Joanna Anastasia

mindfulness

5 things that helped me with anxiety

For me the moment that changed it all was when I become a mother for the first time. Before that moment, I was a relaxed positive thinking person. Sometimes worried never anxious. And then, all of the sudden things weren’t simple anymore, there where no right answers and doubt became my new norm. My stress levels started to rise every time parenting would get difficult- and with the first baby almost everything can be difficult and stressful. 

After I had my second kid I thought I would got over the the parenting stress- I knew more what I was doing and what to expect, didn’t I? And yet, the stressful situations multiplied one after another. Taking care of two young kids was in a way easier, but every time they would both cry I would feel the stress rising and I’d feel my heart beating faster. I’d get headaches and shoulder tension pains at the end of the day. Almost every day really. I’d anticipate the stressful situations – long travel with kids, single parenting  nights, etc. Anxiety slowly started to creep in. 

By the time I had my third kid I looked like a mom pro- balancing the baby in baby carrier and two older kids, cooking dinner while managing homework and baby whining. I wouldn’t get stressed over the unknown parenting situations anymore but the overall stress just got bigger- I knew all the things I had to balance. I’m not sure at what time I started to wake up with anxiety, but at some point I realized that feeling anxious became my new norm. 

Now, the fact that I’m a blogger for sure added up to it all. It’s an unpredictable, unstable self employment job and so, can be quite stressful too!

Why am I sharing this all with you? Well, I was talking to couple of girlfriends lately about how we feel anxious a lot, and how it feels lonely and difficult to explain to others- and each time these friends of mine where surprised to learn that me too I live with anxiety! But it felt good to see that we’re not alone. To share our ways of dealing with it. To lift each other up.

So today I wanted to tell you- if you too live with anxiety- you’re not alone. You’re not weak. You’re not doing anything wrong. 

And while consulting and getting medication is always an option ( that I highly encourage!) there are still some ways that you can help yourself-

  1. Be gentle with yourself– know your limits and don’t take too much on yourself.
  2. Practice gratitude– it’ll lower your anxiety !
  3. Go outside – a walk in the forest may have the same effect as medication but is cheaper and more natural.
  4. Deep breath – every time you feel your chest is heavy and you can’t breathe – prace deep intentional breathing.
  5. Practice perspective- think about what will be important in 5-10 years- and does your current stress matters.

And lastly, I think the most important part in dealing with anxiety is understanding what anxiety is. Now, I know that when you feel anxious it feels like something really is wrong and it feels very real. But remember- the anxious feeling you have is NOT a valid information! Even though it feels like it is.

It’s just your body’s way of reacting to what your body perceived as danger. Now remember- this is most likely only a perception- it can be that you have live for years under pressure ( hello modern motherhood, hello modern work conditions and work culture) and so your body simply puts you in state of awareness of danger. But you know what, even if that feeling is unpleasant, it’s not a valid information.

So, let’s be open and talk about it. Let’s practice self respect, gratitude and perspective- let’s go outside often and breathe intentionally- and it will get better!

But also remember, if you feel anxiety is paralyzing you and none of these things is helping you anymore do consult and get medical care! Because you are not weak my friend and you’re not doing nothing wrong- you’re actually very strong and you can get help and will get better!

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Postpartum mind

While everyone is talking about postpartum body, I’d like to start a conversation about the postpartum mind. The one that at first is blurred by hormones and fatigue. The one that feels lost during pregnancy and the fourth trimester. The one that  thinks about a baby 24/7 . The one that forgets about self dreams and interests for months, if not years. Sometimes burying them forever.

The one that later gets mom shamed for not being as kid-centred as it was. The one that may be called out for being a “bad mom” – for trying to run after a carrier. The one that nevertheless always has those little humans in the back tabs. The one that will always worry now. The one that will always over analyze. The one that will beat itself up in mom guilt. The mom mind.

Our mindset gets completely shaken by becoming a mom. Our priorities, and our ability to focus. The time we dispose now to actually think is so limited. Everything changes.

But hey mama, it’s ok to bring back your interests to the top. It’s ok to give yourself permission to think about other things then motherhood -even though the culture we live in suggest that a good mother is the one that’s always around her kids. You have the right to pursue your passions.

Postpartum mama brain- I see you. Lets not forget about you ok? Because while everyone tells you to get your body back – or to embrace your body as it is, I just want to remind you, that you’re more than a body! And the real you, the one beyond your looks, this one also have gone through a lot. And you have the right to feel the changes, to work through the changes and emerge from them on your own terms!

