Christina Aldridge

@caldridge | contributor
A place to acknowledge and hold space for community, to feel togetherness and to support and be supported.
Christina Aldridge

What Emerging From a Chronic Illness Flare-Up Feels Like

While in the midst of a chronic illness flare-up, it feels like I am in a fog. It feels as if everything is hazy with a deep, dark film covering my world. When I have a flare-up from any of the things that are “wrong” with me, it is often subtle, a sort of cumulative effect. I have a few days where I feel just not quite right. I have many days of fatigue so bad I would rather drag around a bag full of bricks all day. There’s the nausea, the pain, the blurred vision, the mood swings and baseline anxiety, the all-encompassing depression and underlying fears. The daunting inability to regulate a single body system leading to fainting, the inability to digest leading to not eating, and the constant overstimulation of the nervous system often resulting in, at minimum, a neverending vibrating sensation. And there’s whatever new symptom I may have. In this most recent case, a throat and neck pain. Neck pain that receives no relief from pain killers. Throat pain that luckily is more about sensation than function, but off-putting nonetheless. These things can last hours, days, weeks, and months and be so unpredictable and inconsistent that it is maddening. Typically when I’m in the midst of a multiple sclerosis flare, I have every cognitive defense up in order to ignore, distract, and pretend it’s not happening. I try my hardest to carry on with my daily routine and schedules and follow through with all social plans and things that I want to do despite struggling so hard. It is similar when I’m in a depressive episode. Daily tasks feel daunting, and social plans feel crushing. However, if I pretend it’s not happening, sometimes being so busy leaves me feeling too exhausted to have time to feel the overwhelming sadness that inevitably settles in. But, I digress. This post is about emerging from these moments and coming out on the other side. When I move through the depression, or when I notice my symptoms (new and old) slowing down or dissipating, it feels as if I opened my front door after a storm.  When things are still and quiet and fresh and bright, that’s the most noticeable — the brightness of literally everything. When I can walk down the hall without being winded and I can sleep a full night, that’s when colors are more vibrant. When I can do yoga and go to work without feeling immense pain, that’s when I truly exhale. And when I make it through a day, or even a half-day without crying or feeling extreme anger, that’s when I know I will get through it, and I really am OK. Coming out of a flare of any kind feels like a reset. It feels like work to put the pieces back together, but it feels more worth it each and every time I recover. There is always a thought lingering in the back of my mind (especially when new MS symptoms are involved) that I am now carrying this damage with me forever moving forward, but it feels lighter now. I know it will always creep back in expected or not, covert or overt, physical or emotional; these things will never go away for me. However, when I am able to see that light at the end of each tunnel, I am reminded that the permanency of it all is not the worst-case scenario. The hope and the good days are truly the reminders that I am, as the kids say, living my best life — to the best of my abilities.

Christina Aldridge

Molar Pregnancy, Cancer and the Miscarriage That Never Ends

I have not written a blog since my surgery; I have journaled and that has helped, but that format is very different. I tried to write blogs multiple times, my phone is filled with incomplete sentences and ideas never followed up on; but, I have not been able to write about much in this setting other than this experience. I have been absolutely unable to find any supports online, regarding this specific, rare diagnosis. I will start sharing the basics thus far, the physical stuff, the science behind what is happening, but then I will write about the cloudy areas, the gray areas and the emotional stuff nobody gets. Three months later, I finally do not need weekly blood work. Three months later, I have three more months of getting blood work monthly to ensure no cancer has grown. Three months more and then we can … hopefully … breathe again. The last three months have been one big inhale, waiting for permission to exhale. My body went through, continues to go through, the typical afterbirth process … minus a child. I have had hair loss … I am not comfortable wearing my hair up. I have gained and lost weight, I don’t recognize this body I am existing in. I have been diagnosed with postpartum depression, I have had suicidal ideations unlike anything I have experienced before. I have had postpartum anxiety, I am fearful of even more irrational things than previously. Needless to say, every day, week and month has been some new twist and turn on this roller coaster I did not pay admission for (as Michael would say, “I want to get off of Mr. bones’ wild ride”). So, scientifically, this all makes sense. This is normal, and expected and hormonally explainable. But, as a real living human, this is awful. This sucks, this is unexplainable torment I would not wish upon a single soul on this earth. I took a pregnancy test today. I doubted it would show anything, but I am fearful my hormones are increasing without my knowing. I am fearful cancer is just growing quietly and violently. I have been feeling poorly, emotionally and physically (despite multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms) and I have not gotten a period (again, my period has always been irregular so this is not indicative of literally anything). But last night I had an overwhelming feeling of nausea and illness and fatigue out of nowhere. It felt similar to when I was pregnant. These unpredictable, unexplainable physical sensations (again MS is not helpful in determining what is the cause) are confusing and overwhelming and fear inducing. So, I took a pregnancy test since my blood work is not due for days yet. It was negative. I should not have taken that … 100% rationally I knew it would be negative, I knew…know I am nowhere near pregnant. But, emotionally, seeing that one line ripped my heart out again and sent a pit in my stomach so deep I felt I had fallen right though the floor. Why did I take a pregnancy test today? That is one example of what I feel, the continued grief and confusion, and the unending anger that unconsciously bubbles over the top when unexpected. I have noticed, more recently, an unusual amount of anger and resentment towards every day life and I feel completely and utterly drained by it. Maybe that is why I am writing this, to help me work through letting it go; or maybe to validate that I am not an absolute “crazy” woman. Either way, I recognize that my molar pregnancy was a loss. A huge loss I am still working to even wrap my head around. Therefore, my doctor was not wrong in calling this the miscarriage that continues. Each time I have a test done I am reminded of the misery. Each time I have a thought, or hear about pregnancy, or have a mood swing, I am reminded of my loss. Each time I feel diminished, invalidated or alone, I am reminded of the fear these last three months have brought to my life. Typical of my blog form, I am seeking a positive note to end this on, I am looking for the silver lining. I am not seeking to produce some one liner, some toxic positivity based mantra that serves to invalidate and clear all thoughts of suffering. In doing so, I am working to recognize that I have space for many emotions and I have room to carry every thought and feeling that arises. Good things do continue to happen to me, I do find joy throughout the moments I am experiencing. I have created a more mindful routine, journaling and yoga-ing more often. I have been a top-notch advocate for what I need professionally, personally, medically and emotionally, and I continue to practice healthy communication and understanding in my marriage and hopefully all of my relationships; especially the one I have with myself. I continue to raise a beast of a fur-baby, clean delicious fall themed meals and try new coffee recipes. And, importantly, I am working on managing and accepting the depression that comes from day to day. Today is a bad day, I know that this is OK. Tomorrow will be good, or bad, and that is OK as well. The most powerful thing that has come from this chaos is my acceptance, or my return to acceptance, of the day-to-day and the small nourishing things I can do when the day-to-day is not what I hope it to be.

