I Interview Top Hair Stylist & Blogger Kourtnee Jinright (The Colour Chemist) – Hair Care, Managing Anxiety & Depression, and Following Your Passion

Beauty, Interviews, Self-Help

I’m super excited about this blog post today because I’m interviewing one of my absolute favorite people, and the HIGHLY talented hair stylist, Kourtnee Jinright.

If you know of Kourtnee already then you probably know her at “The Colour Chemist.” Three years ago I sat in her salon chair as she took me from my natural reddish-brown hair to full-blown platinum blonde. (I was going through something back then!) Since then, she’s grown so much both personally and professionally and it’s been so exciting to watch her journey!

Kourtnee is now the top stylist at a brand new salon in St. Augustine, Florida, ZA Salon, she’s a Kerastase Ambassador, and most importantly she makes a living following her passion. She’s built a following on social media channels by educating other women about hair, inspiring other women to chase their dreams and opening up about her struggle with anxiety and depression.

In a world of filters and pretend online relationships, Kourtnee is so authentic. She’s not afraid to be goofy, or vulnerable, or to share her experience. But what I love about Kourtnee more than anything is how supportive she is – how she fiercely encourages the women in her life as they try to follow their passion too. Not only is she someone I look up to, but she’s also a Lost Online reader and a friend. And when I asked her to do this interview she was over the moon!

Here are Kourtnee’s answers to my burning questions about everything from following your passion, to hair, to self-growth, and conscious technology use! I hope you enjoy!

Hair & Beauty

Q: I’ve been following you for many years now and I’ve also sat in your salon chair, so I know how you absolutely adore Kerastase and that you’re also an ambassador for Kerastase! What is it about the brand that you love? What makes you believe in the brand enough to use on your own hair and your clients?

A: I am so in love with Kerastase and its ability to transform the hair. Kerastase is known for taking your hair and giving you your goal hair. My hair was destroyed about 1 ½ years ago and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it changed my hair. It’s unbelievable. I ventured out and used other brands for 8 months on my clients’ hair and their hair drastically changed. When I told some of my clients that I was going back to Kerastase, they about died of happiness inside. It is worth every penny. I cannot sell you anything I don’t believe in, it’s not in my blood to do so.. I am an awful liar so if I’m in love with something, I really, truly mean it. I love the education Kerastase gives and how luxurious it is. It’s based in Paris, France. They are always changing the technology and revamping their brand to be the best of the best at ALL times. My goal is to teach with Kerastase. What a dream! 🙂

Q: Most women I know would kill to have long, thick, gorgeous hair – BUT most of us have also made the mistake of damaging it through improper hair care and dying. What’s your advice for people trying to grow hair out and improve the health of their hair?

A: The best advice I can give you is to be on a proper hair care regiment. I cannot stress enough how important this is for everyone. While a lot of products may feel great on the outside, it can actually cause buildup on the inside and you’ll remain stagnant. If you are trying to grow out your hair, I recommend the Kerastase’ Extensioniste line to improve the health and length. If you’re in need to seek more information, please DM me through Instagram at @thecolourchemist.

Q: How do you keep your hair healthy? Do you use any special products, supplements, or care practices? 

A: Keeping your hair healthy is the same as keeping your skin or body healthy. I have found that Kerastase products help almost every issue. Vitamins are always a go-to, however eating healthy/staying active ensures that your hair is growing at the appropriate rate. One thing I have clients say is, “I know I need a haircut, but I want it to grow longer so I’ll pass on it today.” Did you know by doing that your split ends will grow up the shaft and create more damage to your hair? In the long run, you’ll have to cut off more hair because of this. I understand no one WANTS to cut their hair when they’re growing it out, but trust me that this method WORKS.

Q: What do you suggest for split end remedies?

A: Split ends are a nightmare, right? We all have them after a while. I recommend getting a haircut every 4-8 weeks depending on the haircut you have now. If you put any heat on your hair, I would suggest on getting my favorite heat protection from Kerastase which is Serum Therapiste. This dual pump not only give you 450 degree heat protection, but also is a repair serum. It has plant stem cells to resurrect the hair back to its natural state over time. If you do not put heat on your hair, try using the Ciment Thermique from Kerastase. Say goodbye to spit ends with their number one product! 

Q: What hair trends do you think we’ll be seeing this coming season?

A: The shag is in as of right now, a lot of ‘lived in’ looks are coming back. People are wanting more of a natural look with low maintenance. Texture is another thing that everyone is searching for. Extensions are also HUGE right now. It’s a vibe, let me tell you. 😉

Following Your Passion

Q: I wanted to say congratulations on becoming the TOP STYLIST at Za Salon! I’ve seen you come so far over the last few years and grow so much in your career! I’ve been watching all of your videos about the salon opening and it’s been really cool to be able to see the process of setting up the space and promoting it. I can tell you’re incredibly passionate about it. I’m curious, what makes Za Salon special? What sets it apart from the experience you’d have at another salon?

A: Thank you so much! I appreciate the kind words. 🙂 When you walk into Za Salon you will enter a luxurious space. You will be offered champagne, wine, french press Kookaburra coffee, tea, water, or beer. We go above and beyond to make sure that your experience is like nothing you’ve ever had. We also have snacks followed along with a cold hand towel with essential oils to cool you off with this Florida heat. While our associates are giving you a nice massage on your scalp, you will also be offered a complimentary hand massage. This salon has a lot of great energy and it is very calm. The owner of Za Salon is Patty Meradith and I can confidently say hands down say she has built the number 1 salon in St. Augustine. The opportunity that she gives us on education to expand our horizons is out of this world. I am so thankful that Patty offered me the position as well as giving me windows of growth. She is also a barber which is badass!

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a hairstylist?

A: I NEVER thought in a million years that I would be a hairstylist. I got out of high school and knew that college wasn’t for me. I needed to do something that didn’t require too much schooling. My dad made the suggestion and I remember looking at him with an appalled look. My answer was, ‘I REFUSE to work at hair cuttery!’ My dad looked at me and chuckled. He was like, ‘Kourtnee, you can work in a salon…’ My dad raised me and I was LUCKY if I got conditioner. I would receive suave and get a haircut twice a year so I didn’t know what else was out there. I went to cosmetology school knowing that this is a smart backup plan if I didn’t love it. Turns out it’s my passion! I’m so grateful that my dad had said something to me when he did or I wouldn’t have found an interest in it. The universe works in mysterious ways. 

Q: Did you receive support from friends and family in the beginning? Or did you feel pressure to prove that you could be successful in a creative industry?

A: When I first started, I didn’t want to practice on any of my friends because I knew their cuts/color wouldn’t be perfect. I didn’t want to ruin my reputation. It took me an hour just to shave my father’s hair. I was so nervous and insecure at the time. St. Augustine is a small town and I was always worried/felt pressure that people would write bad reviews about me. However, I am human and still to this day I make mistakes. Every day is another day full of growth and opportunity. If you make a mistake, take that as a lesson and try harder next time. 

Q: What was the biggest challenge that you faced pursuing this career?

A: My biggest challenge in this career was figuring out where my route was. I knew with being a hairstylist, this would come with a lot of fear and growth. About a year ago, I was in a dark place. I was in a situation where I wasn’t being heard, and I was at a standstill with my growth. I was being held back while being taken advantage of. I made the decision to go from a salon that was commission to booth rental. Being in a salon, you’re an employee and the owner is in control of color, products, your schedule, pricing,  etc. Being in booth rental, you are your own boss. While this might seem super cool, this was actually TERRIFYING. I had NO idea what direction to go to but I had no other choice but to think quick, make moves, and do what was best for not only my clients, but for ME. I was my own boss for about 8 months and even though it was GREAT, I found that I lost motivation. I recommend that if you’re someone who needs accountability, then being in a salon is meant for you. If you are okay being solo, then booth rental is a great option. Either way there is no wrong route. It’s just finding what brings out the best in you. I am finally at a point in my career where I have all the growth that I could ask for. This challenge made me the stylist I am today. 

