3 Tools I Use to Slow Down and Focus

My journals. Yes, I decorated for Valentines day lol. Sorry if these photos look washed out, not sure why they are coming out that way. 
Good morning Friend! Today I wanted to talk a little bit about slowing down. I’ve been forced to do this throughout my pregnancy and it hasn’t been easy. If you’ve been pregnant you know that pregnancy forces you to listen to your body in a way that you haven’t necessarily needed to before or often, Everything from morning sickness to exhaustion is telling you something. Maybe it’s just telling you you’re pregnant, or maybe it’s telling you that you have anemia like I do lol. One thing that’s happened to me during this pregnancy is feeling the constant instinct to
s l o w      d o w n .
Ask for help. Accept things as they are. Relax, both mentally and physically.
This has never been something I’m good at. Even if my body is still, my mind is the type that races. From the past to the future, back and forth, stopping in the present only for what it deems an emergency, like a crying child or forgetting to turn the stove off. I lived in a constant state of panic for many years, but as I often seemed calm on the outside it never really affected me much, or so I thought. But in the last few months I’ve realized how much my brain craves to just be in the moment, and I’ve noticed the difference in my days when I’m able to accept where I’m at right this second. I’m even having less of those days that your mind is going so crazy, you physically just don’t do anything and end up zoning out in front of the tv or on Facebook… I know you know what I’m talking about lol. Even if you’re not pregnant, I’m sure you’ll relate to feeling anxiety in this crazy world, so I wanted to share a few ways that helped me slow down and train my brain to STOP RUNNING! What is it running from anyway? Calm down brain, we will get wherever we are going sooner or later😉.
So in case you’re wondering, I hate yoga. I do. It gives me a headache and makes me feel oddly angry after class when I’m not relaxed as promised by the vegan yogis. Up down, up down, downward dog, warrior one, child’s pose, headstand. Most definitely not my thing. So yeah, just wanted to get that out of the way. But here are a few things that DO work for me to calm my anxiety, panic, and overall frustrating feeling that I’m never doing enough.

If it’s not lemon water, it’s usually chamomile or peppermint tea, sometimes cinnamon.
1. I don’t watch the news. Nope, not ever. Unless my parents insist on it when they’re over. Something about people born in the 50’s that says watching the news is an absolute must. My husbands parents thought I was part of some cult when I told them I don’t watch the news. I started this several years ago when my panic attacks were through the roof. I can’t deal with the constant images of traffic and murders and wars, it’s too much. I believe in doing what you can when you’re passionate about a cause, but realistically you can’t do it all so what’s the point in constantly seeing it? I’m not saying be blind to all the evils of the world, but we all know they are there, pick a couple ways to help and do them. Watching negativity all the time just clutters your brain. I also am very picky with who I follow on social media and try to take a week long social media break about once a month or so.
2. Guided Imagery. This is a form of meditation and it happens to be the ONLY kind that works for me. See I just constantly need something to focus on, so the whole “clear your mind” thing in silence or with annoying music just doesn’t work for me. In guided imagery, well the way I do it is- I close my eyes and listen as someone tells me what to imagine. They might say for example- “You’re sitting on the beach in Hawaii. It’s hot but there’s a cool breeze. You’re rubbing your feet in the sand. What does it feel like? A few yards away there’s a little stand selling shaved ice. You look to your left and see a cup full of your favorite flavor. What flavor is it? Is it melted or still cold? Imagine taking a bite, feel the cold cup in your hands, how does it feel? Imagine the sounds you’re hearing…” And so on and so on. You can find guided imagery visualizations on YouTube so you don’t even need anyone else around to do this. It’s like a mini virtual vacay in your head lol. 
3. The Sunrise Manifesto and Present Not Perfect journals. These journals are the newest and I’d say most effective thing I’ve done recently. The Sunrise Manifesto is a “guided morning journal” meant to kind of help you direct your energy for the day so that you focus on what needs to be done and not the million other things. It only has room to write about 3 tasks you want to complete, which really makes you think about what’s necessary. It also has a space for “mind clutter” where you can get out all your worries or whatever you need to get off your chest. And also doubles as a gratitude journal. At the end of the week there’s a place to write your weekly review, where your can write what you need to follow up on and goals for the next week. It’s absolutely the best gift I’ve ever given myself. Other types of journals never worked for me like this one does, as it gives me the direction I need to focus. 
Present Not Perfect is a journal with one question a day that’s meant to make you focus on the moment. I would say some of the questions are like guided imagery in written form like
-What do you smell right now?-
and some are things that are more pensive like
-What has the power to darken your mood when you’re having a great day?-
It’s really helped me when I need to just clear my head and stop over thinking. I prefer some questions over others but it’s a journal where you can just skip around and pick and choose your entry for the day. Most mornings I get up, brush my teeth/wash my face, then get some lemon water going and sit at my kitchen table. I start with the Sunrise Manifesto and then do the Present Not Perfect entry. It really helps me get clear on what I want for my day, and feel good as the day begins. 
Here are some pictures of some of my actual entries. No judging! (Especially on the handwriting lol)

My handwriting sucks and always has lol. If you’re wondering what it says, here it is (from left, top to bottom):
My body
My parents
Ice cream
Took a rest day with Mila
Nothing, I did my best
Go to bed grateful
Hug the kids
Spend quality time with my husband
Feel happiness before bed
I’m realizing I’ve been waiting for happiness instead of accepting it. I don’t allow myself to attract it because I want my husband to give it to me. Why don’t I just do the things I love? Why do I wait? I don’t need to do that anymore.
Second one is self explanatory. So stuff on marriage and me not allowing myself to be happy. I chose to share a rather good day that wasn’t too revealing, who wouldn’t? Lol. But as you can see, the entries don’t need to take too much time and are effective in letting you focus on what’s important for that day. This was a rest day for me so I was focused on connecting with my family. Other days look more like Don’t get angry, Get groceries, Go to prenatal appointment, and then I write about how much I hate whatever I hate that day. But that’s why there’s the gratitude part available to keep it positive😁.
So what things do you do to focus, slow down, and find clarity? Let me know in the comment section! And we’ll talk next week, xoxo💖

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