Mental Health Monday

The First Monday of 2019

Happy New Year, everyone! Today is the first Monday of 2019. A new year, a new set of goals, and new opportunities.

I tried to write a post last week about the things I learned in 2018 and I could not bring myself to finish.

To my friends and family I did not get to see much of in 2018, I am sorry.

I was rotten at returning text messages. I didn’t attend as many events as previous years. I shut myself out. It was truly a year of self-care and introspection.

To be honest, my mental health took a bit of a dive in 2018. I had panic attacks in the frequency and intensity as I used to have when I was first diagnosed in 2012. It scared me. I felt as weak as I did back then, times. I tried to push through it. But everything just felt so busy. In the past year, I worked full time, was in school part time, both completing my master’s thesis and then starting coursework, and trying to balance other responsibilities. I made it through, relatively unscathed. And now, I’ve been trying to reframe my overwhelming schedule as passionate ambitions.

Old Resolution: Social Media
One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to post less on social media. On my personal instagram, I posted about 80 times this year which works out to be about 6.9 times per month or 1.6 times per week. I liked not posting much on social media. However, when I would see people I hadn’t seen in a while, they would often say to me, “wow, it seems like you’ve been up to a lot of exciting things lately!” And naturally, I’d laugh and agree.

I, along with other millennials, embellish things on social media. No one posts the bad stuff on social media. On my blog page (@frompanictoplate), I have posted some more honest pictures and quotes, and honestly, that was refreshing. It was also comforting to have people inbox me and share their experiences and feelings with me. While social media can feel embellished and fake at times, sharing some of the vulnerable parts of yourself, the real parts of yourself, can be empowering.

New Resolution: Goals For Me and For Others
Something I started in the last quarter of 2018 was to say no to one extra responsibility a week. This meant saying no if asked to work an extra shift in an already busy week or maybe not doing the “suggested” reading for school so I could make more time for myself.

To continue this in 2019, I want to instead do (at least) one thing a week for me and just me. This may include saying no to an added responsibility or an act of self-care.

I also want to do (at least) one thing a week that improves my relationships with others. Maybe this is texting a friend I haven’t talked to in a while to see how they are doing. Maybe it’s making plans with someone for a coffee or other inexpensive outing.
I want to do better. I want to be a better friend.

Mental Health Meets Physical Health

A goal I would like to especially prioritize this year is taking better care of my mental health, especially due to the toll it has taken on my physical health in the past year. I was sick quite a bit and not just like, a little cold here and there. I had laryngitis (at least twice), one of the most painful UTIs I have ever experienced, and now, I am writing this while on the couch wincing at the overwhelming pain that comes with shingles.

To avoid feeling like this in the future (or ever again), I know I need to take care of myself and not push myself because I “like being busy.” I am learning to accept that taking care of myself is not selfish.

So here is to a new year and new exciting opportunities for growth and to make memories with those we love. 6fe48211174875e2cc330edb2519d971.jpg

October Goals & Thoughts

1c44ec573cf32b667c07692f6fe40770.jpgAs #MotivationMonday comes to a close, I am finally in bed with a chance to reflect on the past month and what’s to come.

September was a month of re-adjusting to a busier work schedule, catching up with friends, and catching my first cold of the season.

Today, on October 1st, I added the BCBA (Board Certified Behaviour Analyst) Course Sequence to the mix as I started my coursework through Florida Institute of Technology. It is supposed to be a demanding set of courses, requiring a minimum of a B to pass. I’m excited as it is particularly applicable to my career and the direction I want to go with my career, but I am nervous for the same reasons. I want to be knowledgeable in my field and do well in the courses that will lay the foundation for that knowledge.

With that, I will have to re-introduce the juggling act of balancing a social life, coursework, and my job while also continuing to eat well and try to get in some exercise.

I have continued to practice gratitude daily and meditate at least once a day, typically in the morning, and occasionally just before bed to help me sleep.

This blog will continue to be a safe place to share my anxious thoughts and keep my goals in written form so I can stay accountable. Stay tuned for a new soup recipe this week and weekly rants about my progress.

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Get Em to the Gym

Earlier today, I was sitting outside my client’s house thinking, “wow, it’s already almost September.” The month of August has seemingly flown by so quickly we are almost onto a new month and a new school year.

While I am taking an academic break until October, I have had the opportunity to work on some personal goals including one that is difficult for so many people: going to the gym.

I was on a roll before! I was going to yoga twice a week, or working out at home, or doing yoga at home. In August, I have made more of a conscious effort to start going again regularly. While I am not proud of how little I have been to the gym, looking at today in isolation, I am proud that I made it there.

Prior to the gym, I was sitting in my car thinking about what I was going to do after work.

I could go home and make something for dinner. 

I could see if one of my friends wants to meet up. 

I could go to the gym. 

