Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing

We’ve talked about FOMO here before. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’m one of those people who tend to measure the worth of what they’re doing based on what their friends/family/people on social media are doing.

Decisions tend to be tortuous for me because I’m always wondering what other people have decided so that I can make up my mind. Even simple things, like deciding how to spend a weeknight, can turn into a mental back-and-forth of what my friends/acquaintances are doing and how what I’m doing measures up. For example, if I choose to take a long walk in the evening, I might wonder if I should be taking a kickboxing class, going out for drinks, working on my business, joining a club sports team, going on a date, or putting in extra time at work instead. I tend to assume that everyone else’s choices are better than mine.

I often find myself thinking: Why is it so easy for my friends to just be cool with and focused on what they’re doing, and I’m always wondering whether I’m keeping up, fitting in, and not getting left behind? Why can’t I just do my own thing and be cool with that?

Sometimes I wonder if I’m living for my friends/family/social media acquaintances…or me.

Can you relate to this? Do you constantly question your choices, or make choices based on what other people are doing? It’s exhausting! And I’ve discovered that making decisions based on other people leads to the following things:

  • Living in the past (harboring resentment, keeping old, uncomfortable situations alive when they should’ve been dead years ago) while everyone else is moving forward, accomplishing goals, having new experiences
  • Disconnecting from your true self, desires, and beliefs, leading to confusion and doubt about what goals you should really focus on
  • Feeling disappointed when your friends seemingly forget about you to live their own lives. (they haven’t forgotten about you–they just don’t factor you in to the significant degree that you factor them in…because they’re doing what they want!)
  • Constant worry and anxiety, no lasting peace and ease.

Whew, that’s a pretty tiring way to live. And the hard truth is…in our quest to keep up, live the best life ever, and make decisions based on what our friends are doing, we actually end up living a rather empty, boring life that keeps us small. We don’t take risks or go for our dreams because we’re too busy worrying about other people’s goals and dreams, and making sure that we’re not getting left behind.

What’s the answer to living a full, exciting life that’s true to ourselves?

You must reconnect to you.

I’m still working on this, but expect more tips on how to stop worrying about what other people are doing, and start focusing on you.

Beat procrastination with this tip!

Isn’t procrastination the worst? Maybe we’re stalling on a work or school assignment, running a boring/tedious errand, doing something around the house, working out, or calling someone back. When we avoid something, it festers and hangs over our head, getting bigger and scarier every minute we do something else (um like watch clips of RHONY and Watch What Happens Live) instead of what we should really be doing. Ick just thinking about procrastination makes me nauseous because I get so freaked out by the tasks that I procrastinate on that just get even more overwhelming. Gah!

Today, for example, I did some typical things: cleaning, laundry, organizing, etc. But I was avoiding working out. I kept watching clips of reality TV and doing stuff around the house instead. My body wanted to workout, but I couldn’t decide whether to take a walk, do yoga, lift weights, whatever…and I stayed in that indecisive, procrastinating place for most of the day. Then, a lesson from the amazing Gabrielle Bernstein (via Yogi Bhajan) came to me:

When the time is on you, start and the pressure will be off.

This lesson offers so much peace because it reminds us that when we have a goal or task in front of us, all we have to do is take one simple step: start. We don’t have to worry about what the “what ifs” or how things will turn out or how we’ll feel during the process. When we just start, we’ll feel a sense of relief. That task, project, or goal immediately becomes less scary and more manageable.

As soon as I thought of that message–start and the pressure will be off–I got off of my bed, put on my workout shoes, grabbed some music, and took a walk around my neighborhood. I started, didn’t worry about whether I was doing the “right” workout or what workout I would do tomorrow, and now I feel great that I accomplished something I wanted to do today!

