Finding My Holiday Spirit With Hygge

Depression and anxiety can take the fun out of the holidays. The fatigue, low moods, poor stress tolerance and apathy makes holiday stuff feel overwhelming or pointless. It’s really hard to be excited about decorations, gifts, and songs when it all feels futile.

I haven’t enjoyed the holidays for quite awhile. It’s probably been close to 7 years since I looked forward to this time of year, so it’s a fading memory for me. I really miss that excitement and fun though, and I’m in a better mental place now, so I’m determined to rediscover my holiday spirit.

When I started thinking about it, I tried to place what the base feeling was that I was looking for. “Cozy” seemed to fit best. So much of the holidays centers around that concept. It seemed to me that if I could embrace keeping things cozy around the house it would really encourage me to get into the holiday spirit, and that’s when I started exploring the idea of hygge.

Hygge

For awhile now I’ve seen hygge mentioned around the internet, but never had any interest in finding out more. I had the general idea that it had to do with being “cozy”, but that’s about it. Hygge – pronounced [hoo-ga] is the Danish concept of coziness created when enjoying good food, drinks, and fireside times with friends and family. I’ve decided to focus on four aspects for myself.

Holiday Lighting

We don’t have a fireplace, so I’m needing to make do with creative lighting. Our Christmas tree was the first place we started.

My xmas tree with red and white lights, candy canes, and a red and silver robot ornament

I’m loving the lights C put on the year. It reminds me of a candy cane!

Another set of lights we do each year is our banister. We use some lighted garland here.

multicolored lights on an evergreen garland wrapped around a banister with a wooden shelf with knick knacks, a pink and black painting, and part of a tv in the background

This is something we have consistently done even when I couldn’t be bothered to do any other decorating.

New this year is my living room window idea. We’ve been leaving this ivy/holly garland up year round but I’ve wanted to make it a bit more pulled together looking. So, searching for “hygge” decorating, I saw some pics that gave me this idea.

white lights and ivy garland wrapped around a curtain rod above my window with cream horizontal blinds covering the window

So, I bought this string of white LED lights and wound it around the curtain rod with the garland. This will stay up year round, and I’m loving it!

Holiday Scents

Yummy cooking/baking smells really add to a cozy atmosphere. In fact, when trying to sell a house it is a common tip to bake cookies before an open house.

I like to use wax melts to add fragrance to our home. I own two warmers (in my bedroom and living/dining room) and often have two different scents going at once.

Owl wax warmer with a evergreen and red/black plaid background and an infant picture of my son.stained glass wax warmer with pastel flower shapes on a wooden table. background is blue and white tissue paper

Some of my favorite scents for fall and winter are vanilla, caramel, praline, and spices like cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I prefer the melts from Tuscany Candle and Oak & Rye out of others at the stores local to me. There are different brands you can order online or at home parties, but I don’t like that method of buying them. I like to be able to smell them in person, and grab one or two while I’m already out shopping.

Candles are not used nearly so often in my home, but we do have a few Pet Odor Exterminator Candles we light now and again to help with the pet smell (three dogs and a cat will do that). I recently bought a Pumpkin & Spice scented one from our vet for the holiday season.

Winter Comfort

One of my favorite parts of colder weather is being able to feel snuggly in sweaters and fleece. I have sensitive skin, so I need very soft sweaters. Nothing itchy for me! Leggings are my go-to pant option since they are so gentle for my fibro body. We found some wonderful soft and perfectly warm (not too hot) fleece lined leggings at Wal-Mart this year.

Cuddling up under soft blankets is wonderful also, so we keep our heaters turned just a few degrees lower to make evening snuggles possible. We have an assortment of fleece blankets and also crochet blankets that my grandma and mom made for us. They keep us warm and inspire wonderful memories.

Honeycat curled up on bed
Cooler temps inside encourage pet cuddles too.

Soft, warm socks are another way to feel snuggly, cozy. I love soft wool socks, but they can be hard to find in my size, so I have some fuzzy fleece ones too. Cold feet are never fun, so why not make sure your feet are warm and comfy?

pink fleece socks with white stripes and designs on them

Food and the Holidays

I think most people would agree that cold weather calls for soup, roasts, and other crock pot friendly meals. We eat these year round, but definitely more so during fall and winter.

