10 Healthy Habits For The Best Day Ever

Are you living your happiest life? Do you know what it takes to live your happiest life? Like any other successes, living happy starts every morning. That’s right, you can press that reset button of yours every morning.

Anything worth while is a big mess of little healthy habits repeated, over and over again.

Often times when we look at the successes of others, we focus on the end product and where they are now. We forget to remind ourselves that those people have worked everyday on their little healthy habits. Let us start today with those little healthy habits.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

-Maya Angelou

This quote has been so important to me lately I wanted to share it with you.

Now on to the reason you’re here!

10 Healthy Habits For The Best Day Ever

  1. Set out clothes the night before.
  2. Wake up earlier.
  3. Drink your H2O.
  4. Preset your coffeemaker.
  5. Make yourself your favorite breakfast.
  6. Walk outside and let the sun shine on your beautiful face.
  7. Exercise or stretch for ten minutes.
  8. Do your regular beauty routine. Shower, moisturize, and wear something that makes you feel good.
  9. Write in your gratitude journal. (Because you have to have one by now).
  10. Set your intentions for the day and set one goal. Then go kick some butt!

Now friends, I truly hope you have a wonderful day. Do something today that makes you feel happy and healthy.

New Year’s Resolutions – On the fence?

New Year’s Resolutions.

It’s that time of year and most of you have probably had this buzz across your mind already. Do you already have a plan or have you totally ignored it? The good, the bad, the ugly…I’m here to guide you into a healthy and happy new year. It’s never too late to start. And if you’re one of those “go-getters”, you probably already have a plan and you may not need this post. Move along and keep kicking ass you boss babe! 🙂

For all you other boss babes, let us talk about why or why not to have New Year’s Resolutions.

WHY

Many of us use New Year’s Resolutions to start the new year with a reassessment of what’s important to us and to set new goals for ourselves. This is why New Year’s Resolutions can be helpful and refreshing. If you’re one of those people that like to set goals, write them down over and over, and take the steps to get there…resolutions are definitely for you.

WHY NOT

But are you one of those people that are tired of hearing about it? Do you roll your eyes at the people posting about their new gym membership…knowing this won’t last more than two months?

If you’re a free spirit who likes to live day by day, embracing the flexibility and uncertainty that comes with it, by all means…keep us guessing. Some people don’t need solid plans to live the life they love. If you’re one of these people, accept yourself for the wild side you have and live in the moment.

Live life authentically. Don’t make New Year’s Resolutions knowing full well that you’ll break them within the week.

MY OPINION

I’m not on one side or the other—right in between thinking they’re the kick in the ass I need, and rolling my eyes at the cheese all over my social media. I’m also one of those people who love to write down my goals, make a list of everything I need to get there and check those babies off!

Resolutions ARE for me but it’s not a “new year, new me” thing. I’m still the same person, I just want to remind myself of all the goals I want to accomplish in the upcoming year.

RULES FOR RESOLUTIONS

Or not, because you’re a boss babe who can make your own decisions. Take and tweak what you like 🙂

  1. Only write down goals that are achievable.

If you create a goal that’s unattainable, you’ll end up feeling like a failure if you don’t crush that goal…or even get close. There is no way I’ll be an Olympic gymnast by the end of this year, but if I love gymnastics…I can take classes and still enjoy myself.

2     Start big and break it down into smaller tasks.

“I want to make an extra $5k this year to pay off all my debt.” That’s awesome, but how will you do it? Will you need a promotion or a new job? Do you need to work extra hours or pick up a second job? Figure out the specifics and day-to-day goals that will get you there. Live day by day, it’s a lot less overwhelming.

3      Learn your ‘WHY’.

We’re creatures who ask ‘why’. We want to know why we’re doing the things we’re doing, and we need to know that what we’re doing…matters. Or am I the only one? Just kidding, I know you want the ‘why’.

Why is that extra $5k so important to you? Will it relieve stress on you and your family? Will you be able to live comfortably without looking at your bank account everyday? Whatever your ‘why’ is, hold on to that and keep reminding yourself of it.

Your ‘why’ will keep you going.

Questions, comments, concerns? What are your goals this year? Contact me or comment below!

5 Methods For Improved Motivation

We’ve all been there. Sitting there, staring at the wall waiting for motivation to slap us across the face so we can get moving. From the two years of working from home, I can tell you that motivation usually comes in two forms: and outside source (obligation) or from within. For those days we can’t muster up the motivation from within, we need to teach ourselves discipline. 

Most of us have some sort of obligation that will yield consequences if we don’t get our shit together. Your job that’s waiting for you, your boss that’s breathing down your neck or your dogs judging you with their judgey eyes waiting for their breakfast. 

But how do we start the things we want to do outside our obligations? Read on friends.

