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Living with A Dysmorphic Disorder – What’s Going On and How to Cope?

I want to discuss image dysmorphia.

I’m struggling with it.

My distorted image makes it hard for others to give me proper advice. No matter how many times someone tells me that I am not the way I see myself, I still see a different person in the mirror.

My “friend” in the mirror sees all of my flaws. She also hides my clear image. I literally can’t see my real self unless I give myself a side-eye. Then, my “friend” will quickly distort the picture before I can fully process what I just saw. It’s frustrating to know you can’t see yourself, but your own mind will not let you change your distortion.

Sometimes, I wonder if I can see any bit of the reality that others see. Sometimes, I wonder if they are wrong, and my truth is right. Sometimes, I just know I am right. Sometimes, I know I am wrong.

When I take photos of myself, I look at them in disgust. I see flaws in every part of my body and mind. This leads to thoughts of self-deprecation. When I question myself, my “friend” hisses to shut-up because I am the one that knows nothing. I am stupid. I sometimes ignore her, other times, I fight her, but most of the time, I cower away too afraid to lose another battle.

I can look in the mirror, and I can see many things that I hate about myself. My “friend” makes me believe that everyone can see what I see and hate me as much as I hate myself. I can unconsciously (thanks to my “friend”) seek out specific people who with 100% certainty will validate what she has been telling me. She can’t be wrong if other people believe it too. It is a cycle that is tricky to break.

No matter how much I protest or try to protect myself from her evil thoughts. She is there, waiting for me to be weak. She comes in like a savior but leaves me as a sinner. I hate her, but she is me, so I love her too. My self-image is split and shattered. I live with this for most of my life.

So, there are so many ways my story could have gone. My path is twisted and hilly. I still rely on her to tell me, “like it is” when I don’t know the answers. She always comforts me with her evil banter.

However, it has gotten better. I can stand my ground and have won a few battles. The war still rages, and my reality will forever be distorted, but I go on. With every battle won, I hope to be closer to my truth.

Here are some ways that help me win my battles.

Get Help / Seek Out Positive People

When you see yourself as an awful person, you attract people who think the same about you. Try to find a couple of good people in your life and be honest with them. Tell them that you are trying to conquer a demon and need a supportive friend. This can be difficult at the beginning because your judgment in others may be off. If you can afford it or have the resources, seek professional help. They will help you learn the tools and guide you into accurately finding the right type of people that you need to surround yourself to maintain a healthy environment.

Say at least 3 things you love about yourself.

Many people struggle with this and only focus on the negatives. Sometimes, you have to stand for 30 minutes before you can come up with something. However, this is what you need to do.

Look at yourself in a mirror.

I avoid mirrors as often as I can whenever I look in the mirror I just think negative thoughts. Now, I try to focus on other things apart from what my “friend” thinks. It helps me to stop thinking so negatively about myself.

Look at yourself as though you are someone else.

I’m the type of person who often sees the good in everyone. I can look at someone and instantly see good qualities about them. I realized that I had to see the good in me. I had to see the positives about myself even if that means looking at myself as though I am another person.

I can look at others and think how great they are as a person. It helps me to realize that people look and act differently. We are all beautiful and unique.

So, why can I be the same too?

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Comparing yourself to others, you first have to learn to love yourself. You have to see how you look genuinely. Sometimes, it is tough to do. Especially when I feel that person has everything, and I have nothing to show. I start to turn on the negative faucet and pour it all over myself.

When I catch myself doing this, I turn it off. I stop looking. I stop trying to understand why they are so “great.” I try to focus on myself and what makes me “great” or what “in” nature is beautiful at that moment. One of these two mental exercises does pull me out of my head.

So, these are some exercises to help me to learn to love myself. You will be able to say good things about yourself. That initial haze of feeling stupid and vain will start to fade out. This is just your “friend” trying to stop you from seeing your truth. You will begin to pick up the habit of counteracting some of your thoughts and distortions.

If you spend most of your time, your thoughts and your energy on your body shape and flawed mind, you won’t indeed be happy. It takes so much energy and time out of your life. You need to let go of the obsessive thoughts and learn to love yourself and to live life.

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31-Day Challenge: Great Journaling Prompts for Self Love and Self Care

In today’s mostly digital, paperless reality, the thought of the journal might evoke ideas of hidden young crushes or something that you “used to do.”

However, why keep a journal?

As you get older, the benefits of maintaining the journal become stronger. The journal will be valuable — documenting what you did and where you were. Examples include cases, where you want to remember what you thought on a particular day or event. Not to mention, it will help with critical thinking and your anxiety. It has helped mine.

So, in July, I will write one prompt each day. I will ask Siri to pick a number from 1 to 31 and then write about the prompt related to the number that she has announced. It is reasonably straight forward. I hope you join me on my journey. I would love you hear what you have to say. So please, send me your blog link relating to this challenge.

Below are the challenge’s writing prompts for July.

  1. How have you grown this year?
  2. What’s holding you back?
  3. Describe a scene from your day.
  4. How can you give yourself a break today?
  5. List & draw things that make you happy.
  6. When in your life, did you feel your best?
  7. What habits & actions did you do to feel amazing?
  8. Where was your headspace right now?
  9. What’s on my to-do list today?
  10. What’s one positive change I can make in my daily life?
  11. What good habit do you want to begin this month?
  12. Going forward, how can you commit to loving yourself every day?
  13. What would your life be like if you didn’t have stress?
  14. How would you describe yourself, affectionately, to a stranger?
  15. What things make you feel bad, but you find yourself doing them anyway?
  16. Make a list of 10 things that make you smile.
  17. What are your 10 worst habits, and how do they impact your life?
  18. When was the last time you indulged yourself and how?
  19. Write about something you do well.
  20. What’s something that you need to get rid of?
  21. Whom would you invite to an imaginary luncheon, and why?
  22. What do you love right now and how it makes you feel.
  23. Where do you want to travel?
  24. Who is someone you admire, and what are their qualities?
  25. Take a selfie just as you are. Write a description of your face using loving words.
  26. What are your ten best talents?
  27. What friendship that you’ve had was the most meaningful?
  28. What is the unique thing about you? Do you like to hide it or let it show?
  29. What is your superpower?
  30. What is one thing that you regret and why?
  31. Write a bucket list.
Have you loved yourself today?

This challenge is cheap and is great for your mental health and can easily be added to your daily routine. Try to add it into your morning or evening practice so you can start to make it a habit. I usually keep this list by my bed. I’ll use a prompt and write in my journal each morning when I wake up.

Writing for a few minutes every day doesn’t sound so scary, does it?

The trick is that all of this adds up and promote healthy well-being.

I hope you found this journal prompts for self-care useful.

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Weighted Blanket vs. Night Time Anxiety

My anxiety causes a lot of sleeping issues. I have rituals and a need to do many things before I can actually fall asleep. I am a deep sleeper, except when my anxiety takes hold. If there is a nagging thought, it will not let me sleep. I physically can’t sleep. I wanted a weighted blanket because I envisioned it helping me get me to a more peaceful night’s sleep.

My difficulty in sleeping stems from having a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) & obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Anxiety and sleep are intimately entwined. I often sleep better on days when my anxiety is low. When I’m contemplating several things, I tend to have a hard time falling asleep, or it takes longer to get back to sleep.

Sleep problems can also cause anxiety, too. For me, a bad night’s sleep heightens my anxiety. The next day my mind is like a quiet storm raging under the surface. To control my thoughts, I do way too many OCD habits to calm and control my nerves.

I’ve tried everything to get more restful sleep: a white noise machine, pills, earplugs, and therapy. All are helpful but not enough to help me ultimately. Therapy has helped me manage my anxiety, but it serves as more of a long-term strategy than a daily implementation.

Last winter, I realized there was one thing I hadn’t tried yet: a weighted blanket. I read about their ability to calm nighttime anxious people.

Would this finally be the cure to my sleep problems?

Weighted blankets create deep pressure touch, which is thought to help calm the nervous system of people in states of heightening sensory arousal. This is the theory behind why some children with autism may respond to the use of weighted blankets or vests during moments of sensory overload.

These blankets are quite expensive. The price increases with the weight of the blanket. Most 15-pound blankets I saw online were around $120.

Though the blanket was only 15 pounds, it felt insanely heavy the first time I took it out of the bag. I could barely lift it. The dead weight makes the blanket very difficult to hold unless it’s rolled into a ball. The weighted blanket initially did feel bulky and constrictive. I also had trouble adjusting it and worried I had invested in another failed sleep solution.

I was also initially worried that I would get overheated under the weight of the blanket, but I didn’t at all. Despite its weight, the blanket I purchased was surprisingly cool and breathable.

On the first night of using it, I laid down in bed and struggled to arrange the blanket on top of me because it was so heavy. The first few nights, I used the weighted blanket, I woke up to find it on the ground next to me.

Then, I had a very anxious day. A million deadlines were looming. Worried thoughts seamlessly entered my mind, and I had trouble finding my breath, much less closing my eyes. I knew a horrible night of sleep was ahead of me, and the rituals always seemed to calm my nerves. I consciously decided to lessen the grip on my routine and use the blanket.

I cozied up under my weighted blanket and was surprised when, eight hours later, I woke up still beneath it. I had tossed and turned a handful of times throughout the night, but never kicked the blanket completely off of me.

I woke up feeling well-rested and calm. My neck wasn’t as tight as usual. The thoughts were looming in my mind before bed had vanished and seemed insignificant in the light of day.

Over the next two weeks, I slept with the weighted blanket each night and woke up beneath it each morning. I began to feel a wonderful sense of calm when I’d cozy up underneath it before bed.

I enjoyed the feeling so much I even began using the blanket when reading before bed or surfing the internet. Merely having it rested against me from the waist down was soothing in a way I hadn’t ever experienced.

I’ve used the weighted blanket on and off for the past month and can confidently say it’s a routine I’ll maintain.

It’s not a magical cure for my problems. However, it’s surprisingly effective at helping me achieve better sleep and decreased my need to complete my rituals before bed.

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I Got Myself Out of Bed Today

I have been afflicted with depression for some time. I usually can pull myself out of it to be somewhat functional. It is hard to get yourself motivated when you feel like the world is dark and closed to you.

Sometimes, when I am walking down the street, I see a group of people enjoying the day. They are smiling. They are laughing. They are in their moment. I try not to compare myself because depression can hide in one of their smiles. However, I still compare the laughter.

I wanted to share some of the ways I get myself ready to start the day. Depression can be a severe matter. If you are spending multiple days in bed, feeling hopeless or wanting to end things, you need to speak to a professional. They will help you see through the fog. My advice is what helps me to get me started for the day. I hope it helps you too.

A routine is my secret weapon to getting out of bed. Usually, when I have a routine, I find myself more motivated to get up and get things done. Even when I want to stay in bed, knowing I need to do a chore will help me push myself out of the blankets.

I like starting my day by doing a self-care routine. This means making my bed, washing my face, brushing my teeth, and having a healthy breakfast. This routine gets me going. I do it every morning. While doing this routine, I also try to think of one thing that is positive for the day. This also could mean, “What do I look forward to doing?” It’s become so much of a habit, that I can pretty quickly figure out a pleasurable moment, like noticing my teeth look really clean, or I get to spend some time outdoors on a sunny day.

I feel like every time I exercise, I get a little more motivated to move throughout the day. Even when I do not have the energy to move, I do a couple of uncomplicated stretching exercises. Sometimes, this alone can get my endorphins pumping, and before I know it, I end up doing the whole workout sequence.

Finally, I go and do my work, I may still feel a little down. However, by having a stable routine, it motivates me to move on throughout the day. I think having healthy habits are like small lights that help break through the fog of my depression.

It doesn’t matter how I feel I know I have to accomplish my morning to-do list. You have to create these habits to trick your depression into not controlling you. Your morning list does not have to be big, it can be two or three small items to motivate you to get out of bed.

I may not be those laughing people, but my small accomplishments do provoke an inner smile. I feel lucky enough to see them having a good time. Habits change you. Positive patterns can help you reach your goals. Even if it is just getting out of bed, keep doing them.

I hope you found this a little helpful. Let me know how you go in and blast through your depression so you can function throughout your day.

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Giving Up My Ways

I wanted to share with you five ways in which I try to implement a healthy lifestyle. I don’t mean just by eating healthily or to workout. These things are a given for any healthy lifestyle, but I wanted to cover the other things that I find help me stay well when I am feeling or not feeling my best.

So, here they are:

One: Giving Up Bad Habits
Implementing a healthy lifestyle is to give up your bad habits so that you can make way for good ones. We all know what our bad habits. We have habits or things that we do in our life that doesn’t make us feel good. Some of it you are aware of and others you may not have a clue of it. However, you know very well that some things in your life don’t make you feel well or hold you back. Whether that’s a person, a job, your diet, not working out, debt, not getting enough sleep are all things that you don’t want to be incorporated into your life.

You can write all the things that you want to let go of so you can create space for those new habits. An example could be if you go to bed too late, maybe set the alarm to go to bed earlier. The goal is to take something negative and create a positive habit out of it.

It is suggested that it takes 21 days to create a habit, so if you are starting a newer practice, make sure that you’re keeping track. You can use a marker and with each day you that achieve it. You mark it. If you don’t, you start again. Eventually, that new habit will be ingrained into your mind and body.

You always have to be realistic about your new habit changes. You will get overwhelmed if you do too many at the same time. I would recommend looking at your harmful habit list and seeing if any, can be organized together.

Once they are organized, you can see how they are related and create a habit system and complete one habit that will help lead to the next bad habit to conquer. For instance, going to bed late and getting up late in the morning. Perhaps work on going to bed early first. Once that healthy habit has been established, the next logistical practice to create would be to get up earlier.

If you set up too much too soon, you’re going to end up stumbling, failing, and then end up quitting. Small changes in your daily routine will end up creating more prodigious healthy habits in the long run. You’re not going to be seeing instant results. You are looking to change your lifestyle, and you still want to live your life, you need to have the new habit feel natural in the long run.

Two: Mental Check-ins
When you check-in on your mental state, you are checking in with your body, mind, and space. Mostly, you are mindful. Your mindfulness is a huge component of starting a healthy lifestyle. You cannot start a healthy lifestyle if you are not mentally into it. You have to examine where you are right now.

You have to look at yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically within your area. When you check-in mentally, try to accept where you are, and where it’s at right now. When dwelling on the past or looking too much into the future, you are taking in a negative mindset. You are blocking your potential to create and implement a healthier lifestyle.

Mindfulness, at the beginning of your healthy lifestyle, is going to be detrimental to the success of it. Our mind is the reflection of what we see externally, but a massive part of our mindset stems from the internal representation that we see our inner self. You can create mindfulness through a multitude of different exercises, journaling, listening to music, taking a nature walk, practice gratitude, and positive self-talk. The positive narratives help set positive intentions for your day that can help in your mindfulness journey.

Three: 10,000 Steps
Focus on walking. I aim for about 10,000 steps in a day. I have been implementing walking into my life. I’ve been using my phone, but you can also estimate that 2 hours of walking in a day is about 10,000 steps. This doesn’t mean straight walking or even a long distance walk. It can be cleaning your home, parking at the back of a parking lot, walking to work, or going to the bathroom, or even taking the stairs, every step counts. So, two hours in your day of walking isn’t a lot. You can do little things to reach your 10,000 step goal.

You’ll be amazed how much walking you can incorporate into your daily routine. When you have a body stationary, it creates a loss of connection to the world and can increase the likelihood of depression. There is so much to benefit from moving your body. It creates flow not only with your organs but with your brain and your positive well-being.

Four: Clean-up Before Bed
I find by putting things away and creating a clean environment. I tend to have a positive morning. No one likes to wake up to a messy room. You may feel slow and unmotivated. In the morning, you may worry about the dishes in the sink or decide not to eat a healthy breakfast because there is no room to cook. It’s not the best way to start the day.

I like to do my daily prays and reflections at night. I can reflect on my day create stillness in my mind while I am tidying the end of the day. It’s an excellent way to clean up my mental trash before I go to bed. This practice helps my mind feel refreshed in the morning.

Five: Surround Yourself with Positivity
We all do this. We are in a funk, so we gravitate to the negativity that surrounds us. I know I have a hard time listening to how great someone has when I am suffering. However, this is a perfect time to listen to the positive. Your brain with a click and a switch, and you will stop resisting the negative pushback.

What I do is put on a playlist that makes me happy, meditate as I am cleaning, journalling for five minutes, sitting in a crowded cafe and listening to other laughter or even watching an adorable cat video could help me see a little bit more positivity in your life. Once you have that moment of realizing you are not quite in the funk, please do something to extend yourself to a better place, like talking to a good friend or writing an email to a coworker or family member to let them know they matter. I am surprised how this action can change my whole outcome for the day.

Implementing wellness in your mind every single day helps you create a positive space in every aspect of your life. Wellness is emotional, spiritual, and physical. Make sure that you’re doing things every day to create wellness and better behaviors.

You are all you have, so make the most of today.

I hope you found this piece to be helpful. If you have any suggestions or ideas, I would love to hear from you.

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My Spiritual Self Care Routine

A new month is nearing, and I thought I would share some ways that I was practicing self-care and healing last month.

I enjoy connecting with the natural world by acknowledging this valuable Earth and its resources. I do not attempt for perfection in my journey, even now.

I know that some people are ready to jump into self-care and self-development but might feel overwhelmed with where to start. I hope that I can share more acumen with all of you.

Go Barefoot:
Earthing is the practice of shoeless walking. It feels good to go barefooted and do this with confidence, without craving the acceptance of others. I feel grounded on this Earth and get the sensation that I do belong on this planet and this Universe.

Breathe Mindfully:
I often hold my breath and looked tense when things get a little rough. I have experienced more emotional security and calm after following different breathing techniques. Mindful breathing allows me to be more in the present moment. It helps me better cope with my anxious feelings.

Healthy Nourishment:
I drink celery juice and smoothies every day, and I also take supplements. When I support myself entirely through nourishment, I can extend the same to those around me. I try to promote joy not only for myself but for all living beings.

Try Yoga:
I practice yoga. I don’t focus too much on the perfection of my form, but more so on my breathing and the awareness that I feel in my body and mind. I try to stay mindful even through the discomfort.

Connection through Meditation:
I started meditating about ten years ago. I was not able to focus in the beginning. It took me a few years to be aware of my breath and posture. I try to keep up with my morning prayers. I also express affirmations daily when I meditate. I do this to unite with the divine being and my spiritual self.

I’m grateful that you stuck around to read what I have shared.

Please let me know if you have practice any self-care routines in May, and how did you feel about it? Do you intend to continue self-care or start in June?

I hope so!

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The Five Minute Gratitude Exercise

Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melody Beattie

Gratitude is directly related to optimism, which makes people content with their lives. When we are grateful for what we have, we can feel the gratitude in our hearts and be aware of our feelings. This practice is an excellent tool for our mindfulness exercise accessories. When we feel intense emotions such as anger or frustration, we can get caught up in those emotions. Gratitude helps us handle those emotions by shifting our thoughts from anger to thankful.

Learning gratitude is such a valuable tool that can be used at any moment throughout your life. This super simple daily gratitude habit will help you be grateful every day (and it only takes 5 minutes).

I take a moment throughout my day to figure out what gratitude means and why it is essential. Then I visualize what I am grateful for the moment; I start to have a dialogue to why I find it necessary. I find that my five-minute gratitude journal can help me express what I am thinking and help to understand why I appreciate it. It is also a beautiful keepsake to have when I am having a rough day, and I can’t think of anything to be grateful for in my current moment. Lastly, in my gratitude exercise, I beath. I find that a breathing exercise at the end of a session will help to emphasize what I thought wrote or thought in my heart. I generally feel more at peace after my practice.

Gratitude makes us feel more appreciated. Thinking of acceptance is why a five-minute a week gratitude journal can make us so much more content. The sincere appreciation produced by during those five minutes is small, but the emotions of gratitude felt during those five-minutes are enough to trigger a grateful spirit.

I hope you enjoy this little piece if you have any suggestions on how to practice gratitude. I would love to read it. Please let a comment below.