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Finding the Silver Lining

Hey Loves,

Happy first Monday of October! These last few days, I’ve been thinking about something that I didn’t realize the importance of until recently. It’s called the

silver lining

Continue reading “Finding the Silver Lining”

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Productive Anxiety

Hey Loves!

So for two weeks before this I was on vacation, and last week I was moving back to my University’s campus and I didn’t get any time to write! I had all of these ideas going in my mind and I’m so looking forward to sharing them all with all of you- this is the first one!

This one goes out to all of you who struggle with anxiety. Whether you’ve been diagnosed or you just easily get anxious like me, I hope this helps in some way.

Most of the times, I get anxious about my expenditure, my grades, and the my impressions on other people. When I’m anxious, it feels like both my mind and body are frozen in time, like I can’t move or think about anything else but that which I’m worried about, or like anything that I do could lead to some other things falling apart, crashing and burning. Sometimes I vent out my worries to someone. But mostly I sit and stare for a long time. I imagine what will come next, and what I can do if it doesn’t go the way that I want it to. I’ve done this as long as I can remember struggling with anxiety, but I never realized how very unproductive it was until a few days ago when I was worrying about something irrelevant and my sister said to me: “Aarti, don’t just sit there and worry. DO something about it”

When it comes to my anxiety, my sister is my biggest supporter So I listened to her, and ever since then when I’ve felt anxious, I’ve also remembered to tell myself to do something about it.

Of course there is no general formula for solving all issues of anxiety, but there is a general formula that I like to use for dealing with anxiety. The first step is the one that I struggle with the most: talking to someone about it. I hate talking to other people about the things that make me anxious, because it seems like almost anything can make me anxious: awkward encounters, busy schedules, uncertainty, hard tests, and everything above and beyond that. Sometimes its hard to find someone to talk to about anxiety too, since it’s given that not everyone is going to understand how you feel, since what you get anxious about is not something that someone without anxiety troubles also gets anxious about. Sometimes, the most someone will be able to give you is “Relax, you’ll be fine”. At times hearing this from someone you trust can make you feel better, but not always. If you haven’t found someone in your life yet who you can vent out to, diaries work great too. Even though you can’t necessarily bounce ideas off of them because diaries can’t talk back, they are great for self-reflection- talking to yourself! And since you know yourself better than anyone, it’s definitely something that could work.

Something else that works in helping with anxiety is working out- go jogging or do some yoga, and, if you really don’t want to get of the house to do something, clean your room and the kitchen! While working out doesn’t involve doing anything about your problem at the moment, it does give you time and space to actually think things through, while allowing you to be productive and do something good for your mind and body and something that will undoubtedly make you feel better about your health.

And of course, for those of you who love to write like me, write about it: use your anxiety productively by figuring out what you need to do through writing. Pass on what you learn to your fellow bloggers and writers, and use the lessons you have learned because of your anxiety as ideas and inspiration for future writing projects!

And lastly, the best way to deal with something that you don’t get know how to tackle is to plan for it. Lay out everything you need to do to accomplish the task, and then direct yourself, step by step, on how you will accomplish it. If you worry about little things at a time instead of freaking out about the big picture, your anxieties will be a lot easier to deal with.

Anxiety often doesn’t feel great to have, but I’ve slowly come to realize that my struggles with anxiety have made me the person I am today- someone that I couldn’t be more proud of, even though she still has a lot to learn and a long way to go. So, loves, if you struggle with anxiety at times, make sure you keep reminding yourself that you are strong, you are loved, and you will get through it.

That’s all for now! Till next time.

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Posted in D.I.Y's and Advice, Healthy Eating and Healthy Mindset, Personal Reflections

Loving your body just like you should

 

Hi friends!

With only a couple of days left in the beautiful month of August, and the next year of school just around the corner (some of y’all have probably already started), I thought that I post about body image was in order.

