Even those without mental illnesses can improve their mental health. Daily stresses are detrimental to everyone’s mental health. Here are some ways to make yours a priority and always feel your best.
Treat yourself kindly. Don’t beat yourself up over small mistakes and focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. Taking time to do the things you love to do and are good at is also a huge part of this that will improve your general happiness.
Sleep well. The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Also, make sure that your sleep is restful. Turn off your devices, put away other distractions and do your best to destress before heading to bed. Being well rested is extremely important for keeping stress at bay. People with chronic insomnia are 15-20% more likely to develop clinical depression (click here to read more).
Fuel your body. Eating a balanced diet is as important for your mental health as it is your physical health. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to effect dopamine and serotonin levels (two hormones known to control mood). You can get your share of omega-3s from supplements or the old-fashioned way by eating eggs, yogurt, soy milk, flaxseed, peanut butter, oatmeal and seafood such as Tuna, Halibut, Herring, Sardines, Oysters, Salmon and Trout.
Stay hydrated. The general rule of thumb for adults is to drink 8 cups of water per day. Because the brain is 75% water, dehydration severely effects the brain. Even slight dehydration puts a stress on the brain and therefore can effect your mood. A simple and easy way to make sure your mental health is at its best is to drink water throughout the day.
Give to others. Whether you donate money and possessions or volunteer your time and energy, giving to those in need is a sure fire way to feel good.
Be realistic. It is easy to feel down on yourself especially if you are not achieving the things you want to be. Make sure that your goals are realistic. If you set small goals that have realistic time periods, you will feel accomplished more often and even have more energy to reach for your bigger goals.
Make time to quiet your mind. Whether it is prayer, meditation or just simply clearing your mind and relaxing, taking a timeout from the things that you stress over is important. Make it a point to find a quiet place to just breathe a few times a week.
Have some fun in the sun. There is a reason why depression rates spike in the winter. Sunlight is important for your mental health. The sun supplies you with Vitamin D, which is extremely important for balancing mood. While summer lasts, take advantage of the sun and be outside whenever possible. During the darker, gloomier months, you can take Vitamin D supplements.
Get moving. There is a reason you get a “high” after working out or simply being active with friends. Exercise promotes mood boosting chemicals in your brain, so if you make being active a part of your routine you will definitely see an improvement in your overall mood.
Set aside time to stress. This one might seem a little counterintuitive, but set aside a time in your day specifically for worrying. That way you get it out and the stress doesn’t loom over you all day long. Make sure you set a time limit for your stressing and also practice coping skills such as deep breathing or physically picturing your worries as an object (ex. balloons) floating away.
My goal for this summer is to focus on these goals to improve my mental health! Who’s with me?!
Unfortunately, those who are struggling with depression will often not ask for help. Because of this, it is important that we are educated on what depression looks like in order to offer help without being asked.
Signs of depression include:
Sleeping too little or too much
Poor appetite or extremely overeating consistantly
Little interest or energy put into in his or her appearance
Withdrawal from social activities and general conversation
General loss of interest or motivation to do activities that usually interest them
Beating him or herself up over small things
Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
Lack of emotion towards both positive and negative experiences (numbness)
Mentions of harming themselves or thoughts about death (which often may seem like jokes)
Reckless behaviors such as participating in dangerous activities, excessive drinking or drug use
Restlessness and fidgeting or moving extremely slowly
If you are noticing a change in someone you care about that follow these signs, reach out to them. Your help may not be accepted right away, but make it clear that you are concerned because you care about them and that you are there for them. You will most likely need to continuously reach out. Try spending time with them in ways that don’t directly bring up your concern, as well. That way they will know that you are sincerely interested in spending time with them because you care for them.
May is mental health awareness month! This month I will be doing a three part series about mental health. This is the first: my story. I am somewhat weary of sharing this, and I am only sharing a snippet. However, I feel that it is important to share in order to help others.
To end the stigma we must be educated on what mental illnesses truly are. First off, mental illnesses are ILLNESSES. They are conditions that should be taken seriously and given our attention and resources in order to help. They have symptoms and treatments like any other illness, and they are not a joke.
I personally have suffered from anxiety disorders and clinical depression throughout my life. I will stick to talking about these because it is what I have knowledge about.
There are several different anxiety disorders which include panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, specific phobias and generalized anxiety disorder. People may often suffer from a combination of a few anxiety disorders. Symptoms of anxiety vary from disorder to disorder, but generally anxiety disorders cause people to feel panicked, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, difficulty sleeping, inability to remain still, nausea, digestion issues, shaking and hyperventilation.
In my personal experience, anxiety can be crippling. It has often times kept me from enjoying my life. Avoidance goes hand in hand with anxiety, and avoiding has kept me from achieving my goals and has made doing day to day activities extremely difficult.
However, more often than not, my anxiety was not necessary, and remembering that fact makes it easier for me to push through my anxiety in order to live my life. My advice? Take a deep breath, count down from 3 and do whatever it is that you need to do. Once you get going, you’ll begin to forget your anxious thoughts. It also helps to identify the anxiety as soon as you feel it. Telling yourself “this is anxiety” helps you realize that it is irrational and there really isn’t that much to worry about. The more that you stop avoiding and do the things that make you anxious, the easier it will be to continue to live your life.
Symptoms of clinical depression include chronic lack of energy, irritability, loss of interest, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty sleeping or extreme fatigue and oversleeping, restlessness or moving very slowly, significant weight loss or gain and thoughts of suicide. Not all symptoms are felt by everyone that suffers from depression and a lot of the symptoms obviously contradict each other, so not every case of depression looks the same.
I’ve experienced every symptom listed above. In one bout of depression, I was unable to sleep or eat. I lost a lot of weight and slept an average of 2-4 hours per day (even though I spent 99% of my time in bed). In another bout, I over ate and could not stop sleeping. I was sleeping about 12-18 hours per day. Obviously this left little time for me to do anything else like go to school or have a social life. I had very little interest in doing anything, anyway.
I pushed away the people I cared about and that cared about me, which pushed me deeper into a depression. I had no motivation to do anything which kept me from working toward my goals. All of these things created a vicious cycle that kept me feeling horrible. I was terrified for my future (because of the anxiety), didn’t think I could achieve anything in my future (because of the depression), and therefore did not want to even have a future.
HOW I GOT HELP
At first, I didn’t want help, but my family forced me into therapy. The first therapist I went to was not the right fit for me. I sugarcoated everything and pretended to be perfectly happy, and before I knew it both my therapist and I stopped scheduling appointments.
I then tried to make myself happy by avoiding my problems and covering them up with exciting experiences and material items. While that worked for a month or two, it didn’t fix anything, and when it came back to the surface it was worse than ever.
Eventually, I sought out help myself. I went to a therapist that I had researched and thought would be good for me. (It is important that your therapist is the right fit for you. If you don’t find her or him on your first try, keep looking.) This therapist really helped me. She saw through my sugarcoating and asked questions in a way to get to what was really bothering me. Most importantly she gave me tools and goals that helped me work through my issues in and out of her office.
The things I did outside of therapy were equally as important to my recovery. My brother dragged me to church repeatedly hoping that I would find help there. At first I was resistant, but finally I heard something that hit home, opened myself up to it and let God into my life. During the sermon that changed my outlook, the pastor used a metaphor comparing Gods word to a seed. He said that you cannot expect good things to happen to you just by going to church. You have to work on it just like you’d water and care for a seed in order to grow a garden. It all clicked in that moment for me and I realized that I could not sit back and wait to feel better any longer. I had to help myself. No matter your beliefs, that is a valuable lesson and finding a reason bigger than yourself to live is important. I got a tattoo of a part my favorite Bible verses, Psalm 40: 1-3, as a reminder that the depression eventually ended and I was happy again so that I can find hope if I ever feel that hopeless again. The full three verses read, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
A big reason I felt so hopeless was that I had no clue what I wanted my future to look like, so as part of my healing I did a lot of exploring and “finding myself” and eventually settled on something that felt right. Once I was able to start working towards the life I wanted, everything began to turn around.
Also, very importantly, I surrounded myself with people who care about me and make me feel good about myself. There were countless toxic people in my life that kept me from feeling better. I finally stopped letting people make me feel horrible and focused on the people who made me happy.
My hope is that sharing some of my story will help those of you who are suffering and do not know how to get help. Hopefully, you will realize that you are not alone and you will get the energy and determination that it takes to help yourself.
If you are feeling at all hopeless or depressed, first of all know that this is not permanent. Time will heal you. I was depressed for about two years and severely depressed for about 11 months. It felt never-ending, but eventually it did end. However, time wasn’t the only thing that healed me. I needed to reconnect with those that I pushed away, and I needed to accept the help. If you’re feeling depressed, please listen to the people that are trying to help you. It is hard to talk, but it is necessary.
Never be afraid to ask for help. If you need someone to talk to, there is always someone willing to listen.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Intervention HopeLine: Call or Text 919-231-4525 or 1-877-235-4525
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
The Handmaid’s Tale – The social commentary based on the book written by Margaret Atwood is chilling. In a world where the constitution has been suspended along with the rights of all women, June Osborn still manages to have a sense of humor. Warning: it is graphic and twisted and you will ignore all responsibilities until you’ve watched all that Hulu has to offer.
