Don’t “Should” Yourself in the Foot

Hi friends! *Big inhale* What a time it is to be alive! Only 7 months into 2020, and what a crazy, chaotic, whirlwind it’s been!

As we head into our fourth month of self-quarantine, I can’t say that it has gotten any easier. Aside from the obvious restrictions, just like the rest of the world, I have struggled with what exactly my new “normal” is looking like, both mentally and emotionally.

Just one of the many consequences of this global pandemic is that we are now all being urged to hustle harder than ever. We are given examples of Frida Kahlo, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton (just to name a few) who all thrived while under lockdown. I’ve received newsletters and read countless articles from my fave magazine subscriptions urging me to use the presumed “downtime” I now have to learn a new skill, take on a high intensity workout routine, or “simply” declutter my life.

It’s as if, every second that I am not building towards these ”shoulds,” is a second wasted.

A should is an expectation IMPOSED by us or onto us. While they might seem like motivators, “shoulding” ourselves is actually a major energy drain as it forces us to split focus. We’re forcing our minds to be in two places at once and is often wrapped in guilt and even shame. The pressure of it all is convincing AF.

Put your finger down if you ever feel like vegging out on the couch, eat everything in sight, and just do a whole lot of nothing, but then that little voice in your head tells you, “you should be more productive while you’re at home, sis…never waste a day on the couch,” so now you feel guilty mid-laze and shame yourself for not being as disciplined as others and bam…it’s no longer a day of R&R but rather anxiety just waiting to creep in … (*slowly puts finger down*)

HALOTOP2

There’s this common misconception that if we lounge around the house, we must also simultaneously take on a new hobby, like reading, for instance.

This imposed guilt is toxic imo, so that’s why, a few weeks back, I made a commit to cleanse from this “should” with the help of @halotopcreamery and actually celebrate that feel-good feeling from setting goals and taking action on my own terms, OKURRR!

Side note: Halo Top is ya girl’s fave ice cream, so big s/o to them for working with my sweet-toothed self!

But for real, Halo Top’s formula in itself has helped chip away at this “shoulding” culture, because all of our lives, we are told that: “we shouldn’t eat the whole pint,” or that, “ice cream should be a special treat.” But hallelujah that Halo Top is known for their fewer cal/less sugar because, under the latter imposed notion, every night must be a special occasion in my house, because I go through several pints a week, and I’m not mad bout’ it, LOL!

Anyway, as the month has gone on, life has only become even more hectic with the recent global social justice movement, we’ve been experiencing.

Days seem to move a bit slower for me and now more than ever, it has been imperative that I take extra care of little ol’ me.

I realized that up until this point, I have only robbed myself of the satisfaction of real, uninterrupted, rest. Listening to all the “shoulds” of this new era, has only left me never truly in the moment, but rather caught up in a story of another choice that could have been made.

So in efforts of a healthier cycle of self-love and self-care, I have been eliminating the “shoulds” that imply obligation and expectation. On the days, I decide to veg out, I’m going to commit to just that, with an extra pint of Halo Top, while I’m at it!

HALO3

After reflecting on the heaviness of the past couple weeks, I’ve realized that now is the time to take up space and be loud! We are all worthy of navigating on our own terms, especially as the world around us, is seemingly falling apart.

So to circle back to the daunting question many of us have been asked:

“Are you going to learn any new skills during the pandemic?

MY ANSWER:

…I already am. How to cope with the pandemic, how to get through the day knowing everyone I love is sad and scared, and how to read the news and still go on.

And all that is enough. I don’t have to come out of this with new skills, new projects, new expectations, or new accomplishments. What matters is that I come out of this”  –

So the next time I hear that little voice convincing me that, “I should never waste a day on the couch,” I will reply, “or maybe, there’s never been a better day than today, to be on that dang couch, mkay!!! (BIG CLAP)

HALO4

Indulge or hustle at your own accord, sis! Because, hennieee, you deserve that right.

How Baring my Soul on Social Media Encouraged me to Seek Help

As we all know, social media has the ability to highlight only the good in life. Often times we look up to our fave influencers and fellow bloggers and ask, “how is their life so seemingly perfect?” Well, obviously, the answer is: it’s not; just people are selective with what they share. Even before taking social media seriously, I’ve always tended to be an oversharer with the friends who followed me; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

But this year, as I noticed my following beginning to grow, I made that same vow with my new followers. And as I remained transparent, I think I was able to build trust within the community I was striving to grow. As time went on, I noticed an increasing amount of messages re life struggles: anything from work, to relationships, social media, confidence, mental health etc. I’m talking anywhere from 15 messages to 125 a day! With every response, I try to use my own experiences as reference. But as the inquiries rolled in, the more they made me evaluate my own life.