Here are 5 Methods To Improve Motivation

Make It Fun

Turn on all the lights, play some music, dance around the kitchen and do whatever you need to, to light that spark we all have inside us. 

Or my personal favorite…talking to my dogs about the plans I have for the day. There’s just something that lights the fire under my butt when I tell someone I’m going to do something.

“Alright. It’s time. I’m going to kick today’s ass. I’m going to wash the dishes, do some cardio, work on my blog and add some listings to my Etsy. Cool?”

It just works, okay? Try it.

5 Minute Rule

Give whatever task you have five solid minutes of work. Pick up the house for just five minutes. Sit down at your computer and just write for five minutes. Put your workout clothes on and stretch for just five minutes.

Once your five minutes is up, decide from there if you’d like to continue or not. You may find yourself more MOTIVATED to keep going. See what I did there?

Get Outside

If you’re like me and get a surge of energy with a sniff of the great outdoors, then go outside and breathe it all in. Put on a coat and take a quick five minute walk around your house and look up at the sky.

Use those endorphins you get from the fresh air and put them to work!

Reverse Psychology

Be careful with this one or you may start growing roots in your couch. 

Accept that you feel unmotivated and that you don’t have to do anything at all. Give yourself a break for a minute and just stare off into the abyss with your cup of tea. Ponder the life you’ll have if you take up roots, right here and now.

Now, don’t you feel like you should do something with your day? If you give yourself permission to do nothing, you may feel motivation tingling in your toes. 

But don’t get me wrong, I love doing nothing sometimes. But we’re not here to do nothing are we? We’re here because we want motivation!

Envision Your Best Self

What does she look like? How does she dress? Where does she live and what does she do for work? Write your answers down on a piece of paper. 

Now make a rough list of what it takes to be that person. Does she wake up early and exercise? Does she write in the morning and craft in the evening? Does she prefer sweatpants or dress pants?

Make small changes in your life to be the person you WANT to be. Eventually you’ll be jumping out of bed in the morning to start your awesome life everyday. 

As I’m writing this, I realize this topic merits an entire blog post. I’ll work on that later, agreed?

Feeling motivated? I hope so. Check in with me after you’ve kicked today’s ass.

Enjoy the day friends.

How I Use Journaling To Calm My Anxiety + Life Update!

How I Use Journaling To Calm My Anxiety + Life Update!

My life has sort of been a whirlwind of deep depression swirling with the most exciting time of my life. The way I’ve been calming my mind lately is through journaling. It may seem like a little overkill but I have two separate journals. One is my gratitude journal that I write in everyday, and the other is for anything and everything that I have on my mind.

More on gratitude here.

For those of you new to my blog, I’ll fill you in on a little secret. Just kidding, it’s totally not a secret and I’ve become quite comfortable talking about it.

I have depression with the occasional spurts of anxiety. I’ve had diagnosed depression now for quite a few years but it started quite early in my life. I’ve been on and off depression medication for a few years now and now my doctor and I are experimenting with an added medication.

My gratitude journal helps me find the beautiful in everyday.

In the beginning when I started writing in my gratitude journal it was difficult to find my three things to be grateful for. Now that I’ve been consistently writing all year I’m unable to keep my list of three.

It actually makes me feel so good writing in  it that I write in it numerous times a day and my list is much longer these days.

Some days it look like this:

  1. I woke up today.
  2. I took a shower today.
  3. I didn’t die.

And other days it goes on and on about the wonderful things in my life!

My other journal is for the ugly and the troubles and the anxiety.

I start by writing whatever is on my mind, no matter how difficult, confusing or troublesome it is. I explain my feelings, what’s going on in my day, and my solution for the problem.

Easy right?

Sometimes it doesn’t fix the problem but I sure as hell feel better afterwards.

Added benefits of journaling that I’ve found:

  1. Anxiety is lower because I organize my thoughts onto paper and it slows me down.
  2. Since I’m slowing down and writing it, I understand my feelings much more.
  3. I become my own counselor at the end of my journal entry because I really do want to improve my life.
  4. I’m much more conscious of the beautiful things in my life.
  5. I complain a lot less. Therefore my depression is less debilitating.
  6. I’m less forgetful of dates and upcoming events.

Are you still curious about my life update?

I got engaged! That’s right, I’m going to marry my best friend/soul mate/partner in crime! He proposed to me on September 23rd, and I have been totally consumed by love, excitement and planning since then!

I’m also flying to see my best friend in Oregon so I can go wedding dress shopping! It’s going to be amazing and fun and I can’t wait!

That’s why I’ve been so distant lately! Will you forgive me?

I knew you would!

Please let me know if you like these life updates because if you do, I will do so!

Cheers friends and have a wonderful Monday!