I’ve actually been waiting to do this post for quite a while now- at least 3 months. Even though body image is an issue that many people have trouble dealing with, there is no doubt that it is a difficult one to talk about. My size and my weight have been two of my biggest insecurities since I was about 5 years old. Since then, it took me 16 years of many attempted diets, many tears, and many moments of sadness to realize that regardless of what happens on my journey of health, I need to love myself anyways.

Whether you are fat or skinny, tall or short or medium-sized in every respect, whether you are light-skinned or dark-skinned, whether you have dark hair, light hair, curly hair or straight hair, thick hair or thin hair or any other outstanding characteristic, the it’s likely that you’ve faced some type of body image issue at some point in time. Despite all the media promotion about loving yourself and how important it is to do so, I’ve never found one that effectively explains why it is important to love yourself, no matter what your current form might be. In order to share why I think it’s important to appreciate your body in any shape or size, I’m going to be sharing a bit of my story and struggle with you.

The story begins with a conversation I had with my sister just a few months ago, in May. After months and months of my cheapest and most appetizing dining options being pizza, burgers and salads- mostly made of dressing, croutons and fatty dressing- not only was I sick of most of my eating options, but I also felt hopeless. My schedule for the last year not only prevented me from seeing my friends regularly, but the amount of work I had on a daily basis made sitting inside and studying seem like a better option than going outside for a run. I’ve opened up a little bit before about my struggle with congenital hypothyroidism before. In essence, what this means is that regardless of how often I exercise and how healthy my diet is, it will always be harder for me to lose weight as compared to other people. But remembering this at that time only made me sink deeper into my hopelessness. A few days after I began to feel this way, I had a very meaningful conversation with my sister, and that’s when my whole perspective changed.

As I sat with my sister, I broke down. I told her that I felt like I was completely out of options, and I didn’t know how I would ever be able to feel good about myself. It was completely possible that I would never be skinny or even the “right” waistline for my height and age. It was completely possible that I would never look the way that I’ve always wanted to, that I would forever be subject to feeling bad about myself when I heard fat jokes, and, worst of all, I would never be happy with who I was. That is just about how hopeless I felt. That’s when my sister pointed something out to me that no inspirational speaker, writer or celebrity has ever pointed out before: the only way I would ever be able to love myself is if I made the necessary choice to do so.

My sister pointed out to me that my ability to think and my ability to do were only possibilities for me because of the body that I have. And regardless of all of the mistakes I’ve made in my life, I still have done a lot of good, just like most people. Regardless of whether or not I have a thin waist, I am able to move both my hands and my feet, and I was to get as far as I have in life; I am able to think because I have a working brain, and even though it is possible that I will never look exactly how I want to, it is because of my mind and my body that I’m even able to try, and I have to respect that.  And more importantly, after all my body has done for me, I have to take care of it and treat it with kindness.

This summer was truly an emotional journey for me- one that finally allowed me to come to terms with who I am and what I look like. And what I’ve realized is that I’m going to look different in many stages of my life. In the end, though, it is my body that is going to get me through all of these different stages, through my happiest moments and my sad ones. Even if I have nothing else left it is the one thing that will get me out of everything alive and well so long as I take care of it and respect its ability to do so.

So, to my readers, don’t love yourself because it’s a trend and the internet is telling you to do so. Look at yourself in the mirror and take in every single color and curve; the texture of your hair, the way that you walk, and the way that you smile or frown or whatever other expressions you make. Realize that all of these things and everything about your body is what has gotten you to this very moment and that is why you are beautiful. And this is something that no one can appreciate the way you can.  Love yourself for who you are, work towards becoming the version of yourself that you want to be, and love your body for allowing you to get there.

Even though body image is something that has always been hard for me to talk about, it’s something that I love talking about now. Be on the lookout for more writing about healthy eating habits and having a healthy mindset. And on a related note to having a healthy mindset, check out my last post

If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe via email by scrolling all the way to the bottom or, you can follow me via WordPress! If you feel have any tips or other thoughts for me, feel free to leave me a comment here on this post, or you can reach out to me via email. Thank you to everyone for supporting my writing, and I will be back next week!

