Category Archives: Inspiration

Mental Health During a Pandemic: 9 Ways to Cope With Loneliness

Whether living alone, with family members, or roommates most of us are facing some degree of loneliness during this time of social isolation and COVID-19. And there’s no getting around the fact that loneliness has a profound impact on our mental health. We aren’t able to have the usual in person interactions that provided a sense of belonging and community that as human beings we need. You may also be noticing now with less in person interaction how much these connections with others kept you afloat, feeling a sense of ease and joy, before the pandemic hit.  

 

During this time of social isolation we now confront the uncomfortable experience of loneliness. Loneliness is a natural human emotion that every human being experiences. It can feel all-consuming, overwhelming, and, at times, debilitating. Like all emotions, loneliness comes and goes. However, serious issues can arise when loneliness becomes chronic as it affects a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. 

 

According to one study, co-published by Louise Hawkley, chronic loneliness has been linked to depression, poor sleep quality, and even a weakened immune system. 

 

Loneliness can set in when an individual feels they do not have adequate social, emotional, or financial support. Feelings of loneliness also occur whether you are surrounded by people or not. Therefore, loneliness and its implications for your health depends on the quality of connection you have with other people, as well as the quality of connection you have with yourself. 

 

With most of us under strict order to stay home and maintain social distancing when we are around people, it is important to notice how loneliness is impacting your mental health.

 

So, how do you cope with loneliness?

 

First, it is important to acknowledge that it is an unrealistic expectation to completely eliminate loneliness. However there are action steps a person can take – especially during this time of social isolation – to mitigate and move through the feelings of loneliness that arise.

 

9 ACTION ITEMS YOU CAN TAKE DURING SOCIAL ISOLATION TO COPE WITH LONELINESS

There is no “one size fits all” protocol for how to cope with loneliness. Below are some suggestions of practices and action items for you to navigate your own natural rhythm through this process. You are encouraged to explore and see what is helpful for you and what is not. As always, please reach out to a mental health professional if you are in need of additional support. 

 

  1. Practice the RAIN mindfulness technique. RAIN is a four-step process that stands for “Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Natural Awareness or Non-idenfitication.” In the first step, Recognize what you are experiencing and feeling. Next, Allow what you are experiencing to be exactly as it is without attempting to change or fix it. Then Investigate your experience with self-compassion and as little judgment as possible. Finally, Natural Awareness comes from not identifying with the situation or experience. In other words: you are not your loneliness. With Natural Awareness you might begin to see some separation between who you are and what you experience: the emotions, feelings, and sensations that come and go.  You can find more RAIN resources by visiting Tara Brach’s website.

 

  1. Schedule one phone or video call per week with a friend or family member. Treat these calls the same way you would schedule meeting up with a friend for a coffee or walk. If you are able to schedule more than one call per week, go for it! If not, one call per week is certainly sufficient. The intention is simply to have something on your calendar where you know you’ll be making a personal connection with someone. It may give you something to look forward to and alleviate the pressure of making time to connect with other people when you are in the midst of feeling lonely. While on this call, put anything away that might distract you such as your phone and immerse yourself in the connection you are cultivating with the other person. Be as attentive to them as possible when you listen because often we feel more connected when we feel valued by other people. In the same vein, you can ask your friend to hold space to listen to you. Share as little or as much as you feel comfortable with. 

 

  1. Write a letter or email to a trusted, beloved friend or family member. In this letter you might let them know how you’ve been spending your time during social isolation – including what you’ve enjoyed as well as what challenges you’ve faced. If you are writing a hand-written letter, you can also get creative with including drawings, different colored pen or pencils, and even sending a handmade creation to your friend.

 

  1. Take a walk in your neighborhood and say hello to anyone you pass by. Leave your phone at home so you can focus as much of your attention as possible on your movement (walking) and engagement with others as you say/nod hello. Notice these small, yet powerful interactions with others that can occur even while honoring social distancing. Consider making relaxed yet meaningful eye contact with those you pass by. This can be a useful action item if you aren’t feeling up for a full on conversation with someone but are seeking some human to human connection. Notice how people respond when you wave, say hi, or smile at them. Not everyone will smile back! But you might be surprised at the responses you draw out of people. 

