Inspiration

A Change in Perspective

Lessons learned from my week in Jinotega, Nicaragua  

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This past week I spent my time in Jinotega, Nicaragua, to assist the Sasle community in making a home for a family in need. I was given this opportunity through the University of Delaware’s alternative break program, and a non-profit organization called Bridges to Community that does this work all over Central America.

For two days out of the week I spent in Nicaragua, my group of 12 and I explored unbelievable crater lakes and the lively cities of Nicaragua. For the rest of the week, we lived in a beautiful home that belonged to a warm and welcoming woman named Benita living within the community. We spent 8 hours of each day passing cinder blocks, mixing cement, painting the roof of a home, and working on the finishing touches with the other giving members of the community.

For a family in need to receive a home from Bridges to Community, a family is nominated by members of their community, which they then pay an amount monthly which goes back into a community fund.

There are numerous amounts of lessons that I gained from this experience, but here are the ones that stuck out to me the most.

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The Importance of Family and Community

When building the home, we worked with such hard working members of the community, including the father of the beneficiary family. Could you imagine your next door neighbors helping you build your own home? In Sasle, there was such a strong value of community and helping one another. While we worked, every car or bus that passed by honked or waved at us on the worksite to say hello. Not only is community valued so much in Sasle, but so is family. During our dinner with the beneficiary family, the father told us how grateful he was for us to leave our families for a week just to come and help them build a home. Family is so meaningful to their culture, which made me want to express gratitude for my family even more than I do.

How can We further embrace community and family in Our lives?

Having a sit down dinner with loved ones without distractions is an overlooked moment. Checking our phones when out with others has come habitual. When we eliminate an option to distract ourselves, we can have even deeper conversations with the people we love.  

Ask yourself, are you educated on the issues in your community? Spend a little time researching, and see if you can lend a hand to someone in need. Helping others makes us feel so much more connected to those around us and gives us much stronger ties to our communities.

Embrace Simplicity

There were many things that the Sasle community did not have, but to them it did not matter, because they know they rich in what truly matters; family and community. The Sasle community was always happy, grateful, and content with what they had. Though some families did not live in what Americans would consider ideal living, the community members never complained because they know that material items do not fill them.

Another thing I noticed during our dinner with the beneficiary family, was that each person took a humbling amount of food and politely made sure that each person had a plate before eating. They were in no rush to consume what was on their plate, and believed that the simplicity of the moment was enough.

How can we further embrace simplicity?

If there are clothes sitting in your closet that you haven’t worn in a while, consider giving them to someone who could make use of them every day.

Instead of spending extra time on social media, which can create extra content in our brains, try connecting with the nature around you, or reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.

When plating your food, try to take only what you know you need to fuel your body. Eat with friends, and shop locally whenever possible. Simplifying our day to day actions creates an immense amount of appreciation for life.

Cultivating Acceptance

Many stereotypes and judgments come from things that we don’t understand. Before coming to Nicarauga, I thought I knew what the members of a developing country would be like, but I was wrong. They were the most hardworking, kind and wholesome people I had ever met. Being open-minded to the stories of the people we met was key to having an incredible trip.

I learned that people value different things because of the way that they grown up, and it’s our responsibility as humans to take that as an opportunity to dig deeper. We need to look past our own barriers and listen to the stories of others and maybe even spend time in different cultures to show us just how much we have in common.

How Can we Cultivate Acceptance?

Try to actively reach out to and listen to stories of those that are different than yourself. Listen without judgement.

This will always help you become a more well-rounded and compassionate person.

Understanding Culture

When I arrived in Nicaragua I experienced culture shock, but surprisingly experienced culture shock when home to America. I felt like I finally realized why so many people suffer from anxiety in the U.S. While in Nicaragua, I never had cell service, so I spent free time playing cards, singing, or bonding with members of my group. When I first arrived, I was in shock at my lack of distraction, but once I embraced it I felt clear-headed than I had ever been.

The night before my flight home to America, I had trouble sleeping because I was already experiencing anxiety about my responsibilities at home. At first, I shamelessly blamed “America” for being so overpopulated, obsessed with technology, money, and other material items, but I thought for a while and realized that we just live in a different culture, and the only way to improve it, is to recognize it and appreciate how far we have come.

Though America might have numerous amounts of distractions, we should take the time to see question giving them a break. Distractions only have power if we give them power.

How can we Improve our Country’s culture?

If you ever experience anxiety after scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, try to explore what it’d be like to journal, meditate, or reach out to a friend.

