Soul Revival Tip #2: Laughter

One day, my husband and I had a disagreement. It was safe to say we were not each other’s favorite people at the moment. I was home and upset. I decided I needed to get my mind off of the issue. I wanted to shake off those negative emotions. So I decided to watch a stand up comedy.

As I watched, I laughed and laughed until my belly hurt and I thought I was going to piss myself. I had a moment of awareness in that instant. I scanned my emotional self and realized that although the problem with my husband and I had not been resolved, I felt better. My mood lifted and I felt lighter. I felt more at peace and joyful.

I came to the conclusion that the laughter that was induced by the comedy I was watching was responsible for this. I felt happier from laughing. Intrigued, I decided to perform sort of an experiment.

I played the stand up from the beginning when my husband arrived from work. I knew he was not going to sit down, let alone with me, and watch the film willingly. I raised the volume loud enough so that it could be heard from the other rooms while simultaneously keeping the neighbors from losing their hearing.

I could tell he was still pissed off at me. I greeted him hesitantly and let him be, giving him time to cool off. I noticed as the film played that although he was not watching it, it caught his attention and he was listening.

I watched his stiff, rigid body soften before my eyes. He gradually began to unwind. His breathing slowed. He would turn to the screen periodically and eventually, sat right next to me to watch.

As the film went on, he watched and listened intensely, even allowing a chuckle to escape his lips from time to time. Before I knew it, he was not angry anymore. He turned to me and I’m pretty sure said “Okay, what do you want to eat?” kindly. We made up after that.

Laughter, although induced by the film, made us feel better. It lifted our spirits. It took our minds off of the issue at hand. It calmed us and brought us to a more rational, relaxed state. That tranquility provided us with the clarity we needed in order to realize that our dispute was not a big deal. Not only were we able to carry on with the evening, but we were both in better places mentally and emotionally.

There are many studies that show laughter has the capability to trigger endorphins (the “happy” hormone), relax the body, stop distressing emotions, help you reenergize, calm stress hormones, as well as ease anxiety.

As for physical benefits, laughter can bring down blood pressure, burn calories, raise the production of immune cells and infection fighting antibodies (improving resistance to disease), renew the lungs, as well as relaxing the muscles relieving tension.

Laughter is so powerful that different establishments have been created in order to receive those benefits. There are laughter clubs, which is defined as a group of people gathering to practice laughter. There is laughter yoga, which is basically yoga and a laughter club combined. There is even laughter therapy, where patients in the hospital are presented with humorous activities to revitalize their bodies and spirits. Some medical professionals also make the effort to make their patients laugh because they know that it will improve the patient’s well-being.

So the next time you’re not feeling so hot, laugh. Find reasons to laugh. Watch a stand up comedy like I did that evening. Watch a funny video on YouTube or play your favorite comedic film. Call or hang out with a funny friend. Go to a comedy club. Play with your pet, tickle your kids (don’t kill them in the process). Your mental, physical and spiritual self will thank you for it later.

Soul Revival Tip #1: Audiobooks

I’ve always loved to read but recently, I’ve become obsessed with audiobooks. My favorite books tend to be self help/self improvement related. I find that listening to a soothing voice teaching you how to care for yourself in a time of emotional and psychological need can be powerful and incredibly impactful. It feels like someone is sitting right next to me, comforting me in my time of need.

Best of all, it’s available at all times. This means you can receive a boost of love and encouragement anytime you need it. This could be in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep. It could be on the train or your drive in to work as you mentally prepare for the next shift. It could even be when you’re going through a very difficult phase in life.

Audiobooks have been life changing for me. I do see a therapist once a week but sometimes it’s not enough. Sure, talking to other people can help. However, realistically we will not always have someone else around to help us. Therefore, we need to master the art of helping ourselves.

Telling other people your struggles can be a huge help but I’m sure you’ve also experienced times where it has backfired. Sometimes, you are met with judgement and criticism. Other times, you’ve just been given bad advice. There might have even been occasions where you find out someone told another person about your issues without your consent. You leave the situation feeling worse than you did before you told anyone. Who needs that?

