Category: Health

Depression: My Story

Depression My Story

There are some demons we fight that never leave bruises, cuts, broken bones, or other physical signs of struggle. These are sometimes the most difficult to overcome. They usually leave us feeling alone, inside our own minds, with nothing and no one to comfort us.

As a young child, I witnessed some things that I pray my children never have to see. Some of those images cannot be erased from my memory. I still have nightmares about them. I still find myself having to catch my breath when I see or hear something that reminds me of those experiences. I cannot write about this without getting emotional because it is something that has so deeply affected my mind and heart.

I have decided to share these experiences not to scare people, convince them to feel sorry for me, or make them feel uncomfortable around me. I share them with the hope of raising awareness about the reality of mental illness and hopefully offer some comfort to those currently in the trenches, fighting to get help.

In a strange way I am almost grateful for my experiences. I have learned some important skills that have turned out to be very useful. Because of that, I have a better understanding of how to teach my children those skills without them having to experience what I did. I also hope that I can be some kind of resource or encouragement for people going through similar struggles. This was a big part of the reason I wanted to start this blog.

I have seen many therapists and been on many different medications throughout my life. Just last year I was working with a therapist who diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One of the many symptoms of this much larger problem is anxiety and depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) shows the results of a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the year 2014. It shows that 15.7 million U.S. adults suffered at least one major depressive episode in the previous year. That is 6.7% of all U.S. adults. When you consider how devastating and even dangerous this disorder can be, that is a huge number of people. 

Looking even deeper, the NIMH states that women are more likely to suffer from depression than men, including an estimated 10-15 percent of women who, after giving birth, experience postpartum depression. This is a serious problem and deserves our attention in order to bring more awareness, understanding, and better treatment for those who suffer from it.

My depression and anxiety started as a young girl with odd, obsessive and compulsive behavior. In my unpredictable and turbulent world I was fighting for some control. As a result, I developed some tendencies that I still struggle with today including compulsive overeating and binge eating, obsessive thoughts and behaviors, a disproportionate desire to please other people, and severe anxiety in situations where I do not feel safe or in control.

I also experienced physical symptoms that were aggravated by anxiety. These included bedwetting, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which brought with it a whole slew of digestive problems including extremely painful colon spasms.

I used to think about how much I wished my symptoms showed up as bruises and broken bones because at least people would be aware of my struggle and maybe they would be more understanding and I wouldn’t feel so alone in my own head.

After escaping the dangerous environment of my early childhood, I went through the rest of my young life, being embarrassed about my past and my “issues” but managed to cope enough to get by and live a fairly normal life. I would occasionally go through downtimes and see a therapist for a while, even try different medications but nothing ever seemed to help and most medications caused side effects I couldn’t deal with.

After decent success in high school in my many endeavors I received an excellent scholarship to the college of my choice. I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to attend the university I had dreamed of but knew I could never afford. I set out on my own, with total confidence and thinking I had control over my mind and my life. Little did I know, I was on a straight path to total breakdown.

After some unfortunate and traumatic experiences that brought me back to feeling like a scared child again, hiding in my closet, I barely survived my first year of school. It was suddenly brought to my attention that maybe I had made a bad decision. I was completely and totally overwhelmed and my anxiety was on full force. As a result, the deep depression I fell into was an act in the story of my life I hardly even remember. Most days, I didn’t so much as get out of bed.

My roommates would try to encourage me in different ways. Sometimes they would do it lovingly, other times more direct and offensively. One roommate in particular felt it necessary to add insult to injury when she nonchalantly commented one day while we were all in the kitchen, “I can’t stand people who waste their scholarships. I have to pay my own way through school and so I work hard to get good grades. Yet there are people who have scholarships where someone else is paying for it and they don’t even go to class.”

Of course what she said was true. But that didn’t help motivate me. In fact, it made me feel even more guilty and more worthless and…more tired. So I went back to bed.

I would sometimes wake up hysterical and crying and want to punch myself to wake me up out of this fog I was in. It was incredibly debilitating and frustrating. Some days I lost the will to live but was too exhausted to do anything about it.

