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.

Get Outta Town!

Welcome back, everyone! When it comes to mental health, it’s important to know when to walk away. Sometimes, breaks are not only necessary, but they’re also beneficial. One of the best ways to take a break is to literally physically remove yourself from your current situation. Take a little trip and clear your mind.

Obviously, not everyone is financially able to travel far and wide to exotic places. It is also extremely difficult to schedule time to leave your work, school, and general responsibilities. That being said, not all trips need to be far away or for lengthy periods of time in order to be helpful. You can travel over a weekend to stay at a friend’s place at another school or with a relative, you can drive to a reasonably priced hotel or bed-and-breakfast, or you can even just go home! Regardless of how far or how expensive, a little time away can be just what the doctor ordered. 

While you’re away, try to take care of your mind as well as your body. On vacations, so many of us focus on how many pictures we can take and how tan we can become, but try to spend time bettering your mental health as well. Visit some museums, learn about different cultures, and have new and exciting experiences! Sometimes, even the little things like trying new food at a restaurant can liven up your experience and help break you out of a mental funk. Switching up your day-to-day flow is a great way to freshen up your mind to get it back on track for your regularly scheduled programs. 

Whether you are able to take a grand vacation in another country, visit the U.S. Capitol with your friends, or stay with a friend for a night, getting away for a bit can help refresh your mind. Though it is not as easy for everyone, knowing when you need a break and actually taking one is a great way to benefit your mental health. I hope everyone is able to walk away from their stresses this week. See you all next time!

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Welcome back, everyone! It’s time once again to drag our belongings back to school and try to remember how to be productive human beings. Unfortunately, this can be an extremely overwhelming time for people. So, in between purchasing books, checking syllabi, and trying to keep new schedules straight, it’s important to remember your mental health. 

Just like brushing your teeth and washing your face, taking care of your mental health should become a part of your daily routine. It is maintenance just like any other. And, just like with those other types of self-care, when you become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety those little routines we have can start to fall through the cracks. 

It’s hard to justify the time to take care of your mental health when you’re busy and starting a new semester or job. However, neglecting your mental health only makes it that much more difficult to do a good job — which is typically what we tell ourselves in order to justify cutting that self-care out: that you’ll do a better job at whatever your task may be if you skip those steps to focus on work. This could not be further from the truth. Your mental health affects your relationships, coping abilities, and, yes, your work ethic. If your mental health is not kept up, you simply cannot expect to produce work to the best of your ability. 

Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take that will help during this stressful adjustment period of getting back into the swing of things. First of all, try to get your sleep schedule back on track. It’s extremely easy to fall into odd patterns of sleep behavior over breaks for various reasons, and while it may not seem like that big of a deal, the amount of sleep you get each night can seriously affect your mental health. A good trick to get your schedule straightened out is to avoid any work or seriously stimulating behavior about an hour before you would like to go to sleep. This can apply to electronics as well, which is especially difficult, but give it a try if your sleeping habits are in dire need. 

Another way to take time for your mental health during this adjustment period is to take small breaks for yourself. Reward a completed task with five minutes on Twitter or listening to that new song you can’t get enough of. Take a short break that won’t ruin your productivity but will still let your brain come up for air. You have to let your brain relax in between tasks or it can get overworked and make it even harder to accomplish anything of substance. 

Finally, the best way to stay on top of your mental health is to talk about it! Find someone you trust and open up about being stressed; chances are, they’re in the same boat as you and have been hoping to let off some steam about it too. Venting is natural, and being able to process your emotions with someone else is extremely cathartic. Whether these discussions are five minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour — with your best friend, your mom, or a therapist — I promise you will feel relief once you’ve talked through it. 

This is a stressful, confusing time for everyone. It’s easy to fall into the overwhelming nature of it all and forget to take the time to handle your mental health, but it’s necessary in order to be as successful as you hope to be. Remember that importance and try to get the sleep you require, take breaks when you need to, and talk through your feelings! I wish everyone luck and tranquility over the coming months. See everyone next week!

