Self-Care

People often confuse self-care with selfishness. I won’t lie, I used to be one of them.

I’ve always struggled with self-care. In fact, I still do even as an advocate. It’s always easier to give other people great advice on how to manage their self-care but when, in turn, we look at ourselves, we struggle to follow through with our own damn advice. Why? Well, sometimes we feel guilty ourselves for focusing on what’s best ONLY for us because we tend to associate it with selfishness, probably due to assholes telling us it is (eff them). Regardless, never feel guilty for needing a mental health day. Make time for yourself now because you won’t get that time back.

You see, starting with my own mindset was a big step in overcoming the intensive care I needed for myself. I had to shift my way of thinking, self-care is selfish – NO, it’s not. Our minds need rest and relaxation just as our bodies do. Do you want that delicious slice of cake? Or to buy yourself that really pretty necklace? GET IT, GIRL. It’s okay to take a break, it’s okay to sit in our emotions and feelings and stuff our face with chocolate while binge watching Shameless all day long in your pajamas. Why? Because YOU fucking deserve it.

We are all facing some sort of battle that nobody knows anything about – nobody needs to understand our reasons for or choices of self-care. That’s where I get trapped – I feel like I need to justify why I’m being “lazy”, I shouldn’t have to. Nobody should. Just be you and focus on what’s best for you.

Ask yourself, What makes me happy? Write a list down. Memorize the shit out of it. And when you face a moment of sadness, depression, ANY struggle, OR just because you feel like it – grab that list and choose what would be best for you. Here is a list of things on my self-care list:

  • Cuddle with my kids
  • Talk to my best friend
  • Write/blog about how I’m feeling
  • Go for a walk
  • Take a social media break
  • Take a long shower/bath
  • Stay home and miss an event with friends
  • Take the day off
  • Eat chocolate cake
  • Say no (take a step back)
  • Buy myself something
  • Deep clean my house (yes, this works for me)
  • Read a book about how I’m feeling
  • Set boundaries

Now, sometimes its incredibly tough to focus on self-care during your toughest times. When I’m in the midst of my depression and haven’t showered in a week or I forget to brush my teeth or I can’t cook a decent meal (if any at all) or I sleep too much (or not enough), I have a list of self-care tips I use to help me as well. I call them “my baby steps” – they have a HUGE impact and they matter. Below are some of my essential no bullshit tips:

Cant work up the energy to have a shower? Use dry shampoo for your hair, baby wipes for your skin, and put on deodorant – you’ll look and feel cleaner.

Too overwhelmed to get groceries or cook food? DoorDash it! or utilize the “pick up” feature at your nearest grocery store and order online. Don’t even need to get out of your car or pajamas!

Can’t sleep at night due to intrusive thoughts? Put on some calming music (I prefer piano or jazz), a sitcom (FRIENDS!!!), a podcast, or a guided meditation app, so you feel more comfortable.

Can’t work up the strength to brush your teeth? Use mouthwash or chew some gum – you’ll notice a difference!

Remember, feeling a “bit better” is the best thing you can do when you are in tough times. You’re a survivor, you’ve been here before and you’ll get through this again. Remember your list and keep moving forward.

Much love,

Kayla

Braving the Wilderness

I recently picked up a book off my shelf that had been sitting there collecting dust over the last six months. You see, I’m not an avid reader, albeit wishfully I was, therefore I buy all these books that I admire and read great reviews about, but I never read the actual book.

I’ve been going to therapy twice a month over the last four years and we often discuss different types of self-help or inspirational books and it feels as though every session I walk out thinking, ‘I need to read more – It will be good for me.’ So, why didn’t I pick up that book for all these months? I could come up with several different excuses, but who cares. Instead, I will share, over this beautiful four-day holiday weekend, I woke up feeling grateful, made some coffee, opened my window and listened to the rain, put on some piano peaceful music, grabbed my glasses, and that beautifully covered wilderness book off my dusty bookshelf. It is the perfect morning setup.

Let me just say, when I do read – I highlight my favorite quotes and inspirational sayings, and the more sticky notes you see on the side, means it was a damn good book. I will tell you, Braving the Wilderness is a damn good book. I’m a fan of Brené Brown and her writing/research. She’s truly inspirational. This book is about The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. I want to share just a few of my favorites from this one and how it resonates with me:

True Belonging – is a spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

“I don’t think there is anything lonelier than being with people and feeling alone.”

I rarely feel lonely, however, I am often alone. There is a big difference between the two. I hear people often say, “…but being alone is lonely.” Not necessarily. I value my alone time. If anything, I feel my loneliness most when I’m in a room surrounded with people.  Why’s that? Well, I believe that maybe we don’t feel that connection to the people or the place we are at. At home, when I’m alone – I’m always connected. Connected to all my efforts, projects, memories, cleanliness, smells, music, and my kids. It’s my happy place. However, sometimes we may go someplace we’ve never been or meet new people for the first time – it’s likely the connection may not be there. We are humans, naturally, we want to feel connected, to something – anything. It’s inevitable.

“Loneliness tells us that we need social interaction-something as critical to our well-being as food and water.” yet, “…we feel shame around being lonely – as if it means there’s something wrong with us.”

There are times where I’ve felt lonely at an event full of people, but I cannot pinpoint why I feel that way as I am enjoying myself and having great conversations with family and friends. I’m aware of it at the moment. I don’t feel sad or ashamed of it – I just wonder why that is. If anything, I want to find a way to get connected. I use my awareness as an opportunity to find that connection so that if/when I may return – I will have the memories, the new friends, the sounds and smells I missed most from it in hopes that I will feel connected next time. Sometimes It doesn’t always work out that way though and that’s okay too. Do you ever feel this way?

“I will leave you with this. There will be times when standing alone feels too hard, too scary, and we’ll doubt our ability to make our way through the uncertainty. Someone, somewhere, will say, “Don’t do it. You don’t have what it takes to survive the wilderness.” This is when you reach deep into your wild heart and remind yourself, “I am the wilderness.”

Are we mindful enough of our Children’s Mental Health needs?

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I am fairly confident that if I were (as I have below) to quote the lyrics of this popular Whitney Huston song, most folk would recognise them and a lot of you would even know what song it was part of.

I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.

And indeed they are beautiful words and convey a beautiful message don’t they?  But the question is, are they – is the message they convey – a reality for our children?  Especially when it comes to their Mental Health?  In fact – I would suggest – that even the song itself conveys a certain scepticism.  Check out the next few lines for example…

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody…

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How I handled My Son’s Anxiety Attack

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My seven year old son is in the first grade and struggles with anxiety. He is typically quiet and  not the emotional type. He gets along with almost everyone and enjoys going to school.

A few months ago, I overslept and was running late taking the kids to school. I could sense a little panic in my son’s behavior but I didn’t think too much into it. When we arrived at their school ten minutes late, my son refused to get out of the car. I was running late for work myself and was in a rush to get the kids to their classrooms. I could see his scared face and body tense up so I parked my car and walked him up to his classroom.

Thirty minutes later, my son, his teacher, the principle and myself are sitting outside his classroom trying to get him to relax and walk into his classroom. I have never seen this side of him before. This was more than just being shy – this was an anxiety attack. I recognized his symptoms and behaviors and have seen them in myself. He wasn’t crying or throwing a tantrum or screaming because he just didn’t want to go to class. His body was shaking very badly, he just stood there moving his hands in front of his face back and forth, trying to breathe and work up the courage to walk into his classroom. Eventually, I was forced to leave and let the teachers handle the situation. I felt like utter shit walking away. (Worst. Parent. Ever.) I wanted to take him home and talk to him about what he was thinking and what his fears were. It was an extremely difficult moment for me, as a parent.

After this incident, I did my very best to leave the house early and always arrive a few minutes early so he could get to his class on time. Well, just last week we left the house at our usual early time and hit traffic. There was a horrible car accident and I knew we were going to be late for school. Because I was sitting in traffic, I had some time to come up with a plan to help my son face his fear. I kept quiet about the time and the fact that we were going to be late until he asked me in concern if we were going to be late. I said that we were and that I was going to be there by his side to help him get into his classroom.

Now, lets get back to this awesome plan. I had to make this as distracting and fun as possible. Sure, it may sound ridiculous but it was all I could come up with in such a short time. Right after he asked me if we were going to be late, I mentioned the movie Inside Out. I asked him to tell me the five emotions that the movie talked about: Fear, Disgust, Anger, Sadness and Joy he responded. I said, “Great! Right now, in this moment Fear is taking over all the other emotions in your mind and trying to stop you from going into your classroom. Lets tell Fear to step aside for a moment so you can handle this yourself. BUT – don’t tell him to go away!! We need Fear. We don’t want to hurt his feelings and never see him again. He’s an emotion we can’t and don’t necessarily want to get rid of.” My son laughed and said, “Okay mom.”. I looked in the rear view mirror and could see him in deep thought as if he was actually picturing the emotions in his head just like in the movie. It was cute.