Photos by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier.

Q: What’s your advice for women/men who want to go into hair?

A: My advice going into hair school would be to go in with an open mind. Focus solely on JUST what you went to school for. Do not feed into the drama, do not take things personally, you WILL mess up but just focus. You can get so wrapped up in what others say and think of you and it’s NOT worth it. Have patience and know that you will learn everything you need to know when you are finished with cosmetology school. I had girls that were very rude to me and  I look back at it now and laugh. They aren’t even in the industry anymore. So just remember if something like that comes around, go back to the mindset of why you are there. 

Q: I saw that this past year you started a blog as well! What inspired you to start your blog and put your knowledge and experience about hair and fashion into writing?

A: I started a blog because I wanted to reach out to other people around the world than just St. Augustine. Once I feel myself getting bored, I’m onto another idea. This was so great, however I am at a pause with blogging at the moment because I’m transitioning into a new salon and moving forward with Kerastase. My girlfriend is an amazing writer and speaker. She motivated me to write out all the things that I am passionate about. She gave me great advice on how to move forward with it. She has always told me that I would reach so many other stylists/guests if I wrote it down and she was right. I am not the best writer, but every day I am trying my best for it to become a strength. I wanted the blog to not only be about hair, but to include fashion and lifestyle. 

Q: How do you stay inspired to create almost every single day? Creating every single day seems like it could get overwhelming from time to time. 

A: Being a hairdresser has its pros and cons for sure. I work four full days a week now because I found that if decompress in those three days, I can give my 100% to each and every client that comes through the door. It’s not easy when you have 4-12 clients a day coming in with different energy while still trying to maintain your own. I can for the most part leave work at work, but sometimes when your clients go through tough times you feel for them. Sometimes it comes home with you. I balance all of this out with self care. I go to therapy, I do yoga, I read, write, eat healthy, spend time alone, rest, spend time with loved ones, and meditate. This isn’t just a job where you do hair. This requires every ounce of energy that you have. Once your tank is on empty, you have to fill it back up with your self care. Some stylists can go and work 6 days a week and that’s great! For me, being an introvert/extrovert… I have to decompress a little more than others and that is OKAY! I’m perfectly okay knowing that my mental health is more important than the money. 

Q: One of the reasons why I absolutely love to follow you is because all of the hilarious memes you share about the perspective of hair stylists! It’s actually been very eye opening and showed me some of the dumb things that we say to stylists without even realizing it. If there’s anything that you wish you could tell your clients completely unfiltered, what would it be?

A: I love memes! Meme culture can reach all different age groups which I love! It’s a good way to have content and it’s totally relatable. I wanted to post memes on the regular because I feel that it’s not all serious. We want you to know that we understand your struggles too! There are a few things that us hairstylists wish we could say, but sometimes people might take it the wrong way. When we don’t talk, it’s not because we don’t want to… it’s because your head naturally moves a lot while talking. This makes it harder for us to foil/cut/ install extensions. 

Self-Growth

Q: As a fellow self-growth and self-improvement junkie (: what practices have you incorporated in your life that have helped you with personal development and accomplishing your goals?

A: I noticed that I cut out all the people who didn’t help me grow. It was a really tough thing to do and it may sound harsh but the people I cut out, didn’t do anything for me. They were in my way and taking time out of my life that I just didn’t want to entertain anymore. I had to overcome some fears. Another couple of things that I have done are waking up earlier in the morning to clean a little and get a fresh start to my day. I have weekly workout routines, I got a planner, I go outside my comfort zone, always challenging myself, I have been listening more, doing the hobbies that I love to do. I talk and write to myself A LOT.

Q: What got you interested in self-growth and self-improvement?

A: I knew that I couldn’t love someone else until I loved myself. That struck me instantly and made me change as an individual. I loved my partner so much that I had to let go and grow. So I started to incorporate yoga into my self growth. My yoga teacher told me to bring my hands into a lotus pose. She told me that lotus flowers start off in a dark place. They live in murky water but they eventually blossom from the muddy waters. Now, I am at a place that I can confidently say that I love myself. I feel like a lotus flower is a perfect example of self growth. Everyday we grow and improve. We are all evolving and changing and that’s the most beautiful thing. 

Q: Do you have any books, blogs, or podcasts that inspired change in your life?

A: I love the book, ‘The Secret’. This is also on Netflix and I highly suggest for everyone to read/watch it. It’s about the law of attraction. I watched it over and over again. I was so impressed by these professors and what they had to say. They really know the secret of life. 

Managing Anxiety & Depression

Q: I’ve noticed through following you for several years now that you’ve been very vocal on social media about your experience with anxiety and depression. What made you want to share your experience with your followers?

A: I didn’t want to be open about my anxiety/depression for a long time because I didn’t want people to ‘pity’ me. I decided to move forward and take this anxiety and turn it into a positive outlook. I understand the struggle of not wanting to get out bed, not knowing where to start, feeling like you can’t breathe or feeling alone. You’re not alone. That is why I wanted to reach out to people. I am not a therapist, but I am an individual telling you that you are capable of doing anything you want to do. Your anxiety will not take that away from you. You can change your life and it is NEVER too late. 

Q: What have you learned throughout your struggles with depression and anxiety that you wish you could tell your younger self?

A: I was medicated for a long time. I wish I could have told myself to try out yoga before I hit the age of 21. Life would have been maybe easier but then again, I can look back on everything and say that I made it through the worst and came out stronger. 

Q: I know that you’ve talked about this on your own platforms, but could you share for Lost Online readers how you’ve managed to treat your anxiety and depression? 

A: I actually wrote a blog post about this on thecolourchemist.com! The truth is, you can never get rid of anxiety completely, but what you can do is CONTROL it. Our minds really do play a huge role in this. For me, I noticed my anxiety wasn’t at its highest peak when I started to eat healthier. I started to juice, go to therapy, do yoga, focus on my breathing, read, journal, scrapbook, go to the beach, and cut out all the people who didn’t bring me joy. I do all the things that I love to do with a mix of being the best version of myself.

Q: You’ve spoken a lot about yoga and how it’s helped you with mental and physical health. What got you started practicing yoga and what benefits have you seen with regular practice?

A: I took about 8 classes and I found the ONE teacher whose energy stuck out to me. I feel so comfortable with her that I now take private lessons in my own home. She is always challenging me and pushes me to be better. Doing yoga has not only helped me release mentally, but also physically. With being a hairdresser, you stand on your feet in the same position for hours. I have noticed a difference in my concentration being sharper, creating calmness, and being more aware of my surroundings. Yoga has also helped my balance TREMENDOUSLY, helps you sleep deeper, it helps falls with elderly people, increases blood flow, helps posture, helps your hips to create better alignment, makes you a better person, etc. The list can go on about how amazing yoga is for you. 

Online 

Q: At the very end of my interviews, I like to touch a bit on technology and social media since it’s such a big part of our lives and something that the vast majority of us struggle with today. With our heavy social media and technology use today, have you ever felt pressure for likes, engagement, or recognition online? What has your experience been? 

A: In the beginning I was like, “Oh my god, I don’t have 10k. How will I ever have someone notice me?” All it takes is one post, one person to notice you. The rest is history. Have faith and speak everything into existence. You can have 200 followers and if you have a great engagement with those 200 followers, you’re doing it right. The amount of followers does not define you. However, I do put in some serious work with social media. If someone finds me one day, my page has to look clean, professional, and have character. I’m constantly trying new techniques with hair, posting new trends, taking pictures in different areas to switch it up the look, talking about product, taking videos and making them stand out. I’m always hashtagging each post and sometimes I will write about topics that people have questions about. When I am off the clock at work, I am working on social media. Social media is WORK but it is free advertising so use it wisely. 

Q: A major theme throughout my blog is how we stay sane during a time when we spend half of our time consumed with technology. What do you do to create balance in your life when we spend so much time online now?

