Joanna Anastasia

Self-help

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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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!

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

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