Fitness, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Motivational, Wellness

How to Maintain Mental Space When You’re Overloaded

In today’s fast-paced world & instant access to almost anything we could possibly ever want, our minds are being constantly crammed with all kinds of knowledge & information. These aren’t inherenly bad or evil — it’s nice to know the latest score on the game within seconds or to find the best 5-star restaurant on a whim.

What happens is that we start to experience “Information Overload.” You know the feeling – having information pumped at you from a firehose instead of a garden hose. It doesn’t have to be information, either. The feeling can come from stress (having several projects going at once) or emotions (all the feels hitting at the same time.)

You’re feeling defeated.

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We’re not superhuman

If only you could find some space to just breath.

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A few deep breaths can calm the body.

You can! And it’s easy to do – whether you’ve got 5 minutes or 5 hours.

Here are my top 2 ways to maintain mental space when I feel overwhelmed.

1. BREATHE MEDITATIVELY

We take our breath for granted b/c it’s something we don’t have to think about. However, taking a few moment to do meditative breathing can help maintain mental space. Here’s how to do it:

Sit in your chair, back straight, feet firmly on the floor. Your left hand is on your belly button, and your right hand is above it on your diaphragm. Close your eyes and breathe in deeply, filling your lungs completely, then exhale slowly, emptying your lungs. Do this for up to 5 minutes.

2. REMOVE YOURSELF

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to remove yourself from the overloading factor. For instance, you’ve been working hard on a project when you start to feel overwhelmed…or it’s not going the way you want it to go. Stop working on it and move on to another less-stressful task. If possible, go outside for some fresh air. If that’s not an option immediately, do it as soon as possible. It’s amazing what that can do for mental space!

 

I find these to be the most beneficial ways for maintaining mental space.

What is your favorite way?

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Motivational, Wellness

What To Do When Negative Self-Talk Hits

You’re going along, living your life, and feeling pretty good about it when – BAM! A negative thought weasels its way into your brain, triggering a downward spiral of negative self-talk. Now, you feel hopelessly lost in the sea of negativity.

What do you do?

Before I dive into that, I want to talk about what negative self-talk or negative thoughts look possibly like.

Negative thinking is a thought process where people tend to find the worst in everything, or reduce their expectations by considering the worst possible scenarios. This approach can allay disappointment in some situations; but, negative thinking tends to manifest into a pattern that can cause tremendous stress, worry, or sadness over time. (Source)

You’re having a good day – all the lights were green when you were running late; the cake you were making turns out perfectly. Then it happens – someone makes an offhand comment that wasn’t intended to be negative; the icing for the cake doesn’t spread right. That’s when the first thought pops up. “This doesn’t look as pretty as I want it to.” Then it begets another thought. “It’s not right.” Then that snowballs into an avalanche of negativity. “I can do nothing right. I’m such a loser. Nobody likes me.”

The spiral has started.

Now what?

Here are 3 strategies I use to “talk back” to the negative self-talk.

1. Say “No.”

Tell that negative voice “No, that’s not true” because the reality is that you are not what your thoughts say you are. (“Stupid” is a common thought.) The situation is whatever. (“That was a stupid decision” vs “I’m such a stupid person.”)

2. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness in its totality has to do with the quality of awareness that a person brings to everyday living. Learning to control your mind, rather than letting your mind control you. Mindfulness is the process of observing, describing, and participating in reality in a non-judmental manner, in the moment and with effectiveness.

Take a moment to Observe, Describe, and Particpate. Take a walk and be in the moment. Don’t fret over the future or the past. Be aware of your feeling about where you are (e.g. a park, a neighborhood, etc.), or your thoughts about your location, or the sensation of each foot striking the ground.

You can practice mindfulness anywhere you are just by showing up in the moment and observing, describing, and participating. And don’t worry if it “doesn’t work” the first time. It is a practice, after all.

3. Radically Accept

What does it mean to “Radically Accept”? It means that your acceptance is complete and total. It means that acceptance is in the mind, heart, and body. It’s when you stop fighting reality, stop throwing tantrums b/c reality isn’t going the way you want it to go, and start letting go of bitterness.

Here is what to be accepted:

  • Reality is as it is
  • There are realistic limitations on the future for everyone
  • Everything has a cause
  • Life can be worth living even with painful events in it.

One big reason to accept reality is that the path out of hell is through misery. By refusing to accept that fact, you fall back into hell.

