Friday, March 31, 2017

Why I Spent a Week "Spring Cleaning" My Mind

Happy spring! Although the first official day of spring was a week or so ago, I am still super excited about it. This winter in Seattle has been especially dreary and cold, so I'm definitely looking forward to some warmer weather.

Going along with this dreary weather, I have felt so uninspired this year in terms of creativity. I've been getting caught up in school (which of course isn't a bad thing), and I've let my creative side get a little lazy. It's easy to put excuses before giving yourself a break to be creative, and to push things like writing or art to the side because they seem less important to things like homework and tests, which in a sense they are. I am first and foremost a college student, so I of course need to make my grades a priority, but I also need to relax every now and then and spend an evening doing something I love, like watercolor.

When I was writing my last post, How to Succeed in College: Mental Health, it became clear that I needed a break from stressing out so much. I was writing down tips that I myself needed to listen to and apply to my life, especially because I've felt like I have hit a creative STOP SIGN lately. Anxiety and panic attacks seem to relish the times of stress and lack of creativeness in my life, so I needed to take a break.

Spring cleaning has always been something I've loved. While growing up, my mom would enlist my brother, dad, and me to help her clean the entire house - we're talking scrubbing the walls, floors, and everything in between. It would be a laborious couple of days, but afterwards everything felt nice and clean, and that a fresh start was much easier to be had. Because I experienced that every year while growing up, I realized that was exactly what I needed this spring.

It was spring break last week for my college, so I took the time at home to do a whole lot of nothing, besides workout, play with my family's dogs and cats, and our new puppy.

Seriously, look how cute he is!!
I needed to take the week to give myself a mental break from stressing out about school, tests, law schools, finding a summer internship, and taking the LSATs in the fall. Real life can be hard, and I know that it's just going to get busier and more stressful as I get older. When you're really stressed out it's easy to only think about how hard life is and will get, and forget that it's also going to get more exciting, and more opportunities are going to present themselves to you after a lot of hard work.

Last week I talked to my parents a lot since I haven't had the chance to in a while, and it was nice to forget about school for a week and just be their kid again. As a college student, I don't get that chance a lot anymore. It's funny, because the first break I spent at home during freshman year I resented that fact; I wanted to still feel like a young adult living on her own, without being a child anymore. I'm not saying that I don't like being independent; on the contrary I love it. It's just nice to be able to go home every once in a while and rely on my parents for a little bit, and just sit on the floor with my dogs, playing Pokemon, and eating fruit snacks. The world seems a lot less stressful from the floor of my parents' living room with a puppy on my lap.

My "mental spring cleaning" really didn't entail much: I slept for 8 or more hours every night (I don't remember the last time I got to do this for a week!), watched movies with my mom, cooked my favorite food, played with my dogs, napped with my cats (also my dog who lives his life 50% crazy energetic and 50% the laziest dog you have ever seen), worked out, ran/walked outside with my dogs on the few days it wasn't raining, and played Pokemon Moon. It really wasn't a lot, but boy did it do a lot for my mental health and sanity. I didn't think a whole lot about the more serious parts of my life, which helped me feel a lot more refreshed for the first week of the quarter.

Creativity isn't something that just suddenly comes and goes on a whim, it has to be practiced and thought about a lot. Just as you have to practice other skills, it helps to try and be creative each and everyday. I've definitely let my "creative muscle" go, so I am gradually getting my groove back. I actually have more free time this quarter, so I've been trying to dedicate that time to my blog and channel, and my other creative outlets. Throughout all of the stress in my life, my blog and my YouTube channel have always been a source of great happiness and inspiration, so I owe it to myself to cultivate them more.

It's so important to take these little breaks every now and then. They don't even have to be as long as a week, a day or two is just as fine, and taking even more time is great as well. However long you feel you need to take is the right amount of time, there aren't any guidelines for these things.

Spring is the perfect time for growth, and hitting a small reset button on your stress; reflect on the year so far, the things that have happened, and give yourself a little break. Your outlook on life will probably be at least a little better, and your life will look a little brighter.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you are all having a wonderful day!

Friday, March 10, 2017

How to Succeed in College: Mental Health

Stress, anxiety, and depression affect so many people, and it's extremely prevalent in college students. I'm sure if you're a college student, or have been before, you completely understand why. Between classes, homework, studying, and trying to have fun, it's easy to not make your mental health a priority. Going into college, I definitely underestimated how much stress I would be under and how it would affect me. I've always been a pretty anxious person, but college definitely made it a lot harder to deal with.

Through all of this, though, I learned how to become stronger, and how to calm myself down when it all gets to be a little too much. I also learned how important it is to make sure you are not only physically healthy, but mentally healthy. Mental health is something that more and more people are talking about, but there's still stigma surrounding it, especially when many college students want to appear as if they are just fine at balancing everything in their lives. It's also really important to talk about right now with the popularity of 13 Reasons Why!

