reach out to me for help. Because of this, I made sure to educate myself as much as I could. It’s crazy what you can do when you know others are depending on you.
7. know that change is coming
…and keep with it until you start noticing a difference. In anything. Energy levels, weight, acne, etc. Everybody is different, therefore, change comes at different paces for everyone. But something I can guarantee is that as soon as one change happens, the rest come very quickly. Use this as motivation to keep up with it until you see the first change.
8. only do it if you’re ready
My mom read Skinny Bitch, The Secret, and The Seat of the Soul when I was in high school. She told me all about them, and I read The Secret when I was 17. It didn’t make a difference to me, though; the information went in one ear and out the other. During that time in my life, I was stubborn, insecure, and unwilling to change. It wasn’t until after recovering from my eating disorder that I was mentally prepared to take in all of the information I needed to make some positive changes. Don’t force it or it will become a chore. No one wants to do chores…
I hope these things can help you as much as they helped me. If you ever feel like you’re about to “fall off the wagon,” don’t be so hard on yourself. All you have to do to stay grounded is remember where you started and never lose sight of where you’re going.
I’m pretty sure that when the photo above was taken, at that moment, I was the happiest woman in Times Square. I was hungover as shit, and my $3 bagel and $2 iced coffee were bringing me back to life in just enough time to only be five minutes late to a meeting with my editor, rather than the usual 10 or 15 after a night of clubbing with promoters. At that point in my life, you might have well just stuck an IV of iced coffee in my arm for me to have at all times…then I’d REALLY be a happy camper.
I don’t remember the moment where coffee started becoming a regular part of my routine. If you know me well, though, you know that when I’m invested in something, I’m REALLY invested. My relationship with coffee was no different. As soon as I started, I couldn’t go a day without it. The moment I woke up, I’d feel a headache if I didn’t have a cup in hand right away. If more than a half hour went by and I didn’t have any, I’d start to feel REAL withdrawals: shakes, mood swings, digestive issues, you name it. And—stating the obvious because many people feel this way—without coffee, I was pretty unpleasant to be around.
I smoked cigarettes in college, and when I interned in London senior year, the black coffee and cigarette duet was 100% the highlight of my day. On my way to work, I’d sit on the tube with a cup of black coffee in between my legs and use the napkin they’d give me to hold the cup as a rolling station for my hand-rolled cigarettes.
The time period between living abroad (and then a short month in New York) and graduation was when I first started becoming interested in my health. I knew I was going to move to the city and try to make my dreams come true, and I also knew that I had to be in a good mental and physical place to do so. That’s when I decided to quit smoking. If only coffee were that simple.
I moved to New York to be a journalist. My first job in the city required me to write five stories a day, five days a week. Given the fact that I’d literally have five deadlines every time I went to work, coffee quickly became my safety net when yet another deadline would approach and I felt behind. Every morning, I’d have a cup of coffee at home. Then, I’d pick up a venti iced coffee on my way to work. Every afternoon, I’d have a cup of tea. Around three or so, my coworkers and I would make another Starbucks run, making that coffee number three or four for me. Finally, while I had that job, I’d often work from home if I didn’t meet what was expected of me that day. You better believe my “work from home moments” consisted of cup after cup of black coffee, accompanied by Anderson Paak and a lavender scented candle.
As I sit here and type this, I’m realizing that though I’ve changed my lifestyle dramatically in the past few years, the present and past Gater have something in common: Deep in my gut, in my soul, I always know when I’m doing something that doesn’t serve me in ways that will push me forward, towards a better life. The main difference between the present and past Gater is that back then, I’d ignore it, even if I knew it was wrong. Now, I always take action and make a conscious effort to make positive lifestyle adjustments. If I see myself walking towards a cliff, I just turn around.
Needless to say, when I was having anywhere from four to six cups of coffee a day, it became clear to me that this was something I needed. At that point, I was beyond just wanting a cup of coffee. Without it, I couldn’t get my day started. I couldn’t get my work done. I couldn’t function.
At the time, my desk was nestled in-between another section editor and our copy editor. After realizing that I was depending on coffee to do my job, I asked the copy editor (also a dear friend), if he’d be interested in seeing how long we could go without it. To my surprise, he agreed to try it out. Little did both of us know that this would ultimately lead to my decision to quit coffee altogether.
Something I want to mention here is that when I went vegan, I didn’t do it by going cold-turkey. First, I tried being a vegetarian. After seeing all of the positive results that a meatless diet had on my body and mind, I decided to stop having dairy six months later. Then, I learned more about the vegan lifestyle, and a few months after that, I let go of eggs and fish. I compare quitting coffee to going vegan because when I got started on both, I put ZERO pressure on myself. When I became a vegetarian, I didn’t intend to become vegan, it happened naturally. This is the same thing that I did with coffee, and I really believe that that’s how I’ve kept up with it for this long!
