Most of you know by now that I’m really interested in human psychology, emotions, and how our relationships with others can influence our internal views of ourselves. And sometimes, a specific word will get stuck in my head that I feel inclined to write about, such as “honesty,” “growing pains,” “grief.” or “stubbornness.” Today, the word that’s stuck in my head is “pity.”

 Before even googling the actual definition of pity, I’d like to try and craft my own interpretation of what that means. In regards to self-pity, I think what that means is you’ve reached a point in your life where you feel unnoticed and unappreciated for the hardships and privations you go through. Maybe you don’t think your entire life is awful, but you think most parts of it are hard, and the only thing that makes you feel like you’re getting any sort of attention or validation for it is through feeling bad for yourself. So it’s not healthy, but it’s usually not malicious. I don’t think people who self-pity are bad people. I think they are damaged and haven’t developed healthy coping mechanisms for their stress or grief.

Webster says that pity is “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortune of others.” (I suppose in a situation of self-pity, the only word you would have to change is “others” to say “one’s self.”) When I was a bit younger, between the ages of 14-19, I would say I really struggled with self-pity. A couple of the aspects that contributed to this unhealthy cycle was a low self-esteem and a poor support system, and throughout the years, both of those things have improved enormously. Even though I was dealing with a lot of factors and stresses that were out of my control, like my parents splitting up, not being ‘popular’ or well-liked in school, and not being happy with my round face and my oily skin, it was still essentially my own responsibility for the way I felt about these things. I couldn’t change the fact that this was me and this was happening to me, but I could change the way I responded to it. So I learned to understand, accept, and even love the “broken” parts of my life. Although my mom and dad getting a divorce was a difficult change to adapt to, it actually turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. Turns out, we’re all much happier in my family now that my parents are separated. I can’t change the fact that other girls and boys didn’t want to be my friend in high school, or the fact that I had acne and frizzy, curly hair, but I could change the way I felt about myself. And gradually, I was able to drop the self-pity. It wasn’t something that happened overnight, but that seldom happens with any self change. It was a slow, soothing process of letting go of the sorrow and disgust I felt towards myself. Instead of trying to change myself to better fit my peers, I tried to say, “You know what? I’m going to like myself today. And I’m going to like my face and my body today.” Eventually, I did start to feel really good about myself. And then one day, I realized that I was truly happy for myself and happy with the person I had become. Other people noticed, too. Change really starts from the inside and works itself outwards, like a spiral. I didn’t realize how much the way I perceived myself could affect how other people viewed me, too. And then, after I started to feel better about who I really was, I started having an easier time making friends and feeling confident in my interactions with others. Having a strong sense of self-esteem does wonders for your social abilities, even if you’re typically shy and reserved, like I am.

I’ve noticed people in my own life getting sucked into a cycle of self-pity, so this next paragraph is for those people. Sitting around and feeling bad for yourself gives you a burn in your stomach- a hot, mournful, painful, yet somehow self-satisfying burn that you start to feel like you deserve. Even though you may feel like you don’t deserve anything better in life because of what has happened to you or what your circumstances are, it’s unfair to yourself and others to self-pity. In the long run, you are only going to continue to perpetuate a low self-image and drive away your loved ones. And trust me, this is coming from someone who felt bad for herself for years. It’s a selfish thing to harbor so much self-pity. It makes other people feel like you’re unhelpable. And you don’t deserve to feel like a burden and a waste of a life- you deserve to feel like you are a worthy life and you have potential for growth and happiness. You don’t want to lay in a hospital bed alone someday, cold and gray, wishing you had just given the act a rest and enjoyed your life a little bit. Because at the end of the day, it’s not that deep. As Pam Muñoz Ryan once said, “You don’t have to get over it, but you do have to get on with it.”

As many of you know, I’ve struggled with anxiety for my entire life, and I am very open and vocal about my struggle with it on this platform. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that there are so many misconceptions people have about anxiety, and I’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight on what it’s really like to live with generalized anxiety disorder. That being said, everybody who struggles with anxiety will have a different approach and journey, so please know that anxiety can be vastly different on a case-to-case basis. What I personally feel about this issue could be completely different than the thoughts and feelings of another person with anxiety.

Self-Care Quotes - Because You Deserve Them | Hallmark Ideas ...


Misconception 1: “If you have anxiety, you must have depression, too.”

