Day 7: Think about the best parts of your life while you’re waiting in line or at a stop light.
Stoplights and lines are usually places where I complain in my head about all the things that I could be doing with my time instead of sitting there waiting. So this was a great challenge for me! I took a second to look in the rearview mirror at my beautiful children, to thank God for the working car I was driving, to appreciate the nice weather, to be thankful for good health, for my husband and how hard he works to provide for our family, and more! This really made a difference in my mindset! We spend a lot of time waiting each day, and this time can either be used as a positive influence or a negative influence. When you choose to utilize that time as a positive influence you are not wasting it, and you are not letting it control you!
Day 8: Take a few minutes to write down your values. What is most important in your life?
Here is a list of my values:
- God is Lord over my life & Jesus is my Savior
- Our purpose in life is to glorify God, not ourselves & our accomplishments
- My husband and my children are my first priority over other people
- Loving and caring for those around me is more important than my own material wants
- Our possessions and money belong to God and we should be good stewards of them
- Encouragement is essential in any relationship
Reflecting on your values allows you to recognize what is most important and to actually start living them out. You are probably already focusing on most of them in your daily life, but stating them makes it more of a reality and a challenge to yourself to be the person whose life revolves around those values. If we don’t stand for anything it is easy to get sucked into what others believe is important. In order to maintain a positive mindset and experience joy in our lives, we have to know who we are. In my life, that means recognizing who created me (God) and what I was created for (to glorify Him). If I don’t keep that first in my mind it is easy to become overwhelmed and bogged down by the pressures, negative cultural influences, and stresses of the world.
Day 9: Whenever you have a minute, take 3 full deep breaths to get your oxygen flowing.
This challenge is *literally* a breath of fresh air. 😉 But seriously, how often do you do this if you’re not intentional about it? I know I never do. Taking three full deep breaths helps me to stop my body from moving and my mind from racing for a couple of seconds, but really that is all it takes to redirect and refocus your thoughts. Sometimes I just have 5,000 thoughts running through my head at once creating a sense of chaos and of being overwhelmed. Taking three deep breaths helps me to focus on one. Other times I can only focus on one thought, but it is never a positive one. Taking three deep breaths in that situation helped me to calm down, and redirect to what I actually need to think about, or even just an opposite & positive version of what I had been thinking before! This challenge is SO easy but so vital to our mental health.
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Day 10: Dance, run, jump on a trampoline. Get out there & get your endorphins going for at least 5 minutes.
So, this one was a challenge with two kids under 5 in the Winter (yup it was 30 degrees outside), but we did it! I bundled up the littlest one in my Ergobaby Carrier (<–that one is on sale for $25 off right now on Amazon!), put a hat, scarf, gloves, and winter coat on Joy, grabbed the dog & off we went! Honestly by the end of the 20-minute walk, everyone (including me) was in tears but hey, we did it. 🙂 Although it was a struggle, it was good just to get out of that house! It got my endorphins going, breathing cold air definitely woke me up, and it motivated me to keep that positive energy going the rest of the day!
Day 11: Do something nice for someone unexpectedly. Keep your eyes open for someone who could use a boost.
So, surprises & gift-giving is kind of a hobby/favorite thing of mine, making this one of the more fun challenges for me. It also came the day after my husband had bought me these beautiful flowers for no reason other than love: 🙂
So I knew that my nice thing was going to be for my husband because come on, those are BEAUTIFUL. Even though him giving me something first may have disqualified this as an “unexpectedly” thing, but oh well. I ended up just surprising him with ice cream at work (his favorite – Reese’s PB Cups with chocolate in milkshake form.) I also bought a little cup of ice cream for my daughter (who can always use a boost because she is an emotional preschooler) and that made her day. (Not to mention the ice cream I bought myself …win-win right?) Anyways, doing nice things for people when they don’t expect it is awesome because you get to take part in the joy and appreciation they feel! There are no negative thoughts/feelings associated with doing something nice for no reason, just a lot of thinking about why you appreciate them and feeling great because of how you made them feel! Also keep in mind that the important thing isn’t a grand gesture, but your intent behind it to let that person know that you see them and you notice how wonderful they are. (Thanks Jack Pearson) 😉 <3 P.S. I’m a This Is Us addict…
Day 12: Share a good memory with 2 friends & reminisce about good times.
