Stress And The Importance Of Taking Care of Yourself

For about two weeks, I had felt completely and utterly awful. My body ached, I was in so much pain that I could barely sit in a position that was not vertical, and my head hurt – to only name a few of my symptoms. It became so bad that I actually needed to take a day off of work to find refuge in my bed. The cause of this experience? Stress.

In the past few months, it’s an understatement when I say that I have experienced my fair share of stress. I started a new job. I switched gears from being a full-time student, to being a full-time career gal. Needless to say, with all of that stress building up in my system, it finally caught up with my body.

On that day, I decided to take some time to reflect and brainstorm some ideas on how to manage stress, the healthy way so I don’t end up in bed again. You see, up until that point, I definitely was not doing that – I used shopping as a coping mechanism, constantly was under distress, venting to all of my friends, and I just wasn’t taking care of myself, both mentally and physically.

Not good, Natalie.

So, before I could do any further damage to my body – my doctor said that stress can kill you – I took out my journal and decided to write a list of healthy things I can do to help manage stress:

  1. Actually take my lunch breaks.
  2. Drink more water.
  3. Drink less coffee/caffeine.
  4. Exercise daily.
  5. Journal/blog often (aka write more personally, rather than for work).
  6. Go hiking (weather permitting) once a week.
  7. Paint my nails as often as possible.
  8. Use my planner to track what I’m doing.
  9. Plan one to two social outings per week.
  10. Take time to do things that make me happy – reading, crafts, or even doing absolutely nothing!

Taking the time to enjoy views like this can definitely help reduce stress! 
Having that list (and writing it) made me realize that while I am powerless to protect myself from all of the stressors that life throws at me, I still have the power to stop it.

Someone recently told me that when something stresses you out or causes you anxiety, it is because it’s important to you and is something that you are afraid to lose. That served as a reminder whenever I feel anxious or stressed out about the real source of my anxiety, and is something I hope that you all out there find comfort in as well when you assess what’s truly bothering you. 



Love Yourself On This Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day, and I’m pretty certain that everyone’s newsfeed is going to be jam-packed with pictures of happy couples either proclaiming how lucky they are to have that person in their life, or with happy couples celebrating the day.

As a single person, Valentine’s Day is often the day when you indulge yourself in tons of wine/chocolate. It is the day when you sulk, and wonder if your day will ever come to ever get a Valentine. I know this, because this time last year, I was one of those single people who felt sorry for her in the corner.

However, I soon realized something. Valentine’s Day is a day filled with love right? But, who said that love should only be from a significant other or someone in a relationship? Why can’t I celebrate the self-love?

No one. I don’t think that’s in the Valentine’s Day rulebook, if that’s such a thing.

Therefore, all of you single people out there on this Valentine’s Day, why don’t you treat yourself. Treat yourself to a cupcake, a latte, that bracelet that you always wanted, or whatever else makes you happy. Instead of sitting around and wondering if you’ll ever go on the love boat, why don’t you canoe on by with your best friend?

Self-love is something that should be celebrated too. Sorry, Cupid. And, this isn’t exclusive to those who are single — everyone can treat themselves.

This Molten Chocolate Frappuccino was an amazing treat!

On this Valentine’s Day, I don’t have a human Valentine (I decided to buy my dog some doggie biscuits), however I am not unhappy about it. Instead of sulking about what I don’t have, I decided to treat myself a couple of new things, and went to Starbucks for a molten chocolate Frappuccino and a cake pop. And, the entire time, I kept on thinking to myself, damn, I deserve it. Why? Because, I am awesome.

It’s all about perspective people. I may not have a boyfriend on this February 14th, but maybe next year, I will? And, instead of focusing on what I don’t have, let me take a moment to appreciate what I do have. I have some great friends, a great mom, and an adorable puppy, with which I will be spending tonight cuddling with.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my fellow singles (and even those who are in couples)! No matter what your relationship status is, be sure to show yourself and the world some love to all that are in your life.

Photo Credit for Featured Image: Odyssey Online. 

Method Behind the Madness

About a few days ago, I was sitting in bed with my dog when I suddenly felt something. No, it wasn’t some weird shooting pain or a realization, but a strong urge.

Shall I leave you in suspense? Can you guess what I felt?


Okay, fine. I’ll tell you.

I felt the urge to date.

Now, many of you know my opinions of my relationship status. I can imagine you all as you’re reading this gathering together and singing a collective Hallejuh, and maybe even recruiting Julie Andrews to sing “The hills are alive . . .”

Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but I’ve felt an incredible amount of pressure to find a plus one since my previous relationship ended in August. Almost immediately, I felt almost as if I had said “I’m not ready now,” then I would be attacked for not moving on fast enough. Oh, so this nice guy likes me and wants to date me?!?! Should I jump up and down with excitement, stop what I’m doing, and just be there?

Uhm, hello. No thank you. Who made you the decision maker on what works for me? That position is filled, so I suggest you stop trying to make that choice.

Until now, I had felt that dating was something I did because I was forced to because it was good for me — similar to going to the Dentist. Wait, going to the dentist isn’t that fun?

Well, neither was going on a date.

I actually went on a few dates with some guys, all unsuccessful. And you want to know why?

Of course you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be sitting here and reading this blog post.

It’s because I wasn’t ready to date. The motivation for me going on those ill fated dates wasn’t because I wanted to get to know the stranger I have been texting. It wasn’t because I wanted to date. It was to shut up everyone who had an opinion about my dating life.

And, that’s not a very good reason to date.

Now, as I finally feel ready to even consider letting another person into my life or even go out on a date without feeling the urge to run away and hide from them, I feel dating is less like an obligation. Plot twist: I feel like it could even be fun!

Although I don’t have any interested parties (other than the guys who keep on texting me and I keep on ignoring), I do know that this will be different than the first few dates I went on all of those months ago.

This time, I won’t be lying to myself or that other person. This time, I truly feel ready to begin dating, to begin the possibility of finding another partner. This time, I am not basing my decision on looking at all of the happy couples on social media, and whining that I am not in the happy couple club.

And you know what? I feel happy, even excited about it!

Yes, it took a lot of time to get to this point. I am not sorry that I took the time that I needed to heal and to feel better. It taught me to listen to myself, my needs, and my wants. I grew, and thought about what I wanted in a relationship and in a partner. And although I am still single as I type these words, I know that when I sit across the lucky fella in a café, I know that he will be someone awesome and worth the wait.

Now, time to enter the Hunger Games . . . Wait, I mean the dating world. Same thing, right?

Snow Days and Self Care

My alarm woke me up at exactly 6:15 a.m. – the time I usually get up. With the expected snowstorm, I reached for my phone and called my company’s weather line.

Work was cancelled. Yippee!

As much as I love my job, the prospect of a snow day was just enough to send my half awake self into happy dance mode.

Books and a cup of coffee — perfect snow day activity! 

One of my former professors said that snow days were like a gift from God. I agree with her, because snow days are just days that you can wear your comfy socks, sip something hot, and spend it doing whatever you want. You can read a book, you can catch up some work, or bake some cookies – all of that fun stuff to relax.

But, other than relaxing, doesn’t that sound like something else?

Wait, for it. I know you can think of it.

Doesn’t it sound like self care? Why yes it does!

In therapy, I learned a lot about the concept of self care. To me, self-care is doing something nice for yourself that makes you happy. This spans further than just taking a bubble bath (although, those are kind of fun!). This is taking the time to step away from your work, doing something that’s fun for you, and tending to your needs.

Kind of like the activities that you do on a snow day.

While the snow is pretty to look at, it also can prompt relaxation. 

So, I guess in a sense, snow days are like God’s little ways to remind us to take the breaks that we need to just relax – the unexpected days that prompt us to take a break and do something that we enjoy for once. The days where we can just catch up on our work and slow down our hectic pace, even just for a day.

I guess having a blizzard isn’t so bad after all.

Happy snow day everyone – I hope that you all get a chance to practice some self care today. As for me, I’ll be getting ahead on some work, online shopping, and reading my book.

Two and a Half Weeks In…

It seems that there has been a lot of hate in the world since Jan. 20, aka ever since Trump has come to office. And yeah, I went into this administration full of hope and full of faith in our new POTUS.

However, my hopes for a peaceful and united country are now shattered.

In a period of two weeks, Donald Trump has managed to do several amounts of damage. This includes: banning seven Muslim majority countries from entering the country, withdrew funding for organizations that provide abortions, and begin work on a wall in Mexico (that the U.S. taxpayer will pay for).

And, that’s not even all of it.

All of this is in a period of two weeks. I’m going to let that sink in for a moment.

It’s been only two weeks, and I am scared about this administration. Every morning now, it has become a routine to see what Trump did today. And that is sad. This is our country, and that is our president. I shouldn’t have to think ‘what crazy thing did he do/say today?’ I shouldn’t have to worry about what he does.

But, I do.

Now, I am a liberal, and I am still extremely disappointed in Hillary’s loss. I want it to be known that my fears and concerns are not coming from my disappointments. I want it to be known that they come from me being a concerned American, someone who is deeply worried about the future of my country.

I am 22 years old, a college graduate and someone who wants change. I want my friends to not have to worry about the crippling effects of student loan debt for the rest of their lives. I want accessible birth control and health insurance for every American who wants it or needs it. I want each and every person who wants to get married to have that right. I want my friend Manuel to be able to enter this country so he can spend time with the love of his life.

In Trump’s America, I am unsure if my wants will be realities.

Donald, you promised your voters that you would make America great again. This is not great. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but it isn’t. I am not President, nor do I think I’ll ever qualify for that role, but I do have the knowledge that this is not the American way.

Your job is to make America great again, right? Well, this is what I think you need to do to get there. Listen to those who protested you and marched the day after your Inauguration. Listen to those who are worried about their families, before you insult a nationality. This isn’t a reality show Trump. This is America. And, there is a significant difference between those two things.

What I Learned in My Jewelry and Metals Class 

During my last semester as a college student, I took a jewelry and metals class. My train of thought was this: Oh, jewelry. I like to bead and do wire working things. I need a free elective. Why not?

It soon became the biggest mistake ever.

I soon realized that it wouldn’t be wire or metal working. Instead, it was using metal, and hardware stuff to make small pieces of jewelry. And, if you know me, I don’t know anything about tools and carpentry.

Needless to say, I struggled. And hurt myself.

There were many times I questioned whether or not I would actually pass the class. I spent several nights at the jewelry lab, desperately trying to catch up with my classmates with their projects. My weekends were spent sanding down my projects for the next class.

And want to know what I told myself?  Well, I’m sure you do, because if not, you would not be reading this. I told myself that it was okay to struggle and not be good at the class. Why? Because I had never even touched this stuff in my life, and it’s something that I have no experience in. So, I was supposed to not be good at it.

By having that attitude, I somehow persisted and got a C. But, that class taught me more than I should never, ever go near power tools again. It taught me to not give up, even though something was challenging for me. It taught me to keep going, ask questions, and try something new when the first thing didn’t go as planned. It also taught me to accept that I am not good at something, and do whatever I can to gain the skills to be good at that very thing.

And, that is the best lesson that I could have ever gotten as an undergraduate. Having that amount of patience with myself has become handy, especially at my job where I have a very limited working knowledge of a clinical mental health background.

So, taking a jewelry class may not have been the best choice for me, and I probably will never use the skill set that I gained again (I think my professor can breathe a sigh of relief.) However, I still am glad that I took the class because I still managed to learn something. How about them apples!

What They Don’t Tell You About Post-Grad Life

A few months ago, I graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, proudly wearing my cap and gown complete with tassels and eagerly walked the stage to get my long awaited degree.

A few months later, I am in this thing called the real world.

Now, the real world is this funny little thing. It is completely different than anything I have ever experienced before in my life. For instance, last month I started a full time job at a trauma-based mental health clinic. I now have business cards, access to benefits, and a plaque. It seems like I shed my status of student quickly, as I am now an adult.

Whatever that is.

In the past month, I have met so many different people whose faces have molded into one, and am trying to stay afloat as I find my way in a company with about 200 employees.

Despite the fact I am no longer in a classroom, I still feel like I am learning. I am learning the concept of being an adult, which has become blurry to me. I am learning. I have learned the importance of checking your grammar, niched writing, and the importance of remembering who your audience is. From someone whose only had teachers and editors, this is a bit different than what I am used to.

But, I think it’s okay.

And while I learned how to write a great lead, learned the concepts of layout using InDesign, and managed to learn a thing or two about literature, it is safe to say that I did not learn how to adapt to this change. Instead, I got those skills from my therapist.

The thing about change and transition is this. Our bodies are overwhelmed by it, because like or not, we fall into a routine. I sometimes question whether or not it is me or the fact it is something that I have to get used to.

But, the good thing about change? Eventually, our bodies do in fact learn to adapt to it.

The key word here is eventually.

So, to all of the recent college graduates out there who are learning to make their way out in the world, please note one thing – I am there with you. To my peers graduating in the spring, I hope you know that it is okay to not know at 22 what you want to do with your life. I know I don’t, despite the fact that I have my job.

My advice to those who fall in that cohort, which is something that I should note for myself, is that you are going to be okay. Just be willing to learn and do the absolute best that you can to get there.