Advocate Fiercely: 4 Ways to Take Inventory and Showcase Yourself

Last week, I hosted a luncheon at the office on the topic of advocating fiercely for oneself. The presentation was inspired by the ATHENA Next Gen program, an eight-month series for emerging women leaders, which I was honored to join last year. Based around the principles in Martha Mayhood Mertz’s book Becoming Athena, the program not only introduced me to a lot of new friends, but it also really drove my personal development in 2017.

A lot of the program’s leadership principles, like building relationships and giving back, come naturally to me. However, when it comes to advocating for myself, I (and many others out there!) really struggle. I knew this was a common problem in the workplace, so I brought in one of the co-founders of our local ATHENA program to present to our staff over lunch.

After the presentation, I began to think more generally about the ways we can advocate for ourselves, and I realized how important it is for us to take inventory of our own achievements. If we don’t actively keep track of our successes, how can we effectively ask for that raise or promotion? It’s easy to forget just how much we’ve accomplished, and without clear examples in mind, it’s no wonder that many of us clam up when it’s time to negotiate.

So how are you taking inventory of what you’re contributing to the workplace? Check out my list below for four easy ways to track your achievements in time for your next review.

Ways To Advocate For Yourself in the Workplace1. Make a list of your accomplishments each year.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how much of a difference one little list can make. A friend suggested this to me at a time when I was truly struggling to balance grad school and full-time work, when I felt I wasn’t really excelling in either area. As I began to list my work accomplishments from the year, I was able to view myself from an outsider’s perspective, and the process actually gave me an attitude adjustment. Seeing everything I had done on paper took away a lot of the self-doubt I’d been experiencing, and whenever that doubt creeps back in (as it inevitably does), I can look back at that list and remind myself how much of a badass I can be. Having this list in mind can help you craft specific examples in a job interview or when advocating for a raise at work. It can also be a valuable tool when revising your resumé!

2. Create a portfolio of your work.
If you’re in a creative field, having a portfolio can be especially impactful on the job hunt and beyond. Because of my love for writing, I always keep copies of any published articles, press releases, and other written work. This was important for me to share when I was interviewing for my job, as I was coming in right out of college with limited entry-level work experience. Once you’ve landed the position, it’s still important to keep a portfolio of projects you’ve done in order to effectively showcase your work.

3. Keep a project spreadsheet.
Am I the only nerd out there who will make a spreadsheet for just about anything? In this case, I like to keep a spreadsheet to track the projects I’m currently working on, along with deadlines and progress. At the bottom, I have my list of completed projects and what went into each. This helps me stay on track at work, but that “completed” list is always an ego boost and an easy way to see what you’ve accomplished most recently.

4. Start a success journal.
This was a suggestion we received in our luncheon last week, and I absolutely loved it! Our speaker suggested we keep a journal that not only highlights our successes, but also reflects on what worked, what didn’t work, and what we did to create positive outcomes. This can be an especially important tool for evaluating one’s own efforts and finding ways to improve in the future. It also allows us to advocate for ourselves by providing detailed examples of our accomplishments, along with insights into how we created that success.

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What do you do to advocate for yourself? Share in the comments section below!

What’s Your Wellness Personality?

What's Your Wellness Personality?Now that I’ve officially graduated, I’ve been investing a lot more time into myself and my overall health and wellness. From cutting processed “emergency” foods out of my diet to actually using my gym membership, I am finally at a point where my health is no longer on the back burner. As much as I loved grad school, those last few semesters wore me down, and I’m so happy to get my life back!

This time has also allowed for some self reflection. As I mentioned a few posts back, I’ve been taking Gretchen Rubin’s online course on The Four Tendencies, a framework for how people deal with inner and outer expectations. (Those of you who are familiar with the tendencies and know me well won’t be surprised to hear that I’m an Obliger who tips to Upholder!) I think these assessments and frameworks are a great way for us to learn more about ourselves, what motivates us, and how we can better serve ourselves.

Another personality quiz that has really stood out to me comes from Robyn Conley Downs, whose podcast The Feel Good Effect is one of my absolute favorites. Robyn is also the blogger behind Real Food Whole Lifewhich focuses on how to “ditch should and dive into good.” As a researcher, Robyn has created a Wellness Personality Quiz, which breaks down our patterns in how we create healthy lives. According to Robyn, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness, and it’s important to know ourselves when working to shift our lifestyles and mindsets.

