Don’t Panic

Just a warning: I’m starting this blog off with a bit of a #HumbleBrag. Sort of.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me before that I seem to have my shit together, which I consider to be the greatest compliment of all time. But let’s be real…I don’t know anyone who truly has their shit together. Odds are, we’re all faking it til we make it, including yours truly. However, I will say that throughout my first year post-grad, I’ve found some really great resources that have made the faking it look really impressive. (While on the inside, all of us “adults” are actually just giant babies). Here are some of my secret weapons.

How to Adult

When I was in high school, I saw a post online that said “I wish there was a Sesame Street type program that taught you how to do adult things like grocery shop and do your taxes.” Luckily, that magical program now exists. Scrolling through this channel’s videos, you’ll see that they’re all practical life skills that we should probably already know how to do, but no one has ever explained to us before, and now it would be kind of embarrassing to ask. Maybe you never learned how to properly do your laundry, or maybe you have no idea what the stock market even is, or where to begin when you’re looking to move into your own apartment for the first time. Good news, folks: these short, informative, and concise videos are a great place to start, so you don’t have questions like “how do adults make friends?” in your Google history.

Yoga with Adrienne

What do you do for exercise and stress relief when you can’t afford a gym membership, it’s too cold to run outside, and the nearest “donation based” yoga studio is basically just a place to stand too close to other people while everyone sweats and pretends to be healthy? You do Yoga with Adrienne. It definitely takes a bit more discipline than your usual workout regimen, but for me, it’s been worth it during those days I can’t bring myself to do any other sort of workout. YWA videos don’t take too much time – some are as short as ten minutes – and Adrienne’s guidance with each video encourages you to go at your own speed. Her friendly and inviting teaching style translates effortlessly through her videos and it never feels like a chore to keep going until the end. And for another option, if meditating is more your jam than yoga, check out Insight Timer – it’s free, has over 5,000 different guided meditations to chose from, and it’s free.

The Financial Diet

I can’t exactly remember how I stumbled upon this channel, but I can probably guarantee it was toward the end of my college career when I was about to move back home, I wasn’t sure if I would have a full time job, and I had spent the majority of my time in undergrad stressing about money…you know, the usual 22 year old stuff. Enter two angels: Chelsea and Lauren. TFD focuses on small ways you can make a big impact on your financial situation. Of course, these aren’t hard and fast rules for every person; you’ll definitely need to try what works best for you and adjust accordingly. But overall, their financial advice is extremely easy to digest (Get it? The Financial DIET?) and their personal experiences are super relatable. Whether you’re interested in boosting your side hustle, getting the most out of your paycheck, or need some tips on how to best use your credit card, spend some time on TFD.

Period Kit

This particular adulting tip is just for those of us blessed with uteruses. I gotta be honest, the first time I watched this video by Ingrid Nilsen (one of my favorite YouTubers) I thought it was unrealistic for me to carry around so many things all the time. Who has room in their bag for all that? But the truth is, we’ve all made the unfortunate mistake of telling ourselves we’ll always have tampons and liners in our bag, and then the day comes when those emergency things get used, we never replace them, and the horrible cycle continues – pun 100% intended. It wasn’t until I started carrying my period kit around with me everywhere that I realized I have not been living my best period life in the past. Especially for anyone who tends to be surprised by their period each gloriously non-pregnant month, this kit is the ultimate game changer.

Zocdoc

For someone like me who basically spends all of her free time at the doctor, this website was such a lifesaver…seriously, because doctors keep you alive. (I’m ALL about the puns today!) This was especially a great resource for me when I moved and had to change all of my doctors. All you need to do is search for the type of doctor you’re looking for, your zipcode, and what type of insurance you have. Even if you don’t have insurance, you can choose the option “I’m paying for myself.” The website gives you an extensive list of doctors in your area, and you can filter through based on your personal preferences. You can also make appointments online, fill out your new patient forms, and check-in before you even get to the office. I’ve found that 95% of the time, the offices are familiar with Zocdoc and will know how to collect your information on the computer. So not only do you have a one stop shop for finding a new doctor, but you also don’t need to talk on the phone with other humans to make an appointment. Isn’t the Internet amazing?

~ Extra miscellaneous tips that really drive home the “adulting” image ~

  • Always carry a pen with you
  • Decorate your bathroom
  • Sign up for theSkimm
  • Get a reusable water bottle (and bring it everywhere)

What are some adulting tips that you rely on in this totally bonkers life we’re living? I want to know them all! Soon enough, we’ll all be faking it so fantastically that maybe we’ll stop using air quotes when we say the word “adult”…Maybe.

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Ending the Stigma on Mental Illness

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? I’m particularly inclined to share about this for two reasons. One, mental health is one of those topics that has somehow become shameful and taboo – hence the need for a month dedicated to awareness. And two, like so many others, it’s something that I personally deal with every day of my life.

