Growing Self Confidence: Advice for Women in their 20’s

Growing Self Confidence: Advice for Women in their 20’s

Ready for this growing self confidence advice? Take it from someone who’s spent 90% of her life extremely self conscious: Confidence is liberating. I never understood how much anxiety and stress came with insecurities until I gained the confidence I’d needed so badly. 

Once you become confident in yourself and start to understand what you deserve, you will attract amazing things. How? When you know what you bring to the table and understand what you deserve, you don’t settle for less than that. Confidence shows you that you can be self sufficient enough to wait for better things to come, because you know they’re coming.

If you’re ready to let go of certain beliefs and find that confidence, here’s my advice for you:

You were not made for everyone. You could be coffee and some people will prefer tea. It doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, it’s just a personal preference. But their personal preference doesn’t make you any less of a person. The good thing is, you weren’t created to please others. Your life is yours and you should be living it as so. 

Recognize and use your strengths to your best ability. It’s extremely hard to be confident if you don’t know what value you bring to the table. Find your strengths and focus on them. What’s something that you’ve pushed through? What’s something you’ve accomplished? What’s your favorite quality about yourself?

Believe in your ability to work through hard things. Confidence is shown when you’re in a hard season but you know that you’re able to push yourself through it, no matter what comes your way. How can you have that faith in yourself? Look at what you’ve survived in the past. What strengths do you have that you could apply in this situation? 

You deserve great things. You deserve to be happy, unconditionally loved, and valued. You deserve to chase your dreams, feel like you’re constantly becoming your best self, find healthy relationships, and so much more. You deserve the world, and you don’t have to hold certain qualities to deserve those amazing things.

Looks do not define you. You are more than a body or a physical appearance. You are your strengths, your heart, your mind, the way you treat others, and so much more. People will not love you because of the way you look, they will love you because of the way that you make them feel. Think about it this way: I’m sure you know someone that is physically attractive, but their personality makes them a complete turn off. Right? Prime example that demonstrates that looks aren’t everything. 

Lastly, you have to unconditionally love yourself, even when you aren’t happy with yourself. At some point in your life, you are 100% bound to mess things up, fail, and have regrets. But confidence is knowing that your failure doesn’t define you. You can fail without being a failure. Just figure out how to pivot and grow from the situation. 

You are allowed to feel confident. You are supposed to feel confident. You’re holding yourself back when you hold onto the insecurities. Realize your value and don’t settle! xoxo

Becoming Independent from Other People, Objects, & Habits

Becoming Independent from Other People, Objects, & Habits

From personal experience, I believe that we can be dependent on three different things: other people, objects, or habits. There’s nothing wrong with being dependent on others in certain situations. We’re human and sometimes we need to lean on and be with others. Trust me, it’s normal. But it does become an issue when you are dependent on others to the extent that you can’t effectively go about your day without someone by your side. The same can be applied to objects and habits – sometimes they can be helpful, but they can also be harmful when heavily depended upon. 

Unhealthy dependency can take many forms. Here are some examples: 

  • Depending on a person for confidence or affection
  • Depending on others to accomplish tasks
  • Needing someone to help you process and work through hard situations 
  • Constantly wanting people around for entertainment 
  • Being dependent on an object to cope (ex: foods, substances)
  • Depending on a habit (ex: looking at your phone when you first wake up, watching hours of tv when you’re bored)

Becoming independent is not easy. It requires regularly bringing yourself out of your comfort zone to change previous beliefs and behaviors.

Independency from People

As you’d expect, the way to become independent is taking a step back from other people. My first tip is to learn how to hang out with yourself. Stop constantly asking other people to hang out just to prevent you from being bored. Instead, find a hobby that you can invest your energy in when you’re alone. And if you’re wondering, that hobby shouldn’t be watching Netflix. Find something that actually fulfills and excites you. Blogging has been a great hobby for me because I always have a go-to when I’m bored!

Ever since moving to a larger city, the main thing that I’ve struggled with is doing things in public on my own. In the past, I’d find a friend to tag along so I wouldn’t be facing things alone. While it was nice to have someone do it with me, I found myself always procrastinating to match other people’s schedules. Eventually, that got really annoying. The resolution for this has been blunt and straightforward – I’ve told myself to suck it up. People won’t always be there to hold your hand, so it’s better to learn how to do things on your own now. So, suck it up and then find a way to reward yourself after completing the task. For example, if I go to the grocery store alone, I’ll allow myself to grab a Mountain Dew. It sounds silly but I normally don’t let myself drink them, so it’s just a small reward for getting out of my comfort zone.

Another way to be self sufficient is by learning to process hard situations on your own. In all honesty, no one will care about your problems as much as you do, so you may as well learn how to handle them on your own. And again, people aren’t always going to be there to hold your hand. We all handle hard things in different ways, so it’s up to you to figure out the best way for you to go about that. (I handle problems by journaling and praying to process and understand. I also like running to release stress.) Just take the situation into your own hands and ask yourself what you need to do in order to move on. Of course, you can still reach out to friends for help or advice, but keep in mind that they aren’t your therapist.

You can also grow in your independence by practicing regular self-reflection. Why? Self reflection is taking the responsibility to grow, and that personal growth is important because you need to be happy with you in order to “hang out” with yourself, to rely on yourself, and to trust yourself. Become someone who inspires you and you will create the confidence that you need to be independent. 