The quiz breaks us down into three types: the Dynamo, the Seeker, and the Cultivator. The Dynamo is a Type A perfectionist who is also self-critical and can stand in his or her own way. The Seeker tends to look outside himself or herself and compare to others, while the Cultivator is starting from ground zero and doesn’t know where to begin on the wellness journey. Taking the quiz taught me that I’m a Dynamo, and provided some helpful podcast episodes, blog entries, and recipes tailored to my type. It was also a gentle reminder that no two journeys are the same, and that it’s important for me to keep that in mind when writing future wellness blogs.

Interested? I highly suggest taking the free quiz and taking advantage of the resources offered. Knowing yourself better will help you achieve your goals in the way that works best for you. 🙂

What’s your wellness personality? Have you used similar frameworks? Share in the comments below! 

2018 Happiness Project

Happy New Year! 🙂 I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is gearing up for an even better 2018. A lot of people are skeptical when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, but sometimes a new year can be the perfect starting point to begin incorporating new practices into our lives. Last year, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, in which the author underwent a full year of adopting positive new habits based on happiness research. I loved the book and its practicality so much that I quickly became a fan of Gretchen’s podcast!

Inspired by both the book and the podcast, I decided to take 2018 to create my own happiness project, based on applicable lessons from the book. For the next six months, I will focus on ingraining new healthy practices into my life (and re-ingraining some old ones that have fallen to the wayside!), and will share my results and lessons learned on the blog each month.

Feel free to adopt these practices into your own life from month to month, or create your very own happiness project using the resources from Gretchen’s site. Don’t forget to share your own findings in the comments section!

2018 Happiness Project | Wellness & Wanderlust

  • January 2018: Boost Energy.
    • Practice better sleep hygiene and go to bed earlier.
    • Exercise more often.
    • Go for 15-minute walks before work each morning.
    • Take time to reorganize.
  • February 2018: Focus on Nutrition.
    • Undergo a Whole30.
    • Make time for meal prep every Sunday.
    • Try one new recipe each week.
  • March 2018: Lighten Up & Appreciate the Present.
    • Attempt a “Pollyanna Week” of minimal to no complaining.
    • Keep a one-sentence journal.
    • Practice gratitude each day.
  • April 2018: Reevaluate Finances.
    • Look over my monthly budget and find areas to cut back.
    • Organize coupons and gift cards for more efficient use.
  • May 2018: Make Time for Friends.
    • Prioritize social time with friends.
    • Don’t gossip.
    • Show up.
  • June 2018: Pursue a Passion.
    • Dedicate more time to writing and blogging.
    • Submit an original piece to a new publication.
    • Work on learning a new technology.

What are your resolutions for 2018? Share in the comments section below!

Your Health in Action: Small Changes You Can Make in 2018

Your Health in Action: Small Changes You Can Make in 2018The end of the year is quickly approaching, and if you’re anything like me (and millions of other people worldwide), you’re probably hard at work on your list of resolutions for 2018. Many of us are after the same things, but without concrete goals and strategies for achieving those goals, we are likely to abandon our resolutions before we even reach the month of February.

Health-related achievements are one of the most popular — if not the most popular — new year’s resolutions we set for ourselves. Whether we are looking to lose weight, run a marathon, or demonstrate Gaston-level feats of strength, we often aim to improve our overall health and wellness at this time of year.

In order for us to accomplish these goals, it is important for us to make changes we can stick to. While major transitions (like embarking on the Whole30 or adopting an intense fitness regimen) can have a significant impact on our health, let’s not forget about some of the small changes we can implement in our lives as well! Check out a few of my tips for ways to improve our health in 2018, and share your own in the comments section below.