Community Voices
Christina Aldridge

Experiencing a Molar Pregnancy When You Have Multiple Sclerosis

I will preface this with: I am not pregnant, we thought we were but it was a fluke. Keep reading for the explanation. They say marriage is for better or for worse. Well, two and a half months in we did not expect our worse to hit so hard and so fast. We thought we were 9.5 weeks pregnant. Then last Monday I called the doctor because I had some bleeding. They rushed my ultrasound, despite having one scheduled for less than 24 hours later. When we were there I could tell something was wrong. I’d seen enough ultrasounds to know what it should look like, and this certainly did not look like that. Then the tech told me “you may just be too early to see baby yet, I’ll go have the doctor review this.” The doctor came in and asked us to go into her office to review the images. My heart dropped; I looked at Michael in a panic. The doctor sat down and said “this doesn’t look normal” and went on to explain it was a molar pregnancy. What that means is instead of an embryo forming, tumor tissue formed in its place. This is very rare, we were told it is about as rare as being struck by lightening. (Why wouldn’t my body pose a fun challenge right off the bat, so soon into our fertility journey?) I cried, I still cry. Some of the medical support I was offered was mind blowing. The nurse on the phone said to me “at least it wasn’t actually a baby,” (which we’re still waiting on results to confirm or deny this) and then when I share in the same conversation that I am a therapist she asked if I was accepting new clients. I was in shock and could not wrap my head around those statements. I accept what happened, what is happening, I logically understand this. But I oscillate between sad and angry and frustrated and numb and completely OK. I think the worst part is that my body continued to think it was pregnant and in overdrive. (With molar pregnancy the hormone level is about 100,000 over what is baseline for pregnancies). I have all the symptoms, I don’t feel well, I even have a tiny bump. Touching or protecting my belly, though unconsciously, would send my thoughts racing and tears flowing. Thursday afternoon I had a surgical procedure to remove all the cells and tissue. It was done with care and with a medical team I cannot speak any more highly of. I will need my blood monitored weekly for a while and then monthly to ensure all the tissue has been removed and does not progress into potential cancerous cells, or continue to trick my body and increase the hormones once more.  Again, I understand this logically, but sometimes I cannot even fathom that this is happening to me and not actually a “crazy” movie I decided to watch on Hulu, or whatever streaming network appealed to me at the time. I think deep down at the start of my “pregnancy” I knew something wasn’t right, or normal. I kept saying it felt fake and I felt as if I was pretending the whole time; turns out I was. I got so much support from those we shared the news with, and even more support once we shared what it was that was really going on. I never once felt invalidated or wrong in my responses or actions; however, I think about what it’ll be like when it’s real, when it is a successful pregnancy. I want nothing more than to bring a tiny human into existence and so far this first chapter of our parenthood story has been my body failing me, once again. That does not even surprise me, but it does bring up past emotions around medical scares, medical trauma and continued daily medical management on my end. When I believed I was pregnant, it was such a nice relief, a break per say, from my regular multiple sclerosis (MS) routine. I stopped my medication, I felt well MS-wise and I was hyper focused on something productive and joyful that I could do with my own body; a body that has always stripped me of control. So to have the realization that it would not be 10 months I could live in this perceived MS-free bliss, but only a mere 10 weeks, was heartbreaking. It was a stark reminder that I exist in this body, I manage this body and I remain hopeful daily that this body will continue to work efficiently and productively, despite not carrying a child, despite all the care I put into it and despite my own dreams and wishes. So why don’t I regret sharing potential pregnancy news prior to the expected 12 weeks? Because I would not have managed this without the support we received. Because Michael and I, while strong on our own, are beyond grateful for the friends and family and love that surround us, not only in our good times, but also these hard, hard times too. Because the money sent for dinners, the coffee, the treats were all so appreciated and despite my saying no its fine, it truly made a difference when I could not fathom putting on clothes (because none fit due to my body thinking I was a pregnant and still developing a bump), it was nice to not have to prepare meals. Because when my appetite was haywire and my mood swings were beyond belief, a cookie was instrumental in calming me down. And because when I need to talk about it, I know there is an ear, or a text message available immediately and that is honestly what has helped me through one of the worst weeks of my (our) life.

Christina Aldridge

Worrying About COVID-19 When You Already Have a Chronic Illness

Every day I take some sort of self-inventory. I wake up and scan my body and notice what parts feel what way. Let me explain: Before I even fling the covers off me and swing my feet over the edge of the bed, I assess what symptoms are, or are not, making themselves present today. Dizziness? Maybe. Weakness, stiffness, pain? Perhaps. Nausea? Oh most definitely nausea. The list goes on. Along with this inventory I take, I wrack my brain for why I feel the way I do in order to determine my best plan of attack for the day. Did I eat poorly yesterday? Most likely. Did I sleep well? Probably not. Did I push a little too hard in any of the previous days (or weeks) activities? Sometimes. And that’s the start of my morning routine. The exciting surprises that come along with chronic illness are when there are any, and I mean any, deviations from what I noticed during my morning inventory. Something changed, something feels different, I don’t feel well. Why?! Anytime I feel anything other than perfect (which if you know me, you know I very rarely feel well) I panic. The way I cope with the panic is to determine the cause of the ailment and obsess over how to manage it, or more unhealthily how to control it. Now, with chronic illness, undiagnosed concerns and overall anxiety, this is a very very poor coping skill, in fact this is quite the opposite and often leads to more panic, increased anxiety and less general wellness. Catch 22, huh? This is my norm. My every day. My baseline level of function. Sounds fun, right? Throw in a global pandemic going on a year and this party really gets started. Now, when I have a symptom, any physical feeling at all really, I run through the list of possible reasons why. Multiple sclerosis, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, gastroparesis, anxiety, aging, lack of sleep, hunger? When did I exercise last? And now, add COVID-19 to this. This is a long list. This is anxiety-provoking. This is very real. However, fear of a very under-researched, potentially debilitating illness with limited treatment options is part of my day to day. Unfortunately or fortunately. Prior to 2020, I lived with medical anxiety, fear of the unknown health wise and always, always took extra precautions regarding my awareness and my own healthcare. Now I get to watch the rest of the world do so. So my advice for those having a hard time wrapping their heads around these “unprecedented times” as they are referred to is this: Be selfish — selfish in your boundaries, selfish in your sanity and selfish in your safety. Be unapologetic — own your coping, whatever that looks like, own your quirks, however they manifest and own your strength. Be proud — there is no right or wrong in how to manage any single thing in the world. Be proud that you wake up, you feed and bathe yourself (and others) and you function each day. Be proud of the zombie-like state you need to be in to get through this. And lastly, be emotional. Be unendingly sad, it will pass. Be unbelievable angry — why wouldn’t you be? Be gracious, you ate today right? Be loving with it. And be present, there are still moments of normalcy, there are still times to cherish. Find the meaning, not obsessively so as I attempt to do. But, find the joy in the unrelenting, daunting reality that is human; with or without illness.