10 things I learned in 10 years of relationship with my hubby

This year marks ten years since me and my hubby met and became a couple and I thought it’s about time for me to start writing about couple life. Because while we may not be your regular perfect instagram couple ( I don’t think we have an up to date photo together-without-kids to be honest, not to mention a romantic one holding hands and looking all cute) we are a pretty happy marriage of over 7 years, with three kids, two cats and a whole lot of crazy going on!

So today I figured I’d share with you the 10 things I learned over the years that I think are essential to a happy relationship :

  1. Don’t expect your partner to make you happy – this is so important, but yet we don’t hear it often enough. You can’t expect another mortal being to be in charge of  YOUR happiness . Your wellbeing and life satisfaction can’t depend on your partner. They can and will be in relation to him/her, but you need other activities, passions & interests too!
  2. Pick well because you can’t change a person. It might be a cliche but if you go in to a relationship with someone who’s never joking and never happy, always finding something to be upset about and usually in a bad mood- well then that will be your life. People can work on themselves but the overall mood and temperament usually stays the same. So pick well.
  3. Stay intimate. Your physical connection is the glue to your relationship, so sometimes it’s worth to overcome the tiredness and cuddle more! ( this is the tip for the tired mom of young kids.. I think we all know that sleep always wins but hey, you need to choose your couple connection over sleep from time to time!)
  4. Sometimes it’s good to let it go, stop discussing and go to sleep – Funny how most arguments happen in the evening once the kids are asleep – but it’s also the time when we are so tired we sometimes lose our rationality and become overwhelmed with emotions. From my experience, in the morning problems usually look much smaller and less important, and you might not even remember what you were so upset about the night before. So next time you feel like fighting late at night, just let it go and go to sleep – and maybe in the morning you will be less upset, or maybe your partner will understand you better after a nights rest!
  5. Do explain your point of view and listen carefully to his/hers. Always try finding a common ground, since you’re a team now, and you’re working together towards your goals and not against each other! So yes do explain how you feel and, do listen carefully to your partner. Listen how they change and show them how you change. Ask each questions even if you already asked those questions years before. People evolve and it’s important to check in with your partner and see who he/she becomes the new version of themselves. That way you can evolve and grow together- and not apart from each other.
  6. Say thank you everyday : thank you for making my coffee, thank you for thinking of that thing I forgot, thank you for putting kids to sleep etc. Even if it’s a normal responsibility of his, or a part of your family responsibilities, even if it’s something that your spouse does everyday – say thank you. Everyone likes to feel appreciated – and most likely your partner will show the appreciation back. And if he won’t, ask him to do so!
  7. Don’t make them guess. If you want something, just say it, ask for it, plan it, explain it. Your partner is not a magician to read your thoughts, but most likely a regular person who can be mistaken, who has his own likes and dislikes and who would happily make things for you – as long as you will verbalize your needs!
  8. Joke and laugh. When you’re tired and on the edge, joke. Laugh is the best remedy for almost anything. If you want to say a nasty comment or be ironic and sarcastic, better make a joke and forget about the nasty part.
  9. Have plans together outside of family/life-with-kids-plans. Even if they’re long term. This is a difficult one for couples with young kids as sometimes it feels as everything revolves around those little creatures! Just remember that at the beginning it was only the two of you, and most likely at some point it will be just the two of you again. So make sure you still have things that include only you two going on!
  10. Give each other freedom to be yourselves and make mistakes. This is probably the most difficult balance of all. Because as a couple that is also a family with kids, we are so focused on the neverending to-do lists and on how-things-should-be-done that sometimes we see our partners marley as people who should do things in a certain way. We might feel the need to tell them how they should care for kids, how they should deal with problems and how they should be helping us. But when you really accept each other’s quirks, ways and limitations you can only grow better together ( and avoid unnecessary fights ).

Now, I may not have some miraculous tips here, but if ever you wondered how people stay happily married with young kids, this might be the answer! Oh, and probably a grain of luck might have something to do with it too 🙂

How to set goals and follow through

After finishing a master’s degree, traveling with a backpack to India, immigration across the globe, five years of successful blogging, countless makeovers and lately writing a book, I think I got this goals setting things pretty well. Not that I never followed through with a plan though – I once opened an Etsy shop that is still empty, I signed for Italian classes only to abandon after 2 months and tried to take on yoga about a million times.

But now, on the eve of my new goal being turned in to a new action plan, I thought I’d share with you how I reach for what I dream about. And how you can too!