Yoga For Mental Health

Yoga For Mental Health

Yoga, the ultimate strengthening and relaxing tool. I’ve spoken a little about yoga recently, but I really want to take that a step further. Over the years I’ve tried many many many techniques for easing my depression, and nothing has worked better than yoga. Seriously.

Not only has yoga done wonders for my depression and anxiety, but it keeps my body happy and healthy too. I practice yoga every day for my mental health, and I hope it helps you as well.

Why yoga for mental health

Yoga calms the nervous system

After just one yoga session, you’ll have less anxiety and feel much more relaxed. By practicing yoga, you calm your nervous system by deep intentional breathing and body movement. By directing your attention to your breath and your body, you will ease anxiety and calm the mind.

Yoga takes you from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, this means that your body goes from “fight or flight” to “rest and recharge”.

Interesting story about one of my recent yoga sessions…

I was at the brink of tears one day and I decided to lay out my yoga mat, and started with my usual cat/cow. I burst into tears because I was so upset about everything, and somehow yoga allowed me to flush it all out. A few minutes later, I stopped crying and was fully engulfed in my yoga.

Yoga took me from tears, to loving myself. Pretty cool right?

Yoga builds self awareness

Practicing yoga allows you to build a strong sense of self. (Not to mention a smokin’ bod’). You can cultivate a nonjudgemental relationship with yourself. Unconsciously you’ll be making better decisions for yourself. For example, you might find yourself making healthier food and body options. This is your mind’s way of telling you that you deserve love, respect and care.

Yoga improves your relationship with yourself, and others

Nothing in this world is more important than the relationship you have with yourself. Every other relationship you have stems from how you treat yourself. When you’re more centered and more loving towards yourself, you’ll be the same with those around you. You’ll recognize that your loved ones deserve just as much love and care as you do.

Read Next: Everything You Need: At Home Yoga Studio

Have you tried yoga yet?

What have you gained from yoga?

What To Do When You’re Having A Breakdown

What To Do When You’re Having A Breakdown

We’ve all been there. Maybe you’ve been bottling up frustrations at work, or maybe you’ve been struggling with something and it’s caught up with you. It could also be a combination of everything in life that has been scratching at you. Life tends to sneak up on us like that without us being aware.

It doesn’t matter where it comes from, I’m here to help you through the breakdown.

I’m actually writing this because I had a mental breakdown the other day. I’ve been in a low spot lately for many reasons. Partly because I lost my dad, but mostly from the daily grind. As much as I’m smiling in my pictures, I still have depression. It never really goes away and some days it’s heavier than others.

I’m sure some of you can relate.

As someone with depression, I tend to spiral into my dark little abyss and dive into self-doubt, self-hatred, and negative self-talk. It’s a nasty concoction. Often times I can handle things pretty well, and I’m proud of myself for that. Other times it’s not so easy, and I forgive myself for that. It’s something we work on everyday to improve our lives and our mental health.

Like I said, we’ve all had a breakdown. And if you haven’t…are you an alien?

So what can I do to stop this breakdown from ruining your life?

Feel The Feels

First, I want you to allow yourself to feel the feels. The days of bottling feelings are over. Just let it be. You’re feeling these things for a reason and we all know bottling feelings isn’t healthy.

Feelings and emotions are your mind’s way of communicating with you. The good, the bad and the ugly. Allow all of that emotion to flow through you like a damn river. If you cry or scream that’s okay. I’ve definitely done my fair share.

If you want a more calm outlet, continue on my friends.

Write That Shit Down

Once you’ve felt the feels, organize your thoughts and feelings on paper. Wipe away the angry face crinkles, the snot-filled tears, the ugly cry faces and get a pen to some paper. You’ve got some writing to do.

It doesn’t matter if it’s grammatically correct, or polite. If you’re angry, angrily write until you’re free of your anger. (Insert swear words in CAPS here) Write down what’s going on in that beautiful head of yours. Tell that paper all the shit you’ve been dealing with. Don’t hold back.

Feel better yet?

Once you’ve journaled your little heart out, proceed to the next step.

Talk To A Trusted Friend

Call up your favorite BUATCH and vent to her. Make sure to ask them first if she has time, because they might be busy. (This might take a while).

My go-to BUATCH is my best friend Miranda, and she always backs me up. When I’m mad about something, she’s mad. When I need reassurance and some backup, she’s there.

Or during my recent breakdown, my boyfriend called me. We talked out the issues, and he made me feel better. Think of that person in your life that you have, and call them up. (Or have them call you).

Don’t Make Any Crazy Decisions For 72 Hours

When we’re distraught and in an emotional rage, we often like to make crazy life-changing decisions. Don’t say anything you’d regret, don’t quit your job, don’t hurt anyone, and don’t hurt yourself.

