Overcoming Overwhelming Problems, Worries, Anxiety, and Fears: A Mindfulness Exercise

When Life gets overwhelming, we sometimes just have to stop and think for awhile.  Unfortunately, when you have OCD, thinking can become our worst enemy.   For me,  I tend to over-think and then over-think on what I am already over-thinking about, which is just a vicious cycle (a broken record) of thinking that leads absolutely nowhere.  It just creates more anxiety, stress, and ultimately, emotional suffering.

I am also a problem solver with OCD, which simply means I have no patience.  I want to resolve problems as quickly as possible, if I don’t, it causes me emotional suffering.  I get anxious (I want to solve it now), I begin to worry (what would happen if it doesn’t get resolved) and I stress over the anxiety and worry (emotional suffering).

So, after years of emotional suffering, I eventually developed a sort of mindfulness exercise that helps me ground my OCD emotions.  Not only does it prioritize the level of importance for worrying about things, but also allows me to better organize my thoughts and emotions to make better decisions on things.

This exercise works well with all different kinds of worries and/or anxieties.  It is also great for prioritizing life problems or even just a stack of overwhelming work projects (I used to get stuck on list making rather than actually working).  I love this exercise, because it basically tricks the OCD brain into moving forward (fixing that broken record of thoughts and emotions).

This exercise incorporates a few different practices that often help overcome OCD ruts, such as identifying root-causes, implementing acceptance and mindfulness.  It also incorporates prioritizing and goal-planning.

Listing helps us identify stressful situations and then with a series of certain questions, we can better assess the situation to make better decisions about them.  In addition, writing all of this down on paper (it is important to do this exercise on paper and don’t be afraid to read it aloud), gets the thoughts out of the head (breaking internal thought cycles) and prioritizing the thoughts allows the logical part of our brain to step in and pick it up (breaking the OCD hold on the thought).  I love it! 
The Exercise:

1) Take a piece of paper and make 6 columns:

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1st COLUMN: List specifically all the things you are worried, anxious, or stressed out about.  The purpose of this column is to identify the root cause of your worry, anxiety, stress, fear, or problem.  Don’t think, just list them all! 

2nd COLUMN: Is this something that is out of your control?
If yes, stop here and let it go!

There is no point in wasting anymore energy into things that are out of our control.  This part focuses on ACCEPTANCE.  Sometimes we stress over things we do not realize we have don’t have any control over; this is often because our OCD sends us into a cycle of overthinking with ‘What if’s” and “Catastrophe thinking.”  But, once we identify the things we have no control over, we can redirect our energy into letting go (disconnecting our emotions from it), accepting there is nothing we can do about it, and having faith that all will be okay in the end.  Acceptance is a powerful tool in overcoming OCD.  

3rd COLUMN:  If you answered NO, in the previous column, then now is the time to think of reasonable and realistic solutions to resolving your problem, or easing the anxiety, worry, and stress.  Take your time with this one, do not rush through it.  You might even realize that this is something that is truly out of your control, going back to column 2.

If you are stuck on catastrophe thinking, ask yourself first, “WHAT IS ABSOLUTELY THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN,” and start from there.  For some, writing down our fears and reading them aloud, allows us to recognize (from a new perspective) irrational and unreasonable thoughts.  Sometimes things sound good in our head until we speak them aloud.  

4th COLUMN:  At this EXACT moment in time, can you do anything about it? YES or NO?

This part focuses on MINDFULNESS.  We all have things to realistically worry about and that is why mindfulness is so important.  Practicing mindfulness allows us to reduce stress by not having to worry about everything at once.  There is no point wasting energy today on something we don’t have to deal with or worry about until tomorrow (or next week, next month, or 5-10 years from now).

5th COLUMN: If Yes, write down the things you need to do and then go take care of it!

I love this part, because it just feels good getting stuff done, especially, if held back by OCD.

6th COLUMN: If NO, here is the section to make a game plan.
List all the things that need to take place to resolve this problem, or ease the anxiety, worry, fear, or stress.

If possible, include a task you can start today, just something to get you started and moving in the right direction.  Create a checklist and make small achievable goals.  It might just be something as easy as putting it on a calendar for another day, with the realization, it isn’t something you have to worry about right this second.

Often times, we can reduce stress by having a game plan.  A game plan can eliminate some of the unknowns we are worried about or just simply reduce stress by being confident that there is a plan.

Afterwards:

When finished, you should have prioritized everything into 3 different lists:
1) The list of things to let go!
2) The list of things you can resolve right now!
3) The list of things you don’t have to worry about right this second, but now have a plan to deal with it later (hopefully, reducing some stress over it).

