Creating Healthy Habits

After graduating from college in 2016 I really struggled with creating healthy, sustainable habits. Once I entered my full time job it was even harder to balance work, life, and my health. Recently I’ve been focusing more on some of the small things that I can do to create daily habits to make my life easier and more enjoyable.

Here are some of the things I’ve been putting in place

  • Loading the dishwasher as I go. Instead of waiting to do the dishes when the sink gets full I’ve been rinsing off and loading the dishwasher as I go and running it at night once it’s full. This has been much easier than spending a few minutes every couple of days loading it and being annoyed that I have to take the time to do it. It’s a super simple change but it’s made a big difference!
  • Doing a load of laundry a day (if needed). I used to do all of our laundry in one day over the weekend. Now I’ve been trying to do a load of laundry every day and folding it right away. I’ve found that I don’t always need to do laundry but splitting it up makes it easy to deal with.
  • Setting a step goal and sticking to it. Having a desk job makes it so hard to get in a healthy number of steps a day especially on the days when I work from home. I’ve been working hard to set a step goal and work towards it. If I’m working from home I try to walk on the treadmill during my lunch so I don’t have to try to get in all of my steps after work.
  • Going to bed by 10 pm. Having a nighttime routine has been one of my favorite things that I’ve incorporated in 2021. I feel much better when I go to bed at a decent time every night so I can make sure I’m getting in enough sleep. This also helps me to wake up earlier the next morning!
  • Taking breaks away from my computer. I am the worst at taking a lunch when I’m working from home. It got to the point where Brett was bringing me lunch most days because I couldn’t even spend a few minutes to make it on my own. Now I try to take at least 30 minutes away from my computer for a lunch break and a few minutes every hour for normal breaks.
  • Reading at least one chapter of a book per day. I love reading but tend to spend long periods scrolling through my phone instead of reading. I’m trying to put my phone down and read instead of scrolling through TikTok.
  • Doing a 15 minute house re-set every night. I like to spend 15 minutes before I go to bed folding blankets, wiping down counters and tables, putting things away, and just getting my house in order. Then I can wake up to a clean house and go about my day.

I recently read Atomic Habits by James Clear and one of the things that I took away from it was starting small and trying to improve by 1% daily instead of rushing to 100% improvement. This feels more sustainable to me and will hopefully help me create some lasting healthy habits.

One another note, I’ve really been missing blogging and feel like I might be getting back into a better place to start writing more. Hopefully I’ll be back soon!

Photo by Lala Azizli on Unsplash

Migraine Update: Rebound Headaches & Weaning Off Meds

I haven’t done a migraine update since July and SO much has changed since then. I’ve worked really hard the past six months or so on my health. Being in a vicious migraine cycle for the past 7+ years was a nightmare and I knew that something needed to change. I couldn’t continue being in constant pain everyday.

Before I continue, please read my migraine story and know that my journey will be different than yours if you also have headaches or migraine. I should write an updated migraine story since I wrote that one in 2018 but I have done many migraine updates since. It took me years to find a Neurologist that worked with me and understood me. My story would be much different if I hadn’t found my current Neurologist.

Muscle Relaxers

In July I wrote about taking muscle relaxers at night to help me sleep and lessen the tension in my neck and jaw. I was very skeptical when my Neurologist suggested muscle relaxers but I’ve been pleasantly surprised! I only take them on the weekends because I do sleep almost too well and have a hard time waking up on workdays. But I do notice a huge difference when I take them and it really has helped me.

Rebound Headaches

How many times have I mentioned rebound headaches now? For years I lived off of ibuprofen because I was in constant pain and it was the only thing that made the pain manageable. Taking all that ibuprofen was not only extremely unhealthy but also put me in an endless rebound headache cycle.

I made it a goal this summer to break my rebound headache cycle which meant weaning off of ibuprofen and any other pain medication that I was relying on. It’s almost like an addiction and I didn’t think that I’d be able to get through it. It’s been about 4 months since this journey began and I’m happy to say that I’ve only taken pain medication a handful of times per month since. I still can’t get through a bad migraine without rescue meds but I don’t take anything daily for pain.

I should mention that weaning off of pain medication was very painful. I had about a month of severe pain and basically withdrawal symptoms. I’m still in awe of myself that I was able to break the cycle. I still have daily headaches and migraine cycles a few times a month that last days but I know my overall health is much better now.

Weaning Off Medication

I’ve always wanted kids but it’s felt impossible because I was in constant pain and relied of medication to keep me going. Over the past few months I’ve finally felt like I might be able to start a family which is a huge deal for me. I’ve watched friends and family members start their families while knowing that I might never be able to have that same experience. Now I feel like it’s a possibility.

