Category: Motivation

MAINTAINING HOPE DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES

We are living in extremely tense times. As I write this, I’m feeling helpless over the disaster in Puerto Rico due to the multiple hurricanes. So many of us have family in PR. We’re all feeling anxious, waiting to hear some news from our loved ones.

Other countries are facing their own disasters as well, whether natural or man made.

It is so easy to question your own beliefs and loose Hope during these times. Maybe you’ve questioned your religion and faith. Maybe you think the world is ending. Or maybe you think this is a process for a new world. It is so easy to drown in the fear of all of the tension around all of us. Every one of us is affected in some way.

But as I always say, we have little control over the things that happen outside of us, but we always have control over how we react to people, to situations, and our own perspective. Here are some of my suggestions to keep Hope alive during these times.

  • Limit how much news you’re watching. It’s easy to stay glued to social media or the TV in case you hear some new development. However, have you noticed that you feel drained after watching a lot of news? Try to limit receiving information by reading it instead of watching it. Reading information is less traumatizing then watching it on TV or videos on social media, where it’s constantly repeated and you’re seeing images of despair, images that stay in your mind. Be informed, but not to the point of overwhelm.
  • Practice faith. It’s so easy to talk about God or spirituality when things are good. But one thing is to talk and preach about it, and another thing is to live it.
  • Focus on the things you can control. If you feel helpless, do what you can to contribute to helping. It could be donating money, starting a collection of donations at your church, school or job. Or start a prayer or meditation chain with intentions of sending positive energy to the affected areas. Meditation is just completely focusing on something, such as your breath, your body or imagining something. Try this:

Sit alone or with other people in a quiet area.  Everyone should close their eyes to force yourself to be in touch with your feelings and not be distracted. Take 3 deep breaths. Then imagine your loved ones, or specific people, or everyone on the planet. In your mind, see them the way you want to see them. See people united, helping one another. Imagine the people hugging and sharing resources. Imagine a white light (white represents positivity) covering them, protecting them. Feel the way you want things to be and trust that people are resilient and things will be ok.

I believe all of these events on our planet is bringing humanity closer. We have been so separated from one another and see people as “us” and “them”. It’s as if we’re going through a “cleansing”. It is up to us on how we want our future to be. In reality, we are all one. We are all human beings, sharing the same planet. And if you make sure you are living the change you want to see in this world, that will keep Hope alive.

 

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

Share

STAYING POSITIVE IN THE MIDDLE OF CHAOS

I saw this quote the other day and it reminded me of the current state of the world.

“WE ARE NOT GIVEN A

GOOD OR BAD LIFE.

WE ARE GIVEN A LIFE.

IT’S UP TO US TO

MAKE IT GOOD OR BAD”

There are a lot of things that happen in our life that makes us feel like the victim.

Someone lies to you. Uses you. Does not show the compassion you were hoping for. Things don’t go the way you were hoping and expecting for it to go. Things that leave you feeling irritated, anxious, disappointed or angry.

With all the challenges you go through in your life and in the world as a whole, it’s so easy to think that life is just simply bad.

But you have to remember: YOU have the power to make your own life good or bad.

At the end of the day, it is you who has to make the decision to act. Like the saying goes, “I can’t drink water for you

So if you’re feeling discouraged with life right now, take some small steps to start shifting your focus from negativity, and open your eyes to all the good things in life. Here are some suggestions for staying positive in the middle of chaos:

  • Stop or limit how much time you spend watching the news.
  • Limit social media use. Unless you follow mostly positive/inspirational things.
  • Practice gratitude. Although the world is in chaos, there are probably good things that you have going for yourself. Be grateful for your job, your loved ones, your car, health, that you have clean water, electricity, being in a position to help and speak up for others, no drama in your life, etc. Whatever you have going good in your life, give that attention. Click here to read a post on facts that could help you feel more grateful.
  • Practice self-care. When you are doing good, now you’re in a position to be there for others.
  • Fill your mind with uplifting things such as inspirational or educational books, podcasts, music, etc.
  • Focus and act on the things that you have control over. When upset, ask yourself  “What do I have control over in this situation?” Then take small action steps to problem-solve. If you don’t have any control over it, ask yourself, “Is there another way to look at this?” Other questions to ask yourself to shift your focus are; “What can I learn from this?”and “What is one good thing about this situation?”
  • Watch a comedy or funny videos to laugh. Laughing releases a lot of tension from your body.
  • Spend more time with the people who lift you up, not bring you down.
  • Take care of your body by drinking a lot of water and getting your body moving.
  • Start your day on a positive note. If the first thought in your head as soon as you awake up in the morning is negative, how do you think your day is going to go?! Simply say “thank you” as not everyone woke up this morning. Or just enjoy how comfortable you feel laying in your bed. Starting your day reading something uplifting like a quote or positive story before you get out of bed also helps.