My week spent with the Sasle community taught me the value of hard work, support, connection, and love. I will never forget those friendships that taught me imprinting lessons that I’ll take with me forever.

Always remember to keep an open mind and constantly push past your comfort zone. There’s so much to gain from being connected to what truly matters.

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5 Finals Week Tips From the Universe

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The week that turns students into zombies, textbooks into lifesavers, and coffee into fuel: Finals Week. The two words every college student dreads hearing. At this point in the year, winter break is so close you can almost taste the candy canes and cookies, but you are stuck in this stressful reality worrying about your 5 finals within the next week. What do you do? How do you handle your stress?

Gabrielle Bernstein, the author of The Universe Has Your Back, has some helpful tips to get you through finals week in one piece. Based on the results of your quiz, find the corresponding tip and read more about how you can handle your stress:

 

 

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Tip #1: Download a Meditation App

If you are overwhelmed with work and tests, alone time is very important for your mental health. Gabby always says, “Your energy is your greatest source of power.” You should always take a few moments each day to recharge and unwind; never run on an empty tank. If you are in a time crunch, meditation apps can be your best friend.

My favorite apps right now are Headspace and Calm. These apps have different meditation routines for coping with different situations like stress, anxiety, as well as depression. You can also meditate to build happiness, confidence, and focus skills to ace those finals!

Don’t worry, you can set a timer for the amount of time that you have to meditate: 5-minute study break sessions, or a relaxing 20 minute before bed routine. Either way, will have you feeling refreshed and recharged!

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Tip #2: Ask For A Sign

Sometimes, it’s just not worth worrying. Most of the time the consequence is not that bad and it may be better if you just hand the situation over to the Universe.

If you are unsure about a decision or want to know if you are on the right path, Ask for a sign! Asking for a sign means that you are willing to collaborate with the Universe. This is the fun part!

The sign can be anything: an animal, person, object, color, number, Starbucks order, the first thing that pops into your head. Leave it up to the Universe and be patient. Your sign will be a billboard: crystal clear if you are going in the right direction.

If you don’t receive your sign right away, consider that your impatience may be blocking it. Your sign will come when you least expect it, so don’t force it. Be willing to be receptive!

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Tip #3: Meditate

Time is something that we can never have too much of. A busy day leaves us feeling tired, overworked, and frustrated. It is important to take time out of your day to focus on yourself.

Meditation is the perfect way to find your inner peace and balance, with proven benefits of focus abilities and happiness levels. One of Gabby Bernstein’s favorite meditation techniques is called the Kundalini Meditation. This technique is known for its ability to channel your stress into calmness and help you chill out before you freak out. Be sure to try out the meditation before you freak out on finals.

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Tip #4: Surrender Your Goals

Let go! Loosen your grip on your drive through life. Everything does not need to be meticulously planned out and scheduled. Rather than over detailed plans, have goals for where you picture yourself in the future. Goals are there to guide you, not control you. When you release your control and let the Universe take the wheel, you will find that with the right mindset, you will automatically drive towards your goals without knowing it.

Everyone has that built in auto-pilot, and many choose to ignore it instead of taking advantage of it. Too often, people live life milestone to milestone instead of the moment to moment. Remove that pressure and surrender to your goals. During Finals Week, don’t sweat the small stuff. No, I am not telling you not to study, but do not worry about cramming anything more than you need. Take study breaks, and whatever you know you will know. No need to add worrying about your final grade to the mix. Focus on being present in the moment and ace that final!

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Tip #5: See Through Love

Do you get home and complain every day about how much you hate your job, a class, a professor, or your roommate? Be conscious of how often negative words come out of your mouth, and how they make you or others feel.

If you genuinely want to see a change in your judgment, you need to be willing to see situations in a different light. Be willing to exchange toxic thoughts for love. Try to see the good in every situation.

Yes, I know more than the next college student how horrible finals can be, but tell yourself that a week from now you will be worry-free. Nothing is permanent; finals will be over soon!

Before you know it you will be home on winter break, eating homemade meals and pulling a Mariah Carey, “Finals who? I don’t know her.”  


 

We all handle stress differently, hopefully, these tips help you get through finals! Always remember that the Universe has your back.

Radiate positivity by sharing this article with a friend~

Manage Your Anxiety With These 3 Steps

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Stress creeps up on us all the time. Whether you’re at work, at school, your side hustle, or just in life itself, stress and anxiety can come in all types, but it’s important to manage that sucker and get it under control.

Licensed psychologist Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, PsyD, founder of the online community for young women called #HeyLauren, told us the three ways you can manage anxiety in your life.

