Facing Uncertainty

Welcome back, everybody! In times like these, everything feels uncertain and scary. As we close another chapter of our lives with the semester ending, the summer can feel like a daunting challenge. Luckily, nobody is alone in feeling that way. 

With the whole world under lockdown, everyone is feeling unsteady right now. Most jobs aren’t secure, internships are falling through, some people are risking their lives, and opportunities are being lost. Losing school work is a blessing and a curse right now; it can be scary to not have tasks guaranteed to keep us busy. But, again, everybody else is in the same boat. 

Feeling like everything is out of your control — or just control in general — is expected right now. You’re allowed to feel overwhelmed when there happens to be a global pandemic. Accepting that feeling is a good first step to being able to live with it. A good second step is to also accept that you aren’t going anywhere. If you don’t have an essential job, you need to stay home, and that’s OK! You’re doing the right thing and understanding that might help your mind relax a little. 

So, now you’re at home; what’s next? Try to use your pent up energy to do some self-discovery. Read new types of books, try your hand at painting, learn a new skill, reorganize your closet, try anything! If one thing is for sure during this, you have some time on your hands. Use your anxiety and turn it into something good if you can. Whatever that thing is that you’ve been wanting to try — crochet, baking, yoga — now is the perfect time to give it a shot! 

It’s a scary time to be productive right now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Letting yourself get bogged down in the uncertainty will only hurt you in the long run. Accept that you cannot control what is happening outside of your home and turn your energy into a new project. This summer seems like an unnerving obstacle because we’re still in front of it, but you can use it to do some amazing things! Stay strong, stay healthy, and stay smart. Good luck on your finals and your summer; I’ll see you all in the fall.

Confronting Confrontation

Welcome back, everyone! Since we’re all stuck inside for a while, people might be bumping heads with who they’re living with. Whether it’s your family or your roommates, this can be a difficult time for conflict resolution. Luckily, everybody is in the same boat right now. 

When you spend a lot more time with people than normal, emotions are bound to get a little hectic. Tensions are going to rise, and the most important thing to remember is that it’s OK! You’re allowed to get irritated with each other; there needs to be room for that annoyance because trying to ignore or contain will only lead to resentment. 

So, when those problems do come up, remember to be honest. Confrontation can be scary and overwhelming before it happens, but once you have those conversations you’ll feel much better. Even if the outcome isn’t what you wanted, getting those feelings off your chest will bring you relief. You don’t need to be aggressive to make your point, just speak from the heart. 

Maybe the most important part of confronting people that are close to you is respect. Respect is a two-way street. When you come to those that you love, you have to be respectful. It could initially be hard for them to hear, but the more respectful you are the more receptive they will be. However, you also need to remember that you deserve respect. Standing up for yourself is OK. There is nothing wrong with wanting consideration, especially when we are all spending way more time together than we bargained for. 

Another good rule of thumb for conflict resolution is to keep in mind how difficult it can be when you’re on the receiving end. When someone comes to you to air some grievances, give them the respect that they deserve too. Try to be as receptive as you would want them to be if the roles were reversed. Be honest with them too; open conversation is the only way both of you will feel better. 

This is a crazy, hectic time for everyone. Remember that it’s OK to be annoyed with whomever you’re sharing your space with. Just be respectful, on both sides, and be honest. I hope everyone is staying safe and making smart decisions. See you all next week!

Fun in the Sun

Welcome back, everyone! As we’re all well aware by now, staying inside all day can make us go stir crazy. It’s really important to appreciate the outdoors during times like these to help improve your mental state.

If you’re already an outdoorsy person, this is a great time to take a day and go on a hike, and if you’re more of a beginner, this is a really amazing time to learn! You can start small and work up to some more challenging trails. The best part is, this is a fun, healthy activity that you can do with the people you are already quarantining with. You’ll get to go outside and get some exercise while still staying safe and responsible. 

Maybe you’re not one for hiking; there are still lots of ways to enjoy being outside. Once the weather gets warmer, you can simply lay in the sun and relax. Take your schoolwork outside, or read a book on your porch. Listen to your new favorite podcast and take a walk. This is a great time to get out and appreciate the natural surroundings in your area! 

Regardless of how you do it, getting outside — especially right now — is extremely important. Spending as much time in the sun as possible can really help improve your mood. Being in the sun helps your brain release serotonin which improves your mental health. Staying inside for long periods of time, which is especially tempting during all of this chaos, can worsen your mental state. So right now is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. 

