• Try This Easy Recipe for Joy!

    Give Your Guilty Pleasures the Green Light

    Have you ever wished for a simple way to increase your happiness and sustain your smile? Well, wish no further! I have the perfect how-to for you!

    1. Start by creating a list of 10 guilty pleasures that bring you joy.
    2. Focus on doing at least three of those things every day.
    3. Share your new habit with your friends and encourage them to do the same.
    4. Note: the list can be ever-evolving! Life happens, things change.
    food-photography-maren-caruso-2

    Nutella

    The sugary sweetness is a serious addiction for me. I recently had to dump hot sauce into my Nutella jar to stop myself from devouring the entire containter!

    Collecting Pennies

    Anytime I see a penny (heads up), I will stop everything I’m doing and go grab it regardless where the penny is. If you share my crazy habit, be careful! I once almost got hit by a yellow cab because I chose to run back across the street to grab the coin. Sorry, Mom! But hey, I believe in good luck!

    Dry Red Wine

    Nothing like a glass of red wine to mellow out the evening. In fact, the dryer the better! It’s paired best with…

    Reality TV

    I’m somewhat embarrassed to share this, but I love me some Keeping Up with the Kardashians. See? The red wine goes well with this one!

    food-photography-maren-caruso-3Country Music

    Growing up, my dad and I always had country music playing in the background as we drove the backroads of upstate New York. Back then, I was never really a big fan of the genre, but now that I live away from my family, listening to country music always reminds me of home.

    Legally Blonde

    Yes, the movie.

    She is one badass boss chick.

    Note: this also goes well with red wine.

    Eating while watching Food Network

    Why? I have no idea. I love eating my dinner while watching TV. My other half likes to eat with only music on in the background.  He can’t focus on TV and his food—lol! Luckily, I sometimes get my way when I need to hit my daily quota for joyful pleasures.

    Making up dances

    Zach and I listen to a LOT of music so we are constantly breaking it down to new songs. You’ll have to see some of our moves sometime. food-photography-maren-caruso-9

    Face Masks

    Something about face masks helps me clear my mind. I almost feel lost without them. They’re a nice way to force yourself to take a break and relax.

    Helping others succeed

    This is always on my to-do list. The feeling that I get inside when others let me know that I have helped them through a bad day or a tough time always gives me goosebumps!

    Spread the joy and enjoy life!

    Peace & Love,

    Emily Burkhardt

    @thehealthyhustle

     

    Images via Maren Caruso.

  • Keep This in Mind for Tonight’s Debate

    A Couple Thoughts as We Head into Tonight’s Final Presidential Debate

    Just a little over a week ago, many of us—myself included—tuned into the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. While there’s no denying the shock value of remarks exchanged between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I was pleasantly surprised by the positive (yes, positive) rapport they both eventually displayed.

    The debate, unique in its town hall setting, was shaped by questions from undecided voters. Ken Bone, now an internet sensation and meme favorite, stole the hearts of many Americans in his red sweater. It was, however, Karl Becker who stole mine. His question, the last one of the night, was not only thoughtful but also incredibly humbling.

    “My question to both of you,” he said, “Is regardless of the current rhetoric, “Would either of you name one positive thing you respect in one another?”

    In case you’re not up to speed, the candidates’ respective responses are as follows:

    Clinton: “Look, I respect his children. His children are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald. I don’t agree with nearly anything else he says or does, but I do respect that. I think that is something as a mother and a grandmother is very important to me.”

    Trump: “She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that. I tell it like it is. She’s a fighter. I disagree with her judgment in many cases but she does fight hard, and she doesn’t quit and she doesn’t give up. I consider that to be a very good trait.”

    While Secretary Clinton could have focused more specifically on an attribute displayed by her opponent, it was still refreshing to see them strike common ground.

    To add psychological perspective, we, humans, develop unique personalities through our experiences and genetic makeup. Those characteristics, the ones that color our lives and govern how we conduct ourselves, may, oftentimes, clash with other people’s. It is unrealistic to assume that everyone will always get along.

    Even though there are people in the world I don’t care for much of at all, I can always find at least one positive thing to say about that particular individual. It may be difficult remember the good traits of an ex-boyfriend or a jerk that has treated you poorly, but trust me, it can be done.

    That said, I encourage you all to identify a positive trait in someone you love and in someone you might not be as fond of. Being busy is not an excuse for being complacent. When we take the time to acknowledge the good, the stress associated with the bad melts away. Don’t worry, I’m not proposing a kumbaya powwow. Baby steps.

    Let’s spread some positive vibes before tonight’s third and final debate!

  • Here’s How You Say Goodbye

    …because doing so IS for the best.

    While we all enter relationships, romantic and platonic, with the hopes of forever, optimism alone is not enough to carry the weight of both the good and bad times.

