Simple Strategies for Boosting Your Health

Guest blogger Melissa Howard shares some valuable insight on keeping yourself well as we move into spring:

Making health and wellness a priority isn’t easy. Most adults are overburdened. As a result, they aren’t as likely to make self-care a central focus in their lives. Luckily, there are some simple health-boosting techniques that can fit into even the busiest of schedules. Deep Curves Ahead shares some options below.

Make Time for Sleep
Overall, adults usually need between 7 and 9 hours of quality sleep each night. It gives your body enough time to go through critical processes that keep you healthy, so rest needs to be a priority.

If you experience any signs or symptoms of sleep disorders, such as frequent waking or extreme fatigue during the day, it’s wise to see a medical professional. They can assess your condition and develop a treatment plan, ensuring you can get the rest you need.

Use Stress-Reducing Techniques
Many stress reduction techniques are easy to work into even the busiest of schedules. Meditation and deep breathing can be incredibly effective and can often be done nearly anywhere. Taking a second to watch a funny video is also an excellent option, as a quick laugh can be a natural mood-booster.

For some people, journaling is a great way to keep stress levels down. It lets them vent their frustrations in a safe manner, giving them an outlet. However, writing down what you’re grateful for can also work. With the gratitude approach, you focus on the positive, which can be a better fit for many.

Lastly, take a look at your surroundings and see if your home is cluttered — believe it or not, this could be a major source of stress and anxiety. Not only will cleaning up a bit help alleviate these feelings, but it can also release any negative energy this clutter has trapped in your home.

Examine Your Job
For many people, their careers are a major source of stress. A lack of job satisfaction has a negative impact on your health, so it’s crucial to examine your work situation to see if it’s an issue.

When you’re not feeling challenged at work, boredom can become a problem. If you’re under constant stress, burnout is more likely to be an issue. When a workplace is blatantly toxic, it strains your mental health.

If your job is causing you a significant amount of distress, pivoting into a new career might be a smart move. Online degree programs make heading in a new direction simple. You can keep working and manage family obligations while you acquire new skills, allowing you to maintain a balance.

When you look for an online school, make sure it’s accredited. Additionally, research tuition costs, fee structures, and other related expenses to ensure the pricing is competitive. That way, you can secure a quality education without breaking the bank.

Get Enough Exercise
Exercise is a big part of overall wellness. Not only can it keep you physically fit, but it can also reduce stress, lead to better sleep, alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression, and more.

Most adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to happen all at once. As long as each session is at least 10 minutes long, you’re meeting the requirement.

Learn to Say ‘No’
In some cases, people struggle with their health because they’re overwhelmed. By learning to say “no,” you can get more control over your workload and personal life.

If you’re asked to accept a task or obligation that you genuinely feel isn’t a smart idea, say “no.” Don’t overburden yourself if it isn’t a genuine necessity or requires you to sacrifice in another critical area of your life. If you do, you can keep your workload manageable, relieving a significant source of stress.

Photo Credit: Pexels

About Melissa:

“Every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, Melissa Howard felt compelled to create Stop Suicide. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information. She went to school at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and currently works as an executive assistant.”

Back in the Day (Puff)

Sometimes, the universe sends me exactly what I need when I least expect it.

This year, I decided I wanted to take more control over my life. I wanted to better understand what I did each day and maximize my time–COVID showed me life is short, and I want to make the most of each day I live. So, in true Virgo fashion…

I bought a fancy planner. 🙂

This planner is built like a brick house, but so sleek and chic I don’t mind how much it weighs. It’s got a spot for everything: my daily schedule, a to-do list, even a spot to write down what’s for dinner every night! In addition to all that, there is a little quotation at the top of each page. I admit I didn’t really pay much attention to this section–too focused filling in all the other stuff–but Monday’s entry gave me pause:

Close up of a planner page with the quotation "I fling my past behind me like a robe...I have outgrown it." by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
“I fling my past behind me like a robe…I have outgrown it.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Oof. What a punch in the gut.

