Self-Preservation as Self-Care: How to Set Healthy Boundaries ~ Nneka M. Okona

Zora Neale Hurston, the foremother of Black women’s literature, so eloquently penned that Black women were “de mule uh de world” and even many, many years later, we can see how this statement still rings true. Black women are seen as the pillars of strength in nearly every circle we comprise. We are the backbones of our families, the shoulder always called upon to cry on. We are supposed to readily perform strength, on demand, no matter what our emotional or mental state.

We do not belong to ourselves: our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our hearts, our spiritual state. Our emotional labor is prescribed and expected.

Self-care is a phrase often uttered as of late, especially on social media. My thought is that we, Black women, now know the importance of tending to the trauma we have been dealt for hundreds of years and dedicating ourselves wholeheartedly to healing, moment by moment, day by day. And we know that self-preservation, an uncompromising notion of clinging to ourselves and maintaining the sanctity of ourselves, is a defiant, revolutionary act of self-care. Setting boundaries — along with enforcing consequences if said boundaries are willfully ignored — is a crucial part of this, too.

Quick story: for most of my childhood and well into my adulthood, I was a doormat. I was kind and had a giving heart but lacked strong discernment and sound judgment. People sensed this and took advantage, taking and taking and taking until they couldn’t anymore. Until there was no further use for my presence in their lives. Until I was depleted and drained and filled with resentment. And then they’d be gone. Learning to choose myself after this defunct pattern yielded to learning what boundaries are, evaluating where I needed to set them in my current relationships and how I could set them as the need arose in new interpersonal bonds.

Boundaries are the space between you and another person, a space where you end and the other person begins. Setting boundaries is a method of informing those around you how to treat you, how to care for you, how to interact with you in a way that is nurturing, fulfilling and makes you feel safe. It isn’t about forming a tight fence around your inner being. It is about ensuring you feel free enough to be yourself, in totality, with those you bond with, and interactions are healthy, reciprocal and beneficial. And also that your values are acknowledged, honored and respected.

Learning to set boundaries can be tricky when it’s new, especially if those around you are used to a certain dynamic. If it’s a new concept, there’s a chance guilt may set in because it’s uncomfortable but don’t let yourself succumb to guilt. Push through the discomfort. Growth is on the other side.

Truly ready to ensure all of your bonds are healthy, safe spaces? Use these guiding principles as a compass while learning how to set healthy boundaries.

Always choose yourself. Always take care of you. 

Saying no is a complete sentence and requires no further explanation. If you really don’t want to do something, say no. If you were invited to go somewhere with friends but really need to take the night to get some much needed rest, don’t be afraid to say no for fear of disappointing them. It is better to be a disappointment to friends who most likely will be forgiving and understanding than be a disappointment to yourself because you are overexerting yourself. Be selfish, not selfless. No one but you will or is truly capable of putting yourself first and having your best interests at heart.
Firmly and directly assert yourself to those in your life.

Make a list of your values. Honestly determine what is important to you in your bonds with other people and keep these close to your heart. These are things that matter to you, these are things which make you feel valued and loved in your relationships. When behavior veers outside of what you deem acceptable according to your values, communicate that, immediately.

For example, if your partner has a tendency of speaking recklessly or raising their voice when they are upset with you, inform them you would appreciate if they would not raise their voice at you when angry. Make sure to use either “I feel…” or “When you…” statements to articulate your feelings. This is so you are explaining (and owning) how you feel and not casting blame on the other person to put them on the defense. By stating this, you are telling your partner there is a proper way to productively address issues and yelling is not one of them.

Be prepared to enact consequences if your boundary is not acknowledged, honored or respected.

Consequences aren’t a punishment or an angry thing as many of us have come to know. They are also not empty threats to manipulate the other person. Instead, consequences entail taking heed of a pattern of behavior, using that to inform future interactions and stating what will happen going forward. It might mean you no longer correspond with a person as frequently or not at all, and the relationship changes because their actions communicate a lack of respect.

For instance, perhaps a friend insists on calling or texting you late at night. This bothers you and you tell them, directly, to please not call or text you late and night (setting a boundary) and if they continue to do so, you will not answer when they reach out to you so late (consequence). Remember, this is about you. This is about engaging with others on your terms, what makes you feel comfortable and safe.

Ensure the boundaries you set are firm and stand behind them fiercely.

Boundary setting is often a learning curve and is not one size fits all for every person or situation. If a person is a repeated offender of poor behavior, your boundaries may be more rigid than say, for instance, a boss who has all of a sudden become overbearing and situationally difficult to deal with.

It is important to note your boundaries are only as strong as your commitment to following through on them. Stand behind what you say. Don’t let the (temporary) discomfort and guilt that arises prevent you from doing what you need to do to protect yourself. An example of this would be telling a friend you don’t like when they consistently cut you off in conversations because it makes you feel unheard (setting a boundary). Tell them if they can’t take the time to listen, you’ll will limit the conversations you have with them (consequence) but then a couple of days later go back to letting them cut you off mid conversation. You’ve communicated the opposite of what you intended: that what you said wasn’t that big of a deal and they can continue to conduct themselves in this way without any repercussion. It’s rewarding bad behavior and putting yourself back where you started. Prevent that; stick to your guns. Follow through.

