Joanna Anastasia

Self-help and mindfulness

Best relationship tips for better communication

BEST RELATIONSHIP TIPS FOR BETTER COMMUNICATION

In any healthy relationship between two adults, in any love relationship, friendship or a family relation there are some unspoken rules that make the relation happy and fulfilling – or bad and unsupportable. Marriage, friendship or family relation- they all start with good communication! These tips are here to help you solve the unclear communication issues!

People who were raised by emotionally healthy parents, in homes where clear communication was encouraged and expressing one’s emotions was normal, are usually following these unspoken rules naturally. However, not everyone was as lucky, and some have been raised in an atmosphere of unclear communication. For these adults it may be confusing to understand why their relationships and  friendships don’t work out or why they always fight with family members

Sometimes, people are simply more tired and stressed, and may simply forget how to communicate clearly.

But the key to any healthy relationship is clear communication, respect and balance.

So here are the best down to earth tips for better communication and for anyone who feels like communicating with other people is complicated and unclear : 

 In healthy relationships between adults there is a 50-50 % balance- which means that both people are equally responsible for the relationship and they have equal freedom to nourish and maintain it. The only exception would be a professional relationship of help, therapy or treatment. Also, this does not apply to relationships with children!
  1. Here’s what helps engaging in relationships, maintaining them and nurturing them:
  •  When you want to be in contact with another person – simply contact them. Call them, for example. Send an email. If they don’t answer you can try again. Even twice you know.
  • If it’s your partner, go ahead and plan a date, be the one who starts the conversation and initiates romance.
  • You can be the first one to send the message or to say  : ” I miss you”  ” I love you” “When you’ll have time to talk, just let me know’, ” I’d love to talk to you’  or ” Call me when you can” “Let’s talk” Let’s go out”

            What does not help:

  • Always waiting for the other person to come with initiative.
  • Imagining that the other person doesn’t want to get in touch and doesn’t care about us. Anticipating reject and rupture of relationship.
  • Getting upset and punishing the other person for not getting in touch, not initiating the contact or not getting romantic with us.

Why? Because if you are getting upset that someone haven’t called you, or haven’t talked to you, or asked you about your day, or kissed you- when you wanted to do so- you’re basically punishing them for your own inaction. If you want to be in a relation with someone, let them know and take action.

            2. The reasons why people don’t get in touch with us (or don’t initiate contact)                can be varied and not as you may imagine:

  • They may be more busy than you are
  • They may be more tired you are
  • They may be depressed or simply sick
  • They may not want to contact us unless invited to do so – if in the past they have been greeted with reproachfulness and unpredictable reactions.
  • The mix of all of the above

           3. What helps when talking to people that we want to be in a healthy                                  relationship with:

  • Warm greeting – it may be obvious, but if someone starts a conversation with a reproachful “why haven’t you called me before” ”  it won’t make things better. Just worst.
  • Asking questions about that person’s life and their projects.
  • Sense of humour
  • Talking about yourself balanced with letting the other person talk about themselves – preferably 50-50 ratio
  • If hurt or confused, telling this right away ( and not waiting a month) – this gives another person a chance to explain, change or excuse and gives us a chance to vocalize our needs and expectations.
  • Accepting another’s person point of view and their choices
  • Accepting others person priorities and lifestyle ( however in a romantic relationship , it’s good to have these similar if not the same)
  • Supporting them, even if the choices they make are different from what we would do

            What does not help when talking to other people that we want to be in a healthy              relationship with:

  • Reproaching what happened in the past ( again and again)
  • Reproaching the lack of engagement – without listening to other person’s point of view and explanation
  • Asking questions but then criticizing the answers, or even laughing at them
  • Not asking any questions about other person’s life, their projects, their day etc
  • Telling other person how they should do things, what choices should they make, how should they work, raise kids or cook dinner etc. – without clearly being asked for an advice

           4. What if we don’t agree with the life decisions and choices that the other                       person is making? 

          ( Note that if we are living in a relationship with this person, like in marriage, then being            on the same page is crucial to raising kids, money decisions and lifestyle choices – in               this situation, all differences of opinion should be talked through with respect ). 