Disconnecting from your phone can also be a huge help in becoming more self sufficient. Even if you are choosing to spend more time independently, you aren’t really alone until you can turn off the phone and truly disconnect from other people. Take an hour out of the day to put the phone away and spend intentional time on what’s important to you.

Lastly, to my ladies.. Stop relying on a man to complete the “manly” tasks! Right after a breakup, I was moving into a new place so I built a desk and a huge set of shelves. I had to use all of my strength to move them around my house, but I did it. I swear I’ve never felt more independent and empowered. You are stronger and more capable than you think. 

Idependency from Objects and Habits

I think the easiest way to become independent from objects and habits is realizing what triggers you to give certain responses, then training yourself to react differently. Here’s some examples:

Stress eating 

  • Object: Comfort food
  • Trigger: Uncomfortable or stressful situation 
  • Habit/Reaction: Using comfort food as a coping mechanism
  • Change: Change the way you respond to the trigger by choosing a different habit than eating when stressed (ex: run instead of eat)

Checking your phone before getting out of bed in the morning

  • Object: Phone 
  • Trigger: Waking up
  • Habit/Reaction: Checking texts, social media, etc
  • Change: Change the way you respond to the trigger by establishing a task (other than checking the phone) to accomplish when you first wake up

To bring this post to an end, I’d just like to say that independence is powerful. Being able to fully support yourself is a hard task, but it will bring you so much success. So invest energy into yourself, spend time with yourself, trust yourself, and you will do great things!

Since My Mental Health Diagnosis: Why You Should Ask for Help

Since My Mental Health Diagnosis: Why You Should Ask for Help

In honor of today being World Mental Health Day, I wanted to share a little bit more about my mental health recovery and why I’m so glad that I finally decided to seek help!

I think a lot of people are scared to get mental help because they are afraid of what they’ll find out about themselves or they fear the recovery process. From my personal view, my diagnosis was a complete shock to me and it was much ‘worse’ than I expected. But hearing those four terms didn’t change anything. It didn’t make my circumstances worse, I just finally found the definition for what I was feeling. Having that definition helped me figure out what I needed to do to get better. The point is, you can’t fix something if you don’t know what’s wrong. If I didn’t hear those four words, I’m 100% confident that I wouldn’t be in the place that I am today.

As for the recovery process, it obviously wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy, but I promise you that it was much easier than living in an unending pain where I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. Recovery is hard and it takes time, but every step you take makes it easier. Each step reminds you that you are strong enough to work through this and it shows you that there is a happy ending waiting for you. In a way, recovery was exciting to me. I knew I had work to do, but I was so happy to know that I actually didn’t have to feel the way I’d felt for so long, and I was working on giving that up.

I still consider myself in recovery. I’ve done the bulk of the work that I need to do, but I know that there is always room for improvement. Disorders like mine don’t just disappear, but you can learn how to work with them and still be happy.

So if there are any of you out there that need an extra push to start this journey, I want to share how my life has changed since I got my diagnosis..

One of the things that I struggled with most pre-recovery was how tired and sick I felt all the time. I woke up tired after a full night’s rest and still took a 4 hour nap on a daily basis. On top of that, I always had a headache/migraine that was so bad that it made it hard for me to simply think. And when things got really bad, I would get stomach aches, start shaking, have a nervous/nauseous feeling, etc. Now, I rarely ever nap, my headaches have significantly decreased, and I almost never feel sick like that. But just to be clear with this one, this wasn’t a mental/emotional improvement that I could have worked on to make this transition, this has come solely from medication.

The second thing that has significantly improved is my motivation and productivity. I think that the medication has helped in a sense because it’s given me the energy, but I also had to teach myself that if I wanted results in any aspect of life, I had to put in work. Being motivated and productive is really important to me because I thrive off of knowing that I made use of the day and gave it a purpose.

The way that I speak to myself has completely changed. Mental illness can make you feel so unworthy and unimportant. Before recovery, I spoke to myself in such a toxic way. Every “problem” that I had with myself was my focus, especially when it came to my appearance. I thought being mean to myself was a good form of encouragement to do better. For example, I would use my frustration about the way my body looked to fuel my motivation for exercise. But now, I think of exercise as a way to praise my body and fuel it to feel better – and it makes me want to workout so much more.

My confidence has significantly improved as well. Changing the way that I spoke to myself made a huge difference. I also stopped striving for perfection. I asked myself what difference would it truly make to feel physically “perfect”, and I realized that I would still have a lot of the same issues that I do now. So instead of hating the body that I was in, I praised it for the things that it allowed me to do – like travel, hug my loved ones, get out of bed in the morning, etc. When I started working out for the right reasons, I created a body that I proudly worked for. Even aside from physical appearance, when I became more productive I felt proud of myself. Working through all of my issues made me feel strong and resilient. I started focusing on the reasons to appreciate myself instead of the things that I needed to fix.

Becoming more confident and realizing my value has really changed the game for me. Understanding that I matter and my wants/needs matter has allowed me to start prioritizing myself and doing what’s best for me. I’ve also learned to cut off the people who don’t recognize my value or don’t treat me as if I have any, which has made me appreciate myself more in the long run. It’s so much better to have confidence and freedom instead of toxic relationships that can bring happy moments from time to time.