Christina Aldridge

These Are The Things I Have Realized About My MS Triggers

I have not posted, or written in a long while. I have been navigating a few chaotic life things of my choosing and settling into a new (old) job. What all of this has brought up for me are reminders of how well I know my triggers; but also how frustrated I get at those triggers and how I try to rationalize and justify them away. For example, Friday night I felt sick … really sick, and I haven’t in awhile. I spent some time trying to pick apart my last few days in an attempt to identify what it was I did or ate to bring on these symptoms, telling myself I’d be sure to avoid whatever it was in the future. When Michael realized what my little, chaotic brain was doing he took a minute to stop what he was doing and tell me, kindly, that I have multiple sclerosis (MS), I have a disease and I often don’t feel well with no rhyme or reason. This was more helpful than I think he realized it would be. So, while I am aware of things that cause me to feel unwell, or exacerbate any of my symptoms, I also have to remember that some of the time I also won’t know, and won’t be able to investigate away what is actually occurring in my own body. 2020 has been a lesson for me in not always needing answers, despite looking for years for solutions and quick fixes. This has been a year of letting go of some of the obsessive ways in which I have tried to reign in this disease and work to eliminate as much discomfort as possible. As my nervous system wreaks havoc on literally every other system in my body, I have learned some of the things I can control to help navigate these awful sensations and poor symptoms. There’s the standard extreme heat and extreme cold that cause my sensations go to haywire. Hot leaves me feeling sluggish, extra fatigued and often very nauseas, whereas cold leaves me aching and stiff. There’s overstimulation of my sense, which is a hard one to wrap my head around. If lights are too bright, sounds are too loud or I’m feeling claustrophobic my nerves flip into vibrate mode. This feels like my inside are quite literally vibrating rapidly. And then there’s the more visible fatigue of specific body parts. This manifests in the form of arms, hands or legs being just so tired they start to shake; this most often happens after carrying bags or completely any tasks that require dexterity of any sort. The more internal triggers I am aware of are that of inflammatory foods, extra sugar and sometimes a little too much wine on a weekend. These things lead to my body deciding it cannot function anymore and will nosedive pretty hard (hopefully into a pillow and a few blankets). Some of the lesser known triggers, however, are what I perceive as making me look “crazy” … thank god for Michael. These include eating too much, or too little, not going to bed super early most nights, having too many mental or emotional tasks in one day, attempting new tasks, standing in lines, standing still period, driving for a long time, being in a car period if I am having a bad day, carrying on a conversation too quickly in the morning, talking for a long time, clenching any muscles, etc. etc. etc. Any one of (or all of) these things seem monumental to me at any given day. These things are so common and so just … second nature that most people would never think twice about how daily tasks and unavoidable situations can impact others. This fact has led me to manage these on my own, to keep quiet about them or to secretly use my tricks for feeling better without bringing attention to myself or how I’m feeling. And I don’t share this for pity, as I’ve said before, I share this for information. I share this for insight and maybe some form of enlightenment. More for me than anyone. Often times I navigate this disease on my own, then read another blog or article and realize I am not losing my mind; I’m living the best way I can with the cards I’ve been dealt, which is great because I don’t know how to play cards.

Christina Aldridge

Coping With the Physical and Mental Toll of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple times this week I was reminded of, and spoke out loud the things I have to think about almost daily, at least weekly. The things that come along with having a chronic illness and the things that follow me due to the anxiety and silent depression I continue to carry. The first time I was reminded of this was during my completion of the therapy I thought I needed (turns out I am more insightful than I realized and was told I no longer need to attend sessions). This educated and incredibly talented therapist asked me to describe what my day-to-day experience is with multiple sclerosis (MS). When asked that, these are the things I thought about: I often start with the physical effects on my already compromised body. Each morning I must remind myself to listen to my disease-riddled, immunocompromised, beautiful body. Each day I don’t know how I will feel and each day I work to lift my hundred pound legs one at a time in order to carry my tightened torso in a forward motion. I am lucky if my head and neck are able to keep up with what the rest of me is doing. More often than not I am successful in completing whatever task list I have created for myself, and more often than not I collapse into bed thankful to have managed a day without a relapse. The following thought is usually, “hmm, I wonder how last night’s insomnia will effect me today.” This lack of sleep wreaks havoc on my brittle nerves; making my fatigue inflate so I feel as if each step I take is similar to moving through molasses. Next comes the pain induced by my nerves misfiring; luckily the self-care baths I have learned to look forward to are a source of consolation. However, the response I had to this wonderful therapist was, “I am often in pain and so tired I can barely move, plus I typically want to throw up.” She asked why I don’t share the things I think about with others as frequently, as I actually think and feel it. The answer to that is because I don’t want those to be the things other people think about. The next time I was reminded of these things I often think about was when I was having a conversation with friends over delicious vegan food and wedding planning for a lovely bride to be. Whatever the topic of conversation was is not important, but I remember saying things I have never, or rarely, said out loud, but often think about. These things I said were explained more simply, but it was shared that I have fears for the future: fears of having children and not being able to support them in the way they will surely deserve, fears of being alone and unsupported, and fears of what my body will do to me, or what my body will be unable to do for me. All of these things are thoughts I have to think about because MS is very real, and very scary. And as I worked to fall asleep later that night I replayed these fears in my mind, feeling contented in having said them out loud to someone. Somehow, the few thoughts I managed to speak seemed to lessen the fears, for that time and for the rest of that evening. So to my friend who wondered how it impacted me in talking about it, I thank you for you concerns, but also thank you for holding space for me to release that, allowing us to learn from it. As I am writing this, and thinking these thoughts, I am practicing self some self-care. I have found this is a necessary routine I must actively work towards to help quiet these scary MS thoughts. Self-care to me is drinking coffee under cozy blankets, watching cooking shows, taking a bubble bath with Epsom salts and essential oils, being outside and drinking wine with dinner. Self-care to me is saying no when I really want to spend time with friends or family, and it is ordering groceries on Instacart in order to ensure never leaving the couch. Self-care is permission to feel, physically and emotionally. These are also the thoughts I have to have in order to remain positive and motivated. Self-care is conversations with friends that turn into inspiration and it is leaning on those you love and who love you in return, even when you don’t want them to have to think about those things. Today, I felt inspired to remember my desire to share my words. I am sharing these things I think about, not for sympathy, but to serve as a reminder for any person who needs a nudge. I heard a series of words today that are so simple, but ring so true to the things I have to think about. Those words were “you can do anything right now, everything is immediate.” So, to honor the immediacy of those words, and of my words I choose to share this, to face fears now and to let you in to the things I have to think about.

