This post is the final installment of a three-part series. In the first part, I wrote about my longtime struggles with anxiety and depression. The second part highlighted nine practices I’ve found that are helping me to better cope with these issues. This third installment includes tips from readers for what has been helpful to them, as well as some additional resources you can access for guidance and inspiration, such as websites, books, articles, and even an app.
We can cultivate more peace and happiness into our lives through mindful practices.
I did my best to organize the tips into meaningful sections by topic. Although some of the tips were mentioned in comments on the previous two posts, others were sent to me directly. In order to maintain the anonymity of those who shared their thoughts with me privately, names are not mentioned below. Whenever possible, I have included readers’ comments in full, although some have been edited for the sake of either brevity or clarity.
While the information in this post is far from an exhaustive list, my hope is that it can point those who are struggling to resources that they may not have been aware of previously. I’m appreciative of all those who contributed their suggestions on how to cultivate happiness and peace in the midst of both internal and external chaos. As always, you’re welcome to offer additional feedback and discuss the contents of this post in the comments section.
Late last year, I wrote an essay in which I revealed my longtime – and ongoing – struggles with depression and anxiety. In concluding that post, I asked for suggestions from readers about how to stay sane in the midst of chaos and how to experience more happiness, peace, and fulfillment on a daily basis. Quite a few readers chimed in, either in the comments section or via email. I will share what they had to say in my next post (and will also include responses to this article), as well as links to some helpful resources you may be interested in checking out.
Today’s post includes some of my personal “essentials” that I use to help keep myself on solid ground in terms of my mood and sense of overall well-being. These essentials are practices that may seem quite simple at first glance. However, they are also powerful in that they are helping me to manage crippling anxiety and preventing me from falling into the abyss of depression.
Regular practices can help us cultivate more happiness and peace in our lives.
It’s been over four months since I last shared my thoughts and progress with my gray hair transition, so I thought I would give you another update today. As I revealed in my “Best of Full Life Reflections 2018” wrap-up, gray hair transition posts are the most popular on the site, so there is clearly a lot of interest in this topic. If you’re a new reader and want to check out all of my gray hair-related essays, you can find them all here.
Some Background Information
Those who have been following along for a while may remember that I first started to transition to my natural salt-and-pepper hair back in 2016, shortly before I turned 50. I had grown weary of having to touch up my roots every four weeks and had become increasingly unhappy with how my color looked. At that time, my hair was very dry and damaged and my color often skewed too warm-toned and wasn’t uniform enough from roots to ends. Gray hair can be stubborn to color and because I’ve always had wiry and porous hair, my hair was even more unpredictable in its reaction to hair dye. So as I neared my milestone birthday, I decided to embrace my natural shade, no matter how gray it might be.
In 2016, I decided to embrace my natural gray hair.
What I didn’t realize when I made that landmark decision was how difficult the process would be for me emotionally. It was easy in the beginning because I could easily hide my gray roots using an effective cover-up powder (which I recommend for extending the time between dye jobs or in the early days of transitioning to gray). Such products are designed to be used for just a few weeks, but I managed to cover up my roots for close to six months! It didn’t look so great towards the end, but I mitigated that effect by wearing headbands, hats, and scarves.
I have long been a proponent of wardrobe tracking. I summarized my reasons for this practice in an essay back in 2013, and I still stand by the points I made at that time. Tracking can help us to better understand what we have, wear, and need. I believe it would be helpful for almost anyone to do some form of wardrobe tracking for a period of time in order to increase their awareness and foster better shopping choices. All of this said, as I began 2019, I decided to stop tracking what I wear. In today’s post, I share my reasons for this decision, what I’m doing instead, and how I feel about all of this now that a month and a half has gone by.
In line with my “freedom” theme for 2019, I’m no longer tracking what I wear.
The Upside and Downside of Tracking
I tracked what I wore every single day for eight full years, from 2011 through 2018! I did this via a mostly low-tech method of using hang-tags to capture the immediate data and a spreadsheet for compiling longer-term information and making sense of it. Through my rigorous tracking, I came to understand what types of pieces in my closet were worn often (the “all-stars”) and which items rarely made their way off their hangers (the “benchwarmers”). This information helped to guide my purchasing decisions such that I stopped buying a lot of dressier pieces, uncomfortable shoes, and things that didn’t dovetail well with my body, lifestyle, and personality. I gradually made fewer mistakes and started to see lower cost-per-wear on many of the items I owned.
While there were a lot of positive outcomes to my wardrobe tracking, there were also some negatives. Although the tracking only took me a minute or two each day, the end of the year tabulations occupied many hours. I had to make sure that all my new pieces were added to my spreadsheet and all purged items were deleted. If I were a wardrobe minimalist, this wouldn’t be all that labor-intensive, but with the type of “closet churn” I endured each year, it was no easy feat. I also had to spend a big chunk of time on either New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day entering the year’s numbers into the spreadsheet. Fortunately, my husband helped with this activity, but I can think of better ways to spend that holiday! The data analysis also took a lot of time to complete and even though I’m a “numbers nerd,” it could be burdensome at times.
As you may remember, I decided to do a capsule wardrobe challenge during the last two months of 2018. My reason for doing this was to shift my focus away from what’s in the stores and toward what I have in my closet. I wanted to better understand what was and wasn’t working for me and why, and I have found that limiting my choices for a period of time aids me in this effort. In today’s post, I will recap my fall challenge, share a bit about the state of my wardrobe as 2018 came to a close, and highlight my clothing and shopping goals for 2019.
About My Fall Challenge
Before I delve into numbers and insights from my fall challenge, I want to first summarize the rules I followed when getting dressed during November and December. My challenge was kind of a hybrid of Project 333 and the “30 for 30 Remix,” plus I added some of my own personal twists to get the most possible learning out of the exercise. Here’s a basic overview of what I did:
- I dressed myself using two separate 30-item capsules for my “out and about” and at-home wardrobes. These capsules were built organically as I went along throughout the challenge.
- While I didn’t include shoes and accessories in my 30 items, I kept track of which ones I wore and how many times they were featured in my outfits.
- I kept an outfit journal for my “out and about” ensembles in which I rated each look and made notes about what did and didn’t work. I also kept track of any pieces I wanted to reach for but didn’t have on hand (either in the capsules or at all).
- After I reached the 30-item limit in my capsules, I allowed myself the option to swap items out for either weather or style-related reasons. The “weather clause” was necessary because November is often quite warm where I live and cool weather doesn’t generally begin until later that month or early December.
- Items that I swapped out for style-related reasons were placed “on probation” and at the end of the challenge, I needed to re-evaluate whether or not they should remain in my wardrobe.
The timing of the challenge worked out perfectly, as I wore my thirtieth “out and about” outfit on December 31st. Below I share my capsules, what I swapped out and why, some wear statistics, and what I learned from taking on the challenge (I already shared some mid-challenge insights back in December).