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10 Ways To Beat Stress

words | Corinna Cooke
photography | Blake Bonillas

Stress is an energy vampire; It sucks the life right out of the joy you are supposed to be living. We all face stressful situations in our lives, no one is immune. In life there will always be another bump in the road ahead, so we might as well build our skill set to manage it.

The situation we face is not the issue - but how we react to, process, and deal with the situation. Beating stress - getting out in front of it - all comes down to having the right tools up your sleeve.

Here are 10 Ways To Beat Stress:

Breathe. When you find yourself in a stressful situation, use your breath to calm yourself. Breathe in through your nose to a count of 10, hold it for a count of 10, blow it back out to a count of 10. Your body can’t focus on being stressed and deep breathing at the same time!

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Do Yoga. If you start your day with sun salutations you set up your whole day to function with balance and calm.

Take a Walk. Unplug your devices, turn off your phone, clear your mind and take a walk in the park. When you step outdoors and create a space in your mind, the Universe will race to fill it with something - most often the solution to your problem!

Meditate. You don’t have to sit on the floor with crossed legs and palms pressed together - you can meditate any way that works for you. Even if you just meditate 10 minutes per day you will change your life for the better and gain the mental strength to calm your thoughts in moments of stress.

Focus on the funny. You can’t be busting out laughing and be stressed at the same time. Your brain will make you pick just one, so choose the funny! Think about the most hilarious moments in the funniest movies you’ve ever seen and let your laughter lighten the moment.

You Are What You Eat. Processed foods, sodas, sugars and alcohol all make stress worse. Eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water, and avoiding all the bad stuff can help you get through life’s stressful moments.

Sleep. Lack of sleep not only makes coping with stress more difficult, but it can also be a stress trigger. Make sleep a priority in your life and try to get 7 to 8 hours sleep per night.

Listen To Podcasts/Tedtalks You get to choose what you fill your mind with when you are commuting to work, working out, walking the dog or going about your life, so fill it with something good! Listen to empowering podcasts and Ted Talks, and hear the stories of regular people who have overcome all kinds of obstacles and gone on to do great things. If you keep your mind inspired it will naturally seek out solutions and spend less time on stressing.

Use The 5 Year Rule. Stress makes us lose perspective. In the moment, a situation can feel cataclysmic, but in reality most of that stress is just a waste of energy and time. As you face a stressful situation, ask yourself if this will matter in five years’ time. Will you care about this five years from now? Probably not. Try to remember things that stressed you out 5 years ago – most, if not all of them will seem like a complete waste of time and energy now.

The Mantra "I AM". Everyone needs a mantra - a series of words to string together and repeat over and over as we breathe our way out of stress, quiet our minds and deal with the situation at hand. The most empowering words you can use are the very simple but very true: I Am. Because You Are.

 

She remembered who she was and the game changed” -Lalah Deliah

 

Read more from Corinna on her blog here: https://corinnabsworld.com/

 

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10 Ways To Build Self-Respect

words | Corinna Cooke

The most important thing a person can have is self-respect. When you treat yourself with respect, others will view you and treat you accordingly. A woman who respects herself is an ideal employee, friend, and companion. You deserve all the great things that life has to offer, and that starts with treating yourself with respect.

1. Learn To Say No. This applies to every aspect of your life. Anything - and I do mean anything - you don’t feel comfortable with, say No! If someone wants you to do something that you don’t want to do, say No. Don’t give up your personal time to make someone else happy – if you don’t want to go to lunch or to the movies or to the mall, just say No. When you feel like someone is taking advantage of you, don’t grin and bear it - say No.

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2. Set Boundaries. When you are clear with yourself on what your boundaries are, it becomes easier to enforce them. Set boundaries that don’t let others steal your time. Set boundaries that rule how people can and cannot speak to you. Set boundaries about physical violence and verbal violence – neither are ever okay. Set boundaries about how much overtime you will do at work, that you won’t answer the phone at dinner, or that you won't respond to texts during movies. Set boundaries about how late or how early others can call you.

Having a clearly defined set of boundaries is a crucial foundation in building self-respect. Quietly and calmly enforcing the boundaries you have set is a sign that you are worthy and that you have a solid sense of self-respect.