In my new series, How to Succeed in College, I knew I wanted to do a post all about mental health, so here it is! I'll be giving you my tips on how to make sure your mental health isn't suffering, and how to not let the stress of college get to you too much.

You can also watch my video about it here!

Preventative Measures

1. Try and organize your schedule as much as possible.
If you read my last post in this series, Balancing Work, Classes, and Fun, you know how organized I like to keep my schedule. I can't stress how helpful this is; if you're anxious like I am, it's nice to know what I have to do, when I have to do it, and where. There's no worse feeling than thinking you're forgetting something, because that just makes you worry even more than you probably already are. Getting a planner and writing your schedule down in it is super helpful, as well as keeping track of work, assignments, tests, and due dates. I usually have my planner with me, and I also use Google calendar so I have my schedule on my phone for the times I don't have my planner.

2. Try and get assignments done early, as well as study early.
This is so much easier said than done while in college. Chances are if you aren't doing homework or studying, you're working or in class. When you're struggling with your mental health, though, it's nice to get things done early so you have time to focus on relaxing and unwinding from the day. I've been trying to do this lately, and it's really made a difference on the amount of stress I put on myself. When I get my assignments done a couple of days before they're due, I have ample time to look over them and change things if need be, as well as be at ease that I won't be missing a deadline.

3. Get enough sleep.
Again, this is a lot easier said than done in college, but trust me it helps a lot. When I'm tired I'm so much more cranky and can't focus on the tasks at hand, and my mind feels like it's in 1,000 places at once. I like to try and get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, but that hardly ever happens. When I at least get 7 I can function a lot better, but a lot of times this is difficult to do. If you find that it's hard to have time to sleep for 8 hours, try and take a short nap during the day, to do a mini reset on your mind. This helps me a lot, because I'm able to focus more on the homework I have to get done, instead of yawning the whole time.

4. Workout as much as possible.
I feel like I mention working out in any of my "wellness" posts, but that's only because it helps me so much. When I workout everyday, my mind is able to focus so much better, and I'm just a generally happier person. My parents joke that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed if I don't workout in the mornings when I'm home for breaks, which is probably true. I get so cranky when I don't workout because I feel so much more anxious during the day; being able to clear my head for an hour in the morning and only focus on my workout and how I'm physically feeling is so wonderful. I'm not worrying about anything else in my life because I'm so focused on the task at hand and my mind is occupied. 

What to do When You Feel Overwhelmed

1. Get your mind off of what you're stressing about.
When you're extremely stressed out or are feeling overwhelmed, it's really important to give your mind a break. This can be hard to do, because you feel like if you stop stressing about something, or stop focussing on it you'll fall behind in some way. If you give yourself a break, though, and focus on something else, you'll feel a lot better. Read a good book, take a nap, watch TV, anything that helps you relax. This will give your mind a small reset, and you'll most likely have a different perspective on the issue you were facing before. I end up doing this all the time - I'll stress and stress about something, and force myself to get my mind off of it for a while, and when I go back to the thing that was stressing me out, I find that it's much more manageable because my view on it has changed. It's no longer as scary or overwhelming, and I feel like I can actually solve the problem, or get it done if it's a task.

2. Talk it out.
It can be hard to talk about the things that are stressing you out, but it can also be extremely helpful. Whenever I feel like I have about 5,000 things going on at once, I call my parents or talk to my friends about what's stressing me out. I don't know if it's them giving me advice, or just the fact of me talking through my anxiety that is most helpful, but either way it ends up making me feel a lot better. They offer a new perspective, and my parents are especially good at helping me feel less anxious since they have almost 21 years of experience with talking me down from my stress. Try it at least once; talk to your friends when you're freaked out over tests, or are just generally really stressed out, because chances are they feel the same way, or have in the past, and can probably offer some great advice.

3. Get some fresh air.
Feeling anxious, depressed, or just generally unwell can make you feel like you're cramped. I know I always feel like this when I'm feeling especially anxious, and I have found that getting outside and getting some fresh air helps leaps and bounds. Being in a large open area helps stop the feeling of being swallowed up by both my stress and whatever room I'm in, and it also helps to clear my air. Even if you aren't a super outdoorsy person, getting fresh air can be great for helping you feel better. You'll most likely be able to get your mind off of the stress, even for just a couple of minutes, and it will help change your perspective.

4. Change your scenery.
Similar to the last point, getting out of the space you're in can also help change your state of mind. If you've been studying (and probably stressing) in the library forever, or your own room, try and go somewhere else. This will stimulate your mind in different ways, and sometimes it's just great to have a different view. It's so easy to get wrapped up in anxiety, stress, and depression when you've been sitting in the same place forever, or if you are always in the same space day in and day out. Switching up the place where you spend most of your time can be really helpful. Your mind has muscle memory, and you'll start associating a certain place with certain emotions, so if you tend to feel anxiety or especially depressed in one place, try and go somewhere else.

