How To Have Stress Free Finals

How To Have Stress Free Finals

If you’re looking for a stress free final solution, you’ve come to the right place! If you’re just getting into college, on your last semester, or somewhere in between…I’ve got some good stuff for you!

I graduated from college a little over a year ago now, and I’ll share with you a few tips I picked up through my 5 1/2 years of experience.

How To Have Stress Free Finals

Start as soon as you can

If there’s one thing you need to learn, it would be good time management. Not everyone can procrastinate and succeed. More often than not, procrastination leads to stress…which is why we’re here right?

Get yourself a really good planner with lots of room to write, label, and organize. Use the slower time of the semester to really be proactive about studying. Study chapters as they come up, instead of trying to read through ten chapters the night before the final.

You’ll be far more successful and stress free if you’re proactive about studying.

Organize your shit

Like I mentioned before, get yourself a good planner. Write down deadlines, block out times to study. Hell, block out times for everything you do during your day if that helps you. (It does for me!) I’m a person who loves to organize, and good thing too because I wouldn’t be nearly as successful without it.

Color coordinate different classes, different types of assignments, or even by priority. What I like to do is color coordinate by classes, draw an empty little box next to the assignment, and fill it in once it’s done. Sounds easy right?

This way, I know what I need to do and I feel pretty damn good about myself after I check everything off.

Prioritize

Prioritizing is a huge part of having a stress free final. The assignments and papers that are due first should always come first. The big assignments and things that are worth the most points should be high on the list as well.

With the big assignments too, start early. Check number 1!

Single-task as much as possible

As much as everyone believes to be amazing multitaskers, research has shown over and over again that multitasking leads to shitty results. Sure, you get everything done, but if you had done them all one at a time, you know you would be creating some quality shit.

And as a side note, life is much more enjoyable if you really live in the moment and experience everything one at a time.

Build confidence

Did you know that confidence is a huge contributing factor to success? It is. People going into a stressful situation with confidence are far better off than those without.

Try this. When you need a little boost of energy and confidence, try a power stance. I know it sounds kind of funny, but it’s helped a lot of people gain confidence for difficult situations.

Stand up straight, step your legs to the width of your hips, place your hands on your hips, and breathe with purpose. Imagine yourself succeeding. Tell yourself affirmations that motivate and encourage you to do your best. Stand there for five minutes and smile at yourself in the mirror.

If you’re feeling embarrassed, go to a private place, and say these things in your mind.

Reward yourself

My favorite part, the rewards! You’ve worked hard and you deserve a little somethin’ somethin’!

When you’ve gone through the entire day according to plan, treat yourself. When you’ve studied your little heart out, treat yourself. Hell, even if you need to place a gummy bear throughout the pages of your book as you’re reading to get through it, do that.

If relaxation motivates you to work, treat yourself with a hot bath or a Netflix episode. If sweets motivate you, eat a treat after you’ve accomplished a goal. Whatever works for you, reward yourself with that.

Personally, I would always reward myself with some dark chocolate or a nap.

Reward yourself because you deserve it!

What helps you during finals?

When I Knew It Was Time To Come Off My Antidepressants

When I Knew It Was Time To Come Off My Antidepressants

I was prescribed antidepressants about a year and a half ago. I went in for an annual checkup when the University health clinic started asking a few mental health questions. And my answers concerned them.

I had already been diagnosed with depression at this point but I had a few more things on my plate at that particular time. I was in my last semester in college, my mom told me she might have cancer, and my biological father was really sick. He was the type of sick you worry about.

I was referred to a doctor to prescribe antidepressants and here I am a year and a half later…officially off of my antidepressants.

There were a few things that convinced me to go off of them.

When I Knew It Was Time To Come Off My Meds

I plateaued

For the first 8 months my mood improved greatly, and after the 8 months, my mood plateaued. I also didn’t want to go through trying another medication either.

When I hit the plateau, my mood never improved. My mood stayed at the baseline.

In the mental health world we like to refer as a mood baseline as an average, neutral area in which your mood resides. This is not severely depressed, or highly manic. It’s the happy medium between the two. On a numeric scale, we could call this 5 on a scale between 0 and 10. 0 being the best you’ve ever felt, and 10 being the most depressed you’ve ever felt.

Make sense? It’s indifferent, but also bleh.

Once the 8 months had passed, it was difficult for me to feel anything but a 5. I would feel elevated depression and happiness occasionally, but not often.

Before the medication my level of depression floated in the range from 5-9, and occasionally 10. Once in a while I would feel happiness but it wouldn’t last long. So the medication gave me a huge improvement!

I worked my ass off to improve my mental health, and it paid off

The second reason I believe that I was ready to come off my meds was the astronomical changes I’ve gone through in the last few years.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve kicked my ass trying to improve my mental health since high school. I’m not perfect and I never will be, but I do know I’ve done damn well.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of myself in my life, actually. Overcoming and improving my mental illness is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It is also one of the most rewarding feats I’ve ever tackled. I am new and improved. I am strong and I know now that I can handle anything.

The turn of the year gave me motivation to make big changes. But by January 1st, I decided I wasn’t quite ready.

Tragedy happened, and I survived without it

January 5th, tragedy happened. One of my parents died. I learned this at the same time that I was weening myself off my meds. I decided to stay on track with what my doctor had advised and kept with my new meds schedule.

As the month passed I endured all the shit that was going on, even with the decreasing amounts of happy pills. Should I have waited? Maybe, but you’d be surprised what you can endure. I know I’ve surprised myself a few times.

As a side note, I’ll mention that I’ve never had an addictive personality. Many people close to me have ruined their lives and even died from addiction and I refuse to let that get a hold of me. I believe that’s what deterred me.

So as I was dealing with this tragedy, I didn’t want my mind or body to rely on medication to solve my problems.

Take this into consideration before anything

I will also mention that I am a unique individual (just like all of you) and I did this under doctor’s recommendation. Not just anyone and everyone can simple ween themselves off of meds. It depends on the illness, medication, and doctor’s recommendation. Never self medicate (or ween yourself) without the approval of your doctor.

Instead of relying on antidepressants for the rest of my life,  I wanted to learn coping skills, and healthy habits to improve after utilizing what medication has to offer.

Going through this tragedy while weening off of my medication made me realize that I no longer needed them. I’m not going to lie to you. It was fucking hard, and I wouldn’t recommend going off your meds at the worst possible time ever, but I will say that it’s doable. At least it was for me.

Take this with you, if nothing else

I believe that there were many factors that played into my success. The therapy, the time I’ve spent working on myself, the self esteem I’ve been building, and my daily activities.

Now I am in no way encouraging anyone to stop their medication and refuse advice from their doctor. I am simply sharing my story with antidepressants.

I am not qualified or certified in any way to provide medical advice, so please talk to your doctor if you’re considering a change in medication.

With mental health, there is no quick and easy solution to anything. It takes hard work and dedication. And! It’s an ongoing process throughout your life, because you are always changing and evolving.

But I will tell you it’s worth it. Improving my mental health has been one of my best decisions.

So go on! Get out there and get your happy on!

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Why People Avoid Counseling But Shouldn’t 

Why People Avoid Counseling But Shouldn’t 

Counseling has a stigma

“Oh…you’re seeing a shrink? What’s wrong with you?”

Right now, it’s not socially acceptable to seek help for mental illness. Beliefs about people with mental illness are slowly changing in the right direction, but we are still far from where we should be.

Usually if someone is comfortable enough to seek help from a mental health professional, they probably won’t share it with many people. We’re afraid that if we share that with someone, they’ll use that label as a lens in which we’ll be seen.

If my label is “depression” people may assume certain things about me, like that I don’t like people or that I can’t ever have a good time.

Counseling can be expensive

Unfortunately, there are still many insurance companies that don’t cover mental health costs. Annual check ups aren’t included. Often times in order for an insurance company to cover a portion of the costs, there must be a diagnosis in place by the second session.

Not everyone needs to be diagnosed. Some people have temporary issues that a health professional can help with. These professionals come in handy when someone experiences a death in the family, a divorce, abuse, a traumatic event, etc.

These things and many other things should be covered by insurance. It’s disappointing that issues we all deal with throughout life aren’t covered because it’s a “mental health” issue. As if it’s not detrimental to your health…

Counseling takes courage

For many people it’s difficult to admit that they have an issue, much less ask for help.

