Catching Up: Big Changes, Kittens, & Growth

I’ve missed blogging so much over the past few months! I had not realized how much joy, reflection, and connection it brought my until I stopped writing. These past few months have flown by. I moved away from the Bay Area to Louisville, KY to begin a PhD program in Counseling Psychology at the University of Louisville. I transitioned from being with my partner all the time to making it work long-distance (plus a three hour time difference). I’ve started building a new community virtually from scratch (again). I also spent a few weeks fostering some ADORABLE kittens to help me feel a little less lonely…

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The kittens were certainly a handful, but they brought me so much joy! ūüôā

All of these changes have been challenging, but I’m surprised by how well I’m doing. I’m an anxious, change-averse person by nature, so I was expecting the first few months in Louisville to be an emotional rollercoaster of stressors. Shockingly enough, I’ve taken most challenges in stride and feel unexpectedly calm and well-balanced. During my four years in college, I was overcommitted, overworked, and overstressed. I¬†chose that lifestyle and it took me all four years to understand the powerful toll it took on my mental and physical health. I was so burnt out by the time I graduated.

I learned a lot about letting go and cutting myself slack during my time in the business world. I worked interdependently and oftentimes I had to let go of issues of problems that arose because they were simply out of my control. Working at startups, I also learned that there is always more that can be done, but that should not mean it should be done. The most helpful piece of advice I received from my first boss (a female CEO and mother to a newborn at the time) was, “why do today what you can do tomorrow.” I remember how strange this sounded to me at the time, but I quickly started to see the wisdom. There is always so much to do, but we also have to decide when to let ourselves take a break and enjoy life a little bit. Even if you absolutely love everything about what you do, we all need time to unwind or do something a little different.

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While my PhD program will certainly be more demanding than undergrad or my past jobs, I can also be more demanding of myself to set boundaries, know my limits, and learn when to say no. Sadly, I’ve said no to writing on this blog for the past few months. I’ve devoted more of my time to reading journal articles, meeting new friends, and FaceTiming with my boyfriend.

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That’s what I’ve needed these past few months and it is more than ok. I am excited to get back into writing here! I have a few new recipes to share, some Ted Talks to post about, and many more ideas to explore with you.

Thanks for sticking around!

Ted Talk Friday: The #1 Public Health Issue Doctors Aren’t Talking About

I am on a Lissa Rankin kick! She has such a fresh perspective on wellbeing, and her engaging speaking style makes her so relatable. She does the perfect job of mixing scientific studies, anecdotes, and her own opinion to create a cohesive story. I have recently moved from a community-centered college and my home, where I am surrounded by family, to a totally new city on the West coast. I am consciously working to combat loneliness; I am prioritizing social events and opportunities not just for fun, but also for my health.

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Do you agree? Do you live in a community?

Mindful Monday: A First

I’ve decided to introduce a new staple to my blog–Mindful Monday! This series will be focused on living mindfully and what that means day to day. Mindfulness¬†is a huge buzzword, but what does it really mean? There are dozens of definitions out there…

According to google,

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Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center¬†describes mindfulness as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.” The site goes on to mention the importance of acceptance of self, thoughts, and feelings.

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Merriam-Webster defines it as ” 1. the quality or state of being mindful¬†2. the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also:¬† such a state of awareness.”

I think mindfulness can be achieved in almost any moment, yet it is still so challenging. I find it particularly challenging in that I have a mind that does not turn off, which is something I think many of us can relate to! I am always thinking about things on my to-do list, worries, or things in the future–which is certainly far from mindfulness. While I have not started a mindfulness meditation practice, I am working to incorporate mindfulness more naturally into my life.

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I take a shower mindfully, I try to practice mindfulness in bad traffic, I cook a meal mindfully. All of these moments, however small, punctuate my day and add a moment of calm and a sense of being even just slightly more centered. I think the key lies in taking baby steps. Adding a twenty minute mindfulness meditation every morning to start is just a little too ambitious for me and where I am in my life right now, but these little moments count. For me, it is more about sustainability and quality rather than going all out–and I am okay with that.

In an effort to share my practice, and hold myself accountable, I am going to begin a weekly series focusing on mindfulness and reflections of my mindfulness practice.

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Do you practice mindfulness? What does your practice look like?

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Ted Talk Friday: Good Boundaries Free You

I have found that boundaries are one of the most challenging things to maintain in relationships. We are not taught them, and they are often seen as cold, unkind, or distant. I love this talk because it highlights the real benefits of boundaries and how they can improve both your own life, but also your relationships. Boundaries in work, relationships, and with ourselves are crucial and I think Sarri GilmanSarri GilmanSarri Gilman does a great job explaining that.

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How do you practice good boundaries? Where do you find boundaries the most challenging?

Ted Talk Friday: Emotional First Aid

I LOVE the idea of emotional first aid. It sounds bizarre, but this Ted Talk does a great job of explaining the importance of practicing self-care from a young age. In mental health, we often focus on treatment and solving problems once they begin. Unfortunately, this does not allow us to¬†prevent issues. The vast differences in how we treat mental vs. physical illness is striking. If we learn how to take better care of ourselves, cope more effectively, and provide a space to discuss mental wellbeing, we can both prevent potential crises and increase mental wellbeing overall–sounds like a pretty good deal to me. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the talk!

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What do you think of mental first aid? Can you imagine a world where we give mental health the same priority as physical health?