Recovery has made me realize how intertwined mental and physical health are. So now, I’ve made it a routine to workout at least 5x a week. Honestly, I’m still not “perfect” with the way that I eat, but I’ve incorporated more healthy meals and perfection isn’t the goal. I’m proud of the changes because I feel more energized, less lethargic and bloated.. I just feel healthy now!

This process has made me realize what my triggers are and how I can avoid them. I realized that being alone for long periods of time really triggers my anxiety and nightmares. I realized that certain people can make me act impulsive to match their energy. I realized that having a dirty room makes me feel extremely overwhelmed.. So, now you won’t catch me fueling those triggers.

I also realized that you can’t avoid all of your triggers or unwanted situations, so I learned how to cope with things in a healthy way. Some of my favorite ways to cope are journaling, taking a break to distract myself with something like Netflix, or heading out for a hard run.

I also had to find things that made me genuinely happy. I realized that I’d been so unhappy for so long because I never had anything (healthy) that I truly cared about and enjoyed. I love taking time to blog, nights with my girlfriends, going for runs, etc.

Lastly, I’ve become gratitude focused, “glass half full” if you will, which makes me feel so much more positive. Being thankful for the things I have took away from being upset about the things that I didn’t.

If you are questioning if something is wrong, or if you have a little gut feeling that you could be doing better than you are – ask for help. Know that you don’t always have to feel your best or pretend like you do to please others. You should value yourself more than other’s opinions and work towards the day where you feel genuinely happy. Reach out, ask for help, and get ready to put in the work. 🙂

Happy World Mental Health Day!

Unspoken Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Unspoken Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

I recently realized that I subconsciously haven’t wanted to speak much on my bipolar disorder because of the huge stigma that it carries. Once I realized that I’d been avoiding it, my first thought was to make a post because that’s why I created this blog – to erase the stereotypes and stigmas that mental health disorders have.

I want to start out by saying that not all people with bipolar disorder are “crazy”. In fact, when I told my friends and family, they were in genuine disbelief. Even I was confused when I’d first received the diagnosis. But as I learned more about the unspoken symptoms of bipolar disorder, I started to understand.

But before I get into the more unspoken symptoms, I want to address the common assumptions of bipolar disorder. A lot of people believe it’s rapid mood swings, super impulsive decisions, risky behavior, unwarranted overreactions, or someone possibly wanting to hurt themselves or others. I’ll be honest with you, these are symptoms of bipolar disorder. But when these symptoms are stated, people assume the worst situation possible. For example, when people hear “impulsive decisions” they assume something like crashing a car or maxing out a credit card. But for some of us, those “impulsive decisions” can be saying something without thinking first or making last minute plans to go out instead of doing homework.

The point of explaining this is to let you know that society portrays mental health disorders as much worse than they typically are. Yes, it’s possible for someone with bipolar disorder to crash their car, but it’s not common. It’s an extreme example of the disorder. You can still feel or seem “normal” when you’re bipolar.

Now that we’ve discussed that, I want to share how bipolar disorder affects my life. Even though I know other people with the disorder who experience the same things, I will not speak for them. But as you’ll see, my responses don’t really fall in line with the common assumptions of bipolar disorder.

My most “severe” or overwhelming symptom is my changed motivation levels. I have weeks where I want to spend every waking moment doing something productive. After that, I have weeks where I never want to leave the couch. Basically, I’ll spend a few weeks accomplishing double of what I should be, and then I crash for the next few weeks and do the absolute bare minimum.

My motivation is basically all dependent on my changing energy levels. When I have a lot of energy, I sleep a lot less to get more done. I wake up early to get a good workout in. I can focus a lot better on work, so I try to work as much as possible while I know that I have the motivation. But when I don’t have the energy, I skip the workout. I procrastinate on the work. I become a couch potato.

I also find it very hard to remember things. I have the worst memory out of anyone that I know. Not being dramatic, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was told that I had short term memory loss. Here’s a few examples..

  • I’ll be in the middle of a sentence and completely forget what I’m saying and never remember.
  • I completely forget about things that happened the day before.
  • I can’t ever tell a story because I leave out huge details (because I forgot).
  • I have to take notes on every reading and bring them to every lecture because I know that I won’t remember what I read 5 minutes later.
  • I lose things frequently. (ex: where I park my car, the phone I had in my hand 2 minutes ago.)
  • I can’t trust myself to remember anything important – due dates, personal details about friends, instructions, etc.

I really struggle with this. It’s really frustrating to not be able to trust yourself with important information, especially when it affects other people as well. Luckily, basically everyone that knows me is aware of my situation and knows how to work around it. They’ll text me things that they’d like me to remember or just remind me themselves. For me, I write down everything that’s important and frequently set reminders.

I think one of the main reasons that I can’t remember things is because I can’t concentrate. I have so many racing thoughts going on in my head 24-7. I just have so many different emotions, thoughts, and worries about things that my brain never shuts off. I have literally never just sat down and thought about nothing in my entire life, even when I’m trying to sleep.

On a different note, I have depression and anxiety but sometimes I have unexplained sadness and/or anxiety for longer periods of time, which I contribute to bipolar disorder. I don’t know how to explain it to someone who doesn’t experience it themselves, but it’s almost like a different type of depression or anxiety when I hit a bipolar low. The symptoms worsen, but for no reason, like nothing happened to cause it. When I hit bipolar lows like this, I undertake a lot of physical tolls like headaches, stomach aches, and jitteriness.