Crock pot meals are especially nice because they make your house smell yummy much of the day. I love getting the work done early in the day so we don’t need to worry about it later when we are worn out.

Baking is great for making the house smell good too. Also, since the oven usually heats the house up, winter is a lovely time to bake more rather than summer. You could even take this a bit further and bake gifts for friends, family, and neighbors!

With any decision to make a change it is important to not take on too much at once. That’s why I’ve chosen these four hygge concepts to start with. They are easy to add into what we are already doing, and are, in some cases, simply ways to up my self-care game. No pressure, just enjoyment.

What do you like to use to feel cozy?

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

12 Extremely Useful Spoonie Cleaning Tips

I wrote a post with a few cleaning tips before, and enjoyed sharing some of the shortcuts I’ve found over the years. I recently had a request to share some more, and I was happy to compile another list of spoonie cleaning tips. These really work for anyone who wants to spend less time and energy on housework but, obviously, my fellow spoonies come to mind first. 🙂

Picture of a Siamese cat on a backgroud of multiple shades of blue. White words say, "1 Day of cleaning. 1 week of recovery."
This is what we are trying to prevent!

Vacuuming

We need to vacuum our carpet almost daily, since we have three dogs and cats. We only vacuum the main part of the carpet though. Once a week we get more detailed, and get the edges with the hose.

Dusting

If you can afford it, buy the fluffy Swiffer dusters. They are the only thing I’ve found that actually pick up the dust rather than push it around. All other dusting methods leave me sneezing.

Use a microfiber cloth on a Swiffer broom to dust/remove cobwebs from walls. It has a 4 foot handle, so you can reach all the way up to most ceilings.

I use pressurized/canned air and a vacuum to get the assorted flotsam out of the keys of the keyboard (and from the inside of the computer tower). A Q-tip with alcohol can help remove any sticky spots, etc.

Laundry

Have you ever forgotten the laundry in the washer and found it a day or two later? Smelly laundry can be fixed by adding a cup or two of white vinegar to the load followed by a soak cycle. If you can, interrupt the cycle and leave it to soak an extra hour. Then resume and follow the soak with your usual wash cycle. Repeat if it doesn’t work the first time.

Black and white photo of a woman using a washtub on a table to do laundry outside.
Hey, it’s better than having to do it this way.

Toilet

We keep down stains and smells by swishing the toilet daily, which lets us only worry about a deep clean about once a month. I learned about toilet swishing from FlyLady. While most of her techniques don’t work for me, the toilet swishing has helped a lot. We keep a toilet brush by each toilet, stored in a container that can hold water. One of ours is in an old flour container, and one is in a vase. Just a little water and any type of soap in it then you can dunk your brush in it, and swish it around the toilet bowl.

 A chamber pot with a toilet brush in it.
(Pictured: A chamber pot with a toilet brush in it.) This is not what mine look like, but gives you an idea of what you can use.

Stains

Vinegar gets used quite a bit around here. Along with the cleaners I make with it, I also use it as a carpet stain remover. I dilute it in a spray bottle at about a 1:1 to 3:1 (water:vinegar) ratio with water. Then I spray it on the stain; soaking the carpet well. I let it sit a few minutes, and then blot it up. Repeat until most of the stain is gone. Then you can switch to scrubbing. If this doesn’t work, re-spray and sprinkle some baking soda on top. Let it bubble, and follow-up by scrubbing with a clean damp rag until rinsed. Let dry and vacuum the area.

Baking soda also works great to get into the small hollows of a textured counter top to help remove ground in dirt/stains. Mix enough water with it to make a “soft scrub” consistency (a paste) and scrub the counter. Leave for 5-15 minutes on any stains. Spray with vinegar for extra tough dirt. Then, wipe off and rinse thoroughly. I usually have to keep rinsing until my bare hand finally doesn’t feel the grit.

Magic Eraser is your friend. I find it useful in so many places.