Perhaps I went a little too far, but I was having fun with this scenario so I kept going:

  • Me: Korbin, tell me what Disgust is saying right now.
  • Korbin: I hope we don’t have carrots for lunch today! Gross!

  • Me: haha Great! Now what is Anger telling you?
  • Korbin: Stupid traffic! People need to learn how to drive better!

  • Me: No kidding! Now, what about Sadness?

  • Korbin: I hope everyone in the car accident is OK. (so sweet, right?! Gahh)

  • Me: I was thinking the same thing! Now, what about Joy?

  • Korbin: Ummm, Recess is going to so much fun!

“Awesome, now lets remember to tell Fear that it’s all going to be okay. I’ll be with you every step of the way”, I said. He seemed incredibly distracted at this point, so far my plan has been working. Of course, it helped that his big sister was very engaged as well.

We pull up to the school, I parked and walked my son to his classroom while trying to remain positive and discussing such Fear. Korbin was giggling and basically looking at me like I’m crazy (lets face it, I was.) It came down to the moment of drop off, and he started to tense up and shake. I got down on his level and looked him in the eyes and said, “What do we tell Fear?” He replies, “Step aside!” then he grabs the door handle and walks into his classroom – just. like. that.
Wow. It actually fucking worked.

 

Emotional Neglect

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“Our children’s behavior is driven by their emotions. So the best way to help our children to behave is to teach them how to manage their feelings.”

This blog couldn’t be more true. I’ll be the first to admit, I often said the things in column one when my kids were little without realizing. It’s common and goes from one generation to the next. End the vicious cycle and make a conscious effort to change for our babies mental health. I have been working on this for a long time now and column two works beautifully on my babies.

I grew up believing that emotions are bad and wrong but they aren’t. Most people are taught to hide their emotions but I think expressing them, man or woman, in a positive way is a sign of strength. We can’t stop our emotions but we can manage them.

As a single mother with BPD, aka emotionally sensitive, I often struggle with managing my own emotions and leading by good example to my two little ones. When I have a tough time emotionally, I often turn to my DBT skills and it has helped tremendously! You can read the entire blog here.


The Three Goals of the Emotionally Attuned Parent:

  1. Your child feels a part of something. He knows he’s not alone. You’re always on his team.
  2. Your child knows that whatever she feels, it’s OK, and it matters to you. She will be held accountable for her behavior, but not for her emotions.
  3. Your child learns how to tolerate, manage, and express his feelings.

Any parent who accomplishes these skills well enough is raising an emotionally healthy child and an emotionally intelligent child. You don’t have to do it perfectly. You just have to do it well enough.

WHAT WE ALL SAY WHAT THE IDEAL PARENT SAYS
Stop Crying Why are you crying?
Let me know when you’re done with your fit That’s OK. Get it all out. Then we’ll talk.
Alright, enough! I’m done with this. Let’s take a break so we can both calm down.
Fix the attitude! You sound angry or upset. Are you?
You need to think before you act! How’d this go wrong? Let’s think it through.
Go to your room until you can behave better. I see you’re angry. Is it because…?
OK, OK, stop crying now so we can go in the store. Look at me. Take a deep breath. Let’s count to five.
There’s nothing to be nervous about. Everyone gets nervous. It’s OK.
Don’t talk to me with that tone. Try saying that again, but nicer so I can hear it.


Anger

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How do you deal with anger in a positive manner?
As a mental health advocate, I always say, “Take something negative and turn it into something positive.” I have a temper sometimes, it used to be really bad but I have managed to change my perspective and start thinking more positively. I used to think that feeling anger was a bad thing, mainly because my dad was always angry and I hated it. It’s not bad thing, It’s okay to be angry, to feel anger. It’s how you handle that anger that can determine if it’s good or bad. When someone lies to me, I feel angry. That is normal. How I react on that anger could affect myself, my kids and others around me. When I get angry, the first and most important thing I do is try to think rationally. I tell myself that I’m aware I’m feeling angry. Once I’m aware of my feelings or emotions, it’s easier for me to control them. I used to be the type of person to react on my anger before rationally thinking about why I’m angry and how I can change it or make the situation better. Taking a deep breath, going for a ten minute walk, listening to music are things that will calm me down. Once I am calm, it is easier to review the situation and communicate in a clear and positive manner. Don’t let anger consume you or ruin your day, try to focus on the positive.