I have a new found obsession with Vans ever since getting this rose colored pair of Old Skools.
Bonus – they’re usually $55 at Vans and other retailers, but they are on sale at Pacsun right now for $42! (click here!)
The new Nudie Patootie palette by Laura Lee Los Angeles.
$45 for 14 large sized pans of nude (yes please) eyeshadows. Plus I love Laura Lee, so I’m convinced they will be amazing. Click here to watch her video introducing the palette!
Actually, I just bought it when I looked up that link. Oops.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for this month! I’ve been busy finishing up the semester, but summer is finally within reach! Thank you as always for stopping buy! Leave your recommendations in the comments below or on Instagram (@allthingsalanab)!
Those “friends” your mom says aren’t your real friends, really aren’t your real friends. You will realize this eventually, but believe me, your mom can tell a fake friend the moment she sees one.
Pick the school that is right for you. Pick the one that will do the best things for your future, not the one your friend or that cute boy is going to. Pick the one that made you excited when you first toured it, not the one that sounds cooler in your Instagram bio.
Only do what you feel is right. Peer pressure goes much farther than parties and sex. If your friends are gossiping or speaking poorly about people, you don’t need to participate in those conversations, and more often than not you’ll wish you hadn’t sooner rather than later.
Not all relationship abuse is physical. It is possible that your boyfriend, girlfriend or your friend’s boyfriend or girlfriend is being abusive without laying a finger on you or her/him! Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. Click here and here for more information and warning signs of emotional abuse.
Don’t say mean things to/about your parents. The teen years are tough and 90% of the time it feels like your mom “doesn’t get it”, but she does. She might not completely understand what it is like to be in a group chat with all of her friends or have to keep up snap streaks, but really, the high school experience doesn’t fundamentally change that much over time. She is looking out for you and your happiness. Even if you don’t always agree, you have to at least give her credit.
Form good relationships with your teachers. If not for the good advice (and a place to hangout at lunch when you are fighting with your friends–sometimes with candy), at least do it for the letters of recommendation.
Eat. Food is amazing and diets suck and you really aren’t fat at all, so just eat. (Especially in high school because soon you’ll live in a dorm and have to eat food from the cafeteria for every meal.)
Go to all of those “lame” end of the year senior activities. You might actually not want to go, or you might be saying that you don’t want to because everyone else is, but just go. Senior prom is the last chance you’ll get for a while to get all dressed up and hangout with all of your friends. The bonfires and banquets and class trip will be come memories that you and your fellow classmates will reminisce on for years to come. Even if you don’t stay close with the people you graduate with, you’ll have great memories of high school to finish it off. (And you’ll regret it if you don’t.)
Stop comparing yourself to what you see on social media. I honestly still struggle with this from time to time. You don’t post photos of yourself on social media at the times when you don’t feel beautiful. Neither does anyone else. You cannot compare your Sunday afternoon messy bun and residue from last night’s makeup to someone else’s Friday night full makeup, hair done and heels on (plus probably SO much editing and filters). Also, realize that you don’t have to do the same things as everyone else. Everyone else your age might post about going out all the time or their perfect relationship. However, things you see online are not always exactly what they seem. The girl who’s profile you check incessantly might actually fight with her friends and her boyfriend daily. Just because it isn’t on Instagram, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen to her just like it does to you.
It’s okay to feel lost. You don’t have to have it all figured out. You don’t have to know what you want to be when you grow up or even know what you want to do this weekend. If you feel lost, read this post about my experience finding my way.
Your high school GPA will not matter after graduation. I bent over backwards trying for a 4.0, and in the end I still only managed to pull off a 3.9987. But the worst part? After high school, no one gave a shit. Then I had to start all over stressing and trying to be perfect again in college 3 weeks later. However, I was so burnt out from trying so hard in high school that college was even more difficult than it would usually be. On the other end of the spectrum, if school just isn’t your thing, you can rest easy knowing that no one will care after these four years are over. Moral of the story: work hard but don’t burn yourself out in the process. Let yourself breathe.
This is only temporary. You might love high school or you might hate high school. Either way, you need to remember that it will be over soon. Four years go by quickly. If you are having the worst time of your life, remember that it will be over soon and you can go off and live your life the way you want to. If you are loving every minute of it, savor the moments. If you are thriving in your captain spot on the varsity sport team, start thinking about what is next because these 4 years will fly by and that is when your life will really start.
Lastly enjoy these awkward photos of me in high school…
When I was in high school, I was extremely driven. I got straight A’s, studied like crazy, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life… or so I thought.
