Stress is an Attitude

Hello, friends!

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve word vomited my thoughts here, eh?

I’d like to blame that on an overwhelming amount of stress. I could go on and on about the 500 things on my to-do list but I’d rather not bore you to tears.

I don’t know about y’all, but when I get really really stressed, my mood tanks. I get irritable, defensive, and super sensitive (special apologies to my bf who puts up with these mood swings). This shift has been especially bad for the last two weeks as my first year of grad school comes down to finals week. Dun-dun-duuuun!

When I was sitting in my office at my internship, feeling pathetically sorry for myself, a quote I read awhile ago crossed my mind: “Stress is an attitude.” In that moment, the meaning of those words sunk in.

STRESS IS AN ATTITUDE

STRESS IS AN ATTITUDE.

Y’all, when that thought popped in my head, I laughed out loud – I don’t know if this was a reflex or a defense mechanism but I literally laughed and I could not stop.

People say (specifically, annoyingly optimistic people) that your thoughts determine your mood. Actually, there are entire psychological theories founded on this idea. You don’t have to subscribe to this idea – I’ll respect you if you don’t because it seems too good to be true, right? But it gives you the power over your mood again – so your mood’s not controlling you, you’re controlling your mood.

Challenge yourself to reframe your thoughts.

I’m so stressed,” can easily turn into, “I have a lot on my plate right now. How can I stay on top of everything?

I don’t have enough time to get everything done,” can become “How can I improve my time-management?

The end of spring inevitably brings a lot of stress into our lives with school years ending, summer planning beginning, and big transitions into the next season. You might be graduating, moving into your apartment, preparing for a traveling adventure. Whatever it is – don’t let stress rule over you!

Stress is an attitude and you have the power to change it.

De-stressed is best, y’all! Until next time.

XO,

Lain

The Counterintuitive Idea of Taking a Break From the Things You Love

Hello, all!

It’s Spring Break here in Texas and unlike the majority of Spring Breakers packing their bags for a week of debauchery and sunburns, I’m lounging in my PJ’s and preparing for a week of working with PMS-y teens, lots of dirt, and hours of swimming at camp.

I don’t know about you but spring time always infects me with MAJOR spring fever. Although this restlessness was significantly worse when I lived in the northern states – with the snow melting and nature blooming – that antsy feeling always seems to creep in around Spring Break time.

Like most folks, spring makes me want to do everything! I want to clean. I want to take on new hobbies. I want to fill up my free time doing all of my favorite things. This has sparked about 5,000 conversations between my boyfriend and I about our hopes, our goals, and our new endeavors we want to take on as the season changes.

Until one day, he suggested the completely ludicrous idea of taking a break from the things we love. 

I was totally thrown for a loop.

Here we were, talking for weeks about all of these things we loved to do and wanted to try and he was suggesting we take a break from them?

Naturally, I realized he was right after I thought about this idea a little further. (Don’t you hate it when your SO is right all the time?) But seriously, taking breaks from our passions and the things we love can be SO GOOD!

Let me share with you a few reasons why:

The Counterintuitive Idea of Taking a Break From the Things You Love

You can gain some clarity.

Taking a break from your callings can help you to get a clearer perspective on your goals and how you want to continue pursuing them. For me, an example of this is my blog – taking some time away from posting allows me the space to identify what want to get out of writing and where I’m trying to get to.

More specifically, it can challenge you to consider what your definition of success is. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – am I successful when I start posting every week? Or when I reach a certain number of followers? Or when I start promoting?

The most important thing to consider with this is what YOUR definition of success is. Like I’ve preached in almost all of my posts, everyone’s definition is going to vary, so make sure this one is about you!

New ideas and inspiration will come to you.

Not only will time away from your #things give you clarity, it will also bring new ideas and inspiration. If you’re into writing, a new plot development could find its way into your mind. Or if you’re into fitness, you could find yourself inspired by a different kind of workout that you hadn’t considered before.

These new ideas and bursts of inspiration will allow your passions to develop and transform into something they couldn’t have without taking a step back.

A break can help you to fall back in love with what you do.

Just as taking space can bring your clarity and novel inspiration, it can also help you to remember why you started and what you love about it. I saw this most clearly when I took a couple weeks off from bouldering and rock climbing. I eventually reached a point where I was SO excited to get back on the wall that I was literally bursting with joy when I laced up my shoes again.

This is an especially important reason to consider taking a break from your hobbies if you’ve been finding it challenging to do your thing. Instead of forcing it, take a break or focus on something else for awhile – you might find yourself itching with excitement to get back into it again.

It’s healthy.

The simplest and perhaps most important reason to take a break is that it’s good for you. If you’re into fitness, your body more than likely could use a little rest. If you’re into art, your hands could probably use a break from gripping those brushes and utensils. And whatever else you’re into, your mind could use a break from intense focus and stimulation.

