self care

Going Back to Therapy

In light of today being World Mental Health Day, I thought I would use this day to be open about my journey thus far and something I have not talked about too much. In June of this year, after extensive research, I decided to go back to therapy.

I don’t mean to say it as if it’s this big thing. It’s not. It’s a step for myself in the right direction, and it took a lot of courage to go back after some less than ideal experiences, previously.

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My Previous Experiences with Therapy

The first time I went to therapy was during my time in my undergrad when I was first diagnosed. I believe he was a psychiatrist and he was amazing. Maybe because I was vulnerable opening up about my symptoms, I felt comfortable telling him more about my life. He was the person I went to go see after my dad passed away. He was the person who helped me through three difficult years of living with a new diagnosis and all of the stresses I was dealing with at the time.

When I graduated, I was unable to continue to see him since he was at the school’s Wellness Centre. It’s awful. I can’t even remember his name. My nurse practitioner referred me to a free service through my family doctor if I wanted to continue seeking therapy. That lady ruined therapy for me. In just three sessions, I hated it. I felt so judged – a feeling I don’t think one should ever really feel during therapy. Not when you’re at your most vulnerable. I immediately shut down after my third session with her and stopped going for three years.

Why I Wanted to Go Back to Therapy

I decided to go back to therapy because my anxiety and depression were not in a good spot. My moods were all over the place. My thoughts were all over the place. Mood swings were wild. My physical health was suffering. I knew I couldn’t continue in the same routine. I needed something to change.

How I Found A Therapist 

The resource I used to find a therapist was Psychology Today. You can use the site to search for local mental health professionals in your area and read their bios to see what they specialize in, what kind of techniques they tend to use, and how much they charge. Many can be covered if you have insurance, but if you don’t have insurance, some charge on what is called a sliding scale – I tend to look for ones that have this as an option. I was interested in ones that specialized in areas such as anxiety, depression, and grief. I was also interested in developing more of a mind-body connection since I somaticize psychological symptoms into physical symptoms. I have found an excellent choice for me, which might not be best for you. We all may need different forms of help based on our needs.

What Sessions Are Like So Far

Since June, I have had 5 sessions. For my first session, my therapist did a hybrid of an “intake session” and an actual session so I could see if her methods fit with my expectations before going back to see her.

No one ever really tells you this but your first session feels like crap. I mean, I obviously found it valuable and have gone back since my first session. But for me, the first session was terrifying. I had to go to a new place, meet a new person, come in wearing my “people-person” smile and greetings, sit on a couch, and re-open wounds I thought I had healed but had really just patched with a band-aid. Although I’m not ready to disclose some of the things I talked about, I will say I cried so much in the first session. I cried happy tears, sad tears, and mad tears. I was all over the place yet again. But you know what? I left feeling so much lighter than when I had arrived. And every time I go, I feel a little bit lighter. She gives me strategies for getting through the days when I feel awful. She is an outlet to talk to things I have repressed from a very young age. I am listening to my body more. I am motivated to become a better version of myself.

The Stigma Around Therapy

Juan Pablo Galavis once said, “There’s a stigma on the word ‘therapy.’ People relate it to big problems. That’s something we have to change. Going to therapy can be very healthy. It can change the way you see things and treat others.”

Going to therapy shouldn’t be seen as this “big deal.” Just because you go to therapy, it doesn’t mean you’re mentally unstable. Sure, I may have a mental illness I’m living with, but you don’t NEED one to go to therapy. Therapy can be for everyone. It doesn’t mean you’re weak either. I am so strong for wanting to feel better. I’m proud of that. Psychology Today offers an article about The Stigma of Therapy that is worth reading.

If you are thinking about seeking help, know that you’re not alone. There are some excellent resources available through easy Google searches. We live in a world where there are e-counselling options. This is fantastic! You are not “crazy” for wanting to talk to someone. If you could be the best version of yourself, wouldn’t you want that? On World Mental Health Day, may we be reminded to continue to break the silence and fight the stigma.

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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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Hello April!

Happy Easter, everyone! Here we are in a new month and with a new month come new opportunities and new goals to be set.

This month’s focus is: eliminating distractions.

