Pressuring Yourself

Recently, I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to be a certain way. I’ve been pushing myself to do certain things and have certain mindsets and it’s just feeling impossible. I’ve even been pressuring myself to post on here and haven’t been able to think of any ideas. I’ve been asking all of my friends and family for inspiration only to realize the most obvious thing I should be writing about – why I haven’t felt inspired to post lately and why I’ve been feeling so much pressure from myself to post, along with doing other things. In all honesty, I have been feeling pretty off this past week. I just keep having a series of bad days. I don’t know exactly what triggered it or if there even is a reason, but I have been feeling a little more out of sorts and anxious. I think it’s a combination of adjusting back to the college routine, the cold gross weather, and a couple of seemingly stressful things that have happened in my own life.

Once I recognized this, I knew how important it was to write about it. We ALL have off days, off weeks, even off months at times! I confided in a couple of friends about how I was feeling and they could most definitely relate. This is an unfortunate feeling that everyone encounters at times and it really sucks. Although time is usually just the best way to heal this feeling, I have been trying to engage in some of my more comforting activities like talking to my parents or watching one of my favorites movies/tv shows (HSM & Gossip Girl of course). Most importantly, I have been treating myself with compassion and making sure to take the pressure off! I keep reminding myself that nothing I want to accomplish for myself, my actions, and mindset are going to occur if I am overly stressed just thinking about them. This gets difficult to keep in mind when you feel like the world is against you, but it’s an important reminder when you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed. It may not look it outside (especially if you’re in the midwest right now) but our world and life are so beautiful! Even when life feels so incredibly trying, we owe it to ourselves to give our best effort, take a beat to relax, and celebrate the good <3

Goal Setting 2022

With 2022 approaching, it’s time to consider how we want to enter the new year and what we want to leave behind in 2021. I have never been a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions, as they usually end up being empty promises I make to myself. For me, the process of reflecting and goal setting at the turn of the year is much more productive than my past attempts at quick fixes have been. 

Setting realistic goals is so hard! One thing I have found to really help me is reflecting on my core values and determining which areas of my life feel most out of sync. One very important thing to remember is that you cannot make goals based on what is in the media or what you think you should be doing. You have to find incongruencies between your core values and your actual life to motivate an intrinsic desire to work towards a goal. Otherwise, these goals will simply not get completed. 

I actually used an activity I completed for my Intro to Cognitive Neuroscience class as my basis for goal setting this year. In this activity, you are supposed to list five ways you aspire to spend your time (relating to your core values) and then five ways you actually spend your time on a day to day basis. Once you see what is out of balance, you can determine what you would like to make a goal for the new year. 

One similarity between all goals is that consistency is key! Also, it’s not just the end goal but the little victories along the way that are important and motivate you to keep going. While everyone’s goals are going to be different, I thought I would share a couple of mine for 2022 with you all 🙂

In 2022, I aspire to…

  • Train for a half marathon (shoutout ND Holy Half)
  • Create a capsule wardrobe (by cleansing my closet and only buying things that I love)
  • Reflect or journal daily (even if it’s just a line)
  • Redirect my negative and stressful thoughts (the brain is a muscle!)
  • Focus on daily self-care (take time to get ready and feel pretty in the morning)
  • Base my self-worth on my own opinions, not those of others (definitely my most lofty/unsure but important goal 🙂
  • Post weekly on Everything El (write every time inspiration strikes)

One way I plan on holding myself accountable to these goals is creating some type of visual that embodies my goals to hang at my desk as a daily motivator. I hope all of you can find the time to reflect a little and prepare your mindset to have the best year yet and stay safe in 2022!

Fall Semester Takeaways

Since I am a sophomore, my first year college experience was significantly altered due to covid. Because of this, I am considering fall 2021 to be the first semester I truly had to navigate balancing it all: a busy social, academic, and personal calendar. And MAN was that hard. Last year, it was easy to justify spending countless hours on my academics because I was a baby freshman coming off a perfectionist high school mindset and there was simply not much going on. However, this year, navigating a proper balance in my life was put to the challenge, and I learned many things about my own priorities, values, and happiness.