Being in the sun can really improve your mental health. Go on a hike, go on a walk, or just sit outside for a few hours a day! While everyone is a little on edge and going stir crazy, remember how important it is to go outside. I hope everyone is washing their hands, staying safe, and going outside when they can!

Mood Music

Welcome back, everybody! A great way to pass the time is to listen to music. Seeing as we’re all stuck inside, for the time being, there has never been a better time to listen to some great songs. But listening to music isn’t only fun because it can also be a great way to lift you out of sour moods that might be occurring during this quarantine. Here are some of my favorite quarantine playlists. 

When I’m feeling particularly stir-crazy amidst all of this chaos, I’ve been turning to some upbeat music. Finding something that gets you moving is the best for these cases because you can get your blood pumping. Listen to songs that make you jump around your room to expel some pent-up energy. There are lots of great options, but I have been listening to Dua Lipa’s new album when I need to do some clumsy dancing in my room. 

Some nights can pretty hard during this mess, and that’s OK! We’re allowed to be sad about missing out on experiences, wishing we were with our friends, and plain old mental breakdowns. Letting yourself feel those emotions is healthy; trying to bottle everything up is only going to result in a bigger meltdown down the road. So, when you need some time to be in your feelings, turn to some music that helps you out! Again, there are a ton of options for this, but I have been turning to The Weeknd’s new album when I need to sit on my bed and be sad for a little while. 

Amidst all of this craziness going on, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When I start to feel stressed, weighed down, and like everything is just too much, I turn to music that makes me feel calm. Sometimes, you need to just put your headphones in, close your eyes, and listen to some soothing music. I’m, personally, a big advocate for turning to classical music in these times. It’s not for everyone, but it really helps me. A favorite of mine is listening to various composers such as Frederic Chopin

No matter what mood you are in, music can help amplify it. It’s important to feel your feelings, even the negative ones. Music can be a great tool to help you express those emotions in a way that doesn’t feel quite so heavy. Use music to help you move around, get in touch with your thoughts, and calm down. I hope everyone is washing their hands, listening to music, and staying safe during these hectic times. See everyone next week! 

Quarantining Calm: Your Mental Health During a Pandemic

Welcome back, everyone! I hope you all are staying safe and healthy during this hectic time. Just like everything else, our mental health is being affected by this pandemic. Being cooped up inside all day can drive anybody a little crazy — not to mention if you already have anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders, this timeframe can be extremely stressful — but here are some tips and tricks to making this a little easier. 

There is one aspect to cling to: everyone is in roughly the same boat. Everyone’s routines have been altered, everyone is feeling a lack of control, and everyone is confused and scared. So, when you’re feeling really off-kilter and unsteady during this whole ordeal, know that most people are too. 

That’s not to say that this isn’t worse for some people. People with anxiety can only be made tenser by this whole situation, those with depression are now surrounded by talk of death, those with OCD are losing control and seeing an increase in sanitary precautions, and all sorts of other mental conditions are being affected right now. If you’re a family member or a friend of someone who happens to be under an added layer of pressure because of their mental state, just be patient and understanding. Listen to them when they need to talk; it could help more than you know. 

If you happen to be a person with some extra mental stress or you’re just taking all of this a little harder than most, don’t fret! There are some things you can do that can help. The first seems a little too simple, but I promise it helps: make a schedule or a daily routine. Having a plan of some kind will help establish control back into your life. It’s a small step, but the pay off has the potential to be huge! 

Another easy way to keep up on your mental health during all of this is to keep moving, and luckily, the weather is improving. Going on walks happens to be one of the few things we’re allowed to do during stay at home orders. Walk around your neighborhood, drive to a park, or walk back and forth in your back yard if you have to, just make sure to move around. Outside is the best bet considering how much sunshine can affect your serotonin levels, but you can move around inside too. Look up some Zumba videos, try some yoga in your living room, or jump around your room to your favorite songs. Moving around will help you feel less stagnant and stir-crazy. 

Per usual, one of the best ways to deal with declining mental health is by talking about it. Go to that person you trust, be it a family member, friend, or a therapist if you can get ahold of them, and talk through what you’re feeling. All your stresses, fears, and pent-up energy can be alleviated a tad if you confide in other people. Open up and share because chances are your feelings are going to be reciprocated.

