An Ad Suggested I Try Meditation. Here's What Happened When I Listened.

An Ad Suggested I Try Meditation. Here's What Happened When I Listened.

It’s amazing what our bodies remember that our minds may choose to ignore.
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I fidget a lot and though I’ve always been low-key fascinated by meditation, there has always been a part of me that felt that time spent awake should be time spent active.

At least, until I saw this add on Instagram and kept hearing it interrupt my music on Pandora. The advertisement was for this app called Headspace, they were offering a free Take 10 challenge where you’re supposed to dedicate ten minutes a day for ten days to meditation.

I’m a true believer in Albert Einstein's definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results”. And having recently watched the Laura Vanderkam TED Talk on “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time”, I realized that my ritual of wine and Netflix was not enough to rid me of my everyday stress and anxiety.

With nothing to lose, except perhaps my tendency to hold onto stress, I thought I’d give it a shot.

The first few days I found it hard to focus (the fidget was fidgety, who knew?) and set aside time. But the app has this built-in reminder to “get some headspace” and app founder Andy Puddicombe’s calming voice reminds the listener of the benefits of repetition and makes helpful suggestions about location and the importance of posture so that your body can feel relaxed, but aware. I had no real excuses not to stick to it and It was surprisingly easy to turn into a habit to put make my self care a priority in this new way.

Puddicombe focuses on the senses, the movement of the body with each breathe, the feel of the weight of your body on the chair and feet on the floor and the sounds and smells around you. It seems silly, but it’s about mindfulness and being present. Some things I desperately needed a reminder of.

By day three I felt a change. I found myself focusing on breathing instead of worry. I was slowly allowing myself to live on the present, even when stressful situations came my way.

Day five, I started understanding Puddicombe’s point that we, as individuals, judge ourselves too harshly. We add judgement to everything. Our appearance, intelligence, capacity for empathy and countless other things. We even judge ourselves for that initial judgement. And for me at least, if I mentally hold onto some of that judgement, my body also holds onto that judgement.

It’s amazing what our bodies remember, that our minds may choose to ignore, and it’s amazing how we can hold onto negative feelings without noticing. I hold tension in my shoulders and no matter how many stretches or exercises I do, it’s always there as a reminder that I am not doing 100 percent right by me. A factor that I had thought I grew out of, but by taking time to check in with my physical and emotional self I was able to reconnect with how stress affects far more than my mood.

Every so often the app plays short animations to demonstrate the positive effect of meditation. Perhaps a little cutesy, but visualizing your busy mind as a sky with clouds that represent thoughts, might make letting go of negative or unproductive thoughts a little easier.

Day ten came and I found myself wanting to commit more. I’m someone with an absurdly busy mind and a majority of the clouds occupying this sky aren’t productive or positive lately, so, taking a moment to breathe and feel without judgement was liberating.

I understand that I am in no way cured of my every day stressors, but something I am starting to realize is that the mind and body need constant maintenance.

There is no quick and easy cure and you cannot start meditation expecting immediate results. It’s about checking in with yourself and distancing from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Like with anything worth having, stress and anxiety relief is an investment and while you may not want to pay money past the free trial of this app, there are plenty of books and Youtube videos that offer similar options.

Meditation may not be for everyone but even this skeptic is sold.

Cover Image Credit: itunes

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To All The Nurses In The Making

We tell ourselves that one day it'll all pay off, but will it actually?
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I bet you’re taking a break from studying right now just to read this, aren’t you? Either at the library with friends or in your dorm room. Wherever you may be, you never get the chance to put your books down, at least that’s how it feels to most of us. It sucks feeling like you’ve chosen the hardest major in the world, especially when you see other students barely spending any time studying or doing school work. The exclamation “You’re still here!” is an all too frequent expression from fellow students after recognizing that you’ve spent 10-plus hours in the library. At first it didn’t seem so bad and you told yourself, “This isn’t so difficult, I can handle it,” but fast-forward a few months and you’re questioning if this is really what you want to do with your life.

You can’t keep track of the amount of mental breakdowns you’ve had, how much coffee you’ve consumed, or how many times you’ve called your mom to tell her that you’re dropping out. Nursing is no joke. Half the time it makes you want to go back and change your major, and the other half reminds you why you want to do this, and that is what gets you through it. The thing about being a nursing major is that despite all the difficult exams, labs and overwhelming hours of studying you do, you know that someday you might be the reason someone lives, and you can’t give up on that purpose. We all have our own reasons why we chose nursing -- everyone in your family is a nurse, it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you’re good at it, or like me, you want to give back to what was given to you. Regardless of what your reasoning is, we all take the same classes, deal with the same professors, and we all have our moments.

I’ve found that groups of students in the same nursing program are like a big family who are unconditionally supportive of each other and offer advice when it’s needed the most. We think that every other college student around us has it so easy, but we know that is not necessarily true. Every major can prove difficult; we’re just a little harder on ourselves. Whenever you feel overwhelmed with your school work and you want to give up, give yourself a minute to imagine where you’ll be in five years -- somewhere in a hospital, taking vitals, and explaining to a patient that everything will be OK. Everything will be worth what we are going through to get to that exact moment.

