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This tag is associated with 23 posts

Write every day: Creating joy and managing anxiety during coronavirus

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Central Park by Christa Avampato

Thankfully spring has not been cancelled.

Now that many of us are spending more time on our own and at home, there’s a lot we can do to keep up our spirits and manage our anxiety:

-Take a walk outside
-Foster a shelter dog (you’re home anyway!)
-Offer to watch a friend’s child if they need to go to work or get out to run errands
-Donate to a nonprofit
-Support your open local businesses
-Help a neighbor who can’t get outside
-Thank everyone who still has to be at work – from grocery store clerks to first responders to public transit works to parks crews
-Write
-Create art and music
-Read that book and watch that movie that’s been waiting for us
-Call or video chat with a friend or family member
-Work on a home improvement project
-Learn something new
-Exercise
-Cook and bake; try a new recipe
-Rest, relax, and meditate
-Spend some time thinking about what really matters to you and how you might bring some dreams to life

Times like this can be difficult on many levels for many people. There’s still joy to be had and to make for ourselves and for others, even during a pandemic.

What are you doing for yourself & others right now that makes you happy? I’d love to hear about it.

A Year of Yes: Using this time for reflection

“Something will grow from all you are going through. And it will be you.” ~TobyMac

My medical emergency this week has offered me an opportunity for intense reflection time in every area of my life. I don’t have any answers or revelations yet. I’m still down in the weeds of it all. But I’m trying and healing. And right now, that’s enough.

A Year of Yes: A near-death experience this week changed my life

I’m posting these embarrassing selfies for your benefit:

I got off a plane from vacation in Vancouver. It was a fantastic trip—more on that later. This post is about you. Well, it’s about you via a story about me. I’ll be brief. My eye started to hurt on the plane. Nothing big; just noticeable. I got home, picked up my dog from boarding, and decided to take a nap. I woke up with my eye crusted shut. My doctor, via video call, thought it was a case of pink eye and prescribed antibiotics. 24 hours later, the swelling, redness, and oozing got much worse, and then spread to my second eye. I got on a video call with my doctor again, and she was alarmed to see how much my condition had deteriorated. She sent me to the emergency room.

I didn’t have pink eye. I had a condition known as periorbital cellulitis. It’s an extremely dangerous infection if left untreated, and can be lethal by causing sepsis or meningitis. It’s usually caused by an insect bite or another similar kind of trauma. I’m immensely lucky that I have access to great, timely medical care. Again, my gut instinct to get help saved me, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

Now the bit about you:

1.) If you’re sick, please, please, please get medical help quickly. Don’t worry that you’re being a hypochondriac. If you think something is wrong, it’s much better to get it checked.

2.) Do what you love. Please. What you’re passionate about, what lights you up, what makes you curious to learn more and more. Create beautiful art. Write. See your friends. Help people. Share what you have. Fall in love. Adopt a dog. Live. If you’re in a job or a relationship you don’t love, go. Quickly. Don’t waste your time. You never know how much of it you have. Your life can turn on a dime, from something as insignificant as an insect bite. So wear bug repellent and sunscreen because you might as well give yourself your best shot at your best life.

In the pause: Considering a New Year’s cleanse

This past weekend, I was very sick. It came on very suddenly and I was down for the count for 3 full days. I am finally almost back to normal but being that sick really caused me to think about my nutrition and exercise routine. (Lying there under a pile of blankets, I had a lot of time to think!) I realized over the past few months, I haven’t been taking great care of myself. The stress of the job search, getting up-to-speed on a new job, launching my book, and doing my best to take in all that New York City has to offer took its toll. I thought I was doing okay, but when I really stopped to reflect on my choices, I realized I haven’t been as diligent about my health as I usually am. This was a big revelation and though I wish I hadn’t lost three days to being sick, I realize now that it was actually a great thing to force myself to be so mindful of my health.

Yesterday, a friend of mine recommended that I try a cleanse for the new year after the holidays to reset and get my new year off to a solid, healthy start. I’ve never done a cleanse before so I’m looking for recommendations. Have you ever done one? Did you find it to be valuable? If so, which ones would you recommend? Thanks in advance for any advice!

In the pause: Join The Mindful Rebels

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themindfulrebels.com

My dear friend, Marita, has been on a quest to create tools and practices for mindfulness. I find daily inspiration in her posts, and every time we get together I feel more motivated, calmer, and happier. Marita’s growing her audience for The Mindful Rebels and I hope you’ll join the journey. Find Marita on Instagram at @themindfulrebels, Facebook at The Mindful Rebels, and her blog http://themindfulrebels.com/. Be prepared to be inspired by her vision to create a global community that supports comprehensive health for all living beings. Be a Mindful Rebel.

In the pause: Combatting loneliness with literature – a lesson for writers and readers

This week, former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy talked about the loneliness epidemic. By his estimation, the stress of loneliness is a national health crisis, especially for our young people, and will be a leading cause of disease if we don’t take steps to alleviate it.

We’re hyper connected and surrounded by people and pings all day long. How can we be lonely if we’re not alone? Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing. In my opinion the worst kind of loneliness occurs when you feel it but aren’t actually alone. Loneliness is when we feel that no one understand us. As a child, I felt very lonely. One of the main reasons I wrote my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, is that I want all readers (especially kids) to feel less alone. I want them to know that someone somewhere is rooting for them and believes in their ideas and abilities. Emerson is the friend I needed when I was younger.