Other ways you can start so that the pressure will be off:

  • Set your timer for 5 mins and pick up the clothes on your floor. Just getting into that mode of cleaning/decluttering can give you energy to vacuum, wash your sheets, clean your bathroom, etc.
  • Take a shower to shift your energy. Showering helps us feel refreshed, renewed–feelings that energize us to accomplish something/get started on a task or project.
  • Make a weekly master To Do list. Grab a pen and paper and write down everything you need to do this week. Just getting stuff down on paper makes you feel more organized and motivated. Then, pick one of those tasks, set a timer, and do it!
  • If you’re trying to stop binge eating, the next time you binge, take a deep breath (even if you’re in the middle of chewing), go into the kitchen, and have a glass of water. These simple actions shift you out of binge eating mode and into a more peaceful state so that you’re less likely to continue your binge.

Let procrastination ease away–just by starting.

Let’s Create Our Bucket List for 2017

Summer has officially begun, and my fave blogger recently posted her Summer Bucket List, i.e. a list of the stuff you want to do, experience, and/or accomplish over the summer.

I looove the concept of the Summer Bucket List because it encourages us to get out of our comfort zone and take action on our goals. And as you know, when we’re out of our comfort zone, we realize that we’re actually stronger and more capable than we thought…which gives us confidence to continue experiencing and accomplishing new things…which helps us create a life of our dreams! Plus, the Summer Bucket List encourages us to explore many of our interests and dreams, rather than focusing on the stuff we typically obsess about (weight loss, food, our bodies, etc., for example).

I’m still crafting my 2017 Summer Bucket List, but here’s what I got so far:

  • Read three fiction books.
  • Do an FB live for my Facebook group once a week. I did one all about summer bucket lists a couple weeks ago!
  • Do some volunteering.
  • Think before speaking (oy, this is an ongoing goal for me. I’m using this to help).

I wanna know what’s on YOUR Summer Bucket List for 2017! Email me at sarah@thehappycollegegirl.com!

How To Handle FOMO

Hope you’re doing great! This week, I went to a conference and slept in my car between sessions because I was so tired, ate lots of Italian food, and went to a sprawling lights show with May.

I also got a chance to Skype with a friend, and we talked about how easy it is to think that no matter what we’re doing in our lives, we should be doing something else.

Know what we mean?

Our culture puts so much pressure on us to live perfect, adventurous, yet peaceful lives, and no matter how hard we try to do all of that, we still think we’re not doing enough. The millions of opportunities we have per day to engage in comparison exacerbates our feeling of inadequacy and pushes us even harder to strive for perfect lives, worthy of envy. We’re bombarded with messages every day about how our lives are supposed to look–so that we get approval and admiration from others.

We work so hard to live a “perfect” life (whatever that is) or we constantly looking at what our friends/acquaintances are doing to see how we measure up. But when we do that, not only do we exhaust our mind and body, we also miss out on the awesome life we could be living right now. We spend so much time trying to achieve some made up social ideal that we lose track of what truly makes us happy. Then we end up doing things or spending time with people who don’t really make us feel fulfilled. Then we become unhappy, resentful, and lost about how to move forward.

I struggle with this every day–and I especially struggled with it after I moved home from school and had no idea what to do next. I know you can relate.

That’s why I created some awesome tips to help you move through moments of comparison and inadequacy about your life choices. I used these pretty much every day of 2015…and still use them today!

Check ’em out:

1. Use the acceptance prayer. This is a classic one, and so, so helpful. Whenever you get a pang of anxiety, FOMO, or inadequacy, say this to yourself and feel a shift: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

2. Saturate yourself in books/content about acceptance. Acceptance will set you free and push you forward. Read Radical Acceptance by the amazing Tara Brach. Read these quotes. And this one from my former coach Christine Gutierrez: Life will trick you. You will see certain things not work out and believe that you must certainly be in the wrong place, that you are not where you are supposed to be. But the truth is you are always exactly where you need to be, and your point of power comes from accepting where you are and making conscious choices for where you want to be next. You can’t pressure yourself or make yourself feel bad about where you are, because I promise you it’s perfect and divine. What is the lesson that life is giving you right now, in this moment? Surrender just a bit more and have faith. You are exactly where you need to be.

