Why we need to stop the focus on self-care and do this instead.

Do you struggle with self-care?

I know I do. Although I was no superstar at self-care before having my son, I became hopeless afterwards.

I’ve always hated the word self-care. To me, it sounds to indulgent, to expensive, and to be honest…to prissy for something I’m interested in.

It also screams manicures, spa days, and book clubs. None of which I have time for and seem far too sporadic for the daily support I need to keep this mama, wife, and my business trucking.

But self-maintenance? That’s something I can get behind. Self-maintenance is like brushing my teeth. It’s the non-negotiable shit I have to do to keep me healthy and sane.

This is a pic of Magnus and me at 6am this morning heading out for our run. My husband has been out of town for over a week and this mama needs her runs to function.

 

This is not self-care to me, this is as important as brushing my teeth, having a shower, or eating healthy foods.

If I called it “self-care” I probably wouldn’t prioritize it as much as I do. Like the $100 gift card to a beautiful spa that has been burning a hole in my pocket for FOUR YEARS. It was baby gift from Lululemon and I swear, the ONLY reason I used it now is because I am too cheap to throw away $100 and we move out of province next week. (Can you even believe it!!!)

I had been saving it for a facial for “just” the right occasion. You know what I’m talking about, right?

I was saving it for when I REALLY needed it, or when there was something special coming up that I wanted to feel my best for, or…I don’t really know, but I had every excuse not to use it until now.

And yes, I had a facial and it was SO dreamy. Actually, it was the best.

And yes, even while I was enjoying every second of the wonderfulness of the spa experience I was wondering, “why didn’t I use this sooner? I could have come 10 more times and even bring my friends!”

But I didn’t, and I know I wouldn’t. This kind of self-care is not what keeps me ticking and I would never prioritize it. It’s the self-maintenance ones that I do.

This kind of self-care is like guacamole with nachos: it’s an amazing addition when it’s there, it adds another layer of deliciousness that is so good I would eat it with a spoon, and I actually prefer it to salsa.

But the nachos would not be nachos without the chips. The chips are what carry all the other good stuff, they are the vehicle that makes the nachos possible. If the vehicle is not there and happy, it doesn’t matter what toppings you put on them, there’s nothing there to hold them.

We need self-maintenance to take care of the chips to be the best nachos we can be. Personally, I like the Que Pasa brand.

Fuck, now I’m hungry and it’s only 10am. Is that too early for nachos?

A few other self-maintenance items I do everyday to take care of my own chips are meditating, calling my friends regularly (not just texting, it doesn’t count), and doing at least 5 minutes of yoga daily.

I credit my happiness, creativity, and health to this shift in mindset.

So here’s what I wish you for you: that you always make time to take care of your Que Pasa chips (read the blog, you’ll get it), and not wait 4 years to enjoy the guacamole.

How about you? Tell me what you think of the word self-care. Do love it, hate it, or something else entirely?

Things are a big deal…until they’re not

Have you ever not wanted to do the thing you know you need to do because it’s necessary to improve your life, job, relationship, or yourself?

I walked into my house this morning after dropping Magnus off at Montessori with huge resistance.

It was the chest tightening kind that you will do anything to avoid (like writing this blog post) instead of doing the thing you need to do.

The worst part? I’ve already put it off a day.

I was actually supposed to do it yesterday.

Now I feel even more pressure, and of course, more resistance.

What I really should be doing (instead of writing to you) is making a bunch of videos that I can share across multiple social media platforms to give really good free content while expanding my reach.

It’s all handwritten in my messy handwriting on lined pads of recycled paper.

It should be easy, right?

Just a bunch of quick 5 minute videos on personal development, yoga, and meditation…and now that it’s planned…I don’t want to do it AT ALL.

Every time I need to stretch myself it happens.

It’s happened a thousand times within my business and even more within my relationships, and personal growth (btw, it’s the all personal growth).

The last time I my chest was in knots was last fall when I decided to start teaching a live yoga class on my FB page once a week.

It took so much courage because I felt so exposed.

What if people didn’t like it?

