Take A Break – Your Sanity Depends On It.

Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t post anything last week. I work two jobs and just started taking self-defense classes. I really tried to, but with all that, the Easter holiday week, and a local strike that increased our business, I was burnt out. I wanted to run away. I wanted to just lay in bed and sleep forever. Those feelings usually signal that I need a break, time to recharge more than I usually do. But how do you do that when you still have to work, pay bills, and uphold commitments? I’ve discovered the answer is prioritizing.

Take a look at your week. Write it out. Mark down when you work, any necessary things- like picking up children-, and any social things going on. Now, take a look at how much time you can spend on yourself. How much is there? Is there any at all? MAKE TIME. Your health depends on it. Cancel anything and everything you can. Maybe that even means calling out from work for one day, or leaving early. You’d leave if you physically weren’t feeling well, right? Mentally feeling well is just as important.

If you’re the type of person who is recharged by social engagements, by all means, make contact with people you haven’t seen, and go out a little more than usual. If you’re the type of person who is drained by social engagements, cancel whatever isn’t necessary. If you’re dreading doing something or going someplace in this current moment, don’t go. Don’t worry if they’re gonna be mad or if you don’t want to disappoint someone. Your health is on the line and if they are truly your friends, they will know you and understand that you really just need time to yourself.

Also, be extremely kind to yourself, well always, but especially right now. You may already be on the verge of an outburst or a breakdown. If there is something you’ve been wanting to buy or a treat you’ve been craving, go ahead. I always feel like I’m reverting back to a child like-temper when I am overwhelmed with life- being extremely sensitive to everything. So treat yourself as such, and be loving and compassionate. Note that needing/giving yourself a break DOES NOT make you weak. In fact, it helps you become stronger mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’m spanning this post across all three of my categories because it really does affect how you stay happy, healthy and fit.


Stay Happy.
Taking a break from things is a necessity for your mental health! During last week, I found myself becoming short with people and just wanting to cry whenever anybody asked me anything. All I could think about was what I had to do when I got home, but when I got there, I would just put on Arrow and stay in bed. I knew that I hadn’t come up with two posts for last Wednesday. I had ideas, but when it came down to writing them, I had nothing. I was drained. I even started thinking “what if this happens all the time? Why did I start this blog? How am I gonna keep it going?” It snowballed and I started feeling ugly things. But in all actuality, that’s not truly how I feel about Cottontail Living, I love it. I love writing and sharing with you guys. It took a lot to be brave enough to not post anything- I didn’t want to disappoint anyone who reads my blog. I could not, however, ignore the fact that my energy wasn’t there in terms of writing. It was there when I took my self-defense classes.

I learned to go where energy flows and not to make myself do something because of a schedule I set up for myself. I really just wanted to attend my class and hang out with people. So, I suspended my writing and anything else with an approaching deadline and did those very things. And, I had such a great time. I followed where I was already putting my energy to and now I feel restored. Sometimes we set such rigid rules or routines for ourselves that we think they are permanent things in our lives that we HAVE to adhere to. Life is never like that, though. It is constantly fluxing and flowing, and just like that, we should learn to do the same. It’s kind of like the buildings they have where earthquakes are frequent- the structure sort of moves with the motion to minimize damage as opposed to a solid structure that can crumble under too much stress.

Stay Healthy.
Taking a break is also healthy for your body. A common thing with companies nowadays is to cut the workforce and put more responsibility on employees without proper compensation. This physically wears you down depending on how hard of a worker you are. Stress is contributed to so many health ailments such as weight gain, depression, heart disease-just to name a few. It causes such an imbalance to your thought process by putting stress on the mind and it can disrupt your eating habits. If you’re so busy, when you have a moment to eat it’s probably going to be something not so great for you. Stress and overwork can also disrupt your fitness routine. When you’re overwhelmed and work late every night, do you sacrifice sleep or fitness before the morning comes and you have to go back work again? But guess what, you’re only human! You need to establish and uphold boundaries so you don’t become miserable and get to this state in the first place. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to push past your limits just to be a good worker.

