Apologies for being MIA the past two weeks, I've been adjusting to some new jobs which has been pretty awesome. Since I'm only in two classes this semester I have dubbed this time period in my life "self development." With the past three and a half years being mostly about managing my classes I think this has been/will be a great opportunity to really figure out more about who I am and what I'm all about. So this sort of segways into this week's article which is all about tips for being your best self and the things that I think have helped me feel this way in the past. Obviously these vary from person-to-person, so this is my take and personal experience with self care.

Enjoy !

Explore Your Passion(s)   

I put this first because I think it is SO vital. Classes are important, jobs are important, but so is developing your passions because they are vital to your emotional health and well being. I think that sometimes people get really caught up (myself included) in stressful responsibilities and things that are coming in the future and forget (or don't have the time) to go and do what they love doing. Finding something I was passionate about completely changed my life, I was not only happy doing that activity but I was happier at work and in school, etc. Making time to pursue a passion is one of the ways I've not only come to know myself better, but also improved my overall emotional state.

Talk To People Who Inspire You 

Obviously if it's Oprah this may not be the easiest. What I mean by this statement is that if you can you should try to surround yourself with people that inspire you. Whether these are friends or colleagues, making an effort to interact with those who motivate you is key to developing your aspirations. One of my goals for this year has been to try and talk to two people a month who inspire me, whether that's professionally or just in general.

Develop Your Own Opinions 

This is a pretty broad statement, and I meant for it to be that way. I have really been trying to do this lately with regards to political and social topics because sometimes I feel that I tend to try and agree with whoever I am talking to about a given subject. This is mostly because I don't want to deal with a conflict but I really feel that having your individual opinions is important. I think that one of the most daunting things for me is taking the time to sift through all the news that's out there and deciding what I agree with and what is important. If you are also running into this problem, sign up for The Skimm to help shorten this process and get you what you need to know quickly. Other sites that I look at for various news topics include Science DailyForbes, and The New York Times

Cultivate Your Personal Style 

I think having a style of your own is so important to being the best version of yourself. What cultivating your personal style means to me is taking the time to figure out what your "pieces" are and incorporating those into your outfit rotation. Cultivating your personal style isn't just clothes, it applies to accessories as well. Whether you love a casual tote or a crossbody Michael Kors bag, every accessory you chose adds a personal touch to your look. To highlight your personal style check out this Style Type Quiz by Visual Therapy!!

Craft A Routine 

I am a big fan of this one. The best way to start on this is to workout on a regular basis. I really found that forming a workout schedule helped me follow a routine for the rest of my day. Suddenly I was planning out meals and which ones should be higher protein, and when I should shower so I'm not wasting my time showering before a workout. For some, a routine is boring and mundane, but I thrive off of routine. With school and work being highly variable and changing (which is also a good thing), it's great to come home and know I'm going to make some dinner, read news articles, and finish the night off by catching up on some TV.

Vary Your Workouts 

Playing off of my previous point, having a regular workout schedule is great, but having one in which the workouts vary is even better. For a long time I would switch off between doing the treadmill and doing this kickboxing P90X DVD. This was a great routine for a while, but I started to notice that I wasn't really getting anything new out of my workout. So for the past month I've been trying out pilates, yoga, the elliptical, youtube workouts, pretty much anything I can find that targets a different area of the body. So my advice on varying your workouts is to explore Pinterest and Youtube, the internet is an unbelievable resource for random, quick, and FREE workouts you can do in 20 minutes at home. If you're lost for new exercises, check out this list by Spark People that contains 110 Workout Ideas .  

Leave the Technology Behind (Sometimes)  

Okay so I definitely understand that in this day and age it is very hard to do this. We are all getting 2384237987 emails a day and have people to contact. However, I think that this is pretty important for overall emotional health. I feel WAY better when I spend a day reading than when I spend a day on the couch looking at my phone looking at Instagram and Facebook every 5 minutes. I think that most people are guilty of this at least in my generation. It's so easy to get sucked into the fake world of social media, and one of the goals that I've set for myself is to reduce my time on these sites/my phone in general. I do a decent amount of reading about various science topics and one of the latest articles was about a study done at San Diego University regarding Screen- addicted Teens Who Are Unhappy, this is a pretty interesting mental health topic that's becoming more and more relevant. 

Read ! 

In concert with leaving the technology behind, I think that we should all go back to reading!! When I was younger I used to love diving into an interesting mystery or Magic Treehouse book on a lazy Saturday. Now that we have these devices giving our senses immediate gratification, there isn't as much of a need for books anymore. But they are so important. Not only are many educational and full of useful facts or just a good story, reading gives people a better grasp of the English language and makes you a better writer. If you are like me and are really into crime fiction stories, check out this blog called Crime By the Book, there are so many awesome suggestions!!

