New Year, New Site

Hello, all! Hope you have all stuck around whilst I’ve been taking some time away from posting every waking moment. If so, I truly appreciate you and your support for my content.

With that appreciation, I now ask for a huge favor in my next endeavor. I’ve hinted at it in the past, but only recently have I taken the plunge and have gone head-first into new territory.

Yes, I now have my own domain, a new self-running website, and new content to spring at you. I want to fully dedicate myself to the world of blogging, which means each post will involve more time and effort to hopefully better serve as a resource for my readers.

So what’s new with my site? alliemaelynn.com is still just me, the same ol’ person at the keyboard typing away about whatever I deem important and inspirational to discuss. I’ll still be discussing the same types of topics I already do, including mental health, spirituality, and sustainability. These are all still very important to me.

However, I really want to hone in on these topics into one overarching goal: to help others live a life prioritizing wellness. I’ve always considered the term “wellness” as one requiring a multi-faceted understanding of physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of ourselves.

By becoming more mindful and grounded in what makes us better selves, we can then translate that into wellness beyond ourselves. We are more aware of how our choices and actions affect others and the world around us. This is where my passions for sustainability, veganism, and advocacy come into play. We establish the foundation of wellness within ourselves, and then we can focus our intentions outward.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what else is new besides an actual domain name? Since I plan to take more time with each post I write to ensure they can be easily shared and helpful for you, I’m cutting back on how often I post each week. Let’s be honest, it was already crazy busting out 5 posts every week, but I still plan on sharing 3 different posts: one post for your own wellness, one for outward wellness, and one for me just to chat about whatever tickles my fancy. As always, you can find these posts shared across my social media platforms with a new emphasis on Pinterest.

These three posts each week will also include a new tidbit at the end of my long-form rambling, and that is a mindful meditation. In a few short sentences, I’m including a spiritually inclined devotion to provide a higher focus and purpose behind what I share, as well as start the day on a gracious, humble foot. A goal for myself this year is to become more open and involved in my faith rather than tiptoe around it in fear of offending others, but at the end of the day, this is my site, and if you’re here for my opinions and beliefs, then that’s a big part of it.

Besides all that jazz, I’m just going with the flow and seeing where this new step takes me. With greater flexibility and independence on my own website, I really have no clue what possibilities could come from this, but I’d really love to be able to make my blog a “side hustle,” as the kids call it, and put my heart and soul into my work. Not like I already did, but now I have a reason to be more focused and serious about what I do as an online creative.

Again, thank you all so much for being a part of this journey. I highly encourage you to join me on alliemaelynn.com and subscribe to my posts. Share my site and posts with others who might benefit from them, and please provide any feedback you have so I can make my site a resourcefor you to enjoy.

Change is scary, and so is going into an unknown where I could fall flat on my face, but I’m ready for the challenge.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Virtual Assistance

“Those crazy millennials, always glued to their smart phones and computers! Always needing wifi! Not appreciating talking to people in actual conversations! Where did we go wrong?”

Ah, have to love the sound of older generations’ critiques of how young people are choosing to live and take care of themselves. As if we are completely inadequate when forming genuine relationships just because social media is a go-to platform to do so.

Recently, I’ve been hearing more about different websites and mobile apps that not only connect you to other people who can truly empathize with you, but there’s also now therapy services strictly online. You could choose to just chat with someone (still qualified) as if in a messenger-type app if that’s what you prefer.

The first question that comes to mind when considering these new options is, are they actually effective? Are they the same thing as going in-person to a psychologist’s office or visiting a support group?

With the proliferation of recognizing mental illness comes a new need to treat it. This has exposed the drastic gap between those who do seek treatment, and those who cannot. Over half of the developed world and going-on ninety percent of people with mental illness are not receiving the treatment they need. As the system currently stands, this isn’t necessarily something you can fix overnight when there aren’t enough professionals to account for that many people, let alone have those people under health insurance plans that allow them to visit and afford treatment.

That’s where mobile apps and websites come in. They have the potential to act as a digital bridge to alleviate the gap, providing at least similar services to people who would otherwise receive nothing whatsoever. Isn’t something better than nothing? Yes, I would say so.

But not all apps are made equal. If you search “depression” or “mental health” into the App Store search engine, you’re going to stumble upon a lot of apps that are either garbage, or just a big scam for money. Technology is moving much faster than science, so a majority of the apps you’ll see aren’t extensively studied in their effectiveness. Some could even be harmful. If people aren’t looking into what they’re downloading, then down the rabbit hole they’ll fall.

As a general suggestion, I would say to not rely on a free app for mental health treatment entirely. I would say the same thing for any form of treatment: if you can diversify your toolbox, you’ll be better prepared for whatever may arise.

