MENTAL HEALTH CHECK-IN

I don’t mind sharing the fact that I’ve been clinically diagnosed with generalized anxiety and depression. Although I’ve managed my anxiety through medication along with removing things that make me anxious, I still battle depression on a regular basis. Some days I’m the stereotypical can’t-get-out-of-bed-to-adult-today type of depressed and other days I am the I-have-no-friends-and-everyone-is-married-but-me depressed. Either type of depressive feeling sucks! The one cliche that everyone notes is “you are not alone.”

It’s easy to feel alone when you’re facing your own battles and situations. Feeling lonely can make you depressed; being depressed can make you lonely. Unfortunately, our natural instinct is to meld one into the other. Loneliness is not the same as being alone. When you’re alone, there’s literally no one around. When you’re lonely, you’re experiencing a feeling. Regardless of how many people are around, you don’t feel as though you’re connecting with anyone. I have children, so it’s safe to say I’m never alone. However, I do feel lonely when I have no one to talk to about the unnecessary door slamming at 7 a.m.

I’m not a medical professional, and always recommend that you speak to a professional regarding your feelings of loneliness or depression. It’s the best thing you can do in the name of self-care. However, I’ll share what’s worked for me in overcoming my loneliness and depression.

WRITE IT OUT

woman writing

Journaling is a popular method for logging a lot of different things, from writing out things you want to manifest to jotting down your feelings throughout the day. Start simple. Use the Notes app on your phone to write down a feeling and the time. Later you can expand on how you felt in that moment and what was occurring. I’m big on technology and apps, and there is one app I highly recommend called MoodNotes (currently available on iOS) by a company called Thriveport. According to its website, “Thriveport’s mission is to create helpful, intuitive, and scientifically sound tools to improve people’s lives.” Try it out.

TRIGGERS

A huge way to analyze and get through a feeling of loneliness or depression is to learn and understand your triggers. If seeing a picture of a normal happy moment triggers a feeling of depression for you, you need to analyze why you reacted that way. One of the reasons it’s so important to keep track of how you feel through the day is to help you find the source of your feelings. Once you learn what triggers certain feelings, you’ll be better able to overcome moments of loneliness and depression. Being able to change your thought patterns around sadness will help you maintain a level of control. We often fall into mental traps by personalizing, blaming, catastrophizing, and so on. Sometimes re-thinking the situation to avoid these traps will help you see a way out.

YOU AREN’T ALONE (REALLY)

Two women on a dock.

The awesome thing that I’ve learned is that I’m really not alone. I’m unique. My situation may seem unique, but I am not alone. And neither are you. The Hey! VINA app shows that there are so many women out there who are looking for support, looking to have fun, and looking to make real connections. There are people that care about you. There are people that want to be around you. You are a good person, regardless of the decisions you’ve made that aren’t. Not everyone judges a book by its cover. You are loved, even if you may not know it yet.

Finding a support system can be a challenge when you’re in a slump where you feel like you don’t deserve one. Always remember, your support system starts with you. Put a smile on your face (Go ahead, I’ll wait. No I don’t care if it’s fake). Pull your shoulders back, and take control of your life and your emotions. You and only you have the power to reclaim your happiness and be everything you want to be.

And you deserve it. That and so much more.

Head over to Hey!VINA to find some genuine connections and start building your support system today.

MINDING MOTHER NATURE: FREE OUTDOORSY HEALTH HACKS FOR YOUR BODY, MIND & SOUL

Do you ever feel antsy after scrolling your Instagram feed and come to the realization you kind of feel disconnected from real life? Like, it’s the middle of a gorgeous afternoon full of possibility, but you can’t seem to stop double-tapping internet memes.

Our modern obsession with tech devices can potentially change our circadian rhythm, sleep, and even learning. I don’t know about you, but going from work to school to home to fitness class to any and all of the other indoor responsibilities can make me go a little stir-crazy!

Want to talk about getting motivated to set down the device, get outside and move more? Here are some tips that can boost health, promote calm, and cater to your overall well-being.

GET OUT OF YOUR MIND AND INTO THE MOMENT OUTSIDE

One of the best perks of spending some R&R time outdoors is nature’s tendency to help get us out of our heads. We spend so much time throughout the week thinking, doing, rushing, and worrying. When we hang out with earth, it relaxes our racing, buzzy minds and puts us back into our physical bodies. Fresh air, natural light, the colors and vibes of living things, all point back to a bigger picture.

Especially if you’re anxiety-prone, try getting your butt outside more! You don’t have to move to the mountains or become a granola-eating weirdo (but if you want, that’s totally cool, too!) to enjoy the full benefits of this planet.

It can be as simple as taking a 45-minute walk around the greenest park in your city. Maybe visit a free botanical garden in your area if flowers and plants bring you joy. Head to the beach. Start a container garden. Read or nap under a tree instead of slouched on your couch all weekend. Plan a picnic with your vinas, your family, or your kids. The options are endless.