I consistently berate myself over things I did/said in the past. My inner saboteur loves to mollywop me with reminders of cringeworthy statements and inappropriate behavior, particularly when I’m anxious or depressed. Doesn’t matter if it happened in 2nd grade–that nasty inner voice has a sharp tongue and a long memory.

On Monday, I was stressed and anxious. I’d had a rough couple of weeks at work and my nerves were one adverse event away from snapping. These factors created a prime situation for negative self-talk and I almost gave into it. But this quote made me stop and ask myself, “How does beating myself up over last week help me this week?”

Short story: It…doesn’t.

So I shook it off and went to work. I disregarded any silly comment or errant mistake from the last week. I moved forward.

And so should you.

Beating yourself up over things that happened “back in the day” doesn’t help current you. Shame and criticism are not effective motivators, especially over something that happened a long time ago. Learn from your mistakes, grow from them, but don’t let them control you.

You never know if you’ll get a tomorrow, so treat yourself with care and compassion today.

(Lay Your Head On My) Pillow

“…and just relax, relax, relax…”

I know I can’t be the only one who remembers that groove from Tony! Toni! Toné!. Yes, that song came out when I was, like, 7. No, I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about (there are some pretty adult themes in those lyrics). But hey–I’m a sucker for a good R&B tune! (And if you’ve never heard this song, please give it a listen–it’s awesome.)

You’ve probably figured out I use songs as the titles for my blog posts. Sometimes the songs get stuck in my head for days–they won’t leave until I get my thoughts out. Most times, the songs remind me of a particular feeling…a moment…a memory. Today’s song actually came from a conversation with my therapist.

In a session earlier this week, I shared how overwhelmed I felt–just plain stressed and anxious–with all the changes in my work schedule and obligations in my personal life. After I was done explaining everything, she asked me a question that knocked me right on my ass:

Can you be relaxed on the busiest day of your life?

Now I had to think about this for a minute, because basically my entire life I’ve assumed busy = stressed. I enjoy having things to do; I love staying busy. But I don’t like being stressed the fuck out. (My guess is most people don’t.) My therapist challenged me to relax and not get tense even when I’ve got a lot going on.

So yesterday, even with the stress of work and home, I tried to relax. Instead of worrying about every possible thing that could go wrong, I tried to focus on the present–what was happening in that moment. And the day went surprisingly well! Usually at the end of a work day, I’m dragging myself back to my car–all the stress of the day just weighs on me, so much that it feels like a physical weight.

Yesterday, I left work feeling light as air.

So many of us struggle with anxiety and stress; we weigh ourselves down with worrying and feel we’ll never be able to accomplish everything. If you feel this way, you are absolutely not alone–I’m right there with you. But I’d encourage you to ask yourself that question, “Can I be relaxed on the busiest day of my life?” Allow yourself to see things in perspective–you don’t have to be stressed or anxious just because you are busy. Handle your shit–don’t let your shit handle you.

And just relax…relax…relax.

Self-Improvement Efforts You Can Implement Today for a Better Tomorrow

Photo Credit: Pexels

As we move forward in this new year, guest blogger Melissa Howard shares some fabulous tips for making positive changes in your life:

Are you of a mindset that you need to turn your life around? Many of us make the mistake of thinking that the best thing we can do for ourselves is to make big, sweeping changes to our entire routine. After all, we think, if what we’re doing right now isn’t working, wouldn’t it be best to make major changes? Although this is well-intentioned, it relies on the logical fallacy that bigger is always better when it comes to self-improvement.

In reality, small changes are likely to make the biggest difference. Why? You’ll actually stick with them. DeepCurvesAhead takes a look at some techniques you can use to make yourself healthier, happier, and more excited to face each and every day:

Take Charge of Your Career

Many of us move through our careers in whatever way feels most natural and expected of us. We get a job that uses our skills or degree; we do the work and put in the time; we take the raises, promotions, and opportunities that come our way. Although this happens to work out well for some people, it can leave others feeling listless and out of control of their lives.

