Do hard things.

If you let fear guide you, your world will become very small. Anxiety makes us seek constant control. Anxiety intensifies fear. Anxiety changes your perception of your abilities. However, you are not limited to these feelings. If you push yourself and do hard things, you will overcome anxiety.

When I feel anxious, my sympathetic nervous system says, “get the eff out of here! RED ALERT! BING BING BING RUN AWAY.” You get the point. So how do you challenge those thoughts? You do the hard thing. You take on the challenge. You stay in that fear. You do not retreat. You ride the wave of panic.

My day started off well. I had a nice breakfast, worked out, and went to a local trail to hike. Hiking by myself has always been a trigger. When I know I am alone and far from my car, the anxious thoughts drift into my head.

What if I panic and I’m all alone in the woods? What if I get hurt and no one can come help me?

I challenge those thoughts and stop the pervasive thought cycle. I logically analyze the statement. If I panic, then I panic. It won’t kill me. It just sucks for a few minutes. If I get hurt, I still have cell service to call for help. I’m a seasoned nurse, I can take care of most things that could happen to me.

I try to participate in something anxiety-provoking every week. It helps me work on coping and getting back into the adventurous side of life. Today, I did just that.

There is a long, skinny wall that juts out into the river next to the trail. It is about 6 inches wide and leads to a waterfall. I don’t particularly have a fear of heights, but this wall is thin and goes across a freezing river. The thoughts started…”what if I fall? what if I walk out then can’t walk back? what if…what if…what if…” So, I took a few shaky steps out on the ledge. I could taste the metallic adrenaline in my mouth. I stopped, mouthed a few “mother f*ckers” and promptly walked back to the ground. My fear won. I started walking back towards the parking lot.

A wave of disappointment washed over me. Am I really going to let my actions be dictated by fear? Nope. I turned around, hopped on the ledge, and walked all the way across. I sat down on the wall and meditated. I won. I channelled the fear and converted it into energy to finish the task. My fiance (Iraqi War Vet) always tells me “just finish the drill.” I finished it and it felt pretty damn good.

Challenge yourself to do hard things. It will help you grow emotionally, physically, and spiritually. How can you incorporate challenges into your life? How can you grow from fear?

 

Love and light

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So fresh and so clean…clean.

My mat smell smacked me in the face during this morning’s Adho Mukha Svanasana. There is something to be said about the power of hot yoga class sweat. My mat needed some loving and some scrubbing. I channelled my inner boho spirit and made homemade yoga mat spray. It smells pretty rad and works well as an anti-microbial cleanser. The yummy smell is courtesy of various essential oils.

Yoga Mat Spray (for the broke and sweaty yoga youth)

  • 3-5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3-5 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil
  • spray bottle
  • distilled water (or tap water, let’s not get crazy)
  • white vinegar

 

I cleaned a spray bottle that I found in my closet. The original contents remain a mystery. What can I say, I like to live on the edge. I filled up the small bottle with water and a splash of vinegar. Be sure to save some room to add the oils. I dropped in the three essential oils. You can use as many/few drops as you would like…I put an estimate because that is what fancy bloggess women do. Shake it up. Spray both sides of the mat and scrub with a sponge. Finish by wiping the moisture off the mat. Hang it outside to give it some sun love!

My mat smells like a delicious lavender field filled with dancing peppermint fairies. I could just eat it, but that is inappropriate and also a disease called Pica. Please consult a healthcare provider if you feel inclined to eat your yoga mat.

This blend works for me because it smells amazing, but also has germ-crushing properties. Various research has linked tea tree oil to anti-microbial properties.

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/tea-tree-oil

Check out the section called “clinical summary for healthcare providers.”

Love and light.

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Yes, there is a kayak in my living room. Casual.

 

Accidental hippie.

I live in a city surrounded by crunchy granola hipsters. I love most of them. It is a lifestyle that compliments the alternative nature of Atlanta life. A-town is synonymous with trendy, hip, artistic, and raw. It is a town that supports uniqueness and straying from the norm. This cultural vibe has worn off on me throughout the years and I have evolved into a crunchy hippie. My days consist of essential oils, yoga, meditation, skinny jeans, and a vat of coconut oil. I ain’t mad about it.