Be patient (and gentle) with yourself. This is a process.

This is a journey, a multi-step, methodical, measured, slow journey. It won’t happen overnight and it will be difficult initially. You’ll be pushing back against an old way of interacting and shifting into more positive and healthy methods of engaging. The result, however, is well worth the effort, discomfort and plethora of other emotions that may arise — reciprocal relationships with people you respect who treat you lovingly, kind and nurture you in precisely the way you need.

Self-preservation as self-care is a fine art and boundaries are one component of that masterpiece. Invest in yourself through creating space and a lovingly flow between those you care about is yet another way to ensure you are taking care of you in the best way possible.

Nneka M. Okona is a writer based in Washington, DC. Visit her blog, http://www.afrosypaella.com, her website, about.me/nnekaokona or follow her tweets, @NisforNneka.

http://www.forharriet.com/2015/09/self-preservation-as-self-care-how-to.html#axzz3wR9j109I

Travel Around the World in 46 Cookies (Cheaper than Airfare) ~ Food52

There are bar crawls and taco crawls and even cupcake crawls, so why not cookie crawls? Why not cookie crawls around the world?

We’ve taken that sugar-drunk fantasy and made it a reality. We’ve rounded of 46 Cookies of the World that feature the kooky, classic, and addictive recipes from our staff, friends, and community members just so you can country hop, cookie-style.

1. Nanaimo Bars (Nanaimo, Canada)

Another reason to consider moving to Canada. (Photo: Lillie Auld/Food52)

2. Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas Cookies (Pennsylvania, U.S.)

This straight-laced cookie is brightened by currants and a bit of lemon juice and zest, and a lashing of sweet glaze. (Photo: James Ransom/Food52)

3. Rainbow Cookies (New York, U.S.)

What’s better than a technicolor platter of classic Italian bakery cookies? (Photo: Nina Caldas/Food52)

4. Potato Chip Cookies (Saratoga Springs, U.S.)

 

This recipe proves that with some arm work and a not-so-secret ingredient, you can make the best cookies you’ll ever taste.(Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

5. Benne Wafers (South Carolina, U.S.)

These wafer-thin, sesame-seed studded cookies are lacey, crunchy, and caramel-colored, a.k.a. the perfect holiday treat. (Photo: James Ransom/Food52)

6. Prune & Chocolate Rugelach (New York, U.S.)

This classic Jewish cookie meets American, Hungarian, Serbian, and Israeli influences. (Photo: Bobbi Lin/Food52)

7. Black & White Cookies (New York, U.S.)

Bring New York to You (with Mini Black and White Cookies). (Photo: Yossy Arefi/Food52)

8. Bizcochitos (New Mexico, U.S.)

Made with lard, these cookies improve with age—so plan ahead! (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

9. Mexican Wedding Cakes (Mexico)

This is a cookie recipe with a controversial past. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

10. Brigadeiros (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Brazilians grow up eating Brigadeiro, which are at every birthday party and pretty much any kind of celebration. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

11. Alfajores (Argentina)

The only thing that Argentineans love more than hefty pieces of steak and strong coffee is alfajores. (Photo: Sophia Real/Food52)

12. Serinakaker (Norway)

A classic Norwegian butter cookie perfect for ski trips, snowshoeing, and Christmas cookie tins. (Photo: Emily Vikre/Food52)

13. Swedish Rye Cookies (Sweden)

This is a classic Christmas cut-out cookie with rye flour and cream cheese dough (and a lot more personality). (Photo: Heidi Swanson/Food52)

14. Polish Apricot-Filled Cookies (Poland)

A family cookie recipe that the editors of “Gourmet” deemed the best of 2004. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

15. Pfeffernuse (Germany)

An updated, but true to form, take on a vintage German spice cookie. (Photo: James Ransom/Food52)

16. Austrian Vanilla Crescents (Vanillekipferl) (Austria)

Vanilla crescents appear unspectacular—just little sugar-coated biscuits among all the colorful Christmas biscuits—but their flavor and texture will win you over. (Photo: James Ransom/Food52)

17. Vanilice (Serbia)

This cookie was voted Your Best Holiday Cookie from Anywhere in the World! (Photo: James Ransom/Food52)

18. Koulourakia (Greek Sesame Twist Cookies) (Greece)

A not-too-sweet cookie recipe passed from one new immigrant family to another. (Photo: James Ransom/Food52)

19. Pain d’Amande (France)

A cookie for all your gifting, swapping, and impressing needs this holiday season. (Photo: James Ransom/Food52)

20. Brandy Snaps (U.K.)

Sometimes it’s the recipes, more than the memories, that show you about your ancestors. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

21. Maltese Lemon Christmas Cookies (Malta)

In Malta, it’s the smell of lemon—not chocolate or peppermint or cinnamon—that means Christmas. (Photo: Meikie Peters/Food52)