Admitting yourself to counseling takes numerous steps. Admitting you have something you want to work on. Being comfortable enough to ask for help. Be willing to pay for it. Being brave enough to disclose personal information about yourself, and these things are usually things that you don’t tell others. Accepting feedback and opinions about your issues. And finally being vulnerable to the effort it takes to change and rewire yourself.

That last step is the hard part. This brings me to my next reason people avoid counseling.

Counseling is uncomfortable

Once you’ve admitted that you need help and have asked for it, it is now up to you to change. And we all know change is uncomfortable. Not only is change uncomfortable, but the whole reason for your counseling is uncomfortable.

The reason you’re there is to talk about all the shitty things that have happened to you, why they happened, how you felt about it, how it affected you, and what you’ll do to avoid pain in the future.

This often includes what you could’ve done better, such as thinking differently and behaving differently. But first you must admit that you’re…wrong…! What?!

Just kidding! Not always, but sometimes!

And I’m not going to lie to you, you might cry. It will be uncomfortable, and it won’t be easy, but it is worth it!

Some advice if you’re considering counseling

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find the right therapist right away. Just like you’re not friends with everyone, you won’t mix well with every therapist.

Find someone qualified, and find someone with experience in what you’re dealing with. Talk with different people, explore what insurance they accept, meet them, and use your intuition.

If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, ditch them. You should feel comfortable and safe with this person because you’re going to share some personal things with them.

Have you gone to counseling? I have.

If you haven’t, what’s holding you back?

25 Lessons Learned In 25 Years

25 Lessons Learned In 25 Years

Holy crap! Can you believe that I’m already a quarter of a century old? I’m sort of torn about it, but I’m definitely excited!

On one hand, I feel like an adult. I’ve felt like a responsible adult for a long time. I pay bills, I keep my dogs and plants alive, I know how to cook, and I do my own taxes. These are all pretty adult things, yeah?

On the other hand I still feel like a child. Not because I rely on my parents to make my lunch or do my laundry, but because adulthood takes me by surprise sometimes.

Why being an adult is surprising

For example, it surprises me that I’m capable of having children. Like, I’m ready physically AND emotionally. Weird. I’m at a point in my life where I believe I would be a good parent, and that’s the most difficult job in the world sooo… That’s kind of a big deal.

I’m capable of buying a house and it’s crazy exciting! (This year I’m buying a house, YAAAS!)

Dreaming versus Doing

Life makes a switch when you actually experience something versus fantasize about it. You see that thing in a whole new light. Like getting a new puppy, owning a house, getting married, and having children.

All of a sudden I’m a adult…like my parents? They’re definitely adults. Capable, hardworking, successful and responsible. Although I’ve done well so far, there is so much more to learn and experience.

I guess that means you never stop learning. Which also means I’m going to make more mistakes, learn from them, and continue to seek guidance from my parents…

Now! On to the good stuff.

25 Lessons Learned In 25 Years

25 Lessons Learned In 25 Years

  1. You’ll regret avoiding your bills. Just pay that shit.
  2. Electricity is expensive. Dad was right. Put on more clothes or run around the house a few times.
  3. The world owes you nothing. Working hard is the only way.
  4. Building credit ASAP is important. Confusing at 18, but important.
  5. You’re never too old to start something new.
  6. Mistakes and failures are lessons, not the end of the world. Everyone makes mistakes.
  7. Cherish all positive relationships in your life. Plant them, water them, and let them bloom.
  8. Forgive people and purge toxic relationships. Life is too damn short for that shit.
  9. You’ll never be fully ready for anything, so just go for it.
  10. The more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know.
  11. Life goes by faster as you get older.
  12. Every day is a new opportunity and something to be grateful for.
  13. Mental illness isn’t a life sentence. You are not what happened to you.
  14. Happiness is achievable. You have to work for it, because it doesn’t just fall in your lap.
  15. Let go of what you can’t control, you’ll only stress yourself out.
  16. Change is inevitable, embrace that shit. In yourself and others.
  17. Go to the doctor, dentist and eye doctor regularly. It could save your life.
  18. Appearance isn’t everything. How you treat yourself and others is far more important.
  19. Other women are not your competition, the patriarchy is.
  20. If you bleach your hair, accept the consequences.
  21. Money isn’t everything. Happiness is.
  22. Self care first. Everything else second.
  23. Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to your best friend. You wouldn’t be a dick to them, so why be that way to yourself?
  24. Gratitude is a sure way to happiness. Practice it all the time.
  25. Losing your temper and being a dick won’t get you anywhere. What you put into the world is what you get back.

There you have it. I’ve compiled the 25 most important lessons I’ve learned in my time on this earth. You’re welcome.

Have I missed anything?

What’s most important to you?

How Owning Dogs Has Helped My Depression

How Owning Dogs Has Helped My Depression

How Owning Dogs Has Helped My Depression

They require care, therefore I get out of bed.

Often times when someone has depression, they care for everything that surrounds them, and not themselves. Sounds familiar? We care for our friends, family, and pets, but refuse ourselves any love.

Owning an animal (specifically dogs) has kept me going through the most difficult times. This can be true for people without mental illness as well.

Because my two lovely fur babies are my responsibility, I get out of bed, feed them, water them, take them outside, and play with them. If it weren’t for them, many of those difficult days I would have cried in bed, and gone back to sleep. I have an awful track record of taking care of myself.

Having such responsibility gives my life a sense of purpose. They encourage me to be the best I can be because we both deserve it.

They kiss my tears away.

Dogs are extremely intelligent creatures. They understand feeling and they experience it themselves. When I’m upset, they know. They’ll cuddle up next to me and kiss the tears off my face. This in turn makes me laugh and eases the pain for a second.

I mean, what’s better than slobbery dog kisses all over your face to ease the blues?

They make me laugh because they’re absolute weirdos.

Just like people, dogs have personalities. From my experience, dogs are often just as weird (or more weird) as humans. They let their freak flag fly!

It makes me laugh when my dog Riley makes strange, excited monkey cries when she sees me. My new puppy is so goofy and hops like a bunny. They are just the cutest things ever, and we’re constantly having a great time together.

They teach me about unconditional love.

I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that this tidbit is on the list. Anyone who knows dogs, knows that they are the most unconditionally loving creatures. They love you no matter what you look like, or what you do. They have zero expectations and will love you until their last day.

Have you ever met anyone who is as excited to see you as your dog? I didn’t think so. Walk out of the room for five minutes and they’ll welcome you back like the amazing, beautiful queen you are.

Strive to be the person your dog thinks you are. That is some motivation right there.

What My Life Looked Like Before Self Love

What My Life Looked Like Before Self Love

To be honest, I never really put myself as a priority until a few years ago. I didn’t know that it was important, and I was told it was selfish. I’m here to tell you that self love is not selfish. In fact, it’s not only necessary, but crucial to your mental health. Until a few years ago I was a wreck. I didn’t look like it on the outside, but I was a hot mess on the inside. Let me share a little of that with you.

What my life looked like before self love, and a little somethin' somethin' extra!

My sleeping habits were shit

Abnormal sleeping habits and depression go together like peanut butter and jelly. In my case, I either slept too much, or too little. I never got the right amount of sleep to power my body and mind.

I would go through spells of constant sleeping, and I would sleep eight hours a night and nap through the day after school. The first year of college I did the same. I felt as if I were just walking through life in a daze.

Then I would go through spells of hardly sleeping at all. At one time in my life I had two jobs, and would sleep an average of four hours a night. I would work, spend time with friends, nap, and repeat.

I don’t recommend it. Sleep when you’re tired, and keep a consistent schedule.

My eating habits were unhealthy

Abnormal eating habits are also common with people who have depression.

I ate too little or I ate too much. Throughout Highschool I starved myself, and the first year of college was the same. Sporadically as a young adult on my own, I convinced myself it wasn’t worth the money to buy food. I thought that saving money for emergencies was far more important than feeding myself. WTF?!

My eating habits also influenced my sleeping habits. The more hungry I was, the more I slept. I would try to ignore my hunger by sleeping, and it worked. At the same time I would always feel faint and weak like I was wasting away.

Other times I would be so hungry I would indulge on high caloric foods to ease my sadness. Gorging on tons of pizza roles and ice-cream at 2 in the morning after a day of no eating isn’t exactly healthy, you know?

I will not admit that I ever had an eating disorder, because I didn’t. I will admit though that I have had an unhealthy relationship with food. This is something that I am mindful every day.

