Posted in DIY, Mental Health, Self-Care

Review: MAMBI Happy Student Planner

Hello, everyone! By now, most students have gone back to school, whether that’s to high school, college, or beyond. Unless you worked or took classes this summer, chances are you might be struggling to get back into a set work routine. Time management is a learned skill, and some people need more help than others to figure out how to do everything in time, remember important dates, and still have some time left over for self-care. I’m the type of person who needs to write things down and keep track of things. If you’re anything like me, you might benefit from using a planner or bullet journal!

I personally don’t like spending too much effort on making templates for a bullet journal, so I decided to test out the Me & My Big Ideas Student Planner! I purchased the one that I linked to, but there are a variety of different cover styles if you don’t like the one that I have. Here’s my review on what’s good and bad about this planner system, and whether or not I think it’s worth it!

Pros

Course Contacts and Class Schedule Pages

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This was ultimately what made me decide on the Happy Planner over other brands of planners, especially the Course Contacts page. There’s absolutely nothing worse than wanting to meet with a professor but not remember their office hours or what their email is. Usually, when that happens, you have to dig through your papers to hopefully find it on the syllabus. But sometimes professors simply announce that type of information on the first few days of class without writing it elsewhere. Eliminate that possible stress by having all of their contact information neatly in one place.

The Class Schedule Page is nice, too, because then I never have to reprint my schedule if I ever forget it. Though this aspect of the planner is really only helpful for the first few days of class.

Monthly “At-A-Glance” Planning Pages

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At the beginning of each month, there is a page with space to write down your monthly goals, important dates for that month, birthdays during the month, and topics to study. This is great because I like to plan in advance for certain assignments or activities, so I can keep a list of due dates right at the front of each month to keep as a reference so I don’t forget what’s due when. I also really like the space to keep track of what to study because I can use that to mark down any older information that I want to review that month so it stays fresh in my mind. If I didn’t write that sort of thing down, I probably wouldn’t end up doing it.

Vertical Layout

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For my whole academic career, I’ve only ever used planners with a horizontal layout, but wanted to shake things up a bit. I love it! Plus, each column is split up into three parts, so I can use each section for a different purpose. Plus there’s plenty of space left over for stickers and other decorations!

Appearance

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Okay, this is a bit of a shallow point, but I love the look of this planner. It’s bright and happy. Each month has its own unique divider that has either a cool design or quote on it. The name “Happy Planner” is truly accurate, since it makes me feel cheery when I use it.

Cons

Ring Binding

Unfortunately, this planner isn’t perfect. Even though I really like it overall, there are some things that I dislike about it. The ring binding is one of them. Essentially, each ring has an open slot so you can add and remove pages without damaging them. And while the rings are secure despite having an opening, it does make the pages a bit difficult to turn or to close the planner. It’s not a huge issue at all, but it can be slightly annoying.

The Size

This is less of a con and more of a “sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t.” On one hand, the size is a bit obnoxious. It’s about the size of a regular notebook instead of the typical A5 or smaller. Don’t expect this to be a pocket planner. However, because it is so big, there’s tons of extra space to write and add stickers. So, meh.

Conclusion

Overall, I love my Happy Planner. I’ve only been using it for a short time now, but I can already feel myself being more productive. Since using this planner and adding stickers to it, I find that I also enjoy planning so much more. Planning (and even the responsibilities I have) have become a lot less like a chore. So, if you’re looking for a planner that’ll keep you organized for school and let you express yourself artistically, the MAMBI Student Planner is right for you!

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Question of the Day: What keeps you organized? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow, like, and share!

Note: This is not a sponsored post!
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Posted in Mental Health, Self-Care

Panic Attack Calming Kit

In my previous post, Back to School: Neurodivergent Edition, I suggested creating a panic attack calming kit to carry with you. If you’re considering making one of your own but aren’t sure what exactly to put into it, here are some ideas!

  • Pen and paper/whiteboard to communicate if you ever go nonverbal

  • Stuffed animal/fuzzy blanket to snuggle

  • Stress ball to squeeze when feeling tense

  • Play-Doh or putty to knead. Here’s a recipe to make a your own scented dough, to engage your sense of smell, too!

  • A candy-bar/chocolate to munch on

  • Earplugs, if you become sensitive to sound during and after a panic attack

  • A coloring book or simple puzzle book to distract you

  • A list of important numbers to call, such as various hotlines or phone numbers of trusted family and friends. Or use my free fill-in printable to make it easier! You can find it here!

