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Inspire Others to Pay it Forward

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Kindness is contagious?” Most sayings like this come to become widely known because they’re based in truth. Research has found scientific evidence for the fact that kindness can spread in various ways. You’ve surely experienced or witnessed instances in which someone has paid it forward or a movement has spread based on one person’s good deed. In today’s post, I’d like to explore this concept further and show you just how far-reaching the concept of helping others can be.

Both Giver and Receiver Benefit

Everyone benefits from random acts of kindness. The giver feels good and gets that “helper’s high” from going out of their way to brighten someone else’s day. The recipient enjoys the surprise of an unsolicited positive outreach. We all appreciate when someone is nice to us. These good feelings tend to create a cycle because those involved want to continue feeling good. The giver gets a rush from helping someone and will often be motivated to keep giving in various ways. The recipient wants to share the rewards they’ve just gained. They may feel an obligation to “pay it forward”, but they know they will experience a reward, as well.

Observers Experience Benefits, Too

Even if you’re not directly part of an act of kindness, you can benefit. A phenomenon known as “moral elevation” exists that ensures good deeds will spread. It works by creating positive feelings when certain events are triggered within the peripheral and central nervous systems. These neurophysical connections are made when someone witnesses or hears about an act of kindness or feel-good story. The high or euphoric feeling you then get motivates you to want to do something good, as well, perpetuating the pay-it-forward cycle.

Evidence in Social Learning Theory

Social learning theory is the study of the ways in which groups interact. Its core principles are based on the fact that people will behave in similar ways to which they see those in their peer group or how their families behave. It’s sort of the “monkey see, monkey do” or “birds of a feather” philosophy. Therefore, when children grow up in a family in which kindness and compassion are the norm, they are more likely to display those traits also. Just as when teachers demonstrate and emphasize to their students a core philosophy of doing good, this standard will be the precedent among the class. Kindness is essentially contagious when groups continually perform such behavior.

You can make a difference in your small corner of the world by simply performing random acts of kindness. Science and centuries of anecdotal evidence backs this up. Be the change you wish to see and encourage the people around you to do good deeds. You’ll begin to see an impact.

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Use Your Voice to Make a Difference

There are so many ways to reach out and be kind to others. We’ve discussed doing so in big ways and with the simplest of acts. Today, I’d like to explore some of the ways you can use your voice to make a difference in the lives of those around you. We all have preferred communication methods. Using your preferred approach can make performing random acts of kindness less stressful or intimidating. Keep reading to discover what I mean.

Verbal Methods

Some of us are good at using our actual voices to convey meaning. Talking is the way we most like to communicate. If this sounds like you, try to capitalize on that fact. Tell someone they’re doing a great job. Call your loved one up on the phone to let them know you’re thinking of them. Go visit your neighbor to check in and make sure they’re all right. Those who are outgoing and love to talk have lots of ways they can engage in random acts of kindness.

Written Options

Other folks might feel intimidated about actually speaking to those in a way that makes them feel vulnerable. You might deal with social anxiety or be more introverted by nature. If that’s the case, there are still plenty of ways to show others you care and brighten their day. Maybe you’re a good written communicator. If so, send an email of thanks to a co-worker. Write a quick note on a post-it to surprise your child. Submit a review of a colleague on LinkedIn or leave a lovely blog comment for your favorite online personality. These are all great.

Artistic Expression

You don’t actually have to use your voice at all if you prefer to be more creative in your good deeds. You can volunteer to draw a mural for your neighborhood. Perhaps teaching an art class at the local community center or volunteering to paint with residents of a nursing home might be enjoyable for you. Using your creative gifts are also fantastic ways to make your voice heard in a meaningful way for others.

Body Language

Finally, another example of a way to communicate good will is in the subtle art of body language. A smile, hug or simply being present can make a huge difference in someone’s life. It’s okay to tell someone who’s going through a difficult time that you’d like to be there for them even if you don’t have the words or know-how to improve their life. Physically being near is a great comfort to many. That might be something you’re comfortable in doing. We can all give someone a smile or encouraging nod, at the very least.

Consider these ways of giving back through your words or other forms of language. There are truly no limits to the ways we all can perform random acts of kindness.