3. Podcasts and Books. Feed your mind with quality information. Don’t waste your life on reality TV - listen to podcasts on subjects that interest you. Read books on a variety of subjects, including guides to self empowerment, to help you stay on track. The more you fill your mind with quality information, the better you will feel about yourself.

4. Choose Who You Allow Around You. Be very discerning about who you let around you. Don’t hang out with negative people, people who treat you unkindly, or people heading down a bad path. Instead surround yourself with positive, kind people who treat you well and are heading in a positive direction.

5. Treat People Kindly. Self-respect is equal parts how you treat yourself and how you treat others. Be kind. It’s easy, it feels good, and it makes those around you feel good. Like attracts like, so if you are kind to others, you will attract kind people to you. Treat yourself kindly, too! Learn to only say nice words to yourself about yourself.

6. Acknowledge your strengths. Self-respect means knowing what you are good at and acknowledging those strengths to yourself. You don’t need to broadcast them to the world – others will see for themselves. No one is good at everything, so rather than focusing on the things you are not so good at and beating yourself up over them, put them in context and pair them with strengths. Maybe you can’t run a 3 minute mile, but you are really good at conjugating verbs in another language, or baking pies, or calming distressed animals. Know what you are good at and embrace those things.

7. Pursue Hobbies. Get some hobbies and pursue them. Hobbies are a way to devote quality time to something you enjoy, which is a sign of self-respect in itself! Blocking off time for yourself to do things that you really enjoy is a way of showing the world that you respect yourself.

8. Dress For You. Only ever dress for yourself! Don’t dress to impress or appease others. Your clothing should make you comfortable, positive, and confident. Dress yourself with respect.

9. Set Standards. Raise the bar high! Set high standards for yourself and for everything in your life, and then work to achieve and maintain those standards. Set standards for behavior you will accept in others and in yourself. You will be amazed at how many people will raise themselves up to meet you, and in the process, the ones that were dragging you down will drop away. The ultimate sign of healthy self-respect is holding yourself to a high standard.

10. Do not engage in gossip. Gossiping is the opposite of holding yourself to a high standard. Gossip is about making yourself feel good by demeaning another person. If you have self-respect are working to build your self-respect, excuse yourself from any conversation that involves gossip. In fact, make a habit of shutting down any conversation that involves gossiping about other people.

 

“She remembered who she was and the game changed” Lalah Deliah

 

Read more from Corinna on her blog here: https://corinnabsworld.com/

 

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10 Ways to Boost Your Confidence

words | Corinna Cooke

So many walk through life feeling dis-empowered. Maybe not in every moment of every day, but enough to make them miss out on some of life's wonderful opportunities, make them scared to take risks, make them settle for less.

A big part of being able to own your own life, attract opportunities to you, and feel happy and content within yourself lies in being able to boost your own self confidence. Self confidence is not about how much money you earn, the size of your thighs, how many followers you have on social media, or what you do for a living. Confidence is all about feeling centered, appreciating just how fantastic you really are, and not being afraid to fail. Confidence makes you a magnet to others - it is sexy and alluring, and a repellent to bullies and mean people.

Whatever age you are, where ever you are in your life, there are always reasons to develop, boost and enhance your confidence

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Here are 10 easy ways to boost your confidence

1. Use Your Body Language

Self confident people walk differently - they carry themselves differently, and here is a little secret: it is impossible to maintain self-confident body language and feel insecure at the same time. Your brain can only put you in one state at a time, so choose confidence!

Confident Body Language:

  • Stand up straight, pull your shoulder blades together toward your spine, then slide them down your back. This will square your shoulders and give you a nice, straight spine. Squared shoulders are the first sign of confidence.
  • Square your hips. As women, we tend to balance phantom babies on our hips, throwing our weight to one side or the other, or we curl our hips into each other, both of which make our shoulders curve and slump downward. Squared hips and squared shoulders signal confidence.
  • Keep your chin parallel to the ground. A chin that angles downward indicates subservience or a lack of confidence. A chin that is parallel to the ground, paired with squared shoulders and squared hips, inspires confidence, makes you look honest and aware and ready for every great thing that is about to come your way.
  • Make eye contact. Watch the people around you for more than 5 minutes and you will see their eyes bouncing around, looking everywhere but directly at the person they are speaking to or with. When you maintain eye contact with the person you are speaking to it says that you are confident both inside your skin and in what you are talking about.
  • Smile. When your shoulders and hips are squared, your chin is parallel to the ground, you are making eye contact and you are smiling it tells the world you are confident, happy and content in life.

