International Self Care Day: You’ve gotta nourish to flourish

Isn’t that saying so fun but also, like, so true!? You’ve got to nourish yourself in order to flourish. Flowers can’t bloom without proper watering and sunshine. You can’t pour from an empty cup. To be on top of your game 100 percent of the time, you have to spend time on yourself so you are getting all the attention and care you need.

source: Pinterest – Lushome

Today is International Self Care Day, and I wanted to share with y’all ways I find my zen both at home and at work.

At home 

Dealing with anxiety on a daily basis, finding my happy place is absolutely necessary. Here are a few ways I deal with everyday stress to keep myself balanced:

  • Change into comfortable clothes
  • Take off your makeup and wash your face
  • Do a face mask (or two – I have an obsession)
  • Burn incense or light a couple candles
  • Turn all the overhead lights off and only have lamps on
    • The warm lighting helps you relax
  • Listen to a calming playlist
  • Put on your favorite show or movie, but keep the volume a little lower than usual
    • For me, too much noise can cause an increased heart rate and slight anxiety, so if you’re feeling on edge already, it’s best to keep the volume levels at a more comfortable setting.
  • Go for a walk
    • This one is part of my daily routine already because I have a dog, but even if you don’t have pets, make an effort to get outside and take a quick walk – even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes.
  • Cook yourself a healthy meal
    • Cooking has become one of my favorite hobbies! I love that it’s a non-electronic activity, especially since I work in social media and am constantly connected. It’s a great stress reliever and a semi-mindless task, too.
  • Treat yo self!
    • Parks and Rec style – maybe this is an Amazon order, maybe it’s going to get coffee or ice cream, or maybe it’s finally buying that pair of shoes you’ve been pining for. Retail therapy is real y’all!
  • Play with your pets
    • If you don’t have a pet of your own, maybe you have a neighbor who could use a helping hand and can walk their dog for them.
  • Call your mom
    • Okay seriously – momma always knows best! Just talking to your mom or dad, brother or sister, for a few minutes will relax you. No one knows you better than the woman who birthed you and the siblings who helped get you into trouble!
  • Meditate
    • Mediation beginner? No problem! Two of my favorite meditating apps (that I also use to help me fall asleep at night) are Calm and HeadSpace. They’re free and available in the app store.
  • Take a nap
    • Sometimes when life gets too hard, you just gotta nap. it. out.

Now, I’m aware some of those seem like simple and small activities – and that’s exactly right! Finding your zen and balancing your mind does not take a great deal of effort, rather it’s small steps that keep your heightened senses at bay and relax your mind, body and soul.

Peace Wall, Prague, Czech Republic 2014

At work

Obviously it’s not quite as easy to take time for yourself when you’re on the job. I am very fortunate for having my own office, where I can control the lighting, sound and smell. Most of us work the good ole 9-to-5 and are on a pretty consistent schedule, so I’ve come up with some ways you can decompress while still accomplishing your tasks and pleasing your boss, too!

  • Go for a walk
    • I know I said this on the list above, but it is seriously one of the quickest ways to de-stress and clear your mind. After an intense meeting, a quick lap around the building for about 10 minutes does my mind WONDERS.
  • Grab a coffee or tea
    • Personally, I have a sliiiight caffeine problem, so getting my afternoon tea or coffee is basically a must. But it’s also a healthy pick-me-up, too!
  • Use an oil diffuser
    • Some offices don’t allow this…thankfully, I have my own so I can comfortably diffuse my beloved lemongrass essential oil all day long. For those of you who can’t, keep a roller with your favorite oil combo in your bag and put it on your wrists, neck and behind your ears for instant relaxation.
  • Talk it out
    • Take a quick 10-minute personal call. Whether it’s to your parents, partner, or long-distance best friend, speaking to a loved one even for just a few minutes will help you feel more at home and peaceful.
  • Put on your headphones
    • Just as I mentioned above, listening to a nice relaxing song is great to drown out the noise around you. But – maybe you aren’t wanting a quiet and calm tune. Throw on any old song; sometimes I like to put on some rap and jam it out. Works like a charm.
  • Confide in a trusted coworker
    • Not every work environment is ideal, and some of us are lucky to have more friends at work than others, but surely you have at least one confidant you can talk to. Whether you’re stressed about a project or worried about an upcoming review, talking it out with a trusted coworker will make you feel better, even if it’s just saying your thoughts and worries out loud.
  • Close your eyes and imagine your happy place
    • My personal happy place changes based on my mood/train of thought…but it always is either a fond memory or me with my family and friends, or a beautiful place in nature near the water. The pic below is my go-to image because I remember how salty and fresh the air smelled and how blue and majestic the water looked when I was in Croatia.
Split Harbor, Croatia

Side note: my favorite incense and essential oils are available at Whole Foods! My diffusers are from Amazon (and under $20!) and my roller balls are from TJ Maxx.