    Maturing, or, going about our individual “life journey,” can be an enlightening discovery process different from those our friends’. Last week, I discussed three telltale signs of when it might be time to say goodbye and let go of relationships that hold you back. This week, I’m here to help guide you through how to do just that.

    Ending a relationship of any length or intensity is never easy. In fact, it’s incredibly difficult.

    Below, however, are three ways to maturely say goodbye.

    The “Game Changer”

    We all have relationships that range anywhere from mere acquaintances to those that feel blood-bound. As I previously mentioned, relationships fall on a spectrum. Not everyone fits where you want them to. Regardless of where an individual fits on your timeline, if your relationship with that person no longer brings you happiness, it is time for a “game changer.”

    Developing and maintaining boundaries in a friendship is as important as defining limits with your coworkers and family members. In many circumstances, we receive the treatment that we allow. When you feel like your boundaries are being pushed, let the individual at hand know that you will not tolerate his or her behavior.

    The “Fizzle Out”

    Letting a relationship “die out” can be easier than confronting your mutual problem head on. If this is what you have your heart set on doing, make sure you take the time to reflect on all the possible consequences.

    The “fizzle out” consists of maturely declining offers, plans, and any further engagements with the specific individual. In no way does it entail screening calls or ignoring that person all together. That said, there are specific times when severe methods are needed. Hopefully, however, the he or she will get the hint before you have to be frank.

    The “Be Frank”

    This is, by far, the most difficult option to pursue and takes a lot of personal strength to carry out. As adults, we are confronted with a plethora of relationships in both our work and personal lives. Those relationships may lead to difference in opinions. Instead of sitting on your thoughts and feelings, discuss the problem with the individual head on. Remember, there is more than one side to a story.

    Do not, however, enter the lion’s den until you are calm or until you know what you want to say. I, for one, can be extremely forgiving after hearing someone out. Enter these types of conversations with an open mind. You may come to realize that you and your friend are actually on the same page but have just have different ways of dealing with the problem at hand.

    I hope these three tips help you as you set your boundaries. I would love to hear which of the three tips you have found most beneficial and if there are any other solutions that have worked for you!

  • Is It Time to Say Goodbye?

    “We’ll be friends forever won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.

    Forming relationships is a part of growing up. Whether it our childhood, our college years, or our working days, we are constantly meeting new people and making new friends.

    While many of us hold on tight to a core group of best buds from grade school, if not birth, a lot of us actually form even tighter bonds with new people as we go through the process of discovering who we are and what we need.

    Unlike family connections, friendships are formed between two individuals or a group of like-minded people who have common interests, a mutual sense of humor, and an appreciation for each other’s company. While some friendships are initially forced through family friends or neighbors, it is important to remember that we’re always in a position to choose how far we’d like to develop those connections. In similar light, many of us will discover both the strength and loyalty of bonds, and the appropriate time to let them go.

    I am personally a very social person who makes friends quite easily. Although I have a large group of supportive women who surround me, I also have friendships that have fizzled out or ended because of a “break up.” After reflecting with my mom and analyzing those relationships, I’ve learned that not all my gals are “ride or die.” And, that’s perfectly okay!

    Here are three telltale signs your friendship is ending.

    1. Your Expectations Aren’t Being Met

    When a relationship organically blossoms into a friendship, a contract is subconsciously and or consciously formed. In that respect, it is easy to get hurt in both platonic and romantic relationships when our expectations are not met.

    Because not everyone values friendship in the same way, it is vital you assess what you need and what you expect. If you find yourself being let down regularly by a certain individual, it may be time to let that relationship sail.

    2. When You’re Giving More Than You’re Receiving

    Despite the saying, “giving is better than receiving,” the statement only holds true when your friend advocates for the same motto. Friendship is just as much about receiving support as it is giving it.

    Being the designated go-to girl is exhausting, especially when that friend is incapable of reciprocating the favor. If you find yourself screening calls and stalling on responses, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship.

    I am by no means saying you should bounce if your friend, who’s going through a divorce, feels the need to discuss the ins and outs of her troubles over and over again. I’m just simply reminding you to be mindful of your own needs. Exhaustion is a good sign to redefine and set boundaries.

    3. When You’re No Longer “Twins”

    We all grow as individuals with time and experience. While some of us have dear childhood friends, it is also normal for us to go our separate paths. Whether it attending different colleges or moving to different cities, we all mature as a result and previous friendships may shift and dwindle.

    I, unfortunately, don’t share much in common with some of my oldest friends. While we had a long list of similarities growing up and were at time the Olsen twins, life goes on and those friendships change.

     

    Check back next week as I discuss how to approach a friendship breakup with maturity!

  • Four Ways to “Fall” Back

    …and ease back into your routines

    The coming and going of Labor Day, the reintroduction of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and the start of New York Fashion Week means one thing and one thing only:

    Fall is back!