After graduating, I got very lost. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I didn’t know where I wanted to go to school. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I didn’t even know what I was interested in or wanted to spend my free time doing anymore. Ages 18 to 20 were very rough years for me. I lost a lot of friends, and my grades suffered, which eventually lead to me losing a lot of self confidence and overall happiness.
I had always wanted to be a doctor, lawyer or CEO. I wanted to do something impressive and powerful. I wanted to do something that I felt used my intelligence, something that not everyone could do. I wanted to be a successful woman.
I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself. Nothing I do is ever good enough in my own mind unless it is absolutely perfect (which is something that I’m working on). I just want to make my family proud.
I also was (and am) a feminist. I didn’t want a career that my gender confined me to. However, always, deep down, I knew that I want a family and that I love children. When I was very little I wanted to be a teacher (if not a princess or something), but even though I still frequently thought about how much I would enjoy teaching, by high school I looked down on the girls that wanted to be teachers. I thought that they were settling for what society expected of them rather than reaching their full potential.
After spending about a year and a half pretty depressed, I realized that I frequently relied on my little niece, nephew and cousins to cheer me up. I had always wanted to make a difference in society. I could do it by breaking the mold and becoming a part of the “boys club” as a doctor, lawyer or CEO, or I could do it by teaching little kiddos that all humans on earth are equal no matter their race, religion, social class or sexual identity and that they all should be treated equally. I realized that I want to educate students not only about math, reading and history but also about how to treat others, the world and themselves.
However, I still often felt like I was settling. I thought that by changing my major from Biology with a Pre-Medicine emphasis to Elementary Education I was saying that I wasn’t smart enough to become a doctor, but that is not true at all. I could become a doctor, but I don’t think I would be the best doctor because I wouldn’t like it. It is not what I am meant to do. I know for a fact that I would hate the hours. I want more than anything to have a family of my own someday, and being a doctor would not allow me to be the kind of mother I want to be. However, I think that I will make a very good teacher someday (at least I hope) because I am passionate about it and I honestly think that I will enjoy it.
Eventually, I felt confident in my choice and became more and more excited about my future. I realized that I felt lost because I was never pursuing the career that was really right for me, and now that I have chosen my path, I’ve never been happier or more motivated. However, I’m grateful for the time I spend lost. Because of how much I resisted teaching, I feel more confident in my choice. I chose my career path despite my many reasons not to, and it feels right.
I hope that if you’re reading this and you feel lost, you know that you will find your way. If you feel like you know what you want to do but are resisting it, give in. Do what you love no matter the pay or status that comes with it. If you don’t have a single clue, that is okay. You’ll be okay. Explore. If you don’t find what is right for you right away, at least you’ll find out what you don’t want to do.
Now that I’m 21 years old, there is almost nothing that I cannot legally do (besides rent a car). In honor of that fact, here are 21 things I want to experience and accomplish in my next 21 years of life (before I am 42):
Go on a girls trip
Ride in a hot air balloon
Take a cross-country road trip
Read the whole Bible
Pay for a stranger’s meal at a restaraunt
Attend a black tie event
Build my dream house (or a version of it)
Pay off my student debt
Learn how to fly a plane
Campaign for a politician
Flip a house
Spoil my mom
Host family Christmas
Write a book
Be a mom
Fundraise for a good cause
Travel to all 6 inhabited continents
I hope to keep updating this list with the dates that I accomplished each goal and add links to posts about each one if applicable. Stay tuned!
IT’S MY 21st BIRTHDAY! As you can imagine, I have a lot of fun things planned, and will do a recap of the weekend here on the blog, soon. For now, here is a list of 21 things about me you might not know.
I have 5 siblings. My older sisters; Tara, Tanya, Dana and Andrèa; and younger brother, Ian, are among my best friends.
I’ve attended three colleges and have had 6 majors. I started at UW – Baraboo two weeks after graduating from high school with a pre-medicine/biology major. Now, after four semesters at Boo U, a brief one semester in Lacrosse and short periods of time as economics, marketing, communications and pre-law majors, I feel secure with the path I have finally chosen studying Elementary Education and Middle School Math at WSU!
My middle name is Arlene. It was my maternal grandma’s name. When I was younger, I hated it. I thought it made me sound old. However, now I like it. It is old fashioned, but I don’t mind. It makes me feel connected to my grandma even though I never got the chance to meet her.
My taste in music is all over the place. If you press shuffle on my phone, you might get to listen to r&b, country, alt. rock, rap, throwback radio pop tunes, gospel and classic rock all in 15 mins.