While it is true that anxiety and depression can go hand in hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean it always does. Even though I struggle with anxiety and it plays a large role in my life, I have actually never really struggled with severe depression or been diagnosed with it. Of course I have gone through rough periods in my life, in general, I am able to naturally uphold a positive, cheerful, self-loving attitude. I genuinely love life and view it through an optimistic lens- I just also happen to deal with anxiety along the way. 


Misconception 2: “If you eat healthy foods and meditate, your anxiety will go away.”

Improving your diet and your routines can help with anxiety, but if you have a real anxiety disorder, it’s not very likely that you can cure it just by eating more vegetables and practicing yoga. I’m not saying it’s a worthless practice, but if you suffer from severe anxiety such as myself, it takes years of therapy and even medication to maintain my health and help my anxiety become less severe. When people tell me to try exercising or drinking more water to “cure” my anxiety, I recognize the positive intent, but it is still frustrating to hear these things.


Misconception 3: “Oh, I have anxiety, too!” or something along those lines

Everybody struggles with anxiety from time to time, and it’s completely normal to do so. However, not everybody has an anxiety disorder. What differentiates normal anxiety from a serious medical condition depends on how severely it impacts the quality of your life. For example, it’s normal and expected to have anxiety before a big test or a presentation. But if your anxiety prevents you from enjoying your everyday life or if it interferes with your daily tasks and productivity, then it could qualify for an anxiety disorder. It’s important to understand that difference, because as with any mental disorder or condition, it’s common for those who really suffer to feel invalidated or one-upped. 


Misconception 4: “Taking medication for anxiety can make you become addicted to it.”

There is no evidence to support the claim that SSRIs or other antidepressants can cause dependent tendencies in those who use them, so the idea that anxiety medication can become “addicting” is a huge misconception. With that being said, it is possible to become dependent on benzodiazepines- or tranquilizers, such as Ativan or Xanax. However, just because you have a prescription for either of these medications does NOT automatically mean you will become addicted to benzos. I have a prescription for Ativan which I use very responsibly, and I only take my benzos if I am having an absolute anxiety emergency and I am afraid of passing out or having a panic attack (which only happens a handful of times per year.)


And finally, Misconception 5: “Anxiety is not a real medical condition.”

Even though anxiety is an invisible illness, that does not make it any less valid or severe than any other condition. 

Anxiety disorders are serious medical conditions- and should be treated just as seriously as any other condition, physical or not. Additionally, anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive of disorders in the United States. If you also struggle with having an anxiety disorder, your feelings are valid, and most importantly, you are NOT alone!

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. In the midst of the political climate and the pandemic surrounding us right now, it is totally normal and valid to be feeling anxiety. Remember that it is good to feel your feelings, even if they are not always sunshiney, and there are always people out there who want to listen to you and support you.

I probably don’t need to begin this by reminding y’all of these ‘unprecedented circumstances’ and I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing it, so I’ll just skip all of that and jump right in. As someone who struggles with anxiety and PMDD, it’s really important to me that I stay in-tune with my emotions and communicate with myself. If I feel like something is off or brewing inside of me, I try to confront it head-on and get to the root of the issue. Sometimes, of course, you just have to stop cross-examining yourself and give your mind a rest. Here are the ways that I take care of myself and practice self love, particularly in tough times like these. 

I know it sounds really simple and cliche, but reaching out for support and upholding communication with your loved ones is so important! It can be as simple as a phone call to a best friend, partner, or family member. Whenever I’m feeling a bit gloomy or unmotivated, I’ll usually call either my best friend, Eli, or my boyfriend, Nathaniel. It doesn’t have to be a vent or a rant; even just having an upbeat, casual conversation can really lift my spirits and make me feel instantly better. In fact, sometimes it’s actually really nice and helpful to take your mind off the things that are driving you crazy, and focus on some more lighthearted thoughts for a while.

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Another way I maintain my mental health and practice self care is by keeping up with a personal journal, and no, I don’t mean my weekly blog newsletter! I have several actual print journals I write in, and unlike my blog content, I don’t share my journal with anybody. I think it’s important to have a special place where you can freely pour your thoughts onto paper, and not have to worry about what anyone else may think. I’m also starting to get into the art of junk journaling, which not only entails writing, but also crafting and sewing! I think it’s really beautiful to journal to yourself, and in most cases, it can give you a lot of clarity about problems you may be having. 

This is one that I particularly struggle with a lot: reminding myself that I am trying my best. Particularly in these strange times with my normal schedule being disruptive, I’m feeling less motivated and focused than usual. I also have ADD, which is making it really difficult for me to focus during my online classes. However, even though I’m sufficiently stressed and sometimes doubting myself, it’s important for me to remember that I am doing the best in these bizarre circumstances- and you are, too! It’s totally okay to feel not on top of your A game, because frankly, nobody knows what they’re doing right now. All you can really do is remind yourself that you are working your hardest in the given circumstances, and try to be gentle with yourself.  

