Category Archives: love

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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Enough.

As a recovering perfectionist, I was never enough.

And I was terrified of failing, so I got in my own way and often wouldn’t even try.
I wouldn’t speak up for myself when I was overlooked because I wasn’t enough.

I couldn’t take a compliment when I played a solid piano recital or got a good grade because I always believed there was more that I could do. I could do better. That other girl played WAY better than me anyway.

Feeling like you are not enough is the equivalent to not accepting and loving yourself. 

Nothing you do is ever good enough. No mountain is high enough because you are always looking to the next mountain to climb, even when you reach the top of the first mountain!
[That mountain analogy came from a conversation about enough-ness with a very dear friend of mine – she came up with it, and I just love it.]

If you are struggling with “not enough-ness” there is probably some lack of self-acceptance and self-love stuff going on. 

And it really doesn’t take a whole lot or even a long time to move through it. It does require acknowledging your state of enough-ness.

You’re never going to believe you are enough just because people tell you so – YOU have to believe it so.

So…
What is enough? What does it feel like to FEEL LIKE ENOUGH?
I’d love to share with you what it means and feels like to me…
It feels like right in this moment all that I have done and all that I am – I accept.
It feels like peace.
It feels like unconditional love.
It feels like my shoulders soften and my heart opens.
It feels like a gentle cry.
It feels like accepting and loving me no matter how hard I fall.

Enough feels like total freaking freedom.

What does enough feel like to you?

Please share this with someone who needs to hear these words.

With Love,

MC

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But what if they judge me?

Sometimes when I pour my heart out to someone I am left with a gaping hole.

How will it be received?

How will they respond?

Will what I said even make sense?

 

And if it’s on a Sunday (or a day when I don’t have a whole lot to do) I’ll pace around the house.

Making myself an extra cup of coffee.

Reading a few pages of a book.

Check my phone.

Then picking up my book only to read the same paragraph 3 times over.

Because my mind is just focusing on one thing:

 

What if they judge me?

What if they leave me?

What if they abandon me?

 

Because I shared something in my heart that felt like truth, that felt like there was no other option but to share this particular something…

 

And then I read and hear what I’ve just shared with you above:

 

What if they judge / leave / abandon me?

 

And I come to realize that the real crux of the matter here, is this:

 

What if I judge / leave / abandon me?

 

I know, when I feel this uneasy and worried about receiving validation from another human being, in a very specific form, it is a deep call to stand by my own side. It is a reminder to relinquish judgment and embrace the ways in which I express love and emotions. It is a call to do the things that make me feel cared for.

 

I show up for myself in the way that I show up for my dear friends when they are feeling uneasy.

 

I show up and trust that no matter how the world and its inhabitants may waver around me (and waver they will), I’ve always got a safe place deep within the chambers of my heart and the vessel of my physical form.

 

Show up for yourself today, the way you would for your best friend.

 

Contact me for Intuitive and Recovery Coaching specials running through November by clicking here.

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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!

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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

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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 .

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Take Care Through Transitions

Right now I am really being asked to walk the talk. To practice what I preach as a teacher and coach.

What I mean by this is:
I have to move out of my house and this is totally unplanned (at least by my human existence, I’m sure The Universe had something to do with this).

There is a serious mold situation and so in the past 2 days I have packed up and moved as many of my belongings as my little Subaru can hold. Taking several trips to and from my parents house, finding a place for my cats to stay, and all the while making the time to take care of myself.

I always encourage my clients (and really all my people – that includes family, friends, etc.) that when we are in the midst of transition or a life crisis or whatever you want to call it, you must remember to take care of yourself even when it feels like you have no time.

We go through a lot of our lives using that excuse:
“I have no time” I all too often hear people say.
No time to meditate.
No time to slow down.
No time to sit and read a book for fun.

But as I move through this major upheaval of moving myself, my dog, my cats, my belongings, I am making sure I create moments to check in with myself.

I make sure I eat full meals.
I make sure I shower and put on clean clothes.
I make sure I meditate.
I make sure I move mindfully (yoga, running, walks with my dog).
I make sure I get enough rest.

Just last night I had plans to meet a friend for dinner but after I showered and put on clothes I decided I needed to rest. I had been going from 9:30am to 5pm – packing, loading the car, unloading the car, unpacking.

And especially when we are going through something traumatic, we must tend to our souls.

Whether it is a change in job, moving, the end of a relationship, the loss of a loved one (human or furry)… we must tend to our souls. It can be so easy to get swept up in the to-do list or feeling overwhelmed by the situation – feeling at a loss of how little control we actually have of what happens around us.

But what this precise situation is showing me is this: what I can control is my internal experience.

I can allow space to feel the sadness of having to leave the home I just set up (5 months ago) or the sadness of temporarily having to separate from my cats.

I can feel that but I can also choose to nourish myself.

I don’t entertain the feelings of doubt. Or thoughts of “how could I have prevented this?”

That doesn’t even enter my mind! (<<< that’s growth right there!)

I trust that this is where I am meant to be right now.

Yes, it totally stinks. It is totally hard.

But I am already seeing a lot of beauty coming from this.

Like fully acknowledging the generosity of other human beings; as I lean into them, and the universe for support.

So what happens to you when you experience an upheaval – big or small? How do you respond?

I have many great suggestions of meditation apps, websites, YouTube channels for you. I also have two free meditations on my website that you can access here. Of course meditation is merely one resource.

I’d love to hear from you, as always – and I promise to reply to your comments! 🙂

Sending light, always.

XO
Maggie

PS. I sent this out today to my email list. If you’d like to receive notes like this, you can get them here >>> http://eepurl.com/czLI35

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Sometimes SELF-LOVE Looks Like This…

Are you going to run & hide?
Or are you going to grow?

When we are confronted with a challenge – we have a choice.

We can choose to run and hide and attempt to escape our problem. Out of fear for what we might feel or how difficult it might be to navigate the challenge. This is acting from, guess where… FEAR.

At first fear may feel like the easier road. But in reality it just means we are running from our pain, problems etc. and these things we attempt to avoid will keep coming up. Until we confront them, accept our circumstances and move through. Which sometimes can feel like trudging through sludge.

But this is the path of growth … of LOVE. Which may at first feel more difficult. Especially if we are used to acting from a fear place.

When we choose the path of growth each time we experience contrast (conflict, challenges, problems etc.) it gets easier. Yes it can seem to be more work. The work is so worth it.

The work my dears … is actually self-love. The work is asking ourselves the tough questions and really truly searching within for how we can grow.

This is love. 

Not avoiding, running, hiding.
But facing head-on.
Being brave to accept the current situation no matter how challenging it may seem.

This is love my darlings.

Sending you all the love and light in the world,

MC
Interested in 1:1 Intuitive Coaching, Reiki, Yoga or meditation with Maggie? Click here to get started.

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