52 Small Things Weekly Challenge List

52 Small Things is The Mighty’s weekly self-care program. Though we officially started in January, it’s never too late to join. For those just getting started, we recommend checking out our introduction to 52 Small Things as well as our frequently asked questions page before jumping in. You can make a list of small things you’d like to accomplish this year, or you can follow our 52 Small Things challenge page and use our suggestions. If you don’t like a suggestion, feel free to skip it or come up with your own weekly challenge. You can also re-do a week or go back and do another challenge again. New challenges are sent out via email every Sunday. Following The Mighty’s 52 Small Things page automatically signs you up for the challenge emails. Not a fan of emails? You can also check this page to see the weekly challenges. Here are the challenges so far. Week 1: Identify Your Goals Click the image above to share your goals for this year with The Mighty community! We suggest using the first week of the program to make a plan and get yourself set up for success. Whether you are following our suggestions or making your own weekly challenges, identifying your goals will help you prioritize where and how you want to spend your time. This will mean different things for different people. It might mean organizing your pills in your pill case so you remember to take them or getting a planner to help you stay organized. It could also mean scheduling that doctors appointment you’ve been putting off or downloading a productivity-based app. If any of these tasks sound like things you need to do, check out these articles: 17 Apps That Can Make Life Easier When Brain Fog Takes Over 12 Planners That Can Help You Stay Organized When You Are Overwhelmed 14 Pill Organizers That Can Help You Keep Track of Your Medications Week 2: Gratitude Studies show there are physical and mental health benefits that come with practicing gratitude. Some of these benefits include decreased anxiety, improved sleep, reduced depression, stress relief and help fighting illness. For those choosing to practice gratitude, write down three things you are grateful for every day this week. You can write them on a piece of paper or share them as a thought on The Mighty. Want to learn more about the benefits of practicing gratitude? Check out on our article on how to be happier in 30 days. Week 3: Three-Minute Journaling Journaling can help manage anxiety and depression and reduce stress as well as benefit your overall physical health. This week, take some time to try journaling. We’re challenging you to spend three minutes writing down your thoughts. At the end of the three minutes, you should jot down at least one thing you are grateful for. You don’t need to go out and buy a journal to do this — in fact, it’s probably better to try writing out your thoughts for a week before you make the investment. You can journal as a Thought on The Mighty with the hashtag #52SmallThings, on a random piece of paper, or on your phone — wherever you feel comfortable. Want to know how journaling has helped others? Here are two articles from Mighty contributors about how journaling helped with anxiety and panic attacks: 5 Ways Creative Journaling Helps My Anxiety The Unexpected Effect Journaling Had on My Anxiety Week 4: Staying Hydrated Stay hydrated this week! Dehydration not only affects our physical health but our mental health as well. Studies show that even mild dehydration can impair many aspects of brain function, including our mood, memory and brain performance. There is no one-size-fits-all amount of water to drink, The standard rule of thumb has been eight glasses per day, but that’s actually a myth.  Our bodies are all different. How much you need to drink depends on a number of factors. There are formulas you can use to figure out how much you should be drinking, or you can try drinking eight glasses per day (though that’s often more than most people need). Maybe this week you drink an extra glass of water when you wake up in the morning or grab a piece of fruit to snack on during the day. You know what’s best for your body. Looking for some hydration inspiration? Check out these tips. Week 5: Kindness While we might not be able to change the world in one week, we can certainly work on doing small things to start being kinder to our selves and others. Kindness not only increases endorphins, which can help boost your mood and help relieve pain, it’s also contagious! The positive effects of kindness are experienced in the brain of everyone who witnessed the act, improving their mood and making them significantly more likely to “pay it forward.” If you decide to practice kindness, take this week to perform three acts of kindness: One for yourself, another for a stranger and the last for a loved one. For tips and suggestions, check out these articles: 7 Acts of Kindness You Can Do for Your Chronically Ill Friends  8 Small Acts of Kindness You Can Do for Someone in Need 16 Simple (but Unforgettable) Acts of Kindness Witnessed in a Hospital Week 6: Self-Confidence Low self-confidence can increase the risk of mental health problems and can even have an impact on our physical health. The good news is, studies show we can start to rewire our brains to boost our confidence through methods like practicing positive self-talk and shifting our concentration to things that make us feel empowered. If you’re looking to build self-confidence, try this challenge: Write down one thing you like about yourself every day. Here are some articles you may relate to if you struggle with low self-confidence: 3 Ways to Boost Self-Confidence If Your Weight Has Fluctuated Due to Illness How I’m Building My Self-Esteem With Borderline Personality Disorder 12 Red Flags You Might Actually Need to Get Help for Your Self-Esteem Week 7: Expressing Love We all know how nice it feels to be loved or appreciated, but it turns out the benefits of expressing love go both ways. By expressing love you can potentially lower your stress hormones, cholesterol, blood pressure and strengthen your immune system. Spread the love with this challenge. Share three valentines — one to yourself, one to a loved one and one to The Mighty community. Have a friend who lives with a mental illness? Here are some ways to show them you care. Week 8: Honoring Your Needs While taking care of others is important and fulfilling, taking care of ourselves is often just as important. Like oxygen on an airplane, you can’t help others until you help yourself. Honoring your needs can not only have a positive impact on your mental health, physical well-being, productivity and happiness, but it can also increase your ability to take care of others. If you find it difficult to put your needs first, take this challenge. Jot down one thing you need physically, mentally and emotionally every morning. Check in with yourself throughout the day to see if you’ve been meeting your needs or if your needs have changed. Here are some self-care articles to get your started: 101 Self-Care Suggestions for When It All Feels Like Too Much 6 Basic and Brutally Honest Ways I Practice Self-Care Week 9: Connecting With Your Community Social support is one of most important factors in improving our physical and mental health and well-being. That’s why connecting with a like-minded community — big or small — can make a difference. If connecting in-person is difficult for you or not an option, online health communities have been shown to provide emotional support, motivation and advice that can help us through whatever health challenges you or a loved one might face. Take this challenge and reach out to one person in your own life or someone on The Mighty every day. A simple, “How are you?” can benefit both you and others. To give and get support from The Mighty community, you can always #CheckInWithMe at any time. Week 10: Improving Your Sleep Hygiene Most experts have concluded that getting enough high-quality sleep may be as important to overall health and well-being as nutrition and exercise. If your health condition makes it hard to get those high-quality zzz’s, take this challenge to improve your sleep hygiene by doing