Honor And Respect Your Feelings And Needs

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Boundaries are not selfish. They aren’t overindulgent or evidence that you’re too sensitive, and they aren’t weakness. Boundaries are conditions that allow you to take care of yourself; conditions that give you the means to survive and keep from sinking. They’re circumstances that honor your needs and respect your feelings. Limits that YOU get to decide on; limits that are inherently valid, regardless of how they compare to anyone else’s.

You deserve to create a space for yourself that feels safe and supportive. You deserve to exist under terms that don’t harm you; terms that allow your best self to come through. Even if other people don’t understand, even if it makes them feel angry or rejected or sad — your boundaries are necessary and they matter. Their needs matter too, and its not wrong to want to make shifts to accommodate both — but the truth is that you can’t take care of anyone else if your own needs aren’t being met. You don’t have to explain your boundaries. You don’t have to justify them, and you don’t need anyone’s approval. You need to believe that you’re someone worth taking care of, and you need to trust that if anyone is entitled to your protection and care, it’s you.
Daniell Koepke

Photo via Tameggo

It’s Not Always Smooth Sailing

Illustration of boy and girl couple kissing

Any partner we choose will hurt us at one time or another. No relationship, even the most ideal, has unwavering smooth sailing… There will always be differences between lovers.
Sue Johnson

The person you marry is the person you fight with. The house you buy is the house you repair. The dream job you take is the job you stress over. Everything comes with an inherent sacrifice – whatever makes us feel good will also inevitably make us feel bad. What we gain is also what we lose. What creates our positive experiences will define our negative experiences.
Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

Photo via Hummbly

Understanding Anxiety Attacks

Illustration girl anxiety sadness

Anxiety attacks are episodes of intense panic or fear. Anxiety attacks usually occur suddenly and without warning. Sometimes there’s an obvious trigger— getting stuck in an elevator, for example, or thinking about the big speech you have to give—but in other cases, the attacks come out of the blue.

Anxiety attacks usually peak within ten minutes, and they rarely last more than thirty minutes. But during that short time, the terror can be so severe that you feel as if you’re about to die or totally lose control. The physical symptoms of anxiety attacks are themselves so frightening that many people believe they’re having a heart attack.

Symptoms of anxiety attacks include:
· Surge of overwhelming panic
· Feeling of losing control or going crazy
· Heart palpitations or chest pain
· Feeling like you’re going to pass out
· Trouble breathing or choking sensation
· Hyperventilation
· Hot flashes or chills
· Trembling or shaking
· Nausea or stomach cramps
· Feeling detached or unreal

Self-help for anxiety attacks and anxiety disorders #1: Challenge negative thoughts
· Write down your worries. Keep a pad and pencil on you or type on a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. When you experience anxiety, write down your worries. Writing down is harder work than simply thinking them, so your negative thoughts are likely to disappear sooner.
· Create an anxiety worry period. Choose one or two 10 minute “worry periods” each day, time you can devote to anxiety. During your worry period, focus only on negative, anxious thoughts without trying to correct them. The rest of the day, however, is to be designated free of anxiety. When anxious thoughts come into your head during the day, write them down and “postpone” them to your worry period.
· Accept uncertainty. Unfortunately, worrying about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable—it only keeps you from enjoying the good things happening in the present. Learn to accept uncertainty and not require immediate solutions to life’s problems.

Self-help for anxiety attacks and anxiety disorders #2: Take care of yourself
· Practice relaxation techniques. When practiced regularly, relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.
· Adopt healthy eating habits. Start the day right with breakfast, and continue with frequent small meals throughout the day. Going too long without eating leads to low blood sugar, which can make you feel more anxious.
· Reduce alcohol and nicotine. They lead to more anxiety, not less.
· Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural stress buster and anxiety reliever. To achieve the maximum benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days.
· Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can exacerbate anxious thoughts and feelings, so try to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep a night.

Help Guide via Online Counselling College

Photo via Hummbly

Happy Without You

Sure, I’m sad, but I’m not looking to soothe that sadness by replacing it with a new relationship. Women are allowed to be sad, and they’re allowed to be single, and they don’t need to hear that one day a man is going to make it all go away by telling her she is good enough again. She’s good enough as she is.
Charlotte Green

I’m going to find a way to be happy, and I’d really love to be happy with you, but if I can’t be happy with you, then I’ll find a way to be happy without you.
Randy Pausch

Photo via Then Let It Be

Enjoy What You Can

Girl sitting in chair, brown espadrilles

It’s okay if you you don’t make the most out of every day.
Was the weather beautiful today and you didn’t enjoy it? That’s fine. Don’t worry about maximizing every single moment. Try to focus on enjoying what you can while making room for some positive experiences in your life. It’s okay if you miss a few opportunities in the process. The important thing is enjoying what you can and not worrying too much about what you miss.
How I Learned To Cope

Photo via Hummbly

A Birthday Look Back: My 24th Year

Jenny Chang The Lilac Road
Feeling at home away from home

This year has been my most fruitful, rewarding year to date.

Many of the goals I have worked hard toward came into fruition this year and every single day I wake up full of gratitude that I am living my own personal version of happiness and success.

After travelling solo around the world non-stop for four months, I realized soon after that I wanted to make it a lifestyle. I made the decision to move to Bangkok, one of my favourite cities in the world and a city that I feel deeply connected to beyond reason. I decided that I wanted to teach English, build my freelance travel writing portfolio and one day work for an NGO organization dedicated to empowering women (specifically, NightLight). I worked, saved and studied hard for 6 months, doing everything that I could to set up as many safety nets as possible before I embarked on my new chapter. I was, of course, afraid. It was that exhilarating feeling similar to what I felt when I skydived for the first time; standing before an open door in front of a wide, endless expanse of sky, knowing you have to jump but having that slight hesitation right before, like, “What the hell am I doing?”

Railay Beach Krabi long-tail boats
Picture perfect Thailand at Railay Beach, Krabi

But, like the feeling I got from falling through the clouds in the sky, this year in living alone in Bangkok has given me some of the greatest joys and privileges I have had the honor of experiencing. Not only is Bangkok a place welcoming to those who are creative, forward-thinking and entrepreneurial, I have found Thai people to be extremely thoughtful, funny and kind. They have taught me what it means to be respectful and sincere which I have found to be lacking in some Western countries. This chaotic city has stolen my heart and every day I think about how cool it is that I get to live in a city that embraces the weird and different with open arms.

Chaotic streets traffic Bangkok Thailand black and white
Chaotic streets and traffic in Bangkok

Of course, there have been a decent share of challenges I have had to face while adapting to an entirely different culture, country and city. It has ranged from simple things like knowing which train station takes me where, how to shop at foreign stores like Ikea and Tesco and getting stalked by a Thai lesbian (true) to more complex things like finding a GP who speaks English, explaining directions to taxi drivers in terrible Thai and trying to establish connections and relationships with people through a language barrier. This has led me to teach myself Thai in my spare time, something I have enjoyed using thoroughly, especially because I get mistaken for a Thai all the time!

As well as writing about travel for different blogs (I have to pinch myself every time a client wants to pay me to write about travel), I have had the privilege to teach English to all kinds of Thais; business professionals who are surprisingly humorous (I had a class where I had to teach likes and dislikes, and one young man stood up and said, “I like smoking weed everyday,” bowed and sat down to everyone’s laughter), teenagers who I have bonded with over Led Zeppelin and kids who light up my heart and never fail to make me smile, even on days when I go into work sad.

Teaching English kids children Bangkok Thailand Jenny Chang
With some of my magical kids

My well-being has also never been so strong and I have found that all those laborious years of self-love and care has given me the strength I need to meet and overcome challenges with more ease. It is literally like having a superpower to use whenever I need it. People remark that it must be hard for me to move to a new country alone, and while initially it was, it isn’t as terrifying as people think it may be, simply because I have never been so sure of myself and what I want in life.

Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon Myanmar Jenny Chang
At the exquisite Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar

I think none of this would have been possible with the understanding and support that I have received from my close-knit friends and family. I would not have taken this risk if it weren’t for them, nor would I have survived so long in a unpredictable place like Thailand for so long. In times when I felt lonely, scared or sad, they have been there to spur me on and somehow make me feel overwhelmingly loved even from thousands and thousands of miles away. I can’t stress how important it is to have a tribe by your side who see the best in you, water you with encouragements and motivate you to live your best life everyday.

Jenny Chang The Lilac Road mother Queenstown New Zealand
My dear mother, who has been incredibly supportive of my nomadic lifestyle

It’s hard to believe that five years ago I was living in a deep depression, contemplating taking my own life to rid myself of the unbearable pain I was carrying. This year has led me to believe that grace will get you so far, but at some point you need to help yourself and be responsible for the life you create for yourself. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable and safe, but if you are stagnating and living without purpose, my advice is to keep making daily choices to get you where you want to be. With persistence, even in the midst of setbacks, ridicule and isolation (which I faced plenty of), you will quite suddenly find that you have made it; you have carved out your own success, your own happiness, and nothing and no one can take that joy and pride away from you.

Wat Pho Bangkok Thailand golden Buddha statues
Exploring Wat Pho temple with my friend Luke in Bangkok

I am in that space. How blessed I feel to be able to love what I do and get paid to do it, encourage and promote mental well-being in women through The Lilac Road, live in an endlessly inspiring city, have a loving circle of friends and family who are also my biggest cheerleaders and travel constantly (my most recent adventures involve journeying up a snow mountain in Queenstown, traversing through jungles on a peninsula in Krabi and walking through serene temples amongst monks in Myanmar). My 24th year has been at times challenging but mostly amazing, and it is an understatement to say that I am so excited to see what surprises and adventures my mid-twenties will bring me next.

Queenstown New Zealand Jenny Chang
Admiring the view in Queenstown, New Zealand. I am lucky to call this country my home.

All photos my own