Good smelling germs. 

When I decided to transition to making my own cleaning products, my husband was skeptical. He insisted that they would not work as well as the chemical shit storm (my words, not his) products. He also was unsure of the efficacy and kept stating the manta, “at least we will have good smelling germs..if nothing else.” Fast forward to present day and I sit here writing this post while glancing at my lovely husband as he cleans our kitchen counter with my “all purpose” cleaning spray. Ahh, the smell of sweet victory…and essential oils. Marriage is a compromise, what can I say. 

Why the switch? 

Honest answer: cost and health. It is exponentially cheaper to make your own products (Insert impressive data that I do not currently have here). Realistically, making something is almost always cheaper than buying it. Also, I find it rewarding to “upcycle” and reuse empty bottles. Maybe it’s the hippie in me, who knows. In terms of health, I started getting headaches while cleaning the bathroom. The smell of the strong chemicals made me nauseated and I had to open a window to finish the task. After delving into the deep dark interwebs, I realized that I no longer wanted to inhale the crud I was using to clean. 

How do you do it? 

You need 30 seconds, an empty spray bottle, and a few household items. 

ALL PURPOSE CLEANER RECIPE

  1. Empty bottle 
  2. 2 cups of distilled water (or tap water if you’re like me and simply not fancy or motivated to go buy distilled water) 
  3. 1/4 cup distilled vinegar 
  4. 15 drops of Essential oils of your liking (I used Doterra lavender and lemon but feel free to use what you have available) 

Mix everything into the container, shake it up, do a happy dance, spray shit around your house. Voila. 

BATHROOM SCRUB

  1. Empty bottle (I see a trend here) 
  2. 2 cups of water 
  3. 2 tablespoons Dr Bronner’s Castile soap
  4. 2 tablespoons of baking soda 

Mix, spray, relish in the joy of a fresh smelling toilet. 
Love and light 

Hybrid.

Modern medicine tends to fixate on diagnosis and treatment, whereas a wellness lifestyle focuses on education, self-awareness, and prevention. Instead of merely treating disease, the wellness lifestyle addresses its causes-what lies beneath the disease and its symptoms.

-The Essential Life

In 5 short months, I will be a family nurse practitioner. My journey in medicine started a decade ago when I began volunteering at a local hospital. At the ripe age of 16, I learned about getting my hands dirty. I mean that metaphorically and literally. Seeing patients in the hospital fascinated me. During a lunch break, I ate my stale bagel and reflected on my experience.

Why did she wait so long to get a check up? Why did he give up on his health? Why doesn’t she seem to care about what is happening to her body?

My thoughts were, perhaps, non-traditional lunch break thoughts. However, I was truly curious why people waited until the brink of death to seek help. I grew up going to the doctor for annual check-ups and learning that preventative health was important. I understood that physical fitness and healthy foods were important. I have carried those core values into my professional life.

So, the question of the hour is this…can you achieve wellness by practicing both complementary and traditional medicine? Is there a market for the nurse practitioner who will prescribe:

  • increased physical exercise
  • essential oil diffusion for stress management
  • antibiotics for strep throat

The hybrid of preventative medicine, wellness, and disease management is possible. I’m just not sure how to achieve it. I see the value in both practice styles. The benefits of holistic, complementary medicine:

  • patient autonomy
  • inexpensive interventions
  • 1,000s of years of anecdotal experience
  • natural
  • less extreme side effects

Let’s play devils advocate and discuss benefits of traditional medicine:

  • societal support
  • greater amount of evidence based practice
  • variety of double-blind research studies
  • mainstream education through medical school
  • quick support/treatment of a variety of illnesses

Healthcare is broken in this country. Again, that is a post for a later time. Could a hybrid of eastern/western medicine be the answer to change our health? As Americans, we are some of the most unhealthy people in the world. Participating in a culture of prevention, rather than treatment, will augment longevity. In a perfect utopia, this is how I want to practice medicine:

55 year old patient presents to the clinic with an acute upper respiratory infection. The patient is very physically active, eats a balanced diet, and denies smoking/drinking. My plan for this patient would be to diffuse Doterra On guard+Breathe at night and prescribe traditional pharmacology (inhalers, steroids.)

Is it possible to create this crossbreed of medicine? If any incredibly rich people want to fund my research, do not hesitate to reach out 🙂

My greatest wish is to see people take care of mind, body, and spirit. Treat yourself kindly and create a body that is strong and healthy. When you do get sick, I am here for you…but take the first steps towards prevention and wellness!

Be cool.

Be cool. This phrase means two things to me:

  • Your body is starting to feel hot and tingly. The symptoms are present and the fear is rising. The wave of panic is swelling, ready to engulf your scared little soul. The pinpricks are warm and electric in your hands. There is a fire burning its way through your psyche. My internal monolog of “be cool” begins. I repeat it, feeling the heat dissipate. Be cool, Sara. Be physically and emotionally cool. It is a reminder to calm my body down, stop the rapid thought firing, and engage my parasympathetic nervous system.

