Life Update + Mental Health

In this blog post, I am writing about my personal journey involving mental health. I am writing to shed light and truth on the unfortunate reality that mental illness is real, it is hard, and it is not a reflection of who you are or who you are not.

At the beginning of my freshman year of college, I was diagnosed with mild depression. I had gone to see a counselor in the last two years of high school, but my problems, struggles and feelings kept overwhelming me more, until I felt like I couldn’t handle them, even with the love and support of others around me. In the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, I wasn’t myself. I didn’t want to leave my house, didn’t push myself to try new things, and I was terrified of having to leave home and go to college.

After going to see a psychiatrist, I was prescribed an anti-depressant. While things did not get better immediately, I felt different and more like myself than I had in a while. In my sophomore year of college, I was diagnosed with anxiety and I started taking a new medication that helped me have a better handle on both of these illnesses.

These last couple years have been a battle with mental illness. I’ve gone in and out of periods of being completely fine to having tendencies where I feel like I am about to go into that downward spiral that I fear once again. Sadly, these last couple weeks, and maybe even months, I identify with the latter option.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve felt unproductive, restless, exhausted and disconnected, but I’ve attempted to push past it and encourage myself to keep going. I attempted to “pull myself up by my bootstraps” and try to be the person who I wanted to be: fearless, busy, productive, and present. Despite all these efforts, the other day, I broke down. I realized that I wasn’t okay. I realized that I was terrified of being depressed again and of facing my emotions. I also realized that I haven’t been very kind to myself, as I haven’t properly “checked in” with myself in the last month. I also realized that I haven’t been following my own advice, which is to schedule in times of rest.

I realized that something had to change. 

And something already has: I let others in and I told them how I was really feeling. I am proud of myself for doing something in these last few days: reaching out to others and asking for help. A close group of friends comforted and loved on me in my time of need and my mom dropped everything to come into town and stay with me for a night. I’ve scheduled some appointments with doctors and with the help of others around me, I know that things will get better and that this (whatever “this” is) is not my fault and it is not something I can fix by my own efforts. 

I’m writing this post to update you all on my life, while also saying that it is okay to not be okay. To be completely honest, I can’t do everything I normally would like to do right now. I haven’t blogged as frequently as I would like, I haven’t hung out with as many people as I wish, I haven’t been as productive as I desire myself to be, because I don’t have it in me right now. I’m learning how to say no, even if it disappoints others. I’m learning how to say yes to putting myself and my physical and mental health first.

And man, oh man, it is one of the hardest things that I have ever done and I’m absolutely terrible at it, but I am attempting and trying to say no to others and opportunities for the sake of my health and my future.

If you would like to talk to me or read more posts from me about mental health, feel free to reach out to me. Know that you are not alone in this broken world and that you are not defined by mental illness.

Love,

Jennifer

One of my favorite verses, that gives me hope in the midst of pain and uncertainty:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles!” Psalm 103:1-5

 

How to Rest in College

The topic of rest is not often talked about in our world. The majority of people and blog posts will tell you how to move forward, keep pressing on in the stressful times, and how to strive towards a more fruitful and successful life. The world will tell you to do MORE, but I’ve learned that the only way to do more is to let myself rest first.

College is a stressful time, and more often than not, my day is packed from 7 AM to 10 PM, Monday through Friday. With a schedule like this, many of you may ask, is time for rest available, attainable or practical in college?

In this blog post, I will answer these questions while also providing ideas on how to rest while maintaining your full schedule!

  1. Make rest a priority: Just like everything else in life, if something isn’t a priority, it will not be accomplished, especially as a college student when there are always things to do. Save room in your schedule to rest and relax, at least a couple times a week. Plan for the times of rest before your week even begins, and think of them as “non-negotiable” periods in your day.
  2. Define what rest means to you: It could mean taking a nap, getting a cup of coffee with some friends, or watching Netflix. For me, it is being outside, talking with friends, or reading and journaling. Clarify what gives you rest and makes you feel refreshed afterwards, and keep these options in mind.
  3. Take a second look at your schedule: Is there enough margin in your life? Is there enough time every couple days to stop and breathe for at least 30 minutes? If not, find out practical ways to make these times throughout your day and week. Some examples of this would be to wake up earlier to journal or have a quiet time or using meal times as a period of time to stop and relax.
  4. Learn how to say no: A million and one clubs and programs will ask you to join, especially near the start of the semester. Learn how to say no. In one of my college advice posts, (see here) I mentioned the importance of researching and looking into things that interest you, even before you leave for college. It is vital to your success as a student that instead of saying “yes” to everyone and every opportunity, set a list of priorities on what kinds of things you want to accomplish or be a part of in college.
  5.  Give Yourself Grace: If you are in need of rest, restoration and a time to relax, give yourself the freedom to take a break once in a while. Don’t go to that club meeting this week, go to bed at 9 PM and feel free to say no to a hangout with your friends once in a while. Taking a break shouldn’t make you feel guilty or lazy, but instead, reenergized and motivated to keep going.