22. Spanish Butter Wafers (Spain)

The best friend your tea (or wine) will have this holiday season. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

23. Tehina Shortbread (Israel)

Traditional shortbread—with an Israeli twist. (Photo: Michael Persico/Food52)

24. Samsa (Almond-Orange Triangles) (Northern Africa (Morocco, Tunisia & Algeria)

A cousin to baklava, samsa get fried instead of baked. (Yum!) (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

25. Chin Chin (Nigeria)

Meet Chin Chin: the cutest Christmas cookie on the planet. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

26. Nigerian Coconut Cookie Crisps (Nigeria)

A cracker-like coconut cookie with serious nostalgia power. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

27. Halawa (Halva) Truffles (Egypt)

These Middle Eastern and African cookies are bite-sized and ideal for dipping in tea. (Photo: Jonathan Gregson/Food52)

28. Mbatata (Sweet Potato Cookies) (Malawi)

Sweet potato cookies to commemorate the Malawian people. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

29. Chocolate Pepper Cookies (South Africa)

Spice things up: Add black pepper to your next batch of chocolate cookies. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

30. Basler Leckerli (Waldshut-Tiengen, Southern Germany)

The German boyfriend came and went, but this spice cookie recipe is still kicking it. (Photo: James Ransom/Food52)

31. Elisenlebkuchen (Nuremberg, Germany)

Of all the German gingerbread out there, here’s the one that will be your new favorite. (Photo: Sophia Real/Food52)

32. Buccellati (Sicilian Christmas Cookies) (Sicily, Italy)

Festive fig cookies that taste of a Sicilian Christmas. (Photo: Emiko Davies/Food52)

33. Ukrainian Curd Cheese Cookies (Ukraine)

Who’s to say that cheese doesn’t belong in a cookie? (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

34. Rice Cookies with Cardamom and Rose Water (Kermanshah, Iran)

Gluten-free cookies with subtle floral kick. (Photo: Bobbi Lin/Food52)

35. Springerles (Germany)

Springerles, a biscotti-like biscuit with an odd-ball technique. (Photo: Food52)

36. Dorie Greenspan’s Stained Glass Cookies (Paris, France)

To make these elegant French sugar cookies, bien sûr! (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

37. Struffoli (Italian Honey Ball Cookies) (Southern Italy)

Make a batch of these southern Italian cookies this holiday season and they’ll become a tradition for years to come. (Photo: Angela Brown/Food52)

38. Alice Medrich’s Buckwheat Thumbprint Cookies with Cherry Preserves (Russia)

A flavorful upgrade to the classic Russian Tea Cake. (Photo: Mark Weinberg/Food52)

39. Chickpea Flour (Besan) Laddu (India)

If you’ve never heard of laddus, just think of them as balls of sweet goodness. (Photo: Nik Sharma/Food52)

40. Coconut Milk Fudge (India)

An ancient Gujarati sweet—with a time-saving update. (Photo: David Loftus/Food52)

41. Chinese Peanut Cookies (China)

Buttery, nutty cookies to make this holiday. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

42. Matcha Butter Cookies (Japan)

The Japanese love flavoring desserts with the distinct, bitter flavor of matcha tea, and these cookies are no exception. (Photo: Emiko Davies/Food52)

43. Polvorón (Philippines)

These polvorónes—traditional Filipino cookies—do everything the cookies on that holiday platter you got this year don’t do. (Photo: Linda Xiao/Food52)

44. Tangerine Pies “Kuey Tarts” (Singapore)

These whimsically filled cookies have a deceptive name. (Photo: Pate Eng/Food52)

45. Mint Slices (Australia)

Sorry Girl Scouts, but these Australian Mint Slices might just give your Thin Mints a run for their money. (Photo: Sarah Coates/Food52)

46. Mango Melting Moments (Australia)

A classic Australian cookie with a “locally sourced” filling. (Photo: Emiko Davies/Food52)

https://www.yahoo.com/food/food-travel-around-the-world-in-46-cookies-173649532.html

I Found My Womanist Aesthetic by Embracing Being Large, Black and Female ~ Anitra Winder

“What shall I tell my children who are black? Of what it means to be a captive in this dark skin? What shall I tell my dear ones, fruit of my womb, of how beautiful they are? Where everywhere they are faced with abhorrence of everything that is black…?” — Dr. Margaret Burroughs, 1968.

Growing up it seemed as though race and gender had always been a part of my consciousness. However, at that juncture in life I understood identity in the most simplistic terms. I was poor, black, a girl, a bit rounder than most, but that’s where the observation ended. There was no evaluation of how those identities influenced who I was or who I was going to be. Hence, the multiple social identities of being black, large, and female were always present, but not contextualized. 