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Make A Big Impact on the World Around You

We’ve talked a great deal about the ways that small acts of kindness can have powerful results. They can truly change someone’s outlook and brighten their day. Today, I’d like to move on to discuss ways to give back and share with others that involve more effort. If you have the time, money or other resources to give, there are a lot of ways to make a big impact on the world around you. These types of activities may not be for everyone, but they’re certainly worthwhile if you are able to take part in them. Let’s explore some of the large-scale random acts of kindness you can take on if you want to provide in a grand way.

Start or Participate in a Fundraiser

Fundraising is important and can benefit a number of causes, from individuals in need to assisting the victims of natural disasters. Spearheading or even taking part in an established movement can entail a great deal of work and commitment. The results are usually tremendous, though. If you want to help someone in a big way, setting up or helping with a fundraiser is a great way to do it. You could rally everyone at your school, office or community to get involved. It’s also possible for your movement to reach a national scale, depending upon your resources and public interest.

Create a Foundation or Nonprofit

Another way to see results on a big scale is to set up a charitable foundation or nonprofit organization. You can benefit a particular cause through your efforts, and the number of people it’s possible to help is impactful. In order to do either of these activities, you will likely need a large amount of money and the help of experts like lawyers and financial advisers. However, it is possible to obtain grants or other funding backers to help you. There may be fewer limits than you think.

Participate in Philanthropy

Volunteering is something you can do in your free time on occasion. Many people do this. It can also be undertaken at a larger level. You could take on the effort of establishing a crew of volunteers, perhaps from your work or just among friends, to help out a particular cause. Sometimes the benefactors of such volunteerism are individuals or families who are experiencing a difficult time. Other times, an existing organization can reap the rewards of your efforts. Volunteering on a large-scale may seem intimidating, but it’s not so bad when many people pitch in. You just might be the motivational leader to make it happen.

If you’ve ever felt compelled to make a difference in a big way, consider one of these options. Some extra effort, dedication and resources can result in a random act of kindness that goes beyond anything you ever imagined.

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Random Acts of Kindness Don't Have to Be Expensive or Difficult

One thing I’ve learned along the way to becoming proficient at performing random acts of kindness is that it takes practice and creativity. I’ve already shared some ways for you to get started on your own do-gooder practice, but you still may not be convinced. Doing something for others doesn’t have to take much effort at all. It also doesn’t have to cost a dime. Let’s take a look at some ways you can reach out and brighten someone’s day in the easiest way. You can never have too many good examples.

  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Encourage someone who’s struggling.
  • Give a word of praise to someone who’s least expecting it, like your boss.
  • Hold the elevator for someone who’s in a rush.
  • Read a child a story.
  • Listen to someone’s complaint.
  • Say a heartfelt thank you.
  • Share a friend’s creative work on social media.
  • Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time just to say hello.
  • Leave a blog comment when you read a post that truly resonates with you.
  • Offer a homeless person your leftovers from a restaurant or bagged lunch.
  • Tell a frazzled parent what a good job they’re doing or how well-behaved their child is.
  • Give someone a hug if they say it’s okay to do so.
  • Offer to return someone’s shopping cart.
  • Share a kind word with the customer service representative, either on the phone or in-person.
  • Give up your seat to someone standing on the subway or bus.
  • Write a short message of thanks or encouragement to a co-worker, your partner or random stranger.
  • Say hello to a homeless person.
  • Introduce yourself to a new neighbor or co-worker.
  • Make introductions between your contacts if you feel they could benefit each other or get along well.
  • Let someone merge in front of you when driving in heavy traffic.
  • Offer to take on someone’s work task if you have time and they seem swamped.
  • Give someone a ride who doesn’t have a car.
  • Make amends for past wrongs to someone who was once in your life.
  • Agree to an activity you might not enjoy just because someone else will love it.
  • Invite someone to your holiday celebration if you know they’ll be alone.
  • Share your expert knowledge with someone who has questions and has asked for advice.
  • Write a recommendation on LinkedIn.
  • Offer to pick up items for others when you’re heading out to grab lunch or run an errand.
  • Recognize someone for their good idea or contribution during a work meeting.

Okay, now are you ready to get out there and start sharing random acts of kindness? All of these are super-easy, low-effort and free ways to brighten someone’s day. You can do it!

