Guest Blog: Faith, Awareness and Trichotillomania Recovery

For Week 3 of our “Month of Gratitude,” we are talking about how you gotta have FAITH!

I am a firm believer in believing. It's not about religion. It's about cultivating trust and confidence. It's about allowing yourself to "hand off" your dreams, wishes and worries to a "something." That "something" can be Jesus, Allah, Lakshmi, Buddha, HaShem, the Universe, Sigmund, your inner being, or a tree in your backyard.

What I'm saying is, what you put your faith in can be ANYTHING.

For me, it’s a mix of all those listed above, and my dad.

Today's guest post comes to you from Keen family member, Lesley Stevens.  For you @HabitAware Instagram fans, Lesley may look familiar as she took over our Instagram account during #BFRBAwarenessWeek.

< Join Lesley and thousands of others by ordering your Keen today > 

Lesley’s back to share how faith and staying positive have played a role in her trichotillomania recovery and to share how YOU in our Keen family can build faith and positivity.

I have faith that her openness, honesty and suggestions can help you, as they have me!

with love❤️, strength💪, awareness 👀 (& faith💫!),

Aneela & the HabitAware team

 

Incorporating Keen and Faith into My Trichotillomania Treatment

by: Lesley Stevens, trichster + blogger

This has been one of the hardest years for me.

I have been clinging to the good things in my life a little more tightly in these harder times – and there’s certainly a lot of good to be grateful for.

This year I have lost a lot financially in my business, at no fault of my own. It’s just the way business swings sometimes, but still, rough no doubt.

I am the sole provider for my family of six and my businesses are our source of income. I run an online “shop” with the best gifts for kids. I chose to start this business a few years ago as a way to connect with my kids, learn digital marketing and provide for my family.  

I am also currently attending Bible college to earn my Associates Degree in Theology. Through my studies I’ve gotten more in sync with the power of faith.

When things start looking down, the way they have this year, I know I have to walk by faith each day. There is no manual to success. Running a business takes trial and error and a lot of faith – a lot!

I’ve had trichotillomania since I was really little and it’s definitely triggered by my circumstances - and stress - around me. Earlier this year I saw things we’re getting worse financially, and I noticed the same for my trichotillomania.

I decided I needed to start saying out loud that I would overcome it because it really was getting out of hand with all the pressures building up around me. I started speaking out what I wanted to see happen.

Using Facebook Groups as a Treatment for Trichotillomania

I began writing about my journey on my blog and I started joining Facebook groups in search of community, positive people and answers to help me overcome.

It can be a high anxiety scene at first in some of these support groups but there’s a lot of good, positive feedback to be read. I know I am there for information to help me overcome this, and I always keep that mindset when I’m in these groups because you can read depressing things sometimes.

To combat that, I also created my own Facebook group to encourage others and I kept confessing that I would overcome trichotillomania:

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What’s been awesome about keeping the “faith-filled overcoming” approach is that I have seen change happen in all areas of my life...

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...and am especially thankful for the HUGE progress this year over my Trich, despite my circumstances.

Keen by HabitAware has been a Godsend in my life because I wasn’t aware when I was pulling. I would pull out my hair and not even know watching tv or laying in bed.

Once I found Keen, it was like a light went on upstairs for me. The bracelets are rad because they just buzz me lightly so I realize what I’m doing.

< See what others are saying about Keen > 

I thought I had to have the Keen bracelets to be aware, but after 3 months of wearing them, my brain has made the connection without the bracelets...It really was awesome because it wasn’t just my hair, I just felt a heightened awareness of where my hands were and a really huge burst of confidence.”
— Lesley Stevens, trichotillomaniablog.com

Loosening trich’s hold on my life, led to other great pursuits. I know when I am pulling now and I could start working on something I had on my heart for awhile, which was a Trich Therapy Journal. I wanted to create this journal so I would have faith-filled inspiration and something to help me track my pulling. I didn’t want to be focused on the Trich, so the journal itself needed to keep me focused on Something Greater while I tracked the trich behaviors.

I really felt deep down that I needed to pinpoint what exactly the situations were so I could redirect myself, so I made this journal and began using it myself.

