the best mental health resources

I have found so many amazing mental health resources. I hope they will help someone else as much as they’ve helped me. But before we dive into those, let’s review…

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The American Psychiatric Association defines mental health & mental illness below.

Examples of mental health conditions include anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more included here.

Various things can influence the well-being of our mental health, including life experiences, family history, and biology. Mental health, or emotional health, is as important, if not more important, than physical health. The issue is that most people don’t want to speak about their true feelings and mental well-being because they’re worried they’ll be seen as “weak” or “crazy.”

Personally, I’m learning how to effectively manage my depression and anxiety in daily life. I don’t want to feel ashamed for having a mental health condition (this is the new and preferred verbiage according to professionals). No one should feel ashamed by the way their brain is programmed. I want people to be able to speak comfortably about mental health…just as we speak about physical health in everyday conversation.

we need to start viewing mental health differently. 🙌

what can you do? / movements 

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Watch this “I’m Fine” video – from the UK Mental Health Foundation that portrays how sometimes we may feel bad, not wanting to burden others with our feelings. Let’s try to be more honest with each other about how we’re really feeling.

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Join the movement of speaking about mental health & mental health conditions in normal, everyday conversation. Let’s erase the stigma that speaking about mental health is a sign of weakness.

Share your experiences…because you don’t know who you’ll be helping in the process.

#EndTheStigma 

Inspired by Carrie Fisher’s death, Kat Selwyn Layton unintentionally started a mental health movement. #EndTheStigma badges encourage people to share their daily struggles with mental health conditions. Since its launch, #EndTheStigma has extended to also include the neurodivergent community.

#StigmaFree

WearYourLabel.com joined NAMI as a #StigmaFree company and helps promote NAMI’S #StigmaFree pledge.

helpful resources

Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or Live Online Chat

Mental Health America – have you heard of the mental health bell? Back in 1953, Mental Health America took all of the iron chains and restraints that were once used in mental asylums and created a 300-lb “mental health bell,” creating a sign of hope for mental health conditions. Over the years community leaders ring the bell to mark progress of the mental health movement.

Mental Health America focuses on the “Before Stage 4” idea, focusing on early identification and intervention, along with support services.

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line. 

NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness is a grassroots organization, providing educational resources and support to those with mental health conditions. They are very active in advocating for mental health national policy and have local NAMI chapters you can become a part of.

CALL THE NAMI HELPLINE 800-950-NAMI info@nami.org M-F, 10 AM – 6 PM ET

Find Help in a crisis or Text “NAMI” to 741741

TWLOHA – To Write Love on Her Arms started with founder Jamie Tworkowski trying to help a friend, Renee, with her depression, addiction, and self-injury struggles. Soon Jamie started TWLOHA to inform and educate the community about mental health conditions. TWLOHA is very community-oriented, commonly attending events and festivals, spreading awareness about mental health. They also hold a yearly event called  HEAVY AND LIGHT filled with storytelling and music.

Find help by state here

The Mighty – A blog resource of inspiring posts from over 5,000 different contributors. Screenshot 2017-02-08 19.34.52.png

They focus on the realness of disability, disease and mental health. I’ve come across some amazing stories and thought, oh, someone else feels that way? You can sort by conditions as well.

Medium.com/tag/mental-health  – a compilation of mental health-related personal essays, poems, and research from people all over the world.

influencers 

Michelle Bellamore – Michelle was an active participant in NAMI Tennessee’s 2017 Faces of Mental Health Storytelling campaign for The Big Payback. The campaign highlighted self-care advocates in the local community through a 24-hour online fundraising campaign.

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michelle bellamore participating in the NAMI Tennessee campaign

By day she’s the Business Development Account Executive at US Imprints, but she lives her true purpose by sharing her personal self-care story and lending her voice to the suicide prevention cause.

With her positive outlook on life and sunny disposition, Michelle continues to provide a voice for those who may be struggling.

Grace Mendez – As a college student in Nashville, Grace is wise beyond her years.

Grace participated in the NAMI Tennessee Faces of Mental Health Storytelling campaign in 2017 by providing the community with insightful advice as to how we should be viewing mental health today. She states, “Mental health should be treated like physical health.” 🙌

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grace mendez participating in the NAMI Tennessee campaign.

Her candidness regarding self-care along with her desire to help others be more open about mental health makes Grace an inspiration to all of us.

Derek Couts – As the founder of Chase the Life You LoveDerek believes that everyone should be actively pursuing a life of happiness because we only have one chance to do so. Derek states that we all should be doing whatever is necessary to Chase the Life You Love: “Whether that is seeking counseling, quitting a job you hate even though the pay is great, getting rid of debt, or even finding self-acceptance in who and what you are, but most importantly, by serving others.”

Derek has a unique but important approach to self-care: become debt-free (get rid of the financial ties), focus on finding your passion and put your family first.

Carrie Fisher – Famous for her role as Princesse Leia, but also very well-known for speaking openly about addiction and bipolar disorder.

Wayne Brady – Openly speaks about his depression, and explains how he was scared of jeopardizing his career and personal life.

Demi Lovato has partnered with bevocalspeakup.com. Demi has bipolar disorder and actively promotes the importance of getting help when you need it. She’s open about the struggles she has with her condition, and how it takes patience to find something that works for you.

Gerald McRath – Former Tennessee Titan Gerald McRath has shared his personal mental health story at conventions across the U.S.; he truly is an inspiring speaker and storyteller. He participated in NAMI Tennessee’s Face of Mental Health Storytelling campaign in 2017.

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gerald mcrath participating in the NAMI Tennessee campaign.

Lady Gaga – “I openly admit to having battled depression and anxiety and I think a lot of people do. I think it’s better when we all say: ‘Cheers!’ And ‘fess up to it.” –rte.ie interview; check out Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation

Kid Cudi (Scott Mescudi) – Early in 2016, he opened up about his issues with alcohol and depression to Billboard Magazine. Then on October 4, 2016 Kid Cudi announced on social media to his fans that he was checking himself into a facility due to depression and suicidal urges. #YouGoodMan on Twitter also surfaced.

Kate Nash expressed her thoughts on the importance of mental health in a recent PAPER interview “I just don’t think there’s a lot of support and care for artists and their mental health. Most artists have mental health issues. This tour I’m doing in the UK — we’re doing it with MIND (a mental health charity in the UK).”

Kristen Bell explained her own personal struggles with anxiety and depression on OffCamera with Sam Jones. Kristen is thankful her mother addressed mental health at such a young age, and has been actively taking prescription medication for her mental health condition. She states that no one should be ashamed of a mental health condition by asking for help to cope with medication. 👍

art & illustrations

In October 2016, Shawn Cross released these incredible illustrations.  They speak for themselves. See more illustrations on Shawn’s Facebook page here

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Illustrator Toby Allen took to the drawing board to depict some of his own mental health struggles as actual monsters. He writes“The project aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness…”

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see more of Toby Allen’s illustrations here

 Have any resources or influencers you’d like to share? What has helped you with your mental health condition?

Let me know in the comments below. 

✌️

P.S. A huge thank you to Michelle Bellamore, Grace Mendez and Derek Couts for taking the time to provide insights + their favorite mental health resources!

Please note: I am not a medical professional and not trained to treat any medical illnesses. The purpose of my blog is purely informational. 

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4 simple ways to increase your daily productivity

lIt’s a constant struggle to complete everything on our to-do lists in one day.

These 4 simple tips will help you prioritize so you can increase your daily level of productivity.

plan ahead 

Planning your day can have an impact on your daily workflow. It seems like common sense, but we’re in the habit of waking up, checking our emails, going to work, responding to emails, attending meetings, checking email again, and so on, that we may forget what our priorities are.

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If you can see ALL the items on a list you must accomplish that day, you’ll be more likely to tackle them head on (think of the satisfaction of crossing them off your list!). Some people prefer to plan their day out the night before, but I choose that time to relax and instead, in the first 30 minutes at work, I spend time making (or revising) a to-do list of everything I have to complete, also including meetings to attend and calls to make. This helps me envision my day.

I organize the list from high priority to low priority, so if the low priority items get pushed to the next day, it’s ok.

“early bird gets the worm” isn’t necessarily true for everyone. 

What time of day do you find you’re most productive? When are you focused enough to accomplish the majority of tasks on your list?

I’m most level-headed and on-point mid-morning. After I’ve had time to warm-up and go through my to-do list, I’m ready to tackle the hardest or most time-consuming item on my list.

Figure out when you are most productive and schedule your hardest and most thought-intensive projects for that time, and save the less complicated tasks for that other part of the day when your mind tends to wander.

focus on why you procrastinate 

We all have pesky projects we’d like to avoid and/or push-back, but this avoidance can be a hindrance on our productivity. We tend to make excuses and justify why we procrastinate, so as soon as you start pushing something further down on your list repeatedly, start asking yourself why. Why are you putting off a specific project, meeting or task? Is it because you feel you have more time? Are you afraid you don’t have the right skills or knowledge to complete it? Is it boring? After you figure out the why, see what you can do to change the outcome.

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If you feel unprepared or uneasy about beginning a project or assignment, start by researching to inform yourself and bring up your confidence level. If it is because it is a boring task you have no motivation to begin, force yourself to take the first step and map out a plan of how you’ll complete the project even if it’s over a few days.

Easier said than done, but I’ve found once you figure out the “why” you can combat procrastination and get the project moving.

utilize helpful apps or go old school 

There are countless digital options out there that will help you stay organized with your daily to-do list or monthly finances. Some of my favorites include Evernote and Any.do.

I previously used Evernote to keep track of every single place I visited on my road trip, and currently, I use it to keep note of stories my grandmother tells me, recipes to make, music to listen to, concerts I’ve been to, books to read, places to go, etc. It’s a never ending list of notes and articles I’m frequently adding to and organizing.

Any.do is the perfect app when I need a digital to-do list. It’s ideal for my grocery list and random tasks I need to remember when I’m out and about. I love the simplicity of the design, and how you can separate goals into “today” “tomorrow” etc.

On a daily basis, I enjoy going “old-school,” I writing my action items down in my beloved Day Designer. With a today section split up by the hour, a to-do list with checkboxes to cross off, a nice-sized notes section, “today’s top-three” (must do’s!) and more, all helping me stay on track and organized.

What are some apps you use or things you do in order to stay productive throughout the day?

why I’ve made meditation a priority in my daily routine

Wake up, brush your teeth, get dressed, maybe eat some breakfast and off to work you go. We tend to repeat this pattern day after day, without hesitation or focus on anything but the automatic motions of life.

Maybe we’ll work out one day, or go to dinner with a friend, but the pattern doesn’t change much, at least among most Americans.

Not that daily routines aren’t important, but I felt that I needed to do something to calm my mind throughout the usual routine of life. Am I going to make that deadline? Am I good enough to successfully complete this task? Can I do this?! I needed something to help ease the voice in my head…something to subside my constant worries and fears…

That’s where meditation comes in.

I used to picture meditation as something only the most experienced yogis or spiritually connected individuals were capable of doing…And that you had to meditate on a beach or in the forest…or somewhere very exotic with a sunset in view…or perhaps people wearing flowy clothing with a Buddha nearby. Look at these images that appear under “meditation” on Google images…I’m obviously not the only one!

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I discovered meditation by chance and wrote briefly about it previously way back in the day…

In Tampa, I signed up for a yoga class thinking it would just be the normal Power Yoga or Vinyasa routine, enabling me to break a sweat and tone my muscles…but I was surprised when I discovered a yoga practice that actually benefitted my mind, too…Kundalini Yoga incorporates breathing techniques, stretching, meditation and chanting of mantras all in one practice.

This was my first taste of meditation and after one session, I was hooked. After the first class full of chanting (so awkward at first), deep stretching (some interesting poses) and a meditation session (it was so hard for me to keep my eyes closed and focus!), I felt relaxed, almost to the point where I felt intoxicated. It was just one class, but it had taken me to another level or relaxation I had never experienced before.

I attended the class once a week for several months, slowly but surely improving my breath and ability to focus. Sometimes I felt as though I was in regression…when I had a session where I couldn’t stop focusing on work or what I had to do that evening. But over time, I felt my “zen” factor increase in a way I didn’t think was possible. Those few months practicing regularly helped me stay…sane. I felt more relaxed when stressful situations did arise and overall felt like a more positive and optimistic person.

Could it have been an illusion? Perhaps. But I felt as though I was on the road to becoming a “better me” because, for the first time, I felt…content with myself.

Then life happened…I went on a crazy road trip, eventually moved to Nashville, started a new job, and bought a home. Without the structure of attending a class each week, mixed with the hecticness of life, sadly, meditation and Kundalini Yoga eventually faded from my routine.

Now, nearly two years later, as part of my “2017 list” (more on that here), I’m ready to get back into meditation. Ready to get back to that place of mental clarity and peace. I’ve committed to mindful meditation on a DAILY basis.

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But why should you care about meditation? 

There’s a slew of helpful resources out there for you to get started: (There was no reason for me to stop meditating or practicing yoga, I’m just the type of person that needs to be pushed or have a routine in place, or I simply won’t do it.)

Nowadays (let’s be real, as of  January 2, 2017) I’ve been practicing daily meditation using the Calm App that gives me a daily reminder at 8:15 am that it’s time to meditate (p.s. I meditate on my carpet in my bedroom…not in a forest or on the beach…and I always begin AFTER I give my dog Peanut a treat so I can have a longer period of “alone” time).

I also have on my 2017 bucket list to explore Kundalini Rising Yoga. It’s just a start, but I already feel more at peace solidifying meditation as a habit in my daily routine.

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Please note: I am not a medical professional and not trained to treat any medical illnesses. The purpose of my blog is purely informational.