Through a simple game of make believe, I would come to understand my expected place in the world. I never cared for the idea of being a princess. In every book I’d read they were either locked away in towers, being abducted, persecuted by evil step-mothers, or simply lying comatose while life raged on. I never wanted any part of that but one day out of boredom I thought it would be interesting to play with a different group of girls during recess. These girls played princess regularly and approached it with an uncanny degree of formality. As a circle of girls clucked on about the hierarchy of princesses, I interjected, “Can I play? I could be a princess, or maybe more like the queen!” The blonde ringleader said, “Okay, you can play, but you can’t be a princess. Princesses are blonde and pretty and you’re black and fat, so you can be a wicked witch.” I decided not to play. 

Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College, commented in her book Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, “The issues of emerging sexuality and the societal messages about who is sexually desirable leave young black women in a very devalued position.” The initiation into this devaluation was truly an American creation, a methodology that conceptualized a social structure of race and gender based on a sexist, white supremacist model. 

From that playground experience, I began to learn that as a female I should desire to be pretty, and that being black and overweight nullified any possibility of achieving that desire. I became acutely aware that society would attribute every failure or character flaw to my race and size, which would be used as a measure of my inferiority. My experience as a human being would be limited to the restrictive stereotypes paraded within various forms of media. In addition to navigating the difficulty of racial discrimination, I was expected to conform to beauty ideals that shared no cultural resemblance to who I was. Black women who looked like me were at best asexual mammies, muted and stable best friends, or sassy, glorified ghetto cooks who lusted over ham hocks and the men who’d never part their sheets. These grotesque images of black womanhood are starkly juxtaposed with images of blonde bombshells, pale, rail thin supermodels, or simply your typical lily-white, girl next door.
Most media images serve as indicators of social status because one learns what a society values and what it does not through media representation. The black female body has historically been debased by the intersecting atrocities of racism and patriarchal oppression. My black, large, female body was being offered up as a sacrifice to the contemporary “cult of thinness,” which socially sanctioned my body as unfit to truly be feminine. In a grossly sexist and racialized society, a black, fat woman is not valued, and therefore eclipsed. I questioned, as Sojourner had, “Ain’t I a Woman?”  

During my young adulthood, I caved into social pressure. I obsessively straightened my hair and began binging and purging food. I dare say I alternated between states of anorexia and bulimia, which is of course absurd because black women do not have eating disorders, and fat people cannot be anorexic. 

Depressed by years of relentless stigmatization, it was only when I chose a form of self-integration that would take place outside of the confines of white culture, that I began to realize my worth. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and Fannie Lou Hamer cast stones against the patriarchal, white supremacist power structure. They strived to enhance the plight of their people, and their black femininity was soundly intact. These remarkable women were the catalyst for the formation of my womanist aesthetic. This womanist aesthetic would guide me to stop demonizing my unique characteristics, and engage in healthy behaviors. 

I no longer chemically processed my hair nor consumed nutrient poor foods that were introduced into the African American palate by oppressive forces. These changes resulted in a healthier physical and mental state. I reclaimed the power to redefine beauty and femininity on my own cultural terms. Just as the warrior women before me did not submit to the prescribed societal notions of their value or existence, I too have chosen a cerebral and substantive beauty to define the majesty that is my black female body.

Anitra Winder is a queer, crafty, Afrofuturistic, writer, and social justice advocate. She has a degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Health Care Administration/Public Health. When she’s not focused on social justice issues, she’s battling her comic book addiction…she’s not winning. Find her on Twitter @donitocarmenito.

http://www.forharriet.com/2015/06/i-found-my-womanist-aesthetic-by.html#axzz3vZCa64hg

24 Creative Ways To Channel Depression Or Anxiety ~ Alanna Okun

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to show us what they've created during periods of depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles.
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Everyone deals with these conditions differently, of course. (And you should always consult your doctor if you feel you might be depressed or anxious!) Often a side effect can be that you don’t want to make so much as a piece of toast, let alone a painting or throw pillow, and that is in no way a sign of failure; but sometimes, using your hands to make a tiny corner of the universe look how you want it to is just what you need. These are some of the infinite ways to do so.

1. Tend to some plants.

Tend to some plants.

“I usually sit outside with my dog and pot seedlings for hours, just taking my time relaxing and focusing on the little seedlings. After they’ve been outside growing for a while it’s like a proud parent moment — you’ve seen them since they were tiny seedlings and now they’ve grown up to full blossoming plants.” — ashleyc09

2. Take self-portraits.

Take self-portraits.

“I’m a photographer and I always found doing self-portraits as a way to deal with my depression and anxiety. I’m able to escape reality for a moment in time.” — vanessas14

“Photography (particularly film) forces me to slow down, breathe, think about my surroundings, and focus on being present. Whenever I feel anxious or depressed, I go outside and start shooting. It calms me down, centres me, and I get to create something beautiful out of the monster that is my mental illness.” — yanaleigh

“I have had anxiety and depression for years. During a particularly rough bout of depression my junior year of college, my boyfriend and I collaborated on a photography project to visually depict our lives with these illnesses. It was a deeply cathartic experience for both of us; creating an honest depiction of a misunderstood part of myself enabled a shift in how we talked about it and managed it moving forward.” — amandam42

“One miscarriage and an emotionally abusive relationship later, I was able to translate the isolation into an image.” — mercedesh3

3. Turn the old into new.

“I take forgotten chairs off the side of the road and reupholster them into something new and beautiful. And it makes me feel amazing… I haven’t done this yet but I’ve always wanted to bring the chair back to where I found it so whoever threw it out could see that things that look like they’re on their last leg still have much life left in them, possibly a brighter one. Because it really helps me.” — beatrixk3

4. Get out in the world…

Get out in the world...