What if people didn’t like it and SAID that they didn’t like it?

What if it’s (or I’m not) as good as the fancy celebrity teachers?

All the fears. All the doubt. All the resistance.

I was worried it would mean:

I’m not good enough. People will reject me. It means something about my worth.

And then, I did it.

And do you know what? It was fine…and actually kind of fun!

It was so much fun that I decided to create a whole yoga membership site and already have 100 raving excited subscribers.

Now, making videos is just a part of my week, and I get to hang out with some of the most wonderful women on the internet because of it.

It was a big deal, now it’s not.

But making these NEW videos feels like a big stretch again. I’m casting my net farther, and that opens the doors to more criticism, more risk of failure, more resistance.

And I also know, that once I get over the initial resistance, this will just be another part of how I help people and help them get to know me.

The more we learn how to dance with resistance (who’s true name is fear), the less it holds us back from the lives we want to be living.

We open the doors to more loving authentic relationships, more satisfying work, and more meaningful lives.

And it starts, by starting to do it.

So, I’m hopping off my computer now and heading to my living room to shoot some videos. How are you facing resistance (aka fear) today?

Do you have a story of facing fear? Or just want to give me some encouragement? Tell me in the comments below!

Is Self-Care a Loaded Word to You?

How do you feel about the words “self-care”?

When I see those words, I feel like it’s another thing I’m not doing well at or let’s just say it: failing.

With the enormous tasks of raising a small human, running a business, a household, and trying to take care of the ever-piling To-Do lists, and a husband who is away a lot, self-care doesn’t often make it to the list.

Part of it is that I’ve believed self-care something luxurious or extravagant…a treat, you know?

Like a manicure (I’ve only had one when I was 20) or a pedicure (I’ve only had one of those too, and that was 12 years ago), or a massage (I do that more often, like twice a year).

But before you start yelling at me that I DESERVE these things, I want to tell you something. They aren’t important to me. I could care less if I get a spa day once a month or even once a year or ever.

What I want (and actually DO), is a few daily activities which significantly change my day and my mood.

And I don’t call them self-care, I call them maintenance.

Most days I have a workout at home, do a bit of yoga, and meditation. Not a lot, not like I used to, but I do it.

I also cook all our meals and snacks. This is how I take care of my body and my family’s health.

I have a morning ritual which starts off with a few minutes to get myself together before I collect my son. Not a lot of time, just 5, but it allows me to be ready for him without feeling rushed.

You might actually say I have a lot of self-care built into my day.

But to me, this isn’t optional. This is my routine, this is my life, and trust me, I’m not nice without it.

Nothing takes long, its just little tweaks added into my day that make them better.

Maybe that’s why I’ve done so well at sticking to it, because it’s not optional, it’s just what I do.

If you are struggling with your own self care, ask yourself:

Is it optional? Is it a “treat”? Is it something you feel you “deserve”? Do I believe they have to take a lot of time to be effective or good enough?

These types of views can feel loaded because there’s so much emotional stuff attached to it.

And I’ll bet if it was as routine and expected as brushing your teeth it would be a non-issue.

I know, I know, before you jump all over me because you already have so much to do. Let me remind you that none of my own “maintenance” rituals take a lot of time (except for cooking, yep, that takes up a big chunk of it).

I get up 5 minutes before my kiddo. FIVE, and in that time, I pee, put my contacts in, brush my teeth, and drink warm water with lemon juice.

That’s it. That is self-care. It’s not fancy self-care but it is self-care, nonetheless.

As for meditation and yoga, sometimes that’s under 5 minutes TOGETHER. I stretch and breathe on the floor while Magnus plays, or meditate a few minutes in the car before I pick him up, or even just a few conscious breaths throughout the day.

I work out now at home (despite paying for a gym membership I don’t use. Giving it up just feels too much like defeat. One day I’ll get back to it…). I have kettlebells and dumb bells and lift them to videos while Magnus parks cars.

Is this my perfect picture of how I want things? No, of course not.

But to have things picture perfect for my personal maintenance would mean moving to an ashram in Hawaii (they have those there, right?).

