November 2011 / Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach


How to Quiet Negative Thoughts

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"I feel like my life is falling apart. Everything is spiraling out of control. Nothing is going the way I want. I don't even know what I'm doing anymore.  I wish I didn't have to feel like this right now. My life just sucks."

Depression & anxiety can be crippling. If you are struggling, please know that you are not alone & it's more than okay to ask for help! 

Here are some resources that may help you manage your depression.

I minored in Health Promotion & Disease Prevention; one of my favorite courses was my Stress Management class. It helped me understand the biological responses to stress as well as the effects it can have in the long term & short term. If you're having negative thoughts & stressing out, hopefully, these little tips can quiet some of those thoughts & help you focus on better ones. 

But again, if you need professional help, that's okay!


Shift your focus

You can't focus on the bad, because it will consume you. Life is what you make of it. Life is what you see & what you remember. If all you see is your tornado of sadness, you'll find yourself perpetually unhappy. When I feel my brain focusing on negative things, I try my best to think of something good & positive. I know this sounds dismissive or stupid but it genuinely helps me.

Rather than focus on something I'm really stressed or anxious about, I wrack my brain for a good memory or thought or song or something other than what I'm currently focusing on. Picnicking in Paris. The sound of the waves crashing on the ocean. Playing with a fluffy kitten. Thinking of as many The Office quotes as I can. There is beauty in the every day, you just have to focus on it. Forcing my brain to switch tracks is

Count your blessings

The fact that you woke up this morning is a plus. Were you in a bed? Some people don't have a nice, comfy bed to sleep in. Was there a roof over your head? Did you eat anything today? Did you use your fancy phone, swanky computer,  or rad music player at any point? Many people don't have access to such loot. Did you see or talk to a friend? These little things are often forgotten, but how are they unimportant? When I'm feeling down, I am genuinely thankful for the roof over my head, the shoes on my feet, the food in my belly.

Learn from the bad stuff

So you didn't do very well on that test last week. You got laid off from a second job in under one year. Your mom passed away 6 months ago & it's unbearable every day knowing she's gone. It's all you can talk about for four days straight (maybe four weeks or four months or four years). First of all, I am so sorry you're going through this! Now ask yourself: what is the lesson to be learned from this experience?

You failed the test, but you figured out that you need to dedicate more hours to studying. Maybe next time you'll form a study group or visit the professor's office hours. You got laid off & now you have a little more experience (different office, job, co-workers, there's something there!) You think about your mom nearly every hour; remember how she tucked you into bed; remember what she taught you, how she made you feel, her favorite song. There is always a moral to every story.

Make a happy list

Write down all the good things or simple pleasures that happened today. On most days, the positives can outweigh the negatives. Create a list & see for yourself. It's not lame. Try it out! Here's mine:

Positive things that happened to me today:
  1. I woke up in my nice, warm tangled mess of blankets.
  2. I watched several ultra hilarious episodes of The Office.
  3. The sun is shining & the weather is sweet.
  4. My hair looks really good.
  5. I ate so much delicious food (vegan pizza with red bell pepper, broccoli & mushrooms, ginger snaps, & dark chocolate covered espresso beans).
  6. I had not one, but two, cups of scrumptious tea.
  7. I did all my laundry for free!
  8. I spent the day with various important people in my life.

5 Things To Do Before Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The following is a true story:

I was wearing these long red & white striped socks. The top part was green & folded over, like something a little elf would wear. I was wearing black mary-janes, so the stripes were visible through my shoe. 

My coworker said to me, "Candycane socks? Isn't it a bit early?"

I looked at him, my mouth ajar, my eyes wide open.

"Uh, no!" I scoffed.

So I now proclaim: tis the season to wear tacky sweaters, striped socks, & everything festive! I've been waiting all year for this, & it has rapidly arrived. A quarter of my wardrobe is meant for these cooler temperatures. There are so many thrifted sweaters, jean jackets, oversized cardigans, thick coats, & patterned hoodies waiting for their fall debut. But more important than the fall fashion is  the fact that now is the season for thanksgiving!