A: Social media can take up a huge chunk of time in your everyday life. People see me on my phone and half the time I am working and not really socializing. I sometimes have to step back and give myself a break with this. It can consume your life really fast. I started to not use my phone the first 30 minutes when I wake up and the last 30 minutes before I go to bed. These times are when you are the most creative. It doesn’t always happen but I try my best to stick to this routine. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photo Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Do you see why I love Kourtnee now? I have to admit, this interview was more for me than it was for my readers. I wanted nothing more than to interview someone who inspired me each and every day.

I’ve loved being Kourtnee’s friend and follower because she’s such an inspiration and is always so positive despite anything that she may be going through. She opens up about the challenges in her life and always takes a positive and healthy approach, viewing every roadblock or rough period as an opportunity for growth. And above all, Kourtnee goes after what makes her passionate in life and continues to flourish as a hairstylist. 

I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did! Make sure to check out Kourtnee on her personal Instagram @kourtneemichelle or her professional Instagram account @thecolourchemist. You can also find her on her website thecolourchemist.com where she share’s blogs about hair care, lifestyle, and another passion of hers, fashion.

Lastly, if you’re in Saint Augustine, Florida area and would like Kourtnee to work her magic on your hair, make sure to give Za Salon at call and book your appointment!

As always remember to comment your thoughts below. I LOVE hearing what my readers think about the content. What stood out the most to you about the interview? Did you resonate with anything Kourtnee said? If you could ask her anything, what would you ask?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Several of Kourtnee’s photos shown in this post were taken by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier. Hair photos are taken by Kourtnee herself. If I forgot to mention any other photographer, please contact me so I can give you credit!

Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It + INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

Self-Help

Did you know that 99% of life’s greatest problems could be solved with stream of consciousness journaling?

Ok, I made that up. But in case you didn’t know this about me, I’m a huge fan of stream of consciousness journaling. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. Journaling has gotten me through my worst days, helped me to realize my passion in life, gave me the courage to be myself, and strengthened my spirituality.

That’s why I’m a huge advocate for using stream of consciousness journaling for self-help and self-discovery. It’s why I mention it in many of my blog posts, talk about it on social media, and recommend it to those who reach out to me for advice.

However, as someone who wants to spend all day everyday writing, I was surprised by how few people actually practice stream of consciousness journaling or know what it is! WHAT? Does not everyone spend hours a day writing? What do they do with their time? So today I wanted to explain what you need to know about stream of consciousness journaling and why this simple activity is so beneficial. I’ll also talk about how to incorporate stream of consciousness journaling into your life for those who are curious about it and are interested in starting.

I really wish that more people would regularly do stream of consciousness journaling. It’s a freeing, introspective, and therapeutic method that helps you work through life’s challenges and improve every aspect of your life for a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness. It may not solve 99% of life’s problems but I honestly believe that if more people implemented this simple act into their daily routine, the world would be a much better place.

Make sure to stay until the very end of the post to learn how you could win my Gratitude Journal Giveaway!

What is stream of consciousness journaling?

What stream of consciousness isn’t is a narrative, a story, or a diary. It’s not meant for you to provide a timeline or create an autobiography. It’s not a description of your day.

Stream of consciousness journaling is when you write whatever is in your head, completely unfiltered. You write every thought just as is, exactly how it’s flowing through your mind. Curse words, improper grammar, subject changes and all. You write about anything and everything that’s going through your mind. You don’t plan it, you don’t wonder what you should write next. You pick a topic, like something that’s bothering you, and you write down everything.

It’s meant to be very messy. You don’t worry at all about spelling, grammar, or run-on sentences, because it’s probably the only type of writing that’s not meant to be read. It’s an exercise, it’s a therapeutic method. And if you’re doing it correctly, trust me, you will NEVER want to read it. You’re brain-dumping all of the emotions, all the stressors, the challenges, the problems, the insecurities, and the things you don’t want people to know about you and putting them on paper to clear your mind.

It’s not like any other writing because there’s no structure and there are no rules – no editing, no five-paragraph format, not even an intro or a conclusion. It’s your brain! It doesn’t follow rules! And that’s why the most important thing to remember is to not be critical of it or worry about how it reads because it will never be read! That’s why it’s so freeing.

PRO TIP: Relax about it.

It’s not weird! Stop thinking it’s weird!

I noticed that the one thing that turns people away from journaling is that they associate writing down their thoughts in a journal with a 14-year-old girl writing in her pink “diary” about the boy she has a crush on and the girl she doesn’t like a school. It seems adolescent or immature. It seems like something that isn’t socially acceptable. But it’s not a diary. Trust me, I had diaries as a kid. (Not that there’s anything wrong with having a diary.)

Stream of consciousness journaling is a therapeutic technique that is beneficial for anyone and everyone no matter what their age or gender. However, you won’t reap those benefits unless you calm down and stop judging yourself for doing it. The first few times you do it may be weird, because you’ve never seen your own thoughts on paper before, but it does get easier and it starts to feel more natural and more freeing the more you practice it.

The very real benefits of stream of consciousness journaling

Why is it beneficial? The reason why I preach about stream of consciousness journaling all the time is that I’ve seen so many benefits from it, particularly when I started to do it regularly. By making it a part of my nightly routine I saw that it started to change my mood and my mindset so I felt happier all day, even when I wasn’t journaling. It allowed me to put the challenges and the negativity down on paper instead of carrying it with me. That’s why after making it a part of my daily life, I believe in it wholeheartedly and think that the world would be a much happier and better place if everyone adopted this simple activity.

Here are the top 11 reasons why stream of consciousness journaling is beneficial in hopes that it will inspire you to start today…

1. It allows you to purge

The number one benefit that everyone can agree on about stream of consciousness journaling is that it gets everything down on paper or your computer so those thoughts don’t keep circling in your head. It allows you to take a load off and to get rid of the baggage that distracts you from feeling content and at peace. I didn’t even know how cluttered and chaotic my mind was until I started journaling and noticed how much calmer and clearer my mind was afterward. I didn’t realize how much the thoughts and stressors had been building up and weighing on me until they were finally gone. I had gotten so used to the stress little by little that I couldn’t remember life without it.

2. It stops thoughts from amplifying

You know how when something is bothering you or stressing you out, your mind does this exciting thing where it continues to amplify the problem? You’ll be bothered by something that’s happened to you and suddenly your mind can make it a hundred times worse by building up the problem, thinking of all of the other bad things that could happen, thinking about how other people will think and feel, etc. Your mind goes from worrying about that passive-aggressive thing your boss said to suddenly convincing you that you could be fired, wondering what would happen if you got fired, stressing about bills, thinking about how you would feel, thinking about how a job loss could ruin your reputation, thinking about what your partner will think of you, or thinking about how you should act around your boss. The problem snowballs from one stressor into a full-blown life crisis in a matter of 15 minutes.

What stream of consciousness journaling does is it stops those thoughts from circling and amplifying in your mind. It prevents them from blowing up into something that ruins your day and your happiness with pointless worrying. It also makes you realize how extraordinarily unrealistic those thoughts can be once you actually write it down. That way it makes the problem more manageable and grounds you again instead of keeping you sucked into that miserable anxiety loop.

3. It helps you solve a problem

Stream of consciousness journaling is also incredibly beneficial for problem-solving and helping you make better decisions. And don’t we all need help with that! One way that it does this is by removing that clutter in your mind and preventing the negativity from amplifying, so you’re actually able to figure out a problem or what your next step should be because it removes those distractions. You have space to figure out what to do and come up with solutions.

Often times we’re also unable to figure out the root of a problem. There’s so much going on in our minds that you don’t really know what’s going on. There have been countless times where I’ve had life-changing epiphanies because writing about a problem allows me to peel back the layers and find out what’s really going on deep down in my subconscious mind. This journaling allows you to discover how certain circumstances have been triggered that reminds you of an event or person from your past. What journaling has taught me that your mind is kind of like an onion, and onions have layers. You have to peel back plenty of layers on the top to get to the center of the problem and figure out what’s really bothering you. (If you didn’t get that Shrek reference, I don’t know if we can be friends).