Just kidding…sorta. 😉

But it would mean less time with my kiddo, and spending time with him is what I’m choosing right now. So, I’m working with what I’ve got and let me tell you, it still WORKS.

In fact, it works remarkably well.

Five minutes can change your mood, revitalize and energize you, shift your mindset, increase creativity, and focus. FIVE minutes.

It really doesn’t have to be all are nothing.

A few minutes a day can completely change your day around, and when done with consistency, can change your life.

Neuroscience says so.

I’d love to hear from you now. Do you struggle with self-care? What might some easy ways to incorporate “maintenance” into your daily routines? And most importantly: does Hawaii have an ashram???

To brag or not to brag? How owning your achievements affects your confidence.

Confidence is like the elusive perfect Instagram post that will finally let you feel satisfied enough to stop scrolling, put your phone down, and finally go to sleep. Or is that just me???

Putting together information on CAPTIVATE Vinyasa Training last week made me pause to review my accomplishments as a yoga teacher for the past 11 years.  I did, and was blown away.

Here’s a few highlights:

– I have over 11 years teaching experience and I have taught over 13,000 hours of yoga and meditation.

– I’ve enjoyed being a successful sought-after teacher in 2 provinces.

– I have taught tens of thousands of students, have built a following all over western Canada, and been invited to teach at multiple yoga festivals including Prana Yoga Fest in Calgary, Sask Soul Fest in Regina, and Camp Yoga in Canmore.

– My meditations are featured on Insight Timer, the largest meditation app in the world.

– I have inspired hundreds of my students to become teachers themselves, and thousands more to fall in love with the life changing practice of yoga.

There’s something really powerful about looking at your accomplishments and owning them. When we do something for a while (in my case over a decade), it’s easy to forget, or miss how far we’ve come since we began.

Immediately after writing my own list of accomplishments I felt a surge of pride and confidence for my own list of accomplishments.

I worked hard to get here, and it was exciting to see how far I’ve come since I first started as a terrified new teacher. I would stand there shaking hoping no one would notice how green I was and praying they would like me.

Yet, as women, most of us have learned to minimize our accomplishments, if we even acknowledge them at all. We are often taught that women should be humble, and not “get to big for our britches.”

After all, no one likes a bitch. Right?

I hate to break it to you, but it’s wrong.

If you want to crush your self confidence and keep it there, then keep minimizing your achievements or don’t acknowledge them at all.

When we downplay our achievements, we are essentially telling ourselves a damaging story – that we don’t really deserve our accomplishments. It affects not only how we see ourselves, but how others also see us.

But guess what? If you don’t notice how far you’ve come or everything you’ve accomplished, who will?

Your boss? Supervisor? Family? Anyone???

Nope.

If you want people to promote you, praise you, SEE you, you need to get comfortable with owning your achievements.

The bonus is that it’s also scientifically proven to increase your confidence.

You might not want to do it at first, and resist it like me with chocolate covered marshmallows at any time other than Christmas.

You will fight it with clenched fists, cover your eyes to try not to see the glaring truth of it, and deny it’s very existence, because it goes against everything you’ve been taught. I understand.

But push through it. You will feel more confident in yourself and your abilities, and so will everyone else.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Make a list of everything you’ve done or contributed to that is significant. If you can’t think of any, imagine what your best friend would say about you. We seem to be kinder when we imagine someone else bragging for us.
  • Next, go through it again adding anything else that is brag worthy or you should be proud off that was missed the first time around. Going through this twice often helps trigger more brag worthy accomplishments to add to the list!
  • Then, go through it and let it sink in how much you’ve done and how much you’ve accomplished. Allow yourself to feel pride in yourself and your abilities. You deserve it sister! You worked hard, own that shit.
  • Lastly, tell someone else about it! It could be a family member, friend, co-worker, doesn’t matter. What’s important is to practice saying your accomplishments out loud. Learning how to share your achievements publicly not only will boost your confidence and reframe your mind, but leads directly to workplace successes. A 2011 Catalyst survey of 3000 MBA graduates, showed that women who made their achievements known to their superiors: advanced further, were more satisfied with their careers, and had greater compensation growth than women who were less focused on calling attention to their successes. Let that sink in.

