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3.23.2020

7 ways to deal with anxiety one day at a time


7ways-to-deal-with-the-covid-19-coronavirus-crisis-mental-health-encouraging-how-to-cope-tips

7ways-to-deal-with-the-covid-19-coronavirus-crisis-mental-health-encouraging-how-to-cope-tips

It is safe to say that even prior to this COVID-19 contagion, we live in times of anxiety, critical times hard to deal with. And now, compounded with this coronavirus pandemic, everyday life for many of us has been disrupted abruptly in ways we might not have imagined and will forever be changed one way or another. And sad to say, in just a short time this disease has taken the lives of thousands. It would be an understatement to say society as a whole is facing a good amount of anxiety right now and it even is affecting those who may not have ever dealt with this type of can-be-crippling disorder. Anxiety at times can feel like a monster that’s living in our body somewhere between our heart and our belly that robs us of sleep, snarls and tears our inside and tries to take over our life. And even when we do our best to take it one-day-at-a-time, sometimes it can feel like several days hits us at once. There is no doubt that anxiety is going to be a daily struggle in the unseeable future. The key is to not give up the fight.

7ways-to-deal-with-the-covid-19-coronavirus-crisis-mental-health-encouraging-how-to-cope-tips

7ways-to-deal-with-anxiety-and-the-covid-19-coronavirus-crisis-mental-health-encouraging-how-to-cope-tips

Even though I have never dealt with crippling anxiety like some of my friends and most people do, I have my fair share of feeling anxious at times in my life. I mean, let’s face it, I live in the same chaotic world as everyone else. However, due to having grown up in an unconventional home without parental protection, love or nurturing and dealing with one crisis after another at a very young age with feelings and wounds left unattended; over the years, I have learned how to navigate through life and cope with such negative feelings. You see, one part of coping with anxiety is to recognize what it does. It diverts your mind and distracts you with so many doubts - robbing you of mental clarity, keeping you in a vicious cycle of worrying. Because of our imperfect nature, we tend to bring our worries from yesterday, the "would-haves, could-haves, and should-haves, bundle them with our imagined worries about tomorrow: the 'what-if's to today." But when you ask yourself: how often have I worried myself sick about what might happen tomorrow, only to find that tomorrow wasn't nearly as bad as I feared it would be. Overthinking and overanalyzing our problems can shut us down. 

So then, what's the antidote to stop being anxious? Today, I would like to share seven ways that have helped me to not completely crumble when under stress and/or feeling anxious:

7ways-to-deal-with-anxiety-and-the-covid-19-coronavirus-crisis-mental-health-encouraging-how-to-cope-tips

1. Take One Day At a Time. Granted, it is normal and proper to be concerned about our material needs and the welfare of our loved ones. But we want to avoid undue worry - an excessive fear of tomorrow that can take the peace out of living today. I do my best to not waste time and energy worrying about the aforementioned above with all the "couldas, wouldas,shouldas". It's better off to devote our efforts into what we can in the present moment of today to move forward. As horrific as things can be at times... thanks to resilience as beautifully made creatures, we generally can adapt well to life-changing and stressful situations. And many times what feels like the end is often the beginning.

2. Curtail Your News Consumption. I've never been one to watch any news. I already know it's all bad. It's good to keep informed but being balanced in the amount of news reports we consume is of utmost importance, in order to reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue, thus allowing us to sleep better and feel less drained. Which is crucial in keeping our immune system up to fight illness.

3. Share Your Feelings With a Trusted Friend. Back in my younger days had I not had the mentors that came into my life during my most crucial years, I don't think I would have been here today typing this. So, sharing your feelings and talking things over with an understanding, non-judgmental friend or family member can help lighten things up a bit and possibly make you see things differently. Having that interchange alone can promote emotional healing. Sometimes, just a simple kind word, a sympathetic thought even hearing a simple phrase like, " I hear you" can do so much good in unburdening oneself.

4. Think of Others Not Just Of Yourself. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I'm here to tell you that there is for a certainty more happiness in giving than there is in receiving. I grew up with a mom who always thought of others which I seemed to have inherited, thankfully. A gift I didn't fully appreciate until my adolescent years way after she was long gone. In the thick of my tender years facing crisis, my mentors would suggest I go help the elderly neighbors, mentor my peers and volunteer my time doing something good for others, which I did and have not stopped since. Not only does thinking of others help you to forget about your own problems, but the amount of joy it brings you to see the glitter in someone else's eyes from your act of being selfless and kind is just indescribable. Honestly, there's no amount of money that can evoke that sense of deep satisfaction. It's been said, that love is practical. So, make a list of people you could help in a practical way while in isolation - even if it's just a matter of giving them a listening ear as mentioned above by means of a phone call.

