5 Self-Care Activities That Are Perfect for End of Summer

August 2023

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As summer draws to a close, I contemplate the remaining weeks of sunshine and heat. I brainstorm ways to fully enjoy the last moments of the season and incorporate self-care practices into my daily routine. Self-care is always important, but there is something special about this time of year. The summer season offers countless chances for us to explore different methods of self-care.

Taking care of yourself is a means of letting go of any negative emotions that your body may be carrying. It dispels negative energy from your body and makes room for more positive thoughts and ideas. Let’s say, for example, you had a rough day at work, finding a healthy outlet can help you release the stress and tension of the day and replace it with a more positive outlook. Some perfect self-care activities after a long, stressful day include taking a walk, listening to a guided meditation, or practicing gentle yoga.  Self-care is important because it provides you with an opportunity to reset and take on new challenges with clarity and a sense of purpose. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating a list of summer self-care activities. I know my future self will thank me for taking advantage of this time when winter rolls around again.

Here are 5 self-care examples to help you reset this summer:

  1. Plan a beach day.

Even spending a short amount of time at the beach is a perfect way to relax and reset. Bring a book or take a walk. The sea air and scent of the ocean create instant relaxation.

  • Wake up a little earlier and enjoy the quiet morning.

Drink coffee outside while listening to the morning birds. Practice mindfulness by focusing on your senses while you sit in stillness.  Take a walk before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. Enjoy the tranquility that summer mornings bring.

  • Channel your inner child.

Remember summers when you were a kid? The days were filled with adventures and fun. Running through sprinklers and riding bikes filled the days until the evening hours. Rediscover the fun activities you used to do as a child and include them in your summer plans. Go swimming in the pool, stop the ice cream truck, or go for a bike ride. Allow yourself to be easygoing and carefree.

  • Break the routine.

Why not try something new? Summer is a time of infinite festivals, concerts, and other activities. Try something different. Stroll around a farmers’ market or catch a free concert in the park. Try to break away from your daily routine and try something you have not experienced before.

  •  Find ways to incorporate nature into your day.

The days are warm, and the sunshine is bright for many hours. Take advantage of the weather by spending time outside. Have lunch outside. Take a walk after dinner. Find a bench by the lake and read that book you have been hoping to read all summer. Take a few deep breaths while walking through the woods. Even incorporating a few minutes of nature day into your day can leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.

As the summer begins to wind down, allow yourself time for self-care by embracing the treasures summer has to offer. You will improve your mental health by managing stress, embracing a positive mindset, and permitting yourself to release the negative emotions you have been carrying. There are so many ways to practice self-care in the summer, what are some of your favorite ways to decompress and feel more energized and carefree?

Self-Love is in the Air  

February 2023

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It is February, the month of love.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you may be focusing on how to express your love to those closest to you. You may buy gifts and cards or plan a special dinner but how do you show yourself, love? Why is self-love often ignored or difficult to make part of your life?

Too often, you speak unkindly and sometimes downright cruelly to yourself. You nitpick everything you think is wrong with you and you often set unrealistic goals and then become angry with yourself for not achieving them.  You can easily forgive others but you punish yourself for years for mistakes you made along the way. Why is it so difficult to be kind and gentle with yourself? Why is it acceptable to treat yourself in a manner that you would not treat anyone else? It is important to love yourself a little more. This can have a positive impact on all aspects of your life. Loving yourself can improve your mental health, increase your self-esteem, and improve other relationships in your life.

Top 5 Tips to Love Yourself a Little More

  1. Make time for self-care.

Self-care does not have to be an elaborate, expensive, time-consuming event. It can be anything that makes you feel relaxed and happy. Take some time to read that book you’ve been wanting to read. Have a DIY spa day at home. Try a new coffee or tea at a local coffee shop. Disconnect from social media for a few minutes and take that time to stretch your body.

2. Treat yourself

Allow yourself to treat yourself from time to time. Take yourself out to lunch when you have free time. Buy yourself flowers to brighten your home. Purchase a new journal to write in daily. Take a nap. Treating yourself is a little splurge to show yourself some love.

