Depression · Mental Health

The Importance of Community and Mental Health

Thank you Mai for letting me use you creation 🙂

I have been having a writer’s block if you want to call it that. I have had a hard time thinking about what I want to write and as much as it has been bugging me, it has also helped me live more in the present moment. The thing is, writing is very therapeutic for me and helps me articulate feelings and experiences. Lately, I have been trying to not be up in my feels and part of me hasn’t felt inspired to create. I just got done mediating and I know it is suppose to help us think less but instead I started thinking about how I know what I want to write about! So, here we are.

This time last year, I was having a really rough time mentally. I was going through a job change, pressures of school, marriage troubles, finance issues and mainly feeling lost and not knowing what I was doing. My husband travels a lot for work and he was gone all the time and I was feeling very lonely. This lonely feeling that I have had for 15 years of being on my own. When my grandparents passed away when I was 15 I felt very alone in my feelings and alone without them. This feeling led to anxiety but more then anything it led to a dark depression. This overwhelming feeling of sadness of not feeling enough, insecure, sad, hut, and just physically blah. This feeling came rushing back and a chain of frustrating events led to me feeling hopeless and tired of fighting. I remember feeling very suicidal that day in September 2019 and was just done running this rat race of feelings. My husband was overseas so the time change meant I couldn’t call him and we were arguing and so I didn’t feel comfortable sharing that at the moment. For some reason, I called my mom even though we didn’t have a close relationship but she out of everyone understands suicide and depression the most. She has struggled a lot with it and so I know that she could relate and get it. We had a great conversation and I actually ended up sharing on social media later that day how I was feeling. I never thought I would share something so worrying and vulnerable on social media. When you are down you don’t want extra attention or questions and people wondering what is going on. You want to hide from the world and you don’t want to be seen in this head space. That was the thing I would hide a lot from the world and people I care about. I used to be super emotional and share my feelings but I started to not feel as comfortable and would close in more. This moment was huge in my story because I look back a year later and I am so thankful I did start sharing. I began sharing on social media when I was struggling with anxiety or depression and used my voice. I started a blog in December to document my mental health struggles but to also link them to mental health topics to help others. The one thing missing since I moved to Georgia almost 5 year ago was having a sense of community. The thing is that it was really hard to make friends in a new state especially being older. I met a few great people but I wanted more and to be involved in more things. Over the last year here are the 3 things that changed my life.

The Yoga Studio

I got a job a a yoga studio and this completely changed everything in my life. I started to meet so many great people who were free and open to being their true selves. I met people who I could share a lot with and ones who have been there for me through a lot of challenging times. I was able to connect to so many great people and started connecting more to myself. I have always loved yoga and having a yoga studio to go to where I know most of the people always felt like home to me. I had that in California and deeply missed it when I moved. Here is an event I went to in December and we did sun salutations and had glow party. This is where my sense of community started and I am forever grateful.

Soulful Sunday

I started to meet like minded people and people who inspired me to be myself. I met two amazing people who had an event called Soulful Sunday which was a safe space to mediate, journal, talk, share, embrace who we are, and the main thing connect. My beautiful friend Sheri is a energy healer and would do Reiki on us and we would pull cards as well. I love spiritual stuff that gives us the opportunity to explore our true nature and be in the moment. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. Through this event, I met so many wonderful people and had the opportunity to connect with others on a deep level. I felt comfortable to share when I was down and I even had moments crying and releasing so many built up emotions. My friend Vale is the other person who held the event at her store Wanderess Collections. I met her through this event and we became best friends. I would say that she is one of the people who has helped improve my life here in Georgia. I slowly noticed that I was apart of a community based on me being vulnerable and putting myself out there. Slowly, I was pulling off more layers of my shell and I was stepping into my confidence and living my life. These type of events are so important in mental health because it is necessary to feel connected with others and have a sense of belonging. These type of groups make me feel less alone and feel like I can express myself when I am struggling. We were all there for the same thing and I am truly grateful for all of you!