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t rely on anyone else as a source of support. If it’s a safe and confidential source, sure. I am saying that it’s absolutely necessary to learn how to help yourself alone. Even if you have the greatest support system, talking to someone else may not always be an option and you have to be prepared for moments like that. You are your own responsibility, and it’s ultimately up to you to take care of yourself.

Audiobooks are an awesome form of self care. I recommend that everyone try listening to one at some point, you may be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards. I get my books using the app. Audible. I love a lot of Louise Hay’s books. She was a world renowned author and metaphysical teacher. Her self esteem affirmations helped me learn to embrace and accept myself for who I am. In “How To Love Yourself”, Louise discusses her 10 tips towards achieving self love and self acceptance. I found this to be very eye opening and learned some life long lessons from it. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz is one of my favorites and a very popular and well known book. Ruiz shares 4 powerful beliefs to adopt to transform your life for the better. I own the paperback, but decided to buy it in audiobook form. I actually prefer the audiobook and have bookmarked my favorite parts to listen to whenever I need an extra boost of love and encouragement.

Now I understand some people really don’t care for self help/self improvement books. That’s okay too. Fiction based audiobooks/books are an effective coping mechanism as well. Reading gets your mind off of whatever it is you’re stressing. It’s entertaining, increases your vocabulary, strengthens your imagination and is a healthy distraction. Your brain gets to take a well deserved BREAK. We ALL need that, whether it is you’re depressed or not. Coping skills are not only for those who are struggling with mental illness. Coping skills are healthy hobbies and habits to integrate into your life, for the rest of your life. The more you have in your life, the better.

Nothing that I ever suggest on my blog will ever substitute receiving professional help. If you feel there is something seriously wrong and you have it in your power, please seek professional help. However, the tips I share may help you endure life’s struggles and get through them in a healthy, safe and non destructive way. In therapy, that is what you are taught. Granted, the therapist helps you work through your problems objectively, but ultimately, they will teach or recommend different coping skills for you to use when you’re feeling angry, depressed, anxious, etc…

I know there are a lot of you that may be struggling mentally, emotionally and psychologically. I know how it feels to deal with that pain alone, to feel misunderstood or the fear that you will be looked upon as crazy. You’re not crazy. You’re just struggling. Believe it or not, those are temporary feelings. You just need to learn how to ride them out in the safest way possible. That’s where me and my soul revival tips come in. I’m sharing some of the stuff I know has saved me, and I really hope can do the same for you.

I’m Not Dead, I Promise

So… it’s been a while. I’m still here though. I haven’t abandoned you guys. I actually love writing and this blog. My brain has been pretty fuzzy lately and I’m not quite sure why. I’ve got a case of classic writer’s block

I’ve been in a very introverted place lately. I’ve been doing a lot of self reflection. Which is good, that’s what’s required for evolution.

I’m a passionate writer and I always am flattered and appreciative of the people who do stop and read my work. It’s important for me to let you know what is going on and to be honest. Just in my own little bubble… for now.

I’ll be back from my hiatus better than ever I’m sure, either offending you or making you chuckle. Much love to you all and again, thank you for reading.

The Trend That Is Pessimism 

Ever notice how people will complain about their lives while often excluding the good that is also occurring? We cry and moan about all that is wrong, and either turn a blind eye to the good or choose not to talk about it at all. Like a lie of omission, almost like happiness is something to be ashamed of. 

Somehow, at some point, it became really cool to be super apathetic, cynical, and negative. Bitching has literally become the preferred method of bonding amongst peers. 

If you post photos of yourself on social media out of confidence, you’re considered arrogant. This really bothers people. Why? Maybe you love your body and have accepted the skin you’re in. Maybe you’re proud to show that off. Where is the crime in that? 

You talk about that promotion you got, you’re bragging. You probably worked your ass off for that position but may feel reluctant to talk about it to avoid bothering others. Have you ever wondered why it annoys others? Why do we care about what people think enough to bury our happiness and join the pity party? 

