Adding flavor to your 9 to 5.

The vast majority of the people work a typical 9am-5pm desk job. We wake up to a boisterous alarm clock, slovenly roll out of bed, and start the daily grind. We trudge to work in our cars and join the daily rat race.

That is a depressing description of a typical morning, but my fear is it is an accurate one. Day after day, we get up and go to work and get lost in a mundane routine. I have some strategies to help you open your eyes to the beauty of an average day. You have the ability to make average…extraordinary. The root of this concept is mindfulness:

Mindfulness is maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It is being conscious of the simple moments.

A typical day is filled with precious moments that are often overlooking by the blinders of auto-pilot that so many of us wear. Here are some tips on shifting your typical day into a day of beautiful awareness:

  • Enjoy 6 mins of desk yoga. Connecting with your body and finding movement after hours of stagnate sitting is a blessing. Here is a link to a lovely video by my girl, Adriene
  • Get outside. Most jobs do not require being “office-bound” so slip outside for 5 minutes and get some fresh air. Listen to what you hear and take stock of the visual gifts in front of you.
  • Enjoy your commute. I have become a lover of all things Podcast. I use my commute to learn new information about subjects that I typically would not be expose to (hoarding, clock-making, LSD…just a normal day).
    • some of my favorite Podcasts that can be found on any iPhone: S-town, This American Life, The Daily, Serial, TED Radio Hour
  • Sneak in some yummy breathing. I am an advocate for the belly breath and taking moments throughout the day to engage in 2-3 breaths to center myself. I like to take deep breaths before I enter each patient’s room because it clears my head and allows me to be an active and engaged listener

Enjoying the small, beautiful moments is a great way to combat the “rut” feeling of doing the same thing each day. How do you find joy in your work routine?

Love and light.

IMG_3896-1

Post-Chair yoga in the office

IMG_3901-2

Enjoying the Healing Garden at work during lunch

Serendipity.

Do you seek out joy or wait for good things to happen to you? The concept of serendipity tells us that pleasant things appear spontaneously. Well, I like to think you can create your own serendipity with a little bit of luck and effort.

My schedule has been aggressively busy over the past month. I started a new job that tugs on every essence of my being; in a good, yet time-consuming way. “Busy” is a commonality among most humans. The challenges shift among people, but most days involve school/job/spouse/family/children/housework or any combination of the stressors. When life is busy, do you stop engaging in self-care? Do you stop taking precious moments to yourself to seek out beauty?

When I am at my busiest, I find that I thrive at self-care and my calming practices. I have to budget my time, which forces me to schedule times of relaxation. My commute to work has evolved into a delicate time of reflection and relaxation. I must drive every morning, so why not create a sacred experience. My car smells of strong coffee and emits soothing sounds of my favorite musician, Trevor Hall. I also have a portable essential oil diffusor for the dashboard. So, with a little bit of effort, a daily commute has unfolded into my sacred Sara time.

Another way I squeeze beauty into my day is tea time. I have a Keurig in my office at work and I brew a cup of tea after I round on my patients. Although a small gesture, the smell of loose-leaf tea makes charting a lot more pleasant. It also brought a sense of community to my work space. I’ve met other staff members through this spontaneous love of tea. Now, I bring tea to our weekly team meeting. One small action has become a new habit that reminds our coworkers to slow down and enjoy a delicious drink. I truly believe everyone can benefit from more mindfulness in the workplace.

My daily yoga practice has been a grounding force during this wild month. Somedays, I practice for an hour and its a sweaty, sublime practice. Other days, I lay in bed in Savasana and call it yoga. It’s about creating a balance, right? After a long day at the hospital, getting on my mat and releasing the tension feels like a true gift. Even if it’s a five minute practice, it’s five minutes of healing bliss. Create a serendipitous moment by getting on the mat and engaging in a delightful flow.