Stay Fit.
Believe it or not, taking a day, or a couple days not to workout helps you get stronger. You’re allowing your muscles and body to heal by giving them time to recover and grow. If you’re sore or even injured and you push through the pain, you do not help anyone. You especially do not help yourself. If you workout under those conditions, you’re stressing your body out more and causing further injury. Muscles don’t just change while you’re working out, what you do after the workout is just as important- even more so. Eating right, sleeping enough, staying hydrated are all key factors in healthy physical transformation.

Of course I say all of this within reason. Please don’t quit your jobs or not pay your bills or eat all the junk food in the world for a week. I am simply saying that there are moments when energy seems to come to a boiling point and our sanity balances on the precipice of “well” and “not well”. It is more than acceptable and understandable to just stop for a minute, an hour, a day or two days and just breathe.

In the words of Ariana Grande, “just keep breathin’, and breathin’, and breathin’.” Everything is always going to be okay. Life is meant to be enjoyed and experienced. All we can ever do is take it one breath at a time.

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Why do you want to get fit?

Why do you want to get fit? Is it just to lose weight? Is it to fit society standards? Do you want to be strong and capable in your everyday life? Or do you just want to look good in a bikini? This question is VERY important because it is the whole foundation on which you begin your fitness journey.

I think this country has an obsession with unrealistic expectations and doctrines on what a person should look like even when they have absolutely NO RIGHT in brainwashing you into being anything other than the perfection that you are right now. So working out for the right reasons will help you achieve your fitness goals and maintain them. This will also morph and change over time. That’s perfectly okay. I’d like to share a little story about my personal journey with this question.

Back in high school in the early 2000s, I wanted to get thin. I wanted to starve myself and be beautiful because that’s what everything around me, even other girls my age, were telling me. I never ended up starving myself, though, because somewhere deep down it just felt wrong. I did, however, not eat for long periods of time and then binge. HARD. Crap food, too. As I’ve mentioned in another post, I’m an active person. I had no problem working out. But my mind wasn’t well. I didn’t care about the food I ate, mainly out of ignorance. Back then, nutrition wasn’t really a big thing and clean eating just sounded weird.

It wasn’t until my late 20s when I finally understood the old adage “your body is your temple” and “you are what you eat”. Your body is the home for your soul while you’re living life as a human being. It needs to be treated with love and respect, just as you would your best friend. With that in mind, I had to reevaluate why I was doing what I was doing. What was the purpose of putting my body through work outs every day and no longer eating all the lemon poppy seed muffins in the world? I came up with the following:

  • I want to be physically strong
  • I want to be mentally strong
  • I want to learn how to move my body in so many different ways
  • I want to learn practical movements that help me through every day life
  • I want to feel like I’m Lara Croft and able to kick somebody’s ass

Our bodies are the vessel in which we’ve been given in this lifetime to express ourselves. And what you put into your body (food, body products, what you breathe in, etc) effects every part of you, which can alter and constrict, or reform and expand your inner beauty. Because a healthy soul makes a healthy human.

Getting fit isn’t just about the physical aspect. And eating clean isn’t just a diet. You also need to become aware of your mental state- heal your mind. Welcome your emotions and try to figure out where they come from. Guided meditations are a fantastic way to be your own therapist and figure out what’s going on there. And by figuring out why you react the way you do and think the way you think, you heal your soul. Along with food.

I cannot stress this enough. What you eat is not just a diet. IT’S A LIFESTYLE CHANGE. Diets are temporary. You begin them knowing that you’re not going to keep it up. You need to make the commitment to eat better for the rest of your life. Would you feed your pet crap food, stuff that’s highly processed and synthetic? I really hope your answer is no, and you shouldn’t be eating that food either!