Now, doing these things does not mean that you are ignoring the problem. You are simply consciously placing your attention on things that make you feel better, instead of unconsciously reacting.

When you care about others, the best thing you can do for them is to make sure you are in an emotionally good place, so that you can be there for them.

Being more positive takes time if you’re not used to having a positive attitude. You might be good for two days then back to being pessimistic the rest of the week. Just keep trying and over time it will become easier and easier until it become a way of living for you.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves adolescents,  adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

Share

I CAN'T GET MYSELF MOTIVATED: Get out of a slump and start having more energy to get things done.

Have you ever had a million things to do, but the more you think about it, the less you want to do them? You rather go watch your favorite Netflix show or take a nap. All because you can’t get yourself motivated to do anything. We’ve all been there.

The hardest part is getting started. Once you start, it’s easier to go from there.  Next time you find yourself unmotivated, try one or two of the following suggestions to pick yourself up and get started.

WATCH WHAT YOU EAT

When you have low physical energy, notice what you’re eating. Eating a lot of sugary foods, drinking a lot of soda and coffee may give you energy for a little bit. But then your body crashes, draining you of energy. Not eating anything at all is also a problem.

Try starting with certain foods that are known to give you energy such as:

  • Brown Rice
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Nuts- Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts, Cashews, Hazelnut.
  • Honey. Can put it in your tea or just simply take a spoon full.
  • Fruits- Bananas, Apples, Lemons and Oranges are great at giving you a boost of energy.
  • Eggs
  • Dark green vegetables.

HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE!

Are you drinking enough water? If you’re even slightly dehydrated, you’re going to feel tired, not be able to focus and even get headaches.

Try putting a slice of lemon in your water for an instant boost of energy.

If you don’t like water, add some  Crystal Light to  give your water flavor. Better yet, try eating more fruits to get water from the fruit.

Coconut water is another great way to hydrate and it’s known as “nature’s Gatorade” because it gives you natural electrolytes.

GET ENOUGH SLEEP

If you’re not getting quality sleep, it will affect your energy big time. If you’re having trouble sleeping, check out my post on ways to improve sleep

I know it’s not always possible, but if you could, you should take a 20 minute nap, or at least 20 minutes of quiet time. But watch that it’s not more than 30 minutes because then it can mess up your sleep later on.

MOVE YOUR BODY

Get your body moving by stretching or going out for a walk.

Moving your body gets your blood flowing all over, allowing you to think more clearly and giving you more energy.

You can read about ways to exercise without going to the gym here.

PRACTICE SELF-REFLECTION

Take some time to look at yourself on a deeper level. What excites you? What are you good at and enjoy doing? What bothers you and why? Really knowing yourself on a deeper level helps you live a life with meaning. When you know what your strengths and weaknesses are (yes we all have weaknesses) you become more clear with who you are and  how you want to live your life.

Part of feeling lost and not knowing where to start when you want to improve your life, is not even knowing who you really are and what you want. Self-reflection helps you focus on the things you have control over, lets you define for yourself what happiness means, and lets you explore what makes you happy, not what other people say should make you happy.  Some ways to practice self-reflection are:

  • Journaling. When you journal, pretend you’re writing to someone. Have a nice Journal and comfortable pen, and write. Write what ever comes to mind. You can write as if you’re venting to a friend, or ask yourself questions about what motivates you. You can also question your thoughts. If you’re afraid about something, ask yourself why. What’s holding you back? Is what you’re thinking really true (such as no one likes me) or an assumption? What’s your evidence for and against your thoughts?
  • Keep a list of things you’re grateful for and why you’re grateful for them.
  • Read about topics you want to work on or learn about. You can check out 10 of my recommended books that help you reflect here.
  • Be a student of self development. Read and watch videos on self-help topics.
  • Go for a walk in nature with no electronics.