The Best Medicine

Welcome back, everyone! As stresses come to a head during finals week, it can be difficult to keep our mental health in check. It’s completely natural to have bad days, but making ourselves miserable over the last week of the semester doesn’t help anyone! I’m here to remind you all to take some time for yourselves and smile this week, as hard as it can be.

It can be really easy to say that you don’t have time to prioritize yourself, especially during finals week. I completely understand being busy and feeling so overwhelmed that the idea of carving out time for yourself can sound even more stressful than just plowing through work. However, you need to make time for yourself. When you’re working for hours on end, especially in a stressed state of mind, pushing through and continuing is only going to result in poor work anyway. Your brain can get worn out, so you need to give it breaks to breathe in order to come back refreshed and ready to start again. This will help your overall work and mental health. 

When — not if — you’re taking this time for yourself, try to do something silly! Let off some steam, dance around your room to that new song you like, sing into your hairbrush, or jump on your bed. Go crazy, even if it’s only for five minutes. This is such a serious time of the year and it’s all too easy to forget to have any fun. Throw a wrench in that mindset and just act goofy for a couple of minutes; let out that pent up energy! 

Try to laugh this week. It really is the best medicine. You can release some endorphins and lower your stress levels with a simple YouTube video, comedy, or stand-up routine. Even if all you can justify is scrolling through Twitter for a few moments, give yourself the time to laugh. It’s incredibly important to carve out time for yourself; otherwise, you’re just contributing to the problem. 

This time can be miserable for students, but we can all make tiny decisions to lessen the pressure. Make sure to give yourself time, do something silly, and laugh. Only you can get yourself through this hectic time, but you can do it! Try to stay relaxed, everyone, and I’ll see you all next week!

Breaking Through the Roadblocks

Welcome back, everyone! The semester is coming to an end, and we know all too well the stresses that come with it. With projects, papers, and presentations looming over our heads, it’s easy to hit roadblocks. Here are some of my tricks to finding a detour through those pesky problems. 

When you find yourself staring at a blinking cursor and your eyes keep darting to your phone, there are a number of things that you can try. The one tip you’ve probably heard a million times is to reward yourself as you go. It’s common advice, but it isn’t without its merit. Try rewarding yourself in small increments to start; eventually, you will be able to go for longer and longer. Whether that means after every 10 minutes of work or after every paragraph written, reward yourself for your progress! It may feel silly, but when you’re in this headspace, recognizing any work you accomplish is important. If your reward is two minutes of scrolling through Twitter, eating a cookie, or listening to a song that you love, let yourself breathe in between your successes. 

Another way you can push through your homework blockage is to switch assignments. Sometimes, you find yourself stuck with one particular assignment and it makes you want to quit altogether, but you might just need to think about something else. Try switching to another subject and see if that topic is easily tackled. Once you make some progress elsewhere, you’ll feel more confident about returning to the original roadblock. 

If all else fails, when you can’t seem to get your mind to focus on the task at hand, walk away. Literally, get up and walk around. Get your blood flowing. Maybe go for a walk outside if it’s not too cold, or pace around your room. Sometimes you just need to clear your head and not think about the assignment for a minute. Do some jumping jacks, bounce around on your toes, or dance like a maniac with your headphones in! Try to clear your mind completely so when you return to the work, you’re ready to focus. You’ll have a fresh start and just might be able to steer around that roadblock. 

As the semester nears its end, try not to get hung up on each assignment. It can be really hard to stay focused and not get distracted after a long semester of working hard, but if you try these tips, the next two weeks might be a little smoother. Remember to breathe, reward your progress, switch it up, and walk away when you need to. You can get through this! See everyone next week! 

Soothe Your Mind: Music Remedies

Welcome back, everyone! As the semester is winding down — and picking up speed in other ways — we could all use a bit of help staying focused and relaxed! One of my favorite ways to calm down after a stressful day or help my mind stay on task is to listen to music. Depending on your current needs, there are lots of different types of music that make this time of year a little less painful. 