  • We can say nothing and keep it to ourselves
  • We can admit that we would act differently but we can understand that what we think and judge is best, isn’t the same for everyone around
  • We cans still support other people, even if what they choose isn’t what we wish they would do

         5. What if we keep feeling disappointed by the other person?

  • We could ask ourselves if our expectations are reasonable and just ( if we feel very often let down by that person then maybe it’s not them the problem but our perception of what should be done, or maybe we don’t communicate our needs clearly enough  )
  • We can accept the limits of the other person
  • We can talk about it, in an open conversation, making sure we listen and hear the other person’s perspective.
  • We can make sure we clearly say what are our expectations and needs
 Of course, sometimes the misunderstandings and years of bad communication are so difficult to overcome, that this simple reminder of what helps, and what doesn’t help a relationship, isn’t enough. In that case I suggest seeking professional help: personal therapy, family therapy or mediation.
However, if we really do try our best, but what we receive back isn’t even close to a balanced and  respectful relationship, then maybe this relationship is not meant to be. This could be also something to talk through with a therapist.
Either way, I hope that these relationship tips can help you, as reminding them to myself have helped me with my relatives!

Resolutions and reflections for a mindful start of the year

resolutions and reflections for a mindful start of the year

The New Year, a magical time when we make our resolutions – aka we indulge in a lot of wishful thinking! We plan to diametrically change our habits and our lives, only to feel defeated and down after two weeks- when all of our resolutions fade and the real life, with our old habits kicks in.

There’s also a way of trying to change everything magically, by choosing one world and sticking to it – my only concern is that it’s a bit vague, and in the end doesn’t indicate a plan and might not be very helpful in mindful retrospection.

That’s why I was looking for something better, not necessary a 300 page long self-help book, but rather a set of mental exercises to sit and think and reflect on the life that we live. As in: is this where I really want it to be? What can I really change? How can I do it? What am I thankful for?

So I made these printable worksheets, 8 pages of 16 questions to reflect in total – with the goal of a mindful start of the year. Without the unrealistic resolutions and without guilt. Rather, with the sense of guidance and a meaning.

I have printed mine, for me, and for my hubby, and I hope that they can help you start your year better, as they did help us.

resolutions and reflections for a mindful start of the year

resolutions and reflections for a mindful start of the year

And since I believe in letting go of some things to let in the new, these worksheets are also about that: the change, the realistic change and the baby steps.

You can upload them here.

And once you’ll print them, give yourself a calm moment to fill them in. Don’t over think the questions, as it’s usually the first spontaneous answer that are true to what you really feel and think.

8 pages of free printable resolutions and reflections for a mindful start of the year

And remember, every change you wish to see in your life, even the biggest one, starts with a though. You need to let yourself imagine and dream. So be intentional, and make things happen! But also, it’s fine to be content and happy in the calm simple life. You don’t need to change the world to be happy. Just do you. 

 

8 pages of free printable resolutions and reflections for a mindful start of the year

Embrace the mess

you're not doing it wrong if you feel like your life is a mess, life with kids is messy, and it's fine, here's why.

Motherhood is full of the mess. It’s learning that things don’t go as planned. It’s realizing that the only control in life we have is over our own reactions, and nothing else. It’s realizing that we can’t control our kids or force them to do anything they really don’t want to do. It’s learning to let go. It’s learning what’s really important and what we can live without.

Motherhood is mess. Real life toy mess. Kitchen and laundry mess. Mom hair mess. Dirty diaper mess.

Motherhood is emotional mess. The postpartum tears. The babyhood exhaustion of a mom who haven’t sleep in months. The toddler-hod confusion of a mom facing first tantrums and meltdowns. The mom of a bigger kid realization that there is always something to learn and that it never get’s really easy. That they change, and we can’t tell in which direction it’ll all go.

It’s the mess of our own reactions. Realization where are our patience limits are. Learning to embrace the unplanned.

