How to start Gratitude Journaling.

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I’ve been holding onto this post for a while. It hasn’t felt like the right time to publish it until now.

The world will constantly be a combination of good and bad. And man, does it feel like there is a lot of heavy situations going on lately. But I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of good in this world as well. I know it might not feel that way as we watch the news, listen to the radio, or scroll through our social media feeds lately. But we can always focus on the good in the world and there are always good things to focus on.

Read that last sentence again.

A baby is being born, a close friend gets engaged, a family member beats cancer, or it’s simply sunny and beautiful outside. If you’ve been around here a while you know I’m also one to tell you not to bury your emotions but there is a way to process your emotions and turn those heavier feelings into something to be grateful for. I’ve been re-reading Tim Desmond’s ‘How To Stay Human In a F*cked Up World. I purchased it this last fall when I was going through a very difficult time period. For most people, sometimes it feels imposible to get through certain situations in life but personally, I find enlightenment in focusing on progress, even if it is the tiniest step of progression. So I purchased this book and it continues to be one of my staples I pull off the shelf and skim through.

Desmond mentions that ‘bringing up pain and holding it with compassion leads to transformation’. You can sit with this said pain through meditation but another way is gratitude journaling. I’m a big fan of journaling as a practice to process emotions, make decisions, and work through trama. I’m also a big fan of gratetitude journaling for difficult times so you don’t feel the world is weighing down so much on you.

Below is a few prompts that can help start a gratitude journaling practice. All you need is a pen and paper then allow the prompts to guide you in topics to write about. Not only does gratitude journaling take your mind off negative or impactful thoughts but it allows you to focus on things that will bring your mind enjoyment and actively releases stress and tension from the body.

Prompts:

  1. Someone you are grateful for
  2. A food you are grateful for
  3. A place you really love
  4. A treasured experience
  5. A skill you are grateful for
  6. A teacher or mentor who made a large impact in your life
  7. A trip you love to look back on
  8. A meal or dessert you can’t get enough of
  9. Your favorite birthday or holiday memory
  10. Your favorite books you’ve read
  11. A lesson you learn that made an impact
  12. Your favorite movies
  13. Your favorite smells
  14. Someone who believes in you
  15. Your favorite place
  16. Your favorite pet
  17. A activity you love to do
  18. Music that makes you happy to listen to
  19. Something that relaxes you
  20. An activity that makes you feel alive
  21. Your favorite memory from your childhood
  22. A goal you’ve achieved
  23. A person who makes you laugh
  24. An answered prayer
  25. Something you’ve created that makes you feel proud

Another way to start a gratitude journaling practice is to purchase a guided journal. My favorite brand is Ink & Volt. There are also endless options across Amazon and what I love is that you can find different options for women, men, and even teens and children.

I hope you enjoy your gratitude journaling practice & I would love to hear how it impacts your life!

Quarantine Pick-Me-Ups.

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As best as we’re trying, we might be feeling down quite often during this “stay-at-home” time. You might not be as productive as you would like or feel you’re getting as much accomplished as you wish. Maybe that workout routine has fallen to the waist side or there are a few too many snack times in the afternoon. And guess what, it might be hard to hear and accept, but it’s actually all alright!

We are going to feel down at points, that is how the body processes situations and emotions and we should learn to embrace them as they come and learn from them. But what’s not alright is wallowing in these down thoughts. They will happen, we’re not meant to be happy all the time and this is a very difficult situation that we’re going through (uncharted waters for literally all of us). It’s great to set goals while we have the free time but if we don’t meet these goals or feel we’ve done our best, life. will. go. on. 

So today I wanted to address some of my practices I embrace if I’m having a hard day or a really emotional week. Like I said before, we shouldn’t shy away from these emotions and attempt to avoid them because that has potential to cause more damage but there are certain healthy things we can do to process through these emotions.

