Why I Stopped Sleeping With My Phone Next to my Bed

Sometimes our cell phones seem like an extension of ourselves. They are useful little boxes that remember our appointments, stay in contact with our friends, and share our memories with the touch of a button. It can be difficult to think of cell phones as what they are: a tool. So, I decided that if I don’t feel the need to sleep with a hammer next to my bed, I don’t feel the need to keep my cell phone there either. Here’s why:

Late night cell phone use can lead to lack of sleep.

We’ve all been there: we turn the lights off, settle into our blankets… and then scroll in Instagram for the next hour instead of closing our eyes for some well-deserved snoozing. Further than that, using cell phones in the dark can more intensely expose our eyes to blue lights, potentially causing damage in vision or interfere with our ability to fall asleep.

We are not yet aware of potential health risks.

While there has not been research that proves cell phone use causes cancer, we do know that cell phones emit small amounts of electromagnetic radiation, which can lead to tumor growth. However, since they are such small amounts, cell phones are safe to handle for individuals who are not more vulnerable to radiation. This being said, clear links between cell phone use and health risks are not yet clear—which makes me want to be more safe than sorry.

I wake up more easily in the morning.

I am not a morning person. In fact, I have been known to set my alarm early just to hit snooze for the next hour. A few months ago, I started sleeping with my phone across the room from my bed, and I initially felt resentful that this little music-making pile of metal was dragging my lazy bones out of bed on the first ring. It slowly became much easier to wake up in the morning at the first chime of my alarm.

My mind is clearer as I’m drifting off to dream world.

Incorporating an hour of phone-free time before bed each night has helped me make the space to check in with myself. Having the opportunity to read, journal, or simply reflect has allowed me the space to get any leftover thoughts from the day out of my head before putting my head onto the pillow.

Disconnecting from my phone on a regular basis has allowed me to use my time effectively. Although, I still find myself frustrated sometimes that I have to crawl out of bed to get the loud noises to stop. Overall, I’ve felt positive in my decision to start sleeping disconnected with my phone—and it seems that my brain and body are thankful, too!

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I Quit Social Media and This is What Happened

The power of social media can be an amazing tool. Through the click of a button, we can share ideas, connect with friends and family, and facilitate political change. Although it’s a useful tool, it can also be a dangerous one. Excessive social media use can lead to addictive behaviors, increased mental health concerns, and challenges in time management. It may be important to explore the role that social media plays in our lives to better determine the purpose it serves. After noticing myself grow increasingly frustrated with social media, I decided to take a break. I deactivated all of my social accounts. This is what happened:

1. I stopped comparing myself to others.

  • People only post the best parts of themselves on social media. Realistically, I know this, but that didn’t stop me from noticing the feeling I got seeing other people’s perceived happy lives flash on my screen consistently (getting married, growing families, buying homes). It seemed impossible to not feel behind. After deactivating my accounts, the invisible clock stopped ticking. I could more easily focus on accomplishing my goals without putting unnecessary pressure on myself. 

2. I lived in the moment.

  • The most significant change I noticed was that I spent less time posting about what I was doing and became more engaged in what I was doing. I no longer had to show that I was having fun, but I could simply focus on doing just that: having fun. I engaged more with others, stopped using my phone as a distracting crutch in uncomfortable situations, and felt more connected to my surroundings.

3. I put my phone down.

  • If there is one thing I already knew before starting this project it’s this: social media can be a gigantic waste of time if one allows it. And I allowed it. Oh, boy did I allow it. Being unable to fill my spare time with Facebook scrolling, deep diving profiles, and the like allowed me to fill my time with more productive tasks. I redecorated my apartment, read books, listened to more music, and procrastinated WAY less.

4. I connected with others in a more genuine way.

  • In therapy, I made my own connection between socialization and my mood. I am a person who really benefits from quality time spent with others. It’s my love language, if you will. I realized how distant social media had made me feel from my loved ones—like I was watching their lives scroll by from the outside.  By taking social media out of the equation, I found more effective ways to keep in touch with my loved ones. With my friends and family, I stayed connected through phone, text, or in person, and I felt growth in my relationships that I largely contribute to taking a more active role in maintaining them.