 

  1. Do a body scan. When you feel lonely, where do you experience the loneliness in your body? It might be a tightening in your chest or a tingling pins and needles sensation in the back of your neck. Set a timer for 5-15 minutes and sit (or lie down) with the physical sensation of loneliness in your body. See if you can close your eyes as you do the body scan. Does the loneliness sensation have a color? What about a shape? Maybe place a hand over the part of your body where you physically notice the loneliness. Sometimes when you experience loneliness you are also missing physical touch so you can offer yourself some compassionate touch just by placing your hand over your heart or belly. Give the sensation all of your attention for the selected duration of time. If it helps, play some music that helps you ground and relax.

 

  1. Share how you are feeling with someone you trust. Whether it be a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional, sometimes describing your feelings to someone can really help lighten the load. Let the person know that you just need them to listen and be a trusting refuge for you at this time. If you don’t already have a therapist or other mental health professional, we advise seeking one out.

 

  1. Attend a virtual group workout. There is an abundance of Zoom workouts during social isolation and it is a great way to exercise with others and feel the sense of community we as humans need. Attending a virtual workout also benefits those who are more introverted but still would like to share some time with other people. Also, moving the body in a mindful, intentional way can really help shift your mindset and move emotions that are pent up or stuck.

 

  1. Make a list of people in your life who support you. This is a simple practice that can remind you that you are not alone, despite the loneliness you are feeling. Include those that support you in major ways, such as friends and family, but also those who’s support is still meaningful but perhaps less obvious, like a friendly neighbor or store clerk. Once you’ve made your list, select one or two people to write a thank you note to. You may choose to send the letter or hold onto it. The purpose of this action step is to experience gratitude which can almost immediately give us a sense of connection to the world around us.

 

  1. Spend time doing something you love to do, alone. Whether it be writing, painting, playing music, exercising, baking choose an activity or something you like to do or that you’re interested in learning more about and spend some time with yourself alone. If this is something you are brand new to, start by engaging in the activity for just 10-15 minutes and work your way up to 45 minutes to an hour. Learning to enjoy our own company is a great skill to cope with loneliness. This is especially helpful if you live alone and find you have ample time to yourself. You don’t have to be productive and you don’t have to excel at the activity. What’s important is that you enjoy it. An add-on to this action item is to call in a friend or acquaintance to virtually join you in this activity. Maybe you share a video call while you both paint or, alternatively, paint on your own and then connect after to share your works of art with each other.

 

I sincerely hope that you’ve found something from this list that sparks a bit of inspiration for you. Whether it’s an exact action item, or you’ve come up with one on your own. This list is not exhaustive and working with our emotions is not a one size fits all process. Most importantly, be patient and compassionate with yourself as you better understand and learn to cope with loneliness. Remember that loneliness, to varying degrees, is something that’s affecting all of us in these times. You are not alone in your loneliness. We are in this together.

 

While I am not a therapist or medical professional, I am an active, compassionate listener. If you need someone to talk to, please contact me directly at maggie.converse@gmail.com

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stop trying so hard and let the heart lead.

I think… when we are not sure about a person’s presence in our lives – be it a friendship or romantic partner or what – we must listen to that sense of uncertainty.

Especially if we are considering giving them a seat at our table.

For me recently this has shown up as resistance, reluctance… not knowing. Trying my hardest to figure out if I should really let this person in on a deeper level, even when my body, heart, and soul were screaming “NO.”

So I stopped trying so hard to figure it out with my mind.

I watched as my heart surrounded itself with a protective layer and then gave it time to slowly remove that protective layer.

And then without even trying, i noticed the resistance and reluctance ease up. I felt my heart open up. WITHOUT EVEN TRYING.

It just feels like… clarity. It just feels like knowing what the right thing for me to do is. I don’t have to hem and haw.