This is also a great exercise to do together with other women! Set up a time to write them out and share your accomplishments with each other while cheering each other on. This is seriously powerful for all of us to improve on.

Now, tell me in the comments: what are you most proud of?

Leaning towards health: how to like more about yourself than just your eyebrows.

Leaning towards health not only makes us feel better, but like ourselves more.

“I used to only like my eyebrows”

That’s what my friend said to me yesterday while we were watching ourselves in the mirror working out at the gym yesterday.

She is in great shape. She’s got 3 boys under 7 and everyday fits in a workout for herself at home. Slowly over the past few years she’s been getting heavier weights and kettle bells and it’s paying off. She looks strong and healthy.

“Now, that I’ve been working out for a while, I have so many things I like about myself!” She said with a big smile.

This is the power of choosing health, and it’s not only exercise, but small shifts towards health in our lifestyles often lead to bigger shifts and bigger rewards.

In her case, exercise led her to appreciate her body and appearance more. It also has influenced her food choices and how she feeds her family. Everyone is benefiting from her choices.

In my own life, I have found that there has rarely been a correlation between my size and how good I felt about myself. I have been 10 pounds lighter and up to 40 lbs heavier (pregnancy and post pregnancy). As long as I was exercising I felt beautiful. Even at my smallest, I didn’t see myself as well as at my heaviest when I was working out.

The lean towards health also influences other healthy behaviors. Often we naturally start to make healthier food choices once we start working out. Once we get a taste of how good we feel, we want to do more things that make us feel good.

Exercise and diet of course aren’t the only ways to feel good about ourselves and within ourselves. However, they are a great starting point because our bodies influence our minds and emotional states. Studies show that healthy bodies hold onto positive emotions more readily and increase more positive moods.

One of my personal mottos for years has been, “health is the best fashion accessory.” Feeling healthy in my mind, body, and spirit makes me feel way more beautiful than a pair of $300 jeans and a hot pair of shoes ever could. Clear eyes and a genuine smile win every time.

I’d love to hear from you now, what makes you feel beautiful? What are your favourite ways to feel healthy? And what do you like best about yourself? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

What does “the spaces in between” have to do with overwhelm?

This morning I had overwhelm.

Everyday I walk my dog at 8am. I put my toddler in the carrier on my back and we head out together rain or shine. We look for blue cars, bunnies, and anything else interesting on the way.

No matter what my morning was like before my walk, or how little sleep I had the night before, I always feel better. But yesterday was different.

When I came in, I unhooked Walter from his leash. Then sat on the couch to release my son, grabbed the vacuum and started cleaning. My mind was on overdrive. Instantly I was in overwhelm hell with all the things I had to do before my parents came to visit later that day.

I could see the To-Do list climbing bigger and bigger. Thoughts were racing. I was starting to feel panicked and anxious at the impossibility of doing it all.

And then, something happened.

I stopped and realized I hadn’t thanked Walter or my son Magnus for the walk. I hadn’t created a space in between.

One of the beautiful aspects of yoga is the nurturing of the spaces in between. The spaces in between the breaths, between the poses, even between the practice and the end: shavasana.

I remember hearing a quote years ago that said, “God can be found in the space between two breaths.” And if you do this yourself, you’ll sense this quiet in the gap. It is a place of non-doing and completeness of being.

These gaps are not only opportunities to slow down, become present, and regroup, but they are also a transition between where you are and where you are going. These transitions are important because they signal the end of something and the beginning of something new.

Yesterday, I woke up overwhelmed and rushed from one task to the next before we even went for our walk. Then it continued when we got home. Typically, once we walk in the door, I thank my dog and my son for our walk. It is the transition from one activity to the next. It serves as a completion.

Without it, there was no closure. I flung myself into the next thing on my To-Do list which created this momentum of doing without the sense of completing which is overwhelming. The bar just kept getting further away instead of closer.