You hear this all the time, but I truly do believe that balance is the one of the most important things about college. To me, balance does NOT mean planning out your days down to the minute to make sure there is equal time allotted to academics, personal activities, and social life, but rather taking a moment to consider what makes you happy and working to integrate those aspects of life into your daily routine. It’s important to remember that college is the one time we get to have an insane amount of independence without the stakes being super high. We get to try new things and make mistakes with lesser repercussions, time to figure it out, and ideally, a strong social support network.

There’s going to be aspects of college that you don’t like or don’t want to prioritize, but that’s just life. You’re not going to want to study for your impossible orgo exam or stay up until 4am completing a project, but you’re going to do it because it will help you achieve your future career, which is something that will (ideally) contribute to your ultimate happiness. It’s the integration of the little things into your daily routine that make you happy that will keep you sane and make you say that college was the best four years of your life. 

Now, time for what I titled this post: my takeaways from this first non-covid semester (by non-covid, I mean we have mandatory vaccination and more normalcy, covid is still VERY much prevalent).

Takeaway 1: Make time for the people you love! And even people you don’t know! I may just be a total people person, but social interaction gets me through the tough, frustrating, and seemingly hopeless times in my life! You can do simple things like stop in your friends room and say hi, have a conversation with the someone you run into on a walk, or plan to go to lunch/dinners with others. You have the time to spare and it will be so worth it in the long run!

Takeaway 2: Make time for your passions! It is worth delaying your homework a bit to put a smile on your face. Whether it’s exercise, a new hobby, or a social activity… DO IT. I recently have made the time to get some movement in every day and write through journaling and blogging and it has had a huge impact on my mood.

Takeaway 3: You do not need to do it all. At the beginning of the semester, I was way overcommitted. I realized that a position I had planned on holding for awhile just wasn’t fulfilling anymore so I decided to take a step back to focus on things I really cared about. I felt so relieved and am now able to devote my time to the important things in my life.

This balance I am describing feels nearly impossible to achieve at times. I am definitely still navigating my way through figuring this out for myself. I have not achieved a perfect balance but have been able to get much closer by prioritizing my passions and taking the time each day to do things that make me feel joy. I encourage you to reflect upon this idea and do one thing today that puts a smile on your face!

All About the Mind

“You either control the mind or it controls you” – Napoleon Hill. 

The mind is a beautiful yet dangerous thing. It can be both our greatest companion and worst enemy. As self-help author Napoleon Hill said, we can either take action to control our mind or succumb to being controlled by it. In this post, I plan to explore some history behind research of the mind and share what I have learned about how changes in mindset can put you back in a position of control and improve mental well-being. Quick side note… please remember I am just a college student sharing what I have learned and opinions of my own experience! 

In the grand scheme of things, very little is known about the mind. Cognitive neuroscience is a subfield of neuroscience that explores the biological processes underlying human cognition. In other words, it explores the relationship between the brain and the mind. The field of cognitive neuroscience is a baby in the scientific world — being only about 35 years old. It is crazy to me that so much is unknown about the very thing that plays a huge role, oftentimes, a largely negative role, in our lives.

Now let’s move on to talk about mindset. I am sure you have heard many times about the power of having a positive mindset or learned in school about adopting a growth mindset to succeed. We hear society and the media talk about mindset constantly, but what does it actually mean?

The dictionary definition of mindset is a fixed attitude, disposition, or mood. If you’re a ‘brain’ fanatic like me, you’ll be fascinated to hear that the neural mechanisms behind your thoughts coincide really well with this definition. In the most basic terms, the amygdala, our emotional regulatory center, plays a major role in the processing of our emotions. How you process emotions translates into how you think, and your thoughts contribute to your mindset. If you constantly feed the amygdala with negative information, these neural pathways get strengthened and you are more likely to fixate on the negative when processing future emotional situations. This is why a negative mindset is so dangerous, because it can cause you to fixate on the negative in life.

I am obviously not an expert and am in no way saying I do this well, but this is why taking time to process these negative emotions is so important. Sometimes setting time aside to do so feels nearly impossible, especially when the stress of school, relationships, the future, and social life come at you all at once. However, there are two things I have found that help me in taking steps to healthily process my emotions: journaling and having compassion for myself. 

