You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To

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I wanted to share with you all my experience hiking the highest mountain in Massachusetts – Mount Greylock – located in the top left corner of the state in a town called Adams.

I did this hike with five other guys and this was their second time attempting to do it. The first time, they made it to the top but were too exhausted to make the hike all the way back down so they had a park ranger drive them down the mountain. Knowing this and being that I was the only girl, I was a bit worried I’d tap out somewhere half way through and they’d be stuck with me in the middle of nowhere! I had never done hiking anywhere close that magnitude before, the only “hiking” I’d ever really done previously was through the valley in my hometown. Nonetheless, I was up for the challenge and ready to prove myself wrong.

Untitled8This was actually the very first picture I stopped to take. We tried to keep the momentum going as much as possible, knowing we had a long trek ahead of us and needed to try to finish before sundown. We definitely didn’t want to end up lost in the midst of forestry in pitch-black darkness with no service! That would have been REALLY bad! But anyways, this was the first of the little ponds we came across.

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Next, we came to a clearing where there was this beautiful meadow area filled with pretty flowers. It was nice to be able to look out at an expansive landscape after being enclosed in dense forestry and hiking on uneven, rocky ground.

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But soon enough, we were back to being surrounded by wilderness, with trees and shrubs everywhere you turned. We came across this sign and knew from that point onward, we had 3 more miles to go until we’d reach the top. I do have to say though; it was quite peaceful listening to nothing but birds chirping and the sound of the rustling leaves in the breeze. I truly felt like one with nature.

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When we got to this area, we just had to stop and gaze out at the distant mountain range for a little while. While we appreciated the scenery, it was a perfect opportunity for us to hydrate and catch our breaths.

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Afterwards, it got to be a pretty steady incline and was very rocky so we had to be extra careful not to slip on a loose rock. It definitely looked pretty though with all the ever-changing shadows casted by the branches and leaves as they moved in the wind.

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This was one of my favorite spots other than the view from the summit. I loved how glossy the pond looked and how clear the reflection was in the placidity of the water. The little shed on the other side made me wonder what used to be in this area considering it seemed so randomly placed in the middle of nowhere. I kind of wanted to go over and check it out but we had to keep moving forward.

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Finally, we had made it to the top!! Pictured here is the Veterans War Memorial Tower, constructed in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corp. It is made of granite blocks and stands at 93 feet tall. Currently, it is closed due to unsafe conditions but from its observation portals, there is a 360-degree view overlooking five different states! I would have loved to go up there but sadly we couldn’t. Nevertheless, the view was still breathtaking.

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Here is my friend and I looking out at the view, reflecting on all we went through to make it to that point. What an accomplishment it was. Believe it or not, we hiked through a torrential downpour a few hours prior to this moment, even though it appears sunny here. I was the only one who packed an umbrella so a couple of the guys tried to squeeze under it with me while the others took shelter under a tree. Once the rain eased up a bit, we kept moving. The rain felt quite nice actually, given we were all sweaty and it was pretty humid out. After all, it was the middle of summer!

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We ended up finishing at 8pm, right before it got too dark and we were entirely unable to see where we were going. So, we definitely cut it close but made it out okay thankfully. The aftermath of the hike was a bit rough I do have to say… My feet were so swollen and in pain, along with my shins. We went to get food and after sitting down in the car, I couldn’t stand up on my own due to shooting pains going up my legs when I tried to step so I had to be helped into the restaurant with two friends on either side of me as a crutch. Regardless, I still think it was completely worth it because it was such an incredible experience that I will never forget. After a few days, I was back to feeling normal.

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Here’s a picture to show you just what I was dealing with. This was the morning after. You can only imagine how much it hurt to walk! But like I said, I’m so glad that I did it and it was truly an unforgettable experience.

A total of 9 hours and 16 miles later, hiking the longest possible trail, I can now say that I’ve conquered Mount Greylock. It is 3,491 feet in altitude with a view that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. Being so high up and away from civilization, it is so incredibly quiet and serene. Through ferns and thorns, mud and rocks, sweat and rain, thunder storms and sunshine, and up and over two other mountains first before getting to Greylock, we made it! What an adventure. This was definitely a highlight of my life.