Lastly, stream of consciousness journaling helps you solve problems by discovering what’s actually best for YOU. One of the major lessons I learned in my senior year of college and after graduating college is that everyone and their mother thinks that they are an expert on what is best for me. Everyone seems to think they know the perfect place for me to live, the perfect way to go about finding a job, the perfect career path, the best way to invest money, the best freaking house that I should buy, the best time to get a pet, etc. Everyone has a major opinion about how you, and I, and everyone else should be living our best life.

But here’s the thing, only YOU know what is best for YOU. Other people may have ideas and opinions based on their own experience, but just because something works for another person and makes sense for their life, doesn’t mean that it makes sense to you. Stream of consciousness journaling helps you separate the outside opinions and uncover what makes the most sense for you.

4. It reduces stress

Immediately after stream of consciousness journaling, I always notice an incredible sense of relief. Do you know how you get a runner’s high after a nice long run where you feel refreshed, happy, and uplifted? That’s sort of how I feel after a long journaling session where I release any of the drama, stresses, or insecurities that I’ve been dealing with. By the end of an hour of a long writing session, I feel an enormous sense of relief. It clears why mind and relaxes me so I can feel happy and free of stress.

However, it’s not just immediately after journaling where you’re able to feel this sense of release. By incorporating it into your daily routine and releasing that stress each and every time, you’ll notice that over time you’ll be less anxious in general. You’re incorporating a therapeutic exercise into your life and you’re dealing with your problems in a healthy way so you can be happier, more relaxed, and more fulfilled all the time. I started to notice this feeling after about a month of journaling for half an hour to an hour each night and then following it with mediation. Side Note: Journaling also made meditation much easier so I started to feel the benefits from that practice as well.

5. It helps with self-discovery

One of the most interesting benefits to me about stream of consciousness journaling is how much it helps with self-discovery. I’ve always been an incredibly introspective person, but even I am blown away by how much you can learn more about yourself simply by writing down your thoughts. Engaging in regular self-reflection brings up things that you didn’t even realize about yourself. These could even be things that you thought about your whole life but haven’t been able to figure out.

I’ve spent many nights learning new things about myself that I’ve never noticed before or have been stumped on for years. The most significant one that comes to mind is how I learned of my passion and life’s purpose through journaling. I answered a prompt late one night and used stream of consciousness journaling, as I always do, and suddenly it hit me that my passion was self-help and wellness. At the exact moment, I was laying in bed surrounded by a pile of self-help books that were all highlighted and stuffed with notes. I listened to self-help podcasts, read self-help books for years, and envied the self-help writers that I knew of. But somehow it never occured to me that that’s what I wanted to do. My passion and purpose had been hiding right underneath my nose my whole life.

There are many nights when journaling did not lead to an epiphany, but there were also many nights when it did. Through exploring a new topic or answering a prompt that might not even stick out to you, it can pull information out that you may have ignored or kept buried for weeks, months, even years.

6. It improves mood

You’ll notice that when you get into the habit of journaling every day, you will slowly start to see a shift in your overall mood. You’re engaging in deep introspection that helps you learn about your self-sabotaging patterns, toxic relationships, dreams, hobbies, and past – which is not only rewarding, but also uplifting. After journaling for weeks or even months you’ll start to notice that you’re feeling content and more positive, and if you’re anything like me, you may notice that you no longer feel like you’re in a fog.

You begin to feel free from the things that weighed on your mind before and your mindset slowly starts to change for the better. I know I’m making big statements here, but after spending an hour of journaling each day for months, I saw this change myself. When you dedicate that much time to your mental health and wellness, you do begin to feel much happier and positive. All it takes is committing to it.

7. It helps you to become mindful

After journaling for such a long period of time, the self-reflection helps you to be more mindful. It helps you go about your day with intention and focus rather than letting the day pass you by in a blur of scrolling or stress. It makes each activity you do more thoughtful. It also alerts you to the behaviors or habits that you have that don’t support your health and happiness so you can make better choices throughout the day. Choices like not engaging with a negative person, using your free time wisely, taking care of your body, and saying goodbye to self-sabotaging habits.

8. It strengthens personal discipline

If you choose to start journaling as part of your morning or nighttime routine, you’re strengthening your personal discipline. You’re choosing to set aside time every day whether you’re in the mood to or not to engage in a healthy behavior. That alone strengthens your personal discipline, but you’ll notice that it soon starts to bleed into other areas of your life. By making yourself engage in one healthy behavior, before you know it you’re choosing to eat better, or exercise more, or go outside, or use social media with intention. Making one decision that contributes to your health, happiness, and growth inspires you to make those decisions elsewhere. Again, this is one of those changes that I didn’t notice until weeks of practicing stream of consciousness journaling regularly. A benefit like this doesn’t happen until you’ve committed to making it a ritual instead of an occasional activity.

9. It unlocks your creativity

I believe that purging all those stressors or insecurities through writing and freeing up your mind from the drama gives it more room to be creative. When I started incorporating stream of consciousness journaling into my life, I noticed that I suddenly had more ideas than I knew what to do with. That I was inspired more often and that I wanted to write even more. It’s actually when I put in a month of stream of consciousness journaling that I started to get serious about my blog and wanted to pursue writing as a career. I even started to branch out and write about topics that I don’t typically write about. It unlocked creativity and inspiration within me that I didn’t even realize existed.

10. It allows you to explore and strengthen your spirituality

I won’t dive too deeply into this because this isn’t a spirituality post, but I do want to touch on this subject. I’m Buddhist and believe that we’re all on our own journey and are experiencing this life to learn, grow, and become enlightened in some way. And I believe that self-discovery and self-help work allows you to do that. When I continued to do stream of consciousness journaling I started to evolve and to connect with a higher power like I never had before.

You may not have the same spirituality as me, but every spirituality or religion that exists encourages introspection and self-growth. No matter what you believe, journaling can help you to become a better version of yourself, strengthen your faith, and connect with a higher power.

I believe this happens through deep introspection, but also because once you’re free of stress, anxiety, and the problems amplifying in your mind, and you start to become mindful and it becomes easier tap into spirituality – just as journaling helped me unlock my creativity. Through stream of consciousness journaling, your mind is able to focus on more introspective and soulful pursuits rather than being distracted.

Through journaling I came to profound realizations that I used to read about in books, but had never fully understood because my mind was too busy. For example, I was able to comprehend how everything and everyone is connected, that we must let go of our stories to become our highest selves, that coincidences and universal signs happen all around me, and that each experience (even painful ones) are helping me to evolve and become the person that I was brought to this planet to be. It also helped me become aware of divine intervention and trust that the universe has my back, because through writing I could reflect on how circumstance, people, and events are slowly shaping me to become the person that I’ve always wanted to be.

11. It improves your writing

Don’t let the stream of consciousness technique fool you. Just because stream of consciousness journaling isn’t necessarily formal writing, with proper spelling, structure, and grammar, that doesn’t mean that it won’t help you to become a better writer. After I put in hours of journaling, I started to realize that I began to find my voice. My writing became even more conversational, vulnerable, snarky, and honest. I found my own style that didn’t conform to what I had learned in school my whole life. But just as Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

The other way that it helps with writing is by forcing yourself to write every day, no matter what it is, writing anything becomes easier. When you write any paper, blog post, report, depiction, etc. it’s so much easier to do because you’ve been using those muscles regularly. You become a better writer even accidentally because you’ve been practicing each day, even if it didn’t feel like you were.

Ok, I get it, but what do I write about?

The biggest issue that people tend to have about this type of writing is that they don’t know what to write about. Many people struggle about what to write because the vast majority of people don’t write unless they have to for work or for school when there’s someone telling them what, when, and how to write. But the beauty of stream of consciousness writing is you can write about anything. You can write about your family, relationships, stressors, your day, traumas, your bucket list, your perfect day, your dreams, your goals, etc. You can write about anything that you feel pulled to write about that day.