Not only has the stigma around mental illness made me hesitant to blog about it before, but there’s an entire other layer that feels odd to me. As I become more familiar with the conversation surrounding mental illness, I find that people tend to associate it with being weak, needy, and attention seeking. I think some of that comes from the blurry lines that exist between clinically diagnosed mental illnesses and very strong emotions. People get anxious and people get depressed, and these feelings are completely valid no matter where they fall in the scale of intensity.

So maybe people struggle with how to react with more serious cases because measuring one’s mental health is a very personal thing. It’s usually between you and a doctor, or therapist, or both. But these diagnosis are invisible to the human eye. And there are so many invisible illnesses that people are forced to personally validate everyday because of the assumed perceptions of what it means to be ill or differently abled. And that’s why having a month to shed light on mental illness is so important for us who struggle without outward signs of pain.

A lot of the time, we don’t see visible signs of mental illness the way we do with other health problems, but it took me a long time to realize that that doesn’t mean it don’t deserve the same amount of attention. In my personal experience, it took me a long time to accept that my anxiety and depression was indeed something to be diagnosed and treated. As anybody who has ever met me knows, I am an extremely passionate person. So when I started noticing particularly heightened feelings of anxiety, worry, sadness, and the like, I assumed it was all due to the fact that I very rarely experience “casual” emotions. I feel things very intensely, so I never assumed anything out of the ordinary when I would get chest pains during moments of uncertainty or lengthy periods of unhappiness after a bad day. Sure, these are symptoms that could happen to anybody – but when the triggers started becoming a little less predictable and a lot more frequent, I started wondering if there was anything I could do about it.

I am very open about my struggle with anxiety and depression, but for a while, it was hard for me to talk about. I live such a privileged life with amazing opportunities and am completely supported by incredible family and friends; for a while, all I could think about was how outsiders might not believe me when I said I had a mental illness. But then I thought about it this way: if I had a problem with my heart, or my leg, or my back, I would take medicine for it – so why wouldn’t I do the same thing for the chemical imbalances that were happening in my brain? Once that idea became clear, I decided to use it as an opportunity to speak out. I want people to know how comfortable I am with talking about my experiences with mental health because we all deserve to feel safe and comfortable about the things that make us who we are. I don’t think my mental illness defines me, but it’s definitely a big part of my life. You may not be able to see it, but plenty of people can certainly feel it, and that should be valid enough.

But remember, being comfortable with opening up takes time. If you’re struggling with figuring out your journey and aren’t sure where to go from here, hopefully one of these resources can point you on the right path ❤

Resources:

7 Cups of Tea – A website that allows you to speak anonymously with a trained active listener.

American Psychological Association – A resource for finding mental health care in your area.

Katie Morton – A licensed therapist YouTuber dedicated to discussing mental health and erasing stigma.

National Alliance on Mental Health – A resource guide for when you need help paying for medication

Back On Top

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@weezyvc

Dear Reader,

This post, like everything I write, comes from a place of explicit sincerity. For some reason, it felt important to remind y’all of that before I get started. Here we go.

Needless to say, this election was a fucking nightmare. When I think back to that dreaded week in November when it all came to a head, I still feel its horrible remnants. The hope I had built up from my peers and my supportive community came crashing down in a matter of hours. Some people were able to put their anger directly into action, while others had a more difficult time getting back on their feet. For three days following the election, I physically struggled to get out of bed. I had no fight in me whatsoever – which was extremely difficult for someone as passionate as I am about actively participating in working toward change. I had experienced depression before, but this was the first time I had ever felt depressed to the point of not knowing any way to end the suffering. All around me, my peers were encouraging the importance of fighting back. But I didn’t know how. I couldn’t find it in me.

And if you’re reading this and rolling your eyes, saying to yourself “Stop being so dramatic” or “Get over it”…congratulations, you’re privileged. Take a second to meditate on that. It’s hard to accept and acknowledge your privilege, but it’s too necessary to ignore. Because believe it or not, we are not acting spoiled or overdramatic about this. We are trying to swallow the fact that there are people in our country – peers, friends, relatives, etc. – who do not understand the extent of our adverse circumstances. We are struggling to understand how people we love and care about can actively (or sometimes passively) support the deterioration of our civil rights. And if you don’t think the circumstances are that drastic, you’re woefully ignorant. And that’s not me being an entitled millennial or whiny feminist – it’s a fact. Educate yourself.