“Going for runs and making it to the top of the mountain and feeling on top of the world gives me relief from my anxiety.” — liffieboy.

5. …And capture what you find there.

...And capture what you find there.

“Sometimes when I’m at work and depressed/having too many feelings I like to go outside, and draw things I see on the street. Drawing makes me feel like I’m in control, and it forces me to find some solace in the weird beauty of the physical world. Also, I’ve realized that ten minutes of sunshine actually legitimately kind of helps.” — avw

6. Or literally turn it into art.

Or literally turn it into art.

“I enjoy going outside, finding a smooth rock by the river, and making these designs on them. It forces me to go outside, walk, and then the freestyle artwork becomes very therapeutic as well.” — Dana Rae Wilson

7. Work with makeup or body paint.

Work with makeup or body paint.

“I have struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life. I used to be basically locked into my own world of despair. Three years ago, I volunteered at a local haunted house and started learning makeup. While I’m still far from the best, learning this new skill has helped improve EVERYTHING in my life, even my relationship with my boyfriend. 

Now I refuse to hide from the world, and enjoy creating new characters that capture this. This is a bodypaint I did last April. I consider it my best turn so far. I look forward more to learning and improving my craft and it’s given me something to be proud of and live for.” — clharbert

8. Blend your own scented candles.

Blend your own scented candles.

“Leaving university and being unemployed with no routine brought back my anxiety big time. I needed something to keep my mind and my hands busy one day, so I made soy wax candles and used essential oils to scent them. I found picking the essential oil blends really relaxing and watching the wax melt each time really therapeutic. I spent hours making them and a whole day had passed without me being worried/anxious/nervous/panicked. The candles are pretty gorgeous to light, too.” — ashro14.

9. Focus on a new buddy.

Focus on a new buddy.

“Pepper is my three-year-old Belgian Malinois service dog that I rescued from a shelter and then trained with the help of a trainer. When I met her I was in deep depression, had anxiety, bipolar, and was suicidal. Pepper is the reason I am alive; she gave me a reason to live. Her training gave me a purpose when I had none and now gives me freedom. I actually want to leave my house more. I still have trouble every day but with her I can live again instead of just being there. She is everything to me, my best friend, my rock, my teacher, my savior, and my heart. The absolute greatest thing to ever happen to me is her.” — charlotteh43

10. Design your dream house.

Design your dream house.

“I have been battling both anxiety and depression for the past four years, probably longer. About two or three years ago I started designing rooms on RoomStyler and eventually moved on to making houses on Sketchup. I have had no training or anything, just stuff I have learned from the internet, but I am proud of my little designs.” — beanloser

11. And your dream outfits.

And your dream outfits.

“I have severe depression and anxiety, self-harm tendencies, low self-esteem and terrible body image. With summer coming up, it becomes harder to hide my scars. Being a plus-size girl, I don’t have many options in stores that will fit, be flattering, fun, fashionable and cover what I need covered. 

So I’ve started drawing clothes that I want to make and wear this summer. It gives me something creative to plan and look forward to, and I find colouring my sketches digitally to be pretty meditative. By drawing pictures of myself, I’m trying to work towards seeing my body in a different, more positive light, but that’s a long way off yet. I’m pretty happy with how this picture’s turned out, though, and I’m hopeful that I can find the motivation to make it real.” — lunarbluemoth

12. Wrap arrowheads.

Wrap arrowheads.

“Started wire wrapping arrowheads my boyfriend made to combat anxiety. I find having something to do with my hands really helps me relax!” — audreyhosephineh

13. Bake, bake, bake.

Bake, bake, bake.

“When nothing picks me up, all I need to pick up is a whisk and start baking!” — humayra.

14. Teach.

“I haven’t created a ‘thing’ as such, but I am in the process of creating a new, more educated me. I decided to use my struggle to help others like myself. Next year I’ll be a qualified counsellor, changing the lives of people with mental health issues, using my own terrible experience to help better the lives of others living through the same thing.” — katiejade.

15. Draw.

Draw.

“When my depression and anxiety was at its worse I discovered two things. The first was that I could draw, something I didn’t really realize till that point. And also that drawing took enough concentration that it would stop my anxious thoughts for at least a little while.” — sunshineabove

16. Crochet a blanket, for yourself or a beloved pal.

Crochet a blanket, for yourself or a beloved pal.

“I crocheted these harlequins and plan to make a blanket out of them. It’s not the perfect medicine but it helps with my anxiety and depression. It’s the sense of accomplishment that gets me going and made me feel a little bit better. Though I’m not sure if the blanket will be mine, since Kiwi is so eager to use it.” — Nadine

17. Sell what you’ve made.

Sell what you've made.