  • Drink more water.
    Experts say that we should be drinking half our bodyweight in ounces of water each day. Drinking enough water will keep you fuller longer, boost your metabolism, hydrate your skin, and provide a myriad of other health benefits. Invest in a cute water bottle or tumbler that you can refill throughout the day for easy access, and consider swapping soft drinks or other beverages for water when dining out.
  • Meditate and practice gratitude.
    Spiritual and mental health are arguably just as important as your physical health, and can ultimately help you achieve your goals by relieving stress and encouraging self-awareness. Meditate for just a few minutes a day with some ambient music (my artist suggestions: The Album Leaf or Eluvium), or search for “5-minute meditation” options on Spotify for an instant boost. You can also choose to keep a gratitude journal to remind you of the things you’re grateful for.
  • Dedicate time to meal prep.
    I’ve written about the merits of #MealPrepSunday before, but they are absolutely worth another mention. Cooking three healthy, Instagram-worthy meals each and every day (from scratch, of course!) is no easy feat when you’re also juggling work, school, a social life, and other obligations. However, it is much easier to eat healthy throughout the week when you’ve chopped/mixed/cooked ahead of time. I love to spend a few hours on Sundays zoning out to reality TV while chopping veggies — it saves me a ton of time later in the week when my other responsibilities pop up.
  • Incorporate essential oils into your life.
    Essential oils are derived from plants and yield a variety of health benefits! I diffuse  a mixture of lavender and peppermint in my home to help ward off headaches, and use lemongrass in the kitchen to assist with cleaning. As someone who struggles with eczema, I often use tea tree oil to relieve any inflammation after a breakout. Do your research to find out which essential oils may benefit you!

Looking for more ideas on how to improve your health in 2018? Elysium Health has compiled a helpful infographic with tips from wellness bloggers (including yours truly!), along with solutions to your diet, exercise, and sleep problems. For more information from Elysium, check out their research on NAD+ and how it can preserve our health.

Infographic from Elysium Health

What are your wellness tips for 2018? Share with us in the comments section!

Things I’m Loving Lately: Hummustir

Hey there, readers! For all of my fellow Floridians, I hope you are getting yourselves prepared for Hurricane Irma over the next few days. It is certainly a scary time to live in the Sunshine State, and I can honestly say that I’m so ready for hurricane season to be over.

In honor of my blog’s relaunch as Wellness & Wanderlust, I’m excited to announce my newest feature: Things I’m Loving Lately. I may not be as influential as Oprah and her “favorite things,” but I can’t wait to share some of my own favorite things with all of you. I’m constantly trying out new products in the wellness sphere, so when I come across something great, I’ll be sure to share it with you right here. 🙂

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We’re kicking things off with something incredibly tasty and timely. Meet Hummustir, a new hummus brand with a truly fresh taste and all natural ingredients. An amateur party-planner and lover of Mediterranean food, I firmly believe that no appetizer spread is complete without a good hummus. What sets Hummustir apart — and makes it a must-have for your hurricane supply shopping list — is that it remains shelf-safe in your pantry for up to a year without refrigeration. It’s also completely preservative-free (really!).

How it works: Hummustir is split into three packages, all in one tub, which include pureed chickpeas, tahini, and spices. Empty the contents of each package into the tub and stir them up with the spoon provided (hence the name Hummustir!) for some straight up deliciousness.

Things I'm Loving Lately: HummustirI’ve tried the Mediterranean Style and Village Style flavors, which I absolutely loved. We served Hummustir at a family gathering, and I’ve brought a few containers to class. It was a hit among family members and grad students alike!

Hummustir is available in your local Walmart and select retailers (find your closest store here), but you can also order online through Amazon and choose from a variety of flavors. Each flavor is vegan, preservative-free, and non-GMO.

I constantly struggle to find healthy food that I can serve when I entertain, but Hummustir does not disappoint. It is the perfect addition to any party or get-together! Give it a try and check out some of their recipes online for inspiration in the kitchen. Can’t wait to hear about what you end up making!

Have you tried Hummustir? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Your Health in Action: 5 Podcasts to Make Your Life Happier and Healthier

Over the past few months, I’ve developed a brand new addiction to podcasts. As someone whose job requires her to spend a lot of time on the road, I hate thinking about how little I can accomplish while driving. (The most useful gift anyone could ever give me would be a personal driver!) As I’ve begun tuning in to health and wellness podcasts, my drive time has become more enjoyable, and ultimately, much more productive. These podcasts have also been great to listen to while getting ready in the morning before work, even if they do cut in to my reality TV catch-up time! 🙂

By listening to these podcasts, I’ve been introduced to a lot of new books, bloggers, and wellness practices. It’s so easy to subscribe through the Podcast app on your iPhone or through iTunes.  I’m so excited to share a few of my favorite shows with you!

5 Podcasts That Will Make Your Life Happier & Healthier

1. Almost 30
Hosted by Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik, Almost 30 focuses on a variety of topics, from forgiving our 20s selves to taking care of our skin and practicing holistic nutrition. The hosts are funny, but their tips are practical, and I absolutely love the rapport they have with their guests and with each other.