It’s the equivalent of having a To-Do list that you keep adding to and never cross off.  Creating clear transitions is the equivalent of crossing them off.

There are many ways you can implement this into your life.

At work, before changing activities, like going from doing research to going to a meeting, take a moment to connect to your breath to get present and let go of your research so you can be present for your meeting. This can be an opportunity to also get clear on what your objectives are and how you want to serve in this new space.

If you take the stress of work home with you, it’s helpful to do this before you walk in the door. Maybe turning the light off at the office will be your space in between, or opening your car door, or your front door, so that you can let go of work and now show up more present and relaxed with your family.

Creating clear transitions are key to managing feelings of overwhelm.

So, what did I do when I realized I was overwhelmed while vacuuming? I stopped and thanked my son and dog for a beautiful walk.

I’d love to know your thoughts, what might be some great ways you find your “spaces in between?” Tell me in the comments below!

Have you ever wanted to write a book?

Have you ever wanted to write a book? I have.

I’ve thought about writing one…well a few, really…for years.

At one point I thought I’d write an autobiography, but then I realized that aside from a pretty crazy child/young adult hood, my life is pretty lame. I mean, who wants to read about how I only wash my hair twice a week, or how often I wash my sheets and curse every time I put the duvet back on?

Because that’s how exciting it gets right now.

Except for my swimming lessons. OMG, did I not tell you about those?

Yes, something clicked in me last March when I turned 40. It spurred a new fearlessness that is really exciting and pushing my edges, I call it, “Fuck it, I’m 40” (FII40 for short).

So aaaaaall those things that have previously held me back, intimidated me, or I was too scared to do, I’m doing them now, and swimming lessons were one of them.

When swimming levels were colours, I almost made it to life guarding but then I had a traumatic event during a skills test. We were supposed to tread water for 5 minutes with clothes on, so I thought I’d outsmart the exercise and wear the lightest clothes I had, which was a sky-blue Adidas wind suit with white stripes along the sides. My grandma had sent it from Finland, and I was sure I was going to crush this test while everyone else struggled. I was so smug.

Except that’s not what happened.

The wind suit acted like a plastic bag filling with water and started sucking me under. The more I kicked the more it pulled me down. I panicked and looked for the wall to find safety, but the more I swam the more I went down.

Nobody noticed, not even my instructor.

Eventually I made it to the wall and clawed myself up the wall to get above the surface (I may have only been a few feet under water but I might as well have been at the bottom for how scared I was), and burst into tears from the fear and relief of making it out alive.

After that, even though I was a strong swimmer, I lost all confidence and have avoided the water or at least water deeper than my chest ever since.

Then came FII40, and something in me changed. I decided to refuse to be pushed around by old outdated fears from 30 years ago. I’m going to spend the next half of my life more alive, more awake, and more fully than before.

So, I’m taking adult swimming lessons with my neighbor who also struggles with confidence in water and we are getting stronger every week together.

Maybe that’s interesting enough to be a book, but I doubt it. I’ll keep working at it and let you know what I come up with.

Have you ever wanted to write a book? What would you write about?

Oh, and if you have a better acronym or suggestion for FII40, let me know! I’m way better at napping than naming things.

Be Kind to Everyone You Meet, or Else…

So much of who I am is influenced by my mom’s teachings. Some lessons she taught me have been tattooed into my operating system and have become my way of being.

She taught be to be interested in people and their cultures (my parents are landed immigrants). To always buy clothes on sale but NEVER cheap out on skincare. And to appreciate homemade everything (baking, food, socks, crafts, you name it).

I remember one morning going to Safeway with my mom as a preschooler. The cashier had long blonde hair down to her waist like a princess. I tapped my mom to bend down, pushed her short brown permed hair aside and whisper in her ear, “Mom, she’s so beautiful.”

Then, to my horror my face burned hot with embarrassment as my mom TOLD her what I had said. I was livid and felt betrayed. How could she embarrass me like that? And my mom smiled and simply said that it’s kind to tell people the nice things we think about them. Adding that my comment probably made her day.