3. Follow your body’s signals. The next time you engage in an activity or hang out with someone, notice how your body feels. Does your body feel open, light, relaxed, energized? Does it feel contracted, heavy, depleted, tired? Notice what kinds of things, activities, and people make you feel open, and spend more time with them. Your body’s signals will never steer you in the wrong direction.

4. Sleep and drink water. These simple practices will help you listen to your body (see #3) and release the stress that’s building up inside of you because of all of the pressure you’re putting on yourself to live a perfect life. Trust me on this one.

Give these tips a try and let the acceptance and ease set in!

My best tools for making decisions with ease

You know how anxious I get when I have to make a big decision. While I’ve made a lot of progress on creating more peace and ease around decision making, I STILL have moments of freaking out when faced with many choices.

Welp, it’s hit me again. I’m smack dab in the middle of a decision and for most of the weekend, I’ve been doing my best to manage my anxiety around it.

That’s why this email is dedicated to helping you make decisions with ease, too. Below is a collection of my best decision making tools! Read ’em, use ’em, and start making some decisions!

Here they are:

My realization of what freedom REALLY means

Anxiety does not have to rule your romantic relationships. Here’s how to get free.

Quick Guide: Goal setting when you have no idea what your goals are or what you want

Are you a flip-flopper? Make decisions with ease

Give these tips a try and let the peaceful decision making begin!

How to accomplish your goals faster

Almost every day for the past three weeks, I’ve been hopping on the phone with a friend I made in a coaching group. At 9:30am, we do an exercise from our program to keep us on track with having a positive mindset–so that we see positive results in our lives.

If I didn’t have this phone call with my friend every morning, motivating myself to do that exercise would be much more difficult. If left on my own, I would probably skip a few days, then eventually lose motivation and not do the exercise for weeks…requiring me to build up the mental strength and discipline again to get myself back on track. Think of all of that time and energy I wasted not doing the exercise, when just doing it would’ve been a much for effective way to see the results I want in my life.

But working with my friend, aka my accountability buddy, forces me (in a gentle way) to do the exercise. She calls me every morning, and I pick up. We do the exercise, then get on with our days. Our system is great. It gives me the structure and discipline I need to help me accomplish my goals faster than I would if I didn’t have that support.

Think about one of your goals or an area of your life that you’d like to improve.

How might you incorporate an accountability buddy to help you move towards that goal/improvement faster?

Here are some ideas to help you out!

  • If your goal is to incorporate more exercise in your life, make a plan with a friend to go to a class together, or take a walk/run together. Instead of meeting there, try carpooling. If you’re responsible for picking up someone or being picked up, you’ll be more likely to go and not just bail if you’re too tired.
  • Start a group gratitude chat. Gather a few of your friends and text each other three things you’re grateful for each day. Pick different things each time. Gratitude makes you feel instantly abundant and happy!
  • Choose an inspirational/self-improvement book to read with a friend/group of friends. Get together once a week to discuss how you’re incorporating the principles into your life, cheer each other on, and get ideas for how to stay on track.

These are just some of the MANY ways you can incorporate an accountability buddy system into your life…and get the discipline you need to accomplish your goals faster!

3 ways to be peaceful and productive in December

December is a crazy month for all of us. If you’re in school, you’re drowning in papers and finals. If you have a full-time job, your’e scrambling to meet all of your deadlines and complete extra projects. If you’re somewhere in between, you may be juggling a few jobs/side hustles/trying to figure out your next step amidst the holiday madness. There’s a TON going on in December, and our mental and physical health can really take a hit. We’re often exhausted by the holidays because we’ve been doing so much to finish our work and complete our holiday To Do list.

But what if there was a different way to experience December? What if you could get all of your stuff done and feel relatively peaceful? What if by the holidays rolled around, you felt relaxed and accomplished?