Tips:

  • Do not be vague.
  • Be specific, yet to the point.  It’s not a journal.
  • Be honest, reasonable, and realistic.
  • Write down your thoughts and read them aloud for a new perspective.
  • If it causes more anxiety, stop, breathe, and decide whether or not you want to continue.  Pushing through your emotions to solve a problem is kind of like exposure therapy – it can be intense.

I hope this mindfulness exercise is just as helpful to you as it has been to me.  Everyone is different, so feel free to modify it to your own specific needs and please don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t seem to help at all.  From my own personal experience in overcoming OCD, it’s all about trial and error.  

 

Managing Chaos: Look It Straight In The Eye And Don’t Blink

I am not Wonder-Woman, although some people think I am… IMG_7326

Most of the time, I choose to be a busy crazy person.  I enjoy organizing chaos, but sometimes, I do get overwhelmed, because chaos is not meant to be tamed.  Chaos is meant to be crazy, sporadic, and unpredictable.  It plays a vital role in maintaining balance in the Universe and us, human-beings, often have this unhealthy need to control it, confined it, or eliminate it, when all we really need to do is just let it go.

 

Chaos can sometimes feel like the Warner Brother’s Tasmanian Devil, sweeping in like a crazy tornado, kicking up a mess of things into the air, just to find out later that they all fall back down in perfect order afterwards.  It’s the chaotic act of things going up in the air that bothers us the most and rarely do we ever just step back and see what happens.

Although we cannot control chaos itself, we do have the ability to regulate how much chaos we allow into our lives and we can certainly guide chaos along a more healthier path.

Just like flash floods, we cannot control the force of a flood or when they happen, but we can set up cement barriers to help guide it a certain way to avoid a complete catastrophe when they do happen.  Guiding chaos is kind of like that, by setting up emotional barriers that allow us to recognize the chaos, respect the chaos, and guide it away safely so that we do not get emotionally attached, for that emotional attachments is what fuels chaos and our need to control it.

Everyone has a little chaos in their lives, most of the time chaos is tolerable (not always controllable); however, there are times when chaos can become extremely overwhelming.  The flash-flood types of chaos is what we need emotional barriers for, not to prevent chaos, but more so to help reduce the impact of overwhelming emotions that might make chaotic situations worse.  Every chaotic situation, requires a quiet calm mind to achieve balance and resolution.

Emotional barriers should be accepting not cold.  Accepting chaos allows us to better calm the mind.  Recognize and respect the chaotic situation and take a step back.  Breathe.  Then, disconnect emotionally, (emotional attachments cause emotional suffering) so that the mind can think more clearly.  Sometimes, chaos just has to run its course, or perhaps just needs a gently nudge into a different direction.  Nonetheless, chaos cannot be controlled.

Although you cannot control chaos, you can certainly control how you react to chaos.  Taking a step back and disconnecting emotionally, helps you make better decisions.  Perhaps it is a situation you need to panic and run away from, or it’s a situation that is frustrating, but would best be resolved if you were to remain calm, cool, and collected.  If we over-react, we cannot think clearly, and the situation either worsens or we get stuck with emotional suffering while the situation resolves itself.  Sometimes, there is nothing we can do about chaos, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of a chaotic situation.

Nothing is ever black and white, so there is always room for a brighter side of even the most terrible of things.  A new perspective to a chaotic situation is another way to reduce emotional suffering and better guide chaos a long its way.

Fear fuels chaos too, so be sure to look chaos straight in the eye and don’t blink!  We can all try to prevent bad things from happening, but bad things will find a way to happen anyway (it’s part of the Universal balance).  It is best to deal with things as they come, because worrying is nothing but wasted energy, especially, if the things we worry about never come.  This is why it is so important to focus on the present rather than an unpredictable future.  Plan, make goals, take precautions, but also enjoy life to the fullest.

In short, when chaos is reigning down upon you, stop, breathe, take a step-back and see what happens.  Sometimes you don’t need to do anything but let it run its course and yet, sometimes, you need to guide it into a different direction without your emotions trying to take full control of the situation.

The Universe Is Preparing Me For Something Bigger!

Sorry Brains, I totally lost track of time.  Life has been chaotic and super busy.  Let me catch ya up a bit…

I am now a firm believer that the Universe [God, The Almighty] does not give us more than we can handle; so long as we are paying attention, of course.

The Universe will certainly test us, because we are all stronger than we often think, but there are times, when too much, is truly too much.   For me, last weekend, was too much and the Universe defiantly took notice…

It all began when I had a “Britney Spears” moment, by (accidentally) cutting off a large portion of my hair!  Fortunately, I didn’t shave it off like Britney, but pretty sure, had there been equipment to do so…I probably would have done it.