Nothing replaces a human presence in our lives though I do believe that books connect us, authors to readers, and readers to readers, across geographies and generations. As authors, they are our contribution to humanity. Books surface issues that matter and help us to walk in one another’s shoes. They help us see points-of-view that we don’t have the experience to see ourselves. They generate understanding, compassion, and empathy. They inspire courage, strength, and the ability to take a chance for something in which we believe. Books are powerful. And as authors, that power isn’t to be wielded lightly. We must work in service of the people who will one day read our words, the people who may one day need a friend and reach for our story.

In the pause: How Writing Frees Us to Free Others – my post for #ShatteringStigmas on the blog It Starts at Midnight

I’m so honored to be a part of the #ShatteringStigmas series on the wonderful book blog It Starts at Midnight. I’ve been following Shannon’s excellent writing, and when I saw that she was doing a program around erasing the stigma of mental illness, I wanted to share the story behind the story of the mental health plotline in my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. Shannon gave me the chance to do that, and it is one of the first times that I am speaking about my own struggles and the healing process of writing my book. I hope you’ll check out the story on Shannon’s site. There is an excerpt of it below.

If you’d like to get my book, it’s now available on Amazon pre-order at amzn.to/2wAhmvG.

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” ~Rumi

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~Leonard Cohen

These two quotes gave me the title for my young adult book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. But what the title doesn’t tell you is that there was a long and winding road, often painful and treacherous, that brought me to Emerson. For me, she’s not just a character derived from my imagination. She is the manifestation of a journey that showed me that we are stronger, braver, and more courageous than any of us can ever imagine. To me, she is the very definition of life.

In the five years leading up to when I first put pen to paper to write her story, I had been struggling with the effects of PTSD. On September 5, 2009, one of my neighbors in New York City blew up her gas stove. She had been cooking, oil spilled, and rather than shut off the gas, she just ran out of the building. I was in my apartment on the fourth floor. I had just gotten out of the shower and noticed that the radiator in my kitchen was hot and making a ticking sound. I looked down at the floor around the radiator and saw the tiles heaving up and down. Something was terribly wrong, but I didn’t know what. I grabbed my keys (which now seems completely futile) and went out of my apartment to knock on my neighbor’s door downstairs. They had been doing construction on that apartment and I thought that may be causing the tile and radiator issue. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

The second I walked out of my apartment, I was consumed by an unending cloud of black smoke. Read more…

 

 

 

 

In the pause: Managing through anxiety

This week has been an anxious one for me thanks to a threatening neighbor in my new apartment building. My dog was barking at some disturbance outside, the neighbor flipped his lid, and left me a threatening voicemail. Twice. Not feeling safe in my home is a trigger for me, and this threatening message sent me into a difficult spiral of emotions.

I tell you this not for sympathy (I am immensely fortunate to have friends who have helped me through the last few days in countless, valuable ways) but to offer empathy for those who also battle this struggle. For too long, I didn’t ask for help. As a matter of fact, I silently chastised myself for struggling at all. With anything. Ever. I *should* be stronger than this. I *should* have everything under control at all times in all circumstances. I cannot break down. Ever. At least not in front of people.

What I’ve learned is that asking for help, advice, and support is the bravest, strongest thing in the world. Let people in. Share and listen. That’s what’s going to make things better.

 

In the pause: The O’Reilly Factor is only the tip of the iceberg of the problems women face in the workplace

This article is a good primer on the many struggles that women face in the workplace, with one glaring omission: 50% of all workplace bullying is between a female boss and a female employee. I have been on the ugly receiving end of that scenario several times. It’s awful. And it has to stop.

Women, we must support and encourage one another just as much as we seek to right the horrible wrongs of sexual harassment. A healthy workplace will not be created if we just focus on gender disparity in all its hideous forms. For every O’Reilly, there are many more acts of micro-aggression that over time do just as much damage. This is not an issue of men vs. women. This is a human issue, and everyone needs to be a part of solving it. O’Reilly and others like him got away with his behavior for so long because too many people, men and women, looked the other way because they weren’t directly impacted.

The workplace too often lacks empathy, compassion, and true collaboration. That plays out in wage and promotion disparity, diverse representation at every level of a company, in products and product marketing, and in daily team dynamics. To solve problems in the workplace and in the world, we need to stand side-by-side, men and women, roll up our sleeves, and solve problems together.

In-fighting and aggression in any form doesn’t solve anything; it makes everything worse for everyone—employees, employers, companies, shareholders, and customers. When we go to work tomorrow, let’s not think about how we’ll get even or get our fair share. Let’s take action to make the environment better for all people. Let’s raise the tide.

In the pause: Healing takes time

Friends, I have had a rough week. One of the roughest I’ve ever had. Truly. I have been struggling mightily on so many fronts that at one point, I could feel the walls closing in on me. There were a lot of triggering events and I felt like I was descending back down into the scary tunnel of my PTSD from many years ago. I couldn’t sleep or eat for almost 3 days. Eventually, somewhere deep down in the depths of my soul, something began to rise through all the sadness and fear and noise. It was my power. It was my voice.

Your power and your voice are always there. Always. I know it can be difficult to hear them. I know that pain stands up and demands to be recognized. And I know that healing takes time. But you will heal. Be kind to yourself. Be on your own side. Be your own best advocate. Be fierce. Know your truth, and don’t let anyone else tell you who you are. You know you. You be you. Because you are so much more than enough. It takes time to know that, too. Take the time. It’s worth it.

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