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mental health

mental health, outfits, WELLNESS

I Broke Up With Social Media & Here’s What Happened

palm print sweater: here (and obsessed!) // denim shorts: here (run big, size down)

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

In order to understand the breakup, you first need to understand my relationship with social media because it was a close/tight/committed/dependent one. Like, I could spend aaaaallllllll afternoon, evening and night mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest (I really had all bases covered). It was the first thing I attended to in the morning and the last thing I spent doing at night. It made me late to work, skip skincare and makeup routines, forego scheduled gym sessions, miss out on quality time with friends and family, and my neck wrinkles real pronounced (spending hours with your chin tucked down is not exactly conducive to great posture and youthful looking skin). Couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night? No worries! I’d grab my phone and scroll through Instagram for two hours aka it was really messing with my sleep hygiene. My beloved books and magazines gathered dust on their shelves because why enrich my mind with worthwhile literature when I could check out the avocado toast my best friend’s sister’s college roommate was eating? It really was a pathetic relationship. Maybe the worst one I’ve ever had (and I’ve had some doozies!).

THE BREAKUP

Obviously, it was time to breakup. I needed my freedom, hobbies, and health back. So I cut things off with social media on a random Monday night; I deleted my Twitter and Facebook apps and refused to even consider clicking on the cute little Instagram and Pinterest apps in my phone (Instagram and Pinterest are were my favorite of the bunch, making it harder to completely cut those out of my life). And here’s what happened:

I FOUND MORE TIME

Yes, I found the answer to finding more of that allusive “time” as in “ahh if only there was more time in the day!”. (Rearrange your priorities and tweak your schedule and I promise you’ll find it, too.) For instance, instead of spending the first 30 minutes of being awake laying in bed and checking up on what I could have possibly missed out on during the middle of night (hint: nothing), I get right out of bed and now have ample time to walk my dog, make breakfast and coffee, and put on some makeup. Shoot, I even have time to do my hair some mornings now. Even if you spend 5-10 minutes on social media here and there, it can really add up without realizing it, taking away chunks of time that could be spent doing something more relaxing, productive, fun, (actually) social, etc.

I READ MORE OF EVERYTHING

News articles, psychology journals, fashion magazines, fiction novels and self-help books – you name it, I’ve been reading it. Since I can remember, I’ve always been a voracious reader and consider it one of my very favorite hobbies (next to shopping, of course). Sadly, my obsessive relationship with social media took that away from me, BUT I’m proud to say I’m back to my bookworm ways.

I STAY IN THE MOMENT

When you don’t have your phone to use as a mindless distraction, you’re forced into the moment and therefore can be more present. Have you ever been out to lunch with someone who was on their phone the entire time, not really engaging in conversation or even bothering to look at you? I have, and it doesn’t feel great, but what does feel great is valuing the here and now, your relationships, and actual face time with people (or animals, whatevs 😉 ).

I BECAME DAMN PRODUCTIVE

At work, at home, on the weekends, my productivity is on the rise. This obviously comes easier with more time found in the day, but I think once you start being a little productive, it’s easier to become more and more so. Ya know the whole “an object in motion stays in motion” thing totally applies here. So, instead of going back to sit on the couch to check every nook and cranny of my social media accounts after I’m done say, vacuuming, now, because I don’t have that option, I might go on to do laundry, cook a healthy meal, water the plants, go to the gym (okay, maybe not there quite yet, but you get the point). 

I COMMUNICATE MORE INTENTIONALLY

Sure, Facebook can be great at keeping up with your Great Aunt in Albuquerque, but does it really help foster connections with our loved ones? Since I gave it up, I’ve found myself using my phone more for what it’s original intended use was – actually calling or even texting someone directly to see how their vacation was, what their plans are for the weekend, and to share a bit of what’s going on in my life. I think depending on social media to keep us connected with others creates a false sense of being social, having a support system, and really knowing your friends and family. It only provides a snapshot and doesn’t take the place of having a fulfilling and direct conversation or visit with someone.

I STOPPED COMPARING

You know what happens when you stop comparing your body, sense of style, vacations, relationships, home, and how you’re spending your Friday night to everyone else? You start living for and doing things for you and give yourself a greater chance at really being content with who you are and where you’re at. Now, instead of feeling bad about why I’m not out to eat at the trendy sushi restaurant in the same cute outfit as my friend’s cousin is, I focus on myself and what I actually want to be wearing, feeling, and doing. And damn, it feels good to be selfish.

WE’RE STILL FRIENDS

So after I didn’t go near any social media for quite some time, I started to give more thought into how I wanted to handle it all going forward. I realized this would require shifting my perspective and intentionally scheduling out times to use it if I wanted to, not just because I was in an out of control, habit with it. If I do have the desire to share a picture or scope out what everyone is up to, I set a purposeful intention for it, do it for a very limited amount of time, and be done with it. And you know what I’ve noticed? The less I do it, the less I want to or even think to. After all, who really stays that close to an ex after a breakup?