I encourage anyone struggling with nourishing their bodies the correct way to seek help. Food is life, and you will feel like shit if you don’t take care of yourself.

I thought I was shit, and that’s what I told myself…over and over

I had very low self-esteem and self worth. I didn’t know that I deserved love, and I would let people walk all over me. Never did I stand up for myself or put myself first.

Like many young people, I spent too much time worrying about opinions of others, and letting their comments consume me. I didn’t know who I was, and I didn’t want to find out either.

I believed all the bad things that was said about me. No matter who told me, my parents, friends, acquaintances, or random people, I would believe them.

My life was a constant cycle of striving for perfection, failing, being abused, and abusing myself.

Take some advice from me and take really good care of yourself. Do it before you think you’re ready. Do it before you know what’s best for you. Just start. Start early, and care for yourself all the time.

For some more self care tips! Read the links below.

How To Make A Self Care Package

Self Care During Winter Months

What I’m Grateful For

What I’m Grateful For

The reason I’m doing this now is because I’ve lost someone recently, and it has been a really strong reminder of how short and precious life is. There are so many things to be grateful for, and I’m going to list my top 10.

What I'm Grateful For

I find that it’s really easy to become accustomed to the things we have, the people around us, and we often take those things for granted.

We don’t do it on purpose. Like I said, we just become comfortable and forget to be grateful. I challenge you to take a few minutes and write down 10 things you’re most grateful for. I’ll do it with you.

What I’m Grateful For

I’m grateful for my health that keeps me going

I’m grateful for my knowledge of the world

I’m grateful for my freedom to do what I love

I’m grateful for the food that nourishes me

I’m grateful for the abilities and opportunity I have 

I’m grateful for my freedom of speech

I’m grateful for my loving family who have helped me through the past two weeks

I’m grateful for my supportive friends

I’m grateful for my loving and understanding boyfriend who is always there for me

I’m grateful for my fun-loving and happy pups that always put a smile on my face

How To Be Grateful Everyday

Spend some time every day being grateful for what and who you have in your life.

I keep a journal where I write the date, and three things I’m grateful for that day. It’s a healthy reminder of how lucky I am.

 

What are you grateful for?

Share with me in the comments!

How To Cope With The Loss of a Loved One

How To Cope With The Loss of a Loved One

Having recently experienced this, I can honestly say that it isn’t easy. There is no way to soften the blow, and there is nothing really I can say to make you feel better. And you don’t need to feel better.

How To Cope With The Loss Of A Loved One

No amount of “they’re in a better place” (s) is going to help you feel better. Or at least it didn’t make me feel better. So this brings me to my first piece of advice.

Allow yourself to grieve

There is no weakness or shame in crying and grieving. Losing someone you love hurts, so don’t hold back your tears. Allow yourself to feel the feelings that are coming up. If you don’t, you might explode and that’s sounds like a mess, yeah?

Take care of your body

Losing someone you love is emotionally and physically draining. The bare minimum you need to accomplish throughout the day is to give your body what it needs. Don’t forget your medication, drink lots of water, and eat.

I know sometimes eating is the last thing on your mind, but you’ll cope better when your body feels healthy and nourished.

Continue your routine

Another piece of advice that’s crucial to coping with the loss of a loved one is continuing your routine.

This means you should try to remember to shower, brush your teeth, brush your hair, feed yourself, feed your animals, water your plants, exercise, and clean your house.

If some of these are too much for you at first, give yourself a break. Take a nap and eat a tub of ice cream in bed if you need to. There is no right way to grieve, so give yourself time.

Surround yourself with people who love you

People who truly love you will have your best interests in mind. They will give you space if you need it, they’ll give you comfort if you need it, and be a great listener.

Ask for help

An important lesson I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that asking for help is perfectly fine. In fact, I highly encourage it. If it weren’t for the help of my family through this time, I don’t know what I would’ve done. Probably blown up.

So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in asking for help, and this is no time to handle everything yourself.

I am so incredibly grateful for all the love, support, and help I received lately. My family took the liberty of cleaning and calling for a day or so before I arrived to help ease my pain. It helped me tremendously.

Turn off your phone

One amazing piece of advice I received from the dear man at the mortuary is this: Turn off your phone. All the logistics and phone calls are extremely overwhelming, and as mentioned before, take care of yourself first.

I was getting phone calls dozens of times a day it seemed like and I was getting so stressed. I mentioned that to him one day, and he told me to turn off my phone and treat myself to lunch.

Even if it is for just a few hours while you’re eating or relaxing, take that time to give yourself a break. You need those to keep going.

I felt so relieved that I finally got permission to turn my phone off, and now I’m giving you permission.

Turn your phone off, breathe, and eat something that will make your heart and soul happy.

Understand that feeling better is not linear

Give yourself time and compassion while you’re healing. Healing after something so tragic is not going to be linear.

You may feel better one day, and the next feel worse than the day before. There is no time limit in which you need to “get over it”. If you break down a week, a month, or a year from now that’s okay. Time helps you feel better, but you’ll never stop missing them.

I’ll share a poem that I found on Pinterest with you that I used for my dad’s obituary.

Forever in our hearts

Fill not your hearts with pain and sorrow, but remember me in every tomorrow.

Remember the joy, the laughter, the smiles, I’ve only gone to rest a while.

Although my leaving causes pain and grief, my going has eased my hurt and given me relief.

So, dry your eyes and remember me, not as I am now, but as I used to be.

I will remember you all and look on with a smile, understand in your hearts, I’ve only gone to rest a while.

As long as I have the love of each of you, I can live my life in the hearts, of all of you.

-Unknown

I hope this poem gave you the same tear-filled smile it gave me, knowing that your loved one will never really be gone as long as you keep them in our heart.

My favorite memory of my dad and I is when we used to sit on his porch in the mountains. We would sit on the porch and drink coffee as the sun came up. We would sit in silence as we’d listen to the birds chirping and the mountains waking up for another day.

I often forget how silent, yet full of life the country is. I love the bliss we would share, sitting there with the morning sun shining on our faces.

If you’ve lost someone, please share your best memory with them in the comments.

How To Ease Anxiety While Traveling

How To Ease Anxiety While Traveling

Recently I’ve been traveling a lot, and I’m usually a person that lets the traveling stress me out. To ease stress while traveling, I’ve changed up how I do things. I decided to write this post because traveling (usually by plane) is extremely stressful and if I can help others calm the f*ck down…I’ll do that.

How To Ease Anxiety While Traveling

The crucial component to my success is preparation! I’ve also learned that you have to let some things go. Particularly things that you cannot control, such as delayed planes or traffic.

I plan

While traveling I make sure that I’m doing it on my terms. What I mean by that is that I travel the way I want.

For example, I have a seriously difficult time waking up in the morning, and I know that I’ll probably sleep in. So, when I’m traveling I start a little later in the day. This reduces a huge amount of stress for me.

What’s worse than waking up late, speeding through traffic, and running through the airport? Nothing. Obviously.

I prepare

I pack my bag at least the day before, I lay out my outfit for the travel, and I make a list of everything I need. I check that thing like five times, and go over my itinerary for the trip to make sure I don’t forget anything.

Something that I’ve learned as well is that less is more. You’ve probably done this too…packing too much? I like to pack the bare minimum so that I’m carrying less. Also, if I’m staying in a hotel and know that there will be certain toiletries, I’ll use those instead of bringing my own.

Less heavy baggage is always nice, right?

Do you ever get motion sickness? I do…bad. I get headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Something that has saved my life on airplanes or riding in cars is Dramamine.

The first time I took Dramamine while in a car, I didn’t realize how amazing I felt until I was a half hour in and didn’t want to throw up! Dramamine is magic. I recommend it highly if you get motion sickness. I can’t travel without it!

I arrive early

This may seem obvious, but arriving early is probably the easiest way to relieve stress while traveling.

Make sure you account for traffic, parking, walking, checking bags, security, walking again, and grabbing yourself some snacks and water!

I bring entertainment

To ease the stress and anxiety of waiting around, I bring jams to listen to! That, and lots of games to play on my phone in case I get bored. Reading material? That’s the best!

I set alarms

The last thing I do to ease the stress of traveling is by setting alarms. I set an alarm for waking up, leaving, when I need to be at the terminal, and last boarding call. Not always but if I’m reading or distracting myself, I want to make sure I won’t miss my flight. So I set alarms. It lets me unwind without worrying about being on time.