I personally like to write about whatever is stressing me out or weighing on my mind. Whatever is bothering me that day is what I’m writing about, and by doing that I feel like I’m liberated from all those negative thoughts once I write them down. I’m not a huge fan of journal prompts because they don’t offer me that same benefit which is purging the clutter and chaos in my mind, but occasionally I use them to help me with self-discovery on the days when I feel like being more introspective.

But prompts can still be incredibly beneficial, especially if you’re new to journaling. One of my followers and readers I talked to about stream of consciousness journaling was overwhelmed when I told him that you can write about anything and said that he needed more direction to get into journaling. So if you are having a difficult time figuring out what to write, consider picking a prompt first to get you warmed up. You can still do stream of consciousness journaling and “brain dump” even if you’re using a prompt for inspiration. Writing about anything could seem intimidating and this type of writing can be particularly difficult to get used to if you’ve never journaled before. Luckily there is no shortage of journal prompts available to you.

If you’d like to check out journal prompts, head over to my “Self-Discovery” Pinterest Board. I regularly pin prompts to help you with introspection, self-love, discipline, and motivation, so you can always use that as a resource. For now, here are some of my favorite prompts to help get your writing flowing today…

30 Journal Prompts to get you started

  1. How are you… really?
  2. Something I thought a lot about as a child was…
  3. One thing that I really need to work on is…
  4. Describe one thing that you are the proudest of yourself for.
  5. Describe one person that you admire the most today and why.
  6. The quality I admire most in others is…
  7. When I was little I wanted to be…
  8. What would you do if you won the lottery?
  9. What would you do if you knew for certain that you wouldn’t fail?
  10. If I could be a go-to person for anything it would be…
  11. One thing that I am the most passionate about is…
  12. Who are you the most envious of and why?
  13. When people first meet me, I hope they feel…
  14. What do you need more of in your life?
  15. What skills do you wish you had the most?
  16. What do you love about yourself?
  17. What are your priorities at the moment?
  18. The last time that I truly felt alive was…
  19. What hobbies would you love to try?
  20. What can you do to take better care of yourself?
  21. At the end of my life, the legacy that I want to leave is…
  22. Where do you see yourself in six months? A year? 5 years? 10 years?
  23. How can you feel more fulfilled in your life?
  24. Set 3 short term goals and 3 long term goals for yourself and write why you chose them.
  25. What are your 5 favorite ways to relax and fill you up?
  26. What limiting beliefs are holding you back from fulfilling your dream life?
  27. What actions can you take to simplify your life?
  28. What does happiness mean to you?
  29. What is your dream job?
  30. If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be and why?

Bonus: End with Gratitude

Now, if you really want to see the maximum benefits from journaling as I talked about above, I recommend ending each and every stream of consciousness journaling practice with gratitude. There are countless testimonials, studies and experiments that prove that incorporating gratitude into your daily life can improve your mental and emotional state and help you become more successful. That’s why thousands of successful people, celebrities, influencers, and change makers swear by a daily gratitude practice and owe their accomplishments to their simple gratitude ritual.

Even Oprah has a daily gratitude practice and swears that her daily gratitude journal has brought her the most joy, allowed her to keep up the stamina to build her empire, and attract a fan base that completely aligns with her message. Her gratitude practice is simply writing down 5 things that she feels grateful for each and every day – even if it’s something incredibly simple. Today, there are thousands of articles and videos that you can find online where successful people share their gratitude practice and open up about how it impacted their life and allowed them to be happier. Each practice may be slightly different, but it proves that incorporating gratitude practice or a gratitude journal into your routine improves your life in more ways than one.

My gratitude practice

Personally I’ve found that jotting down 3, 5, or 10 things that I’m grateful for is not enough for me. Writing down a bullet point isn’t enough to bring me that overwhelming sense of gratitude that has the potential to change my mindset and my life. Many people swear that their bullet journal changed their life, but I’ve had no success with it. Instead, I incorporate gratitude in my own way. At the end of each journaling session, I pick one thing that I’m grateful for that day and write about it in detail. It could be an insightful conversation with a stranger, or my partner, or an accomplishment – but whatever it is I write at least a paragraph about it. I write about what it is I’m grateful for and why I feel so happy to have this thing in my life. By writing in detail about one thing in particular it helps me feel a heightened sense of gratitude and completely shifts my mindset towards a positive one. It’s impossible to feel crappy after I finish my own gratitude practice.

It’s GIVEAWAY Time!

Since I’m such a huge believer in practicing journaling and gratitude each and every day and I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for months, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity for another Instagram Giveaway! I will be giving away a beautiful and super colorful daily gratitude journal to one lucky winner on my Instagram @heather.ione. It’s a gorgeous and lightweight journal that you can take with you anywhere to make it nice and easier to get yourself into your own daily gratitude practice! Make sure to head over there today to see how you could this beautiful little book, that I completely fell in love with because it 100% reminds me of my favorite book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope that you enjoyed learning about stream of consciousness writing, the benefits, and how to incorporate it in your daily life. And I hope that you can take something away from it that will be beneficial to you. I’ve seen this simple ritual impact my life like nothing else before. I swear by stream of consciousness journaling and I believe in its ability to improve our mental stage and make us happier. It’s a topic that I’ve been wanting to write about for many months on the blog in hopes that it could help others and inspire them to start journaling too.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Was this post helpful to you? Did you learn anything? Do you do stream of consciousness journaling? Did you see any benefits of your own? If so, what were they? And do you have your own gratitude practice?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photo Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

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I Interview Best-Selling Poet Jennae Cecelia: Answers to My Burning Questions on Self-Love, Social Media, Pursuing Passions, & Body Positivity + Instagram GIVEAWAY

Interviews, Self-Help

Discovering Poetry

Have you ever been bored in the very late hours of the night, and before you know it you’re sucked into the abyss that is Amazon.com? Well, about a year ago, I was having one of those nights. I had just read Rupi Kaur’smilk and honey” and her new book “the sun and her flowers” just came out. It was also around the time when Allie Michelle’sExplorations of a Cosmic Soul” was published as well. So I was in a serious poetry mood. And I kept falling victim to that sneaky little section that says “Customers who bought this item also bought … ” Unlike most times, it was actually one of the few nights where I didn’t regret those extra purchases.

After I first started to read poetry, I knew that I had found something special. There was something about it that was just so real, so vulnerable, and so unapologetically authentic that I found myself turning page after page of poetry books while the tears kept flowing. We live in a time when everyone and everything is so curated, so perfect, and so ridiculously happy, that I loved how I finally had the chance to read someone’s hidden emotions. Where I could identify with someone who was also going through a moment of depression or a breakup or struggling with self-confidence and cry with them and say to myself, “Yes, I feel it too.” Poetry made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the messy moments of life that lay between the filtered photos. The times when I fought with family when I was too scared to be myself and follow a dream, and the times when I seriously doubted myself.

Poetry is raw and it tells the truth. The truth that people so rarely speak out loud and that we rarely find on social media. One of the gems I found that night was a book that jumped out at me, that I still pick up and leaf through to this day, Jennae Cecelia’s, “Uncaged Wallflower.”

Meet Best-Selling Poet, Jennae Cecelia

Unlike many poetry books, “Uncaged Wallflower” has a very uplifting message. One that was written by a fellow introvert “for those who need an extra dose of positivity in their day and push to follow their dreams.” So obviously, I devoured the book in one sitting. There’s nothing I love more than a good “follow your dreams” message. I still remember that I was so excited about the new find that I actually looked up Jennae on Instagram and followed her account. Since then, I’ve been a loyal follower and fangirl of hers.

Jennae is unlike many influencers out there today. She continues to post, speak, and write about self-love, self-care, mental health, and body positivity. She posts vulnerable content that many wouldn’t share because it’s not “insta-worthy” and she actually talks to her audience like real people.