3. Be aware of your inner voice

We all have that little voice inside that guides us throughout the day. Pay attention to your inner voice’s tone and comments. Is your inner voice negative and constantly telling you everything you are doing wrong? Is it telling you that you aren’t good enough or are unlovable? These thoughts often play continuously on autopilot in our minds. Be sure your inner voice is encouraging and supportive of you. If not, take time to reframe your thoughts to more positive ones. For example, instead of telling yourself, “I am not good enough” tell yourself, “I am a kind and funny person”.

4. Acknowledge the smallest wins

As you work toward your goals, you may be focused on the end, achieving the goal. Although there is nothing wrong with focusing on the result, you want to make sure you are acknowledging the steps you make in your journey. Too often you focus on the end and don’t fully take in the progress and growth it took to get there. Celebrate the smallest victories along the way. These small victories add up to big victories in the end, don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate progress.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others

It is easy to do, you notice someone on social media who seems to have a perfect life. This makes you think you are less than this person or it intensifies your insecurities and thoughts about yourself. STOP doing that! Nothing positive comes out of comparing yourself to others. Remember, everyone is trying to figure out their lives and even when it appears to be “perfect” online, perfect does not exist. We are all on our journeys and comparing yourself to others brings no benefit to your life. Focus instead on your life and what your ideal life looks like. Once you have an image of that, you can start setting goals to achieve a life that brings you happiness and fulfillment.

Loving yourself can have a positive impact on your life. Take time to show yourself some love this Valentine’s Day and everyday.

5 Ways to Reach Your Goals this Year

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January is time for a clean slate. We leave behind all the negative aspects of the previous year and feel a fresh start. This is a time to feel hopeful about the upcoming months and start new goals for the year. So often we set new year’s resolutions to achieve in the upcoming months. Unfortunately, for so many people, these resolutions often fizzle within the first couple of weeks of the new year. This can often lead to feeling unsuccessful or like a failure. Here are 5 ways to reach your goals this year.

  1. Set an intention or theme for the year.

Rather than set a resolution to achieve, think of a word that you want to be your theme of the year. This can be anything that you would like to focus on. Some examples include Present, Kind, Focused, Healthy, and Confident. Use this word as a guide to help you with daily tasks and apply it to the situations you encounter throughout the day.

2. Break down your goal into small, manageable steps.

Goals can feel overwhelming and even though we want to accomplish them, if a goal feels too much it is easy to talk yourself out of it. Write down the big goal you would like to achieve then think of ways to break it down into smaller steps. This will help you feel less overwhelmed and you will feel as though you are making progress as you slowly start to complete these smaller steps.

3. A little self-reflection goes a long way.

Take time to reflect on your progress as you slowly begin to achieve your goals. You can determine how often this should be done based on your goal. You can reflect daily, weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. Take time to write out what is working and what could use improvement. This is also a good time to make any changes or adjustments to your goals.

4. Be aware of bad days.

The beginning of the year can make us feel optimistic. This is a great way to start the year, but it is important to remember that you will still have bad days, no matter how motivated or hopeful you are. Tough moments are a part of life. Accepting them and understanding that they are temporary is an effective way to continue to move forward. Do not let a bad day stop you from reaching your goals. Take time to be gentle with yourself during these difficult times but do not let them derail you from your goals.

5. Celebrate even the smallest wins.

Do not wait until you reach your goal to celebrate. Take time to be proud of yourself for accomplishing the smallest achievements. Maybe you worked on your goal on a day you did not want to. That is a reason to celebrate. By acknowledging the progress you are making, you will most likely continue to move forward.

Is Therapy for Me?

By: Tracy Wrocklage

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There is a misconception that something must be “wrong” with you if you need therapy. That could not be further from the truth. Therapy can be helpful to most people. It does not mean that there is something wrong with you or that you are somehow “flawed”. Therapy provides a safe environment to explore thoughts and emotions without judgment. It allows you to reflect and determine your best course of action for a particular aspect of your life. Having an objective point of view from the therapist will help guide you through your journey and can provide both support and encouragement. Here are ten (there are many others) reasons why you may want to consider therapy:

  1. You recently experienced a loss and are unsure how to handle it.
  2. You suffer from anxiety and do not know how to cope with it.
  3. You are struggling to find a healthy way to express your emotions.
  4. You need extra support as you start a new chapter in your life.
  5. Stress in your life is becoming unmanageable and you want to feel calmer.
  6. You experienced trauma as a child, impacting you in adulthood.
  7. You suffer from low self-esteem and have difficulty feeling confident.
  8. You are experiencing communication issues within your close relationships.
  9. You experienced family issues as a child and you do not want to continue the same behaviors with your own family.
  10. You feel like you are not enough.