There you have it!

5 ways to ease your stress and anxiety while traveling!

Let me know how it goes!

How do you travel stress free?

How To Start Living In The Moment

How To Start Living In The Moment

Get the most out of life by living in the moment.

How To Start Living In The Moment

Embrace minimalism

When you have less possessions, every piece left becomes much more important and useful. Hoarding too many useless possessions will clutter your house and your mind. Donate it, sell it, or throw it away.

Take a moment and look at everything you own. Have you been looking for a good reason to organize and purge your closet? Every weekend spend some time going through your stuff and clearing out everything that you don’t use and believe to be beautiful.

Begin each day as a blessing

See every new day as a fresh opportunity to do something amazing. Let go of what happened yesterday and begin each and everyday with motivation and vigor.

Be mindful every moment of the day

With all of the responsibilities we have everyday, it’s easy to slip into a monotonous routine. Sometimes the day flies by without us even noticing!

I know we are all fantastic at multitasking, but single tasking is far more efficient and enjoyable. Single tasking is performing one task at a time without losing focus on the task at hand.

When you are at work, fully engulf your energy into that task. Do you best and strive for efficiency. We are far more productive when we put down our phone, get off of Facebook, and refrain from mindlessly pinning to our wedding board. Or is that just me? hehe

There is a time and a place for this, and it’s not during work time, or family time.

Eat mindfully

Fully enjoy your food. Take advantage of every bite, and appreciate every bite.

When you eat breakfast, focus on the taste of your food, how it feels in your mouth, and the mouthwatering aroma.

Put down your phone and just eat. Sounds crazy right? Well when we multitask while eating we tend to eat more, eat more calories, and we simply don’t enjoy it as much.

Forgive the past

Forgiveness is something that I’ve been working on in the past year, and I’m far more happy now that I have.

Holding onto the negative energy of the past will constantly hold you down. It ruins the present, and wastes so much valuable time. Forgiveness is hard, but it will set you free. I promise.

Read more about forgiveness here.

Enjoy what you do

To fully enjoy the present, it would make sense that you must enjoy what you do, right? Make the most out of everyday and see everything you do as practice or a learning experience.

We don’t always love our jobs, but take advantage of what you have and learn something from what you’re doing. At very least, be grateful that your job puts food on the table.

And if you’re one of the lucky ones and you enjoy your job, good for you! Don’t let a moment pass where you take for granted what you do everyday.

Dream big

Set goals and plans for your future. The work you do today is the very beginning of your lifelong success. Every little bit of effort counts.

Understand what you can control, and let the rest go

Do you spend a lot of time stressing about other people or what they’re doing? Be rational with yourself. Understand that you are the only person you have control over. You cannot control traffic, or your siblings, or the pace of the checkout line.

Take every moment as it is, and understand what you have control over. Yourself, and how you react to your world.

Learn every day

Like I mentioned before, every day is a new opportunity to start fresh. The wonderful thing about learning is that we have to be fully focused in order to actually learn the thing.

Search for answers and more efficient ways to handle your work. If you’re constantly learning, you are constantly progressing.

Keep and form healthy habits

Keep the healthy habits you have and kick the bad ones. You may be really good at taking your medication or vitamins. Keep doing that. Are you really good at getting enough sleep? Keep doing that too!

On the other hand, if there is something you want to work on, do it. Have you been waiting to kick your addiction to smoking? Or ice cream at 2 in the morning? Or maybe you have a bad habit of biting your nails.

STAAAAHP.

Keeping bad habits denies you from living in the present, and healthy living keeps you in the present. All you ever have is RIGHT NOW. Make the most of it.

How do you live in the moment?

Tell me in the comments!

How To De-Stress Your Morning

How To De-Stress Your Morning

Happy “back to work and back to real life”! Now that the holidays are over, and everyone has done their turn of the year celebrating, it’s time to get back to business. Let’s de-stress our mornings!

How To Destress Your Mornings!

Have any of you had a difficult time getting started this year? I know that I have! To be fair though, I was battling a nasty cold until the 5th so…

Here are some tips I’ve complied to help you de-stress your morning. These tips will better prepare you for the morning, and in turn will make your day run a little smoother.

Read on my busy bee’s!

Prepare your clothes for the next day

To make an easy transition into the morning, you’ll need to be prepared. The less thinking you have to do in the morning, the better! Am I right?

Start the night before by setting out your work clothes for the next day. This way you won’t be scrambling around for matched socks, the “right” outfit, and give you some extra time for that coffee you’re so eager to drink. I know you are!

Try overnight breakfast recipes

I’m guessing that many of you (just like me) tend to skip breakfast in the morning. Eek! You know it’s the most important meal of the day! You’ll never have to starve until lunch time again if you abide by this little rule.

You have two options. You can prep a little something like a banana, an apple, or a muffin. Or you can try an overnight recipe!

They work like this:

You pour the wet and dry ingredients into a mason jar, stir it, and let it sit in the fridge overnight! It’s as simple as that and ready to devour!

There are a few different options that include: rice pudding, chia seeds, oatmeal, etc. You can really customize this to your tastebuds so get creative!

Check out this recipe here.

Prep your lunch

While you’re making dinner the night before, make twice as much as you need so that way you can designate half of it for lunch the next day!

My boyfriend and I do this, and it works wonders for saving time, destressing our morning, and not to mention…saving money! We make dinner, and separate it into four parts. Two for dinner, and two in containers for lunch the next day. Easy peasy!

Set a timer on your coffee

If you have one of those fancy coffee machines that allows you to set a schedule, use it! It’s easy! Prep the coffee maker the night before, and when the time is right, it’ll start brewing itself.

This way, you never forget your coffee, and you’re not late to work because you’ve been waiting for your coffee to brew!

Make a designated spot for your keys and essentials

The best place to leave your keys is by the door. Buy or make a little key rack so that you always know where your keys are. Maybe add a little bowl on a table next to it for your wallet, watch, chapstick and to go comb?

You’ll never forget anything, and you’ll save time by never having to search for your keys. Because who doesn’t lose their keys? People who have a place for them! 🙂

Go to bed early

Easier said than done, but hear me out. The more sleep you have the night before, the less stressed you’ll be the next day. Simple.

You wake up on time, you’re not rushing around, therefore you’re less stressed.

Wake up at the same time everyday

To make the previous step easier, go to bed at the same time everyday.

I’ll be honest with you, I almost never do this. What I do know though, is that it’ll help you keep a healthy sleep schedule.

I promise to try if you do! 🙂 It’s actually one of my goals for this year, so I am trying!

Create a commuter playlist

One of the most stressful morning to-do’s for everyone, is the commute to work.

Ugh. The traffic, the assholes cutting you off, the shitty playlist on the radio that you’ve heard a million times…

Do yourself a favor and make your commute a happy one! Make yourself a playlist that will get you started for the day and rock that shit until you get to work! I’m a huge fan of Otis Redding in the morning! 🙂

I’m always that person you laugh at in the car next to you… You know that wild woman screaming her favorite songs in the car? That’s me, and I have no shame.

You know what’s really awesome about this? I know that I’ve improved other people’s commutes by making them laugh and loosen up while they’re in traffic. This one time, some obviously frustrated guy looks over at me enjoying myself and singing in the car, and he couldn’t help but laugh at me and smile. He waved and drove on smiling.

Have no shame and sing in the car! 

Do you have any stories like that?

Try these tips and tell me how it goes!

Share with me in the comments!

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How To Stop Comparing Yourself With Others

How To Stop Comparing Yourself With Others

Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post about being too hard on yourself, I briefly discuss how damaging it can be to compare yourself to others.

Comparing yourself to others that you may believe are more beautiful, successful, or smart can really damage your self-esteem. When too much of our time is focused on others and their “perfect” lives, we forget about all of the great things we have to offer. We lose sight of how amazing and beautiful we are.

This post is all about loving yourself while appreciating what others have also.

For my lovely ladies out there…

Empowered women empower women. There is no need for competition. 

How to stop comparing yourself with others!

Avoid Unattainable Beauty Standard Media

What I mean by “unattainable beauty standards” is a media portrayal of what the “ideal” body image looks like.

I know this is impossible, but you can avoid some if you try. This means throw out your Cosmo mags, ignore the photoshopped women on magazines in grocery stores, and focus on real people that are naturally beautiful.