The answers start becoming so crystal clear when we let the heart lead. If you are even in that position of hemming and hawing over whether to date a person or maintain a friendship with someone who treats you less than, don’t TRY to make any decisions.

See if you can just sit with the feelings in your heart and the somatic sensations in your body. What are the messages you are receiving?

Often when we do this a ton of emotional shit will surface. You may find yourself punching a pillow, or screaming at the top of your lungs in the woods, or on your bedroom floor curled up beside you dog bawling your eyes out.

Do what your human self needs to do to really let these emotions flow and move. They are energy, and they want to move! Allow these emotions to move through you.

You can think of it like you are releasing any old baggage or beliefs that aren’t even yours – beliefs you’ve picked up along the way that have influenced how you’ve been in relationship, how you’ve chosen your people… and you can release these beliefs now.

Make room for new ones that YOU create. From YOUR HEART. You will start to feel the difference between knowing whether or not a person, an opportunity, a place is right for you or not – in that moment. You will learn to feel it in your bones and your heart.

You will know what a “NO” feels like – and in this NO you are really saying yes to honoring your soul.

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Self-Respect

Years ago my mom sent me a Joan Didion essay titled “Self Respect.” It was so damn long. And I felt so much resistance to reading it.

I knew it was her way of encouraging me to re-evaluate the relationship I was in at the time (with a narcissist). And she wasn’t the only one who dropped the self-respect bomb. Many friends begged me to drop this man out of respect for myself.

For anyone who’s ever been involved with a narcissist, you know how difficult it can feel to get out. And with this particular relationship, it took him nearly getting us into an accident and driving recklessly to seal the deal for me. I had a shred of self-respect to walk away from that relationship without question, no turning back. No getting back together for the umpteenth time.

But I’m not here to bash on narcissists or our relationships with them. I’m here to talk about self-respect. Enough space and time and healing has transpired to take accountability for my role in this relationship – I chose to stay for as long as I did. I chose to turn down the volume on the warnings from friends and family. Even from my own heart. I did things during this time that I wasn’t proud of. Mostly things that harmed myself.

I share this now because I’m noticing something in my life. I notice how I so deeply value myself in a way that I never have before. I guard my time like a hawk and refuse to engage in any social activity that does not serve my heart.

Spending time with anyone I don’t jive with and who doesn’t revive me is no longer an option. Sleeping well and waking up feeling good are more important than any party or late night or great sex.

My morning and evening rituals have become my rock, my home base, returning back to my sense of belonging.

Because I know what it feels like to be deeply cared for. And it’s occurring to me – this is what real deal self-respect feels like.

THIS is what my mom so desperately wanted for me. THIS is what I avoided reading about in Joan Didion’s essay.

I live daily from a space of love, while maintaining boundaries.  I protect and stand up for the little girl inside me with all I’ve got. I’m still figuring it out. I’m not perfect, I slip up from time to time and spend hours at an event that just sucks the life out of me. Or I’ll go on a date I’m actually dreading.

And it’s ok. I forgive myself after and I move forward.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

My latest obsession: The Vegan “Scramble”

Hi y’all!

Did you know that I am a holistic health coach? To be honest, it’s something I “put to bed” for a few years because I really didn’t want to work on weight-loss with clients, and I recognized I needed to re-calibrate (so to speak) so that I could return to my coaching practice with a more clear perspective.

Holistic Health Coaching {for me} has nothing to do with pounds gained or lost. And has everything to do with an internal vibration/feeling of self-love and appreciation.

If you’re on my email list, you’ve probably already read about part of my work, but if you’re not, I’ll let you click here to check out my latest note {you can also sign up for it there!}.

And just as a little gift to you, I wanted to share my latest obsession: The Vegan Scramble. Whether you are vegan or not, you’ll find this to be an incredibly filling and satisfying lunch or dinner. AND – you can modify to suit your taste!