A few favorite episodes: How Every Woman Can Rock Her Career and Be Fearless As She Evolves with Career Contessa; Feng Shui-ng Your Life for Good Vibes With Dana Claudat; and Curve Model + CEO of Model Meals Danika Brysha on Her Battle With Food, and How It Transformed Her Life

5 Podcasts That Will Make You Happier and Healthier

2. Feel Good Effect
This podcast, hosted by Robyn Conley Downs, is a relatively newer show based in Portland. Robyn makes health and wellness accessible for listeners through solo podcasts and interviews with various bloggers.

A few favorite episodes: How To Naturally Balance Your Hunger Hormones with Kelly LeVeque; How to Get Unstuck and Simplify with Ashley Gartland; and How to Create a Wellness Routine You Can Actually Stick To

5 Podcasts That Will Make You Happier and Healthier

3. The Balanced Blonde Podcast // Soul on Fire
I first heard Jordan Younger, the show’s host, on another podcast (listed later in this post!), and found her advice to be relatable and easy to follow. Jordan, a former vegan, has shifted her focus to a more balanced life in the wellness community. Her episodes integrate wellness hacks with spirituality, and I have truly enjoyed learning from the different guests who appear on the show.

A few favorite episodes: Jeanette Ogden – Real Talk with Wellness Goddess and Instagram Sensation @ShutTheKaleUp; Gabby Bernstein – Becoming a Spirit Junkie, Trusting in the Universe, and Awakening Your Spirit; and Marissa Lace – Crystal Healing, Creating Your Own Life, and Loving Yourself First

5 Podcasts That Will Make Your Life Happier and Healthier

4. Happier with Gretchen Rubin
I read Gretchen’s book, The Happiness Project, earlier this year — and have been recommending it to everyone I know! Her advice on finding happiness is down-to-earth and easy to implement in our daily lives, so when I heard about her podcast, I knew I had to give it a listen. She hosts the show with her sister, Elizabeth Craft, and I absolutely love the organized format and listener feedback. She also records weekly one-minute “little” episodes, which are fun to listen to for an instant boost of happiness.

A few favorite episodes: Do You Struggle With Perfectionism?; Shield Yourself from Worry; and Tackle a Power Day

5 Podcasts to Make Your Life Happier & Healthier

5. Stronger
This podcast is hosted by Livestrong and is the very first podcast I ever listened to. Although there aren’t a ton of episodes out yet, the content has been eye-opening and incredibly practical.

A few favorite episodes: 4 Foods You Think are Healthy That May Not Be; 15 Ways to Never Deprive Yourself AND Eat Healthy; and The Best and Worst Things to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving

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Do you listen to any of these? Share your favorite wellness podcasts in the comments section below!

Your Health in Action: 5 Self-Care Practices for Introverts

Whenever I tell people that I’m an introvert, they are often a little taken aback. “But you aren’t awkward in social situations!” they protest. Others think that I’m calling myself an introvert in self-deprecation, and respond with a concerned “Awwww, I don’t think you’re an introvert at all,” as if trying to comfort me.

The thing is, I don’t consider introversion to be a flaw by any means, nor do I equate being an introvert with lacking communication or social skills. Being an introvert simply means that I draw my energy from within, rather than from other people, and that in order to recharge, I need time alone.

I work in business development, where my job is to cultivate relationships, spread brand awareness, and — on some days — talk to literally hundreds of people in the course of a few hours. I absolutely love what I do, and am so happy to have a job that introduces me to so many interesting people. But when the weekend rolls around, I can’t wait to take a little time to myself.

Your Health in Action: 5 Self-Care Practices for Introverts

For all of my fellow introverts living in an extroverted world, it’s important to take care of yourself and your overall health. This week, we’ll delve into five self-care practices that all introverts should implement into their lives!

