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Self-Care

Take Care of Business, Take Care of Yourself

Simone Reynolds

College is a never-ending roller-coaster. One day, you can be living it up at a house party. The next day, you are sobbing at 12 am in the study room. It is full of ups, downs, lefts, and rights. One of the sweetest pleasures about college is that there is always an end. There is an end to the semester, an end to the school year, but there is never an end to your mental health. The first couple of weeks of summer break will be a hot mess at times.

After a full first year of exams, student organizations, community service, and partying, I felt the need to get my life in order. From to-do lists to over 20 job applications, I was determined to return to my regular schedule back home. Each day, I boarded the Metra train in hopes of finding work. The city is always moving, and I wanted to move with it. Going downtown, made me feel like I was working, like I was important. I thought that I was doing everything right. In reality, I had it all wrong. Breakdowns began to visit me, especially at night. My mother would greet me and ask how I was doing. Tears would just rush down my face, and I would say, “Everything.”

Have you ever pumped a dry well? I have. I expected my bucket to overflow with opportunities after long hours of  job searching and endless busy work. What in the world was I trying to fulfil? An idea of what it meant to have a successful summer as a college student. I later discovered that I was not alone in this. Everyone, even those of us who are not in school, constantly push ourselves to meet academic, social, and professional expectations of others and ourselves.


During our journeys to success, we fail to realize the importance of self-care. Here are a few tips on how to take care of yourself while you are taking care of business:

1. Check in with yourself

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Before you start your day, check in with your body. What is your mind saying? What is your heart feeling? Make sure that you honor your body’s response. If you are not feeling your best, emotionally or physically, stay in bed! It is okay. Journaling is a great way to check in. Write it out. If that does not work, talk it out. Some of us need a visual representation, and some of us need audio. Do what works best for you.

2. Don’t dehumanize yourself

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

My sister-in-law consistently reminds me, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” It sounds super simple, but we are truly our own enemies. Every day, we strategize new war tactics for our internal battles. Overworking yourself will only make things more difficult. Give what you can. You were not created to be a machine. You are here to breathe, love, rest, smile, cry, laugh, and be whatever makes you human!

3. Treat yourself

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Funny story. I had the worst interview of my life with a popular department store. Surprisingly, I did not have a huge meltdown in the heart of Downtown Chicago. Instead, I sashayed to the nearest Chick-fil-A. I ordered myself a spicy chicken sandwich along with all of my favorite sauces, and I sat in silence sipping on some watermelon lemonade. My situation still sucked, but I had a good meal. Treating yourself does not always happen after a bad day. You deserve me time everyday; Binge-watch on Netflix, read a book, shop, take a walk, dance, make some art, or sit in silence. You know what you need, so give it to yourself.

Another One.

Anais Terry

     The future of television is here. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have pushed competition aside as they give customers an original experience in the way we look at TV.  Binge-Watching has become "The New Normal" in how we watch our favorite shows. Today, it's not uncommon to knock out a season of House of Cards in one sitting. In fact, Xfinity's Watchathon Week, where for seven days you can catch up on every season of your favorite big name shows encourages such behavior. But when does binging go too far? 

First, how much television makes you a binge-watcher? Researchers have defined binge-watching as two to five consecutive hours of television. On Netflix, the prompt 'Are you still watching?' appears only after 4 or 5 episodes of nonstop playing. This is so if you aren't, Netflix can stop streaming the show and you can resume where you left off later. 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

After hours of watching, I welcome this break because it allows me a self-care moment. I do a mental check of my needs and then act on them. This could be anything from eating to getting ready for bed. This also determines whether I keep binging as well. If a show becomes overwhelming and I need a moment to reflect, I stop watching. If I'm excited about the next story arc and can go a few more episodes, then I do. What's important is I do what's best for me, and so should you.  

Television is sometimes seen as lazy and unproductive, and with that comes a feeling of guilt when watching for long hours at a time. Truth is, everyone unwinds differently and many people find solace in the complicated plot lines, complex characters, and various timelines that come with this new age of television. So, are you still watching? 