It just goes to show that you should never opt out of doing something just because you don’t think you could do it. Believe in yourself and you can! I never in a million years would’ve thought I’d be able to complete a hike like this but my determination and belief in my own strength served me well. Don’t ever let fear and doubt discourage you. Be brave, be confident, and you’ll be surprised what you can achieve.

A quote that I really like is, “Challenge your limits, don’t limit your challenges.” This couldn’t be truer. You never know what you’re capable of until you try!

Now get out there and do something you’ve always wanted to but haven’t yet because of fear holding you back.

∼ Taylor ♥ xoxo

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One Way You Can Build Your Self-Esteem

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Coming from someone with low self-esteem, I know very well what it’s like to always feel as if you are not good enough. It discourages you, brings you down and robs you of confidence. However, having high self-esteem is probably the single most important thing one needs to be successful in the competitive world we live in. When you feel valuable, you not only take better care of yourself but also have more of a go-getter attitude about life. You’ll be energetic, determined, and fearless in the pursuit of what you want.

That being said, I want to help you the best I can to instill love for yourself in both your mind and heart. It will be a gradual process to get to that level of self-acceptance but you won’t get anywhere until you try something different. Making a commitment to change is the start to internal self-improvement and personal development. Are you ready to change your life around for the better?

What I want you to do is get a Mason jar and each day, jot down a compliment to yourself or something positive that happened that day. Either somewhere on the front of the slip of paper or on the back, write down the date as well. This will really challenge you to dig deep and convert your way of thinking to one more positive in nature instead of negative. You can keep this jar on your bedside and make a point to do it every night before you go to sleep.

http://www.themilitantbaker.com/2013/12/the-year-of-self-love-jar.html

Here’s an example of a jar that I found online. But you can decorate your jar however you like and it can be something you cherish forever as a reminder that there is so much good within you – so many things to be proud of and love yourself for. Now, you can choose the length of time you’ll do this exercise for but I suggest you do it for no less than a month. Ideally, I’d want you to do it for an entire year. Yes it may seem like a lot, but it really only takes a few seconds to do each day and it will be much more valuable to you once it’s all done. When you are finished, you can then dump it out on a day where you have some free time and read through everything you wrote about yourself. You will feel so incredible inside, I promise.

This activity is a prime example of how small efforts, repeated day in and day out, add up to huge results that can ultimately make a big difference in someone’s life. It will start off with just a single positive thought but at the end of a year, you then have 365 positive thoughts and a newfound sense of self-appreciation.

I really hope you will put this idea into practice and seriously dedicate yourself to doing it consistently. It will do nothing but good for you.

∼ Taylor ♥ xoxo

How to Start a Self-Care Routine

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Taking care of yourself is so important to do in order to optimize your life. It is a wide-ranging concept that encompasses all areas of health. That means it includes doing things for yourself that will benefit your physical, spiritual, emotional, AND mental well-being. When life gets hectic and overwhelming, it is very easy to forget to take care of yourself. It happens to so many people so don’t feel too bad if you are somebody that tends to throw self-care on the back burner. In this blog post I will help you to brainstorm some things you should try to do regularly for your well-being because it is imperative that you don’t neglect yourself – it’ll only limit how well you can perform in your daily life!

Essentially, anything that makes you feel well is self-care. So to start, I suggest you make a list of activities that you know make you feel good all around. You could also include in this list anything you can think of that is missing from your current life in which you feel will benefit you if you began to do more of it. Consider how you are feeling right now. Are you stressed, sore, or tired? If so, try brainstorming some activities that will alleviate those symptoms.

Next, I’d like you to choose from that list what you think is the most important. Which of the activities do you feel has the most substantial impact on how you feel overall? Those are the things you should prioritize, considering it is impractical to try to incorporate every single one of the listed activities on a regular basis.

After you do this, you need to examine your current schedule and figure out the best times to fit these activities in. Setting aside even 20-30 minutes is all you really need. It may take some experimenting to find what time of day works best for you but eventually you will figure it out and get used to regularly incorporating self-care practices into your schedule.

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Above is a self-care wheel that lists a ton of different ideas for you to do that benefit various areas of your health. When I came across this, I personally found it to be very useful and just had to share it with you all.