  1. Prioritize time to yourself at home.
    This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re a chronic over-committer like me, it might be easier said than done. Remind yourself that it’s okay to say no sometimes and stay in! When you know you need the time to yourself, take it. Whether you use that time to curl up with a book, listen to your favorite podcast, or plunge into a mindless Netflix binge is completely up to you. If you get through the entire second season of Master of None in one weekend, I promise I won’t judge!
  2. Go out in public by yourself.
    Go for a walk. Visit an art museum. Go to the movies! It can feel socially unacceptable to do these things alone, but incredibly energizing once you finally do. Get used to doing some things by yourself. One of my favorite memories from last year was when I visited Leu Gardens, which I did on my own. I loved spending time among nature and taking in all of the beauty that the botanical gardens had to offer, and doing so by myself added an almost meditative element to the experience.
  3. Find your creative outlet.
    For me, that’s writing — and yes, I am the cliché girl in the coffee shop putting pen to paper. What can I say? It makes me happy! I also love coloring and attempting to play keyboard when I need to unwind.
  4. Turn off electronics.
    This is an area where I truly struggle, but it can make a world of difference. Thanks to smartphones and social media, we are constantly connected to something. I challenge you to disconnect. Switch your phone to do not disturb after a certain time at night, or better yet, turn off your devices and soak in the time to yourself.
  5. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
    Make sure you are getting enough sleep, and eat the foods that truly nourish you. Maybe your body is craving physical activity to de-stress, or perhaps diffusing essential oils will do the trick. Make your health a priority — without that, how can you do all of the amazing things you do? 🙂

Any of my fellow introverts in the house? Share your favorite self-care practices in the comments section below!

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Your Health in Action: 5 Clean Cooking Tips for Newbies

For those of you who follow my social media or have been reading the blog for a while, you’ve probably definitely seen me post about my experiences with Whole30 and paleo living. If you’re not familiar with Whole30, it is a nutritional program that lasts for 30 days and is designed to help people discover food sensitivities and kick their junk food addictions. When I first started dabbling in this way of eating in 2014, I quickly realized that I needed to do a lot of my own cooking — something that I’d had virtually no experience with before that time.

For a lot of people, including myself, transitioning to a cleaner way of eating can be intimidating because of the level of cooking and meal preparation that is often involved. Even now, after several rounds of Whole30, I still do not claim to be a particularly talented chef. However, over the years, I’ve significantly improved my culinary skills and picked up a lot of tricks for simplifying the clean cooking experience.

If you’re looking to make a few lifestyle changes and don’t know where to start, check out my tips below!

5 Clean Cooking Tips for Newbies

  1. Prep your meals ahead of time.
    I’ll let you in on a well-known secret: I’m a big fan of #MealPrepSundays. I love to set aside a few hours before the week begins to chop up some veggies, whip up a few dinners for class nights (usually this simple veggie curry), and prep seasonings for other recipes I’ll try throughout the week. I don’t pre-cook all of my meals, but by getting some of the prep work done on Sunday, I can save some time in the kitchen after work. Meal prep will make the cooking process a lot less overwhelming, because a lot of the work will have already been done! I use this weekly organizer to plan my meals.
  2. Sometimes it’s just easier to buy your produce pre-chopped…
    … and that’s totally ok! If it saves time and doesn’t seriously compromise the health benefits of the food you’re eating, why not simplify? I chop most of my veggies on the weekend, but I buy my cauliflower and broccoli already chopped into florets, and often buy my carrots pre-chopped as well. If it makes your life easier and you don’t mind the added cost, go for it!
  3. The Internet is your best friend.
    When following a more complicated recipe or trying out a new cooking technique, look no further than YouTube and Google. Thanks to the Internet, I now know how to poach chicken — and thankfully, it does not mean that I have to hunt my own poultry!
  4. Find your easy go-to’s.
    When you’re in a pinch, having a few simple items in the house that are ready-made can make dinnertime that much easier. For example, I eat a lot of cauliflower rice, so I end up buying it frozen through Bird’s Eye and Trader Joe’s. Find those shortcuts that work best for you, and stock up!
  5. Learn the easy swaps.
    Making a stir fry? Skip the soy sauce and add coconut aminos. Not sure if you have a dairy intolerance? Try cooking with ghee or coconut oil instead of butter. Skipping gluten? Use almond flour or shredded coconut instead of breadcrumbs to coat your chicken. These are just a few examples of some of the ingredient swaps you can make. For more ideas, check out my list of paleo kitchen essentials here!

Hope these tips help you along your own health and cooking journeys! Have any tips to share? Sound off in the comments below!

One Year at a Time: Why Everyone Should Create a Mini Bucket List

If you’ve been reading my blog over the last two years, you’ve probably seen a lot of posts about my birthday bucket lists. For those who haven’t, a little background: in my first few years out of college, I worked hard but put very little time into my own interests and self-care. I never took a single vacation in that time (except to visit family in my hometown), rarely saw my friends, and was constantly telling myself “I wish I did more of [xyz]” without actually doing anything about it. I consider myself to be an unapologetically enthusiastic person by nature, and so I wanted to bring that excitement back into my life again. Thus began my bucket list adventures, starting with my 25 at 25.