As I reread this, I realize how a lot of this sounds like “first world problems.” Oh, I’m too busy from my JOB that allows me to provide and never have any financial worries. Oh, I’m just so stressed from being at work that I have to drink $10 tea from Teavana out of my Keurig. That is not my intention. My intention is that we are all busy and all have our own struggles. In that busyness, we often forget to slow down and create magic in our everyday lives. We forget to create or embrace serendipity. We forget about the importance in the small moments.

How do you celebrate small moments when life is moving fast? Share with me 🙂

Love and light.

 

Undulating.

The ebb and flow of my yoga practice has provided me with years of comfort. Yoga gives me stability in mind, body, and spirit. My practice continues to evolve and I spent my morning meditation reflecting on the evolution of my yoga journey. My heart felt compelled to write about it, in the hopes of touching other lives.

High School: I learned about yoga in my AP history class. We discussed religious and cultural practices of ancient civilizations. We talked about Gautama Buddha and his sage teachings. I soaked up the information and enjoyed learning through a global lens.

College: A time of challenging your past knowledge and paving the way towards individual thought. I never knew there was more to life than what I was taught in high school. My world was very small, so I craved more of this fresh information. The campus gym offered a free yoga class one night and I decided to go. I purchased a yoga mat that was essentially a foamy beach towel and headed to the class. My fingers aggressively typed into the search engine of my 47 lb Mac laptop, “what does one wear to yoga?” Unfortunately, I did not have any spandex in my possession (a true tragedy) so my only choices were sweats and a t-shirt that said “free hugs.” Seemed fitting considering I was about to delve into the world of patchouli and liberals. Class starts, the lights dim, someone is chanting, and I somehow feel at home.

Nursing School: Yoga served as an educational tool, rather than a practice of relaxation. I taught simple yoga classes at a homeless women’s shelter during a clinical rotation. To see women halt from the chaos of life and enjoy 15 minutes of self-care, was a true gift. I realized yoga was so much more than hipsters sweating on a mat. It was about hitting the pause button on life and taking time to give your soul a hug. It was a free and easy way to connect with yourself and others.

Adulthood (if that is really even a thing): I once heard someone describe being an adult like this… “you leave your house, look both sides before crossing the street, you walk towards your car and a plane hits you.” Honestly, that nails it. With adulthood came this terrifying revelation that groceries are expensive, doing your taxes is a real thing, and you can not survive off of ramen noodles because it will make you hypertensive. So, I turned to yoga once again. My local gym offered yoga classes and I used them as xanax to combat my newly discovered anxiety. My meditation practice was evolving, so it only made sense that I become the semi-cool yoga hippie chick (right?). At that point, I sometimes wonder if I was practicing yoga because I loved it or because I thought I had to in order to keep up the image of the laid-back bohemian meditator.

Present: I have transitioned my practice from community group classes to the home practice. My gratitude goes out to Yoga with Adriene. Her online classes reminded me why I love yoga. It is not about wearing the cutest clothes or being seen at the right/hardest class. It is about a raw, honest relationship between your mind and body. Today, I often practice lazy yoga. I am gone for 15 hours most days, so I simply melt on the mat in child’s pose for a few minutes. Sometimes, my daily practice is 5 minutes of just standing in Mountain pose and preparing for the day ahead. But, that is what works for me right now, thus making it the perfect practice.

My relationship with yoga continues to undulate. It bends, moves, crescendos, crashes, and stays stagnant. It is your practice, it can be whatever you want.

Please enjoy this website, I have learned so much about my journey through Adriene’s words.

Blog

Love and Light.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 10.52.28 AM

An example of a lazy practice.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 10.52.54 AM

The tech world meets the yoga world! Thankful for youtube for helping make the home practice a reality

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 10.53.09 AM

Squeezing in a quick practice during my lunch break at Urgent Care.

Keeping a calm mind in a crazy life.

I want to share some tips regarding efficiency, self-care, and relaxation in a busy world. I suppose I’m fulfilling my inner narcissist by giving all this unsolicited advice, BUT I do truly want help people learn more about the mind.