One of the things that I hate most about bipolar lows is my change in appetite and weight. In the past, I’ve always coped with feelings by eating. It’s something that I’m improving at this point, but I’m not out of the woods yet.

I also feel guilt – like I can’t do anything right. I feel weak because I’m sad and anxious for absolutely no reason. I feel angry and upset that I don’t have the power to control it and move on from it. I also get upset because I usually don’t accomplish anything while I’m in bipolar lows.

I’ve also noticed that being bipolar really affects my social life. When I’m happy and energetic, I want to hang out with other people. But when I’m not doing so well or I’m super tired, I don’t want to see anyone. I am a suffer in silence type of person, so sometimes I’ll want to go days without seeing people.

Irritation/anger has also been a symptom for me. I don’t personally believe that I portray that to others because I would never want to project onto someone else, treat others poorly, or even let people know that I’m upset. But when I’m in a bipolar low – so many things irritate me. It’s extremely pitiful if I’m being honest. I can get irritated by a little things like a comment that someone says (that I’d normally easily excuse) or by freaking dropping my pen. It’s weird.

Lastly, and probably least importantly, I can’t ever make a decision. I can’t decide where to go to dinner, what time to go to the gym, what outfit to wear, where to live after graduation, etc. I know that most of those things are very little decisions, I honestly just couldn’t think of more important ones.. You get the point though.

Whew.. I feel like that was a lot, but I just wanted to express that being bipolar isn’t always a scary or crazy thing. It can apply to very normal situations and people. Which one surprised you the most??

Also somewhat in relation to bipolar disorder, I took a social media/blog hiatus. It feels good to be back and sharing important things! I know a lot of people wanted to see this blog post to get more informed on bipolar disorder, so feel free to reach out to me on Instagram (@carmenreynolds) or Pinterest (@thesopblog) with any questions! Other than that, have a great week! 🙂

Invalid Excuses for Not Going to Therapy

Invalid Excuses for Not Going to Therapy

Therapy is a great decision for anyone. Even if you are a happy and healthy human, I still recommend therapy. It’s not just talking about your traumatic experiences with a stranger, and you don’t have to be depressed or crazy to want to go.

You can go to therapy to learn how to create good habits or quit bad ones. 

You can go to therapy to learn how to be more productive. 

You can go to therapy to learn how to manage your relationships better. 

You can go to therapy to learn how to show up as the best possible version of yourself.

So, I assume if you clicked on this, you’re debating therapy. You’re probably wondering if your reasons are valid enough to go. I’m going to stop you right here and say this: If you have to debate or even question going to therapy, your reasons are valid enough to try it. You deserve to feel your best, and you won’t ever be able to do that if you keep cramming things back down. 

I put therapy off for a really long time. I’ve always been an advocate for it and I’ve always told myself that I should go, just like I think everyone else should go, but I never made it a priority. But deep down, I knew that I needed to go. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself because I had so many other important things going on in my life. During those years, therapy was always in the back of my mind. But as I said, I was just so wrapped up in other things and I just pushed it to the side. I would push the feelings or thoughts away and I would get by for long periods of time. And when I say “get by”, that’s literally all I could do, never better. And every once in a while, I couldn’t even get by. I would go into extremely depressive stages where I wouldn’t leave my bed unless it was a necessity, didn’t want to talk to anyone, cried a lot, etc – and couldn’t stop for weeks at a time. In those occasional periods, I knew I needed therapy and I would start to seriously consider it, but the second I started feeling better, it was pushed back again. 

So now that you have a little bit of backstory, here were my excuses and why I no longer believe in them:

I said that I never had the time. One thing that I’ve recently learned from personal experience, is that we make time for the things and people that we truly care about. A few months back, I was in school and working on my blog. I told myself that I never had free time, which was true, I really didn’t because I devoted every bit of energy I had into those two things. But fast forward a bit, I’m now in school, working 2 jobs, running the blog, and 2 other platforms. All of those things were important to me, so I made time for them. 

Therapy is also important to me. Nothing should be more important than my wellbeing, so it’s time that I make the time for it. To make it easier on me, I’ve decided to do remote therapy to save time on getting ready and making a trip somewhere.. The little things do add up! 

I didn’t really want to tell people. I never really admit when I’m not doing well. I usually wait to talk about it until after it’s passed and I’m doing better. It’s not that I’m embarrassed, scared, uncomfortable or whatever else – I just genuinely don’t want people to worry. Most people know about my disorders (for those of you who don’t know: depression, anxiety, bipolar, OCD), and I think it just kinda adds on an extra scare when I tell people I’m in a tough place. So, I usually like to keep it to myself. Since then, I’ve realized that I can’t keep myself in an unstable place just to allow other people to not feel worried. 

I only felt extremely low on occasions, so I thought I could handle it. I’ve always been pretty good at solving personal problems, and it’s only been rare occasions where it was beyond me. But like I said, those rare occasions are still terrible and can last weeks. I don’t want to just “get by” anymore, I want to actually be happy and fulfilled.  