Vale, Dawn, Sheri

Rare Beauty Community Chats

February came along and I was still blogging and sharing a lot about mental health on social media and in conversations. Selena Gomez is my inspiration and someone who I consider my biggest role model. She is the reason why I wanted to start being more open about my struggles and not feel embarrassed for having so many feelings. She started a beauty line called Rare Beauty and the mission is “To shape conversations around beauty, self-acceptance, and mental health. We want to help people get more access to support and services, and help people feel more authentically connected to one another and less alone in the world.” I was instantly excited for this brand because I support anything Selena does because I know anything she does she puts in her whole heart and is genuine about it. They posted about an opportunity to share our story with them about what makes us Rare to have the opportunity to be involved in the Rare Beauty line. This was pre-covid and so I had no idea what to expect if I did get picked. The thing is, most things I have submitted to have thousands of submissions and I really did not think I would get picked. Selena’s fan base is huge and I thought the regular fans that she knows would get picked. The thing is, I doubted myself and was comparing myself to others instead of thinking that who I am is enough to be seen.

I never should have doubted myself because my story was picked and Rare Beauty reached out to me. I could not believe it and lets be real I am still in shock! They invited me to be apart of a Rare Community Chat which would be a zoom meeting with the Rare Beauty team and others who submitted their stories. The team was so nice, natural, authentic, and engaging that it was so easy to open up right off the bat. I was so nervous and thought it would feel like some type of Hollywood thing but it was the complete opposite. I was able to discuss mental health challenges and be vulnerable about who I truly am. I heard so many amazing stories from others and it is amazing how easily we all connected and we still stay in touch. A few months later, I was asked to film a video of myself up to five minutes saying what makes me Rare and my story. I was on vacation when they emailed me and needed it right away and I was scrambling and so nervous! I had the most intense anxiety all day because I wanted it to be perfect. I finally let go and just took some breaths and remembered to be myself. I sent it in but had no idea what to expect from it. Shortly after, I was invited to another Rare Community Chat and the others on the call would be the Rare Beauty team and the others who sent in their videos of what makes them rare.

I remember it was a Monday and I was suppose to go to yoga and almost didn’t make it on the call. Someone from the Rare Beauty team said I don’t want to miss the call and I had this weird gut feeling that something exciting was going to happen. I AM SO GLAD I DID NOT MISS THAT CALL! Selena Gomez hopped on the call!! I almost started crying and really did not know how to act. We were all in shock, honestly! She was so real and genuine and exactly how I pictured her. I was called on first and I thought I would be to nervous to talk but she is so real it was like talking to a good friend. I was able to talk about how I am getting through quarantine and what I am doing to help my mental health during this time. We all talked for over an hour and I was able to hear so many beautiful stories from the other individuals. It was such a real and great conversation and I feel like we could have talked for days. I love conversations that have depth and vulnerability. Especially during this time, where a lot of people are isolated and feel like they are losing hope we need these moments to stay connected.

Today, the promo video went out and it was so surreal to see my face in it for millions of people to see. It is beyond that though, of course I get star struck and excited about this stuff but I had an epiphany. A year ago, I was a turtle in their shell and I was feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere and was feeling completely lost. When I started being vulnerable this opened doors to so many opportunities and opened my heart to a community of great people. I started to realize that I am attracting all of these people by being myself. My story was chosen because of who I am and these people include me because of who I am. I don’t feel ashamed of my weaknesses anymore and I have learned to fully embrace them and love every single part of me. I have realized that this is all apart of my story and I wouldn’t have had these opportunities if I didn’t open the door to being vulnerable. How wild is it that people can actually love us for who we truly are and we can truly be set free and happy by being who we are. We let go of any shame, guilt, fear, anxieties, and doubt that associate themselves with not being who we truly are at the core.

If more people embraced who they were instead of hiding behind these perfect filters on Instagram and perfect images of what you think we want to see, then I truly think more people would connect and people would become happier. Connection is so important and it is why quarantining is so difficult and almost deter-mental to mental health. Humans are meant to connect with others and feel physical touch and feel seen and loved. For someone who struggles with depression and feeling lonely being in that situation can be very hard on me. I am so grateful for the Rare Community and all of the communities I am apart of now. I am so excited for what this company is doing and I really do think they are going to make a huge impact. They already have made an impact on me and the other people of the community. We all stay in touch over messages and we always uplift each other on posts and check in. I have never met these people in person but I feel like I have known them for ages.