Along with taking physical actions to improve my wellness, there are also a couple of analogies that help me to put things into perspective when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed. The first one comes from a wonderfully funny Buddhist monk named Ajahn Brahm, who posts fascinating lectures on YouTube, by the way. He said something in a video once that really impacted me, and the analogy has stuck with me since. Basically, he compared having lots of different stresses in your life to carrying around lots of heavy rocks in a backpack. He reminds us that it’s important to evaluate what ‘rocks’ we are carrying around, and to decide what weight we can take out of our backpacks and out on the backburner for a while. For me right now, I’m dealing with the stress of online college, finding a job after graduation, coronavirus, moving into my first apartment, etc. Ajahn Brahm’s analogy helps me because it’s a great way to physically envision everything on my plate, and subsequently decide what I can put on hold for a while to make the weight of life more bearable.

Another analogy I really like comes from a book called When You Reach Me. Rather than try to explain the idea, I’ll just go ahead and insert the quote here:

“Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way. But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to. Some people learn to lift the veil themselves. Then they don’t have to depend on the wind anymore.”

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I’m not sure what it is about this quote that means so much to me, but I think about it all the time (at least a couple of times per week.) Pretty much every time I am reminded of the ‘big things’ in life, I can almost see myself lifting my veil and observing life in a more clear view. The other day, I stepped out of my apartment and noticed that the sunset was absolutely gorgeous. For me, that was such a veil-lifting moment: observing the quiet beauty of the world and forgetting about the tiny stressors in my life for a few minutes. And honestly, since that day, everything has felt a little bit more okay. 

Animal therapy is a hugely successful way to alleviate stress in your life, and I’m very fortunate to have a dog around to keep me company. Sometimes, you really just need a support system but you don’t feel like talking, and that’s where pets come into play as wonderful companions. My dog doesn’t judge me or understand anything that’s going on- he’s just happy to be here, and that’s honestly all I can ask for. Petting animals can also help lower your blood sugar, so the next time you’re feeling stressed or upset, consider adding some animal therapy into your life.

Although it’s just a simple, little thing, taking bubble baths is one of my favorite ways to unwind after a crazy or overwhelming day. I really don’t understand people who say bubble baths are boring. Just bring a book or a podcast with you, or honestly, just scroll through your phone if you really want to. There’s just something utterly relaxing and wonderful about being immersed in hot water for a half hour with a few candles burning. Even better, it’s an easy way to avoid human interaction, so you can have some peace and quiet to yourself for as long as you want. For bonus points, go all out and have a complete spa night, with face masks and cucumbers on your eyes. 

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I suppose this sort of relates to the spa night idea, but lastly, I like to do hobbies and activities that make me feel beautiful- and I utilize that time for myself as being extremely important. For me, this is taking 30-60 minutes to put on my makeup, usually while I listen to a podcast or watch a video. I like the way I look bare-faced as well, but there’s just something about a full-glam face of makeup that makes me feel really pretty and confident in myself. I think makeup is also a great way to get to know your face and embrace your features, which ultimately means finding new ways to love yourself! 

Those are all my tips and ways that I practice self-love and take care of my mental health. I hope you found this article helpful, and maybe you can even draw some inspiration from it! Let me know in the comments how you like to practice your own self-care.

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I’ve been on this earth for almost twenty-one years, and throughout that time, I’ve learned a few things. For one, twenty is a weird age to be. You’re definitely no longer a child, but you don’t have enough life experience to consider yourself an adult. You understand heartbreak and (maybe) taxes, but things like paying bills and healthcare still have a big question mark. Oh, and you learn that growing is painful. 

Life is so funny in the way it tricks you. The minute you think you have it all figured out, a new obstacle or adversity throws itself into your way. I’ve definitely had so many of these “a-ha” moments throughout my life, only to realize my vision was clouded by innocence and even ignorance. It took me many years to learn one singular important lesson: just because you’re a good person and you do good things, it doesn’t mean life will treat you any more fairly or kindly. We’ll all go through terrible things, and playing a martyr won’t make anything easier. All you can really do is roll with it and accept the reality that you are given.

I spent most of my life believing I was weird, different, unlikeable, and unlovable. In fact, I didn’t let that raw outer shell melt away until my senior year of college. It was a slow, gradual process, and it felt like I was shedding pounds of anger with every year I grew. Regardless of what my public school peers actually thought of me, I was absolutely convinced everybody thought they were better, smarter, and prettier than me. I was certain I would be everybody’s second choice, at best, and there was nothing I could do about that. I spent so much time wrestling in emotional anguish over what other people thought of me; did they think I was cool enough? Was I smart enough? Was I lovable enough? Was I, isolated, enough?

Coming from a loving, strong, mother, but a detached brother and father, I struggled with male-centric attachment issues throughout my life. I always knew I loved women from the day I even understood what love was, but my constant need to fill that male role (and my fear of judgment) prevented me from reaching that goal for almost twenty years. When I finally let myself accept the fact that I could love a woman just as much as I love a man (if not even more, if I’m being honest), those pounds of fear and resistance slowly began to break away from me. 

One of the worst pains I ever felt in my life was the day I decided to cut off all communication with my biological father. For years, the sadness and unease I felt surrounding our relationship plagued me from ever standing up for myself and what was best for my health. It would have been so much easier for me if he was completely and totally catastrophic; I think I would have had such an easier time pausing that relationship in my life if the pain was black and white. Unfortunately, even though the bad outweighed the good, a few happy memories and sensitive spots still lingered (and continue) to linger in my heart. One of the hardest things a person has to do is mourn the loss of a relationship, particularly with a parent who causes emotional and verbal harm. No matter how much you love a person and wish they could change, some things are just out of your control. I grew up about a thousand years that day, and even though I still sob into my pillow for feeling like “the worst daughter ever,” I still accept that this was I step I needed to take to protect my health and my well-being. If he died tomorrow, what would I do with myself? Would I regret ending this relationship? Would it be my fault? These are the questions I am still grappling with as I go through my own adult growing pains. 

Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be dingy and sad, so let’s switch topics. Let’s talk about the beauty of growing pains and going through dark times. 

I hated college for the first two or so years. I was very much still in my Me-Against-The-World mindset, and grew constantly paranoid of the laughing, happy students around me. I was absolutely convinced that everybody hated me; even the people I’d never spoken to in my life. I learned something very interesting this year: most people genuinely don’t even have a fleeting opinion. Secondly, the people who I judged and decided were just “bitches” ended up being the nicest darned people I’ve ever met in my life. And, most of the time, they were more scared of me– the ultimate resting-bitch-faced boss lady of Lasell. It’s kind of an embarrassing realization to come to, but also a very hilarious one. There are so many people I’m now best friends with that I never imagined would give me the light of day before. And it’s not because they changed- it’s because I’ve changed.

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I’ve definitely noticed a positive shift within myself this past year. Funnily enough, I didn’t even notice it happening- but other people did. “You’re so much more confident now,” my friends are saying to me. And I truly am. Like I said, it was such a gradual internal change within myself, I didn’t even actively notice it happening. That’s a huge thing I’ve learned about gaining confidence: you can’t just will yourself to be happier and then wake up the next morning feeling like a new person. It takes time and effort, and of course, it takes growing pains. But now that I’ve reached such a state of comfortability and gratitude for who I truly am, it’s almost like I don’t even have to put in the work anymore. I just live my life the way I want to live it, and the rest follows in suit. 

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Academically, I am one of the most stress-free people I know. I always get between 8-10 hours of sleep. I rarely spend more than an hour a day on schoolwork. And yet, consistently, I am a good student who manages to turn in all of my work on time, often with high markings. 

The most interesting aspect of all of this is that I do have ADHD and learning disabilities, but instead of wrestling with it, I use it to my advantage. I realize what my limits are, and I don’t try to push myself towards objectives that will simply be a waste of time. For example, I am NOT a textbook reader. I never have been, and I never will be. Rather than sit in my room and spend four hours trying to absorb a textbook, I’ll do other work instead that I know can be easily maximized. I can write three papers in four hours, so I might as well knock that out instead.

In all my three years of college, I’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on thirty or so textbooks. Realistically, I think I’ve opened three of them in my life. I’ve never failed (or even come close to failing) a class.

If this is ringing any bells, I have an exercise for you- make a list of all your academic strengths and weaknesses. Can you do anything about your weaknesses? If yes, it might be time to buckle down and work harder. Or, do you have a disability that prevents you from excelling in a certain area? Stop sweating about it. Focus instead on what you do well, and I promise you will flourish.