Motherhood is a mess in relationships. It’s the sadness over loosing contact with friends that are childless and that we see way too rarely.. It’s the relationship with friends who have kids and with whom we can never finish a sentence during a play date. It’s a mess in friendships, that while so so very important, just have to fall after motherhood.

Motherhood is a mess in a couple. The tired days and exhausted evenings. The conversations unfinished, the I know-you-feel-it too-look. All the feelings shared, though not over a romantic weekly date but over a messy kitchen table with whiny kids around.

All that mess. We can’t run from it. And let’s not believe in lies that if only we’ll clean enough, try harder, parent better, self care more, date and just really try, that then all that mess mess will be gone.

embrace the mess

It wont. This is the time of our lives. The time of mess. Let’s embrace it. Lets smile at it. Lets giggle and accept.

This is the time when our emotions are the heaviest but also the fullest.

This is the time when we love our babies and they love us to the moon and back.

This is the time when we need our fiends like never before.

This is the time when we need out couples to stay strong. In that mess, not without it.

Lets just embrace it. The blurry photos where nobody looks at the camera. The never-really-clean-home. The unfinished conversations. The-I know-you-know-look. The tears and loughs.

And remember, if you feel your life is a mess, don’t ever start thinking that you’re doing it wrong!

Through the  mess of early spring mud, the plants and flowers grow, through the mess of everyday life with kids, you’re growing as a mother and they learn to be happy in the present real life!.

There may be simple solutions for keeping a house clean, and meal plan on point, lunches prepared, and laundry all done, kids calm and obeying and self care, couple connection and social life on point. But the reality is that, while it can be done, it can’t be done all at once. And it’s fine.

Kids don’t need to live in a perfectly set life with a perfectly organized mother. They need to see you happy, and they’ll learn what happiness is.

Kids don’t need a perfect surrounding to thrive. They need love and attention. And a happy mom. So don’t beat yourself up for being a mess. Just embrace it. 

Let go of the parenting guilt

let go of the parenting guilt: free worksheets to help you get rid of the guilt- and become a happier and better mother

“Guilt is to the spirit, what pain is to the body” – Elder David A. Bednar

Parenting guilt is not a helpful feeling, it makes us feel physically heavy and it clouds our thinking. And in reality it doesn’t really shape us to be the better version of ourselves!

So why do so many of us struggle with it daily?

The reasons may vary from one person to another, but for sure the society standards of a perfect parent (especially a perfect mother) are a part of it. Then there are our own personal standards. Some mothers feel not good enough when they don’t play with their kids daily, and others feel guilty when they go to work. Some when they raise their voice and get impatient, or when they don’t cook healthy meals everyday. There’s probably as many reasons as parents, but they all make us feel not good enough and guilty.

I wrote about parenting guilt here, where I shared more about how I live with this feeling and how I try to deal with it.

And today I have a tool to help you let go of it! These free printable worksheets are designed for all moms who struggle with this feeling of guilt, and who wish to finally let go of it and move forward!

get rid of parenting guilt

let go of the parenting guilt: free worksheets to help you understand, let go and forgive yourself!

let go of the parenting guilt: free worksheets to help you understand, let go and forgive yourself!

You can get the “Let go of the parenting guilt” worksheets here!

Just download the file and print at home. Find a calm spot  as much as I know it’s difficult to do around kids!), get yourself a mug of a hot coffee or a glass of vine, and fill them out with your first thoughts and ideas.

These worksheets are designed for your use only, but if you feel that your friend might need a little help, print one set for her too!

And you can read more about guilt and it’s effect on our body and mind here here

Are you worried, stressed or anxious?

If recently you haven't been feeling well, and you feel like there's jut too much problems around, you miht be stressed, simply worried or anxious. Here are some simple ways to tell which one is it, and how to cope. #selfhelp

We all know that being a parent is a very stressful job. We worry about these little humans from the very minute thy are born, sometimes even before they are born. There’s so may occasions to stress about: the feeding, the sleep or the lack of it, their development and safety. And so no wonder that motherhood and anxiety may go hand in hand.

But how much worry and stress in actually normal? Do all moms stress constantly? Are every-day fears really a part of mothering?