    Whether you’re in school, going about your day job, or simply hopping back into the routine of things (goodbye summer Fridays), readjusting is extremely important. With longer days officially behind us, it’s time to get your body, mind, and soul back into tip top shape.

    Invest in an Agenda

    Keeping a calendar, electric or hardcopy, is the perfect way to kick your butt into high gear. Those still looking for “the perfect one” will find plenty of options at a stationary store.

    September happens to be the month for newly-released planners.

    Being organized with both your work and personal life can help maximize your schedule and increase productivity. When contemplating whether to stay low or check off a million and one tasks from your to-do lists, consult your agenda, prioritize, and find a balance. After all, there’s no time like the present to get a crackin’ back into the swing of things.

    e6cbd010887425-560ed1f8ab784Get Your Juices Flowing 

    For most of us, myself included, summer was the definition of too many barbecues and not enough exercise. Back when I was a student (Ahh! I feel old now!), I would register at my college gym the second I arrived on campus.

    Make a plan to get back into your fitness routine! Sign up for local classes or ask a friend to be your gym buddy.

    We are successful when we are accountable for our actions.

    Set Your Alarm

    If you work from home and are able to schedule your own work hours, then taking a little extra shut eye, on the occasion, is not a problem. But, like any student making it to her morning class, it’s still important to rise and shine.

    I usually plan my mornings to make myself more productive. Blocking out hours to take a workout class or minutes to run errands have helped me get back into my routine.

    Back-to-School Shopping

    Just because you’re a working girl doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the thrills of back-to-school shopping. September is the month of fashion–shows, trends, and magazines.

    Why miss out on such an exciting ritual?

    Treat yourself to a few pieces just as you would the beginning of a school year. It’s all part of the routine, right? ?

  • Recharge Your Mind By The Water

    …alongside views that even Drake would be jealous of!

    A workaholic, I always cram my days with chores, deadlines, happy hours, and quick brunches. In fact, I always feel so out of place with free time on my hands. The thought of nothing to do and nowhere to be not only gives me goosebumps, but also makes me extremely fidgety. Normally, I’d take that extra time to scroll through my social media–check the day’s accumulation of Snapchat stories, Instagram photos, and Facebook interactions. Recently, however, I’ve been trying to curb that habit.

    As much as I want to turn a blind eye, my social media dependency isn’t always the healthiest.

    Back in high school, my friends and I would go to Fort Totten Park to pass time. We’d sit on these huge rocks and stare into the water all while making short conversations, long conversations, or sometimes, no conversations at all. Sometimes, the movement of the water was enough. I’d even go there myself to de-clutter my mind after a breakup. Of course, I’d feel much better afterwards.

    With social media front and center in almost every aspect of my life, I forget how important it is to just stop and appreciate nature.

    Water, for one, has always given me loads of positive energy and good vibes. Being by the water can automatically de-stress and relax the brain into a more balanced and meditative state. Think of it as therapeutic downtime!

    If you live in New York City, you have to check out these water vies sans social media. No excuses, we’re practically surrounded by water!

    Fort Totten Park

    Bayside, NY

    Gantry Plaza State Park

    Long Island City, NY

    Battery Park

    New York, NY

    Okay, if you must, you can post pictures of these gorgeous views on Instagram. Your visit didn’t happen unless you uploaded evidence, amiright?

     

    Please let me know if you have a mindful place you like to visit. I’d love to check your spot out!

  • How to Make Mindful Fashion Purchases

    Do you prefer “fashion victim” or “ensemble-y challenged?”– Cher Horowitz, Clueless.

    With cozy knits, soft scarves, and bomber jackets front and center in just about every September magazine issue, it’s rather common to feel overwhelmed as you flip through each brightly-colored page. As someone who is easily swayed by the carefully curated fashion spreads, I’ll be the first to admit that come fall, I always feel obligated to buy expensive and impractical trendy pieces by the pound.

    That said, purchasing less and being more mindful of how we spend our hard-earned dollars, especially this time of year, can translate positively on how we look and how we feel.

    This season, I’m making a promise to curb my impulsive shopping habits. Not only do I plan to swap out my cutesy patterned dresses for something more structured and classic, but I also hope to purchase pieces that can easily transition from day to night wear.

    If you’re looking to edit your style without breaking the bank, or if you’re looking for a healthy fashion refresher in general, here are five of my favorite outfit tips!

    1. Aim to be guilt-free

    Nothing comes close to the high you feel after spontaneously splurging on a trendy piece recently worn by the likes of Kylie Jenner. Trust me, I get it.

    While Kylie may have looked extra chic in her leather jumpsuit, the same item, however, may not be as practical for you. Before you reach for your credit card, ask yourself whether or not the piece you’re about to purchase resonates with both your closet and lifestyle. If the answer is “no,” but you’re still torn, mull the decision over a couple of days. Think hard about how you will incorporate the item into your everyday life.