  • A mini-packet of tissues

  • Tea bags or hot chocolate packets, since warm drinks always help

Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to create your own post-panic attack kit. Of course, you don’t have to include everything on this list in yours, and you can always add other items that you would find helpful. What’s most important is that the kit helps you get through the discomfort that follows a panic attack.

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Question of the Day: What helps you after a panic attack? Share your advice in the comments below! And don’t forget to follow, like, and share this post!

Posted in Mental Health, Self-Care

Back to School Tips: Neurodivergent Edition

Summer is, sadly, coming to a close. Some people have already gone back to school, and soon students from around the country will join them. Back to school time can be a stressful period: you might be nervous about a new roommate or new professors, maybe this’ll be your first time away from home, or maybe you’re scared of inching towards graduation. These anxiety-inducing feelings are only magnified if you are neurodivergent or mentally ill in any way.

However, there are ways to make the transition back to school far smoother. Here are my tips!

1. Adjust your sleeping schedule sooner rather than later

If you’re anything like me, your sleeping schedule is a total mess. You might stay up late and sleep late into the morning or afternoon. However, you’re going to be seriously discombobulated if you don’t adjust your schedule until the night before your first day. To make the switch easier, try laying down for bed just a little bit earlier each night until you’re in a comfortable routine. Don’t worry if you can’t fall asleep right away. Try occupying your mind by reading or doing a mindless but pleasant task. Just try to avoid screens and social media as much as possible at bedtime.

2. Plan your first-day outfit the night before

Everyone knows that the first day of classes can be the most anxiety-inducing. Picking out your outfit early will eliminate one potential stressor right away. You can use the extra time that frees up in the morning to do some light exercise to help wake you up and energize you before class.

3. Make a playlist of your favorite songs to listen to before class

I find that music tends to relax me or cheer me up, depending on what I choose for that day. So, listening to some music to pump you up before class can make it much more bearable.

4. Plan something fun to do after class

If you’re not a fan of school or you’re anxious about a class in particular, plan something fun afterwards so you can look forward to it. That way, when you feel nervous, you can think about all the good things you have to look forward to later. Some activities you might try are: yoga, watching your favorite show on Netflix, calling someone you miss from home, or planning a DIY spa night!

5. Set several alarms for the first day

If you struggle to wake up in the morning, you might want to set several alarms so you don’t oversleep or end up late. If you use your phone as an alarm, try to make your alarm sound something pleasant.

6. Make a travel “emergency kit” to keep in your backpack/purse

If you’re prone to having panic attacks/dissociation/psychosis or anything similar, having a little kit on hand to help ground and relax you will help you while you’re in class. That way, you don’t have to ever worry about going without certain things you need during a mental health emergency when you’re away from your dorm/home. Carry items such as any medications that you may need, stim toys, phone numbers of your emergency contacts, aspirin, gum if you find chewing on things relaxes you, and anything else that you find comforting.

7. Keep a planner

And no, it doesn’t have to have a beautiful aesthetic if you find that to be too much work. Your planner should make things easier for you, not harder, so if making your planner pretty stresses you out, just keep it simple. Or, if having a super decorative planner makes you happy, do that. The important thing is to just have a place for you to write down important dates and assignments, especially if you tend to forget things easily. And be sure to write things down immediately so you don’t forget about it.

8. Get familiar with your school’s mental health resources

Many colleges have free counseling appointments, clubs for people interested in mental health activism, and activities tailored for neurodivergent individuals. Get familiar with what your school offers by checking out your school’s website so you can take full advantage of it all!

Even though school can be stressful, I hope you all find some enjoyment during this school year! I wish you the best of luck!

Question of the Day: Let’s kick it off with a bit of positivity. What are you most looking forward to during this coming school year? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and follow!

Posted in Mental Health, Politics

Destigmatizing Anger

Not long ago, I got into an argument online with a friend of mine for posting about how I was angry at Tina Fey’s cake skit following the white supremacists’ march on Charlottesville, which resulted in Heather Heyer’s death and injured many other brave counter-protesters. I was angry at Tina Fey’s advice to stay home and eat cake instead of counter-protesting at the Boston white supremacists’ march. I know that ignoring injustice will never end hate: only counter-protests and direct action can do that. And even then, we’re a long ways away from ending hate. But I digress. My friend was disappointed in me for sounding so “angry” and “aggressive” in the Facebook post about the skit. She thought that it was “inappropriate” at the time, and that I simply didn’t “understand” it. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in my friend’s response to my justified anger at a privileged woman’s request for us to remain passive in the face of hatred.