This is a scary time for everyone. Uncertainty is around every corner and emotions are running high. The best thing to do is to be sympathetic to those who are having a little harder time mentally. Make a schedule to establish order, keep moving, and talk to the people you trust about what you’re feeling. I’m wishing everyone safety, calmness, and good health during all of this. See you all next week! 

Breaking Down and Pushing Through

Welcome back, everyone! Sometimes, life is simply too much to handle, but I’ve got good news: that’s okay! Getting overwhelmed by everything in our lives is incredibly normal as long as we know to deal with the fallout. And sometimes, a breakdown can be exactly what we need to better ourselves. 

If you’re a fan of these blogs, then you probably know by now that your feelings are valid. Having extreme emotions, positive or negative, is perfectly fine. You should never invalidate what you’re feeling; you’re going to keep having those emotions anyway, so all you’re doing is making it harder for yourself to process those natural thoughts. We are our biggest enemies, and invalidating our emotions often leads to creating our own mental roadblocks. 

That idea applies to even the worst of the worst. We all have had those times where we think we’ve hit rock bottom, and it’s natural! There come those instances where we completely fall apart, breakdown, hit our wall — whatever you want to call it. The outcome is the same: you feel out of control and can no longer mentally function. Maybe for you that looks like crying, skipping class and sleeping all day, or being resigned to taking a poor grade and not turning in an assignment. 

Feeling like this is surprisingly all right. The longer you try to hold it all in, the worse the breakdown will be. Try to let yourself purge. Cry it out, skip class, don’t write that paper; it shouldn’t become a habit, but we all have to understand that our mental health is more important than school. You can miss one assignment and be perfectly fine as long as you are taking care of you! And chances are, if you explain the situation to your professor, they will give you some kind of an extension or small point deduction. 

It’s important to keep in mind that a breakdown is normal, natural, and can even be healthy. If you take the hitting of rock bottom and use it as a learning experience, the fallout can actually be extremely beneficial. Use that aftermath to reflect on why you broke down in the first place. If you hit that wall because you are spread too thin, then drop a responsibility; if it was because you received a poor grade, make time for tutoring or understand that your self-worth is not based on your academics; if it was because you had trouble with something more serious like depression, take the time to see a therapist! Hit rock bottom, but bounce up to be even better off than you were before. 

Having a breakdown can actually be beneficial! Understand that you’re allowed to hit a wall and need a break. Use the experience to learn and grow. And as usual, know that you are never alone. See you all next week! 

Musically Improve Your Mood

Welcome back, everyone! Music has a way of affecting us; that much is undeniable. It can help us tap into deep emotions or put a smile on our faces. Music can make us feel powerful and strong or like we’re center stage belting out a solo — even if we’ve never sung in front of people a day in our lives. 

One thing we’ve discussed here before is the importance of crying. Letting out that catharsis can be extremely beneficial and help purge emotions. Luckily, music can help with that too. My personal favorite songs to sink into my feelings to are by Lorde, Billie Ellish, or Lana Del Rey. However, I understand that they may not be everyone’s favorites. Musical soundtracks or classical music are also great ways to connect to your emotions. Not to mention, if you have Spotify, they have playlists made specifically for people to cry to. 

There are also those songs that just put a smile on our faces. They can turn a mood around and make us feel good. The songs that I go to when I need a mental pick-me-up are by Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, and Fleetwood Mac. And, just like before, Spotify has playlists for helping you smile too. 

Another way that music can improve our moods is by making us feel powerful. A really great beat, inspirational lyrics, and that special touch that makes any listener feel on top of the world can make all the difference. I typically feel the most empowered when listening to powerful female artists using their platform to make statements and inspire young women. For example, Lizzo, Halsey, and Taylor Swift have amazing songs that make me feel confident. Additionally, the entire soundtrack from the recent movie, “Birds of Prey: And the Fabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn,” is incredibly empowering and filled with strong female artists. 

So, whether you’re looking for some background music while you purge your emotions, a song that will make you smile, or an amazing soundtrack that makes you feel like a badass, music is the answer. Our mental health is affected by so much, but sometimes external factors like music can help little by little. I hope everyone listens to some amazing music this week; see you all next time!

Helping You, Helping Me

Welcome back, everyone! Sometimes, the best way to help yourself is to help someone else. It can be construed as a distraction tactic, and maybe it is, but helping someone else can genuinely make you feel better. Doing something good can alleviate negative energies surrounding you. 