I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and completely frustrated with a massive knot in my pony tail.  Generally, I have really good patience, but this stubborn knot was, shall I say,  the tangled straw that broke the camels back!  I was in tears, trying to brush out this stubborn knot.  In which, probably wouldn’t of been so bad, had I washed my hair more often.  I do shower regularly…but sometimes, I get so busy doing everything, that by the end of the day, a long, good shower, seems like a lot of work and I tend to skip washing my hair.  It’s terrible, but it’s also the reality of motherhood. 

Anyway, overwhelmed, exhausted, and frustrated, I thought I had a great idea of cutting the knot out.  I mean, that’s what I do when the kids have knots- well, sort of.  With the kids, I patiently untangle the knot to the point I am left with just 2-3 strains of knotted hair that I could cut off without consequence.  Unfortunately for me, my lack of patience turned into tying my hair up into a pony tail and CUTTING off my entire pony tail!  Way more than just 2-3 strains of hair!  So, now, I sit here with hair hanging just a smidge below my ears.   It’s not ugly, just too short. 

Since doing that, stuff has been consistently falling off my plate.  So much stuff, that I am so grateful for, like potty training!  My youngest daughter (3yr-old), who has been extremely stubborn in potty training, just miraculously decided to start using the potty one day.  No more diapers!!  It was as if someone just flipped a switch!

This week was also the last day of school!  I cannot tell you how stressful it was for me, to make sure my Kindergartner did all her school work.   Her Kindergarten class does not mess around, I mean we had assignments for everything: reading, math, spelling, writing, science, PE, and music!  Wow, what happened to ABC’s, crafts, and naps!  

In addition to that, several other amazing things dropped off my plate allowing me to keep up on housework!  My house is so clean right now, I cannot even tell you how it got so clean.  There was no effort to it, it just happened!  Sure, we have our little messes here and there…but, it’s super manageable!

Even my kids are going to bed on-time.  In the history of having children, they have NEVER gone to bed on time, because they are night-owls (totally from my husband’s side of the family).  My youngest now, like clock work,  tells me good-night, snuggles into bed, and goes to sleep.  My oldest, still argues with me about bed-time (she argues just to argue-it’s her nature), but once the lights go out, she falls asleep within 20 minutes.  At this point, I am beginning to realize that the Universe is clearing off my plate for something bigger and it’s not dessert!!  

I know exactly what the Universe is preparing me for and I can tell ya right now, I am gonna need a bigger plate.

I cannot get into details about it, because it’s really not my story to share, but basically, over the past 7 years, a super-cell “shit” storm (pardon my French) has been brewing between my husband and his ex, in which has now resulted into a custody-review case.  Personally, I am absolutely relieved, because hopefully this is the end of 7 years of absolutely unimaginable drama!  Unfortunately, the custody-review has been placed on hold due to COVID.  Ugh.

Hopefully, with all this stuff quickly falling off my plate, means the custody review is just around the corner!  No matter what the outcome,  I pray the changes that are established by the court finally brings peace to my step-children, for that they have had one serious rough beginning in Life.

Whether the Universe is preparing me for my husband’s custody case or something else, I am super grateful for all the stuff falling off my plate right now.  I look forward to having a little break from chaos, even if it’s just for a couple of days.  🙂

Do you believe things happen for a reason?  

 

 

Mental Health Awareness Month: Everyone’s Brain Matters!

If mental health wasn’t important, then why is our brain completely protected by bone (skull), whereas other vital organs are just protected by a delicate rib cage….makes ya kinda of wonder, right?

Or why brains are such a tasty treat for Zombies!!

 

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Illustrated by Ginny 5.13.20

 

Okay, other then containing nutritious proteins for a healthy growing zombie, I am often told, the brain is protected more because the brain controls the entire body.  True, but perhaps it’s more protected to also remind us about both its physical and mental importance!

Everyone’s Brain Matters

The brain is just as important as any other part of our body and therefore, we shouldn’t neglect it, just as we shouldn’t neglect our lungs, heart, liver, or kidneys.  Zombies obviously, don’t let those go to waste either. 

For me, Mental Health Awareness Month is not just about tackling the mental health stigma, or making the world more aware of the many different kinds of mental health disorders, but also, making everyone aware that their very own mental health, whether they have a mental health disorder or not, also matters!

The human brain is a fascinating, mysterious, and remarkable piece of organic machinery.  Not only is it a complex super computer with a tangled network of a trillion chemical connections powering our entire physical body, but also gives incredible life to human creativity and innovation through its impressive mental capabilities.

Success and happiness is largely influenced by our own mental health.  Poor mental health prevents us from achieving our goals, letting go of grudges, obtaining happiness, keeping meaningful relationships, getting a promotion, working through difficult problems, overcoming emotions, and making good decisions.   Everyone, everyday, is affected by mental health.