So, what is it that turns some dreams into goals and then reality? And why some remain a one-day-I’ll-do-this-fantasy forever?

Here’s what I think has helped me in setting my goals, following through with a plan and turning them in to reality, and here’s how you too can set your goals and follow through.

  1. Start by asking yourself what is it that you REALLY want. How do you want your life to look like? What makes you happy? Let yourself dream beyond where you are now, what you know/have/are. 
  2. Once you name your dream, ask yourself ( and inform yourself ) what has to happen to get there. Is it a degree? Money? New work position? Is it possible and doable or absolutely impossible ( if it’s really absolutely impossible then go back and find another dream.) 
  3. Divide your big goal in to many, many smaller goals. Now you have a Big Plan! Caution- the Big Plan needs to be somehow inspiring/fun on its own. If not, then it’s easy to burn out and abandon the dream.
  4. Now, divide your Big Plan in to small achievable goals. Start as you are, where you are. Find resources, and ask for help. Check of the list even the smallest steps towards your achievable goals. Tell others ( it will make you feel accountable) about your plan. 
  5. Work hard but take it easy. There are many paths, and struggling or not making it right away is a part of a process!
  6. Don’t get lost along the way. Sometimes achieving goals may be distracting from finally reaching for the big dream – if that happens, it’s time to reassess. 
  7. Lastly, remember that you can do anything, but not everything at once! And that the path is as important as the goal aka don’t do immoral things, and don’t lose your integrity!

So , just let yourself dream, set big but realistic goals, call them a plan, divide your plan into small steps, and follow through!

Believe me, anything can happen if you just start with a dream!

Photo by ValerieGBphoto 

20 habits of happy people

What do happy people do differently and how you too can live a better life

Some people are born happy, face life with uncrushed optimism and whatever comes their way, stay strong and positive. These are the ones with amazing brain chemistry that keeps their thoughts and energy high, and other people jealous.

But for many others, happiness can be a struggle, a constant battle with the brain and the way they were raised: to expect the worst, to look out for danger or not to feel too good about themselves.

However, happiness can become a daily practice: a way of thinking and a life philosophy.

Here are 20 habits of happy people, what they do daily, how they think, and what you too can do in order to feel happier in your everyday!

  1. Practice gratefulness daily. Appreciate people around you, what they do for you, what you have and all the little things. Don’t take things for granted.
  2. Don’t compare your journey with other people’s one. We all have our struggles, and the fact that you don’t see someones pain, doesn’t mean they don’t struggle too.
  3. Find something good in every day. Because while not every day may be good, there is something good in everyday.
  4. Look at struggles and problems as challenges to overcome, rather than unchangeable and crushing life events.
  5. Ask for help and accept it.
  6. Express your emotions! Be sad, just don’t over pity your self, be angry but then move on, admit to your fears, but don’t ket them control you.
  7. Don’t pretend to be perfect and have it all together. Nobody does.
  8. Admit to your mistakes. Learn from them.
  9. Try to learn something new often.
  10. Learn to let go. Sometimes it’s the people and relationships who hurt you too much, sometimes it’s the projects and plans that are just not coming together. Knowing when to stop and leave is as important as following through.
  11. Forgive people. Don’t carry around hatred. It will only hurt you in the long run, and not the person that did hurt you in the first place.
  12. Take time off regularly to recharge. Go on vacation, or a mini break, and  unplug.
  13. Give yourself the right to dream, put your fears aside and think about what you really want to do with your life.
  14. Turn your dreams to goals, and goals in to plans.
  15. Don’t expect perfection.
  16. Nurture relationships with people – spend time with people who are important, and give them your attention.
  17. Don’t expect other people to make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy.
  18. Try to look at things in a 5-10-20 years perspective – always ask yourself a question: will this struggle, problem, or results of this decision, be important in 5-10-20 years?
  19. Start and end the day with a calm ritual – a coffee, a book, or a hug.
  20. Assume you’ll be failing sometimes – just always find a way to get back up.

Of course, not all of this is easy. I myself had to work hard to forgive and to let go. Sticking to a calm ritual with kids around is a challenge on it’s own, and unplugging for a blogger is nothing short of a miracle. But nevertheless, I do try to practice all of these in my daily life, and since I do, I truly feel happier and calmer. Which is what I wish for you too!

And to help you put these points in practice, I’ve prepared this infographic with the most important points, that you can print and keep in your sight!

20 habits of happy people - how they think, act and live, and what you too can do to live a happier life - more on the blog!

 

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!

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