As a result of all of this, I lost my scholarship, my acceptance at the school, my job, and my entire identity. I slowly sunk into what felt like a never-ending hole that I would never be able to get out of. I can see, while many people absolutely cannot, how there are people in this world who feel like taking their life is the only way out.

Black hole2

It is difficult for many to understand why we depressed people just can’t see the brighter side of things. When you’re in the hole of depression, everything looks black. You don’t see the entrance nor do you see the exit. Your biggest fear is that you are stuck in that black hole, with only your own terrifying thoughts, forever. You begin to feel that everyone in your life would be better off if you just weren’t here. They could move on and stop depending on you and being disappointed when you don’t get out of bed and show up. They could stop worrying about how to help you.

Luckily, I have an amazing mother who finally got to the bottom of my aloofness and realized I was in a very dark place. She suggested I move home in order to try to get back on my feet.

Moving home saved my life. I was once again in my “safety zone” and my anxiety was turned down tremendously. I had to start over essentially. I started over at a different, much smaller school, with good friends from my childhood who buoyed me up and helped me climb out of that black hole.

Turning my focus back to my faith in God was vital in my transformation. Although I had never lost it completely, I relearned how the atonement of Jesus Christ can help us overcome absolutely anything, including climbing out of the black hole of depression.

Through therapy with the right therapist and finally a medication that actually helped, I was able to rebuild my life. Soon after, I graduated with my associate’s degree and decided to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

My mission was truly the highlight of my life up to that point. I was extremely apprehensive about my ability to stick it out the entire 18 months because I knew it was another drastic change, taking me out of my “safety zone”. Fortunately, and much to my surprise, I was able to manage my anxiety and depression by continuing with my medication and learning to rely on my Savior. I made many new friends and learned more about my relationship with my Savior and myself than I ever could have otherwise. It was life-changing and prepared me more for the rest of my life than any other experience.

It is also because of my mission that I was able to meet my husband.

Dating had never been a big thing for me. I never really had a steady boyfriend and frankly, trusting men was never something I felt like I could do. I felt incredibly anxious around them and an unhealthy obligation to please them. I enjoyed having guy friends but could never allow them the privilege of holding my heart because I knew how fragile it was, especially in the hands of a man.

Somehow my husband convinced me otherwise. I fell in love with him as a person before I ever fell in love with him as an eternal mate. I respected him in a way I had never respected any other man. All that he had been through made me admire his strength and I felt safe in his presence. He became my new “safety zone.”

Wedding

Since marrying my husband I was able to successfully wean myself off my medication. I am not convinced that I will never need it again but I am committed to going without it as long as I possibly can. I have learned new and more effective coping skills to deal with my anxiety and am more aware of that downward spiral that quickly leads to the black hole of depression. With my excellent support system that includes my husband, my kids, and my close-knit family, I have been mostly successful without depending on medication.

This month I would like to create a series about depression and hopefully offer some help to both the victims of depression and the loved ones of those victims. Depression is kind of a general symptom of many mental illnesses. It is different for everybody and there are all different kinds, causes, and levels of severity.

Please note that I am not qualified, nor would I ever claim to be, to offer advice or treatment for people suffering from mental illness. I only offer my story, strategies that have worked for me, and the always undercurrent counsel to seek professional help. Therapy and medication were what essentially saved me when I was in the depths of depression and I would always encourage anybody I know in similar situations to seek counsel from a doctor or therapist.

The topics I intend to cover this month are warning signs of depression, strategies to keep you from going down that rabbit hole, advice for loved ones trying to help, and hopefully some strategies that might help people who suffer from anxiety that tends to lead to depression. Again, professional therapy and medication are often necessary and very helpful and I am not against them in any way. If you or a loved one is suffering from severe anxiety or depression, please talk to your doctor.

I hope you will join me in the fight against mental illness by being more open in our communication about it. It is scary to talk about our thoughts and what we feel when we are in the depths of these things but it is the most secure way to climb out of it as well. I hope what I share this month will either help encourage you personally or that you will share it with someone you believe might be encouraged by it.