Just for fun, try maintaining the body language of confidence and feeling insecure/scared/stressed at the same time - it's impossible!

2. Breathe

When ever you are feeling less than confident, use your breath to calm your mind and re-calibrate your thoughts. Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose to a count of 10, breathing all the way down to the base of your belly. Hold the breath for a count of 10 (or work your way toward being able to hold it for 10) then blow your breath out of your mouth to a count of 10. Repeat this over and over until you feel at peace.

If your brain won't stop running in a million different directions, then quiet it back down by silently saying "I breathe in" as you inhale, and "I breathe out" as you exhale. (I learned this from a yoga teacher years ago. It works!)

3. Stop Being a People-Pleaser

Self-confident people are not people-pleasers. Put yourself at the center of your universe and then act kindly towards everyone, but know that it is OK to say "No". Don't say or do anything because it is expected of you or because it will make someone else feel good, regardless of whether that is your boss, your co-worker, your lover, or your friend. Don't do anything because you think it might make someone like you - it will just make them think they can walk all over you. Know that you were not put on this earth to be a people-pleaser. You were put on this earth to shine!

4. Put Yourself First

This ties in with not being a people-pleaser: Self confident people make a point of knowing what they want and putting themselves first to make sure they get it. As women, we tend to put our own wants and needs behind everyone else's. Without being unkind or unfeeling, a self confident person will assert themselves and make sure their needs are met. You don't hear self confident people say "I really wanted to see that movie but, I had to do all these other things for other people first and so I didn't have time. " or "I really wanted to read that book but by the time I had cooked dinner, done the dishes and the laundry, picked up the house and helped with homework each night I was too tired to read anything!". A self-confident person will delegate tasks so that everything gets done and there still is time to sit down and read that book.

5. Meditate

Part of being confident is being able to quiet your mind, shut out the distracting noise, control your thoughts and emotions, and give your brain the time and space it needs to think up the good stuff! Meditating doesn't have to take a long time and it doesn't have to be difficult. Find some 10 minute meditations on You Tube, separate yourself from distractions, and if nothing else, just listen to one over and over each day. Sometimes they will just bore your brain into quietness.

Once you learn how to meditate - quiet your brain for a few minutes. You will be able to handle the more difficult or stressful situations in life, just like a confident person does. Sometimes confidence is about being able to step back from a situation, see it for what it is, make a decision, and move forward.

6. Get Quality Sleep

When you don't get enough sleep or enough quality sleep, you get anxious, more easily stressed out, manic - all of which are the opposite of confidence.

Make getting enough sleep a priority. Minimize the distractions that make sleep poor quality. This may mean wearing earplugs to block out the traffic noise or wearing an eye mask to black out the neon lights that shine into your room. It may mean turning off TV or video games early so that your brain can quiet itself down. It may mean soaking in a bath with epsom salts or assigning yourself quiet time before bed. (Confident people allow themselves the time they need to quiet their mind before bed. It is a necessity, not an indulgence.)

7. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses and Embrace Your Strengths

Very, very few people if any are really, really good at everything. Self-confident people understand that. Not only do they know what they are good at and where they are not strong, they have no problem admitting to their weaknesses or asking for help. Confident people embrace their strengths and are proud of them. They put their weaknesses or things they are not strong at in perspective. How important is it? Is this something they need to work on and turn into a strength, or when put into the bigger picture is this issue/trait/situation not worth worrying about?

Serena Williams is really great at tennis. She is the best. Do you think she would lose any sleep over not being able to flip a crepe, or sew a dress, or make an excel spreadsheet? Of course not! If it was something that really mattered to her she would learn how to do it, but chances are she would look at it and decide it was not worth her time or energy.

8. Take a Digital Detox

Remember that the perfect lives we see on social media are not real. No one's life is that perfect, so don't compare yourself to the people and stories you see on social media. One of the most empowering things you can do to boost your confidence is to take periodic digital detoxes - put down the phone, stop checking social media, and just focus on enjoying life.