one of the following: no screens before bed, set a bed and wake-up time or use your bed for sleep-only. If you have a different way to catch more zzz’s that you’d like to try, you are more than welcome to. These are just our science-backed suggestions! If you want to read more about building positive sleep habits, check out these articles: 15 Bedtime Routines You Can Try When Anxiety Makes It Hard to Sleep Here’s How Your Sleep Schedule May Be Making Your Mental Health Worse, and What You Can Do 16 Products to Use When Painsomnia Keeps You Up at Night 6 Things Mighty Editors Tried to Sleep Better Week 11: Being Creative While we might not all consider ourselves “artists,” adding in one just creative activity to your day can significantly lessen stress in the body, regardless of experience or talent. The benefits of artistic expression go beyond relaxation, it can also improve your mental health, confidence and pain levels. If you’ve lost touch with your creativity or want to be more creative, take this week’s challenge and do one creative thing every day. Here are a few creative activities to help you get started: Photography. Check out the #Photography page for some inspiration! Pick up the musical instrument you used to play. Write some poetry. Check out our #MightyPoets poetry prompts here! Write a personal essay (and submit it to The Mighty!). Create some art. Check out the #Art page for some inspiration! Craft: scrapbook, make some jewelry or crochet/knit. Doodle in a journal, or color in a coloring book. Week 12: Mood Tracking Whether you struggle with mental illness or not, tracking your mood can help you learn more about yourself and overall mental well-being — what makes you feel bad and what makes you feel good. Take this week’s challenge and track your mood every day. You can download this mood tracking template, post on the 52 Small Things page or use an app! While different forms of mood tracking may work better for every person, here are some articles to help you get started: 15 Creative Ways to Track Your Mental Health This Mood Tracker Finally Helped Me Understand My Emotions Week 13: Humor You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine.” While it may not always be the best, it does have physical, mental and social benefits that include: lowering stress hormones, decreasing physical pain, relaxing muscles, easing anxiety and tension, relieving stress, improving mood and strengthening relationships. Add some laughter to your life by taking this challenge. Reframe something negative to try and find the humor in it — or look for humor in an unexpected place. Need some instant laughs? Here are some meme articles you might find funny and relatable: 18 Memes That Nail What It’s Like to Live With Chronic Illness 3o Memes That Might Make You Laugh If You Live With a Mental Illness If You’ve Ever Been Told You Don’t ‘Look’ Sick, These 14 Memes Are for You Memes That Describe Parents at IEP Meetings Week 14: Prioritizing We only have so much time and energy in a day, which can make it hard to balance and prioritize our health, work, finances, relationships, responsibilities and self-care. While we might not get to every task on our to-do list, a recent study found that just making a plan to get those tasks done can lessen our anxiety. If you have a lot on your plate or find it difficult to prioritize, take this week’s challenge and make a to-do list of your top three priorities every day. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to get things on your list done, here are 24 little motivational tricks for getting through a bad mental health day. If your symptoms make getting things done more difficult, check out these 16 things that can make it easier to get up in the morning if chronic illness makes you exhausted. Week 15: Mindful Eating A recent surge of research has found mindfulness to positively impact a wide range of measures of personal health including stress, anxiety and physical well-being — but what about when it comes to food? While we all have a different relationship with food, taking time to notice the colors, smells or flavors of what you’re eating without distractions, or learning to cope with the guilt and anxiety you may experience around food, can have similar benefits. Take this week’s challenge to gain a better understanding of your relationship with food by eating one or more mindful meals this week. New to mindfulness? Here are 7 tips for bringing mindfulness into your life. Week 16: Mental Health Time Out Taking time to rest — even for just two minutes a day — can replenish the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourage productivity and creativity, and help us perform and remember better, according to recent research. If you need a little bit of mental rest and relaxation, take this week’s challenge and do one positive thing for your mental health every day. Try one of these 101 self-care tips for when it all feels like too much to start. Week 17: Going Green Nature can be healing. Research done in hospitals found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety. Nature can also be soothing and restorative — studies show nature helps us cope with pain and improves our mood. Take this 2-for-1 challenge and make one environmentally friendly change this week, which might also have a positive impact on your own well-being. Planning to plant something? Here are 10 tips for gardening with an illness or disability. Choosing to use an environmentally friendly straw? If your disability requires a plastic straw, that’s OK, too! Week 18: Being Present Recent research has found that we spend almost half our lives thinking about something other than what we’re doing. While it may be difficult to “stay present” when you’re experiencing painful or uncomfortable symptoms of a health condition, focusing on being present can help reduce the many side effects of stress that can exacerbate symptoms. Practice being in the moment by identifying one way or time you can be present each day — whether you’re by yourself or with others. One way to stay present is by being more mindful. Check out these 7 tips for bringing mindfulness in your life. Week 19: Dental Hygiene Research shows that your emotional well-being might have an impact on your oral health, and problems that originate in the mouth may be associated with mental disorders like depression. Take this week’s challenge and make an effort to practice better dental hygiene — floss or brush your teeth more, or make that dentist appointment you’ve been putting off. If this challenge feels like too big of an ask for you, we’ve broken down some dentist-approved hygiene “hacks” for when you are feeling too depressed or fatigued to prioritize your oral care. Week 20: Advocating Advocating for your own needs or helping someone fulfill theirs can be more powerful than we might expect. One study shows that advocating can improve confidence and self-esteem. It can also help yourself and others make more informed decisions and receive proper support. Take this week’s challenge and tell us one new way you’ll try advocating for yourself or others. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are 7 easy but important ways to get involved. Week 21: Celebrating Your Small Victories Celebrations don’t have to be grand gestures. Studies have found that celebrating our small wins can bring significant benefits, including improved physical health, better coping strategies and increase in sense of well-being. People who take time to reflect on — and celebrate — their successes are generally more optimistic, take better care of themselves and tend to be less stressed. Boost your spirits and take this week’s challenge: acknowledge your small wins this week. Need a place to share your victories with a community who understands their importance? Post to the #CheerMeOn community to celebrate and be celebrated! Week 22: Going Outside Research has found that being outdoors can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, decrease inflammation, lessen fatigue and have a positive impact on your mental health. Take this week’s challenge and try to get outside one or more times — even if it’s just going to your car or opening your front door. If you can’t get outside, try looking out your window. If it’s difficult to leave your house due to your health condition or disability, here’s some inspiration from people who’ve been there: The Benefits of Connecting With Nature When Living With a Chronic Illness 4 Badass Women Who Prove We Can Be Anxious, Depressed and Adventurous Week 23: Finding Comfort They say it’s important to “step out of your comfort zone.” But sometimes self-care means seeking out a place, person or item that feels cozy in order to recharge. Need proof? Researchers have learned that embracing coziness and life’s little pleasures can improve overall happiness. Take this week’s challenge if you just need to feel safe or supported. If you don’t know where to start, check out this list of 36 ‘comfort items’ people turn to when they’re struggling with suicidal thoughts. Week 24: Morning Routine Sticking to a morning routine can be difficult when your health is unpredictable or you’re going through something. But even small changes to your daily habits can help decrease stress and positively impact your mental health. Take this challenge and practice a morning routine every day this week. Maybe that means remembering to take your meds as soon as you wake up, or you try taking a shower every morning at the same time. If mornings are difficult for you, check out the “one hour rule” one Mighty member uses when mental illness makes it hard for her to get out of bed in the morning. Week 25: Creating Positive Spaces The physical places we spend our time in can affect our mental, physical and emotional well-being. Maybe your workplace feels cold, making it hard to feel productive. Maybe there are rooms in your home that feel cluttered, making it hard to feel relaxed. If you find that your surroundings impact your health, take this challenge and do one thing this week that makes your physical space feel more inviting. If cleaning will make your space feel more positive but your health condition limits your ability to clean, these articles are for you: 15 ‘Hacks’ to Make Cleaning Easier When You Struggle With Depression 26 ‘Hacks’ That Can Make Cleaning Easier If You Have a Chronic Illness Week 26: Positive Affirmations Research has shown that positive affirmations are a critical tool to help maintain a positive self-image, making it harder for threatening situations to affect our mental health. Practicing positive affirmations can also decrease stress, help self-esteem, and even improve school grades. Take this challenge and change up your self-talk by writing down one encouraging phrase and practice reading it through the day. Here is one of our favorites from Winnie the Pooh: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than your think.” Positive affirmations don’t have to be big declarations. If crafting positive affirmations is difficult for you, start small. Check out these 12 morning affirmations that can help you slay arthritis (or any health condition) for examples. Week 27: Try Something New Adjusting to a new diagnosis or navigating a new normal can be difficult, but it doesn’t mean you’ve missed out on the opportunity to discover a new passion. In fact, trying new things has been shown to positively affect the brain by making new neurological connections. More of these connections can help strengthen our thinking skills and protect against cognitive decline. Take this challenge and try one new thing this week– no matter how big or small. Reconnect with an old friend or post your first Thought or Question in the community. No matter what you choose, we are here to cheer you on! For ideas on what to try, check out these articles: 25 Things to Do When You are Too Sick to Leave Bed How I Survive Social Isolation When My Condition Causes Heat Intolerance 5 Things to Do If You Are Bored at Home With Chronic Illness Week 28: Empathy Research shows practicing and receiving empathy can have a profound impact on our wellbeing, both individually and as a society. Practicing empathy can improve your ability to share emotions, needs and experiences with others, which can strengthen social bonds between people. It also can help reduce stress and prevent burn-out. Take this challenge by finding one or more ways to make a meaningful connection this week. Practicing empathy can be as simple as actively listening to someone else or learning about life experiences different than your own. If living with an illness has made it difficult to connect with others, check out these articles: Why It Is Important to Connect With Others When Living With Chronic Pain How to Be Heard When It Feels Like No One Wants to Hear About Your Pain For more tips on how to practice empathy, try the podcast, You, Me, Empathy by Non Wels. Week 29: Patience Did you know that being more patient can help you feel less angry or annoyed during stressful situations? Practicing patience can reduce these negative feelings because it can improve compassion (let’s not forget self-compassion, too) and tolerance for stress. When living with an illness, there are many things we have to be patient about and it can sometimes get overwhelming. If you’ve been feeling inpatient recently, take this challenge and identify one thing each day you’ll be more patient about. It can be something little, like celebrating small achievements or the steps you’ve already taken toward a goal. If you’re struggling to find ways to practice patience, check out these articles from Mighty members who’ve been there: Finding Patience in Moments of Health-Related Anxiety How I’m Learning to Manage Stress as Someone With Chronic Illness Week 30: Setting Boundaries Making space for yourself — both physically and emotionally — can improve your mental health by helping you maintain a positive self-concept. Setting boundaries may sometimes seem “selfish” or “harsh,” but it’s a practice that can help you better understand your own needs and cultivate trust in yourself. Setting boundaries isn’t always easy. That’s why this challenge focuses on the basics of setting boundaries: Practice saying “no” this week. If you struggle with setting boundaries, here are some tips from your fellow Mighties: How to Set Boundaries to Protect Your Mental Health How to Have Boundaries With Someone Who Doesn’t Respect Your Boundaries 16 ‘Small,’ but Significant, Boundaries People Made With an Abusive Parent Week 31: Facing Your Fears Facing your fears can be scary — so why complete this challenge? Facing your fears in doses you can handle without getting completely overwhelmed can change your brain’s physiology, making that fear and the anxiety associated with it easier to manage. Take time to identify one fear in your life and challenge it. This doesn’t mean you have to go skydiving — it can be something small, like doing something you’ve been putting off. If facing your fears feels overwhelming, here are some stories from Mighties who’ve been there: Facing My Fears as a Person With Invisible Disabilities 15 Common Types of Fear People With Chronic Illness Experience (and How to Cope) 43 People With Anxiety Share Their Biggest Fears Week 32: Distraction People often think distractions are something to be avoided — like a bad habit. When living with a health condition or disability, however, having a distraction can sometimes be a good thing. Doing something to distract you — like playing games, listening to music and even exercising — allows your brain to focus on something else and can reduce pain, anxiety and ease addiction urges. Take this challenge if you need a break from stress by doing one activity that takes your mind off things this week. If you ever need to take your mind off what you’re going through, post using the hashtag #DistractMe. Or check out the #DistractMe page for inspiration and ideas! How Distraction Can Help You With Depression and Anxiety Ready, Set, Distraction: Distracting My Mind From My Chronic Illness Week 33: Building Emotional Strength People often talk about the importance of external strength, but what about inner strength? Cultivating emotional strength can help you handle stress and bounce back from setbacks easier. Flex those mental and emotional muscles, and identify one of your