My purpose of this post was to encourage you to be yourself and put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to share your story. The right ones will want to hear it and will uplift you when you do. The wrong ones will dismiss you, make you feel less then, make fun of you, and make you want to get back under your shell. We will constantly be tested by these people but remember the ones who love you for who you are and hold onto them. I can say that I am the happiest I have ever been and I feel so loved. I still have moments of anxiety and I still am working through some things but I know that I have made it so far. It now doesn’t matter where I live because I know I have a sense of community and I know that I can meet people who are great because I am willing to put myself out there and be myself. I literally manifested this all into my life by taking the first step and sharing my hard moments. Each one of you are rare, amazing, and loved. Be proud of your story because that is what makes you YOU and that is something nobody else has.

The first community chat
The second community chat
Selena Gomez & I ❤
From Rare Beauty’s Instagram

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and I hope this will encourage you to take that chance and be who you truly are! If you are struggling with mental health click on my resources tab for more and contact a professional. I love you all xoxo

Light and Love,

Tuscany

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Mental Health · self-help · self-love · Uncategorized

8 Ways to Deal With Negative Thoughts

You wake up in the morning but you are rushing because you snoozed for the last hour. The night before, you planned on getting up early, drinking some cucumber and lemon water, stretching, walking the dog, and having time to get ready for yoga. That snooze button just was too easy and the bed was too comfortable to get out of. Yoga is in 20 minutes so you rush out of bed, eat a piece of toast, don’t even brush your hair or teeth, and basically throw clothes on and rush out the door. Already, you are anxious because you have 10 minutes to get to class before it starts. You are upset because you planned to have a good morning and to start it off right but that dang snooze button got the best of you! On the drive, you are talking so negatively about yourself and upset that you didn’t just get up. You get to class with 1 minute to spare and to your luck, the only spot left is in the very front and center of the class. GREAT just to my luck this would happen! The negative thoughts start creeping in… “This is going to suck,” “What if I get sick and can’t lay down,” What if I can’t keep up with the entire class since I haven’t been in a month,” ” I am front and center so I have to keep up or else I will look weak,” “I work here so I have to be a good yoga role model to the other students and to the ones online,” “I am scared I won’t do well,” “I am so mad about myself for not getting up earlier to get in a different spot.” The mind is going wild with so much negative thinking before the class has even started.

Instead of continuing this negative thinking and letting this mindset completely ruin the next 75 minutes of this hot yoga class, you make a huge shift in your thoughts! You start to look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I got this,” “I am strong,” “I don’t have to be perfect,” “I am thankful I made it to the mat,” “I showed up and didn’t fully bail on class,” “I just have to breathe and take it a step at a time,” and just like that…..you feel strong, brave, happy, excited, and you take on the entire 75 minute class like a rock star! What a concept right? If we switch our negative thoughts and start speaking positive affirmations then it can completely transform how you feel about a situation.

Does this happen to you? Do you have moments before going into a situation and you completely already talk yourself out of it before you even had a chance to attempt? This happens to me A LOT! I don’t know if it stems from my anxiety, depression, or lack of self-confidence and trust in good things to actually happen. Along the way, there have probably been situations in your life where you have been let down. Instead of letting yourself down without fully knowing the situation yet, you tell yourself that it already isn’t going to work, so no big deal. This can be a defense mechanism and a reaction to replaying past events and worrying about the future. Unfortunately, these negative thoughts really take a toll and can hold you back from enjoying life experiences, distract you from focusing on what’s really important, make you feel anxious and depressed, and drain your energy. 

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavior therapy or CBT is a psychological treatment that can be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol, and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. CBT helps you manage stress and anxiety by learning relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, coping self-talk, identifying situations that are often avoided and gradually approaching feared situations. This type of therapy is focused on present problems and is works with problem-orientated situations.  A great resource to find a therapist in your area that does CBT is searching on Psychology Today online.