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So if you’re not jet-setting off to a dream vacation this Spring Break, consider a staycation and taking a break from your hobbies and passions. Get in some R&R and heck, why not engage in some self-care?

Take care of yourselves and give yourself a break when you need it.

You’ll thank me later.

XO, Lain

How to Use Your Weekend to Re-energize and Rejuvenate

Hello, friends!

It’s Saturday morning and I’m coming to you live from the comfort of my bed,  with coffee nearby, and the sound of my boyfriend playing video games in the distance.

Have you ever had one of those weeks that just sucked? That felt like my experience last week.

Instead of sitting in those bad feelings and ruminating on the not-so-great parts, I want to share some of my thoughts on how we can use our weekends to re-energize, rejuvenate, and refresh ourselves for the upcoming week.

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Make time for yourself.

Are we surprised that I listed this one? I really, truly cannot stress this enough – make time for YOU. Weekends stacked of social events, obligations, activities, and homework are great, but they can deprive you of the opportunity to reflect on the past week and to re-center for the week ahead. Unfortunately, that can leave you feeling even more run-down and pessimistic during the week.

So make a point to sprinkle in a little bit of alone time in your days off – whether it’s your favorite self-care ritual, taking your dog for a walk, or reading for an hour in the morning. I’ve been reserving my weekend mornings for things like nourishing hair masks, painting my nails, and having non-guilty lounge time – I’ve gotta say, I’ve noticed a significant change in my mood on Monday morning after intentionally having that time for myself. Believe me, some solid alone time will help keep you grounded and refreshed for the coming week.

Make time for your people.

I know, I know, this seems contradictory. But just as too much social time can have some negative side effects, so can too much alone time. If you commit to too much alone time, you’re more likely to experience F.O.M.O (this is so real, y’all) and feel isolated or disconnected from those around you, especially if you had a shitty week leading up to your days off. Resist the urge to isolate, ruminate, and self-loathe (don’t worry, I’m guilty of this too) and embrace your snippet of freedom!

Near or far, make the effort to reach out and be present with your people. Go for a coffee date with an old friend, explore your city with a new friend, call your mom. Whatever it is, resist the urge to isolate yourself and maintain your connections – it’s a great way to get over the last week’s trials and head into the next week knowing that you’ve got the support of your loved ones on your side.

And honestly, spending time with your peeps just makes you feel good, doesn’t it?

Tidy up.

Wash your dishes, vacuum your floors, do your laundry, or re-organize your DVDs (does anyone even have DVDs anymore?). I’m a firm believer in the idea that literal cleaning helps you to feel mentally clean, or at least a little refreshed. I don’t know about you but when I get a significant amount of cleaning and tidying done, I feel PUMPED. It’s a combination of feeling productive and accomplished and more often than not, it helps me to feel motivated to keep going with that momentum during the week. An added bonus, cleaning on the weekend will likely save you from some extra chores during the week when you’ve got less time to spare.

If you want to read more about why I’m super into de-cluttering lately, click here to read my last post!

Remember: “No matter how dirty your past is, the future is still spotless.”

However you decide to spend your weekends, don’t forget that just because last week wasn’t great, doesn’t mean that next week will be the same. If you did have one of those weeks that just sucked, use the weekend to reflect on what went well and what needs some re-adjusting.

Monday morning brings a mini fresh start filled with new opportunities and a chance for amazing things to happen – a little reflection, re-adjustment, and shift in perspective can bring the change you’ve been hoping for.

Keep on keepin’ on, y’all.

Here’s to a refreshing and rejuvenating weekend, and an awesome upcoming week!

XO,

Lain

How Do You Self-Care?

Hello, my fellow positivity seekers!

Since writing my first post, my mind has been swimming with ideas on where to go next. (I’d be lying if I said I haven’t started at least five different posts in the past few days…) I thought the most challenging part of starting a blog would be actually starting it. In reality, the hardest part has been figuring out what comes after!

As I started (and re-started, and re-started…) writing this morning, I began to feel the writer’s block taking over. Nothing I wrote felt authentic and it all seemed a little disconnected from what I was feeling.

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Photo Credit: Wonderlass

To pick myself up from the downer mood I was slumping into, I started cleaning. I don’t know about you but cleaning and organizing are some of my FAVORITE things to do when I’m feeling low. The acts of sweeping away all of the dust and dirt, de-cluttering some over-stuffed spaces, and finally doing those dishes that have been in the sink a little too long (we’ve all been there, right?) makes me feel totally refreshed, light, and content. 

It hit me shortly after I put away the last of the dishes: cleaning my apartment was an act of self-care. *Cue the burst of writing clarity and inspiration!*

This is my very, very round-about way of presenting a contextual example of self-care. I know, I know, everyone and their mom has been preaching about self-care and mindfulness and yada, yada. Personally, I love talking about this stuff – but I do find that some conversations and dialogues about these topics can feel cheesy or contrived.

