10 #SelfCare Tips for Trichotillomania

Anyone with a Trichotillomania knows certain things that make our pulling better, others make them much worse.

Not often discussed however, is how to take care of ourselves in between. Below are my current ways to to take care of my trichotillomania. More tips to follow on cheek-biting and others. These tips are only my current ones, and constantly adapting. My experiences but I hope they may helps some! Feel free to add your own in the comments.

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1. Rosemary Oil– This has been a favourite of mine for a long time. I read somewhere once that rosemary oil, being an oil that carries heat is good for bruises. One year after an event that involved far too many barricades to move-I needed to get rid of some bruises. It works great for bruises but is also known to increase hair growth. I haven’t delved into the specifics of this, but it feels good, smells amazing and that’s enough for me! I put it on bald spots mostly or add into my hot oil hair treatments.

2. Coconut Oil- Hopping on the coconut oil train like everyone else. It’s awesome and is great for making hair feel soft but also nurturing.

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3. Hair Brushes- I admit sometimes I go full Rapunzel and brushing my hair repeatedly “…47, 48, 49, 50.” It makes my scalp feel good and is good for my hair too. Big fan of a bamboo comb like this one I bought at The Body Shop a few years ago.

4. Braids- More of a coping strategy, but they’re fun to do and great for when I need a brain break.

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5. Working Out- I’m not the greatest at this, but it does help clear my mind when I’m active. Arm days are great- hard too pull when your arms are sore.

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6. Outdoor Walks– Being in nature, experiencing nature and because I’m in Canada, and it’s cold half the year- hats and mits make pulling impossible.

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7. Hair Cuts- I’ve talked about the hair dresser before in The Dreaded Hair Dresser. Once I’m comfortable with a stylist however, getting my hair dyed and cute feels great and luxurious!

8. Fake Eye-Lashes- I’ve been pulling from my eyelashes almost exclusively as of late. This tip is also somewhat of a coping mechanism, but when I put on fake eyelashes I’m far less self conscious when in public which is definitely a self-care win!

9. Hot Oil Treatments- Caring for my hair and making it feels super soft making this one of my favourite tips. Coconut oil and a bit of tea tree oil or rosemary oil mixed into the mix makes my hair smell equally as lovely.

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10. Cooking-I find cooking really relaxing and as such it makes pulling less of a focus. Food as fuel is also key ❤  Continue reading “10 #SelfCare Tips for Trichotillomania”

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Oh right, #SelfCare

I forget to take care of myself quite often. I like to help others, I like to keep busy, I fall victim to “hustle culture” all the time. I discuss this in my last blog Selfcare vs. Me, and although I’m bad at taking care of myself I do see the need. The past few weeks I’ve been trying to find ways to make both worlds co-exist and so far it’s been a beautiful journey.

My ambitious self, and my human self living happily together, through selfcare.

Below are a few of my current favourite ways to practice self-care.

  1. Baths- I’ve always been a fan of bubble baths, dim the lights, watch a movie and just relax- A glass of wine does’t hurt either.
  2. Time in Nature- This is new for me. I recently got a car, which makes escaping to where there’s no sidewalks much easier. I’ve loved spending more time observing the world, listening to the rustle of a tree, the tweet of a bird. I took a walk in Point Pleasant Park with the dog the other day, and left my phone at home- it was pure magic.
  3. Good Book- I’m not a reader, I used to be, but unfortunately university has made enjoying reading hard for me. Slowly I’m craving the need to read, in particular in the mornings while I enjoy my cup of coffee. Currently I’m reading Mona Awad’s “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl” which focuses on the realities and struggles of body-image.
  4. Unplug- I’m bad at this, so very very bad, however when I do succeed at turning off my technologies I do love the sensation. It’s freeing and enthralling all at once.
  5. Fancy Coffee- I’m a big coffee fan-we get along like peanut butter and jelly, but sometimes my regular cup of joe is more fuel than it is sustenance. I love a good afternoon or evening spent in a coffee shop with a fancy latte. A treat in itself, but the people watching and environment also help to heal my mind and it’s very relaxing.
  6. Healthy Food- As of late I’m trying to eat more nutrious foods. Less carbs, more veg and certainly cutting out the dairy products, due to an allergy. I found dairy-free Mac n’ cheese the other day and it made me so happy!
  7. Sleep- Oh boy sleep, I love it, I hate it- we fight. Sometimes I want to sleep all day, other times I force myself to wakeup at 6am to be productive. I’m trying to get a minimum of 7hrs of sleep lately, and it’s been helping. My fitbit has been a huge part of tracking, and reminding me of this very important part of life.
  8. Working Out- I’m so bad at this. I see the need. I recognize the importance. I see the benefits. I just can’t seem to get my butt to the gym, or dance class, or for a walk. It’s a time thing, but also a lack of making time. Working on this but slowly it’s becoming a part of my habitual health.
  9. Time with Friends- Hold your friends close ❤
  10. Cooking-I made miso soup the other day, next up sushi! I’ve enjoyed putting on a random independent movie, drinking a good glass of wine and cooking as of late. It’s a necessity of life and honestly the distraction is nice.
  11. Going to the doctor- I suffered a back injury last summer, and finally I got it looked at- six months later. Turns out it was a sprain in one of my vertebrae, and now I’m besties with my physiotherapist. If something hurts- take care of it, don’t push through the pain.
  12. Critter Snuggles-When I get busy I don’t appreciate my pets as I should. We’re cuddling more and taking more walks right now. They are always there for a snuggle, listen to every rant and concerned by every tear. In return I’m working on being  thankful for every tail wag and nuzzle.