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Finding confidence in a pile of criticism

Hey y’all! Welcome back. I haven’t gotten a chance to write or post in two weeks! It feel like it’s been forever.

Since the start of the upcoming school year is just around the corner for me and for other college students around the country, I thought that it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about confidence.

Whether you are starting a new school year, or your first day at a new job, or moving to a new city that you don’t have much experience being in, confidence is one of the most important characteristics- if not the most important characteristic- that you need to have with you in your “first day” toolkit. But for many of us, confidence can be hard to come by, especially when you’re afraid of people criticizing you about one thing or another. This is the biggest reason why I’ve struggled all of my life with having confidence: when I was a kid, I thought that the key to confidence was fitting in, and acting and doing all of the things that every other kid did. But it was while I was doing that when I realized that because I was trying so hard to be “normal”, I never could- there was always a reason for someone to judge me. As I got older things got better because I learned to embrace the things that I liked about myself and not those things that I wanted other people to think about me. But even now, when I’m pretty secure in my own shoes, there are times when hearing criticism really gets to me.

One thing that has really helped me in these times is realizing that someone thinking that something is wrong with me doesn’t make something wrong with me. I’ve been called stupid for having political opinions that are heavily critical of American policies of presidents and political leaders of both sides of the political spectrum; I’ve been told that my makeup looks bad when it is darker than usual; I’ve been called lazy and unhelpful, I’ve been called a work-a-holic, I’ve been told that I’m gullible, that I’m clumsy, that I’m a pushover, that I’m “too nice”- I’ve been told a lot of things about myself, but I’ve never been made into any of them. Perhaps this realization is the biggest push that I’ve had to becoming more confident. Other people can choose to say a lot of things about you, but they can’t force you to choose to become any of those things.

None of this means, however, that you should completely ignore every piece of criticism that you receive: you should pay attention to constructive criticism, or the kind that helps you build up. Even the criticism that is destructive can be flipped into constructive criticism; maybe someone calls you ignorant- instead of letting that comment tear you down or completely ignoring it, let it allow you to realize that maybe the person you are speaking to feels unheard, or misunderstood. Maybe someone calls you sloppy- what if that means that this person feels they could trust you better if you kept things more neat? People often deal destructive criticism as a way of projecting their feelings onto you. So when dealing with criticism, it’s important to be empathetic to the person you are dealing with, especially if this person is a friend or loved one.

Words can hurt, and when it comes to criticism, words often do hurt. But always remember that what you do with your criticism, and how you think about it, how you deal with it and how you deal it to others is on you. Finding confidence in criticism isn’t like looking for a needle in a stack- it’s not impossible or unattainable, even in the worst of times. The easiest and best way to find your confidence is to construct it on your own, using each piece of criticism you find in your path.

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A Brief Perspective on Vulnerability and Asking for Help

Hey everyone!

Can y’all believe we are actually most of the way through summer? It feels like summer break started only a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, it’s been a great time. I’ve learned so much in school and through blogging for the last few weeks!

But one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is the importance of letting other people help you. This next post is going to be a continuation of the conversation that I started with you guys last week- about the importance of being vulnerable. You can read that post here. In my last post, I talked about how it’s important to realize that, regardless of who you are and where in the world you live, you do have the power to make a difference. This week, I want to talk about letting others do the same by letting them help you.

I was inspired to write this post because of a book that I started reading called The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let Other People Help, by singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer. I found this book while I was browsing through Barnes and Noble this past weekend, looking for something inspirational to read. I was attracted to this book because I was surprised that someone might think to write a book about such a seemingly mundane activity. After I picked up the book and skimmed the pages, I realized that asking questions, and more specifically, asking for help, can’t be mundane- if it was, why would so many of us refuse to do so?