Long story short: Letting go of a part of your everyday life is a huge decision. For me, it made it so much easier if I told myself, “I’m just going to see how long I can go and take note of how I feel. If I want to have it, I’ll have it. If I feel okay and see positive results, I’ll keep at it.” If I took it truly day by day and didn’t make it a big deal in my mind, then that’s exactly what it was. Not a big deal.
Sure, I had withdrawals at first. Right when I woke up on day one, I wanted a cup of coffee. But in that moment, I just told myself, “Try to make it to lunch, AT LEAST.” Once I pushed through and lunch came around, I would think, “Try to make it until the end of the workday,” or even, “try to make it another hour. Another minute.” After I got through day one, I realized I could do this, so day two didn’t seem as bad. After three days, I started to feel better. I noticed how much money I was saving. I woke up naturally. I felt less foggy. This was enough for me to keep at it, and it wasn’t until a year and a half later that I decided to have a cup, simply because I missed the taste and my boyfriend at the time made it every morning. To my surprise this time around, every time I’d have coffee, my body would reject it. This is the same thing that happens to me if there’s dairy in something that I’m unaware of, and for me, when my body sends me signals, I really try to respect it and listen.
So, do I have caffeine? Yes! I just don’t drink coffee. I have caffeine in the form of matcha and kombucha. I enjoy these drinks because I LOVE the health benefits and taste of both. I don’t drink them every day, and I don’t have them first thing in the morning. I only drink them after a meal due to the effect it has on my hormones if I drink them on an empty stomach.
During and after my “coffee cleanse,” I did have cravings, there’s no doubt about that. Even to this day, sometimes I see someone walking down the street with an iced-coffee, and for a split-second, I think, “Damn, that looks good.” Over time, though, I’ve learned a few tricks to stay on track. I’d love to share them with you here!
Quitting coffee has been such an amazing, eye-opening experience for me. I have no regrets. If you’re interested in giving it a try, here are some tips that helped me.
tips on quitting coffee
1. hot water + lemon
When I first decided I was going to give the “no coffee life” a shot, a friend had told me that hot water and lemon was said to give your body a natural boost of energy when enjoyed first thing in the morning. Not only did this wake me up naturally and help with my coffee detox tremendously, it has also become part of my daily drink routine. Lemons are full of tons of lovely benefits, so I add them to everything I can.
2. replace the ritual
Looking back, I think this is what I wanted to hold onto the most. Sure, the withdrawals weren’t a pleasant thought, but for me, coffee was an experience. I loved holding a hot mug in the morning and before I went to sleep. I loved hugging my hands around a mug at brunch. The smell it had, the culture surrounding it…these were things that seemed irreplaceable to me at first. If you’re serious about trying to quit it, I promise you, there are so many other things that can replace your coffee ritual that provide the same emotional experience. For me, those things were (and still are) enjoying hot water and lemon, learning to make my own matcha latte, and making my own nut milk. I still believe the culture surrounding coffee is bad ass, but I can wholeheartedly say I love my new rituals just as much if not more.
3. Be honest with yourself, and then experiment
Are you wanting to quit caffeine altogether, or, are you just trying to lower your coffee intake? Are you open to alternatives, like matcha or decaf? Also, why are you having coffee in the first place? Do you truly enjoy the taste, or do you need it to start your day or get your digestive system going? If you are honest with yourself about all of the above, your journey and the decisions make will seem much, much clearer.
4. grab a buddy
This was a deal-breaker for me. It’s kind of like having a workout buddy; it’s a win-win situation. If you embark on this journey with someone else, you’ll have a shoulder to lean on when things get rough, you’ll have someone to talk to about how you’re feeling, AND, you’ll have someone to hold you accountable. I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it if I didn’t have someone to check in with throughout the process.
5. keep track of how much $$ you save without it
I’m not even going to tell you how much money I spent on coffee each month…THAT’S how embarrassing it was. Even if you don’t drink it often or make it at home, that shit adds up. If you don’t really have an emotional attachment to coffee and you’re looking for other reasons to quit, this could serve as great motivation. Who doesn’t wanna save some extra cash?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I hope I can help you on your journey, no matter what you decide!
When is the last time you took a moment to stop and think about what you’re thankful for?
Or, how often do you take the time to actually sit and write it down? If you asked me this question two years ago, I would probably have said never. And guess what? Two years ago, I was insecure. I was overweight. I was unhealthy. I was living the life I “thought” I should be living, rather than the life I wanted to be living. Anyone else ever feel this way?
Here’s the peculiar part of this picture: At that time, I didn’t realize how unhappy I actually was. I had great friends and family. I was at a college I loved. I was about to move to the city of my dreams and work in the industry I had worked my ass off to get into. That sounds like happiness, right?
