What Doesn’t Kill You

neck

At this point, I could almost swear that I am cursed. Maybe it’s because I didn’t bless my great-grandmother’s ashes when they arrived at my doorstep.

Or maybe the odds just aren’t ever in my favor. Either way I’ve been having some rather unfortunate circumstances as of late. It seems that every week something new and unpleasant takes place, but maybe that’s just life…

Anyway, this week I’ve been suffering from torticollis. If you’ve never heard of it, torticollis is a condition in which the neck is tilted, and it causes pain and discomfort and immobility of the neck.

My neck has been killing me for days. It started out as just a little soreness, but it’s so severe now that I can’t move my head without experiencing great pain.

I laugh as I think “Why can’t I seem to catch a break?” It makes me wonder if the law of attraction is real and I’ve just been perpetuating my own problems with negative thinking.

At a time like this, what else would I have stuck in my head but “Stronger (what doesn’t kill you)” by Kelly Clarkson.

I have to find the silver lining in every situation. In this instance, I’ve learned about a condition and how to handle it. It’s also a blessing in disguise in that I had to miss work because of it, causing me to be stuck in bed, allowing me to have the time to write.

Though this pain sucks, at least I got to sleep in this morning.

If I didn’t dwell on the good in every bad situation, I might become despondent. So I will keep reminding myself that what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, and wiser.

12 Ways To Boost Your Mood

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We can’t always be happy-clappy cheerful people, unless you’re Snow White or something. If you’re a human, then you are sometimes in a bad mood. It’s natural. We are complicated creatures. We have feelings and emotions, sometimes negative ones. We have nerves, and sometimes little things get right on them. You know what I mean.

We all have those days when you want to shut yourself in your room, stay in bed, and be bothered by absolutely no one. No one ever has a good time when they feel this way though, except for Squidward Tentacles maybe. So I’ve composed a list of some things that may help you feel a little bit better when you are feeling down.

1. Reach out to a friend

You may not always feel like socializing, but it can really help you come out of a bad mood when you shift the setting, and step outside of your situation. Friends are good distractions from problems and they can also provide emotional support.

2. Listen to your favorite music

Whatever genre of music you listen to, turn up the tunes and sing along to your favorite songs. Music has therapeutic properties and can elevate your mood. Science has studied the effects of music therapy and found it to be effective. So pump up the jams and maybe even bust a move.

3. Snuggle your pet

Studies show that snuggling your pet is good for your health. Not only is your dog or cat adorable, but they also have the ability to lower stress and increase oxytocin in the brain, which is a feel-good chemical.

4. Exercise

To some, this may be a chore, but for those who like it, exercise is a great way to reduce stress, and feel good. You may have heard the term “mind-body connection.” Essentially what it is saying is that when you take good care of your physical health, you are doing wonders for your mental health as well. Exercise releases endorphins, increases norepinephrine, and helps blood to flow to the brain. All of which help to make us feel good, and reduce stress.

5. Have a laugh

Laughing is excellent for your mental health. Just like exercising, laughter releases the feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Humor can help to diffuse feelings of anger and hatred. It also increases cortisol levels, helping decrease stress. So watch some funny cat videos, your favorite comedy show, or maybe just look at some good memes. Or just force yourself to laugh. This can trick your body into thinking it’s genuine laughter. If you’ve never heard of laughter yoga, check out this video that describes it. You’ll find the laughter is contagious.

6. Meditation

Meditating is a good way to clear your mind and relax you. Maybe you’re in a bad mood because you’ve had too many negative thoughts on your mind. If that is the case, meditation might help you a great deal. The purpose of meditation is to think of nothing. It seems impossible to completely empty your mind, but with practice it can be done, and the results are that you will find more peace, be calmer, and more focused.

7. Count your blessings

I know when you’re in a bad mood it’s hard to get out of the self-pity cycle. Believe me, I’ve been there. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and think. Remember all the things you do have. Instead of dwelling on bad things, try to focus on the good things in your life. Gratitude can help put things in perspective.  Here’s a great article explaining why gratitude is good for your mental health.

8. Go out and enjoy nature!

A study conducted by Chiba University in Japan found that nature is associated with relaxation. I know it is true for me. Taking a walk through the park has always improved my mood tenfold. If you’re a nature person then this will most likely work for you as well. Go out there and get some fresh air!