Asking for help is difficult because of its nature- because it requires us to make ourselves vulnerable, sometimes to complete strangers, and because it requires us to trust- something we are often encouraged not to do. For some reason, we have learned that asking for a favor requires returning a favor. If you think about it, this is so absurd, because all people need help. Why do we expect each other to pay a price for showing our humanity to one another? Palmer talks about this very idea in her TED talk, which you can see here.

Learning to let other people help is a completely relevant topic in conversation about mental health because from personal experience, I know that not being able to ask for help when it is needed causes a lot of anxiety. In many cases, this new anxiety can compound already existing anxiety, and this extra anxiety is arguably completely unnecessary, but also extremely common for students and working professionals. It is curious how difficult it is for us to ask for recommendation letters, or ask for tutoring, or ask someone to help cover us if we don’t have enough cash for bus fair, or ask strangers for tampons or cough drops or kleenex or whatever it is we need to help us get through the day.

Why are we so scared to make ourselves vulnerable, even in the smallest of ways, especially when we know that anyone of the people around us have or could face the same vulnerabilities in other situations?

So what should you do to stop feeling this way? How do you go about fearlessly asking for help? It’s simple: only about four steps. The hard part is getting yourself to follow these steps.

The first step is basic- open your mouth. Get ready to say something, and hold your thought on the tip of your tongue. This is same first step you have to take to say literally anything, so doing it shouldn’t be that bad.

The next step is imagining yourself asking for help, and imagining the person you are asking saying “no”- the one word we are all most afraid of hearing.

The third step is preparing your reaction- what are you going to do if someone refuses to help you? What is the worst possible thing that could happen? Are you going to be eternally embarrassed? Are people going to laugh at you? Are you going to look stupid? And if any of these things do happen, how will you react? Preparing for the worst is the best thing that you can do here, because it’s likely that at times the worst will come true. But that doesn’t mean that someone will refuse to help you every time you ask, so you shouldn’t let that stop you from asking.

The fourth, and probably hardest step is being impulsive. Let your words slip out; be brave. Once you say it, who knows where your road is going to lead you? Finding out is the best part.

The most important takeaway I want to list here is that it is not a bad thing to be vulnerable. It is not bad to ask for help, and it is not healthy to feel guilty or indebted for taking help. What you can and should do is pay it forward: be empathetic, and encourage others to let themselves be vulnerable; always give help openly and willingly, and always remember that you deserve to be comfortable in your own skin because you can offer so much to the world by just being yourself.

 

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Jump Then Fall

What to do when you don’t know what to do

Jump then Fall is the title of one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs. It tells a different sort of story, but expresses the same sentiment as the one I’m interested in- jumping into an opportunity that you’re curious about, and figuring out what exactly you’re doing as you go. 

Jumping then falling is exactly what it sounds like: forcing yourself to jump off a metaphorical cliff by making a sudden, spontaneous decision, before taking the time to calculate your actions.  As an avid and self-proclaimed lover of planning, jumping then falling has always been something that I’ve been scared to do until now. What changed my outlook was finally realizing that life is a lot more worthwhile if I choose to be excited about my next steps instead of being too scared to take them at all.

Continue reading “Jump Then Fall”

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Growth Mindset

A step-by-step guide for the novice

Hi again everyone!

It’s been about a week since I was last able to post. It’s the middle of the summer, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the changes that I’ve made and growing I’ve done up till my halfway point in college. Overall, I can honestly say I’ve become a much healthier and happier person.  I realized I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I hadn’t adopted Growth Mindset. It truly changed my life for the better. I thought I might write this step-by-step guide for anyone who hasn’t heard about it before.

Continue reading “Growth Mindset”

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Kindness and Community Health

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone had a great 4th! The 4th of July is always a reminder to me that I have a lot to be thankful for: having autonomy over my mind, body and behavior, living in a place where I feel safe, having the ability to be myself, and above all, having a reason to spread kindness.

Continue reading “Kindness and Community Health”

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Why care about mental health?