College is a time of constantly being on the go, but everyone needs time to breathe. In order to succeed, move forward or be productive, rest is absolutely necessary.

I want you to know that this is something I am still trying to figure out. I don’t give myself enough margin, grace or time to rest. However, I have noticed that I am happier, more pleasant to be around, and more successful when I take care of myself and listen to what I need everyday. I notice that I become the best version of myself when I give myself time to relax, which motivates me to prioritize rest.

Rest is something that I will consciously have to choose to do, perhaps for the rest of my life, and I challenge you to do the same.

Love,

Jennifer

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Tank and Shorts: Loft // Sandals: Target // Necklace: Francesca’s

 

Back to the Basics

The last couple weeks, I took a bit of a break from blogging and interacting on social media and I learned a lot. 

I learned that “going off the grid” is necessary at times and my life won’t fall apart if I don’t post a photo on Instagram once a day. I realized that life in the moment is much sweeter than it is behind a phone or on social media. I was reminded that my life didn’t need to be on display for the world.

I also recognized the fact that I missed blogging and the Instagram community that I have grown to know and love. I missed it more than I thought I would.

But, I realized that I had missed the point of blogging for some time now. I started this blog as a creative outlet, not as a business venture. I wasn’t hoping to make money off of it, nor did I have a plan in mind for extreme growth.

Making profit from a blog and focusing on methods of growing your audience is perfectly fine, but it is just not for me. Of course, I would love for this blog to reach a greater audience, but that isn’t the goal, at least not right now.

I’m a full-time student, with a job on the side. I am invested in a club on campus, in my social life, in my studies, and in my health, both physical and mental. I am not invested in making my blog a business.

But, I am invested in creating meaningful content and expressing myself creatively and genuinely. Even if my dad is the only person who reads every post (no lie, he LITERALLY reads and responds to every post :), I am still going to make content.

So, folks, I’m back. And it feels good.

Here’s what you can expect from me in the future:

  • life updates
  • college advice posts
  • productivity/intentional living posts
  • affordable style and fashion posts

Thanks for reading and supporting me through this change!

Enjoy your weekend 🙂

Love,

Jennifer

 

First Day of School + Fall Semester Goals

I’m starting my third year of college today (WHAT?!) and I’m actually really excited.

I’m equally just as bummed because that means that summer is over and I am halfway done with college. Time flies when you are having fun (and when you are trying to balance a social life, health, clubs, work and a blog, while also maintaining a decent GPA!!).

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Dress: Old Navy // Shoes: Birkenstocks // Backpack: Northface

This upcoming school year, I am trying to be more present, mindful, and intentional with the way that I am living, so I decided to put together a short list of things that I want to accomplish in this next school year, separated by various “life categories.”

ACADEMICS: 

  • maintain my current GPA
  • scheduling in time to work on homework daily
  • complete homework OUTSIDE of my bedroom

SOCIAL: 

  • go to a concert (just bought tickets for my fav band in September!)
  • book club meetings once a month
  • go to 3 football games
  • invite new people/friends over to my apartment 2x

PERSONAL GROWTH/DEVELOPMENT:

  • read my Bible every day
  • read “Redeeming Love” + 3 other books on the side
  • journal everyday (no word limit/requirement)
  • keep on a budget each month
  • allow for an hour of “me time” every couple days

BLOG: 

  • write a total of 5 posts per month
  • collaborate with others for a giveaway
  • reach 2,000 followers on Instagram
  • reach out to 2 brands/companies

FITNESS/HEALTH:

  • run 2 times a week
  • complete a Pilates workout routine 3 times a week
  • cook 10 new healthy recipes
  • (TRYING MY BEST AT) only eat 2 sweets a week

What are some of your goals this semester? 🙂 Have a great first day, whenever it may be!

Love, Jennifer

 

Adding Color to Your Wardrobe with ThredUp

Recently, as I have scrolled through Instagram and Pinterest, I’ve noticed that less and less fashion bloggers, influencers and women in general are wearing and experimenting with color. While many claim that they prefer to wear black, grey and cream over the brighter shades, I think that many stray away from color because they are scared of it.

They are unsure of how to add an appropriate amount of color to their outfit while still looking polished and chic. However, it can be done.

Personally, I lean towards the warm-toned, darker, “fall” colors, such as burgundy, olive green, navy and burnt orange. These shades help me to add some color into my outfit, while still being versatile and easy to mix and match in my wardrobe. I’d like to think they are the “bridge-between-the-gap” of neutral tones and brighter colors!DSC_0720I got this top from ThredUp and it is originally from Madewell, but I got it for a much lower price! I am in love with the color and the pattern, and the fit of it! It serves as a great piece to add color to, as I did with this navy blue statement necklace. In the cooler months, I would most likely pair this blouse with an olive green army jacket, a pair of blue jeans, and brown riding boots! DSC_0742If you are new to experimenting with color, opt for a colored accessory, like a navy blue bag, like this one originally from Target. This is a practical and classy piece, but it still adds some more interest to any outfit! I personally would wear this bag year round, but I am especially excited to style it for fall. DSC_0749Because there is so much color on this outfit, I chose to go with a pair of black jeans and black lace-up flats to tone it down a bit. I would wear this outfit out to dinner, work, or anywhere in between!