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Do you or someone you know suffer from depression and/or anxiety? What has been your experience and what has helped you?

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3 Tips to Help You Be Emotionally Available to Your Kids

Emotionally Available Square2After I had my first child, I thought I had motherhood figured out. In the scope of my life, I had never been happier. I was savoring every moment I had with my little boy. I was finishing my degree and doing my student teaching. I had lost a significant amount of weight and felt really good about myself and my health, for the first time in a long time. I was hired to coach the high school drill team I was once a part of and everything seemed to be going my way.

Then I got pregnant.

Let me explain that pregnancy is not easy on me. I am NOT one of those cute little pregnant ladies that goes to her spinning class, cooks three meals a day, and cleans her house from top to bottom, all while wearing 6 inch heels. I’m more like Wendy from What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Have you seen that movie? Well, this scene might make you pee your pants and yes, this was me.

The point is, pregnancy does not look good on me. My whole world changed. I was struggling to keep up with even just the most mundane tasks like switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer and cooking breakfast for my 2-year-old son. Instead, I was making trip after trip to the bathroom to throw up whatever ounce of bile that was left in my stomach. Soon, I just started carrying around a bowl because it took too much effort to run to the bathroom every time. 

I would sometimes sit on the bathroom floor, with the door closed, and cry. Wondering how on earth moms do this! Last time I was pregnant, I was just as miserable physically but the advantage was that I had the freedom to lie in bed and sleep. I didn’t have a little toddler needing me every second. I didn’t have many outside responsibilities and I certainly didn’t have so. much. laundry. 

I tried to hold it together as much as I could and although some of the nausea passed, I was still on an emotional rollercoaster most of the time. Even the silliest things set me off and had me completely overwhelmed. 

After I finally had our sweet baby girl, I thought it was going to be butterflies and rainbows. I had survived pregnancy, now it was time to just savor this precious little newborn baby. Again, I was in for a rude awakening. 

One of my friends told me while I was pregnant that having two kids wasn’t all that different than having one. This gave me hope. Hope that was smashed like a fly on the windshield of my car.

I remember coming home and repeatedly locking myself in the bathroom with a screaming baby in her carseat and a tantrum throwing toddler banging on the door. I cried and cried and cried. Then I would pull myself together, stand up, reach for the door, and cry again. It was an exhausting and dark time. 

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Luckily for me, pregnancy and postpartum depression didn’t last forever. However, being emotionally available to my children is still hard sometimes. Whether we’re going through a tough time or we just consider this particular season of child raising in general a tough time, giving our best selves to our kids is hard. There is a lot on our plates and minds and sometimes turning our undivided attention over to a toddler, or a moody teenager, is the last thing we feel like doing.

Our kids need more than just a hot meal and a warm bath at night. They need us. They need to know we care and that we like to spend time with them. It’s so easy to get to that everyday overwhelm stage and forget how sensitive their little hearts are. We have to make ourselves available, not just physically but emotionally too. 

Here are 3 things that might help you get to that place.

Just Say “No”

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This means “say no” to just about everything you possibly can. In the midst of my emotional rollercoaster of pregnancy, I had to quit my coaching job. It was not an easy decision and I let down a lot of people in the community. However, I felt I had to do what was most important for my emotional health and my family. 

After I had my daughter I got a night job cleaning offices. It was great to have the extra income but it quickly became too much again. I stuck it out for almost two years and I was finally able to quit last month. What a relief! Just the feeling of having my evenings back has boosted my spirits 150%. I don’t have to spend all weekend trying to get caught up on my life.

When we have young kids, it’s totally ok to say “no” to just about any other responsibilities. I take my main job and my church callings seriously but I don’t feel responsible to take on much more than that outside of my own family and home. This includes extra jobs. I have decided it is far more worth it to live a little more frugally than to work a second job.

On top of that though, there are always opportunities to be involved in the community or with friends. If I sign my son up for soccer and you ask me to coach, it’s gonna be a polite, but firm, “no.” If you want me to volunteer on a weekly basis to help out the library, as much of a book lover as I am, I’m gonna have to say, “no.” I wish I could help everybody but I just can’t at this stage in my life. And you know what, it’s ok. And it’s ok for you to say “no” too.