    I, for one, always feel a rush of guilt when I run my fingers, every morning, pass the pieces I buy but never wear. Avoid these feelings by being more conscious of your shopping decisions.

    2. Minimize rushing

    Unless you’re a morning person, struggling to get to work on time may be a daily battle. Instead of adding to that unnecessary stress, having a closet filled with timeless, classic, and versatile pieces, may help make choosing what to wear become less complicated.

    Even though you’ll always have pieces strictly for vacations and special events, folding them away or hanging them in the back of your closet, while allowing your more neutral pieces to shine, will make getting ready a breeze.

    Starting out your day feeling less rushed will definitely put that extra pep in your step!

    3. Identify your style

    As brutal as this may sound, our appearance often solidifies our first impressions. It goes without saying that you should make that impression count!

    When your closet is filled to the brim with graphic tees and trendy pieces that don’t speak to your character, who you are can get lost in the mix of fabric.

    My closet, for example, is overflowing with patterned, cutesy dresses that are not only taking up much needed space, but are also unrepresentative of who I am evolving to be. That simply needs to change!

    4. Save money down the road

    The more edited and refined your closet is, the more money you end up saving down the road. Choosing to buy less and spending your money on only the timeless pieces will automatically save you money in the long run. While doing so may be a significant cost up front, over time, you will come out on top! Instead of buying multiple blazers–embellished, pattered, oversized, and whatnot–buy a classic one that will stay with you through the years.

    5. Make money

    What do you do with you do with the duds you don’t want? Gather them up and bring them to your local consignment store. The best way to feel better after an impulsive purchase that can’t be returned is to sell it and get some of your money back! Otherwise, doing a closet swap with your friends or donating your old clothes to Goodwill is just as effective!

     

    Feature image via Guy Bourdin Photography

  • Four Effective Ways to Deal with Rejection

    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”–Wayne Gretzky

    It is never easy to put yourself in a vulnerable situation where rejection is a possible (if not definite) outcome. Whether it applying for a new job, going on a first date, or anticipating an exclusive RSVP to an upcoming wedding, expectations, when not met, have detrimental effects on our moods and feelings.

    Inadequacy, ineptitude, and abandonment, examples of those negative feelings, can lower both our self-worth and self-esteem. To avoid these emotional injuries, it is important to approach vulnerable situations with the right mindset.

    Here are four simple ways to beat rejection and keep moving forward:


    Alter Your Expectations

    Always, always, always remember that we are in control of our own emotions and that we can only be affected by the things that we allow to affect us.

    That said, we are perfectly capable of altering our expectations and controlling our reactions to negative outcomes. As important as it is to get excited about a great opportunity, it is just as important to manage those expectations by keeping your options open. The better you are at altering your expectations in any given situation, the less likely you are to get hurt.

    Reflect

    When a college rejection letter arrives in the mail or when you’re not asked to join a “popular” squad, it may be time to reflect.

    As cliché as this sounds, everything truly happens for a reason.

    Maybe the college you had your heart set on was not a good fit, maybe the timing wasn’t right, or maybe you need to strengthen your skills before re-applying. Maybe the girls in that squad didn’t share your interest, maybe they didn’t like you for you, or maybe you found other friends. Whatever the reasons, it may be time to reflect and evaluate the situation.

    Remain Open-Minded

    Rejection is both a normal life experience and a crucial life lesson to learn. After you have reflected on why an individual, college, or job offer did not pan out the way you hoped, it is vital to keep an open mind. Because rejection will happen time and time again, a positive and open mindset, instead of a negative and closed one, will eventually guarantee success.

    Try, Try Again

    As famously said by British educational writer, William E. Hickson, “If at first you don’t succeed; try, try, try again.”

    Even though rejection can leave you feeling hurt and defeated, it is important to get back on the horse after you’ve reflected. Apply for another job. Go on another first date. Continue to let yourself be vulnerable! One of these times, you will be the perfect fit. Your future self will thank you for never giving up.

     

    Feature image: “Between Heaven and Earth,” oil on linen by Conrad Jon Godly.

  • How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship

    Together forever, never apart. Maybe in distance, but never in heart.

    Anyone who’s ever been in a long distance relationship knows that reliable Wi-Fi, frequent flyer points, and excellent communication skills are among the many necessities crucial to making that relationship work. Long distance isn’t easy. In fact, maintaining any romantic relationship can be a daunting and difficult task.

    The high highs are high but the low lows are low.

    Although rewarding when successful, long distance relationships, following their initial bliss can be extremely stressful. Whether it meeting your soulmate while studying abroad or having to part with a loved one because he was offered a job opportunity on the other side of the country, timing and distance can be tricky obstacles to maneuver.

    Here are four ways to help set your LD relationship up for longevity and success.