strengths and take time to nurture it. If you’re having trouble figuring out what your strengths are, read these stories from contributors who’ve been there: People With Anxiety Are Hiding These 24 Strengths How I Found My Strength After My Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis How I Found My Inner Strength After My Life Unexpectedly Changed When You Fight to Feel Strong While Living With Chronic Illness Week 34: Prevent Burnout Experiencing burnout can actually cause adverse reactions on one’s physical self, and extends far beyond our professional lives. Lighten your load by honoring your limits with breaks, boundaries and delegating. If you need some inspiration on where to start, check out these contributor stories: My Limitations Are a Badge of Honor, Not A Mark Against Me Tips For Sticking to a Schedule When You Have Fibromyalgia When You Need to Step Away From Mental Health Advocacy for Your Mental Health Week 35: Writing Letters There is something special about opening up your mailbox to find a handwritten letter. Aside from the feel-good factor, studies show that the act of letter writing actually has the power to heal. Even a quick thank you note can boost your mood. If you’re itching to reconnect with someone in your life, try putting pen to paper with this week’s challenge by writing a letter to yourself or others. Want to go the extra mile? Try adding a personal touch like a photograph or drawing. At a loss for words? Here are a few reminders from the community that emphasize it’s not so much about finding the “right” thing to say, but rather the thought that matters the most. To Myself, When Recovery From Depression is ‘Sink or Swim’ Dear Body, It’s OK for You Not to Be OK What to Say to a Friend With Depression When You’re at a Loss for Words Week 36: Finances Did you know that 90% of the nation’s $3.3 trillion in annual health care costs are for people with chronic and mental conditions? It comes of little to no surprise for those who struggle with illness or disability of any kind, that it’s expensive to be sick. In fact, one in four Americans delay medical treatment because they can’t afford it. If you’re feeling lost in the money maze that is managing your health-related finances, this week’s challenge is for you. Learn more about creating a budget as well as navigating insurance costs and premiums. Here are a few stories from Mighty members who get it: We Need to Talk About the Financial Impact of Being a Spoonie The Extra Money We Have to Spend to Get Through a Day With Chronic Illness 5 Tips for Managing Money While You’re Recovering From Addiction Week 37: Music The best thing about music is that there is a little something for everyone. In fact, research shows there is more to music than just providing quality ear candy — it actually has healing properties. From treating chronic pain to diffusing stress, listening to music (which is rooted in healing vibration) can actually make you a little more whole. If you’re in a need of a new track (or two) that fits your mood, discover new tunes in this week’s self-care challenge. Here are a few catchy places to start: 25 Songs That Have Helped People Living With a Mental Illness 18 Songs That Were Written About Chronic Illness The Sound of My Grief: How Music Helps Me Heal Week 38: Making Changes You’re not alone if you find it easier (and safer) to stay inside your comfort zone than to step out of it. But there are a variety of benefits when you give it a try. By exploring new terrain, you open up the possibility to learn more about yourself, expand your skillset or even deepen your capacity to deal with inevitable life changes. This week’s challenge is meant to be a small step in the direction of change (think: five-minute tasks). Who knows, you may even unlock a new level of hope in yourself and your future. You got this! Here are two Mighty stories about embracing change: What Getting Out of Your ‘Comfort Zone’ Means With Chronic Illness When I Need to Leave My Comfort Zone as an Autistic Person Week 39: Accepting Differences It’s normal to want things or people to be different — including ourselves. But history shows that when we hold tightly onto that dislike or hate or annoyance, we walk a very fine line with emotions like rage and distrust. Understanding and accepting differences has a myriad of benefits. You can feel more at peace, improve relationships and make space for less judgment or irritability. That’s why this week’s challenge is all about identifying ways you can be more accepting of yourself and others. Here are three contributor stories about the power of acceptance when you live with a health condition or disability: Learning to Accept Myself With Mental Illness When My Father Finally Accepted My Autism Diagnosis Why I Believe ‘Radical Acceptance’ Is Important With Chronic Illness Week 40: Storytelling There are two types of stories we tell — the ones we need to and the ones we want to. Aside from providing an avenue for self-expression, research shows that storytelling can actually lower depression and pain. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) can also help us process traumatic experiences. For this week’s challenge, try writing one paragraph a day — it could be creative freewriting, daily journaling or the opening chapter of your life story. To get you started, here are three stories from Mighties who find comfort and benefit in narratives: The Unexpected Effect Journaling Had on My Anxiety 4 Ways Writing Can Be a Form of Self-Care for Chronic Illness How Writing is Helping Me Through Depression Week 41: Rest “You should rest more.” Sound familiar? As easy as the concept sounds, it can be difficult to set aside dedicated time for intentional stillness in a life full of commitments. But rest is essential not just for our physical health but also for our mental health — as exhaustion can lead to worsening depression and reduced immune system functioning. For this week’s challenge, let’s tap into what your body really needs. Here are three Mighty stories about what it means to rest when you live with a health condition (plus, a few tips about catching some Z’s): Here’s How Your Sleep Schedule May Be Making Your Mental Health Worse, and What You Can Do 6 Things I Do on ‘Days of Rest’ With Depression The Difference Between ‘Rest’ and ‘Bad’ Days for My Chronic Illness Week 42: Movement It’s a common occurrence for people that live with a health condition or disability to hear the words, “But what if you exercised?” Admittedly, movement isn’t a cure-all. But there is substantial research that shows why small changes in how we engage our bodies can benefit our mental and physical health, like calming down your brain’s “fight or flight” response or boosting your mood. Movement can look as simple as stretching before you crawl back into bed or a ten-minute walk with your pup. This week’s challenge is about starting small (or finding the motivation to begin at all). If you’re feeling up to it, here are three stories about how to incorporate more movement into your routine: How to Exercise on a Bad Mental Health Day 5 Reasons Why I Enjoy Working Out as a Young Woman With Chronic Conditions Easy and Realistic Home Exercises for People With a Physical Disability Week 43: Meditation Breathing is the literal foundation to existing as a living being. But aside from surviving, research shows that if we intentionally focus on our breath in the form of mediation, we have the power to reduce rumination and stress, boost our working memory, lessen our emotion reactivity and possibly increase our immune function. This week’s challenge is all about finding a quiet place with little distraction so you can better focus on your inhales and exhales. Feel a thought passing through? Acknowledge it and then let it go, and get back to your breath. Here are a few stories from fellow Mighties about their experience with practicing mindfulness: How I Finally Understood Why I Need to Learn Mindfulness How Tapping into My ‘Inner-Buddha’ Helps Me Through Health Crises How Learning the ‘Art of Sitting’ Helps Me Cope With Illness Week 44: Trick or Treat Yo’Self Trick or treat. You’ve heard that phrase many times before, and you’ll