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mental health, outfits, WELLNESS

Dealing With Stress & Grounding Yourself

crochet top: heredifferent color & more sizes // shorts: on sale heresimilar here

If you read my post on anxiety and either couldn’t totally relate or are looking for more coping skills that can be applied to everyday stress, this one’s for you. Today we’re talking all about grounding yourself and what I especially love about this technique is that pretty much anyone can use it and find it helpful. On the verge of a panic attack? Try grounding yourself. Constantly stressed over office politics? Ground yourself. Prepping for an interview? You guessed it – ground yourself!

WHAT IT IS

When we’re anxious, stressed, panicked, etc., it often feels like we are having an out-of-body experience, being flooded by our emotions and thoughts, and generally just feel really overwhelmed and maybe even helpless. This makes reaching a logical, timely and effective solution almost impossible. This is when the idea of “grounding” comes in. It’s a technique to pull yourself back to Planet Earth, shut out the overwhelming thoughts and feelings, and get back to a place where you can effectively cope and deal with whatever it is that’s going on.

HOW TO DO IT

Just like mindful breathing, this grounding technique can be used anywhere and at anytime without bringing attention to yourself. This is because you can do it all in your head (although feel free to do it out loud if you find it more effective 😉 or if writing is your thing, feel free to jot it all down into your favorite notebook. Let’s begin:

  • If doing this in a sitting or standing position, make sure both feet are placed firmly on the ground. If you’re in a laying position, make sure you’re laying flat on your back with your arms placed gently by your side and legs out in front of you.
  • Take a couple of slow, deep breaths and start to take notice of your surroundings, keeping your five senses in mind.
  • Note five things you see around you. This could be the color of the walls, a pencil on the desk, a flower in bloom, etc.
  • Note four things you can touch. The texture of the chair you’re sitting on, the softness of the pillow you’re resting on, your hair, a hard surface, etc.
  • Note three things you can hear. I like to focus on nature if possible for this one: the wind blowing, birds chirping, waves crashing, but cars honking, the murmur of people talking, or a TV on in the background works too.
  • Note two things you can smell. Maybe it’s food, a candle or soap dish nearby, a pencil or how being outside (if applicable) smells.
  • Note one thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like? Coffee? Gum? A sandwich from lunch?

And voila! Your flooding thoughts have hopefully dissipated, you’re feeling calmer and less triggered, and out of your head and therefore more in control.

WHY IT WORKS

Our emotions/feelings, thoughts, and behaviors are all directly linked. So, when our thoughts are running rampant and taking on an overall negative tone, our feelings follow suit. This technique stops this sort of cause-and-effect from happening, puts us (our logical, non-emotionally-reactive side) back in control, and therefore leads to healthier thought patterns and overall improved mood. In moments of anxiety or stress, it’s important to stay present in order to be able to stay focused on effectively coping with the situation at hand. By being grounded, you’re being present.

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mental health, WELLNESS

Volunteering & Why It’s Powerful

 

ruffle dress: heremaxi version here // wrap choker: similar here (use promo code CANDY for 10% off)

It’s pretty well-known to my family and friends that if they’re making plans for a Saturday morning, I won’t be a part of them. Not because I don’t love a good plan (because I do, like, a lot), but because I have a pretty serious commitment on Saturday mornings and one that I’ve upheld for over four years now. It involves driving over an hour each way and waking up at the crack of dawn if needed. It’s also something I do completely for free. Stumped?

It’s my volunteer work at a marine mammal center.

This is where, on a weekly basis, I clean filthy pens, weigh out pounds and pounds (and pounds!) of frozen fish, and feed starving, injured, and/or sick rescued seals and sea lions in an effort to rehabilitate them and send them back into their ocean home. I have to admit it, it is pretty awesome and it fulfills a longstanding love of animals I have. It’s also not very glamorous and it does mean giving up sleeping in and weekend-long plans.  So why do it? Well other than the obvious “it’s important to give back”, here are a few reasons on why I think volunteering is an invaluable part of life.

THE PEOPLE YOU MEET

I’ve developed some pretty strong friendships with some pretty awesome women I wouldn’t have met without my volunteer work. We come from all walks of life – different home states, different phases of life, different real-life jobs, and different relationship statuses. But one thing we do all have in common? Our strong love of animals and commitment to animal advocacy. Bonding over common values is an excellent way to build close bonds, which in turn can release the hormone, oxytocin, which actually helps us care for others and handle stress better. And honestly, there’s just something about being knee-deep in the trenches of animal poop, blood, vomit, and crises to really create a strong and meaningful bond.