    1. Get on the Same Page

    Before you and your partner commit to any long distance arrangement, it is extremely important to make sure that you are both on the same page. Discussing the status of your relationship (open or exclusive) and identifying your individual needs will help you and your significant other manage expectations.

    2. Become Tech-Savvy

    Technologically adept or inept, it’s always a plus to know the ins and outs of communication applications like Skype or Facetime. Seeing your partner, even if only through a screen is still a helpful way to keep your romance alive. Everyone has their way of communicating affection, but consistency will be key in reminding each other that you care.

    3. Communicate Effectively

    For any relationship to work, both partners must communicate effectively. In regular romantic relationships, you are able to pick up on your partner’s body language and facial expressions. The same, however, proves more difficult in LD relationships. When relying solely on verbal communication, expressing your needs and expectations straight-forwardly will ultimately strengthen your relationship. At the same time, it’s equally important if not more so to be a good listener. Honesty and open-mindedness are the pillars to all healthy relationships.

    4. Plan Ahead

    Keep your eyes on the prize. Being separated from a loved one can be challenging, especially when seeing that special someone can be days, if not months, into the future. Planning and counting down until your next shared time together can make the long nights less long and dreary. Booking that vacation, looking up flights, and engaging in some harmless daydreaming is always loads of fun.

     

  • How to Get the Perfect Shut-eye (Sans Medication)

    ZZzzzzz

    Did you know that the average person spends a third of her lifetime sleeping?

    Pretty fascinating, right? Scientists think so too! In fact, many devote their life’s research to the study and understanding of this mandatory routine. In simple terms, it puzzles them why sleep–or really, the lack of it–leads to exhaustion, irritation, and lethargy.

    There’s no arguing that a proper night’s rest is vital for a productive day ahead. But, as much as you may want to try a quick, guaranteed fix of eight hours or more by popping a sleeping pill, reaching for melatonin is not always the best first option.

    Turn off the lights!

    If you’re having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, try wearing a sleeping mask! Trust me, the silky ones are more than just a glamorous fashion statement. Should you stir ever so slightly in the middle of the night, these nifty light blockers will prevent you from fully waking up.

    Not a fan of wrapping cloth over your eyes? No worries! Black out blinds are another great way to ensure a full night’s rest.

    Moderate Your Caffeine Intake.

    While there are indisputable benefits to caffeine–hello, productivity–a cup of coffee or black tea before bed is not always the best idea. Try to kick your late night habit by enjoying your liquid life well in the morning or early afternoon.

    Work, work, work (at your desk).

    Many of us are guilty of answering emails and finishing work in bed, myself included. Even though it’s super comfortable use our bedrooms as a pseudo office space, doing so can often disorient our minds and bodies. For that reason, I recommend leaving your cellphones and tablets outside when preparing for bed. Scrolling through your social media feed as you drift to sleep negatively impacts your sleep more than you think!

    Exercise, just do it.

    Besides the general physical and psychological benefits of exercise, breaking a sweat can also improve your sleep! People who work out tend to fall asleep faster than those who don’t. If you do high intensity exercises in the morning finish off with yoga or a couple stretches in the evening before bedtime, I guarantee a very sound sleep.

    Quit napping!

    Even though napping might seem ideal after a busy day at work or lazy Saturday afternoon lounging on the couch, a quick shut-eye, should you choose to take one, will actually interfere with your sleep at night. Next time you find yourself dozing off, try drinking a cold glass or water or engaging in a stimulating conversation.

     

  • 6 Ways to Stop Anxiety and Stress

    Saying Bye Bye Bye to the Butterflies

    As women, we often feel pressured to “do it all!” Whether it’s the endless to-do lists to get through at work, the pile of household chores waiting at home, or the long list of events we had our hearts set on attending this summer, we manage–or, at the very least, attempt–to accomplish the seemingly impossible.

    Despite our superhuman personas (because really, there’s no denying the existence of our well-deserved, albeit invisible, capes), our drives come at both a physical and physiological price. A result of wearing one too many hats, our stress levels can skyrocket and our bodies can act out.

    I recently discussed five telltale signs of when your nerves may be getting the best of you. The question, however, still remains:

    How do we tackle our anxiety so that we can continue to move forward in a healthy way?

    1. ACCEPT

    When your stress levels are at an all-time high, it is important to educate yourself on the physical and psychological signs of anxiety. It is vital you adopt the “this too shall pass” mentality.

    There’s no denying how uncomfortable and unbearable our body’s reaction to stress is. We can, however, treat that never-ending feeling of anxiety by first accepting it for what it is, and then by acknowledging it as a sign for us to slow down.

    2. SLEEP

    Our sleep patterns are usually disrupted when we become overwhelmed. Know that a fair indication of this can manifest in sleeping more or sleeping less.