Remember that the stress and worry about not getting at least a B+ on your anatomy exam is just a small blip of time in our journey; the hours and dedication suck, and it’s those moments that weed us out. Even our advisors tell us that it’s not easy, and they remind us to come up with a back-up plan. Well, I say that if you truly want to be a nurse one day, you must put in your dedication and hard work, study your ass off, stay organized, and you WILL become the nurse you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t let someone discourage you when they relent about how hard nursing is. Take it as motivation to show them that yeah, it is hard, but you know what, I made it through.

With everything you do, give 110 percent and never give up on yourself. If nursing is something that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, stick with it and remember the lives you will be impacting someday.

SEE ALSO: Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Cover Image Credit: Kaylee O'Neal

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25 Self Love Songs That Promote More Than Just Body Positivity

Secrets by Mary Lambert has us loving not only our bodies, but our personalities and mental health struggles, as well.

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Music has so much power not only in rhythms and melodies but in lyrics and messages, as well. In today's society, especially with all of the fashion and beauty "trends," it's so hard to keep track of what's really beautiful - self-love and confidence in how you were made. These 25 songs sung by powerful and inside-beautiful women (and men) belong not only on a body positivity playlist but on every playlist, as well.

1. Love Myself - Hailee Steinfeld

Ever since acting in Pitch Perfect 2, Hailee Steinfeld has made a name for herself with her music and positive lyrics. Her songs have amazing melodies and even better positive reinforcement for girls struggling with loving themselves.

2. Feeling Myself - Nicki Minaj ft. Beyoncé

This positive song about body image has two queens collaborating to bring out an amazing song. The music video includes Minaj and Beyoncé lounging in a pool and eating some awesome looking burgers while singing "I'm feeling myself" on repeat.

3. Scars To Your Beautiful - Alessia Cara

Alessia Cara broke the music industry with this song about self-love. She sings about tough stuff and the realness that our generation of girls is facing.

4. Confident - Demi Lovato

There is no doubt that since the beginning, Demi has been an absolute power house. She's progressed through the music industry while being transparent about her own struggles with body image and addiction. In this song, Demi brings an edge and an attitude to showing what it's really like to be confident - and how this society of girls should feel the same confidence that she does.

5. ***Flawless - Beyoncé ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Beyoncé is the essence of confidence and that shows in her music - whether she means it or not. This song about self love is the anthem that every girl should be blaring 24/7.

6. Beautiful - Christina Aguilera

This Xtina song may be old, but the lyrics are still just as encouraging and applicable as much as they were in 2002 (are we old, or what?).

7. All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor

This is another song that got really big really fast. One of the ultimate songs about body image, this anthem is not only great for girls struggling with body image issues, but it's also a favorite of the older gen, too.

8. Run the World (Girls) - Beyoncé

Another lady anthem, Beyoncé threw us this song in 2011 and it's been such an incredible confidence song ever since.

9. Come and Get It - Selena Gomez

Disney star turned bombshell, Selena has shown what it's like to be a strong, powerful, and poised woman in both pop culture, but in society, as well. This song about self love invites girls to welcome themselves as attractive and worthy.

10. Beautiful Soul - Jesse McCartney

A beautiful songs about being a beautiful soul sung by a beautiful (then) teeny-bopper? Everything about this song is amazing and screams self-love.

11. Me Too - Meghan Trainor

Meghan Trainor gave us another great power anthem. She took a powerful and prideful (in the best way) stance in this song about body positivity and self love.

12. You Don't Own Me - Grace ft. G-Eazy

This song was featured in the movie, Suicide Squad, when introducing the character of Harley Quinn (who is a bad*ss and powerful girl who takes control and is confident in herself - even if she is a villain). This song is sung by Grace and G-Eazy as a remix of the original song sung by Lesley Gore way back in 1963. Even back then, girls were singing about confidence and self love!

13. Queen - Jessie J

This song is a new release but should not be overlooked. Jessie J brings us one of the most straightforward song about body positivity and self love while still giving us a JAM.

14. Perfect - Anne-Marie

This is another song that's up and coming. However, much like Jessie J, Anne-Marie gave us a true jam with awesome themes of self love.

15. Try - Colbie Caillat

Colbie's voice is so smooth and calming. If you're looking for a slow and peaceful song about body positivity and self love, this is the song for you.

16. Most Girls - Hailee Steinfeld

Like I said earlier, Hailee has made a name for herself in the music industry and with her encouraging and powerful lyrics. This song boosts self esteem, self love, and other amazing components.

17. Who You Are - Jessie J

Jessie J threw us another song about self love in this song. Her songs vary greatly, but most of them hold such important ideas that need to be drilled into the minds of the upcoming generation.

18. Secrets - Mary Lambert

This is one of my all-time favorite songs because Mary Lambert is so open and transparent about her life and what she struggles with. In this song, she mentions her weight, her family, her mental health, and her personality quirks. Even if someone may not be able to relate to everything she says, there is at least one relatable part for anyone in her song.

19. Who Says - Selena Gomez

This song came from the time when Selena was still big in the Disney channel days but that doesn't mean that her song is any less serious or relatable. Even back then, this song about self love influenced so many girls that needed to hear this incredible message.

20. Lip Gloss - Lil Mama

This song is old and a CLASSIC. Put this on and just about everyone will sing along, clap, and stomp their feet on the beat. The best part of this song is that Lil Mama sings about confidence and self love over and over and over.

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