Dear Anxiety and Depression,

Dear Anxiety and Depression,

You had me.

You had me on my knees.

You had me hiding from my family and friends.

You even had me hiding from myself. I wonder a lot why you chose me as your constant companion. Why my mind is always racing with …

what’s next… what more can I do… what if I fail… will I be worthy…What now.

I had no idea that I was so ashamed and embarrassed of my vulnerability. The constant buzzing in my ears made my heart pound, my hands sweat and my stomach ache with nausea. The phantom chest pains that held me back from the joy, the collaboration and the experiences have had me crippled.

I have been afraid for 9 months. …Afraid that you were going to keep me your victim forever…Afraid you were going to keep me on my knees without a light, without a vest….Afraid you were going to take my control.

But I am my own villain, and I am trying to claw my way out.

Vulnerability is not a weakness! it is the courage of being 100% inside your own emotion; positive or negative and being completely in IT! I’ve had to take the leap and learn to “Lean in” to understand its cause, and its affect on me. I’ve had to learn to feel fear, to feel the scariest thing I could imagine- feeling every one of my emotions.

I have had to learn to let go of the CONTROL

I am facing my emotions through courage and NOT alone. I do not blame, I am not a victim- I just AM. I do not feel like I need to defend my emotions- just own them and know them so that I can take one step out of this heaviness.

As I experience my guilt, depression, anxiety, gratitude, and optimism – I am feeling LOVE- true LOVE in all of its intimacy. I am beginning to hear opinions of myself without defense or anger. Instead embracing, learning and beginning to KNOW myself better than I ever have.

I am starting to breathe without holding

NOT perfectly

But I am starting to slowly peel off the armor

I can feel the numbness dissipate

I am not perfect and I am not ashamed

I am vulnerable- vulnerable to the emotions that I am courageously feeling.

I thank you- for giving me this time to slow down, reflect and learn the valuable lessons that you have taught me this year. I will continue to grow and to take it all in.

  • If you are experiencing anxiety or struggling through depression, my only advice to you is – embrace the vulnerability of being in the emotion. Feel it long enough to answer… Where am I avoiding my emotion? Who am I blaming?

The last six months I have been struggling with a debilitating anxiety disorder.  The kind of anxiety that suffocates like a tight corset or makes me want to jump out of my crawling skin.

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At first, my coping mechanism was denial, avoidance, lots and lots of Netflix, and drinking.  I have always been the type of person that was able to harness my anxiety as my productivity and drive.  But this past year, it took my breath away.  With 2 panic attacks that floored me- literally, I was laying on the floor in tears, trying to breathe, “Thinking I was having a heart attack” wondering what I had done wrong. At first I was very embarrassed and ashamed- all I could think was “what if people find out?”  I was in denial, there was no way I was going to let my boys, my friends and my family know that I had this “weakness” So, I avoided the symptoms, I denied what was even going on, and I drank to cope.  It became one of my only coping tools. Which, got me very worried. (Hence the sobriety intention for the month of February) I needed to find help. After talking with a professional,  I developed my very own Coping Toolkit and tricks that have helped me manage (and not hide) the anxiety.

If you are dealing with anxiety- I first recommend talking with a professional, don’t let it carry you away – like it did me. (The following tools are those that have worked for me, they may not work for everyone.)

What is in my Coping Toolkit?