 

  • Anxiety often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I might feel anxious, therefore I feel anxious. I might have a panic attack, therefore I have a panic attack. What if _____happens??!!  A lot of my time has been eaten away by negative thoughts about this big bad imaginary fear that I can not control. As a relatively type A perfectionist, being out of control is daunting. I am learning, slowly but surely, that I can be cool with my feelings. I can accept that my anxiety is part of what makes me that woman I am today. I can be cool knowing that I might feel uncomfortable at times. I am able to be cool with my thoughts, recognizing that they are just thoughts.

For me, being cool with anxiety is the catalyst to my healing journey. Anxiety is a part of my being and my hardworking brain. I do not believe I would be as successful without it gnawing at me. Because of an anxious mind I have:

  • graduated nursing school cum laude from Emory University
  • maintained a 4.0 in a Masters program
  • worked full time as a nurse/charge nurse at a catastrophic care hospital
  • worn the hat of daughter, friend, sister, lover, step-mom, aunt

It’s ok to see anxiety in a positive light. I believe we are so quick to file it in the “holy shit this is not ok” folder. I’m not sure that is always the most productive way to view this journey. It is ok to be cool with your anxiety, it has probably led you to some incredible experiences. My wish for you is to be cool…be cool with your soul, spirit, heart, and mind.

 

Love and light. FullSizeRender

Be cool. Be a Spiritual Gangster.

Bliss

Blissfully calm, blissfully happy

What sets your soul on fire? What brings you peace? Where do you seek joy?

I like to picture my most blissful adventures when I need a moment to ground myself. These are some of my happiest activities, enjoy!

 

I would love to hear what activities you enjoy! Leave a comment below 🙂

Two Steps Forward, One leap back.

This anxiety journey is exhausting. To quote the cliche, “it is an emotional roller coaster.” One day, I might be thrilled with my progress and my sense of normalcy. The next day, I feel mentally crippled by feelings of panic and self doubt. If I burned calories based on the mental workout I get, I would probably look like half an Olsen twin. I feel like I’m progressing and I guess that is why I have such anger when the panic wave rises. I feel like I should have won by now. I would like you to get a glimpse of my healing adventure. These are all of the things I’ve tried:

  • biofeedback therapy
  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • overpriced regular therapy
  • meditation
  • mindfulness
  • aromatherapy
  • talking with family/friends
  • self-help books
  • a research project on understanding anxiety
  • diaphragmatic breathing
  • yoga
  • yelling, screaming, punching pillows
  • frequent exercise
  • healthy diet
  • no alcohol
  • self-help podcasts
  • journaling
  • panic diary

Get the picture? I’ve tried SO many things and most of the time…they work! However, it’s those times that sneak up on me and the darkness lingers. It comes out of nowhere and I feel defenseless to this magnificently strong power. I become frustrated because I should have figured this out by now. I have the tools to stop the panic. I have years of experience dealing with this. Why can’t I just figure it out? I would have the perfect life it this anxiety stopped.

That is a lot of “should, would, could” statements. For the first time in 25 years, I’m seeing the burden of those statements. I don’t have to have it all figured out and I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to keep working on my mind, body, and soul. When the Universe is ready for this burden to be lifted, I’ll find true peace. But, until then, I’ll ride the wave of panic and seek wisdom from each uncomfortable moment. My wish for you all today is be gentle with your soul when you take that leap backwards. It’s a process, a journey, an adventure. Love and light.

 

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Aligning my chakra stones gives me a sense of balance when I’m feeling internal chaos.

Gratitude

I’m grateful for panic.

I understand that gratitude is an odd emotion to coincide with anxiety. However, I believe healing is about perspective. Anxiety often feels like a huge dark cloud that permeates through my life. It feels like the biggest struggle and it only happens to me. It’s a very isolating process. I feel anxious and I think, “no one else probably feels so weird/scared/panicky.” I have learned throughout this journey that changing my perspective towards anxiety helps me heal. I have panic attacks. I have mind numbing repetitive thoughts. I have a catastrophic thinking pattern. But…I also have a phenomenal man, great family, loving friends, and a rewarding job.

I am a nurse and I work with a patient population of people that have suffered traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. My perspective on life has changed dramatically since I started working with these patients. My “problems” seem a lot smaller when I reflect on the fact that I can walk, talk, laugh, eat, drive, hug, kiss, smile, and breathe on my own. Anxiety feels so small when I look at the positive aspects of my life and for that, I’m grateful.

I am grateful to have panic attacks. WHAT? I know, right. Sounds odd? I feel gratitude when I panic because my body is allowing my mind to practice a new relaxation technique. My body is trying to tell me something when I panic. It’s an alarm that I need to practice loving self care. My post-panic attack routine often consists of a cup of tea, meditation, and aromatherapy. It’s a period of forced relaxation and for that, I’m grateful.

Anxiety has taught me about the delicate interweaving of the human psyche. I did not have a mind-body connection before I developed anxiety. I was in auto-pilot mode and rarely processed my emotions. Anxiety has been the liaison between my soul and mind and for that, I’m grateful.