I followed and liked along as she shared photos of her acne, her stretch marks, and her no- makeup selfies. I watched her rally other young women to be vulnerable and love themselves even though they may be “flawed.” I watched her share her self-love journey, her struggle with anxiety, and her passion for poetry and photography. I watched her in awe. It’s so rare to see others being so real and so themselves through a screen.

Over the last few years, Jennae has put so much good out for her readers on social media, published five different poetry books, and became a best-selling poet. Her authenticity, her poetry, and her positivity are what finally lead me to reach out to her and ask for an interview.

I’m so grateful and honored that Jennae was not only willing to have me interview her for over an hour on the phone AND that she was so understanding when my recorder gave up and she had to write out her answers for all of you (:

What I learned in the time we spent talking was that she is just as friendly, positive, and real in person as in social media. She opened up to me about her self-love journey, struggling with judgment and criticism from family and friends, her decision to follow her passion, her persistence to inspire other young women, and how she stays sane even while being a social media influencer.

Here are Jennae’s answers to my burning questions! I hope you enjoy, and I hope her message sparks inspiration in you too. Make sure to stay until the very end for a special GIVEAWAY!

Uncaged Conversations

Q: How old were you when you started poetry? And how did you get into it?

A: I was in high school when I first started writing poetry. It was my way of expressing the emotions I was feeling during hard times. I didn’t start taking it more seriously until my third year of college when I started taking creative writing classes. Then when I met my boyfriend I told him about all the poems I had written and he told me I should make a book out of them. So I did!

Q: Did you know at the time that you had discovered your passion? Or did it build slowly?

A: I always was very passionate about writing, but I didn’t expect it to be much more than a hobby for me. When I first started sharing my writing on social media I just did it in hopes someone else would find comfort in my words. Never did I even think to imagine what it could become.

Q: What happens with a lot of people who go into a creative profession is they take a lot of backlash from people. Did you receive any criticism or judgment from people when you decided to become a poet?

A: My family and friends were supportive at first. They were excited I was writing books and that I was seeing success. However, when I told everyone I was going to be a writer as my full-time job I received so much criticism for doing so from these same people who claimed to support me. They supported it being a hobby, but not a career.

Q: Was it difficult opening up publicly in the beginning? Or not so much? I know I felt super vulnerable once I started to share my voice, not just as a random girl on Instagram, but as a blogger who focuses on mental well-being and my journey.

A: It was hard at first, but mostly because I was afraid of what people I personally knew would think. I am the type of person who can talk to a group of 200 people I don’t know very well about super personal topics, but I would be so anxious talking to a small group of close friends about the same topics.

Q: You obviously write a lot about self-care and self-love. I’ve read so many inspirational self-love messages from you, and I’ve even seen images where you’ve shown very real things like acne scars or stretch marks. I’m wondering, what was this self-love journey like for you? What was it like learning to love yourself and your imperfections?

A: I always say, “self-love is a journey with ever-changing scenery.” The things I didn’t like about myself when I was a teen, I have grown to love now. Now there are new things I find myself critiquing myself on. Loving yourself fully is not easy. However, I have started thanking my body every morning for all the amazing things it does. I always say three things like: I am thankful for my hands that allow me to write words of inspiration; I am thankful for my legs that allow me to go on long hikes with my boyfriend; and I am thankful for my lungs that allow me to take deep breaths in and out when I get anxious.

Q: Today, you seem like such a confident person who pursues their passion and inspires other people to follow their dreams, embrace the journey, and love themselves. But were there ever times that you felt really unsure of yourself and struggled with self-discovery as you were trying to navigate through all these different outside influences (societal norms, social media, family expectations).

A: Oh yes. I constantly say that the 15-year-old me would probably roll her eyes in annoyance at some of the things I say now because I have become such an optimistic person, and it was not always that way. From 13-20 it was all about self-discovery. Learning who I did and didn’t want to be. Making lots of mistakes. Doing things just to please friends and fit in. However, as much as I am not proud of some of my choices in life if I didn’t do those things I wouldn’t be this person I am today. That doesn’t mean that I am doing everything perfect now, but I do have a better grasp on who I am which allows me to make choices for myself and not just to please other people.

Q: We live in a world that’s very filtered and photoshopped and curated to absolute perfection. Were you really nervous or hesitant to share that side of yourself with people online? The side that maybe wasn’t so #InstaWorthy.

A: I was at first, again mostly because I was afraid of people I personally know seeing my posts. When I shared a picture of my stretch marks I was scared to post it but I knew someone out there needed the message that went along with it. Same with the post I made showing all of my acne scars. Also, I have never once heard anything from the people I was worried about seeing it so it honestly just stopped mattering to me if they saw my more raw and personal posts.

Q: In my blog, I write a lot about how digital media, particularly social media, was the biggest challenge and obstacle for me. I noticed that it caused the most comparison and negative self-talk, and made me fixate on my looks and how I appeared to other people online. Did you have a similar struggle having grown up online?

A: Definitely! I was a senior in high school when Instagram started becoming popular. However, it was to post pictures of your food using the Valencia filter. Social media has changed so much in the last 5-10 years. I feel like I have gotten over comparing myself to others on social media because I know that what most people post is not the whole story. I can’t imagine being in high school or even early college now and having that pressure of taking perfect pictures and looking perfect in them. Especially when you are at an age where people liking you matters so much. I mean, it still matters to people but that age you take it way more seriously.

Q: Does being an author and a content creator pose any challenges?

A: Being an author for me now means two things. Making time to do the creative side AND the business side.  For instance, today I had 15 emails I needed to reply to however, the creativity was flowing in my mind and I really just wanted to write. It can be hard to balance marketing, emails, social media, etc. and still set aside time to be creative. Luckily, I like the business side of being an author. I love it actually! But, it does take a lot of time away from doing my number one thing I love, just freely creating all day.

Q: Looking back at everything that you’ve gone through to become the person that you are today if you could give any advice to your 14-year-old self, what would it be?

A: I would tell her this: all the roads you cross, the potholes you hit, the dead ends you reach, are shaping you into the person you are meant to be. Nothing is a coincidence, and mistakes are perfectly fine. Your beautiful soul is needed here more than you will ever know right now.

Q: How do you stay sane and stay grounded as a young woman during this overwhelming digital age? Do you have any practices or habits that make it easier?

A: I really enjoy meditating and gratitude journaling. They help me so much with keeping my mind more peaceful and reminding myself to forever be grateful.

Q: If there was any piece of advice that you would give to Lost Online readers who come to this platform for inspiration and to hear how they can stay sane during this overwhelming time? What would you say to them?

A: It is easy to get Lost Online, but don’t forget to wander through your real life.

Q: You have another book coming out soon! Any hints as to what it’s about?

A: It is a book focusing on self-care this time! I am super excited because it is a topic I am very passionate about.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I don’t know about you, but every time I read her words it puts me in a feel-good mood. If you’re ever in need of extra positivity or inspiration to follow your dreams and be unapologetically you, I would definitely recommend checking her content out. You can find Jennae on her website, on Instagram @jennaececelia, or on Amazon.

I’m also super excited because Jennae is starting a blog too! And I have no doubt that it will be wonderful. Make sure to stay in the loop with her so you can read it when it’s published! Jennae also has two more books coming out very soon, including “Losing Myself Brought Me Here.” I’m so excited to read it!

GIVEAWAY Time!

I will be hosting another Giveaway on my Instagram this week @heather.ione. Jennae has generously donated a SIGNED COPY of her Best-Selling Book “Uncaged Wallflower” to one of my followers! Make sure to go to my Instagram to read the details on how to win.

Lastly, I wanted to end with my favorite poem of Jennae’s from “Uncaged Wallflower” called “Command Your Passion.”

Remember to comment below! What’s your favorite poem or quote of hers? Which books have you read of Jennae’s? What do you think about her message? Which parts of this interview stuck out to you the most?