There are tons of body positive Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook accounts out there. You just have to dig a little. My absolute favorite on Instagram is @bodyposipanda

If you feel shitty about yourself when you look at beautifully airbrushed ladies on T.V., then maybe you should avoid those shows. There’s no need to watch or focus on things that make you feel like shit.

Ignore the new fad diets to make you lose 20 pounds in two weeks, crazy sex secrets from Cosmo, or miracle wrinkle creams.

You’re beautiful the way you are, and there’s no wrong way to have a body or a face.

This brings me to my next tip.

Focus On Your Own Accomplishments

With all the extra time you have now that you’ve thrown out your magazines and purged your Insta, focus on yourself. Occupy your mind with your skills, abilities, and accomplishments.

If you’re having trouble with this one, create a “reverse bucket list”. This is a list of all the things you’ve already accomplished in your life. Where have you traveled? Which jobs have you gotten? What are your best memories? Where are the most beautiful things you’ve seen? Who have you met that inspires you? What have you created?

The list can go on and on is you give yourself the credit. I know you’ve done amazing things in your life, so write those down and bask in your glory!

Appreciate Other’s Beauty Without Doubting Your Own

This one is tough.

You see a beautifully sculpted human walk down the street, and you start to think of all the times you haven’t gone to the gym. Bleh.

For the love of coffee!! STAHHHHP.

Someone else’s beauty does not take yours away. They are beautiful and so are you. Instead of feeling envious, appreciate the beauty in others. They are probably looking at you the same way.

Embrace Your Natural Self

The more you love your natural self, the less you’ll feel obligated to buy into unattainable beauty standards.

Believe it or not, not everyone needs to have the body of a Victoria’s Secret model, Angelina Jolie’s lips, Jennifer Lopez’s ass, and Kate Upton’s boobs.

It’s impossible so give up now and love yourself for who you are naturally.

Accept Yourself

The sooner you accept yourself as you are, the sooner you’ll be happy. There is nothing more important than your physical and mental health. Don’t put your body or mind through hell to achieve the unachievable.

You are who you are. Embrace where you came from, and embrace your individuality. Your unique nose, freckles, dimples, your natural hair, your skin color… These “flaws” that you may think you have is what makes you special. What a boring and predictable place the world would be if we all looked the same, and did the same things.

Do you compare yourself with others too much?

What have you done to help yourself?

Share with me in the comments!

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10 Lessons Learned in 2017

10 Lessons Learned in 2017

10 of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year. This past year I’ve done a lot of growing and learning. I chose to make a complete 180 with my life to pursue my art and my writing, and it hasn’t let me down so far!

Take what I’ve learned this year so you can start out 2018 with an advantage!

10 Lessons Learned in 2017!

Working from home is hard, so be prepared

I had this assumption that working from home would be easier than working somewhere else? That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Since I’ve done both, I can say that working from home is far more difficult than working for someone else.

*more difficult BUT far more rewarding.

There is so much that goes into starting your own business, and it just blew my mind. I feel like half my time was spent simply learning, and how to successfully run a business.

Most importantly, you have to motivate yourself to get shit done. You have to learn from your failures and try harder next time.

What you put into the world is what you get back

I am a strong believer in this one. What you put into the world is what you get back. If you put love and compassion into the world, you’ll receive it back. On the reverse, if you put hate and envy into the world, you will be surrounded by envy and hate.

You need to give your body what it needs

Something that took me a long time to accept is giving my body what it needs. I’ve spent a lot of time battling my feelings, my hunger, my pains, and my fatigue.

If you’re one of those people who is the mother to everyone around you, let me tell you something. Neglecting your own health and happiness will be the death of you!

Your own health and happiness is crucial to you and those around you. DO NOT SLACK ON YOUR OWN SELF CARE.

Read about How To Make a Self Care Package here…

When you’re tired, rest, and when you’re hungry, eat. When you can’t take anymore socializing, go make a nest in your room and hide from the world. Oh! You’re sick? Take care of yourself. Don’t power through life like you’re Superman, because you’ll eventually turn into the Hulk. Notice I didn’t say Bruce Banner. *wink*

Setting goals is how you move forward and feel accomplished

Setting goals for myself this year has been my motivation to move forward and accomplish things I wanted to accomplish. For a while in the beginning of the year I felt as if I was just floating in the wind hoping something good would happen.

I had a dream, but no direction. A dream is just a dream if you don’t take the necessary steps to get there. What makes a dream a goal, are the steps.

Something that is really rewarding for me, is checking something off a list. Especially if it’s something big, like my first craft show for example. For many people, it’s just a craft show. For me, I worked hard and spent many hours preparing for that craft show. It feels good to check those off the list!

This brings me to my next lesson.

Great accomplishments take time

The society we live in today promotes fast success and instant gratification. Well, as much as those words are thrown around…they’re not entirely true.

The people who are successful are the ones who work really hard…all the time. Every big company started somewhere small, and it took a lot of time to get to where they are now.

I need to remind myself all the time that what I’m trying to accomplish takes time.

The difference between people who are successful and unsuccessful…is when they give up. Successful people don’t give up no matter how many times they fail.

That’s the difference.

For your sanity, set boundaries

Do you have that family member or friend that just sucks the life out of you? No matter how excited you are about life, all they do is bring down the party with their bad vibes?

Set boundaries with those people. It can be a mindful choice of your own, or you can talk to them about it openly.

Keep them at whatever distance feels the best for you. If you live with these people, make sure that you have certain guidelines that will keep you happy too. For example, set a designated space for yourself that you cannot be interrupted in.

That’s what I do. I live with two children and if I didn’t set boundaries, I would never get anything done. So, I manage a balance between giving them attention and being alone. You know, because I’m not a heartless bitch, but I also have a business to run.

Pick your tribe wisely

Cleanse yourself of all the toxic people in your life, and spend your time with people who care about you.

Choose people for your tribe that bring out the best in you. Surround yourself with a tribe who will push you to be your best self.

The people you surround yourself with are a reflection of yourself. Who do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish? How do you want to feel? Make decisions about friends based on these questions.

Organization and routine are life

Keeping myself on track was a huge priority for me, and the only way to accomplish that is to be organized and keep a routine.

Once I created a reasonable routine for myself, my life became more clear. I had direction and organizing my life helped me stay a little less anxiety free.

Battling mental illness is a lifelong struggle, but you’re not stuck

I’ll be honest, mental illness sucks sometimes. The only thing you can do is try to improve yourself. The harsh truth is that you have to put in the effort to get better.

Read about How To Tackle Down a Bad Day here…

Mental illness is not something to be taken lightly, and I respect anyone struggling with it. What I know about mine is that the more effort I put in, the happier I become. Once you learn what works best for you, stick to that and keep working.

Many treatments for mental illness are trial and error. The medication, the therapy, the practice, the homework… Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a quick and easy fix right away. Not every treatment is going to work for you so give yourself the time to search for what’s right.

All good things take time, and your mental health is absolutely worth it.

Happiness is achievable if you put the work in

If you’re like me, and you weren’t just born as a Sally sunshine, then keep reading. Happiness is something you choose, and it’s something you work for. It doesn’t just happen.

If you want to be happy, you have to work for it. One of my biggest pieces of advice I could give anyone is to learn gratitude. So incredibly important that I’ve written a few posts about it!

Read about How To Boost Happiness here…

Read about Why You Need Gratitude Journal here…

And I’ll continue to do so until everyone is happy!

 

What have you learned in 2017?

Share with me in the comments!

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How Having a Community Improves Your Mental Health

How having a community improves your mental health

Throughout my life I’ve only ever had a few individuals that I relied on. Growing into a young woman with mental illness makes it difficult to trust others and build a healthy community.

The older I’ve gotten, and the more I’ve built the right types of relationships, the healthier I’ve gotten. Most of my life I’ve been very independent and I’ve always felt that I couldn’t rely on others.

Once I started to know and understand that I could trust people, I became happier.

I had no idea how important having a community was, until I was surrounded by love and support.

How having a community improves mental health.

So, it’s no secret that building a compassionate and trustworthy community is good for your mental health. It doesn’t matter so much if they’re family, friends, or people with similar interests. In my life I’ve been adopted into many families, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

Having a supportive community improves mental health. Why? Because part of a healthy mind are healthy relationships with others. We as humans, thrive in communities. We seek human connection, and we feel our best when we are supported and connected with others.

What makes a healthy community?