Well, there you have it! My tried-and-true methods to reaching inner peace and keeping your zen on, no matter where you are.

xoxo,

HB

 

 

 

Staying true to myself one bad day at a time

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the simplest way.” – Ernest Hemingway

What a beautiful sentiment. These words have resonated so deeply with me since I first came across them. The Old Man and the Sea was one of my favorite books in high school and I’ve always admired Hemingway for his writing, so when I came across this quote of his, I vibed with it.

While this was written decades ago, I see it ringing true here and now in 2018. Our country is in chaos, the president of the U.S. is the laughing stock of the world and the headlines in news get worse each day so intensely that we’ve become desensitized to horrific violence happening all over our world.

But, back to the quote above.

About a year or so ago, I told myself I would be honest about my feelings and not hide in my hurting anymore. Today, I don’t feel like donning my typical wide-mouthed smile. And that is OKAY. Am I moping around like Eeyore? No. But am I hiding behind a smile and saying “fine” or “good” when people ask how I’m doing? Also no.

Life is hard. It’s hard for everyone in different ways and on different days. On a hard day, the easy way out is to simply grin and bear it and hope for a new day tomorrow. Well – not today, junior!

Y’all know I struggle with anxiety and depression. I’m not shy about admitting it. But, it’s still hard on days when I’m down and don’t want to get up. My typical response is to laugh it off, act extra happy and hope I can convince myself that I truly am.

Well, here’s how I’m feeling today:

  • tired
  • lost
  • in pain

I woke up on Monday with back pain that I haven’t experienced since my surgery (for those of you who don’t know, I had back surgery Dec 2015 on two herniated discs at the bottom of my spine). While my pain level isn’t anywhere near what it was pre-surgery, it still sucks. I haven’t been sleeping very well this week because of the pain and the anxiety this pain is causing.

Broken. Let down. Failure.

That’s how I feel. I’m 25 years old – why the hell am I dealing with 65 year-old health issues?! I get stuck on that question a lot, “why?” or “why me?” But, this isn’t healthy thinking.

Healthy thinking is believing in yourself. It’s staying on task so you feel accomplished checking off your to-do list. It’s working on your full self: mind, body and spirit. So today, I’m letting myself hurt. I’m accepting the back pain I’m dealing with today and challenging myself for a better tomorrow.

I know this blog isn’t quite as strong or captivating as my others, but this is for me. I’m writing down here and now that I am working on myself, for myself, by myself and won’t stop until I feel like I’ve reached the top of this mountain.

                        xoxo,

HB

 

Why is it so hard to love myself? 

Most of you who are reading this are probably thinking to yourself, “but she exudes confidence” or “she’s always so bubbly and happy to be here.” And most of the time I am happy to be where I am – I’ve always chosen to take the optimistic approach and try to find the silver linings in life. But realistically speaking, even the more sunshine-y people out there have bad days and question their worth.

Growing up the baby of a huge family, I’ve always tried to be louder (let’s be real, I didn’t have to try too hard to be loud) and get the most attention by nature. Working hard to be the best of whatever my latest venture was has always been my goal. Determined to succeed, I’ve held dozens of leadership roles in various student and non-student organizations since I was 15. I graduated in the top 10 percent of my high school class, excelled in the Journalism School at KU, moved to Dallas to work at an international marketing agency, moved back to Arkansas to work at an agency closer to home, and now am once again residing in Dallas and employed by the University of Texas at Dallas, doing what I love.

I’m 25 years old. I have my own apartment, the world’s sweetest dog (not up for debate), live with my amazing boyfriend and have had dozens more experiences than your average 25-year-old.

BUT. For some reason, more often than not I criticize myself, my work and my place in life. The majority of these self-doubting thoughts are along the lines of “why am I not more successful” or “why don’t I have the perfect body” or “why can’t I figure my shit out!?”

And you know what I think is a large contributing factor to my self doubt in this day and age? The brutal culture and expectations modern day America has on people, especially women. Growing up I looked up to all the supermodels and A-list celebs who are all size 0 and wear designer everything. How ridiculous is that? Even when I was in my fitness prime, I still wore a size 9-10, knowing damn well I’d never look like the entertainers on TV.