The fact you could receive a form of relief in such a convenient, flexible medium demonstrates how far we’ve come in treating mental health at all. You can be connected to professionals, talk directly to them, or go solo by tracking your moods and practicing mindfulness.

Admittedly, I’ve used apps in the past to help me in therapy. When strictly focusing on my eating disorder, I was using the Rise Up + Recover app to input my food and whatever else at the time I was tracking to keep myself accountable. I’ve tried the trial run of meditation apps like Headspace to introduce myself to mindfulness in an accessible way. I recently downloaded Huddle just for kicks since it promotes itself as a safe space to form support groups with others and be extremely honest yet selectively private as you so choose.

There are also websites/apps like BetterHelp that are essentially therapy sessions you can conduct through text, audio, or video chat. You’re paying for actual healthcare services with actual counselors. Compared to the normal scenario, you’re saving money, except it’d be even better if insurance companies got on board with covering new unconventional platforms (and, let’s face it, general mental health care).

You have to evaluate yourself on if this would be beneficial or not. When it’s online and on smartphones, that brings about the negative side effects that come with addiction and overuse. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable dappling into something new, especially in an area that currently lacks research and evidence, and that’s okay, too.

I see this as the future, and we’re eventually all going in this direction. Heck, even for normal health services, never did I think I’d have an app allowing me to send messages to my doctor and read lab results right there. We’re at the forefront where there is still great ambiguity and unregulated progress.

There’s always going to be the pros and cons present, but the possibilities at this point are hopeful and exciting. As someone who rarely uses counseling services due to insurance coverage, lack of flexible treatment, and general lackluster results, this could be the start of something very helpful for many people.

What are your thoughts on online/mobile mental health apps? Are they more of a harm or a help?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Who’s Next?

A lot of this news goes back to my time doing Ground in Gratitude, so I really didn’t have a chance to discuss it.

But the news keeps coming. Someone new every day, it seems. It feels like what it would be living in the McCarthy era accusing each other of Communist ties.

Countless women are now coming forward to point out a past of sexual misconduct from male coworkers, men that just so happen to be in the public eye.

It’s a lot to take in. For some people fired on the spot, it’s hard to believe the claims, even as a woman myself proud that others are standing up for their rights and are brave enough to come forward.

There is no good or bad way to go about this, the process of accusing others, addressing it, and experiencing the aftermath. But when it all seems to ripple upon each other, the same message over and over again, it turns into the phenomenon associated with terrorism and mass shootings: we see the same kind of news and headlines, and we start to become numb to it all. We aren’t taken aback anymore. We don’t feel much of anything.

That lack of empathy hurts the most. When we’re constantly aware of every bit of news out there, numbers and names become less human. These are people, as real as you and I, facing some difficult burdens. And yet we can only do and feel so much before it gets far too overwhelming. Plus, these countless individuals coming forward, anonymous or not, deserve better than mediocre, half-hearted sentiments. They deserve action.

Again, I don’t want to somehow compare apples to oranges in referring back to gun violence in this scenario, but I’m getting this quick post out there for others who might feel the same way. When our dialogue surrounding current events becomes the same story over and over again, that raises a red flag. We have the energy to be so intent in keeping up and knowing who’s who, but we could devote more to moving forward, too.On that note, I and so many of us can probably make a personal connection to these claims and scenarios. Even on my campus, recently two footballs players were accused of rape and sexual assault. The administration later held an open forum for students to ask questions, and the answers were…less than satisfying.

Like so many issues, we’re quick to point out the flaws in the system, but we’re at a loss when deciding how to effectively address the problem and prevent its recurrence.

Admittedly, the problem of sexual misconduct isn’t all occurring at the same time: we just all decided to speak out about it at once, turning into a crowd of people all shouting at the same volume, trying to be heard. The men whose reputations are tainted are becoming a wall of faces, blurring out of immediate focus.

Those who have done wrong deserve to face the consequences. Besides the presidency (did we forget about that?), entities have done well in handling issues of sexual misconduct. But this is cleaning up the mess that’s always been there.

For however long it might take, we’ll keep seeing the news pop up with someone new at fault. Once this subsides, the real question will be, what are we doing differently? How are we solving this problem? Those who need justice will receive what’s coming to them in due time. I’m more interested now in seeing what comes next. Is it truly a phase that will just die down and pass by like another trend? Or will we start seeing headlines about changes in major industries changing policies and leadership? Let’s stop hitting the rewind button. I want to hear more about here and now: what can we all do now to make a difference and put humanity back in the recycled headlines?Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie