Famous Mexican Flautas

Flautas Square2I didn’t used to cook. My mom was single most of my life and working two or three jobs so I don’t specifically remember many nights of mother/daughter cooking sessions. It wasn’t until my mission where the Hispanic women took me under their wing and taught me how to make all kinds of culinary masterpieces that cooking even started to interest me. 

This is one of those masterpieces. In fact, probably the first one.

I remember spending one of our preparation days at Maria Villela’s house while she told us that her flautas were always the best and everyone thought so. That’s because instead of just plain boiled chicken, she always made a little sauce that she coated the chicken in. The sauce gives it more flavor and keeps it moist.

It took me like 2 hours to shred the chicken that day because I didn’t know what I was doing and I remember thinking she was getting a little bit antsy with me. “Who is this white girl and why doesn’t she know anything about cooking?!” 

Needless to say I’ve come a long way. Flautas are another one of my family’s favorite Mexican dinners. Yes, they look like taquitos and you go ahead and call them whatever you want. The thing about Mexican food (or any food really) is that the names, ingredients, and preparation of the same dish changes depending on where you are. To me, they’re flautas, which means “flutes.”

FlautasE4

I’m not gonna lie though, rolling these little babies sucks. If you can enlist the help of someone to take over that job while you do the rest, it’s not so bad. And if you cook for a normal amount of people it probably won’t suck so much. It just seems like every time I make these I end up making a bazillion because they get eaten as fast as they come out of the pan. 

A normal serving size of flautas at a restaurant is usually like 4. I assure you, you will eat more than 4 of these. Good luck to you to stop before 8. They’re that good.

I’ve kind of Americanized these, just a little. My favorite way to eat them is with fresh guacamole, Mexican crema, and some kind of Mexican cheese like queso fresco or queso cotija. Which is a little more traditional. Of course I always aim to please and my mom won’t eat them without the tomatillo dressing. The flauta itself is totally traditional according to my Mexican friend Maria. You choose the sides and that will determine the level of authenticity your meal takes on.

FlautasE5

I’ve also Americanized the preparation a little. Let me be honest and say I do not know a single Mexican woman who owns a crockpot. They will all tell you to boil the chicken in a pot on the stove, with onion, garlic, and a bay leaf. I much prefer to throw it in a crockpot. It’s soooooo much easier to shred and it can cook in the sauce so you dirty less dishes. Trust me on this one. 

Mexican Flautas
Yields 24
Chicken stuffed corn tortillas that are rolled, fried, and topped with lettuce and dressing.
Write a review
Print
For the flautas
  1. 4 chicken breasts
  2. 2 tomatoes
  3. 1/4 white onion
  4. 1 garlic clove
  5. 1 bay leaf
  6. 1/2 cup water
  7. 1 tsp. chicken boullion
  8. 24 corn tortillas
  9. canola or vegetable oil for frying
For the tomatillo dressing
  1. 1 cup milk
  2. 1 cup mayonnaise
  3. 1.5 tbsp. ranch dressing mix
  4. 3 whole tomatillos, husks removed
  5. 2 garlic cloves
  6. 1/2 bunch cilantro
  7. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  8. 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeds removed
For the possible toppings
  1. shredded lettuce
  2. Mexican crema
  3. guacamole
  4. tomatillo dressing
  5. queso fresco (or queso cotija)
For the flautas
  1. Blend together tomatoes, onion, garlic, water, and chicken bouillon to make the sauce. Place the chicken breasts into the crockpot and cover with sauce and a bay leaf. Cook on low for 8 hours (4 hours on high).
  2. You will know the chicken is ready when you can easily shred it with two forks. Beware not to overcook it to the point it becomes mushy.
  3. Flash fry the tortillas in oil so that they are still pliable. You can also heat them up in the microwave in a plastic bag but flash frying will prevent them from getting too wet and falling apart.
  4. Place about 2 tbsp. of chicken about 1/3 of the way up the tortilla and roll. Make sure the tortillas are not too full or you will have a hard time keeping them closed. Place seam side down on a platter.
  5. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan and fry the flautas in batches (always start with the seam side down). Place enough in the pan to keep them from rolling and opening. Turn several times to ensure even browning on all sides.
  6. When finished, place fried flautas on another platter lined with a couple of layers of paper towels to soak up excess oil.
For the tomatillo dressing
  1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender.
Assembling
  1. Align flautas on a plate and top with lettuce, crema, and crumbled cheese. Use guacamole and tomatillo dressing for dipping or pour over the top.
Adapted from Maria Villela
Adapted from Maria Villela
Count the Happies http://countthehappies.com/

*     *     *     *     *

What was your first major cooking experience?

Signature Yellow2

FlautasFB2

Depression: 10 Do’s and Don’ts to Help Someone Drowning In It

DrowningSquare

Empathy can be difficult when you’re trying to understand something you have no experience with. We can understand lots of things intuitively and still have no real comprehension of what it’s like or how to deal with it in real life.

Depression is no different. While so many of us struggle with it, an added struggle is trying to explain it to people who have never experienced it. They just assume it’s about perspective and it doesn’t seem that serious. “Life is all about ups and downs you know?” “Just try a little harder,” they say. 

I’m going to attempt an analogy that seems appropriate for my experience with depression and hope it might resonate with some of you who have never struggled with it. 

I know all too well that rising feeling of drowning in depression. It’s like floating in a large lake where there isn’t a sidewall to grab ahold of, the boat is far away in the distance, and you’re sinking. Not quickly, but slowly, giving you time to think about why you didn’t just grab ahold of the boat, or why you didn’t bring a life jacket, or why you can’t just kick your legs so that you can at least stay above water a little longer.

The feeling of the water starting to trickle in your ears causes you to snap your mouth shut tightly. You start to feel the water approaching your nose and you instinctively hold your breath. At the same time you’re thinking, “Swim you idiot!” But for some reason your legs and arms won’t work. You know how to swim, you’ve done it in the past, but your limbs are full of lead and you just can’t today. It’s incredibly frustrating to try to convince yourself to do something you just can’t do, even though you know intuitively that you should be able to.

There are people on the banks of the lake who are genuinely worried and they’re shouting to you, “Just swim! Kick your legs!” And you’re sarcastically thinking, “No, really?” You’re so ashamed that you just can’t pull it together and get your dead legs to move. So you frantically look around for anything or anyone that might be able to help you and you realize, everyone else is too far away and they’re on land. You’re alone in the lake. Alone and drowning. You give one last mental push to get your legs to move. Nothing. After glancing around one more time, you just can’t take letting down all these people who want you to swim and you can’t make yourself do it. So you close your eyes and let yourself sink. 

You might totally identify with this. I know some of you are nodding your heads, while others are scratching theirs. It’s so difficult to understand something like depression unless you’ve lived it. People who don’t understand it might think it’s an immature way of getting people’s attention or a lack of positive thinking. Maybe depression comes from a lack of faith in God or in His power to heal. I’ll tell you what it is. It’s a real feeling of being totally incapable. It’s feeling guilty about being incapable. It’s being ashamed that you can’t make yourself do anything or even care that you can’t. It’s a neurological problem.

lake2

Recently there was a great tragedy in our community when a loving wife and mother, battling postpartum depression and anxiety, gave up her life, leaving behind an adoring husband and 5 precious children. It literally eats at my soul how devastating this is and how real the feeling is, whether rational or not. We can look at it from the perspective of the people on the banks of the lake and say, “How tragic! How could she just give up? A little perspective could have changed it all. Had she realized how much she had going for her, maybe she wouldn’t have given up.” 

It is easy, and natural, as people from the banks to say this. However, for this precious daughter of God, it wasn’t that easy. 

This woman’s family has started a Facebook page called Nurture the Light that is aimed at raising awareness and helping others to understand how to help victims of depression and other mental illnesses.

One in seven women experience depression in the year after they give birth. This is frightening. For those of us who have experienced it, it might be a little comforting. We aren’t the only ones in the lake.

Some of these women have battled depression, or other mental health issues, for years. It is sometimes worsened after childbirth. Others have never had an episode until after having children. There are some women who also experience it during pregnancy. Depression rears its ugly head in so many different ways and seasons in life. It is different for everybody. What is similar though, are the feelings of helplessness and shame.

As the people on the banks, there are a few things we can do to try and help the drowning people in the lake. There are also some things we should definitely not do. Here are 10 Do’s and Don’ts for helping loved ones with depression.

1. Don’t place judgement

As illustrated in the analogy above, one of the worst things you can do is place more shame or guilt upon someone struggling with depression. If you make snide comments about how they look, act, are raising their kids, how ungrateful they are, or anything else about their life you are only dumping buckets of water on this person’s head. You may think you’re trying to get them to “wake up” but I assure you, you’re making the situation worse.

2. Do learn about depression and be compassionate

learn2

A little compassion can go a long way for someone with depression. Compassion will not come if you do not try to understand the illness. There are a million resources out there, from reputable people and organizations that are offering information about depression and how you can help. As soon as you lose the belief that this person can snap out of this fog on their own, you will be in a place to help.

3. Don’t make them feel like a project or burden

As people drowning in depression, the next worse thing you can do is focus so much attention on us that you make us feel like a project you are trying to fix. This just makes us feel like a burden because in our heads, there really isn’t any fixing. We start to feel guilty that you’re worrying so much so we try to shrink away in the hopes that you will focus on something else and move on with your life. 

4. Do offer hope

hope2

One of the scariest things about depression is the belief that it will never end. Sometimes, instead of judgement, what a depressed person really needs to hear is that there is hope for them, a genuine reassurance that this will not last forever. 

Encourage them to get professional help. Explain that you wish there was something you could do but you know even if you can’t, there are definitely professionals that are helping to treat depression in millions of other people everyday. There is no reason why those professionals can’t help them.

5. Don’t abandon them

Depressed people are hard to be around. Don’t think we don’t know it. That’s one of the hardest parts of depression. This simultaneous feeling of not wanting to burden anyone but also wanting companionship. When someone close to us says they just can’t handle our negativity it makes us feel like there is literally no one who can handle us. It’s hard to explain how alone that makes us feel. 

6. Do love them

love2

Never let them doubt of your love for them. Offer your encouragement in their choice of treatment, offer a listening ear, offer your hope for the future and your determination to stick by their side no matter what. Ask them what they really need, if they need you to stay or if they really just want to be alone. Offer help with mundane tasks and do it with complete and total selflessness. Any hint of grudge will heap on more guilt and shame for the depressed person. If you truly love them, you will continue to love them and make sure they’re aware of that.

7. Don’t ever take suicide lightly

If you get even a whiff that this person may be suicidal, do not take it lightly. It’s hard to do sometimes when people are constantly crying wolf and we sometimes interpret suicide threats as cries for attention. However, just remember you would never forgive yourself if you didn’t do something when you could have. The old adage, “Better safe than sorry” is the overarching belief we should all have when it comes to suicide.

8. Do take every precaution when it comes to suicide

suicide2

I found this to be an excellent resource for recognizing a suicidal person or situation and how to deal with it. Get help and offer love, encouragement and hope in the meantime. Let them know that you are taking this seriously and that you are there for them.

9. Don’t give them treatment advice unless you are qualified to do so

Telling someone who is depressed that your great aunt’s brother cured his depression by drinking the blood of a skunk while standing on his head under the light of a full moon is not going to offer hope. While there are natural remedies that some people have found success with, it is more important to encourage someone to get professional help. Depression can be a complex problem that requires a complex solution. Professional treatment programs including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes have proven over and over to be the most effective treatment for people with severe depression. 

10. Do offer to help to find treatment

doctor2

Sometimes the idea of setting up an appointment and doing all the little things required to actually make the appointment can be overwhelming for someone with depression. A little help from a loved one could make the difference between getting treatment and continually wallowing in the lake of depression. If you are willing to help search out a doctor, set up an appointment, and even take this person to their appointment, you may have done the most helpful thing anyone could do.

If you know someone who is struggling with depression I hope you realize how much influence you can have on them, either for better or worse. Sometimes it can make us feel helpless when someone we love is struggling with something we don’t understand. Have patience, have faith that the Lord can help you know the best way to help this person, and don’t give up. 

*     *     *     *     *

What are your suggestions for being there for someone with depression?

Signature Yellow2

 

 

DrowningFB2

DIY Wood Sign

Wood Sign Square

Every couple of years we get a crazy hair in our family and decide that we’re going to do all homemade gifts. Originally it was because we were all broke and thought homemade gifts would be more affordable. I quickly realized that first year that homemade gifts are not necessarily less expensive and require a whole lot of extra time! However, I made these last year and pulled it off for only a couple dollars each.

You can make them any size, shape, color you want and with whatever quote or saying you want. It’s a super versatile idea and I’m going to show you the basics. So if you’re not a huge fan of what my entryway sign says or the shape or color, you can easily customize it.

Also, I didn’t fully realize how many steps were actually involved and I want to reassure you that more tutorials are in the making for the basic techniques. In the meantime, I will provide some helpful links.

The first thing you need is a plan. Figure out where you want to put the sign if it’s for yourself and decide on the dimensions you want. We’re going to be using 1×4 lumber, which is actually about .75×3.5 (I still can’t figure out why they don’t just cut them true to size). So the width of the sign is whatever you want to make it and the height will be the number of boards high that you want. You can make a short sign with one board or taller with two, three, four, or however many you want. My sign is 3 feet (36 inches) wide and 3 boards tall.

You also need something to attach the boards to. I used a very small piece of trim and cut three pieces at 10 inches long to screw the boards into. You could just as easily use leftover pieces of 1×4’s but the smaller trim helped the sign sit more flush with the wall.

You will need some kind of saw to cut the boards unless you have really nice Home Depot workers to do it for you. I didn’t have that but I did have a dark and handsome man living here in my house who took care of it for me 🙂

Then you need to know your color scheme and the style you’re going for. I love the farmhouse, vintage kind of look and so I used three colors. You can just as easily, or probably easier, use just one color or just wood stain. 

MainE1

Lastly, you need some words. I spent a long time coming up with the words I wanted in my entryway. I decided on this quote from LDS Church President Harold B. Lee because I thought it was a great reminder to me everyday that I walk in my house what is most important.

Ok, now that you have a plan, let’s get started!

What You Will Need

Materials

  • 1×4 lumber (cut to meet your dimensions)
  • small pieces of trim for backing
  • screws (1 inch)
  • sandpaper (100-150 grit)
  • stain, chalk paint or acrylic paint (background and text color)
  • finishing wax or some kind of finishing varnish
  • D Hooks (or whatever hanging hardware you can find)

Tools

  • saw to cut lumber
  • drill
  • 2 regular paint brushes
  • small paint brush for writing
  • printer and paper
  • chalk
  • pen

Steps

1. Cut and sand wood

WoodE1

Simple as that. Once your boards are cut according to your dimensions, just sand the edges to get rid of any rough spots. If you’re going to stain your wood, do that before assembling. I usually stain my wood a darker color even if I’m going to paint over it. The dark color pops through the sanding in the finished product and makes it look older.

 2. Assemble

ScrewsE1

Decide which side of each board you want to be the front and order them the way that looks best. Beware of eyes and rough spots and try to keep the middle of the sign as uniform as possible to make it easier to paint the words on. Then flip them over and screw the trim onto the backs of the boards with a screw in each board.

If the backing is very thin you will want to drill small holes before you screw into them so the wood doesn’t split. Since my sign was fairly wide, I used 3 pieces of backing.

3. Paint

SandE1

You can use chalk paint or acrylic paint for this step. Here is the recipe I use for homemade chalk paint.

I painted this first color (driftwood grey from Glidden) with a really crappy, old brush and did it very lightly so I could still see the stain coming through. You can wait for it to dry in between coats but I’m not usually patient enough and I don’t mind the look from doing one color on top of another.

A word about chalk paint and dry times. If you’re trying to get good coverage it is essential that you wait at least a couple of hours between coats. If you’re going for a rougher look like me, chalk paint dries to the touch within a few minutes so it’s ok to layer without waiting for it to completely dry in between.

I layered on a second color (blue jay from Glidden) and then a last coat of white (pebble white from Glidden) with the same technique. Then I roughed it up with 150 grit sandpaper.

5. Print Words

PrintE2

I am so glad there are super smart people out there who figure out genius hacks and then post them all over the internet for me to easily locate and implement. I did not come up with this idea but saw it on several different blog posts.

You can create your words in Microsoft Word or any other word processor. That is the easiest, most straight forward way. I am quite attached to this font on Picmonkey so I designed my words on there and then opened it in a Word file to print it. Here is a post about designing in Picmonkey (which is free) and here is a post about printing large images in Microsoft Word.

Either way, you’ll need to create your words, size them appropriately, and print them out. You are likely going to use several pages. Just put the puzzle together with tape until you have your saying put back together. 

6. Transfer Words

ChalkE1

In order to transfer the words onto your wood, you take your chalk and scribble all over the back of your words.  

TraceE1

Then you tape it onto your board. Next, you take a ballpoint pen and meticulously trace each letter.

TraceE2

When you take it off, you’ll see the outline of the words! It’s like magic 

PaintLettersE1Now I’m going to be honest and tell you this next part is the most difficult but it’s totally doable and just requires some patience and tenacity. You don’t need to be artistic or crafty, just patient. You’re going to use a small paint brush to fill in the space inside your chalk words. Go slowly and smoothly, bending at your wrist, to follow the lines and fill in the space. You’ll probably need two coats so let it dry a couple of hours in between.

It certainly doesn’t have to be perfect and not all the letters will be exactly the same. Guess what, that’s what makes it homemade  

I roughed my letters up a little bit with sandpaper after they were dry.

7. Finish

WaxE1

Since I used chalk paint I used a finishing wax and a yucky old chip brush to buff in the wax and create a nice finish. Chalk paint is super porous and so a wax does an excellent job at filling in the pores and creating a smooth, lasting finish. It will harden over time and keep your paint from chipping. 

It’s super easy to do, just remember to only use a tiny, tiny bit. I barely dip my brush in the wax until there’s a very small amount on the bristles and rub it in with circular motions. That’s it! You can also buff it to give it a shine but I always skip that step since I like a matte finish.

8. Hardware

HardwareE1

You can use whatever hardware you have on hand or can find at the store. I used a wire hanging kit and it worked great. I’m not going to lie, hanging things on walls is not my strong point. There may or may not be several holes behind this sign now 

HangingE1I love being able to make things for my house. It’s kind of a fun hobby and then I get to be proud when someone says, “Oh that’s cute! Where did you get it?”

*     *     *     *     *

What saying are you going to use on your sign?

Signature Yellow2

Wood SignFB

 

5 Ways to Workout With Your Kids

Workouts squareMaking exercise a priority when you have kids can be really difficult. Long gone are the days of heading to the gym whenever you wanted. You have meals, school pick ups and drop offs, naps, soccer, piano, and play dates to work around. Sometimes trying to fit in exercise just seems like more work than you can handle at this stage in your life.

Dedicating a precious hour of my day to solely working out gives me a little anxiety because I feel like I don’t have the time or the energy to compartmentalize my life like that. I know some of you are screaming through your computer screen at me, “but the benefits far outweigh the hassle!” I believe you. Which is why I have found a way to integrate my life as a mother and my fitness goals.

Enter my plan to work out with my kids. I know, most people use exercise as an escape and their time to decompress after being with the kids all day. However, I see some amazing benefits to working out with your kids.

  1. You can do it whenever you can fit it in (aka no excuses)
  2. Your kids learn that being active is important
  3. They see that being active can be fun
  4. They get to be your cheerleader
  5. You have your “why” staring at you in the face

If you want to develop healthy habits like daily exercise, you’ve got to have a “why.” My biggest one is my kids. I want to help them develop healthier habits than I did. I want to have the energy to play with them, teach them, and live out my energy-zapping role as a mother. So working out with them keeps that vision front and center.

I’ve found some fun and creative ways to workout with your kids that we have been loving lately. These workouts are totally customizable to your level of fitness, the amount of time you have, and how involved you want to get the kids. Another plus? They’re all totally free 

1. Dance

Dance2

Apart from the crazy dance sessions I have with my kids in the kitchen at any given moment, we also like to do YouTube Zumba or Dance videos. My kids love to dance around and try to follow along. It totally boosts your confidence when you don’t have to keep up with the slender, ripped, 19-year-old girl dancing circles around you in class. Your toddlers are just as lost as you are.

I make playlists on YouTube and it makes it easy to turn on my TV, go to YouTube, and directly to my playlists to do some dance workouts. Some of our favorite channels for zumba are: Live Love Party (if you can get past the guy in the tutu, really?!), Club Fitz, and Shine Dance Fitness. You can also just search for a song you like and add “zumba” to the end of your search.

2. Obstacle Course

Ok, I haven’t tried this yet but it just came to me and you can bet we’re going to try this today. Do you remember making obstacle courses with your friends when you were little? We used to make up these random courses with whatever was lying around the yard. Then somebody would choose how you were to go through the course and in what order. Then we raced to see who could do it the fastest.