  • Marks on walls (gently! you can remove paint if you scrub too hard)
  • Finger prints on doors
  • Tub and shower walls
  • Sinks
  • That weird baked on grease stuff on cookie sheets
  • Grease and grime build up on kitchen walls and cabinets. (It can dry out wood, so watch for that.)

Sippy cups

Have a sippy cup/thermos that was left too long? That smell is horrendous and can be really tough to get out. Before you just toss the cup, try this.

First I dump, rinse with hot water, and then fill with soapy water. Replace the lid and shake really well. Repeat and let sit 30 mins to an hour. Now, dump that water, and refill with very hot water and about a 1/4 cup baking soda. Replace the lid, shake, and let sit for a few hours.

If the cup is still smelly, rinse and fill with either full strength white vinegar or 1/2 and 1/2 vinegar and water. Let this sit a few more hours or overnight.

If the smell still isn’t gone at this point, you can keep repeating, but I usually give up and toss the cup. You fought a good fight. 🙂

Miscellaneous Spoonie Cleaning Tips

Don’t feel you need to make your bed. According to researchers at Kingston University in England, making your bed holds in the humidity from you sleeping in it the night before which is the perfect environment for dust mites to breed. So, if you don’t want to make your bed, don’t. It will allow your bed to air out and might cut down on the dust mites. If you still want to make your bed, leave it to air out for an hour or so first.

Clorox wipes are another great multi-tool. We use them to wipe down sinks, counters, appliances, light switches, handles, door knobs, etc. Everything gets a swipe with them if we have an illness running through the house. (Very important tip for my fellow spoonies who have a weak immune system) Keep a container of these wipes near/under each sink and make it easy to wipe up spills, stains, etc as they come. One quick wipe is much easier to deal with rather than scrubbing later. Save those spoons!

Interested in some of those DIY cleaners I mentioned earlier? I’ve got the recipes for 5 of my favs typed up and ready for you to download. Just click on here for the cleaner recipes, and we’ll get you hooked up!

Well, that does it for this batch of spoonie cleaning tips! If you have a specific area of the house that you would like more tips for, drop me a note! I would really love to hear from you. 🙂

Also, if you want to be sure to be notified when I post next, be sure to subscribe!

 

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

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The 3 Steps I Use To Embrace Change I Want In My Life

Change is hard. Yeah, yeah, you know this. Everyone knows this, but did you know that even simple changes that you want, and you know will make your life immensely better, can be scary?

My Experience With Change

One such change for me was treating my anxiety. I have treated my depression a few times, but never really focused on my anxiety. I finally decided it was likely a bigger problem than I realized, so I made myself an appointment.

While I was eager to treat my anxiety, so it would stop interfering with my life, I also felt very nervous. It wasn’t just nerves over the appointment, which is a familiar feeling. It was something else, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. So I thought about it, and talked it out with my husband. He let me use him as a sounding board, and it was so helpful.

Finally it dawned on me what I was nervous about. I was anxious about not feeling anxious! Now, I’m sure that sounds silly. I know I felt pretty silly at first! Then I thought more about it, and it made sense. I’ve dealt with anxiety most of my life. The idea of not having anxiety was so strange, so unknown, that it scared me. I honestly almost canceled.

I didn’t because I knew there was benefit to treating my anxiety even if the idea was scary. It had to be better to not worry, have tense muscles, struggle to sleep, and have panic attacks on top of other things. I didn’t know what it would be like, but surely it was an improvement.

Of course I was right! Those first few weeks were amazing. Over and over I marveled at how different I felt. I wish I could describe it for you. I realized I was laughing more often and with more feeling than I had in years. My smile was a bigger smile than before. I had no idea that my previous “happy” was so muted. There was still some anxiety, but I wasn’t always thinking of new worries. I also stopped having many of my muscle cramps. (I still get some from my fibromyalgia.) Sleep is still a struggle at times, but now it is only from pain and not anxiety. I don’t have to also fight negative thoughts as I lie in bed trying to fall asleep.

How Can You Apply My Steps?