And you don’t need to calorie count. I never did nor do I now. Because if you have body and mind awareness, you listen to your body and only want to feed it with nurturing nutritious foods. Does that mean you can never have a Snickers bar again? Hell no. Every month to a couple of months, you can bet your bottom dollar that I buy myself a big bag of flaming hot Cheetos and eat the entire thing in one sitting. AND I AM DAMNED PROUD. At the end of the day- and I’m sure you’ve heard it before- it really is about BALANCE.

So, please treat yourself- and others- kindly. We’re all going through different things and different human experiences. If others are mean to you or think poorly of you, it’s a reflection of them- not you. You’re in control of your own mind and actions. Make a commitment to be the best version of yourself you can be. Happiness is contagious. Your body and your life are not prisons. If that’s what it feels like, then ask yourself “why?” and dedicate your energy to healing that.

No matter what you believe, life is a gift that we have been given. Make the most of it. In a quote I recently heard (not sure by who) it said: “you were not meant to take this life personally”. Only you know your own truth. Anyone’s opinions and ideas of how the world works effects them, and them alone. Be your own warrior and your own healer. Love, honor, and cherish everything you are- the light and the shadow, the good and the bad.

You’re perfect, and you’ve always been enough. You don’t need anyone telling you otherwise 🙂

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Staying Afloat

So what happens when everything feels like it is falling apart? Like the ground before you has disintegrated into water and an unseen current has swept you off your feet? I don’t know about you, but for the past few days, I feel like I’ve lost my foothold on life- as if my mind is swimming in the depths of a dark abyss.

How do you maintain a happy state of mind when you feel like you’re struggling just to stay afloat? This is something I’ve been asking myself. Staying happy is a choice, yet sometimes it doesn’t come all that easily. But, IT IS POSSIBLE to bring yourself back. It is possible to regain a more positive mindset. Below are things that I’ve found to be helpful during this time.

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• Rearrange what your life priorities are
Think hard about why you’re feeling the way you are. Is your job not sitting right with you anymore? Did something happen that triggered old emotions? I usually like to take this time to sit down and write out my priorities in life. For 5 minutes, write about what you’d like your dream life to be like in 5 years. Imagine there are no boundaries, no limitations (because there actually aren’t) and describe your perfect life in such vivid detail. Then reflect and figure out how to make that life happen. Because you deserve it.

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• Go to people that make you happy
The company you keep can either help ease your mind or exacerbate the chaos. If you need some alone time, take it, but be careful not to shut people out during this time. Reach out to those who won’t judge you, those who will just listen and hold your hand without saying anything. Sometimes, we just need the presence of another human next to us. And a good hug. People who do this are so, so important. (that awesomely awkward picture, tho? Because, internet.)

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• Make a small daily or weekly goal
Every day or every week, create a small goal of something you want to accomplish. If it’s moving your body, start with just 5 minutes a day. Want to meditate? Do the same thing- 5 minutes every day. You can do this for anything: reading, learning a new language, going outside, etc. Whatever it is, having a small victories can help boost your spirits while taking life one day at a time.

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• Essential oils
Orange essential oil is great to brighten up the senses. In emergency cases, I even put some on right under my nose so I can smell it constantly. Make sure the oil is skin safe. I also like to keep amber and rose oil in my arsenal. Amber helps to ground you. And rose promotes universal and self-love.

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Color therapy
Surround yourself with bright, happy colors. Like essential oils, colors can greatly effect your mood. Change the background on your phone or computer to something so over-the-top it’s ridiculous. The brighter, the better.

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Crystals
Crystals give off a certain vibration that resonate with certain emotions. By choosing crystals like smoky quartz, black tourmaline, and tiger’s eye, you’ll feel more grounded and protected in your environment.

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Music
Pay particular attention to the lyrics of the music you’re listening to. Sad melodies or painful lyrics will only help to keep feeling blue. Like colors and crystals, music is made up of certain vibrations and frequencies that resonate on certain levels that can perpetuate low, unpleasant emotions. Instead, put on music that makes you want to dance and be happy! Hannah Montana is my go-to. The song “Life’s What You Make It” is my jam.