 9. Learn To Accept Compliments Graciously

Self-confident people accept compliments graciously. If you compliment them on their outfit, they will never say, "What? This old thing?", instead they will smile and say, "Thank you." If you compliment their makeup, they will never say, "It's a pity my hair won't behave," or, "I just threw this on, it probably looks awful!" Instead they will smile and say, "Thank you".

10. Focus On What Makes You Happy

Self-confident people don't waste a lot of time focusing on people or things that annoy them, upset them, or bother them. They understand that negativity just holds them back.

Self-confident people focus on the things that make them happy. They devote time to pursuing their hobbies, put effort into surrounding themselves with people and things that make them happy, and keep moving forward in a positive direction.

 

Read more from Corinna on her blog here: https://corinnabsworld.com/

 

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10 Ways To Empower Other Women

words | Corinna Cooke

The best way to celebrate women is to use your skills, abilities and opportunities to help and empower other women - especially those less fortunate than yourself.

All around the world there are women living in poverty, forced into the sex trade, sold into marriages to men decades older than themselves, owned, beaten, given no human rights, given no opportunity to have an education, marginalized, stranded in refugee camps, trying to raise their children in war zones, watching their babies die from easily treatable illnesses – the list goes on.

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If you don’t fall into any of the categories above, congratulate yourself on your good fortune and then do something to help.

When you empower another woman you help build a better world for all of us to live in.

Every now and then a girl needs to reinvent herself. To shed the skin of her former self and write a new rule book for life” -Cara Alwill Leyba, Style Your Mind

Here are 10 ways you can help empower other women:

Volunteer. You have time, so use it to help others! Volunteering to help other women on any level helps both them and you. Help out at abused women’s shelters, help homeless women, help the disabled., read to old people, take food to the infirm. Once you start searching, you'll find there are endless ways to volunteer and make a difference in the lives of women less fortunate than yourself.

Donate. Give until it hurts. Pack up clothes and household goods that are not being used and donate them to Goodwill. Buy non-perishable food items and donate them to a food bank. Find female-centric charities and write them a check. Give and give and give and you will receive and receive and receive.

Sponsor. Find a girl child to sponsor. There are so many countries in this world where by virtue of being a girl, a child is unable to get an education. Whether you find a child to sponsor in sub Saharan Africa, Palestine, Pakistan, India, or anywhere else, your help can change a life. Change one life and you can impact hundreds. Studies have shown that when you educate the women in a village, the infant and child mortality rates drop drastically.

Find women-owned, women-run micro businesses in impoverished countries and sponsor them. A little help goes an incredibly long way.

Refuse To Engage In Gossip. Gossip is mostly about women demeaning other women. When you refuse to partake in gossip, you begin to elevate all women.

March. March for the causes you care about. March for pro life or march for women’s rights. March for the female causes you support and believe in. March for gun control, march to further causes that involve women’s rights. Whatever beliefs you hold, get out there and march with other women supporting that belief. The way to have our voices heard is to stand up and be counted. March/walk/run for breast cancer. There is power in numbers.

Be Supportive. Be kind to other women. Be supportive to other women. Encourage those that are working toward a better life. When women are supportive instead of demeaning or dismissive, they empower all women.

Stop Competing. Life is not a competition. Be happy for the success of others and work on your own success. Don’t judge other women, don’t be bitter, don’t compete.

Support Women-Owned, Women-Run Businesses. Make a conscious choice to support women-owned businesses. Choose fair trade every time the option presents itself. Buy from brands that create opportunity for impoverished women.

Refuse To Buy From Sweatshop Brands. Flat out refuse to buy from brands that make the choice to use unaudited sweatshop factories such as those in Bangladesh. Money talks – if brands suffer financially from using sweatshop factories that further abuse the world’s most impoverished women, then they will be forced to raise their standards. Your purchasing dollars are the only way to make a change.

Vote. Know that you are lucky to live in a place where you have the right to vote as a woman. Your vote does count, so make sure you exercise that right at every election. Do your homework and make sure you do not support someone who wants to take away women’s rights. The way to create a better world for women and to empower women is to vote.