Therapy can help you navigate through these obstacles and feel empowered and in control of your life. If you are in New Jersey and are looking for a therapist contact me at:


Caring for Your Mental Health During the Holiday Season

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The holiday season is upon us, and you may already be experiencing increased stress and anxiety levels. This is a time for celebrations and cheer, but it can also be difficult for many people who are experiencing loss, anxiety, or depression. There are more obligations present during this time of year and you may feel as though your social battery is drained.

So, the question is…. how do you take care of your mental health during this time of year? Here are ten tips to make this year more joyful:

  1. Take time to practice self-care. Hopefully, you have self-care practices you utilize during the year, now is the time to schedule time for them. You may also need to think about other ways to practice self-care during the holiday season.
  2. Say no if you want. You do not have to accept every invitation you receive this year. If you feel as though your social battery is drained, it is ok to say no to some events.
  3. Find joy in the small things. Focus on the small things that make you feel good. Maybe watching a holiday movie with your family makes you happy, do that!
  4. Practice self-awareness. Pay attention to how you feel each day and plan accordingly. If you are feeling more anxious or sad, schedule time for self-care. Monitoring your feelings can help you utilize coping skills to help manage them.
  5. Meditate. Meditation is an excellent way to tune out the extra noise. It can help you stay present and calm.
  6. Get some fresh air. The days seem shorter and are getting darker earlier. Try getting outside when possible. The sunlight and fresh air can help you feel more energized and refreshed.
  7. Go to bed a little earlier. Feeling more rested can help you feel less stressed and depressed.
  8. Honor those you have lost. Continue a tradition or start a new one to honor the friends and family members you may have lost.
  9. Acknowledge your emotions. So often, we try to run from our uncomfortable emotions. Especially during this time of year, many of us feel as though we should not feel sad during the holidays.  Allow yourself to feel your feelings. If you are sad, allow yourself to feel sad. Emotions are temporary and won’t last forever.  When you allow yourself to feel your emotions, they are more likely to subside quicker than if you try to run from them.
  10. Take time for yourself. Do you have extra time at work you have to use? Take a day to do the things you enjoy or relax. Plan a special day doing things that make you happy. Schedule downtime where you do not make any plans and just go with the flow.

This time of year, can be emotional for many people. Acknowledging your thoughts and feelings can help you get through the holidays with a little less stress, anxiety, and depression. If you feel you need additional help for depression, anxiety, or other mental health condition, please seek a professional who can help you during this difficult time.

5 Ways to Cope with a Panic Attack

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Managing your anxiety daily is important for your overall mental health. Practicing healthy habits can help lower levels of anxiety and decrease the frequency of panic attacks. Even if you are taking care of yourself, you may still experience panic attacks from time to time. This post is going to give 5 suggestions for managing your panic attacks and helping you feel calmer.

A panic attack is an overwhelming rush of anxiety. It is often described as feeling as though one is having a heart attack. Common symptoms of a panic attack include: sweating, shaking, feeling of impending doom, stomach pain, nausea, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath. At times, a specific circumstance may trigger such an attack but other times they seem to come out of nowhere. Here are five ways to cope with a panic attack and help you feel calmer.

  1. Deep Breathing Exercises

                Deep breathing can help manage a panic attack no matter where you are. There are so many variations you can try to lower your anxiety. An example of a deep breathing exercise is box breathing. This is performed by inhaling to the count of 4 and holding to the count of 4. Exhale to the count of 4 and hold to the count of 4. Repeat this several times until you feel calmer and less anxious.