5. Prayer. As a child who grew up in dire need of direction in my life, praying was and still is one of the main things that I have found to give me real peace whenever I get overwhelmed with life. Having seen its powerful evidence in my own personal life, I recognize praying is far more than a religious routine or a type of mental therapy as some may think. So, making prayer a part of our life yields so many benefits. Peace of mind for one, especially given the times we're living in. In case you're curious, here are some of my favorite scriptures that I reread often during times like this... Philippians 4:6,7, Psalm 37:5, Psalm 65:2, Psalm 145:18, 1 John 5:14.

6. Writing. Another thing that has kept me going my whole life is writing. Whether we're recording our joys or sadness, writing down our feelings not only helps us to reflect but give us the opportunity to unscramble thoughts in our mind, thus giving us that much needed release. I've found so many benefits to writing. One of the greatest advantages is its ability to help us know ourselves, work out solutions to problems. It also has been a great alternative to when I don't have anyone to talk to and a helpful tool in dealing with emotional pain. I find expressing myself in writing helps me to focus on the real issues and put them in perspective. And if you're not sure how to even begin or what to write, you can start with just these five things.  

7. Exercise Patience. Not knowing exactly how and when things are going to get somewhat remediated, we find ourselves wondering about so many questions probably one of the top ones being - how long will these shutdowns be? etc... etc... Again, as scary and tiring it is waiting for things to get better... the hard reality is things are currently out of our control. The question at this point is what can help us during these difficult times to endure it? This is the time to be patient. For one, it will help us to avoid retaliating, being unkind and thoughtless to others because we're suffering. I specifically use the word "exercise" because unfortunately, patience is not one of those qualities that many of us have especially during very difficult situations. It requires continued effort as one would put into physical exercise to develop. We can compare our situation to that of a farmer. Even though a farmer works hard to plant his crop, he cannot control the weather or how fast the plants grow. He needs to wait patiently for "the precious fruit of the earth." In a similar way, there are many things that we cannot control as we wait right now. Like the farmer, we need to just wait patiently. Which involves enduring difficult situations while still maintaining a positive attitude. 

What about you? What helps you deal with difficult times? Please share in the comments below. It might be greatly encouraging to someone else and me. 


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3.16.2020

Dare to unplug and give yourself permission to say yes to your wellbeing



At the close of 2019, I decided to take a break from social media. Once I made up my mind to unplug after my last post that day, the feeling of freedom I felt was rather exhilarating. Don't get me wrong, as a creative person, I enjoy browsing through Instagram, posting and connecting with like-minded creatives that keep me inspired, encouraged, and motivated on days I find myself in a stagnated slump. As a freelancer, a crucial part of my job is to promote my work, and obviously, that means being active on the different social media platforms. However, I wanted to start off the new year unplugged and recharged with a fresh perspective, without the noise of information overload to drown out my own inner voice as I was planning on facing the new year with certain personal goals. That one-month hiatus afforded me the time for deep thinking and mental space to meditate on things that are important to me. One of which, I reinstituted an old ritual where I switch off my phone for at least the first few hours in the morning so I can put the focus back on reading, as it helps to set the tone for the day and builds focus. I always say, if the goal is to live life with intention and purpose then it's important to waste less time drifting through life staring constantly at a screen. Living with intention means saying no to the things that aren't important so we can say yes to what matters most. Tweet that. 😉




In today's world it is deceptively easy to lose sight of our direction and the things that matter most and give us joy. It's very easy for the days, the months, and the years to quickly slip by, and we arrive at the end of our lives wondering where the time has gone - mourning the life we dreamed to live, but never realized. I would hate to experience that regret at the end of my days if I will even be that fortunate enough to see them. Downtime is about giving yourself the freedom and space to do nothing in particular - letting your mind rest from distractions and noise from the hustle and bustle. I've had people say to me, "you're taking time off AGAIN?" followed by some comment that their life is much too busy to have the "luxury of taking time off", in an attempt to make me feel less than. At the end of the day, it boils down to choices, realizing that your time and energy can be invested in things that will serve you or destroy you. 