 

The Vegan Scramble

  • 1/4 cup black beans (can also add ranchero beans, or crushed chickpeas)
  • 1/2 cup riced cauliflower
  • handful chopped kale (or spinach)
  • Other vegetable suggestions: roasted sweet potato, fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • cheese of choice (I use Daiya vegan mozzarella)
  • spices: cumin, turmeric, sea salt, Penzey’s Turkish
  • extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil

Heat medium skillet on low to medium heat (depends on your stove) with about 1 tbsp oil. Add garlic and spices, lightly sauté. Add cauliflower and beans, season to taste. Add remaining vegetables of choice and lightly sauté. Finally, stir in cheese to melt and serve!

Serving suggestions: I love to eat mine with a fresh corn tortilla and a little hot sauce!

IMG_1378

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Sometimes yoga looks like three folding chairs. {yoga of recovery}

Sometimes yoga looks like three fold-up chairs in a group therapy room that smells like coffee. And you talk about the things you feel ashamed of, you share the things you think no one wants to hear because you are afraid they will judge you or not accept you or not love you.

And you use this space to practice being you. You use this space to practice being human.

And you find out that the other dude has a similar story to mine and I’ve known him for X months and we never shared this.

Because yoga looks like intimacy. Looks like trust. Looks like holding space for someone, no matter what.

Oh and then maybe we do some poses, or we just keep talking for the remaining 26 minutes or something. And sometimes you hear a story that breaks your heart and you’re so damn grateful that the person is there, sitting across from you telling their story.

You’re so damn grateful that they weren’t successful at giving up on this life. You’re so damn grateful they are here telling you how grateful they are for the simple things in their life, the things they always took for granted.

And you realize how grateful you are for everyone who has ever held space for you. Who has ever listened to you and let you open up. And just BEEN there.

It is truly a gift that we get to surround ourselves with these people as we grow older. I’m grateful for all the souls who hold space for me. 


To just be me. 

#thankyouthankyouthankyou

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

You never have to apologize for who you are.

Hey,

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here. And by “here” I mean connecting with you through this blog, sharing a part of my soul or a spark of inspiration that comes to me.

You see, over the past month I have …

  • Been healing from a break-up.
  • Unpacking the contents of my house that I had to unexpectedly move out of.
  • Re-homed my 2 kitties, 2 times.
  • Had my MailChimp account compromised and hacked (not to worry – no emails or personal data is at risk).
  • Decided to make things like FUN and COMMUNITY more of a priority than dating or making sure I “get all the jobs” and further my career.

And through all of this, one thing stands out. It is this:

I no longer want to hide parts of myself that I at one point in my life felt embarrassed about.

This does not mean I need to disclose every single detail of my personal life.

This DOES mean:

  • I’m no longer apologizing for the human being that I am becoming.
  • I am celebrating my body, mind, heart, and spirit – and everything I have been through thus far in this life.
  • I’m sharing more authentically and honestly. (So, like, if someone asks how I’m doing and I’m having a shitty day, I’ll tell them I’m feeling kinda low.)

How about you? Do you hide parts of yourself?

Often we do this because we are afraid we will not be accepted or loved. We are afraid people will turn our backs on us if they know that one thing we value so deeply but don’t share with anyone.

I learned several years ago that people WILL leave us sometimes. I lost a few of my oldest friends from growing up when I was about 27 because I began to honor my values and I began to create boundaries. It was a hard pill to swallow and in hindsight I learned that those weren’t my people because they didn’t celebrate all parts of me. And that’s perfectly ok!

This is not to demonize anyone. This is to let you know that A) it is normal for humans to hide parts of ourselves (especially in a culture that does not condone all body shapes, colors, sizes, etc.) and that B) it is normal for us to lose friends/partners when we do reveal all parts of ourselves.

But guess what?

When we stop hiding, and we begin celebrating all parts of ourselves, we begin to gravitate toward and attract the people who will really lift us up and celebrate WITH US. 

Doesn’t that sound way more enjoyable than pretending you are someone you’re not?

It certainly does to me. And it certainly feels a whole lot better and comes with a heck of a lot of freedom!

Today I invite you to explore: allow one part of yourself you’ve been hiding to peak its head out from the shadows – send that part of yourself extra love today. Love in the form of gentle self-talk, a bath, an extra show on Netflix, a nutritious meal, time with a friend who accepts all parts of you…

And just see what happens.