The main idea isn’t what you do outside, but simply getting out there more often in ways you enjoy to hopefully better your mental state.

Vina outside in flowers

 

A DOWN-TO-EARTH WAY TO REJUVENATE YOUR BODY

You know what it’s like to have spent hours laying on the beach, hiking up a mountain, or chillin’ barefoot at a grassy park with friends? Going home, maybe you noticed a feeling of happy exhaustion– similar to that incredible energy leftover after a long, good run. Even if you didn’t necessarily do anything physically tough outside, you feel rewarded with a sense of “AHH, yes” in your body.

That’s because there are legit health benefits of being outside. Being present among the earth’s surface recharges humans in a special way. Nature gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy!

You might’ve heard about “earthing” or “grounding”. This concept states that earth is surging with free electrons. When we come into contact with its surface, the human body rebalances whatever may be “off.” It can apparently supercharge us toward more vibrant health. We can’t always feel it, but many subtle differences add up over time.

Not only does connection with nature help our minds and bodies. It can also be surprisingly healing to us on a deeper, personal level.

GREEN, SERENE & NOURISHING TO THE SOUL 

I know not everyone loves going outside. Some of us could care less about getting sweaty, dirty, or even trying to sit cross-legged as we wait to “feel one with nature.” I get it!

But we often forget: so many of our different ancestors around the world understood the value of taking time to appreciate nature. We may be advanced, but we don’t just exist to work, find love, pay taxes, and die. Observing the physical qualities of the planet can bring us a clearer perspective, emotional delight, and a reconnection with our unique, meaningful place here.

At the end of the day, we’re all trying our best. Everyone wants to be appreciated, provided for, and understood. One of the most empowering things we can realize is this: by being part of Earth, we have a chance to participate in a great personal journey toward healing and growth.

Enjoying, learning, and relating to the wonder, resilience, fun, beauty, strangeness, and even the mystery of Earth is a gift we all deserve to be a part of. So let’s hang out in this space more! It can benefit your health, quality time with others, and the wellness of your communities near and far.

How do you mind mother nature? Are you an outdoorsy vina, do you wish to enjoy it more, or are you happy observing nature from a tidier distance? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Find your outdoorsy vinas on the Hey! VINA app and make some plans today!

THE VINA GUIDE TO LOVING YOURSELF

February—better known as “the month of love“—has had us ladies fantasizing about all things relationships, flowers, chocolates, romantic evenings and wine related. However, I have one question for you: What’s more special than celebrating a love that is deeper than the seas, a love that is as loyal as it comes, a love that has been there since day one, a love that lasts a lifetime? AKA, SELF-LOVE.

Now I know this new trendy epidemic of self-love looks really appealing on social media—filled with facemasks, bubble baths, aromatherapy and so on—which I’m totally not knocking, I love it! But to really love yourself is to really put the work in. Luckily, us vina gals are empowered to make a difference in our lives, so let’s get through this guide together, okay?

1) TO LOVE THYSELF, IS TO PUT THYSELF FIRST

When was the last time you put yourself first? For some of us, it isn’t that easy. We might be people-pleasers, draining our own energy to be there for others. Some of us might be mothers, some of us might work three jobs just to get by, but have you heard of the word “self-preservation”? There comes a time where we need to literally say “enough is enough” and admit that you need some me time. And that is totally okay! Preserve some time every day, whether it’s an hour or 10 minutes, and just do what you and your body need at that moment. Give yourself some space to rejuvenate!

2) SWITCH THE NARRATIVE: SPEAK WELL TO YOURSELF. SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF

How many of us know how to take a compliment, without answering it back with a bit of belittlement about ourselves? How many of us compliment others, without ever complimenting ourselves? If we continue to talk down to ourselves, talk ourselves out of opportunities, feel worthless or inadequate, believe what others view us as, we will truly live that narrative. So, switch it up! Speak powerfully and presently to yourself: “I am beautiful, I am successful, I am living a wonderful, happy life.” When we speak in the present moment, our minds will start believing it. Find power even in your weaknesses. Be patient with yourself. You are what you think, so make it a good thought 😉 Another ritual of self-love is speaking up for yourself. Saying “no” more often to please yourself doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a smart person who knows what you want and aren’t afraid to express it. Speaking up even when your voice shakes is a great form of self-love.

3) STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS + VALUE YOURSELF

Paola shared a drawing with you 24

You saw the memes, the quotes, the “new year, new me” resolutions and this for sure was one of them. So, stop comparing, start valuing! Value your mind, value your heart, value your ideas, value what makes you unique and stand out, value your body which protects you, moves you, allows you to experience the world, and loves you even through your own self-criticism. Your value is more than a physical attribute, it goes deeper than that. “I hated my way into loving myself,” said no one ever! No one can get to a place of happiness without accepting what is. And if I can be your hype-woman for a second: what you are, right in this moment, is so beautiful, colorful, vibrant and unique! Value everything that makes you, you. The only person you should compare yourself to is who you were yesterday.

