Let There Be Light

Nowadays, I can safely call myself an optimist. You know, someone who sees the light in the situations — awkward scenarios, and life taking unexpected turns that left me thunderstruck. While they were the cause for worry, I always made sure that going in, hey man I try to make the best of that. I try to sit down and come up with a plan to make things better. After all, sometimes it can turn out great? Right?

With that being said, what makes someone an optimist?

To me, someone who considers themselves to be an optimist is someone that always looks to the bright side to things. She is someone who sees the benefits, which outweigh the overall pitfalls. She is also someone who sees the glass as being half full versus half empty.

For example, let’s say you’re asked to work on a Saturday or holiday. Let’s be honest — it sucks working on a Saturday. Looking on the bright side though it’s more cash in your wallet.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about optimism and pessimism. I’ve been surrounded with a lot of pessimists and people that see the downright negative in every single thing that they are surrounded with. Sometimes, I try to be the light in their darkness. Like, if a friend is complaining about something that she frequently complains about, I try to get her to see the positive or ask her what’s good about her day. However, at other times, I just try to shake it off as being an eclipse on my otherwise sunny day.

However, becoming an optimist wasn’t easy. It was the result over a year of therapy. You see, when I first entered therapy, I was as a pessimist through and through. My world at the time was full of darkness, and I wanted nothing more than to poke my heads through the storm clouds and bask in the sunlight.

My therapist taught me how to make my own damn sunlight. She would constantly ask me whenever I would complain about something, well what was good in your day? Eventually, that became a thought I’ve began to ask myself. Sometimes, whenever I would have a bad day, I would go to my journal and write a list of all of the good in my life.

With that being said, I’ve learned that while I am not in control of circumstance, I am in control of how I attack scenarios. Therefore, I try to make the best out of it. I try to smile. I try to think of ways to change it, and remember that everything does happen for a reason. And, I may not know that reason at the time, but hopefully I’ll figure it out.

Most importantly, though, I learned that I can choose to be the light or the darkness. So, I choose to be the light. After all, the sun poking out of the clouds after a lengthy storm is the first sign that it’s over right?

Right. That’s why they call it calm after the storm.

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The Importance of Time

I believe that the most important thing that anyone can give you is their time. Why? Because we only have so much time in a day — 24 hours comprised of 60 minute intervals. And, not to put a damper on this post, but we really don’t know when our last second will be. Therefore, it’s important for us to enjoy every minute of everyday.

One of the problems many people — myself included — tend to have is time management. What is an important way to manage our time? How do we do it in a way that’s effective? And, most importantly, how do we do it, and still manage to do the things that we love?

After all, I feel that sometimes we often forget we do in fact lose sight on the importance of ‘me’ time — time devoted to doing the things that we love such as read, exercise or even watch an episode of Netflix. Why? Well, sometimes it could be from work — you work later or more, for extra cash or to make sure you’re doing a good job. Or, you could be swept up in the attempts to do things for other people.

Either way, you’re putting the needs of yourself behind everyone and everything else — somewhere where it probably shouldn’t be.

I think that we owe ourselves responsibility in the same manner that we owe the other people and things in our lives, whether it may be to make sure that we get enough sleep, making sure we take five minutes to go to the gym or even breathe. In fact it’s called a little thing called self care.

Therefore, it’s more important than ever to manage our time throughout our busy lives so we can do that. And, by doing that, you’re only improving your performance for the other roles that you have in your life — mother, father, worker, friends, girlfriend, etc. I think that it’s something that many often forget.

But, the question is, how do we accomplish this? Well, it’s simple. We take five minutes to eat our lunches without doing any work. In addition to scheduling time for our work meetings, we also take the time to schedule time to exercise and to balance our schedules with something fun. We also take the time to just breath, to veg out and to take a bubble bath.

It’s all about balance, people.

I too struggle with this There was a time in my life where I would devote myself solely to work and school. During that time in my life, I felt that I constantly kept on going and going. I also had a job that took over every minute of my life — where I would stay late almost every night, and do work on weekends and night. In both instances, those aren’t healthy.