There are some important characteristics to keep in mind. These people need to have some specific traits to be beneficial to you. I’ve compiled what I believe to be five major traits that you need to feel within your community.

Do what’s best for yourself and choose your social group carefully. Building a positive community around you is a huge part of your mental health.

They listen

What type of relationship would the ideal be if there isn’t mutual listening? Listening and understanding is the first step in building a relationship with someone.

You want people in your community to be willing and interested listeners. You should be able to confide in these people and trust that they’ll listen compassionately and without judgement.

They love you

Your community should consist of only people who love you and care for you. These people want what’s best for you, and have no selfish motives.

Building a community that loves you will prove to you that you’re loved and important. These people genuinely want to be around you and love to be with you. Having these relationships will provide you with a positive outlook on relationships.

You trust them

Trust. Such a powerful thing, and yet easily broken. When you build consistent and reliable relationships with others, you’ll find that you trust them.

Trust shows you that you can rely on them, and you can count on them. No relationship is complete without it.

They want you to succeed

Something really special about building great relationships is that you’re able to know who really cares for you. One way to tell is if they genuinely want you to succeed.

Do these people support your dreams? Are they there to congratulate you when you succeed, and offer a hand when you fail?

They support you

Having a reliable support system shows you that you’re loved and you’re taken care of. What’s better than that to improve your mental health?

What’s crucial about this trait is that these people not only support you while you succeed, but also when you fail. As mentioned before, your true community will be there for you always. They want what’s best for you, and they will be there for you when you need them the most.

One of the most important things about having a healthy mind is the support you receive around you.

Trusting in others, knowing that they love you and want what’s best for you is key to a healthy mind. All of these beautiful things help you build a community, as well as building your own confidence and self-esteem.

Who’s in your community?

Comment down below what you believe is most important in a friend!

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Mental Illness – Stop Kicking Yourself While You’re Down

Stop Kicking Yourself While You’re Down

“I’m sad because I’m depressed, and I’m mad because I shouldn’t be sad, but I am anyway. What’s wrong with me? I feel broken, and I don’t deserve help or pity”

Sound familiar?

Are you too hard on yourself? Do you find that you kick yourself while you’re down? By that I mean, do you blame yourself for having struggles? For those of you with mental illness, do you beat yourself up for it? Do you treat yourself with harsh and unforgiving words?

I know I do, and I’m sure many of you are hard on yourselves as well.

For those of us with mental illness or not, we tear ourselves down more than we build ourselves up.

It’s time for change.

Mental Illness - How to stop kicking yourself while you're down...Because you deserve better.

Why?

Each and every single one of you deserves a happy life. Go out into the world and be unapologetically you. And for those of you with mental illness, you are just as worthy of love and as beautiful as anyone else. It’s as simple as that.

In one of my more recent posts, I talk about how mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. And it’s not. You can read that baby here!

We don’t blame the sick

Do people with the flu put themselves down for having the flu? Sure, it sucks but they don’t blame themselves.

“Gosh I have the flu again? I’m such a worthless pile of shit! Why am I like this? I’m sorry, don’t let me burden you.”

It’s not the fault of the sick, that they’re sick. They are just sick, and they need to be taken care of accordingly.

We don’t blame people who have broken bones or cancer for their illnesses. We don’t tell them to snap out of it, shake it off, or get over it. Imagine telling someone with a broken leg to just suck it up.

Then why do we tell people with depression to just shake it off?

People with mental illness can’t just shake it off. As a matter of fact, if we could shake it off…we would. In a heart beat. Because this shit sucks.

We don’t treat our best friends that way

If we don’t treat the physically ill like that, and we don’t treat our best friend like that…why would we treat ourselves like that?

How

I’ll let you in on a little something. Comparing yourself to others is often damaging to your self-esteem.

Focus on yourself and your goals. Wherever other people are in life has nothing to do with you. Progress is progress, and there’s no time limit in which things need to be accomplished.

When you beat yourself up for being beaten up, you get stuck in a cyclical rhythm of shame.

For some of us, we kick ourselves for having mental illness, when the mental illness has already kicked us down. Whaaaa? Don’t do it.

So take back the “I’m sorry”, “I shouldn’t be like this”, and the “There’s something wrong with me.”

No longer do you need to blame yourself for having an illness. Stop kicking yourself while you’re down.

What to do instead

Accept that you have some sticky struggles, and make moves in the right direction.

Trust the right people. Talk about it. Write about it. Take care of yourself and your mental health.

And most importantly, talk to yourself with love, compassion, and forgiveness.

You deserve more. You deserve better.

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How To Make 2018 YOUR Year!

How To Make 2018 Your Year! Set Goals and Keep Them!

It’s almost that time. It’s almost the turn of the year, and you know what that means…? New Year’s Resolutions. Gah! Let’s set some goals!

How To Make 2018 Your Year! Set goals and keep them!

I’ll be honest with you. I LOVE New Year’s Resolutions! I love the fresh start and setting new and challenging goals for myself. It puts something I want in sight, and I know which direction to go. That’s why I’m sharing this goal setting post!

Notice I didn’t mention anything about a gym membership. You know, because how many people follow through with that after March? Or even January?

I didn’t, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!

Now! On to the important stuff!

Find out what’s important to you

This is the fun part! The first step is the brainstorming step! I don’t want you to skimp on this one. To make it fun, I would recommend getting creative with this part. Grab a big piece of paper, a variety pack of markers, and don’t hold back!

What’s important to you? How do you imagine your best self? What kind of person do you want to be? Think back at what you wanted to be as a kid. Do you still share some of those dreams? What do you want to improve about yourself? Think about things you want to learn. Do you have a hobby you’ve been putting off for when you have “more time”?

Don’t be boring and generic. So go big! Get creative! There is no limit, and there is nothing too small.

Happiness? Health? Self-confidence? Promotion? Learn to paint? Learn carpentry? Have more fun? Save money? Eat less dessert…(or more in my case)? #cantstopwontstop #noshame

Set goals

The second step is for organizing your beautiful mess of ideas. Circle first priority ideas with one color, second with another, and so forth.

I like to challenge myself and set a gazillion goals for myself. I thrive on having too much on my plate, so this works for me! Personally, I’ve separated my goals into three categories: personal, blog, and my art business. You can imagine how long those lists got!

Set goals that are easily attainable. Set goals that are a bit challenging, and set goals that scare you. The only way to know how far you’ll go is by testing it. Don’t hold back my friends.

You are far more capable than you think you are.

List the necessary steps to get there

Write down basic steps to get you moving in the right direction. Don’t get too detailed yet because you’ll have plenty of time for that throughout the year. Plus! It might get a tad overwhelming.

Use a fair timeline to attain your goals. Don’t give yourself too little, or too much time. Too little time might leave you discouraged, and too much time might leave you unmotivated.

Write down what might hold you back

Something interesting that I thought of while brainstorming for this post is overcoming obstacles. I put myself in the mind of someone reading this, and thought to myself that this may be overwhelming. I also thought about how everyone inevitably treks through obstacles throughout their life.

Set yourself some goals, then give a little thought into what might hold you back? Do you lose motivation easily? Is money an obstacle? Are you scared of failing?

Use these possible setbacks as a way of foreseeing the future. We all make mistakes, fall down, and fail, so don’t expect achieving all these awesome goals is going to be easy!

Now, jot down counter attacks to your obstacles

What will you do in the face of adversity? How will you pick yourself up? What would you tell your best friend if they failed at something? Say those encouraging words to yourself.

Most importantly, forgive yourself for your mistakes. Everyone makes them, and you’ll only make it worse by tearing yourself down farther.

Make a list of affirmations

Hoo hoo! What’s an affirmation you ask? An affirmation is the action or process of being affirmed. It is support and encouragement. The important thing about affirmations is that you have to say it as if it’s true RIGHT NOW.

Instead of… “I want to be successful this year.”

Say this… “I am capable and success flows to me freely.”

See how much more empowering that is?

Get a bullet journal and keep track of your progress

I know, I know…this crazy bullet journal craze! I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and I may never go back! I bought myself two bullet journals (one for personal, one for my art business) and some colored pens.

Then, I pinned a ton of inspiration on Pinterest and customized mine to fit my needs. I really love that I can personalize it to every little goal I have. I can track my daily habits and give myself tons of space for writing.

It might just be the best type of planner I’ve ever had! I am all about planning and organizing so I love bullet journals!

What are you 2018 goals?

Tell me in the comments!

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How and Why I’m Having a Minimal Christmas

How and Why I’m Having a Minimal Christmas

How I'm Having a Minimal Christmas

The Winter season is one of my favorite times of year. I love the snow, the family, the food, the ambiance. However, often times what comes with all the holiday joy, is the dreaded holiday stress and anxiety.

Reduce Holiday Stress With These 15 Tips

We often feel the need to impress every family member with new and shiny gifts, or maybe an extravagant feast.

This year, I decided to embrace frugality and participate in a minimal Christmas. Gasp! How is that even possible? Don’t you love your family? Don’t they deserve all of the things? Yes they do, but there are more important things than toys and things.

Why?

I have my own beliefs and opinions about this time of year, and I want to share it with you.

I believe that holiday “gift giving” season is often wasteful, superficial, and unnecessary. Phew! I said it. I know it’s a little harsh but hear me out.

Like most of you I’m sure, I love to spoil my loved ones and show them how much I care for them by giving them gifts…to an extent. Gift giving has become extremely materialistic, and excessive. Nowadays we don’t appreciate what we have because we’re constantly receiving shiny new things all the time. We don’t have time to appreciate it.

Excessive holiday gift giving is so wasteful!

Does your mom really need a new television EVERY year? Does the little human in your life really need their 30th baby doll? Or does your aunt (you never talk to) need some stupid gift, because you don’t know her well enough to get her something meaningful? Absolutely not. Think about all the waste and garbage created in your household. Yikes! The holidays are about who you spend it with, not what you gift and receive.

Don’t go into debt spending money for the holidays, it’s just unnecessary. In 10 years, you’ll remember the memories you made with your loved ones, not the gifts you were given. So don’t let the holidays stress you out. If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it. If all you can give is your love, give your love.

Show your family and friends that you love them by spending quality time with them, laughing, and sharing stories.

How?

For my family, this year I’m limiting one gift for each close family member. I’m trying to make everything myself if I can. I would tell you what I’m making, but that would give away the secret! So shhh… If I’m not making it myself, I’m buying something useful and sustainable.

However, there are a few exceptions. I’m spoiling my boyfriend and dog child with more than one gift.

How do I not buy all of the things?

My boyfriend and I created three guidelines this year that we’re going to follow.

1. One Christmas Eve box filled with new pajamas, and little treats for a cozy movie night together to open and use Christmas Eve.

I’m particularly excited for this one! Most people love a new pair of warm and comfy jammies on Christmas, and what better time to use them…than the Eve of Christmas?! Think about it. You wake up on Christmas morning with new jammies on, open your stockings, and make breakfast together…in your pajamas?! What’s better than that?!

2. One stocking full of small, useful, and necessary gifts to open Christmas morning.

This will more than likely include items that involve daily hygiene and usage. You know, the soaps, the razors, the scrubs, the socks, the coffee mugs…

3. One handmade gift and/or bought gift to open on Christmas morning.

My boyfriend and I originally decided on one handmade gift. I’ll admit it! I went a tad over and bought a little somthin’ somthin’ to go with his handmade gift. My excuse is that it doesn’t fit in the stocking! (WHOOPS) Take the time to make it meaningful, and there will be less room for excess.

And that’s it!

This still may seem excessive to some, but this is a major downgrade from what I’ve usually done in the past. We decided to be more minimal, but also traditional as a compromise. We just couldn’t give up the stockings and little gifts!

How can you be less wasteful this holiday season?

Is it worth it to you?

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15 Self Care Tips For Winter Months

15 Self Care Tips For Winter Months

There’s something really special about the winter months that make you want to curl up with a fuzzy blanket, a delicious cup of Joe, and a book.

But then again, winter months for some people can be depressing, cold, and dark.

15 Self Care Tips For Winter Months

It seems like it’s either all fun and sunshine, or dark and depressing. Many people suffering with mental illness have a difficult time through the winter months. I know I do. For some reason it just puts me in a big sticky funk.

Summer is usually filled with unending sunshine and fun times, while winter can be a little less forgiving.

I’m going to give you some self care tips for the upcoming winter months, so you can stay in tip-top shape.

I don’t know about you but self care has become increasingly more important during the winter. It’s freezing, dark, and unforgiving. At least for myself, self care in the winter months is a bit more difficult.

Get some fresh air

Living in Colorado can be a little hectic. The immense amounts of snow and bipolar temperatures can really be exhausting. The mornings are frigid, but this is a good way to wake you up! I know we always have to urge to cuddle up and stay indoors, but getting some fresh air will do you some good.

Keep hydrated

Like many of you, I get my day started with a cup of delicious coffee. As delicious and comforting as coffee is, it’s not the best drink for your body. So I would recommend starting the day with a big glass of water instead. And then of course go straight back to the coffee because how can you not? Just make sure you prioritize water throughout the day first before your daily caffeination.

Moisturize

This one has been a doozy for me lately! I grew up in a very wet place, and after moving to a desert I realized I needed a lot of extra moisture! Especially in the Winter when it’s extra cold and dry. So make sure you moisturize a lot! I personally love Aveeno brand lotion, because it really gets the job done, and it doesn’t have irritating fragrances.

Get dressed and clean yourself up

This is especially important for you lovelies that work from home. To get a great start to the day, wake up and get ready for the day. And if you’re like me, make sure you stay comfortable. I keep my hair out of my face, my makeup nonexistent, and my clothes comfortable and appropriate.

Stretch your muscles

Cold winter months make your muscles tight from scrunching up in order to preserve heat. So release those tight muscles with some stretching, or maybe some yoga? You don’t have to be a yoga expert to do yoga. No need to spend tons of money at a studio…just find a beginner yoga session on YouTube for free, and you can do it in your living room. It’ll feel good to move around a bit, I promise.

Practice gratitude

Something my boyfriend and I like to do is tell each other three things we’re grateful for that day. We make it a priority on the bad days. Read more about gratitude here. To take this further, keep a gratitude journal next to your bed. At night, write down your three things you’re grateful for, or go for gold and write as many as you can think of!

Practice a hobby

You don’t have to be particularly good at anything to have a hobby. No expectations or rules here. Pick up something that you like to do. Don’t put any pressure on yourself, and just go for it! Learn to knit, craft, DIY everything… I know I love to craft, so any chance I get to make something myself, I jump on it. For example, lately I’ve been making my own soap. It’s kind of fun to change up fragrances and colors depending on the season.

Make a playlist

Everyone knows there’s something magical about music and how it can transport you to another place or time. To get your spirits up, put on some happy and confidence boosting tunes.

Healthy eating

Keep your body happy with wholesome, nutritious meals. And of course I don’t mean give up your favorite dessert because you need some soul food too. There’s no way I’m giving up desserts! Moderation is key here, people!

Unplug

Spend some quality time with loved ones, and start ignoring your phone! There are far more valuable things in the world than the latest update on who’s liking whose post! Building strong relationships, and meaningful conversations a far more nourishing, so make that a priority.

Read

Whether you prefer your kindle or book, rest and recharge with some alone time.

Get comfy

Take advantage of the the winter months and break out the bunny slippers! Have no shame! It’s getting cold outside, so is your wardrobe ready for it? Make sure you’re stocked up on coats, scarves, and mittens. Can you ever be too comfortable? Go ahead and treat yourself.

Go minimal

Something really awesome that I’m doing this year is going minimal for this holiday season. Wait. You can do that? Yes, and I might write an entire post about this one because I feel pretty strongly about it.

I grew up in a household where the holidays were always stressful. My family had always been responsible for buying each and everyone a gift, and it produced so much anxiety in myself (but mostly my dad) that it ruined the enjoyment. It ruins what makes holidays special.

Holidays should be about family and friends. Holidays shouldn’t be centered around endless material gifts that no one needs anyway. Don’t get me wrong though. I love to spoil the people I love, but not unnecessarily.

Instead of buying gifts for the sake of buying gifts, make something meaningful for the people you really love.

For example, this year my boyfriend and I are making one gift for each person whom we love in our family. The only one that’s getting unnecessary gifts is our beloved dog child, because she deserves it…obviously.

Make a vision board

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. Have you ever heard of a BHAG? A Big Hairy Audacious Goal? It’s a 10 year plan for your life, it’s action oriented, it’s innovative, and it’s exciting!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do you WANT to be? Set your goals high, and think about the steps to get you there! This would be a great idea for a vision board.

