Guest Post: Re-Centering

Guest: Liz

For the past 33 years, I have struggled with appearing perfect on the outside while trying to conceal my learning disabilities. After years of suppressing my emotions and feelings, mixed with the potent cocktail of lack of sleep and exercise, poor eating habits, and anxiety at work, I entered into the perfect storm that ultimately led to my mental breakdown and hospitalization.

My meltdown led me to take the past year off and re-center myself. Prior to the hospitalization, I normalized my anxiety. Constant doomsday thoughts and persevering on mistakes consumed my days with worry, leaving my stomach in knots and crippling my appetite. One silly mistake could send me on a downward spiral of thinking that one single mistake could unveil something catastrophic.

It has taken me more than a year, but I now understand that these thoughts happen when my anxiety spikes. With the right help, I use different coping skills to address and quell my anxiety. I have a better understanding to how my anxiety affects me on a daily basis.

Before this experience, I disregarded mental health. In turn, I scoffed at anyone who pulled the mental health card for anxiety or depression. I didn’t understand how anxiety and depression could paralyze a person. It hinders people from fully living their lives and their ability to be present.

My biggest challenge to overcome my anxiety has been to slow down. I have to work on slowing down my life’s pace. Life is a marathon not a sprint. The faster I respond to emails or complete a chore doesn’t mean that I’m winning the rat race. Instead, these fervent habits just prevented me from doing my best work. Learning to take lots of deep breaths before each task, I continue reminding myself to smell the roses while completing the task.

Now, I see life in a different way. By slowing down, I have time to notice the colors, sounds and smells that surround me. Brené Brown’s research has helped shaped my outlook on life. One of my favorite quotes by her is “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”

My advice for someone in a similar circumstance or feeling the world is coming to an end is to seek help. Mental health is no joke. It can become stiffening and prevent you from living your fullest, happiest life.  After being a prisoner to it and coming out on the other side, my hope is that anyone who feels slightly or entirely what I felt, please get help. It is the most invigorating feeling once you shed a light on your struggles and learn how to overcome them.

Unsponsored: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life Recommendation

Most people don’t realize the brain is just as good (or better) at muscle memory than any other muscle. The human brain learns by association, which is why we have a memory at all. The emotion we feel at any given moment is automatically associated with whatever is happening around us. This is the same reason why domesticated animals learn certain behaviors with sounds, treats, and other cues. When we have a bad experience, we associate feelings, objects, smells, sounds, colors…anything our brain can grab onto to remember the moment. This is how we develop interests, learn to fear things, stay in bad relationships, fall into addictions, and even stick with that new diet and gym membership. Although muscle memory is not the sole reason we have anxiety or depression, if you’re in a place where you are able to learn to control it, you can work hard to change your thoughts and behaviors.

If you are not in a good place, and you need the support of a therapist, medication, or if you simply need more time to work through something, don’t feel guilty. Your experience doesn’t need to be compared to everyone else’s. If you’re taking the time to read about mental health, you’re in the right place.

I would like to take the time to recommend this book. This post, and my review, is completely unsponsored. If you’re looking for answers on why people experience mental health issues (anxiety and depression - this book does not apply to other unrelated disorders), and how to accept and overcome them, stop everything you’re doing and read it. (As with every mental health post, I would like to disclose that I am not a counselor, and that my advice will not solve every problem.) I have learned a lot from reading this, and it has given me peace of mind that my experience is universal and that I am not going through it alone. If you’re reading this post, I hope it helps you too!

xo,

Victoria

Guest Post: Open Call Advice 12/16

Hello! I’ve asked, and you’ve submitted! Today I am featuring our very first guest post from the open call. Originally, I was going to close this and re-open quarterly, but the Instagram account is growing and so are the responses. Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories and we appreciate you participating in this healthy exercise!

Guest: Dominique

What triggers you most?

Past Experiences.

Tell us about obstacles you've faced.

Peoples opinion, family’s judgement, insecurities, suicidal thoughts.

Tell us how you overcome those obstacles either long term or on a daily basis.

I currently go to therapy once a week and I’m also taking anti-depressants. Both of those contribute to me getting better daily. With my therapy sessions I’m able to open up completely and heal those open wounds that have held me back in my life. It helps give me clarity, perspective and understanding as to why and how I got here. It helps me save me. I’m also a writer. I’ve been doing that since I was about 10 years old. It is the best therapy I could ever have. My soul is completely free and liberated every time I put pen to paper. When and if I have a suicidal thought or feel like taking my life I redirect my thoughts. Either by reading, praying, or talking to a friend or taking a walk. I do something to change the chemical that my brain is receiving. It’s no easy task but I fight anyway. From it I’ve learned to love me. Love who I am and who I’m going to be. I read positive quotes and devotionals. Things that will help change my thoughts in a positive way.

What advice would you give to people looking to overcome similar circumstances?

Therapy isn’t a bad thing at all. Save yourself for yourself. Find something else as well that makes you happy and sets you free. No matter what it is as long as it brings positive energy into your world. Never stop fighting for yourself. Learn to love yourself. Your authentic self.

Blogging Frequency + Open Call

Happy Monday, folks!

I’m going to make an effort to blog more regularly. It wasn’t exactly my intention to blog on a frequent basis, but I need to develop more content to fill in the gaps. Most of you are brand new readers who deserve to know my intent. For more information on my introduction, please see my first post.

Some of you really enjoy this Open Call, and I have some lovely entries to share in the future. (If you haven’t yet submitted, click here.) I feel very inspired to keep going and collect more of your thoughts. I am featuring my first guest later this week!

In the future, you will find more content on the blog Sundays and Thursdays. Don’t be surprised if I throw in a few posts here and there - I’m still developing my blogging strategy. I’m curious to hear your thoughts…what would you like to see on the blog? What content subjects would you come back for every week? I anxiously await your comments, DMs, and emails. :)

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