    The average human being should be sleeping approximately six to eight hours a night to function productively the next day. You can improve both the amount and quality of your sleep by:

    • Eliminating your caffeine intake after 6 p.m. (or earlier if you are sensitive to caffeine)
    • Using ear plugs or an eye mask to help block out both sound and light
    • Installing blackout blinds
    • Running a warm bath to relax before snoozing
    • Eliminating screen time in bed

    3. EXERCISE

    Ideally, we should be getting 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. That translates to either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. Exercise not only “keeps our bodies young” by reducing our risk of acquiring many diseases, but also helps reduce anxiety.

    Physical activity releases endorphins–chemicals in our brain that act as natural pain killers. Endorphins help alleviate the symptoms caused by stress and nervousness.

    Anxiety

    4. NOURISH

    “We are what we eat” is particularly true when our body translates that into our ability to cope under pressure. When we nourish our bodies with healthy, whole foods, we feel better about ourselves and more energized to deal with our nerves.

    • Limit or avoid caffeine to prevent feeling even more nervous or jittery
    • Stay hydrated! The mildest form of dehydration can severely impact your mood and ability to focus
    • Eat breakfast. It is important not to skimp on the most important meal of the day
    • Limit or avoid alcohol. Even though alcohol may be calming at first, the substance actually interferes with your ability sleep

    5. PREPARE

    When stressed, we are tempted to disengage and put assignments and tasks on the back burner. Instead of doing so, continue tackling whatever it is that you need to do by chipping at it little by little on a daily basis.

    Whether it an upcoming meeting or a family vacation, being prepared for the events ahead can help lower your anxiety levels. On that note, it is equally important to take time for yourself. You can do so by walking your dog, getting a massage, or watching your favorite TV show.

    Remember: You can only tackle so much when you’re not mindful of your own needs.

    6. BREATHE

    When anxious, our heart rates increase. In fact, your heart may seem like it’s about to leap out of your chest. The most effective way to lower your anxiety immediately is to lower your heart rate. You can do this by:

    • Finding a comfortable sitting position
    • Placing one hand over your belly and the other over your chest
    • Taking a deep breath through your nose without moving your chest
    • Breathing out by pursing your lips
    • And, repeating this exercise three to five times while taking time with each breath

     

    *If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety, please seek or have them seek help from a physician. Know that no one is alone in their journey. 

     

    Feature image via John Shiremans Shattered Flowers series.

  • 3 Ways To Deal With Mean Girls

    Building Meaningful Relationships

    Wellness Wednesdays with Blare June

    In an ideal world, there would be no bullying. The times we cried at summer camp or the moments we felt out of sorts in high would simply not exist. Instead, we are each cherished for who we are and celebrated for what we bring to life’s many tables.

     

    Unfortunately, however, our world is by no means ideal world. Bullying, more often than not, follows us well into adulthood. With high profile cases of people committing suicide—a result of victimization—and a real-life bully running for President of the United States, it’s not a surprise how both harassment and intimidation are legitimate if not pressing concerns at schools, workplaces, and places of leisure.

     

    Unlike men who usually rely on physical violence to terrorize and torment their victims of choice, women tend to resort to sophisticated and less overt means. Not only do they bully through exclusion, but they also do so through gossiping and spreading rumors. While the general rule of thumb is to “ignore” when dealing with irrational antics of mean girls, the kindness approach can still be frustrating and exhausting.

     

    1436376231-mean-girls

     

    Here are 3 helpful ways to deal with the bullies you can’t seem to escape.



    Find Common Ground

    Even though your morals and values may differ vastly from your bully’s, there is often a common interest or opinion you can agree on. Whether it a work out class or a local restaurant you both want to try out, bonding over something you’re equally interested in can have a relationship-altering impact.

     

    Try establishing common ground my asking open-ended questions. Hint: Most individuals, especially those with narcissistic qualities, enjoy talking about themselves. Ask your bully about her recent 5k race or her work promotion. By doing so, you might even strengthen a positive bond!



    Lead by Example

    It is human to learn our biggest life lessons by observing the behavior of others. Inviting your bully to your upcoming dinner party or to sit with you and your colleagues at lunch might feel like the most foolish thing to do, but it may also make way for a more collegial relationship.

     

    By demonstrating your maturity and strength, you might even be able to inspire your foe to do the same.



    Girl Talk

    Sometimes the more passive approaches of finding common ground of leading by example do not garner significant results. Sometimes, the best way to confront the uncomfortable situation is to address the bully face on. Ask him or her to coffee to discuss how you’ve been feeling as a result of his or her actions. Then, find a way to move forward together.

     

    When handling the conversation, avoid statements that imply blame. Phrase the conversation about how you feel. Give concrete examples and be open to hearing your bully’s perspective. Regardless if you are the “bully” or the “victim,” remember that everyone is constantly bombarded with their own life challenges. While there is not an excuse for the poor treatment of others, there may be more to the situation than you know.