Oh we are definitely trying this today.

 3. Playground

Playground2

I was pretty disappointed in myself last week when we went to the park and my son crossed the monkey bars without any help and then asked me to do it…Sadly enough, I couldn’t cross even one bar for fear the joints in my arms would be ripped clear to shreds 

Clearly, I am out of shape. Then I remembered I told myself I was going to try these playground workouts I saw once and thought they were genius. The trick is finding a time and place where you can be by yourself with your kids. Good thing the elementary school playgrounds are free during the summer 

4. Strength Training

Who needs a personal trainer when you have kids?! Just give your oldest a whistle and a timer and watch how motivated you are to impress your kids. 

I pick random videos on YouTube and turn them into a playlist for different kinds of workouts. My 5-year-old is an exceptional cheerleader and when I start slacking off he’ll say, “Mom, she’s still going, you can’t stop.” 

We’ve tried the Women’s Workout Channel, although I’m kind of tired of looking at all the butt shots. This one looks a little more promising and I think I’ll be trying it next. The truth is, YouTube is an amazing free resource where you can find pretty much any kind of workout you’re looking for. Some even use your kids as weights 

 5. Walk/Run

Walk2

Walking with my kids is just as fun for me as it is for them. I love to look at and admire old houses in our little town when I walk and my kids have picked up on it. Now my 2-year-old daughter will point at a house and say, “Mommy, I wuv that house.”

You can also kill two birds with one stone and ask a friend if she wants to go. You get your socializing with adults while you spend time with your kids and exercise! Wow…now that is multitasking.

If you’re a little ahead in the game, you may want to run. For me, at this point, it’s more of a joke. My kids will say, “Run mommy!” and I’ll run across the intersection only to be totally out of breath by the other side while they’re laughing uncontrollably. 

As a mom, I get so tired of thinking of ways to keep my kids entertained while I “get stuff done.” I don’t want exercise to be just another thing that takes away from quality time with my kids or even quality time with myself. Integrating exercise and involving your kids can bring boat loads of benefits for all of you.

*     *     *     *     *

Have you tried working out with your kids? What’s your favorite activity to do?Signature Yellow2Workouts FB

Depression: 10 Ways to Get Out of a Slump

Slump square

I sometimes have days where I just wake up tired, my legs feel like lead and I don’t have any ambition for the day. The child in me just wants to lay around all day and do nothing. Some people will say, “Go ahead and ride out the slump. It’s ok to have a bad day every once in a while.” I have found this is not an effective solution. Whenever I try to “ride out the slump” it ends up turning into days and weeks and I get behind on my life! This tends to unmotivate me and brings on depression in a bad way.

I’ve found that it is much more effective for me to work on getting out of a slump before that slump takes over my life. Depression prevention is much more effective that depression treatment. While not all instances of depression are preventable, I have found 10 ways to keep myself in check and help me to avoid going down that slippery slope.

1. Sleep

When I feel absolutely exhausted these days, it usually means I’m sleep deprived. Even an hour of sleep deprivation has a huge effect on me. Since I know this is a trigger for my depression, I try to guard my sleep like the treasure it is. However, there are still nights where I’m up several times with scared or sick kids or I get to bed late because my husband and I can’t stop chatting after a week of hardly seeing each other. 

When I can pinpoint sleep deprivation as the root cause to a slump, I lovingly give myself permission to sleep in, go to bed early, or take a nap when needed. Long gone are the days where I try to white-knuckle it through the day on less than adequate sleep. It drives my anxiety through the roof when I do that and ultimately, it only decreases my and my family’s quality of life when I am not well rested. 

Check how rested you are and if you know sleep deprivation is your problem, make a plan to get more sleep. If insomnia is a problem for you, study it out and ask your doctor for help. 

2. Get hydrated

water2

Most of us don’t drink enough water. Dehydration carries with it a slew of problems that are actually similar to sleep deprivation. Make it a goal to drink plenty of water, more than normal, each day. When you notice you feel like you’re in a slump, immediately reach for a glass of water. Sometimes the mental fog we feel can be greatly reduced just by hydrating ourselves.

If you don’t particularly like water and you’re trying to hydrate yourself solely on diet coke, get a grip. Soda is not the same as water when it comes to hydration and can even have the opposite effect and dehydrate you. Make water more enjoyable by adding a little slice of lemon, essential oil drops, or buy an infuser to add all different kinds of flavors to your water.