But instead of looking at my accomplishments and giving myself that much-needed pat-on-the-back, self-criticism trumped all. Comparing oneself to another’s accomplishments or body or life in general is only going to do damage and harm to the soul.

Thankfully, a friend very near and dear to my heart reminded me of my self-worth today and inspired me to write this post. I know I’m not the only one out here who feels like their appearance and demeanor on the outside doesn’t match what’s truly going on inside and felt I needed to share these thoughts with my readers.

Anxiety plays a role in this dilemma for me, but even the women out there not living with mental illnesses struggle with loving themselves daily. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and instead learn to relish in our accomplishments and be proud of them in a positive way.

After reflecting on this, here is my mantra for the week:

I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am worthy.

xoxo,
HB

Learning to let go

Hello again, my beloved readers. I know I’ve abandoned you for a couple months and I’m sorry for that, but – life happens.

The last time I wrote I was pouring out my indecisive tendencies and wishy-washy thoughts, concerned I hadn’t made the right life decision. But honestly, like, who ever makes the right “life decision”? Does every moment we witness not contribute to the grander picture of “life”? Anyway, I’m not in the mood to go psycho-analytical right now so I’ll leave that thought there.

By now you’ve seen everyone’s 2018 resolution posts and you’re definitely ~so over~ them already. So I’ll spare you that portion of my blog and get straight to the good stuff. Sometimes life sucks and sometimes it’s beautiful and unfortunately fate is a thing and we have no real control over what happens to us in our daily lives.

The second half of my 2017 in a nutshell: I quit my job in Little Rock, moved back to Dallas to be with my boyfriend, with no new job lined up. So many undecideds in my life, but I chose love and I am forever grateful for that decision. Since the move, I’ve been working as a barista at Starbucks, freelance writing and social media working here and there, but mainly, I’ve been lost. Emotionally, spiritually, physically – lost.

After some major soul searching (which, by the way, I’m still working on) I’ve decided how much I miss having more control over my life. I’ve let my barista schedule run my life, using my days off as an excuse to be lazy, and never giving myself the time and effort I needed and deserved to focus on me and my goals. When I’m not in control is when my anxiety really tries to take over. However, these past few months have been good for me in that struggle. Learning to let go of what is out of my control, while staying focused on what I can control is what I’m working on.

That being said, it’s time I take back control of my life. I was born to be successful. I’m social, outgoing, entertaining and determined to succeed in my personal and professional life. Every day, I’m promising myself to wake up and try my best to be happy and do whatever it takes to get there. I did not work my ass off and graduate from one of the top journalism schools in the country *Rock Chalk Jayhawk!* to be mediocre. One day, I’ll have bylines in magazines or on websites you read all the time.

I deserve happiness and success and I need to remind myself of that more often. Shoutout to my day ones who still cheer me on even while I am lost and confused and feel at a standstill. TRUST – y’all will be hearing from me more often.

xoxo,

HB

Unashamedly taking a step back

Life can get overwhelming…quickly. Whether you’re working too much or not enough, have bills swallowing you or a fully-furnished apartment equipped with cable and internet, it’s easy to get caught up and suddenly realize you’re in way over your head and need time to breathe.

Life in 2017 America is full of pressure: pressure to be successful, pressure to be pretty, pressure to be fit, pressure to be perfect. Adults in this country are expected to work 40+ hours a week, fully support themselves, workout daily, travel often and show off their material goods. All for what – affirmation that we’re following society’s ridiculous standards? Receiving recognition for all our accomplishments? Forget the countless nights of no sleep, early mornings, stressful days at work and god forbid more than one cheat meal per week.

Life is something you have; living, breathing creatures walk this planet, and if you are one of them, congratulations – you have a life. All right, before I tailspin off into an existential crisis, I’ll get to my point.

Life is for LIVING. That’s right, living, as simple as that. We all deserve to choose our own way to do so. The past couple of years, I’ve been working in the digital media and marketing industry. Since graduating from KU in 2015, I’ve left Kansas, moved back to Arkansas, moved to Dallas, moved back again to Arkansas and just moved back yet again to Dallas about a month ago. I’ve had two well-paying jobs for a 24-year-old with two different companies. Made some good friends through work, met a couple great mentors and learned a lot about myself.

The most important lesson I’ve learned recently, is what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to wake up each day dreading where I’m supposed to be, doing something that I’m not 100 percent passionate about and counting down the hours ’til I can go home and snuggle my dog in peace. I am a free spirit who needs to be able to explore, talk with people, hear their stories, share them with the world and walk around with a smile on my face.

