How Plants Helped My Mental Health

By Morgan Clark

Recently, I became a full-blown plant mom, something that I am very proud of. My plants helped me stay sane during those long days of quarantine. I live by myself, unless you include my rambunctious puppy, Xena. For the most part, I enjoy having a place to myself. Not worrying if my music is too loud or asking myself how I can be considerate of the other person. To balance my time by myself, I usually step out to hang with friends, which enables me to power up my social battery. This could not be done since March of last year due to Covid, and, unconsciously, I developed a new hobby.

First, I bought one plant to liven up my house, Then I bought another one. And now I have 20 plus plants. There was a time when the employees where I bought my plants knew my face from the many times I visited there. Some would say I have an addiction, but I did notice something important. When I take care of my plants, I feel better. It is like I am taking care of myself, and I feel lighter each time I water and clip my babies. Days when I wanted to stay in bed (and there were many during quarantine), I got up to open the blinds for my plants. Which somehow put a battery in my back to start my day. When I feel lonely, stressed, or down, I go to my “green room” and tend to my plants. It calms my nerves and gives me something else to focus on. Nothing is more exciting than seeing a new bulb from one of your plants. My plants are a reflection of my mental health.

I grew up with plants in the house, because my daddy had many plants. At a young age, I did not understand why he cared for them so much, but I now realize that plants support one’s mental health. And, I am not the only one. I have friends who have realized this too. We now share a bond based on what plants are easy to care for and what plants are harder to grow. Whenever I can, I recommend for people to bring plants into their house, even if it a cactus. It can be a challenge at first, but nothing is more rewarding than having plants…trust me.

 

 

SAD Winter Blues

By Abbie Lewis

It’s that time of year again where it’s dark all the time, or so it feels, and cold as all get out. Not my favorite of the weather options but we don’t get much of a choice living here in the Midwest, do we? I know that for a lot of us students, things are getting kind of stressful as well since we’re now over halfway done with the semester and things are piling up. People make a lot of jokes sometimes about the depression getting to them around this time, and about Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it is a very real disorder, and it’s never more important to monitor your mental health than in the cold months, especially for women.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is a type of depression related to season and weather changes. People don’t always realize it, but the sun and good weather really can play a huge part on our moods and emotions! Going without them for a long time when things are already stressful can be very hard. I know that I personally go through this kind of depressive slump throughout the winter. When we get a random sunny day with even a glimpse of the 40s, I get beyond excited and feel the need to do my make up, get all cute and make the most of it!

This is especially crucial information for women.  According to Mayo Clinic, women are nearly twice more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men are. It’s partly due to our biology and our hormones, but it’s also due to the immense amount of social stressors women experience. A lot of women work a job as well as carry most of the weight in their home life, making depression a much more prevalent thing for them. During the cold seasonal changes, when SAD can occur, it can be very hard for women, especially the many of us who already battle with chronic depression.

There are ways to combat SAD though, cool things like a lamp that mimics the sun and you can set it to be an alarm for you in the morning so it’s more like waking up to sunlight. As always, therapy can help tremendously too! I’m no expert by any means but I think that making sure you go easy on yourself during these times and staying as positive as you can, can help a lot. Hang in there and we will make it through this cold winter and come out on the other side!

 

Music and Mental Health

By Emma Gilham

The effects of COVID-19 have shaken the world. It is easier than ever to fall into a spiral of pessimism and apathy. While we shouldn’t hold ourselves to the same standards as we hold ourselves during a non-pandemic, it is disorienting to look in the mirror and not recognize who is looking back. The World Health Organization reports, women are at a higher risk of having mental disorders. Not to mention, “The high prevalence of sexual violence to which women are exposed and the correspondingly high rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following such violence, renders women the largest single group of people affected by this disorder.” With that in mind, the isolation we are experiencing due to COVID-19 may escalate risk factors or amplify existing psychological struggles. Listening to music has always been a path to inspiration, solace, and focus for me. In fact, listening to music can be beneficial in multiple psychological aspects. Research has suggested that it could improve cognitive performance, decrease symptoms of depression, improve sleeping patterns, and help manage pain. To clarify, I am not saying listening to music will cure mental illnesses or replace any form of professional treatment. However, music could help bring relaxation and reminders of strength to day-to-day tasks.

Have you been needing to clean for the past week, but haven’t had any motivation? Throw on your favorite grooves and get going! Do you need workout inspiration? Look for tracks with 125-140 beats per minute! Are you feeling down? A 2014 study found “overall sad music can evoke positive feelings such as peacefulness, harmony, and kindness.” Go ahead and blast those sad songs, and maybe get a good cry in. You might just come out of it, in a better mood. As we’ve all heard a million times since April, “This is a trying time for all of us.” Don’t forget the simple joys that could help each day be a little better. My personal quarantine favorites by womxn are listed below:

 

Songs

· Gold Dust Woman -Fleetwood Mac

· I Put A Spell on You – Nina Simone

· Savage (Remix) -Megan Thee Stallion (ft. Beyoncé)

· Midnight Sky -Miley Cyrus

· Here You Come Again -Dolly Parton

· Still -Seinabo Sey

· Heart of Glass -Blondie

· Flowers- WILLOW

Albums

· It Was Good Until It Wasn’t -Kehlani

· Folklore -Taylor Swift

· ANTI -Rihanna

· Rare -Selena Gomez

· Cheap Queen -King Princess

· Chilombo -Jhene Aiko

· The Seven Deadly Sins – Shreya

If you are at the beach, your body is beach ready.