You mention how well your relationship is going, you’re full of shit. Why? Why is it so hard to believe that two people may actually be delighted and satisfied with one another? 

Talking about the good in a relationship doesn’t mean it’s perfect. It means you respect your partner enough to work your disagreements out only amongst yourselves. It means you honor the privacy and intimacy of your relationship. It means it’s not anyone else’s business and you don’t owe anyone additional details. 

So, don’t feel pressured into joining the commiseration club. Even if everyone you know is a member. People can’t believe in another person’s capability of bliss because they don’t allow themselves to feel that way. 

You don’t need to be amongst those who pick apart every aspect of their lives and only concentrate rough patches while neglecting every blessing. You also don’t need to be around someone who cannot be happy for your happiness. They don’t love you. Simple as that. Why? Because they don’t love themselves. That energy is cancerous. It will stunt your growth. Run as fast as you can. 

You are responsible for your own happiness. If you’ve found that, good for you. Wear that shit like a badge of honor, even if the glare is too blinding for the energy vamps. 

Dear Self, 

You washed the dishes. That’s a big fucking deal. You HATE washing dishes and you pushed through. You didn’t want to brush your teeth, you did. You didn’t want to shower, you did. Didn’t want to wash your hair and you did. You pumiced your feet. You watched numerous things to laugh to lift your mood. You practiced self care. You’re even journaling. All while being fucking depressed. It’s a big deal. You’re doing a good job. Don’t beat yourself up for what you couldn’t or haven’t done. Give yourself credit for that. Be proud of yourself for that. 

This is what you’re supposed to do when you’re depressed. You’re supposed to take responsibility for yourself. You’re supposed to identify what’s wrong, and try to help yourself. You’re supposed to practice your coping skills. You did that. You’re supposed to try even though you don’t want to. You pushed through it. 

I know you may not feel this is a big deal, but if someone else told you this, you would congratulate them. You would tell them to be proud because they could’ve chosen to do nothing and they chose to fight. 

If you had chosen to do nothing, well, that’s okay too. Our best does not look the same everyday. Staying in bed could be your best one day and that’s fine. You’re doing your best today. I love you. I’ll always look out for you. 

Remember, this isn’t you. This gloom and doom you’re feeling. The sinking in your gut? That’s depression. It’s a disease. You’re going through the symptoms and you’re fighting them. I’m proud of you. 

Love, 

Self  

The Mastery That Is Self Care

I have a diagnosis of Bipolar 2 (major depression-mild manic episodes) and generalized anxiety disorder. I found out at the age of 22. I admitted myself into a facility because I was experiencing racing thoughts, suicidal ideation and anxiety. I was drinking excessively and taking sleeping pills as well. If I could’ve had it my way, I would’ve slept for all of eternity. I didn’t want to feel, so did what I could to numb myself. My only suicide attempt was at 15, so clearly I was struggling way before my initial diagnosis. 

Since then, I’ve played an active role towards my recovery and stability. A lot of trial and error, but I’ve learned and have grown a lot along the way. I’ve researched immensely and have educated myself on the ins and outs of mental illness. I’ve read books, I’ve studied articles and statistics.

I take medication to correct the chemical imbalance I struggle with. I go to therapy and have been seeing a therapist on and off, for 12 years now. I am straight forward with my doctor, even if it pains me. The point of seeking mental help is to learn and transform. To evolve into the best version of yourself. That’s not supposed to be a comfortable process. You sure as hell will not reach it by being dishonest or omitting information from the one person whose job is to guide you towards the path to improvement. 

I’m going to share some transformative things I’ve learned in my life. Some of the epiphanies that have allowed me to see life in a refreshingly, new perspective. I hope this information helps you, because it saved me. I’m only paying it forward. 

At the very brink of any strong emotion, that pang that sucker punches you, leaving you internally stunned and frozen; I leave the situation to give myself a moment of clarity. If I cannot leave where I am, I choose to behave calmly. I accept that I cannot give a valid, logical, responsible response until I’m tranquil.