Since I graduated college, I’ve learned more than ever that just because you’re not unhappy doesn’t mean you’re truly living your best life. Sure, that may seem daunting, but in my opinion, it’s exciting. Think about it this way: Whether you consider yourself to be happy or unhappy, there’s always room for growth. You can always be happier. Healthier. Stronger. In my opinion, happiness is a choice, and a huge part of how I found mine is such a simple yet highly underrated practice: gratitude.
Now, you may be thinking, “Practice? Gratitude is a noun, not a verb. It’s a thing, it’s not something you do.” This was my hesitation at first as well. How can something as small as gratitude be practiced regularly, like brushing your teeth or going to the gym?
I came across the concept of practicing gratitude and making it part of my everyday routine after reading an incredible book called The Secret.The Secret is a book that focuses on energy—both good and bad—and how it can affect your life in ways you could have never imagined. In the book, the author Rhonda Byrne explains the law of attraction. We’ve all heard about karma and the concept of, “what goes around comes around,” but the law of attraction is less about your actions and more about your perspective. Think more, “you are your thoughts” rather than “you are your actions.”
In the book, Byrne explains that a great way to use the law of attraction is through gratitude. It’s simple: The more you consciously say, think, and feel excited about the things that you have to be grateful for, the more they will manifest in your life. Whether it be an emotional thing like friendship and love or physical things like a house, job, or car, by practicing gratitude each day, the law of attraction can bring you…well…anything you want.
Sounds crazy and kind of, “living in never-never land” ish, I know. But then I started doing my research. Ever heard of how Jim Carrey became who he is today? He used gratitude, a positive outlook, and the law of attraction to make himself a millionaire. He tells the full story during an interview on Oprah. Once you find his story, it’s easy to fall down a rabbit-hole of countless others just like it. Needless to say, I did just that, and that was enough for me to become fully invested in the concept and practice it as much as I could.
After finishing The Secret I frantically began my search for things that would keep me in the right mindset. Calendar markers, vision boards, and brand new notebooks filled my search history. It wasn’t long before I had a vision board in my tiny New York Apartment in Nolita, a rock that I carried around with me to constantly remind me to be thankful, and a journal I wrote in every morning and night. My gratitude journal is The Five Minute Journal, and this journal, along with my other law-of-attraction rituals, have undoubtedly changed my life.
Let me use my Five Minute Journal as an example of how. This journal is designed to help you practice gratitude daily by taking five minutes to write down what you’re thankful every morning and night. Here’s how it’s laid out:
First, the journal presents you with an inspirational quote or challenge. (This quote has become more of a daily reminder than an inspiration for me.) It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget why you are even doing what the hell you’re doing; we all need a little reminder every once in a while.
Then, the journal prompts you to list three things you are grateful for. After that, it asks you to write down three things that would make the day great. If you’re writing down what would make the day great, you’re more likely to do anything to make them all happen, right? That’s where the magic happens. By doing this you’re setting yourself up for success first thing in the morning.
The next part of the morning journaling is my favorite: it tells you to write your daily affirmations. If you’re unfamiliar with what this means, here are some helpful prompts. Finish these sentences:
By saying things like, “I have the best job in the world,” or, “I’m healthy, happy, and strong,” it’s manifesting these things and making them a reality. Whether or not you actually have what you believe to be the best job in the world, by writing down that you do every day, you are taking it out of the future and bringing it into the present. You’re making it real. You’re using the law of attraction.
At the end of the day, the journal gives you two prompts: “3 Amazing things that happened today…” and “How could I have made today even better?”
The first allows you to sit back and recognize the beauty that is life, even if you’ve had the worst day EVER. I’ve gotten dumped, laid off, and sick as hell, and on days like these, this prompt saved my mental state from slipping into a slippery slope of, “whoa is me.” Because even on days where shit hits the fan and life happens, there’s always something to be thankful for; even if it is something as small as “I had a great cup of tea,” or “my commute was three minutes shorter than usual.”
By asking you to reflect on the day and put your life in perspective, the second prompt is setting you up for success BEFORE you even wake up the next day. How badass is that?
Something I want to stress here is that I’m human, and some days are definitely better than others. Sometimes, I wake up late and forget to write in my journal. Sometimes, sad things happen and I just want to cry about them and not only focus on the good. It’s important to feel your feelings and recognize that life is not perfect, and through pain comes growth. However, it’s also important to realize that no matter what happens, happiness is a choice and there is ALWAYS something that makes life worth living. I write more about feeling your feelings and how to do so in a functional way in this post.
In a nutshell, gratitude is all about perspective. If there’s anything I’d like for you to take away from this post, it’s that you get to decide how you are going to receive and react to everything that happens in your life, and you also get to decide what your future looks like. Yes, some things are out of our control. However, by practicing gratitude on a regular basis, you will always feel happy because you will constantly be reminded about how everything that has happened to you has made you better; and you will constantly be reminded that the world is literally at your fingertips. You can have it all.