I know my body and brain. I know that my anxiety tends to flare up when I stop taking care of my spirit because of a busy schedule. However, I have learned a few tricks to harness my anxiety during chaos. Grad school, work, and life combine to create a somewhat daunting schedule. There are days I leave my house at 5:30am and get home at 9:30pm. Essentially, I work a reversed 9-5 job. In a nine day period, I work as a nurse for 48 hours, a nurse practitioner student for 60 hours, and juggle the roles of fiance, mom, daughter, and friend. Oh, and I’m currently taking full time classes for school.

Life is wild. My anxiety used to skew my perception of busy and flare up during swamped schedules. Over the past year, I’ve learned to harness that anxious energy and transform it into efficiency. I try to maximize my downtime and embrace small moments of self-care. There has always been a direct relationship with how busy I am and my anxiety. I think that is a common relationship: more going on=more stress. Let’s shift that perspective.

Continue reading

Hush Hush.

Nobody talks about it. Like, really talks about it. Anxiety is pervasive in our culture, yet we ignore it and continue to stigmatize its presence. I find this particularly popular in the world of women.  I personally have heard from many women who have reached out to me about anxiety, but we still deny that this is a public health problem.

 Anxiety Disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States (approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54). – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Picture this: You are at a lunch with 5 girlfriends. Based on statistics, one of them has an anxiety disorder. That is pretty awe-inspiring in terms of prevalence. Here is my question, why are we STILL not openly talking about this?

American culture, especially southern culture, encompasses female perfection. You will be the perfect wife, friend, mother, sister, daughter and you will do it with luscious blonde curls and a Michael Kors watch. I suppose this facade of having it all together makes it difficult to discuss the burdens of perfection. Social media is also pretty damn toxic to our mental health. Trust me, I’m just as guilty of spending too much time stalking people from high school and gawking at the fraudulent perfection. Because we fill the internet with controlled happiness, it shifts reality. No one has it all together, but social media tricks us into thinking the opposite.

My wish is for women to be genuine with the struggles of life. It is hard to wear so many hats and it is ok to be anxious at times. Life is daunting, but also blissfully exciting. So, I challenge you…peel back the layers and share what is permeating through your spirit. There should be a community of support for anxiety, instead of silencing it. If I have a patient specifically come in to the practice to discuss mental health, I often share my own journey. Creating that tangible and emotional connection truly opens doors and leads to a better course of treatment. So this week, be open and honest with your struggles. You might find a charming community you never knew you had in life.

Granted, some people find that vocalizing anxiety magnifies its power. If you know this about your soul, then verbalizing it to others might not be an ideal journey for you. The anxiety adventure is unique to us all and it takes time to figure out your relationship with it. I am an open spirit, often sharing my story with furry Starbucks baristas and yoga class dwellers. Just find what works for you to alleviate the burden and find peace. In the words of my favorite yogi, Adriene, “find what feels good.”

Love and light.

IMG_0303

I find that nature is one of my favorite places to process anxiety. It puts a lot in perspective.

IMG_2832

My healthcare community of patients and coworkers is pivotal is this journey.

392760_10150529277899641_145207320_n

Find your one sounding board. For 20+ years, we’ve been swapping ideas and sharing trials/tribulations. Love you.

 

 

 

Travel.

Anxious people and travel often do not mix in the wanderlust-themed soup of life. For the anxious soul, travel is too unknown to be comprehensible. New roads, cars, rooms, restaurants, people, and spaces…the unfamiliar territory is daunting. I want to let you in on a little secret: the joy of adventure always outweighs the fear.

“I would rather have a panic attack on a beach in Brazil, than in my living room.”

Let’s say you are at a crossroads, (the travel-themed metaphors are just TOO easy) and your options are to stay home or go on an adventure. I guarantee most anxious people will be consumed by option A.

“Well, if I just stay home and rest this one time, I’ll be better prepared for next time”

“I’m tired and I think I’ll just watch a movie at home”

“I don’t have the right clothes/gear for that, so I’m going to pass”

“I’m swamped with work, I just can’t get away for the afternoon”

Guess what? I call bullshit on all those answers. Anxiety likes to dictate the initial response to questions and call the shots. After years of dealing with panic, I still catch myself slipping into the default mode of “oh, no thanks…not this time.” CHALLENGE THAT THINKING.