     

    Approaching conversations with an open mind and forgiving heart will set you up for a lifetime of less gossip and more meaningful relationships.

  • 5 Signs the Dark Cloud Has yet to Blow Over

    Could it be Depression?

    Wellness Wednesdays with Blare June

    While it would be rather lovely to live a life of only sunshine and rainbows, the thought—albeit an optimistic and hopeful one—is not always a possibility. It is normal and healthy, in fact, to occasionally experience sadness. Think about it this way: how could you truly appreciate the good if you don’t have the bad to compare it with? How could you really celebrate triumph if you don’t experience hardship first?

    That said, there are still times when your lows outweigh your highs—when there are more difficult days then there are easy ones. Prolonged “Down in the Dump” days can be both emotionally draining and harming.

    Here are 5 signs to help you recognize when it might be time to seek professional help.

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    “I’m so darn tired.”

    Doctors recommend an average of 6-8 hours of sleep because sleep helps human beings cope with every day stress. When overwhelmed or experiencing a shift in mood, sleep (or the lack of it) is usually the first clue that something is not right. If you start waking up a lot earlier than usual without the help of an alarm clock, seek help. Early morning wakening (EMW) is a symptom of depression that should not be ignored. Other obvious signs include difficulty falling asleep and trouble staying asleep.



    “No, thank you. I’m not hungry.”

    When feeling blue, people often forget to eat or lose their appetites. In order to stay healthy efficient human beings, it is vital to eat nourishing meals throughout the day. If you notice a change in your appetite or are experiencing a drastic and inexplicable weight loss, your mood may be impairing your hunger.



    “Sorry, could you please repeat that?”

    When depression sets in, regardless how hard you may try to fight it, it is often extra difficult to concentrate. Experiencing a change in drive and clarity at school or work or forgetting everyday conversations and events may be good reasons to seek professional help.



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    “Why don’t I love the things I once enjoyed anymore?”

    People experiencing clinal depressive episodes report an inability to derive pleasure from previously pleasurable activities. If playing tennis, hanging out with friends, or watching re-runs of your favorite show on Netflix is no longer your go-to Saturday morning activity, it is important to monitor this change seriously. Anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure) is a symptom of depression and subsequent sign that professional help is needed.



    “Maybe life just isn’t worth it.”

    While people don’t openly talk about suicidal thoughts, they’re more common than you think. Once depression sets in, passive thoughts like, “I wish I didn’t wake up this morning,” or active thoughts that include an intent and plan to die, may present itself for the first time and worsen with frequency. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is vital to seek help immediately. You can seek out your local emergency department, family physician, or help line for assistance. Remember, you are not alone!



  • 4 Ways to Cope with the Pressures of Social Media

    How To Fight FOMO

    Wellness Wednesdays With Blare June

    It’s no secret that many of us enjoy scrolling through our carefully curated Instagram feed of fashion bloggers and style influentials. In fact, our voyeuristic tendencies rarely stop there. Oftentimes, we also enjoy watching exclusive behind-the-scenes Snapchat stories posted by models like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.

    The days of looking to only our most stylish, fashionable, and trendy friends for restaurant and clothing recommendations have since been replaced by the option to seek inspiration elsewhere. In this new social media era, we look towards the “Insta-famous” for guidance on what to cook, what to eat, what to wear, and where to travel.

    While there is no denying the many benefits of our vasty improved communication platforms–like how else would you stay in touch with you dear Aunt Lucy?–the endless information that constantly snowballs our way can be overwhelming. It’s not just envying the supposed glamorous life of head cheerleader from our small town that we have to worry about. Instead, we’re reminded by millions of people, those we don’t even know personally, about trips around the world we have yet to take, workout trends we have yet to try, and that engagement ring we have yet to receive.

    What happens when looking at the lives of others starts to affect our own mental well-being and leaves us feeling bummed?

    Here are 4 ways to cope with the pressures of social media!

     

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    (Art: Courtesy of The Beacon)



    “Highlight Reel”

    It’s important to remember that when we scroll through somebody else’s feed, whether it a friend’s or a stranger’s, we are only getting a glimpse of his or her life. In some ways, our quick forays, might not even tell us the situation’s whole truth.

    Because we are all in control of how we wish to be portrayed online, we must not forget that others are afforded the same luxury. In the same way that it’s easier for us to post an adorable picture of a newborn than it is to cough up stories of exhaustion and sleepless nights, it’s equally effortless if not second nature for others to write statuses about their dream homes than the sweat, blood, and tears that went into building it.

     

    When comparing our “highlight reels” to those of others, we must not forget that there is more than meets the eye. Come on now, we’re all guilty of taking more than one shot for that perfect picture. Next time you’re scrolling through someone else’s glamorous photo feed, think his or her lighting and filter options. Then, chuckle a little, pick yourself up, and move on.