Because of that, I made the decision with my Neurologist to wean off of my daily preventative medication. These meds were also controlling my tremor so weaning off them meant that my tremor would come back full force. It took about a month for me to completely wean off of them and I really noticed a difference right away. I have a constant headache, tremor, and an increase in migraine days.

It won’t be easy but I hope that weaning off of this medication will be okay. It’s only been a couple of weeks now so it’s hard for me to say. I hope that one day soon I feel comfortable and confident in deciding to start a family. The thought of being pregnant still terrifies me but I hope it’ll be worth it!

So much has changed in the past several months and I feel like I have a lot to be proud of. My journey with Chronic Migraine hasn’t been easy but I’ve learned a lot.

Photo by Logan Nolin on Unsplash

Stop Telling Me To “Toughen Up”

I was recently told that I needed to “toughen up” which is all fine and dandy but that’s just not who I am. I am sensitive, empathetic, and emotional. I care deeply and I want to put my best foot forward each and everyday. I will never be tough and that’s okay.

Instead of trying to cram myself into a box with other people’s expectations I’ve decided to spend some more time exploring who I am as a person. I’ve been feeling really down and unmotivated lately so I want to find something that makes me feel alive again.

My whole life I have felt like something was wrong with me because I’m sensitive. This is who I am and I can’t change it. I’ve tried to toughen up for years by taking anti-depressants and seeing therapists but I can’t change my personality.

I used to wish that I could turn all of my feelings off. I wanted to have no emotions at all. I want to stop feeling this way. I want to just be okay with who I am.

This world will always be too harsh for me but I’m willing to continue to fight for my place in it.

Have you ever been told to “toughen up”?

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Loving Where You Are

I’m the type of person who is always planning ahead. I see the whole staircase, not just the next step and sometimes that’s a problem. I’m so busy looking forward to the future that I forget to enjoy the moment I’m in right now.

It’s good to be able to live in the moment and be able to love where you are right now. We all have goals but goals take time and we can’t be so focused on them that we don’t enjoy our current situations.

I’m trying my hardest to love where I am right now. To love all of the uncertainty and questions. To wonder if I’m making the right decisions in the short-term to meet my goals in the long-term.

2020 has been eye-opening in terms of forcing me to slow down and appreciate where I am in life. I’ll always look forward to what’s ahead in life but I also know that I need to stop and enjoy my current situation.

Do you mind yourself living in the moment or looking ahead to the future?

Change Is Uncomfortable

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I’ve never been good with change. I get comfortable and then I want things to stay comfortable forever. I’ve learned that I grow the most in these periods of changes, in the uncomfortable moments when I’m forced to learn.

2020 has probably been uncomfortable for the vast majority of people. We’ve had to change where and how we are working and learning. We have had to adapt to the uncertainties that this pandemic has thrown at us. We have had to work together to stop the spread of a virus that we were learning more about every day.

To say that 2020 has just been “uncomfortable” would be an understatement.

All of these changes this year has given me whiplash. I’m tired, burnt-out, and wanting to quit most days. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat and it’s easy to forget that we are all feeling a level of anxiety that is probably higher than we are used to.

I don’t think that anyone can say for sure when this will be over. I’ve heard so many mixed messages from different sources and I’ve honestly just stopped listening to most of them.

If you are feeling uncomfortable, anxious, or burnt-out know that you aren’t alone. One day we will look back at this and be able to see how much change occurred in 2020.

How are you doing? Honestly.

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Migraine Update // Muscle Relaxers & Anxiety

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Last month I went to my Neurologist appointment not really knowing what to expect. I wanted something to change but I wasn’t sure what to do.

It was extremely weird going into the appointment since I had to fill out extra forms and be temperature checked at the door. I wore my mask the whole time and felt safe but it was a much different environment than I’m used to.

Overall the appointment was really good. I do like my Neurologist and feel like he listens to my concerns and answers my list of questions that I always bring with me. He isn’t pushy and I really appreciate that since I had such a bad experience with my previous Neurologist.

We decided to take a bit of a different route this time around and try a muscle relaxer in addition to my normal preventative medication. The muscle relaxer is supposed to help relieve tension and can be especially helpful for people suffering from tension headaches. I had never considered taking a muscle relaxer for my migraines but my Neurologist was really informative and I decided to try them.

It’s been about a month and I have mixed feelings. I sleep so well when I take the muscle relaxer at night but I almost sleep too well. I feel like I’m in a coma and just pass out and then have a hard time waking up with my alarm. I also feel pretty groggy the next morning which isn’t great for working.

Lack of sleep is a huge trigger for my migraines though so sleeping this well is also great. I get more sleep than I used to when I take them. I haven’t really noticed a decrease in migraines but I think it is a little helpful to take the muscle relaxer.

