Three Me Steps – by Haley B. Jones-Chiarmonte

This past Tuesday was a typical day for me. I woke up around 7:30am, made my coffee, checked emails and prepared for another day at school. Pretty normal stuff until I received an unexpected text message from a friend of mine I hadn’t heard from in over a year.  This friend openly confessed, “I’m struggling. My relationship isn’t going well, I don’t like my job, and I’m very depressed. Any advice?”

As you can imagine, I was a little shocked by her text. She is beautiful, talented, and fun to be around. I had no idea she was having such a hard time and it broke my heart. My reply to her was probably what most people would say under the circumstances. I told her to focus on the positive things in her life and take things just one moment at a time, otherwise, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Although all of that is true, my advice on how to stay positive and create happiness has shifted. Since her text I’ve thought a lot about times when my life was unhappy. Times involving addiction, feelings of hopelessness, divorce, failing or feeling overwhelmed and emotionally disconnected. I think we all have circumstances that cause us to have times like this. Which is why I’ve narrowed down a small list of things that have drastically improved my situation when I’m feeling blue. I call the list, “3 Me Steps”.

1. Try Something New: This step has been an important part of happiness for me.  Learning a new song, a new language, or just picking up a new book can create positive thought and a healthy challenge. I’ve also found that baking has brought me a lot of joy. Here are some of my favorite things to help you get started.

For my book readers try Mrs. Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It is an easy read but a spooky tale that will take you to another world for a moment, fill your mind with imagination, and create a way for you to escape. If you are more into the true stories, try Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This book is about her adventure crossing the Pacific Crest Trail and is an epic true story of her triumph out of emotional darkness.

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Anyone looking for a great recipe can try my “Better Than Baked” raw cookie dough bites. No flour, eggs, processed sugar or butter so they are basically awesome!

You will mix the following ingredients into a bowl:

1 Cup Organic Oats

2 Tablespoons of Flax Meal

½ Cup Raw Almond Butter

1/3 Cup Raw Honey

1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract (sometimes I throw in a little more)

Add some dark chocolate chips

Mix it all together and then roll them into balls and place them in a freezer bag to chill for about an hour. I keep mine in the fridge and snack on them whenever I get a sweet tooth! My husband and kids LOVE them!

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2. Sweat Once a Day: I know some of you are rolling your eyes, and it’s okay, I hated exercising when I first started. Sometimes I still hate it, but I can’t deny that it has done wonders for my physical and emotional strength. I’ve NEVER regretted the decision to workout. Here is a workout you can do at the gym, at home, or wherever you feel comfortable. Our bodies are amazing machines that when put into use, can naturally change your mood, your abs and your mind. Stop thinking of exercise as a chore, and look at it as your new best friend. You need this!

Warm Up: Pick your favorite Britney Spears song and dance around to it, or run on the treadmill.

50 Jumping Jacks

20 Push Ups

10 Booty Pops

30 Bicycle Crunches

20 Lunges

15 Burpees (ouch, these hurt but they work!)

15 V-ups (look it up on YouTube if you don’t know what these are)

15 Toe Touch Crunches (Legs UP!)

30 Squat Jumps

16 Cheer Kicks (each leg)

Repeat this routine 3 times and I guarantee you will feel the heat. Go for it!

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3. Take Yourself on a Date Once a Month: This is a new one for me. I started doing this a few months ago when my husband was traveling for work and I was feeling very lonely. A friend of mine suggested that I stop pouting and use his absence as an opportunity to treat myself extra nice. Here are two ways to accomplish this:

First, make yourself a meal that sounds delicious. It could be comfort food, take-out, or really anything that makes you go “mmmmm”. Then go buy yourself some flowers, light some candles at the table, set out a placemat, turn on some soothing music, and turn the lights down. After your meal, draw a bath or do anything else that is super relaxing for you. Make it YOUR night, and for God’s sake, turn off your phone. Outside distractions can make you feel anxious so turn off the gadgets, sink into a meditative state, and love yourself a little.

The other option I have found really fun is going outside the house and finding a new restaurant, then heading to a movie. Just last Thursday I took myself out for some Thai food and the hilarious movie “We’re The Millers.” It made me smile that I was okay with being alone and I could laugh as loud as I wanted.

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The point of all of this is to learn to be confident alone and find ways to treat yourself the way you deserve. The only person who has control over your life is YOU, so start with one or all of these 3 steps and see if they work for you.

I have since talked with my friend who was having a hard time. She has been sending me videos of her singing and trying new things. My hope is that with the continuation of self-love, and the “3 Me Steps” she will become happier and it will help her get through this rough patch. If you have any fun recipes, book suggestions, or want to add to the steps, please fill free to share them on the comments below. What has worked for you? What step will you commit to? I’d love to hear about your experiences via twitter (@haleybee), email, or right here on this site. Good Luck Readers!