Here’s the deal: the new administration is dangerous. Because of these people in power, basic human rights continue to be denied to marginalized communities, including women (and basically all genders that are not cisgender men), LGBTQ+ people, people of color, immigrants, low-income citizens, people with disability, the homeless, incarcerated, and so many more varying intersections of people in the United States. And while I could go into detail about how there is actual proof to back up these claims, I truthfully don’t feel qualified enough. Instead, here are some sources:

My main intention for this post is to share how we can continue to take care of ourselves in such a heightened moment of need. While I have spent as much time as possible taking care of myself in this post-election dumpster fire, there is still a fear that the reality of Friday’s inauguration will hit me harder than I’m ready for. For any of y’all who are feeling similarly afraid, I wanted to share some self-care techniques that might help you get through the weekend. Because I am unable to participate in any of the women’s marches happening this weekend (if you are looking for somewhere to march, take a look here!), I figured sharing some of these techniques would be a good idea for anyone else who wants to feel productive, supportive, or just plain distracted.

1. Surround yourself with like-minded people

For some people, having time to themselves is a crucial part of their self-care routine. However, if you do better during difficult times when there are people around you, it could be particularly important this weekend to make sure they are like-minded friends, peers, etc. For example, while spending time with family might be a go-to method for you to unwind, make sure you’re not putting yourself in a potentially toxic environment. This could also be the case with friends or others in your immediate circle. Make plans now with people you trust will understand your needs. At least for these few days, try to take politics off the table by asking those around you to respect your wishes and wait to have those conversations at another time. 

2. Make your voice heard

Personally, this is my favorite way to combat any feelings of defeat or lack of purpose. We all have the power to take action and participate in making positive changes in our society. I find that by actively voicing my opinions against our system’s injustices, I can stand a little taller with the satisfaction of making even the smallest dent.

As some of you may know, I am a volunteer at the Harry Potter Alliance. We are currently running a campaign called Neville Fights Back to encourage everyone to take action in our political system. The HPA offers links to help find your representatives and their contact information so you can easily make your voice heard – literally, you can call them and share your message. I also like this infographic called How to call your reps when you have social anxiety. Personally, I hate speaking to other humans on the phone, so I found this resource super helpful.

Additionally, I stumbled across this handy dandy Google Doc called the “We’re His Problem Now” Calling Sheet. Basically, this is your one stop shop for who you can call, scripts for exactly what to say, and additional tips for how this actually works and why it’s important. Share it like crazy and give Kara all the credit for being an activist superhero.

3. Unplug

It might be a good idea to stay away from social media as much as possible. While this can often be an outlet for us when we want to feel connected to a greater cause, it could be draining to continue refreshing your pages only to find repeated coverage of the same event. Trust me, if anything extraordinary happens, you can read about it on Monday.

4. Donate

When it comes to donating, most people immediately think of money. While that’s definitely a wonderful option if you have the means – FYI, I’m personally a big fan of the movement to Donate $20 to Planned Parenthood on 1/20/17 – money isn’t the only way you can contribute to the causes you care about. We all have our own unique passions and skills, and this is your opportunity to share them in a way that can be both selfless and selfish. Write, create art, share your voice and share it out loud.

5. Don’t forget the basics

If you feel like you need to stay in bed all weekend, don’t get discouraged. Just make sure that at the very least, you’re taking care of yourself on a very basic level. Eat breakfast, drink plenty of water, take your medication, change your clothes. Take a short walk around the block for some fresh air. Text your best friend. Rely on your favorite self-care techniques, whatever they may be.

Let me know what your plans are for this weekend. Are you going to a march? Spending time with your pup? Having a Harry Potter movie marathon? ALL THREE? The possibilities are endless! Stay strong. Remember that you’re not alone and we are all in this fight together. I love you.

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My experience at MNDFL Meditation

For about a year now, I’ve been exploring a lot of new ways to practice self-care. Last summer, I got really into yoga and went to classes twice a week. When I moved back to the city in the fall, I took advantage of the new neighborhood I was living in and starting running outside along the East River. And finally, last winter, I was introduced to MNDFL Meditation. Before going to MNDFL for the first time, I didn’t even know there were facilities exclusively for meditating. As I’m sure goes for most people, all I knew about meditation was the cliched image of someone sitting alone in a room with incense burning and long periods of complete silence. And as somebody like myself with the absolute worst attention span, I never considered being able to participate in such an activity. But thankfully, MNDFL was quick to prove me wrong.

From the warm and welcoming staff to the open and inviting decor of the space, I always feel comfortable the moment I step in the door at MNDFL, located on 8th St. in the village. I don’t know about you, but anywhere that requires you NOT to wear shoes and gives out free tea is somewhere you can definitely find me spending my free time. Additionally, one of my favorite features of MNDFL is the staff, who are just as dedicated to their visitors whether it’s your first or fiftieth class. In the middle of the space, there is a sitting area where all of the visitors are welcome to hang out before or after class, which most people choose to do. The simple gesture of providing this space really adds to the fact that MNDFL genuinely feels like a community. I’ve never felt any awkward pressure to make time-filling conversation with others, but after attending classes for a while, almost all of the people there are familiar faces and chatting began happening more naturally. Sometimes people take this time before class to read a magazine, or even close their eyes to start winding down before we even step into the room to begin practice. As for me, I’m usually burning my tongue on jasmine green tea and feeling too satisfied when I turn off my phone.