Please don’t stop reading now if you think journaling is stupid. When someone suggested I journal for the first time, I thought that it was a time old therapeutic practice that people are programmed to say you should do if you are struggling and that it wouldn’t really help much. I am also a HUGE ranter, which my parents get the brunt of (so sorry mom and dad), so I didn’t understand why writing my thoughts on paper would be any different than saying them aloud. Don’t get me wrong, I still think talking and sharing your emotions with others is incredibly important. However, I have found journaling really helps me process intense, long-term emotions that feel incredibly overwhelming. In my experience, the act of actually putting thoughts on paper helps me process them tremendously. I think about it as taking the negative out of my mind/brain/body and moving it to the external environment. I know it may seem hard to know what to write or just weird at times, but if you’re having a super emotional day just try it! If you need convenience, write in your notes app or on literally any piece of scrap paper. If you need motivation, buy a cute notebook to journal in — mine is from Target but Urban’s online sale section has some fabulous ones right now. Just TRY IT! 

Another thing that’s super tough about the mind is reconciling how you feel with how you think you should feel. In my experience, these two are almost always in competition with each other, especially when it comes to heavy emotions because I hold myself to a high standard and expect myself to be able to process emotions more effectively than I do. However, these standards just cause me to ruminate in the negative and feel these emotions much longer than necessary. I have learned that a huge part in reconciling these two feelings is having compassion for myself. When I was given the advice to ‘have compassion for myself,’ I was beyond confused. However, after reflecting upon the idea for a while, I have taken it to mean this: to acknowledge it’s okay to feel different than how you think you should feel and take the time to feel how you feel rather than holding yourself accountable to a societal standard of the timeliness and depth of emotional processing. I don’t know if that makes much sense, but when I am able to have compassion for myself and my negative emotions, I am able to process them much easier. 

The mind is a crazy, unknown thing. Because of this, I think it is so important to take steps to reflect and assess your relationship with your mind. I am not saying this type of thought process and reflection is easy or will be the solution to ending one’s mental health challenges at all. But whether it be through journaling and self-compassion or other ways that work for you, being in tune with your emotions is so important. I hope you are all able to take a minute in the next few days to slow down and acknowledge how you are feeling in the crazy stress of life!

Introducing Everything El

Does it ever seem like everyone around you has their life together and you’re alone drifting into the abyss of fear, panic, and uncertainty about not only the future, but your present?

Let me tell you that these people are pretty good at lying, and that people probably think you are too. My whole life, especially the past few years, I have struggled with not feeling like I am enough or that I am doing enough. Too much of my life has been about comparison of both my challenges and success to those of others rather than focusing on the beauty of my own personal self journey and development. Because of this, I have always wanted the opportunity to reflect and share my experiences. Hence, Everything El is finally born. Using Everything El, I plan to share things I have learned as a teenager and advice about college and the transition to adult life. My goal in writing this is not to tell people what to do or pretend I have my life together in any way. I simply want to share my journey thus far and provide stories, opinions, and information that people can relate to! I want to thank you all that are reading for visiting my page and hope you enjoy as I continue to explore my journey through life <3

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. ND students and alum, prepare yourselves for the classic ‘Notre Dame Intro’. My name is Ella Batz; I am a sophomore Neuroscience & Behavior major and Compassionate Care in Medicine minor on the Pre-Physician Associate (Pre-PA) Track. I am a Chicago native, and by that I of course mean I am from the Chicago suburbs (yay Glen Ellyn)! Some of my hobbies include shopping, writing, travel, hanging out with friends, and using the small bit of free time I end up having to relax! My roommate Ashleigh Cotter, who will definitely be featured in the future, wanted me to add ‘watch an obscene amount of Grey’s‘ to the hobbies list too… After a lot of exploration and changing my mind maybe 1000 times (who knows, it will probably change again), I have decided that I want to attend graduate school to become a Physicians Associate (yes, it is now Associate and no longer Assistant) after undergrad.

I am so happy that you’ve made your way here and hope you continue to read as I find my voice and share my journey throughout this process!!!