What I keep telling myself, and what I’m telling you, is: it’s going to get better. Just like the tides, emotions ebb and flow. It’s the natural course of things. Take a deep breath. You are not your emotions. Your soul runs deeper than that. We wouldn’t know what happiness is if we didn’t know what not being happy felt like, right?

Ride the wave of your emotions, and try your best not to get dragged down. We’re all in this together. And you are NEVER alone. If you feel that way, please, please reach out. I am always here for you.

In the words of Hannah Montana, “life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock!”

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Spring Cleaning For Your Social Media

Spring is finally here! Depending on where you live, this can be a big deal. In New England, it’s definitely a thing to be celebrated. So let in the fresh air and start cleaning and clearing those winter vibes away! This includes your social media accounts.

Just like friends, who you follow on social media can greatly affect your mood and well-being. Whichever platform you choose can be catered to cultivate happiness and positivity. There are accounts/profiles that seek to promote the good things in life rather than false news, drama, and trauma. It’s hard not to find yourself scrolling incessantly and getting lost, and when you come out on the other side, you don’t feel too good about life. If you are to be on social media you can transform it into a learning platform, all you need to do if follow accounts that interest you, inspire and motivate you.

Delete the people that don’t add value to your life.
Whether they are friends you no longer talk to or people from previous jobs/school/etc., if they do not impact your life in a positive way, unfriend/unfollow them. I know when I used to do this, I would feel guilty for unfriending them on social media. It seemed like such a silly thing to feel guilty over considering I was never really friends with them to begin with. And 99.9% of the time, they won’t even notice. If you do have reservations about deleting them, ask yourself why. Do you have a history with them? Are they a past lover and you want to keep tabs on? Did you add them even though you met them once? Do they contribute anything to you at this moment?

Delete the accounts that feed shadow feelings.
Some people talk about everything that’s wrong/bad in the world. They’ll post things about animal abuse, what’s going on in the news, the drama in their lives, other people’s drama, etc. You don’t need that. Nobody needs that. Delete them and see the negativity disappear.

Add accounts that post things that help make you a better person.
Do you like learning a different language? Is there a hobby you’ve always wanted to pick up? Search for profiles that cater to things that make you smarter and inspire to spread positivity.

Add accounts that post things that make you happy.
Do you like animals? Follow a lot of animal accounts. Do you like books? Follow some book clubs. Crystals? Flowers? There’s an account for that! Choose accounts/people that make you feel good.

Cleaning up and deleting accounts that no longer serve you is so great for your mental health. For an extra challenge, try limiting the time on social media altogether. That may be easier said than done, but if you spend time cultivating things you like to do offline, you’ll be so busy you won’t need to be on your phone 🙂 Please share if you did some spring cleaning and how it made you feel! I look forward to hearing from you.

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

Who Makes You Happy?

I planned on doing something else for this week, but a recent hang-out with a good friend inspired this one.

My previous post “What makes you happy?”, is all about doing the things that bring joy into your life. But, that is only one part of happiness. Who you hang out and interact with is just as important. Friends can help/let you grow, or keep you down. A thing I’ve encountered with a lot of people is that they feel like their current friends are permanent, regardless of if their friend(s) say or do things that don’t sit well with them. Then, there are also the people who only focus on your struggle and not your progress. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Your social circle is within your control. I repeat, your social circle is WITHIN YOUR CONTROL. You absolutely DO NOT need to be friends with people who make you feel bad about yourself, who ridicule you, or who have bad habits that they make you partake in or enable you. It does take a lot of courage to end some relationships, but your wellbeing is at stake and, you need to take care of you! It’s okay if people no longer fit into your life- it’s meant to happen that way. Friends will come and go (think of the old children’s song, but everyone is gold), and also some will stay constant. You can grow together, or grow apart, and all of it is by design.