3. Move outside

Laying on the couch and ruminating about being in a slump will most likely never get you out of it. If you want to change you’re going to have to move. Get up and go outside. Go for a walk if you can, even if it’s just doing laps around your house. The fresh air, sunshine, and movement will change your physical state in a big way. 

4. Play with kids

kids2

If you get up and go outside, take your kids with you and play for a little while! I swear, when my kids are laughing and having fun, I can’t not be in a better mood. Even if you can’t stand the thought of moving your lifeless body around and playing with your kids, promise yourself you’ll do it for only 5 minutes and then you give yourself permission to stop. Chances are, 5 minutes will either be enough or you’ll lose track of time. 

Focus on those little faces and how they light up when you suggest playing together. I can’t stand seeing the bored look on my toddler’s face when I can’t seem to do anything with myself. I feel like the crappiest mother of all time. When I start to play with her, my whole mood changes. It doesn’t have to be super physical if you just can’t muster the energy, but even a little hand clapping game can be fun and distract your mind.

5. Eat a snack

Sometimes our energy is low because we legitimately need fuel. If we consciously try to refuel our bodies with healthy snacks, it can give us the energy boost we need.

Focus snacks on complex carbs and protein to avoid an energy slump later on in the day. Some good ideas are: hummus and red peppers or carrots, small green salad with meat, hard-boiled egg, or a small amount of trail mix.

6. Listen to fun music

music2

Nothing boosts my energy more than fun, fast-paced music. I used to listen to music constantly when I was younger. Now I usually prefer to listen to silence if I have the chance to listen to anything. But every once in a while I turn on some music and it immediately busts through my fog. Extra credit if you dance with your kids while listening 

7. Set one very small goal

It’s easy to fall into a slump when we feel overwhelmed. For me, that’s because I have a lot of aspirations and goals in my mind but if I stop and look at everything I need or want to do, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and give up completely. 

If I force myself to write one small thing on a To-Do List, it gives me a sense of empowerment when I accomplish that. For example, when I’m overwhelmed because my house is disgusting, I will set one small goal related to that. It might be, “do the dishes” or even just “gather all the dishes and put them in the sink.” I always give myself permission to stop after that one small goal if I want to, but usually it empowers me to keep going. 

The goal is to get yourself to do something, ANYTHING! By giving yourself permission to stop after that one goal if you want to, you at least get something done and that will help improve your outlook for the day.

8. Write out a gratitude list

gratitude2Nothing busts through negativity like gratitude. Maybe your one small goal will be to write 10 things you are truly grateful for. As you write them, think about people you know or know of who don’t have the things you do. This will reinforce your gratitude because it shows us that having a roof over your head or little humans to snuggle at night are not just a given in this life, they are a gift. 

The mere acknowledgement of these blessings can take your mood to a whole new level. Make this a daily ritual and you’re on your way to a much more positive life.

9. Connect with a friend

Companionship is important in life. We thrive on feeling part of something bigger. When you connect to a friend it’s hard not to change your frame of mind.

You can text them, meet up for a walk or lunch, or just talk on the phone. Try talking to them about their life and asking meaningful questions. This is a great distraction from your own lack of focus and just might motivate you to do something productive.

10. Do a small service

Service2

Anytime you can get yourself out of your own head and to focus on helping someone else, you are bound to make big changes in your mood. Get the kids involved and make some cookies for a neighbor, dinner for an elderly couple, a card for a sick friend, or a basket of baby stuff for a new mom.

Doing service helps us to notice the blessings in our own lives and boosts our gratitude which also boosts our mood. Service gives us a purpose outside of our own selfish desires and blesses others while changing our mindset. 

If you can catch yourself before you start falling down that slippery slope of depression, you are much more likely to come out of it than if you try to “ride it out.” Talking yourself into doing just about anything other than obsessing over your unproductive day can help you to snap out of it before it’s too late.

If you find that after trying these suggestions you still haven’t seen any improvement and it persists for a couple of weeks, consider seeing your doctor to study out other options. 

Don’t let depression rule your life and rob you of the joy we are meant to have while on this earth. 

*     *     *     *     *

What do you do to get yourself out of a slump?

Signature Yellow2

 

 

Slump FB