 

"I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back." -Malala Yousafzai

 

Read more from Corinna on her blog here: https://corinnabsworld.com/

 

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6 Ways To Beat The Mid-Winter Blues

words | Corinna Cooke
photography | Brad Olson

Here comes another cold, winter weekend, and if you are already suffering from the doldrums, don't despair! Here are 6 potential remedies...

Do yoga

Whether you go to a yoga class, or whether you practice with a DVD or a You Tube video, practicing yoga not only gives your body a fabulous workout, it also calms your thoughts and makes you feel fabulous!

  Extended Hand to Big Toe  | Yoga  photography | Isaac Bailey

Extended Hand to Big Toe | Yoga

photography | Isaac Bailey

go to a bookstore

Rather than scroll around on Amazon, bundle up and take yourself to a bookstore and get the tactile experience of picking up books, flipping through them, smelling them. (I love the smell of bookstores!)  You can find so many more interesting books by meandering around and looking at what is on the shelves than scrolling on the internet. It's easy to find yourself in conversation with other folks roaming the aisles, and it's one of the best ways to find cool new authors and great reads.

If your local bookstore has a coffee shop, even better! Grab a table and enjoy a cappuccino while flipping through a magazine or starting your new book. There are always interesting people to meet or people watch, and it beats sitting around at home!

Cook something

Pinterest is full of great recipes in every category you can think of. Find something interesting or different, or something perfect for winter, throw on your favorite tunes, and have some fun in your kitchen.

Volunteer

As bad as we think we have it, or as bored as we might be, there is always someone worse off than we are. Find a local soup kitchen or an organization in need and give them some of your time. You will not only be helping others but it will make you feel good too.

Read to the elderly

Can you even imagine being stuck in an old folks home with no one visiting you?? The monotony must be awful! Call around your local retirement homes/assisted living homes and ask about reading to the elderly. Not sure where to start? I found this website Create The Good that can give you some ideas.

clear the clutter

Take some time this weekend to clean out closets and makeup drawers, clear the clutter. You will be amazed at how much more clearly you can think and how much more peaceful you will feel once you clear out the clutter from every aspect of your life! You can read more about it here and here.

 

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Blue Moods

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Imagine a life with a dark cloud that follows you everywhere you go during fall and winter months.  And once spring arrives, sunny days fill you with sunshine and happy days.  Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern, formerly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affects up to 10% of the population, depending on geographic location. It’s no wonder that there is a common phrase for people that thrive on sunshine called “sun-worshippers”.  Ultimately, MDD with a seasonal pattern is far more serious than just being in a funk or having the “winter blues”.  Some have described it as feeling like a numb sadness, falling, drowning or a dark hole.  

Doctors and therapists use the guidelines from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual V to diagnose and look for all criteria for Major Depressive Disorder coinciding with specific seasons.   

Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, everyday
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless

  • Having low energyFeel depressed most of the day, almost every day

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Having problems with sleep

  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight

  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

  • Having difficulty concentrating

  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

And they tend to have a seasonal pattern:

  • Relational pattern with symptoms and time of year (fall and winter)

  • Depression disappears in the spring

Studies have found that women are diagnosed four times as many times as men.  Younger adults have a higher risk of being diagnosed than older adults.  It has even been reported in children and teens.  Individuals that have a family history of depression are at greater risk to develop MDD with a seasonal pattern than people that do not have a family history of depression.  

Unfortunately, the causes of this diagnosis are unknown.  But research is carving the way to understanding this diagnosis more fully.  One study found that people with MDD with seasonal pattern have 5% serotonin transporter protein in winter months than summer months.   Serotonin is a chemical nerve cells produced in the brain and is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood. Some individuals may overproduce the hormone melatonin.  They may also produce less vitamin D.  As researchers discover more data about why symptoms occur, we learn how to prevent and treat the diagnosis more effectively.

The good news is that there is a wide range of effective treatments available to help.  Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.  Professional support is available to treat this debilitating disorder including light therapy, medication, psychotherapy and/or vitamin D.

Planning ahead:

If you know you have a seasonal pattern, ask yourself – “How can I plan for this?”  Since this disorder has a specific pattern, those who experience it can plan ahead in several ways.