Cognitive Therapy Exercise:

(My Psychology teacher gave us this example of what a Cognitive Therapy Exercise looks like so feel free to answer these questions for your own personal reflection)

  • I often worry that I _____
  • What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? What do you fear most of all?
  • When you think the worst thing that could happen, do you really think that it’s likely to happen? If so, How could you learn to cope with it?
  • I accept myself even though I ____ (do not use the word “am”)

2. Recognizing where your thought distortions are coming from

When you can recognize the core of where these negative thoughts stem from then it can be very beneficial. We tend to tell ourselves these stories of things that are really not true and these inaccurate thoughts can reinforce negative thinking. When we can really recognize them then we can challenge them.

  • Personalizing: Assuming you are to blame for anything that goes wrong. When someone doesn’t say hello to you in the morning at work and you feel that it is your fault and you must have done something to upset him/her. When really, it is more likely that person is having a hard morning and it has nothing to do personally against you.
  • Black and white thinking: Seeing things as one way or another with no in between.
  • Filter thinking: Choosing to see only the negative of a situation
  • Catastrophizing: Assuming the worst possible outcome is going to happen.

References: Psychology Today

3. Questioning your thoughts

We tend to make up stories in our heads and these stories become what we think is true. When we can step back and look at a different perspective then we can try to see the full picture and defuse the negative thoughts. If a good friend was telling you a story how would you react to what they were telling you? Try to put yourself in someone’s shoes and see if that can help.

Ask yourself:

  • Is this thought true?
  • Is this thought important?
  • Is this thought helpful?

4. Separate from negative thoughts

It is important to try and take breaks from negative thoughts and put in positive ones instead. I know this can be difficult and honestly it really takes practice, patience, self-awareness, and time. Take control of your thoughts and allow yourself a few minutes with the thought but then take a break and start focusing on something positive. When we spend too much time on these negative thoughts then they can completely take over and consume us, to the point we start to believe they are actually true.

5. Let go of the judgment!

I know it can be so easy to judge ourselves and put ourselves down without even realizing it. I feel like it is even harder now a days because of social media and social comparison. This happens to me especially while scrolling through my Instagram feed! I see how people are handling their Instagram for blogs and think wow mine sucks, it could be so much better! These people get to travel the world, ugh, I will never get to do that! I will never be that skinny! I feel so fat! I won’t ever get that promotion! I feel like all of us do this without even realizing sometimes and this can have a huge impact on your negative thought patterns. When you start to have these thoughts recognize your reaction to them, observe it, and then let it go. Another way, is when you are noticing you are judging yourself or someone else in a negative light then start to look for a positive quality as well.

6. Gratitude!

Practicing gratitude is by far one of the biggest helps when it comes to negative self-talk. I highly recommend meditation, writing in a journal, and yoga. These three things have helped me so much because you get time with yourself to really take a step back and be with your thoughts. You actually feel your breath and your heart beat. I always feel so grateful to even be alive and to be able to breathe. It’s those little things that can really put everything in perspective and help you see the bigger picture.

7. Starting the day with affirmations

I work at a yoga studio and one of the students I talk to could feel that I was very stressed. I was very stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. The next day, she gave me a note card with these journal prompts and affirmations and told me to give it a try. At first, I was like how will I have time to do this first thing in the AM? As we heard above I LOVE to snooze my alarm and usually am running late. What if I got up a little earlier and spent 5 min or less answering these questions? Well, I did and let me tell you it really did set the tone for the day and I encourage you to give them a try!

8. Focus on what your strengths are

I know it can be difficult to focus on what you are good at and especially because you don’t want to sound conceded. But let me tell you, it is okay to talk good about yourself and be confident! It is human nature to dwell on the negative and overlook the positive sometimes, but the more you practice focusing on your strengths and how to move forward then the easier it will be to feel positive about yourself. Sometimes, we look into the past and can be upset of how we handled situations, who we surrounded ourselves with, and any thing that has happened that has made us feel less then. I know it is easier said then done but you have to forgive yourself and know that you made that decision for a reason. Every single life decision happens for us and leads us on the right path. When we can be more self-aware and think, “I put myself in that situation because I didn’t have the healthy coping skills as a teen and that is the way I got by.” Sometimes, we didn’t know better or maybe didn’t even have a choice. That is okay! Love every single inch of you and your heart.

I want you to know that I am posting this because I have a really hard time with negative thought patterns. I don’t even realize how much I am negative but I am a lot. The other day, I was driving to the dog park with my Husband and I said, “I really have to go to the bathroom.” He said, “There is a bathroom there we will be there soon.” and then I said “No, they are probably closed because of COVID.” See what I did? I didn’t even wait until we got there to actually see and instead already made up my mind that they were closed! Did I do this to protect myself in case there really wasn’t and I peed my pants? Probably! There are a lot of situations like that where I always shut things down right away without giving it a chance. I know that this will take effort and practice and honestly will probably be a forever thing to work on. The thing is, if we can work at it little by little and realize that we are doing this and why then that makes all the difference. I would love to hear your thoughts below and I really hope this helps!

Love & Light,

Tuscany

Here is me after Yoga this morning feeling AMAZING!

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Life · Mental Health

Life After the Pandemic

Image taken from Google

Honestly, I have been having a hard time thinking about what to write lately. Life has been a little crazy for me and for all of us. I know that we are still in a Pandemic but I really wanted to analyze and think about what life is going to be like after all of this. Some states started their self quarantine earlier then others and some are still in it while others are not. It has been interesting to me living in Georgia because we were one of the last states to close and one of the first to reopen. I have a lot of friends in California and they have been dealing with this a lot longer and way more extreme then how it has been here. May is mental health awareness month so I wanted to shed light on the impacts of mental health during this time. To be honest, I really didn’t know how to deal with all of this at first and I was in complete shock and denial. I think we all were in denial. I was surprised with how I handled it because with someone who has anxiety and panic attacks you would think that I would be freaking out. I was actually weirdly calm and thought something was wrong with me. I was reading how people who have anxiety have been more calm during this Pandemic because they are used to dealing with chaos and are almost numb to it. We also feel less alone in feeling anxiety since collectively everyone is feeling similar ways. This doesn’t mean I didn’t care or worry about myself or my loved ones but I knew that I had no control over the situation. I think we can be afraid to surrender to things because we want control but the thing is we never had control, all we had was anxiety. I started hearing from friends who have never discussed their fears with me feeling so worried about all of this and for once I wasn’t the only one always feeling worry. I actually feel like I started to relate with more of my friends on a deeper level because of all of this. Sometimes we want to control the outcome and especially when we don’t know what that outcome will be. Once we are able to give up control, breathe, and let go of our expectations then we can help ease that anxiety and panic. We have all had to learn Zoom and more technology and let me tell you it has been a learning curve for me and I am sure for you!

During this time, I have seen people connect more then ever and come together to help others. Schools, yoga studios, meetings, DJ sets, brunch and any other social activities have turned into Zoom meetings. People are doing more arts and crafts then ever, creating new things, watching a lot of Netflix, reading more, cooking more, connecting more, using social media for free work outs and realizing that we can basically do everything on technology. It is honestly beautiful the way that we have navigated technology to continue life and keep things going. Although, I wonder if after all of this if businesses, schools, teachers, etc; will continue to use technology instead? I am worried that people will still be so fearful of being around one another that they will want to continue keeping a distance. Parents will be worried about their kids friends coming over and everybody will be wearing a mask. I am worried that concerts and feeling free at them will not be the same. I have noticed that everyone has different opinions and ways of handling this Pandemic and that is OKAY! I have noticed some people really came together to help others but I have also noticed a huge judgement zone of rude people. I know under that is fear and some people react when they are angry out of fear, but it really sucks to see people so mean to others.