Yeah, change is scary, but it can be so, so worth it. So, how do you move forward with change if you are scared? Well, first you need to work out why you are scared. There are many ways to do that some options are:

  • Journaling – Sitting down with a blank page and just writing everything down is a very effective method for many people. Whether you use writing prompts, write a letter to yourself, or use the brain dump method, getting it all out and written down in front of you can help you put order to your thoughts.
  • Finding someone to use as a sounding board – This works fantastically for me. A person willing to just listen and let me bounce ideas off of them, like a friend, spouse or family member, helps me make sense of the thoughts ping ponging around in my head. Many times they don’t even need to give any kind of feedback. My thoughts just order themselves as I talk it out. Other times they are able to come up with questions that I didn’t think of, and that’s enough to help me work through my problem.
  • Meditation – This helps for similar reasons as the other two. Meditation can help you slow down your thoughts, and let your brain put some kind of order to them. As you quiet your thoughts, it’s easier for the answer you are looking for to bob to the surface and be clear.

Once you figure out exactly what you are scared of, take a good look at it. Recognize that fear and let yourself feel it. It’s okay if you think the fear is silly or irrational, it’s still a valid feeling! If you can figure out the “why” behind your fear, even better, but it’s okay if you can’t. Really understanding your fear makes it easier to fully acknowledge it and move past.

Now that you have a face to your fear, let’s refocus. I want you to write down every reason you can think of that this change is a good thing. Every reason, no matter how small. We aren’t going for a pro/con list. Remember, this is a change we know is a good idea. We are just getting past the fear, so you can act on implementing this wonderful change.

Once you have that list, read it over and over. Add to it if you think of anything else at any point. Now, take a leap and go for it! When those fears pop up again, remember this list and repeat it to yourself. You can do this! You are worth it!

What change are you working on? How is it going? Do you need any more help working yourself up to going for it? Please share down below, or drop me an email!

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

Figuring Out Your Basic Self-Care Needs

I was never any good at self-care. I was a typical teenager who ate and drank whatever and skimped on sleep. Soon after I was a young mother putting her kids first. That continued about 14 years until about four years ago when things had to change. At around the same time my depression and anxiety got worse and I started suffering from inflammatory arthritis and fibromyalgia. Self care had to become my priority. So how did I figure out what I needed? Mostly I just started with the basics.

Hydration

I’ve always tried to keep my hydration at least at a bare minimum. When it gets too low I get a very bad headaches. Now, I’ve been diagnosed with low blood volume and dysautonomia which require me to hydrate more than the typical 8 cups a day. For most people though, drinking until your pee is light yellow is plenty. This may be more or less than 8 cups. The liquid in food helps too, so if you struggle to drink enough, remember that high water fruits and soups can help.

Eating

If I go too long without food, my blood sugar dips and my depression takes hold. I need to eat every 3-4 hours usually. Not everyone needs to eat as often, but be sure you eat regularly for your body. Don’t skip meals, and snack if you need it. Food is fuel, and your body requires plenty.

I’ve also learned what type of foods make me feel better and what doesn’t. I know I need the right mix of protein and carbs to feel good. Other people feel better with their own mix. Whatever kind of foods that make you feel best is your right way to eat.

Sleep enough

This one is still hard for me. I need plenty of sleep to help manage multiple conditions. I’m also a night owl, and those two don’t always mesh well. I try to make it a priority to get to bed at a reasonable hour most of the time. I’m lucky enough to be able to nap on the days I need it. Sleep is important, so I don’t let myself feel guilty if I need more.

Find out how much sleep you need and make it a priority. Take a look here and see if you can improve your sleep hygiene any. A longer and deeper sleep will be better for you.

Quiet time by myself

I’m married with four kids; quiet time is hard to come by, and it’s even rarer to get it by myself. Not everyone finds this necessary, but as an introvert, I find it vital. My anxiety goes up if I don’t get enough alone time. If I can get even 10-30 minutes alone in my room, it helps a ton. The rare days that I can get an hour or more, I make sure to take it, no guilt involved. The wasn’t always the case, but I’m a better person all around if I get my alone time.