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  • teamy tea satchel is in my purse at all times. It contains lemon tea, de-stress, lavender and chamomile and peppermint and my essential oils.
  • lavender and de-stress essential oilin that same satchel, I carry around my lavender essential oils that allow me to drop a small amount onto my lava rock bracelet ($8 at Amazon) that has kept a permanent spot on my wrist for the year.
  • Journal While my mother was on her LOOONNGG trip through Alaska, she picked up a leather journal that I keep near my bedside table.  Knowing that the things I write down are for my eyes only, allows me to put down thoughts that give me anxiety just thinking others would hear. I am able to divulge my insecurities, my anxieties, and even my dreams without backlash from judgement.
  • self-help booksIMG_2871This is one I never thought would be in my repertoire, but there are some really great, talk-to-you straight,  Self-help books out there. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero and Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis have both been great reads and very motivating.
  • candlesThank goodness for Joanna Gaines and her candle collection at Target. My favorite right now is the Black pepper and the Tobacco.  Just having the candle lit in dim lighting calms me down.  I also burn my soy wax candle called ‘Restore’ every single night.
  • motivational calendarYou are a Badass, has this great day to day calendar with some perfectly written motivational nuggets of wisdom that I look forward to reading every single day.  I keep it at work, so my co-worker and I can set our daily intention. It is nice to have something to look forward to.
  • bath salts, bubbles and oil Bath time has become an essential part of my life. My mother’s ‘go to’ home remedy for pretty much anything was ‘take a bath’. And I, obviously, have taken that to heart. This is ‘mom’ time. I like to sit and read, listen to music or get lost in Netflix- this is my way of shutting down the day’s stress.
  • water This was not a coping tool until my hydration intention last month.  I am so grateful for the Quench book and all that I learned about the importance of smart hydration.  (link to hydration habits from last month that have helped me cope this month) Downing a glass of water, not only hydrates me but it also gives me a second to breath.  Knowing that I am doing this 1 very simple thing that does so many wonderful things for my body and health- puts my mindset at ease.
  • meditation, Breathing and yogaAaptiv- the iTunes app- really helped me understand guided meditation and its benefits.  Journey Junkie is someone I like to follow (for free) – she sends some great weekly yoga videos as long as you subscribe.  She also sends some great blog posts that are worth the read. Also, everyone’s FitBits have this ‘Relax’ button that assists you with a 2 minute breathing treatment. I started using these 2 minutes while sitting in traffic, sitting in a doctor lobby.  I has even helped my own 2 boys learn to ‘breathe’.
    • Nostril Breathing- When my husband and I were in Costa Rica at a yoga retreat, our yoga instructor walked us through this breathing exercise- It is mean to calm your nervous system, relieve tension and anxiety.  it feels silly, but it DOES work like a charm.
  • cardio and weightsThis has always been a tool in my toolbox, but I had no idea how much I needed a long run or a heavy weight session until my anxiety got away with me. Running, swimming, biking are great ways to either be intentional about your thoughts or just ‘get away’ with you and your music.  This ‘me’ time is very important to every single member of my family. – if you know what I mean.  Plus, when I feel strong, and when I sweat – I feel like I can chase the world and attack just about anything that comes at me.
  • great friends and supportive husband and family that completely gets itThis year, I have truly tested my husband and he has won time and time again! He has been so understanding and so supportive through this very confusing time for me. I have fell in love all over again.  My friends have always been there for me when I needed them.  As I opened up to them I discovered I was not alone, and that some of them have experienced what I am going through.

These are the things I like to keep near me every day as I tackle this uncharted territory.

These coping tools help me …

slow down.

be in the moment

focus my intention on the present

take a breath

think through it

and sometimes, even, STOP thinking so much.

This month, I wanted to prove to myself that there were other ways for me to handle my anxiety other than opening a glass of wine.  This February, I have not only cleared my body of alcohol, I have discovered better ways to cope- more productive ways to cope.

To admit this to anyone near me was and has been very difficult, but to then write this down publicly is something that makes me very nervous. I know I am not alone, I am still working through my embarrassment and shame with this, but the tools that I have discovered have helped me a lot.  Knowing that anxiety affects over 40% of women my age, I thought my story and toolkit could help.

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A Better Coping Toolkit: The Truth About my Anxiety


Smarter Hydration

This past week my intention was on EZ Hydration Habits with a focus on hydrating at key times throughout my day; when I first wake up, 6-8 ounces before every meal, and a ‘smart’ drink after running.  