Step 1: Manage that stinkin’ thinkin’

Each of us has many thoughts, up to 70,000 per day! The goal is to get so familiar with your thoughts that you can instantly recognize the thoughts making you feel scared or worried. Once you know which thought patterns cause the unwanted feelings, you can change them! If you change how you think, you can change how you feel and how you behave.

 

"Thoughts lead to feelings and feelings lead to behavior."

 

Step 2: Take two (minutes to relax!)

Your body cannot be anxious and relaxed at the same time. So, consciously relax your muscles. Taking a couple of minutes to stop, breathe and get present can reduce stress, increase mood and decrease anxiety in an instant. Focus your attention on your breathing, exhale slowly. Scan your body for tension. Loosen the cramped body parts, letting go of anything you’re holding too tightly. Recall a good memory, favorite place or event. Continue to breathe, exhaling slowly. Repeat, as needed.

Step 3: Walk through it—Exposure, exposure, exposure.

If you're afraid of it, you need to do it. It's as simple as that. You cannot will yourself to courage. You have to exercise the emotional muscles that flex when you walk through the fear to overcome it. Avoidance adds to the anxiety by reinforcing it. There's no easier, softer way. You don't need it to be easy and soft. You need it to work and exposure does work. Promise.
 

"You cannot will yourself to courage."

 

You are in charge of your own life, don’t let anxiety control you. Take a breath, take action and reflect. Whether you are dealing with an in-the-moment panic attack or facing an anxiety disorder, the feelings you have are normal and treatable. You are not alone! We all get nervous sometimes, we all have freakout moments, and that’s okay. Research tells us that there are an estimated 40 million adults (—women are 60% more likely to be diagnosed than men), who suffer from an anxiety disorder.

At the end of the day know this: you are the creator of your own mind and who you become or who you are is rooted within you. Anxiety is manageable, now go out there and kick some #girlboss ass! 

  For more from Lauren, visit  @dr_lauren  and sign up for her weekly newsletter at  HeyLauren.com .

For more from Lauren, visit @dr_lauren and sign up for her weekly newsletter at HeyLauren.com.

You have the power within you to change your life.

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I had the opportunity to speak with licensed psychologist Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, PsyD, founder of the online community for young women called #HeyLauren. This is the advice that I found impactful in my everyday life and want to share with our community.

Thoughts only have value if you give them value.
Thoughts → Feelings → Behavior. Each of us has many thoughts, up to 70,000 per day! The goal is to get so familiar with your thoughts that you can instantly recognize the thoughts making you feel scared or worried. Once you know which thought patterns cause the unwanted feelings, you can change them! If you change how you think, you can change how you feel and how you behave.

Prioritize taking charge of your thoughts and taking care of your body
When you stay balanced from the inside out, you decrease the desire to keep life balanced from the outside-in. There is no way to balance all areas in your life at once, dive into one area wholeheartedly for weeks at a time and then dive into another. Strive to do this without compromising self-care, always eat, sleep, and get moving.

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Set Strict Boundaries
Know what works for you. Trust your gut. If your life feels unnatural, lose the parts that shut down who you truly are to become who you think you’re supposed to be. 

Use your village. 
We women need our tribe, our girl gang, our coven. Rely on the women around you to pitch in with your mission. We’re all in this together. 

Let go of who you think you should be to become who you are. 
We all want to be liked as humans. This is okay, just don't morph into something you THINK you should because then you won't like yourself. 

When you fall into your chameleon, ask yourself what the motivation is for your action. If you don’t feel like yourself, remember what makes you unique is a special gift to the world that only you possess. 

Only you can do what you do the way that you do it. You have a mission in this world, do not miss it trying to fit into what others like.

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Walk through it—Exposure, exposure, exposure.
If you're afraid of it, you need to do it. It's as simple as that. You cannot will yourself to courage. You have to exercise the emotional muscles that flex when you walk through the fear to overcome it. Avoidance adds to the anxiety by reinforcing it. There's no easier, softer way. You don't need it to be easy and soft. You need it to work, and exposure does work. Promise.

Stop. Breath. Get Present.
→ Reduce Stress
→ Increase Mood
→ Decrease Anxiety

You do not have to search high and low for your purpose. You are your purpose.

The goal is to bring all that you are into all that you do. That’s “The work”. You are “The work”. Once you’ve got you, life gets easy.

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For more from Lauren, visit @dr_lauren and sign up for her weekly newsletter at HeyLauren.com.

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