Nature Heals!

Exercise has never been my friend. In fact, one of my first blogs talked about exactly this issue — how hard it is for people with ADD and depression to get out and move (even though it’s so important).

However, I’ve been in a strange season of life recently that has forced me to change some of my habits. I’m waiting for a new job to start and, without anything to do, I’ve been bored out of my mind. While navigating this transition, the strangest thing happened.

I fell in love with hiking and with nature. Who woulda thought!

Last week I hiked 11 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain up to Mount LeConte, one of the highest peaks in the Smokies. And I’m not going to lie — for a lot of the hike I wanted to die. It was exhausting and draining and at some points deeply challenging both emotionally and physically. However, when I got to the top, I felt a euphoria and pride I haven’t felt in a long time. After being bored all summer, feeling like I had achieved something once again inspired and exhilarated me.

In the last few weeks, I’ve walked and hiked more than I have in years and I’ve spent at least three days a week out on a trail. Mount LeConte was actually my third huge hike this month. And the more I’ve hiked and exercised, the more motivated I’ve become to keep it up.

People have told me to exercise more for years, but I had no idea how healing nature and movement could really be for my mental health. It forces me to quiet my brain, find time to be grateful for the world around me and gives me something I can continuously work to improve. I’ve started to understand how people can get so addicted to endorphins. Hell, this is probably the first time I’ve even exercised enough to even feel endorphins.

During a time of depression, it can be incredibly hard to get out and move or exercise. And this is not to say that time outside can take the place of therapy or medication. But I’m finding each day more and more that nature heals when I’m at my lowest. In fact, I’ve felt too unmotivated to even blog recently, but I felt inspired enough while out on the trail that I sat down on a bench and wrote this post in my iPhone notes. I even ran a mile this today and I don’t think I’ve done that since middle school PE.

So even if it feels extra hard, get outside. I absolutely know how tough (and sometimes miserable) it can be, but I’m learning that a little exercise or a walk in the woods each day really can turn things around.

What keeps you motivated to exercise? Let me know in the comments!

Surviving Summer Road Trips

Hello friends!

A lot has happened since I last posted. I graduated from college and I’m very proud to say that despite all of my learning disabilities, I was able to graduate Cum Laude with Honors.

This big transition has meant awkwardly navigating adulthood and trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. But more on that later!

I took May and June off to recharge after a stressful year, so I’ve been visiting friends around the country a lot this past month. But with ADD, a three-hour drive can feel as tedious and draining as a nine-hour drive (and the nine-hour drive I took felt like a trillion years.) So, the 40 hours of driving  I’ve done in the last few weeks felt pretty brutal. Obviously sitting still for a long time is not my biggest strength and I don’t handle prolonged boredom well. So there were certainly a few meltdowns and moments of hysterical laughing along the way. 

But I’ve learned a few tricks to get through it with my sanity intact. If you have a summer road trip coming up, here are some ways you can get through it too!

  1. Play the alphabet game! I know this may sound a little strange. But my boyfriend/road trip buddy and I played the alphabet at least 10 times during our trips and it really helps pass the time. In case you’re not familiar, have each player make their way from A to Z by finding words along the road that start with each letter in order. Whoever gets to Z first wins! It’s definitely a silly game, but I’ve found that getting competitive energizes me and keeps my brain occupied for a while 
  2. Try a podcast. I’ve actually never really been into podcasts, I usually prefer to just listen to music. But after 6 hours in the car, I had pretty much run out of songs. Since I was driving with a hockey enthusiast, we turned on the “Podcast Off Ice” interview with Lindsey Vonn and following her story gave me something with substance to focus my attention on. 
  3. Take enough rests along the way. If you think you can get to your destination without stopping frequently, you’re lying to yourself. It may make the trip a little longer, but the worst thing you can do is keep yourself cooped up in the car without a chance to stretch and let out a little energy. Stop at a gas station once in a while, run around, do some jumping jacks and get a crunchy snack. You’ll be very glad you did and so will whoever you’re driving (pun intended) crazy in the car.
  4. Bring lots of snacks. This may be an obvious one but light snacking in the car always helps keep me present. When I’m in the passenger seat, it also gives me something to do with my hands that isn’t biting my nails (they are the unfortunate victims of my trips). I particularly like crunchy snacks because it’s a little more fun and textured to help expel some energy. 
  5. Sing in gibberish for a while and have a mini-meltdown if you need to (I did a lot of both of these). Let’s all be honest, I will never be an easy, low maintenance road trip buddy. No amount of games or rest stops can re-wire my brain to be good at sitting still for hours. But make the best of your time on the road and try some of these tips to make it more doable. 

Do you have any road trip tricks? Let me know in the comments! 

5 Ways To Stay Sane Through Health Issues

Over the last two years, I faced a lot of physical health problems that at times, have really devastated me and taken a huge toll on my mental wellbeing. But since I’ve been dealing with health issues for so long, I’ve learned a few lessons about how to cope with it.

  1. Treat your body kindly. It’s saddening to think how many times over the last year I’ve cursed my body for not functioning the way it’s supposed to and leaving me going from doctor, to doctor, to doctor. But no matter what’s wrong, our bodies still do so much good for us and it’s important to continue being kind and compassionate with ourselves.
  2. Go ahead and cry. While it’s definitely important to remember to stay positive, sometimes you just need to sit down and let yourself admit that it really sucks. It’s okay to feel those feelings.
  3. Find an outlet. Whether it’s writing, yoga, hiking, painting or screaming into a pillow, find a healthy medium to cope with your frustration.
  4. Find someone you can talk to. At times, I’ve felt like I burden my loved ones. I worried that I was annoying them talking so much about my prolonged sadness and frustration toward my body. But if you talk to the people who know you would be there for them if the roles were reversed, they will help carry you through.
  5. Meditate. I’ll admit upfront that I’ve always been bad at this one simply because I forget. But when I’ve committed to meditating regularly, it’s definitely made me feel better about tackling my health. It’s important to continue feeling centered in your body when you have a chronic problem and more important to minimize stress, as that makes everything worse.

How have you stayed sane through health issues? Let me know in the comments!

Do You Hate To Clean Too?

Over the last two weeks, my room slowly devolved into complete and utter filth. The floor was totally buried in clothes and I had to step over piles of papers, shoes and purses to get around. There were leftover wrappers, empty Amazon boxes and some even some unwashed cups and dishes. Please don’t judge me too much, but the state of things in my bedroom was pretty grim.

Now I can assure you that this is not my preferred my way of living and I swear, in the rest of my life I am not a total disaster. But as many of you with ADD may relate to, I just couldn’t will myself to focus on cleaning it up. I had put it off for so long that the mountain of stuff in front of me had become too overwhelming for me to even process where to start.

By the time it became intolerable, I knew I had to conquer my mess. But I kept starting in one area of my room and then switching to another area, then getting distracted again. When the biggest problem was folding and putting away my clothes, I got bored and cleaned my sink instead — a much less urgent task.

So I turned to my American Shaman CBD Oil to help me focus and the biggest strategy I landed on was really committing to cleaning one thing at a time, whether that’s a certain corner of your room or tackling all your clothes at once. It was hard to stay focused long enough to clean the giant mess I had created, but by the end, it was so worth it. A clean room did wonders for my mental health and ended up helping my focus going forward.

My mess mission now is to follow the advice I read earlier in the year and commit to taking care of my clothes and messes right in the moment. I still find myself tossing a shirt on the floor when I get home and I know my habits won’t change right away. But little by little I’m learning to fold right when I get home.

How do you keep a clean room? Let me know in the comments?

Loving Someone With ADD

Last year I found myself saying to my boyfriend, “sometimes I forget things, like my keys and that you love me.”

So I will be the first to admit that it can be a bit of a wild ride dating someone with ADD because our personalities have some special quirks.

I will always be more forgetful than most and may need a little help finding my keys. And my phone. And my sunglasses. Sometimes I will get all wound up and energetic at inconvenient times. I may be a little hypersensitive, but that gives me greater compassion. I will probably be more anxious than most people and maybe even a little needy once in a while. But it’s because I love deeply and fully.

Despite these “challenges,” I reject the idea that dealing with all these unique tendencies makes us difficult to love. In the past, I’ve had people get angry at me for being forgetful or a little spacey from time to time. But I’ve come to embrace that my ADD also helps me bring so many wonderful things to my relationships. So I refuse to feel ashamed.

Those of us with ADD offer something special in our dating lives. We will be more fun, more spontaneous and more willing to adventure on a whim. Our hypersensitivity makes us more open, loving, emotive and caring. While sometimes our hyperactivity may flare up at the wrong moment, it will surely be entertaining to watch. Knowing more about our own mental health helps bring a rare level of self-awareness to our dating life and having overcome some adversity because of our ADD in and out of the classroom, we are more empathetic and compassionate when others are suffering.

So find a partner who can learn to love all of your quirks and embrace the fun and joy that comes with your ADD. And if they’re really the one, hope that they also have a knack for finding your keys.

How CBD Oil Is Helping My Mental Health

At first, I was skeptical of all the CBD hype. I kept reading about how it had healed a variety of physical and mental ailments but I figured it was too good to be true.  Then I tried American Shaman’s Water Soluble Oil and the results honestly blew me away.

A few weeks ago, I woke up feeling distracted, unproductive and didn’t even want to get out of bed. I took a walk hoping that would help me reset but I still felt just as out of it when I got home. With nothing left to try, I decided to drink a little bit of the American Shaman Water-Soluble Oil sample I had bought on a whim a while ago.

I can honestly say that the CBD oil turned my entire day turned around. I suddenly felt motivated and focused. I cleaned my whole room, wrote a blog post and finished my homework. My mood was elevated. My anxiety improved. I felt infinitely better than I had just hours before. I was so blown away that I actually called both of my parents to tell them how excited I was about this new product. Over the last few weeks, I’ve continued to drink the Water Soluble Oil each morning and it’s been obvious that it still makes a huge difference in my day whenever I use it. While I definitely cannot recommend CBD on a medical level, I can certainly say it has begun to make a huge positive difference in my mood, my anxiety and my ADHD.

This is why I am so tremendously excited to announce that I am partnering with American Shaman to help you all get the CBD I have found so valuable! And the Water Soluble Oil isn’t their only product I love. I’ve started using their Hydrating Body Lotion and Lip Revitalizer too. I particularly love the lotion because it makes my skin feel unbelievably soft but also helps relieve some of the aches and pains in my muscles. The texture isn’t greasy like many other CBD lotions and it has a lovely, calming lavender smell. The Lip Revitalizer has also been a lifesaver for my chapped lips because I’ve found that the CBD makes it extra hydrating and it’s not full of fake chemicals and fragrances like many other chapsticks. Everything American Shaman makes is organic, non-GMO and lab-tested to ensure everything is safe and high-quality.

I am partnering with American Shaman because their products — especially the Water Soluble Oil — have genuinely made a huge positive impact on my mental health and I hope they can help you all too.

Head to AMERICAN SHAMAN’S WEBSITE and use my discount code SS10 for 10% off your order!

5 Ways To Practice Self-Care In A Stressful Time

Today I realized something terrifying. In eight weeks, I will graduate from college.

So from the minute I woke up, I was filled with sudden panic about the huge unknown that’s in front of me. Unfortunately, there’s no way for me to ease the stress by getting the perfect job overnight. Instead, I am going to have to make my final days in school about self-care to combat the anxiety.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been great about self-care. Sometimes it makes me feel selfish, or like I’m wasting valuable time that I could be spending getting work done. But I have also seen its value time and time again when I need to reset and collect myself.

So here’s what I’ll be doing to take care of myself during this stressful season.

  1. Taking walks and spending time outside.

Even thought it’s cold, I always find that just half an hour walking outside can help me settle back into a place of calm. If I start to lose focus, getting some fresh air and moving around is always a good way to recharge.

  1. Do something creative.

When I have restless energy, it helps me to feel like I’ve at least created something with my time spend decompressing. So try journaling, painting or writing a song.

  1. Paint my nails (or even spring for a manicure!)

It’s the simplest luxury, but I always feel more confident when my nails look nice. And sometimes the little bit of pampering we get at a manicure is just the extra care we need.

  1. Spend less time on social media.

I’ve heard that comparison is the thief of joy and, especially in a time of so much change, it can be hard not to compare myself to those who seem to have it all figured out, according to social media. But I need to remember that I am exactly where I need to be and that nobody has all the answers, even if it looks like it on Instagram.

5. Try to stay present.

While it’s important for me to engage in the new phase my life is entering, I also need to remember not to get so caught up in planning that I lose sight of my two months as a student. I should most of all be enjoying the days I have left as a student, not panicking about what I will do when they end.

What do you do for self-care? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

I posted last week about embarrassingly forgetting my laptop at home when I went to the Apple store to try and get it fixed, only to find out I had to buy a new one. Long story short, a week later I started getting horrible migraines and eye pain. I even went to see my doctor irrationally worrying I had developed a brain tumor (thanks anxiety). Turns out, the different display on my new laptop was so bad it was seriously straining my eyes. So I’m having to return that one and buy another one. 

With all these tech issues, doing my homework, working on my blog and doing everything else in my life has been much more difficult. So suffice to say, it has been a bit of a stressful week with a lot of reasons to be annoyed and angry. But my advisor noticed a change in me today when I went to talk to her about it.

She told me that I looked surprisingly calm considering that last year, I would have completely freaked out over this mess. And she was completely right. Early 2018 Sara would be having a total prolonged meltdown right now.

But I have grown a lot this year and learned to handle stress so much better than I used to. I don’t know if it was being thrown into a chaotic internship in New York last semester or just finally spending time trying to figure myself out. But a silly saying popping into my head last semester whenever I started to freak out: “Don’t cry over spilled milk, it’s already out of the glass.”

I turned this into a bit of a mantra during my stressful fall semester. When things would get crazy or I would feel like I’d lost control of a situation, I would try to remind myself:

  1. It’s not worth exhausting all your energy worrying about something that is really small in the grand scheme of things (like spilled milk).
  2. And even if something more substantial goes wrong, things are going to happen the way they happen and you can’t get hung up on what you can’t change (it’s already out of the glass).

This is not to say that I’ve overcome all my stress and worry because I certainly haven’t. But I’ve started to learn to try and have a little perspective when things go wrong and try not to freak out about the little things. 

Do you have a mantra that helps you when you’re stressed? Let me know in the comments!