Or if that seems a little too intimidating, go for the year! What do you want your year to look like?

Make a winter bucket list

Hoo hoo! What’s better than a short list of fun things to accomplish this season? There are beautiful, interesting, and fun things to do in each season, so make yourself a list and complete it! Mine looks a little like this…

  • Build a snowman
  • Create a Christmas Eve box, more details here.
  • DIY almost all Christmas gifts
  • Bake all of the delicious desserts
  • Read a book
  • Watch the Nutcracker
  • Make tamales and give them to a homeless shelter
  • Deliver homemade cookies to all my relatives
  • Be so fucking grateful I blow up with joy

How are you going to take care of yourself this season?

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Mental Illness Is Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Neither is talking about it.

Let’s get straight to it. Let’s dive into that ugly conversation that no one likes to have. Let’s talk about Mental Illness.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of!

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1 in 5 people above the age of 18 in the United States have some sort of mental illness. 1 in 5! That’s a ton of people. That comes out to 43.4 million adults struggling with mental illness. That’s almost 5 million more people who live in the entire state of California. And you know, CA is really big, so it’s a big deal yeah?

My point?

Mental illness is prevalent, and it’s a real issue for us. Yet everyone is so afraid to talk about it. Why are people with mental illness shied away from, and avoided like the plague? Depression and schizophrenia aren’t contagious! People will mental illness need extra care, as do people with physical injuries.

And we need to treat them with the same dignity and respect as everyone else.

More importantly, people with mental illness need to be understood. And how do we start to understand people with mental illness?

We talk about it. It’s simple, really.

Why do we need to understand them? Because the more we understand, the better we can help.

And so, mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and neither is talking about it.

I’ll kick this off with my story. When I became really serious about improving my mental health, and overcoming the pains of my past, I sought out counseling. Yeah, I said it. Counseling with a mental health professional, because that’s totally okay…and necessary.

So long story, short, I was diagnosed with severe depression, PTSD, with some lovely sprinkles of anxiety on top of that. I was also prescribed anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication as needed, and some magic (no nightmare) pills.

So there you have it, all my mental illness out on the table.

Is that the first thing I tell a stranger when I meet them? No, because that’s really awkward. But! I’m also not ashamed to talk about it. Hopefully my willingness to talk about it will encourage others to do so also.

One of the main reasons I believe mental illness is something we avoid is due to the stigma around it. The stigma surrounding mental illness is scary and uncomfortable.

The stigma remains an issue. People with mental illness are keeping it to themselves, because the entire belief about mental illness is completely wrong.

The stigma is full of shit. It’s a complete lack of understanding.

I fully believe once people start listening to the real stories of mental illness, it will become a lot less scary.

Once we understand, we can help.

Are you willing to share your story?

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5 Ways Mindfulness Affects Your Brain – Guest Post By Rose-Minded!

5 Ways Mindfulness Affects Your Brain

If you’ve ever wanted to know exactly how mindfulness can benefit mental health, then you need to look at the neural pathways activated in the brain when someone practices mindfulness. Check out the patterns mindful awareness takes as it travels through your brain, and exactly how these areas affect your mental well-being!

5 Ways Mindfulness Affects Your Brain

First… What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is being aware and non-judgmental of the emotions and bodily sensations you feel in the present moment. It’s relatively easy, all you have to do is pay attention to what emotions you currently feel, and try not to worry about the past or stress about the future! Stay in the moment, focus on what you feel (without being evaluative or judgmental), and just notice it- acknowledge it.

Many people practice Mindful Meditation, or go through a process called Mindfulness Training. Mindfulness is well-known for reducing stress, improving emotion regulation, and preparing emotional intelligence and response for future emotional events/stimuli! It really is the full package when it comes to well-being; many people practice mindful yoga, or just focus on being present while completing yoga, and have great mental and physical outcomes!

5 Ways Mindfulness Affects Your Brain

In order to be fully convinced, I had to research exactly (scientifically) how mindfulness was having an impact on well-being, and where specifically in the brain was it impacting? I was looking for empirical evidence, and what I found definitely supported the mindfulness “craze”. Keep reading below to find out how mindfulness impacts the brain!

1. Threat Reduction

A study conducted by Farb et al. (2010), found that Mindfulness Training actually showed up on neural imaging scans as having an effect on the way we perceive new events and form emotional responses. Before, studies supported the idea that emotions were threats to our well-being, and must be kept under tight control, and regulated rigorously. However now studies, specifically this study on mindfulness, shows that observing your emotions as objects to learn from or just acknowledge, actually improves emotion regulation and reactivity to new events in the future!

2. Metacognition

In the same study (Farb et al. 2010), researchers found that metacognition, or thinking about/paying attention to your own thoughts/thinking patterns, was developed as a skill by practicing mindfulness, and this allows you to see your emotions more objectively from a detached perspective (viewing your thoughts as though you were someone else, non-judgmentally), rather than getting jumbled and confused in the midst of them. An excerpt from the study, “…the reduced deactivation in the insula during dysphoric challenge [sadness] may therefore be associated with increased interoceptive awareness [metacognition].”

3. Depression

Another way this study (Farb et al., 2010) focuses on the impacts of mindfulness training on the brain, is its mention of reduction in depressive-symptoms. Clinical depression is a symptom of a chemical imbalance in the brain, usually being affected by the neurotransmitters serotonin or dopamine, although environmental factors are at play. Rumination (“overthinking”) is a common symptom from depression, and this can be stopped in its tracks with the practice of mindfulness when someone is being exposed to something sad! This is awesome news for therapists because mindfulness definitely seems to aid in the reduction of depression. Symptoms of depression are listed below.

Signs & Symptoms of Depression

(information from NIMH)

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

4. Emotion Suppression Comparison

In another study, Murakami et al. (2015) compared the neural pathways of opposing emotion regulation strategies: mindfulness and emotion suppression. Emotion suppression means you are avoiding the emotion that you feel, usually by pushing it away and pretending you don’t feel it. I was going to try to summarize in my own words what they found, but it’s better if you read it from them:

“However, the different strategies produce distinct patterns of peripheral emotional responses, such that mindfulness is associated with para-sympathetic activity whereas suppression is correlated with sympathetic activity. This pattern could be due to processing differences between the two strategies, which would be expected to reflect different neural bases underlying the two strategies.”

Let me explain now what para-sympathetic and sympathetic mean:

Para-sympathetic: the part of your body that works to keep you at rest, and to help digest food while you’re not in “survival-mode”

Sympathetic: the part of your body that helps recognize stress or danger by going into “fight-or-flight” mode, and your body is usually tense, and digestion slows or stops

This means mindfulness helps with stress reduction, and that’s how it’s done in the brain!

5. Path of Least Resistance

The path mindfulness takes in the brain, compared to the path suppression takes, is one that requires less cognitive effort. This is good for brain functioning and development, because a tired brain isn’t going to work its best or grow to be its brightest! This is also good for long-term results, because an easy path will be more likely to stick in your memory, and you may begin to practice mindfulness without even having to try (Murakami et al., 2015)!

Hopefully now you can be fully convinced of the benefits of mindfulness. By knowing it’s direct impact on brain functions, you can be reassured of it’s validity towards improving mental health and wellness.

If you’d like to read more on mindfulness and how to practice it, check out a previous post of mine: The Mindfulness ‘Craze’ and Mental Health

Scientific Journal References (Studies):

Farb, N. A., Anderson, A. K., Mayberg, H., Bean, J., McKeon, D., & Segal, Z. V. (2010). Minding one’s emotions: Mindfulness training alters the neural expression of sadness. Emotion, 10(1), 25-33. doi:10.1037/a0017151.supp

Murakami, H., Katsunuma, R., Oba, K., Terasawa, Y., Motomura, Y., Mishima, K., &

Moriguchi, Y. (2015). Neural networks for mindfulness and emotion suppression. Plos One, 10(6). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0128005

 

 

Meet the Author

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Kay Uimari

“Kay Uimari is a psychology major and mental health crisis worker on the central coast of California. She blogs in her free time about mental health and self-care, and plays with her puppy Morty. She’s published and sold numerous copies of her mental health journal guides to every-day people as well as therapists, teachers, and more! Kay also has many resources and collaboration opportunities for mental health and lifestyle bloggers.”

Website: www.rose-minded.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kayuimari

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/roseminded

For other mental health or lifestyle bloggers:

www.rose-minded.com/mental-health-bloggers

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