MNDFL

Classes at MNDFL range from 30 to 45 minutes and are guided by an instructor. There are a number of different instructors at the space, all with different styles and preferences for how to conduct their classes. While you can sign up for classes based on their time, day of the week, or difficulty, you can also choose the theme you will experience at your specific class. Some of the themes for classes at MNDFL include breath, emotions, heart, sleep, and many others. It is definitely worth trying out a bunch of different classes and instructors to see which you like best, and the great thing about MNDFL is that there are so many options that you are likely to find a few that work best for you. And what’s even more inviting is that no two classes are the same. Even if you take the same class with the same instructor more than once, they are always new experiences. This happens, I think, because of the community at MNDFL. People are encouraged to actively participate in the class however they feel most comfortable, the instructors leave time at the end of the class for questions and discussions, and one of the most important messages they send is that there is no wrong way to experience meditation. Of course there are tips for achieving certain goals and better understanding mindfulness, but the instructors are always the first ones to assure you that however you are doing it is the right way.

Instagram

MNDFL is exactly what it claims to be: a space to breathe. I don’t think there is a single person who doesn’t experience too much stress on a weekly basis, and MNDFL is the perfect place to let that go. After treating myself to their monthly pass (the first month is only $50 for as many classes as you want!), I knew that I needed to make meditation a priority, especially at this space. Even as I’m now living in Jersey City, working a 9-5 job, and trying to get used to my new busy schedule, I know I can always manage to find half an hour out of my day to visit MNDFL. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience and the perfect way for you to invest in yourself.

PS. Let me know if you try out a class!!! I want to know all about it 🙂

Reflection

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day. Did you spend time with the one you love? Even if you think the answer is no, that you’re single or not in a relationship or don’t have anyone to spend the day lovin’… think again. It’s you!!!

Over the past couple of months, I have been exploring the practice of self-care. This can mean different things to different people, but ultimately, it’s making sure you spend some time to attend to your personal needs in ways that best benefit you. This could mean mentally, emotionally, physically, or any way you need it. So for Valentine’s Day yesterday, as inspired by the iconic (and unfortunately fictional) Donna Meagle, I decided to treat myself. If you’re not in a relationship with another person – or even if you are – it’s important to take some time to give yourself the love and attention you deserve.

Side note: Two of my favorite YouTubers have videos about self-care that I totally recommend checking out!!

Laci Green- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQvZ_8UhGP8

MarinaShutUp- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zG6jtPrq1g4

Most of us these days are busy. Really busy. Busy AF (once again, for you folks out there who aren’t hip with today’s slang, AF stands for AS FUCK. I’m here to educate.) But it has been proven – by science or something, probably – that taking time for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes to unwind, will overall improve the quality of whatever work you’re doing. As for me, considering I am in my final semester of college, I think it’s fair to say I have a lot to stress about. But I took Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to take a break for just one afternoon to do the things that make me happy.

Like I said, self-care is different for everyone. We all don’t enjoy going to art exhibits or sporting events when we want to have a good time, and we all don’t hate exercise (I know, it’s hard to believe). But that’s what makes taking this time for yourself so important. You have no one to appease but you, so it’s an opportunity to really consider what your needs are and what you can do to best attend to them. For me, self-care might include activities such as doing yoga, taking naps, trying a new makeup routine and taking selfies, or ordering Seamless. Sometimes I’ll go for a run. Sometimes I’ll draw in a coloring book, or read, or write. Those are things I love to do and things I don’t always have the time for in my busy schedule, but when it comes to taking care of myself, I know I need to make the time. And don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of getting stuff done and challenging yourself and working hard for what you want, but when that becomes detrimental at the expense of your well being, that’s when it’s time to check in.

And just because Valentine’s Day is over doesn’t mean you’ve missed your opportunity for self-love. Self-care is something that is important all year round, especially during those times when there is so much pressure to be spending this time and energy on someone else. Caring for and loving another person is wonderful, but you should never forget to TREAT YO SELF. (Was this blog written by Donna Meagle herself? It’s a possibility.)

Don’t be scared to practice self-care. It’s not narcissistic or cocky to care about yourself. Just because you think you deserve to feel great doesn’t mean you’re denying others their chance to feel great, too. Find what works for you. Need to drink more water? Want to try meditating for 10 minutes before starting your day? Thinking about learning a new hobby, like knitting or golf or crafting? Try new things and figure out what you love to do, and most importantly, make sure to set aside some time to do it. While being busy, it may be hard to convince yourself to slow down. But if you find the right practices, I guarantee it will be worth it.