Also, I wonder what the mental health impact of all of this will be. I know we focus so much on physical health but being isolated from others can be very damaging to someones well being. Some people have had to stay home in terrible abusive situations which I can’t imagine how hard that has been. People use school or work to escape from abuse and now they have been stuck. I wonder the impact this will have on teenagers who didn’t get to go to Prom or walk for graduation. To the kids, who haven’t been able to see their friends and are sitting in front of a screen all day learning things. To the health care workers who are frustrated, angry, tired, and have no idea how long this will go on for or if there work will ever be the same. There are so many people out of jobs and businesses who are barley going to make it. Businesses who have already went bankrupt and people who are already out on the streets from not being able to afford their bills. To the grocery store clerks, who have been dealing with the pressure and stress of all of this.

There were a lot of birthdays not celebrated how we normally would. I know I was super bummed that my 30th birthday was right when this all started. It was not what I expected at all, but there I go again with EXPECTATIONS! Most of my friends weren’t able to join in on the fun because of it and I was super bummed. Then, I started to see weddings being cancelled or rescheduled and I realized me complaining about my 30th birthday wasn’t as upsetting as that probably was. I know that was a difficult decision for people and its sad because it is such an exciting time. Weddings are something you plan for all year and have everything ready and so I can’t imagine the anxiety and sadness assiscated. Another thing, is babyshowers or pregnant mamas. I personally have two people in my life who are pregnant during this and I know it hasn’t been easy. They have had to be extra careful and have to stay home basically. I know it is hard that they can’t have a traditional baby shower and things will be different when they go into labor as well. I think its okay to be sad or mourn these things. These are all such exciting times in our lives and we should be bummed that things are different. I just really hope that going forward that these things will be normal again. I will say, I have loved seeing all the virtual baby showers and especially the drive up celebrations! I have seen people get in their cars and drive by someones house with music and balloons and celebrate them! A new normal I guess.

I know this all sound scary to think about but this is the reality of the situation. It is really really hard for so many people and for others it hasn’t been hard at all. I want to give my love and support to all of those who have struggled during this time and will continue to struggle because of this. I really get scared to think about the mental health impact this will have on millions of people. I really believe people are experiencing depression, panic, and anxiety for the first time ever.

Personally, I had a lot of ups and downs during this time but I was very grateful to get so much time at home with my Husband. He is always traveling for work and never gets a break and so it was very nice having him home finally. We are fortunate that we were able to stay home and have the means to do so. Honestly, it has been so good for our marriage and has strengtened our bond. It has allowed us that quality time together that we usually don’t ever get. I am sure the same goes for you! I think either some couples have either had enough of each other or this is exactly what they needed. I have enjoyed slowing down and just hanging out at home. I know others haven’t had that luxary and it has been harder depending on where you live as well.

My point of all of this is that it really makes you think if life will ever be the same or if zoom calls and gloves and masks will be a new normal? I wonder if kids will ever have a regular school day again and if traveling will ever be the same. I wonder if parents are going to have to teach their kids more instead of teachers? Will parents have to work from home if schools are closed? Will there be activities for after school for all the kids that need that interaction with other kids? This really should make us all aware that we do not have any control and at any moment anything can happen and change. I know it can be so hard to go with the flow but this shows us that things are out of our control. Yes, it is up to us to stay safe and stay home but are we in control of anything else? Nope. Humans need each other and need physical touch so I really hope that eventually we can be hugging and hanging out again.

I hope eventually we will see smiles on peoples faces and not covered by a mask. I hope that we can go travel the world and be with loved ones. I hope that people continue to check in on others, keep connecting, creating, loving, and taking a step back and staying present. We are so used to being super busy and constantly moving that we never take time to just sit at home. I encourage you that even when things get busy again to come back to the moment of being with yourself and remembering whats important. Also, I think we should continue keeping in touch with people and checking on people. I think that this reminded us of what is important, what lasts, and what doesn’t. All of the bars, travels, events, and fun are not everything. These are fun things that we are lucky to be able to do and have but as you can see it can be taken away at any moment. So focus on your relationships and nurting those 🙂

The one thing I will say, is no matter your thoughts on this subject PLEASE be kind to others. You have no idea what someone is dealing with and so let them do what they are going to do. We can not control others and it is not our job to do so. There is a way to say things to someone to show you care instead of accusing them or attacking their character.

I want to know your thoughts…what do you think life will be after this and how have you handled it?

Love & Light,

Tuscany

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