    “An Option for a Reason”

    “Unfollow” and “Block” options can prove quite nifty. Other than using them to block a pervert or unfollow an ex, the buttons can also be used to help maintain your self-esteem. If at any point you find yourself feeling extra bummed reading about the lives of others, it’s totally okay to purge your follow list.

    Do not, however, make the decision impulsively. Just because you’re having a bad day and your cousin’s pictures from her recent trip to St. Barths is ticking you off even more, does not give you the all clear to press unfollow. Take a deep breath, put your technological device down, and go for a walk. It’s always good to take a break from social media before coming back to make a semi-permanent decision.



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    (Art: Courtesy of Glasbergen)



    “Selectivity”

    It’s natural for us to gravitate towards different types of feeds. Whether it food recipes, humorous quotes, or fashion posts, we all have our preferences and niches.

    Some accounts may bring you more happiness than others. Be attuned to your feelings. If a fitness guru makes you feel extra bummed about your body, try focusing on a different channel that boasts DIY projects of adorable puppies.



    “V-A-C-A-Y”

    While I would love to up and quit the pressures social media by hopping on a private jet to an exotic island, the option is not always there. That said, a holiday from social media is still always an option.

    If going on a hiking trip with friends, leave your phone at home. If hanging out at the park, try bringing a book. We don’t need to peace out completely to be on a break. In fact, it’s really just about being mindful of our frequency of use.

    While you may not see your friend’s adorable #OOTD immediately, know that her picture will still be there when you reconnect with your phone.



     

    Social media is an amazing tool to help us connect with others in ways we never could before. It allows us to receive news almost instantaneously and gain knowledge in a much quicker way than we could have in the past. At the same time, the platform does not replace face-to-face social interaction and it is vital we are mindful of that.

  • 5 Signs Your Anxiety Is Getting the Best of You

    How to Acknowledge Your Anxiety

    Wellness Wednesdays With Blare June

    Today, the modern woman juggles a demanding job, a busy household, a plethora of errands, and if time permits (gasp!), a social life. A result of wearing all too many hats, she is often exhausted if not overwhelmed by the endless chores of her everyday life. It doesn’t help, of course, that we, women, are conditioned to uphold this superhuman do-it-all image. Even worse, identifying and dealing with our anxiety—acknowledging the stress caused by our gung-ho mentality—falls to the very bottom of our bottomless to-do list.

    Still, as annoying as feeling nervous is, that jittery feeling is not only normal but also useful in certain situations. Imagine, for example, how difficult studying for a final exam or prepping for a big interview would be if you didn’t feel the slightest bit on edge. While there’s no question anxiety plays an instrumental role in helping us get our butts in gear, anxiety that goes unchecked can lead to idleness and impairment.

    Here are 5 telltale signs that your nerves may be getting the best of you:



    “I feel on edge.”

    Anxiety is not a black or white feeling. It often slides up and down a wide emotions spectrum. Even though we humans require a healthy dose of it to make it through our every day lives, there’s a fine line between what is actually considered “normal ” and what in reality is “disordered.”

    Anxiety is considered to be “disordered” when our worries consume a significant amount of our time causing impairment on our ability to function. While the feeling is hard to describe in words, people have gravitated towards terms like “on edge” and “keyed up” to express their stress.

    It is important to monitor our daily worries to identify potentially drastic changes in our feelings.



    “You are getting under my skin.”

    When our nerves get the best of us, we can often feel bugged by seemingly trivial events. Whether it the coffee line being too long or the ambient music blaring too loud, our ability to cope with everyday stimuli doesn’t function as regularly as it should.

    If you find yourself snapping at your partner or rolling your eyes at your friends–if you find that you’ve become that much more irritable and annoyed at the simplest things–it is a good time to take a deep breath and acknowledge your anxiety.



    “Sorry, can you please repeat that?”

    When we bite off more than we can chew, our minds often drift from the task at hand. A chance in concentration is often a clear indicator of increased stress levels. If you are having a difficult time focusing in class or watching your favorite show on Netflix, it may be time to seek help.



    “I need a massage ASAP!”

    The mind and body are interconnected vessels. When the mind is overwhelmed, the body react accordingly. When our stress levels rise, we may feel actual physical strain. Muscle tension, headaches and an upset stomach are symptoms that identify with stress.



    “If only I got more sleep…”

    When we feel overworked or overwhelmed, our sleep patterns can get disrupted. Naturally, this is your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Depending on the individual, it is vital we get an average of 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Lack of rest can immediately lead to muscle soreness and acute feelings of irritability. Not only may coping with everyday life feel extra difficult, but it may also feel impossible.



     

    If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the above signs, please seek or have them seek out help from a physician. It can get better. Next week, I’ll be discussing simple exercises you can practice to manage and alleviate your anxiety.

  • TheLoDown