With so much love.

Always,

Maggie

PS. Stay tuned as I’ve got an exciting announcement coming this week about TWO NEW PROGRAMS I am opening up. You can sign up to get my emails here >>> http://eepurl.com/czLI35

PPS. Need some guidance today? Reach out to me via email at maggie.converse@gmail.com .

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

On Self-Love

How do you practice self-love and empowerment?

Self-love.

It used to just mean doing nice things for myself or saying nice things to myself. And then just waiting for the good feelings and the shifts of finally feeling self-love to come..

But it wasn’t until recently when a coach (Amy Fiedler – look her up, she’s amazing) highlighted this one aspect of self-love that I was missing:

Acknowledge when you are kind to yourself.
Acknowledge when you do something loving.

Even the little things like getting out of bed in the morning. And this is especially if you are having trouble finding acts of love.

But be amazed at how compassionate you are with yourself. How patient. How kind.

Acknowledge all of it and THIS is going to shift your mindset and your entire way of being.

These thoughts will soon replace the self-loathing, negative, unkind thoughts.

So instead of trying to stop those thoughts you simply (and slowly) replace them with the self-loving thoughts.

Bottom line: I practice self-love all the time. Some examples:
-taking my time to make and eat my breakfast in the morning
-making sure i have a full glass of water first thing when i wake up
-prioritizing time to write
-going for a hike with Daisy
-meditating

And I ACKNOWLEDGE the fact that I am so loving to myself. I allow myself to receive this love.

That is so key to this process. You have to acknowledge the love you are giving yourself, otherwise you’re not going to receive it.

Got it?

How do YOU practice self-love? I’d love to hear in the comments!

XO Maggie

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

How I learned to slow down and stop over-exercising

The more time I spent going on hikes and exploring parks and trails, the more I realize that time spent in nature has greatly helped curate my perspective on movement and exercise.

 

Nature forced me to slow down.

 

I spent years swimming in lakes and oceans, cycling through hills and mountains, and running roads and trails. This was all in the name of triathlons, half-marathons, half-ironmans, dozens of 5ks and 10ks, a marathon, and an ironman.

 

The irony is not lost on me that it was my training for various races, over the course of about 5 years, that got me spending more and more time outside. To the point that outside became my most favorite place in the world (maybe second to curled up on the couch with a dog and a good book.)

 

Moving back to CT several years ago I found myself hiking and running trails in Easton, Redding, and Weston. I got a dog and spent even more time exploring local trails. I started booking trips not around races, but around nature – national parks, seashores, and other hidden treasures the earth had to show me.

 

I couldn’t exactly pinpoint it but I always felt like I couldn’t spend enough time outside. Even with bugs, heat, and humidity – I wanted more.

 

There was something big I was receiving. Some intangible yet powerful gift.

 

I was learning to slow down. Nature evolves at its own pace and I wanted to absorb every morsel I could. Every sound, every smell, every glimmer of sunlight through the trees. Every sweeping vista and mucky footprint. All of it. I felt a profound connection to something greater than myself.

 

My eyes welled with tears and I was rendered speechless when I first saw the Grand Canyon and Yosemite Valley. I wanted to feel this humility over and over again. Even by the babbling brooke on the trail in the town where I grew up reminded me of mother nature’s vastness and simplicity all at once.

 

So I kept hiking and I kept seeing and I kept feeling. And I began choosing a walk in the woods over pumping iron at the gym (don’t get me wrong – I still lift heavy things on occasion). I began listening much more acutely to the wishes of not just my body, but of my soul.

 

Now I fully acknowledge when I need the groundedness of the earth beneath my feet. I’ll touch a tree as I make my way down a trail and even when running through the woods, I’m no longer in a hurry.

 

And you can bet money this movement has nothing to do with burning calories or getting a yoga butt or anything like that.