Let's face it, we should be thankful all year round. However, tis the season to be extra thankful! Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching: the countdown awaits. Let's do some good, send some love, & give some thanks! We must make the most of our time! Have you noticed that life is going by way too fast?

Here's a list of 5 things to do before Thanksgiving Thursday. These tasks are for your own benefit as well as for others. Let's make the best of the holidays, be kind, & spread some cheer. Promise yourself that you'll accomplish these five things. Spread the love! Show your thanks!

1. Talk to an old buddy - Flip through your phone right now & either call or text someone you haven't spoken to in a while. This person is in your phone for a reason, you haven't deleted them quite yet. Take 30 seconds type out: Hey! It's been forever! How are you? Send it to a high school buddy you haven't spoken to in years, or a former coworker you haven't heard from in a while. If you have more time, actually give them a ring & see what's up.  Think of it this way: how surprised would you be if they called you randomly?


2. Go for a walk - Do yourself a favor & go for a walk or a bike ride just before the sun goes down. Nothing feels better than feeling alive! The rush of your warm blood throughout your body on a crisp, cool walk is practically perfection. Plus, a walk is a form of exercise. Remember to shoot for 30-60 minutes of activity a day.

3. Write a thank you note - A handwritten letter has immense power. You could really touch  someone by telling them what they mean to you, how they have influenced you, or a quality you admire about them. Pick someone who would really appreciate a personal & unique note, such as a parent, relative, friend, or mentor.

4. Smile at a stranger - I'll always remember something my teacher said when she moved to California from New York. She proclaimed to the class that we Californians were so friendly because we randomly smiled as we pass by people. She said it was hard for her to smile back because she wasn't used to it. Smile at a stranger! They may wonder why you're grinning, but it's all for the sake of being happy, spreading joy & happiness. Maybe they'll smile at someone else.


5. Stargaze - Do it alone. Do it with friends. It doesn't matter who's there, just take the night off from whatever it is you usually do.  The nights have become increasingly brisk, so take a comfy blanket. Take the night to reconnect with nature & spend the time viewing the vast skies. Nothing makes your problems feel more minuscule than realizing how small they are compared to the massive universe.

Nutty Rabbit Salad

Thursday, November 03, 2011

nutty salad

Since I'm vegetarian and incorporate a lot of veggies, greens, and plant-based foods into my diet, I've been asked countless times how I can survive on "rabbit food." Frankly, I've never had a rabbit, so I'm not entirely sure what they eat. But if rabbits eat what I eat, then I wouldn't mind being one. Anyway, I was extremely hungry and scoured my fridge to see what was hidden within. The result was kind of random as far as healthy vegetarian recipes go, but it was totally yummy. So that's how the Nutty Rabbit Salad came into the universe. This is a not-so-average salad. I think the rabbits of the world would be proud.

Nutty Rabbit Salad    
2 cups spinach
1 cup chopped green beans
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp flax seeds

nutty salad

First, add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to a pan on medium heat.  Let it warm up then dump in your green beans. Let the beans simmer for a few minutes, until they start to look slightly cooked. Green beans are versatile so you can add them to most meals to make it a healthy vegetarian recipe. Next, you need to add the almonds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. Sauté until the green beans look fully cooked and the nutty mixture turns slightly brown.

nutty salad

The next step is to wash your spinach and shredded carrots, then add it to a large bowl. Add in the cooked concoction and stir altogether so that it forms a delicious goodness. The dressing is up to you. In this particular rendition of the Nutty Rabbit Salad, I used Archer Farms Thai Peanut Sauce, which was superb. Add some oil and balsamic vinegar. Maybe some lemon and pepper. You're the one eating it, so make it how you want it. 

This is an excellent appetizer or dinner salad. This Nutty Rabbit salad is a delectable healthy vegetarian recipe that you can always enjoy.You can make it for yourself. You can share it with a friend. Whip this up and impress your date (I recommend this one).  This will satiate your appetite, while giving you that fabulous home-cooked meal feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Bon appétit!

*Rabbit-approved meal.


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