If you’re in the latter camp, take little steps each day to reclaim and take charge of your career. For example, you might decide you’d rather work for yourself than for a large company. Rather than jumping ship right away, however, you can start by taking on a little bit of freelance or contract work on the side.

Always check your contract to avoid breaking a non-compete clause, and consider forming an LLC if your work requires taking on any legal risks. Little steps each day will push you toward your ultimate goal.

Make Time for Exercise

It feels almost contradictory at first blush, but most of us live busy sedentary lives. If you have an office job, there may be days where your only real activity is the walk from your car to the office and back. As more and more of us work from home at least some of the time, even this short jaunt gets cut from our routines.

This constant inactivity leaves our bodies restless and in desperate need of movement. This can lead to increased anxiety, fatigue, and, of course, poor health overall. Fitting in something as simple as a thirty-minute walk each day, however, can make a huge difference.

Mix Up Your Style

Finally, now is a fantastic time to take a look at your personal style and see if it’s truly representing who you are. Many of us dress to satisfy others’ expectations of us, instead of wearing what we feel best in. Although you may be bound by formality expectations, such as wearing business clothing in the workplace, you should still strive to represent yourself as much as possible in what you wear.

However, many people don’t really know what their own style actually is. Consider picking up a new piece of clothing or accessory at a regular interval, such as monthly or every other week. Try it out for a while, and see if it suits you. If it does, you can use that as a launching point for the next item. If not, sell or donate it and try something else; avoid falling into the trap of too much stuff. This is a great way to gradually transform your wardrobe into items that feel authentic and empowering for you.

These are just a few of the ways you can make a big difference in your life by taking small steps. Remember, the smaller the change, the easier it will be to stick with, and the bigger an impact it will have in the long run.

About Melissa:

“Every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, Melissa Howard felt compelled to create Stop Suicide. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information. Went to school at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and currently works as an executive assistant.”

You Can Do It

Welcome to 2022, y’all! Here’s to…not having a nervous breakdown, I guess?

In all seriousness, I’m taking my life back this year. The past few years subjected all of us to things well outside our control (global pandemic, anyone?) and I–like many of you–have had about enough of it. If the world’s going to shit, I might as well captain my own boat. 🤷‍♀️ So I’m doing stuff for me alllllll 2022!

Some of the things I’m working on are:

  • Keeping a daily planner (to keep my commitments close at hand)
  • Keeping a wellness journal (to track my mental, physical, and emotional health)
  • Exercising 5-6 times a week (strength, cardio, and stretching)
  • Adding new/different content to the blog (to keep things fresh and interesting)
  • Finding a new career path (and, hopefully, my true passion)
  • Learning Spanish (because I’ve always wanted to!)

I’m also focusing on meditation and keeping a positive mindset. The past two years have left me feeling…well…defeated. While I can’t change everything going on, I can change my perspective and point of view. My therapist recommended meditation to help with this, and now is as good a time as any to try it out. In fact, today I did my very first five-minute meditation! Shoutout to Yoga with Kassandra for providing the inspiration (and also some pretty awesome yoga videos–my husband and I do a stretch every morning using one of Kassandra’s videos). Today’s meditation was:

I am capable and competent; I know my worth.

Yoga with Kassandra

I can’t be the only one who forgets who they are and what they’re worth. Too often, the outside world–and the negativity in it–clouds my vision and makes me forget I’m 100% that bitch. (Shoutout to Lizzo for the lyric!)

I’ve survived too much. I’ve persevered too long. I’ve accomplished too many things to let life crush my spirit. I deserve the absolute fucking best this life has to offer and I’m taking it! And you should too.

It is so easy to give up, to just let life happen to you. But you are amazing, capable, and competent. You can tackle anything that stands in your way. Know your worth and treat yourself accordingly. Not everyone and everything deserves your time/resources/energy. Love yourself unconditionally, respect yourself wholeheartedly, and treat yourself with care.

