Fitness, Uncategorized

The Importance of Mentors (My Experience)

Today, as I began to prepare for my new position as an online writing mentor for online English classes at my university, I remembered an important person that inspired me and provided guidance.

My neighbor down the block used to be a a competition body builder, though she didn’t even start this fitness journey until she was in her adult years. She then began working as a rehab physical therapist until she got ready to move. During this prep time, she ended up selling me a lot of her home equipment at really good prices simply because she said she believed in me and my fitness journey.

She knew I wasn’t particularly interested in competition prep, but also that I had a passion for exercise and healthy living. Pointers were provided left and right, she corrected my form on a few different lifts, and just made me feel ready to actually go after my goals.

Mentors don’t always have to be famous, rich, family, or whatever other guidelines society has attached to the term. A mentor is someone who guides you in the right direction so you can reach the end goal yourself. They show you possibilities and instill something as simple as hope.

This may sound cheesy considering my job made me think of this short relationship, but I believe any type of influence you have on a other person is important. Whether it be an academic influence, romantic influence, etc., your actions and words do matter.

I have always fluctuated with my workout patterns. I didn’t have a lot of equipment to work with and lacked motivation to go to the gym. Being able to purchase workout equipment in good condition at affordable prices totally changed the game for me. Now I couldn’t have excuses.

My neighbor opened this door for me, and through kind words of encouragement and a few instances of helpful criticism, convinced me to go on this journey open minded. I thank her for this, even if I haven’t gotten the chance to thank her personally.

Role models can be anyone and can impact multiple areas of your life. I suggest finding one who truly inspires you, makes you feel good about yourself, and shows that goals are obtainable.

I am now taking this experience and plan to incorporate it into my semester writing mentor job. Writing isn’t for everyone so I will therefore be pushing a lot of people who were just like me when starting out with fitness, worried, lost, and doubtful.

Support is always important. Feeling valid is a need. Having your own feelings acknowledged is relieving. Form meaningful bonds and connections with those who lift you up to your aspirations rather than pull you away from.

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Helpful Links, Mental Health/Wellbeing

My New Friend Art Therapy

I know I’ve still been pretty MIA, but it’s for good reasons. I’ve put a lot of effort into my job, have been getting some things at home back on track, and have also been channeling my artistic side. Mentally this has been great and I feel stable/satisfied.

As this is a rare thing for someone like me, who’s constantly battling anxiety attacks, I have made one promise to myself. The promise is that I will continue to stay in touch with my inner artist whether it be with painting, drawing, jewelry making or dance.

By expressing my inner emotions through these different outlets rather than with words, I am releasing any tension and making room for more happiness. I also have been quite proud of my most recent creations which I’ll post at the bottom of this entry.

I have always been interested in the hands-on arts, but never put anymore effort into them than occasionally creating a piece. That’s because I forgot how good it feels to create something with your own mind and hands that you can show to others and admire anytime. This has also led to me to putting more of my original work up around our bedroom and other rooms in the house.

Now I am not saying I am going to focus all of my attention on my art, but I am going to make an attempt to keep it as part of my normal distressing routines. It may be my OCD, but I am a big believer in routines or plans. In fact, I have a list of activities that I can do to relieve anxiousness.

In past blog posts, I have mentioned things like exercising, listening to music, and performing acts of self care as different anxiety tools. Lately, painting/wire wrapping has been added to my tool box and I recommend it to anyone looking for a calm way to distract yourself or emotionally express yourself.

No, you don’t necessarily have to be artistic to paint or draw; it is important, however, that you let the creative juices flow and listen to your both your heart and mind. You may be surprised at how pleased you are for the end. This time doesn’t have to be freestyle either as you can look up tutorials or even follow along with some episodes of Bob Ross!

Below I have posted the links to two videos I thought were intriguing in terms of psychology and art. With my recent revelations, I do see how creating can make you feel more empowered, relaxed, and content. Enjoy and please share your creations in the comments!

 

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Uncategorized

Social Media Absence

Hello everyone, I apologize for me being MIA more recently. I am working part time and taking an online class, as well as doing some fun things for summer, and helping my mom around the house. I have missed blogging, and am excited to hopefully be back as I’ve created a schedule for myself.

On the other hand, not logging on to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or even here, felt refreshing. For once, my full focus was on my own life and those closest to me instead of on complete strangers who I sometimes find myself comparing myself to. Therefore, I have decided that I will not be as active social media wise as I was before. This does not mean that I care any less about my journey or encouraging/inspiring others to start their own, but more that this is what need to better my mentality even more.

I encourage anyone who finds themselves constantly refreshing apps or social media sites out of boredom, depression, anxiety, etc. to take a break.  This doesn’t mean immediately avoid going on anything; it means to take small steps to minimizing this technology time. I started with the elimination of phone time in the middle of sleepless nights or right when I am getting up for the day. Yes, sometimes I slip up but that’s okay because this is a process.

However you specifically need to decrease the time you spend online in your life is up to you just as the reasons behind the decision to do so is. Personally, depression and anxiety lead to boredom or the shutting down of my motivation and I therefore result to social media which only makes me feel worse. I have noticed changes this week in my happiness levels and how long the highest ones last; they’ve improved as I removed social media time from parts of my days.

Remember, it’s always important to do what you need to do to feel your best. This means ignoring the social norms around you if they make your feelings feel wrong in any way. All emotions are valid. Everybody deals with things and is effected by situations in various ways. If you are going to take a social media break, I suggest you do it for yourself.

Again, I am not disappearing again. I am going to post regularly, just not as often as before. Having a busy life is okay and it is so important you effectively manage your energy and emotional levels during times like these. Get to know yourself while actually being able to enjoy the journey. 29173794aefc369a80e13833e8f9b278

Mental Health/Wellbeing, Product Reviews

’13 Reasons Why’ Controversy – My Side

TRIGGER WARNING AND POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT! I WILL BE ADDRESSING VARIOUS TOPICS FROM SEASONS 1-2 OF THE SHOW.

Also please remember that the following critique if you will is completely my opinion. Nothing is based off of expert statements, it’s simply how I see the television show when using my own experiences and knowledge thus far to analyze it as I have both a passion for and academic path geared towards mental health.

I understand many may have opinions that differ from mine and I am 100% okay with that. I do ask, however, to avoid leaving negative comments publicly. If you feel you really need to talk to me about this post, contact me via email or DM on Twitter/Instagram. Whether or not I respond depends on the way you approach me.

Now, without further ado, my reasons that lead me to believe the Netlifx original Drama ’13 Reasons Why’ is an accurate and appropriate portrayal of modern day mental health/bullying problems.

1.) There are both discretion warnings and clips providing potential help for those who are or know someone else who needs professional aid or some other service.

There’s no doubt that a large amount of the content within the show can be seen as uncomfortable to look at, but, just like wildlife series or possibly war documentaries, warnings are provided to the viewer at the beginning of the program so they can decide whether or not to continue watching. Not only this, but the producers mention how some scenes could act as possible triggers for those who’ve experienced similar trauma or have other mental health concerns and suggest they only continue watching safely with a trusted friend/loved one. Some may think that just doing this isn’t enough; but in the industry, warnings/labels are all CD, television show, and other media producers can do to deter potential negative outcomes for certain audience members exposed to their media.

Similarly, as the show is coming to an end, hotlines and other forms of support are once again provided for the viewer. It’s not like the producers of the series are just simply showing mental health in a negative aspect and the potential power it can hold over even a group of people. The intended overall message, I believe, is that what we do and say matters a whole lot more than we think it does. Even if it doesn’t effect our own life in some significant way, doesn’t mean it impact another.

This whole idea is better in so many ways to have circling people’s TV screens than the majority of the entertainment that is also out there. Audiences were quick to attack the intensity at which both season one and two held, but there’s tons of other media out there that lack in a meaningful and relevant messages. Horror movies for example, are still released but alongside content ratings. In reality, however, this doesn’t stop kids from watching them.

Overall, the show addresses mental health issues from a serious point of view. Providing help, portraying multiple types of mental problems that are faced more commonly than the public tends to think. The show was intended to end the stigma behind mental health care and show how real, detrimental, and fast emotional/mental stress can absorb various types of people. It’s, in my opinion, one of the few shows that is so directed at helping the viewers and showing them they’re not alone.

2.) The intense scenarios they touch upon only make people uncomfortable because they’re recognized as taboo by society. The show is making effort to highlight these events and the importance of acknowledging them instead of burying them in shame. 

While not everybody may want to talk about sexual assault, suicide, depression, or bullying the truth is: we have to. People who deal with these topics and the like are sometimes forced to go through the struggle alone out of fear of what others will think/say/do based off of past experiences. This is not humane. We owe more to each other as the human race with such great emotional intelligence.

To just let suicide or bullying in teens carry on is negligent. I’m not saying that mental health shares no part of the limelight of public interest. This is in no way true since employers, schools, and the health field have all become more open over the years to the significance of mental health; yet, this did little to change/eliminate the stigmas stuck to the concept.

Referring back, once again, to the aspect of the warnings before/after each episode it’s obvious that the cast and crew are trying to bring awareness to and educate those scared/unsure about the challenges and risks of mental health issues left unattended to. I don’t see this as encouraging, or failing to accurately capture a wide variety of mental health struggles. The Netlfix series is more of a look into a part of the everyday psychological world that has been avoided in public conversation. It’s only furthering along the acceptance of mental health as a real field to be concerned about and aware of.

3.) These situations aren’t exaggerated or irrelevant.

Especially with the amount of attention more recently placed on sexual assaults within the show biz industry, I thought that the views towards such crimes would change. So far, I haven’t seen that. There still seems to be a divide between people who seek justice for such cases and those who turn to victim blaming or other opposing tactics. This is directly demonstrated in the verdict given after character Bryce Walker is tried for rape.

The teenager only receives 3 months of probation after a failed testimony by his girlfriend and Hannah Baker’s mother. I read somewhere that the writers made this so in order to truly reflect the realness of modern day rape culture. Justice is not fairly distributed to those faced with charges of rape/sexual assault and often the attention and pressure is more centered around the victim.

This then directly leads to the low amount of assaults that are reported compared to the amount that actually happen. I found the scene in one of the last few episodes of season 2 where different women from the show come forth in a court room, describing the time(s) they were themselves assaulted. This wasn’t really a necessary part for the development of the actual plot, but an opportunity the producers took to further outline the truth behind rape.

I personally know at least eight people (not just women) that have been raped or forced into some other type of assault. Not one of them pursued justice, but rather hid with pain and guilt much like character Jessica Davis. That is why this aspect of the show is so important. We need to educate audiences on the idea of getting professional help or recognizing concerning signs within themselves or other that could escalate if ignored. Until the victims feel comfortable enough to come forward, statistics won’t reflect the true rates of such traumatizing experiences.

Rape wasn’t the only thing I saw as necessary to show. The effects of bullying, whether over or covert, are so important. Through the exchanges between characters like Hannah and Zach or Hannah and Justin, it’s so clear how much other people’s own issues such as insecurities/fear of humiliation or wanting to be cool and approaching it in the wrong way can change more than just one person’s life. Hannah, directly impacted by the words that came from places of low self worth and ego in both Justin and Zach, managed to internalize these events so much that they added immensely to her already overwhelming stress load.

While thinking about things like “be nice to others”, or “treat people how you want to be treated” may bring one back to feeling like a little kid learning to socialize, they’re still important as we move through adolescents and adulthood. By just being nice to others, you are ensuring that you are not part of whatever internal turmoil they are dealing with. No, you can’t be nice to everyone all of the time, but paying more attention to your options when reacting to or initiating conversation can positively affect the outcome.

I see a perfect portrayal of this when Clay decides to go outside and coax Tyler out of entering the school dance with a weapon. Instead of freaking out, hiding, attacking Tyler, Clay chose to be his friend. Kinds words, a calm voice, and assurance managed to get Tyler to rethink his plan which ends up saving so many lives. Being nice or even just considerate to someone can really move them in a way larger than you can imagine since we can never accurately know what someone else is feeling/thinking. Always recognize everything deals with things differently, and those ‘things’ can vary in many ways.

There are so many aspects of the series that I have thoughts on about why it’s important, but I just wanted to share my general opinion. Personally, the series hits home as I experienced bullying, assault, depression, and other unpleasantness in middle-high school. I believe some who hold negative feelings towards the show may be lacking in ways to relate, but they could also be the exact opposite of the person who should watch a show like 13 Reasons Why.

No, I didn’t go and watch critique or review videos on the series. Yes, I am aware they directly ignored the advisory of a psychologist in some of their scene selection. That aside, I think it is a great series. It made me feel accepted, and I hope it did so for many others. We, as a race, have definitely made progress on the mental health track and I see this as continuing. Even if attempts to further progress such as this media depiction generate more opposing than supporting comments, it is enough that the ideas are at least being circulated. Change starts with conversation, something 13 Reasons Why depicts in the most blunt, sincere way.51kI5RoEVkL._SS500

Helpful Links, Mental Health/Wellbeing

Down Days Are Okay

Recently, I have gotten a lot of things done around the house since I’ve had more free time after the semester ended. In fact, I got so much done so fast that I found myself kind of overwhelmed with the amount of time I had so I of course decided to on literally everything.

While at the time this was a good idea, I soon found myself flat out exhausted. In the past I would have beat myself up over this feeling while trying to relax, which kind of defeats the point.

Instead of taking that negative approach, however, I told myself I deserve a rest day and am better off taking one. Some people might find this silly that I am addressing this as an important concept, but to me and others with disorders that affect their stress levels it is very crucial.

Anxieties can sometimes manifest themselves in ways that are rather productive. There is a point when this productivity can reach extremes that only add to stress and fatigue instead of the longed for feeling of release/relaxation. That is why everyone should make it a solid part of their routine to allow oneself a break or some rest.

I’m not saying that being productive and “in the zone” isn’t healthy as it does help to finish rather intimidating tasks. What I am saying is that you need to learn to listen to your body. Even if you only feel physically tired, it could mean you’re mentally wiped as well since the two are intertwined.

Recharging your batteries can do more wonders for your energy levels and thus accomplishments than pushing yourself to get an insane amount of things done. The goal of completing as much as possible as fast as possible seems of pure intention, and it can be, but it’s not worth the added stress that tiring yourself out to the extreme will bring.

Know when to stop and how to pace yourself in vigorous activities of all kinds to avoid burning out faster than usual. Get things done, but in a reasonable and healthy way. Also understand that weariness or tiredness can also come from mental stimuli, not just physical. If something has been pushing you mentally, that is another good reason for a down day.

After lounging around the house for the majority of the day, I felt 10x better. I cleaned intensely for hours yesterday and had even wanted to keep going but my back pain stopped me. I’m glad I got all of that done, but I don’t think it was worth being so tired and sore and I now see I could’ve better divided my time up.

A rocky night’s sleep added to my fatigue, which convinced me even more to stay in bed today. My favorite part is that I actually got to enjoy it since I’ve learned that even doing nothing is doing something for yourself/health and saw it as beneficial. Instead of punishing myself, I rewarded myself for knowing when to stop and listening to myself.

Relaxation is just as important as exercise, a good diet, and decent sleep. Without it, you could become a zombie who’s out of tune with yourself and the world. If you feel the need to binge watch Netflix, sleep for hours, or cuddle up with a book all day: do it.

These feelings or wants are your body telling you to pause. Take a break from the craziness of life. Enjoy the now and let your body rest in whatever way works best for you.

Just as with your workouts, make this time for you and enjoy. 6fc980c764515e73b320c67fedebe0a3

Mental Health/Wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week – Book Talk

The various stigmas and stereotypes that have become attached to mental health and all of the disorders, illnesses, and disabilities are starting to be socially challenged by mental health advocates around the world.

To me, this is significant progress for us human beings. For a very long time, suppressing emotions to show strength was taught in simple, early-life socialization (especially for males, but I’ll save a talk on cave man masculinity for another time). Phrases such as “Big kids don’t cry”, or “Cry baby” were commonly used in both the schools and homes of whole generations; this method of teaching kids to “handle” their emotions does still exist in some capacities, but modernization is changing that.

As the fields of Psychology and Sociology continue to evolve, we will continue to better understand and thus be able to manage our emotions in an appropriate manner. That is why it is so important to spread awareness of all things mental health. Employers, schools, even families would all benefit from being educated on this once taboo subject.

Recently, I have been reading a book titled Emotional Intelligence by science journalist Daniel Goleman. The big picture focuses on emotional intelligence as a whole, but one specific part regarding simply acknowledging your emotions.

It’s sort of hard for me to remember that there are people out there who don’t feel as deeply as I do. But the reality is that societal norms have established that mental health issues or even recognition is a sign of weakness: which in itself is deemed humiliating. This then has direct influence over individual personality and cognitive development/control.

People who ignore their feelings and emotions can be called “repressors” as they make an effort to bury anything that is negative (Goleman 75). I have known some people like this in the past and they typically claim this sort of aloofness aided them in managing stress and staying on track with life. This is actually also common among most “reppressors” or “unflappables” (Goleman 75).

Yes, these people may feel at ease, however, “they can sometimes siege with physiological upsets they are oblivious to” (Goleman 75). The fact that these people have trained themselves to ignore the indicators of songstress and anxiety is one reason why it’s time to realize the more talk on mental health, the better as our society is currently not tackling any of these issues but is rather instigating them. The movement was started, but it must continue.

So many people out there may need help and not even know it, or are too afraid to seek it in the first place. It could be your neighbor, parent, sibling, teacher, friend, or basically anyone you know as mental heath disorders/illnesses don’t know ethnicity, sexuality, or any other socially constructed category. By making it known that mental struggles are normal and that you’re never alone in the battle, suicide rates, employment rates, and so many other important aspects of our communities could potentially decrease.

A problem, like the lack of support in the mental health world, can only be reversed when given attention. So this is me encouraging you to speak. If you have faced things like anxiety, depression, PTSD, personality disorders, crippling phobias, or any other mental health classification try to share your story when relevant because it could save someone’s life, metaphorically or physically.

We have the power in our hands to face our mental struggles and should always empower others to do so. As always, both physical and mental strength are crucial to a happy human. Don’t waste your time focusing on exactly how bad you feel, but rather on why you feel that way and where to go from there.

Happy Mental Health Awareness Week. Remember to take care of yourself, take breaks, breathe, ask for help, help others, and grow a little every day.

P.S. I recommend the referenced text to anyone who enjoys psych/soc readings! (Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman)

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Fitness, Mental Health/Wellbeing

Lower Body – May 14th, 2018

I apologize for having disappeared from the blogging world for a few days. Between vacationing in Mexico and going to three day-long trainings for my new job, I had to spend my spare time sleeping and relaxing.

Today, however, is the start of a new week and I came in hot. Got a lot done around the house, workout out, napped, and hung out with my mom; I was in the zone! I definitely realized how bad I had needed rest.

It’s vital to remember to give yourself breaks every now and then. This goes for both mental and physical aspects. Allowing yourself to recharge becomes necessary when you live a modern life that revolves around getting things done and constantly moving.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, so I wanted to base my content accordingly. Psychological health is often not given as much attention as it should get due to negative stigmas and stereotypes found in the media. By employers, teachers, family members, and even those with the disorders themselves, mental health can be ignored or repressed out of fear or denial.

Everyday I make sure to fight this cycle as I acknowledge my emotions and energy levels along with my overall physical health. I’ve stated this so many times before, but that’s because it’s not always known that your mental well being directly influences your physical well being.

Making small efforts to better the two simultaneously through things like exercise, reading, meditation, music, or anything else that makes you genuinely happy is progress towards your overall health.

That being said, if you decide to try out my leg day workout or a routine of your own, make it a goal to implement some mental exercise/care into your day as well.

Circuit One: 2 sets (see below for reps)

  • Dead-lifts w/ 2 (15 lb) Hand Weights — 12 reps
  • Stationary Lunges w/ 2 (15 lb) Hand Weights — 10 reps (each side!)
  • Sumo Squat w (20 lb) Hand Weight — 12 reps
  • Clam Shells w (15 lb) Hand Weight — 10 reps (each side!)

Circuit Two: 2 sets (see below for reps)

  • Side Leg Lifts w/ 2 (5 lb) Ankle Weights — 15 reps (each side!)
  • Super Man Leg Lifts w/ 2 (5 lb) Ankle Weights — 8 reps (each side!)
  • Crunches w/ (4 lb) Medicine Ball — 12 reps
  • Elbow-To-Knee Crunches — 12 reps (total!)
  • Ankle Touch — 20 reps (total!)

For cardio, I did 30 minutes on my cycle. I also made sure to stretch to avoid being super sore tomorrow.

Go at your own pace, change the sets/reps/weights when needed, and just make it your own. Throwing in some stretching and meditation would be a really good way to end this little routine out; speaking from experience ;).

Happy Monday and happy first day of Mental Health Awareness Week. Come back to my page or checkout my Instagram, @ereissen19, for more facts and information about mental health.

 

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