9. Talk it out

Venting is a great way to get a load off your chest. It feels good to dispel negative emotions and frustrations and can help ease stress. People can offer advice and insight into the situation. Venting can help you to feel that you are not alone, and that you have support. Just don’t go too crazy as this can bring down the one you’re venting to.

10. Imagery

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Back when I was in therapy, my therapist would sometimes have me close my eyes and imagine my favorite place. I would have to visualize it as best as I could and try to incorporate all my senses. There is great power in the imagination. You can mentally transport yourself. Just thinking of a vacation can put you in a better mindset.

11. Create something

When I finish a project I beam with pride over having done it myself (unless I majorly screw up…) This makes me feel happy. When I do a job well done on a cake, or draw a picture that pleases me, it makes me feel good. Expressing yourself through art, or maybe poetry, can really help when you are down in the dumps. That’s why art therapy exists.

12. Journal

Similar to venting, journaling is a great way to reduce stress by getting some things off your chest. You can let off some steam by writing about it, and no one even has to know. If you are mad at someone, try writing a letter to them, but not sending it. It can also help you process your thoughts and feelings.

Hope these tips were useful! Let me know in the comments what things help you when you are in a bad mood.

Keep on Keepin’ on

I’ve really got to use my imagination
To think of good reasons
To keep on keepin’ on

Gladys Knight and The Pips “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination”

It’s one of those mornings. The cold and the soreness of my neck have made getting up nearly unbearable. So did the knowledge that nothing good was coming, just another stressful day at work, leaving me exhausted and uninspired upon returning home.

Still troubled by the worries this week has brought me, I’m not in a great mindset, but Gladys Knight had the right idea. In times like these I have to use my imagination. My vivid imagination is what keeps me going. It has helped me through some tough times. I’ve used it to escape reality, through writing and reading, and dressing up as someone else. I’ve also used it to fast forward to the future, to a better time. Sometimes you have to picture yourself in the situation you want to be in. Maybe think of getting your dream job, or living where you want to live, and with the right person.

I’ve been in somewhat of a bad place the last few days. I’ve become weary from constant stress, and grief. I know also that part of the problem is my thoughts. I struggle with thoughts telling me I will never amount to anything, and I’ll never be happy. I need to change my thoughts. That fatty organ inside your head is extremely powerful.  Shifting your thoughts can change your mood entirely.

Every time I think “I can’t” I just need to change it to “YES I FREAKING CAN.” Fight back. Don’t let that voice in your head, that critique, that pessimist, dictate your mood. It sounds cliche, but gratitude and optimism are key.

I have to constantly remind myself that better times are to come. They always do. We live in a state of constant change. The philosopher Heroclitus wisely said “nothing endures but change.” If you’re in a bad place, remember it will not stay that way. It’s just a matter of time and patience.

For now, keep on keepin’ on.

Sunday Morning Thoughts

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I lay in bed this morning, cold creeping into my soul, thinking myriad thoughts. I ran through my list of worries regarding my dad, who is currently in the hospital (see Forgotten Days.) I thought also of how this was just the icing on the cake of these sorrowful last few months.

It’s been barely a month since my grandmom passed away, leaving me with neither of my grandparents from my moms side. That was a devastating, though expected, loss. She’d been struggling for so long, fighting hard and defying death on numerous occasions. 

It was challenging trying to deal with my grief while also being supervisor at my job. I tried to stay strong, but inside I felt numb. I had already told them of my plans to leave in December, to embark on an adventure in Grenada, where I’ll stay for a few months. They found someone to take over relatively quickly. I had spent about three days training her on the general process of the clothing department (I work at a thrift store), and on the more specific duties of being in charge. They decided she was ready and told me she would begin on Monday (which was three days away). This was infuriating because when they asked how I felt about it before deciding, I had told them she wasn’t ready and I still had a lot to show her. She even agreed she was not ready. They didn’t listen and decided to throw everything into chaos. The first few days were a little strange, and stressful for the girl who took over. I still had to work with her a lot to get her up to speed.