It’s totally possible to have a peaceful AND productive December. Use these tips to get there:

1. Block off 10 mins in the morning and night to connect with yourself.When you wake up and before you go to bed each day, do something to get out of your head, into your body, and into the present moment. Journal. Do some stretches while listening to music. Meditate. Have a cup of tea and read a book. Take a short walk. This will slow down your whirring thoughts and keep you from future tripping about everything you have to do. When you connect with yourself, you carry that sense of inner connection throughout the day, which will help you move and do your work with ease.

2. Know exactly what tasks you’re completing in the morning. Too often we just say, “Tomorrow I’ll work on x, y, z.” But that’s so vague. The next morning, we don’t know where to begin and we just end up procrastinating with Youtube, social media, etc. Then the rest of our day becomes unfocused. Every night, assign yourself 1-3 specific, concrete tasks for the next morning. Ex. Freewrite for 20 mins about my paper topic. Assign blog post topics to freelancers. Call this person and ask about this. When you have a productive morning, you’ll feel motivated to continue the productivity for the rest of the day.

3. Observe the 1-min rule. This comes from author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin. The 1-min rule requires you to pick a task that you can do in 1- minute and DO IT. Ex. Pick up your clothes from the floor. Write an email. Respond to that text. Do some squats and crunches. Meditate. Write your To Do list. This rule helps you increase your productivity in stress-free way. 1 minute is pretty easy to handle, and it makes us feel super productive, which motivates us (and gives us more time) to accomplish bigger tasks.

Let these tips guide you in December. It’s time for you to have a December that makes you feel happy, relaxed, and accomplished!

How to move forward after the election

My heart is slowly healing and my fear for our country’s future is slowly dissipating…because there is no other option except to heal and move forward, sooner rather than later.

However you feel about this election–devastated/stunned/neutral/hopeful/pissed/happy/scared–I invite you to feel inspired.

If this election has taught us anything, it’s that we have control over so few things and it’s a humbling and sobering experience any time we realize that.

What can we actually control? Ourselves. Our choices. Our reactions. Our thoughts. Let’s focus on that. That gives us a lot to work with. Remembering what we can control has given me a lot of hope this week.

Now more than ever, we need to live from that perspective, from what we can control. It’s time to take a hard look about what we’re doing in our lives now, and how we can show up more powerfully–so that these next four years are wonderful and productive, regardless of what happens in White House.

It’s time to take action on those goals–academic, personal, professional–we want to accomplish, but we keep putting off.

It’s time to drop the negative beliefs we have about ourselves (“I’m too much” or “I’m not enough”) and get to work on what we want to accomplish and experience in this life. Those beliefs keep us small, hold us back, and prevent us from doing the stuff we want to do.

It’s time to get out of our comfort zones in small and big ways.

It’s time to just do things a little differently, to just act and create instead of thinking and talking.

What does all of this look like in regular life? Maybe it means committing to going to yoga at 6am 3 times per week, and actually getting out of bed and going. Maybe it means telling people how you really feel instead of trying to make everyone happy. Maybe it means replacing the time you spend Youtubing reruns of Girls Next Door (ummm me) with an uplifting podcast. Maybe it means looking for a job that really fills you up and is more in line with your passions. Maybe it means going out on dates now, not putting your love life on hold until you lose weight/fix something about yourself.

There are so many ways we can play bigger in our lives. There are so many ways we can be active and powerful. And when we do that, we give others permission to go after their goals and dreams too. And then we awaken the whole world.

Let this election–regardless of how you feel about it–inspire you.

Two awesome and low-effort time management techniques

Sometimes (a lot of times), it’s hard for me to focus while I’m working. I tend to start a task, then shift a few moments later to something else that I remember I have to do, change the song I’m listening to, text someone, grab another glass of water, etc. You know the drill.

In our world of constant stimuli that offer immediate gratification, staying on one task for a set period of time can be pretty difficult. I recently discovered two time-management tools that really work for me. I invite you to try them for yourselves.