5. Laugh.
This seems obvious, or even a little ridiculous, but I can't tell you how much it can help. One of my professors who has a doctorate in psychology told my class that even just smiling at yourself in the mirror can help you feel happier, so try this out. You will feel absolutely ridiculous at first, but it truly does help. Trick your brain into thinking you are happy - it actually does work - and you will feel less anxious. Watching a show that you know makes you laugh, or talking to people who always makes you laugh will help you to get out of your head and just have a good laugh.

6. Make some art, or do something else you love.
For me, watercolor is something that immediately sets my mind at ease. It's relaxing, and makes me focus purely on creating, something that I love to do. Art is extremely relaxing, and it doesn't matter if you have a lot of experience, or none at all. When you're stressed or anxious, get some paper, paint (or pens if you don't have paint) and just create. This puts your mind at ease, and trying to think of something to paint or draw will take your mind off of whatever is causing your uneasy mind. If art really isn't your thing, then do something else that you love and relaxes you. As long as it makes you happy, it will make you feel even a little bit better.

Mental health can be hard to balance and handle while in college. It's extremely important to take care of yourself, and treat yourself kindly when you're feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or just generally unwell. While all of these tips are great for helping you deal with stress and anxiety, if you ever feel like hurting yourself, or you see someone you care about harming themselves, reach out for help. There is no shame in needing to talk to a professional, or take medication that helps you control any sort of mental health struggle. Resources like Suicide Prevention LifelineCrisis Clinic, or The Trevor Project are all great organizations to contact if you feel like it is an emergency.

I hope you are having a wonderful day, and remember that you are worth it 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The BEST Dry Shampoo! | Pret-a-Powder Review

Having dark hair is sometimes the best and worst thing. Don't get me wrong, I love the color of my hair, but it can be frustrating finding a dry shampoo that works with it. And, of course, my hair tends to get oily pretty quickly since I have a lot of hair, but the strands are fine. It's strange because I have really dry skin, but my hair is the complete opposite. I used to wash my hair every single day, which is really bad, so I had to train it one summer to be able to wash it every other day, even with working out every morning. It's gotten a lot better, but still gets a little oily on the days I don't wash it.

The amount of dry shampoos I've tried is ridiculous; I've tried both salon and drugstore brands, and nothing really seems to make a difference and just ends up making my scalp itchy. I was watching one of Ingrid Nilsen's videos and she mentioned the Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-Powder, and for some reason it still took me a couple of months to buy it. So, fast forward a couple of months, and I was in line at Sephora and saw this product in the "Beauty to go" section and decided to buy it. The small size is only around $15 so it's not too bad! Here are my thoughts on the product:

When I first tried this product it literally looked like I had dumped a bunch of translucent powder on my hair, and I was worried it wouldn't work itself in at all. After a couple of seconds of massaging my scalp and brushing my hair, the powder started to disappear, along with my oily roots! I was impressed with how quickly it blended in with my hair, and it didn't make my roots look gray at all.

The smell was also really refreshing, and made my hair smell like I had just washed it, which is a huge plus when your hair is feeling a little limp and blah. It isn't too fragrant, and I noticed that the smell lasted the whole day, and until the next morning when I washed my hair. I am a huge fan of nice smelling hair products, I don't know what it is, but if something works well but doesn't smell the best I'll try and find something else that both works and smells nice. Call it one of my quirks, but I realize that it's a bit ridiculous.

As well as being a dry shampoo, this powder also adds a lot of texture and volume to your hair, which is just what you want when it's the second day and your hair is feeling a bit limp. I honestly will add the powder to my hair even on the same day I wash it if I feel like I need a little bit more texture. This really helps when I curl my hair and want the roots to have some volume since the strands are a bit weighed down from hair spray, and the fact that my hair tends to fall flat the minute I start touching and fixing it. My hair is able to hold its volume a lot better when I add this to the roots, and it's also great when I want to do a messy hairstyle and need some extra texture!

Overall, I'm super satisfied with this product and have finally found a dry shampoo that works with my hair! I won't be switching anytime soon, and I can even get away with washing my hair every three days if I don't feel like washing it one day. I definitely recommend trying this product, especially just the travel size since it isn't too much of a commitment. It actually lasts for a long time, too, which is great! I'm still on this little bottle and it's been about two months now.

You can also check out the video review I did of this product, if you'd like!

What's your favorite dry shampoo?

Thank you so much for reading, and have a great day! :)

This is NOT a sponsored post, and all opinions are my own.