5. I embraced my authentic self.

  • I have always been the weird drama kid with tie-dye shirts, lime green jeans, and Chucks thrown together into what I used to call “fashion.” I have never been the person who cared for others’ opinions and have always prided myself on marching to the beat of my own drum, but somewhere I got lost. As I grew older, I started focusing more on how I was perceived by others, and it took doing this experiment to notice that social media played a significant role in that. I am already someone who puts a ton of pressure on myself, and by comparing myself to others on the internet, that pressure grew even bigger. After putting my phone down, I stopped caring. It made it SO easy to focus on myself, my hobbies, and my goals. 

It has been about two months since I have logged into my Facebook account, and I don’t see myself scrolling in the near future. Of course, social media can be a great tool and resource for staying connected to others, and I can only speak from my experience in learning that social media impacts my life in a way that is not always so great. If anything, this experiment has taught me to be more mindful of how I am spending my time, and I encourage others to examine what aspects of their daily routine may not be serving the best purpose. Have any Wellness Warriors out there eliminated anything in their lives that turned out to me more hurtful than helpful? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

How to Overcome Regression Toward Goals

Picture this: It’s been a months-long streak of hitting wellness goals. You go to sleep at a normal time and sleep well, embrace a healthy diet that a few years ago you would have scoffed at, and actually find yourself LOVING engaging in regular exercise. And then, boom—you go on vacation, your car gets totaled by a deer, stress builds. Routine goes out the window, and it feels like all of the progress that was made is quickly crawling away from the fires that have engulfed your once safe little nest. 

The thing about fires is that they go out eventually. The flames may burn us, but we can avoid the spiral of negativity and douse the fire with water and positivity until we are left to lick our wounds and move forward. Most of us know how difficult it can be to get back on track when life happens.

Here are 5 powerful strategies to moving forward after hardship attempts to derail progress.

  1. Identify the root of the backslide
  • Before we can find a way back, we need to identify what contributed to our slide in the first place. This can include increased stress from life changes, self-defeating mindsets and behaviors, illness or injury, challenging or more frequent life events, and/or challenges in time management. For example, my car recently got totaled. Working out daily was impossible when I needed to spend my free time looking at cars, talking to my insurance, taking my car to various inspection sites. Attending to my car had to become my priority, given that I commute to work by driving.

2. Try a different approach

  • Maybe while you were exploring the root of the backslide, you discovered some real barriers to working toward goals. Maybe you’ve been planning to exercise in the mornings, but can’t go to sleep early enough? Maybe you’re finding difficulty keeping up with a healthy diet due to limited variety of fresh foods at the grocery story you go to. Achieving goals may require some changes in approach, and that’s okay! Methods are going to look different for everyone. It’s all about finding what works best for you and using that to your advantage.

3. Create a schedule

  • I love schedules. I mean it— I LOVE them. Nothing makes me feel more organized than having a plan—even if it’s just loosely followed. My Sunday routine includes sitting down and planning the week—exercises I want to focus on, meals I want to eat, self care activities I want to do, and other tasks or errands that need to be completed. I create a schedule based on what my week looks like and then try my best to stick with it—but life happens, so I’m always gentle and understanding if my schedule changes in small various ways as the week goes on.

4. Find accountability

  • Studies show that the more people that know about your goal, the more likely you are to work toward it. Working toward holding yourself accountable is monumental in achieving goals, but better yet, finding other people who can hold you accountable creates a whole new layer of support in actually doing what you say you’re going to do.

5. Be gentle with yourself

  • Imagine me shouting the following from the tallest rooftop: Embracing positivity toward self and challenges can make or break the ability to overcome obstacles. Understand that backslides happen. Working toward a goal will not always be a forward motion—sometimes it feels like two steps forward, one step back. Negativity and frustration toward self or circumstances can cause one to shut down and can be a deterrent to finding motivation to work through failure. If needed, go back to the basics until you start to feel your groove again.

