New Month, New Goals // Hello August

I almost didn’t write this post. Today, I had quite possibly one of the worst days in awhile. I was strong – I survived through it, but it took \a lot out of me both emotionally and physically. A day filled with crying, anxious breakdowns and stress.

Through all of that chaos, I realized that it might be therapeutic to write up some goals. Think of the future, and how I can control me. My actions, my thoughts, and my life.

Old and new, I have a lot of things I want to do this month. Whether it’s revisiting old tools of my anxiety or learning new lessons, here are my goals for August:

 

Keep up with mindfulness 

In the past month or so, mindfulness has taken a backseat. I so miss my go-to meditations on Simple Habit. They truly eased my thoughts, and helped to build my self worth, confidence, and positive self talk.

Whether it’s listening to a daily meditation on my drive to work in the morning, or getting back into yoga each week, I want to make moves in my mindfulness. I’m much stronger than I used to be with my own thoughts, but that doesn’t mean it should be neglected. I’m only as strong as my good habits. 

 

Take more chances on myself 

Lately, I’m beginning to realize that I’m capable of so much. I’ve gone from a dorm room, to having my very own studio and being able to afford that rent. I’ve started as an intern at a company and now I’m currently a copywriter at a PR firm. I can do great things. I need to be taking chances on my skills, my talent, and my worth.

It’s time to bet on bigger things.

 

Speak up 

More recently, I’ve been learning this lesson firsthand. With situations at work, I am learning that it’s crucial for me to raise my voice when something is not right. My voice matters. Yes, we must all learn to pick our battles but when we find something to speak up against – follow through. Own your words. 

 

Learn something new 

I have a desire, a passion to learn something new. To explore uncharted territory – educate myself on things I don’t understand. I have a goal to research different slam poetry sessions going on around my area and attend at least one this month. Or be part of an open mic night at a cafe – I need to share my words. 

I used to share my writing all the time in college. As a Creative Writing major, you learn with experience and time to build up a tolerance for sharing your work. At first, it’s terrifying. Stepping up to the plate, ripping out your heart and showing it to a crowd just to hear the expected snaps or claps. But once you do it a few times, it’s addicting. It’s intoxicating to connect with others. To feel them resonate with your words. While I love and appreciate how much my words on this blog resonate with others, I want more. I want to get up in front of people and bare my heart. I want to show everyone how much I love, feel, and care. 

 

Well, those are my goals for August. I truly think that I can accomplish these. While I tend to over reach with my goals, I always have a way of teaching myself new things through them. I have a feeling that a lot of new, exciting things are headed my way. I’m stoked for what’s in store. 

 

Do you have any August goals? Share them in the comments below! 

The Magic of Mindfulness // Get Outta Your Head

I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t always convinced on mindfulness. Before starting therapy, I didn’t think much of it and had judgements of people who practiced it, merely because it was different and I had no understanding of it. Things are much different now.

I was first introduced to the idea of meditation and mindfulness when I started attending therapy over a year ago. In my therapy, my therapist focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy to help with my anxiety. This means treating mental illnesses or anxieties with solutions, encouraging patients to challenge distorted realities and actively change destructive patterns of behavior. One of the solutions I was given was to practice more mindfulness.

I went searching for new ways to calm my mind and landed on Simple Habit – an app that gives you endless meditations for literally any possible life situation. There are several mindfulness apps on the big wide web, and it’s about finding the one that works best for you. This particular app just clicked with me and I started listening to the different meditations. It wasn’t until I was using it for a few months that I discovered one specific session that spoke to me most: Dealing With Failure. In that session, there was a meditation called “Shame” that had me repeat several mantras to myself, the very last being: I am good enough. Being good enough is a huge insecurity for me – and many others who suffer from mental illness – so being forced to say that to myself over and over was essential.

From that point on, this meditation became a lifesaver for my anxiety. The very first time I noticed that it saved me was when I had an anxiety attack at work. It was a particularly bad day, and I ended up having a terrible argument with a coworker where intense things were said, and that brought me right over the edge. I found myself in a fit of tears that I didn’t think I would recover from. It was then that I stopped, got up, and took a walk around the building. I took out my phone and started playing “Shame.” I repeated the words, brought myself back to reality, and went back inside.