When I moved back to Dallas, I didn’t have a new job lined up. I was suddenly unemployed and uncertain about what my next move would be. I unashamedly was taking a step back. Thankfully I have super supportive parents and an amazing boyfriend who helped me get on my feet. Going on about four weeks of funemployment, I’m happy to say I’ve secured a job as a barista at Starbucks and will be starting next week!

Some of you are probably sitting there judging me as I’m thrilled to share that I’m once again a barista (shoutout to my Sweetbay baes) and not currently “using my degree” for what it’s intended. But who fucking cares? I couldn’t tell you the last time I was this calm. My life has simplified and my over-analytical self has started to gradually ease into comfort. I can finally be on my feet every day at work, socializing with people and making them their favorite coffees and treats. I have time to focus on my writing and pursue freelance work on my own time, my own schedule.

Most importantly, my anxiety levels have decreased tremendously. Aside from the occasional freakouts (cue my weekly existential crisis), I wake up relaxed and go to sleep happy. Am I completely anxiety and depression free? No. Am I making plenty of money? Also no. But do I generally feel better each day and excited for what’s ahead? ABSOLUTELY.

Once I allowed myself to reconsider what it means to be a living, breathing adult in 2017, it’s like a whole new realm opened for me to explore. For now, I’ll be a barista and a writer. I may end up with enough Freelance work to make it my full-time career. I may end up pursuing a masters degree. Or, I may even end up back in the corporate world with the typical 9-to-5, who knows.

But what I do know, is we are all entitled to creating our own reality and pursuing our dreams, whatever they may be. Cheers to what’s in store!

Please don’t ignore my ‘invisible’ illness

Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’m not your “typical” person living with anxiety and depression, according to society’s standards anyway.

When I was younger, I didn’t know much about mental illnesses, albeit my dad is a clinical psychologist. Throwing around phrases such as “they’re crazy!”, “omg you’re so insane”, or “just get out of bed already!” without knowing how hurtful or unproductive certain words can be to someone. Fast forward through an average childhood, awkward adolescence, a couple painful teenage years and a crazy college experience and here I am – a 24-year-old with a good job, fabulously decorated apartment, adorable rescue pup, loving boyfriend, supportive family and the very best friends a girl could hope for. Sounds like a perfect life, am I right?

Wrong.

More often than not, I struggle getting myself up in the morning. Some nights I hardly sleep at all due to my anxiety; I worry if it’s too quiet, I worry if it’s too noisy. I’m afraid someone is going to break into my apartment and hurt me or my dog. The couch becomes my bed half the time because that’s where my TV is and I have a clear view of the front door, you know, in case anyone tries to break in.

Other nights I fall asleep after dinner and don’t get up until the following morning. Joking about always being late and walking into the office, Starbucks in hand, I play it off as if nothing is wrong and I’m just one of those “late people”. In reality, I’m anxious. Did my boss see me? Are my coworkers whispering about me, calling me a slacker because I’m always late? I wish more than anything I could get up when my first alarm goes off instead of lying there pressing snooze for two hours. On days where my depression seems to be having a party in my brain, telling me I’m not good enough and my job isn’t worth it and I should just hide in bed all day, I finally make it to the office – sans makeup and a semi-decent outfit on.

Living with anxiety and depression can be debilitating. Trust me, I still have my days every now and then where I give into the little voice in my head telling me to stay in bed and hide from the world. However, most of the time I come across as a free-spirited, happy and successful twenty-something. This is where the dilemma lies: a thoroughly optimistic, naturally loquacious, blonde-haired blue-eyed privileged white girl walking around as if she’s got her shit together, when in reality her mind is constantly racing and it feels like there’s a raincloud right above her head.

But, this does not make my mental illnesses any less important or easier to deal with than those whose symptoms aren’t quite as camouflaged. Just because six out of seven days of the week I seem all right, doesn’t mean I really am. On days where I am more quiet at work and wear my oversized headphones that scream “leave me alone!”, I’m not mad or annoyed. I may not even be working that hard. I just need my space because it’s one of those days where dealing with myself is already too much effort and there’s no room for putting on a smile and asking how my coworker’s dinner was the night before.

The more we talk about mental illnesses in general, especially ones that are “invisible” 99 percent of the time, the easier it will be for those living with them and their loved ones, who may not understand. High-functioning anxiety is real; those of us living with it still have the same horrible worrisome thoughts, nervous habits and paranoia. However cliche “don’t judge a book by its cover” may be, it rings true for those who struggle with “invisible illnesses” on the daily.

Reach out a hand and open your ears for your loved ones when they do finally decide to spill their heart out. Take them seriously and listen – you just may end up saving their life.