Like the rest of us (probably…I shouldn’t generalize), I enjoy unwinding with a Netflix show or spending countless hours on Pinterest pinning recipes or clothing ideas or exercise ideas (rather than actually exercising).

This month is going to be a busy one:

  • My first draft of my master’s thesis is due in three weeks from today.
  • I am going on a trip at the end of the month
  • My friend is visiting next week
  • I am helping develop a training guide for work

Goals:

  • Get work done each night.
  • No Netflix as breaks, unwind at the end of the night when productivity has decreased
  • Take breaks with music, short youtube videos, or stretching. If surfing on Pinterest, set timer on phone
  • Go to the gym 2-3 times a week
  • Reduce the amount of dairy and grains I am consuming – perhaps reintroduce a paleo-type diet.
  • Use the Self-Control app when working on my thesis so there is no access to social media during that time.
  • Make lists to help make tasks more manageable
  • Have a bit of a social life (if possible)
  • Meditate 2 times a day

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Mid-Month Checkup: March Goals

Here we are at another Monday. January seemed to drag on so slowly and now here we are more half-way through March.

Let’s reflect on how my March Focus goals have been doing so far:

Focus on my work and school work:

  • I downloaded an app called HabitBull to track my good habits. I love it because I’m very data driven and it creates graphs based on your performance!
  • I’ve started breaking down more of my tasks into smaller parts to make them easier to complete. I have completed quite a bit of work on my dissertation so far because I’m made it seem more manageable.
  • I have tried to take on more of an active role at work while also trying not to spread myself too thin. I know when to say no and how to prioritize things a little better.
  • To keep myself engaged in what I’m doing, when I do work at home (school or otherwise), I set a timer for about 30-45 minutes. I work on one task for that time, take a break, and then switch gears to something else. It seems to be working so far.

Focus on my health:

  • Well, if you asked me how my immune system is doing, I’d say not great. But judging by the last three months, I’ve started seeing a pattern of when I start getting sick: the week leading up to my menstrual cycle. In the past few days, I’ve started taking supplements daily to help kick my immune system and overall health into gear: probiotics, Omega 3’s, Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, iron, and a multivitamin.
  • I got a gym membership at a new gym this month and have been twice already and have created a fitness journal and written down workout ideas. I am hoping to start going 2-3 times a week (perhaps more).
  • I started stretching every morning!
  • My skin care routine is great! Feels like a normal part of my morning and evening and it feels so soft.
  • I have written in my Five Minute Journal every day this month so far! Haven’t missed a day. It has been a great, positive way to start and end the day and it has become more of a habit than it was in the past.
  • My anxiety has been up and down this month with a few more down times than I was expecting. Meditating and remembering to stay grounded has helped and I have been looking up other strategies to get through tough moments of panic.

Focus on my relationships with others:

  • I have taken more of an active effort in my friendships – spending more time answering texts, talking to them on the phone, and making plans to see them.
  • I continue to reflect on these friendships and welcome new ones into my life.
  • I am appreciating times with my mom more. She has always been my best friend and my number one support system in my life and as I grow up, I want to return the favour and support her in any way that I can.
  • During this incredibly busy time of year, my boyfriend and I despite distance and responsibilities manage to appreciate the time we do get to talk and spend together even if it’s working on things together, sharing things about our day at the end of the day on the phone, and support one another with all that we do and I am so grateful to have him in my life in such a positive and loving way.

I still have some work to do this month in each of these three aspects, but there is still time to “focus” on them.

Happy Monday, everyone and have a great week!

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Self-Care for the Soul

Happy Monday! Another week and this week is March Break. While I still have to work for a few of the days of the week, I am dedicating a lot of this week for working on my March goals. This past weekend, I got quite a bit of work done on my dissertation and made plans to see friends throughout the week.

Today, I am practicing some self-care with two of my best friends and we are going to a day spa to relax and have some well-deserved “me” time.