I think that a lot of moms do worry daily, but some of us live it more intensively. It’s still normal, as it’s a part of a human experience, but when it’s getting to the level of anxiety it’s not necessary healthy.

Because while worry is usually a temporary, mild form of stress, caused by realistic concerns, and quite easy to verbalize, and stress is a constant worry and a response to real danger. Anxiety is a more general state, often without a real danger involved, just a perception of something as dangerous, and it causes more suffering and is much more difficult to overcome. 

So recently I was asking myself, if my fears and worries are normal. (I was telling myself sure they are, since I’m a human, a mom, so fearing for safety of my kids is normal!) I worry about my kids having too much screen time, and I worry about them not getting enough exercise. These are my parenting worries.

But I’m also obsessing over car accidents. And I know that when our fears prevent us from normal functioning, this is when these re not just every day parenting fears. This is anxiety, and that’s becoming problematic. So since I’m scared of flying, driving on a highway and heights, these are points for me to work on. I still get myself in to these situations, but it takes a lot of my energy to do so. And these fears are closer to anxiety then worry, since there’s no real danger, it’s just my perception of it.

But since kids imitate all that they see, won’t they imitate my fears? How can I make sure not to pass my fears on to them? While am not diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and while what I live might not be enough to put a label on it, I may  influence my kids perception of what’s risky and whats not. And I do wish them a life full of exploration, travel and marvel! And I want to feel better too!

So I was asking myself, how do I not let my kids get influenced by it? And how do I overcome it? How to navigate between motherhood and worry, stress and anxiety? Denial of the situation, or over-controlling every aspect of life, are common dealing mechanism with anxiety, but not very healthy ones.

So here’s what I try to do instead, and if you feel that you’re in the same boat, here’s what might help you too, whether you’re worried, stressed or anxious :

1. Admit your fears. Talk about them.

Sometimes the simple act of talking things over, verbalizing our fears and worries and being  listened without judgment is the best cure to mild stress and worry! So find that someone who can listen, and just talk things through. Usually by talking about our worries, we can find our own solutions, realize what is it that we really want, and realize how to deal with them.

Name your worries, even if they may be absurd. Try talking about how you feel when you think about your worries, and what would have to change so you could feel better. Ask yourself how things can change, and if the changes are realistic.

Although if talking about it does not help at all, then it may be a signal that what you live is closer to anxiety.

2. Slow down.

It may sound like a cliché, but if your everyday life is starting to be too stressful, it means it’s time for a change. You may need either a change of routine, either a change of expectations, because feeling stressed and anxious is an important signal from your body that something isn’t right, and that it needs to be fixed.

We tend to have high expectations of how our life should be like, how our work life, or SAHM life should look like. But remember, even though it’s possible to do it all,  it’s impossible to do it all at once! Having a  thriving carer and young kids, and a spotless home and a fulfilled personal life, and a perfect body, all at once, is more of a holly grail then an achievable plan. There are seasons in life, and they all come with different challenges. It’s ok to fail and it’s ok to do good enough, and not perfect. Because perfection is an illusion, it’s impossible, and it doesn’t exist!

3. Get more sleep.

It may sound like an even bigger cliché but lack of sleep correlates with depression and anxiety. And while I realize that for many parents sleep is more of a wish then the reality, sometimes it’s simply jeopardized by Netflix and social media. So put that phone aside, and got to sleep earlier!

Because in the end, in order to function properly our bodies need good fuel ( whole food, yes.) and sleep. It’s simple as that.

4. Don’t believe that through controlling all the details of life you’ll gain control over your fears. It’s the other way a round.

The more we fear certain situations and horrid scenarios the more these fears control us. And we might very well control every detail of our kids life, but they still might have an accident. Letting things go, and letting to lose control might be more liberating from fears then tying to control it all.

5. Seek professional help

If talking about worries, changing routine and expectations, and getting more sleep doesn’t help, then most likely what you live isn’t just simple worry, but anxiety.