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Try Doing a Random Act of Kindness Today

Even after yesterday’s list of ideas to get you started, you still may not be convinced you’re ready to go out there to spread unexpected joy in the world. I can understand that. Giving without a special occasion or particular reason feels foreign. You may worry about the reaction you’ll receive. Let’s explore some of these issues so you can move on from your comfort zone and try a random act of kindness today.

About Random Acts of Kindness

Kindness goes beyond simply being nice. Being kind is selfless. It requires empathy and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. In our busy modern world, we’re often consumed with hectic schedules and too many commitments. That can make it difficult to look outside of ourselves and consider the needs of others. Random acts of kindness require you to take the leap and do just that. These selfless acts are to be performed on behalf of others for no other reason than to make their day better or improve their mood.

What’s Holding You Back?

There are lots of things that could be keeping you from sharing random acts of kindness with others. Many people feel insecure about putting themselves out there and allowing themselves to be vulnerable in this way. It takes courage and self-confidence to give freely to another with no agenda or particular reason. You’ll probably overcome this comfort once you begin to practice doing little acts here and there. Sometimes people feel themselves to be unworthy. They may think others wouldn’t receive their gift without suspicion. It can be risky to take such a leap, but the rewards are usually worth it. Most recipients are quite enthusiastic and happy to get such a surprise. Maybe you just feel too wrapped up in your own needs that it seems impossible to spare anything for anyone else. Usually, you’ll find this not to be the case once you start to give.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Doing random acts of kindness take you out of your own little world and allow you to connect with others in meaningful ways. This can have a very powerful effect on you, your recipient and anyone who sees or comes in contact with your efforts. Performing unsolicited good deeds adds positivity to the world around you. It will rarely have negative repercussions. Try taking just one small step outside your comfort zone to give to another in even the smallest of ways. Then try something a bit more daring the next day. Each positive response will increase your confidence.

Are you ready to start performing random acts of kindness today? Hopefully, you’ve given some thought to what’s holding you back and feel enthusiastic about all the ways you could enhance the lives of those around you.

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Random Acts of Kindness to Inspire You

Performing random acts of kindness may be new to you, so it’s possible you have no idea how to begin. That’s okay. Coming up with ideas can be tough. That’s why today’s blog post is packed full of things you can do to make someone else’s day a little brighter. Some of the activities will cost you nothing and take only a moment of your time. Others will be more in-depth. Choose whatever fits your comfort level and the occasion. Enjoy these examples of random acts of kindness to inspire you.

  • Hold the door open for the person behind you whose hands are full.
  • Allow the shopper in the grocery line move ahead of you if you only have a few items and their cart is full.
  • Check on an elderly neighbor or shut-in.
  • Donate your old clothes to charity.
  • Tape change to a parking meter or vending machine.
  • Give the new employee a tour of your work area or offer to sit with them at lunch.
  • Volunteer. At a nursing home, a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, your kid’s school, anywhere.
  • Adopt a child or family during the holidays to give gifts to.
  • Send a get-well card to someone, or even a card for no reason whatsoever.
  • Ask for donations to your favorite charity instead of presents for your birthday.
  • Smile at someone on the street.
  • Give an unsolicited compliment.
  • Pay for the person behind you in line at the fast food restaurant or drive through.
  • Let the manager of the store know when an associate gives you exceptional service.
  • Leave kind notes in the dressing room to encourage body positivity.
  • Offer to babysit for parents who really need a night away or to help with the nightly feedings for a new mother friend.
  • Clean up the trash in your neighborhood or at your favorite outdoor recreation spot like a park or beach.
  • Visit a nursing home just to spend time with those who rarely receive visitors or to bring treats for the residents.
  • Send a note of thanks to someone who’s made a big difference in your life.
  • Pay for someone’s layaway who hasn’t made a payment in a long while.
  • Fundraise by participating in a 5K, walk or other sponsored activity.
  • Shovel the driveway for elderly neighbors or those who may otherwise have trouble doing the job themselves. Mowing lawns and raking leaves are also good ideas.
  • Mentor a young person entering your profession
  • Help someone stranded on the side of the road.
  • Take the time to listen to someone who is having a bad day.

Hopefully, this quick list will inspire you to begin sharing random acts of kindness with those around you. Pick one from the list or come up with an idea of your own, then just do it. See how you feel. Chances are you’ll be ready to do another one tomorrow.

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What Are Random Acts of Kindness and Why Do They Matter?

You’ve probably been the recipient of a random act of kindness in your lifetime. Think back to an instance in which someone has helped you out of a tough situation when they could see you were having difficulty or when a friend simply paid you a compliment out of the blue. A sweet surprise like this can really make a difference. Did you also know such experiences can also be good for your health and overall well-being? It’s true. A random act of kindness can be a good deed, caring word, selfless act or small gift. Even a smile can brighten someone’s day. Take a look at some of the benefits of random acts of kindness.

Encourage Gratitude

Doing something nice for someone else can make you feel grateful for your blessings. This is especially true when the recipient of your act is less fortunate than you or in a tough spot. When you realize you’re able to give even the smallest bit of yourself to someone else, it shines perspective on the abundance you have in your life.

Lower Stress

Stepping out of ourselves in order to focus on someone else is another great way to gain renewed perspective. Plus, doing good just makes you feel better. It releases feel-good hormones and increases your happiness. Suddenly, your troubles may seem a bit less burdensome.

Improved Mood

Numerous studies have shown a positive effect on mood when people engage in random acts of kindness. You’re bound to feel better about life in general when you do good deeds. Improved mood, less anxiety and higher energy levels have all been linked to the performance of random acts of kindness. In fact, research has demonstrated that the pleasure and reward centers of the brain actually light up in those who perform these acts in much the same way as they respond in the recipients. It even has a name, and that’s “helper’s high.”

Less Pain

You might even feel physically better when you practice kindness. It’s been proven that endorphins are released in the brain after doing something for someone else. Endorphins are hormones produced in the brain and nervous system. They’re often referred to as natural painkillers for their pain reducing abilities.

Better Relationships

When you do something nice for another person, they will naturally recall that act with fondness. Random acts of kindness promote good feelings among people and increase connections. These bonds can lead to better relationships and lasting positive interpersonal results.

These are merely a handful of the rewards that come from doing random acts of kindness. Remember, it doesn’t matter how small the gesture. Doing good always makes a positive difference to both the giver and the recipient.

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5 Amazing Benefits of Being Yourself

Be yourself. It’s advice so strong that it has come full circle and become cliché. You might often channel your energy into becoming someone, anyone else. You may think a certain car, job, or amount of money will make you the person you need to be, but the truth is both sobering and empowering. If you can’t learn to be okay with yourself right now, in this moment, you never will be.


If you still need some encouragement to embrace yourself and live the life you were meant to, read on! Here are 5 amazing benefits of living true to yourself.


Confidence
Hendrie Weisinger Ph.D., in an article on Psychology Today, said ”Confidence by those who study the subject is ‘the degree to which you think and “feel” your actions will achieve positive results.’”


When you do something that disagrees with your personal convictions, you will not have confidence in that action. We tend to get what we put out into the world, so others will not have confidence in the action, either. They may also be able to see the disingenuous feeling behind the action.

On the flip side, when you make a decision and know it is true to your own set of morals, you will make it confidently. People will respect your conviction and find your decision reasonable. If you are confident in who you are and what you are doing, others will tend to fall in line. That’s how leaders are made!


No More Holding Stuff In
When we aren’t true to ourselves, we often end up in professions and relationships we hate. In these situations, we put on a mask. We say, “Yes sir, no sir, I’m so sorry.” When we mean “Why do you want that? Yes, I do want to go home early. Eat it.”


However, when you’re true to yourself, you can be honest. It won’t come from a place of bitterness, either. If you disagree with your boss, it’s likely to be for a good reason that you should bring up. If you and your partner are unhappy, you will tell them why and either fix it together or set them free.


Bye, Bye Stress
When we don’t know who we are, we tend to worry about everything. Did we say the wrong thing? Are we with the right person? Did we leave the stove on?


When you’re living true to yourself, you can double down on your decisions rather than worrying if they were correct. You won’t live a stress free life but knowing you did was true to you is a great relief.