  • Exercise more toward the end of summer

  • Get into therapy in September

  • Plan a vacation to a sunny place in January

Some may do well with treatment only during the months that symptoms are most prevalent, while others benefit from year round treatment.  One must realize that this is a medical condition and should be treated. Consider what will be best for you, and move forward with a strategy to know you can manage the disorder well by knowing what you need and when you need it.

 

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Confidence

words | Chloe Buress

Chloe graduated from Desert Vista High School in 2016. She's nineteen, dabbles in makeup and fashion, loves to travel and be creative. When she grows up, she wants to be "That Cat Lady."

My motto in life is, “Fake it ‘till you make it.” It rings true for every situation I’m put in, for every season of life, for every age. What does this mean? It means pretend like you know what you’re doing, pretend like you have it all together, because all people can see is how you present yourself.

When I was fourteen, I decided that I was going to be confident. But I didn’t just wake up one morning and BAM...confidence. It was something I had to learn and grow into, and train myself to be. The following were the steps I took to become the confident, self-assured woman I am today.

Posture. Posture, posture, POSTURE!

Your posture says a lot about you. If you are turned inward with your head down, you look closed-off and insecure. By opening up your body language, you seem to exude a sense of power and confidence. How do you do this? Easy, roll back your shoulders, straighten your back, and hold your chin up high. By opening up your chest and lifting up your head, you look fearless—but most importantly, you will feel fearless.

Positive self-talk.

When you start to think negatively about yourself—STOP. Catch yourself and turn your thoughts around. Remind yourself of things you're good at and features or traits you like about yourself. By stopping your negative thoughts right in their tracks and moving forward with positive ones, you’ll start to change your entire mindset. Listen to the good and ignore the bad.

Letting go. Let go of people or things that make you feel anything but confident. This means taking a look at aspects of your life where you are unhappy or discouraged. If someone specifically is tearing you down constantly or making you feel awful about yourself, you need to let them go. By “letting them go” I mean talking to them and communicating with them your feelings, and if they don’t change or don’t care then you let them go. You block their number, unfriend them on social media, and basically delete them from your life. This can be hard, trust me, I’m not saying it will be as easy as deleting an Instagram post— people aren’t Instagram posts—it can be rough. When I did this, I had to let go of my best friend, because all she did was treat me like a second-class friend. It was hard, and lonely at times, but the payoff was worth it. I didn’t have close friends for awhile because she had been my only one for a long time, but once I ripped off that band-aid, I grew to befriend myself and learned that it was okay to have a chance to grow and mature alone. So if toxic people or situations are clouding up your life, maybe you need to reassess, cleanse, and start new.

Dress confidently. By dressing confidently, you’ll gain more self-esteem. By wearing clothing that makes you feel good, you’ll look at yourself more positively. Clothes don’t have to be expensive to feel good it. Try second-hand stores and be creative. How your clothes fit is more important than price. Don’t forget that showing a lot of skin, is not confidence.

Music can pump you up and change your mood in an instant. Listen to music that gives you a little extra pep or try it when you're feeling down. As my girl Demi Lovato says, “What’s wrong with being confident?”

Remember that EVERYONE on planet earth has insecurities, and you’re not the only one. Everybody has self-doubts and hesitations, but by “talking back” to those doubts and negative thoughts, you're choosing to believe in yourself and not all the other voices that tear you down. Care about what YOU think and what YOU like, not what others think, because their opinions don’t matter, all that matters is your opinion of yourself.

Nerdy teacher showing strength determination education pride will power learning teaching intelligence superhero
 

Nerdy teacher showing strength determination education pride will power learning teaching intelligence superhero
 

Got Coping?

words | Dr. Amanda Easton, PhD, CRC, LCPC

Coping skills are critical for feeling mentally healthy and stable. Without coping skills, many people will experience symptoms of mental health disorders, like anxiety or depression, where others might develop a mental health disorder. Finding the right coping skills for you can be the difference between being able to manage work, school, and play or not. Some awesome coping skills to try out are:

Got Coping.  Dr. Amanda Easton, PhD, CRC, LCPC

Breathing Exercises:  Breathing exercises can be as simple as taking a large inhale through the nose for 3 seconds, and then exhaling through the mouth for 3 seconds.  Make sure you are filling up your entire belly with air and repeat for a few minutes.  There are also some super cool breathing apps, like Breathe2Relax.  