Like I said, I’m not a textbook reader. I have a really hard time sitting myself down and reading something that’s simply not interesting to me. I don’t enjoy answering questions on worksheets, especially if they’re self-explanatory and sound silly to answer. And, the worst, is taking tests and exams. I do not like working under pressure in those types of environments, and having my objective knowledge tested in a subjective method has never meshed well for me.

That being said, I have my strengths. I love to write essays and find it really easy to punch them out. I can write an A-grade, five page paper in less than two hours. I’m also very comfortable in group discussions that enable me to share my thoughts, and can intuitively figure out subject matter very quickly (without reading the textbook). I am comfortable with admitting what I’m not great at, but I’m also not afraid to admit what I am good at. I believe, in general, we need to give ourselves more credit. 

Like I said, because I have figured out my learning style, I am able to excel in the majority of my classes without stressing myself out exponentially. This is one of the biggest ways I keep my stress down- I focus only on doing my best, and if I feel like a task is a waste of time or energy, I find a way around it. That’s not to say “Give up when things get hard,” rather, “When things get hard, try not to stress too much. Carry out your work in the most effective way to your health and learning style.”

I always strive to do well, but I’m not obsessed with being an A+ student. College is a short channel in my life, it doesn’t define it- so I’m not going to work myself into a panic over the small stuff. I am totally and completely happy with soaring through college, and take B’s with gratitude. I am solidly okay with being “just average”, as long as it means my happiness and my health needs are met. I could never justify pulling an all-nighter to get a perfect grade on an assignment that won’t even matter in five years.

I have an article similar in nature to this one, which deals with how I manage my time at college. As a full-time student, I take six classes, post four blog articles a week, write for my school’s lifestyle magazine, and I still have time to take care of myself and get 8 hours of sleep per night. Like I said, it’s all about priorities. If I am assigned a fifty-page textbook reading for something I could just ignore and figure out myself, that’s exactly what I’ll do. Do I feel bad about that? No. That time is now going to be spent on something else, like an essay draft I’m really looking forward to starting early. 

I hope this doesn’t come across as “slack off,” because that’s not what I want people to do. I don’t slack off- I maximize my time. Trust me when I say your mental health is more important than turning in every single assignment with flying colors, even if you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Take initiative to spend time with yourself and learn who you really are, and from there, everything will become a little bit more manageable. Every once in a while, it’s so important to let yourself relax.

Coming up next: Six Controversial Foods and My Opinions on Them

As a die-hard night owl, it can really difficult for me to feel motivated and driven in the morning. One of the ways I like to wake myself up (and wind myself down at the end of the day) is by writing. Handwriting in a journal is so different than typing on a computer for me. For one thing, handwriting takes more thought and effort, and it simply just feels more private than putting something in a word document on the Internet. I love utilizing my computer to write about pressing non-fiction topics and blog posts, but when it comes to my thoughts, feelings, and emotions, I definitely prefer journaling. Do any of you feel the same way?

I have a couple different types of paper journals I like to write in. The first is a dream journal, which I believe I have mentioned before in my college morning routine. It’s not a place for me to write goals or ambitions- it’s a place where I record the actual dreams I had the night before. Interestingly, I feel like writing down my dreams has actually made me dream more often. I’m not sure if there’s a scientific reason for this or not, but it would make sense to me that focusing on your dreams can make you more self-aware of them. Having a dream journal gives me something to look forward to in the morning, and exercising my mind first thing really helps me to wake up and feel productive from the get-go.

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I also have a more generalized journal, where I just record page-long entries about my emotions, experiences, or really just whatever is going on in my life at the time. I used to pressure myself to write an entry every day, but I realized pretty quickly that it’s not possible for me to have something interesting to say every day. It can also make journaling feel like a chore, which is the opposite of the point! Journaling should make you feel relaxed, happy, and willing to be open with yourself. 

Oddly, I’m not interested in re-reading my journal entries. In fact, I don’t think I ever have; I think deeply, I write my feelings, and then I literally close that chapter forever. It’s also partly because I’m embarrassed to re-read things I’ve thought and said in the past, because I am constantly driven to be a better version of myself and re-write the way I was before. Maybe someday when I’m much older I’ll decide to look back and read them, but today, it just doesn’t feel like the right time. 

Even if you don’t feel like there’s anything exciting going on in your life, it can still be beneficial to record your thoughts. You might discover something about yourself that you didn’t know was there before, or uncover an emotional issue you were bottling up without realizing it. Maybe you don’t even think of yourself as a writer, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a story that deserves to be told.

Coming up next: Spirit Quartz: Ethereal Feminine Energy

 

Hey guys! Over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve been working via email with fellow writer, Brad Krause. Brad approached me with some fabulous tips and advice for dealing with stress, and I’m so excited to share them with you here. Along with Brad’s writing, I’ve also gone in and added my own notes (everything is color-coated, so you don’t get confused). I hope these ideas help you feel inspired to practice some self-care, relax, and look at the big picture of your life.

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Brad: You’re busy. Not only do you have a career, but your spouse works full-time, you’re raising three kids, and there’s the mortgage to think about. Many Americans stay that busy for years – or their whole lives. Society can seem predicated on a go-go-go mentality that values working, even sacrificing your health for it. The reality is that working takes a toll on you. A recent poll found that 79 percent of Americans feel stressed sometimes or frequently throughout the day. That’s why it’s necessary to pause and take care of yourself. Here are some steps to getting started.

Relax!

Brad: “Self-care” is a newish buzzword for an ancient concept: caring for your needs, physical and mental. Working, making money, and moving up is just part of the grind, but it can also wear on you. A recent study revealed that adults who worked for more than 55 hours per week were at a 13 percent greater risk of having a heart attack than people who worked 35 and 40 hours. Also, 33 percent of the same population pool were more likely to have a stroke. Meanwhile, relaxation has been shown to stave off depression, help you lose weight, sharpen your memory, and lower high blood pressure. Even if you have to work a lot, make sure to cut any of stress out of your life.

Sarah: We’re definitely all guilty of forgetting the big picture in life, and focusing instead on the small, unimportant details. Being a full-time student, I’m guilty of it myself- getting so wrapped up in assignments and deadlines, I forget to focus on my wellness. If we don’t take care of ourselves, the chances are, we simply aren’t going to do our best work.

Getting Enough Sleep

Brad: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a phrase often bandied about, but there’s a grim irony to it. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, for good reason: You can’t live well if you don’t sleep well. From the ages of 18 to 64 – or the bulk of your life – you’re supposed to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night because of the range of health benefits it provides. Sleep lowers inflammation in your cardiovascular system, heals physical ailments, regulates your weight, and makes you happier. People often discover that when they wake up from a restful sleep, most of the worries that hounded them have been soothed away.

Sarah: Getting a tight eight hours of sleep per night is extremely important to me, on both a physical and emotional level. I’ve noticed in my own life that a lot of my friends make excuses for why they’re not getting enough sleep, but the truth is, most of us are just glued to our phones. If possible, try to put your phone down 30-60 minutes before you plan on going to bed. Knitting, reading, sketching, and meditating are some great ways to unwind before bed, and have all been proven to lower stress.

Reducing Stress (Saying No)

Brad: One of the best stress-management strategies is to simply say “no.” That may seem trivial, but the reason to emphasize it is because it’s empowering. Business executives often advise saying “no” because eliminating the proposals or obligations in your day that you don’t need maximizes your efficiency. So whenever you’re overwhelmed, look at your to-do’s, decide which items are most relevant, and move those to the top. Everything else: scrap it and move on.

Sarah: Sometimes, less really is more. We like to pile on as much work as possible to make ourselves feel productive, but the reality is, overworking can burn us down even more quickly. Unless you really feel that an opportunity is going to be beneficial to you and whoever is seeking your help, try not to feel guilty for simply saying no.

Addiction Recovery

Brad: Self-care is important to everyone, but it’s particularly crucial for people recovering from addiction. Many people in recovery feel crushed under anxiety they had pent up while doing drugs. Remember to take care of your mental and physical health. Consider trying yoga, meditation, or a new hobby. Sewing, painting, macrame, gardening, bird-watching – whatever your hobby is, it should be something you love, which helps you focus on the moment. Yoga, too, maintains your metabolism and blood pressure and increases your strength, flexibility, and muscle tone.

The Dalai Lama said that when people are young, we sacrifice our health for money, and when we’re older, we spend our money getting back we health. In between those poles, we lose the present, which is the essence of their lives. All you have is your health, and perhaps the best way to maintain that health is to do the opposite of what modern culture urges. Instead of working non-stop, relax. In all the things you do, find joy. You’ll live longer.

Sarah: Finding a hobby you love is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself. Not only will healthy activities lower your stress level, but you’ll also see your creativity and happiness flourish. Whatever you do, strive to come from a place of gratitude and peace. Like Brad said, we’re in danger if losing the joy of the present moment.

Image via Unsplash

Further reading on Brad: Brad is a self-care advocate and created selfcaring.info to share his knowledge with others.

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