Wait it out. Wait 72 hours, and reassess the situation. For those of us who have struggled with some sort of mental illness, this is crucial. Many times during a breakdown I’ve wanted (or tried) to change my entire life and it’s just not healthy in that mindset. Wait until you have a clear mind.

Do you still want to move across the country? Do you still want to quit your job and flip off the boss? I hope not. Talk it out with someone, and wait until you have a clear mind.

Have you ever had a breakdown? 

What did you do to help yourself?

Meditation For Mental Health

Meditation For Mental Health

What is meditation exactly?

Meditation is a means of transforming the mind that encourages and develops concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, calm, and understanding of the true nature of your world.

By engaging in meditation practice you learn the flow and habits of your mind. This practice offers new and more positive ways of being and thinking. With regular practice and patience, you can fully nourish the mind and gain peace and serenity.

Why?

Coming in many different variations, meditation has been used as a tool to master the mind and cope with stress. There’s no denying it. Studies have shown time and time again that meditation reduces depression and anxiety. Most notably, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, PTSD and ADHD.

Meditation benefits people who have mental health conditions, as well as those who don’t! This practice even takes the place of medication for some. That’s pretty impressive! This can be really important for some, but as an alternative or addition, meditation is a fantastic treatment!

Meditation is especially beneficial for reducing stress and managing anxiety. You will gain a patient and peaceful mind that leads to a new understanding of life, and improved mental health.

I meditate everyday, and I highly recommend it. It refreshes the mind, calms the nerves, relaxes my body, and eases my depression. A nourished mind is a happy mind. Take this step towards mental health and start meditating.

When?

You should start your day by meditating. Right when you wake up, cozy up into your meditation space and start breathing mindfully!

Then I recommend working meditation into your night time routine. As you’re getting ready for bed, take some time as you’re winding down to meditate.

How?

  • Carve out uninterrupted time in the morning and at night.

 

  • Start small. Try 5-10 minutes at a time and increase as you improve.

 

  • Practice, practice, practice! Every day if you can.

 

  • Explore different types: DIY at home, mindfulness app, meditative yoga class, or mindfulness while doing what you love. For example; meditate while gardening, walking, or whatever lets you focus, breathe and be present.

 

  • Create a calming space for at home tranquility. Situate yourself into a quiet space, add a blanket, a cushion, some delicious smelly smells, and some ambient lighting!

Now you’re good to go! I’ll have some more in depth posts coming up soon!

What’s your meditation routine?

Natural Remedies For Mental Health

Natural Remedies For Mental Health

If you’re looking for a natural remedy to promote a healthy mind, you might want to give these practices a try. Natural remedies have been used to treat depression and anxiety for hundreds of years all over the world.

In conjunction with conventional medicine, these natural remedies may be exactly what you need!

Natural Remedies for your Mental Health

Conventional vs Alternative vs Integrative

Conventional medicine is a system in which health care professionals treat symptoms and diseases utilizing drugs, radiation, or surgery.

Alternative medicine is any range of medical therapies that are not recognized by modern medicine, such as herbalism, homeopathy, and acupuncture.

Integrative medicine is a combination of both! This is the method I’ve always used, and I’ve always found to be the most efficient.

Now, lets talk about what you came here for! 🙂

Natural Remedies For Mental Health

Or what I like to call, “at home natural therapy”. These natural home remedies can help start you on your path to finding your inner peace and tranquility.

Aromatherapy

Also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, aromatherapy uses plant materials, and aromatic oils to improve psychological and physical wellness. Aromatherapy often used in conjunction with other therapies for mental health.

Herbs

Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to treat depression and anxiety. Some popular herbs used are mulungu bark (sleep aid), bacopa (improves cognitive function), mucuna pruriens (contains L. Dopa), passionflower (sleep aid), kava (stress reducer), and saffron (balances mood).

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are crucial for optimum mental health. A healthy brain is a healthy mind. The most common nutritional deficiencies seen in patients with mental disorders are omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals and amino acids. People usually take supplements to satisfy these needs.

Forest Bathing

Forest bathing is an interesting way to say “Get out of your house and soak up some nature!” With this natural remedy for mental health, all you need to do is find some uninterrupted time in the green.

Forest bathe by walking through a park, going hiking, or spending some time getting covered in dirt in your garden. Get out and get yourself some green my loves! It’s good for your mental health.

Meditation

Meditation is an age old practice that has aided in improving mental health. Mediation may improve depression, anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD.

I meditate everyday, and I highly recommend it. It refreshes my mind, calms my nerves, relaxes my body, and eases my depression.

Yoga

Not only is yoga amazing for your body, but it does fantastic things for your mental health and mind as well. Yoga has major mental health and wellness benefits.