A reminder never hurts-take care of yourself friends. 


Join the conversation! Give this post a share, a like or a comment! Spread the word about mental health, and body-focused repetitive behaviours.<3 -A

#SelfCare vs. Me.

I struggle with the practice of self-care. I understand the need. I understand the concept. I love the glamorization of it- I’m just bad at practicing it.

I tend to live by the “hustle til’ you crash” model of life. I’ll volunteer, work, study, write, socialize, refuel on caffeine, eat too much dairy and eventually just CRASH. 

Sometimes that crash is manageable, a weekend of solitude or an evening with a book will do it. Other times my body downright fights back and I get so sick I am forced to to do nothing for weeks on end. It’s rather inconvenient. 

It happened this Fall following a busy summer, even crazier fall, a move, a trip and some other drama in my life. I fought through what I though was a cold for months, only to finally cave and go to the doctor discovering I had pneumonia. Three weeks on the couch, and now a few months later I can honestly say I am feeling healthy again.

Why does this happen though? Why can’t my body, my mind and my abilities keep up to the pace I want them too? Why can’t I just burn the midnight oil, wakeup at 6am, drink eight cups of coffee, run on take-out and thrive like I want to?

The answer is simple- I’m human. 

That’s the hardest pill to swallow. The fact that as much as I want to do all those things, and I want to be super-human- I’m not.

I’m trying to focus more on self-care this year, looking after me and my own personal health, both physical and mental. Stay-tuned for some of my favourite self-care tips relating to both general mental health and body-focused repetitive behaviours in the coming weeks.

Always remember-it’s not selfish to take care of yourself, it’s necessary.


Join the conversation! Give this post a share, a like or a comment! Spread the word about mental health, and body-focused repetitive behaviours.<3 -A

That Conference Life.

 

I love conferences.

I hate conferences.

…We have a complicated relationship. 

I’m all about opportunity. Not one to turn down a chance to meet someone new, to broaden my horizons or to learn.

I am, however, an introvert. I do have Trichotillomania. 

I love the travelling, the flying, the exploring of new places. It energizes me, makes me feel worthwhile and gives me a fresh focus. What I do however struggle with is the constant need to be “on”. Ready to chat, ready to focus on the task at hand- collaboration, teamwork, networking, talking. Whatever you want to call it.

It’s exhausting. 

Adding in the need to share a room with someone new, and to spend social hours, not by yourself, but with others I find myself only relaxing when I sleep. Trichotillomania is hard to hide, but even more so when you are surrounded by people 24/7. Bathrooms, gym sessions and early morning hot tubs become your refuge.

This past weekend I had the privilege to attend the Girl Guides of Canada National Link Conference. The first of it’s kind. Bridging the opportunities, programming and smarts of young women guiders into one, ensuring we are supported and welcoming into the guiding world. Yet seeing as it was my first conference since I started blogging I felt it was an excellent opportunity to reflect.

Here’s a few tips for surviving your next conference:

  1. Find “you” time. Go for a walk, wake-up early and go to the gym. Actively leave a session a bit early. Take your lunch to go. Take time for yourself, not only will it help you, but you will be more effective at the conference if you do.
  2. Strategic Hair Styles will be your friend. Braids, hats, buns, whatever you need to do.
  3. Fiddle things. Eat candy, play with pens, hold cups of coffee, play with elastics. Do what you have to do to keep yourself occupied during those long conversations and presentations.
  4. Offer to be the group writer. It’s hard to pull when writing, or leading a group discussion. Offer to take notes to keep your hands busy. Or to ensure you have a role.
  5. Nom nom nom. I’m that person at conferences who is ALWAYS snacking. Sure I’m a university student and access to copious amounts of fruit and veggies is awesome, but also eating all the time is helpful for my urge to pull. Hard to pull when you’re chewing on an apple and wondering if it’s stuck in your teeth.
  6. Embrace who you are. You have a BFRB. It’s a mental illness. Just because you are with a group of individuals who may not know what that is, it’s okay. Share if you feel like it, don’t if you can’t. It’s okay. Be who you are.

