Is Summer Ever Ending?

Things are humid here. Think: hair frizzing as big as Nanny Fine's kind of humid. Less put together but just as large. We've had such a good summer here. We were able to go up to New Hampshire on vacation for a week, we've been to the beach a few times, swimming in the lake, went kayaking, visited submarines, we've gone on a hike, and so much more fun stuff. We had a wholesome summer filled with memories. 

But my heart is in Autumn. Always autumn. The cool, crisp air. The color palette. The spookiness. It calls to me like a lost lover. I will admit, I hate that winter follows it. It's a beautiful season filled with a tranquil calm. A reminder good things must come to an end, but they always come back. The seasons teach us things often come in cycles. Little rhythm patterns. Sometimes I wish I lived in a place without winter but I know it brings me this sense of humbleness. Things are uncomfortable in winter. The bulkiness of clothes I feel are weighing me down, the constant drip from my nose, the redness of my cheeks, the shoveling of the cars with sore muscles we could only wish hot chocolate could cure. On the plus side, the beauty of winter is honestly unmatched. The coziness. Curling up with movies, making snowmen, peppermint coffee, lots of baked goods to keep your house warm. 

Although I'm over the humidity, I am sad to see summer go. What did you do this summer? What's your favorite season?

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Shayna Shattelroe

25 years old. Mama to Maddox. Word weaver. Lover of love. Coffee addict. Psychological science student. 

A woman of curious nature, my name is Shayna. I am wild & reserved. Humbled & proud. Quiet & clamorous. Strange & familiar. I live in the trees of New England typing away as lifestyle blogger. You can always find me with a coffee cup in one hand and a book in the other.

Blogging since 2005, I’ve had an innumerable amount of blogs on a vast number of platforms. Finally, I’ve found one to call home: The Lovely Cicada. This blog is a piece of myself I extend to you.

8 Self Care Apps For A Better You

Self Care Apps For A Better You

 Calm

Having a mindfulness practice is something I incorporate into my daily life. Allowing me time to reflect in silence and simply be has made me an all around calmer person. With Calm, I'm able to enhance my mindfulness. They have the most beautiful sleep stories, meditation options, sounds, and music. Simply opening the app is relaxing with their beautiful visuals and soothing sounds. They have sessions for guided meditation, walking meditation, open-ended meditation or even topics such as stress, kindness, forgiveness, and so many others. As you meditate, Calm begins to compile a calendar for you so you can visual how often (or how seldom) you are incorporating meditation and calmness into your days. To keep you motivated, it even gives you the amount of time you've meditated, the amount of sessions you've done, and your longest day streak. For sleep, they have sounds you can play or even sleep stories to listen to. There's a melody called "Milky Way" and the tune is ethereal, otherworldly, and so calming it puts my son out within minutes and makes my eyes heavy as I lay down with him. There are so many amazing options within this app. It's perfect to add a little calm to our busy lives.

Headspace

Headspace, like Calm, is a meditation app. Headspace believes that meditation and mindfulness is a necessary to help relieve stress and anxiety while upping creativity and focus. Even if you've never meditated before, Headspace will guide you through it. If you're busy, they even have mini exercises you can do at any time that last anywhere from 1-3 minutes. If you're looking for something specific, they have sessions for anxiety, productivity, anger, regret, and more. A simple 10-minute meditation is a great beginner to start becoming more mindful and aware of oneself and Headspace allows you to do just that. 

Happify

Happiness relies on games and activities for emotional support and happiness. Each track within the app is science-based to help train your thoughts into positivity and reduce your stress and anxiety. Follow the tracks to help you acquire the skills you need to conquer the negative thoughts. Each track is different ranging from guided meditation to writing exercises. There is also an option to see your "skills" which is composed of five different ones: Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give, and Empathize. As you do the activities, those status bars begin to fill up. They also have a section that tells you "why it works" and the literature even has footnotes to links so you can read or research more. The app is great if you like science-backed apps, games, and positive thinking. It sounds like a lot but the app is user-friendly and extremely innovative for  online, personal mental health support. 

Grateful: Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal will help focus on your appreciation for the things that matter most. It's easy for us to get caught up in the negative moments but it's important to remember the little things, the things that keep our heart beating and our laughter loud and our smile wide. Each journal session begins with a prompt to help guide your thoughts. You can use one of theirs or even create your own prompt. It also allows you to add a photo – maybe you took a photo of your kids that day or were really grateful for an amazing meal or attending an exciting event. When you want to go back and reflect, the app makes it easy by allowing you to view as a timeline or as a page. If you want to turn it into a physical journal, Grateful makes it easy to export as a PDF so you can always be reminded of what made and makes you grateful. 

All Trails

Love hiking? Well, this app helps you locate any and all trails (get it?) and even allows you to choose between length, difficulty, rating, location, and so forth and gives you detailed trail maps.  Not only that but you can favorite different trails to tackle in the future and find which ones are dog and kid friendly. When you find one and are ready to hit the trails, you can turn on your GPS and it'll follow you along the trail making sure you don't get lost. Connect with friends to share and find trail inspiration. Nothing beats the outdoors and this definitely ups the game to make your hikes even more exciting. 

Think Dirty

As you're shopping, scan barcodes of beauty products and Think Dirty will tell you how bad or good the ingredients. With almost 900,000 products, Think Dirty will tell you how good or toxic the ingredients are in the items you use daily. All you have to do is scan the barcodes of your beauty or personal care products and it'll let you know how "dirty" it is on their "dirty meter." It also lists off the ingredients for you so you can judge yourself. If you want, you can even save products for future shopping trips so you have your good and bad list on hand. The app also allows you to track your progress on limiting the bad products and will give you a score on toxic your bathroom shelf is. This app is great to keep you aware of what's going on your body. 

