Is it all in my head?

The intruding thoughts, the paranoia, the hurriedness to finish a task, is it all just in my head?

Yes. But, also no.

Of course the thinking is literally in my head. But, I’m not making up all these negative obtrusive thoughts. Or am I? You see, when you think 1,000 thoughts in a minute’s time it can get fairly confusing. Yes, I do live with anxiety and depression and have done so for much longer than I first thought (therapy is a funny yet beautiful thing). BUT – my anxiety and depression do not define me. 

Just because I hear negative thoughts creeping into every moment of my day, does not mean that those are my own, true reality. Or are they? Now I’m just getting too existential and need to take a step back. LOL

What I’m getting at is this: humans are multi-faceted beings. You can have one side to your personality or 10. And lately, I think I’ve begun to almost relish in my melancholic side. Do any of you get that way?

I’m not saying I’ve enjoyed this struggle bus I’ve been riding for what feels like forever, but lately I’ve been thinking I’ve let myself use my mental illnesses as an excuse. An excuse to be antisocial. An excuse to not go to the gym. An excuse to ignore responsibilities.

Sometimes it seems you are climbing an uphill battle, and hey, maybe you are. But working on ways to counteract those negative thoughts and actions is what will get you to that holy grail of a destination: peace.

My dad, the wisest, kindest, most optimistic person I know (he’s also a psychologist so hey, he’s got the proper training, too) once told me that to keep yourself at peace, you must replace each negative thought with a positive one. And when the negativity seems to be taking over no matter how hard you try, you can’t give up. Hating on yourself for looking fat or unkempt in your outfit today? Tell yourself you’re beautiful. Say it out loud if you have to. Shit, write it down!

We all have our ups and downs, and I personally have been on a down for a while now. But I haven’t given up. I won’t give up. Adding positive and healthy habits into your routine is a great way to start.

For example, I’ve been reading so much more lately. I used to always have my nose deep in the spine of a book, but I got off the reading train in college and never quite hopped back on. Until last year. Not only does reading make me happy, but it also is a non-electronic activity, which are few and far between these days. It also helps me fall asleep easier and more quickly than if I turn on the TV. Which means…drumroll please…I wake up more easily!

Getting out of bed on the right foot really goes a long way. Forcing yourself to find the silver lining helps, trust me. Yesterday I had the day off of work, and when I first woke up I couldn’t wait to just lie in bed all day and watch TV. But why? Sure, a leisurely day is necessary, especially when your body and mind need rest, but too many lazy days is what starts your downward spiraling.

So, what did I do? I said NO to my negativity and got out of bed and went to yoga. As soon as I had my breathing regulated and hit my first down dog, I immediately felt a release of stress. Pain, hurting, anxious and depressive thoughts quickly crept out with each huff.

I felt so great afterwards and ended up having a fully productive day, all the way down to putting up Valentine’s decorations at midnight (still working on the whole falling asleep thing, it’s a marathon not a sprint y’all gimme a break).

So here’s to replacing each negative thought with a positive one. Let’s spread more peace – Lord knows our world needs it now more than ever.

xoxo,

HB

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Life’s not all rainbows and butterflies

I am tired. 

Tired of being the life of the party. Tired of being the one who puts in the extra work. Tired of being the funny one everyone looks to for a laugh. Tired of being the go-to friend for advice. Tired of being the optimistic bubbly person everyone thinks I am. (Which, don’t get me wrong, I am optimistic and usually pretty bubbly, but that’s not the only side of me, folks.) Tired of giving everyone else my time when I don’t give myself a minute.

Y’all, I am just TIRED.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cracking jokes, being the one my friends can lean on, putting in the extra work on a group project. But I can’t be that person all the time. Nobody is happy all the time. Nobody is equipped to deal with outside drama 24/7. And while most of you reading this will agree we can’t be happy or helpful all the time, nobody actually considers this when seeking help on something or wanting a shoulder to cry on.

Sometimes, the advice-giver needs an open ear to vent to. Maybe the person you rely on to do the majority of the group project just can’t muster that extra energy this time. Maybe, just maybe, they need a  b r e a k.

My depression has been getting the best of me lately. It keeps me from wanting to socialize, catch up on the phone, or even just run errands that I typically love. What do I say when my coworker asks me what I did over the weekend, admit I didn’t leave the house until it was time for work Monday morning? Because that would be the truth. But that’s not the fun answer, it’s not the crazy party story people may be used to hearing from me.

My anxiety comes into play when someone bombards my world, whether it be work or a friend or family or whatever. When you’re depressed, you hardly have enough energy to do the things that normally are a breeze. Waking up on time? LOL that snooze is going off at least five times this morning. Doing my makeup? Y’all might get to see me with mascara and brows on that day. So when I’m having a more-than-usual depressive day, I just can’t handle anything else. And if something is thrown my way I’ll go into a panic.

The thing is, humans are creatures of habit. We get into routines, learn people’s behaviors, and then start to expect those routines and behaviors to stay the same. That’s my issue though: because I’m usually the fun one, the advice giver, the hard-worker, that’s what people start to expect of me. And when I’m struggling with my depression and anxiety more than usual, just thinking about someone needing me or expecting my typical happy-go-lucky self sends me straight into stress mode.

Being an empath is both a curse and a blessing. I love the relationships I’ve made and the connections that continue to grow because of the deep conversations, the venting, the listening, the advice giving. But as someone who lives with anxiety and depression, on my bad days I just can’t handle any more emotion. I will get sad about your dog being sick or your grandparent dying along with you. Truly. That’s why it’s both a blessing and a curse.

I know most of this post has just been ranting, but here’s a quick recap:

  • Be considerate, you never know what someone else is dealing with
  • Stay patient with loved ones who may seem moody or distant
  • Check on your happy friends

This blog was mostly just to get my feelings out there and off my chest so I can take a bigger breath. Have a moment to sit still, quiet and calm. But I also hope some of you can relate, and know you aren’t the only one.

It is okay to say no. It is okay to say, “I’m sorry but I’m just not up for that.” It’s okay to put someone else’s needs off because you need time for yourself. Here’s to a more understanding and empathetic future for us all.

xoxo,

HB

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