PAMPER YOURSELF

Another major reason for feeling unmotivated is because you might be exhausted. You probably are always doing things for others, and not much for yourself. That’s not good! In order for you to truly be there for others, you have to first be good yourself. When was the last time you did something just for you?

Some activities that you can do for yourself are:

  • Take an extra long hot shower (or cold, whatever you like)
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Buy yourself something nice you don’t normally buy.
  • Do a hobby you typically don’t have time for.
  • Have friends over and do something fun or relaxing together.

CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Sometimes you have to get out of your routine and get a change of scenery to get motivated. If you could travel, that would be great. Traveling  has many benefits such as lifting your mood, helping your creativity and being more present. But if you can’t go far, try going to a park or the mall in a different town.

You can also change your environment by rearranging your room and doing work at a bookstore or coffee shop instead of your room.

 

Remember, the hardest part about getting things done is getting started. Try implementing some of these suggestions to slowly start increasing your energy, get motivated, and get things done.

If you liked this post, feel free to share with your friends. And if you want to receive more posts and resources that I share, remember to sign up below.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves adolescents,  adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

 

Share

4 Ways To Stay Motivated When You Have No Support From Friends or Family

How many times has this happened to you? You’re excited about a new opportunity or an idea that you want to pursue, so you share it with a family member or close friend. But instead of sharing your excitement, they start pointing out all the negatives and it kills your positive vibes. Their comments plant negative seeds in your mind and now you start to doubt yourself. So you just decide to give up before you even try.

It could be that you want to start getting up earlier in the mornings and begin to exercise. They’ll point out how hard it is to wake up so early. Maybe you want to change your job for a better one, they’ll point out how risky that is. Or you want to move somewhere new where there may be more opportunities, and they’ll point out all of the risks.

Any time you try to improve yourself, there will almost always be someone who is not as excited as you and will try to bring you down. Sometimes they do it on purpose out of pure jealousy. But most of the time they point out all the negatives because they think they’re helping you. You can read more about why it doesn’t matter what other people think of you here.

The good news is that it is always completely up to YOU, not anyone else to make things happen. You don’t need anyone’s approval to pursue whatever it is you want to do. So in the mean time, try some of these tips to stay motivated in pursuing your goals, even if you get no support from those around you.

Focus on the things you have control over, not what others are saying/doing.

When you’re pursuing something that you want, you have to learn to have tunnel vision. That means reminding yourself of why you want to pursue this goal, and ignoring any distractions. At first it might be hard to ignore negative people. But it’s actually easier than you think. You literally act like you can’t hear them. The best thing to do is not tell these people what your goal is in the first place. But if some how they find out and want to add their opinion, keep the topic of your goal short and change the subject quickly.

Instead of wasting your time and energy focusing on what others are saying, use that time to plan and take the steps necessary to pursue your goal. When you’re so busy pursing your goal, you have no time to pay attention to the negativity.

Keep a positive attitude.

It’s extremely hard, almost impossible, to achieve a goal when you have a negative attitude. Letting other people’s opinions bring you down is giving them power over you.

So you have to do whatever it takes to maintain a positive attitude. Try keeping a picture of your goal as the screen saver on your phone, or having positive quotes in your planner and on your night stand.

Practice gratitude every day to build a buffer against negativity and increase a positive attitude.

Take care of yourself physically.

I believe health is the foundation of true success. What’s the point of you reaching your goals, if you’re not healthy enough to enjoy it? Having little support can easily bring you down. If  you feel sick and tired, that makes it much easier to let those negative comments get to you.

When you feel good, you have energy to do things, and it’s so much easier to stay motivated.

Make sure you’re exercising, drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet, and not skipping meals. Here are some tips on exercising without going to the gym.

Be selective of who you share things with.

If you feel the need to tell someone your goal, make sure it’s someone that has been supportive in the past and you trust that they won’t judge you. If you don’t have anyone in your life that is supportive, join online groups where you can get some encouragement from complete strangers. Depending on your goal, there may be specific online support groups on that topic.