CHANGING THINGS UP

My husband works in finance in a very high-stress, intellectually-stimulating, technical position filled with numbers and dollar signs and major responsibilities. So what does he do for his weekly volunteering? Work that requires quietly swimming around in aquatic tanks cleaning rocks with a brush where the only possible excitement is having a turtle nibble on your fin. This is where volunteering can be an amazing source of stress-relief, self-care, and an improvement of your overall mental health. It’s a chance to stimulate a different part of your brain than the one from your everyday job. Do you sit at a desk all day answering emails and taking phone calls? Try a volunteer position that involves more physical, hands-on activity. And vice-versa.

FINDING & FULFILLING YOUR PASSION(S)

We don’t always get to make what we love into a career. Sometimes, what we love just isn’t a sustainable source of financial stability (if anyone knows how to make taking naps, drinking wine and playing with puppies a legit job – let me know!). Enter: volunteer work. Volunteering in different ways for different organizations allows you to fulfill your passion if you’re not able to make it your full-time job. It also allows you the opportunity to figure out what exactly you’re passionate about. Although it’s still a commitment to take seriously, it’s one that you can more easily pick up and let go of until you find the right fit than you typically can do with a paying job. Not feeling totally fulfilled in the job you have now? Try volunteering for something near and dear to you – it was a game changer for me and makes my life feel way more well-rounded.

STOPPING BOREDOM & STAYING STIMULATED

Whether you are one of the lucky few who doesn’t have to work to make a living, or you’re retired (yay!), volunteering is a great way to prevent boredom and keep your mind stimulated. My mom is retired and stays mentally and socially active by involving herself in multiple organizations with varying degrees of involvement and roles. Which brings up another point, volunteering can give you the opportunity to take on and gain experience in a leadership position that you might not otherwise have.

STEPPING OUTSIDE YOURSELF & YOUR OWN PROBLEMS

A common treatment recommendation for depression, grief, and even anxiety, is volunteering. There’s something incredibly therapeutic about stepping outside of yourself, temporarily separating yourself from your worries and problems, and giving to others in an active and tangible way. Still not convinced? There’s tons of longitudinal studies that show that regularly volunteering can not only help improve your quality of life, but actually prolong it.

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mental health, outfits, WELLNESS

6 Tips on Managing Anxiety

chambray top: similar here & here // crochet shorts: here

While I can usually keep it together on the outside, sometimes anxiety and stress gets the best of me on the inside. For me, this feels like a constantly nagging, antsy feeling, paired with recurring thoughts about the most minute issues to the most depressing ones. It usually revolves around to-do lists and chores, self-reflection, and is rooted in the future, whether near or far. Fortunately, this used to be more of an issue for me than it is now, so I thought I’d share some of the tips and tricks I use. 

EXTERNALIZE IT

Labels are nothing new and unfortunately they’re not going anywhere, but you can at least try to avoid labeling yourself. Instead of thinking of yourself as an “anxious person” or someone who “has anxiety”, try thinking of anxiety as its own entity. Thinking or even saying out loud “Here’s anxiety again! What can I do to get rid of it?” gives you back the power and the mental clarity to tackle the issue logically and somewhat objectively.

ASSESS YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Does anxiety tend to rear its ugly agitated head when you’re with a certain person, at your less-than-fulfilling job, or when you’re trying to fall asleep at night? It’s important to know its triggers so that you can determine if they can be eliminated or at least better managed. For me, quitting an emotionally draining job in a toxic environment was a life changer, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine can be just as helpful.

CHECK YOURSELF

In psychology, this is referred to as “reality checking” and it’s a technique I use all of the time. Once you’ve identified where anxiety is coming from, ask yourself “Will this matter a year from now?”, “six months?”, “a week?”. Chances are you can say “No” to at least one of those questions and thus allow yourself to look at the issue realistically and for what it really is. Will it matter in six months from now if the laundry doesn’t get done today? I’m going to go with no, so let it go.

MAKE LISTS

Sometimes life just really is stressful and full of obligations, responsibilities, and seemingly endless tasks. So don’t underestimate the power of lists and calendars. Seriously, who can keep deadlines and schedules and to-dos and dates all in their head? Get it out and write it all down. I schedule laundry and walking my dog into my calendar and constantly keep to-do, grocery, and packing lists in the Notes app of my phone. A little excessive? Maybe. Super helpful and mind-easing? Hell yeah.

SAY F*CK IT & TREAT YOURSELF 

Sometimes we just need a break and anxiety needs to be told to f*ck off. Challenge yourself to do this, because anxiety will try everything in its power to not let you. If I notice my stress levels spiking or anxiety creeping in and I’ve assessed that the issues will in fact not matter one way or another in a week, I treat myself. For me, this can mean getting a pedicure, watching guilty pressures on TV, reading a book, eating the biggest bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos I can find, cuddling with my dog, etc. This may seem oversimplified, but it’s actually pretty crucial. Here’s why: the more we flood our brain with anxious thoughts and experience regular levels of spiked cortisol (the stress hormone), the more it becomes our everyday norm. Conversely, if you force daily doses of relaxation, selfcare and positive thoughts into your routine and therefore your brain, this will be your normal and therefore easier to maintain.