It certainly wasn’t my first thought. In fact, after work, the entire drive to the gym, I was making up excuses in my head.

I didn’t bring headphones. 

What if the gym clothes in my bag aren’t clean?

Well, I have an extra pair of headphones that have taken permanent residency in my gym bag and I also have two pairs of gym clothes in my bag (and yes, they are clean). So realistically, my excuses were useless. I parked my car, went in and hopped on the elliptical.

The gym was empty. Maybe 3 more people trickled in while I was there. I love when the gym is like that. I don’t have to fight over machines. I don’t need to be self-conscious about people watching me while working out. I put on my Spotify playlist and off I went.

Why is it so difficult to get yourself to the gym?

Honestly, as a goal-oriented individual, I struggle with this thought a lot. I want to lose weight, have better endurance, and build strength. To do this, I should eat better and go to the gym. It’s simple, really. I’m doing really well with eating better but why is it so hard to get myself to exercise?

There’s an article outlining the scientific reason behind this and it’s interesting to read about the evolutionary basis for it. Here’s a link to the article: https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-scientific-reason-its-so-hard-to-make-yourself-go-to-the-gym.html 

I will remind myself of the reinforcing feelings that accompany this goal and continue to strive for a better self.

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July Check-In

The month is just about halfway done so I thought I’d do a mid-month check-in to see how I’m doing so far in July.

Mental Health

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While I have not been super relaxed so far this summer, my anxiety has had its ups and downs thinking about the future. My dad’s words of “don’t worry about the things you can’t control” are being replayed in my mind but I can’t help but worry sometimes. I think that’s human nature amplified by the effects of living with anxiety. I haven’t had any major breakdowns and my best friends (and my boyfriend, who doubles as a best friend) have been absolutely amazing.

Goals

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I really didn’t set any specific goals this month, which is a bit unlike me. The only goal I had in mind was to enjoy my time not in school, work hard, and take some time to enjoy myself with the company of friends and family. I’d say I have done that so far. I’ve made plans with friends more after work and made more of an effort to check in on friends and see how they’re doing. I have also been reading more books for pleasure. This is often something I complain about not having the time for when I’m busy with school work.

Goals in mind for the upcoming weeks:

  • Less emotional eating – I see myself starting to slip on this. Stress eating chocolate or unhealthy things to cope with certain emotions. I need to nip that early.
  • Practice more gratitude. I fell off the Five Minute Journal train. I stopped practicing daily gratitude. I need to start back up on that to start and end my days on positive notes rather than anxious ones.
  • Do more active things. In Montreal, I went for a walk with my aunt every night I was there. I have started doing more of this here, usually in the evenings when it cools down but it has been great to get out and take a nice 20-30 minute walk in the neighbourhood.
  • Focus more on my weight loss journey. While I haven’t been very strict on food choices in the last few weeks, I may look towards making smarter choices rather than be super restrictive. My work schedule has not been very consistent so far this summer but maybe next week I will get in the groove of when I can go to the gym after work as well. It’s never too late to try again.

In a couple weeks, I will write out my goals for August and share them. HM_press_release_infographic-1001x1024.jpg

 

Let’s Talk About SAD

It feels like the middle of January but is somehow the middle of April. This past weekend, an ice storm hit, seemingly out of nowhere (I am clearly not a meteorologist and am probably embodying “fake news”). It has been dark and dreary out, and not in the rainy spring days kind of way.

There are so many beautiful things about spring – there is a feeling of re-birth, fresh beginnings, and growth. The sun is out for longer periods of time, the flowers are growing, and even the smell of rain seems to bring a sense of comfort (except the sight of it while driving does not).

This darkness we’re experiencing, however, reminds us that the sun may be out (sometimes) but it is still frigidly cold out. The plants are still dead. And, at this moment, there is still snow on the ground.

It becomes increasingly difficult, it seems, to break from the grasp of seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (sometimes referred to as SAD), as the name suggests, is a type of depression that appears at different parts of the year, which may align with the changing of the seasons.

Common symptoms, as outlined in the DSM-5, include:

  • Feeling of sadness or depressed mood
  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite; usually eating more, craving carbohydrates
  • Change in sleep; usually sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue despite increased sleep hours
  • Increase in restless activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or attempts at suicide

It’s important to note that these symptoms are very similar to major depression. Before you try to self-diagnose yourself with SAD, seek help from a professional as you may be feeling depressed, but it may not necessarily be SAD.

It is also important to note that seasonal affective disorder is a real psychiatric disorder. However, scientific research continues to be conducted to clarify the debate.

For some more resources about Seasonal Affective Disorder, go to:

https://cmha.bc.ca/documents/seasonal-affective-disorder-2/

http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/seasonal-affective-disorder

Hopefully spring is right around the corner (for real this time) so we can get some good old sunshine and vitamin D. Until then, stay warm, friends.

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