By Mirella Flores

summer-timeSummer is quickly approaching, and with it an influx of articles on how to get that “summer body.” I am all for taking care of your body, including being more conscious of what you eat and drink and exercising. What disturbs me about these types of articles are not the tips they give, but rather the message they convey – Your body is wrong and you need to fix it.

No. Your body is not wrong. Society is wrong. There is a difference between taking care of your body and fixating on “improving” it. If it is summer, your body is summer ready. If you are at the beach, your body is beach ready. Unfortunately, I cannot control the hurtful messages out there, but I can provide you with a couple of articles that may help you reclaim your body.

11 Easy Things You Can Do When You’re Just Not Feeling Yourself. As the title gives away, this article contains 11 things you can do start feeling yourself again. Numbers 5, 6, and 7 are some of my favorites. Number five is “Give yourself a pep talk you would give your best friend.” Yes, feel free to go Leslie Knope on yourself.

The Cognitive Triangle

The Cognitive Triangle

Number six is “Do something that tests your strength, endurance, or coordination.” Instead of trying to “fix” your body, doing something that tests your body’s ability would help you appreciate your body for what it can do. Number seven, “Come up with a badass mantra that actually gets you pumped up,” is something I use in my work with clients (as a counselor). This tip is effective because it taps into the “thoughts” of the cognitive triangle (see right). Allow me to get into counselor mode. Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are connected. The idea under telling ourselves a positive mantra is that we are controlling our thoughts, which then will affect our emotions and actions.

10 Little Spells That’ll Help Send Love To Your Body. Again, the title of this article is self-explanatory. Whether or not you are doing working for a flatter belly, take some time and do the spell for your abs, “Blow up a bunch of balloons to different sizes (or you can use bubble wrap) and attach them to your body, like you’re creating a balloon body suit. Jump up and down, dance, and roll around in your balloon armor because your belly is a beautiful shield that can expand and flex and handle a lot of crazy things that we don’t give enough credit for.” Silly I know, but no judgement whether you do it or not. The point here is to take some time to appreciate our abs (because we all have abs) and other body parts… you can have some fun with it!

Stop body shaming others and yourself. Get out there and enjoy the warm weather and water, or whatever outdoors activity you want to do.

What Infertility Taught Me About Feminism

by Danielle Lyons

As a child, it was obvious to choose motherhood as a career. That was the goal. That was the plan. Things don’t always go according to plan. At the age of 19, I received the diagnosis of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility. Marni Rosner says,

“Women often begin to imagine themselves GetAttachmentThumbnailas mothers long before actually trying to have children, and this is certainly influenced by implicit cultural and societal messages that idealize motherhood. When this imagined self of a mother, however tentative, is withdrawn, it may result in feeling a loss of control, threaten her imagined future, cause her to doubt her womanhood, and feel like an assault on her ability to self-actualize.”

So much of my identity had been taken from me at the second of my diagnosis. I had invested so much in my plans of motherhood, I had to do a little revaluation of my goals.

First I addressed the age old question, “What’s Plan-B?” I had planned so much of my life around the prospects of motherhood. I was left reeling when I realized that might not come to fruition. When we are young, we are given baby dolls to nurture that instill in us the value of being a caretaker. Through my work here at The Women’s Center, I came to a realization. Yes, I’d be a great mother. But I’d probably be good at a lot of things if I give myself room to explore other avenues. Iris Waichler reminds us, “Spend some time thinking about how many other different ways you can identify yourself. You may be a sibling, a friend, a wife. Perhaps you are a person with a solid career and professional skills, and proud personal achievements that occurred before the word infertility ever entered your consciousness.” So, motherhood may not happen for me. That’s not the end of the world. There’s infinite possibilities at our disposals. Infertility has taught me about recognizing my worth as a woman. My worth and possibility as a person reaches far beyond my fertility, or lack thereof.

It is easy to see your body as the enemy when it doesn’t work in the way you want it to. I eventually learned to love own my body; broken parts and all. Gloria Steinem reminds us, “Each individual woman’s body demands to be accepted on its own terms.” At the end of the day. It isn’t the final say in motherhood. That took a while to grasp for me. We do have options if we so choose to pursue them. There are fertility drugs, surgery, in vitro fertilization, adoption, and many other choices. At the end of the day, I realize that I’m not completely at the mercy of my body. I have much more power and choice than I realize. Mothers aren’t defined just by their ability to bear children, and that’s an important conclusion to come to when you are dealing with infertility.

And finally, I learned the importance of self-care. I’m not going to pretend that fertility issues don’t make me sad. They do. I think it’s completely okay and necessary to mourn the things that just may not be. With that being said, it is also a necessity to provide some self-care at those times I’m mourning. Self-care is an intentional act in which to help care for your emotional and mental wellbeing. Lucille Ball says, “You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” On those days of grief and insecurity, it’s essential to actively be kind to yourself. Sometimes the most radical thing you can do, is just care for yourself.

To my fellow sufferers of infertility, I’ll leave you with this:

You are power. You are worthy. And you are not alone.