As Wellness Warriors, it’s important to put more emphasis on the sense of accomplishment we have when achieving a goal and decrease the focus we may put on barriers. We can choose to interpret hardships as an opportunity to utilize healthy coping skills and celebrate our strength, resiliency, and power. 

Happy Tuesday, Wellness Warriors! Here’s to hoping that the schedule I have outlined for myself allows me the ability to port more consistently now that my car fiasco is resolved!

Creating My Happy Place

This week, I had one goal: plan and create a mini oasis in my tiny, tiny backyard (or backcloset, as I say). This would be a place to read, meditate, drink wine, and relax. The ultimate self care corner!

This is what my little backyard space looked like before the project:

I started the week religiously geeking out over IKEA, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart trying to map out the perfect outdoor space. Trying to find a way to utilize the small space was tough, but well worth the time spent brainstorming.

When the weekend rolled around, I started my Friday night with Goodwill in the suburbs. If I was going to take on designing a small, relaxing space, I was going to do so on a budget. If you’re near Philly, you know that the suburb thrift stores are where the goods are, and it truly did not let me down. I left feeling like I’d hit the jackpot, uplifted by that thrift store adrenaline rush. Here’s what I found (photobombed by a curious, handsome fluff):

Saturday morning, I got started bright and early at my happy place: IKEA. I spent two hours stuck in the euphoria that is Home Goods Heaven, and another two hours back and forth between Home Depot and Walmart.

I slowly hit a point where I was both satisfied with my purchases and anxious to get back home and out of the Saturday store scuffle that many people experience in the city (too many people for a considerable amount of time truly tests my patience!!).

When I got home I went to work building, organizing, making sure things were going perfect. That is, until a freak thunderstorm decided to rain all over my parade and all over my oasis.

When the rain cleared, I resumed my work. I set up my little hammock chair, placed my plants how I wanted them, and hung up lights. Here was the end result;

I am so happy with how it turned out! I got to sit outside last night and drink wine and relax. This is the PERFECT little Self Care Space, where I can drink tea, meditate, listen to the birds. Although my mom thinks my backcloset looks like a burial plot, and my brother-in-law joked about this being smaller than a prison cell, I am so happy with how it turned out! These are some snapshots from last night’s relaxation time during my first night of having my little oasis:

This post serves as my encouragement to design yourself a comfortable space where you can relax and recharge. And if you already have, please share! I’m always looking for interior and exterior design inspiration. Happy Sunday, y’all!!

8 Ways to Find Balance

A person’s ability to achieve a health balance between professional and personal life directly contributes to overall happiness and job performance. According to Small Business Trends, 66% of full time employees believe they lack a healthy work-life balance. For employers, this relates to poor productivity, low morale, and high turnover. For individuals, this means missing out on spending time with people and at events we enjoy. Even scarier, long term effects of an unhealthy work-life balance may include higher risk of depression and anxiety and higher risk of heart disease or stroke. Family Living Today and Now Sourcing investigated statistics across the globe, ranking the United States 30th out of 38 countries in work-life balance.

Recent statistics show that 11.4% of Americans work over 50 hours per week. As someone who still sometimes gets stuck in the whirlwind of the working world, I’ve compiled a list of methods in which we can all adopt a lifestyle that promotes a healthy balance between our work and ourselves.