What I realized today is that sometimes talking about self-care feels corny because it looks different for everyone. 

Occasionally I’ll read a blog post talking about self-care where the writer details how drawing a bath, tossing in a bath bomb, and soaking in suds with a glass of wine is their go-to activity when they need a little TLC. I often find myself thinking, “That is so not me – I don’t love getting pruny in the bath and I don’t drink wine. Maybe self-care isn’t my thing?”

Now, don’t take this as me being a hater. I commend and respect people who can lounge in a bath for hours of total relaxation (especially when they can snap tranquil photos for Insta too!) The main takeaway is that self-care looks different for everyoneToday, my self-care was to take a breath, take a break, and clean my apartment. Your self-care might be cracking open your journal to write out some pent-up emotions. Or it might be throwing on your tennies and going for a run.

Self-care is YOU taking care of yourself. So it makes sense that your chosen activities might not be the same as everyone else’s, right?

Self-care is a huge buzz topic in the blogging community and for good reason. If someone else’s chosen activities don’t tickle your fancy, take some time to reflect and figure out what works for you! It’s okay if your’s look a little different from someone else’s – you may inspire someone to think outside their self-care box!

What activities, things, or people bring you up from feeling down? How do these things make you feel relaxed and clear-minded? How did you figure out that these work for you?

XO, Lain

Back in the Driver’s Seat

Ask any grad student and they’ll tell you that rigorous master’s programs force you into a lot of (often unwanted) self-reflection. You have to analyze how you manage heavy loads of work, assess areas and skills that you need to improve, and recognize both the healthy and unhealthy ways that you cope with stress. For anxious perfectionists like myself, this aspect of grad school has been grueling and like a never-ending series of adult growing pains.

This obviously is not the same for all grad programs out there and I can only speak from my current experience as a student in a master’s of science in social work (MSSW) program. But let me tell you: my first semester called for constant, constant, constant self-reflection and critique.

You’d think that being a part of a program that embraces introspection and reflecting upon one’s strengths and weaknesses would help me to boost up my self-care and focus on enhancing my strengths, right?

Wrong.

I’ll be totally, totally honest: My. Self. Care. Routine. SUCKED. I mean, it was basically non-existent.

On top of that, constant self-analyzation is super anxiety-inducing – even for the average person. For someone prone to being self-critical (i.e. ME), this aspect of grad school served as a huuuge foundation for developing a negative view of myself.

Now, for a little bit of clarification (and to stop myself from sounding over-dramatic), I have to admit that my first semester of grad school was better than I’m making it out to be. I got the best grades I’ve ever gotten, I established wonderful friendships with a lot of my classmates, and I loved what I was learning and the work that I was doing.

The problem here was that I was so wrapped up in school, analyzing my personal strengths and weaknesses as a professional, and learning the ‘ins and outs’ of social work practice that I wasn’t putting any focus on enhancing my own life and caring for myself. I became overly self-critical and (sometimes) debilitatingly anxious over my performance and others’ perceptions of me. This created a mindset where I was almost always searching for things that were broken and needed fixing in virtually every part of my life, ranging from how I was doing at my internship to how often I was (or wasn’t) working out and being active. I criticized everything.

I basically transformed into an emotional, anxious mess.

Despite the fact that I was doing the best I ever had in my short life, I often went to bed feeling empty. And I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what I was missing.

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After the semester ended and I was FINALLY on break for a few weeks, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘I’ve been so negative, focusing so much on the outside aspects of my life – what will happen if I change my mindset and try to focus on the inside stuff instead?’ 

I realized that going to school, pursuing my career, and ‘having everything’ wasn’t going to make me happy – and negatively critiquing the less-than-perfect parts wasn’t going to either. Real, raw fulfillment and happiness won’t come from that – it comes from within!

So, what’s the point in me sharing all of this?

Well, with the start of a new year looming, I have decided to dedicate 2017 to take what I’m learning in grad school (and from my favorite self-care bloggers!) to myself and my personal life – and to document my journey along the way.

happiness-is-not-determined-by-whats-happening-around-you-but-rather-whats-happening-inside-youSelf-care and self-development are in y’all, and I’m feelin’ trendy.

I’m still not entirely sure what this entails or what this year has in store for me BUT I do know that I’m absolutely stoked to get started. After having a few weeks away from school for the holidays, I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and 100% certain that I can achieve my goals and be happier and more fulfilled while doing it.

2017 is the year that I’m turning my focus onto myself. It’s the year that I’m taking control of the ‘inside stuff’ – my growth, wellbeing, and happiness. I’m back in the driver’s seat. I’m “staying in my Lain.”

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for stickin’ with me! Talk to you soon.

XO, Lain