There is a fine line between suburban PTA mom and a crunchy hipster. Or is there? I guess what I am trying to say is there can be a fluidity between your persona. I know a lot about GMOs, chemicals, etc…but I still like the occasional greasy hamburger and caked on toxic makeup. I think there is this mentality that once you choose to live a clean/hippie lifestyle, every aspect of your life must change. Welp. That is overwhelming. It should be treated like a spectrum. Substitute some unhealthy choices for healthy ones and work towards a cleaner life. It does not have to be an overnight transformation to perfection. That is where the danger lives. We put so much pressure on ourselves once we decide to adopt a flower child journey. Everything is a progression. Make one positive change each day and set yourself up for success.

Why did I choose a more bohemian life? Well, internet, I am so glad you asked. Or maybe you didn’t, but I feel like this post should be longer so we are going for it. My struggle with anxiety is embedded in an overly-goal oriented personality and crappy choices. I was the girl who wrote down goals for high school on the first day of class. Thus far, I have achieved every academic goal I have ever made. Cool, right? Eh. Debatable. It came hand in hand with anxiety, panic attacks, and gastrointestinal issues.

I also used to drink a lot of alcohol, coffee, and tea. My caffeine intake was impressive to say the least. My food choices were also sub par. Picture late night fast food outings and a plethora of desserts from the campus dinning hall. About two years ago, I decided to experiment with lifestyle changes related to my anxiety. I cut out binge drinking and all fast food. I have not been drunk or had McDonalds in over two years. That second part was harder than the first.

I learned about yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. I started working with crystals and essential oils. I bought a Himalayan salt lamp. I started wearing turquoise to bring positive energy to my day. I started using mala beads as a form of prayer. I switched out my cleaning supplies and makeup with all natural alternatives. I cut out caffeine (recently…yikes). I started working out 5 days a week. I started talking to a fellow granola-esque therapist. My anxiety became a lot more manageable. Everything just kind of got better. I accidentally became a hippie.

Have you adopted a more alternative, natural lifestyle? Did you make the choice when you felt like you were struggling and needed a change? Let me know!

Love and light.

Workplace Zen.

Stress lives in the workplace. Teacher, student, lawyer, nurse, car salesman, scuba instructor, grocery clerk, coal miner…everyone is connected by that blissful five letter word: STRESS. Every job elicits some type of stress response from a person. It would not be called work if it was not…well…work.

How do you cultivate gratitude and counteract feelings of stress at work?

Do you run and hide in a broom closet when sh*t hits the fan?

Do you see stressful scenarios as an opportunity for growth?

Can you bring positive energy into your space and be responsible for your own vibes?

As a nurse/future nurse practitioner, I often encounter work-related stress. Being around sick folks will do that to you. Also the whole “I literally could kill you if I made a big mistake” thought can  really get the stress juices flowing. I like to create a mini zen area at work to help juggle my responsibilities and soothe the soul in crisis.

Workplace Zen Toolbox

  • Doterra Lavender Oil
  • Doterra Clary Calm Roll on Oil
  • Natural Calm Magnesium Supplement
  • Turquoise stone
  • 5 sun salutations
  • 3 minutes of breathing techniques
  • lemon-infused water
  • get outside

Do I believe all of these items have the ability to counteract the chaos of work? NO. But I do believe they serve as a reminder to be mindful and focus on the breath. When I get stressed at work, my body goes on auto-pilot. My breathing gets rapid, my head gets foggy, my heart rate increases, and my efficiency declines. When I reference my toolbox, my brain and body have a moment to recuperate. I check in with my breathing and switch to a calmer, diaphragmatic breath. I become more mindful of my thoughts and goals. I take a moment to simply reset myself.

My job requires me to be in peak mental, physical, and spiritual shape for 12 hours at a time. This toolbox allows me to care for others, but also care for myself. I challenge you to incorporate mindfulness into your work routine. Did your stress level change? Did you become more aware of how your body reacts to issues throughout the day?