When I’m studying, I like to listen to something soothing. You don’t want anything too distracting or upbeat; otherwise, you’re just worsening the problem! Some people recommend listening to your favorite artists while you study or work on your schooling, but I respectfully disagree. This often leads to focusing more on the music than your work, even if it’s songs you’ve heard a million times before. For this reason, I appreciate classical music while I’m studying. It fills the silence while simultaneously relaxing the mind. There are no words to distract yourself, and it sounds beautiful! 

This playlist holds all the essentials if you have never listened to classical music before. If you start with this one, it will be much easier to figure out what specific kinds you find the most relaxing for working! My personal favorite classical music to listen to during this time of year is the soundtrack from “The Nutcracker.” It has a slight holiday feel while still capturing that soothing quality of classical music:

There are a number of really amazing playlists on Spotify that are designed for studying purposes. Most of them include classical music differing on tempo and the types of instruments the music highlights. The more you listen to classical music, the easier it will be to discern what types work the best for you and your studying needs.

However, if classical music isn’t your favorite, don’t panic! There is another popular route when it comes to relaxing sounds to work to: nature sounds. A lot of people enjoy sitting down to work with the sounds of rushing water from a river, birds in a forest, or heavy rains. These can help put the mind at ease and more in touch with nature while you’re inside working hard! Here is another great playlist to get started with this genre of sounds to help narrow down what works best for you: 

As the semester comes to a close and we all feel like there is too much going on inside our heads to focus, give some calming music a try! It can help you relax and stay on task, which is something we could all use a little help with during this time of year. Try not to get too stressed over the next few weeks; see everyone next Monday! 

Uncorking the Bottle: Letting Your Emotions Out

Welcome back, everyone! In times of stress, it’s easy to want to push all of your emotions to the side. We have all tried to bottle up our feelings throughout our lives, and even though we all know that this is not healthy or effective, we do it anyway. When everything is piling up around us and we don’t let our emotions out, we only become more miserable. Everyone needs to find catharsis in their day-to-day lives. 

Catharsis is a purging of emotions. The goal in catharsis is to reach a relief from stress, anxiety, or other emotions we tend to push to the side. This idea is extremely old; back in Ancient Greece, they built many of their plays around this idea. The word itself means “cleansing” in Greek. Essentially, this is why so many plays, books, television shows, movies, and other various forms of art make us cry at the end. We seek out art to find catharsis

So, when you strip away the aspect of art forms giving us a much-needed catharsis, what is it that is making us feel better? Crying. Crying has the amazing ability to improve our emotions! While we probably associate crying with being sad or weak — and therefore avoid it at all costs — there are actually many benefits to crying.

Crying has the ability to soothe you. Some studies have found that crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body to rest and digest. These effects are not immediate, however. It usually takes several minutes of crying before you begin to feel the soothing benefits, but it will feel worth it!

Additionally, crying can actually directly improve your mood. When you cry particularly hard, you quickly breathe in cool air. The colder air can help regulate and even lower the temperature of your brain, which your brain appreciates! So, after a harder cry, your mood could dramatically improve. 

Crying can also help to restore your emotional equilibrium. We tend to cry at extreme emotions whether that be sadness, happiness, stress, fear, or any wide range of feelings. Many believe that when you cry in these states it is your body’s way of recovering from extreme emotion. Crying is one way to set your emotional equilibrium back on track! 

The important thing to remember is that crying is not only natural, but it can also be very helpful! When we bottle up our emotions, we need a release through catharsis. One of the easiest ways to reach that relief is through crying. So, if you can make the time to watch a sad movie, listen to a sad song, or just try to get in touch with your emotions, give yourself that purging your body needs! Let your body release the feelings you try to push away because it just might turn your whole mood around. See everyone next week!