Stigma

1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by a mental or neurological disorder. Stigma is a mood journal that is meant to help relieve some of your suffering. It allows you to choose the mood you're currently feeling and then gives you a journal space to describe who/what/why/when/where/etc that may be attributing to how you're feeling. Not only that but as you set your moods, the app begins to generate a calendar for you so you can see how your mood rises and falls throughout time. Mental illness often focuses on the negative days and weeks you may be having but this app can show you the positives as well so you have a visual that the bad can and does pass. It also provides a community for those struggling with mental health and gives you "penpals" to connect to. 

Acorns

Saving and investing money can be a daunting task, but Acorns makes it easy by setting aside your spare change to grow your own personal wealth. Acorns syncs with your cards and rounds up the change from whatever purchases you make. So if you bought a coffee for $4.50, the app will invest $.40. The perk is – it seems so painless you'll never really notice it's gone but it'll all start adding up into a nice little savings in the long term. Don't knock off spare change and start investing it today with Acorns. 

These apps should not replace stepping away from technology and practicing mindfulness in a more "natural" fashion. However, these are great teachers to help us start somewhere and track our mental health. 

Whats your favorite self care app? 

Journaling to Ease Anxiety, Boost Productivity, and Create A Clearer Mind

Journaling to Ease Anxiety

When I was younger, I received a Lisa Frank journal. Bright colors of blues and pinks and greens and yellows splashed over three ballerina bunnies. It came complete with my own lock and key so I could keep my 7-year-old thoughts a secret. The first page of it asked things like my favorite color, movie, sports, cartoon, etc. and the rest of it were lined, allowing me to confess how much I loved spaghetti and hated lobster. 

Since then, I've owned countless amounts of journals. Composition notebooks, moleskines, locked diaries, lined, plain, etc. I've saved so many of them and even have my old Harry Potter journal. Journaling is a calming, self-care ritual. It's a place I can make my thoughts more tangible, more fluid. I write poems, I doodle, I do stream-of-consciousness writing, I write down my dreams, my tarot readings, my hopes, my goals, I write letters to my son, I write weekly activities and things that need to get done. It's my way of organizing my thoughts and my way of creating. 

What It Helps

Productivity

Starting mornings by writing in a journal can boost your productivity. Instead of waking up and opening your phone, you start the day by refreshing and clearing your mind and it will increase your focus for the rest of the day. 

Creativity

If you feel you don't have creativity, you do. You just have to find it. One way to do that is by writing out your thoughts, reaching into your subconscious, and pulling out who you are. It helps you put ideas onto paper without worry of repercussions and it helps you become more in tune with yourself.

Organization

Keeping track of to-do lists, goal-setting, and forming good habits can all be achieved with a bullet journal. A cluttered, disorganized life puts more stress on us. Reduce it by organizing your life and your mind with a journal. 

Analyzation

Most of the time I write and never return to reread it. However, there are times when I'm in a rush and I write down my tarot spread or my dreams or an emotional issue I'm dealing with. I can return to it at a later date and analyze what's going on in my subconscious mind and look at it with new eyes. It gives you the opportunity to examine yourself, your mind, your emotions, and your current or previous experiences. 

Clarity

Pulling your thoughts from your mind and placing them onto paper helps you sort out and understand them. 

Anxiety

The stroke of pen on paper is soothing and the idea of writing is similar to meditation. Expressive journaling allows you to explore your feelings and gives you the tools to help you process them. 

Journaling to Ease Anxiety, Boost Productivity, and Create A Clearer Mind

Ideas 

Dreams

Dreams tell us more than we give them credit for. By writing down our dreams, we allow ourselves to become more aware of our subconscious minds. They are often representative of how a person is feeling in that particular time frame. It's also interesting to see, on paper, the stories and visuals our minds create. And writing them down daily can help exercise your brain in remembering them with more vivid detail. You can also go back later on in that day or week and analyze what it's trying to tell you. 

Bullet Journal

Mix up a diary, a planner, and a to-do list all in one with this trend. Here are some hacks to help you dive into the world of bullet journaling. 

Morning Pages

Author Julia Cameron suggests everyone start their day with stream-of-consciousness writing that fills three pages. I don't disagree. It's an amazing ritual. Whatever crosses your mind, jot it down. Don't judge yourself, don't shame yourself, don't question yourself - just have at it. Starting your morning with a release will help you feel lighter for the rest of the day. 

Stream-of-Consciousness

Similar to morning pages except stream-of-consciousness writing does not have to be dedicated to only mornings. It's therapeutic at any time of the day: in the morning, before bed, when you're anxious, when you're happy. The purpose of this is to have no guidelines, you simply write whatever comes to mind. No matter how silly it may seem or disorganized. Just write and let go of your thoughts. 

How Long Should I Write For?

Honestly, that's up to what you're comfortable with. I write for as long as I feel like it which lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. Anywhere from 3 pages to 6 pages. If you feel like you need a push, start with 15 minutes or set a goal of 3 pages. Once you get started, you'll find you can't help but keep going. Don't feel like you have to rush -- it's all up to you and meant to relax you. 

Best Journals

Moleskine

Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook
Field Notes

Journaling is truly a transformative journey. Pick one up along with some pens and start diving into your subconscious mind. You'll be surprised at what you find.