This natural remedy raises your sense of body awareness, relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, sharpens attention and concentration, and calms the nervous system. Therefore…

“Yoga is a psychology — the whole practice helps us work with the nature of the mind, the nature of being a human, how emotions live in our bodies, how they affect our behavior and our minds,” says Turner (a licensed psychotherapist and yoga teacher), who reveals that yoga helped her recognize and cope with her own low self-esteem.” – Yoga Journal

Have any of these natural remedies inspired you?

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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?

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.

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 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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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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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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How Gratitude Improves Mental Health

How Gratitude Improves Your Mental Health

I’m glad to see that the importance of mental health is increasingly becoming more popular. Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, and we need to prioritize both. In this post I’m going to share with you some of the best information that has changed my entire life with just one simple skill. Gratitude!

How Gratitude Improves Mental Health

Why Gratitude?

Like many others on New Year’s Eve, I concocted a beautiful resolution. I decided that my resolution was going to more than a feeble attempt at exercising everyday. I want two things out of life; happiness and health.

What started as a New Year’s resolution, became a new way of life.

I learned gratitude, and that has become the leading cause of my happiness since then. Happiness does not come from loads of money, or fancy material items. It comes from the gratitude towards what you have. The richest person in the world will not be happy unless he or she is grateful for what they have, and how hard they’ve worked. On the reverse, the less fortunate can feel the richest by simply being grateful for what they do have.

With gratitude, anyone can be happy. No matter where you are in life, however much money or materials you have, you can always find happiness through gratitude. Happiness does not happen automatically when you receive a gift. Happiness occurs when you are grateful for that gift.

This is why gratitude is the key to happiness and a healthy mind.

Gratitude Is The Key To Happiness

Gratitude is not something you have to buy, it is a skill you can acquire. Being grateful is one of the easiest trails to happiness, because you can take it with you wherever you go. Stick that baby in your pocket, and pull it out whenever you need it! The really amazing thing about this little trick, is that you can choose to be grateful for anything in any situation. You can choose happiness, and gratitude is how you get there.

Read more about How To Become Grateful

Gratitude Reduces Negative Emotions

Your thoughts have an extremely strong influence on you and your emotions. To put it simply, happy thoughts, happy life. Furthermore, when you spend the majority of your energy thinking happy thoughts, in turn, you spend less energy thinking negative thoughts.

Gratitude shifts your attention to the positive side of life, and releases you from a plethora of negative emotions. This includes but isn’t limited to frustration, jealousy, resentment, and entitlement. Grass is no longer greener on the other side. You start to believe grass is greener where you water it, which is right where you are my friends.

Gratitude Increases Self Esteem

It’s no secret that low self-esteem is associated with negativity. Negative thoughts about yourself, your environment, your abilities, etc. Gratitude increases self-esteem, and reduces social comparisons. When someone’s focus is on themselves and their abilities, they spend less time comparing themselves to others. Gratitude towards yourself allows you to appreciate other people’s accomplishments without enticing jealousy or frustration.

Gratitude Increases Mental Strength

Grateful people are well equipped for difficult obstacles that occur throughout life, and have high levels of resiliency towards adversity. Rather than allowing difficult situations to ruin the day, grateful people are able to take on live’s obstacles with a positive outlook. Once you master gratitude, it’s a skill that will last you a lifetime.

My homework for you is this…start a gratitude journal. Every night before you go to bed, write down three beautiful things that you’re grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

How To Support Loved Ones With Mental Illness

How To Support Loved Ones With Mental Illness

How to support loved ones with mental illness.

Supporting loved ones who have mental illness can be a struggle, but they will appreciate it more than you will ever know. Often times, the supporter becomes an anchor and one of the most important aspects of the loved ones life.

I’m going to go through a few tips to help you support your loved one.

A little about me

I’ve lived with depression and anxiety for quite some time now. The majority of that time I spent believing that I would battle my depression on my own. I believed that I could never truly be happy with someone because they would never understand me. I’ve always believed I’m a difficult person to love.

I was wrong.

I am lovable, and I do deserve love. Over the past two years I’ve learned to trust others, and really let people in. I believe the advice I’m going to share with you has aided in that progress.

Here, I will give you a few pieces of advice on supporting your loved one who has mental illness. Coming from personal experience, I would say these ten tips have been the most helpful to me.

I encourage you to prioritize your relationship and practice these. Relationships become a hell of a lot stronger with open, honest communication.

Read more on improving communication here…

1. Listen

Listen to the best of your abilities! This is kind of a no brainer, but I’d like to dive deeper. There are two things I want you to keep in mind. Actively listen, and listen to understand them…not to reply with a solution.

It’s easy to provide your loved one with a solution, but that’s not always helpful. Sometimes you just want to talk about it, and there’s not always a quick fix.