Another example was more recently. I had a triggering conversation with a close friend where she called me out on my angry behavior since my breakup. I was defensive and hurt, so I escalated and personalized the situation. Once I got back to my car, I ended up having a full fledged anxiety attack in the parking lot. What did I do? Turned on Simple Habit. Just me and my mindfulness, blasting from the speakers of my car. To me, these aren’t just a few sentences strung together – it’s a form of magic.

With my newfound passion for mindfulness and all that it can bring, I’m honored to officially announce that I’m a brand ambassador for Outta! A Canadian based company with a message to get out of our heads and into our hearts, I just knew this brand was part of the sensitive, strong community that I’ve been so excited to know these past few months.

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Using their passion for fashion to show everyone that finding your purpose is possible, they are bringing mindfulness to the masses. I’m proud to be part of it. 

Even better? The products are all mindfully made too. Eco-friendly and they give back 10% of the proceeds to the mental health community.

If you need a daily reminder to get out of your head, use my code MINDFULERICA to get 10% of your purchase!

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What has mindfulness taught me?  Not just that I’m good enough, but that your thinking can be changed. Mental illness blurs my thoughts, making it hard to see reality  – meditation is just one way I arm my mind against anxiety.

A regular part of my self care routine now, mindfulness is not something you practice occasionally. You work at it every moment of every day. I have to play that “Shame” meditation over and over and over again until it becomes second nature to think:

I AM GOOD ENOUGH. 

 

 

 

How do you practice mindfulness with your mental illness? 

5 Mindful Apps For Mental Health

While I wrote a blog post on unplugging from social media a little bit ago and the benefits that can come from disconnecting from your device, technology can also be a wonderful tool for mental health.

What if we had a way to harness the power of our screens when we were feeling anxious, depressed, and every range of emotion? Close to 19% of adults in the U.S. are affected by some kind of mental illness, so using apps as a supplement to in-person therapy is a welcome idea. While these apps don’t replace professional therapy, they can boost your mental health and overall well-being.

Swipe out of Candy Crush and Angry Birds and learn more about technology that’s a little more mindful in these apps below.

 

Simple Habit 

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My love for this mindful meditation app is probably biased – check out my blog post on it here – but that’s because it really works.

Great for busy bees that don’t always have time to pause, Simple Habit is an app that gives you mindfulness on the go. Donned the “Netflix of meditation,” this helpful app offers guided audio meditations anywhere from fifteen to five minutes long so that you can squeeze some serenity into your daily routine.

Personally, I’ve been using this app for close to a year and I can safely say that it’s my lifeline. Whenever I’m feeling high anxiety – or in the middle of an anxiety attack – I have a “Dealing With Failure” meditation I listen to. I get those headphones, press play and go for a walk to let the words really soak in.

 

Talkspace

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If you’re feeling really overwhelmed or need some help controlling your anxiety, waiting the days – or weeks – until you see your therapist can be difficult. With this important technology, anyone can get therapy without traveling to an office – and for significantly less money than traditional therapy.

While I personally need to have therapy in-person in order to benefit from it, this is a great – and cheaper – option. Allowing users to connect with licensed therapists anonymously in order to chat about what’s on their minds, the program has a bunch of different payment plan options, from unlimited message therapy for $25 per week, to 30 minutes of live video therapy for $29. Not being able to afford therapy is no longer an excuse – take the time to do what works for your lifestyle and mental health. 

 

Lantern

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Created by a team of researchers, technologists and clinicians, Lantern transforms cognitive behavioral therapy techniques into simple exercises. When I looked into this app, I was so excited because my own therapist focuses on cognitive therapy for my sessions. It’s a wonderful technique and has been really working for my anxiety.

All about removing the stigma and barriers that prevent people from strengthening their emotional selves, this app delivers a holistic approach to making each day a better one.

 

Pacifica 

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An app that lets you rate and track mood over time, provides guided deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises, health goals and it’s free? Sounds too good to be true. Think again.