“Everything in my Etsy shop is a product of my mental illness, whether directly or indirectly. I battled for years with depression and anxiety and I was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder a few years ago. After having my son I felt useless, like I as a person has ceased to exist, that I was just a conduit for my son to receive food and care and comfort. Making things became my way of reassuring myself I still mattered and that, no matter how bad things got, I was still capable of making the world a little better with the things I created.” — laurenl4

18. Paint.

Paint.

“This is a poster I painted two years ago. It was a really difficult day for me to go through but I still have it in my room and looking at it every night it gives me peace.” — anyaa2

19. Play with fire.

Play with fire.

“I play with fire. Specifically, I do lampwork; I sit in front of a 2,000*F flame and melt glass. Destructive and creative at the same time. It puts me in a zone where I HAVE to focus (or risk getting burned) which banishes the depression demons for a short while. Did this vessel just before starting meds.” — allivymar

20. Make your tears work for you.

Make your tears work for you.

“After losing my kidney transplant and getting my heart broken by my cheating boyfriend, I went into a deep depression. I was so angry and sad I could barely get out of bed. The only thing I can credit to getting out of that dark hole was my tears….. my pillow tears. I thought instead of crying about it, I would instead make literal tears out of fabric and embroidery. Each one with a different message. After I would finish each one I felt liberated.” — marianaeloysad

21. Know the value of even the smallest, most temporary projects.

Know the value of even the smallest, most temporary projects.

“I made this bracelet out of candy wrappers at a party to cope with my social anxiety. It ended up being a good idea, because people started giving me their spare wrappers because they thought it was cool, and I didn’t have to stress about coming up with topics of conversation.” — katelynj42.

22. Make little monsters.

Make little monsters.

“I make lots of my peg dolls to combat depression/anxiety. It’s a nice thing to do with my hands and keep me occupied :)” — fiorentinokimmy

23. Take up embroidery.

Take up embroidery.

“I had a physically and emotionally devastating miscarriage and my life kinda fell apart. I embroidered cream and white tulips that mean purity, new life, and ‘I will love you forever’ in memory of my baby. During the hours I worked on it, I grieved, cried, let my mind go blank and my feelings go numb just to rest. I keep this folded up and every once in awhile I take it out and look at it and make myself remember that I’ve survived some awful times and there’s good in life and I can make it.” — hannahr4

“I made this to remind myself what I really am.” — emilyceratops

24. Create your life.

“I created my life. Through everything I deal with I have used art in multiple manners such as painting and photography and created a career built on my passion for photo. However, even when I was wanting to end it all I was able to create a life. I wanted to die, to never see the light again; when the light came I went straight through it and came up with something brighter. I built relationships with my family and friends that helped me build my self again. I molded my path in a way that worked for me not having to bob and twist for others. 

I created myself as I wanted to be. The outcome has been happiness, and although I still deal with my mental illness, I have been able to control it like an artist uses a brush to control paint. And even if your life is as messy and sporadic as a Jackson Pollock, it is still beautiful and someone out there is going to see the beauty in you as well.” — abbis4c

To learn more about depression and anxiety, check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental Health here and here.

If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately here or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

 

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/making-it-through#.qt8D4myozM

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed ~ Kelsey Darragh, Kirsten King

Understanding your own mental illness doesn’t happen overnight – It’s a process. So, using the medication she was prescribed, one woman opened up about her long, and sometimes impossibly difficult, experience coping with her own mental illness.

BuzzFeed Video / Via youtube.com

“I had my first panic attack when I was 17-years-old. My body went into flight or fight mode. Well, jokes on me because I was on an airplane flight when it happened.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I had so many questions, but one stood above them all: Why me?”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

One in four people struggle with their mental health.

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

And only roughly one third of people with mental illness seek ANY form of help.

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I sure as hell didn’t like the way I felt and I didn’t care who knew it. Well, maybe I cared a little.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I was afraid of telling my friends that sometimes I felt like I was dying… physically, and emotionally.”

“I started going to therapy. I had good days, and bad days… and really bad days.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

Eventually, a diagnosis was reached: “Bipolar disorder. Getting a definitive diagnosis meant there had to be a cure, right?”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“…Hope. What a misleading drug in itself.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I tried to fixed everything externally to fix an internal problem. I switched jobs, colleges, therapists, I took more Ativan.”

“I had good days, and bad days, and less really bad days. And then life happened – smacked me in the face and right off my tracks because a guy I loved broke up with me.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“The threat of unpredictability is the scariest part when something depressing happens to someone with depression.”

“There are no rights and wrongs when it comes to feelings and moods, they just exist. We just feel. It’s the choices we make on how to constructively deal with those feelings that define us.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“In seven years time, seven psychiatrists, four psychologists, countless therapists, two misdiagnosis, and over 20 medications… I was finally figuring my mental illness out.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I cannot hold myself accountable for what happens with my depression and anxiety. That I don’t have control over. But I can hold myself accountable for the strength of trying.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

23 Healthier Versions Of Your Favorite Holiday Treats ~ Christine Byrne

1. Healthy Three-Ingredient Brownies

Healthy Three-Ingredient Brownies

Super easy, and totally gluten-free. Recipe here.

2. Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Bars

Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Bars

Lots of oats, a little whole wheat flour, and some coconut oil are the healthier swaps that make these (still decadent) cookie bars a little more wholesome. Recipe here.

3. Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars

Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars

Applesauce and Greek yogurt lighten up these super-festive treats. Recipe here.

4. Superfood Chocolate Bark

Superfood Chocolate Bark

Great as a DIY hostess gift, or just as a healthyish sweet treat to have around. Recipe here.

5. Healthier Buckeyes

Healthier Buckeyes

Applesauce and pureed cannellini beans lighten these up but, to be clear, there’s still plenty of chocolate and peanut butter going on. Recipe here.

6. Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters

Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters

A little naughty, a little nice. Recipe here.

7. Carrot-Apple Bread

 

Great for a holiday brunch, especially because you can make it the night before and not have to fuss in the morning. Recipe here.

8. Chocolate-Dipped Satsumas

Chocolate-Dipped Satsumas

That chocolate-orange combo doesn’t have to be over-the-top indulgent. Recipe here.

9. No-Bake Cranberry Jam Tarts

No-Bake Cranberry Jam Tarts

I mean, these could even pass for breakfast. Recipe here.

10. Cinnamon-Sugar Baked Apples

Cinnamon-Sugar Baked Apples

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

You won’t even miss the crust. Recipe here.

11. Gluten-Free, Vegan Rum Balls

Gluten-Free, Vegan Rum Balls

These couldn’t be easier. Recipe here.

12. Whole Wheat Spiced Apple Cake

Whole Wheat Spiced Apple Cake

Recipe here.

13. Skinny Confetti Cookies

Skinny Confetti Cookies

Recipe here.

14. Cranberry-Almond Greek Yogurt Cake

 

Nobody will even KNOW this is healthy. Recipe here.

15. Vegan Monkey Bread

 

Yep. Recipe here.

16. Skinny Eggnog Cupcakes

Skinny Eggnog Cupcakes

Frankly, more delicious than actual eggnog. Recipe here.

17. Healthy Gingerbread Muffins

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins

Wake up and smell the sugar and spice and everything nice. Recipe here.

18. Eggnog Pudding

Eggnog Pudding

Recipe here.

19. Honey Upside-Down Cranberry Cake

 

Upside-down never felt so right side-up. Recipe here.

20. Almond Milk Hot Chocolate

Almond Milk Hot Chocolate

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

Still plenty delicious. Recipe here.

21. Paleo Double Chocolate Pistachio BIscotti

Paleo Double Chocolate Pistachio BIscotti

Recipe here.

22. Mulled Beetroot Orange Juice

Mulled Beetroot Orange Juice

A mulled wine alternative that you can start drinking well before five o’clock. Recipe here.

23. Soft and Healthy Gingerbread Cookies

Soft and Healthy Gingerbread Cookies

The season just isn’t complete without them. Recipe here.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/christinebyrne/happy-healthy-holidays#.sevxWjbD93

7 Easy Ways To Eat Healthier This Week ~ Christine Byrne

1. Experiment with healthier baking substitutions this holiday season.

Experiment with healthier baking substitutions this holiday season.

No need to go crazy, or substitute EVERYTHING in a recipe, but a couple swaps here and there are worth trying, if you want. Learn more here.

2. Try an in-season fruit or vegetable that you’ve never had. If you like summer stone fruits like peaches and plums, you’ll probably love persimmons, too.

They’re also super versatile. You can freeze them and freeze them and blend them into sorbet, or roast them and add them to a salad. They also taste great straight up.

3. Stuck in a rut with make-ahead lunch ideas? Shake things up with this salmon, quinoa, and butternut squash.

Stuck in a rut with make-ahead lunch ideas? Shake things up with this salmon, quinoa, and butternut squash.

Recipe here.

4. Colder weather calls for comfort food, but it doesn’t have to be heavy. Try making a healthy soup to eat for lunches and dinners.

Colder weather calls for comfort food, but it doesn't have to be heavy. Try making a healthy soup to eat for lunches and dinners.

Learn more here.

5. Try this butternut squash mac and cheese. It’s a little healthier than the original, but has enough of the good stuff to feed your soul.

Try this butternut squash mac and cheese. It's a little healthier than the original, but has enough of the good stuff to feed your soul.

Recipe here.

6. You don’t have to abstain from alcohol during holiday parties, but it might help to keep in mind that all drinks are NOT are not created equal in terms of sugar and calories.

You don't have to abstain from alcohol during holiday parties, but it might help to keep in mind that all drinks are NOT are not created equal in terms of sugar and calories.

Design by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Here are some lower-calorie cocktail options to try. Also worth noting: Less sugar = less of a hangover.

7. Think outside of the box for breakfast. Stuffed sweet potato? Why not!?

Think outside of the box for breakfast. Stuffed sweet potato? Why not!?

