20 Lessons for 20 Years (October 2020)

On October 20, 2020, I turned 20 years old. I guess entering a second decade isn’t a huge deal for everyone, but I really appreciate this milestone in my life. Over the past week, I have taken some time to reflect and formulate this list of lessons. I guess this is an open letter to “Young Me”, some things I would have liked to have known.

So, here’s 20 lessons for 20 years…

  1.   If someone tells you who they are, believe them. Unless something occurs to the    contrary, it’s okay to assume that someone is being genuine.
  2. Nailpolish is fun and a great form of self expression. Can’t choose one polish color? A different color for each finger is completely acceptable…
  3. The human body is 60% water, drink a lot of it. 
  4. Being alone sometimes is a great thing. Social interaction can be exhausting; don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself.
  5. Exercise makes you feel incredible, both emotionally and physically. Get those endorphins girl!
  6. Sexuality is a long spectrum.
  7. Social media works for you in small portions. It is healthy to mute people. If you shouldn’t look at someone’s Instagram, don’t look at it.
  8. Femininity does not equal idiocy. You can be feminine, be scholarly and carry yourself well in a meeting. 
  9. You do not need to rise to or lower yourself to people’s expectations of you. Exceed your own expectations of yourself.
  10. Therapy can be a life changing tool, in the best way.
  11. As you grow, there will be people and places you outgrow. Luckily, when one door                closes, another opens.
  12. Laugh louder than you should. Dance around the room all the time. Blast your favorite songs and sing along.
  13. There will always be trends. Don’t compromise your authenticity to follow the crowd.
  14. Tell the people you love that you love them MULTIPLE times a day. Pre-covid. Give lots of hugs.
  15. You can share as much or as little with other people as you want. No one is entitled to your secrets or personal information. It’s all up to you!
  16. Choose kindness. 
  17. Invest in your basics. Good quality jeans, bras, and people.
  18. Write it down! Don’t allow great ideas to pass you by…the great American novel began with one word.
  19. Eat well, but if you’re gonna eat sh*tty food…do it right.
  20. You are in control of you. You are not in control of other peoples’ thoughts, actions, or perceptions of you. You are in control of you and you can make your life amazing.

Let’s Talk About It: Nutrition & Mental Health (February 2021)

Food is fuel, we all know this already. What if I told you that everything you eat directly affects your emotional and mental health? What if I told you that food can be psychiatric medicine? I’m not a registered dietitian, but I have been fortunate to spend the last three years of my academic career studying nutrition and mental health. It may sound simple, but what you consume in a day is completely in your control. No, eating an apple won’t magically bring you a 4.0 GPA or a Tesla. However, making balanced, nutritious choices in your daily life will definitely improve your overall worldview. So, let’s talk food…

When I began researching nutrition in 2018, I began the process by breaking down daily food into its smallest parts. We all know we “should” eat vegetables, but what is asparagus actually doing for me other than making my pee smell? I learned that nutritious foods can be broken down into vitamins and minerals. The three most beneficial vitamins for brain health are: Vitamin B6, B12, and E. All three improve overall cognition and mood. They can all be found in everyday foods that are probably in your diet already. If not, they are easy to incorporate.

Vitamin B6 is a badass vitamin. I like to think of B6 as the balance beam of vitamins because it functions to level multiple systems in the body. B6 is famous for regulating glucose levels in the blood. When you go for that soft serve (as you should!), B6 will balance out your body from that sugar spike. B6 is powerful when it comes to memory and can improve your ability to remember information for tests or to remember to text someone back. Additionally, B6 is great for mood stabilization. It can be found in salmon, turkey, avocado, and potatoes. 

Vitamin B12 is your go-to for energy. B12 is the perfect solution for increased energy during the day and improved endurance for athletics. It is the perfect boost to help you make it through the day! B12 also has properties that improve brain function; it has anti-inflammatory properties, proven to reduce inflammation in the brain. Eva Selhub MD, from Harvard Medical School, states that inflammation in the brain can aggravate mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. It is in your best interest to incorporate anti-inflammatory vitamins into your body whenever possible. B12 can be found in many animal products: fish, turkey, eggs, etc. However, it is available as a supplement for my plant-based friends!

Vitamin E is the final brain booster I’m going to discuss. Similar to Vitamin C, Vitamin E is an immune system stimulant. E can help the body fight off germs and viruses, Hey COVID!! This vitamin is beneficial to mental and emotional health. Vitamin E has been proven to work alongside pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medication, providing mood stabilization. Vitamin E can improve the quality of your thoughts, keeping you feeling bright throughout the day. E can be found in olive oil, almonds, and blueberries (just to name a few). 

Obviously, these are only three essential nutrients and there are many others to explore. Food is more powerful than we give it credit for. We can use the healing benefits of food to improve our mental health. I know it’s not easy, but these are small steps we can take to improve the day-to-day. That being said, it’s all about balance. So, after dinner, go for the soft-serve. You deserve it!

Sources:

Vitamin B6: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002402.htm.

Vitamin E: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-Consumer/

Vitamin B12: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/

Selhub, Eva. “Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard University Medical School, 5 Apr. 2018, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626.

“Food and Mood: Is There a Connection?” Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Harvard University Medical School, June 2018

Gratefulness 101: a course we should all register for (September 2020)

 

We are two weeks back at school. Classes are in full swing, Canvas is overflowing. The Vermont chill comes at night and then lingers into the morning. But things have changed on campus. With COVID-19, I feel like getting into the groove of coursework has been more challenging than in past semesters. Everyday I worry that I am going to fall asleep on a Zoom call or Echo 360 is going to make my laptop explode. It feels good to take things one day at a time.

 So, that is where gratefulness comes into play.

During quarantine, it often felt debilitating to get out of bed because all days felt the same. Other than mastering my avocado toast recipe, everything else was mostly mundane and repetitive. On particularly tricky mornings, I began my day by thinking of 5 things that I was grateful for. Lying in bed, I would recite them in my head. Often, I was grateful for food. I always thought of my family and friends. After just one minute of reflection, I would feel better.  

Thus began my gratefulness and manifestation journey. 

Now, several months later, I keep a grateful journal. I log my thoughts every morning when I wake up and every night before I sleep. It feels very grounding to have 5 minutes to myself, twice a day. Sometimes we can forget to view our days holistically. It’s very easy to allow one negative experience to become our entire 24 hours. When we take the time to reflect, we will see that there was so much good in the day that was overshadowed. A delicious dinner. A Facetime call with your best friend. Getting 15 more minutes of sleep. Even though these aspects of the day seem small, they actually carry a lot of weight. Because if you can tell yourself: “sh*t I was on Zoom for 3 hours today, BUT my grandma sent me cookies!”, you remember that the whole day wasn’t so bad after all. With some practice, I began to look for the positive more frequently. Once I implemented gratefulness into my daily routine it became second nature to me. 

So, that’s where the title of this article comes from. Gratefulness 101 is a (pretend) course that I took on my own. There was no professor, just me and my journal. I taught myself to take less for granted and grow a more balanced mindset. And I am still learning. I recommend practicing grateful thinking whenever you find the time. Even if you’re stressed back at school, you will recognize the things that ARE going well. If you focus on the good, more good will come into vision.

Some of my favorite resources (all under $20!):

Gratitude: A Day and Night Reflection Journal (90 days) $13.35 Amazon Prime

Dear Universe: 200 Mini-Meditations for Instant Manifestations by Sarah Prout $15.52 Amazon Prime

You Already Are by Compendium $12.99 Amazon Prime

It’s a Kardashian World and We’re Just Living In It (May 2021)

Cancel culture is arguably a product of boredom. It’s kind of funny that we have the audacity to end someone’s career by initiating a twitter thread. When I consider famous people who’ve been cancelled, one family comes to mind: The Kardashians. Everytime we think they can’t get any bigger, brighter, more influential…they surprise us yet again. Kim Kardashian was on Time Magazine’s Most Influential People list in 2015. The Kardashians are a supernova. All stars eventually burnout, but the Kardashian/Jenners keep shining. 

Whether you love them or despise them doesn’t matter. They are famous for being famous, whatever that means. I can’t express the amount of times I’ve heard this sentence: “Ugh, I hate the Kardashians. I don’t follow any of them!” I subtly laugh because I know that we all support the Kardashians absentmindedly everyday. If you’ve bought a swimsuit or bra in the last 5 years, you have supported the Kardashians. Sure, you are directly paying Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret just designed your new swimsuit or bra to match Kylie’s summer 2020 Instagram looks. Do you work out in biker shorts? Kim did that first. Don’t even get me started with popular baby names. Gen Z children will all be named Autumn or Seaweed. I’m not complaining though! 

If you’re still not convinced about the power of the Kardashian/Jenners, let me enlighten you. Here’s a brief list of the reasons why we are living in a Kardashian world…

  • You’ve heard of high waisted jeans, but before Kim and the gang there was no high waisted lounge wear! High waisted bikini bottoms! High waisted underwear are just insane, but they’re undeniably trendy. Additionally, shapewear and waist cinchers.  
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Kylie Jenner’s lips. The face that sent a thousand ships? More like the face that costs 6 figures to maintain. Without Kylie, lip filler would not be the sensation that it is. All hail Juvederm!  
  • Can’t afford filler or just squeamish around needles? Our girls have a solution for that: Facetune, Photoshop, and the up-angle selfie. Who knew we could technologically reconfigure our faces? Not gonna debate if photoshop is “ok” or not, that can be another article.
  •  THE NAILS. Unearthly long acrylic nails, no further explanation required.
  • For a current example, we need to talk about the upside down bikini top! Kylie just started wearing her triangle swimsuit tops the wrong way. Now you can buy them (no need to wear the tops you already own incorrectly).

The Kardashians are undeniable trendsetters. If pop culture is a body, the Kardashians are the appendix. Virtually useless, but we don’t remove them until things go sideways. That being said, aren’t we all a little happier when we don’t need a life saving surgery? So, I guess the moral of my story is this: if the Kardashians aren’t causing you unbearable abdominal pain, just leave them alone. Don’t try to cancel them on social media, they won’t see it. Just be thankful that when your grandma asks about your swimsuit choice, you have someone to blame.