Categories
mental health mindfulness

Toxic Positivity: Embracing the Lows

As I sipped my morning coffee, I scrolled through my Instagram feed and stories.

Procrastinating, I thought about starting a new routine, what I had to do today, and all of the things I’ve put on the back burner.

To be honest, I haven’t felt like doing any of it.

Highs and lows are a normal part of everyday life- from bustling with energy to feeling like staying in bed until noon.  Perhaps it’s the weather or maybe the moon cycle, but I’ve been on the “low” end of the spectrum this past week.  Apparently, I’m not the only one.

Just when I needed it, a friend of mine shared her feelings for the day, frustrated with people who encourage her to “think positive!” and to “stop complaining.”  No matter what the day, she fearlessly expresses her emotions, pretty or not- and that authenticity is something the world needs to see.

Sharing where we are mentally is not complaining.  It’s exercising our humanness.

When we deny our feelings and our unpleasant emotions, we are simply burying them, only to resurface later.  Our emotions, our stories, and our ups and downs aren’t meant to be hidden- they’re meant to be dealt with.

“Good vibes only!” and “be happy!” are cute and all, but what are we supposed to do with the bad vibes?  The depression?  The anger?  The fear?  Are we supposed to cover it up with pastel prints and add some sparkle?  Do we continue to mask the discomfort to please someone else?

Of course not.

Toxic positivity usually isn’t about the person who is going through the emotion- but it does has everything to do with the people who encourage them to “smile!” or to “be grateful!”  Why?  It makes them more comfortable.

We can be grateful and still be sad.

We can have a bad day and be excited for tomorrow.

How we feel at the moment doesn’t determine how we will feel the next.

Perhaps there are people who are naturally sunshine and rainbows, but my guess is most of us aren’t.  I embrace my moods.  I can see light through the dark.  I don’t have to package up my pain into a smile and a facade; because there is something powerful we can do with discomfort.

Although I do believe it’s a waste of time to tell someone to “just be positive,” I don’t think being in a slump is a negative thing.  Our moods help us to determine what is going right and what is going wrong in our lives.  When things change, they make room for something different.  If we no longer are going in a certain direction, we are given a choice to alter our path.

If we can use our problems and turn them into potential, whether it’s a learning opportunity or a new idea, the world may start embracing the negative- because that is when true change happens.

 

Categories
conscious living mental health mindfulness self care

More Meditation, Less Medication

0In this day and age, there seems to be a pill for everything.  Not only are people running to their doctors for relief, the providers themselves are over-prescribing, patients are misusing their prescriptions, and often times, they become addicted to their medication.

Depression and anxiety are two of the most common disorders, which are treated by a variety of medications- some addictive, some not.  Although antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills can be helpful, they don’t solve the biggest problem- the root cause of the discomfort.

Researchers and a growing number health care professionals are encouraging patients to practice meditation in addition to their medical treatment and therapy.  Although many disorders are a chemical imbalance, most don’t consider how meditation can help re-wire their brain.

What if treatment facilities and doctors prescribed more meditation, and less medication?

I’ve had anxiety throughout my life, which is something I’ve never been treated for.  My social anxiety was so terrible growing up that it caused me to eat lunch in the library when I didn’t know who to sit with, skip classes or school events, and, as soon as I began college, I started drinking heavily to self medicate.  I may not have taken pills to relieve my discomfort, but I drank my worries away so I wasn’t aware of my surroundings.

I eventually went to therapy and tried antidepressants to keep my depression in check.  I didn’t take the medicine long enough to know whether or not it helped me- life situations had improved and I was abstinent from alcohol- but I also added something else to my life:

Mindfulness and meditation.

Between therapy, group support, and meditation, my anxiety and depression have been alleviated. I learned that spending more time inward was the solution to my issues.  If you break down depression and anxiety, it’s quite simple:

Depression is living in the past, and anxiety is living in the future.

Living in the present is being happy.

Whether you choose to medicate or not, consider adding meditation to your daily routine.  There are many apps that can get you started if you’re a newbie to the practice, such as Calm and Headspace, and even a variety of YouTube videos to guide you along your way.  Meditation has changed my life, and I know it can change yours, too.