Since I’ve always struggled with my self-image, doing things that will benefit my appearance is something that’s important to me, given it makes me feel better about myself. Two of the things that I like to do are face masks and whitening my teeth. I’m someone who naturally has very sensitive skin so I tend to break out easily. If it’s a hot day and my face gets oily or I’m working out and I get sweaty, my skin automatically acts up. Therefore, I try my best to keep it looking clear and healthy. Also, who doesn’t like a glowing smile?! When I whiten my teeth, it makes me feel more confident and want to smile more often.

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The face mask I’m using in the above picture is an all-natural ionic clay mask made by the brand Botanics. It is meant to provide a thorough cleansing of the skin to remove deep-rooted impurities. It is made with sea silt and willow bark extract, which is a natural source of salicylic acid, and is formulated without any parabens.

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In this picture, I’m using a teeth-whitening kit that I got from a company called White with Style. The one that I have is peroxide free in order to avoid tooth sensitivity or gum irritation but it still works like a charm! The kit comes with two plastic trays that you can mold to the shape of your teeth by first heating them up in hot water, a syringe filled with the teeth whitening gel (which comes in a variety of flavors), and a blue LED light that activates the gel. It even has a tooth whitening shade guide so you can track your progress!

These are just two examples of self-care routines I enjoy doing for my physical and mental health but I have others that are geared towards different areas of my well-being! I suggest that you make sure to do any activities that make you feel good about yourself as well.

Bottom line, self-care is something everyone should practice, as it will only benefit you in the long run!

∼Taylor ♥ xoxo

How to Start Your Day off Right

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Ever heard the saying, “how you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day”? Well it’s true! If you start off on the right foot, then the rest of your day will go a lot more smoothly. Having a positive outlook and planning out what you want to do with your day will set you up for success. Changing your morning routine to one that is healthier may seem troublesome at first but once it becomes second nature, you’ll find that you are happy with the changes you made.

Therefore, I suggest you try to implement these 9 morning habits in order to begin your day on a positive note each and every day.

1.) Wake up on the earlier side.

Not feeling rushed will start you off in a calm and relaxed state instead of in a frenzy, allowing you to get yourself in the right frame of mind before you set off to do whatever it is you need to do. Being up early also gives you much more time in the day to get things done!

2.) Smile and think of something positive.

Smiling, even if it is forced, tricks your brain into thinking you are happy and thus, it releases feel-good chemicals, putting you in a better mood. An example of a positive thought you may want to wake up with is, “I am grateful for all I have and to be given the gift of life.”

3.) Refrain from using any technology for at least 20 minutes.

Let yourself be present in the moment and unbothered by any external influences. If you overwhelm yourself checking text messages and emails, you will disturb your peaceful mindset and be left feeling stressed out, which is not a good way to feel starting off the day. Also, if you are somebody who checks social media when you first wake up, try not to do this because social media has been shown to have a negative influence on one’s mental well being.

4.) Make your bed.

Doing this will give you a sense of accomplishment and start you off feeling organized and in charge. Returning home at the end of the day to a neat bed, rather than messy, will also make you feel more at ease, no matter how the day went.

5.) Brush your teeth, as well as your tongue.

In your sleep, plaque and toxins accumulate in your mouth that you want to get rid of before eating so you don’t allow them to be reabsorbed back into your body.

6.) Drink an 8-oz glass of water with lemon.

This helps to jumpstart your metabolism and gets your organs up and running. It is always good to hydrate your body and adding lemon is just a bonus. Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, they alkalize the body, and they have antioxidant properties.

7.) Do some stretches.

Stretching will help to both loosen up and increase blood flow to your muscles after sleeping. Here you may even want to incorporate meditation. This will allow you to connect with your mind and body, as well as make you mindful of your breathing so you can make sure to keep it balanced.

8.) Eat a healthy breakfast.

As you’ve probably heard before, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Therefore, you should have something nutritional that has lean protein and healthy fats, not something sugary and high in saturated fats, which raises bad cholesterol.

9.) Make a to-do list for the day.

Having your goals clearly laid out in front of you will help you to feel organized and ready to conquer the day ahead. Then, you should prioritize which tasks are the most pressing so you can tackle them first. This way you’ll have a sense of purpose each day and feel satisfaction each time you cross a task off the list.

If you do these things, I promise you that you will start your off day feeling more refreshed and with a positive frame of mind, causing you to have a much better day overall.