Then, I journal in my notepad on my phone in the style of free association writing. Free association, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the expression (as by speaking or writing) the content of consciousness without censorship as an aid in gaining access to unconscious processes especially in psychoanalysis: the reporting of the first thought that comes to mind in response to a given stimulus (as a word). 

You are writing everything you are thinking at the moment. All those thoughts, shooting like stars across the velvety sky, in your mind? Write them down. No matter how stupid, shameful, silly, embarrassing… these words are for your eyes only. It’s important to be as candid as possible. 

Is this uncomfortable? Absolutely. Is complete honesty necessary? Absolutely. If you are not genuine, this is pointless. The reason for this is to dig DEEP. In order to heal, you have to figure out the root of those feelings. Where they are originating from? Why are they happening now? In order to get better, you have to try something you’ve never done before. Say exercising, for example. The first time someone ever did a push up was way harder than the 500th they trained their way up to. 

This is an immediately release, similar to venting to a friend. All of the emotional dumping without draining someone else and feeling like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders as a result. When you’re done, read what you’ve written. Pretend you’re reading someone else’s words. Imagine your words as a story with fictional characters in a film. This will allow you to think objectively. Thinking neutrally will help you observe your thoughts and feelings in a non biased way. 

Read your words over and over again. It will relax you, also providing you with a clarity of the emotion you’re experiencing. This is essential because identifying this emotion will help you understand yourself and your needs better. 

When reading what you’ve written, there are a couple of things you must be accept here. Now, this isn’t simple. I do promise as hard as this is, once you do, the quality of your life will improve. 

Okay. Say this with me. Write it down. Paste it on your wall if you need to. 

You cannot stress what you cannot control. You cannot control what you feel. You cannot control what someone else feels. You cannot control someone else’s actions and choices. You cannot control someone else’s thoughts. You cannot control someone’s opinion of you. You cannot make someone like you. You cannot make everyone happy. It is your job, and your job only to make YOURSELF happy. The people around you either add to that happiness or have to go because they will hinder your joy. 

Instead, redirect your focus on what you CAN control. You can control the way you react to the dumb shit people will do. You can control your own actions. You can choose to take responsibility of your own happiness and fulfillment. Trying to do the same for others is exhausting and impossible. You might as well avert the energy towards yourself. 

Accepting all of this is powerful. It eliminates the chunk of what mentally burdens us often, the inevitable. It forces us to practice self care. 

My therapist taught me something I now live my life by. “When you’re on an airplane, you are told in an emergency to put your own oxygen mask on first. You are of no help to anyone, if you haven’t taken care of yourself first”. 

You cannot love yourself fully if you have not learned self care and self preservation. You cannot fully love someone else if you haven’t learned this. You cannot be the best version of yourself to your significant other, to your children, to your family, to your friends, to your employer or to yourself if you do not learn to do this. Self care is not selfish. It’s survival. 

After you come to terms with the situation, you should be able to target the exact emotion you’re struggling with. That’s when coping skills come into the picture. Coping skills are techniques that help us survive stressful situations in a safe and productive manner. Showering, going for a walk, meditation, meditation music, nature sounds, using perfume or scented candle in your favorite scent, exercise, coloring, watching a funny film, crying, deep breathing, singing, dancing, and reciting positive affirmations are all awesome coping skills. 

You also have the option of writing a list of activities that make fill you with bliss. You can choose to treat yourself by performing actions you’ve listed. This is a more personalized approach to coping skills. They may even work more effectively because they are designed for your specific needs. 

Also, beware of negative coping skills. Do not integrate them into your list accidentally. If you find yourself doing the following, step away for a moment and contemplate to yourself “Is this action productive towards my recovery?” 

Some examples of negative coping skills are criticizing yourself (negative self-talk), driving fast in a car, chewing your finger nails, becoming violent or aggressive with someone, eating too much or too little, overloading with caffeine, drinking alcohol, yelling at your significant other, children or friends, taking recreational drugs, as well as isolating yourself from family and friends. This may seem obvious, but mental illness can skew your perception so they need to be discussed.  