Fake Friends Start Dissolving!
When you take off your mask and live as your true self, some people may not like it. Don’t fret, though. Those are the people who never liked the real you! Wave goodbye with a smile and move on to supportive friends who accept your true self.
Everyone Else is Already Taken


Be yourself, everyone else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde.


Have you ever heard a band that reminds you A LOT of another band? What about a movie that tries all too hard to copy a famous blockbuster? In some cases, mainly on the racks of bargain brand clothes stores, knockoffs can make some cash. They will never, however, stand on their own because they will never be their own. They will always be a less authentic version of something else.


This is why you need to be your true self. You can learn from others, but don’t try to be them. You are you, and only you can be you.
So, go be you!

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Where I Find Moments for Self Care During the Day

Living in the twenty-first century is a hectic, fast-paced, and stressful experience for many of us. Trying to juggle work, family, and social lives is a constant pressure with very little time for chilling out and relaxing. Finding time for self-care can be challenging, especially when as women, we have been taught to put everyone else’s needs before our own. Here are some I have found to look after myself, even when I am on the go:

Stretch

Stretching the body is so good for you and it only takes a minute. Stretching helps to maintain your body’s flexibility, can help release toxins from the body, and increase blood circulation. Try range-of-motion stretches such as shoulder shrugs, wrist and ankle rotations, and straightening and bending the knees. Do this for all your joints. You may find you are able to move with less stiffness and pain as a result. I do these simple stretch exercises while I sit in traffic, wait at the grocery store checkout and while I am on the phone.

Breathe

Whenever you feel stressed, take a few minutes to just breathe. Breathing is something you can focus on at any time. Contrary to what your mother might have told you, don’t “Take a deep breath.” Science tells us that breathing in increases the stress response while breathing out helps to relax us.

Try breathing in for two and out for four. Exhale all the way out and allow your body to breathe in when it is ready. Let the breath find its way into your lower belly. This is a relaxed way to breathe.

Relax

Practice relaxation regularly. This helps alleviate your stress levels, and when you are relaxed, your mind will slow down and you will not think such worrisome thoughts. You will feel peaceful and calm. Progressive muscle relaxation is a good way to start: I begin by clenching my toes for 7 seconds and then releasing.

I move to the next muscle group, i.e., my calf muscles, clench for 7 seconds and then release. Eventually, I work my way around my entire body. When you do this, notice how different you feel now compared to when you started the exercise.

Be Grateful

Research shows that people, who regularly practice gratitude experience greater life satisfaction, have increased levels of happiness and are less prone to depression. An attitude of gratitude can improve sleep and bring about a feeling of contentment, as opposed to a sense of emptiness, hopelessness, longing, and constant dissatisfaction encouraged by our materialistic society, which tells us, we can never, ever have enough. You can say your “thankyous” silently to yourself as you go throughout your day. Make sure you really feel a sense of gratitude.

Stay In The Moment

Mindfulness is a form of meditation, but you don’t need to subscribe to any religious or philosophical belief system in order to practice it and gain the benefits. Mindfulness is the art of staying in the present moment, without worrying about the future or obsessing over the past.

Some aids to helping you stay centered in the present moment include focusing on your breath, the experience and sensation of breathing gently in and out or using the five senses to keep you rooted in your present moment experience.

Final Thoughts

All of these tools can be incorporated into your busy day, whenever you have a moment or even as you go about your daily tasks. Take a 30-second break from your desk and do some stretches; remember at any time to breathe and to stay mindfully focused on the task at hand. Learn to feel grateful for all the riches in your life and you will become calmer and more relaxed.

When you are stuck in a situation you cannot change, try the muscle relaxing technique. With a little dedication, you will have created a self-care routine that doesn’t take time away from all your responsibilities, and you will feel so much happier for making the effort.

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How I Found “Me” Time

I, like most women, am pre-programmed to take care of everybody else before me. It’s hard in this day and age when we seem to be doing it all. We’re daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, professionals, and we feel the pressure every single day.

But we all know how we can be after a couple of nights (or months) of not getting adequate sleep, or how frustrated we get when we don’t get even 15 minutes a day to ourselves.

Taking time off to do something you enjoy as a means of taking the edge off and releasing the pent-up pressure of your daily responsibilities isn’t a luxury – it’s a must!