If you liked this post make sure you scroll to the bottom, hit that little “+”, and type in your email where it says “Follow Blog Via Email.” The next post will be sent right to you!

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How to Find Balance & Inner Peace as a Busy, Working Woman

Lifestyle

Sitting at my desk I can feel my mind racing a million miles an hour. I have 500 product listings to manage at work, 30 blog posts that all need Pinterest graphics, 20 New Year’s Resolutions, at least 10 blogs I’m working on at home – Oh, and did I mention I’m trying to go vegan?

This is how the modern era is, thanks to technology, social media, and our own amazing aspirations, the calendar is always full of stuff to get done. Personally, I find that color-coordinating my calendar helps the most. Red is for the important sh*t; Blue is for fun things and social events; Purple is the random stuff like errands; Yellow is anything related to my blog; Pink is for the doctors’ appointments… you get the idea. But that’s not what this blog post is about. It’s about balance. How do we find balance during a time when we have at least 100 goals for ourselves, a full-time job, side hobbies, friends, and a boss to keep happy – all while trying to get to the gym and eat healthy? How?

I may seem like the last person you would take advice about this from, and until last month, I wouldn’t have believed that I would find that balance myself. Fortunately, after a full night of journaling and reflecting on my last year and my aspirations for the New Year, I wrote the words to myself that I most needed to hear. “You do not need to do it all.

I don’t think I’m unlike many 20-something women my age. I have high expectations for myself, I never say no to new projects and my computer is open to 12 tabs at any given moment. I have gotten so immersed in this digital age that I sometimes feel like I expect myself to be a computer. To be productive all the time and to stay healthy and functioning, even if I’m running low on energy. That mindset is what created the person I was in 2018: a person filled with stress and anxiety, who still couldn’t meet my own expectations. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.

I could see while reflecting on the last year that I became so involved in graduating, in running my blog, in my personal goals and in my new job, that I became a wreck (and a rather unpleasant person to be around). So, there I was journaling away on my computer in late December thinking about how overwhelming (but still wonderful!) the last year had been. Although I still had tons of aspirations for the New Year, I didn’t want to bring that same stressful energy along with me.

And I kept writing because it’s medicinal to me. I wrote all about my high standards for myself and how cruel I had been to myself in the last 365 days, all because I wasn’t superhuman. I realized that even on the good days when I accomplished the most, I still beat myself up and thought, “I could have done more.I could have done one more paragraph, I could have run one more mile, I could have made one more graphic, I could have written one more post… but in the end, I realized that all that did was make me feel terrible. All that negative self-talk and the stress I was putting on myself didn’t benefit me in the slightest. Because at the end of the day, who really cares if I couldn’t do it all? No one is ever going to know that I didn’t create some Pin that I thought up. No one is ever going to know or care that I didn’t stretch that day, or that I only ran one mile on the treadmill. These were goals I set for myself, so why have I been taking them so seriously? No one, no matter how productive and energetic they are, can do everything. It’s just not possible.

In those late hours of typing away, I was discovering for the first time what should have been common sense: I am not a computer; I am not technology; I was not born to be productive; it’s OK if it all doesn’t get done. Moving forward, I wanted to spend 2019 feeling proud of myself. Spending that time embracing every moment of growing my blog, becoming healthier, getting stronger, and learning more. At the end of the day, I want to feel happy with myself because I’m working so hard to improve.

Somehow in that one journaling session, that became my intention for the upcoming year. In 2019, I would end the day feeling happy and feeling proud of myself for what I got done. Even if I hadn’t checked off everything on my to-do list. Even if I hadn’t done all of my self-improvement rituals. That’s how I stay grounded and stay balanced this year. Even though the world continues to demand things from me, and even though I still have a to-do list, none of that is worth my mental health. I am not computer software that been designed to work 24/7. I need sleep, I need days off and I need to treat myself with respect. So do you.

Now whenever I find myself feeling overwhelmed, whenever I don’t complete my self-made to-do list, whenever I don’t have the energy to work anymore–I let it be. I remind myself that it’s OK. I’m doing the best that I can. Yes, sometimes I forget to do that. And when that happens, I also let it be. Because you and I, we’re human. You can’t update us like computer software and we’re completely fine for a year. It’s OK if we slip up. The best thing that we can do for ourselves in this digital age, is to feel comfortable just being. To be OK with sitting in silence eating without the TV on and without checking our phones. To feel like we can turn it off in the evenings and relax. To make the thought, “It’s OK if I don’t get this done immediately,” become the knee jerk reaction instead of letting our minds run wild. This year I made the decision to remind myself that I’m a human being, not a human doing. I think that you should too.

I’m not here today to offer you “10 Tips for Finding Balance” or “5 Ways to Relieve Stress.” Because isn’t that just another to-do list? I’m here to give you, and me, permission to just be. To just relax and unplug for a moment. That’s the way you find balance and treat anxiety today. Get comfortable with quiet, with rest, with days off, with being unplugged. Remember what it was like before you had a blog, a business, a smartphone, and social media accounts. Remember what it was like before you had a million responsibilities–and sit with that. When you do, you’ll finally find that balance and that inner peace you’ve been craving in the chaos of modern life.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you found it difficult to stay balanced? What were the biggest challenges for you? How have you coped with this even as life continues to make demands? Do you have any mantras, journal prompts or habits that make it easier? Or maybe you’re a badass and don’t have this problem at all! Congrats! Tell me your secret below!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

CBD, Anxiety, & Me: Thoughts After 3 Months on a CBD Tincture

Health & Wellness, Lifestyle

What I used to think about CBD

I’m probably one of the last people to hop on the CBD bandwagon – if not THE last one. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen CBD–cannabidiol, a compound derived from cannabis plants–become so popular for a variety of different reasons. I heard everything from it cures anxiety, relieves pain and helps you sleep. Then there were bigger claims like it fights cancer, prevents seizures, and lowers risk of diabetes. But I didn’t buy any of it. I knew so many people who were completely head-over-heels in love with CBD and raved about it all the time. However, most of them were also very well-known for… puffing the magic dragon… I’m not sure how I’m supposed to word this in a blog. Anyways, they smoke a lot of weed. You know the type: gets super defensive about weed, munching on something all the time, scatterbrained, listens to The Grateful Dead on repeat, burns incense, wears drug rugs, has at least one Bob Marley poster hanging up in their room. You get the idea.

So I didn’t buy it because I’m not a smoker, and I was never enamored with the stoner culture. I’m not going to be convinced about how magical CBD is from someone who can’t go a few hours without smoking weed. I don’t really trust them to educate me because I always wondered, is this new health supplement really as great as they say? Or has everything marijuana just become a major part of their self-identity? So I debated it many times over the last few years, and I always approached the CBD conversations with skepticism (and if I’m being honest here, a lot of judgment).

Then, I started to see a shift. Instead of just smokers using CBD, it started to become popular among many different types of people. Athletes used it, professionals used it, children used it, mothers used it, wellness advocates used it – and CBD started to become seen as a health supplement rather than a conversation in a college dorm room. Fast forward to the last few months and my boyfriend and I are both working for health and fitness companies that invite other companies to sell CBD Oil to athletes at events and competitions.

Today, I regularly meet people who use CBD for an array of reasons. People who are active professionals with 9-5 jobs. I’ve learned of so many success stories particularly with anxiety, so I finally decided that I would give it a try. I’ve now been on CBD for three months and feel much better, but also incredibly guilty for never giving this natural medicine a try. I was quick to judge these products because of the stoner culture that used to surround them and quick to get annoyed when someone would rave to me about why I should be using it. Especially because it seemed too simple. How could taking a few drops of CBD oil be enough to relieve anxiety? Wouldn’t I need to meditate every day, take prescriptions, and see a therapist if I wanted that to happen? No.

So what is CBD?