∼ Taylor ♥ xoxo

The Benefits of Essential Oils for Mental Health

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The use of essential oils to treat health ailments is something that has been around for thousands of years. It not only is used for physical heath needs but also as therapy for the mind, spirit and emotions. Considering the body and mind are inseparable, any illness that effects one of them, has an influence on the other. Therefore, using essential oils can really benefit you as a whole.

Kurt Schnaubelt, a reputable author who earned his Ph.D from Technical University of Munich in Germany, affirms:

“The profound and complete therapeutic effects of essential oils derive from more than their pleasant fragrance. They have vital electromagnetic properties and vibrational energies that invigorate the mind, the soul, the body’s energy, and thus their functioning.”

They truly have such amazing properties and can help with a number of different mental illnesses. As listed in an article I read, some of the essential oils that are known to help with specific conditions are as follows:

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https://www.alternativementalhealth.com/using-natural-remedies-in-thetreatment-of-emotional-and-mental-states/

If you are wondering how to go about using them, they are used primarily in three ways: through the inhalation of their fragrances by means of aromatherapy, through the application of them to the skin, and in baths to be absorbed by the body.

I have essential oils myself, along with an oil diffuser, so I have tried aromatherapy a few times before. I’ve also applied a few drops of them to my wrists. I can say that with both methods, I really felt their intended effects. One time I had a really bad headache and one of my friends massaged lavender oil into my temples and forehead. Afterwards, some of the pain and tension was alleviated. Without her, I would’ve never thought to try that and it showed me how valuable and helpful essential oils really are.

I will share with you and discuss the essential oils that a personally have.
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This one contains lavender, tangerine, bergamot, geranium, cypress, frankincense, and chamomile blue oil. I’ve used this before in combination with the one below to help me wind down at night. It is known for its calming, comforting, and relaxing effects.

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This one also soothes and relaxes but has a few different ingredients such as orange, ylang ylang, and patchouli oil. I thought that both of them went very well together and smelt quite lovely.

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This one has soybean, jasmine, rose flower, and sandalwood oil. I found that it has a rather warming and sensual effect on the body, which just makes me feel good all over. It helps me to connect with my more tender emotions during times where I’m feeling discontented with myself.

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This one contains soybean, cedarwood, juniper, and rosemary oil. It helps to awaken the mind and spark vitality, enthusiasm, and endurance. It is a great energy boost when I am lazy and lacking motivation.

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Lastly, this one has soybean, rosemary, peppermint, and clary sage oil in it. It is meant to enhance concentration and improve memory. I have used it when I am overthinking too much and it gave me clarity of mind, thus helping me to focus better.

There are many essential oils out there that are available in stores and online so you can choose ones that best fit your needs. Hopefully after reading this blog post you have a better sense of what to look for.

A great book to read if you want to learn more about the advantages of aromatherapy is “Aromatherapy: Scent and Psyche: Using Essential Oils for Physical and Emotional Well-Being” by Peter and Kate Damian.

I really suggest you give essential oils a try!

∼ Taylor ♥ xoxo

Burn Your Negative Thoughts

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In this blog post, I’m going to ask you to do a little exercise. Grab a piece of paper and write down everything you can think of that you dislike about yourself. Afterwards, take that piece of paper outside, light it on fire, and watch it burn until there is nothing left of it. After doing that, go back inside and take out another piece of paper. This time I want you to write down everything that you love about yourself – anything that you are proud of and that makes you feel good. With this list, I want you to keep it safe in a spot that you’ll remember where to find it or even hang it up in your room on your wall. If you ever feel those negative thoughts starting to creep back into your mind, look at that list and read through it. Really let it sink in.

Now, you may be wondering what exactly the purpose of this is so let me explain. There is something called “embodied cognition”, which means that the body and the mind are interconnected and influence each other. That is, the actions of the body and the feedback you receive from those actions influences cognitive processes. Many don’t realize that the body can affect the mind just as much as the mind can affect the body. This reciprocal relationship that exists between the two can be used to your advantage, which is why I suggested doing the exercise described above.

Studies have shown that by writing down thoughts, you are in a sense objectifying those thoughts into the paper. As a result, what you do with that paper afterwards affects the power those thoughts will have over you. Pretty fascinating huh? If you simply visualize the words in your mind, it won’t have the same effects. This is why it is important to physically write the thoughts down in tangible form.

