I firmly believe that I do not owe anyone rationalization for my life choices. In fact, I firmly believe that we should all try a bit harder to explain our decisions less. And while I completely see the irony in me writing a personal essay explaining my absence from blogging, I also believe that sharing my experience and journey with mental health is important.
While it might seem harmless to nitpick and say, “but why haven’t you been blogging? Just do it,” there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. After all, blogging is a very personal journey that illustrates an individual’s experience as they learn and grow. And I don’t believe that I personally should be cranking out content as quickly and consistently as possible. My journey says otherwise: right now, I’m focusing on myself and who I am on a much more intimate level.
Earlier this summer, I had a harsh eye-opening experience, one that made me realize that I would like to focus on who I am as a person: my health (both mental and physical) and my happiness. While I’m not ready to openly discuss what made me come to this realization, it’s helped guide me and put my life on a new track. And, even though I am the kind of person who always looks after others before myself, this means focusing on putting myself first.
Below, 5 secrets that have helped me become happier and healthier.
I’ve been using Weight Watchers recently. Although my goal is not to lose a specific amount of weight, it’s helped me A LOT with portion sizes and looking at what I put in my body. (Spoiler alert: Frappuccinos are not good for you. Who knew?) Every week, I meal plan for the week and choose new recipes to test out. And, I’m happy to report that my body has responded in the most wonderful way: I feel more energized, less bloated, and excited to take on the day.
Doing what makes YOU happy.
For the longest time, I thought that what made me happy was writing. But now that I’ve graduated and writing has become my main career, I have realized that I’m able to do whatever else I please with my free time. I get to write 8 (8!!!!) hours every single day, and that doesn’t mean I have to do that when I get home too. Instead, I’ve found out that there are other activities that make me happy in my free time. Recently, Jorge and I decided to start traveling more. We most recently took a spontaneous road trip to Rhode Island, Boston and Cape Cod, and we’re planning trips to Denver, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and Europe (fingers crossed on that one). On a much smaller (and more affordable) level, I’ve taken it upon myself to spend more time educating kids and teens. As a former dance teacher, I really miss the trade. Starting this fall, I’m going to be an SAT prep instructor and tutor through a volunteer service, and I could not be more excited.
Focusing on mental health.
In the past, I’ve talked candidly about my struggles with Depression and Anxiety. And while I have a lot of help thanks to my medication, meds don’t solve everything. I sometimes forget that I live in the most chaotic, insane city. In New York, people work hard and play harder. And, to be totally blunt, that’s not who I am. I’ve made a conscious choice to leave my work at the doorstep and to not feel pressured to live a crazy going out New York lifestyle. In fact, in the past few months, I no longer feel as though I have to drink and go out to have fun. Removing myself from that NY mindset has helped extraordinarily.
Embracing the mornings.
I’ve always been a morning person, but working 9-5 is DRAINING. But mornings are so freaking important; they set you up for the rest of the day (and week!). So that’s why Jorge and I started setting our alarms earlier: we make morning smoothies, drink water, eat avocado toast, watch the news and take a few more minutes to relax and ready ourselves for the day ahead. Obviously some days are easier than others, but I can feel a HUGE difference when I get an extra hour in the morning time to prep. Next step: morning runs. (Any advice?! Comment below!!!)
Spending more time with the people you love.
This seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. As they say, “in order to love others, you have to love yourself.” And the four little things above have helped me do just that. Now that I’m creating a more positive me, I can give Jorge the love he deserves, call my mom more often, and hang out with the girls I’m so lucky to call my best friends. But that would never be possible if I weren’t taking care of myself in the first place.