Many of us live our lives on auto-pilot, not really paying attention to our mental health, until we either find ourselves in a difficult rut or become mentally burned out.   Perhaps, if we had practiced better mental health, we wouldn’t fall so hard mentally (depression, fatigue, stress, etc).

For Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s also focus on preventive care for our amazing hardworking brains.  Something, I believe is being neglected in our healthcare system.  I mean, doctors often check all the body functions, except for the brain.  They listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope, attach electrodes (EKG) to monitor heart function, blow into a spirometer to test lung function, and do blood labs to check our immune system, metabolism, liver, and kidney functions.  But, the brain is totally neglected.  Only when there are other problems in the body, do we start looking at the brain.  There is no preventive care plan for the brain, even though science is now showing a strong connection between mental and physical health.

To stay physically healthy, doctors tell us to exercise, eat right, and sleep well.  Unfortunately, you can’t do any of that without practicing better mental health.  If we’re sad or stressed, we’re likely not going to eat healthy (personally, I am a midnight ice-creamer eater when I am feeling blue).  If we’re stressed and/or busy, we’re likely not going to have time for exercise or be motivated to exercise.  And, if we’re anxious, we’re likely not gonna get good sleep.  Ironically, our brain (both physically and mentally) also requires exercise, eating right, and sleeping well.

Exercise fuels our brain with oxygen and releases hormones called endorphins, which makes us feel good and is a natural pain reliever.  Eating right gives our brain the right nutrients needed to keep our brain chemically balanced.  And sleeping; well, sleep gives our brain a restoration period to calm down from the chaotic world and repair our physical body.

So, taking care of our brain (both physically and mentally) is super important in keeping our entire body healthy!


Preventive Care For The Brain: 

 

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Obviously, living a healthy lifestyle, like exercising daily, maintaining an active social-life, laughing more, sleeping well, eating clean-healthy foods, and nixing bad habits such as smoking and drinking, is a great way to keep our brains physically healthy.  But, we can’t accomplish much of that, without practicing better mental health.

There are lots of things we can do to take better care of our brain to support better mental health, but (in my opinion), managing stress is number one!  Managing our stress-levels is important for keeping our brains chemically balanced and mentally healthy.  Stress can trigger all sorts of havoc on our brains, releasing hormones that can damage our body both mentally and physically.

Reducing stress can be challenging, for that we cannot eliminate stress 100%.  Stress plays an important role to our survival, keeping us alert and on our toes.  Instead of ignoring stress, it is important to learn how to better cope with stress.  Our brain needs to be maintained like a building structure or bridge, it needs to be strong enough to function properly, while also being able to cope with a stress load.  Aren’t brains awesome! 

A few ways we can start learning to better cope with daily stress is practicing acceptance, mindfulness, and gratitude.  

Acceptance allows us to cope with things we cannot control.  Mindfulness allows us to enjoy the present rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future.  And gratitude, gives us the ability to enjoy and appreciate the little things that make our world as a whole.  Practicing all of this together can reduce the amount of mental stress affecting both our mental and physical being.

There are tons of resources out there to get started, but getting started can be difficult.  Habits are difficult to change, but keep in mind, all it takes is a slight turn of your foot into a new direction to get you going on a new path.  🙂

Be Kind To Everyone

Mental Health Awareness Month is about promoting understanding, compassion, and kindness towards those struggling with mental health disorders.  Not all mental health disorders can be prevented or easily managed; and thus, requires lots of patience, support, love, and kindness.

It is also important to be kind to everyone, for that you never know what others may be going through physically or mentally.  ❤

 

 

 

 

Staying Mentally Strong

Protecting your mental health is more important now, than it EVER was before!

A super contagious virus, economy collapse, conspiracy theories, toilet paper hoarding, and now murder hornets… I don’t know about you, but I just want to go back to bed and wake up to a better day.Screen Shot 2020-05-08 at 1.36.41 PM

I do not know what is going on in the world today, but it is terrifying.  Not only are we uncertain about our own health, but also the stability of our own livelihood.

This pandemic has become more than just people getting really sick; it has become a situation that has flipped everyone’s lives entirely upside down!  Many have lost jobs that keep a roof over their head and food in their bellies.  Many have been forced into lockdown with abusers with no means of escape.  Many have resorted to drugs and alcohol to ease the pain of losing their job and/or loved ones.  Suicide rates have increased as the world seems to be falling apart.

Everyone, at some level, has been affected by this pandemic and no matter how this pandemic affects you, protecting your mental health is more important now than it ever was before!

Just because the world seems a little crazy right now, doesn’t mean it’s the end.  If anything, this is just a new beginning and all beginnings are scary.

Challenges Ahead

This pandemic is challenging, because of too many unknowns.  We are faced with a situation that is difficult to understand and have no control over.  To make matters worse, we are going to have to cope with these unknowns as the world starts to open up again.