When you’re having a rough time mentally, it’s easy to feel like nothing will make you feel better. When that happens, we tend to be too close to our own emotions to accurately assess how to better ourselves. We spiral and any solution feels like it won’t work. So, a good way to snap your brain out of that rut is to help someone else. You can focus your energy on someone else and yet you’ll be helping yourself the whole time.

There is something to those cheesy “Pay it Forward” advertisement campaigns. Maybe it’s the one thing you’re not supposed to say, but helping people does make you feel better. Some might say that that’s a selfish thought, and maybe it is, but it’s the truth. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging when an action makes you feel better. 

When we do something nice for someone, our brain releases endorphins. Our bodies are conditioned to make us feel happier by making someone else feel better. Whether it’s as simple as giving someone a piece of paper they dropped, complimenting their outfit, or throwing a lavish party for a dear friend, those gestures will brighten their day and your own. 

So, when your brain is in a mental slump, put your energy into helping someone else. A kind gesture for someone else makes you feel better; your brain releases chemicals to do so! Helping others helps you. Try to do something nice for someone this week if you can! See you all next time.

Practice Makes Perfect

Welcome back, everyone! Routines are super important, especially if your mental health is not at its best. They can help reinforce a sense of stability in a world full of chaos and get you back on your feet. This is a major reason why the start of new semesters, jobs, or being in a new place can worsen a lot of people’s mental health. Not having a routine can be detrimental, but there are some ways to create one for yourself in times like these.

The best way to create a sense of balance when your world feels lopsided is to keep a planner. It may sound silly, especially if you’re not the type to normally keep one, but they can be extremely helpful. If you’re a paper and pen kind of a person, then a more traditional planner is probably right for you. Keep track of what you have to do each day, where you’re going, and in the most pressing order. This helps keep your mind focused and de-stressed since you have all of your goals laid out in front of you. It can reduce the spiral that so often comes from the feeling of being overwhelmed since you have a plan of action in front of you. 

If you operate better off of technology, you can apply those same principles there. Keep a planner on your phone or use an electronic calendar that can send you reminders and updates when you need them! This is really useful if you have access to a calendar or planner on your phone so you have it with you for the majority of your day in case you start to panic when you feel that stability slip away. 

Another great way to establish a routine is to do the same things every day. Before you have an ironed-out schedule in the midst of change, try to do certain tasks at the same time each day to help ground you. This can be a morning routine that you follow each day, eating at the same time, or going to the gym at a certain point in your day. These little routines will help you feel more grounded until your larger schedule stops feeling so foreign to you. 

All in all, change is scary, but there are ways to fight that fear. Try to keep track of your tasks to give yourself a game plan either on paper or electronically. Establish task-oriented routines that you do each day to create that stability before you get a handle on your new schedules. Don’t panic when something new comes your way, plan for it and adjust so that you can be the best you possible! See everyone next week! 

The Ebb and Flow of Mental Health

Welcome back, everyone! Just like anything else, our mental health and stability can vary depending on the day. Sometimes outside circumstances affect our emotions, and our entire mood can take a turn with little to no explanation. 

The important thing to remember is that this is normal. You never, ever have to justify or invalidate your feelings. Everyone has rough patches, and you’re allowed to recognize those difficult days and lighten your workload. Take care of yourself before you try to take on more responsibilities so your work will be at its best quality. 

When you find yourself in one of these mental funks, try not to let it consume you. While you need to take the time to better yourself and give yourself time to recover, you cannot drown in those overwhelming emotions. Be upset, cry, lie in bed for one more hour, but don’t make your bad moments worse by wallowing in the current sadness. It’s important to know when to take breaks for your mental health, but it’s just as important to know when to end those breaks and pull yourself out of the funk. Give yourself time but the appropriate amount. 

As always, one of the best practices, when you’re having a hard time mentally, is to talk about it. Letting someone in, validating your emotions, and realizing that you are never alone is powerful. It can be the thing that pulls you from the slump if you make the effort. Talk to your friends, your family, or a professional, but talk to someone. Let people in because chances are, they want to be there for you. 

Remember, feeling down — even for no apparent reason — is perfectly normal and okay. You don’t need to have a reason for your emotions to be valid. Take time for yourself to get better, but know when enough is enough, and talk to people about what’s going on. I hope everyone is able to take time for themselves this week and let themselves feel whatever they are feeling! See you all next time.