Take Care of Yourself

 

 

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I am what some people might call an outgoing introvert (which sometimes surprises people). This means I love people and I like to be around them, but in small doses. Alone time is suuuuuper important to me. I like to think and being around people too much seriously drains my energy. 

Since getting married and having kids, my alone time has almost disappeared altogether. I sometimes find myself lingering at the store on the rare occasion I’m by myself. I get up at 5am most days, just to get some alone time before everyone else gets up. I still use the “lock myself in the bathroom” tactic when I just can’t take it anymore.

Last year I was deposed for a lawsuit and the lawyer’s office invited me to come up the night before and stay in a hotel. As ridiculous as it sounds, I was beyond thrilled! I knew I would miss my kids but I was looking forward to having some alone time. I went to dinner by myself, went shopping by myself, and then sat in my hotel room and read a book by myself. It was rejuvenating! 

What I’m getting at is that we all need to take care of ourselves. It’s true that if we don’t take care of our own emotional reserve, we’ll never be emotionally available to anyone else, including our children. If you’re more of an extrovert and need to be around people, time with friends should be at the top of your list. Maybe you really like to feel pampered and a monthly pedicure is vital to your emotional sanity. Whatever it is, do it. Do it not only for yourself but for your husband and your kids. 

If you read this post, you’ll also know I’m going to tell you to do something to move you toward your dreams. Whatever they are. You will feel more alive and more like yourself if you’re doing something that excites you, beyond the scope of raising little munchkins. It’s empowering not only for you, but for your kids as well.

Be Present

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Now that you’ve created enough margin in your schedule by saying “No” to less important things, and you’re taking care of yourself regularly, it’s time to focus on being present with your kids. 

My son is a serious talker. His mind never stops and his mommy is his sounding board. There have been times when he was trying to tell me something and he’s had to repeat himself several times because my mind was on other things (or my eyes were on my phone) and I couldn’t get the right response out.

“Mommy, I have a really good question. How do they get the penguins to the zoo? They live in antarctica and I don’t know how they get them to here.” 

“Uh huh honey…” 

“No, mom–I’m asking you a question!”

“Oh, what’s the matter sweetheart?”

“How do they get the penguins to the zoo?”

“What?”

“The penguins at the zoo? How do they get them there?”

“I don’t know baby.”

“Mom! Are you even listening?”

It’s the sad reality sometimes. But some of the best conversations we’ve had were when I put down my phone, turned my thoughts off, and actively listened. He’s told me some surprising things, things that had I not been listening, I would have missed. He’s opened up to me about uncomfortable but important topics and I’ve had the opportunity to use those as teachable moments. 

I don’t want my kids to be afraid to talk to me, or feel like talking to me is useless because I’m not really listening, even if it appears that I am. I don’t want to miss these precious years because I’m always “somewhere else” rather than in the moment. 

Being emotionally available to our children is one of the most important things we can give them. 

It starts with how we schedule our time and how we take care of ourselves. Then it is our choice to be present in the moment. These simple habits will allow us to put forth our best selves and be the best mother we can be.

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Can you relate? What do you do to take care of yourself? How do you make sure you are emotionally available to your children?

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Can Moms Have Dreams?

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Do you remember when you were just graduating high school and part of you was so excited to be on your own while the other part was terrified about what you were going to do with your life?

I remember being so torn about what I wanted to study in college. I wanted to study everything! I wanted to be everything! I had so many dreams and goals and plans. Then life happened. It happened in its own way which was nothing like what I had on paper.

Part of my life is exactly what I wanted: a loving husband, sweet and adorable children, and a cozy home. However, as difficult as it is to say out loud, part of my life plan was left out.

For a while I was totally fine with that. I was busy learning to be a mom and adjusting to this season of my life. I gave up all my hobbies and all my friendships because I felt like I didn’t have time for those things. My husband and my kids were my friends and that was all I needed (or could even handle to be perfectly honest).

