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

See the Good

Hello positivity seekers,

Sitting down at my laptop to write a post has been a challenging task for me this week. I started this blog as a documentation of my journey to supplement my life with positivity and happiness – not realizing how difficult this can be on the hard days.

One of my goals for 2017 was to stop hesitating.

Hesitation has always been a cornerstone of my experience with anxiety. When I was younger (and even today), I wouldn’t try certain things that I really, really wanted to do because I couldn’t get passed ‘thinking mode.’ I had an intolerance of uncertainty and a detrimental fear of regret – essentially, I would avoid doing something until I was 100% sure that I wouldn’t regret it later.

The thing about anxious people is that most of them can articulate the irrationality of their thoughts and worries. But even so, it feels impossible to get past them or to do something in spite of them. For me, not doing something, or avoiding it all together, always seemed like a safer option in the long run.

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A few days ago, a good friend of mine called and told me that my previous manager who I had worked for throughout college had passed away.

I’ve been feeling a thousand different emotions since I got that call.

I had worked for him at a fine-dining restaurant for three and a half years while I was in college. A friend I worked with described him as “work dad” – which he totally was. He was always cracking dad jokes, poking fun at everyone, and lightening the mood. But he would also regularly check in to see how everyone was doing. More than once, he sent me home with bags of groceries because he knew I hardly had any at home. I would sit in his office long after my shifts ended to talk about my life, hardships I was struggling through, and my dreams for post-grad life.

Life got busy after I moved south when I worked at a sleep-away camp and immediately launched into grad school in the fall. I kept thinking about sending “work dad” an email or calling to check in but I kept hesitating, telling myself he more than likely didn’t have the time to read it or that he probably didn’t care that much.

One day after I told my sister that I was going to send that email, he was gone.

If I could change anything today, I would have sent that email. Ignored those anxious thoughts, ran away from the “what ifs,” and just hit send. I would’ve stopped hesitating.

Because regret is much harder to live with than the safety of not doing something.

Yes, I have regrets. Lots of “should have’s” and “could have’s” running through my mind the last few days – “I should’ve called him,” “I should’ve gone to visit last fall when I had more time” – and I’ve learned the hard way what hesitating can cost me. While getting out of a regretful place can be challenging, it’s possible. We can’t change the past, and we can’t undo what’s been done. But we can learn. We can grow. And then, we can move forward.

My advice to you all is to stop, stop, stop hesitating. Go out and do the thing! Send that email! Text that friend! Go to that new workout class! I read a quote once that talked about how most people regret the things they haven’t done more than the things they have.

I think they’re onto something.

And if you didn’t do the thing and you’re stuck in that low, shitty, regretful place, don’t unpack and stay there. Learn from it. Grow from it. Move forward.

And most importantly, see the good – even on the hard days. If you don’t see it the first time you look, look again. I promise it’s always there.

 

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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