I am super passionate about normalizing the stigma around mental health. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’d see that – besides posting food recipes – I share openly about my struggle with clinical depression and anxiety. I have suffered from both conditions for several years. They have since become part of my “normal” life, and I’m actually okay with it! It’s just part of life, and I manage these conditions with 7 main modalities, and I’m here to share all of them with you.
Because if you are struggling too, remember that it’s ok. A mental health condition does not mean that there is something wrong with you. You are perfect exactly as you are. It’s just that some of us need to take extra care of ourselves in order to thrive and feel our best. And in fact, the modalities that I use, and that I’m about to share with you, aren’t anything new or ground breaking. They are things that everyone should be doing in their life to live a more balanced and healthy life (with the exception of medicine).
I am not telling you that you should be doing the same. One, I am not a doctor and I am not giving any type of medical advice. I am simply telling you that I take medication, because without it, I can go down a very deep spiral of sadness that feels impossible to emerge from. There is also still a strange stigma around using medication to deal with mental health issues, and I’m not sure why. And western medicine gets such a bad rap, and to a certain extent, I do agree. But when it comes to medications to treat mental health, they have been a godsend. In fact, right before quarantine 2020 hit, I decided to wean myself off my antidepressants; within one month, I started feeling overwhelmed with sadness. Now, antidepressants don’t make you go from sad to happy – that’s not the purpose anyway. The purpose is simply to help take the edge off that sadness, so that you can more easily emerge, incorporate other healing modalities, and work through the sadness easier. Before someone asks me what medication I take, the answer is, it’s not important. If you think medication is something you want to consider, go over your options with your doctor.
When I was growing up, when my mom was angry with me, she used to yell and say, “Nicole you need therapy. You are crazy.” I know that sounds awful, but I am sharing that with you because there is a tendency to think that therapy is for those with problems. Now let’s face it, we all have problems. And even if you are one of the lucky few that’s skating through life, I still firmly believe that every single person on this planet can benefit from regular therapy sessions. Why? Because it’s an opportunity to talk to a neutral, unbiased third party about absolutely anything. They help you see things from different perspectives, allow you to talk, they listen, and they offer insight and sometimes even exercises to help you resolve things that are important to you. These days, I am proud to tell others that I go to therapy. Not because I am “crazy,” but because I care about myself and I love myself enough to prioritize my mental health, over everything. And also – the days that I don’t feel like going to my therapy sessions are the days that I actually have ground-breaking sessions, so resist the urge to cancel!
If you are in the loop in the wellness world, there’s a high chance you see CBD being pushed and promoted by every influencer. I do have a CBD partner, but I am not here to push a product or to sell you a single thing.
I am simply here to tell you that CBD works. Before you ask me whether it will make you high, the answer is no; so long as you purchase a CBD product that contains less than 0.3% THC. It is THC, not CBD, that produces a high. But in very small percentages, the effect is negligible on the body. Additionally, CBD is 100% federally legal.
So what the heck does CBD do? I use it to manage my anxiety. But just like antidepressants don’t take you from sad to happy, CBD doesn’t take you from being anxious to completely calm. But it does help get you there. So, I use CBD tincture throughout the day, and combined with the other modalities I’ve shared here, my anxiety is now almost always in check! CBD comes in many forms – tinctures, pills, gummies, bath bombs, etc. You can decide how you’d like to incorporate it into your life.
There is a direct correlation between mood and the foods we eat. Have you ever eaten a large, fast food meal? How did it make you feel? For me, I feel moody, cranky, uncomfortable, and ultimately depressed. When I eat nourishing, unprocessed foods, I feel energetic and much happier. And that doesn’t mean depriving yourself of anything – if you feel like an order of McDonalds fries, I am not the food police and I do not believe in shaming anyone for their food choices. I’m simply saying that if you eat nourishing foods more than the highly processed foods, you will feel better, both physically and mentally. I know I do!
Exercise is the key to my mental well-being. Exercise is proven, time and time again, to release endorphins that make you feel good. And when I don’t feel like exercising, I differentiate between whether I am just being lazy (in which case I make myself go do it) or whether I am truly tired, in need of a rest day (in which case, I rest). The reason why I push myself on the lazy days is usually because there is something swirling in my head that has taken over – maybe something happened at work that I can’t stop thinking about; or a last minute project came up that I’ve deemed more important than my workout. When that happens, I remind myself that I am just one workout away from a good mood, make myself a coffee, and get my butt out the door. You can do it too.
As my business has grown, my to-to list has also grown, and there is a big temptation for me to stay away later and later to cross things off my to-do list, so that I have less to do the next day. But that is a big no-no, and I’m speaking from experience. When I sacrifice sleep, of course not only am I sleepier the next day, I don’t have as much brain clarity, which makes me less efficient, and which then brings on that anxiety. Sleep is so, so, so important. I used to ignore my parents when they would tell me that sleep is important, but now that I am an adult (and mama), I now believe them – funny how that happens. I need to have 8 hours of sleep each night in order to be my best the next day, which means that I shut it down and have my head on the pillow no later than 10pm – no exceptions.
Now, let me tell you, I am not one of those people that write pages and pages in a journal. It’s just not me. I’ve tried, and I stick with it for a day and then I stop. There’s no arguing that journaling is a good thing to do, but what I find to be most effective, is simply making a daily list of 5 things I am grateful for. It’s part of my morning routine! I wake up about 30 minutes before my boys, make a coffee in my Nespresso, and sit down and write my 5 things in my journal. Starting my day with a simple reflection of gratitude is a positive way to start the day on the right foot. And it doesn’t take hours, it takes less than 5 minutes.
I hope this post has given you a little more insight into my life, and perhaps sparked some new ideas and things for you to incorporate into your own! Remember, we are all in this together. No one’s life is perfect, even if it seems that way from someone’s Instagram feed. And if you feel like social media is impacting your mental health, make sure to take regular breaks!
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