There’s also a killer recipe for quinoa granola to put inside. Recipe here.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/christinebyrne/healthy-holiday-season#.dk88om2VDa

15 Easy Things You Can Do To Help When You Feel Like Shit ~ Maritsa Patrinos

1. Get a drink of water.

Get a drink of water.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

You could be dehydrated! Your body needs water. Not juice, soda, or alcohol – get a tall glass of water and make yourself drink all of it.

2. Make your bed.

When you have a lot to do and it feels overwhelming, making your bed can be the first step in getting your life on track. It will also (hopefully) discourage you from getting back into it.

3. Take a shower.

Take a shower.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

Life feels different when you’re clean! And it can give you a burst of energy if you’re feeling lethargic. Wash your hair and give yourself a head massage.

4. Have a snack – not junk food!

Did you eat enough today? It’s super tempting to eat junk food when you feel like crap. If you don’t feel like making a whole meal, maybe just a piece of fruit. Something you can burn throughout the day and not in a burst of five minutes.

5. Take a walk.

Take a walk.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

You might need some fresh air and not even know it. Give your body some natural light, breathe some different air, move your legs a little, even if it’s for just five minutes. Allow yourself to think some different thoughts.

6. Change your clothes.

Even if you aren’t going to leave the house today, put on real clothes. Or, if you’ve been wearing the same uncomfortable clothes all day and feel restless, change into your sleepy clothes and slippers and relax.

7. Change your environment.

Change your environment.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

Staring at the same four walls day after day can be drudging. Can you work from a cafe, a library, or a friend’s house? If you can add going somewhere to the list of things you did today, you may feel more accomplished.

8. Talk to someone, not on the internet – it can be about anything.

If you don’t feel like talking through your troubles, that’s okay. Visit a friend, talk to them about a movie you saw. Call your mom and see how she’s doing.

9. Dance to an upbeat guilty pleasure song.

Dance to an upbeat guilty pleasure song.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

NOT ELLIOT SMITH! Pick something high energy and bump it. Dance like a rock star for one song to get your blood pumping again.

10. Get some exercise.

Do some cardio, work up a sweat. If you don’t have the time for a whole workout, look up a sun salutation on Youtube and stretch for as long as you have time for. Do some push-ups or sit-ups at your desk.

11. Accomplish something – even if it’s something tiny.

Accomplish something – even if it's something tiny.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

Do you need to grab some groceries? Schedule a doctor’s appointment? Reply to an email? If you can’t get to the big stuff on your list, focus on the small stuff, and don’t forget to congratulate yourself for getting something done.

12. Hug an animal.

If you don’t have a pet, can you visit a friend’s? Or can you go to an animal shelter?

13. Make a “done” list instead of a “to-do” list.

Make a "done" list instead of a "to-do" list.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

Instead of overwhelming yourself right now, start feeling better about what you did get done. You can add “brushed teeth,” “washed dishes,” or “picked out an outfit” to your list. It doesn’t matter how small the task, prove to yourself that you’re effectual.

14. Watch a Youtube video that always makes you laugh.

I personally recommend this one.

15. Give yourself permission to feel shitty.

Give yourself permission to feel shitty.

Maritsa Patrinos / BuzzFeed

You’re allowed to have a shitty day, and you don’t have to fix it all right now. If you try to fix it and it doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. Give yourself the time and space you need to feel what you’re feeling.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/maritsapatrinos/15-easy-things-you-can-do-to-help-when-you-feel-like-shit#.rqvmdX4vY3

Thinning Edges? Try These 6 Tips to Keep Them in Check ~ Kirbie Johnson

The edges of your hair are the most fragile part — they’re very thin, which means taking the time to give them extra TLC. If you think you’re alone in the struggle against thinning edges, think again — even supermodel Naomi Campbell deals with it!

If you’re reading this, you know that thinning edges are caused by excessive pulling and tugging; tight ponytails and buns are not your friends. Weaves also put a lot of stress on your edges, as do many of the products you could be putting into your hair.

If you are trying to grow back your edges, are hoping to grow them out, or just want to maintain healthy edges, there are a few things to keep in mind. Avoid products with alcohol for starters — alcohol is used to help products you put in your hair dry faster and is found in a lot of gel products, but they can cause major breakage! It might be tempting to gel down your edges, but avoid doing so if possible. (Your hair will thank you!) Check out the rest of the tips in the video, and be sure to comment and let us know any tips you have for keeping your edges in check.

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Number-One Tip For Having Sex In Space ~ Eliza Sankar-Gorton

“Bring a lot of leather belts to keep things strapped down… and you’ll be just fine.”

That’s the best way to have sex in space, according to Neil deGrasse Tyson. In a new video (above), the “StarTalk” host answered a fan’s question about how sex in space m be different than having sex here on Earth — and Tyson got right to the point.

It would pretty difficult to do the deed in microgravity, he concluded, but there are solutions to the weightlessness problem. Just check out his explanation in the video.

You’re welcome.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/neil-degrasse-tyson-sex-in-space_564f5e80e4b0879a5b0ad1c7