  1. Figure out what a work-life balance means to you. As individuals, we all need different things to regroup and recharge. Some may need more alone time, while some may benefit from more time with loved ones. Identifying what exactly we need to feel a greater sense of balance is the first step in achieving it.
  2. Set manageable goals. Having a realistic idea of how much work we are able to manage in a day is crucial in avoiding setting ourselves up for failure. Create goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).
  3. Prioritize. Create a daily to-do list and start with the tasks that need to be completed that day. At the end of the day, if there are things that need to wait until tomorrow, they will be things that can wait until tomorrow.
  4. Learn to say no and delegate. We all want to be good at our jobs, but part of being a productive employee is recognizing if something will be biting off more than we can chew. Instead of saying yes, try: “Although I would love to be a part of that project, but I feel it may be best to focus on my current projects at this time. Maybe we can assign this to project to someone who can put the time into it that it deserves.” Be honest. Chances are we would rather be great at one job than just okay at several jobs.
  5. Be more productive at the office. Turn the cell phone off. Minimize distractions. Do what is needed to do in order to allow yourself to get the job done, which may help you……
  6. Leave work at work! This is the best advice I’ve gotten from a supervisor: “After work, allow yourself the time to process and reflect on the day as you collect your things and walk to your car. As you shut your car door and drive away, leave the work day where it is: behind you.” In addition, by being more productive in the office, we can limit the amount of work we are doing from home. Small Business Trends reported that 40% of employees believe it is acceptable to answer an important work email at the dinner table. Part of having a healthy work-life balance is making a clear separation between work and life.
  7. Take more mental health days. I hate taking days off, and sometimes I feel like I need “TAKE MORE MENTAL HEALTH DAYS” written in big, flashing letters above my desk. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the fact that work goes on without me when I’m not there, and it’s hard to return and feel like I need to “catch up.” However, the more I allow myself a mental health day, the more I find myself in a better mindset to tackle the tasks ahead of me with ease.
  8. Have more fun. It’s hard to avoid spending time away from work simply gearing up to resume the grind. We can’t forget to have fun! Go outside, spend time with family, hit the gym. Social interactions and healthy self care skills have a direct positive impact on both mood and productivity.

Most importantly, we must be gentle on ourselves. If we find ourselves burnt out or overwhelmed, we can reflect and ask ourselves, “How have I been balancing lately?” It’s hard to navigate between wanting to be good at our jobs and wanting to be good to ourselves, but hopefully some of these changes in daily routine can help to alleviate some of the imbalance.

When The Going Gets Tough

This past week has been a rough one. For the past month or so, I’ve been so wrapped up lately revisiting an ongoing tumultuous relationship that has never been necessarily mentally healthy, and now that it has ended I really need to get myself back on track. At this moment, I feel an overwhelming need to pause, regroup, and focus on myself. I’ve created a list of things that have helped in the past so I can go back to incorporating them into my routine while I get reconnect with myself in a healthier way.

  1. Journal
  2. Self reflect on what I worked on in therapy
  3. Catch myself if I’m thinking too much
  4. Listen to (HAPPY) music
  5. Spend time with friends
  6. Keep my apartment clean, organized, and free of clutter
  7. Stay on top of my exercise routine
  8. Use my time productively
  9. Meditate more consistently
  10. Meal prep to keep the week less stressful
  11. Continue making time on Sundays to plan goals for the week
  12. Focus on facilitating positive interactions with others

Taking a Time Out

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I am currently on the road with Cape Cod, MA as the destination. My sister is driving with mom in the passenger seat, and I’m in the back tucked in tight between my brother and my nephew. We woke up bright and early and rolled into the car at around 6:30am. After realizing I hadn’t taken significant time from work in over a year, I set the goal to make this trip an opportunity to recharge and spend time with the people I love. I thought it might be useful to jot down a few “Self Care” goals that I’d like to strive for over this long weekend.

1. Unplug as much as possible. I’ve already spend most of the ride with my phone off, so I definitely want to make taking a break from screens a priority.

2. Reflect. I’ve been in the middle of some pretty important and scary decisions lately. I brought my journal and a handful of pens to organize my thoughts and feelings. Remembering to treat myself gently as I consider what I want and need out of like is pretty key for this goal.

3. Listen to as much music as possible. Music has always been an immediate mood boost for me, so of course this has to be toward the top of the list. I’ve been a little jittery lately thinking about the decisions mentioned in #2. My mood has not been low by any means, but part of self care is maintenance and prevention, which is where this goal comes in.

4. Relax. There is nothing like meditation to make my brain clear and calm and doing so on the beach just seems like it would be amazing. I also brought my yoga mat and sneakers, so I can run and do yoga as much as I want. I have face masks and books and everything that makes me feel relaxed to utilize.

Aside from having a blast with my family, these four goals are what I’d like to focus on this weekend. Some key themes are just being present in the moment while remembering to take time for myself. I will be sure to check back in soon with the progress made toward these goals! Have a great weekend, everyone!