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Name the show. 🙂

Don’t get discouraged if the “magic of positivity” doesn’t work the first time you practice it. I have been practicing these skills – and many others – for over a year now and still have times where the magic doesn’t happen.

Mental Health, Wellness

Is There a Light?

A couple of blog posts ago, I talked a bit about depression. I mentioned briefly how I was able to start climbing out of the downward spiral and find the light.

And there is a light. I promise.

Here are 3 tips to help you find your way out of your darkness.

1. Exercise

I have heard over my experience with dealing with depression that exercise is one of the most effective non-medicinal way to improve my mood. What happens when you exercise is your body releases endorphins (the feel-good chemicals) which, in turn, gives you a boost in self-esteem.

2. Talk about it

The hardest thing to do when I’m deep inside my darkness is to open up to someone about what I’m going through. And I know that I’ll feel a little less alone when I open up to my close-knit circle. At the bare minimum, I’ll pour out my thoughts, heart, & feelings in my journal. Sometimes, though, my circle and/or journal aren’t enough. That’s when I turn to my therapist, who will remind me of the tools I have at my disposal to help me through.

3. Seek professional help

There is nothing wrong with seeking the help of a mental health professional. It isn’t the end of the world. Going to the doctor or therapist to receive professional help doesn’t mean that you are weak. I know that while I’m in the middle of my storm, I feel as though I’m defeated and weak when I reach out. That couldn’t be further from the truth – I’m getting stronger because I reach out for help.

 

Please, please, please don’t try to fight this “demon” by yourself. If you don’t have a support system in place and need to talk to someone, contact me. Or call the NAMI helpline 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6265).

Life, Mental Health, Motivational, Wellness

When I Feel (A Glimpse of My Life)

These days, there are plenty of things that will drag your spirit down – social media comparison, decisions being made beyond your control, economic downturn…just to name a few. Some people can just trot right on with their lives as though these things don’t bother them at all. Other people get down-right depressed. Still others are somewhere in the middle.

It’s those people who, in my opinion, have it the hardest emotionally. Now, don’t get me wrong – being depressed is no picnic in the park, and neither is being the only “happy” person in your circle of influence. However, at least those people know just where they are emotionally.

Being a person with Borderline Personality Disorder, I know what it’s like to be in the middle – not knowing exactly how I feel from one minute to the next. And when I do feel, having that emotion be so intense that it all but consumes me and not being able to just acknowledge then release all in one fell swoop.

So, how do I deal with it?

I could say that I do a really quick meditation or visualization in which I see my trigger floating away down the stream or float up into oblivion on a cloud, but I’d be lying. The truth is that I shut down (which, in clinical terms, is “dissociate”). I retreat far into myself where nobody can reach me – “zone out” if you will. What can’t be seen is the war going on in my head to “snap out of it,” to deal with the situation in a more positive manner.

I hate the fact that I feel emotions so much more intensely than others in my immediate circle. I hate the fact that I can’t seem to live a “normal” life – a life free of such intenseness. (Is that even a word?) I try so hard to see a positive to this, but all I see is negative.

It’s a daily struggle – a struggle that I grow weary of fighting. But fight I do for it’s all I know to do. I am very thankful to my support system who love me no matter which aspect of my true self is showing up. I am very blessed to have the kind of husband who takes his wedding vows seriously – “for better or worse til death do us part” – and who does his best to understand what I’m going through.

Mental Health, Wellness

Depression

The past couple of weeks have been extremely difficult for me. I have been up-and-down, in-and-out of depression so much that I now have a season pass on the emotional roller coaster. Let me correct myself…a multi-season pass.

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The only thing that I could do – which is the best thing – to prevent myself from sliding in too deeply was to reach out to my best friend. She is the only human on earth, it seems like, that totally understands what I go through. My husband, bless his heart, doesn’t get the severity of it all b/c he deals with his own special “demon.”

BFF Gets Me

Not only did she listen to me whine and cry “Woe is me! The world should revolve around me, but it doesn’t!” but also did she give me a lot….and I mean a lot!…of encouragement through her own experiences, her prayers, and her Bible reading. Because of the state that I was in, I ignored a good bit of the help she was trying to give. (Sorry, Bestie! Still love you, though.)

BBF No Judge

Next week, I’ll go over some tips that you can use to give yourself a lift in your journey out of the darkness.