Then something happened. I started feeling kind of depressed and a little resentful. Be prepared, the not-so-perfect mom and wife part of me is about to be uncovered.

I went through a short period where I would daydream about what it would be like to be just me again. Not mom-me or wife-me, just me. Single, free-me. The me that only had to worry about, me. I would daydream about going back to college and enjoying all the things I felt like I missed out on. I would daydream about traveling to Europe, skydiving in New Zealand, and doing humanitarian work in South America. I dreamed about writing a book, like I’ve wanted to do since kindergarten. I dreamed about having the financial freedom to enjoy life a little more. I even dreamed about renting a hotel room and having a spa day, all by myself.

I think part of this came from turning 30. Man, remember when 30 was old? There’s this scene from the movie, The Switch. Jason Bateman is explaining to this little boy why adults don’t like people to know when it’s their birthday. When the little boy asks why he says, “Because getting old sucks. Most people don’t accomplish what they’d hoped to and they realize that they are most likely not going to. They end up living these quiet lives of denial, and uh… brushing birthdays under the rug just becomes a big part of that.”

I suddenly realized that I was 1/3 of the way through my life and I had failed to accomplish so much. Being a mom is wonderful, but being me is important too isn’t it?

I had to come to grips with the fact that it wasn’t my husband’s or my kids’ fault. It was my own. I squandered my single years. I accomplished a few things but mostly I just got myself into mounds of student loan debt and took too long to graduate from college. Then there was this attitude I was dealing with now. As if my life was basically over. I’m turning 30 and already thinking about life as if I’m 90.

It occurred to me that I still have 2/3 of my life to be more intentional about accomplishing my goals. I can be a mom and still be me, I just have to make it intentional and quit floating through my life as if I have no control over it.

I realize that being a mother is the noblest of callings. It requires tremendous sacrifice and hard work. But does it really mean we can’t do anything else?

I attended a conference a little over a year ago and one of my favorite bloggers spoke. Cara brook from maskcara.com explained how she had to decide whether or not she was going to go forward with her business even though she was a single mom at the time. What she said struck a chord with me and it was the permission I needed to make some changes in my life. She said, “I realized that if I want to encourage my son to dream and to work toward accomplishing his goals, I have to show him that by example. I can’t give up on my dreams or I will be giving him permission to do the same.”

Writer

That was when I got serious about blogging. It seemed an ideal outlet for me and a way to work on my writing. I know I have a book in me someday and I felt like this was a great starting point. It’s something I can do on my own time, in my own way.

It’s been a process of trial and error to balance blogging and motherhood but I feel like I might be getting the hang of it. It’s refreshing to be doing something that makes me feel more like me and being able to connect with other women and old friends through this kind of a platform. Of course, I’m still in the infancy stage but I have big plans and I’m excited about what the future holds.

Writing has made me even more aware of the priceless blessings I have. It’s fun to write about things I’m learning and sharing that with other women. I have been lucky to have so many people who support me and uplift me with their sincere encouragement. Long story short, I’m a much happier mom now.

So can moms have dreams? I say absolutely YES. In fact, I think it should be required for motherhood. I don’t think it’s healthy for us or our kids to be so consumed with their needs and wants that we lose our own identity. I think it’s powerful for a child to grow up with a mom who works toward her own dreams and inspires him to do the same. 

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What is your secret dream? What are you going to do to work toward it? Do you think it’s selfish to think this way?

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10 Tips to a Better Night’s Sleep

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Whenever you get a group of moms together and they start swapping stories and chatting about the hard-knock life of motherhood, you’re bound to hear about sleep deprivation. It is a universal struggle. We know to expect it with our newborns but what about when we can’t use that excuse anymore because our kids are now sleeping through the night? Why is it that we still don’t feel rested in the morning?

I’ve put together a comprehensive list of some things we can do in order to make sleep more of a priority and for those of us who might have a harder time making it to bed early or falling asleep once we’re there.