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Here are some of the benefits of having some “me” time and going to a spa:

  1. If you go with friends, it’s a great place to catch up and be in the presence of other people while also being away from the hustle and bustle of life.
  2. Stress relief. Life is busy. Why not do something different from your typical routine and take a break from your busy schedule and go to a spa?
  3. Increase your serotonin and dopamine levels. As someone who has has chemical imbalances in these areas from time to time with anxiety, studies show that massages release these chemicals having positive effects on stress relief.
  4. Detox. Massages, facials, the whole deal – they all have detoxification effect on the body helping lymph nodes release toxins.

 

Whatever you choose to do today, be sure to practice at least one thing for self-care. Happy Motivational Monday!

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March in Like a Lion

Today is the first Monday of a new month March. Can you almost smell spring in the air? Other than the large heaping of snow we received on Friday, I can feel spring coming and I am nothing but excited.

I am looking forward to floral prints, sunny rays, spring flowers, rain boots, and driving around with the windows down.

This month, I have set my intention as Focus. I will Focus on the following three key areas:

  1. Focus on my work and schoolwork.
    For those who don’t know, I am currently completing my Master’s degree and am in the writing process of my dissertation. To make this task a little more tolerable, this weekend, I broke down what I need to do into smaller steps and will push myself to put my best efforts into my work and get it done quickly and efficiently. IMG_1662.GIF
  2.  Focus on my health.
    February was a rough month for me health-wise. I had that stomach bug at the end of Whole 30 and soon after, I caught the flu and am only now feeling better from it. With being sick, however, my healthy eating habits slipped a bit. I ate unhealthy food and justified it because I was sick – a habit I thought I was doing a good job breaking during Whole 30. Well this month, I’m already back to meal prepping and sticking to an overall paleo lifestyle (with a few exceptions here and there).  Tonight I prepped lasagna stuffed chicken with asparagus for the week. IMG_1732.JPG
  3. Focus on my relationships with others
    I have found myself to be distant from some of the people in my life. Not because I don’t want to spend time with them but because I have been busy, sick, and have spent a lot of time dedicating quality time for myself – something I have failed to do in the past few years. Over the next few weeks, with March Break coming up and Easter at the end of the month, I am hoping to spend more time catching up with friends and family as they too are a priority in my life. I am also going to reflect on how relationships in my life make me feel – am I growing as a person with this person in my life? What do they bring to my life? What do I bring to theirs?

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Happy March and Happy Motivation Monday! I hope you start March off like a fierce and powerful lion!

Creating My Own Happiness

To keep me posting more regularly, I am hoping to blog Mondays and Wednesdays – Monday Motivation posts and Well-being Wednesdays with some food posts in between.

When catching up with an old friend last week, she told me about her new Happiness journal. I was very interested in learning more about it and when I did, I had to buy one almost instantly. Since I had to pay $25 for free shipping, and the book was on sale for $24.46 CAD, I also bought the book “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero which was on sale for $11.94 CADIMG_1634

While I have not had a chance to look through all of the Happy journal, it looks promising and I am excited to give it a try.

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This post is also a side-rant on reading in the bathtub. I decided to create my own happiness by having a Pukka Relax tea and start reading my new book in the bathtub with vanilla chai bubble bath and lavender bath salts. The instagram picture above is picture perfect. Looks relaxing right?

Wrong.

How do people read in the bathtub? Pages get wet. Even with a towel close by, it was annoying to turn the pages. I got through the introduction and my limbs started getting raisiny and overheated and I just wanted to get out. To add to it, my tea didn’t cool down enough for me to enjoy it in the bathtub so I am sitting beside it now while I am comfy under my heated blanket.

If anyone has any insight as to how to make reading in the bathtub easier, please share your ideas.

To end, here’s a Monday motivation quote I saw and love. Enjoy. IMG_1631.JPG

Whole 30 Round 3 is Complete!

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Well I did it! I survived a January Whole 30. While I have done this with former coworkers in the past, this time it was all me (with the help of some Facebook groups). I survived and I feel great. #TigerBlood

How I’m Feeling

Well it feels weird to be done, to be honest.  January felt like it lasted a lifetime – it just kind of dragged on and on. Today was my first day without Whole 30 and the only non-compliant thing I’ve had today was a spring roll. Otherwise my breakfast, lunch, and dinner options were all compliant. Slowly reintroducing non-compliant foods into my diet. My energy levels continue to be amazing. No mid-day slump for this gal. My digestion is back in working order. I reluctantly stepped on the scale this morning and I have lost 12.3lbs since starting Whole 30. I was thrilled, don’t get me wrong. But it was just a number at the end of the day. My non-scale victories were larger than my scale victory.