Life, Mental Health, Wellness

I Really Needed This

It has been such a loooooooong summer……or so it seems. Having only 1 child has its perks – only having to pay for 1 set of everything, etc. – but it also has its drawbacks – the constant pleading for attention b/c there isn’t anyone else to play with.

That’s where it really wears me down. Especially when I have to go to town or work (I am in the family rental real estate business in addition to blogging), and he can’t go with me but refuses to stay home alone. (He’s old enough, and my parents are right down the street.)

Enter a mini vacation to Helen, Ga, with my aunt.

*SIGH OF RELIEF*

With the help of my hubby, I was able to get away for a few days and just relax. No housework, no “parental” work, no work except for relaxing.

 

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The hotel room

 

My aunt and I spent the first couple of days just window-shopping. We saw a lot of really cute & funny things that made us think of family back home.

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And we ate at some really great restaurants and had adult beverages.

 

And watched people as they tubed down the river. One fella was so relaxed that he had fallen asleep & didn’t realize that he’d gotten stuck on a rock…

 

All in all, it was a very good trip. Although I hated to leave, I was about ready to come back home.

And I’m glad I did!

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Where is your favorite place to get away to? Leave a comment below!!

Life, Motivational, Nutrition, Wellness

Diet vs. Lifestyle

Diet.An ugly 4 letter word.

An ugly 4 letter word.

A rollercoaster of emotions and reactions for such a small word.

But it seems that everybody that we know – aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends, etc. – is on a “diet.” Then there are all types of diets like low carb, keto, and paleo…just to name a few. Not to mention the famed “Grapefruit Diet” and it’s vegetable counterpart the “Cabbage Soup Diet.”

We are constantly being bombarded by advertisements for different products claiming to be the “miracle product” to “cure obesity.” In reality, they are over-processed, chemically-laden food-like products that essentially starve your body into submission.

Let’s face it…..

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I have an assignment for you. It’s really simple and will take only a couple of minutes.

I want you to sit there and count how many diet plans you have been on in the last 6 months…in the last year…in the last 2 years.

You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. (If you choose to, please know that I will not judge you at all!!)

Have an idea of the number? Great. Now, think about what happened each time your diet plan ended. Were your results maintainable? Did you “crash and burn”? Did you gain the weight you had lost….and then some?

You’re not alone.

According to the website Fitness for Weight Loss, over 100 million Americans are on some kind of diet. Within 5 years of beginning a diet plan, almost 95% of dieters regain the weight they had lost.

And I’ve been one of “those people” – not happy with the health/state of my body and desperate to change that. I have tried a lot of different things over the years only to have minimal success in losing weight…..and I probably succeeded in hurting my body in the process.

 

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The Diet Cycle

 

 

Let’s switch gears for a few minutes.

I want you to visualise your world without obsessive calorie/macro counting. A world where you’re free to eat 4 slices of pizza at a birthday party or 2 big brownies for a special treat. A world where no food guilt exists.

How would you feel in such a world? Would “Heaven” be a good description?

Do you believe that world is within reach?

No? Let me help you.

That world is called “Lifestyle.” You are no longer dieting and can still enjoy your favorite foods like pizza, brownies, and hamburgers.

The key to living a healthy lifestyle is to eat whole, nutritious foods 95% of the time while still indulging yourself 5% of the time.

 

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Here’s an example:

You’ve just started your journey towards better health. You have been doing exceptionally well – your willpower is like steel.  You are now on Day 3 and are being tempted by the thoughts of a nice, juicy cheeseburger with all the fixin’s and fries smothered in cheese and bacon.

You have a choice – eat that meal today OR save that meal for a Friday night date with your Significant Other. Either way, it’s a win-win because you get to have that meal.

If you were on a diet, chances are you wouldn’t be “allowed” that meal…or you’d “spend” all you had in points/macros/calories for the day to enjoy the meal. If you chose to eat the meal on Day 3, you may feel like you cheated and that you might as well give up.

At least, that has been my experience.

With eating nutritiously as a lifestyle, there are no guilt trips associated with foods. To top it off, the more plant-based you can get your eating, the healthier you can potentially become.

**Note: I do not advocate one particular eating style (carnivore vs herbivore vs omnivore.**

Personally, I love the freedom I have from eating nutritiously as a lifestyle. I no longer feel guilty for eating “off plan” and can explore different diets. (I use this in the context that a diet is what a person eats…e.g. plant-based.)

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Post your comments below. I would love to know what you think about this topic. 🙂