Although nothing changed regarding the virus, lockdown created a whole nest full of other damaging problems.  Not only do many of us have to start putting our lives back together after lockdown, but we also have to do it in a way that doesn’t compromise our health and safety.   This is a lot to think about.  This is a lot to carry mentally.

Taking Control Of What We Can Control 

Obviously, this is a situation that we have no control over; however, we can certainly control how we choose to respond to it.

To overcome any kind of life challenge, we must remain mentally strong.  We must take a moment to breathe, accept what we cannot control, be grateful for what we have right now (even if it feels like nothing), and carefully take control of how we respond to situations day by day.

We can control the level of precautions we want to take for ourselves.  We can control how we choose to respond to negative information.  We can control how we choose to adapt to a life that is not entirely back to normal.  We can control what new path we want or need to take to better ourselves and our families during this difficult time.  We have a lot more control than we think.

I will not lie, it will be tough.   There will be ups and downs.  There will be obstacles here and there.  But, it is important to keep moving forward.  Attitude is everything.  Keep thinking positive, for that positivity will be your light out of the dark tunnel of negativity.  Seems corny, but true.

Obviously, not my best post…
I wrote this post, in between my kids driving me crazy, my husband working from home,  the house accumulating a mess around me, and the continue concern for everyone’s physical and mental health.

I plan to try to post more often, not only to help those find a positive light in the midst of all this chaos, but also to help myself get back to normal.   Since lockdown, the days have blurred together, routines have fallen apart, and I have no idea which way is up from bottom.   Sadly, I cannot recall the last time I actually made an effort to get dressed.

We are all in this together!  

Acceptance & Awareness: Coping With Stress During A Pandemic

I will be honest…last week, I totally fell apart!

I feel like I went through the Five Stages of Grief denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  

I am not sure if anyone else has experienced this lately; if so, please feel free to share with us your thoughts and opinions too.

My downward spiral of emotions began when the media started reporting different facts regarding the CoVid-19 pandemic, causing great panic and fear in everyone.

As a scientist at heart <3, I question the world around me, not only to gain better understanding, but also to better accept the unknown.  However, when information is incorrect or contradicting, it is difficult to make an accurate assessment to build a solid game plan.  As human beings, if we cannot accurately assess a serious situation, our Fight or Flight Response System kicks into high gear, creating panic and fear.

Of course, with the help of my OCD brain, my rational questions turned into stinking thinking, which not only created panic and fear, but also a physical pain in my ribs due to the build up of stress caused by panic and fear.  In short, I had a really really bad panic attack!

Denial
My emotions started with denial.  With all the confusing, contradicting, false information circulating around, I started to think, perhaps things are not as bad as it seems.  Then our community got serious, with shut-downs and testing.

Anger
Then, I got super angry.  Angry, that I am high-risk for complications due to my asthma.  Angry, that my family might lose me.  Angry, that I never finished my Biology degree to be one of the scientists who can help cure this awful disease.  Angry, that the world may change forever for my girls.  Angry, about so much stuff.  

Bargaining & Depression
After the anger subsided, I began a stage known as bargaining…where the “what if” thinking really started to get me down.  Mostly, I became overly concerned about the welfare of my kids…in which, I can’t even bring myself to talk about without the waterworks starting up again.  I started organizing my affairs and gathering information my family would need, in the event, I get really sick.

This was the stage, where I began to feel the pain in my ribs.  The part where depression kicked in and I cried a lot.

Acceptance
Today, I am feeling much better, except for my ribs; they feel like they were beaten by a baseball bat.  But, my heart-rate is down, I am calm, cool, collected, and ready to take on the world again.

I am currently working on acceptance and I think acceptance is very important when having to cope with stress; especially, a lot of stress.

I have accepted that the situation going on today is out of my control.
However, I can certainly control how I respond to this situation.
I can respond by…

1) Keeping myself informed and up-to-date
2) Doing my best to practice good hygiene and taking the necessary precautions to prevent illness and help flatten the curve to help others.
3) Worrying only when it is time to worry.
4) Having hope and never giving up on hope.
5) Continuing to enjoy Life with a grateful heart and a positive mind. 


Practicing Awareness
With everything going on in the world right now, it is super easy to forget about the present moment.  For many of us, we are wasting the present moment by dwelling on the past as we worry about the future.  But, in the grand-scheme of things, the present is all that really matters.  Even when the world is not tumbling into chaos, enjoying the present is far more important than our past and future.

Don’t get me wrong, our future is important too.  However, focusing on the present allows us to pave the way for a better future, a more enjoyable future, rather than a future spent on regretting the past.  I am not sure if that makes any sense, but basically, I am just saying, make good decisions and fantastic memories now, so that you end up having an amazing life later.