Also based in cognitive therapy, Pacifica attempts to break the cycle of anxiety using tools that target each of its components. Day by day, you’ll learn to manage your feelings at your own pace. Users can record their own thoughts to help analyze and understand their thinking patterns, as well as discover and track possible triggers.

 

Headspace

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Treat your head right with Headspace, a “personal trainer” for the mind. With 10-minute meditation lessons catering to different areas of life ranging from health and performance to relationships, this mindful app is on a mission to get people everywhere to look after their mental health with the simple activity of meditation.

While it’s the more pricey of these apps requiring a subscription, it’s also the most popular. Used in over 190 countries since 2010, Headspace is on its way to improving the health and happiness of the world – one meditation at a time.

 

It’s time to look to technology for helpful tools on improving mental health. While they aren’t substitutes for professional treatment, it’s nice to know there are options to get help and relaxation at your fingertips.

 

What apps do you use to boost your mental health? Share what tech works for you in the comments! 

 

 

 

 

Unplugged: What I Discovered From A Day Without Social Media

Last night, I was scrolling through Facebook and came upon an article from The Mighty titled, “Researchers Say Instagram Is the ‘Worst App’ for Your Mental Health.” Ironic that I found this article while aimlessly wandering around social media, but it struck a nerve with me.

In the article, it states that Instagram has “the highest negative affect on well-being – increasing anxiety, depression, and self-identity and body image issues for young people ages 14 to 24.” Regardless of these stats, Instagram is an app with more than 700 million users and can be used with both good and bad intentions.

With all this information, I decided to challenge myself. I would go an entire day without using any social media and see what it did for my anxiety and mental health. Starting from the moment I woke up at 6:40 this morning, to currently writing this blog post at 6:00 this evening – I haven’t opened an app, scrolled through any feed or put a heart on any photo.

Here’s what I discovered from avoiding social media:

I’m much more present. 

Without the ability to escape into some form of social media during the day, I was forced to be. Just be in the moment more. For the first few hours of my workday, I found myself reaching for my phone randomly when there was a lull, because I normally scroll through Instagram as a tiny break. When I resisted that, I discovered that I was able to sit and just be where I was right then. Content.

I stopped comparing. 

This was a big one. Honestly, this was the biggest part of why I think Instagram is terrible for mental health. Part of anxiety that’s toxic is comparing yourself to others. This is an app that breeds comparison. Because I wasn’t constantly checking Instagram, seeing how others were potentially doing “more interesting” things, I found I could feel more confident about my day. When it’s not being compared to anything else – that is likely not reality to begin with – you feel secure.

When I got bored or started to overthink, I found a more healthy way of distraction. 

Let’s face it – sometimes your mind gets bored. When I had downtime or started to ruminate, I listened to a podcast I’m currently obsessed with, talked to one of my coworkers, or took a short walk outside. While some social media is very open and helpful when overthinking, it felt so much more effective and tangible to use these different ways of distraction.

 

By the end of the day, I realized that I put entirely too much emotion into my phone. From texting to Instagram, I’ve always read too much into each post or text and placed my own value into whether I heard back or got enough likes or comments. It’s a toxic game to play and removing myself from it – even just for a day – gave me a lot of introspection and mindfulness. I am enough – I don’t need 10, 100, or even 1,000 likes to validate that. Also, it doesn’t matter what others are doing, it matters what I’m doing right now. The less you focus on how others are living their lives, the more you gain for your mental health.

It went so well, I may actually ween myself from the amount I use my social media for the future.

Does social media have an affect on your anxiety? What are your thoughts? 

How Simple Habit Helps Me Slay Anxiety

I know I like to call myself really self aware when it comes to my anxiety, but I didn’t always used to be that way. Before I started the journey into therapy last June (almost a year ago – nuts!) I was thinking irrational, insecure thoughts and having trouble keeping the people in my life because of the intensity level of my anxiety. Once I got into my sessions and felt comfortable talking about my insecurities and coming to realizations, I began to want to know more about why I was the way I am.