First, I want you to actively listen to them while their talking. This means that you’re giving them eye contact, nodding you head, and encouraging them to keep going with the occasional (mhmm). When you find a break in the conversation, respond thoughtfully to their comment, and show empathy. Ask questions, and offer help.

The second thing I want you to do, is to fully listen and understand what they’re communicating. I want you to listen for the sake of understanding them. Like I said before, listen to understand, don’t listen to give them a quick fix.

BAD EXAMPLE:

Loved one says, “I’m feeling really sad lately, and I never want to get out of bed.”

You say, “It’s all in your head, we all feel like that sometimes.”

GOOD EXAMPLE:

Loved one says, “I’m feeling really sad lately, and I never want to get out of bed.”

You reply, “I’m sorry to hear that. If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.”

2. Educate yourself

When someone has a cold, you know how to care for them. People are educated on physical injuries and prioritize them over mental illness. The world has neglected to teach us about mental illness and how to help those who are sick.

One of the most important things you can do for someone with mental illness is to educate yourself on their illness. Educate yourself so you can fully understand what they’re experiencing. Absorb as much information as possible so you better understand how they live their life. Consider how they feel, how they behave, what their triggers are, and symptoms of their illness.

The more you know about what they’re going through, the better you can support and help them.

3. Accept them

Be a good person! Understand that your loved one is a unique and beautiful human being, like all of us. Everyone has their flaws and issues. Love them on good days, and bad days. Love them when you’re laughing, and love them when you’re arguing. Don’t ever try to change them or judge them. Accept them as they are every day.

4. Support them

Offer yourself to be at their aid whenever possible. Be open and honest with them. Give them reassurance when they need it. They might need it everyday until they start trusting you fully. Be their anchor, and be the wholesome hug they need. Be the ear that listens, and be the shoulder to cry on. Whenever you can relieve them from stress, do so.

What to do when you’re having a bad day.

5. Don’t take it personally

When your loved one is having a difficult day, don’t blame yourself. They may be more irritable or less talkative, but know that it’s not you. Don’t take it personally when they want to spend time alone, or when they don’t want to talk. Their issues have nothing to do with you, and they don’t always want to share what they have going on in their heads. We often feel like a burden, so please reassure us that we’re not being a burden.

6. Give them space

Alone time is necessary for recharge, sometimes crucial. Let them take a little time and self reflect. Ask your loved one how much space they need and for how long. The space gives you both time to think, reflect, and recharge.

Personally, I like my boyfriend to sit next to me while we both enjoy something separately. He usually watches TV, while I knit or “play” on Pinterest. We don’t talk, and he waits until I’m ready to start socializing. Usually our conversation starts with, “Look what I found on Pinterest!” (Because Pinterest is life…obviously).

I (and many others with mental illness) often get overwhelmed with people and daily activities. So we like a little space sometimes.

7. Share your positivity

People with mental illness have a difficult time seeing the positive side of life. People with depression especially could use some happy reminders throughout the day. The more you practice positivity with them, the more positive they become (hopefully). A positive life is a happy life.

How to live a more positive life.

8. Make them laugh

Something that my boyfriend is really good at, is making me laugh when I’m upset. Making light hearted jokes with me while I’m crying really lightens the mood. I find myself laughing through my teary ugly cry face, and that makes me laugh more. I’ve found that humor can really change a situation into something fun. Surprisingly, humor makes me grateful?

When humor made us grateful

On one particularly horrible day, it was winter, I had a stomach flu, and my boyfriend just received some pretty bad news.

While waiting for his meeting to end, I ended up driving to the nearest gas station to throw up and buy a Sprite.

So there we were, a whole jumbled angry sick mess, sitting in the car. I’m doing everything I can to reassure him, and barely succeeding.

We stopped and looked at us together. We saw what a huge mess we were. We laughed, and cried. We laughed at how funny we looked going through such a rough day. One mess holding up the other mess. It was funny…how much of a hot mess we both were.

We realized in that moment that no matter how shitty life can be, we will always be there for each other. We found humor in our shitty situation and became grateful. Cool, huh?

9. Offer extra love

When either my boyfriend or I are having a bad day, we ask for some extra love. When I’m having a bad depression day, I’ll ask him for some extra love. With this he reminds me that he’s there for me.

Being able to ask for extra love, and offering extra love really strengthens the communication between the two.

Prepare your care package!  How to make a care package.

10. Be patient

Mental illness is not something that is cured overnight. It takes time to fully understand someone and their illness, so don’t rush it. Recovery and maintenance of mental illness is an ongoing battle. Some days are better than others, and recovery is not linear. Be ready for bad days, and be ready to support them when it happens.

People with mental illness want to be loved and understood. When you take the time to love someone and support them when they need it, your relationship will grow and strengthen. Maintaining a healthy connection will come with time, practice, and love.

The grass is not greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it. 

Have you or a loved one struggled with mental illness?

What have you done to support them?

Share and comment!

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Advice For My Younger Self – But Everyone Needs To Hear

Advice For My Younger Self – But Everyone Needs To Hear!

 

advice for my younger self

 

Don’t you wish sometimes you could go back in time, and give yourself some encouraging words of wisdom? I know I do. I know that we all go through difficult times as children or adolescents. For those of you who didn’t hear this as a child or young person… I’ll tell you now.

Advice For My Younger Self

 

“You are really beautiful, don’t let anyone tell you different. Even yourself.”

“You don’t need the approval of your peers.”

“You are smart, dedicated, and you can be anyone you want.”

“Life can be really shitty right now, but it will get so much better.”

“Giving up early will take away your amazing future.”

“You are worth so much more than you believe.”

“Your body belongs to you, and no one else.” 

“No matter what anyone tells you, you are perfect the way you are.” 

“You will achieve great things.”

“Ride out this storm, and you’ll be able to handle anything. I promise you that.”

“You are so much stronger than you believe.”

“You deserve so much more than you let yourself have.”

So let yourself have it!

I’ll tell you a short story.

My junior year of high school I started receiving counseling for issues at home. It wasn’t the best counseling experience I’ve ever had, but I took advantage of what I had at the time.

The resources in rural Alaska are limited, so you take what you can get.

I took away something really special from those sessions. Through counseling I decided that someday, I would become the person I needed at that age. I wanted to become the strong, intelligent woman I always wanted in my life.

This is essentially why I decided to study Psychology. I wasn’t very familiar with it at the time, but I wanted to learn about people. I wanted to know why people think and act the way they do. I wanted to understand addiction and disease. I wanted to learn how to be that person I always needed.

And I did.

I spent five years studying psychology, in hopes of graduating with a whole lot of new skills and knowledge. And I did.

In a way, I used my psychology degree as a form of counseling. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but that’s exactly what it became. It was my own way of understanding what happened to me.

Really shitty things happen sometimes, but they happen. Your only option is to deal with your obstacles. You have no other choice. You either let life pull you down, or you rise above adversity.

When I was a child and young adult, what I really needed was really good advice. I needed a passionate mentor to help guide me through my obstacles. I needed love and encouragement. Through the adversity I experienced, I’ve blossomed into exactly what I needed as a child.

But It’s Not Easy!

Don’t let me fool you though. It’s been a grotesquely long, difficult journey. And it’s not over yet! Every day is a struggle, but life is worth it.

Life is so incredibly worth it! ***repeat, repeat, repeat!!!

I have so much love and compassion for the young woman I used to be. I had no idea how amazing life could be. I had no idea how amazing I would become. How amazing I will continue to be.

Every day I wake up with an opportunity to start fresh and learn something new. Life can be so rewarding if you make it!

The unsavory things that happen to us are simply reminders of how strong we are.

Take every experience you receive and learn something from it. Grow from it. Become better from it. 

Be the inspiration you needed when you were younger.

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Art Therapy At Home – Self Care And Healing

Art Therapy At Home – Self Care And Healing

So what is Art Therapy?

It may sound pretty straight forward to some of us, but for those of us who want more information…

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that utilizes the creative process of making art to improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

So how does it work?

This creative artistic process can help people alleviate issues, manage behavior and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self esteem and awareness of the body and mind.

You don’t need to be a professional or talented artist to partake in the fun! Anyone can participate in art therapy, and anyone can enjoy it!

What’s really fantastic about art therapy is that it can be tailored to each individual, and can be varied depending on each person’s interests. And if art isn’t something that interests you, there is also music and dance therapy.

The therapy part comes in when a professional guides and interprets the art you create. To manage emotions and increase self esteem, therapists often use talk therapy in conjunction with the art making. If you’re not interested in actually going to a therapist, try this at  home version to help yourself.

How I Use Art Therapy At Home

Since I’m a painter, I love doing art therapy. I use specific techniques in art therapy for a variety of reasons. I use it as a sort of meditative painting to get myself started for days of painting, and to get my creative juices flowing. This prep work helps me center myself, gain awareness of my emotions, and loosen up my creative hand.

I’m going to share with you my own little form of art therapy I do at home!

This is not professional practice because I lack the actual therapist! But that’s okay, it’s still very calming and healing.

While I was in therapy recently, my wonderful counselor recommended this practice.

Depending on what you like as far as art medium, this will vary with each person.

How To – Art Therapy At Home

First, put calming music on that would be beneficial for meditation. This is also when I turn on an essential oil diffuser to really set the mood for success. I really like jasmine or lavender!

Second, gather all your art supplies and surround yourself with them. This is also when I prep my canvas or paper. Using a plate or other round object, I trace a circle on the paper to create a guide for a mandala.