Let’s Connect! My goal in this blog is to create a community, help others and in turn grow myself. This is not just about sharing my story, but those of others- Want to collaborate? Suggest a post? Ask a question? Meet to chat? I’m all ears! Send me an email or connect via @AnaSmallwood on twitter or instagram. 

 

 

Self Care- Not just for Sundays.

Life has a way of getting away from me. Like a train at full-steam ahead my life moves fast, and the ride is always ongoing. I volunteer with many organizations, manage a few committees, I work two jobs, I’m a student, and I try to maintain some semblance of a social life. I’m busy. 

Add all of this, a little bit of stress, caffeine, and an unhealthy attachment to my agenda and iCalendar and you’ve got all the ingredients to life lived by Anastasia Smallwood.

Being busy, never being idle, is a coping mechanism, but it also makes me happy. Idleness has never been something I enjoy. Sure a day or two is fine, but more than that and you’ll find me re-organizing my room, finding tasks where there weren’t any before, and finally, if idle long enough I lose ambition to do anything (a scary place).

Sometimes, perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of forgetfulness, I forget to put me on the top of my daily task list. Forgetting to eat properly, to exercise, to sleep. Giving much, taking little. Months of avoiding this can mean I run my weekly marathon on steam, and then on fumes, and then again on nothing at all.

Often times avoiding taking care of myself results in a need for a weekend of solitude, a few days to re-coup with some classical music, tea, wine and my thoughts. Other times, thankfully less frequent I end up sick, and I mean real sick-ick. Being sick is never fun, but with being stuck in bed comes a list of uncompleted tasks and that STRESSES me out. Nerves that make my stomach turn, sleep seem unnecessary and my hair pulling and skin-picking frequency jump at alarming rates.

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As I pick-up the pieces of my life post bronchial and chest infection, post-exhaustion, and after learning my lesson (this time anyways) remember to take care of yourself this weekend. For the biggest priority in your life should be you, regardless the day of the week ❤ 

 

10 Ways Tricky Trichsters Fight the Urge to Pull

A fiddle toy is not a musical instrument.

I’m that annoying kid in class who clicks their pen, not sorry, it’s a coping mechanism.

The following is a far from a comprehensive list as to the ways Trichsters cope with the urge to pull. They are my own experiences. Feeling the need to lighten the mood a bit, so enjoy these gifs and memes- I did.

1. Fiddle Toys

The majority of articles and resources for Trichsters promote the use of stress balls, fiddle toys (the weird wormy thing you see above), and other toys meant for tactile stimulation. Although I’ve had minimal success with these, at times I have used them, so they’ve been included #whynot

2. Worry Rocks

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Stones, pebbles, bottle caps, and elastic bands all serve the same purpose here for me. Not necessarily stress/worry relieving, but they serve as a way of keeping my fingers busy

3. Hats

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Hard to pull when your hair is covered. Also see Day 3: Braids, Buns and Hats- The Art of Hiding

4. Hairstyles are major key

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Sometimes it’s ridiculous the number of hair styles I go through before leaving the house in the morning. Pony-tail to braid to bun to a combination before finally deciding to leave my hair down. It really depends on my mood, the type of day, and how confident I’m feeling. My biggest insecurity is my hair. My opinion of my hair as I leave the house plays a huge roll in how much I’ll pull or play with my hair in any given day

5. Hot beverages

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Now I do really just enjoy coffee & tea. Those who know me can certainly attest to that, but hot beverages serve another purpose. I’m a clumsy person (thanks mom), and so holding hot cups is best done with two hands. Can’t pull when you hands are busy protecting your precious caffeine

6. Pen Caps

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I’ve stopped the pen clicking- I just don’t buy them. Although I do love putting the caps on and off of my pens… slightly less annoying

7. Rings and Necklaces

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Rarely will you find me without a necklace and a ring on, both physical things that I can’t lose (as easily), that I can fiddle with if necessary

8. Keeping Busy

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As I eluded to in Day 2: But Doesn’t It Hurt? I LOVE keeping busy, as for me idleness is the downfall of all resolve not to pull. An emotional coping mechanism if ever there is one. Free time, as rare as it is in my life, is when my pulling is at it’s worst

9. Just Hiding.

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As we all do, somedays I just need to take a break and hide for a while. A day to not worry about what my hair looks like, to not have to hide my pulling. Accepting that pulling is part of who I am has allowed me to finally enjoy these days without guilt. Now I cherish them, accepting they are going to happen, and focus on ways of taking care of me #selfcare

10.  I Resort to Other BFRBs…

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Over the years through attempts to hide my pulling I’ve developed other Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours, but thats a story for tomorrow.

This is by far a complete list, some other coping strategies suggested by the TLC Foundation can be found here, all 50 ways! Check-out the other resources I’ve started to compile in Helpful Links & Articles.

Now go tackle Wednesday! 

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