Looking back, I wonder now what would have happened if I had put myself a priority versus everything else in my life. I’m pretty sure if I drew the line from that, if I had said ‘no, it’s not going to work out for me,’ I would have been happier and maybe have been able to get through these stressful moments ten times easier. I now know that I owe it to myself to do so — and make sure that I make myself a priority.

So, the next time you are stressed out for any reason — work, school, balancing work and school — take a moment and look at how you spend your time. Chances are, you need to devote more to yourself.

Understanding the Relationship Between Physical and Mental Health

Until recently, I never quite understood the marriage between physical and mental health. That is, until I decided to up my health and fitness game — I decided to eat a little healthier, cut out down my coffee drinks, and exercised a bit more to make sure I reached my step goal on my Fitbit.

And, I noticed a change in myself. I noticed I was happier, and slept better during the night. In addition to that, I noticed that my clothes began to fit me a little looser than they did when I first bought them — an ultimate win.

When many people try a new diet or exercise program, they often have one goal in mind — weight loss. Which is fine, if you ask me — but that shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal should be to get healthy.

Focusing more on your physical health is something does wonders for your mental. Remember when Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphin. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” And, she’s right. According an article on Mayo Clinic called “7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity,” regular physical activity “stimulates various brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.” And in my experiences, it always manages to help release stress when you’re feeling highly stretched, and helps keep you calm when anxious. In fact, it was something that my therapist recommended when I went to therapy.

Definitely worth the trip to the gym in the morning then.

In addition to making it a point to regularly exercise, it is also important to stay hydrated — especially in the hot summer heat. If you know me, you know that I carry around a bottle of water pretty much all of the time, and drink at least three glasses of water at dinner.  Believe it or not, staying hydrated has some effects on your mental health as well as your physical. According to an article on Active Beat entitled “10 Benefits of Staying Hydrated,” hydration is closely related to “balancing mood and emotions.” And this is on top of the physical benefits, which include help keep your body cool, helps keep you from being thirsty, and cleanses toxins. And, by opting for water instead of soda, you reduce calories and sugar intake even further.

It’s always an amazing feat when one makes a change to improve their overall being — whether it may be to go to a therapist, start running, or change their food intake. By making you and your health a priority, it only helps you be a stronger and better person. By taking 20 minutes a day to walk, it makes the other 23 hours and 40 minutes of the day ten times better, because you are more focused and less stressed.

And, can’t we all use a bit more of that? I certainly think so.

11 Mantras Everyone With a Mental Illness Needs to Hear

Having a mental illness – or even just going through a rough time – can be the most isolating thing on the planet. It is like you are in a downwards spiral, and have no way out of it.

With that being said, it’s hard to think that there will be an end to the suffering and the pain that you are dealing with. So, I’ve decided to provide a list of mantras for those who are going through a mental illness or a rough time to serve as reminders that you truly can get through it.

  1. I am worth it.
  2. I can beat this.
  3. I am worthy of love.
  4. I am strong.
  5. I am beautiful.
  6. Everything is going to be okay.
  7. I am loved.
  8. It is okay not to be okay.
  9. I am going to get through this.
  10. My best is good enough.
  11. I am good enough.

The Importance of Enjoying Life

Recently, I read the book Home to Italy by Peter Pezzelli. As I was reading it, it got me thinking about something.

From what the book said, life seemed completely different then it is in the U.S. Every afternoon, the entire town shuts down for a while to rest and eat lunch. Here in America, some don’t even take their 30 minutes for lunch.

Which one of us has it right?

Here in Connecticut, we’ve had some unbelievable weather with the sun finally sticking its head out of the clouds, and temperatures souring into the 80s. I began to develop a severe case of spring fever. Therefore, I flocked to every local park to enjoy every blissful ray of sunshine that I could.

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Wharton Brook State Park in North Haven, Conn. — what a lovely lake!

During one of my walks, I realized something. For about three years, I was completely engrossed in two things – work and school. Those two things took over my life, and resulted in a completely stressed out college student. I never did anything for the fun of it. I did things to add onto my resume.

As I head into this new phase in my life – where I would be essentially figuring out my next place in this world – I want to spend every second I can enjoying the beauty that life allows us to. I mentioned this earlier on, when I wrote the post The Little Things. But, why can’t we incorporate those mindsets in our daily lives?