Thought Challenging:  Ever have a situation where you are thinking in terms of all or nothing? For example, telling yourself that everyone in the room is looking at you, or you’re simply not good enough? Try thought challenging! Thought challenging is when you challenge negative thoughts with a “challenging statement” like, “I am okay, and I know I can do this.”

Exercise and Eating Well:  The power of exercise and eating well goes a very long way in terms of mental health. When we exercise, endorphins are released and provide an uplifting and energetic feeling. The same goes for eating well! If we decide to eat high fat and sugary foods all the time, we are likely to feel lethargic and drained. Eating well balanced and nutritional foods help our brains and bodies to function at their best.  

Spirituality:  While you don’t have to be religious, having a sense of a higher power or spirituality can be very beneficial when trying to manage a depressed or anxious mood. There are a couple of ways to think about this. One being that you attend an organized religious platform where prayer and practice might be the focus. Another way of thinking about this is maintaining one’s own sense of spirituality without an institution or organization. Regardless, the routine and practice are what make spirituality a beneficial coping skill for many.  

 

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Half Empty or Half Full?

words | Fitness Expert Andrea Allen

Is your glass-half-empty or half-full?  The truth is that your answer to this question can influence more than just your attitude; it can help or hinder your health! Research shows that a positive attitude improves your social happiness, decreases stress, and helps broaden your sense of possibilities. Negative thoughts can trigger the body to release stress hormones and create unnecessary anxiety.

Both of these issues are linked to lack of concentration, decreased social skills, and increased discouragement.  The power of your thoughts can affect your future and your personal happiness. So how do you improve your mindset? Here are four ideas to increase your positive attitude and bring more peace and happiness to your life!

Half Empty or Half Full. Luca Magazine Mental Health

Positive Role Play: Before you enter a stressful situation, game, audition, or anything you’re nervous about, role play the situation in your head. Imagine what you WANT to happen. Imagine yourself winning. Even imagine your responses to hard situations in a positive way and think about keeping calm. Once the situation arises, you’re more likely to act out how you roll played it in your mind. Practice makes perfect and practicing being positive makes for happy endings!

Assertive Problem Solving: Do NOT turn every situation into doomsday. Think through a problem rationally and find ways YOU can change the situation. It is easy to blame others and be negative, but if you can find a piece to the problem you can fix, the outcome will be much better.

Associate yourself with real friends: You are who you surround yourself with, and negative people pull you down. Gossip and negative comments create a negative atmosphere, one that makes it hard to fit in, hard to see opportunities and possibilities and creates fear of being yourself. Find friends who are positive, cheer you on, and lift you up.

Note One Positive Thing Every Day: When we write things down, we’re more likely to remember and internalize them. If you’re always focusing on what’s wrong in your life, you will never see what’s right. Take note of one positive thing every day.

Laugh: Laughter truly is the best medicine. Do not take life so seriously. You are bound to make mistakes, but beating yourself up over lost opportunities is pointless. Learn from a mistake and laugh it out.

 

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How to Have a Peaceful Holiday When Tension Runs High in Your Family

words | Elisabeth Davies, MC

Have you ever felt apprehensive or tense thinking about how it’s going to go when you spend time with your family during the holidays?

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This feeling is not uncommon if you grew up in a family where tensions were high, due to fighting, yelling, or disharmony among parents and siblings. Between three and four million American children grew up in homes where there was verbal, physical, or emotional abuse.* The after effects of fear, anxiety or unresolved anger can last many years into adulthood. These emotions can get easily reignited when back in the family environment.

Emotionally protecting yourself by staying anchored into peace is key when you are exposing yourself to environments, or people where tensions can run high.

In addition to family relationship apprehension, not all families can afford the financial expenses that come from buying gifts and holiday expenses. There are approximately 10.4 million low-income working families in America. ** This financial pressure can add stress.

Keeping a budget and making homemade crafts and goodies can be meaningful to others as well as less expensive on your pocketbook.

Even with all the busyness and stress a holiday season can bring, you can still add peace and harmony to yours. One of the ways to do this is to practice being an observer rather than an absorber. When you choose to be an observer, you listen and watch without taking on, or personalizing any exchanges. You are aware that every word and behavior that comes from another human being is an expression of who they are. What they say and do is a reflection of what thoughts and beliefs they carry in themselves at that moment. Remind yourself of this when others are interacting with you, so you don’t take others words and behaviors personal.