Okay, to be honest, I didn’t take the time to do this one for some reason. Okay, for one reason – talking on the phone for longer than 1 minute is super difficult as a stay-at-home mom! I DID spend some time working on plans for a girls trip to Denver with 5 of my closest life-long friends THIS SPRING, which will be an overload of reminiscing on good memories, having tons of “good times”, and creating more beautiful memories together! So, I counted that and am looking forward to it every day. <3 Just for fun, here’s a picture from our last “girls trip” a couple of years ago:
So, spending time in conversation (or even better in person) with friends that KNOW you, and that you have a long history of memories with, is SO beneficial to your mental & emotional health! The picture above just brings so many positive feelings of friendship & fun & a lifetime of “good times”. Even though these aren’t women that I now see every day because of where we all live, they are women that I grew up with and learned about life with and went through joy and heartache with, and connecting with people like that in your life is, in my opinion, one of the BEST ways to create joy in your life!
That is it for Days 7-12! Don’t forget to go back and read the Days 1-6 Reflections, and I’ll be posting my Days 13-18 Reflections soon!
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A couple of weeks ago I sent a message to the other women who help lead women’s ministry at our church and asked them to pray for me: “I’m so tired, Levi won’t sleep through the night still, all I want to do is stay in bed all day. I don’t feel motivated to get up in the mornings. I’m in a really down and negative state of mind a majority of the time. I’m also feeling a lot more anxious than normal. Please pray for me.” I don’t know if you’ve been in that place (it isn’t always because of a baby), but it is really difficult to break that cycle of negativity.
Especially since becoming a mom, I’ve had to learn to handle a lot of anxiety, and even some depression. I suffered from post-partum anxiety after my daughter was born, which was alleviated by anti-anxiety meds. However, while I was on them I miscarried a baby, and could not get myself to continue taking them after that. I then suffered from post-partum depression, was eventually diagnosed with secondary infertility (which was unexplained), finally was able to become pregnant again, and had a healthy baby boy! At this point (after a lot of support from friends and family, and prayer), I finally felt like I was in a place where I had my negative thoughts and anxiety under control. I was at a point where I could distinguish my crazy thoughts from reality. During these several years, my go-to verse has been 2 Corinthians 10:5 – We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ:
(Thank you YouVersion Bible App for the Image!)
This, along with staying in prayer & conversation with God throughout the day, is a HUGE comfort, and brings me a lot of peace, especially during times of intense anxiety. Committing my thoughts to Christ allows me to recognize what is going on inside of my head as set apart from reality; which of my thoughts are coming from a place of fear and pain, instead of confidence in the goodness of God.
However, over the last several months when I have only been sleeping for 2 to 4 hour stretches at a time, (Yes, with a child that is almost ONE!) it becomes much more difficult for me to maintain that daily commitment to taking the time to read the Bible, and taking the time to pray. This ends up just spiraling to the point where I am texting my friends asking for THEM to pray FOR me!
So one of these friends, who works in the mental health field, calls me to encourage me during this time and gives me the suggestion of doing a 30-Day Positivity Challenge. *Sigh* One more thing to do, right? Again, this is coming from a place of exhaustion and negativity. But I tell her that sure, she can send me the link and I’ll check it out. Here is the Challenge she sent me (That this post is based on!) It is called the 30-Day Be More Positive Challenge.
What I really liked about this was that each day was just a short, simple suggestion. “I can handle that.” I thought. Then, while thinking about it I realized that I usually don’t follow through with this sort of thing. So, I decided to BLOG about it! I knew that once I posted the first day, I would have to follow through and post one every day, so if you are reading this, thank you for being that motivation to keep going through these challenges!
In honor of REALLY doing this Challenge, here are my reflections on each day of the challenge so far. (Days 1-6):
Day 1: For every worst case scenario you think of, imagine the best thing that could happen.
This was actually a HUGE help for me, and I’m glad this came on Day 1 because it helped motivate me to do this challenge. Worst case scenarios are kind of my thing. My husband is always a little in awe of the things I come up with that could happen in any normal, everyday situation. Here is an example:
Brandon: I’m going to take Joy to get some ice cream.
My brain: Should I let them go? What if he crashes the car and I lose half of my family in one afternoon?
Now, to someone without anxiety this sounds made up, but its the first thing I thought. So once I recognized that was a worst case scenario, I instead said to myself:
What if they have a really fun time, Joy gets to have a special memory with her daddy, and I get a break for an hour from having two kids with me?
Woohoo! Success for Day 1. This stopped me from feeling anxious and wasting my free time worrying and allowed me to enjoy some one-on-one time with Levi.
Day 2: Spend 5 minutes imagining your dream life, & write down what steps you need to take to get there.