I’ve also had an increase in anxiety over the last month. I have a small tremor in my hands that I take medicine for. I was so stressed out and anxious last week that my small tremor turned into a full blown episode where I was shaking so bad I couldn’t hold a drink. My mom thinks this was brought on by stress and I took a video to show my Neurologist at my next appointment.

Since my increased tremor last week, which thankfully lessened after a few hours of rest, I have been trying to take it super easy. My body obviously isn’t responding well to stress and I need to keep that in mind and stop pushing myself so hard.

I also had a level 10 migraine last weekend. I haven’t had one that bad in so long and I barely made the car ride home from my sister in law’s house. I laid on the bathroom floor for awhile before Brett helped me to bed. I think the trigger was a small glass of wine that my SIL gave me. I know I shouldn’t drink wine but I thought it wouldn’t hurt me that much.

I have a lot of notes for my next Neurologist appointment but I still feel hopeful. I have the option to do the Amiovig injections so that might just be my next path.

There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding the right treatment plan for migraines. I try to open to trying new things and I just remain hopeful that one day something will work!

As always, if you are suffering from migraines just know that you are not alone. There are millions of people suffering in America alone and I’m just trying to share my story and advocate.

Thanks for reading!

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Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

How I Manage Working with Migraines

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One of the most popular questions that I get about having chronic migraine is how I manage to hold down a full time job. In honor of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month I thought I’d share a few ways I have learned to manage working with migraines.

I have been working consistently since I was 17, so almost 10 years. I worked all the way through college, excluding the few months that I studied abroad in London. After my college graduation I found my current role and have worked here for almost 4 years.

Working isn’t easy and I’ve really struggled to balance everything. 2018 was my worst year by far and I really considered taking FMLA. However, I am very fortunate to work at a company with unlimited sick days. They truly care about me as a person but I never want to take advantage of their generous sick leave policy.

Here are a couple of ways that I manage working with migraines.

  1. Open communication. My co-workers know that I have migraines. They have asked me questions and we have discussed them at length. Having them know makes me feel a million times better because they can tell just by looking at me if I’m having a rough day. It’s easy to talk about and I don’t feel overwhelmed trying to act “normal”.
  2. Working from home. Again, I am extremely lucky to work for a company that values me and my individual needs. I am able to work from home whenever I need to. Sometimes the biggest trigger for me is just waking up. I wake up and feel like I’ve been run over by a bus and there’s no way I can drive to work. I always have the option to work from home and take the day at my own pace.
  3. Taking frequent breaks. I work at a computer all day and even with blue light glasses my eyes get fatigued which causes me to have a headache. I make sure to take frequent breaks to re-fill my water, talk to a co-worker, or walk around the building. Working from home is nice because I can walk outside and sit on my deck or snuggle with my puppy for a few minutes. Taking breaks is super important for everyone!
  4. Planning ahead. I am always ready for a migraine. I have all of the essentials at home, in my purse, in my car, and at my desk. It depends on the level of migraine I’m having but sometimes I am able to work through them if I catch them soon enough. My migraine essentials include electrolyte water, caffeine, magnesium, and an abortive medication if needed.
  5. Sick days. As I mentioned, my company has unlimited sick days and while I never want to take advantage of those day I still appreciate them. My mindset on sick days is that I’m going to have a migraine no matter what. It’s not going to go away and I’m not going to get “better”. If I can work through my migraine I will but sometimes I really do just need to lay in bed all day with my ice cap on. These are the days I will take a sick day and just focus on myself. I appreciate these unlimited sick days more than anything.

I know that I am extremely lucky to have the job that I have. I work hard and put a lot of pressure on myself but I always know that my team has my back with whatever I need. I have heard so many horror stories from the migraine support group that I’m part of where people have lost their jobs or have had to go on disability because of their migraines.

It is hard to balance everything and there’s no right or easy way to balance work with any type of health condition. I have had my fair share of struggles and an embarrassing amount of tears while surrounded by co-workers. At one point I thought I’d have to quit because there was no way I’d be able to face them again but I did.

If you are struggling just know that you are not alone.

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Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

 

Migraine & Headache Awareness Month

National Headache and Migraine Month

June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness month.

In June, the migraine and headache communities come together to raise awareness and recognition of migraines and headaches as debilitating diseases. June is also a time to encourage people suffering in silence to find a specialist or a doctor to help them. It’s a month to talk about current treatment options and new ones that are being created. It’s a time to celebrate how far the community has come in the past few years.

One of the hardest parts about having chronic migraines is feeling alone and misunderstood. I really struggled trying to fit in while being in constant pain until I found the migraine community. Now I feel like I have people in my life who understand how I’m feeling and who I can turn to with questions.

I wrote about my migraine story in 2018 and a lot has changed since then. The biggest thing that has changed is that I learned to advocate for myself. Instead of staying with a neurologist who pushed the same medication over and over I found a new neurologist who actually listens to me. I have so many more treatment options and I feel like a whole new world has been opened up to me.