For the past 3 months, I have been wearing my Keen bracelets and writing down daily things that I do in this journal and my recovery has really come a long ways.

I’ve managed to really minimize my pulling in a drastic way that even my hairdresser noticed the last time I was there!

How Faith Can Help Stop Hair Pulling

My advice to others who are dealing with the same body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) I am - trichotillomania, dermatillomania, compulsive nail biting and even thumb-sucking:

Start changing what you SAY about your situation first

That’s really a big step of faith when you think about it too.

By faith, start confessing that you will overcome whatever it is you’re battling.

I didn’t need to know how I was going to overcome, I just started changing my words and as my words changed so did my attitude about the situation.

When my attitude changed – opportunities and ideas started popping up all over.

I began attracting like-minded trichsters and finding resources like Keen to help me.

This year, although it’s been a tough one – it’s been a rewarding one in terms of my recovery, and for that I’m so very thankful, more than my words here can express.


About Lesley Stevens

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My name is Lesley and I’m the author over at TrichotillomaniaBlog.com where I talk about my journey to overcoming Trich.  I started blogging about Trich in early 2017 because I wanted to connect with others like me, spread awareness and share my walk of faith in overcoming it. You can grab a copy of the Trichotillomania Therapy Journal I created if you would like a faith-based approach to tracking your pulling patterns too.


About Keen by HabitAware

HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.

Order now & sign up for our e-newsletter for helpful strategies, news & important product updates.

Guest Blog: Music + Keen are My Treatment for Trichotillomania

Thankful for the healing power of music.

Music has been scientifically proven to heal “time after time.” (If you get my 80s music reference please post in the comments!) It can be a great treatment for trichotillomania, especially if combined with other tactics.

Today, Keen family member, Katie Lee shares how her passion for music – both creating it and consuming it – have helped her heal on her journey with trichotillomania.

See how others have used Keen to curb their trichotillomania

As you read her story, please let us know in the comments what you are grateful for that has had healing power in your life – is it art?! Is it writing?! Is it playing basketball?! Is it video games?!

You may help someone else find their way to healing.

with gratitude,

Aneela

Now, I’ll pass the mic to Katie:

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Hi! I’m Katie Lee. I’m a singer/songwriter, a teacher, a faith driven person, a lover of people and I also have Trich. It’s something I’ve dealt almost my entire life. There have been waves where it’s been really bad (almost no hair on the top of my head) and a few times when it wasn’t so bad, but through it all I’ve tried really hard to not let it define who I am. I am more than my hair.

Up until this last few months, I didn’t feel like I was ever going to overcome my hair pulling and it was hard to talk about. I knew that I had the ability to change it, but nothing I ever tried made any difference. Luckily, I felt prompted to do some online research (bfrb.org is a great source) and found the Keen bracelet and thought I would give it a try. It was just the jumpstart that I needed and that coupled with some online therapy, I’ve gone 37 days without pulling (which is seriously a miracle and I don’t use that word lightly).

Trich is something we have, NOT who we are!
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One thing that’s really helped through it all is music. Music has an amazing power to change your mood, provide healing and connect in a way that nothing else can. As a songwriter, I write about everything I feel and that’s been like therapy for me. Here’s some songs that have been a part of my process of healing:

I wrote a song a few years ago called Addicted to You. Trich felt so much like an addiction and I wanted so bad to be rid of it, but I also had a hard time letting go. Its something only someone with Trich can understand.

Then, last year I wrote a song, Fearlessly, Honestly Me, about how I sometimes let these insecurities about myself diminish who I am, especially in social settings. This song was like a pep talk to myself. I really do love who I am and I want to be fearlessly, honestly me in every situation. I’m pretty darn great and I want people to see that, regardless of how much hair is on my head.

Wonderful Ride came out of reflecting on many aspects of my life. I feel like we all try so hard to make our lives fit an imaginary standard that the world sets up and life rarely works out that way. But through all of that, I’m very grateful that my life has turned out the way it has. The struggles have given me strength and a much stronger sense of self that I would not have had otherwise.