2. Visualization

                In moments of panic and high anxiety, try visualizing a calming scene. This may be a real place that you have visited, or it can be somewhere you have created with your imagination. Picture this place, what sounds do you hear? What do you see? What does it feel like being in this place? Try a guided meditation if you are having trouble visualizing this serene scene during a panic attack. Many apps, such as Calm offer free meditations. YouTube also has many guided meditations available that vary from a few minutes to over an hour. Try visualization or a guided meditation to help restore the calm in your body.

3. Aromatherapy

                Aromatherapy is another way to help calm your mind and body during a panic attack. Essential oils such as lavender, rose, ylang ylang, and chamomile have a calming effect. Gently smelling these oils during times of anxiety can help you feel calmer. Gently smell the oil or apply topically with a carrier oil to instantly feel the calming effects.

4.  Repeat an affirmation or mantra

                Repeat a statement several times to help alleviate your anxiety. Affirmations such as: “I am safe”. “I am calm” can help decrease high levels of anxiety that can lead to a panic attack. Oftentimes, telling yourself that you are ok can help put the situation into perspective and soothe your mind. Repeating a powerful mantra can help shift your mindset.

5. Talk to someone

If you feel you need someone to talk to about your panic attacks, therapy is always an option. Therapy allows you to work one on one with a licensed therapist to identify the causes of your anxiety and develop healthy ways to cope with panic attacks. It is a safe place to discuss your thoughts and feelings about what you are experiencing without being judged or told what to do.

If you are in New Jersey and are looking for a therapist, Positive Reflections Counseling is now accepting new clients. Visit Positive-Reflections-Counseling.com for contact information.

4 Ways to Cope with Difficult Emotions

By: Tracy Wrocklage

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Everyone experiences difficult emotions at times. No one is happy and positive all the time. Even the most joyful people go through periods of sadness, anger, and stress. Have you recently experienced a sudden loss? Have you experienced a traumatic event and are being triggered by current circumstances? Are you struggling with negative emotions because you feel stuck and are unsure what your next move should be?

It is vital to remember life does not always move in a straight line. There are ups and downs….no matter how much self-discovery or positive thinking you have done. The key is not to avoid negative emotions but to find ways to cope with them healthily. As Jon Kabat-Zinn stated, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”.

Here are some ways to process uncomfortable feelings to move toward personal growth and empowerment:

  1. Allow yourself to sit in your emotions and feel them. We so often want to run and escape our emotions. Sometimes, sitting in them and just feeling your emotions allows them to pass. Give yourself some time and just allow yourself to feel.
  2. Remind yourself that this too shall pass. Nothing lasts forever, not even those intense emotions that feel like they will never go away. Think back to other times when you experienced difficult feelings, over time, they dissipated.
  3. Practice self-care. Be kind to yourself. The last thing you need while experiencing uncomfortable emotions is beating yourself up for not coping with them the “proper” way.  Take time to do things that make you feel good. Take a walk in nature, drink a cup of tea, write in a journal or meditate. Taking care of yourself while you are coping with uncomfortable feelings creates an outlet for the emotions to flow.
  4. Talk to someone. Seeking therapy can help you develop healthy coping skills. A therapist can help you identify your emotions and develop healthy ways to process them. A therapist can provide you with extra support to help you during this emotional time.

7 Ways to Practice Gratitude

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Are you looking for an easy way to feel more positive, get better sleep, improve your health and improve relationships? I have the answer for you…GRATITUDE. I know it can sound corny but it does work. Gratitude is an easy way to change your mindset in minutes. You can pull yourself out of a bad mood and instantly feel more relaxed and happy.

Now, you may be asking…ok so how do I go about practicing gratitude, especially on days I am feeling down or angry. Here are 7 ways to practice gratitude today:

  1. Start a gratitude journal
    • Jot down a few things each day that you are grateful for. You don’t have to go crazy making an extensive list. Even writing 3 things for the day can shift your mood.
  2. Say things you are grateful for either in your mind or out loud
    • This is a good one when you are out and unable to access your gratitude journal. Think of this one when you are sitting in traffic and someone cuts you off. Instead of stewing in anger, shift your mindset by listing the things you are grateful for at that moment.
  3. Gratitude Meditations
    • Meditation is an excellent way to practice mindfulness and stay present. There are tons of guided meditations on YouTube that focus on gratitude. Try one! You will feel better instantly.
  4. Write a letter of gratitude to someone you care about
    • Express how much this person means to you or things they have done for you that you are thankful for. Not only does this make you feel better, but you will also make the recipient of the letter feel grateful too.
  5. Gratitude Jar
    • Each day write one thing you are grateful for on a small piece of paper. Place the paper in a jar. At the end of the year, you will have 365 things to be grateful for. You can get creative and decorate the jar and use colorful paper.
  6. Gratitude Journal Prompts
    • Another way to use your gratitude journal is to use prompts that focus on gratitude. For example, list 5 people you are grateful for. Prompts help focus on a topic, especially if you are having difficulty thinking about what to write.
  7. Spend Time in Nature
    • Spending time in nature is another way to practice gratitude. Try to practice mindfulness and take in the beauty around you. This can instantly help you feel more grateful.

These are 7 suggestions for practicing gratitude and feeling happier and more energized. What are some of your favorite ways to practice gratitude?

You Decided to go to Therapy, Now What?

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You’ve been thinking about it for a while and now you have taken the next step and decided to begin therapy. Although this is often the most difficult step to take, more work must be done before you find the right therapist and begin your journey of reflection and self-growth.

Where do I look?

Here are several different ways to find a therapist:

  • Directories, such as Psychology Today often provide you with a detailed profile of the therapist you are considering.
  • Online Searches: Googling therapists in your area will provide you with a list of names.
  • Check out your insurance company’s website. Most insurance companies provide a listing of all the therapists in their network. If you plan on using your insurance for your sessions, this is a good way to determine who is in network.
  •  Another way to find a therapist is through word of mouth. Maybe your friend or coworker discusses the success they have experienced in therapy. You can always ask for information from other people.

Are we a good fit?

This is a very important question when beginning therapy. There are many therapists with different personalities and approaches. You want to make sure you are comfortable with your therapist. Otherwise, you will be less inclined to be open and you may not get the most out of the sessions.

Many therapists offer free consultations. These sessions are often shorter in length than a full session but allow you the opportunity to talk to the therapist without committing to a full session. Use this time to see if you feel that this is a good match.  If not, keep looking for someone you will feel more comfortable with.

If a prospective therapist does not offer a free consultation, take a look at their website or profile. This may help you get an understanding of their approach and perspective on therapy.

How do I pay?

There are many factors to consider when selecting a therapist and having knowledge about your financial responsibility is imperative. You do not want to be unprepared if you have a copay or if your therapist does not accept your insurance.

If you plan on using your health insurance for your sessions, contact the therapist first to determine if they are in network. You may also want to contact the insurance company to find out what if any portion of the payment you are responsible for. This will vary for each insurance plan and company.

If you do not have insurance or your therapist is out of network, ask about the fees per session. You may be able to have out-of-network rates paid for by the insurance company if applicable. Again, this all depends on your specific insurance plan. Contact your insurance company for detailed information about your mental health benefits before scheduling an appointment.

What can I expect during my first session?

 You have your financial responsibility for your session sorted out. You found the therapist you want to see. You scheduled your first appointment. Now what?

The first session is an opportunity for both the client and therapist to get to know each other. Oftentimes, an assessment may be conducted to determine the presenting problem. Many questions will be asked to help gain insight into your history and goals for therapy. Each session will build on the previous session. You are now on your way to self-reflection and growth.

One last thing…

Be proud of yourself for embarking on this courageous journey. It is not always an easy decision to make to begin therapy. For many, starting the process is the most difficult part of the journey. Therapy should help you look at yourself from a different lens with a therapist who is there to guide and support you on your journey of self-discovery.

The Power of Mindset: 10 Ways to Change Your Mindset and Add Motivation, Positivity, and Growth to Your Life

Written by: Tracy Wrocklage

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Do you see the glass as half empty or half full? Do you view life as difficult and unfair, or do you see life as an opportunity for self-growth and exploration? Mindset is how you view the world around you. It is also how you view yourself. Do you have a positive mindset about your abilities and skills to achieve your goals or do you feel as though you are not good enough and do not measure up to others? This is your mindset.