When you find yourself in a fragile state of mind, retreat to your favorite coping skills. Keep in mind, you’re feeling sick that day. Imagine yourself with the flu. You’d be gentle with yourself. You’d give yourself the time to heal. You’d do what you had to to rest. You wouldn’t plague yourself with critical remarks. You’d nurse yourself back to a healthy state. It’s the same with mental illness. Love yourself enough to prioritize self care and self preservation. It’s your obligation to do so. 

I encourage anyone who suspects they have a mental illness to see a mental health professional. This piece is not intended to substitute professional help. However, this is not a journey that’s safe enough to travel alone and I will always stand by those who are agonizing in quietude. Much love to you all. 

The Bittersweet Power Of Evolution 

Evolution: Any process of formation and growth. 

That is the formal definition in the dictionary. There are many ways evolution occurs. Doctors and scientists have studied and taken record of all sorts of species, changing through out the years. Anatomies of all kind, morphing slowly to better suit their environment for progression and survival.

What about the evolution of the psyche? Evolution of the soul? Emotional evolution?

Many times, we as human beings become a product of our environment. Picking up on the behaviors from the people around us as we grow, whether they be good or bad. 

When children come from abusive households, there is a high chance they will mimic the behaviors they were exposed to. Some of them don’t know any different. This was their rendition of “normal.” Whether the abuse be sexual, physical, psychological, or emotional… it’s very likely the offspring of abusers will go on to repeat the same behavior organically. Frequently, this way of life becomes a cycle that is difficult to break. 

However, there are children who do grow up to think for themselves. Those who question the world around them, using their own minds and judgment. Miraculously, despite previous trauma; these people can grow up to be well adjusted adults if they’re able to move past the damage, breaking the cycle.

It’s unlearning everything you ever thought to be acceptable. Whether it be battered self image, the urge to react abusively, harmful habits; It is possible to rise above the pain and to have a happy, fulfilled life. This requires self awareness, motivation, dedication, discipline and self love. Wanting better for yourself, your family and the people you love. Refusing to become a self fulfilling prophecy. 

For these people, evolution becomes a way of life. It’s their passion, the fire under their ass, the battery that fuels them. 

Downside? You will find that those around you may not care to do the same. It may be because their background was different than yours. They might’ve spoiled and spoon fed, never being called out on their shit. They may be close minded or in denial. They even may not realize what the issue is. The truth is, they may not be as eager as you to advance. 

Many of these people have never had to fight for their survival. Many have been and are presently being sheltered and catered to. Nothing will ever challenge them to be anything, but what they are in this moment. If they are, they might not even be conscious of the fact they are a part of their own problems. They might be their own enemies 

Sadly, you’ll find yourself outgrowing people and becoming lonely in the process. People, comfortable and cozy in the seat they call life. You’ll find you no longer live similar lifestyles. You no longer have anything common. You don’t share the same way of thinking. You may also realize, you don’t want to either. You’re proud of who you are and how far you’ve come. You may love someone who needs change desperately, but is too stubborn to see it.
Unfortunately, these people are eventually better left in the dust. Whether their presence has become toxic, their lifestyle isn’t conducive to yours, they attract chaos, or they lack the maturity of a full grown adult; they’ve got to go. That may be heartbreaking, but that’s okay. Some people are best loved from afar. 

Here is what we know: We CANNOT control anyone. People will only understand you from THEIR level of perception. Someone who hasn’t struggled may NEVER have the ability to see life the way you do. Someone who has struggled may just be senseless. There is nothing you can do to help that. You can try to change someone for the better, but you may frustrate the shit out of yourself. The decision is up to them. The decision will ALWAYS be up to them. Stressing what you can’t control is stupid. Yeah, we all fall victim to it. If you learn to embrace that, I promise you’ll live a more peaceful life. 

To want to grow is to love yourself. The ability to see your flaws AND to want better? Now THAT is fucking bravery. Guess what though? Self love and self care will ALWAYS trump the presence of another person. It is not selfish, it is crucial if you aim to become the best parent, spouse, and friend. If you love yourself, you will never fear solitude. You are all you need. That right there, is the bittersweet power of evolution.