While I've found healing through writing lyrics and singing, I also find others' music to be medicine. Here’s a few other songs that really help put things into perspective and turn around my day:

"You Will Be Found" from the Musical, Dear Evan Hansen

"Rise Up" by Andra Day

"Shorty Don't Wait" by A Great Big World

"Gold" by Britt Nicole

"30,000 Feet" by Ben Rector

"I lived" - One Republic

If you need more music recommendations or want to connect with me on social media, you can find me on Instagram @ ktleeitsme.

Musically,

Katie

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About Keen by HabitAware

HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.

Order now & sign up for our e-newsletter for helpful strategies, news & important product updates.

Learning to Self-Care and Self-Love Yourself First

For many of us, the never-ending cycle of the rat race leaves us physically and emotionally exhausted. The world we live in today is filled with so much to do. It is so busy and the "fomo" (fear of missing out) is just too great. We drain ourselves, and GO, GO, GO without stopping to notice that we have forgotten to fill ourselves back up. That's where self-care and self-love come in.

But, there is a misconception that self-care and self-love are selfish. NOT true! How can you be good to others, if you are not good to yourself! You owe it to yourself to take care of yourself and to love yourself. 

What is the difference between self-care and self-love?

 

Self-care: the actions that we take to take care of ourselves physically and spiritually.

Self-love: the actions that we take to take care of our emotional well-being.

 

Neither self-care nor self-love should have a negative connotation; it is not selfish to place a priority on our physical and mental health. Both are necessary to achieve a happy and well-balanced life. But, what's the difference? Well,:

Self-care is "taking the time to genuinely take care of ourselves (nourishing our bodies, moving our bodies, taking a nap, getting a mani/pedi, shopping, etc.)."

Self-love is "TRULY and genuinely accepting and loving who you are. Loving your entire self – regardless of your income, relationship status, where you live, your weight, number of followers, etc. It’s a deep love and appreciation for yourself from the inside. Not based on anything exterior from yourself."

And of course the two are linked! Self-care is the first step to loving and embracing ourselves. In order to properly practice self-care, we have to learn to listen to ourselves and be in tuned with our bodies. Did last week’s project tire you out? Was yesterday’s work more stressful than usual? After recognizing the challenges and obstacles that we have faced and overcame, reward ourselves with a break and understand that it is well deserved. Activities like walking around the neighborhood, taking bubble baths, eating a balanced diet, and sleeping well all fall under this category. Every day, we should take a moment out of our busy lives to recognize our accomplishments and be proud of ourselves. We should celebrate even the tiny wins and thank ourselves for a job-well-done!

Aside from caring for our physical well-being, our mental and emotional well-being is also extremely important, although they often get neglected. Here are some ways to practice self-care in our daily lives to fuel our self-love & self-gratitude:

1. Give ourselves daily affirmations

By speaking aloud positive affirmation to ourselves, we become more confident and optimistic in nature. As with Keen, we are rewiring our brains to think differently and are simultaneously removing negative thought from our minds. Here are a few examples to start with:

  • I am better than negative thoughts and actions.
  • I have the traits needed to be successful.
  • My self esteem and confidence rise with each passing day.
  • I am blessed with a supportive family and loyal friends.

And here are two videos with positive affirmations to bookmark: 

 

2. Listen to our emotions

We should let our hearts and bodies react in a situation. Don’t ignore or suppress the emotions. Simply observe them and acknowledge the emotions, whether positive or negative. By staying and acknowledging the emotions that we feel, we are understanding the reasons behind each expressed emotion and reconnecting our hearts and minds. Letting emotions take control sometimes can feel scary and daunting, but it can also be seen as a part of our bodies’ process to self-heal and love.

 

3. Learn to forgive ourselves

 

To begin, we need to acknowledge the situation and our actions. Accept the guilt that comes with our actions but don’t wallow in guilt. By forcing ourselves to suffer as a form of self-punishment, we are also forcing those around us to suffer as a result. We need to change our mindset and stop telling ourselves that we should do this or be that. Instead of focusing on the single wrong thing that we did, put everything in perspective and think of the right things that happened. We shouldn’t let one wrong action define us. Striving for perfectionism begins a vicious cycle of exhaustion and dissatisfaction. After understanding and reflecting on the situation, we need to decide on our plan of action, whether that is a change in our behaviors, an apology to others, or stop reliving memories of past faults. From there, we should recognize our progress from self-blame to making an effort to prevent future occurrences.  

 

4. Be comfortable with ourselves

For many of us, being comfortable in our own skin remains difficult regardless of how old we are. Social media has created unrealistic images of how we are suppose look, act, and be. We never feel satisfied with ourselves and constantly try to attain perfection. Nonetheless, the longest relationship that we will ever have is the relationship with ourselves; therefore, it should be a happy and healthy relationship, not a toxic one.

  • Be surrounded by positive people.
  • Don’t rely on external validation and judgment.
  • Nurture your talents and make time for hobbies.
  • Be appreciative of your skills, talents, and successes.
  • Stop being our own harshest critic by practicing positive self-affirmations.

Changing our mindsets is like running a marathon. It’s a long and enduring process, but with every little step we take, we are one step closer to the finish line. To start, try to find 10 minutes each day to incorporate little ways to practice self-care, whether it is repeating positive mantras to ourselves at the mirror or taking a stroll around the neighborhood. With self-care and self-awareness, we become closer to our inner selves and fill ourselves with love and gratitude.


About Keen by HabitAware

HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.

Order now & sign up for our e-newsletter for helpful strategies, news & important product updates.

Guest Post - Instagram Takeover - Abby W.

Ever wondered, "What is trichotillomania?"

You could google it. And if you do, you'd get the medical definition: Trichotillomania, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is “a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows, or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.”

BUT the best way to really, truly understand "What is trichotillomania?" is to hear first hand from those who have it. Sharing our experiences, the struggles & the successes is how others can learn. In telling personal stories others can feel & picture what it's like to live with these issues. And when they can feel, they will understand. And when they understand, they will not judge. And when they stop judging, we will stop feeling shame.

 And of course this is tactic for understand is not just for trichotillomania (hair pulling), but also for skin picking (dermatillomania / excoriation disorder), nail biting (onychophagia), thumb sucking, nose picking and other body focused repetitive behaviors.

That is why beginning this October, during BFRB Awareness Week, we threw caution to the wind & handed over our Instagram account, @HabitAware, to YOU to share your story. All in the name of creating understanding and ending the stigma.

It was just so inspiring and beautiful. We will continue letting others use our channel as a megaphone on "#TakeoverTuesday"! I hope you'll join us over on Instagram to check them out as they happen live, but if not, I'll be sharing some of the stories here on our blog from time to time.

The first in our "Guest Post / HabitAware Instagram Takeover" series is Abby W., who shares her powerful story below. We thank Abby for her incredible insights and vulnerability as she opens up about her trichotillomania and journey to acceptance.

It's only in facing life's adversity that we truly come alive!! 

If you are interested in taking over our account, click the button, "Takeover Instagram!"

with love, strength & awareness,

Aneela


* The following blog post was written & photographed by Abby W. as a series of Instagram posts *

Hi all! My name is Abby, and I’m in my second year at the university. I’m majoring in Sociology with plans to go to law school. I have #trichotillomania, I’ve been pulling since I was 11 years old, and at my lowest point, I had no eyelashes, no eyebrows, and very thin scalp hair. The fight for me is far from over, but I’ve learned so much about life because of my experience with trich, and I hope I can communicate those insights with all of you beautiful people today! Feel free to ask me any (seriously, ANY) questions along the way.

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A few years ago, I was emotionally dependent on my makeup. I spent most of my mornings trying to perfect my eyeliner and eyebrows so I could look “normal.” I refused to go anywhere near water, just in case it got washed away. Because of this, I missed out on activities like boating with my family and swimming with my friends. I tried so many things to get over this fear—glasses, waterproof eyeliner, and even makeup tattoos—but what made the biggest difference was when I began to accept myself for who I was and what I looked like. I’ve decided that I won’t let my trich scare me away from life. It took me years to get to this point, but it’s a relief to finally say that I feel okay about who I am.

My hair evolution:

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These three pictures show my hair evolution:

 

(1) I didn’t begin pulling from my head until the end of my junior year in high school, but I didn’t think much of it. I thought it wouldn’t have as big an effect as my other pulling patterns had made. I really liked my hair, and without knowing it, is attached some of my value to it.