I was scared of what I’d discover in therapy. I was scared that I would come to some really hard realizations about myself or my life, and I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I knew that I was on a slippery slope with my mental health in the first place, and I was scared of adding something else in the mix because I didn’t know if I could handle it. But if my experiences have taught me anything, it’s that I’m one of the (mentally) strongest frickin people that I know. I say that as humbly as I can, but it’s the truth. I know that therapy is going to be hard, but I’ve lived through all of my darkest days, and I know I will continue to do that until it gets better. 

I was scared that I wasn’t going to like my therapist. I know it sounds dumb, but I actually have good reason for worrying about this. Quick story time: To get the wonderfully long list of all my disorders, I had to meet with a psychologist multiple times. Mind you, I had NO idea what was about to hit me. I was there because I thought I had ADD. Anyway, throughout our sessions, she was incredibly insensitive to the (highly sensitive) information I shared with her. She had no compassion or understanding, she was only there to check off the boxes and leave. She also made me feel extremely dumb during every session that we had together. So, with that being said, I do have a bad past with a mental health care professional. But, obviously a psychologist and a therapist are two completely different jobs and people – and I cannot base my opinion on the entire mental health care field off of one bad experience that I had. 

I was scared about the financial commitment. Therapy is expensive, no lie. But, there are also ways to lessen the blow. Check with your insurance company, school or college, company, etc. Doing research can save you a significant amount, or may even help you find some free resources. Google is your BFF!

Lastly, I just want to talk about a fear that I’ve never had in regards to therapy, but I feel like a lot of others do.. Judgement. You’ve got to stop wondering what people will think of you. You are doing what’s best for you. You’re bettering you – for you. Other people don’t matter. Also, if someone is going to judge you for bettering yourself, what does that say about them? And even if they are judging, are you living your life to impress them? Is that worth it to you? 

One last thing I want you to think about.. Most likely, therapy is going to be hard. You have to be willing to accept the past and learn how to change for the future, and sometimes it’s not a freaking easy process. But what’s harder – going to therapy and working through it, or spending your entire life trying to avoid it and just barely get by?

What Not to Say to People With Depression

What Not to Say to People With Depression

Depression is a very sensitive topic, and you never know who’s battling with it behind the scenes. I did for 18 years, and people were still severely shocked when I told them. So just do everyone a favor, and avoid saying these things in general! 

For those of you who don’t suffer from depression: I know that most of you have good intentions, even when you say the things I’ve listed below. We know you’re just trying to help, but that’s the thing – most depressed people don’t want your help, especially if you haven’t personally experienced diagnosed depression. Because unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you will never understand. We appreciate your efforts in trying to help, but we don’t want someone that doesn’t understand to tell us how we should feel. 

To explain why these things are more hurtful than helpful – I’m going to write a sentence that a non-depressed person has said to me (yes, all of these have been said to me), and I will give you my immediate thought response. I didn’t always physically say these things, but this is what I wish I should have said. 

I apologize in advance, I am very sassy and sarcastic.

“You don’t have anything to be upset about”, “You have it so much better than other people”, “You have so many blessings”, or “You should be thankful for what you have”

I know that I am blessed. I have a gratitude journal where I write down 5 things that I’m thankful for every day. Depression doesn’t discriminate – it doesn’t care if you are wealthy, healthy, loved, popular, etc. Think of it like cancer for your mental health – you can have a good life, but you still have a disease that you can’t control or stop. 

“Think positively”, “Cheer up”, “Look on the bright side”

I am fighting against my mind’s natural negative state from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. I’m already trying. 

“My life isn’t fair but you don’t see me complaining”

Probably because you don’t have clinical depression like me 🙂

“You don’t even look/seem depressed.” 

I don’t want people to see me like that. I don’t want to upset or worry them. I don’t want people to give me unsolicited advice that I don’t want. I don’t want people to constantly check in. It makes everyone’s life (including mine) easier if I keep it to myself.

“Believe me, I know how you feel. I’ve been depressed before.” 

Unless you went to a doctor and got diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you do not know how I feel. 

“Are you done being upset?”, “Do you feel better now?”, “Are you feeling better than yesterday”

No. Plus, these are the questions that irritate me the most, so you’ve now made it worse. 

“You really shouldn’t be upset about this because ___”

Do you think saying that is going to make it magically go away for me? Because you, who most likely doesn’t have depression, thinks that it shouldn’t upset me?

“You should try ____” (Exercise, diet, sleep, etc.) “____ is what I do when I’m down, you should try it too”

I already do those things on a regular basis.. Didn’t cure my depression. 

“You don’t need medication”, “Medications are bad for you”, “Medications will mess you up even worse”

I have been medicated for over a year now and it’s the best decision I have ever made. Because of my medication: I no longer take 4 hour naps everyday, I don’t have extreme headaches anymore, I am a happier person, I am more productive.. The list goes on. Medications work differently for everyone, so don’t speak for me. 

“It’s all in your head”, “You can control this”, “You get to decide how you feel”, “You’re letting yourself feel this way”, “You’re fine” 

Obviously not. I don’t mope around for fun. I don’t pretend to be sad because it’s funny or because I see it as a game. 

“Everyone has bad days every once in a while”, “This too shall pass”, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

Yes, it will pass. I will grow from this. I will probably be thankful for this period of time later on in life because I believe God has a plan – but doesn’t mean that it makes it feel better now. Imagine someone punches you and they say, “this pain will pass”, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, “everyone gets punched every once in a while”. Does that make it hurt any less?