Also, practicing awareness for the present moment, gives us a break from all the chaos around us.  It has the potential to reduce panic and fear.  Being aware of the present moment, reminds you that at this very moment in time, you are okay.   Focusing on the present moment, removes a vast majority of fears and anxiety; especially, those associated with time and space.  It can eliminate fears and anxiety regarding the past and future (time).  It can also eliminate fears and anxiety caused by situations that are in your life, such as work, school, home, etc (space).  Self-awareness allows you to block out everything else and only focus on yourself…your existence.  This allows you to reprioritize your thoughts, worries, and emotions.  It also allows you to heal and recharge from overwhelming emotions.   A mental break.

Thank You To All The Amazing Brains 
I just wanted to take a moment to thank all the amazing brains out there taking the time to check out my blog, reading my posts, and posting comments.  You guys are awesome!  We will get through this together.  I wish everyone the best of physical and mental health!  Positive vibes too ❤

 

 

 

Getting To Sleep With A Chatter-Box Brain

Sometimes I lie in bed, anxiously waiting for my brain to shut up.  My brain goes on and on with random thoughts; chatting away excitedly, all while I just sit there, silently  watching the minutes pass by on the clock.  My brain often times doesn’t get the hint that I want to go to sleep.

I have an arsenal of sleep techniques, which include taking a warm bath, reading the words most boring books, playing audio-books & sleep stories, watching “Moving Art” on Netflix, and/or listening to white-noise apps.  In worst case scenarios, possibly taking Melatonin.  But, for me, the most effective way to get to sleep has been guided mediations.

Guided mediation is like a sleep-story, but instead of just listening to the narrator tell you a story, you focus on the narrator as he/she guides you into relaxation.  Basically, helping you obtain self-awareness.  Sometimes is a visual guide (like relaxing on a beach) or a basic guide to breathing and relaxing the body.  The entire point is to calm your busy brain and relax the body.

I may have shared this before, but I tell ya, I love these guys!  The Honest Guys, on YouTube.  They have amazing guided mediation videos and if you aren’t much of a visual person, just the sounds alone are peaceful enough to induce relaxation.

Below is one of my favorite videos I listen to that help me go to sleep.  I love it for several reasons:

  1. It’s a short video, only 30 minutes, but for whatever reason, I am out like a light before it’s over!
  2. The deep breathing exercise, in this particular video, is different than some of their other videos.   Instead of just taking in a few deep breaths, this video guides you along a breathing technique called “4-7-8 breathing,” in which, studies have shown to help the nervous system relax.
  3. This video also guides you through your noisy brain, by helping you return to the present moment, rather than floating off into the future or dwelling behind in the past.I have noticed that if I truly focus on listening to the guided mediation, my noisy brain does fade away into the background.
  4. The guide (Rick Clarke) speaks with a slow, whispered deep voice.  It is the whispering of his voice that seems to produce a feeling of relaxation, which is an interesting phenomenon, known as ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response).  This is actually a new trend that is supposedly therapeutic for those with depression, insomnia, and anxiety.Even the popular App, Calm, has ASMR “sleep” stories, in which their sleep stories are narrated with a whisper.  For me, I personally prefer listening to Calm’s Sleep Stories narrated by Matthew McConaughey. 🙂
  5. The sounds are of really good quality and thus, I totally recommend a pair of headphones.  The sounds are perfectly balanced and serene.  The music is calming and the nature sounds are not distorted, too loud, or fake.I mean, to me,  there are some videos (and apps) out there where ocean waves just sound like tv static.   It’s terrible!

However, I have learned, that for this guided meditation to be most effective, you must put forth some effort, especially, if you have a really chatty brain, in listening to the guided mediation and doing the breathing exercises – otherwise, it’s no different than having a radio station playing in the background.

Last night, my brain was super chatty and I kept wandering away from the guided meditation.  So, I re-started the guided mediation with the full intent to focus on the sounds of the meditation and without even realizing it, my brain shut up (or faded in the background) and I eventually fell asleep.

If you suffer from insomnia or anxiety, please give this a try.  I know it may not work for everyone, but it never hurts to try, especially, if nothing else seems to help.  Please have an open mind and hope you enjoy.  ❤

Oh, another thing… The Honest Guys are so cool, they have visual guided mediations that are Lord of the Rings themed!

When The Universe Has Plans

Hi Brains!  

It has been a super rocky new year!  So rocky, I tripped, fell, rolled down hill, into quick sand, but I haven’t sunk yet.

Shape 25

The Dim Brighter Side

I am always the first to recognize a brighter side, a new perspective that provides hope to something better.  At the moment, the brighter side is pretty dim.

My husband is being bombarded by some crazy Life challenges that strangely have nothing to do with him directly, yet are impacting our family in big ways.  The worst part, all we can do is just ride it out and hope for the best.