(2) My hair became too thin to wear long, so I cut it short. I liked it while it lasted, but my pulling got even worse during the few weeks after I got it cut. Something else had to be done.

(3) At the end of my senior year, I buzzed my head. My pulling had gotten so bad that I had virtually no other options. I showed up the next day with a cute headband, big earrings, and almost no hair, surprising all of my friends and classmates (I’d only told my family and a couple of close friends). At first I was doing great; I’d gotten nothing but positive feedback and support from everyone around me. A month or two later, though, I began realizing how much I’d relied on my hair to make me feel pretty and feminine. I went through a tough period of time where I felt like a new person, but not in a good way. It took a while for me to pull myself out of it, but I’ve learned not to attach my worth on something as silly as a few hair strands. We are so much more than this. It took me cutting off all my hair to find myself, and because of that, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

How to stop hair pulling...or, at least, how Abby did it!

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My two most powerful trich-blockers: hats and habitaware. I began collecting hats shortly after I buzzed my head because of how well they stopped me from pulling, and also because I’ve found that I just love hats. My other weapon of choice, the bracelet, has been on my wrist since April. It’s by far the most effective method I use to track and combat my pulling. I’ve gone through countless trich-blockers—gloves, fiddles, fidgets, fake nails—and I’ve found what works best for me. I encourage everyone to find their own weapons of awareness on this journey, and to never give up on yourself. 32 hats and one super-cool bracelet later, and I’m more confident and in-control than I’ve ever been.

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32 hats and one super-cool bracelet later, and I’m more confident and in-control than I’ve ever been.
— Abby W.

Thank you for letting me into your lives today! Sharing my story has healed me a little more, and I hope it has helped someone else heal a little too. If I could sum up all of what I have learned these past eight years, it would be this: I am not my trich, but trich has made me who I am. Keep fighting and smiling, and know you have a great bfrb network to fall back on.

This is Abby, signing off 


Thank you again, Abby. & Thank you, Keen family, for letting us in to your lives & helping you become the best versions of yourself. As Abby said, keep fighting + smiling!

love + awareness,

Aneela


About Keen by HabitAware

HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.

Order now & sign up for our e-newsletter for helpful strategies, news & important product updates.

END THE STIGMA: Mental Healthiness for (not just) Tech/Startup Culture

As part of The HabitAware mission to end the stigma around body focused repetitive behaviors (bfrbs like hair pulling / trichotillomania, skin picking / dermatillomania, nail biting / onycophagia), our team coordinates events to share our first hand experience, build understanding around mental health issues & raise donations for TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors. 

On Friday 10/13/2017, our cofounder, Aneela, along with experienced entreprenuers, Thomas Knoll, Dana Severson and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT), Kimberly Knoll spoke at Twin Cities Startup Week 2017, Health Track event sponsored by Healthcare.MN

The event, "End the Stigma: Mental Healthiness for Tech/Startup Culture" was widely attended by Minneapolis+St. Paul residents in the tech industry, and had a focus on the impact mental health has on entrepreneurship and vice versa. We shared our experience with mental health issues and how they link to startups / tech culture. As a therapist, Kim also walked our audience through an amazing emotional regulation exercise that attendees now have in their toolkit.

Although the talk was tailored to this group, I believe anyone with an interest in their mental health will benefit from the recap & resources below! 

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Entrepreneurship & Mental Illness: Lonely Together

The lifestyle of being an entrepreneur is a bit manic. From ideation to exit, there are so many highs and lows on the journey to starting a company.

While there is likely a genetic pre-disposition to mental health disorders, it’s also likely that those same folks are “wired” for entrepreneurship given their high tolerance for risk-taking & dysfunction. As Steve Jobs once said:

In our talk, Dana shared how he developed anxiety in college, particularly a fear of flying. But, years later, he was an entrepreneur in a premiere accelerator program, which required flying to San Francisco on a weekly basis.

Although he is now quite outspoken about his mental health afflictions, Dana understands that many entrepreneurs don't want to talk about their conditions. He created Startups Anonymous as an online safe haven where founders can talk openly about their struggles and failures under anonymity.

Let's face it, no one wants to be seen as "flawed."

In order to end the stigma, we need to understand why people, including entrepreneurs, feel the need to hide their mental health conditions. 