1. When you’re faced with a challenge (however big), take a few deep breaths. When we’re working on a task, challenges come up. We may not know how to respond to an email, proceed on an assignment, or we may have to Google around for an answer to a question. When these challenges come up, we get slightly uncomfortable/annoyed/frustrated, so our minds wander to distract ourselves from that discomfort. But that just makes us lose concentration, prolonging the time it takes for us to finish something. The next time you notice yourself switching gears right away when a challenge comes up, remove your hands from your laptop or phone and take two deep breaths.Put your focus on your breath.Then return to the task. You’ll often find that when you go back to your task, the challenge at hand is less of a pain than you thought. With just a little more concentration, you can figure it out and get your task done.

2. Set a timer for 10 mins and crank out that email. Sending emails seems like such a mind-numbing task, but it actually takes a lot of concentration. We may have to include a lot of detail and direction to our recipient or write a thoughtful response to someone’s idea. And how annoying is it when you finally send an email and realize you made a mistake!? It can take a long time to write a useful and error-free email, and it’s so easy for our minds to wander while we write. Try this technique. Set your timer for 10 mins. Get hyperfocused and try your absolute hardest to get that email written within that 10 mins. But don’t send yet. This helps you get out everything you need to say—quickly. THEN, after the 10 mins, read the email aloud to yourself and send.

Try these techniques at work or school this week. They’ll help you stay focused during your work time so that you get your work done quickly—and you avoid having to take work home or squeezing in work in other parts of your day.

My FAVORITE tools to release anxiety

As you probably know by now, I’ve dealt with (and still deal with) my fair share of anxiety. Last year, my anxiety became so debilitating that I FINALLY took it seriously and got help. Since then, life has been so much more peaceful.

If you’re struggling with anxiety to any extent–maybe you get anxious when you have a lot on your plate at work or school, maybe you have a hard time just getting out of bed, or anything in between–know that there is hope. You canand will feel more calm and peaceful. Things will get figured out.

To help you move forward in your journey with anxiety, here is a list of my favorite ways to help you manage and release anxious thoughts. When you use these tools and practices, you’ll feel a little lighter and stronger.

1. Water. Drink water all day, especially in the mornings. When you have anxiety, cortisol (the stress hormone) is released in the body. But guess what? You pee out cortisol! Drink a lot of water to prevent all of that cortisol from building up in your body.

2. Words from Eleanor Roosevelt: “With the new day comes new thoughts.” I LOVE this quote because it reminds us that our current thoughts and state of mind is only temporary. As time passes, things get better.

3. Face masks. Doing face masks gives you something really easy, fun, and tangible to focus on. They’re good for you skin and make you feel luxurious. My fave is Catastrophe Cosmetic. Or just plain, full-fat/low-fat Greek yogurt. Smear it on your face. It’s amaze.

4. Journal or legal pad. Freewriting/brain dumps really help ease anxiety because they get everything out of your head and onto paper. When you externalize your thoughts, you begin to dismantle their power over you. Your anxious thoughts aren’t you. Journaling helps you see that.

5. Timers. I love Medivate and Marinara Timer because they keep me focused at work. When I get more work done instead of trolling Youtube, I feel powerful and calm, definitely not anxious.

6. Exercise. Oh my gosh this is a big one. When you move your body, you release stagnant energy and cortisol. You also tire out your body, which helps you sleep better. And your thoughts soften. Exercising is crucial. This is one of my fave workouts to do at home.

7. Therapy. Find a good therapist and stick with it. My therapist is bomb.

8. Self touch. Duh, masturbation is a big stress-reliever, so I encourage it. But other than that, try gently pressing on your bare stomach with your hand in the morning or night while you’re lying in bed. Skin-to-skin touch is very soothing.

9. Plan Better Live Better Planner. I know I talk about this a lot. When you get stuff done, you feel productive, which makes you feel powerful and less stressed out. This planner helps you remember and schedule everything you have to do–in a peaceful way!

10. Comforting books, blogs, and podcasts. I’m loooving Let it Out: A Journey Through Journaling; Food Psych; Mind Body Musings; Girl and the Good.

That’s my easing anxiety toolkit for now! I’m always adding things, so expect another toolkit comin’ your way.