Becoming A Happier You In 5 Steps

Becoming A Happier You In 5 Steps

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Becoming happy starts with no individual, but yourself. Enough resentment and insecurity! The journey to mindfulness is now. Although the journey of self-improvement can be intimidating, spending the rest of your life being someone you're not should scare you way more.

Now clearly, at 22 years old, I have absolutely no idea who I am, but I have a good inkling that some aspects of who I am currently are not true, reflective characteristics of my soul. Often, I feel separated from my being, not in tune with my soul.

I believe not only are the distractions around us to partially blame, but our own consistent willingness to live numbly.



We may be fully functional, moving and breathing, but if we are not truly conscious, are we living? I have, and still do continue to move about, never really appreciating or savoring, not really living. Days pass, I perform socially, repeat.

There are very few days when many of our academic institutions actually encourage and grant opportunity in exploring and learning about our world and ourselves. Also, if you think about it, our lives are essentially mapped out for us when we are born: You will enroll in school by the age of 3, and if you are a promising product, you will not leave until you are 40. You will be hired by a corporation, retire and then your physical body will die.

Where is the room for our mental, spiritual and emotional growth in this already developed and federally enforced plan? As industry becomes more rigorous, your mental health suffers. There will be a drastic increase in antidepressants and anxiety medication. Since there is a lack of consideration for the actual individual in this plan: mental health budgets are butchered, prisons filled and GMOs infest every ingredient. It is easy to understand why antidepressant sales in the United States exceeded 130 percent in 2015, compared to 2013.

"Prior to treatment, patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, depression and other psychiatric disorders do not suffer from any known "chemical imbalance." However, once a person is put on a psychiatric medication, which, in one manner or another, throws a wrench into the usual mechanics of a neuronal pathway, his or her brain begins to function...abnormally."

Prescription drugs are not the answer for maintaining mental health or creating mental health. There is a huge lack of research in regards to these drugs actually creating a healthy mental environment. In every instance, the drug has only been seen to subdue the characteristics. There are very little tests that show a healthy mental habit being formed after prescription drug use. There is also little evidence to even show that mental illnesses are solely a cause of a chemical imbalance. Although modern society may shove this fallacy in the arms of patients, the reality is that it is simply untrue.

Despite what the slick advertisements say, psychotropic drugs have no known measurable biological imbalances to correct -- unlike other drugs that can measurably alter levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and so on.

Mental health, though, much like physical health, can be improved by the individual. Now I know that seems strange, since you have to use your brain to help mend reactions and feelings caused by your brain, but it is do-able! Taking proper productive steps towards improving your overall mental health, creating healthy brain activity and recognizing your consciousness is all necessary in becoming or maintaining your happiness! In taking the steps manually as opposed to popping a pill, the results are far more permanent, with only healthy side effects.

1. Meditate.

Meditation creates a purposeful mental concentration and mindfulness that provides the individual an opportunity to truly experience the present. Although it may seem that everyday we are "present," simply viewing the world from a body and genuinely being submerged in every wave, pulse and movement is completely different. By focusing on your conscious purposefully, you regain attention, vision and mindfulness. You will also gain much needed peace, as you silence your brain and live fully within the moment. Tune in to your soul and the world around you.

Stress can also cause a number of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, hair loss, depression, anxiety and unfortunately, many more. One of the most frequent occurrence during stress is the release of cortisol. The hormone releases the "flight or fight" response in a stressful situation after being exposed to chronic stress previously in their life. By your body consistently releasing this hormone, your immune system will plummet. It is important to remain as stress free as possible to not only ensure your own happiness, but to prevent future diseases. Creating a grasp on the chemical and appropriated responses to stress, one can begin to overcome their depression and anxiety.

Because most bodily cells have cortisol receptors, it affects many different functions in the body. Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure. In women, cortisol also supports the developing fetus during pregnancy. All of these functions make cortisol a crucial hormone to protect overall health and well-being.

Although you do not choose for this chemical to be released, you do choose what you do with this situation and how you react to future situations. Staying mindful throughout your process is important in recognizing and appreciating your improvements.



2. Yoga.

Through meditation's mindfulness, the practice of yoga emerges. Yoga is disciplined body poses that not only help you relax, but helps strengthen and tone your body. Although many of these poses can be challenging, do not be discouraged. The challenging nature of yoga helps with the internal strengthening of your being. Endorphins, along with serotonin, are also released during yoga, which has been proven in improving mood, as serotonin is a neurotransmitter that essentially lets every function in your body talk to each other.

When you're not feeling particularly happy, try to make your yoga practice about joy, and invite it back into your life, pose by pose, breath by breath. Mild depression can be eased with rejuvenating, playful yoga postures. Backbends, like the slight one in crescent, are proven to release endorphins.

By engaging in this practice, you are putting your mindfulness to physical action. You may fall, wobble or fart. Regardless, keep with your journey and be mindful of your progressions. Beginning to appreciate who you are as an individual, your persistence, strength and improvement are necessary, as well as guided by yoga.

If you cannot make it to a yoga studio, or simply do not wish to be around people, there is an awesome YouTube channel by Yoga With Adrienne, where she does a multitude of videos. Ranging from weight loss to stress relief, she even offers yoga detox videos to help promote healthy functions of your organs!

3. Eat healthy.

Your diet is a crucial factor in both your physical and mental health. Although we are spiritual creatures, our organs and tangible objects that make up our being, and they require certain nutrients to function properly. Now, this does not mean an entire diet of salt or GMOs (eating chemicals all day everyday affects your brain activity). One study tested pesticides on GMO crops by feeding the genetically modified food, which our entire diet consists of, to rats. In both acute and chronic levels of Roundup being used as a pesticide on the crops, researchers found:

"Taken together, these results demonstrated that Roundup® might lead to excessive extracellular glutamate levels and consequently to glutamate excitotoxicity and oxidative stress in rat hippocampus. They also found that the herbicide affected the enzymes ERK and CaMKII, the later of which is an enzyme whose dysregulation has been linked to Alzheimer's disease.[ii] Additionally, acute exposure was observed to have the following three effects:
  • Increase the amino acid glutamate into the junctions through which neurons communicate (synaptic cleft), which, when released in excess levels, can exert excitotoxic/neurotoxic effects in neurons.
  • Decrease the neuroprotective antioxidant glutathione.
  • Increase 'brain rancidity,' i.e. lipid peroxidation, characterized by excitotoxicity (overstimulation of the neurons) and oxidative damage. "
  • Try a diet that will pull you away from chemicals, dairy and flesh. Eating as raw as possible is a great way to avoid unhealthy foods. If you groan at the sound of organic, you might want to take this step, as the food you are and have been eating for years is severely addictive. Imagine fueling a car on pie fillings, then complaining when it won't move.

    4. Appreciate.

    Spending time every day to think about what you appreciate in your life and about others is a great way to shape your psyche. Imagine how much time is already spent thinking of things that we do poorly, what needs to be done and anxiety on how others evaluate us. Letting go of the constant worry and appreciating not only your surroundings, but yourself, will drastically aid in improving mood. Your attitude will go from stressed to grateful, regardless of the circumstances.

    So many of us live in a perpetual state of wanting more—more money, more shiny new toys, more things. And we chase those material possessions with more gusto than we pursue what’s been empirically shown to increase happiness: more joy, more experiences and more time.

    Taking the beginning steps to harboring a positive outlook can help aid in ending the consistent release of cortisol. Remember, you deserve to be happy! Forgiving yourself and others is one way of showing appreciation for the beauty of life around you.

    5. Stop smoking cigarettes.

    Although cigarettes may feel like they are releasing anxiety, they actually are creating more. Nicotine has been shown to restrict blood vessels, actually raising your blood pressure, and ultimately your stress levels.They also dehydrate you, so while you are stressed and crying, adding a Newport on top of your meltdown is not the wisest for your health. Adding incense infused with essential oils in place of cigarettes, or vaping a highly concentrated CBD wax, there are actual "cloudy"-filled, stress-relieving options. Cigarettes are just not one of them.

    You cannot enjoy life if your body is literally being suffocated and damaged at all times through the day.

    Cover Image Credit: https://blackafricanwoman.org/category/purpose/

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    I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

    There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
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    It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

    Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

    My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

    I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

    There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

    This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

    And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

    If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

    Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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    4 Things To Do When You're In A Depressive Episode

    Even if you don't have any plans besides staying home all day in a depressive puddle, doing these two small things helps put me into a more productive mindset.
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    Depressive episodes are debilitating, to say the least. They come when you least expect them and gnaw at your mind, leaving you numb.

    As I have mentioned in previous articles, I have the tendency to go through depressive episodes. These episodes generally last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. They usually happen for no particular reason, with no warning.

    And there's not really that much to be done in terms of curing it. It's more about just getting through it.

    Since we are nearing the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I'd give my advice on little things you can do when you're in a spot of depression.

    Every person's mental health experience is different, so what helps me might not help you. Also, this advice is dealing with short-term depressive episodes, not chronic depression.

    Here are four things that help me cope with depressive episodes.

    1. Get dressed and make your bed.

    Even if you don't have any plans besides staying home all day in a depressive puddle, doing these two small things helps put me into a more productive mindset.

    Realizing I've been in my room all day, with blankets, snacks, and my laptop just thrown across the bed and myself still dressed in pajama pants at 5 p.m. usually makes me feel worse. It makes me feel like I'm just wasting away in my room rather than doing something with my life.

    Getting dressed and making my bed sets me up for a more productive day.

    2. Watch a feel-good movie or TV show.

    My go-to's are usually the movie "Mamma Mia" and the TV show "Psych."

    Saying laughing can cure depression would be completely ridiculous, but laughing does make it more bearable. Watching something funny and uplifting helps remove you from the despair that you feel like your life's currently in and reminds you it's not all bad.

    3. Dive into your work.

    Whether it's school or a job (or both), ignoring your responsibilities can make you feel worse in the long run, since it adds more stress on to you in the future. Also, working on something else can serve as a distraction.

    Yes, it is harder to focus when depressed, but you need to push through it and force yourself sometimes so that you don't let this disease impact your day-to-day life.

    4. Don't think too much about why you're depressed.

    Questioning why you feel the way you do is best left in therapy.

    Asking yourself things like "What caused this?", "Why did my mood suddenly shift?", and "Was it because of so-and-so?" can lead to really destructive thought spirals.

    These thought spirals could lead you to believe that something that definitely didn't cause your depression in fact has.

    It's easier to accept that sometimes mental health problems come without any kind of warning.

    Don't focus too much on the "why" of it. Getting through it should be your main priority.

    Instead, focus on how you will get better eventually. Even if it seems impossible at the moment, you will feel good again.

    Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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