“Can you please stop being so negative? It’s taking a toll on me.”

Again, think about it like you got punched – and someone asks you to stop complaining about it hurting because it’s taking a toll on them. Does that make you hurt any less? 

“Keep yourself busy so you can distract yourself from it.” 

It’s a temporary fix. It always comes back. 

“Why are you always so negative?”, “What’s your problem?”

If I had to guess.. Probably freaking depression.

“I thought you were stronger than this”

Well, I guess you thought wrong. Thank you for making me feel worse. 

Those are my brutally honest thoughts and answers to the comments and questions I’ve received over the years. My advice for all of the people not struggling with depression: think before you speak. If you’re not sure if you should say it –  think about it like you got punched. What questions/statements would irritate you? My general rules are: don’t give advice, don’t pretend like you understand, and don’t downplay or question other’s feelings. 

Again, we appreciate people trying to help. But unless you’re some form of a mental health doctor – we would appreciate it more if you didn’t.

How to Become Your Own Therapist

How to Become Your Own Therapist

After being diagnosed with my mental health disorders, I’ve basically become my own therapist. Obviously, I do not recommend that everyone should be their own therapist, because everyone has different circumstances or severities of issues – and professional therapy is amazing if you can do it! I’m just personally in a stable enough place where I’m able to help myself, and I wanted to write a post for the people who feel in the same boat. 

Let’s get one initial thing straight: just because you are your own therapist, doesn’t mean that it will be any easier. Having these “conversations” with yourself still requires you to dig down deep. You will still get upset, angry, confused, or whatever feelings that you may expect from actual therapy. Growth is good, but growth hurts. 

I have one other important thing to mention.. You don’t always leave therapy sessions feeling better. Sometimes, things take weeks or months to figure out, especially if you are only working off of your own mind – because you aren’t getting any new ideas and advice. I have a personal goal of writing until I feel comfortable enough to walk away from the conversation, but that goal isn’t always met. 

So, let’s get into the specifics..

Ask yourself how you are going to set your sessions up. Make sure you dedicate yourself to being consistent with them. I would at least do it once a week. 

  • Where are you going to go? 
  • How much time are you going to block off for a session?
  • How often are your sessions going to be? 
  • How are you going to have a “conversation” with yourself? I really recommend thinking everything through by journaling or typing out your thoughts. 

Have a set of questions to ask yourself when you begin each therapy session. Here are a few questions that I start with to get comfortable with writing and get my brain flowing. 

  • How am I feeling? 
  • What’s happened over the past week, and how does that play into the way that I’m feeling? 
  • What could have gone better? 
  • What did I do well? 

After you get the basic questions down and you move forward into the “deeper” stuff, you should constantly be asking yourself why.

  • Why do I think ___? 
  • Why do I feel ___? 

So, you’d start with your first feeling/thought/statement. Ask yourself those questions. Once you have the answer to that question, ask yourself the questions again in reference to the second statement you made. You can do this until you fully comprehend the situation or feeling! 

Most importantly, these conversations are supposed to be completely raw. You should write down every feeling that comes to mind – no matter how hard or upsetting it may be to finally admit that to yourself. Just remember, no one else is going to have this information but you. You don’t need to hide from yourself. 

Once you’ve gotten to the root of your problems, you need to create an action plan on how to move forward. If you don’t know how to create a good action plan or fix the problem – do some research! For example: You are struggling with anxiety in social situations. So go to Google, and type in how to cure anxiety in social situations or how to get better at speaking in groups

Another thing that I’ve created is my “go-to” lists. These lists are things that I can do when I’m feeling a certain emotion. 

  • If I’m feeling sad: Sleep, take a walk, listen to some good music, call a friend, etc. 
  • If I’m feeling anxious: Take some deep breaths, try to distract my mind with something positive, lay off the coffee, listen to calming sounds or go to a place that makes me feel calm, etc. 
  • If I’m feeling angry: Do a stress relief workout, take a break from my phone, do something that makes me happy, etc.

Lastly, get advice from others! As I said before, you need to make sure you’re doing your research – because that’s the “advice” you’re receiving from another person (like a therapist would give you). But additionally, you can read books or listen to podcasts regarding the issue, you can follow other people on social media who have learned to cope with the issue, etc.

So, that’s my advice on how to become your own therapist. Again, self-therapy isn’t for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with reaching out for help from someone else. But, if you feel stable enough, this can be a really good tool for you to grow! I know that being my own therapist has changed my life in millions of ways. I’ve learned so much about myself, quit bad habits, formed good ones, and gotten through a lot of tough situations by just writing out my feelings with myself. (If you are a person of faith, I also really recommend writing your prayers out too!) If you try any of these methods in your next self-therapy session, let me know! Have a great week 🙂

9 Lessons Learned in Quarantine

9 Lessons Learned in Quarantine

As I’m starting to see the light at the end of the quarantine tunnel, I think it’s really important to reflect on the lessons we learned in this hard season of life. I believe two things: everything happens for a reason and you can learn something from any situation. 