Photo by iStock Images

Photo by iStock Images

Why Safe Friendships Matter and How To Get Them

Renee Reese

Photo by OITNB

Photo by OITNB

“ You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

Year after year, I would cringe every time I heard this quote. Deep down, I knew that I didn’t want to be like the majority of the people I surrounded myself with. Even deeper down, I knew that while I was giving my time, heart, and energy to these friendships and romantic relationships, I was doing deep damage to my soul. It may sound harsh, but let me be clear.  These people weren’t all truly horrible people, but the relationships were horrible for me. As I began to heal from my past traumas, I realized I had taken a backseat in my own life and just let life happen to me.  I never chose who came in and out of my life.  I let people break up with me, even if I wanted to break up first.  I held on to toxic friendships, because I just didn’t believe I had the strength to get out of them.   These relationships were unsafe for me, but I was holding on for dear life. 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

To live well, we need to both be a safe person and surround ourselves with safe people.   Safe relationships are the ones that are healthy and help us to grow.  In their book, Safe People, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend identify a safe relationship as one that draws us closer to God, draws us closer to others, and helps us become the real person God created us to be.

The people in your life are critical to your healing, wellness, and joy.  Whether you’re aware of it or not, the people in your life are rubbing off on you. There are no neutral friendships.  Your friendships are either helping your healing or hindering it.  Who you are friends with is one of the most important decisions you will make, but the important thing is you get to choose.  You get to choose who’s in your space.  You get to choose who’s allowed into your heart.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Where should you start?

1. Start with you

Your journey to healthy friendships starts with you.  If you pair an unhealthy person with a healthy person, the relationship will likely still be unhealthy.  The unhealthy one may be you.  In friendships that went awry, think about exactly where things went wrong.  Are you the toxic one in your friendships?  Are you contributing to the toxicity in any way?  It may be tough to consider, but be honest with yourself, figure out the root cause, and get some healing.  If you find yourself surrounded with toxic people, ask yourself why you’re choosing these relationships.  Emotionally healthy people tend to make healthier decisions, so start with your own healing.

2.  Believe that safe people are out there.

Take some time and get a vision for what healthy friendships and relationships look like.  Think about what you want in a friendship.  Hold on to the belief that you actually can have healthy friendships and that safe and healthy people do exist. 

3. Find friends who show you grace. 

These are the friends that you can make mistakes with. You shouldn’t have to hide who you are in your friendships.  You should be allowed to be a little weird with those closest to you.  You should be allowed to be human, have separate opinions, and be whomever it is that God created you to be. If you constantly feel the need to walk on eggshells, this may be a sign that the relationship isn’t healthy. Have friends you can talk to openly and who make a practice of forgiving.

4. Find friends who tell you the truth in love

You need someone to tell you about yourself sometimes.  Someone who can show you where you’re wrong and challenge your weaknesses.  But great friends listen, ask questions, and pray.  Be wary of those who have a ready-made opinion or agenda they want to inflict upon you, especially if it’s regarding something they’ve never experienced for themselves or something that is not rooted in truthSome people have a habit of telling you their version of the truth, with no grace attached.  They come ready to attack your character and throw your mistakes in your face in the name of “keeping it real.”  They immediately see grace as sugar-coating, instead of seeing grace as speaking with humility and maturity.  Sugar-coating doesn’t help anyone, but grace tells the truth while still leaving your dignity in tact.  While you definitely need to hear the truth, when it’s done without grace, it can be severely damaging. Dr. Henry Cloud says “ And while we need to be confronted of our weaknesses, unsafe people, however, confront us not to forgive us, but to condemn and punish us.  They remove their love until we are appropriately chastened.”  This is not friendship.   That is not about telling you the truth.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it’s a starting point in cultivating healthy relationships.  As you move forward, you’ll find what works for you on this road to healing.

The Christmas Gifts

Morgan Daniels

Photography from GIPHY

Photography from GIPHY

I haven't written in a really long time (which will change in the new year) but I decided to share with you all this piece I wrote a while ago entitled, the christmas gifts. Enjoy. - Morgan Brittani


It’s almost Christmas Eve. That being said it is time for me to take a step back and reflect.. In light of this Christmas season, I am going to share the three Christmas Gifts in which God has given me after much prayer. These being love, joy, and peace. I guess I’ll start with love.

THE GIFT OF LOVE.

Love is something that we all grow up wanting to encounter. Disney princesses made me feel as if love was something that could only be given by a kiss or a prince. However, I have realized over the years that love is more than a physical attraction between two people. Love is a gift, a gift that God has bestowed upon the people of this world.

The gift of love is such a beautiful thing and can help someone out of their deepest pains. This year has been a complete game changer for me. Right after I truly started to entirely believe in my God without a doubt he tested my faith. This test did not come in the form I had imagined. The light that surrounding me soon became too dim to rely on. The love given by my loved ones restored not only my physical, mental, and emotional well-being but made me in fact a stronger Morgan. Agape Love. That is the first gift that God has given me. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love and want the best for me.

THE GIFT OF JOY.

I used to get so down. Down for reasons I could not even begin to explain. I wouldn'tbe able to eat, sleep, sometimes, and I didn't understand why. I did not know exactly why my heart was filled with this hole. I would cry out to God to please fix it, fix me. I wanted to have my heart filled with nothing but love once again. I prayed… On January 31, 2013, I was in the car with my best friend going to the Watch Night Service. We were listening to Christian music on the way there preparing our hearts for what was to come. Then, “I want it back,” by Tye Tribbett began to play. I had never heard this song but it was truly speaking to me. The words to that song unexplainably captured my soul. Then, my friend said “Say you want your joy back,” my spirit shook.

It was so ironic because I did not know what it was necessarily that was missing from my life. God had revealed it to me through her, it was such a beautiful experience. Later that night, it was prayer time. I went up to receive prayer and that night I was told, “God is going to restore you of your joy…” I can now report to you that I have never been more joyful in my entire life. I know that there will be more test and I will have some bad days.

JOY last longer than happiness. Happiness is a feeling, a feeling that can go away as fast or faster than it came. JOY is everlasting. The fact that God has blessed me with such an amazing gift is overwhelming. For this I have prayed. I want to share my joy with all of those that I ever encounter. I pray that I can touch as many as possible to spread the joy that God has given me.

THE GIFT OF PEACE.

After all of my trials, God has given me peace. I am able to trust him no matter the circumstance. This peace has allowed me to carry myself in a different way than ever before. Peace may be the last of the three gifts in which God has given me. However, this sense of peace has changed my life and has allowed me to further live without the fears that tomorrow may bring.

Photograph from GIPHY

Photograph from GIPHY

Merry Christmas y'all. I hope your Christmas is filled with lots of love, joy and peace. Enjoy this time!

with joy,

Morgan Brittani

 

House Cleaning

Keara Douglas

Photo by Morgan Daniels

Photo by Morgan Daniels

Sometimes removing things from our lives can be a tough experience. This could be a person, object or thing you have grown an attachment with, a location you repeatedly visit, or just a habit you are used to doing for so long it becomes a daily routine for you. I know I have gone through my share of “removals” throughout my life, most were tough to go through but they all taught me a valuable lesson. You cannot find joy in harmful people or things no matter how much good you may see in those things or people. Most of the time when we as people and human beings begin to lose that joy or happiness, we look for it in other things and people. For example, if you are having a bad day, you may go shopping because it brings you pleasure or to the gym to workout. But sometimes those things we go to in order to find that missing joy and fill that void, may not be good for us in the long run. I took the month of November to remove dead weight or remove things and people that meant me no good or became a burden to my joy. Sort of like a sense of “house cleaning”. Some were tough for me but I know now that I must be around positivity in order for me to continuously be happy. Listed below are some ways to remove toxic relationships and patterns from your life and begin to find that joy that was once missing:

 

  1. Begin a Morning Routine
    Start your day off an hour earlier than scheduled. This is time for you to get yourself ready for the day. Unwind a bit before your hectic schedule begins to take over. This is a time to forget about any problems from the previous day especially if you have no control over those problems, as it may hinder you from moving forward. Start off with a nice breakfast, or at least try to grab a bite to eat on the go to school or work. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and it can help determine whether you are going to have a good or bad day. You can also exercise, read a book or the paper before beginning normal daily routines.

  2. Stop Smoking and Drinking
    Replace daily toxic habits with more healthier choices like eating fruit, exercising, or chewing gum during times you may feel the urge to light one up or take a sip. Even though we may think these things are solving the problem and helping towards relaxing things, they are really just making us more irritable and uneasy throughout the day.

  3. End Bad Relationships
    A typical bad relationship with someone will vary from person to person. What one may see as bad, another may not. But if you are around someone who constantly makes you feel bad about yourself, or constantly downs you as a person, it is time to cut that relationship off. A real friend or relationship with someone whether it be your wife/husband, girlfriend/boyfriend, or significant other/life partner should never make you feel bad or negative.

  4. Check Yourself
    If you are constantly downing everyone around you, it is time for you to do a reality check of yourself. Sometimes we get so caught up in focusing on what others are doing bad to us that we forget how to treat others. Sometimes our toxic experience end up becoming our own toxic habits towards others. Break that cycle by always respecting others no matter how they treat you. Always be kind, you never know what a person may be going through.