Find Something Inspiring to Listen to 

So this can take a lot of different forms. There are a few different things that I like to listen to depending on the situation to get inspired. The first is a playlist for working out, it's gotta be something motivational that I can run to. The best example I can think of is the song "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys, I know it's kind of an oldie now but it's perfect when you are trying to stay at 7.5 on the treadmill for a while. Okay so then there's the stuff I listen to when I need some professional/school/career inspiration. This generally takes the form of a podcast and if you haven't checked out Spotify's podcast section then you are really missing out because there is some gooooood stuff on there for everyone. And finally, there is jazz, which is best paired with a cup of coffee and a rainy Saturday morning. Jazz is great for quietly getting some work done at a coffee shop. 

Focus on The Veggies

I wrote a whole article dedicated to brussel sprouts a couple weeks ago so you can see this is becoming a thing for me. I'm in all these classes revolving around human health and disease so it's kind of scared me into being a little more of a health nut. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy my fair share of pizza on a Friday night. But, during the week and most other days, I really try to get the majority of my nutrient from the veggies and the meats. The best way that I have found to do this is to make them yummy, kind of "dress them up" if you will. But not to an unhealthy extent where it basically cancels out any nutritional value. Ok so examples, fry some veggies on the stove and pair them with some whole wheat pasta, a little olive oil, and cheese. Uh YUM. Or, take two chicken breasts, lay them in a pan and spread some veggies all around, bake this and sprinkle a little cheese and you're good to go. Both of these examples are simple, but take the grossness out of trying to eat raw veggies.  

Try to Ignore the Number On the Scale 

Obviously to a reasonable extent, but what I mean by this is that you should be more focused on living a balanced and healthy lifestyle than whether or not you weigh under 120 pounds. I think that this has been stated over and over, but it's pretty important so I'm going to say it again. Mostly because I think many people told me this and I didn't really listen until I started really making an effort to live a healthier lifestyle and made the decision that it was important to me. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat and the number on the scale shouldn't determine how you value yourself. If you are eating right and exercising an appropriate amount, you should feel good !! I know that that can be easier said than done.  

Embrace Natural Beauty 

When I was a freshman in high school I started straightening my hair, and I thought I would never go back. I used to sear it with that scalding hot flat iron everyday and think that that was the best look for me. Thinking about it more, maybe at the time it was because that was what was in style for girls my age. I am happy to say that I haven't used a straightener in over a year now (except maybe once), and here's why. First of all, heat is terrible for your hair. I used to complain that my hair would never grow and I never knew why, and thinking back maybe it was because every morning I was giving it some nice heat damage. My hair has grown so much more since I let go of the flat iron, and it's SO much healthier too. The second reason I stopped straightening is because natural hair looks way better. Personally I have grown out of the "my hair looks like I spent 3 hours trying to make it resemble a flat piece of paper" look, and grown into the natural way that my hair is supposed to be. This being said, different things work for everyone and maybe your hair looks better straightened, I think what I'm getting at is that you should be the version of yourself that you feel best about. 

Spend Time With the Important People 

I honestly don't think that I need to elaborate on this very much. Whether the important people in your life are friends, family, or colleagues, make sure to make time for them. We all get caught up in our lists of things to do and places to be and sometimes I think we forget to just be. And when we are just "being", the best folks to spend time with are the people you love. Also I've been realizing that life goes so so so very fast and you can lose someone in an instant so hold the people that you care about close and cherish your time together. 

Make Your Bed 

This seems so very simple, but you would be surprised how difficult it can be to have the time to make your bed in the morning. This was one of my New Years resolutions, and I've already missed a couple mornings honestly. But, on the evenings when I made my bed earlier in the day, it's awesome. I can come home, do whatever I need to around the apartment, and then get into a nice made bed with the sheets all straight and ready to go. It's one of those small things that you forget that you appreciate until you start making an effort to remember it more. 

Check Off Those Things You've Been Avoiding 

I think most normal people have a list of long term things that they've been needing to do but haven't found time for/ have been avoiding. So over winter break while I was at home I decided to attack my list, which mostly consisted of various doctor appointments, some random thing at the bank, etc. Anyway, I got back to school and it's amazing how much more prepared for things I feel. Without that huge list looming in the back corner of my mind I feel much more at ease and ready to take on the everyday things in my life. So, whether it's cleaning out the garage or going to the dentist, try to get it out of the way for yourself because you're honestly going to feel much better when it's checked off the list.  

Hope you enjoyed my various rants !