I think most people agree that this time made us thankful for normalcy. We’re more thankful for work, social interactions, busy lifestyles, and more. We’ve learned the importance of being able to hug our loved ones, participating in communities, and appreciating others’ hard work that usually goes unrecognized. But if we’re being 100% honest, we wouldn’t have realized these things in our previous lives. 

So, let’s remember this time for the good things that it brought and taught us. Here are some of my main takeaways.. 

Perspective is everything. In the beginning of quarantine, I took it as an opportunity to frick around. I ignored my routines, and I completely tripped up my mindset when I did that. I was upset with myself, upset with the circumstances, and upset that I didn’t see a way out anytime soon. But eventually, I chose to look at quarantine like an opportunity. And once I started looking at it in a positive light, it gave me the ability to become a better person, grow my platforms, plan for my future, and more. I just had to get my mindset right.

You get out what you put in. When I put in zero energy towards constructive things, I saw zero results. When I put unhealthy things in my body, I received an unhealthy mindset. When I finally decided to turn things around – I saw the complete opposite. I lost weight and got physically stronger, I doubled my social media platforms & website views, and I finally started 

feeling happy again – because I gave myself something to feel proud of and happy about. 

It’s okay to not always be at your best. We were in the midst of a world freaking pandemic. We navigated a new normal. Many of us missed opportunities or significant events. Some lost jobs, homes, and more. That stuff is hard guys! It’s okay to take a break from your best self to breathe and recalculate. Sometimes, you just have to get through to the next day, and that’s okay. So if you gained a few pounds, binged Netflix, had a little too much wine, or ignored work – it’s okay. 

It’s possible to have courage while you’re scared. I learned this from “Beans” at the virtual RISE conference I watched. The basic message was this: Having courage doesn’t happen because of the lack of fear. Courage takes place when you’re scared, but you still have confidence that you can survive that situation. 

Take nothing for granted. I’ve learned to stop overlooking my health, the roof over my head, the food in my belly, the friends and family that I love, the busy lifestyle that I live, and so much more. 

Breaks are necessary. Maybe this is just something that I personally learned, but I had no idea how much I needed a break until I was forced to have one. I didn’t know how much better I could be when I had a full night’s sleep, or a few hours of ‘free time’ during the day. I’ve always hated taking breaks, but this time made me understand that I function better with them. 

Environment matters. My mindset completely changed between the time that I spent laying in bed versus the time that I spent active and productive. What news you watch, who you talk to, where you spend your time, how you spend your time – it all matters. 

Struggle prepares and strengthens you. If this is ever to happen again, I already know how to handle it. I know that I need to keep my routines, stay busy, and stay healthy. I gained strength when I learned to pull myself out of the mental rut I was in halfway through this Coronavirus experience. We survived this hard time, and we’re more prepared for the hard things life throws at us. 

Keep freaking going. No matter how sad, frustrated, or scared we were, we made it through. You don’t have to keep going with perfection and grace, but you keep going no matter what. Whether we learned, changed, pivoted, worked through, moved on, or all the above – we did it, even when it was hard.

So those are the things that I will choose to remember about this quarantine. I hope you do the same. I hope you appreciate it for the positive aspects it brought to our lives. Lastly, as you head back out into the world, stay safe for yourself and your loved ones! xoxo

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Staying Motivated

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Staying Motivated

Why did I call this The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Staying Motivated? I am one of the laziest people that I know. If I could lay in bed all day with no consequences, I 100% would. But I have lots of goals, and so do you. That’s why you decided to read this blog post!

To start out, I’m going to have to disappoint you. There’s nothing that you can say or do to make yourself motivated 100% of the time. No one is! But.. there is hope. Motivation is a mindset, and you have to take control of your mindset.

So, how do we do that? You change your mind by changing what you allow yourself to do and think.

Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds, but you’re used to eating chocolate chip pancakes 4 times a week. If you keep allowing yourself to have those pancakes, things won’t change. You have to make yourself think that it’s no longer an option (well, at least not 4x a week). 

So, how do you train your mind to do that? 

Tell yourself that the goal is worth more than what you want in that moment. Losing 10 pounds and having to buy new jeans is going to feel much better than eating the pancakes. Let’s be honest – you’ll eat the pancakes, feel great for 5 minutes, and then be upset with yourself for the rest of the day.

But, if you don’t eat those pancakes, you will go to bed proud that you had the strength to power through and do something good for yourself. So, it’s actually like a double win. You get to be proud of yourself that day, and then you get to be proud all over again when you hit the goal. Just sayin’.

Form habits. If you create a habit of going to the gym every morning at a certain time, you stop questioning it. If you create the habit of eating fruit and eggs for breakfast, you stop questioning it. Eventually, you train your brain to instantly do that thing. But you need to keep in mind that it takes a lot of time to fully form a habit. I’ve heard it’s anything from 30-90 days. You can’t do it for a week and expect your brain to be completely rewired.

Start the morning off right. If you start off on a bad note, it’s extremely likely that you’ll finish that way too. For example, do you ever eat something bad and then say “screw it” and eat whatever you want for the rest of the day because you already messed up? It’s scientifically proven that if you choose a healthy first meal, you’ll be more likely to eat better throughout the day. And obviously, this still applies to other goals. Whatever goal you have, if you start out lazy or on the wrong foot, it’s going to be a million times harder to find motivation mid-day. If you want to start getting X amount of work done before 5 pm, but you frick around until lunch time, do you think it’s likely that you’ll work 2x harder during the second half of the day? Start off with the right decisions.