Life happens, but strangely not all at once; so the Universe is totally up to something.  Major change is coming and we just don’t know what to expect…it’s scary!  However, just because the brighter side is a bit dim, doesn’t mean it’s completely blacked out.

I Cried, Laughed, Cried, and Laughed Again

It’s been an emotional roller-coaster!  I am on this endless cycle of crying and laughing.  My emotions are all over the place.  Just when we are feeling better about everything, something else unexpected happens.   It’s crazy!!  

I got so deeply depressed about everything going on, I forgot about all the things that make me happy.  I forgot about blogging, my Netflix binge watching, and even the small things that make me smile, regardless of the tough times.

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to worry.  It’s okay to get overwhelmed by the “what-if’s, the worst case scenario’s, and self-doubt.”  It’s when we don’t do anything about the way we feel that becomes a problem and it’s just another problem to add to the rest of our problems.

Depression is no joke!  It can be extremely difficult to escape from depression.  I feel as if the entire world is crumbling around me.  Fortunately, after awhile, I have realized the world is not ending (not yet).

The brighter side, although dim, has provided me with enough strength to be the solid rock my family needs me to be during these strange stressful times.  Life happens and change is inevitable, but no matter what, at the end of the day, we always learn to adapt!

Breathe.  Accept what you cannot control.  Be grateful for all that you have.  Be kind to others and love yourself.  

How do you overcome overwhelming emotions in situations you can’t control? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping With Anxiety: Not Always Bad

I am a late night grocery shopper, because shopping at the grocery store during the day, by myself, is a nightmare with anxiety!

I am not the only one who experiences shopping anxiety; my husband won’t even get out of the car unless the entire family goes inside the store with him.  If he does go into the store by himself, in which is rare, he comes out looking white as a ghost, hair frazzled on end, and heart pounding, as if he had to battle an army of orcs inside the grocery store just to get a gallon a milk.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t even make it to the dairy section; as that would be like having to venture towards the back of the grocery store into Narnia. Instead, he comes back with an 8oz carton of milk from the check out line!  You know, I am not judging, because it happens to us all!  

Peak Time For Anxiety Is 5pm

My anxiety triggers OCD, thus why I absolutely hate shopping during the day.  I can deal with a little anxiety, but once it triggers an OCD episode, I am done!  I too, walk out of the grocery store white as a ghost, hair frazzled on end, and heart pounding, worried about the most irrational horrific things in the world about a gallon of milk.  So, to save myself from emotional distress, I prefer to shop at night, where there is no crowd, the night stockers often sing and dance while the speakers play rock & roll, instead of the usually sappy music that is required to play during the day, and the check out clerks are much happier!  It’s an entirely different atmosphere after the sun goes down.

Again, I can largely relate to my husband’s experience inside the grocery store.  Although I enjoy shopping late at night, every so often I have to run to the store for one or two things before dinner time.  Unfortunately, 5pm at the grocery store is always crazy!  It is crowded with all sorts of different shoppers, from the old complaining about the cost of inflation to the young trying to buy alcohol.  There are those holding up lines over expired coupons, writing checks, or just simply talking about their day to a clerk who doesn’t really care.  The worst though, are the people who just got off work and are trying to rush through the grocery store like football line-backers.  They are hungry, rude, and in a hurry!  Personally, I don’t blame them, because they just want to get home like the rest of us.

So…This Happened

Every so often, I treat myself to a mud mask (scares the monkey’s out of my kids).  MUD MONSTER!  Anyway, I enjoy it, also my skin comes out smooth, fresh, and less “old and tired” looking.

I’ve tried all different kinds of mud-masks and my two favorite are charcoal and dead-sea mineral mud masks.  The charcoal masks are great for cleaning out pores and the dead-sea mineral masks are great for making skin feel soft, plus reduces dark circles and redness.  So, I try to do a dead-sea mineral mask once a week (if I am lucky) and the weeks I look absolutely dreadful, I do a charcoal mask, since that’s more heavy duty than a dead-sea mineral mask.  Although I am not really into the girly-girl things, I do enjoy mud-masks.

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I went to the store recently and stocked up on mud masks, but I didn’t realize, I stocked up on the wrong kind of mud mask.  I remember I bought them when I was making a milk run to the grocery store when the grocery store was super busy.  I had anxiety.  I remember two girls talking loudly about their business and it made me nervous, so I quickly grab the mud masks.  I saw “dead-sea…” but I did not comprehend the rest of it, “dead-seaweed,” SEA-WEED!  What!  I bought a couple of mud-masks with seaweed instead of my usual dead-sea mineral mud masks.

Shopping Anxiety Is Not Always Bad

I am cool.  I am hip.  I can try smearing sea-weed all over my face, why not?