What I Learned From Whole 30 This Time

  • I did Whole 30 a year ago or so and I feel like food labels have only gotten worse since then. More additives and preservatives. You’d be surprised to read how many things have corn or soy or sugar, as well.
  • Eating out is next to impossible but can be done strategically. If you forget your homemade salad dressing at home, the roasted veggie side (if there is one) is a good option. Check their oils.
  • It is okay not to turn to food when you are upset. It has been a hard month for me emotionally and mentally. Not grabbing any form of snack (healthy or unhealthy) was something I really tried to work on this time around.
  • I didn’t miss Starbucks as much as I thought I would. I used Coffee Mate in my coffee this morning and poured it out immediately – was wayyyyy too sweet for my tastes. Black coffee with cinnamon is still a winner in my books but maybe next week I’ll start adding milk again.
  • Simple is best. I learned to make a few new things and my favourite recipes were the simplest.
  • Making your own salad dressings and seasonings (taco seasoning, cajun seasoning, etc.) are extremely easy. Like, I still can’t get over how much I love dump ranch. I’m going to make it all the time.
  • It’s okay not to have cake on your birthday.
  • Breakfast was the worst meal of the day for me for the entire month – it’s something I will need to continually work on. I can’t eat as many eggs as Pinterest would like me to.
  • Posting every single day made me accountable to myself and to the others that have followed my blog and instagram page. At times, I really hated being one of those people taking pictures of their food but then I thought, “No, damn it, I’m doing this for me.”

What Comes Next

Well, I’m not going to abandon ship and start eating crappy foods again. I will definitely carry the lessons I have learned with me and continue to bring awareness to the food I eat.

While I don’t think I will do another round of Whole 30 in February, I have been reading Leanne Vogel’s book on her take of The Keto Diet and may give that a try. While there seem to be some aspects that may be challenging (calculating macros, counting all the things, etc.), it will allow me to have dairy in my life again (I have missed cheese). I may not start right away but I will continue to prep my meals in advanced, make healthier choices, and try not to snack. This tiger blood is amazing and I don’t want to give it up. I also don’t want to live in a world of restriction much either.

Then comes the exercise piece. The next step is bridging the two: food and exercise. In February, that is something I will make more of an effort to do. If not at the gym, I will at home with my 21 Day Fix Extreme workout videos.

I will continue to try to keep myself accountable by posting on here. Watch out for more food freedom stories and my stories of body image and the other hurdles in life.

Thank you to everyone who has followed along on this 30 Day Journey and for your words of encouragement and support.

 

 

 

Whole 30 Day 20

How I’m Feeling

TEN. DAYS. LEFT. Not that I’m excited to be done or anything but I am starting to reach the point where I’m a bit over the whole thing. I’m so close to being done – but not quite there. My energy levels continue to be great. My digestion is better than ever. I’m learning day by day that more and more of my favourite things have non-compliant ingredients in them and I have had the inner strength to say “no thank you” even if I really want it. Thankfully, the people in my life have been nothing but supportive and when I have been over at other people’s houses, they have had compliant options for me for meals and have been open to me bringing my own oil and salad dressing options. I am so grateful ❤️

What I Ate

Breakfast: I had two eggs (surprise) with turkey breast.

Lunch: salad with roast chicken, a hard boiled egg (cut up on the salad), and some olives. I used my dump ranch as the dressing.

Dinner: Roast beef with roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and green beans. Dessert was a fruit salad.

I’m currently packing my lunch for tomorrow. I made some cauliflower rice for the week and have chicken (made with coconut milk) in the fridge to use up. I forgot I didn’t have any veggies prepped so I am making some Brussel sprouts in the oven using roughly this recipe. Whole 30 Changes: I used Whole 30 compliant bacon and dump ranch and did not add parmesan cheese. I’ll let you know tomorrow how it turns out!