The past two months, have felt really heavy for me. Nothing in my life was really making sense. So many random injuries, health issues, career concerns, and just what seemed like an endless laundry list of unfortunate events came at me all at once. I felt completely lost and as though everything was spiring out of my control. I did not feel optimal anymore. I was down and out, y’all! So, with everything going on, I was presented the opportunity of mindfulness classes aka a form of therapy. I was told that with the heavy demands of the 9-5, my social media, my family, and just the usual adulting responsibilities, I had not made myself a priority anymore.

And let me tell y’all, I was conflicted. One side of me, thought, “Ugh, I don’t have the energy to set aside for this.” And the other side, had a self-realization. In order for me to be truly authentic to myself and thus my followers, I had to hit the pause button and really dive deep into the chaos. I had to love myself enough by taking that time to explore all of these new emotions and most importantly, care after my mental health. For so long, I was doing and not sitting still to simply be. I felt like a machine conditioned to just produce, yet I did not take the time to check in with myself, especially among the uncertainty.

These classes have been SUCH a blessing. I was able to really tap into myself: my thoughts, my feelings, my actions, and learn little by little how to live in my breath, live in the moment, vs tackling of all the issues presented at once. I went in as a ball of anxiety, but I truly feel things have come full circle for me and I’ve found clarity in a sense. I also learned how to successfully meditate and relax my body, which is HUGE for me! And the most rewarding thing of it all is that these classes gave me courage to speak up on my truth and encourage others to get the extra TLC they need!

So in short, through connecting with so many of y’all and giving daily advice, I realized I was not practicing what I was preaching. Homegirl, was given a reality check! I was sharing my struggles, but not doing much about them! So, in order for me to be this “authentic” voice on social media, I had to be honest with myself in that ya girl, needed some extra loving! And remember, in order for you to be a voice for others, you must be that voice for yourself! There ain’t nothing wrong in asking for help or dedicating more time for yourself, okurrrt!

I leave y’all with these two quotes:

“I am allowed to be BOTH a work in progress AND help others grow at the same time”

& my fave….

“If you have time to feel like sh*t, complain and check social media, then you have time to meditate, write in your journal, create a list of goals, make a list of things you are grateful for and better yourself” !!! AMEN, hallelujerrr.  XO

Knowing You Are Enough

“Am I enough?”

A notoriously toxic question yet one that is often still asked.

Recently I went through an experience that made me come so close to question, if I was enough.

Unfortunately, many of us at one point or another, have had the tendency to focus on what we lack versus taking inventory of what we already possess. It can be extremely easy to do so, especially, when we use social comparisons to determine our own worth based on our perceptions of how we stack up against our peers.

I felt compelled to share this experience because we all need a little reminder every now and again.

About a week or so ago, I was a runner-up for an opportunity I was anxiously awaiting for quite some time! I literally put forth (what seemed like) my blood, sweat, and tears into this as I knew just how many doors this would have opened up for me. I prayed, manifested, and worked my butt off to make this potential opportunity a reality. Even though I had the green light throughout the entire process, I was told last minute that they decided to go with the other individual. Now initially, I was in shock. And for a brief moment, the insecurities set in. I had to stop myself from asking “So what was wrong with ME? Why wasn’t I eno…?” But then I had to quickly remind myself that I gave this my all. No matter their decision, I’m still very much enough.

I think many of us gauge our worth based on certain situations but we must remember that regardless of others’ perspectives of us, regardless of where we are in our lives, and regardless of the way relationships unfold, we must give ourselves internal validation that we are more than enough, as is. When we give life our very best, I am certain it is recycled back to us tenfold later down the line.

Even though, this other person was a “better fit” for this opportunity, it by no means meant I was lacking. We have to realize we hold all that we ever will need, within ourselves. My worth should not be and is not contingent on this opportunity. Knowing we are enough is the first conversation we should be having with ourselves every morning. If we allow ourselves to look outward for qualities that can only be found within, we will be searching for a lifetime. I think situations like this one, are designed to mentally strengthen our perceptions of our inner-selves. They are reminders that no matter what disappointments come our way, we should have no other option but to love and accept who we are, for all that we are and for all what we have and know. By doing this, we will be able to find inner peace.

Tips that have helped me:

  1. Love yourself always, always, always!
  2. Have daily conversations/positive affirmations with yourself
  3. Learn/appreciate the value you bring to this earth
  4. Let go of toxic relationships/situations that make you doubt yourself
  5. Spend more time with yourself- be mindful of who you really are

XO

How to Cope with Anxiety

In recent days, I’ve seen fellow bloggers and friends share their stories and it has inspired me to share a little bit more about myself…

Now before I give my take on the issue, I would like to just preface with that I am obviously not a doctor nor am I speaking on behalf of everyone who has suffered from anxiety, I am simply sharing my story and what has worked for me (:

Ever since I was young, I’ve favored structure and set plans, very, very much. I’ve been known to overthink many situations in my life but figured I was just more of a worrier than others. But the thought of labeling that worry as a “disorder,” never crossed my mind.

5 years ago, I was beginning my first week as a college sophomore. The work load was light and all was well! I grabbed my first coffee of the school year and headed to the library. About half way through my cup, I noticed my heart rate was accelerating by the second. A few moments later, my throat felt like it was closing in, and my chest tightened. I thought, “whoa, okay maybe I’m just getting jittery because I drank too much, too fast.” Unfortunately, for the next 12 hours, I experienced this same ugly feeling. Throughout each class, I could barely hold my pen up to take notes, I had to step outside several times to get some fresh air, and my stomach was in knots! By 8PM, I was legit scared. What the hell was going on? It couldn’t have been the coffee, because coffee was my lifeline freshman year! I wasn’t stressed about school or really anything in particular so it couldn’t of been a panic attack, right? I was left so confused as I never experienced something like this.

The next day, I figured I would try a new Green Tea the café offered. And within the hour, BOOM! The same sh*t happened for hours on end! At this point I couldn’t help but to feel frustrated and wonder what this was?

For the next three days, the symptoms came in waves…3 hours here, 5 hours there. It was pure misery. I literally could not take it anymore.

I went to see a doctor and explained my symptoms and past history. Since caffeine was a common denominator in the past week, she explained that caffeine has the ability to exacerbate anxiety and other stress-related signs. The symptoms I was experiencing was in fact panic attacks but she was surprised I had never experienced one prior to this week. Since she was unsure herself why this was, she suggested I try this antidepressant medication (one, I can’t remember the name of) which, “would alleviate all of the symptoms”. If I continued to have the symptoms after two weeks of use, she suggested that I continue with it. Now I did zero research prior to going in but was so desperate to feel “normal” again, I agreed on taking it. I was so ignorant on mental health and pharmaceutical drugs I had no idea what I was in for. Those following weeks were some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced.

I believe it was around day 3 when my entire mood shifted. Naturally, I am a social extrovert. Especially in school, I loved being outdoors near our beach and meeting up with friends in between classes. I remember as each day passed on this medication, I found it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. I was becoming sad and found little to no energy to go to class or work. Since mental health or antidepressants were such an unfamiliar topic to me and to be honest, taboo, (especially 5 or so years ago) I did not share what was going on with me to my friends or even my roommate. I would hide my medication and take it only while she was not home. I remember cancelling on friends with a BS excuse, all because I simply did not have the energy to get out my apartment. I had difficulty in explaining how I felt to my mom and told her I just did not feel myself. But I kept with it for a number of days after because I legit feared of having another attack.

It was day 12/14 when I woke up in the AM, to dark thoughts. I could not take it anymore. This was not me. I rushed myself to urgent care and told the doctor what I was thinking and how terribly awful I felt while on the medication. I demanded I was taken off of it and at this point did not care if an attack came on. These thoughts were not worth it to me.

She then explained how medication may not work for everyone and then suggested I try alternative methods like meditation, counseling, outdoor physical exercise, journaling, and of course, ditching caffeine altogether.

Just the very next day, I felt back to myself again. As happy as I was because of this, I was also just as upset that this mental health professional immediately prescribed me medication. As I did further research and educated myself on the matter, I found that the alternative methods the Psychiatrist suggested to me after the fact, should have been the first line of treatment.

All this to say, since then I have not experienced panic attacks to that capacity. Every few months or so, however; I do still feel an attack coming on so I will now share what I’ve learned from those few counseling sessions and what has worked for me with dealing with the constant “worry” or anxiety of the day to day.

  1. Cut out all caffeine: coffee, decaff coffee, green tea, iced tea, Matcha, etc.
    • This one has been so hard for me, lol! I miss coffee sooo soo much but an 8 hour attack is not worth one cup of goodness.
  2. Meditate: In your own space, group classes, outdoors, etc.
  3. Briefly talk yourself out of it: May seem easier said than done, but I just talk to myself in third-person in attempts of centering myself again.
    • For example: “Jasmin! You will be okay, just breathe. Relax, take a walk, you’ll be fine.”
  4. Spend more time outside: Going outdoors, especially in the midst of an attack, def distracts me in the moment and without realizing, the attack often goes away.
  5. Distract yourself: I found that by focusing all my energy and efforts into an attack, often times makes it worse. Acknowledge it but still try to move on with your day and plans.
  6. Realize that worrying will not change a situation: This one, of course is a work in progress for me but it is pertinent to remind yourself this.

 

The list can go on and on, but I wanted to highlight those that have helped me the most. I’m aware treatment is by no means, a one size fits all solution, and that I do not suffer from crippling anxiety or have even faced severe mental health issues, but my hopes are by sharing my experience, I can at least start a conversation. On a general basis, I think our society focuses so much on physical health yet the topic of mental heath still remains in the shadows. Let’s all be proactive in looking after our own mental health as well as educating ourselves on such a sensitive topic. Xo

The Power of Energy Management

Although I consider myself a religious person, I find that spirituality is almost just as important. I would like to preface this piece with that: almost all of my life, I’ve strived to be at as many places that I could, all at once. Every since I could remember, I have made myself available in times when I’m the most busiest.

Lets say, I was invited to two sleepovers on the same night, I would make sure I attended both. I vividly remember, as a kid in swim practice, having this sudden urge to learn piano…the next day my dad enrolled me into lessons. Once I was enrolled, I then had the interest to begin Karate. Once I began karate, I then wanted to join show choir. My days were always jam packed! With all these groups, I met so many people! But I somehow became the person everyone gossiped to. I was often times the peace maker among my friends or the person others would turn to for advice. I noticed fairly early on, I would take on friends’ problems as if they were my own. I was always fully invested in my inner circle. If I saw anyone was treated unfairly, I would stand up for them, and often times, involved myself in drama, I was not even originally apart of.  So all this to say, I have grown into excelling in the craft of spreading myself way too thin.

I mean, once high school and college came around, I was a mess! And when I say mess, I’d like to clarify. I have lived the most organized, yet unorganized life. With such a heavy schedule, I have always been one to plan ahead. I jotted down every single commitment I had in daily planners, yet only allotted maybe 5-6 hours of sleep on a good day! I committed myself to a number of jobs, organizations, majors, friends, relationship, etc – and yet still had the nerve to complain every single day of how physically, mentally, and emotionally – exhausted I felt. But I thought, well, “I’m sure every college student feels this way…” But come almost three years post-grad, I continued to see this pattern play out in my day to day.

Now that I had a little more wiggle room with a set 9-5, my schedule consisted of dinners, long phone calls, grabbing drinks, helping friends move, etc. Though, that may all sound normal and like a good time, I would agree to go out even on nights when I was mentally checked out. The only thing on my mind was REST. But I thought, “well I can’t just say no or not answer my phone because what kind of friend is that?”

UPON LATER REFLECTION, I FINALLY REALIZED THIS IDEOLOGY WAS TROUBLING (but this was not for a while).

About 6 months ago, my mom noticed how run down I sounded from our conversations over the phone and warned that one day all of the constant go-go-go would catch up to me. She would also tell me that I made myself too available for certain friendships, that once again, she saw me take on problems that weren’t my own.

You know the saying, “Don’t take on more than you can chew”? Well this was my specialty. But if this has also been your method of tackling things, I am here to tell you there is going to be point where your body or mind will wear down. One flu and literally 5 weeks of recovery, later… I had a lot of time to reflect. Staying in bed, for three weeks straight, kind of does that to you, ha! Anyway, I came to the realization, that even though I had time management down to a T, I failed myself in energy management. I always checked off all items on my list, yet forgot to check-in with myself from time to time. For years, I had pushed to be everywhere at once, yet I was rarely ever present. 

And although I know many people catch the flu, 5 whole weeks down and out is not that common. I truly believe it was my body and mind screaming for help.

I had to learn to say “no.” And this concept was hard for me, because resting at home felt like I was sitting idle, as if I was wasting time. Especially being the extrovert I am, I thrive being around people so rejecting a friend’s invite, felt as if I was rejecting the friendship.  But clearly I had it wrong.

I had to be selfish for my own well-being.

Now a days, I feel replenished! I now prefer staying in vs going out. I’ve accepted that I am not this machine that can constantly, do.

I know many of us experience FOMO or want to be everywhere all at once but my advice is to put yourself first and rest your energies as you would your body. Prioritize people and events and allocate your energies wisely. Do not just give, give, give and be so willingly available to others because one day your energies will be depleted and that my friends, is a very empty feeling. I’d recommend to write down your social events as you would with meetings so you can do an overview of how many days you’ve set aside for yourself vs how many days you’ve set aside for other people. If you find it that it is half and half I would suggest to reconsider at least one of those days for yourself whether that means you find a new hobby or a new show on Netflix. For me, I became a plant mom. Just as we go green to cleanse our ecosystem, we too, need to find clean sources of energy.

Wishing you all the best in your energy management journey! If you have implemented this in your life, I’d like to know, how have you done so? (Comment below) Xo