Love and light.

 

Pranayama.

This sounds like a fancy drink that you would get at the local gastro pub. I’ll have a pranayama and the cheese plate. Moving on..

Pranayama is the foundation of yoga breathing. 

It goes all the way back to the beginning of yoga. Many, many, many moons ago. The concept is simple: use certain techniques to enhance your breathing ability. There are various styles of pranayama, but my favorite is the Nadhi Sodhana. That’s a fancy Sanskrit word for “alternate nostril breathing.” Check out this video from my favorite yogi:

As someone who has journeyed with anxiety for many years, the ability to calm my nervous system feels tremendously empowering. If I feel like I am on the verge of panic, I utilize this technique to kick in that lovely parasympathetic nervous system. By slowing the breath, you eliminate the hyperventilation that is often associated with panic. This technique also uses a mudra to aid in the calming. What’s a mudra? Picture it as art through the use of your hand. You use different hand positions to encourage positivity and changes in energy. Think about all of the hand symbols we use in everyday life: thumbs up, peace sign, flipping the bird. Each movement conveys a non-verbal gesture. A mudra is used in the same way. By positioning your hand in a certain way, you are non-verbally sending a message to yourself. OK THIS IS STARTED TO SOUND REAL HOKEY, SARA. Ok, fine..moving on.

To begin the alternate nostril breathing exercise, take your dominate hand and fold down the pointer and middle finger. It should look something like this:

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Place your thumb over your right nostril (or left if you’re all weird and left handed) and block the passage of air. Inhale deeply through your left nostril.

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I know this looks slightly odd, but I’ll take looking odd over anxiety any day of the week, my friend!

Hold your breath for a slight, sweet, delicious moment. Use your ring finger to cover your left nostril. Exhale through your right nostril.

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Inhale through your right nostril.

 

Hold your breath and release air through your left nostril.

 

Repeat as many times as needed to feel calm and grounded. Don’t get crazy and pass out or anything because I don’t have time to squeeze a lawsuit into my daily activities. Enjoy this time. Find the space between the breath and get to know yourself. Spend time in the quiet space.

 

Love and light.

 

 

 

Yogalicous.

What is yoga?

To me, it is this quirky bond between your mind and your body. This bond allows for you to cultivate light, love, and energy in a (sometimes) crappy world. I had an exam today for my Family Nurse Practitioner program. It is an online exam, so I have the freedom to take it whenever I feel ready. Today, I decided to incorporate a pre-exam pump-up routine. It was quite rad.

Picture this:

Sun Salutation/Surya Namaskar mini yoga session. I recently participated in a winter solstice 108 sun salutation yoga adventure at my local studio. It was epic. It was sweaty. It was thrilling. I have found that a few sun salutations on my mat during times of stress really sync my mind and body. You have to stay focused on the breath, but also engaged in the movement. After about 5 minutes of this sequence, I felt energized and focused.

Doterra Lavender in the diffuser. I’ve recently jumped on the Doterra bandwagon. I am so glad that I did! The lavender oil calms me down so quickly. It is blissful.

Binaural Beats playing in the background. If you don’t know what this style of music is…I would compare it to meditation crack. I’m not sure if crack and meditation have ever been used together in a sentence. TIME TO COPYRIGHT THAT PHRASE. Anyway, it is a style of music that can alter your brainwaves into a more meditative state. It can thrust you into Buddha-esque/enlightenment after a few minutes. Actually, I have no idea if it works at all, but I like the sound and I can dig the placebo effect.

During the exam, I did a small mindfulness exercise to check in with my body. I was sitting cross-legged, slumped over, and breathing shallow breaths. This posture is not exactly conducive to a sharp mind. I readjusted, finding a grounding position. I focused on taking deep, belly breaths. The haze cleared and I finished the test with ease.

How do you incorporate yoga into your everyday stress? Do you stop-drop-and yoga during crisis? Do you only do yoga during relaxation? I still feel like a fledgling in yogi world, but I am enjoying the journey towards a synergistic mind and body.

Love and light.

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Dig deep, find your inner light, and share it with the world.