probably hear it a lot more before Halloween night winds to a close. But odds are, it doesn’t take a parade of brightly dressed trick-or-treaters to bring out your giving side. Treating others is something you do all the time — for your family, your friends, your coworkers. But how often do you show yourself that same love? For many people, self-care doesn’t come easily. Some may feel selfish taking time for themselves. But showing yourself kindness can go a long way toward increasing your physical and mental resources to deal with stressors (which can be especially important if you’re living with a physical or mental health condition). Take this challenge at any time (even after Halloween ends) and choose three ways to indulge in self-care. Do something that you love or makes you feel good, because you deserve it. Need some self-care suggestions? Check out these tips: 7 Reflections on My Journey to Decrease Depression and Be Kinder to Myself 5 Ways to Treat Yourself on a Difficult Day With Chronic Illness It’s OK to Take Time for Yourself If You Can’t Give 100% Week 45: Listening to Your True Self Decisions can be difficult — whether they’re as big as a medication change or as small as choosing what to do on a wide-open Saturday afternoon. It can be tempting to relieve that pressure and defer to the judgment of others. But you know your needs better than anyone. Making choices that feel right to you can go a long way toward making you feel happy and at peace with yourself. Take this challenge and make one decision that feels true to yourself. Looking for a place to start? Check out the LAST CUT project for inspiration on authentic decision-making. Or read these pieces from our Mighty contributors: When Fibromyalgia Is a Series of Decisions When Self-Care Means Saying ‘No’ Why Making Decisions Can Be Daunting When You Don’t Have Your Health Week 46: Setting Goals It can be stressful to set goals for yourself, especially when your health makes achieving those goals more challenging. But research shows that setting goals can help to improve your well-being and give you tools to be happier in your day-to-day life. Take this challenge and identify a goal you’d like to achieve. If writing things down helps you, download this 6-week goal plan. Remember that small steps can lead to big changes. And most importantly, know we’re rooting for you along the way. Starting is often the hardest part. If you need some motivation, these stories from Mighty contributors are for you: 6 Steps to Achieving Your Goals With Chronic Illness 5 Mental Health Goals to Incorporate Into the New Year 4 Ways I’m Achieving My Goals Despite Chronic Illness and Pain Week 47: Cleaning If you hate cleaning, we can’t blame you. Your energy and time are precious when you live with a chronic health condition. There are a thousand ways you could pass the time on days when your physical limits are softened for a while. Why spend that time doing chores? But cleaning doesn’t have to be time-consuming or stressful. There are little things you can do every day to make your home a little bit tidier — and research shows that living in a clean environment has significant health benefits. Take this challenge and clean one thing that you’ve been putting off. Need some inspiration? Check out these articles for ideas on how to keep your space clean while living with a chronic condition: 24 Products That Can Make Cleaning Easier If You Have a Chronic Illness or Disability 26 ‘Hacks’ That Can Make Cleaning Easier If You Have a Chronic Illness The 2-Minute Rule I Use When I’m Too Depressed to Clean the Kitchen Week 48: Saying Thank You What if we took the time to thank the people who do so much for us? The barista at your favorite coffee shop who always remembers your favorite order. The neighbor who smiles at you as you’re picking up the mail. Your best friend, whose voice on the other end of the phone is a constant when your health is unpredictable. Taking a few minutes each day to express our appreciation can change someone’s day for the better — and studies show that expressing gratitude makes us happier, too. Take this challenge and send someone a “thank you” — whether it’s a message, card or in-person. Not sure where to start? Check out these Mighty stories about expressing gratitude: To My Friends: Thank You for Loving Me Through My Illness To the Cashier Who Realized I Was Having a Panic Attack The Village It Takes to Keep a Chronically Ill Woman Going Week 49: Unplug Smartphones and social media make it easier to connect with loved ones and find others who relate to your interests and challenges. Technology can also make the world much more accessible for people with health conditions or disabilities. However, research has shown that excessive screen time can be bad for your health. Does social media cause you stress? Do you find yourself reaching for your phone whenever there’s a quiet moment? Take this challenge and find two ways to disconnect. Looking for inspiration? Here’s what happened when other Mighties “disconnected”: How Learning to ‘Unplug’ Helped Me Cope With Chronic Illness Why I Decided to ‘Unplug’ My Kids 17 ‘Small,’ but Significant, Lifestyle Changes That Help People With Anxiety Week 50: Identify Your Emotions Some people feel detached from their feelings. For others, life can be an emotional roller coaster. Whether you feel everything strongly or struggle to get in touch with your emotions, learning to identify your feelings can be an enormous help. Studies have shown that emotional differentiation can improve your well-being and help you cope with stress. Take this week’s challenge and find time to check in with yourself every day. Wondering where to start? Read these articles to get tips from Mighties who have been there. The ‘Emotion Chart’ My Therapist Gave Me That I Didn’t Know I Needed 8 Reasons You Might Be Feeling Emotionally ‘Numb’ When Borderline Personality Disorder Makes It Hard to Identify Your Emotions Week 51: Coziness When you live with a health condition or disability, it can be harder to achieve a true sense of comfort — physically, emotionally or mentally. But even when your health is unpredictable, there are little things you can do to lend your days and spaces an abiding sense of warmth. Research suggests that cultivating “coziness” can make us happier and lead to more harmonious interactions with others. Take this challenge and do something that warms your soul. Grab a thick blanket, treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate or read a book that makes you lose all sense of time. Wondering where to start? Here’s how other Mighties brought coziness into their lives: How Hygge Helps Me Manage My Chronic Illness How I Approach Self-Care as Someone With a Chronic Illness Fibromyalgia and Winter Blues: Finding Your ‘Hygge’ Week 52: Honor Your Progress When you live with a health condition or disability, it can feel as though time is standing still. Some of the things you may have wanted for yourself — a career, a family, a degree — may seem out of reach. But just because your journey doesn’t look like other people’s doesn’t mean you’re not making progress. You’re still growing in ways others can’t always see — growing on the inside, building the strength you need to keep going. Research suggests that taking the time to celebrate your wins can improve your physical health and reduce your stress. Take this challenge and write down one thing you’re proud of every day. No matter what your progress looks like, it’s real, it’s important and it deserves recognition. Need a reminder of all the big and small victories worth celebrating? Check out these Mighty stories: 19 ‘Little Victories’ People With Chronic Illnesses Celebrate 15 Mental Health Victories Worth Celebrating Learning to Celebrate the Small Victories After Becoming Disabled Stay tuned for next year’s challenge…

Community Voices

How do you explain to people thoughts you have that aren’t necessarily true. #Anxiety #Depression

If I have a feeling that I’m bothering someone I’ll speak it but then it turns into a fight with them because they are now hurt because I voiced what my mind was telling me making not want to speak.

8 people are talking about this