There is another application of this concept that I think is worth mentioning because it can also serve to better your mental state. Ever heard of the saying “grin and bear it?” Well, forcing a smile in the face of stress or when experiencing upsetting emotions actually does help to alleviate the symptoms associated with those feelings! The muscles in the face that activate when you smile tricks your brain into thinking that you are happy, in turn prompting your brain to release hormones like dopamine and serotonin that promote happiness and reduce stress.

If you’d like to explore this idea of embodied cognition a bit more, check out this Scientific American Article. It includes a number of other interesting manifestations of the mind-body interrelationship.

Returning back to my original exercise, I want to stress that it is so important to try not to dwell on negative evaluations of yourself but instead acknowledge all your positive traits. Ultimately, you need to love yourself for who you are.

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When I say love yourself, I mean unconditionally – flaws and all. Love yourself on your worst days and on your best days. Love yourself when you fail and when you succeed. Love yourself when you’re feeling lazy and when you’re feeling lively. Love yourself when you’re ill and when you’re in good health. Love yourself with and without makeup. Embody confidence and others will perceive you as a confident individual.

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there as purely you and own it! I won’t ask of you anything that I wouldn’t be willing to do myself, so, here is me in bed without a stitch of makeup on my eyes or face. (:

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Don’t let anybody make you feel like you aren’t beautiful because you are! Everybody is in his or her own unique way. Everybody also has those days now and then where he or she doesn’t feel too great about his/herself but that is why I asked you to write a list of things you like about yourself to look back on. Reading something positive that came straight from you will be a reminder that you feel these ways about yourself, even if it’s temporarily hidden on a bad day. It still exists within; it’s just tucked away.

I hope you found this helpful and will take my advice! It really can help you.

Daily reminder: LOVE YOURSELF ALWAYS!! – Even in your most undesirable moments.

∼ Taylor ♥ xoxo

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Exercise is Good For Both the Body AND the Mind

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In order to optimize your mental health, you should incorporate exercise into your weekly routine. Even just 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week could significantly improve your quality of life in a multitude of ways. According to Harvard, being physically active can benefit you by reducing the likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, or having a stroke. It also helps by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, reducing insulin resistance, and stimulating “the release of growth factors – chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells”. Due to its effects on the brain, exercise helps to reduce stress while improving memory, thinking skills, mood, and quality of sleep.

I try my best to fit in a workout whenever I can and when I do, I find that the rest of my day is so much better. I feel refreshed, have more energy, and my overall mood is lifted. However, when I am at school, sometimes I find it harder to incorporate exercise into my daily life due to a heavy workload. I’ve always taken 6-7 classes a semester and it can become really overwhelming. When I get too busy and don’t go to the gym, I definitely notice a shift in my mood and energy levels. Therefore, I highly suggest you try to incorporate a workout into your life, if you don’t do so already, because you will find that your quality of life will improve in more ways than one.

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When I am home on short breaks and during the summer months, I am lucky enough to have my own at-home workout area, pictured above. It even has a personal TV just for the tread-climber, which goes up to 40 incline! Over a couple of my summer breaks, I had a gym membership at a local gym called The Edge but on days where I’m feeling a bit more lazy, it’s very convenient to have a space to use right there in my basement.

I normally like to do a minimum of 30 minutes on the treadmill to start and then after I do some strength training like lunges, squats, calf raises, bicep curls, chest flies, bench presses, glute bridges, glute kickbacks, crunches, etc.

If you don’t have access to a gym, treadmill or weights, don’t worry! There are many other ways you can still get your exercise in. For instance, you can always go for walks outside, go hiking, or do any other non-equipment cardio workouts. There are so many of them out there on the Internet that can be easily found. HIIT workouts, otherwise known as “high-intensity interval training”, is an extremely effective type of exercise that has numerous benefits. To name a few, it burns lots of calories in just a short amount of time, increases your metabolic rate for hours after you’re done working out, and helps you build a healthier heart.

Click here for some good at-home HIIT workouts you can do. There is even a 30-day program included in this article!

I hope you take my advice and try to exercise as much as you can. I promise you, you will feel so much better both physically and mentally!

∼Taylor ♥ xoxo

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