Call yourself out on your own BS. Stop letting the excuses win. Honestly, your goals don’t care about how you feel, if it’s a gloomy day out, or if you stayed up too late partying last night – they just care if the job gets done. Your results are a reflection of the work that you put in.

So whenever you have an excuse, ask yourself: “Is this excuse really valid? Will the world really end?” Be honest with yourself.

Have a source of accountability. If you follow me on Instagram, you guys know that I have a billion ways to keep myself accountable. I even wrote a blog post about it, so go check it out if that’s something you struggle with! My favorite method is to have a checklist/tracker, so you physically notice when you don’t complete something because you have to write it down.

Accountability Blog Post: https://www.thesopblog.com/post/keeping-yourself-accountable

Find something that motivates you. There’s so many different things you can do to motivate yourself. Some of my favorite ways are..

  • Listening to music to pump me up for whatever needs to get done.
  • Seeing/hearing motivational messages through social media, podcasts, books, quotes, etc.
  • Looking at photos. For example: I take (fitness) progress photos. I do this for multiple reasons. The “before” photo always gets me fired up enough to get back on track, and then the “after” photos show me of how far I’ve come and remind me that I can keep doing it.
  • Get someone else to do it with you. Feed off of each other and hype each other up!
  • Write your goals down, get excited about them, then cross them off when you accomplish them. (Crossing things off always motivates me.. Maybe that’s just me though.)

So, those are my main tips for training your mind and motivating yourself – no matter how lazy you are! Just keep telling yourself that you are in control, you are the only one that’s able to do this for yourself, and you can do it! xoxo

 

11 Healthy Ways to Give Your Mind a Break

11 Healthy Ways to Give Your Mind a Break

I’m going to start out by saying one thing: breaks are necessary.

I won’t lie, I absolutely hate taking breaks. I feel like I’m being lazy and not reaching my full potential for the day – but that’s not true.

I have to teach myself to think about it like this.. Working hard all the time drains you, mentally and physically. So, you’re presented with a choice: Constantly work at a 30-50% capacity all the time, or work at 100% capacity with included resting breaks.

As Dave Hollis would say, you have to pour into yourself to be able to pour into others.

So, here are my ideas to give yourself that break!

Listen to good music. I usually choose to listen to calming music when I want to give my mind a break, but if you’re dead set on blasting the rap music.. Do your thing. Just make sure you’re focusing on feeling free and relaxed while enjoying the music.

Find somewhere to sit and relax. This will obviously depend on where you live, but some of my main places to go include the beach, pool, or park. If you don’t have those in your area, you can just set out a lawn chair or hang up an ENO in the backyard. Get some sunshine and chill, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.

Watch TV/Netflix/YouTube. I definitely don’t condone this for long periods of time, but if you just need a day to binge a good show or you need an hour of TV after work – that’s healthy and understandable.

Get some exercise in. Exercise is one of my favorite ways to clear my mind. If I’ve had a really bad day or I’m angry about something – that’s my number one go-to. I grab my headphones, blast some music, and start running to relieve the stress. Obviously, this doesn’t only apply to stress-relief.. For example, you can also do it to clear your mind and get in a good mood before work.

Take a bath. I’m sure everyone was expecting this one.. But it truly is one of the best ways to relax. Grab a bath bomb, a candle or 2, some soothing music, and hop in the tub!

Paint your nails. For me, painting my nails takes a lot of focus. That’s helpful in this situation because it allows me to switch my focus from (whatever) to concentrating on getting a good looking nail.

Take a nap. I mean, shutting your mind completely off is the best way to clear it. It’s also gonna help you recharge and get that energy back. Curl up under some blankets, light a candle, make some tea, and take an hour to get some good rest in.

Do mindless chores like dishes, laundry, etc. Maybe you don’t really have the time to completely give yourself a break. I get that. So just do something that doesn’t require hard work and thinking. Cut on the TV, or some music, and free your mind while getting a few things done around the house. You can still refresh your brain that way.

Do some art. I don’t know about you, but I love the adult coloring books. Those things are so satisfying and a way to completely disconnect from all other thoughts. Even if you don’t have a coloring book, I’m pretty sure you can just print a page or download an app for it. But maybe that’s not your thing – and that’s okay. There are so many different forms of art.. You’ll be able to find something. Paint, draw, make some clay, knit something.. Whatever works for you.

Play a game on your phone. Okay, I know that sounds silly.. We’re all adults here, I know. But I swear, there are some games out there that can completely distract me for hours. I love playing Rummikub on my phone. Maybe you like Angry Birds or Temple Run or something.. I don’t really know any other games. Point is, they really will distract you for hours on end.

Meditate. I’ve personally never meditated, but I know that something that a lot of people do. (I do want to try someday soon.) But I hear it’s a great way to clear and refresh your mind, feel balanced, or be “at one with the earth” or something like that. Like I said, I don’t really know how it works.. But just give it a try if you haven’t already.

Okay.. So that’s all the tips I have for you. Maybe not all of these will be of interest, but I hope you give a few a try. If you have any other ideas, share them with me! I’m always looking for new ways to force myself to relax (lol). Hope you enjoyed, see you on Saturday!