An introduction to my blog

I didn’t really take the time to think about my mental health until I got to college. Until that point, I knew ‘mental health’ as an area of concern for a particular category of people: those who saw therapists or specialists, or those who dealt with depression or anxiety. These were concepts that I’d learned about in school, but were not things I truly understood. In my eighteen-year-old mind, those who worried about mental health were in a world apart from mine.

Continue reading “Why care about mental health?”

Posted in Healthy Eating and Healthy Mindset

Sugar free chocolate banana bread

Sharing this recipe from Cooking Without Limits! I love that it only uses whole ingredients instead of artificially refined ones. Great example of truly healthy cooking

Cooking Without Limits

GAB_5040_res_mix

This is my sugar free chocolate banana bread. I used the original recipe for banana bread and I added dates instead of sugar. It is not very sweet but adding pieces of sugar free chocolate my banana bread became sweet.

It is an easy recipe with all the ingredients except the chocolate mixed in the bowl.

Ingredients:

  • 2 big bananas
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Homemade vanilla extract
  • 10g baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup dates left in water overnight
  • 200g flour
  • Pieces of sugar free chocolate

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius. Put a baking sheet in a loaf pan. I used one smaller because I had only half of the mix. The other half I used to do something else. I will write you about it in the near future.

In a bowl, mashed the bananas with a fork. Stir the olive…

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Posted in D.I.Y's and Advice, Personal Reflections

We Could (All) Be Heroes

Learn to draw your own wings and fly

My part time job at my university involves me doing writing consultations. The other day, I was helping a student who was trying to come up with a topic for a personal essay- he could choose absolutely any topic. I told him that if I had to do that, the topic of my essay would be superheroes.

S u p e r h e r o is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a fictional hero who has extraordinary powers, and also, an exceptionally skillful or successful person.

My educational experience this summer has involved a lot of time for binge-watching shows on Netflix, and my latest binge has been Supergirl. A year back from today, I would have never thought that I would find myself watching Supergirl or the Flash, my other current favorite. I’m not big enough of a nerd to be dressing up as either of those characters next Halloween, but when you watch someone who has the ability to run really fast, to fly, or melt metal with laser vision, it’s impossible not to wonder what it would be like to have superhuman abilities. I’m sure anyone would love to know what it would be like to be a superhero for a day, and while it’s slightly annoying to know that we most likely won’t be seeing flying, super-strong individuals in real life anytime soon, what annoys me a little more is the way these shows portray the other characters- the ones without power. Why aren’t they the stars of this show? Is it really wrong to consider them superheroes too?

An obvious answer to this question is that people often watch shows about individuals with supernatural abilities to escape reality- not to live it again through a screen. But people also are attracted to shows about concepts they can relate to. And that includes things like working as IT, or as a journalist, or as a medical doctor- even as a garbage truck driver. All of these professions are places where people can make a difference, yet the whole time we are paying attention to the white male or female flying, running or riding a badass motorcycle around town in a weird suit.

Of course, every superhero’s story is more complex than fighting bad guys; they are individuals, with individual, weird, complicated lives. And though I know that these heroes are in fact just television characters, it boggles my mind how one person could possibly have time to go to college, found a significant other, run for a political position or work for a demanding corporation, get drinks with friends on the weekends and party away their 20s all while chasing down the bad guys during the day. I barely have time to sit down for coffee during the day during the rest of the year.

If I’m tearing apart one of your favorite shows and ruining it for you, I do apologize. But the part that I want to come back to here is that in the end, superheroes do bring hope- something that everyone needs to survive. Maybe you could even consider this a universal human right. We all need superheroes in our darkest days, but more importantly, we all need to find ways that we can be our own superheroes for ourselves and others.

Everyone is exceptionally skilled at something, and no matter what this is, I do believe that any and every skill could be put to good use. We all need the people around us, and if everyone is able to find their exceptional ability, we can all fit the definition of a superhero. While we wait around for the invention of a suit that can fly or a pill that can give you heat vision, we need to draw own wings and fly.