4) END ALL TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS—ASAP

There is just no time for us ladies to be consumed by relationships that make us feel anything less than amazing. Did you know that toxic relationships can cause energy depletion, stress and anxiety, low self-esteem, fatigue, lack of concentration and a weak immune system? Relationships should uplift you, make you want to do better, feel motivated to achieve your goals, and you should feel like you have a supportive partner all the way! If you are experiencing the opposite of that, then it’s best to cut the cord, move on and rise up! Don’t let anyone hold you down. You know what you need for you, deep down.

5) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD VINAS!

So, this one kind of goes with number 4, but it needs to be said! By surrounding yourself with people who believe in you, support you, want to see you do great things and push you to be your best self, that energy can only raise you up and enhance your best self. Good friends, good memories, good food are all a wonderful part of wellness and self-love. Find the gal gang you need over at Hey! VINA to start building that loving circle. 

6) LET GO OF THE PAST, SAY HELLO TO YOUR BRIGHT FUTURE

Past traumas, heartbreaks, wounds, grudges can be very hard to let go of, and this might be a step that needs some extra support from someone you trust. But by knocking down the walls that bound you—that have left you with some resentment or anger in your heart—we can unload the burdens that, in fact, might be holding us back from truly living our best lives. You know you deserve better. Your future deserves better. So why not give the gift of letting go and putting to rest the past to make for an even better future?

7) DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO CHOOSE YOU, CHOOSE YOURSELF

For our vinas who are single hoping to mingle for Valentine’s day, remember that just because you’re single doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of love! You are the best gift you could give yourself! So let’s get cheesy with our social media posts of self-love rituals and bubble baths with a glass of champagne. Give some MAJOR sensual self-love and show off how loving ourselves hasn’t been easy, but is so worth it in the end. You deserve the world.

So vinas, be good to yourself, push through limiting beliefs, your time is now to radiate! Check out Hey! Vina to empower other women and to start loving yourself.

7 TIPS FROM CEOS ON MORNING PRODUCTIVITY

Do you wake up and check your email while your eyes are still half closed? If so, you might want to rethink your morning routine. The early hours of the day set the tone for everything to come, so it’s no surprise that so many successful people take an intentioned approach to what they do first thing.These hyper-successful CEOs reveal their morning routines that help them prioritize calm, concentration, and the meaningful stuff — without sacrificing productivity.

1. JEFF BEZOS CARVES OUT A MORNING PAUSE

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos tries never to schedule a meeting before 10 a.m. “I go to bed early, I get up early, I like to putter in the morning,” he said in a speech. He spends his mornings reading the newspaper, having a cup of coffee, and eating breakfast with his children, he explains, taking some time for himself and his family.

2. RESHMA SAUJANI STARTS EACH DAY WITH TIME FOR HERSELF

Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, opened up to Arianna Huffington on the Thrive Global Podcast about prioritizing time to exercise in the morning as a new mom. “One of my best friends told me, ‘Every new mom gets to pick one thing and make sure you pick it and stick with it,” Saujani told Huffington, “Because everybody else will eat up all your time.’” Saujani explained that this advice made her decide to find time in her busy morning to exercise. “When my house is basically being activated, that’s when I picked my me time,” she shared, “So that everybody understood, including myself, that I was going to put myself first and not always put everybody else before me, for one moment in the day.” Science backs up her ritual, too: Exercise is incredibly beneficial for both your body and your mind.

3. OPRAH SAYS THANK YOU FIRST THING IN THE MORNING

“I wake up in the morning, and the first thing I say is ‘thank you.’ Even before I’m awake, even before my eyes are fully open. I say ‘thank you.’ I can feel the gratitude, like, ‘I’m still here. I’m in a body. Thank you for that,’” Oprah revealed in a conversation with Van Jones on CNN. Oprah knows what’s good for her (and you). Research tells us that gratitude improves mental health.

4. TYLER HANEY TAKES ADVANTAGE OF THE SNOOZE BUTTON

Tyler Haney, CEO of Outdoor Voices, has a morning alarm set for 6:50 every day, she tells Women’s Health. But she doesn’t get up immediately. “I give myself a minute and a half micro-snooze, which feels like the most glorious 90 seconds of my life,” Haney said.

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5. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON KEEPS EMAILS OUT OF THE BEDROOM

“I make a point not to answer email right when I wake up, and I avoid the temptation by not keeping my electronic devices charging in my room,” Arianna Huffington, Thrive Global’s Founder and CEO, revealed in the book My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired. Thrive’s phone bed charging station takes Huffington’s metaphor of putting your phone to bed and makes it a reality, but phone bed or no, leaving your phone outside the bedroom is a great trick to keep those first few minutes of wakefulness calm.

6. SUNDAR PICHAI READS A PHYSICAL NEWSPAPER

“Believe it or not, I read a physical paper every single morning,” Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, revealed in an interview. He’s getting some early morning respite from screens by doing so, and he’s tapping into research that says reading sharpens your mind, too.

7. GARY VAYNERCHUK CATCHES UP WITH LOVED ONES

Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia co-founder and CEO, has counseled and invested in more than fifty startups, including Twitter, Tumblr, Medium, Birchbox, Uber, and Venmo. But he still makes a point of calling his family members every morning, he wrote in an article for Business Insider.

“I call my mom, dad, or sister, depending on who I called last. I catch up with them. Talk to them. Just learn what they’re up to. I really value those small moments.”

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Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WHEN SUFFERING FROM A MENTAL OR CHRONIC ILLNESS

“We are all a little broken. But last time I checked, broken crayons still color the same.” – Trent Shelton.

As someone who was diagnosed with several mental and chronic illnesses, I have felt myself to be alone, and I am alone still. I have spent most of my life hinting at things, foreshadowing that I was struggling to make friends because of my illnesses. Loneliness comes from the inability to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding views which others seem to find inadmissible.

I voyaged my way into forming friendships that felt right to me. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to form healthy friendships throughout the years, despite my health issues. Below are the steps I followed to form long-lasting friendships. 

ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE

Whether you are introverted or extroverted, learn to accept your personality despite what you are going through. You may get caught up with your health, especially after your diagnosis, and that may make you neglect who you are or how you interact with people.

It is normal for someone who has recently been diagnosed with an illness to lose friends. You must understand that people deal with different challenges on a daily basis. Friends may not entirely comprehend what you are going through, affecting your self-esteem and causing you to critique yourself. Please don’t listen to that voice — the inner critic — in your head that says you aren’t good enough. You are here alive today because you have a purpose. Your diagnosis is just part of who you are, and it isn’t entirely you. Think of yourself as a gemstone; they are imperfect, but they absorb light and radiate color spectrums. Try to turn tragedy into a magical mystery. It isn’t easy but it is worth a try.

ACCEPT YOUR DIAGNOSIS

Before a person can accept a diagnosis, they initially may need to grieve. You must allow yourself to feel pain and disappointment about your life not being the same anymore. Cry and try to talk about it to the ones closest to you. Understand that some of these people may dismiss you or your feelings about your situation, but that doesn’t necessarily define the path your life is taking. Accept that, when you have to come into terms with your diagnosis, you will inevitably be vulnerable. People may say or insinuate things about you that aren’t true — try to trust your intuition about this.

CONSIDER ADOPTING A PET

Pets are noble companions. It may be a good idea to consider adopting a pet, especially if you have been struggling to form friendships with people. They are loyal, and you can always count on them during the good and bad times.

CONTRIBUTE IN SOCIETY + PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE

This is a time for you to consider volunteering in your community! This may expose you to different people and working environments outside of your comfort zone. Volunteering helped me meet different people and people with similar health issues and make new friends.

Volunteer work is not only done to improve your resume; you will learn skills that not only become vital in the workplace, but are also necessary for life. Exploring new places makes you become more self-aware about your surroundings and yourself. Your health issues are a part of your life, however, as previously stated, your health issues do not completely define who you are. 

JOIN MENTAL AND CHRONIC ILLNESS SUPPORT GROUPS

One of the hardest things that I had to deal with after being diagnosed with an illness was educating myself and understanding the emotional aspects of having to deal with such an ordeal. Joining mental and chronic illness support groups either online or in your community can help you process and grieve over your diagnosis. Support groups have always been my safe haven for asking all sorts of questions regarding the illnesses I have been diagnosed with. There are admins and moderators in certain online support groups to help control and manage the group and the tone in which people use to communicate with each other.

Unfortunately, trolls can be found anywhere online these days, but luckily most online support groups, especially Facebook support groups, are private. This means that whatever you decide to post in those groups is only seen by people who are within the group. 

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

If you have issues forming meaningful relationships or friendships, it may be difficult to express your feelings with people without feeling judged. Chances are, you might not be the only one who has had that issue. If you feel lonely and want to speak to someone, you could kindly request people to speak to you in private, which may easily help you make online friends. The same applies to support groups in your area. The only difference is, you get to meet with people on a weekly basis and discuss issues you might be facing.

Trust me, this acts as a form of talk therapy, and getting resources from such platforms helped me expand my knowledge about my illnesses. Most importantly, you’ll get to learn that you are not alone in your suffering. Feeling a sense of community is quite important. In fact, I consider it to be a basic human need.

It is imperative that a vina always remembers to take care of herself, especially when she is ill. If things feel wrong, learn to not pursue them. Learn to listen to your body and your intuition. If your body needs rest, then allow yourself to rest. Trust your own process and your body because nobody is you and that is your power. Articulate yourself in a respectful manner, and learn not to drown in other people’s opinions. Do not be a people-pleaser; learn to please yourself, because you come first. Never speak poorly about yourself, and do not listen to your inner critic, for it is your worst enemy.

Be more self-aware and kind to yourself. Let go of things you have no control over, and let your life unfold into the beauty and terror, and all that comes in between. Always learn from bad experiences, trust yourself, and most importantly, believe in yourself.  Love all the people in your life, and know when to walk away if a relationship fails. Some people will be toxic and narcissistic, others will love you for who you truly are. Unfortunately, meeting new people isn’t easy but if you know your own worth, no one can ever make you doubt yourself. Never lower your standards just so you can have people in your life. This is the hardest lesson I had to learn when I was forming new relationships. 

PEOPLE SKILLS: CONQUER YOUR FEARS

Start new conversations wherever you are. You would be amazed at how small talk or simple conversations with strangers can easily turn into intellectually-stimulating conversations. Approach life as a learning curve because there is not one specific way that people can go about meeting each other. I met all my friends in different ways. Some of my friends were my classmates in college, others were some that I met randomly by politely speaking to them in restaurants or other public places. Most of them I met in bookstores, because I love reading, and I very well consider myself a book lover.

You are still the same person before your diagnosis. Nothing has changed much about you, you just managed to get help from health professionals and that is what a diagnosis represents. It doesn’t symbolize your hopes and dreams, nor does it represent your personality. Go out there and learn more about this world and find people that make you happy.

SUICIDE IS NOT AN OPTION

There was a point in my life where I got so many diagnoses that I was self-harming and I eventually contemplated suicide. I had no friends about me, I was devastatingly lonely. I couldn’t articulate myself well, my speech was always hazy and my shoulders were constantly dropping. I not only considered my body as a burden, but I felt like a heavy burden to my own parents because of all the medical bills and my failure to form noble companionships with people. I didn’t know that this was far from the truth back then.

My acts of self-harm were an expression of my pain. I tried to use my own body as a container for my own rage because of my health issues. I felt lonely, and I sometimes do still feel lonely. What I failed to do was talk to someone that could hear me out. I failed to recognize that ruminating about death was simply me internally screaming for help and wanting the pain to end.

I wanted to live, I loved life, but I hated the responsibility that was posed upon me by my health issues. My health issues made it so difficult for me to function in society. I was constantly on the phone calling a counselor on a suicidal line, in the hopes of getting help. I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to meet people but I had no idea about how I should start meeting people.

My parents talked me out of it, and so did the counselors I spoke to on the phone. If you are in any way suicidal, remember that you are worth it. Find a safe haven or someone who can help you. The inner critic is just playing mind games with you; find people who can talk you out of it. You will get through this and you will have friends one day. 

If you are having these internal thoughts and are thinking of harming yourself, put your safety first and reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

TRY ONLINE WEBSITES AND APPS

If you have issues meeting new people in your area, or if you’ve been too ill to go out, it would be a wonderful idea to consider using online websites or apps like Hey! VINA to meet new people. When I was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), I was constantly in a psychiatric ward and that resulted in me losing a lot of friends and struggling to form friendships. I used the Hey! VINA app to meet new women where I lived, and, using my gut instincts, I made new friends and overcame some of my social anxiety. Go ahead and try it!

Sending love, light, joy, and blessings your way. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind together by connecting on Hey! VINA. There, you are never alone in your mental health journey.

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO KEEP HEALTHY HABITS?

Remember when you signed up for the gym and vowed to go every day? How are you doing on your weight loss goal? Just this morning my sister texted me saying, “I’m going to try and eat clean this week. I can’t stand the way I’ve been feeling.” So why do we make plans to make HEALTHY changes to our habits and fall short on the follow-through?

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic. Two months doesn’t seem like a long time, but when you are attempting to make a healthy habit a part of your daily living, it can feel like decades. As humans, we gravitate toward the familiar, and we enjoy the sense of security that the repetition of our habits give us. We dish out some steps to overcoming that obstacle and getting that healthy habit to stick:

BE CLEAR WITH YOUR HABIT CHANGE

When you’re trying to set up a new healthy habit, it is very necessary to be as clear as possible with what you are changing. When you are thinking of your habit, view it as something you are already including with your daily life. When you make the habit precise and already in progress, your mind will subconsciously make the habit take affect. For example, if you want to drink more water, you can say, “I am having a bottle of water with my spinach salad today” or “I will refill my 20 ounce water bottle two more times before I leave the office.”

BITE-SIZE PIECES TASTE JUST AS GOOD

I have found that the smaller the habit change, the easier it is to keep it. Smaller scales mean smaller measurements—literally, if you’re counting calories! I take the ultimate goal that will result from my health habit change, and I break it down into small pieces. Let’s say I want to lose 50 pounds. Instead of looking at the BIG picture, I simply set my standard to 5’s. I measure my success on five-pound increments, 230 pounds, 225 pounds, 220 pounds, and so on. Each five-pound loss is a success and, eventually, they will accumulate to my overall total.

ASK YOUR VINAS FOR SOME HELP

Holding yourself accountable can be difficult, but very well worth it. There are a lot of apps that help remind and track your habit changes. If your phone is stuck in your hand most of the day, what better way to get into your healthy habit than with a pesky notification reminding you? The tried-and-true method of paper tracking is still a great option for people that use planners and rely on them for their daily tasks.

One of the most effective ways of accountability is inviting a friend along. Choose a vina that you trust, can be honest with, and will have your best interest at heart. Leaving yourself open and vulnerable to hearing feedback from your vina will persuade you to make the right decisions and follow through with your healthy habits.

Habits are hard to break. The ones that we have already formed have been a part of our daily lives and have given us to comfort and solace that we are always seeking. Creating a new healthy habit out of an old one will take time, but once you see the change you expected, it will be worth it.

Join other vinas trying to keep healthy habits on Hey! VINA, hold each other to your goals, and, most importantly, support each other!

9 SIMPLE WAYS TO DE-STRESS AT WORK

Being an adult can be hard — especially the working parts! Work is often rewarding, exciting, and filled with opportunities for growth, but work-related stress can also drag you down. The results of a recent survey on stress and the American worker found that stress is extremely common. Even reading that kinda stressed me out. Yikes!

Thankfully, there are things you can do at work to chill out, and–bonus–some of them don’t take much time at all and provide a multitude of benefits.

1) MEDITATE

Yes, even at work! Meditation is free, fast, and the stress-reducing benefits are immense. And it just so happens we have a helpful article on meditation right here on FindJoy.com. (Yes, I’m biased because I wrote it, but also: it is helpful!) Sneak into the breakroom to spend some quality one-on-one time with a great meditation app like Calm or Insight Timer, and feel that work stress melt away.

2) PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

Meditation’s cousin, mindfulness, is another way to de-stress quickly. A 2016 study showed that mindfulness, which can be cultivated through a variety of practices, helps combat stress and anxiety. To practice mindfulness, focus on what’s going on in the present — which might sound simple, but can be quite difficult. Take a walk or practice a few yoga poses while being acutely aware of everything your senses take in.

3) VENT TO A COLLEAGUE

Just hearing a friend’s voice can ease the tension in our shoulders, and remind you that everything is going to be OK. Take a fifteen-minute break, grab a coffee, and let it all out.

4) GET UP AND MOVE

Sure, you may only have five minutes, but sometimes that’s all you need. Go to the parking lot and do a few jumping jacks, take a walk around the block, or even walk upstairs to gossip with your favorite coworker on another floor. Moving helps to relieve stress by pumping you full of endorphins and relaxing you.

5) THINK ABOUT YOUR PAST SUCCESSES

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by a task and sure that you won’t do a good job, remember that you’re a boss who gets things DONE. A simple way to do that? Reflect on a past achievement and bask in your awesomeness. You can even keep an email folder of compliments from coworkers, clients, and bosses, and use it to periodically remind yourself that you’re fabulous at your job.

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6) JOURNAL

Simply writing out what’s going on in your brain for five minutes can help you to de-stress you and can also provide clarity on any issues you’re facing. Put pen to paper and feel relief over whatever problems are plaguing you on the job.

7) CHANNEL YOUR INNER CHILD

We all have things we really, really love doing. Some of them are silly and goofy and reconnect us to the joy we felt as kids. Maybe you want to sing, dance, write a poem, or challenge your co-worker to a race across the quad. Whatever it is, do it and feel the stress evaporate. And if you feel silly dancing in the open, find an empty conference room and let it all out.

8) TAKE A MINUTE (OR 10!) TO ORGANIZE YOUR DESK

Sometimes if the things around you are messy, it can make your brain feel messy. If you take 10 minutes to clean, de-clutter and organize your workspace, it might be all you need to let your worrying brain take a break, and get back to being super productive.

9) TAKE A QUICK INSTA BREAK

Sure, sometimes looking at social media can make you even more stressed — but not all Insta-follows are created equal. Certain accounts provide meditative experiences that are unparalleled in helping you zone out, like these 10 Instagram accounts that will boost your happiness. I’m talking cakes being decorated in fast motionsticky sand being methodically sliced, and accounts that post pictures that make you feel instantly relaxed. Find your favorites and scroll through for a chill break.

— Originally published on December 17, 2018 on FindJoy.com.

WHAT IT MEANS TO INVEST IN YOURSELF

You’ve heard it countless times—take time for yourself and secure your future. But what does that really mean and how do you about it? Essentially, investing in yourself works the same way like putting money in the bank. The more you put in, the more you’ll reap. We can get so caught up in everyday life, we forget that the most important investment we’ll ever make is the time we give ourselves in order to flourish.

The month of January calls for a fresh start and new healthy habits! Here are some ways you can invest in your wellbeing and get more out of life.

GET MORE OUT OF YOUR DAY

For a good part of my young adult life, I always believed I was a night owl. I thought it was just in my genetics to go to bed at 3 or 4 a.m. and wake up until noon. This was the least productive habit I ever adopted. You don’t need to wake up at 5 a.m. every day, but getting a head start definitely helps. If you’re a writer, get up earlier to write. If you like to read, do it in the morning. Whatever you enjoy doing and never have enough time for, getting up a bit earlier to do it will make you feel so much better!

INVEST IN YOUR HEALTH

Fitness is the first step I took when I decided to invest more in myself (and I saw results!) I enjoyed ending a long day by going to the gym. An hour of working out gave me the alone time I craved after a busy day socializing at my day job or with friends. It allowed me to unwind, and I felt so much better afterward. Over time, I saw results and learned so much more about my body and overall health.

INDULGE IN YOUR INTERESTS

If you’re struggling with this one, don’t worry—I did too. If you don’t currently have an interest you’re passionate about, then start with an idea. I would look at water-coloring tutorials but never trying it out myself. One day, I bought a starter kit and followed a video and made a cute work of art! The process was very therapeutic, and now it’s a fun hobby I get to share with others. If there is anything you’d like to try out, then try it! You’ll be amazed at what comes from just attempting a new hobby—plus you’ll feel good about yourself. What an accomplishment!

These are just a few ways you can invest in yourself day-to-day. It’s going to be different for everyone. These are just a few things that worked for me! Looking after yourself, learning a new skill and taking a break from all the hustle and bustle is more important than you think. The first step to being good to others means being good to yourself!

Looking to have a support group to motivate you into taking care of yourself? Join our communities on Hey! VINA to find the squad you need. 

GET ACTIVE WITHOUT HITTING THE OUTDOORS

The winter months are settling in, bringing in the cold front with them. Perhaps you’re an outdoor vina during the summer, or never at all in any weather; it’s time to shake up your exercise routine with these effective and easy exercises—all from the comfort of the indoors!

BURPEES

This is one of the best workouts ever.  With every burpee, you are engaging your arms, chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings and abs. Plus, no extra equipment is required (win).  For beginners, 10 burpees at a time are enough.  As you become fitter, increase the reps, but not the number of burpees per rep. For the right way to do a burpee, we consulted fitnessmagazine.com:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, weight in your heels, and your arms at your sides.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body into a squat.
  3. Place your hands on the floor directly in front of, and just inside, your feet. Shift your weight onto them.
  4. Jump your feet back to softly land on the balls of your feet in a plank position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to heels. Be careful not to let your back sag or your butt stick up in the air, as both can keep you from effectively working your core.
  5. Jump your feet back so that they land just outside of your hands.
  6. Reach your arms overhead and explosively jump up into the air.
  7. Land and immediately lower back into a squat for your next rep.

SQUATS 

Do a squat challenge first thing in the morning.  There are a lot of variations on the internet, so choose the one you feel most comfortable with.  Don’t overdo it: start small at the beginning. Add dumbbells to your squat challenge as you grow stronger.  The correct way to do a squat is as follows:

  1. Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out.
  2. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance. You can also bend the elbows or clasp the fingers.
  3. Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward a bit. Rather than allowing your back to round, let your lower back arch slightly as you descend.
  4. Lower down so your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels.
  5. Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.

 

YOGA

Yoga is definitely a must if you don’t like to go outside.  I love salutations.  It’s a full body workout and great for people with injuries who can’t do weight training or a lot of cardio.  It also stretches your muscles, tightens your core, and makes you feel extra good afterward.  While there are many forms of yoga, begin with a simple Sun Salutation sequence. Do a couple of reps to get a good flow going – but don’t push too hard; make sure your body is feeling energized and nimble, and stop once you’re at this point.  For the right way to do a full salutation, I consulted Yogajournal.com (watch their video above to follow along):

  1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Stand with your feet slightly apart and parallel to each other. Stretch your arms (but not rigidly) down alongside your torso, palms turned out, shoulders released.

2. Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)

Inhale and sweep your arms overhead in wide arcs. If your shoulders are tight, keep your hands apart and gaze straight ahead. Otherwise, bring your palms together, drop your head back, and gaze up at your thumbs.

3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Exhaling, release your arms in wide arcs as you fold forward. Bend your knees if you feel pressure on your lower back and support your hands on blocks if they don’t reach the floor. Release your neck so that your head hangs heavily from your upper spine.

4. Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend

Inhale and push your fingertips down into the floor, straighten your elbows, then lift your front torso away from your thighs. Lengthen the front of your torso as you arch evenly along the entire length of your spine.

5. Plank Pose

Inhale and bring your torso forward until your shoulders are over your wrists. Your arms will be perpendicular to the floor. Try not to let your upper back collapse between the shoulder blades: press your outer arms inward, and then—against this resistance—spread your shoulder blades apart. Firm your tailbone against your pelvis and press your thighs up.

6. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

Exhale as you bend your elbows and lower down to Chaturanga with your torso and legs parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders lifted up, away from the floor, and down, away from your ears. Lift the thighs away from the floor, lengthen your tailbone toward your heels, and draw the lower ribs away from the floor to avoid collapsing your lower back. Look down at the floor or slightly forward. If you can’t maintain your alignment, place your knees on the floor until you have built more strength.

7. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose

Inhale, straighten your arms, and sweep your chest forward into Up Dog. Keep your legs active, firm your tailbone toward your heels, and press your front thighs upward. Draw your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead or look slightly upward.

8. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

Exhale back to Downward-Facing Dog. To finish the Sun Salutation, step the right foot forward into a lunge, then inhale back into Half Standing Forward Bend and exhale into Forward Bend. Inhale and roll your spine up to Upward Salute and exhale to Mountain Pose. Observe your body and breath.

COOL DOWN

Whatever exercise you choose to do, end by devoting at least 20 to 25 percent of your total practice time to Savasana (Corpse Pose). Lie down on the floor with hands and legs outstretched – let gravity take a toll and relax. This lets your muscles stretch out and cool down. If you’d rather follow a stretching video, this one from Popsugar is a great one.

Get into an exercise routine by enlisting your vinas as workout buddies; Download the Hey! VINA app to meet like-minded souls in the Athletes and Yogis communities!

CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK FOR A HAPPIER LIFESTYLE

You changed jobs or moved to that new city. You’ve switched partners, became single to focus on you, or tried to shake out your routine. Yet you still feel like happiness is unreachable. Why is that so? Read on for ways to change the way you think and start living a more content life!

BEAT BAD HABITS

There are certain habits that we don’t know that we have.  You might spend too much time on social media and not get enough work done, and this may frustrate the people around you.  The problem isn’t the social media—the problem is that the work isn’t being done.  Their reaction to you may shock you and upset you because, in your mind, you didn’t deserve it.  But if you think about it, nobody would have gotten upset over your social media habits if the work was done on time.

Someone might have said something to you like “It’s always the same thing with you” or “this is exactly what happened last time.” I believe that sometimes, it really is just the situation you’re in.  But other times, when it’s easier to blame the situation rather than do some introspection and change yourself for the better, I think that is the time when you really have to knuckle-down and brave face through the transition that will ultimately change the entire trajectory of your life.

If you start noticing a pattern or a continuous thread of responses from the people around you, it’s time to seriously start thinking about the impact your attitude has on your everyday life—and especially your future.

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THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ARE CONNECTED

Activating your brain to start noticing the things you do that is causing you to behave in ways that may be destructive to others is no easy task.  You basically have to dissect yourself and find out what the root of your behavioral issues are.  And that is daunting.  I’ve been listening to Dr. Caroline Leaf recently and find her books very helpful.  She speaks about controlling your thoughts and switching on your brain. This is basically the idea that your thoughts control your feelings, and your feelings control your behavior.

If you can control your thoughts and how you think, you can control how you feel—which means you can control your reactions to different triggers and situations.

We all think that we can’t help how we feel.  And perhaps we can’t, but we certainly can help how we respond to our feelings. Have you ever thought yourself into a bad mood?  If you can do that then, as hard as it sounds, surely you can think yourself into a good mood.

FOCUS ON YOU

If you feel that you are always unlucky, that the world is always against you, or that everyone always treats you with disrespect and nobody sees how much you do for everyone, maybe you should go back to the beginning and work on yourself first.  Take some real time out. Away from everything and everyone.  Take a diary and write down all the things that affect your emotions and ask yourself why they do. Write down everything that makes you happy and what you can do to motivate your happiness.  Write down ways you think you can experience that happiness more often and how you can increase moments of happiness into a longer lasting state of being—rather than just bouts of happiness which are dependant on external influences.

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CHANGE YOUR POV

The best way to change other people is to start by changing yourself.  And I know that they say you can’t change other people, you can only change how you react to them.  But I believe something different.  I believe that if you work on yourself and develop skills that will conform to you – not to anyone else’s standard – the people around you and the relationships you have will automatically change.  And in that and as much as you don’t really change the people around you, you certainly change their perception of you and the way that they respond to you.  For instance, if you walk past a colleague for months without saying hello to them, chances are that they won’t see the need to say hello to you.  But if you change the way that you see them and stop one day to find out how their evening was, chances are that they will respond well to that and then one day, they might even start the conversation with you.  Do you see how the colleague in that scenario “changed” from not seeing the need to say hello to you to initiating the conversation?  In this scenario, you might think “Wow, the colleague really changed a lot” but, when you unpack it, you find that the real person who changed was you.

If we focus our energy on ourselves, we can all change the way we respond to situations.  You might think that you can’t help yourself, but if you put the same dedication into yourself that you put into trying to change everybody else, you will soon learn that you can help yourself.  You can change how you think and feel.  You can decide not to blow up a situation.  You do have the power. It resides within you.

Surround yourself with positive influences—download Hey! VINA to meet supportive vinas today!