Lost | End of Month Thoughts

I wish there was someone I can text/talk to anytime, especially when I feel lost.

Right now, I don’t feel like doing anything but I know I need lots of stuff to get done. It’s like feeling lazy, except I know it’s not laziness but depression gnawing at me.

I have a big weekend coming up but I’m feeling anxious and depressed. I can’t not go because I don’t want to disappoint anyone and be unreliable.

I want to be better. I want to do better. But it’s not just a battle of wills. I’m back in the dark.

Could it be my new medication not taking its full effect? Do I need a higher dosage or a different pill altogether? I hate relying on medicine but, unfortunately, I have to. At least for a long while.

I practice yoga once in a while. I know that I’ll have to do it regularly to feel the benefits. But it’s difficult when you’re swamped with dementors and your patronus isn’t strong enough.

I’m trying to be stronger and I’m challenging myself with my own version of #GrowYourYoga by Moksha Yoga studios next month.

I can’t afford the price of joining in the official challenge, so I’ve challenged myself to “grow” my yoga to three times a week. I’ve already populated my calendars (paper & digital) with the classes I want to attend in April. I’ve also lined up some books on Eastern philosophy and on yoga beyond the mat.

I’m scared I’ll just brush off the challenge like I usually do with changes I want to do in my life.

How do I take it one step at a time?

How do I not overwhelm myself with so many important things like school, work, and other career-related activities?

How do I take time for myself without leaving others behind?

How do I stick to my plans and reach my goals?

I feel so lost and overwhelmed all the time.

And I’m running out of time to figure things out because I’m getting old.

I can’t push school further back when I’ve always known what I want to pursue and I can only get there with a postsecondary education.

I can’t not try to get a job–any job–because I’m slowly sinking in money troubles.

But how do I balance both of that with taking care of myself and ensuring I’m okay?

How do I become okay with feeling alone?

How do I keep myself from drowning?

Striving for balance is one of the most difficult tasks in life. More often than not, I feel lost. Lost on what to do, what to think, what to feel… How do I balance work, school, friends, family, and myself? How do I claim my days? | #zotd is #equilibrium (in picture) and #understanding (right hand) | https://www.instagram.com/p/BRs81JQjObt/

TranQool: 5 Tips on Making Mindfulness Part of Your Day

This article was originally published on TranQool’s blog. TranQool is an mental health platform that provides online counselling through video for anxiety, depression, as well as a variety of other mental health issues.

Mindfulness has been shown to have a multitude of benefits, and can increase our overall well-being. For example, one meta-analysis suggested that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may help a wide range of individuals cope with clinical and non-clinical problems, as based on the results of many previous studies. Another study found that mindfulness predicted positive emotional states and was related to declines in stress. Nevertheless, in order to achieve the benefits of mindfulness, we must first understand it and, subsequently, learn to adopt it into our lifestyles.

In simple terms, mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment while being attentive to, and accepting of, our feelings, emotions, thoughts and bodily sensations. As such, mindfulness means accepting more and judging less. This includes accepting others, life events and, most importantly, accepting ourselves. Below are some tips to help you make mindfulness a part of your day.

1) Focus on the present moment by paying attention to what is happening around you.

While it may seem natural that we should pay attention to our surroundings, many of us do not. Instead, we listen to music, text our loved ones, and compulsively check our social media accounts. Little things like these cause us to zone out. We become unaware of the present moment, as our attention is directed elsewhere. A great way to become more mindful is to limit the time we spend doing these things. Instead, choose to look around you and appreciate the beauty of all the little things you see.

2) Pay attention to your senses.

While looking around, and focusing on our sight, is a great first step in becoming aware of the present moment, shifting our attention to other senses can be extremely refreshing. When you catch yourself zoning out, try to pay more attention to sounds, smells, and touch.

Start by paying attention to the noises around you. Where are they coming from? How do they sound? Are they pleasant?

Then, focus on smell. Instead of just thinking of a scent as “good” or “bad,” ask yourself what kind of scent it is and where it may be coming from. Is it perfume, freshly baked goods, nature, or something else? Then, appreciate it. Breathe it in if it smells good. If it doesn’t, then just just think about what it could be.

Next, focus on touch. How does what you are touching, feel? Are you wearing a soft sweater, or tight jeans? If you are sitting down, how does your seat feel? What are you holding in your hands? What is its texture?

Becoming aware of these different sensations, helps us center ourselves and focus on the now. With a little practice, these skills will become second nature.

3) Practice deep breathing and/or meditation.

Focusing on our breath is very important, as it helps to calm us down. However, we must also pay attention to bodily sensations that arise while we are breathing.

When you are anxious about a future event, or are over-thinking an event that has passed, try taking slow, deep breaths in. Focus on how this makes you feel. Focus on how your chest rises and how your abdomen expands when you breathe in. When breathing out, focus on the pleasant sensation of release and relaxation.