I can empathize and connect with my patients who deal with anxiety. I have a genuine emotional connection with them when they say they are struggling. As a future Family Nurse Practitioner, I hope to combine my empathy and knowledge to create treatment plans that improve the lives of my clients. I can hold the hand of an anxious patient and say, “I understand.” I will treat the mind, body, and spirit in my future practice and for that, I’m grateful.

What are you grateful for today? Try starting the day with a mantra of “I’m grateful for______.” It will change your perspective!

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I had a mild panic attack this morning. It was a bummer. As I reflect on what my body was telling me, I realized I needed to practice self care. I will enjoy some wine, a good book, and a view of photos from our favorite adventures. I am grateful.

Smell ya later.

 

[Aromatherapy] seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process. — National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy

 

Essential oils are a great way to hit the pause button during a toxic stream of consciousness. I have recently started incorporating them into my healing journey. The limbic system controls a lot of our emotions and aromatherapy has been proven to calm that center of the brain.

I’m currently working with these scents:

  • Lavender
    • It is my favorite “go to” scent to calm my brain when I feel the wave of anxiety ascending
  • Peppermint
    • Nausea is a common side effect of anxiety and I’ve had my fair share of gastrointestinal issues
    • This oil is great to calm the butterflies in the tummy!
  • Eucalyptus
    • I feel my chest expand and my heart open after using this oil
    • Picture a lovely natural version of Vicks vapor rub
  • Panic Button
    • It’s a combination of rose and orange flowers
    • I’ve used this in the height of a panic attack and it is helpful

Other helpful scents:

  • Clary Sage
    • It has antidepressant effects and has been proven to work even better than lavender!
  • Bergamot
    • A study showed that 10 minutes of aromatherapy with this oil decreased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Angelica
    • This fresh scent is very popular in the natural healing world to treat anxiety

How do you use the oils?

  • My skin is used to the oils, so I place a few drops on the inner part of my wrist
  • You can also put drops on your fingertips and rub the oil on your temple/behind your ears
  • A diffuser is a tool that allows you to make an aerosol version of the oil and diffuse the scent around your house, similar to a humidifier
  • Mix the oil with a coconut oil base to create a balm

 

This information has come from my personal experience and also from the source: http://www.naturallivingideas.com/anxiety-and-essential-oils/

These are personal tips for what works for me and is in no way affiliated with any medical advice/brand promotion.

Go forth and breathe yourself to calm.

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Some of my oils with a chakra flag in the back.

The Tiger Never Comes

It’s raw. It’s visceral. It’s a backseat driver, desperately trying to shift you from control. It’s the bully. It’s the annoying neighbor that silently judges. It’s the space-occupying villain. It’s the darkness. It’s the desperation for perfection. It’s the voice that tells you everyone is watching. Even the eyes within the painting are judging you. It’s the taste of bile in the back of your throat. It’s the unsteadiness that makes your legs feel incapable. It’s the quick heart beat that makes you feel like you’re about to fight a tiger, but the tiger never comes.

Throughout evolution, our bodies created this amazing defense mechanism called “fight or flight.” We adapted over time to be able to use our sympathetic nervous system to our advantage. Thousands of years ago, our distant relatives faced extreme challenges related to daily living. A tiger chasing after them is not a farfetched idea. In a life or death scenario, our body engages the sympathetic nervous system which allows us to face the threat. It is created by releasing a massive amount of adrenaline (the holy shit hormone). This hormone allows us to react with the intensity needed to counterattack the threat. When you read a story about mom lifting the minivan off of her trapped child, it’s because of that hefty surge of adrenaline. Pretty dang cool, right? In the appropriate situation, this physical response to a threat is protective and helpful. Unfortunately, the nervous system can get slightly wonky and decide to have this “fight or flight” response at an inappropriate time.

Today’s society does not have to worry about being eaten alive by a tiger. Hopefully. The reasons people are stressed have also evolved over time. We used to be stressed about trying to make a fire, kill dinner, and survive through the winter. Today, we are stressed about our job, family dynamic, social media presence, friendships, role strain, health, etc. I believe this is why anxiety disorders have been on the rise in the last 20 years. We figured out how to survive, so now we spend time perseverating on things that are not critical. We have this innate system to have healthy anxiety, but unfortunately it has manifested into an adrenal system crisis.

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I wonder if life was simpler when you only had to worry about whether or not you could build a fire.

About

A few years ago, a khaki clad man told me I have Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. He didn’t even take me out to dinner before sharing this revelation. A hefty diagnosis like this was the catalyst to my journey through stigma, panic, and anxiety. Want to know the irony? I am also a successful nurse, graduate student, hiker, lover, friend, daughter, and sister. Panic doesn’t define you, but it sure as hell loves to be along for the ride. This blog is my stream of consciousness and may be just as therapeutic for me as it is for you. Stop by, share a feeling, and let’s heal together.

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