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

You’ve Got Mail

My family every year still writes and sends out Christmas cards to friends and family. The whole Shutterfly-type photo collage and a highlight reel of the past year.

Turns out, we’re few and far between for those who actually send these out anymore. It costs money, yes, and I guess there’s texting and email to stay updated, but there’s still something special about opening a mailbox to see a handwritten envelope to you, a return address from someone you maybe haven’t heard from in awhile.It’s almost cliche now to discuss the commercialism and hullbaloo of the holidays. Flash sales and flashing lights and flashy toys you don’t need, oh my! I guess for those looking at seasonal finances, paying for postage and stamps for Christmas cards is probably cut out before buying certain wishlist items and going all-out in the decor.But beyond my family’s own tradition of Christmas cards, on my trip back to college after Thanksgiving, my mom stuck in a box of holiday greeting cards and envelopes. Originally, I was planning on not doing much, as I do every year, just sending out a text to friends on Christmas Day & calling it good.

A little voice inside me though said, “Why not do more?” So I listened. And now I’m in the process of writing and mailing a bunch of handwritten cards to friends expressing my love and gratitude. Just because. The season of giving makes it timely, but really, you don’t realize the difference it makes telling someone in person or writing out your thoughts rather than just texting or messaging.

It’s extra effort obviously, but the joy I’ve gotten from the process has been astounding. I’m excited to hear about how my friends will open their mailboxes to see their name because who doesn’t love receiving mail? And especially with how few families send out Christmas letters and cards, chances are slim individuals do it either.

I’ve grown up always sending thank-you cards. Often it was tedious and I was not happy about doing it, especially around Christmas when there’s many opportunities to give thanks for gifts and support. Now I don’t even bat an eye about writing them…heck, I’d feel weird not doing it. But you don’t realize how much something so little can mean to someone. We don’t expect others to go above and beyond to send a card or letter just to say thank-you when other modes of communication are so much faster. But with speed comes ease, and that message loses a lot of meaning and value. It’s like my thoughts on saying “I love you”: I rarely say it to others, especially family, because I don’t want it to become automatic, just a statement you make to break silence or say goodbye. I want people to know I really mean it. Not that those who do say it often don’t mean it, but those are just my own reservations.I still am the one sending mass texts to my contact list on holidays, but for this season, I want to make sure that what I say, I mean. If I wasn’t a college student on a budget, maybe I’d include a gift in there, but if I were to receive a card from a loved one personally addressed to me, I’d be blown away.

Doing this has also reminded me just how blessed I am. Let’s be real, I grew up not having a lot of friends and always struggling to relate and connect with others. I still get really anxious about if I’m worthy enough, if I have enough people, if I’m doing enough, all on top of social anxiety so often crippling me in basic situations. However, I still filled a post-it note with names of those I’d like to contact. I was appalled. I know so many amazing people who I call my true friends, distant or nearby, who support me and accept me as I am. That’s the greatest gift I could ever ask for.It doesn’t have to be a card or letter. Maybe to you, giving a little extra could mean spending more quality time with others. Calling friends rather than texting them. Exchanging gifts, big or small. We tend to go above and beyond in other aspects of the holidays, but maybe we should do so in simple ways, in the ways not visible driving past your house or sitting under the Christmas tree.

What little acts of kindness could you do for those you love?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie