On the Verge of Internet Addiction?

Thoughts are flooding my mind like:

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…but first, let’s do some happy small talk!

The temperature in the mornings has been just lovely. A little chilly to some, but I love me some light sweater weather.

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After breakfast, Mass, and a little morning nap (I start work at 12 on Mondays), I took my moves and grooves outside, naturally.

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banana bread baked oatmeal with cinnamon raisin peanut butter + glass o’ {Lactaid} milk

THIS WAS HARD:

  • 1 mile run
  • 100 burpees
  • 100 double unders
  • 1 mile run

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I couldn’t tell you which part was the hardest, but I can tell you that all I could think of on that last mile was, “Keep chugging away. Don’t stop.” Even though I probably could have walked faster than I was running at some points (thanks, hills).

Here’s me trying to smile at the end.

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But I’m proud of myself! I hardly ever run, and I went ahead and did two miles of it in a workout.

Today I might go for a walk or do my favorite 18 minute plank workout. Either way, my legs need a break.

So last night…

I was still feeling funky and down, but I knew that it wasn’t just because of the weekend’s events. I couldn’t really pinpoint why I was feeling so unsettled and just… off.

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part of yesterday’s lunch: salad with cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, and sliced smoked duck breast (from the farmers’ market)

Granted, I was pretty wiped out, and fatigue always brings me down. But Pop noticed at the dinner table that something was up.

“I’m fine.” ← Fortunately, Pop knows the true meaning of those words.

I don’t usually have qualms about telling my parents how I feel, but truthfully, I myself didn’t really know what was going on. However, when Pop entered my room (as I wiped a single tear from my eye), I just talked it out, discovering what exactly was bothering me.

The main thing is the internet. I just felt exhausted and more stressed with the internet lately— social media and even blogging. It’s not that I don’t enjoy keeping up with people and blogging (hello, here I am right now), but I feel a little bit enslaved to it at times.

I gotta check Instagram. *scrolls mindlessly and finds an account to “stalk”*

I need to do one thing on Facebook. *scrolls mindlessly and watches at least five of those Tasty videos*

I’ll take this time to read a couple blogs. *goes through the hundreds of unread blog posts*

I’ll check this person’s Snapchat story. *goes through everyone’s story* ← Okay, Snapchat made the stories continuous with one another, which is like a black hole.

I’ve been talking about social media’s toxicity in several different blog posts recently, but I still have not made too much of a change. I clicked on this article called “10 Things You May Not Know About Anxiety Disorder” via Arman’s Coffee Talk post yesterday (another thing: clicking on links), and one thing is that  “People who suffer from gambling or internet addictions are more likely to also have anxiety disorder.”

Do I think I have a legit internet addiction? No. However, I think I could be heading towards one at this rate. Internet doesn’t interfere with my daily work life or anything, but once I don’t have responsibilities, I feel like I can’t get away from it. There’s always something to do/see/like/comment/post on my phone or laptop.

Pop offered some good advice about practical ways to combat this sub-internet-addiction. I also added some strategies myself:

  • Unfollow people on Facebook and Instagram. I don’t need to be following every friend and every fitness junkie/foodie out there. Clean up the feed.
  • Limit yourself to just “liking” things, without feeling like you need to comment.
  • Read a select few blogs.
  • Read actual books more (shoutout to school teachers).
  • Before touching any piece of technology, make a list of what you intend to do when you’re on the internet. Stick to that list. Go in with intention.

This week is all about humility and self-reflection, ain’t it?

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I just finished the best overnight oats I’ve had in a while 

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It’s not fun knowing that I have a disorder-prone mind. It’s not easy to share weakness. But acknowledging my weakness is one way that God helps me knock down my pride and build me up in a way that is more beautiful than before. And vulnerability is the best way to connect to others!

#BeMoreHuman ← that’s a Reebok hashtag, but it works here.

(p.s. Yesterday, I said that I would talk about body image stuff today, but that’s not on my heart right now, so I changed the topic. In short, just know that you are so much more than your outward beauty!!! LIFE is so much more than outward beauty.)

Go get ’em, friends.

Comment or don’t comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts, but you can also just shut down your computer/phone and go on with your day 🙂

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Beginnings Are Stressful

Winter decided to show up this weekend.

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And it ain’t too bad so far! Now that I’ve said that, mother nature will probably release her wrath in another snowpocalypse soon. But ugly nights can turn into the most beautiful days (#wisdom).

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Four days of classes down, how many to go? Not that I’m counting, because I’m actually really diggin’ my courses this semester. However, I must admit that the start of the semester has brought about some stress already.

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not stressed about that large hunk o’ cornbread though ♥︎ 

Whenever I begin a new semester/activity/phase of life, I become extremely focused on the tasks at hand so that I stay on top of my stuff. That’s what people are supposed to do, right? I guess so, but when I become extremely focused, it becomes extremely hard for me to let go.

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A million things are always on my mind, and I {irrationally and subconsciously} fear that if I don’t have those million things on my mind at all times, I won’t get them done. Simply put, I worry. I end up doing what I need to do, but not without feeling a lot of stress and self-imposed pressure before/during.

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side note: this wrap was fantastic (tuna, lettuce, roasted vegetables, artichokes, pepper jack cheese, and honey mustard)

To be 100% honest, for a few days, my stress-mess also included invasive, slightly obsessive thoughts about working out. I did get some workouts in that felt good to me when I had time, which actually helped relieve some stress, but I never worked out for the sole reason of feeling anxious about it. Nevertheless, I was definitely thinking a lot about exercise for the first half of the week. Thankfully, the fixation is fading.

Rachel made a good point that when I’m stressed, I seek control, and thinking about workouts all the time was probably one way for me to cope (in addition to onto the school/social/work/faith-related thoughts in my head).

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more cornbread is never a bad thing

All this said, I am grateful that God has put me through very similar situations in the past. Thus, I feel fairly equipped to deal with times like these. Some pep talks that help me:

  • It’s okay that you feel anxious.
  • Worrying is not going to get it done.
  • You already wrote it down in your planner. You will see it and get it done.
  • One step at a time.
  • You’re living right NOW. You can only do what you’re doing right NOW.
  • Rest in God.
  • This too shall pass.
  • Look outside of yourself.

I’m fairly confident that this just a case of  beginning-something-anxiety* and it will pass once we get the semester rollin’. I almost feel as if I need to get out of the “habit” of feeling stressed, if that makes sense.

*Not a technical term. May or may not have scientific basis.

A good dose of friend time is some powerful medicine too, lemme tell ya.

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Our team won, just saying.

Yesterday was national peanut butter day, so naturally, I brought peanut butter to the Catholic Center pancake breakfast and slathered that stuff on my johnnycakes (← does anyone actually call them that?).

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Rachel yelled at me for bringing my own pb and banana. I’m obnoxious, I get it.

I hope you all have a fantastic, stress-free Monday!

So tell me:

Do you feel anxious/stressed when you begin new things?

What are some of your favorite self-pep talks when you’re stressed?

Did you celebrate national peanut butter day?

What did you do this weekend? 

Ups and Downs of My First Week Back in Boston

Remember that cocktail of emotions that I was feeling right before leaving for Boston?

Well it has heightened, for better and for worse. I am filled with so much gratitude and joy seeing my friends and preparing for another year of learning, but for a few days I was also losing sleep over emotions like excitement, nervousness, anxiety, and fear. I know that’s normal for starting a new year of school, but it’s oddly intense. And I’m not even a freshman!

At first, I was just so excited to see everyone that I had to sorta numb my feelings or else I might have exploded with joy.

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But for whatever reason, I was going through a phase where my sympathetic nervous system was just ON. My heart was beating uncomfortably quickly for a few days for no good reason, my stomach felt tight, and I was breathing from my chest more than from my belly (a sign that my body is stressed).

I didn’t know what was up, but prayer, movement, music, being with good friends, and big deeeeeep belly breaths from my diaphragm all helped. Also, I’m thinking back to my own tips on how I deal with anxious feelings.

(Talk about a way to make my parents feel GREAT.)

The real medicine this time around, however, was letting go of hypersensitivity to what others thought of me. I have no idea why, but I became so preoccupied with trying to impress people (who I know and love from last year). However, as soon as I remembered that I have one person— God— in my audience, I started feeling better.

In the words of Tori Kelly: “Take it or leave it, babe, I’m not gonna change. If you don’t understand I don’t need you anyway.” <— please listen.

Now that that’s off my chest. Hello, lovely folks ♥

Despite my very minor heart palpitations, this weekend was pretty darn awesome.

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dorm breakfast feat. the breakfast trifecta

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bodyweight exercises in the great outdoors of Boston

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dorm snacks

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monster chicken, tomato, lettuce, avocado, sundried tomato, pesto pita wrap = lunch and dinner

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some steep ($5…) pistachio and nocciola gelato for the Feast of St. Anthony celebration in North End

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first dining hall meal! classic breakfast that I scarfed down because I had attend a meeting

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first dining hall dessert! they did not fail with this delicious carrot cake

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second dining hall dessert the night after — vegan apple cider oatmeal cookie mousse parfait — pretty luxurious and delicious

Lots of food. Some humans were involved too.

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It was also a productive weekend, getting lots of tasks done before classes actually start.

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including getting a head start on human physiology reading #nerd#geek#lame#sayittomyface

I genuinely hope each of you is doing well and that you have a wonderful week ahead! Today is my last Monday off before the grind begins woooooo.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
— James 1:2-4

So tell me:

Do you ever find yourself breathing from your chest more than usual?

Do you ever feel unusually sensitive to how others might perceive you?

What is your favorite kind of cake? Carrot cake all the way (WITH raisins).

What did you do this weekend? 

How I Deal With Anxious Feelings

I don’t know about youuu, but I’m feeling twenty-twoooo….

…mosquito bites.

I counted twenty-two mosquito bites on my legs thanks to an evening session of frisbee golf on Saturday (worth it). I used to never get bitten (mostly in my ED phase, perhaps because I had low blood sugar?).

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looking slightly diseased

Since I was unaccustomed to so many bites, I Google searched what to do with the itchiness and found some good suggestions: aloe, rubbing alcohol, and oatmeal. I also found some questionable “cures”, like Scotch taping your mosquito bites at night to prevent subconscious scratching. I mean, I get the idea, but I think I would subconsciously rage over the fact that there were little pieces of tape all over me.

Anyway, yesterday was a MONDAY kind of Monday, especially coming home late from a few days of vacation in St. Louis. A long list of errands needed to be completed on minimal sleep, although a couple mini naps happened in order to tame the beast that is Alison Sans Sleep.

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It’s no surprise that I have a greater tendency to feel anxious and stressed when I’m very sleepy; I think most people can vouch for that. The anxious feelings* and stress escalate when I know I have a bunch of time-sensitive tasks on my to-do list.

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After dealing with insomnia* during my senior year of high school— perhaps the most stressful time of my life— I’ve learned how to reign in the anxious feelings and deal with stress in a more mature, effective manner (i.e. not bawling my eyes out in a panic at night).

So today, I’m sharing with you how I deal with some of those anxious feelings that threaten to interrupt my daily flow, productivity, and joy.

*I use the term “anxious feelings” rather than “anxiety” because I have not been diagnosed with clinical anxiety. I’ve also never been diagnosed with insomnia. All I know is that I couldn’t sleep for an extended period of time, which impacted my daily life for a while. Since I have no clinical diagnoses and since God blessed everyone with different brains, I understand that these tips may not be helpful for everyone or even anyone.

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1. Tell myself that it’s okay to feel anxious.

Nine times out of ten, my anxious feelings perpetuate because I am nervous to feel anxious or tired. My brain tends to create catastrophes out of small trials or signs of negative health.

“I NEED to get a lot of sleep. I’m not going to live as long if I don’t. My performance will plummet if I don’t fall asleep now. This isn’t okay.” 

“Stress will kill me. I need to stop being so stressed. Why am I feeling so stressed? I’m trying really hard to reduce my stress.”

Answer: It happens. This too shall pass.

2. Make a to-do list of many little things.

Write every little detail down in your to-do list. This may seem counter-intuitive, since your to-do list will look longer, but being able to check off several little tasks is a big morale booster for me.

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Always.

For example: Rather than writing “clean bathroom” on your list, you could break that down into “clean toilet, clean bathtub, clean sinks, clean floors.” That way, each item on your list is a small and doable task. This strategy can make a monster project seem less daunting.

3. Make humorous commentary about what’s happening.

(Edited to add this one!) 

Whenever it seems that more stressors are arising, sometimes I just need to laugh at myself and just make lighthearted commentary about all the things that are stressing me out. It’s the same idea as making humorous commentary when watching a scary movie to decrease the fear factor. 🙂

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4. Move (and groove).

It doesn’t have to be a grand workout or anything.

I didn’t include a solo dance party in my day in the life vlog just for comedic effect. I truly do love blasting tunes and dancing to keep me smiling. Some quick yoga or inversions to get the blood flowing in all sorts of directions helps to clear the head as well.

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5. Talk to someone.

The power of a listening ear is such a blessing. And if no one is available, I talk out loud to myself or to God. Hearing myself sort out my anxious feelings can help me understand them better.

6. Nap.

Naps are magical if time permits. Even if time doesn’t seem to permit, sometimes I allow myself a quick one anyway, because it will help me be more productive and less crabby for the sake of others.

If I can’t sleep, lying horizontally with my eyes closed for ten minutes can still bring me some sanity.

7. Make a mental gratitude list.

“Be grateful for what you have, and you’ll end up having more.” (<— from this amazing blog post via Marc and Angel)

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Gratitude helps eliminate any of the “woe is me” thoughts.

8. Remember Him.

The #1 thing that gets me through anxious feelings (or any negative feelings, for that matter) is remembering that my life belongs to God. He will provide, and He will not give us trials that we cannot overcome with His help.

There is nothing that I’m feeling that our Lord Jesus Christ has not felt.

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With that, I hope you all have a day free from anxious feelings! Stay tuned for a cool blog switcheroo tomorrow with Actively Gemma!

So tell me:

Do you deal with anxiety or anxious feelings often? How do you deal?

Do you know any good mosquito bite treatments?

Rest and Digest

I love the kitchen.

I’m no chef, but I have been loving my time spent cooking and baking in the kitchen this summer. I don’t know if you picked this up from my blog/Facebook/Instagram (new handle by the way! @alison_grooves), but I love food! I am immensely grateful to have access to so many different kinds of food that are both good for me and good to me.

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lemonade and cookies from a stand run by some boys and their mom ♥ 

I also love my mom and her cooking, but not gonna lie, two is a crowd in the kitchen. #BattleForTheFrontBurner

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Simple Mills almond flour pumpkin muffins + Justin’s vanilla almond butter, courtesy of Blend swag

For the most part nowadays, I have the privilege of eating whatever I want, whenever I want. The only meal I consistently think about is breakfast, but that’s only because it’s my favorite meal of the day…because it always involves nut butter, banana, and dairy.

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Thursday morning oatmeal cookie dough cereal with banana

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Friday morning hot banana chia egg white oats in a {glass} Teddie peanut butter jar

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Sunday morning banana oat French toast bake topped with peanut butter+ Greek yogurt 

Then there are those few-and-far-between days when I start thinking about what I should be eating, when I should eat a snack, or whether I’ll be hungry enough for a scheduled meal out at a restaurant. It makes me anxious.

When I get anxious, my mind focuses on my stomach— in a bad way. I overanalyze my fullness or any sort of signal that might mean hunger. I physically feel stress and tension in my stomach because my mind is on it. When this happens, I usually feel full and crappy for the rest of the day. Any time I want to eat feels like I’m stress eating, because I don’t feel quite hungry enough for food, and then the cycle continues.

I don’t know why these rare days come up out of nowhere, but they do. Recently, it could be the fact that I have fewer obligations during the summer, lack of sleep, a combination of a few things…

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caprese grilled chicken {“This is better than a restaurant!” — Dad ➔ if I could physically blush, I would}

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best sweet roasted potatoes again!

I had a couple of those wonky days this past week, but what I’ve learned during recovery is to not be anxious about being anxious. It happens, and I’ll be okay. “This too shall pass.”

You know what else I’ve learned? Rest and digest (that whole parasympathetic nervous system at work, for all you biology geeks) is LEGIT.

For those of you who might not be familiar with “rest and digest”, digestion is not a priority for our survival when we’re in a stressful situation, so that’s one of the first processes to halt when we’re under stress.  When our bodies return to a normal, non-stressed state, digestion can continue.

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strawberry milkshake at the diner with Daliza 🙂

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making her own “coffee affogato

Thus, when I’m not stressed about food (or anything), I have more of an appetite! For instance, whenever I take a nap (like that crazy two hour nap I took last week), I almost always wake up ready to eat something.

Former me would have thought: There’s no way I can be hungry. I was out on the couch for two hours doing absolutely nothing with my body.

Current me knows: Napping gives my body the opportunity to rest and, therefore, digest. {which is why breakfast is such a fun meal, because I (most of the time) pop out of bed like eyyyy let’s eat!}

In addition, I feel that eating enough calorically also helps my digestion, or at least my comfort. When I eat a lot of volume but not a lot of calories (unintentionally!), my stomach feels like an inflated balloon, but the rest of my body feels like it needs some energy.

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crockpot bbq chicken with pasta + salad with homemade mustard vinaigrette + suhweeeeet corn!

And when I feel digested, I feel more comfortable throughout the rest of my day. I don’t have to focus on my stomach anymore.

Side note: I’ve also lowered my veggie intake. As in, I don’t need to have a monster salad and a freaking garden of vegetables for both lunch and dinner. Some peppers with hummus at lunch and a normal side salad at dinner is good enough, allowing my GI tract to be like, HALLELUJAH.

TMI? Sorry, not sorry. Gut talk is important.

With that said, I hope you all have a rockin’ Monday! Rest and digest.

So tell me:

Have you ever felt the difference in your digestion between when you’re stressed and when you’re not?

Do you like having the kitchen to yourself (or are you less selfish than I am)? 

What was the best thing you ate this weekend? For me, it’s a tough call between the caprese chicken, french toast bake, and sweet corn!