15 Things to Lighten Your Heart When Life Feels Extra Heavy.

1) Memory Keeping. You can do this physically or digitally, in whichever format you enjoy. I’ve journaled on and off since I was in grade school and I’ve blogged on and off since the early 2000’s (insert the grandma emoji here). I became obsessed with scrapbooking in 2016 — it provided me a way to process some complicated emotions and to help me connect with my family and with myself. It was a beautiful way for me to combine words with photos — and what started as a creative outlet, has become one of my greatest joys. A lot of times when I’m scrapbooking, I think about the stories I wish I knew about my own mom or loved one when they were my age. Did they face similar challenges? Did they also struggle to come up with meal plans, stay in their grocery budget, and make time for themselves? I hope in 20+ years, my kids can flip through the pages and gain something from them. You don’t have to share every blog post or scrapbook page you create with the world. Some stories are sacred and others can be shared to help others feel less alone — but I can tell you that writing your story is not only cathartic, it’s incredibly important.

2) God’s Word. Spend as much time as possible in it. If you only have a few minutes a day, that’s okay. But I can tell you from my own personal experience, if I don’t prioritize that time first thing in the morning, it doesn’t happen. I like to write down a verse every day after I study. I’ve seen my handwriting improve over the last few years that I’ve been doing it, and it’s also a great way to really write His word on your heart and memorize verses.

3) Therapy. As someone who’s struggled with depression and anxiety since I was a child, I can’t begin to tell you how much therapy has blessed my life. Since I was a teenager, I’ve seen the incredible difference that therapy can make. I know going to therapy may seem daunting and require a generous amount of vulnerability. And while I completely understand the stigma that goes along with mental health care (along with the headache that finding the right therapist for you can be), when you do find a mental health professional that you connect with — holy game changer, Batman. This year has been one of extreme anxiety and also incredible loss, and after (virtually) meeting with my therapist earlier this week, the tightness in my chest released and I felt immeasurably lighter.

4) Gratitude. A few years ago, I started writing down a gratitude list every morning and it’s made such a difference. I use this journal each day, but I also love projects like the Positivity Passport challenge that are just so much fun! Any way you can find to document gratitude will create a mental habit to continually look for the good.

5) Snail Mail. If you know me, you know how strongly I believe in the power of happy mail! How often do you go out to the mailbox, only to find 1) junk, or 2) bills? *sad trombone* Isn’t it the best when you find a hand-written note or care package from someone you love? If you need ideas, you can read posts from my Happy Mail Monday series, and if you need cute cards to send, I have an Etsy shop (also — I give away free cards every weekend to anyone who wants them! So, if you’d like some, just DM me on Instagram and I’ll send some to you ASAP).

6) Flowers and Plants. Whether you pick up $5 flowers at the Farmer’s Market to put in a mason jar in your kitchen, a bouquet from Trader Joe’s for your bedside table, or a little succulent on Etsy, pick things that you love and that’ll make you smile every time you look at them.

7) Mani/Pedis. Whether you do this at home or get them done at a nail salon, take some time for yourself. I bought a nail kit from Olive & June in March and it’s been such a good motivator to give myself a mani/pedi more often.

8) Quality Skincare. I turned 39 this year and finally invested in a few quality products and am freaking blown away at the difference. I wish I’d done it sooner. It doesn’t have to be super expensive, but find products that you love and take a few minutes each night to remove any makeup, cleanse your face, and moisturize your skin before bed. It majorly improves how you look and feel the next morning. #treatyoself

9) Baked Goods. Make a bunch of “just because” treats for a couple of friends and drop them off. Make some extras for yourself.

10) Fresh Air. Get outside as often as possible. If you live close to a body of water or park, take advantage. We live just a few minutes from Lake Michigan and some beautiful state parks and don’t visit nearly enough. But even just a sunset walk around your neighborhood can do wonders for your soul.

11) Podcasts. I love ones that are spiritually uplifting and ones that make me laugh. When I can find ones that do both, I feel like I’ve hit the podcast lottery.

12) Sleep. Easier said than done, I know — but when I’m super stressed and cranky and feel like mental garbage, I’m a completely different person after a nap or a good night’s sleep. My husband strongly agrees.

13) Laughter. Send funny GIFs and memes to friends and family. Watch a funny movie or tv show. Watch stand-up comedy on whatever streaming service you’ve got (a few of my favorites: Ryan Hamilton: Happy Face, Nate Bargatze: The Tennessee Kid, and Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe).

14) Vitamin D. Where I live, we don’t get a ton of sun and seasonal depression definitely effects me in the darker, colder months. I try and get outside as much as possible, but I’ve been using a light therapy lamp every morning for the past few years and I can’t recommend it enough (I’ve had this one for almost 4 years and it’s awesome). It’s helped me with insomnia as well as depression (PSA: I’m not a health professional by any stretch of the imagination, so obviously talk with yours if you have questions about light therapy).

15) Prayer. This one probably goes without saying, but I’m just so thankful for prayer. In times of joy and in times of sorrow, prayer connects me to my Heavenly Father and reassures me of His unconditional love for me. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received regarding prayer was from a church leader. He explained to me that, as a dad, he loves hearing about the best and worst parts of his kids’ day. He loves hearing about their worries, fears, struggles. God knows our trials but He still loves to hear from us. He’s the one I go to continually for guidance and for comfort. I’m just so thankful that He’s always there.

I hope this list brought you hope and maybe even some joy. I’m praying for you, friend — and hope you feel the incredible amount of love and support that surrounds you, now and always.

***

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in this series “Make A List”.

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