One Year at a Time: Why It's Important to Create Mini-Bucket Lists

Creating that first bucket list for my 25th birthday was one of the best things I could have done for myself. My list was simple – just 25 things I hoped to do by the time I hit my 26th birthday – and it encompassed many of the things in my own backyard that I’d always wanted to do. It “forced” me to book a trip to the mountains, treat myself to a spa day, and visit local museums and performing arts shows. I also became a lot more social again, as friends began to join me on these adventures and suggested their own.

Since then, I create a new bucket list each year leading up to my birthday. I can get a little too focused on “serious” goals throughout the year, so I try to steer my list away from things like “clean out my closet” (which is on a completely different list!) or “write the next Great American Novel.” Some of my bucket list items may focus on personal development (i.e. pursuing public speaking opportunities, getting my writing published in a new place, etc.), but the majority of these relate to places I want to visit or activities I want to try.

Creating your own annual bucket list, rather than an exhaustive list of everything you’d like to do in your lifetime, makes everything that much more immediate. Breaking down your list one year at a time is a powerful thing, because it allows you to prioritize your happiness while thinking about what you can do now to attain it. It is my dream to go to the opera at the Palais Garnier in Paris someday, but based on current obligations, that isn’t feasible right now. I can, however, fit in a weekend trip to Savannah or a few hours at the nearby wildlife refuge.

If you’re like I was, and constantly putting off the things you want to do, I highly recommend creating a list that matches your own interests. Do you ever find yourself saying “I’ve always wanted to go there” or “I wonder what that’s all about”? Start with those items, and go on from there. Your list can be as wild, silly, serious, academic, wellness-driven, or creative as you want it to be — after all, it’s your life!

Stay tuned for my own bucket list for 27 in the coming weeks, as well as a recap of 26 as the year wraps up! In the meantime, share your own potential bucket list items in the comments section below!

When “No” is a Complete Sentence

Around my 25th birthday, I embarked on my year of yes. Inspired by Shonda Rhimes (and probably Jim Carrey in Yes Man), I took on new adventures, made travel a priority, and stopped waiting to do the things I always hoped to do someday. For the first time in years, I was finally creating the life I wanted.

If I’ve gained nothing else from the past two years, I do know this: I believe in the power of yes.

However, as I approach my 27th birthday, I’m also becoming a firm believer in the power of no.

The Power of Saying No

A chronic people pleaser, I’ve always hated the idea of saying no. Most of the time, I genuinely want to get involved in new things and spend time with others, but I also have the tendency to overcommit. I’ve said yes to social plans I’m not keen on. I’ve continued relationships past their expiration date simply because of my fear of hurting others. I’ve allowed people to talk down to me and treat me in ways I didn’t deserve in order to avoid confrontation and not upset anyone.

Ultimately, I’ve put myself last.

A lot of people fall into the same camp, hoping to make others happy and disappoint as few people as possible. But by saying yes to activities we honestly don’t enjoy or to negative behaviors from others, we are diminishing the value of our own time and self-worth. By putting energy toward the things that don’t nourish your soul, you are taking energy away from other areas of your life, and are less able to put forth the best version of yourself. It isn’t healthy for the relationships you do value or for your overall wellness.

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Saying “no” can come in many forms, from a simple “I can’t go tonight,” to telling someone that you’re uncomfortable being spoken to in a certain way. It’s okay to take a night to yourself (fellow introverts, I’m looking at you!). It’s okay to block dramatic people from your newsfeed, ignore passive-aggressive comments from frenemies, and unmatch with rude people on dating apps. The world is yours to enjoy just as much as anyone else, and saying no doesn’t make you any less of a kind person.

In recent months, I’ve gotten a lot better at saying no, walking away from negative situations, and not backtracking to explain every last decision I make. I’m not sure where this newfound ability came from, but a psychic I visited in Cassadaga a few months back did tell me that I would find my voice around my birthday. Whether or not my new knack for “no” came from the psychic’s predictions, it has helped me lead a happier and even more fulfilling life, allowing me to become a better friend who has committed to her own self-care.

In short, let go of the optional things in life that make you unhappy. Be open to new people and experiences, but don’t be afraid to say no when you need to. Life is short — shouldn’t we get to choose how we spend it? 🙂