Day 2 is something that I actually did when I started this blog, but it was nice to just think about the things that I want for myself and for my family in the future. Some of the things from my “dream life” include being able to travel, doing missions work, having more kids and/or adopting a child. It also includes living somewhere warm! Our most important step to make it there is to make good financial decisions, pay off all of our student-loans & mortgage & be debt free! On a smaller “step” scale, we are going to only eat out once or twice a week. (This still might seem like a lot to some people, but this is one of our biggest struggles financially! We don’t buy random things, we buy food)
This practice is helpful because it helps you to look beyond the struggles & irritations of today. Instead of dwelling on the negatives and picturing miserable outcomes, you see that best version of your life and work to start creating it! For me, being able to pray over those things is vital too. Obviously, you don’t always get what you pray for 🙂 but God knows the desires of your heart, and I think that praying for His glory in all of it allows him to reveal his plans for you to bring Him glory in ways you never imagined.
Day 3: Do 3 things to cut negativity out of your life. Unfollow, delete, & remove negative feelings from your life.
I took this from more of a “social media” standpoint, and went through my Instagram & Facebook and unfollowed anyone who consistently posts things that make me feel anxious or create negative feelings. This is something that I try to stay on top of anyways, so it did not take long. This is not to completely shield yourself from reality, but when you are already anxious about irrational things, it doesn’t help to read crazy or super negative news stories or horror stories online. So that is something I don’t do!
Some funny things I did get rid of in my home that made me feel negative were some workout DVDs and at-home workout equipment. I NEVER use it, we don’t even own a DVD player, and every time I saw it I just felt negative and guilty about not using it like I had planned. Now it is gone, I don’t feel negative, instead, I use that energy to get myself to the gym (with free childcare) for some free time & exercise.
Day 4: Have lunch with someone you admire, or someone you run into today.
This one was easy because I already had lunch plans with someone I admire! My friend Katie is someone who gives her heart & soul to the youth in the area as a director for Youth For Christ’s Campus Life. She is bringing light & life in Christ to kids who are seeking something bigger than themselves, many times hurting, and at a crucial stage in their lives! She is passionate, fun, encouraging, honest, and real! She is a friend who checks in, builds you up, helps you find your strengths, but is there when you need someone to talk through the tough stuff. She even teaches me house renovation tricks because I am helpless with tools. She also loves & encourages my kids! We went to Chili’s for the amazing chips & salsa, and little Levi even joined us. (I admire him for obvious reasons). <3
Going to lunch with someone you admire might be a big step for some people, but maybe even just having a conversation with them can be an encouragement. When you’re feeling negative and/or anxious, looking outside of yourself and caring about someone else’s life can be uplifting because it stops you from caving in and only focusing on your own life. You probably admire people for good reason, and they most likely have an ability to be encouraging to you in a way that you can’t do as well for yourself right now!
Day 5: Choose a positive mantra for the day. Google a mantra if you can’t think of one.
Mantras always seemed kind of weird to me, but in the spirit of committing to this challenge, I decided to go for it. I googled a few, and wanted something light & fun so I chose, “I don’t sweat the small stuff.” Because I DO sweat the small stuff, and it was a mental state I wanted to change. So throughout the day, every time I thought “Ugh, why is life so HARD!” instead I said, “That’s ok because I don’t sweat the small stuff!” And then I convinced myself that it was no big deal, dealt with it quickly, and moved on. For example, getting poop on my hands while changing a diaper, my preschooler peeing her pants because she wanted to keep playing instead of running to the bathroom really quickly, forgetting the diaper bag at a friend’s house. ETC.
Day 6: Give a genuine compliment to 3 people.
Again, the focus here is not ourselves, but others! Looking out is essential in finding positive mental health. When we seek and find the good in others, we are better able to find it in ourselves as well. This isn’t something that always comes naturally though as we go about our day in a rush. This one required me to slow down a bit, actually look the people around me in the face, recognize what they were doing, and point out the great things to them! Most of mine on this day were more surface compliments like, “I like your haircut!” or “Cute jacket!”, but in the future, I definitely am looking for opportunities to point out things I love about my friends in regard to their actions or character. I also am seeking out opportunities to compliment my kids & husband especially! This is something that needs to be done constantly with the people closest to you. I think it lets them know you are not taking them for granted, and that you truly appreciate the small things they do for you. <3
Okay, that is it for now! Hopefully, this was encouraging or helpful to you in some way! If you want to read more about this challenge check out my Reflections on Days 7-12! Also, check out some more of my suggestions that have helped me with my struggles to get out of bed in the mornings: Three Morning Essentials for this Momma