As I say these words to you, I say them to myself as well. We all forget just how spectacular we are, so any reminder to you about your badassness is a reminder to myself also. Let’s make 2022 a year of personal transformation, a year of realizing our dreams, a year of loving ourselves so fully we won’t need validation from the outside world. You are capable and competent! Know your worth…and I’ll be here to remind you if you happen to forget.

What Do You Mean?

Every year, my family goes to the movies on Thanksgiving Day. I can’t remember how, why, or when this tradition started, but I think my mom’s deep love of popcorn—movie theater popcorn in particular—had something to do with it. So on Thursday evening, right after my mom secured her medium popcorn with extra butter, we sank into our reclining seats to see King Richard.

King Richard is the story of Richard Williams (father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams) and his role in his daughters’ rise to fame. Richard, played by Will Smith, pushes his daughters to excel in a predominately white sport and his efforts pay off handsomely. Venus and Serena are two of the greatest tennis players of all time.

The film was fantastic. #Nospoilers here, but there were many amazing moments in the movie. The one that inspired this post is honestly one of the smaller details, something many people may not have given a second thought.

In one emotional scene, Richard’s other children were mentioned.

Now, the only two Williams children I was familiar with were Venus and Serena. After seeing the movie, I looked up Richard Williams and learned he was married before his relationship with the Williams sisters’ mother. In fact, his previous marriage resulted in five children—three sons and two daughters.

I wondered how these children felt, watching their father pour into their other siblings. How they interpreted their father’s actions. If they blamed themselves for their father’s departure.

Divorce is a tough experience, especially for the children involved. When my parents parted ways, I felt like my father didn’t try hard enough to make things work. In my eyes, he abandoned us. He chose his drinking over me and my mom.

How would I feel if he then sobered up and made a new family with new kids? If he gave those children a solid, stable, supportive father figure? If he gave them everything and left me behind?

Confused. Devastated. Worthless.

I know this small section of the film wasn’t the major focus, but I felt something in my heart break when I learned of the other Williams children. I can’t speak for them or act like I know exactly how they felt growing up. But as a a child of divorce myself, I know the kids involved have a unique perspective. I hope all the Williams children (now adults) have the relationship they always wanted with their father, even if that is no relationship at all. I pray they were able to get the resolution and closure they needed.

I dream for the day I’ll have the same.

Thank U

This week I (like many of y’all) am celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday in my hometown. Family, fellowship, and food–the holy trinity of this particular celebration. An opportunity to appreciate all we have…then go out and buy more on Black Friday! And of course, the question asked around dinner tables every single year…

“What are you thankful for?”

The pandemic made me extremely thankful for the many blessings in my life. I imagine others had a similar onslaught of overwhelming appreciation for life, health, and other things oft taken for granted. COVID really helped us put things in perspective, y’all.

But sometimes it’s hard to see the sugar for all the shit.

Lately I’ve been stressed, depressed, and just plain exhausted. Work life has tried me. Home life has tried me. My inner saboteur has been working overtime to convince me I’m a terrible human being who only deserves the worst in life.

How am I supposed to find the sugar in all that shit???

I’m thankful I have a job, even if it feels like work gets added but never gets taken away. I’m thankful for my family and friends, even if we don’t always see eye to eye. I’m thankful to see another season, even with the cold, dark, windy days. Every day I draw breath is a great day, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Because each day gives me the opportunity to be thankful for the beautiful things–big and small.

And if you have nothing else to be thankful for…

Be thankful for the ability to be thankful.

Buy Me a Rose

“Give people their flowers while they’re here.”

You’ve heard that saying, right? Basically, we should tell people how much they mean to us while they are around to hear it. It’s a call to action we can all take on.

Sometimes, I wish it were taken more literally.

I absolutely adore fresh flowers. (I honestly think it’s a hereditary thing–a lot of the women in my family are flower freaks.) While expensive to send, I know nothing will thrill my grandmother more than a beautiful bouquet. My great-aunt always had fresh flowers in the house when she was alive. Just last week, my husband surprised me with flowers and I thought my heart would explode. It’s wild how something a small as a $15 arrangement from the grocery store down the street can bring so much joy.