According to the New York Times, Oxford’s number one word of last year was “toxic”. It pertained to the uprising of naming people and things as being toxic to your wellbeing. It does, however, go the other way. You can be toxic to other people’s wellbeing. I’ll share an example of this. I had a best friend I met in high school and our friendship lasted a good portion through college. We hung out so much that I thought I couldn’t live without her. This was tested, however, when she suddenly stopped talking to me. It seemed like it was out of the blue. I was completely blindsided and hurt. But then, as I started replaying our years of friendship over in my mind to get some sort of answer to how things went awry, I realized I was telling the story all wrong.

We always had to go out and spend money. We could never just sit at home like  I did with my other friends. There was a competitive element to us, and I am NOT a competitive person. Also, I was selfish. I remember getting mad when she couldn’t give me a ride somewhere or if she canceled plans, because, now I was inconvenienced. In the end, I came to the conclusion that I was the toxic one. This moment was integral to my self-growth. My whole life shifted. It was a beginning- a rebirth.

This is when I became aware of my actions. If this friend never stopped talking to me, I would have never seen how I took her for granted (probably others, too) and saw how egocentric I was. From then on, I made sure I show the people I care about in my life just how important they are to me. I tell them “I love you” often, and share what I admire about them because I don’t want to make the same mistake again. The ending of this friendship was absolutely necessary for the both of us.

As we advance in our personal growth, we outgrow old habits, and sometimes, that means outgrowing relationships. Nothing in this life is stagnant. Even if it’s at a snail’s pace, things are evolving, changing, -including you if you let yourself.

If you would like to read the whole article about 2018’s word of the year, click here

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**

What Makes You Happy?

Are there things in your life you never seem to have the time for? You wait until you have a day off to do them, but then, life seems to get in the way and the things you really enjoy get pushed to the wayside? That used to happen to me ALL. THE. TIME. Until I made them a priority.

I remember waking up one morning a couple years ago saying to myself: “there has to be more to life than this.” Then, I asked myself what I am passionate about. For me it was working out, learning Japanese, and writing. Especially writing. Any time I did manage to have a day off where I had time to write, I still never wrote anything because it was too big of a project. It just seemed so daunting! I remembered reading something about to get in the habit of writing, start with 10 mins a day. So, I took that and ran with it, applying it to the 2 other aforementioned things. I can honestly say that I HAVE FOUND SUCCESS with this method. Here is how I started:

I am a morning person (not like ass-crack-of-dawn morning, 90 minutes-2 hours before work), so the most logical time for me to be productive is when I wake up. I do these things no more than 5-10 mins every morning, in this order.

  1. Workout (I now work out 30 minutes every morning, but before my fitness level was up, I literally only worked out 10 mins a day)
  2. Study Japanese (I use an app called “Lingodeer” and do a lesson, then 5 min quiz)
  3. Write (this ends up only being a paragraph or so, but hey, I’ve gotten things written!)

I’ve also tried adding a 5-minute meditation with the app “Simple Habit” into my day. I was successful in the past, but I’ve gotten out of touch with it. Don’t get me wrong, I do have my moments where I do half of my routine or even skip it entirely, but knowing that I have a system in place to do things I look forward to, helps me to pick it up again the next day. There’s no need to punish yourself. Be kind to yourself and move forward.

You can start with just incorporating 1 thing into your day, see how it goes and then add more things as you feel ready. 🙂

Sincerely, we aren’t here to live other people’s lives. We are here for us- to enjoy life before it passes us by. Yes, there are certain things most of us have to do like work and pay bills, but that’s not all! If you don’t like your job, find a new one. If you don’t like your friends, find new ones OR become better acquainted with yourself. The things that are within your control can be changed to better suit and honor you for the person you truly are. So, what makes you happy?

-Ze ❤

**Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any links that I post. Any programs, products, sites, etc. I mention are for sharing purposes only.**