I have put so many medications and treatments into my body in hopes of treating my migraines. I have had horrific side effects and have been sick for months because of these medications. I’ve gained weight, lost weight, and felt really crummy. I’ve tried diets, physical therapy, and different doctors. There is no cure but there is always hope. 

I’ll be talking about migraines and headaches a lot this month. I never expected to find a migraine community through blogging but I have. Blogging about my migraine journey has been really beneficial for me and I hope I’ve been able to help others know that they are not alone in this.

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

5 Ways I’m Staying Sane in Quarantine

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Happy Monday, my friends! This is the day that I dread all weekend long. For some reason I never want to go back to work after the weekend. It’s not terrible now that I’m working from home but it’s still hard.

As an introvert, this stay at home order should be a dream come true. I love working from home and not leaving the house. However, it is hard because I do enjoy grocery shopping and browsing the aisles at Target. I also live close to my parents and am used to seeing them every week. I have a lot of anxiety about not being able to leave the house and it’s caused me to have quite a few panic attacks.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways to keep me calm and sane during this period of social distancing. From what I’ve been seeing on social media I’m not the only one who has been feeling this way so I thought it might be beneficial to share the ways I’m keeping myself sane during this time.

  1. Creating a routine. I felt really lost when I first started working from home. I was used to working 7:30 am to 4:15 pm but once I started working from home I would end up working 7:30 am to 5:30 pm with no breaks. I felt like I had to prove that I was working and available at all times which was exhausting. Since then I’ve started working around 7:45 am and logging off right at 5 pm. I also try to take a break for lunch everyday but I know I need to be better at that.
  2. Eating meals together. When Brett and I first moved in together we didn’t have a dining room table so we ate on the couch while watching tv. This became our habit and we rarely even ate dinner together at all. Since I’m home all the time now I make dinner and wait for Brett to get home from work so we can eat together. We eat at our dining room table and talk about our day. It seems simple but it’s something I look forward to all day.
  3. Embracing my skincare routine. Skincare is something that I have been passionate about since I was a teenager. I’ve always had bad acne so having a skincare routine has been super important for me. Now I have all the time in the world to spend on my skincare routine and it feels amazing. I’m testing out new products and loving my tried and true Murad products.
  4. Having coffee dates with co-workers. As you know, I’m an introvert so it’s kind of surprising to me how much I miss my co-workers. We are used to working remotely so we have great technology for virtual meetings. We have scheduled times to just sit and drink our morning coffees together which has been really nice. I don’t drink coffee but I love to sit and chat for a few minutes. I would recommend this for co-workers or friends and family as a nice way to catch up with each other while remaining apart.
  5. Checking in with friends. This has been big for me because I’m pretty bad at texting and calling. I’m typically just texting my mom, sister, and Brett but I’ve tried to make myself reach out to friends and family. My work made this a goal for us to check in with a few people every week who we don’t normally talk to and I’ve tried to continue this in my personal life.

There’s no easy way to get through this time but we will make it. I hope to look back at this period of time and cherish the memories Brett and I made together. Before this quarantine we didn’t see each other a lot. Our work schedules are different and he has a very active social life with his friends. I’ve loved spending time with him and I hope we can continue when this is over.

What are you doing to stay sane?

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The Body Image Struggle

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When I was in high school I dated this guy who was really tall and skinny. One day someone asked me “does it bother you that you weigh more than your boyfriend?”. The thought had never even crossed my mind before that moment and looking back there’s no way that I weighed more than him. However, that one question haunted me and I made it my mission to be smaller than this boyfriend.

I don’t want to get into all of the details about this point in my life but it’s been 11 years and I still think about this question all the time. The question sent me into a spiral of body image issues that I still haven’t been able to fully recover from. 11 years ago I lost 20 pounds very quickly and still hated the way I looked. I basically starved myself and still couldn’t look in the mirror.

I think that body image is an issue that most people struggle with. I gained a lot of weight a couple of years ago but have worked really hard to remind myself that my weight is not a measure of my worth. Most days I do pretty good but some days I’m taken back to when I was 15 and someone compared me to my boyfriend.

On Saturday I went shopping for my Matron of Honor dress for my sister’s wedding. I’ve lost about 12 pounds in the past 6 weeks by eating healthy and moving my body. I’ve tried to keep this health journey really positive but the sight of me in a bridesmaid dress sent me back to a really dark place and I’ve had a hard time pulling myself out of it.

I’ve made so much progress in my body image journey but this proves that I still have work to do. I need to make decisions based on what’s best for my body and not the number on the scale or the image that I see in the mirror.

11 years ago I was asked a question that dramatically changed my outlook on life. Let this be a reminder that the words you say matter.

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