Studies show that when you don’t prioritize yourself and your needs for, at least, a few minutes each day, you become resentful of those taking up your time and space. Then you start taking it out on them by lashing out, being frustrated all the time as opposed to your usual calm and sweet self.

Taking a breather gives you the opportunity to relax and recharge so you come back with a better ability to carry out your commitments with more clarity and a sense of enjoyment. Learning to be “in the moment” is crucial to your own personal sense of happiness.

This is what those who practice meditation refer to as “practicing mindfulness.” It gives you the power to control your emotions and lower your stress levels. When stress levels are low, your perspective on things tends to be more balanced, and positive, you’re not angry as much, you’re more organized, in control and energetic.

“We’re a multitasking society. If we’re having a conversation with a friend, we’re thinking about the other things we have to get done,” says Allison Cohen, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles. “Instead, you need to be present in the moment…”

Often people ask me how I do so much. My response is I have learned to be in the moment. Whoever I am with, whatever I am doing, I concentrate on that and only that. No additional phone calls, no extracurricular activity, nothing. Just that encounter. It keeps things in perspective and creates clarity and strategic moves.

Here are a few tips to remind you how important it is to carve out some time for yourself.

You deserve it.

In order to lower stress levels, women need to stop feeling guilty about leaving the dishes unwashed, leaving the kids to play on their own for a few minutes, or leaving their work at work. So the first step is to consciously make the decision to free up some minutes during the day for you – everything (and everyone) else can wait.

“You have to build in battery recharge time,” says Margaret Moore, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. “We’re very good at project management in our work lives, but not so well in our personal lives. Treat it like any project…”

Decide how you’d like to spend these precious minutes.

Some women exercise, others read a book; some do yoga, while there are those who just want a cup of coffee and some quiet. Whatever provides you with relaxation and a chance to free your thoughts and release some of the pressure, then that’s what you should do.

Remember, though, that you should treat this time as you would any other appointment and don’t get bullied by your sense of guilt into doing housework or running errands during your special time.

It takes practice, but you’ll quickly discover that you become a much calmer version of you when you make time for yourself, and who doesn’t want that!

Practice smart time management skills.

Whether it’s scanning emails, surfing the net or answering personal calls during your workday, then it’s time to put a stop to anything that wastes time and leads to nothing. Learning to organize your responsibilities should be your top priority, this will eliminate stress and free up time, which you can use for something more enjoyable.

You can even sit down during the weekend to organize your time, and write down everything that should be accomplished for that week. Sometimes, this means that there may be times when you have to say “no” to some obligation or other that you don’t want to participate in that doesn’t bring satisfaction or joy into your life.

On the plus side, if you’re facing a problem at work or at home, sometimes the best way to find an answer is to stop thinking about it altogether.

Channel your energy into doing something creative. Being creative could be what you need to grease those brainstorming wheels and regain your focus. It could also be the exact thing you need for better sleep.

Find the time.

Well, unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day – you won’t ever be able to change that. However, what you can do is free up some time here and there to your own personal gain. Juggling your work or study schedule, traffic and everything in between can be freakishly difficult to handle.

However, all you need are some smart organizational skills, and you can be the one in control of your time and not the other way around.

  • If you drive, use this time to listen to music or the radio. You can even enjoy the quiet and your own thoughts.
  • If you can ditch your car and use public transportation, then you can use that time to do something you enjoy, like read a book or writing or even meditation.
  • If you can walk, all the better. This way, you’re doing some exercising; you can listen to music or an audiobook.
  • If you have an appointment, try to get there 15 minutes, or even more, early so you can have those minutes to yourself.
  • If you can, have lunch by yourself at least once a week. Go to the park to get a break from all noise pollution, or if you can’t, stay in your car or a quiet cafe or restaurant where you won’t find any distractions. Many associate being alone with loneliness, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Being by yourself allows you to enjoy your own company. You get back in touch with your interests, likes and dislikes so you know exactly what makes you happy, and a stronger version of yourself.

“Solitary time can help you have a better understanding of yourself, your thoughts, and your emotions,” says Katherine L. Muller, PsyD, associate director at Center for Integrative Psychotherapy.