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By: Vivian Nuñez

Too Damn Young founder Vivian Nuñez took time out of her busy schedule to serve as Lively’s Guest Editor this month. Here, she writes about how she manages her mental health.

The first time I remember feeling really anxious I was outside of a Zara and it was a few weeks out of having lost my grandmother. I recall, even five years later, how my body tingled, how my breathing got shorter, and how sure I was that I was going to pass out. 

Since then, learning to manage my mental health has been an email I can’t (and honestly don’t want to) unsubscribe from. Remaining committed to myself and to figuring out better ways to manage those times when I'm feeling nervous or down and not eating properly is the reason I can both celebrate good seasons and why I know how to best manage the harder ones.

Letting Go of Caffeine

So much of learning how to manage my mental health has been about learning what triggers me and making decisions to remove those things – or, ahem, people – from my life. Caffeine was one of the bigger culprits behind my anxiety. A sip of anything from my favorite Starbucks drink to my go-to at-home brew would serve as too much of a stimulant and have me jittery and scatterbrained for the rest of the day. Deciding to cut it off came with initial compromises — prayed to so many coffee gods about half-caf working in my favor — but ultimately, I had to decide that I would be a decaf girl moving forward. The great thing about letting go of something though is that it gives you room to fill with other good (better-for-you) things. 

RELATED: How to Vitamin D Helps to Improve Your Mood

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Smoothies Galore

Giving up coffee would have been much harder if I didn’t get an afternoon energy boost from a smoothie. Since being introduced to Vital Proteins, I’ve added an extra layer of goodness to my (honestly) pretty low-key recipes because while banana and strawberries may never go out of style, Vital Proteins Vanilla Collagen Peptides gives it the extra over-the-top kick. I also recommend adding Vital Proteins Blackberry Hibiscus Collagen Water before blending up your smoothie if the Vanilla Collagen Peptides aren’t within reach.

Embracing Energy Management

Over the last year, one of the biggest shifts in helping me manage my mental health has been looking at my calendar and to-do list not just from a time-management perspective, but also from an energy-management perspective. Next time you look at your calendar, ask yourself, will this 30-minute coffee date help energize me, or will it drain me and leave me struggling through the rest of the day? Protecting your energy and setting boundaries isn’t a bad thing — you have to put your oxygen mask on before you can help someone else put on their own.

RELATED: How Vital Proteins Can Help You on Your Wellness Journey

Choosing Support

Letting go of being a do-it-yourselfer was my first big step in making sure that I was being my own best friend when keeping my mental health in check. It was hard to accept that I actually wasn’t helping myself on the nights when I let stubbornness win over admitting I was having trouble sleeping. Vital Proteins Sleep Collagen Shot have helped a ton in this respect. The same can be said with learning how to communicate to my partner that I need help when I’m stressed or overstimulated, instead of letting myself get to “E” before I acknowledge that I’m human and need help.

So much about learning how to manage your mental health comes down to learning how to pay attention to your cues, your triggers, and your inner voice. The more you tap into it, the more you’re able to determine your own version of the afternoon smoothie that will help get you through the day or what things will give or take energy from you.