  • Meditation: I recently shared a post for how to create your own meditation practice which is really helpful if you are new to it. This might be scary to attempt to sit with our feelings and emotions when it feels like the last thing we want to do. But addressing these feelings and approaching them with a positive attitude can completeing repaint the way we are handling them. [Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to work with mantras during meditation]
  • Journaling: Put those thoughts down on paper and let them all out. A journaling practice can feel odd and different if you’re new to it but once you find a stride with writing you can really notice the benefits it provides. Don’t place expectations with your writing either, like ‘you always need to write a full page’ or ‘you always need to write about once certain topic – like what you did that day’. Allow yourself the freedom to just write whatever thoughts are flowing through you at that moment.
  • Setting Routines: You don’t need to map out your enitre day but putting in place a simple daily routine provides your mental health structure – similar to what it is use to when “life is normal”. I just shared a morning routine for a healthy gut and this is a good example of simple daily tasks you can do to provide your life some structure. It can also be as simple as taking a walk outside each day at 3PM or maybe it’s not even daily but every other day you take a really nice bath with all the bells and whistles. Don’t only set a routine of mundane items you need to get done but also things you look forward to do and feel a bit like pampering.
  • Movement: I prefer yoga, barre, and running and I really rotate through these depending on my mood. Find a form of excercise that makes your body feel good that is accessible and you enjoy doing (for the most part because working out isn’t as enjoyable as other things – like eating brownies 😉 I shared my favorite at-home workouts last month so if you’re looking for ideas, check out that post! (Bonus: I also shared my favorite at-home workout equipment and all of it can be found on Amazon)
  • Get Outside: If you have the access and the weather is nice, try to get outside at least once a day. This provides you with a different scenery than inside your home or apartment and gets you body some Vitamin D. I can’t tell you how many times in the last couple weeks I’ve been feeling mentally heavy and how a simple short walk around the block with my dog can completely change my perspective.

If you are truly struggling during these times, no matter what mentally you are battling, I am also here to chat and listen. Feel free to always reach out to me at ashraeeiningyoga@gmail.com. We will get through this together!

 

Setting a Morning Routine for a Happy Gut.

A happy gut equals a more enjoyable life & starting out your routine right away in the morning to make sure you have that happy gut sets everything in the right order. I recently shared all about what the gut is and why it’s important in a recent post so if you’re unfamiliar about it, check out that post now & then head back here for your morning routine.

For this post, we’re diving into more specifics of how you can give your gut biome a start on the right direct early on in your day. That being said, if you’ve had a few days of junk food or a few too many glasses of wine the night before (no judgement!) – this routine won’t completely reset your gut. We all know life is about blanace but making sure our body feel healthy is a continual process of flushing out toxins, feeding ourselves with healthy, nutrious foods and getting plenty of water to hydrate ourselves.

The morning is a perfect time to set up a consistent routine of steps you implement into your lifestyle. Keep noted, you’ll want to find what works for you and make you feel your best so take and leave any suggestion below.

  • Set a time to wake up consistently
    • Getting your body on a routine provides it an opportunity to fully rest when it needs to and be energized when it’s being ask to because it’s on a schedule. Set a timeframe that works throughout your week. For myself, I like setting an alarm for 6:30AM during the week and 7:30AM for weekends. I provide my body a little more rest time on the weekend but I’m not totally throwing off my routine by sleeping into noon. Even though that sounds really nice, my body is so use to this routine that it physically can’t do that.
  • Hydrate
    • We all know the importance of water and it highly needed to rehydrate your body after a night of deep sleep. Try getting in 8-10oz right after waking up.
  • Meditate
    • It doesn’t have to look like the picture-perfect meditation set up. You can simply just sit up on the edge of your bed and provide yourself with 3-5 minutes to simply focus on your breath. I wrote about starting a meditation practice in a recent post that can provide more tips.
  • Journal
    • I prefer to journal at night but a morning practice is also very popular for many people. Journaling allows an opportunity for you to expel your thoughts onto paper and express your emotions in a way you might not have an outlet for in your daily life. The gut has a connection to our brains – we may notice this connection when we are nervous or excited and our stomach begins to feel funny. This is how journaling can have an effect on our gut by providing that outlet. Stay tuned for posts on the Gut + Brain connection and the power of gratitude journaling coming soon. 
  • Move your Body
    • A little exercise in the morning can do wonders for our body by jump starting our digestive system and getting oxygen following to the blood and organs. Keep it simple with walking, yoga, or light strength training if you’re not use to morning exercise.
  • Shower or Clean Up
    • Freshen up and feel good! Cleaning yourself up by showering or simply washing off your face and then getting dress is a mode booster and provides positive vibrations.
  • Probiotic + Vitamin
    • Speak with your doctor and research your options for a good daily probiotic and vitamin.
  • Set a Meal Plan
    • Decide what works best for your body for when your first meal will be. I prefer to have something very light around 10AM, such as a piece of fruit or lara bar. If you are more active in the morning, your schedule might look more like a heavy full meal in the early hours. Experiment and explore the different options to find the right fit.

The most important part of this is finding your routine. When you’re not only being healthy but you also allow your body an opportunity to get into a flow state, that is when it really starts to feel good.

If you try out these tips or like to implement other helpful routine items, feel free to share!