Stressors

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What are your stressors?

As a single mom, I have a few stressors in my life. My top stressor would be finances, as it is for most people. I have one income and two kids, I work full-time and pay for; full-time day care, food, housing and school activities. This in turn puts a lot of pressure on me at work to ensure I continue to work hard, and move up in the company so I can provide more for me and my wonderful kids. I’m not only a single mom and a full-time employee but I’m also a student. When my kids go to bed, that is usually my time to focus on school and homework. If you couldn’t tell already, I have a full plate and this at times can cause me to stress out if I don’t stay organize and stick with a strict routine. When I get stressed out, I take a break. My mental health is just as important if not more than my education, family and career. I’m aware of these daily stressors so it is easier for me to control them. There are other kinds of stressors that are out of my control like my kids getting sick, or unexpected and unfortunate events or situations that arise. Either way, it’s important to take a break; 10 minutes, two hours, or even a day if needed. Breathe, and do something for yourself to clear your head to help you through the tough, stressful times.

Heavy and Light

I drove to Los Angeles by myself to attend Heavy and Light, To Write Love On Her Arms. It was by far an incredible experience.
I stood in a room full of stories, music and other people that have suffered or struggled like I have.
I overcame a fear, I learned a lot, and I can honestly say how proud I am of myself to have come this far.

Growing up as a teenager, I was scared to be alone, and go places alone. I thought the word “alone” meant “lonely”. Only until the last few years have I learned that there is a major difference between the two. After having two kids, one at the age of 18 and the other at 21 and my husband working swing shift every night, it taught me to grow up. I had to learn to live in our house alone, go to sleep alone, I had to learn how to cook and take care of the kids and the house when he wasn’t home. I was terrified in the beginning, we just bought a brand new house when I was 20 years old, it was about 45 minutes away from family, in a town in the middle of nowhere. I remember the first few weeks I would call the cops every time I heard a noise. It was awful, I had never been alone, I didn’t know what to do.

On January 15th of this month, I made the decision to drive by myself to L.A. and visit the House of Blues for the Heavy and Light show by To Write Love On Her Arms. I got my own hotel, walked around L.A. by myself, went to the show, then the next morning I took a drive to Santa Monica (I’ve never been there before) and walked along the ocean and had a nice lunch to myself on the pier. The weather was 75 and sunny, couldn’t have picked a better time to go. It was the most empowering experience I’ve ever had. I had moments of anxiety, but I pushed forward and did something I had always wanted to do. A lot of people told me, “Wow I could never do that, I could never travel somewhere alone.” It made me feel proud, and brave. I did it and the best part was, I can’t wait to do it again. Below are some pictures of my trip. 🙂

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13 Things To Remember When Life Gets Rough | Article

13 Things to Remember When Life Gets Rough

on 26 July, 2014 at 19:32

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By: Carol Morgan, Life hack | We’ve all gone through hard times. And we all get through them. However, some get through them better than others. So what is their secret? Most of it has to do with attitude. Here are 13 things to remember when life gets rough:

1. What is, is. Buddha’s famous saying tells us: “It is your resistance to ‘what is’ that causes your suffering.” Think about that for a minute. It means that our suffering only occurs when we resist how things are. If you can change something, then take action! Change it! But if you can’t change it, then you have two choices: (1) either accept it and let go of the negativity, or (2) make yourself miserable by obsessing over it.

2. It’s only a problem if you think it’s a problem. Many times, we are our own worst enemy. Happiness is really dependent on perspective. If you think something is a problem, then your thoughts and emotions will be negative. But if you think it’s something you can learn from, then suddenly, it’s not a problem anymore.

3. If you want things to change, you need to start with changing yourself. Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Don’t you know people whose lives are chaotic and stressful? And isn’t that largely because they feel chaotic inside? Yes, it is. We like to think that changing our circumstances will change us. But we have it backwards—we need to change ourselves first before our circumstances will change.

4. There is no such thing as failure—only learning opportunities. You should just wipe the word “failure” right out of your vocabulary. All great people who have ever achieved anything have “failed” over and over. In fact, I think it was Thomas Edison who said something like, “I did not fail at inventing the light bulb, I just first found 99 ways that it didn’t work.” Take your so-called “failures” and learn something from them. Learn how to do it better next time.