It is easy to forget what the holidays are about when we are busy and stressed out. During the holidays remind yourself each day that the holidays are about celebrating, taking time off to enjoy good meals and time with others. Christmas, in particular, is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and the good news he brought to the world. Each time you interact with others, focus on good things you would like to share with them this holiday. This focus can change interactions to become positive exchanges.

Being peaceful is not only something you can practice during the holidays, but you can incorporate it into your daily living. Each day take a minute and find a place that is quiet, where you can close your eyes and shut out the external world. Bring your attention to your breath. Take a long, slow six second inhale. During the inhale, say in your mind, ‘breathing up peace.’ Now take a long, slow six second exhale. During the exhale, say in your mind, ‘breathing out all stress and tension in my being.’ Continue this intentional peace-breathing exercise for a minimum of 60 seconds. As you get better and better at it, you can do it with your eyes open. Practice this intentional peace-breathing exercise each time you notice tension is building within you. Peace be with you during the holidays and throughout the New Year.

Counselor and Author of Good Things Emotional Healing Journal: Addiction

*http://www.domesticviolenceroundtable.org/effect-on-children.html

**http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2013/us-working-poor-families.aspx

 

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Super Model Katie Wilcox

words | Samantha Quintanar

In today’s culture, we are surrounded by unhealthy media that teaches girls that their value lies in their appearance. For example, take a look at any women’s publication at the checkout line of the grocery store. Without a doubt, you’ll be bombarded with titles like “Toned Abs in Seconds,” “Best Styles for your Body Type,” and “Get Swim Body Ready.”

But what about things that really matter? Health, happiness, and love? Appearance has nothing to do with these vital aspects of our lives, and that is what international model, body image activist, and CEO Katie H. Willcox aims to teach.

Katie Wilcox, Healthy New Skinny
Katie Wilcox. Healthy New Skinny

As the founder and CEO of the social media movement, @healthyisthenewskinny (HNS), Katie educates girls and women of all ages the keys to authentic health by exposing the harmful tactics used by the advertising world to sell products.

Healthy is the New Skinny doesn’t mean choosing one body type over another. The movement is about so much more than a body type. Instead, it teaches girls to throw away the “skinny” beauty ideal that limits us from being our true selves. HNS wants girls to aspire to be the healthiest and happiest version of themselves without feeling the need to look a certain way.

 photography |  Bradford Wilcox

photography |  Bradford Wilcox

When we throw out the beauty ideals that keep us from reaching our full potential, we leave much more room for opportunities to make real differences in the world.

Katie Wilcox. Healthy New Skinny

The HNS movement is helping to take the power back from the media and helping build a community of girls and women that aim to empower one another. Together, we can create healthy media and pave the way for future generations of girls to come!

Join the movement on www.healthyisthenewskinny.com and follow us on Instagram @healthyisthenewskinny!

 

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#StopBodyShame

words | Samantha Quintanar

Body shaming is a topic that has been discussed heavily in the news and on social media lately, but what is body shaming?

Body shaming happens when someone offers an unwanted negative comment about your appearance. Whether it's someone who made a comment about your outfit choice, or that kid that made fun of you in 5th grade for having weird teeth. Body shaming comes in many forms and affects many people.

In a society that is consumed by social media, body shaming has become such a prevalent topic. Social media takes away the personal aspects of communication and some people feel that they can say whatever they want, without any real repercussion, which can result in cyber bullying.

Body shaming is never acceptable, and it's why model Katie Willcox's Healthy is the New Skinny is working to use social media as a positive outlet to fight back. We launched an active campaign on Instagram encouraging people to share their experiences with body shaming to show that it affects a variety of different people. We were so happy to see that over 1,000 people tagged us to share their stories!

By creating this campaign, we want to showcase that body shaming happens to a variety of individuals, regardless of shape, size, or age. Regardless of what people say about us or our bodies, it does not define who we are. Once we realize that truth, we give ourselves the opportunity to grow and reach our full potential. 

Visit us at www.healthyisthenewskinny.com and join our campaign to #StopBodyShame!

 

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