I think we need to take a page in Italy’s book. Life is too short to live in a cycle that consists of work and education. There is so much true beauty in the world, beauty that can be overlooked. By doing this, it will help us become happier beings, and more holistic beings. This in turn will keep us from burning out.

How can we do it?

Start by taking breaks. Take your lunch break, and if it’s nice out, spend sometime outside. Schedule time where you do something fun. Rest when your body tells you to. Schedule a vacation so that you can decompress.

And last but not least – balance. Balance, my friends is the key to life.

The Little Things

This past weekend had some of the nicest weather that we’ve seen in a while. I’m talking about the sun finally coming out of hibernation, and for the first time, it truly felt like spring.

While I was sipping on my Starbucks Pink Drink (for those of you who want to know what exactly the pink drink contains, it’s basically a Strawberry refresher with coconut milk – I highly recommend), I began to think about something. Some call this stopping and smelling the roses.

There are only x amount of nice weather days a year. There are only about 180 days of spring and summer weather – days where the sun emerges for the first time and you can go outside without having to wearing a parka and gloves. With that being said, we must take advantage of every day where the sun is shining and the weather is above 60 degrees. Because, these seasons only are allotted this amount of time. Therefore, you can’t take it fore granted.

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A picture I’ve taken while taking a walk through East Rock Park — a great way to enjoy the warm spring weather! 
That same thing applies to life. How often do we think about the bigger picture, practically worrying about something ending or going wrong, or about something that we don’t know if we have a cause to worry about? How often do we do that, and then forget to enjoy the little moments of everything? The sweet taste of the Starbucks latte that you are enjoying, the taste of the lips of the person that you’re kissing, or the sunshine on a wonderful spring day. Those are the moments that you often lose sight of, because you are worrying about your finals, not finding a job, or the relationship ending.

It’s safe to say that my Starbucks drink had come with a side of insight.

So, on this wonderful Monday (yes, an oxymoron, but Mondays could in fact be wonderful), I challenge you to enjoy every sip of your morning coffee. I encourage you to take a moment and enjoy the rays of the spring season. I encourage you to think about the day, and not about the future. I encourage you to think about the date you’re having, and not worrying whether or not the relationship will last. I myself am guilty of some of these things, but I am going to do my best to make sure that I enjoy the little delights of life. And, perhaps, this will translate to the larger areas of my life, which in turn allows me to be present for today.

The Art of Being Present

Last week, I visited my college campus to pick up my diploma (long story, but my original one was damaged in the mail). And, it got me thinking.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my time at Southern. When I was in college all I could think was oh, how I can’t wait to graduate. I pictured my post grad life to be heavenly: I would be working only one job, as opposed to three, where I would be making a decent amount of money. No classes, no online internships, no many part time jobs. And it will be great.

Oh, how I was wrong. For the past few months, all I craved was a chance to go onto my campus and do college all over again. I missed it all. I missed knowing what to do, and what my role as a student was. I miss meeting friends, and hanging out with them. I miss taking classes, believe it or not, especially with those who shared the same passions for English and journalism that I had.

A year ago, if I had told you that I would miss college, then I would have thought that you were off your rocker.

Upon reflecting on this, I realized something. In both instances, I am not present. When I was in college, all I wanted to do was graduate. Now that I am in college, all I want to do is go buy a super expensive textbook. And, while I am wishing that I was somewhere else in time, I am not enjoying the cheap thrills of today.

With that, I am realizing something. I am not happy looking ahead or behind. I am ignoring the simple thrills of today, and am not savoring the sweetness of everyday life.

One of my goals is to be more present. You hear that everywhere — in self help books, or in any article about anxiety. But, what does that mean? 

I don’t know what the Webster definition of it is, but I’ll tell you mine. For me being present consists of enjoying the daily luxuries, such as great lattes, taking advantage of the sun’s rays when it’s nice outside, and cuddle sessions with my dog.

By enjoying the little things and savoring them, I think it’s one of the ingredients in the recipe for happiness. After all, anxiety occurs when you are looking too far ahead into the future, and depression occurs when you are living solely in the past. Therefore, by living in the present, by being present, one can somehow be on the road to happiness.