I delved deep into self help books, podcasts, and also guided meditation. When I first thought of the idea of mediation, I was entirely too judgmental of it. I thought it wouldn’t help me, and I’m not capable of shutting off my brain for any length of time…but’s that’s not all it is. From exploring yoga, guided meditation at my old work, and different podcasts, I discovered Simple Habit. Donned the “Netflix of meditation,” this helpful app offers guided audio meditations anywhere from fifteen to five minutes long so that busy people can squeeze some tranquility into their daily lives – and anxious ones can have a vital resource.

I used Simple Habit for months before I made the leap into paying for the app. Unlocking the premium level allows you to listen to any of the meditations with specific scenarios such as having a tough day to happiness at work. None had such a profound effect on me as the “Dealing With Failure” meditation. The session, “Shame” is one that I turn to on my worst days of anxiety, stress and fear. The reason I do this is because within that session, the narrator, Quentin Finney, teaches you to approach failure with ease and compassion – rather than fear and insecurity. He does this through a guided meditation and the use of repeating six key affirmations that can be applied to any kind of anxiety or specific situation in your daily life. Whenever I’m feeling severely anxious or like I’m not good enough, I grab my phone, break open the Simple Habit app, and get outside for a walk and a guided meditation.

Here are the six key affirmations that continue to help me each day:

I am worthy of happiness

Say this to yourself over and over and over until it’s memorized in that anxious brain of yours. I’m very guilty of forgetting that I’m allowed to be happy. Sometimes we can get caught up in all the negative thoughts and personalizing, that we forget to just stop and enjoy the things and people we have as a constant in our lives. Cherish them and realize you’re worthy of happiness.

I am worthy of appreciation from myself and others

When someone gives you a compliment – don’t just shrug it off or say, “don’t lie.” Accept it because guess what? You’re worthy of someone appreciating you or your awesome style. Even more importantly, appreciate yourself! If you’re feeling your outfit, hair, face, ass, boobs – whatever, voice that to yourself. Or if you know you rocked an interview yesterday or nailed a presentation at work – celebrate the small victories!

I am worthy of forgiveness for my mistakes and i recognize that others are worthy of forgiveness for theirs

This is a tough one for most. Like most people with anxiety, I can be incredibly hard on myself. Making mistakes are shrouded in anxiety and insecurity for me. Whenever I slip up or do or say something wrong, I don’t just apologize – I think about it for entirely too long.

How could I be so stupid?
I’m the worst.
I’m not good enough.

These thoughts should be sweating they run through my mind so much. Ruminating on negative thoughts is just a common part of having anxiety, but it’s crucial to combat these thoughts with reality. That’s why this phrase is great – it forces your mind to think about what is real. You aren’t perfect, you make mistakes and that’s okay. And guess what? You can forgive others when they make mistakes too.

I am worthy of being seen and heard, my actions and voice have value

As a woman in the workplace, it’s so important to know this affirmation. For years, I was not aware of the idea that my thoughts and opinions mattered at work, or really in general. I wouldn’t speak up in meetings or in social situations because I would just think, “well they don’t care what I think.” I’m here to break it to you – they do care. Turns out your opinions have value and sometimes you can have an amazing idea that no one else has thought of, you just have to speak up!

I do not have to be perfect and i learn from situations that have outcomes other than what i anticipated

Personally, this one hits home. I’ve never really considered myself a perfectionist or a control freak of any kind, but my anxiety flares up when things change. I can get a plan into my head and when something diverts from that, my anxiety has a hard time dealing. More recently, I’ve been able to battle this specific part of my anxiety and it’s been incredibly rewarding.

I am good enough

Sing, rap, whistle, scream – SHOUT this from the rooftops because you will literally never say it enough. You are good enough. I am good enough. I was never told or didn’t tell myself this mega important affirmation so I’m making up for lost time. I listen to this session daily and repeat this last phrase to myself over and over until I feel it. Whether I’m driving to work in the morning or going to bed at night, it’s the best way to end or start a day.

UPDATE: I’m beyond proud to say that Simple Habit (being the fantastic and dedicated company they are) saw this post and reached out to me and now it’s officially featured on their blog, check it out: https://blog.simplehabitapp.com/2017/02/21/guest-blog-how-simple-habit-helps-me-overcome-my-anxiety/

This is how I battle my daily bouts – what tools do you use to slay anxiety? Tell me, I want to know!