Past the common self-care basics

Like my quiet time, not everyone’s necessities are the same. Sit down and think about what makes you function best. What makes you feel off if it is left out? That is how I figured out I need to be sure to shower every other day. I’ve learned that I’m likely to want to skip a shower when my depression is acting up. As part of my self-care when it comes to depression, I make sure I don’t let myself skip a shower if at all possible. If I find myself dreading shower time, I know I need to get one anyway and then do some extra self-care to help fight the depression.

Once you have your basics figured out and are able to take care of them regularly, then you can expand and add more into your self-care routines. Start small though so you don’t get overwhelmed and burned out right away.

If you have any questions or requests for more on self-care and working out your routines, leave a comment or feel free to email me!

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

How Can I Find Self-Acceptance With Chronic or Mental Illness?

I’ve previously been covering self-acceptance from a very general direction. I want to focus in a little more now. Personally, I have found self-acceptance extra hard due to my chronic illnesses and mental illnesses. It only makes sense that other people have the same problems, so I want to share my thoughts and solutions.

Accepting Limits

One struggle I have is accepting my limits. Whether you compare yourself to what society expects, or to what you could do “before”, it is hard to accept that you can’t just do whatever you “set your mind to”. Before I got sick, I knew that if I decided I was going to do something, it was going to happen. Now I find myself limited by pain and fatigue; if not by depression and anxiety.

I have found it important to accept that these things will happen. It isn’t my fault, and there is no reason for, or benefit to, me to blame myself. Just like the weather can mess with your outdoor plans, my illnesses and mental health can interrupt my daily plans. In accepting this, I can “go with the flow” more and not simply give up.

If I continue to define myself by what I can't do, or what normal people do, I will destroy myself." Quote from LauraChamberlain.co.uk

Self-Worth

I used to base my worth on what I could do. My grades, my work, my housework, my caring for the kids, etc., all affected my self-esteem. Then I couldn’t do any of it. Brain fog took my “smarts”, and pain and fatigue took my ability to do housework and mother the way I had been. Anxiety never allowed me to work outside of the house for very long. I was left with nothing and felt I was worthless. My husband and kids showed me I was wrong.

They showed me, but this is true even without them. I am worthy, just by being me. The fact that I exist makes me worthy and valuable. This applies to everyone! You too are valuable and worthy just by existing. You don’t need to earn the right to like yourself.

Taking a Second Look at Limits

So, if we are worthy, just by being alive, our limits don’t take anything away from our value. Physical limits are just a line drawn by our body telling us where we need to stop. Respecting those limits are a part of self-care. Rather than fight them and suffering the consequences, most of the time we need to listen to our bodies.

Your value isn't in your doing or saying. It's in your being.

Now, that isn’t to say never push the limits. Some things we may find “worth it”. An occasional special outing with friends or family can be worth feeling worse for a week or two. Repeatedly pushing ourselves will only worsen our health long-term though. You deserve to be treated better than that.

Our ideal may be being able to do everything for everyone each time, and then we feel guilt, anger, failure, etc when we can’t do it. Changing our outlook and seeing it as a way our loved ones can be there for us is helpful. We have a different situation that does not lead to the “typical” expectations. It is fine to expect a change from others, rather than them expect the same or “normal” from us.

Boundaries are a function of self-respect and self-love. -quote by Brene Brown

Boundaries

This is where boundaries come in handy. Boundaries show others how to treat us. They are a line drawn in the sand. By setting boundaries, we let others know who we are, what we allow, and what is not tolerated.

Chronically ill people and those with mental health issues may have to be extra tough when it comes to boundaries. Healthy people do not always understand our limits and may forcefully push us to surpass them. We must be stubborn at enforcing those boundaries to care for ourselves. People in our life must understand that we mean business, and crossing our boundaries is not okay. They are just as valid as anyone else’s. So many times, people think that just because they don’t understand our various struggles, the struggles are not legitimate when that is the furthest thing from the truth.

Boundaries can be hard to set. If you need some help figuring out which ones to set, and how to do so, I prepared a free “Setting Boundaries Workbook” for you to download.

It is not your responsibility to convince anyone to respect your boundaries. You set the boundary, it is their place to accept it. Be firm, and your loved ones will catch on.