 

It’s about feeling freedom. It’s about simplicity. It’s about being humbled by something much greater than myself. And it’s just about the deepest gratitude I have ever known in my human existence thus far.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THIS is the house of belonging

I have been thinking a lot about what it means
to feel a sense of belonging in our bodies and I shared
this with my email list this morning…

Because it’s about more than just loving our bodies.
It’s about a mindset that no one can fuck with my inner peace.

No one can tamper with my power.
No one can take away who I am at my core.

We only experience the above when
we ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN.

For example, someone once told me that I’m running
my business all wrong and how I should be running
my business completely differently.

This was unsolicited advice.
It came across very harsh. I thought the person
telling me all these things was mean and disrespectful.

And afterwards I felt completely deflated.
I blamed it on the person for months. I couldn’t shake it.

Until it hit me that I was allowing this person to tamper
with my power, my inner knowing, and my inner peace.

If anything this was a very valuable gift in
showing me this very lesson!

It took months for me to realize what was happening –
that I was the one putting myself down and questioning
myself by buying into and believing what this other person
said over my own beliefs.

When your inner knowing and intuition and connection to
your self and understanding of yourself are SO STRONG …

Not a single soul can mess with you.
Not a single soul can throw you off track.

We connect with that inner knowing through meditation, mindfulness,
and awareness throughout our entire day.

It’s a very simple concept. It’s not necessarily easy to get to that place,
but we ALL have the capacity to tap into our inner knowing and not get
so thrown off by external circumstances.

Because…
We always have this house of belonging, wherever we go.

Our bodies.

With Love,
Maggie

PS. Want more daily teachings and access to me?
Connect with me in one of my FB groups here:
>Living Beyond ED Recovery
>Belonging in The Body
XO

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Move because you are celebrating your body, not punishing it. Please.

Exercise is a whole different animal for me today than it was 12 years ago in the throes of my eating disorder. It’s even drastically different from how it was 1 year ago. Even 6 months ago.

 

I’m always growing. Allowing my soul to evolve and the more i let it rip and let my soul shine, the more fun I have.

 

To the point where playing with doing Bowspring on a Bosu ball at the gym gives me great joy. I feel like a kid playing with toys. My toys being the bosu ball and all the things i’ve learned and picked up along the way: yoga, lifting, running, bowspring.

 

Exercise is no longer about going to the gym and pounding out a workout. If it isn’t fun for me, i won’t do it. Like i took a barre class a couple weeks ago to try it out because it’s a part of my gym membership. But it was so boring and no offense to the teacher, she was doing her best. The class just didn’t resonate with me on a soul lifting level.

 

So i’ll go and i’ll challenge myself sometimes by doing workouts i find on pinterest or digging into my arsenal of exercises i’ve done with personal trainers.

 

Picking and choosing the things that are the most fun.

 

Like doing the stair climber and rocking out to “Sorry not sorry” — sorry not sorry to all the gym rats who gave me weird looks.

 

My point is – what’s the point of exercise if it does not elicit some joy? If you aren’t enjoying yourself?

 

I look around the gym sometimes to see the pained expression on so many people’s faces. Or I notice people checking themselves out in the mirror.

 

To be honest, my heart aches for them. I wish they could be in on my little secret.

 

But I know it took years and a lot of inner work to get to the place where I’m at.

 

There was a point in my life where I said i’d never again set foot in a gym. Not after how much abuse i put my body through over-exercising.

 

And now I am overjoyed that I can step foot in my gym and exercise as little or as much as i damn well feel like on any given day.

 

And you bet your butt I take days off. And relish in the rest.

 

Exercise and movement can be spiritual.

 

What’s not spiritual is exercising to look a certain way or to get rid of our belly or cellulite or whatever.

 

What is spiritual is exercising to bring ourselves closer to alignment. What is spiritual is exercise that makes you smile, laugh, or wanna dance. What is spiritual is feeling joy, elation, excitement, and celebration about life.

 

Move because you are celebrating your body, not punishing it. Please.

 

I wish you love in movement.

Maggie

Get more musings by signing up for my newsletter here —> http://eepurl.com/czLI35

Or join my free Facebook Group: Spiritual Living Beyond ED Recovery!

 

XOXO

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,