I was dealing with the change in my family, and the changes at work, and I began to have some issues with my health. I knew I had a family history of heart problems so when I was having chest pains, and these pains that felt like I was having a heart attack, I was rightly concerned. It became difficult to do my job because I was frequently in pain, light headed, and short of breath. I had pain after eating, no matter what it was. I finally made a doctors appointment. I had to leave work early one day because I felt so lousy, and it was scary, so I changed my appointment. I moved it to be two days from then, rather than having it be another six days away. I knew I’d have to go in to work a few hours late, but I figured my boss would be okay, as she is very caring and was worried about me. When I asked if it was okay, she said it was. But she told the store owner, who was not okay with it. I know it was short notice but it felt important to me to get checked out as soon as possible. I was given a verbal warning for not giving a two week notice. This was upsetting to me. I felt like it wasn’t fair, especially since I asked my supervisor and she gave me the all clear. It hurt to think that I was penalized for this, because I thought they would understand. I thought they cared about me well-being, but this made me feel otherwise. Two days passed with me giving the woman in charge the cold shoulder, and work being miserable. Finally she asked if I was mad at her and I told her how I felt. She apologized and said she didn’t know what had been going on with my health, and would have driven me to the doctor herself if she knew. I felt better after this, and two days of work passed without too much stress.

 Then last night happened, and it just seemed like life was so crazy right now. My head is no longer spinning at least. I feel well rested, and am appreciating that I was able to sleep in and relax this morning.

Following my dads bizarre episode, I have decided to take measures to protect the health of my brain and heart. I ate a healthy breakfast this morning. I had a granola bar, a whole grain English muffin, a pomegranate, and pumpkin oatmeal with chia seeds, cinnamon, walnuts, and hemp powder. 

Being in the kitchen, and not in my warm, cozy bed, made me realize how chilly it was. This got me thinking about autumn. It’s a lovely season, until the temperature gets too low. For me, it already is too low. It’s only going to get worse though. Winter is my least favorite season and I very much do not look forward to it. At least I’ll be moving to Grenada in January. That’ll be a whole adventure, with many blog posts about it to come.

For now I’ll try and enjoy the cooler days, remembering how oppressively hot it was just last month. I’ve done a lot of reading on improving mental health lately and they all agree that gratitude is key. So here is a list of all that I am grateful for:

  1. The love of my family
  2. My house
  3. My comfy bed
  4. Our pets
  5. Getting an education
  6. Food in the kitchen
  7. Having a decent job
  8. Having an abundance of friends who care 
  9. Socks
  10. My health could definitely be worse
  11. I live in an area surrounded by nature
  12. My artistic and musical abilities
  13. Having a car
  14. Not working on Sunday mornings

A Long Day, and More to Come…

For the past few weeks I’d been saying that I was about to lose my freedom. It wasn’t until today that my new reality sunk in. After increasing my hours at work I had to squeeze school into my schedule. I did so successfully, creating a jam packed schedule that I knew would be stressful, but was necessary.

On top of school and work, I still have to maintain Liv With Cake. Surely it will be a piece of cake! I can juggle everything in my life, but without adverse effects on my brain?

The days are blurring together. I keep forgetting what day it is and when certain things are to happen. At least three times today I thought it was Wednesday, when it’s only Tuesday.

My body aches, my head feels like a bowling ball, and my brain feels like scrambled eggs. Following work, which was spent on my feet, I had to bake a cake , but with limited time, as class constricted my schedule.

I’ve just returned from a two and a half hour biology class where I learned about homeostasis, among other things. Homeostasis is a body’s way of adjusting to change in order to remain within a certain set of parameters. For example, shivering and sweating both help to regulate our internal temperature.

This made me think about myself. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like changes. It turns out this is pretty natural, but that doesn’t help me navigate life.  Right now I’m dealing with some changes, but eventually I will adapt to the situation and return to a state of comfort.

Day after day I am learning that life is freaking stressful, even on a good day. Especially now, being so crunched on time, I am finding minor inconveniences anger me more than they ought to. Mountains out of molehills…

I’ve been in Biology for two days now, but I’ve already learned many valuable lessons, not just pertaining to science.  My professor likes to be witty, and inspirational. He reminded us about the evolution of the horseshoe crab, or the lack thereof. Given the low stress environment of horseshoe crabs, they have not changed in thousands of years. He likes to remind us that college is stressful, but it’s that stress that will shape us, make us into better versions of ourselves. Don’t be a horseshoe crab.

Time to go to bed so I can have enough energy to muddle through another long day.