1. Assess Sleeping Environment

Your bedroom is a sacred place. Use this checklist to create a fortress that will induce sleep:

•   Keep the temperature lower, between 60-67 degrees preferably.

•   Keep it dark with blackout curtains if you need them.

•   Make it a rule that your bed is for sleep and sex only. Creating any other associations (such as working, watching TV, or browsing Pinterest) will create a discord when you climb into bed to sleep.

•   Is it comfortable? Do you look forward to crawling into a soft, lush bed with cloud like pillows and warm blankets? If not, make it a goal to create that, STAT.

2. Calming Nighttime Routine

Just as the parenting books say it is important to create a nighttime routine for your kids to help them sleep, so it is with your routine. If you like to have a few minutes to yourself once the kids are in bed, find a calming activity that you can make a part of your routine. Reading, crocheting, writing, yoga, or stretching are all great ideas. Try not to include electronics in your routine as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.

3. Same Sleep Schedule

Part of your nighttime routine will include a non-negotiable bedtime hour. Which should follow with a non-negotiable wake up hour. Working toward going to sleep and getting up at the same time everyday will pay off great dividends in life. It’s difficult when you have young kids who sometimes wake up in the night and require your attention. However, making it a goal and protecting that time as best you can is one of the smartest things you can do for your health.

4. Exercise Daily

Daily exercise has proven to help most people fall asleep at night. It’s a good idea to do something, each day, that gets your heart rate up. It doesn’t have to be a marathon run on the treadmill but something that gets your blood flowing. Try to do it earlier in the day for the best effect.

Electronics

5. Power Down Electronics

Screens from any of our electronic devices are a huge problem when it comes to sleep. So many of us plop ourselves in front of the TV, flip open our laptops, or grab our phones to “unwind” at night. The problem is, these activities don’t help us unwind, they stimulate our brain and tell it to stop producing melatonin because the light from these screens suggests it’s daytime.

Try turning these devices completely off or plugging them into a central charging station for everyone’s devices an hour or so before bedtime. This is sure to help you get to bed on time and fall asleep quickly once you’re there.

6. Close the Kitchen

I want to scream every time my kids tell me, well after dinnertime, “I’m hungry!” My response is always the same, “Why didn’t you eat when it was time to eat?” I have made it a habit to warn my kids when they’re ready to get down from the dinner table, “Are you sure you’re done eating? The kitchen is closed as soon as you get down from the table, understood?”

Not only is it annoying to feed my kids when we’re in the middle of our bedtime routine, going to bed on a full stomach can make it difficult to fall asleep. Drinking too many liquids too close to bedtime can cause us to get up in the night to go to the bathroom. If we make it a habit to “close the kitchen” after dinner, we’re much less likely to suffer from these things when we’re trying to fall asleep. I make it clear the kitchen is closed by turning off the lights.

7. Avoid Caffeine, Tobacco, and Alcohol

Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol can all have a negative effect on our sleep habits. If Diet Coke is your vice and you’re telling me there’s no way you’re going to give it up, consider giving it up after a certain hour in the day. These things can stay in your system for many hours so at least try eliminating them in the afternoon and evening hours.

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8. Dim Lights

A really good way to change gears at home when it’s time to start getting ready for bed is to circle your house and turn off all the overhead lights. I usually leave a lamp on in each room but the difference in brightness is a good sign to your brain that nighttime is approaching and to start producing melatonin.

9. White Noise

The other night, my mom and her sister were talking about when they were young they used to listen to the radio or their records at night to fall asleep. Now they both have this major problem where they can’t sleep some nights because they have a stupid line of a stupid song that gets stuck in their heads. I’m no expert so I can’t say listening to the radio causes this weird problem but I will say, white noise is probably a better idea.

You can use an app on your phone or purchase a white noise machine. This kind of noise isn’t stimulating like music or TV, it’s background noise if you have a hard time turning your brain off at night.

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10. Don’t Lay Awake in Bed

If you still can’t sleep and you’re laying awake in bed, don’t lay there and stress about how you can’t sleep. Get up and do something relaxing for a while. If you’re worried about something, write it down on a post-it note and tell yourself you’ll think about it in the morning. The more you lay in bed stressing, the less likely you are going to fall asleep. Interrupt the pattern and get up for a minute to distract yourself. Try some relaxing yoga or a low-key book.