Are you looking to update your wardrobe by adding some color? Make sure to check out ThredUp to find awesome, like-new pieces on a budget!

top and purse: ThredUp // necklace (old): Target // shoes (old): Old Navy // jeans: Citizens of Humanity

*This post was in collaboration with ThredUp but all thoughts/opinions are my own.*

Love,

Jennifer

Getting Back on Track with Your Health

You might have recently returned from that summer vacation, the one where you ate ice cream everyday and laid around a little too much? Yeah, me too. Personally, whenever I go on vacations, my eating habits are poor and I rarely get a good workout in.

The minute I get home, I am ready to get back into the swing of things, in terms of setting aside time for physical activity and eating healthy foods. But, if you are anything like me, then you might feel overwhelmed and stuck in your not-so-healthy habits.

To help you (and myself) to “reset” your health and habits after a vacation, I came up with this short list of ideas to help you get and stay motivated!

  • Don’t feel guilty. Regretting your decisions over the past week or so won’t make them any different, so why waste your energy on worrying about your past choices? Acknowledge that you enjoyed your time on vacation, the food that you ate, and the mini break from reality that you were able to have!
  • Rest. Even if you had a relaxing weekend getaway, you might be more tired than you realize. Plan to go to bed early for the first couple days back and ease back into your schedule by allowing some time to take a nap in the afternoon, if needed.
  • Grocery shopping. I hardly ever leave fresh produce in my fridge while I am away, so I make it a priority to get to the grocery store as soon as I am able to. I love getting healthy foods from the market that I am excited to eat and cook with!
  • Meal prep. On a similar note, look up recipes that are easy and simple to make and plan out your meals. If you have the time and desire, try cooking and prepping food ahead of time, so you already know what you are going to eat for the next couple days. It is harder to make a poor eating choice when you have healthy meals ready in the fridge!
  • Limit the amount of sweets that you eat. Other than a square or two of dark chocolate, I am really trying to only eat sweets on the weekends, or at least only two days out of the week. I have found that this is the best “diet” for me, because I have a giant sweet tooth and love to indulge once in a while!
  • Ease back into your workout routine. Even if you were away for a short time, getting back into working out can be rough. The first day back from my vacation, I only did about half my workout routine for the day, as I wanted to slowly readjust into working out, rather than overwhelm my body! I would recommend going for a brisk walk/jog and doing some simple strength exercises for your first workout back!

How do you like to get back on track with your health and fitness goals and habits? Let me know–I could always use more ideas!

Love,

Jennifer

Wardrobe Essentials for College

Packing for college? Don’t know what clothes to bring? It can be a bit overwhelming, but have no fear! As a soon-to-be junior in college, I know what clothing pieces have proved to be necessities in my closet and what items are best to leave at home.

First things first: Bring plenty of tee shirts, leggings, Nike shorts, and sweatshirts. Many others have probably already told you that comfy clothes are the name of the game in college, especially in the dorm or at the library, so for this post I decided to focus on items that are more practical for everyday wear and several occasions that can (and will!) come up.

1. Pull-on shorts: These are a part of my everyday uniform in college. While they make you look put together and cute, they are extremely comfortable. In fact, I would compare the comfort level to that of Nike shorts, so I’d call that a win. Mine are from Madewell, but Old Navy  and J. Crew Factory have some great options as well, for a more affordable price. DSC_0654DSC_06902. Everyday Purse: Even though I recently purchased this purse from Old Navy, it has been my go-to bag all summer. It is the perfect size to be able to fit the essentials: my wallet, chapstick, phone, keys and my planner. An everyday cross-body bag, that isn’t overly expensive and therefore can be easily replaced, is a MUST for college! DSC_06693. Versatile tanks and tees: Running to class? Going out to dinner? Hanging out at the library? These are all occasions that I would choose to wear this oh-so-soft striped peplum tank from Anthropologie (which is currently on sale!!). To dress the top up a bit, just add a necktie or a necklace and a nice pair of jeans! DSC_0588DSC_05474. Slip-on Tennis Shoes: While I haven’t been wearing these as much this summer, these shoes are still one of my most worn pairs of shoes. You might be surprised about how many steps you have to take in an average day of college, so comfortable shoes are a necessity. In order to switch it up and look a bit more put together, swap out those Teva sandals or Birkenstocks for a pair of slip-ons. Mine are from Steve Madden but Vans also offers a wide selection. I promise, your feet will thank you later! DSC_05655. Little Black Dress: I cannot tell you how many events and occasions I have worn this dress to! From banquets, to birthday parties to class presentations, this dress has seen it all. Invest in a flattering dress that can be paired with different accessories to create countless outfits! When you are running a little late for your class or dinner date, a dress like this one will help deciding what to wear a breeze. I got this one from Buffalo Exchange, but Forever 21 and H&M have plenty of options. DSC_0628DSC_0620

Hope you enjoyed and found these tips helpful! Happy packing!

Love,

Jennifer