All you have to do is step back, be thankful for what you have, and allow the universe to shower you with anything you desire.
Before you read this, ask yourself: How do you deal with trauma? When things aren’t going the way you planned, how do you cope with it?
Life is beautiful. There’s so much to see, so much to experience, so many people to meet that will change your life and shape who you are. I often wake up and look out my window in disbelief that I get to live on this planet and choose what my life is going to look like. It’s all about perspective, ya know?
When I take a moment to stop, revisit my gratitude, and focus on the things that make life worth living, I feel so humbled. I feel amazing. That being said, like anyone else who lives an ordinary life, though, I work. I workout. I pay bills. I cook, clean, visit with friends. I travel. When you get caught up in the day to day and you get into a routine, it becomes easy to turn on auto piolet and cruise along for the ride. So, what happens when the autopilot is on and tragedy strikes?
Feeling your feelings and dealing with emotions can be difficult. This is why people do things to “not feel,” like use drugs, shut down, disappear, etc. Obviously, everyone deals with stress, sadness, and hardships differently. Recently I’ve noticed this more than ever. Sometimes you forget that people are different than you—I know I definitely have forgotten this and still struggle with understanding it. Through friendships, work, and relationships, I’m still learning.
After reflecting on the last six months of my life and taking a hard look at where I am today, I’ve realized something that, in my opinion, is extremely important for personal growth: Feeling your feelings is a good thing.
Take a moment to think about the people in your life. How do they deal with trauma? In my experience, some people yell. Some people cry. Some people talk it out, bottle it up inside, ignore it all, run away, whatever. Something I’ve learned, though, is that there is a difference between acknowledging the presence of your emotions, rather than letting them run your life and fuel your choices.
Here’s a personal example: This year, I was laid off. In that moment and moments after, I felt sad, hurt, and stressed. When I felt sad, I cried or talked about it with my friends and family. When I felt angry, I did the same. However, once those emotions passed, I had to step outside of myself and make sure I was using those moments to move forward and heal, rather than drag me down and hurt me further. On the days when I let them get the best of me, I wouldn’t be productive and I’d feel like shit about everything. That’s no way to live!
On the other side of things, though, sometimes, I wouldn’t feel anything. I’d start to feel upset, and then I’d stop myself because I wanted to keep my pride. “I won’t let a job and a company that wasn’t meant for me dictate my mood or ruin my day,” I’d think to myself. Or, I would be scared of feeling pain, because let’s be real…no one wants to hurt inside. It’s scary. You feel vulnerable. Well, guess what happened when I didn’t feel pain? I felt it even more later on. It would all come back full circle, and I would have LEGIT meltdowns.
Here’s my point with all of this: In the moments where I felt my feelings, I was able to use my emotions as a tool and look inward to aid my healing process. In the moments where I wouldn’t allow myself to do so, everything would bottle up inside of me. It never “went away” until I released it into the universe.
As my mother always says, our emotions are like a compass. They are here to guide you. They are your friend. Sometimes, we let our brains (or the more logical side of ourselves), overthrow our feelings. Should you go rogue and make every decision based on emotions and nothing more? No. But, if your compass told you to turn North, would you go South? Probbbabbbllyyy not. So, I say, use them to get you on a path that feels right. Then, that’s when the logic comes in. This way, you, your emotions, and your logic are a team. You’re not working against each other. Your emotions are here to HELP YOU, not hurt you. They don’t define you. They don’t make you weak. They are meant to be felt and then released.
If you’re dealing with some BS that doesn’t serve you, it’s okay, you’re not alone. Like I said earlier, feeling your emotions can be scary. Here are a few functional ways I’ve learned to do so that have worked for me, step-by-step.
How to heal by using your feelings
Acknowledge them. The emotions you are feeling are there, and they’re real A F. They’re not going anywhere until you do something about it.
So, FEEL THEM. Cry, run, scream, call a friend and talk it out, whatever. Just be sure to do something…don’t run away.
Accept them. How do we move on from something that doesn’t make sense to us? Or, how do we make sense of something that literally doesn’t make sense? We accept it. We don’t have to agree with it, praise it, or love it, but to TRULY heal, we do have to accept it. HARD, I know, but so crucial for moving forward.
Set them free. Imagine yourself tossing the sadness, despair, or betrayal into the air. And then, like a balloon, they just float into the sky, until they are eventually out of sight. By this point of the healing process, you’ve already felt these emotions and used them as a tool. You don’t need them anymore, so, set them free.
Be patient. You may only have to go through this process once. Or, you may have to go through it every day for months. Whatever your healing process looks like, just remember to be patient with yourself. Everyone is different, but as long as you are feeling your feelings, time, patience, and love (from yourself and others) will take care of the rest.