 

Remember, ultimately it is up to you to improve your life. No one is going to hand you things, you have to make it happen. You don’t need the approval of anyone to go after what you want. Stay strong, stay positive, and you’ll see how you can make anything happen that you set your mind to.

 

If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

 

 

 

 

Share

How To Create Goals That You’ll Actually Complete

Goals are the road map that tells us where we’re going. Without them you just live life without a sense of direction. New Years is the perfect time to reflect on where you are and plan for improving different areas of our life for the year ahead. But setting goals is the easy part. Sticking to them and achieving them not so much.

But there is a trick that I use to achieve any goal, small or large. The following is my recipe to create goals that you’ll actually complete.

Step 1. Get clear on what you really want. We have 7 categories in our life. Family, Relationships, Career/Education, Money, Health, Recreation, and Spirituality. Goals always fall into one of these categories. Be honest with your self about what you want to improve or change. Maybe you want to look good, get a job, spend more time with family, or don’t want to be single anymore.

If you don’t know what you want, work backwards. Sometimes it’s easier to know what you DON’T want. For example, maybe you know you don’t want to quit your job, or don’t need to loose weight, but maybe you need to have more fun in your life, or want to improve your relationships. From the 7 categories above, which areas are you the least happy with? Start with that area.

Step 2. Set a specific date for when you want to have completed the goal. It’s ok if you’re off by a few days or weeks. But when you give your goal a deadline, you’re more likely to achieve it. Plus it’s easier to keep track of progress

Step 3. BREAK IT DOWN. This is actually the secret weapon. Any goal that you have can feel overwhelming. Especially big goals. But when you break it down to the smallest steps, it really is not that hard to complete. For example, lets say your goal is to loose 50 pounds by the summer. 50 pounds sounds like a big number and all you can do is think about all the food you won’t be able to eat. But if you count, for example, from January 1st until June 1st, that’s 22 weeks. 50(pounds) ÷ 22 (weeks) =2.27 (pounds) So all you have to focus on is loosing about 2 pounds a week, not the 50.

If the goal is to get a job, think about the small steps that you have to take to get there. Such as Googling companies you’ll like to work at, downloading the Indeed app, and applying to 2-3 jobs a week.

You do this with any goal. Break it down to the simplest form.

Now that you have these 3 steps. Now you have to take action.

  • Write down your goal on an index card or small piece of paper, with the deadline and any small steps that you have to take. It’s been proven that people that write down their goals are more likely to complete them compared to people who don’t write them down.
  • Put the piece of paper or index card somewhere you’ll see it every day. This could be on your mirror, in your car, in your wallet or planner. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s somewhere that you’ll see it often. Even take a picture of the paper so that you also have it saved in your phone.
  • Try to take one simple step every day or week that brings you closer to your goal. Anything from buying new gym sneakers, cleaning out your closet for the new clothes you’ll be buying, doing a little research, or asking someone for help IS a step. Remember that when working towards goals SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. Try to do something daily no matter how small it is. This will make it easier to start and keep the momentum.
  • Look at your goal first thing in the morning and right before going to bed. The first 20 minutes after we wake up sets the tone for the rest of the day. Don’t believe me, try stubbing your toe or waking up to yelling and tell me if you’re in a good mood after. When you look at your written goal, visualize how it would feel to have already achieved it. This is supposed to be fun. Picture yourself shopping for the new clothes that you’ll need to buy because you’re fit, or feel relaxed because you know that things always work out for you.

IF you have supportive people, it’s okay to share your goal with someone. But if the people around you tend to be negative, I suggest keeping your goal to yourself and just let the results speak for its self. Goals are personal and you’ll quickly be discouraged if you share it with the wrong person.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

Share

15 Ways to Say “NO” and not feel bad about it.

Have you ever found yourself saying “yes” to requests, although you really wanted to say “no”. We …

MAINTAINING HOPE DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES

We are living in extremely tense times. As I write this, I’m feeling helpless over the disaster in Puerto Rico due …

50 HOBBY IDEAS

If you’re always the one  taking care of responsibilities, taking care of others and doing everything for everyone …