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert about this. There are so many people and online influencers out there who pretend that they’re CBD experts but they’re not. So I started looking into it for more information. From what I’ve come across, the most informative and easy to understand content was a video by health and nutrition expert, Thomas DeLauer. He explained exactly how CBD affects the receptors in the brain to make us feel good, relax us, help those suffering from cancer, and more. It really helped me comprehend why and how it works so I could finally understand all those big claims that are made and the science behind it. If you’d like to see if yourself, check it out here.

So you may or may not already know this, but for the sake of educating someone who may not, CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis (there’s no THC). Yes, we all know this. Moving on.

According to DeLauer, there are two different CBD receptors in the body and brain, CBD 1 and CBD 2. CBD 1 is found mostly in the brain and affects mood, emotion, mood, pain, etc. CBD 2 is found mostly in the body and affects things like inflammation and the immune system. THC is what activates both receptors, but CBD oil doesn’t. Instead, CBD influences the body to use more of its naturally occurring endocannabinoids, enhancing how the receptors utilize them. It’s the utilization and activation of vanilloid, serotonin, and adenosine receptors that give people the result they’re looking for from CBD.

These receptors play a role because CBD increases the activity of the receptors which trigger secondary responses in the body. For one thing, it activates a secondary response of excretory catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and epinephrine), which is what gives you a heightened sense of awareness while still feeling calm. Secondly, CBD also activates dopamine and causes the body to naturally and effectively utilize that particular neurotransmitter, which makes us feel better. Thirdly, CBD activates glutamate which (in the right amounts) can trigger energy in the right places. Finally, the serotonin receptors: CBD oil activates 5-HT1A which allows the body to create more serotonin and use it more efficiently. All of these things give us that lovely sensation that CBD companies spend tons of money marketing to us: you’ll feel calm, yet awake. So that’s the long-winded version of what CBD is, as far as how it helps someone struggling with anxiety, like myself. Thank you, Thomas DeLeaur for explaining all of that in a way that makes sense for someone like me who just barely passed science class in school.

Why I tried CBD

I heard several stories from friends who suffered from terrible anxiety and were able to relax and function normally after taking CBD. That they no longer suffered from anxiety attacks, or have moments when their heart races uncontrollably, or feel overwhelmed even when nothing stressful is happening. On top of that, my boyfriend and I also work at well-known health and fitness companies, and we’re constantly surrounded by people who are in incredible shape and participate in competitions on the weekends–and many of them take CBD. So after hearing about CBD for years, I finally decided to take a leap of faith. The worst that could happen was I wouldn’t like it, and move on with my life. When I started using CBD, I started with the brand, Elixinol. Elixinol is a high-quality, naturally processed CBD brand with 100% Organic Industrial Hemp from the U.S., Europe, and Australia. I use it in the morning before work and at night before I fall asleep. It comes in a one-ounce bottle and glass dropper with measurements on it for a .5 milliliter (ml) or 1 ml dose. I fill it up, usually to about .75 ml and I put the CBD underneath my tongue for about a minute to allow it to absorb into my bloodstream and then I swallow.

Side Note: I got this one from my boyfriend because he bought it for himself and realized that there was coconut oil in it which he’s allergic to. So if you’re allergic to coconut oil too, you really have to read CBD labels because tons of brands use coconut oil as a carrier oil.

After using Elixinol for over a month, I then tried out Charlotte’s Web CBD after hearing testimonials from so many people that swear by Charlotte’s Web and found the most success with that brand. If you’ve never heard of the story behind Charlotte’s Web, I highly suggest looking into it. The company was started because of a little girl name Charlotte Fiji who suffered from Dravet Syndrome — a very rare form of epilepsy. Her story is one that is completely heartbreaking and has shown people all of over the world how healing CBD can be. If you want to read the full story check it out here.

After using Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web both for a month and a half each, I can finally say that I am a firm believer in using CBD.

My thoughts after 3 months on CBD

Less Anxiety – Within the first day of being on CBD, I immediately felt better. I noticed that my mental state had become much more peaceful than it was before. The way that I could describe it is like taking an actual chill pill. Normally throughout the day, I have negative emotions, as we all do. I get anxious, angry, and sad, and it regularly ruins my day and makes me feel crappy both mentally and physically. If you’ve had anxiety then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You know that feeling when you start to have anxiety? It’s not just a mental feeling, but you feel it physically too. Your heart races, you sweat, you feel wired, you don’t feel like you’re in control of your body or mind, and your whole body feels agitated and uncomfortable. When I take CBD, I still feel my regular emotions throughout the day, like sadness or anger, but when I do it’s not nearly as heavy as it normally is. Those feelings don’t spread throughout my whole body and make me feel like I can’t breathe or my heart will come out of my chest. Instead, I feel an emotion, but without all of those physical reactions that usually amplify the feelings of anxiety and make it so much worse.

The first time that I really noticed this was when I was stuck in traffic on the highway one day and someone cut me off. Normally this would have made me feel anxious throughout my whole body. I would have felt the adrenaline coursing through me, and I wouldn’t calm down until I reached my destination and got out of the car. But now, I feel slightly anxious in my mind without all of the adrenaline and nerves. Instead, whenever I experienced an emotion like this, I would think to myself, “Oh, I’m feeling a little stressed out right now. That’s fine, it’ll pass.” Or “Looks like there’s some anxiety showing up again.”

I was so surprised by how calm and rational I felt. I started to identify unpleasant emotions, and then let them go without feeding into them. This has actually been something that I’ve been trying to train my mind to do in meditation, but I haven’t been able to do it alone. But now, on CBD, I can. I watch the negative thought show up and pass by just like seeing someone pass by me on the sidewalk. Not that I’m disconnected from my emotions or have become emotionless, but rather they don’t overwhelm me and affect me physically in the way that they used to.

I also want to add that even though CBD calmed me down, the effects are not at all like a prescription drug that people use to treat anxiety. When someone takes a pill meant for anxiety, it immediately hits them and they have a noticeable reaction. They go from having a panic attack to feeling very happy, relaxed, and basically like they’re floating on a cloud away from all of their problems. Which is why I was afraid to try CBD at first because I didn’t want an effect like that. But CBD doesn’t hit you like a prescription does. It’s very slow so after a while, I’ll notice that I feel calm. Taking CBD oil reminds me of taking an ibuprofen when something is hurting. I don’t notice it kick in immediately – it happens so slowly that I didn’t even realize it was starting to work until 30 minutes later when I notice that my headache is gone. Which is why you may not even notice the effects of CBD and realize that it’s working because it doesn’t hit you like a Xanax. Days might go by and you’ll suddenly have an “ah-ha” moment in traffic like me.

Focus –The other thing that I noticed after being on CBD was that it also helped me get out of my own head and focus on what was in front of me. My mind normally races so much that it’s hard to really pay attention when I’m reading, working, or writing. Now, instead of seeing something that I have to get done and letting it overwhelm me and stress me out, CBD has helped me put my feelings aside and focus on one thing at a time. I have no idea how it does this, but it does. Why did I not get on board with this when I was still in school?!

Take-Away

I feel so guilty for judging people who took CBD as a supplement and assuming that people just used it because they thought it was cool. Maybe some people do. But I’ll admit it… I messed up. Sorry! I now take CBD oil with my other supplements morning and night and it has made each day brighter and more manageable. Now that I’ve seen what a difference it can make, I’m experimenting with some other CBD products and see which ones are the best for me. But as of now, Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web are the two that I keep going back to.

If you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, or maybe you just have a hard time focusing, I think you should consider doing some research on CBD, talking to your doctor, and trying a supplement like this. Everyone is different, but this could be a simple lifestyle change that could make a huge difference in your mental state and your day-to-day experience.

Have you taken CBD oil? What has your experience been? Have you noticed any positive (or negative) changes? What brands do you use? What brands do you dislike? If you don’t understand CBD or may be against it, what are your thoughts? Please let me know in the comments! I love hearing the new perspectives! And, if you like what you read, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page, click that “+” symbol and type in your email to subscribe! 

Photo by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.