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?  

 

 

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 ❤

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stress vs Anxiety

Because OCD is an anxiety disorder, I thought stress would play a much bigger role in my OCD.  Interestingly though, stress does not affect my OCD brain at all.  I respond to stress much differently than I do to anxiety.  For me, anxiety affects my mental state (causing OCD episodes) whereas stress affects my physical body (causing tummy aches).  It’s strange, I know; especially, when anxiety and stress are pretty similar in nature.  

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 1.41.23 PM

My Unpleasant Vertigo Experience

The other day, I had a terrifying experience with vertigo due to stress.  I had difficulty detecting my surroundings.  The room was not just spinning in one direction, but in all directions like a free-falling space capsule plumenting towards an alien surface through uneven gravity.  Lying down was even worse, as it felt like I was on a tiny gondola in the middle of an ocean during a turbulent thunderstorm storm.  I also couldn’t detect the edge of my bed, thus making it dangerous to go to sleep without surrounding myself with a bunch of pillows to ensure I didn’t end up on the floor during the night.  The reason our bodies don’t fall off the bed while sleeping, is because our vestibular senses are aware of the ground at all times.  When our vestibular senses go out of whack, like due to vertigo, the body has difficulty detecting where the ground is and BAM!, you end up face to face with the floor!  Also, while I was going through this, not a single OCD thought stirred; I am guessing my OCD brain was too busy trying to fix it’s internal compass.  My husband and I are convinced it was stress-related.  It was a crazy, absolutely no fun, experience that I hope I never have to experience again!

Stress vs. Anxiety

Although stress and anxiety seem to cause the same symptoms, there is a difference between them, for that they differ in “origin.”  Anxiety is generally caused by unplesant internal thoughts and ideas, whereas stress is generally caused by unpleasant external situations.  Furthermore, anxiety can lead to stress and stress can lead to anxiety.

When I think of the word stress, I think of physics, where a physical force is placed upon an object causing the object to bend or lean; with too much stress, the object is likely to break, fall over, or collapse.  I believe the same for mental stress.  External situations such as being in a financial rut, overwhelmed with a heavy workload, or being late due to heavy traffic; can create a mental force that has the potential to cause stress on the body.  When we internalize these external situations with “stinking thinking,” that is when stress turns into anxiety (worry).  Then, vice versa, whereas chronic anxiety due to “stinking thinking” has the potential to cause stress, physical effects on the body.  In short, stress and anxiety can intermingle with one another causing havoc on the mind, body, and soul.

Okay,  I am not at all satisfied with that explanation; so I would love to hear your thoughts regarding the differences between stress and anxiety?  

Acceptance Is Important In Coping With Stress

Despite having an anxiety disorder, I tend to cope with stress a lot better than I do anxiety.  Throw me into a bull-pen with a dozen angry bulls and I am as cool as a cucumber, using rational thinking to defuse a stressful situation.  However, I will be completely honest, I absolutely struggle to cope with stress caused by situations I have no control over; especially, situations that I cannot resolved right then and there.  Although I can make the best of a stressful situation, I often fail to accept that I am “stuck” in a stressful situation where there is nothing that “I” can personally do about it, not now nor perhaps even later.  Sometimes there are stressful situations that just can’t be resolved and it’s something I must let go or just ride it out til the end (off into the sunset I suppose).

There are lots of things I can do to reduce stress, but in the end, I think the most efficient tool in my stress-management tool box is the art of acceptance.  “Woosah!” (Bad Boys II movie reference)

Guided Meditation To Defuse Stress

I am feeling much better today, all because of THE HONEST GUYS!   The Honest Guys is a Youtube channel that provides meditation and relaxation videos.  I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their guided meditations!  The CALM app I have is good, but these guys are even better and is a must share!  I feel grounded again!  I am smiling again!  I am energetic again!  I am no longer stressed out!   Thank you Honest Guys!

No affiliated links here, I promise!

Above is the video I’ve been playing to help myself get to sleep at night.  Lately for me, stress has been interrupting my sleep schedule and I find it very difficult to overcome stress when I’m tired and not thinking straight.  I also think stress and fatigue contributed to my little episode of vertigo.

Of course, meditations videos don’t work for everyone.   I totally suck at medtiation and I don’t like dry guided meditations without sounds of things I am suppose to imagine.  However, these videos include visual images with sounds that relate to the visual images to improve the guided meditation experience.

Anyway, whether you are looking for new meditation videos or need to try something new to help relax, I totally recommend THE HONEST GUYS Youtube channel.

How do you cope with stress?  Leave a comment below, I look forward to hearing from you!