The positive thing about your mindset is that you can change it. If you realize you have a negative mindset about your ability to be successful at your job, you can change that. The truth is, mindset plays a major role in how you live your life and if you aren’t exactly pleased with how it’s been going, you can do something about it. As Carol Dweck, the author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” states, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary”.

Here are 10 ways to change your mindset to help you feel more motivated, positive, and empowered:

  1. Practice Gratitude Often

Focusing on the things you are grateful for in your life is one of the quickest ways to change your mindset. You will suddenly realize there are many things to be grateful for. Gratitude helps us feel as though we have enough in life and are not lacking or not good enough. Keeping a gratitude journal is an easy way to practice gratitude daily. Each night, write down a few things you are grateful for. You will feel better instantly and in the long run, it will have a positive impact on your mindset.

2. Practice Self-Awareness

Check in with yourself often to bring awareness to your thoughts and emotions. Thoughts and emotions can be so automatic that oftentimes, we feel as though we are on autopilot. Take a few moments throughout the day to gauge your thoughts and feelings. Are you feeling positive and motivated or are you feeling down and stressed? This is a helpful way to monitor when your mindset could use some readjusting.

3. Journal

Journaling is an excellent tool to help with self-awareness. Set aside a few minutes daily to journal. This will help bring awareness to your thoughts and emotions. It may even help uncover thoughts and feelings you may have buried deep inside. Releasing these pent-up thoughts and emotions can help make room for a more positive mindset. Let go of the old thoughts that are holding you back.

4. Identify Limiting Beliefs and Challenge Them

This one is closely connected with journaling. Identifying the negative core beliefs that are holding you back is essential to changing your mindset. Through journaling, your core beliefs can become clearer. What are those thoughts that negatively impact your mindset? Once you discover what limiting beliefs are impacting your mindset, challenge them. Look for evidence that shows those thoughts are false and there is no basis of truth in them. If you feel you aren’t good enough, by challenging these beliefs you can change your mindset. Believe you are good enough and you can accomplish your goals.

5. View Experiences as Opportunities to Learn and Grow

We all experience difficult times. Mindset can play a major role in the ways these difficult times impact you. Try shifting your perspective in challenging times. Rather than viewing it as a negative time, try to view it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Challenge yourself to try to see times of great difficulty as a time to grow and step outside of your comfort zone.

6. Practice Self-Care

Take time to be kind to yourself. We often overload ourselves with expectations and responsibilities without giving ourselves a break. Taking time for self-care is a way to shift your mindset. By giving yourself time for something you enjoy, you will have a more positive outlook on life.

7. Use Positive Affirmations to Shift Your Perspective

Affirmations are mantras that you repeat either out loud or in your mind. They are positive and affirm a statement that you want to be true. You speak it as though it has already taken place. Affirmations will shift your mindset and help you feel more empowered and positive.

8. Embrace Your Imperfections

Bring awareness to your inner voice. Are you kind to yourself or are you mean and overbearing? Try embracing yourself, imperfections and all. This changes your mindset by positively viewing yourself rather than beating yourself up. Your mindset will become more positive when you accept yourself, your flaws, and all.

9. Meditation

Changing your mindset is just one of the many benefits of meditation. Meditation can change the way you view the world around you as well as the way you view yourself. Try shifting your mindset and becoming more empowered and mindful through meditation.

10. Look for the Positives

This one does not apply to every situation. Yes, there are times when it is not possible (nor appropriate) to look for the positives. I am not talking about those circumstances for this one. Try to find the positives in moments when your initial response would be negative. For example, you went on an interview for a job you wanted. A few weeks later, you find out they hired someone else. Yes, this can be difficult and stir up some negative thoughts and emotions. Allow yourself to feel those emotions but then try to find the positive. Perhaps the commute to the job would have been much farther than your current commute and it would take time away from being with your family or maybe that made room for an even better opportunity to arise. Looking for the positives can shift your mindset to one of hope and positivity. These are 10 ways to change your mindset. Try the ones that resonate with you the most. Changing your mindset is a process and takes time. Be patient with yourself and celebrate your wins along the