There isn’t a day now that I don’t tell people the good I see in them. In fact, for many years now every yoga class I teach I ask for guidance to be a lamp to show my students the goodness and beauty that they are. True story.

Some of the lessons my mom taught were more like a stern finger wagging and furrowed brow warning. Like that you should be kind to everyone you meet, because they might be your boss one day. This is still relevant to me, but I’ve put a different spin on it.

It’s important to be kind to everyone we meet, but not because it might come back to us in a bad way if we don’t. We can put positive spin on it, like: be kind to everyone you meet because they might be your new best friend, advocate, business partner, spouse, investor, client, supporter, who knows right? This interaction could be lucky for a million reasons.

Yesterday morning I stopped our letter carrier on the sidewalk. I was curious because I’d seen her and a few others on this route and was wondering if it was a shared walk. I told her about my experience as a letter carrier for Canada Post over a decade ago. She brought me up to speed on the changes since. Wee chatted about the virtues and challenges of the job. We also discovered we have people in common, and the conversation went on easily like that.

Later that day she dropped off a few parcels (a new blue sun hat for Magnus, and new black Birkenstocks for me). Walter stormed out like it was his first taste of freedom after 20 years in jail. He’s such a turkey! She asked if she could give him her peanut butter toast to goad him back. Once he smelled it, he gobbled it up greedily while I coaxed him back into the house.

A warm and kind few minute conversation and a funny interaction brightened both of our days. Now that we’ve met, I’m excited to see her everyday. It’s like running into a friend, not just a nice person I wave to daily.

Be kind to everyone you meet, because you never know who this person might be to you OR how your life will be enriched by this new connection. Tell me now, what lessons did your mom teach you that still influence you?

Procrastinating: Could it be helping you?

Do you ever find yourself procrastinating? I do, and I’ll tell you why.

This morning I had a lot on my mind.

I’m working on a teleconference for the local university, I’m teaching two courses, and taking one of my own. My mind was full as I was trying to formulate the hook for the telecourse knowing that I only had an hour to actually work on it before teaching my own course.

Instead of going straight to my office, I found myself washing the dishes, picking up my toddler’s books, and making tea before making my way there.

As I was doing these tasks the hook I was looking for started to formulate.

So, is procrastinating always bad?

I recently read about an experiment with Chinese College students doing various creative thinking tasks while in different physical state like standing, lying down, and sitting, or walking in figure eights, and walking freely. The experimenters found that out of the first 3 listed, standing got better ratings than seated or lying down, and walking freely earned better ratings than figure eights.

The researchers proposed that more physically active conditions probably use more mental bandwidth reducing the amount of control people had over their thoughts.

The less control we have, the easier it is for our brains to access our subconscious which can put together seemingly abstract thoughts to create those “a-ha!” moments. You know, the ones that usually happen in the shower.

But remember, there is a difference.

Purposely wasting time and avoiding tasks to put them off IS procrastinating and will likely not get you any further.

But, when your problem-solving skills are at a standstill, purposely going for a walk, getting a cup of tea, or going out for a run may help your mind access what you’re looking for.

Tell me in the comments below, where and when do you get your best ideas?

Then join me in the Fearless Facebook group for more great tips to live with more calm, confidence, and control here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FearlessCourse/

8 simple ways to set healthy digital limits.

The proof is undeniable: our devices are making our lives more stressful, toxic, and anxious.

For many of us, our devices are the first thing we look at and the last thing we see.

Yet they have become an integral part of our lives and in many ways, are improving the way we live.

They allow us to work from anywhere in any time zone.

We can reconnect and stay updated with people who would have otherwise been lost to us through time, and feel like we know them even if we never speak to them in real life.

The answers to anything you can imagine can be found in seconds.

Now you can monitor your health and even find apps to make you healthier.

You can be informed and entertained, and never have to deal with the uncomfortable feelings of loneliness, boredom or awkwardness, simply by turning on a screen.

They have become our constant companions.

Yet, the more plugged in we are, the more disconnected, lonely, and overwhelmed we become.