So I want to start giving people their flowers by literally giving them their flowers.

Over the next year, I want to send surprise flowers to people I care about. Family, friends–anyone who’s made a positive impact in my life. Not for a holiday or anything in particular, just because they are special to me.

I hope their hearts are fill with joy.

I hope they feel special, appreciated, loved.

I hope they see the beauty in the gift as a reflection of the beauty in them.

I’ve heard more than once that flowers aren’t a great gift because they eventually die. Who wants a gift that doesn’t last? Cut flowers show their colors and slowly fade away until nothing is left but the memory.

But isn’t that true of all of us?

We eventually die–we cease to exist. While we’re living, we show our colors: our talents, our feelings, our love. We grow older, and eventually all that is left of us is the legacy we leave behind.

We are flowers: beautiful, colorful, fragile, temporary. Acknowledge the beauty in everyone you meet, but especially those who’ve impacted your life in a positive way. Cherish those people; give them support and encouragement just as you’d give water and sunlight to the beautiful blooms you arrange in a vase.

After all, flowers don’t last forever.

No More (Baby Imma Do Right)

“I’m gettina lil’ tired of your broken promises, promises…”

Y’all remember that song??? 3LW had middle school me hype! I was really out there singing (definitely off-key) to my (completely imaginary) boyfriend to get his (entirely hypothetical) shit together. 😂😂😂

Now, those three little women didn’t know what the hell they were singing about either. (Or maybe they were more sophisticated young adults than I was—who knows?) Either way, I appreciate the message behind the song in a way I couldn’t back then.

Sometimes, we stay in situations we know aren’t good for us. Whether it’s a job or a relationship or something else entirely, we stay because we feel comfortable. We stay because it’s what we know. We stay because we can’t imagine another way.

So we put up with the lies. The abuse. The broken promises, promises. We push aside our intuition and let the situation control us, instead of the other way around. Eventually, we find ourselves two options: stay or go.

Not an easy decision, but a necessary one.

Today, I stand at this crossroads. I can stay comfortable (and unhappy) where I am. I could journey to a new (scary and unknown) place.

I don’t know what to choose.

Without sharing too much, I’ve been in this situation for a long time time (over a decade actually). Many aspects of the situation are excellent, but a few key areas conflict with my personal values. I can choose to overlook those few things and just focus on the good, but that makes me feel like a fraud. I don’t want to lie to anyone, especially myself.

So here I am, between a rock and a hard place. I don’t know what I’m going to choose, but I do now this—I need to make a choice. Because as those three little women sang all those years ago…

“You do, or you don’t. You will, or you won’t.”

Dream On

Somehow, I lost my ability to dream.

I’m not talking about the dreams we have when we sleep—I still have plenty of those. (Honestly, my nighttime dreams are so active sometimes I wake up still tired.) I’m talking about dreams for myself, my life, the person I want to be.

When I was a kid, I used to dream I’d be a famous actress making movies in Hollywood.

As a young adult, I dreamed of becoming an executive at my company helping to make change for sick people around the world.

I even had dreams for this blog, that it would blow up into my own lifestyle brand where I inspired all sorts of people to be the best versions of themselves.

But somewhere along the way, I stopped dreaming. You know what?That’s actually not true at all. I didn’t stop dreaming…

…I just stopped believing my dreams could actually come true.

How do you find the courage to dream again? How do you find the hope when you’ve lost it? How do you dare imagine a better future when the present day beats you down so thoroughly?

I truly don’t know. I wake up every day and go to sleep every night and just continue through the motions. I tell myself I’m stuck, there’s nothing else than what is now. Be grateful for what I have and never wish for anything more.

I am grateful for what I have, no doubt about it. But I want to allow myself to dream of more again. I want to rediscover that version of me who was convinced she’d make an impact on the world.

So I’m back on the blog after almost a year of inactivity. Maybe this blog won’t turn into anything at all. Maybe nobody cares a rip about what I have to say.

But hey, a girl can dream.