KNOW WHEN TO GET HELP 

Obviously, we’re all different: how we experience stress, what our triggers are, what’s helpful and what’s not. It can be pretty dang difficult to figure all of that out on your own…*enter* a mental health professional. This is a great resource for finding a therapist or even support group when life starts to become a little too unmanageable. I have no shame in saying that I’ve used personal therapy on and off for years…and I’ll even say I’m a better me because of it.

Do you guys want to hear more on anxiety? I’ve noticed it becoming a pretty widespread topic as people are opening up about it more and more. I could really go on and on about it (i.e. how stress and anxiety can look similar but are different, how to destress, the psychology behind it all), but realize it may not be as interesting to everyone else 😉

 

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mental health, outfits, STYLE, WELLNESS

have less, but the best

hat: similar here (& on sale!)here, & here // shirt dress: in black, similar here & here

 Now I’m not one to always follow trends (although, admittedly, sometimes I jump into them wholeheartedly), but the whole “quality over quantity” thing is something I’ve been on board with for awhile. It’s not really anything new, there’s even books written on the topic, but I just really love the minimalist concept and apply it to pretty much every facet of my life: friendships, clothes, home items, time with my husband, vacations…you get the point. There’s something to be said about de-cluttering your entire life and only holding onto and therefore truly cherishing the things, people, and activities that really serve you.

There’s a technique in psychology that encourages you to ask yourself “how does this serve you?” I absolutely love this and use it often. It’ll get you thinking about the things, habits, and people in your life, why you hang onto them, and foster motivation for change if needed.

We’ve all had the “friend” who’s just completely draining or the closet packed full of meh clothes that causes us to exclaim every morning: “I have nothing to wear!” as your husband sits there judging you silently, or in my case not so silently. I remember in high school and well into college shopping at stores with the primary goal of seeing how much stuff I could get for x amount of dollars only to wear the items once or twice. Boy, has my outlook on this changed drastically. Now, I buy an item or two that might be pricier, but that I truly love/has a purpose in my life that I know I will use/wear/admire for years and years to come. I also curb impulsiveness and unnecessary spending by giving myself time to think about the purchase before making it (what a concept, eh?) and/or waiting for it to go on sale. Pro tip: If an item already is on sale – great! – but ask yourself honestly, would you want this (shirt, book, corkscrew, etc.) if it weren’t on sale? If the answer is no, walk away!

How do you tidy up your life?

photography: Bobbi Rose // shop the look locally: Beach & Beverly

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mental health, outfits

3 Tips on Taking Time Out

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beanie: similar & on sale! vest: here & on sale! tee: similar (size up for a loose look) coated denim: here booties: here & on sale! & here in taupe with more sizes

Taking time out. Interesting sentence, huh? If you repeat it a few times it kind of takes on different meanings and tones. Is it a negative idea? Something positive and comforting? Or something that just simply happens?

Well, I’m talking about making a positive habit out of taking time out for yourself. I hear it so often, from women especially, that taking time for yourself or even practicing self-care is “selfish” or “not that important.” Well the sad reality of this belief is that it kind of devalues our sense of self. Also, we really can’t be our 100% best wife, girlfriend, mother, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, etc. if we aren’t 100% in our own self. That’s why I’m challenging you (and myself!) to make it a daily habit to take time out. Here are a few ideas on how to create the space that will pack the most punch in our super busy, sometimes stressful, lives:

1. Shut Down

I’m not talking emotionally, I mean shutting down from social media. Set a designated block of time (2 hours, half the day, one full day) during the week where you will turn your phone on silent and resist the temptation to go on any of your social media feeds. And then, take note of how it leaves you feeling…empowered? refreshed? motivated? like you’re missing out? (if this is the case, fight through that feeling, stay consistent, and keep reading!).

2. Get In Touch With Your Right Brain

Whether you consider yourself more left-brained or right-, utilize your newfound adult time-out to really get in touch with your right brain. Reading, writing, painting, and even free-style cooking are all activities that’ll get your creative juices flowing and your right-brain muscles flexing.

3. Find You Time

What really makes you feel relaxed and then re-energized? Is it taking a lavender-infused, epsom salt bubble bath (yes, please!)? Playing and cuddling with your pooch or feline friend? Listening to your favorite playlist and sweating it out at the gym? Or taking the time to beautify yourself with a skincare regime or new makeup look you’ve been wanting to try? Whatever it is, find what works for you, and if possible, find several different things you can keep in your arsenal to utilize when feeling stressed, down, or just like you could use a little more self-care.

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