I believe it is because acknowledging a mental health condition shows weakness. And weakness can allow others to call your ability into question, no matter how accomplished you may be. In the case of entrepreneurs, it could mean the difference between closing on a client contract or securing potential investment in your business idea.  

It is only by talking about our conditions that we will shift this perception & stereotype. The reality is that there are many high-functioning, successful people out there, who just happen to also have mental health conditions.

Should you Advise the Startup or the Entrepreneur?

Happiness does not equal success

Much is written about developing a company, but what about developing the founder, the maker, the hacker, the doer?

That's just what Thomas & Kim do. Their coaching develops the founder, not just as a business executive, but also as a productive member of society.

After having both worked at startups and mentored with top tier accelerator programs, like 500 Startups + Techstars, Thomas & Kim recognized a gap in the advisory industry for startups. They also spent time in Vegas, where they saw firsthand how a fanatical focus on happiness winds up destroying any chance at being happy. Unfortunately they've lost more than 1 founder-friend to suicide. Now they hope to help Twin Cities entrepreneurs develop the skills needed to keep their business healthy AND their mind healthy too.

Entrepreneurship is a lonely road...hey, so is mental illness!

According to the CDC almost 90% of entrepreneurs will develop anxiety or depression at some point in their career. Their loneliness drives their mental illness. The business world is wrought with frustration, sadness & pain. And often times, it's difficult to share these feelings with friends. Firstly, they just may not understand (especially if they are not entrepreneurs themselves). Secondly, fear & shame hold people back.

Startup culture dictates that you must always be "killing it!" So most put on this facade because of the gap between perceived reality vs. true reality. An entrepreneur may wonder, "Why is everyone else doing amazing?...If I let it out that I am not, people will think there is something wrong with me." And in doing so, that entrepreneur will decide to withdraw and hide out of shame. Does this sound familiar? It does to me, as a person with trichotillomania, hiding my hair pulling secret.

Emotional Regulation for Business Regulation

Entrepreneurs are supposed to be business savvy & rationale decision makers. As Kim pointed out, no decision is made without emotion. If your emotions are disregulated, you may find yourself getting overly anxious. This is your body going in to "fight or flight" response state. You simply cannot make informed, thoughtful decisions in this state of mind. So you need to learn to regulate those emotions!

For most people, the instinct is to avoid, or push down negative emotions like stress, fear, sadness or frustration. But the best way to overcome a negative feeling is to allow the feeling to occur - to acknowledge it, identify it, and FEEL it, without judgement.

Daily life of a entrepreneur is riddled with "fire drills." The knee-jerk reaction is to alleviate the anxiety or fear brought on by these "fire drills" by dealing with the issue immediately. And when you put out that fire, it's quite a rush! So you continue to feed into the cycle and suddenly, your whole day, week, month, year is filled with fire drills!

So how do you regulate our emotions?

You need to train yourself to be aware of when our emotions are getting out of control. Then you need to take stock of what is really going on. What are you really feeling - and where in the body is it manifesting? To process the emotion, you must entertain the beginning, middle & end of the feeling.

Deep breathing is an important tool to help in this respect. It's also scientifically proven to calm the body, mind & soul.

Here's 3 ways to practice deep breathing:

3) Thomas referenced the ever-helpful Daniel Tiger in learning how to take control of your emotions.

1) Kim recommends breathing in deeply for 4 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds.

2) My personal favorite, as taught to me by twitter-friend & psychologist, Dr. Ali Mattu, is thinking of it as smelling a hot, delicious slice of pizza (breathing in) and then blowing out birthday candles (breathing out).

 

Kim also took us all through a mindfulness exercise:

"Let's begin by taking 3 deep breaths. 
Now, as you shift your body in your chair to find a comfortable position, begin to close your eyes.
Try to quiet your mind of your to do list. If you find your mind wandering, let those thoughts go & bring yourself back.
Picture a river so deep and blue, with light glistening on the surface.
Imagine red and orange leaves fallen on the river bank. If your mind wanders, bring yourself back to the river.
Notice your body. What emotions do you feel in this moment? Where in your body do you feel them? Where in your body do you feel happy?
Now, identify your main emotion. Welcome it in, without judging it, or pushing it away.
Give that emotion a hug, whether positive or negative and then place it on the river. Watch the emotion float down the river. Wave goodbye.
Take 3 deep breaths & bring yourself back. Open your eyes. How do you feel?"