And if on top of it, you or your family start seeing that your normal activities are being changed, because of your fears, it’s time for a consultation with a specialist. I know it’s difficult to admit, but sometimes we do need help. And while we all live though stressful situations, and while being a parent is full of worries and stress, once it becomes overwhelming and to big to control, it means that it’s time to consult and get real treatment!

So now I’m working on adjusting my routine (and expectations) , sleeping more, and verbalizing my worries more often. And for now it helped me a lot. And I hope that you too, after figuring out if you’re worried, stressed or anxious, can feel better with these simple changes!

How to find your self-care routine-tips for busy moms

I used to have a pretty good self-care routine. That is, before I had kids. I would take care of my body, and my mind, read tons of books, educate myself on cultural novelties, see friends regularly and even use a day cream, a night cream and an eye cream: daily!

As a busy mom you're always putting yourself last, but let's face it, you can't pour from an empty cup! Here are 7 great tips to help you find your self-care routine that works!

And here I am now. I know you’ve been there too: tired, without makeup for days, drinking cold coffee and feeling down. There’s always something to do, right? Lunches to prepare, babies to change, dishes to be done, laundry to fold and this last-minute family visit to prepare to. So forgetting about medical appointments, not seeing friends for months, not getting a real haircut and putting my self-care on hold is the norm, right?

That’s what I thought. But I can’t pour from an empty cup, and nor can you! It’s important to take some time for yourself, if only 10 minutes a day.

Because kids of happy moms are happier, kids of moms who take care of themselves will know how to take care of themselves in the future, and kids of moms who set their boundaries will know how to set ones for themselves too.

So it’s about time to find your self-care routine! To drink that coffee while it’s still warm, to let your hubby put the kids to sleep, and to go meet that friend that you were supposed to call two months ago!

It’s ok to take the time for yourself. And here are seven steps to help you with that:

1. Plan your day.

You don’t need a fancy calendar to start being intentional with your plans. Plan your whole day down on paper, including kids naps, meals, play time and your little break. Actually, while planning your day, make sure that you find time for yourself in it!

Tips for finding your self-care routine

2. Define your needs.
What is it that you used to do for yourself that you think you don’t have time for anymore? Well, find time. If only once a month, it’s still better than nothing!

Write down what you need daily, weekly and monthly to actually feel alive and well. Whether it’s the smallest things like a hot coffee, or a monthly girls night out, try making it happen.

3. Write down your dreams, and start calling them plans.

The only difference between a dream and a goal is a plan. So write down what is that you really want and what are the steps to achieve that. Then look at those steps, and divide them in to even smaller ones. And then add them to your day plan. By making what you really want happen, you’re taking care of yourself the way that nobody else can!

4. Keep your body fuelled.
I know you remember about your kids healthy snaks, but how about yours? Make yourself a real breakfast, snack on these cut in pieces fruits with your kids, and don’t skip meals! You’ll feel better, I promise.

Self-care routine

5. Mark the day in the calendar for some extra me-time.

Find a baby sitter, a family member or a friend and take some time off to do what you like doing, without kids!

6. Teach your kids to wait.

I know, as a mom of two, that kids are not very patient creatures. But give them a couple of days, and they’ll learn that mommy’s coffee break is not to be disturbed.

Self-care routine

7. Ask your hubby to help you with one task a day, and use that time for yourself and not for extra cleaning!.

It doesn’t have to be a big change, but if you don’t have the time to take a shower, or put makeup on, then it means you need help. And wasn’t it supposed to be in sickness and in health type of the deal? Well, consider it a good timing to test this one!

8. Once a month do something more fancy then usually- be it a pretty picnic, a dinner with candles or a spa 15 minute shower!

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make us more happy- and we don’t necessarily need to be all alone to make an everyday thing more fancy and pleasurable! Having lunch with kids on a pretty blanket in the backyard, reading a book ( if only a page a day!) while the kids are playing or taking 10 extra minutes to put on a face mask might make you feel more relaxed without necessary the need to plan some alone time!

I know it’s complicated to find some time for yourself and to plan your self-care routine. I know that it’s not easy to start focusing on your needs while living in the constant movement of a family life. But for the sake of your kids, and your sanity, it’s worth trying!

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