Since taking care of my well-being helps me to be a better human being in society, I find it's a must for me to make time for regular downtime to replenish and recharge. I am aware that might not be possible for most people, especially caregivers or parents tending to their children and family. However, like it's been said, "where there's a will there's a way." The secret is gaining control. That's where the art of balance comes in along with effectively managing time and setting priorities. Much like shutting down a computer at the end of the day, when we power down and switch off, our mind recalibrates, replenishes, and makes sense of connections between our thoughts and memories - finding solutions to questions that we normally would not be able to focus on when mentally preoccupied. Hence, dare to unplug and give yourself permission to say yes to your wellbeing. It's potentially life-changing. 


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3.10.2020

5 ways to live in the present and stop rushing through life


5-ways-to-live-in-the-present-and-stop-rushing-through-life-women-history-month-balance-for-better

Very early on in life, I've learned to simply live in the present moment of 'now' - meaningfully inhabiting the current moment, slowing down and paying attention to everything around me. Especially when it comes to being in the presence of loved ones and others who are talking to me. I guess it's my upbringing. I was definitely brought up in a different society, where respect was paramount when it comes to making eye contact while intently listening to someone talking to you. So the habit of staring at your phone screen while others are talking to you is completely foreign to me and one of my biggest pet peeves. Call me old-fashioned but it's one of those things I find extremely rude. It's a no-no for me. The other thing I never understand is the constant rush to Friday or to a particular season to 'begin to live'. Tomorrow or even the next moment is not promised to anyone. Each day, each moment is a gift - a new opportunity to live, to enjoy and to appreciate life. I'm not going to lie, there are times I find if I'm not careful it can be easy to fall into that "rush rush" mindset and adopt these unhealthy habits myself. Thus, the reason, I like to write down these reminders for reference. 

5-ways-to-live-in-the-present-and-stop-rushing-through-life-women-history-month-balance-for-better

5-ways-to-live-in-the-present-and-stop-rushing-through-life-women-history-month-balance-for-better

To be honest, I totally get the reasons why so many of us want to get to Friday and/or our favorite season quickly. No one enjoys being in a situation where you don't feel happy, so I get the desire to get to that one day, season or whatever else where we can get a reprieve and feel relaxed. Personally, I disdain summer only because I now live in a place where the sun literally scorches your skin off your bones, and unless you become a hermit (which is torture for a social explorer like myself), during the summer season I tend to find myself wanting for my favorite seasons to come quickly or a getaway to look forward to or even worse, for life to end to escape the pain of the heat.


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Thankfully, we do travel to cooler places during the summer months which I'm so grateful for. Having said that, even in those worst moments, I try to remind myself how fortunate I am to even have the means to be able to go indoors with air conditioning compared to so many who only wish for what may seem a simple luxury we take for granted. Thus for me and those who might agree, I wanted to share these quick reminders of 5 ways to live in the present and stop rushing through life:

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1. Let Go of the Inner Rush. It allows us to experience higher states, like joy, connection, and love. It takes courage to live inside the moment. But that only happens when we slow down and find inner stillness.

2. Live in The "Now." Learn to be present in the present. Determine to enjoy each day and the little things. And when the urge to run on to the next feeling comes rushing through - it's good to remember that life is fragile and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.

3. Take a Minute and Just Chill. Take a few moments each day to meditate and reset your thoughts. Think of it like rebooting your computer, so it can work properly again. This will help calm worrisome thoughts, release negative feelings and help to regain your emotional strength.

4. Maintain a Healthy Mind and Imagination. I find stimulating my mind and imagination helps to calm me down when I feel frazzled. Sometimes just pulling away from the "daily-ness" of life - what I call taking 'a mental health day', replenishes my soul. I find that thumbing through favorite magazines that inspire me reignites my passions and helps to transport me to another time and place. It could also be watching a favorite movie while having my favorite drink and favorite candles on. Each person is obviously different, so you would have to determine what would work for you. 

5. Disconnect and Detox. Simply put the phone down and take a walk. I'm always amazed at how revitalized I feel every time I force myself to get out and take a walk. There's nothing like spending time in the great outdoors to awaken and stimulate the senses. Nature is designed to put all of life's problems into perspective because it quiets the mind bringing tranquility and peace. 

At the end of 2019, I re-established an old goal of not picking up my phone first thing in the morning to read emails, the news, texts, or get on social media for at least the first hour of my day. I can't think of a healthier first move to living in the present, nourishing the mind and wasting less time. After all, why rush through our fleeting days in life when it's so limited? 


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