Getting a team on board

Mental healthiness is wonderful on an individual level, but its only when the collective takes part that we truly benefit. One of the main questions posed during our event was "How do we get others on our team to open up about what's bothering them?"

The resounding answer: by opening up ourselves. We need to lead by example and be vulnerable and honest about our own thought processes. The more we share, the more we chip away at the fortresses others have built around themselves. This is how we establish trust and can begin the process of healing.

It's OK to say that things are not OK!

Secrets make you sick

I truly believe that "Secrets make you sick." So the longer you hold it in, the more your body will ruminate on it, feed on it, and deteriorate because of it. Whether you are a founder or not, if you find yourself in a negative headspace, there is help and it is OK to seek it out. 

Here’s a quick primer on some of the more common mental health disorders, along with where to get help:

WHAT IS TRICHOTILLOMANIA? WHAT IS DERMATILLOMANIA? WHAT ARE BFRBS? 

Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) are the most common disorder you've never heard of. These issues are related to excessive self-grooming, anxiety management, or sensory stimulation. The most common BFRBs are trichotillomania (hair pulling), dermatillomania (skin picking), onychophagia (nail biting), dermatophagia (skin biting), rhinotillexomania (nose picking), as well as cheek biting and joint cracking. These behaviors tend to be chronic, and those who have them report feeling pleasure and/or pain from these habits. Although many people with BFRBs want to stop these behaviors, they are compelled to perform the behavior. Many hide the behaviors out of shame and embarrassment.

Additionally, many sufferers are not aware of them. Keen by HabitAware is a smart bracelet that uses custom gesture detection to help sufferers built their awareness and over time empowers them to take control of these behaviors.

 
 

Resources:

TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Canadian BFRB Support Network

PickingMe Foundation

WHAT IS OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can cause life disrupting anxiety. Everyone has intrusive thoughts sometimes, but when you have OCD it is invasive and won't go away. Examples include excessive concerns with right and wrong, fear of harming others, perfectionism, and contamination. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors of thoughts used to get rid of an obsession. The more you engage in a compulsion, the worse and stronger the obsession gets. People with OCD feel the need to engage in compulsions in order to get rid of the obsessive thoughts and the accompanying paralyzing and life disrupting anxiety they're experiencing. Examples of compulsions include mental reviewing, seeking assurance checking.

Resources:

International OCD Foundation

The OCD Stories Podcast

WHAT ARE ANXIETY + DEPRESSION?

"Anxiety disorders are characterized by a general feature of excessive fear (i.e. emotional response to perceived or real threat) and/or anxiety (i.e. worrying about a future threat) and can have negative behavioral and emotional consequences." (Source)

"Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general for more than two weeks and when the feelings interfere with daily activities. Major depression is a treatable illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and functions. At any point in time, 3 to 5 percent of people suffer from major depression; the lifetime risk is about 17 percent." (Source)

Resources:

Anxiety & Depression Association of America

Anxiety in Teens

WHAT IS ADHD/ADD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. They are commonly used to reference the same condition.

The three main symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivityimpulsivity and inattention. All of these impact behavior, mood and thinking. That’s why ADHD meets the criteria for mental illness.

Resources:

ADDitude

General Mental Health Resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 

Mental Health in the Tech Community:

Open Source Mental Illness (OSMI)

Local Therapists, specializing in the mental health needs for entrepreneurs:

Further Reading:

Daring Greatly, Brene Brown

The Upside of your Dark Side, Todd Kashdan 

The Power of Music:

Lastly, I leave you with this: Music has the ability to empower sufferers and break down stigma. Infusing the mental health conversation into pop culture is a crucial part of making progress. 

Logic ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid perform "1-800-273-8255" at the 2017 MTV VMAs. 

PLEASE REMEMBER: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

DO NOT WAIT TO SEEK HELP.

PREVENTATIVE CARE IS THE BEST CARE.

Be Alive Today.

with love & awareness,

Aneela


About Keen by HabitAware

HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.

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