I tried it!  Although the experience is not very pleasant as sea-weed certainly smells, it sure did make my skin look pretty!  I am not opposed to doing it again, but probably not something I am willing to do all the time.

So, shopping with anxiety isn’t always terrible.  To be honest, I probably wouldn’t try new things if I weren’t rushing through a grocery store with anxiety and picking up the wrong stuff every so often.  Sure, sometimes I am forced to exchange items, like the time I needed butter and quickly picked up a block of cream-cheese instead.  For the record, that was not entirely my fault, for that the grocery store had moved the butter section!

Making The Best Of Things

My point is, that anxiety is not always terrible.  Sometimes good unexpected things can come out of it.  If you go to the grocery store for lemons and come back with limes, I guess make limeade instead!

How do you cope with shopping anxiety? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyday Stressors

I started listening to a 7-day Stress Management series provided by the Calm App (iOS).  The narrator said something quite enlightening; something along the lines that “us humans are not yet ready to take on the stresses of the 21st century.” IMG_0937

Stress is normal everyday life now; however, our Fight or Flight Response System is a little behind on the times. There is just too much going on for our Fight or Flight Response System to process, thus, our bodies are thrown into constant high alert making us feel stressed all the time.  Practicing mindfulness and changing our thinking habits allow our Fight or Flight Response System more time to re-evaluate and accurately process the world around us to ensure our bodies appropriately respond to the right stressors.

Stressors are everywhere.  From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we rack out asleep in our beds at night.  I don’t know about anyone else, but my alarm clock is my first everyday stressor.  After avoiding the snooze button, my alarm clock turns into a thirty minute count-down where I am having to rush everyone to get ready for the day.  Drag my husband out of bed and push him into the shower, so he can wake up enough to get his butt to work.  Argue with a two year old about which cereal she wants but never eats.  Coax my preschooler to join the rest of us as she whines about it being too cold to get out of bed, even though the house is comfortably warm.  Lastly, after everyone is ready to go, with just a few minutes left on the clock, I have to get ready!  Every morning is chaotic and I have the power to change it! Just by changing up my morning routine and focus on better time management, I can eliminate my everyday morning stressors.

What is your first stressor of everyday? 

Uncontrollable Stressors

Life is full of funky lemons and we can’t always control what funky lemons are given to us.  We can try to make lemonade, but all we get is funky lemonade.  Simply, we are often forced to cope with stressful situations that are out of our control.

Life is full of uncontrollable stressors, like traffic.  Traffic becomes stressful when it causes us to be late for work or somewhere else that is really important.  OR, like getting laid off; it’s just something that happens and even the best employees get laid off sometimes.  Another uncontrollable stressor, is being a scheduled speaker with a nasty mustard stain on a favorite white blouse just before the start of a board meeting and no jacket to cover it up.  Or life’s worst funky lemon, for me, is finding my textbook all chewed up just before an open-book exam!  We encounter uncontrollable stressors everyday, but it’s how we respond to these stressors that make or break us.

Always try to make the best of every stressful situation!  For instance, if you are stuck in traffic and running late for work, loosen your tie, roll down your window, turn up the radio and sing your heart out!  Despite being chewed out by your boss for five minutes, your job is still gonna be there.  Don’t let a little traffic ruin your entire day.

Overcoming the stress of getting laid off, is all about changing your attitude.  Sure, money will be tight, but when a door closes another one opens.  That sounds cheesy, a little cliche, but it’s so true!

That mustard stain…I say wear it proud!  It may be embarrassing at first, but everyone will understand, because you are human!  You can also get creative by covering it with a sticker, snag a scarf, or if possible, tuck it in.  Often times, because offices are cold, someone with a sweater will likely allow you to borrow theirs while you speak to the board of directors.

And, for the chewed up text-book…well, good luck!   

Small Breaks To Knock Out Big Stressors

Sometimes we can’t make the best of a stressful situation.  There are some serious uncontrollable stressors out there that just cannot be resolved with a little creativity and a positive attitude.  When forced to endure an uncontrollable stressful situation that cannot be resolved, we must find other ways to better cope with stress.

Really big uncontrollable stressors is a job for our Fight or Flight Response System.  Although we cannot do anything physically productive to eliminate a big uncontrollable stressor in our life, we do have the ability to take small relaxing breaks to help our bodies cope with stress.

This includes practicing mindfulness and acceptance, meditating, reading, taking a walk, exercise, having a spa day, or distracting yourself with something fun while the body does its thing (you know releasing those feel-good chemicals to reduce stress).   So, even if we cannot eliminate the stressor, we can help our bodies cope with the stress the stressor is causing us.

Breathe and Smile

Whatever type of stressors are in your life, always remember to stop, breathe, and smile.

Do you have any effective coping skills for major stressors in your life? Share with us, so we can try them too.