Valentine's Day!!

Happy Valentine's day! This is by far one of my favorite holidays. I know it's a Hallmark holiday filled with consumerist ideals, blah blah blah. But it's only negative if you choose to look at it that way. I don't expect to be showered with gifts. I'm a giver, and I want to treat myself and everyone else around me. I like dipping strawberries and making treats for my coworkers. I love taking my husband out for dinner. I look for excuses to send my mom, sisters, and friends small packages and cards to show them I'm thinking of them. It doesn't matter what holiday it is, I have a box of thoughtful gifts on reserve that I buy whenever I see a thoughtful gift for a special someone in my life.

That being said, if something has ruined the holiday for you, I understand. But if you can make a good day out of a universal reminder to show love and gratitude to the people around you, I think you should do it.

Another important message I want to share is that you should spend a few moments today or this weekend focusing on the things that you love about yourself. A daily recognition of your strengths can go a long way to building self esteem and confidence, which will resonate throughout other parts of your life. It’s easy to get stuck living in the past, or fixating on your weaknesses. Whether you have depression, anxiety, or both, your mental illness doesn’t define you or your value. If you can’t forgive yourself for making a mistake in your past, if you can’t break away from a toxic relationship, if you can’t stop obsessing about your student debt, if you can’t ever see yourself living your dream, if you haven’t quite found the right job, or if you’re simply just going through a hard time, even if you’re not necessarily sure why - you have more power than you think. Those of us who live with mental illness every day - we don’t always get to choose how we feel, or what we are capable of doing. Some days, we don’t get an option to be happy and motivated. We can do some things, though. We can:

  • Ask for help when we need it (Not just from a doctor, but from our friends, family, spouses, coworkers, teachers, etc.)

  • Reevaluate our goals and pursuits (Do you really think you’ll be happier as a full-time musician if you’ve never put the extra time in to work on your skills?)

  • Establish a sense of purpose (Do you secretly criticize yourself for not going to the gym? Have you always wanted to learn a new skill? What have you done to adopt these new behaviors?)

  • Follow through with goals (So...you don’t have the energy or courage to get back in the gym. What if you walked 10,000 steps per day? Are you really bad at staying positive, but you don’t know what to do to change? What if you read a chapter of a self-help book, or watched a 20 minute Ted Talk every single day?)

Start small and only do as much as you can handle. Don’t beat yourself up about not being as productive as you think you should be - that will only lead to more depression/anxiety. Set small, reasonable goals each day, get enough sleep, and take a multivitamin. Get a health and wellness checkup - tell your doctor about your symptoms, and get blood work done to see if you have any deficiencies. If you need help with basic activities, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of others is a sign of strength, and we often do much better in life when we allow ourselves to connect with others. The more you love yourself despite your flaws, the more you’ll enable yourself to learn and grow.

xo,

Victoria

Unsponsored: 72 Day Meditation Streak

Alright, folks. I’ve decided to do some unsponsored product posts. I have done sponsorships in the past, but when it comes to the subject of mental health, I want to keep that authenticity. That being said, I will share certain products with you that have helped me improve my life.

I’ve signed up for meditation apps in the past and thought they were okay…but I never really found one I was in love with, much less wanted to pay for. I decided to do a trial period for the Calm app, and I used it so much within those seven days that I decided to invest in the purchase. After all, when you break down the cost…it’s really only 1-2 doctor or counseling appointments that you would need to maintain your mental health, or get a prescription to alleviate symptoms.

I started by trial period 72 days ago, and my current meditation streak is 72 days. I cannot recommend this app enough! It includes daily guided meditations, soundscapes, sleep stories, ASMR, soothing music, nature sounds, guided meditations based on subjects for personal growth, relationships, anxiety, motivation, focus, self-care, emotions, etc…guided yoga, podcast style classes, guided breathing exercises, and more. Calm offers something for a variety of audiences - parents, children, students, employees - and pretty much anyone looking to improve some aspect of their life. The guided meditations offer assistance breathing, clearing the mind, and contemplating on a particular topic encouraging mindfulness and acceptance. Calm seems to be developing a more diverse narrator portfolio with time as it gains more popularity. The app currently only syncs with Google Fit and only offers English and German languages, but given the growing momentum of the company, I would imagine they will expand these options to include several languages as well as Apple and Fitbit users as well. The way I see it, the more we support them, the faster they will add these features.

So…how has it helped me in my daily life? I started by listening to one 12 minute guided meditation before bed every night. It helped me get to a relaxed physical state that I was unable to experience on my own. But that wasn’t enough for me to fall asleep some nights - so I started listening to sleep stories and soundscapes. I’m now at a point where I can’t and won’t fall asleep without the app. By clearing my head before dozing off, I’ve had less nightmares as well. My nights of insomnia and perpetually anxious night terrors are now fewer and fewer the longer I use this app.

For as long as I can remember, sleep has been a very negative experience for me. Everything about it made me anxious - not being able to fall asleep, nightmares, night sweats, constant disruption, feeling bad in the morning - and now I look forward to opening the app every night.

Have you tried Calm, or any other meditation app? Do you turn to YouTube for those features? How do you fall asleep? Let me know in the comments!

xo,

Victoria