Anger is far too stigmatized in our society. Even justified anger towards oppressive regimes is stigmatized. Too often do I see self-help columnists or spiritual leaders say that the only path to enlightenment is to let go of anger and other negative emotions. I see this as a subtle form of gaslighting. We are told that our anger is something that needs to be repressed, that it’s “wrong” for us to feel angry even when we are being abused on a worldwide level. We are told to simply forgive and forget. That sort of policy might work for simple disputes, like if you’re angry at your friend for being late to your birthday party. But when it comes to much larger situations, situations that may even mean life or death for some people, it is impossible to forgive when nothing is being done to fix the situation.

I do think it’s important for people to control their anger if they are lashing out at innocent people, but expressing anger towards racists, passive “allies,” or abusers and oppressors is not something we should censor, especially when those expressing anger are people who are often systemically silenced on a regular basis.

Yes, sometimes it hurts, especially when you are the one experiencing the brunt of our anger. But your temporary discomfort does not outweigh the daily pain experienced by marginalized people. Perhaps you made an insensitive post or seemed entitled to someone else’s emotional labor and ended up getting called out or yelled at. What you shouldn’t do is claim that the angered party has no right to be angry. Instead, you should apologized for what you did. If the person you angered agrees to answer your questions, you can ask them to explain where you went wrong. If they don’t agree, don’t pressure them to educate you. Instead, try to educate yourself by researching the context surrounding your post/tweet/comment. Check to see if you posted anything that came across as passive, victim-blaming, or subtly racist/homophobic/transphobic/ableist/etc.

We need to accept anger as a symptom of much larger problems in our society. Until we eliminate the cause, it is unfair and immoral to expect people to forgive and passively accept their oppression. Until we eliminate oppression, anger is justifiable.

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Question of the Day: What helps you accept your anger? Let me know in the comments below, and please like and share this post if you found it informative or helpful in any way.

Posted in Mental Health, Self-Care

Coping with Trauma

Content Note: This article contains non-graphic descriptions of trauma and its effects.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Do not use my advice as a replacement for professional help.

These past few months have been far from easy for me. I experienced two separate traumatic events, involving two different partners of mine. As a result, my pre-existing mental illnesses worsened, and I will likely soon be diagnosed with PTSD. Despite my hardships and struggles, however, I’ve tried to work hard towards healing instead of surrendering to this illness. I’ve curated a list of some of my most effective coping mechanisms. If you, too, are struggling, hopefully this list will give you some new ideas for coping mechanisms.

1. Get hobbies that give you a high degree of control

Something that really triggers my anxiety and causes flashbacks is when I feel like I’m out of control. And since my trauma sometimes makes me feel helpless, I try to occupy my time by doing something where I feel in control. One of my hobbies is playing the Sims. I can control everything I want for a brief time, allowing me to distract myself from my fear of being out of control. 

2. Get hobbies where you (safely) lose a bit of control

I know it seems a bit contradictory after my first point, however, I know that I can’t be in control all the time. So, I do what I can to get used to that feeling so I know it isn’t always bad. So, I’m rather fond of going to haunted hayrides during Halloween, or watching horror movies. That way, I can experience those scary emotions and overcome them by walking away unscathed. The more I get used to it in fun environments, the less it makes me panic when I’m in a situation beyond my control.

3. Create something when you’re at your lowest point

This was especially helpful for me when my trauma was still fresh in my mind. I channeled all of my rage, sadness, feelings of violation and negativity into my art and writing. I found that these feelings were tearing me apart inside, so I released them into my art. I ended up destroying those pieces, which was very symbolic for me. But, if you decide to keep your work, you can use it as an anchor point to track your growth and healing.

4. Drink tea

Yes, I know that drinking tea doesn’t really solve any problems, but it helps me when I’m feeling numb. Tea really engages all of the senses and makes me feel grounded. Plus, if you choose to brew certain types of tea, you may have to focus intently on the task to avoid burning or ruining the tea. This can provide a great distraction. And it’s just good to have a yummy treat from time to time.

Hopefully you have found my somewhat unconventional advice helpful. If you are going through a difficult time, please know that you’re not alone. Please seek professional help if you are especially struggling, and contact a suicide hotline if you are planning to harm yourself. Be safe, and know that you are loved.

Question of the Day: What are your preferred coping mechanisms? Let me know in the comments below, and give this post a like!