A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism. A mandala is often used for meditation, and is said to represent the universe and life as a whole.

You don’t have to use a mandala as a guide, but I particularly like the cyclical shape, and orbital direction of the painting after I’m finished.

Third, sit in a comfortable position. Take a few minutes to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and gain awareness of what you’re feeling at this moment.

Are you feeling calm and collected? Are your feeling frustrated and anxious? Really listen to what your body and mind is telling you.

Fourth, set all judgement aside and pick up your brush, pen, or your favorite utensil. Start by adding the medium to the page. Create what you’re feeling. It doesn’t have to be anything or any particular object, but it can be if you want. It can be abstract, expressionist, or realistic.

Why We Love Art Therapy

The purpose of this is to create awareness, mindfulness, peace, and calm. I can’t provide a therapist for you, but I can provide a little something that I do to center myself.

Remember, do not place judgement on yourself or your creation. This is purely for your enjoyment and mindfulness practice.

“But Jordan, I don’t have art supplies and creative mind! I know I’ll just embarrass or frustrate myself!”

I totally know how you feel. I’ll take care of you!

An Easier Version!

Now! If this all seems a little out of your comfort zone, I have something else for you!

If you’re not up for creating your own piece of art, color in one that’s already made for you! I know not all of you are artists like me, so I found something completely stress free for you to try!

Adult coloring books are the thing for you! They are just as enjoyable, equally as calming, and super fun!

ANYONE can do this! I’ve taken the time to find what you need. Thank me later! This Mandala Coloring Book comes with everything you need to get started!

 


What are your thoughts?

Share with me how it goes in the comments!

How To Make A Self Care Package

How To Make A Self Care Package

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links.

Call me a grandma, but I love to stay in, cozy up in a blanket with a cup of tea, and read. There is nothing more soothing and repairing than a self care day. Whether you’re extra stressed from work, or you just need to pamper yourself, you need self care days!

The amazing thing about self care packages is that you can personalize them to your unique needs! I recommend bringing together a few things that never fail at making you feel fantastic.

Below is a list of my 5 top self care package essentials! Feel free to tweak and exchange whatever you like. Just make sure ultimate relaxation is your top priority!

How To Make The Best Self Care Package Ever!

#1 Comfort Clothing

To make a great self care package, you have to start with ultimate comfort. There is nothing better than going home after a long day and putting on your favorite pajamas.

My favorite pajamas include, soft polar bear pajama pants, a loose comfy t-shirt, and my favorite pair of slippers.

This pair of slippers I received as a gift years ago, and I absolutely love them! They keep your feet comfortable, cozy, and warm. They are essential for the colder months!

#2 A Warm Cozy Coffee/Tea Mug

No self care package is complete without a cozy coffee or tea mug. Warm yourself from the inside out. Collect a beautiful mug that you will love using all day, every day.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am the tea queen. I love tea, and I love coffee. One of my favorite parts of the day is making myself a delicious cup of coffee in the morning before work. I would not survive very happily without it, so I make its priority.

Also, the only thing I collect are coffee mugs. To me, they’re more than a delicious liquid vessel, they’re a crucial piece of my every day comfort. You can say I’m obsessed, it’s okay.

This hand warmer mug is perfect for self care days! The mug wraps around your hand like a little hug! These mugs are perfect!

#3 A Cozy Blanket And A Plushy!

Now I didn’t say that this self care package was something you had to share with anyone! Don’t be embarrassed to reach the ultimate level of comfort! Curl up under a fuzzy blanket and give yourself something to cuddle!

I personally love the snuggle up in cozy fleece blankets. I have this cute little fleece throw that was given to me as a gift and I will never part with it!

Everyone needs a plushy blanket like this!

#4 An Essential Oil Diffuser

This piece of your self care package is super important! Essential oils can be very healing for the mind, body and spirit. I recommend you invest in a small but powerful essential oil diffuser. They are cheap, and they promote such great feelings.

Different essential oils promote different feelings. Essential oil blends are very popular too. For any ailment, I guarantee there is an oil blend you can find to help.

My all time favorite scent is jasmine. I use jasmine and lavender to promote calm and peace of mind. For a more energizing scent, I like to use citrus scents such as lime, lemon, and grapefruit.

This essential oil humidifier is perfect for at home serenity!

#5 A Great Book

Clearing your mind and taking yourself somewhere new an interesting is key! A fun and cheap way to get away is to read a book. Whether you love fantasy, fiction, non-fiction, or even comics, this is a great way to take your mind off the every day stresses of life.

I love reading fantasy and fiction. The last series I read was The 5th Wave series of three books. Ahh! It was so good. If you’ve seen The 5th Wave movie and loved it, definitely buy the series to read! You won’t be disappointed!

What do you do to repair and recharge?

Share with me in the comments!