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Categories
mental health mindfulness

Sunday Self Care: The Importance of Taking a Mental Health Day

We are a society always on the move.

We go to work, fill our schedules, and tend to the everyday tasks required to be productive and responsible people. More often than not, “self care” isn’t on those to-do lists.

Today, self care is #1 on my list.

It’s Sunday, and my alarm went off at 7AM. As I heard rain falling outside my window, I began resenting the things I had planned for the morning. I couldn’t remember the last day I got to spend simply caring for myself. I looked around my room and spotted the book I was reading and thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to just stay home to read and journal all day?”

So that’s what I’m going to do.

It’s important to stop and pause when we begin to feel restless or irritable. The two questions you need to ask yourself are:

Why am I feeling this way?

What have I done to care for myself?

You’ll probably find a correlation between the two answers; and it’s likely you’re caring for others better than you’re caring for yourself, whether it’s your family, your job, or other responsibilities. When your intuition tells you it’s okay to just stay home, say no, or relax, listen to your inner voice. It’s a gentle tap on the shoulder to remind yourself that it’s okay to sit still and take a break.

Self care Sunday is a perfect way to reset for the new week and to recharge your batteries. Whether you choose to do some yoga, enjoy a long meditation, enjoy a sea salt bath, or go for a walk in the park, these moments to yourself are crucial to living a happy, balanced life.

You’re the only one who truly knows what you need, so I hope you can take some time out for self care today, too.

Categories
self discovery

Strong and Secure- Setting Intentions

Each moon cycle I set an intention. On occasion I hope for something tangible, such as securing a new job or accomplishment, and other times I aim to let something go.

As the moon phases pass, I try to release what no longer serves, focus on improving myself, and live by the intentions I set.

This past New Moon, my intention was strength.

Strength means a lot of things to me. It can mean being assertive and confident, resilient through life’s challenges, or living with grace and grit. Strength has helped me pick up and move across the country, walk into interviews with ease, and hold my head high when life tried to pull me down.

I used to try and be a chameleon in life, seeking to fit in so I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. Not anymore. I have learned how standing in my truth has helped me get into alignment with the right people, opportunities, but most importantly, my own self.

It’s okay to stand out in the crowd… and it’s a beautiful thing to be different. Instead of lowering my head or watering myself down, my intention is to be strong and secure- no matter what life brings my way.

Read about Friday’s Full Moon here.

Categories
empowerment mental health mindfulness

Encouraging Young People To Be Authentic and Mentally Strong

Mental strength is not something we are taught in school. We’re advised to get good grades, earn accolades, attend a good college, and find a suitable career upon graduation. Most graduates don’t even have the opportunity to work in the field they studied, let alone pursue a degree in a subject they’re passionate about.

Students listen to their parents, societal expectations, and those who came before them. “Go into finance,” “work your way to the top,” and “lean in” are the messages we hear as we try our best to make a living for ourselves. Our best doesn’t seem good enough, leaving many anxious, depressed, and doubtful.

Who is actually encouraged to be authentic? At what point in our lives are we advised to be mentally strong?

Success comes in many forms, but to me, true success is learning to embody being true to ourselves, not what society tells us we “should” be.

We’re given hearts, souls, and dreams for a reason; why would we sell them to corporate America?

I’m currently 33 years old and have lived in Metro Detroit, San Francisco, Austin, New York City, and Boston as a young professional. I searched near and far to find happiness and success, yet I kept running from myself because I could never seem to find my place.

I didn’t stop to explore the big question of “what is fulfillment?” until I left New York in July of 2016. I purged my fashion blogger / PR girl wardrobe, abandoned my Astoria apartment, and sent boxes home to Michigan. I spent that summer living simply at a family lake house, finally learning the real meaning of “mindfulness.”

Instead of racing to the top, I began to dig deep.

Although each profession has a purpose, it’s the ego and greed attached to certain people or positions that irks me. Earning a big paycheck doesn’t make a person strong; what would they do without it? What type of person are they without the title attached to their name?

It’s easy to hide behind a career, wealth, or a facade; but the true accomplishment is knowing who you are on the inside. It takes mental strength to believe in one’s self; yet when you realize you are already enough, the world becomes much brighter, and much more hopeful.