5. If you don’t get something you want, it just means something better is coming. That’s hard to believe sometimes, I know. But it’s true. Usually, when you look back at your life, you will be able to see why it was actually a good thing that something didn’t work out. Maybe the job you didn’t get would have made you spend more time away from your family, but the job you did get was more flexible. Just have faith that everything happens exactly the way it’s supposed to.

6. Appreciate the present moment. This moment will never come again. And there is always something precious about every moment. So don’t let it pass you by! Soon it will just be a memory. Even moments that don’t seem happy can be looked upon as something that you might miss someday. As the country song by Trace Adkins says, “You’re gonna miss this…you’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast….you may not know this now, but you’re gonna miss this…”

7. Let go of desire. Most people live with “attached mind.” What this means is that they attach themselves to a desire, and when they don’t get it, their emotions plummet into negativity. Instead, try to practice “detached mind.” That means that when you want something, you will still be happy whether you get it or not. Your emotions remain happy or neutral.

8. Understand and be grateful for your fears. Fear can be a great teacher. And overcoming fears can also make you feel victorious. For example, when I was in college, I feared public speaking (one of the top 3 fears of all humans). So I find it humorous now that not only do I speak in front of a group every day by being a college professor, I also teach public speaking! Overcoming fears just takes practice. Fear is really just an illusion. It’s optional.

9. Allow yourself to experience joy. Believe it or not, I know way too many people who don’t allow themselves to have fun. And they don’t even know how to be happy. Some people are actually addicted to their problems and the chaos in them so much that they wouldn’t even know who they are without them. So try to allow yourself to be happy! Even if it’s just for a small moment, it’s important to focus on joy, not your hardships.

10. Don’t compare yourself to other people. But if you do compare yourself, compare yourself with people who have it worse than you. Unemployed? Be grateful that you live in a country that gives unemployment compensation, because most people in the world live on less that $750 a year. So you don’t look like Angelina Jolie? Well, I bet there are more people who don’t than do. And you are probably way better looking than than you think. Focus on that.

11. You are not a victim. You need to get out of your own way. You are only a “victim” of your own thoughts, words and actions. No one “does” something to you. You are the creator of your own experience. Take personal responsibility and realize that you can get out of your hard times. You just need to start with changing your thoughts and actions. Abandon your victim mentality and become victorious. From victim to VICTOR!

12. Things can—and do—change. “And this too shall pass” is one of my favorite sayings. When we are stuck in a bad situation, we think that there is no way out. We think nothing will ever change. But guess what? It will! Nothing is permanent except death. So get out of the habit of thinking that things will always be this way. They won’t. But you do need to take some sort of action for things to change. It won’t magically happen all on its own.

13. Anything is possible. Miracles happen every day. Really—they do. I wish I had enough space to write about all the miraculous things that have happened to people I know—from healing stage 4 cancer naturally to having their soul mate appear out of nowhere. Trust me: it happens all the time. You just need to believe it does. Once you do, you have won the battle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University. She is also the host of ‘A Walk on the WOO Side’ radio show, a motivational expert on the TV show ‘Living Dayton,’ video expert for eHow.com, keynote speaker, and a member of Inspiyr.com’s Expert Network. You can subscribe to her blog, get some life/relationship coaching from her, and check out her books at http://www.drcarolmorgan.com.

World Suicide Prevention Day

WELCOME TO MIDNIGHT. WELCOME TO WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY.

Posted on: 9 September 2014
By: Jamie Tworkowski

“Welcome to Midnight. That’s what we say when the ball drops and a new year begins. I like that moment because beyond the fireworks and resolutions, beyond the kisses and celebration, is the quiet hope that something can be new. That it’s possible to leave the past behind and start again. There’s nothing extra special on television tonight, no clapping crowd in Times Square, no parade scheduled for the morning. But this midnight means World Suicide Prevention Day, and we would like to think this day can be significant. Not because the world needs another holiday, and not because we need a stage to stand on. We believe in World Suicide Prevention Day for the same reasons we love New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Because perhaps it’s possible to change. Perhaps it’s possible to start again. Perhaps it’s possible for things to be new. We know that change takes more than a moment, and we aren’t saying it will be easy, but we’re saying that it’s worth it. This life. This night. Your story. Your pain. Your hope. It matters. All of it matters. You’re loved. You matter to this world and you matter to the people who love you. So stay. Please stay. No one else can play your part.”

TWLOHA