Rethinking Goals and Dreams

The last way I want to talk about limits has to do with goals and dreams. Having a chronic or mental illness can affect what dreams and goals are possible. That doesn’t mean you should give up on them though. you have a few possibilities. First it is possible that you can find a way to use modifications to make it happen. For instance, someone who wants to be an author, but loses the ability to type, can use voice recognition software to write still. If your dream job seems un-achievable, perhaps there is still something in the same or similar field that you can do.

I didn’t think there was any career available for me. Between high pain days, bad fatigue, and my depression or anxiety acting up, I’m not exactly the epitome of a reliable employee. This limits job/career choices quite a lot. Now, I didn’t have any certain job in mind to begin with. In fact, I chose to not go to college (and use my scholarship), because I didn’t have any goal in mind. Nothing has ever grabbed my attention.

After being diagnosed, it didn’t seem likely I would ever be employable. Well, maybe I’m not, but I’ve found a way to employ myself. Being a blogger allows me to work within my limits, and it is a way for me to help people, which I’ve always felt a pull toward. I share this personal bit to show how limits don’t have to limit you, but can actually open up previously unseen chances. To see how I work with my limits as a blogger, check out my monthly series, Confessions of a Chronically Ill Blogger.

There are a variety of ways that someone with either a chronic illness or mental health issues will find their journey to self-acceptance a different challenge than a healthy person. I’m going to stop here, but I’ll address other points soon.

Are there any particular concerns you would like me to write about? Let me know in the comments! You can email me anytime also at leighbryant@flawedmessylife.com .

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

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Resource Roundup: Over 25 Amazing Sources for Info on Self-Acceptance and More

I’ve been told by my friends that I have awesome “Google Fu” skills. Maybe that’s why I love looking up things, or maybe I have great skills because I love the search. Either way, I spend a lot of time searching either Google, or more likely, Pinterest, for any and everything I’m interested in learning about. I have quite the personal Pinterest account, and my blog’s account is getting there too.  With over a thousand pins (after only 3 months), there is a ton of info to go through. I thought it would be helpful to round up some of my favorite, most useful pins that I’ve found to share in one place, and so this resource round-up was conceived!

Self-Acceptance

Resource Roundup

First, if you are new here, you might want to check out this post and this one, to see what this “self-acceptance” thing is all about. Now for some great links.

How Radical Acceptance Can Help Your Self-Esteem – This article, by Emily Roberts, is filled with great info such as:

“Radical acceptance doesn’t mean you approve of what happened, you can hate it. It doesn’t mean that once you accept the situation you will become soft or allow other bad things to happen to you. This is fear-based thought. The truth is, you can’t change the situation, but you can change how you want to live your life”

Do yourself a favor and go check out the rest of the post. You will never regret it.

Self Esteem Interactive Online Tool – A note to my readers on their mobile devices, this link is going to work much better on a computer. Bummer. But, it is worth getting your butt to a computer to check it out. This interactive tool from Simply Stepping is such a wonderful idea! I’ve, personally, never seen something like it when it comes to self-esteem/love tools. It really does a great job visually demonstrating how to replace those negative thoughts we all have.

8 Ways That Self Acceptance Will Change Your Life – This post by Christie Inge gives a phenomenal run down on why to mess with this whole self-acceptance thing.

How to Silence Negative Thinking – If you click on the link, there is an article to go with this that you can go read if you want. I really like the part that I pinned though:

silencenegthoughts

This infographic from mindbodygreen is fantastic:

negthoughtinfo

If you want to look into self-acceptance some more, feel free to check out (and follow!) my Self Acceptance Pinterest board.

Self Love

Self love can feel wrong at first if you are new to it. It isn’t narcissism or selfish. It is vital. I haven’t written anything solely focused on it yet, but I have some great links to share.

What Self-Love Means – There is so much I love about the Tiny Buddha site, and this article is no exception. Please check it out. Banu Sekendur has many examples listed out, and simply makes understanding this concept as basic as possible. This is an excellent post all around.

Daily Self-Love Checklist – I just love this idea. Please click on the link to go to her site, and actually download the list. You will get a much better quality list if you do that rather than try to just save it from here. (Disclaimer: I do not support or encourage any type of dieting. I am a firm believer that the diet culture needs to be left far behind us. More on that later.)

dailyselflovechecklist

22 Ways to Love Yourself More – This post by Sharon Martin has terrific ideas for showing yourself some love. I enjoy the included graphic that summarizes it. Do visit the link though since she expands a bit on each idea listed.

22lovemore

3 Ways to Practice Self Love – I adore this woman’s writing style. Please go check out Alessadra Braun’s site and take a look around. She has a free Self-Love Bootcamp that looks just tremendous!

How to Fall In Love With Yourself – I love this post as a “how to” fall in love with yourself and not another “ways to” show yourself love. Being told how to show yourself love is all well and good, but it’s like being told to hug your pain-in-the-ass sister/brother as a child. This article helps you to find that love for yourself that may be hiding for now. Marelisa Fabrega of Daring To Live Fully does such a wonderful job getting the “how” across to her reader.

How to Feel Unconditional Self-Love – This post has such a beautiful way of describing self love and how to find and show it. Suzanne Hayn has a remarkable way with words and is a must to check out.

Need more on self-love? I have a Pinterest board full of it.

Self Care

Self care is extremely important. I have touched on it a few times here and here. There will be more in the future. I have found some great links on the subject as well.

First I have this great graphic. The link on Pinterest didn’t go back to the original creator, so I’m not linking back. Instead, here is Pamela Redmond Satran’s site.

10 Scientific Ways to Become Happier – I am a firm “believer” in science. Mention something that doesn’t have peer reviewed science behind it, and I’m going to give you a raised eyebrow. That is why I was so tickled to see this chart. Each approach included has actual science behind it as to why it works. If you click the link, the article has some links to articles that explain the science.

Quick Solutions for Panic Attacks – This chart has simple, quick ways to try to get a leg up on a panic attack. I love the simplicity, and how user friendly it is. You can easily print it out, cut out the examples, and keep them handy for any panic attack. In addition, Simply Stepping has a post about panic attacks and what to do right on that page. There is also a link to a one on one session for more anxiety support.

6 Ways to Practice Self-Care When Rest is Out of Reach – This is the perfect post for anyone who thinks they are just too busy to take care of themselves. Brittany L. Bergman gets it and tells you just why you are wrong.

Seven Self-Care Strategies for Those Struggling – This is a beautifully written post about the less fun parts of self care. The author of The Span of My Hips covers the topic with understanding and wonderful insight. Don’t miss out on their knowledge.

25 Ways to Use Your Love Language for Self Care – Check out this link to find out your love language, and get suggestions for self care related to your needs. This infographic summarizes well, but check out Liz’s site Soul Warriors for more insight, challenges to join, and freebies.

How to Create a Self-Care Plan, And Why You Need One – Sometimes we just need someone to hold our hands to get something done. That’s why I think this is a great post to check out. Morgan, owner of the blog Enlightened State, does just that when it comes to a self care plan. She explains why you need one, gives an example (of her’s!) and even offers a free printable worksheet if you need it. So great!

Create an Emergency Self-Care Kit – Self care kits are awesome to keep on hand for when you are having a bit (or a lot) of a breakdown, and need to take care of yourself, but can’t think of what you need.  Jenny, of Inky Paws Art, shows you hers and has a great visual full of suggestions for you to use to make your own. Make sure you check it out!

Big List of Self-Care Activities – Shaunacey, of Simply Shaunacey, has created a wonderfully long list of self-care activities to check out. When you are making up your own list of ideas for planning out your self-care, visit this page and give this list at least a once over.

If you want more on Self-Care, visit my Pinterest board. I also have one filled with DIY self care products.

A More Fulfilling Life

Sometimes you find you need more to your life, a purpose that is more than just living day to day. I looked for mine for a long time, and I know it is a terrible feeling to live with. So, I have compiled a variety of pins with ideas on how to find your purpose or lead a more fulfilling life in general.

9 Ways to Figure Out What You’re “Meant” To DoBrianna Wiest, an author at Bustle has nine great questions for you to ask yourself. Once you get to the end of the list, there is an excellent chance you will have an idea of what you are “meant” to do in this world. At the very least, you should learn more about yourself, and it is always nice to have more insight to your inner workings.

Three Necessary Ingredients For Creating A Life You Love – Please do yourself a favor, and see what Karen from One Salty Kiss has written on the subject of not just loving your life, but creating a life you love. She covers the topic in a fantastic fashion. Don’t miss out.

4 Signs You Aren’t Living Your Purpose – Be sure to click on the link and enjoy the post related to this graphic. Rachael, author of the blog HerAfter, has plenty more to offer on these points, and it is well worth your time to go read it.

Any of these three work for you? Need different ideas, or just want to do more reading on this subject? I have plenty more on my Pinterest board.

That’s all I have this time. Let me know if you liked this idea, and I’ll be sure to make up another resource roundup in the future. Remember, I have a lot more pinned over at Pinterest, and I’ll be adding more all of the time.

Leigh

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My Depression Peeks Its Head Out Now and Again

I actually had another post planned for today. I’ve been trying to finish it for days, and last night I had to concede that it wasn’t going to happen. My depression has acted up, and that makes writing hard. My brain just won’t cooperate. So I was lying in bed trying to figure out how I was going to have a post for today, and I remembered what I wrote at the end of February.

The last time my depression surfaced, I got up in the middle of the night and wrote about it. It was a way for me to work through my thoughts. I’m sharing it with you today.

 

My Mental Health

If I remember right, this is my third time being on medication for mental health. I really think this is the best I’ve ever felt while medicated. (My mental health seems to be at the very best when I’m pregnant.) Yet, I still find myself randomly spiraling down into depression. It will come out of nowhere and surprise me. I don’t usually see it coming. Suddenly I get irritable for no reason, or I abruptly lose interest in what I’m doing. Sometimes there is no other clue, but no matter what I find myself curled up in bed unable to care about anything.

Depression

“Oh, hi there old friend. I recognize you. Why are you back? Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

All I can do is ride it out. Fighting the negative thoughts used to be too exhausting. I just let myself wallow in them. If they got too overwhelming, I would tell the worst to my husband. He is my best friend and my rock. I trust him to tell me the truth, and so I can believe him when he argues with my dark thoughts.

Negative Thoughts

I’ve practiced countering negative thoughts long enough, that I try to not wallow now. I can’t make the feelings go away, but I do my best to interrupt each dark train of thought. I don’t let my mind meander down those paths unsupervised. Instead, I take my own hand and gently lead myself back toward the bright reminders I have stored for just these times. I also try to distract myself. I’ll play games on my phone, scroll through Pinterest, watch Netflix, or rewatch some favorite YouTube videos. I now have some playlists of helpful songs on YouTube too.

Thankfully, since my most recent increase in my medicine, these spirals only last a few hours now. They used to last a few days. This one has been about 8 hours so far. It probably doesn’t help that it started around suppertime. It helps to have some length of day ahead to try to do something. I tried to sleep for awhile at bedtime, but I took an hour nap and that was apparently all my body wanted. So, for now, I find myself awake, moved into the living room, eating a poptart and writing this at 2:30 am. I’m hoping that getting it all out will clear my head, and it will let me sleep.

Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep soon.

When I first started on meds, I hoped to not need them someday. I was 22. Now, at 37, I accept I will likely be on meds the rest of my life. It honestly doesn’t bother me. My brain needs something to help it function, the same as my mom needs insulin, and I need to stay on medication to keep my inflammatory arthritis from progressing.

How do I know the medicine is working if I still find myself in this condition occasionally? I finally am able to feel happy; happier than I remember feeling for years. I actually have fun doing things. I laugh louder, longer, and more than ever. I want to make plans. I’m writing this blog. 😀

I wrote this as my own therapy to get out of my funk, but why post it? To be real, for one. Also, I want people to know that recovery from mental illness is not a straight line. There are ups and downs. The important bit is that we keep going. Progress is progress, even if it is slow. So I had a setback. It will pass. It always does.

I hope this post can make a difference for even one person. If I can make anyone feel less alone, more understood, or help in anyway, then it was worth it. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment. I’d love to connect on Twitter or Instagram too! 

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