My favorite flowers are pink peonies. This may have come from my mom or from Blair Waldorf. I can’t be sure.
I am the world’s pickiest eater. Many people have said that I eat like a 5 year old.
I wholeheartedly believe in Jesus. I also wholeheartedly believe in allowing other people to have their own opinions, that love is love, and that religion and politics should be separate.
My favorite movie ever is Clueless. I could quote it all day, and several people have compared me to Cher. I like to believe that is because of my fashion sense and go-getter, hopeless romantic personality, rather than my subpar driving skills and frequent blonde moments.
I put all of my energy getting ready into doing my makeup and picking out my outfit, and then I leave the house with wet hair. Actually, if I’m being completely honest, most of my energy goes into pulling myself out of bed at 6 AM on the average day.
I know every word to every episode of Friends. I’ve been watching it since I was probably way too young to watch it (the perks of having so many older siblings). I don’t recommend you ever watch it with me, though. It gets annoying.
My dream job is to be a mom. It always has been. I’ve had more baby dolls than real-life friends.
The key to my heart is 3-wick candles from Bath & Bodyworks. I get alerts every time they’re on sale (which is most of the time).
I crave to travel and see the world every single day. Life is for living, and there is so much out there to see. (Check out the travel category to see posts about where I have been and where I still dream of going!)
As a future teacher, my number one goal is to make sure kids find something that they can be confident in. I think that it is so, sooo important that students who are not naturally good in traditional academic subjects like math or reading still realize that they are smart in other areas and that they have so much potential.
I have 3 tattoos and counting. Its true when people say that they are addicting. I’ll probably run out of viable skin soon. Sorry mom.
My birthday is my #1 favorite day (lets be real–month) of the year. So, as you could probably guess, I am HYPED today.
I deeply cherish the time I spend driving alone and listening to music. Right now, my daily commute is about 45 minutes, and I really think I’m going to miss it when I move closer to school in September.
Soup is my favorite food. If I’m ever unsure of what to order at a restaurant, 9 times out of 10, I’ll order soup. Soup is safe.
I doodle obsessively. I can’t focus on anything unless my hands are busy. I’ve also recently taught myself to knit for the same reason.
I sometimes eat ketchup on my mac&cheese. I know. I’m sorry.
I’m not a big breakfast person. Don’t get me wrong. I love me a waffle or a donut, and I’m always down for some bacon (but who said bacon is limited to breakfast?!). However, I really hate eggs, and in general I would way rather eat stereotypically lunch or dinner foods for breakfast. Cold leftover pizza, anyone?
Thank you guys for checking in! I always appreciate it! Let me know if you find yourself relating to anything I’ve listed above.
Okay, I’ll be honest, I bought this book in Greece this summer for the plane ride and I just now finished it on my spring break, but in my defense, who has time for leisure reading in college?!
This book is a compilation of essays by Roxanne Gay, a New York Times best seller and former professor of Creative Writing. In the book, Gay humorously criticizes herself and others alike in telling the story of what it was like coming into her own as a Haitian-American woman in Nebraska. I highly recommend it. It is easy reading, quick moving and witty–all of the markers of the perfect book to grab on a lazy Sunday.
My mom also gave me a book called How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk. I have yet to open it, but I really probably should.
First of all, I just have to say that I am obsessed with lash primers in general. I’m a firm believer that you could use the crappiest mascara of all time and your lashes would still look like a million bucks if you use a good primer, and this one is definitely a good one!
With that being said, I have worn the Lash Paradise mascara on its own and it does an amazing job. The color is very black and applies easily and the want really does lengthen and thicken your eyelashes. Also, I love the packaging, the wand slides in and out so easily!
Parks and Recreation
I know this is a tried and true favorite of probably everyone reading this already, but I finally jumped on the bandwagon. The first night I started binge watching I watched 2 whole seasons. Whoops.
A fresh new version of the early 2000’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, this Netflix original strives to get acceptance for the gay community while the new fab five (consisting of Bobby Berk, Jonathan van Ness, Antoni Porowski, Tan France and Karamo Brown) help men across the deep south remake their lives and confront relevant social issues. I can’t lie, I may have teared up a time or two, but I am a softie.
A Plastic Ocean
I actually had to watch this documentary for my Environmental Geoscience class, but it really made me think. The doc explores why plastic is such a problem in our world and how it affects both the environment and human health. Watch the trailer here. Warning: you’ll probably feel really awful for at least a few minutes afterward, but that’s how you grow, right?
I’m inspired by…
“Being different isn’t a bad thing. It means you’re brave enough to be yourself.” — Luna Lovegood
Thanks for stopping by! Let me know your recommendations for everything under the sun, so I can check them out!