Of all the things we can do for our health, sleep is one of the most important. It helps regulate every process in our body and mind and helps us to be more effective during our waking hours. With all of the demands of motherhood, we have to commit to protecting this precious asset. If we don’t, it is far too easy to let other things get in the way.

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Have you tried any of these suggestions to help you get a better night’s sleep? Do you have any others? What is the one thing that most often gets in the way of you getting a good night’s sleep?

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8 Beauty Products to Speed Up Your Routine

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**You may notice some of these links come from the blog maskcara.com. I just want to clarify that everything I know about makeup I learned from her and I love her products. I am not affiliated in any way but highly recommend her for makeup tips, advice, and amazing products. There are also Amazon affiliate links for some of these products. That means, if you choose to purchase a product through one of my Amazon links, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a small commission. Ok…on to the good stuff…

I feel like people are finally realizing that not everybody has an hour to get ready everyday and products that speed up that process are hot right now. There are more than ever before. Here a few that are my go-tos currently.

hac pack1. IIID Foundation

This is the holy grail of contouring for busy people. If you think highlighting and contouring will take too much time, watch this video and see if it doesn’t convince you. It’s so easy, you don’t need anything underneath it and it makes your face look like you have the perfect lighting following you around all day. I seriously love this stuff and the fact that the palette includes foundation, blush, and illuminator means you don’t need much else in your makeup kit. You can use the cream blush on your lips for a little color and the contour color on your eyes if you want. It’s so quick! If you feel intimidated, check out this post.

Hac brush2. 30 Second HAC Brush

This brush is on my list to purchase next time I refill my IIID foundation. It is dual-sided with one side short and dense for your contour color and the other side more like a foundation brush for your highlight color. With such a large surface area on each side, your foundation would have to go on super quick!

bb cream3. Loreal BB Cream

If you aren’t interested at all in highlighting and contouring, a BB Cream might be your answer. You put it on like you would moisturizer and it evens out your skin tone and gives you a little color. It’s the quickest all-over face option. You can get them with SPF which is super important to your skin health. I sometimes use this one under the IIID Foundation if I feel like I need a little more coverage.

maybelline mascara4. Define-a-Lash Mascara

Using just a touch of mascara really makes my eyes pop and makes me look awake and alert. Even without any other eye makeup, this one makes the biggest difference. I like this one because it doesn’t smudge and it makes my lashes look super long and separated, without making them spidery. Not only that, but it’s a steal at less than $6.

brow duo5. Anasastia Brow Duo

Most of us underestimate how important our brows are. I suggest getting them professionally shaped and then working to maintain that shape by tweezing on a regular basis. Then you can quickly fill them in where they need it. Here is a great post about eyebrows. I have found that using a brow shadow is the quickest way to fill in my brows on a regular day.

makeup organizer6. Clear Makeup Organizer

To make painting your face even easier, get something to organize your products and tools that is super easy to navigate. Since this one is clear, I can always see where everything is and it makes it so simple to grab what I need and get on with life. It sure beats digging through a makeup bag.

round brush7. Ceramic Round Brush

I used to dread using a ceramic round brush because my hair would always get stuck in the crack between the barrel and the handle and it was excruciating to pull it out! I decided to invest a little more in my brushes and found this jewel. My hair never gets caught and it gives my roots crazy volume. Not only that, it does it all in under 6 minutes for me!

batiste8. Batiste Dry Shampoo

I have super thin hair and so a good dry shampoo is imperative for me. This stuff is super cheap and I love the way it covers up my thin spots. I have a cowlick in the back of my head and my hair always parts there. I used to use the brown bumble and bumble dry shampoo to help camouflage it but at almost $40 a pop and only a handful of places in the state to buy it, it wasn’t realistic. This is the perfect dupe and you can buy it almost anywhere.

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What products do you use that make your beauty routine quicker? Do you use any of these? Do you like them?

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