When my husband and I watch TV, often I’ll sit in front of him and rub his feet while he rubs my neck or plays with my hair.

It’s a nice way for us to connect and each get some loving in after a long day.

The other night while my husband and I were on the couch in our basement, he was watching hockey, and I was snuggled up next to him and decided to check my Instagram.

I had been rubbing his arm, and he my leg, when I felt him impatiently nudge me because I had stopped as soon I checked my phone.

Annoyed by his impatience, I asked him if he was trying to get my attention.

Immediately I realized that I had disengaged…from him: a real person here with me now.

(Sigh, I’m human too.)

When I see commercials of families watching TV together, they look something like this:

A happy family is tangled together on the couch laughing.

There’s usually a dog, some popcorn, and the room is dimly lit to highlight the TV screen that everyone’s eyes are on. The faces are engaged, smiling, and happy in a beautiful yet comfortable living room.

I’ve never seen a commercial of mom and dad trying to catch up on work emails while the kids are on Snap Chat. The whole family all staring at their own device, not speaking, while the TV blares on.

But maybe this one is more honest.

This is the paradox of devices because as humans we are all looking for connection.

And, you can be disconnected, distracted, and disengaged from your life and everything you say you love most…like I did with my husband.

Screens are important, and using limits allow you to enjoy the power of them while still feeling present and connected to what’s important to you.

Personally, I utilize strong limits and I have specific rules for my screens. Here are a few simple ones I try to use daily:

1)Do not disturb.

I have mine set from 9pm to 9am even though I get up at 6am everyday. This allows me to be in control of what and when I see it. Before 9am it’s my time and family time.

2) Out of sight out of mind.

When I’m with my son, family or friends, my phone is away. It’s so easy to be distracted (or tempted) to reach for it so it’s better out of sight until needed it. It actively prioritizes the people I’m with.

3) Time limits.

Social media is like a black hole for me just like it is for so many. It’s too easy to keep scrolling hoping to find something that peaks your interest. But we don’t feel any happier, and often feel worse and more agitated because of it. Information overload is a real thing so, I limit my sessions to under 5 minutes.

4) Boundaries.

I have my work email on my phone, and just like I don’t start looking at them until 9am, I also don’t check them after supper. Looking at email in the evenings makes our minds too active to wind down, so leave it for the morning.

5) Turn off your push notifications.

When I had a Blackberry, I used to get anxiety every time the red light flashed, and it flashed ALL THE TIME. That flashing little light was so hard to resist, and it felt so insistent. So, I turned the push notifications off and have never turned back, continuing to do this with my iPhone. Turning off the notifications puts me back in control, so I am the one deciding when to look at my phone, not the phone.

6) The TV is on for only a few hours.

Before I moved in with my husband I hadn’t owned a TV for over 8 years. We have satellite and Netflix, but I still find TV mostly boring and a time waster that doesn’t do much for me. We have a young son, but even before he came along the TV was never turned on until after supper, and now, it’s after he goes to bed. Now, when we do watch TV together, it feels like something special rather than something to fill the space with.

7) Read books.

Even with all my limits, I use my device for most of my news, recipes, and information, so when evening comes, I read real books and magazines. One of the things we often forget with devices is that we are rarely ever doing one thing. We are often looking at multiple things at a time creating more brain buzz. Reading a book creates more focus, calms the mind, and helps you wind down before bed.

8) Ask why.

Lastly, question your motives when reaching for a screen. Are you bored? Do you want to kill time? Do you want to be entertained? Are you lonely? Are you uncomfortable? Do you want to feel busy? Do you want to tune out? These are all valid and very real ways to feel, and screens can easily be used for coping, but at a high cost. Instead, by putting screens away you’re doing the real work of building resilience, connection, and meaning which are the building blocks of happiness.

These aren’t the only ways to limit your screen time, and it’s a work in progress for me as I try to balance it within my own life. What I do know, is that using these guidelines has dramatically lowered my stress, made me feel more in control, and deepened all my relationships.

Tell me in the comments, how you manage your screen time and what are you interested in trying on the list?