Travel is this beautiful gift that allows up to pause reality and submerge into a hidden world where the potential is limitless. If you want to be a carefree hippie-wood nymph and traverse throughout the woods, you can. If you want to get a tattoo in Myrtle Beach (not recommended based on personal experience) then go for it! Traveling allows you to shed that timid shell and explore your true persona in a new environment.

The next time someone asks you to travel (an afternoon/day/week), pause before you answer. Reflect on this idea: Anxiety does not have to travel with you. What if you could leave her at home to veg on the couch while you explore the world. She doesn’t deserve to come on an awesome trip.

At the height on my anxiety, long car rides would be difficult. I would ruminate on all of the things that could go wrong once we got to the destination. Now, I focus on enjoying uninterrupted time with my fiance. I focus on being mindful and present on the experience instead of catasterbating (patent pending on that word…kinda).

Here are a few tips that I use to make traveling an awesome experience:

  • Prepare
    • If we are hiking, we map out the trail and share the latitude/longitude with friends so if we get eaten by a bear, they can find our gear and fight over the good stuff
    • Use google maps to see a “street view” of where you are going. Visualizing the new location can alleviate some bad vibes
    • Check the weather…duh.
  • Stack the deck
    • There is nothing wrong with bringing parts of your toolbox (see previous post!)
    • essential oils, a favorite mantra, a book are all great supporting objects during travel
    • Be rested, stay hydrated, eat well…when your body is healthy, your mind will follow along
  • Embrace
    • Be mindful to focus on the experience, not the anxiety
    • You are having a beautiful moment in a new place, simply enjoy it

 

I finish with a caveat. We love to travel and 80% of the time, I’m a badass travel buddy. There are still times I get overwhelmed. I HATE flying and I drink myself into stupor to board the flying germ tube. I also still deal with occasional anxiety while driving on the highway. I ignore the feeling and zone out to some nerdy podcast instead of trying to figure out what I’m feeling. Is that therapeutic? Nope. Is that the healthy, hippie way to cope? Hell no. Is that the yogi-granola way to heal? Naw. But, it’s a process and a journey. I’m striving for integrity and raw writing…not perfection.

Love and light.

 

Enjoy some pictures from my travels over the last month

IMG_0221

Our ‘hotel’ for the night during a camping trip

IMG_0486

Watching the waves in Sunset Beach

IMG_0320

Braves game! 

IMG_0521

Exploring downtown Wilmington, NC

 

Mantra.

By definition, a mantra is:

mantra

noun man·tra \ˈmän-trə also ˈman- or ˈmən-\
  •  a sound, word, or phrase that is repeated by someone who is praying or meditating

  • a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone’s basic beliefs

I use mantras in my daily life and I picture them as a grounding force in a chaotic storm. When your mind is spiraling down an anxious path, a mantra is the kind person who stops to give you directions. It helps by refocusing your thought process and shifting your mind into a calmer demeanor. My brain really loves to work hard, so I meet that need for constant activity with positive thoughts and phrases.
Here are a few beautiful mantras to take you into the weekend. I challenge you to embrace the concept of a mantra and allow the words to fill and calm your soul. The next time you are ruminating on anxious thoughts, replace that fiery energy with some of these options. You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly you can rewire your thoughts and calm your spirit.

I am confident about solving life’s problems successfully.

I transcend stress of any kind. I live in peace.

All is well in my world and I am safe.

With every breath, I release the anxiety within me and I become more and more calm.

Life is wonderful. I trust in God/Universe to live a well fulfilled life.

I overcome my fear of anything and everything and live life courageously.

I acknowledge that the only constant in life is change and am prepared for it.

I am free of anxiety and continue to do so.

Let it be.

Credit to:http://www.self-help-and-self-development.com/affirmations-for-anxiety.html

 

 

Love and Light

IMG_9888

Breathe in the love around you. Be tall like the trees and bright like the sun. Namaste.

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.

IMG_9172

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.