Becoming aware of how our body feels during ordinary events, such as breathing, helps us find comfort and pleasure in common occurrences. This prompts us to always appreciate the present moment in some way.

4) Stop classifying thoughts in dichotomous terms such as “good” or “bad”.

While it is extremely important to be aware of how we feel and what types of thoughts we are having, labeling thoughts as bad/good, or negative/positive, can give rise to self-judgment. When we are having many “negative” thoughts, we may begin to see ourselves as negative people, which can cause self-loathing.

If, instead, we label our thoughts as those we like and want to keep having, and those we do not like and want to get rid of, we can slowly eliminate self-judgments. Instead of viewing a thought as “good” or “bad,” we can focus more on how this thought makes us feel. We can then decide to focus on thoughts that make us feel good. Not only can this help boost our self-confidence, but it can also help us view events through a more positive and productive lens.

5) Label your emotions

Labeling our emotions in simplistic terms (e.g., anger, frustration, joy and sadness)and without judgment can help us better understand what we are feeling. This is different from classifying our thoughts in dichotomous terms (e.g., good/ bad), as we are being more descriptive and are simply acknowledging how we feel. When we label our emotions, we begin to see the distinction between our emotions, and who we are as people. This helps us realize that emotions are temporary and will pass.

In conclusion, mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment. We can achieve this by paying attention to what is happening around us, focusing on our different senses (e.g., smell, hearing and touch), practicing deep breathing and meditation, accepting our thoughts instead of judging them, and viewing all emotions as temporary.

Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most – Buddha

Mighty Minds: The Power of Space

This past weekend, I went to camp with 5- to 11-year-old Girl Guides. Our program revolved around mental health, focusing on what it is, how to be resilient, and how to end stigma using Girl Guides of Canada’s Mighty Minds Challenge.

It was a good way to end the month for me as I struggled to stay on top of things in my own life.

When February began, my doctor and I agreed to have one of my medications switched with a different one. Even with the tapering off, the discontinuation syndrome manifested as I eased off Pristiq. It was tough: Not only did I have to deal with the physical symptoms, but I also became over-reactive, sad, and overall unbalanced emotionally. I couldn’t focus. I felt my world ending as I slowly succumbed to the syndrome.

Three weeks felt like forever. I struggled with attending my commitments. On one hand, I only had one course to worry about and I had finished my project weeks early. So I powered through my classes and through the three days of placement I had at the childcare centre every week. On the other hand, I did not show up to any of the social events, personal development sessions, and peer support group to which I RSVP’d for the month. I felt awful.

It didn’t help that I had a throat infection, too.

However, as I started up Zoloft and finally ended taking Pristiq, the syndrome slowly went away and I felt better again. Best of all, this happened just before camp, the one I’ve been wanting to attend since we decided that mental health will be our theme for the weekend.

I was in charge of the programming for the 5- and 6-year-olds in attendance.

I could not be more excited as I picked out the suggested activities to introduce mental health, resiliency, and stigma to the girls. I could not believe how simple and fun the activities are and still have a lot to talk about.

For instance, we made sock puppets to illustrate the power of self-talk.
We did marble painting to show how we’re all different but we have the same needs (love, kindness, respect).
We created power dice to help remind us of our good qualities when we feel sad, mad, lonely, or scared.
Then we joined the rest of the girls and had a blast exploring the effects of stigma through bubble painting that stained our canvasses.

We closed the night with some Practice the Positive activities like colouring mandalas, creating our own stress balls, and practising several yoga poses.

The whole weekend was bookended with an activity called Building Blocks of Health, where the girls came up with ideas and concepts on health and staying healthy.

And as much as the camp was about the girls learning about mental health, I was fortunate to be a part of an amazing experience where I had an opportunity to explore my own mental health.

I faced a new situation, new challenges, and new circumstances. I essentially lived away from the familiar for two nights. And the literal, physical space between me and my usual environment has allowed me to take a moment for myself. No worries about school, placement, and concerns about friends. I felt freer to disconnect from the world for a while and focus on the present more than I could ever do in my daily life.

It was a busy weekend, but it was refreshing.

And I may not have done a lot of meditation, but I had the opportunity to be more mindful, to pay attention, and to be more purposeful.

Those Days

There will always be those days when you feel sad about something that did not happen that same day.

There will always be those days when you feel stupid for feeling sad about something that you think is insignificant.

There will always be those days when you feel like crying, even at a public place, for no apparent reason.

There will always be those days you have to be stronger. Those days you have to hold everything together and pretend nothing is bothering you.

But there will always be those days when you can’t. Those days when all you want to do is crawl into bed, hide under your sheets, cry, and sleep; or cry yourself to sleep.

There will always be those days when you have to allow yourself to feel all those feelings. You have to allow yourself to let go.

Then those days will pass and new days will come.

foggy skyline view from below