Thank you for the comments, the questions, and the inquiry from my last post. I was very surprised with the amount of feedback I received from my last post, and it made me realize how important this topic was for everyone.  I know we are all looking for an easier way to stay healthy, feel better, and manage stress, And hydration is something everyone can start to focus on TODAY. No need for new workout clothes, a membership to an expensive gym, and (The best part) no diet restrictions!

Some of the concerns that came up through my conversations were…

addition of water = increased restroom breaks 

addition of salt into the diet – I thought sodium was bad.

Is Gatorade a good option for quick hydration?

Is there such a thing as Too much water?

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia

Chia seeds aren’t just good family fun, they are THE smartest way to hydrate.  When you drink a glass of water with chia seeds in it (1-2 TBSP), the chia seeds will absorb the water and help the water remain in your body longer.  This allows your body to balance the electrolytes which will aid in stamina and endurance (great for distance athletes) and give your body time to soak it all in!

  • Add 1-2 TBPS of chia seeds to 6-8 oz of water and let it sit in the water for 10 minutes or overnight (even better) allow the seeds to absorb the water and become gel like.  Shake the water before drinking. 

img_2551.pngThis should slow down the amount of ‘potty’ breaks within the day, and it will allow your body to maintain hydration instead of washing out (something that can occur if you drink too much water).

Sodium Confusion

From my last post, I talked about the morning glass of water having a pinch of one of these salts.

Himalayan Salt

Sea Salt

Rock Salt

Celtic Salt

When it comes to adding salt to your diet and your water it is QUALITY not Quantity. These salts contain trace minerals that your body may have lost throughout the night.  This small step allows your body to balance the electrolytes needed to stay hydrated.  Start salting your water NOT your food.

Better Than Gatorade (When Water is not enough)

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I have experimented with a few drinks this week to replenish after running.  They both tasted great, kept my muscles hydrated, and helped me recover quickly.  Even if you aren’t a runner, these drinks helped my husband recover from a fun evening and my own children from a day of bicycle riding.

Instead of giving my family a sports drink that contains a ton of glucose (125 calories and 35 grams of sugar), I chose to…

add a Nuun tablet to 12 oz of filtered water and 2 tsp of chia seeds- the                  boys loved the strawberry lemonade flavor.  

I mixed 4 oz of our favorite Kombucha, 2 TBSP of chia seeds, pinch of sea salt, and 12 oz of filtered water after my long run on Saturday.  

Low sugar options that hydrate with fast acting carbohydrates and electrolytes that allowed everyone to recover from dehydration symptoms. FYI – Sugar requires a lot of hydration for your body to process and filter.

Water Intoxication

img_2552.pngThere is such a thing as too much water.  This can cause lowered sodium and potassium levels, muscle cramps, and can strain the kidneys and heart which can make you feel tired.  Who would have THOUGHT?  This does require a healthy person to consume a liter of water within an hour, so I am sure many of you aren’t chugging 33 oz of water, but I just want you to be aware of all the facts.

Smarter Water Options

Switch from Almond milk to Coconut milk

img_2535(Try 4 oz coconut milk with 12 oz of warm water , 1 -2 tsp of Cardamom and cinnamon to your coffee- Tasted like a Chai latte)

Drink coconut water instead of Gatorade

Explore the different flavors of the sparkling water craze- Waterloo Cherry is my favorite

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This upcoming week, my focus will be on Eating my Water. (look for my post next weekend.) I plan on adding hydrating foods into my daily diet and pulling out some of the dehydrators that are causing some of the symptoms that are still sticking around.

I hope you are joining me on this adventure.  Let me know how it is going.  I want to hear  about your goals, your swaps and how it is affecting you.

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Small Changes, IMPORTANT Impact #5Rs

Facts that will BLOW your MIND!!!!! – from ecowatch

  • Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
  • 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
  • Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
  • The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
  • Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year (source: Brita)
  • Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
  • It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
  • There is a place called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch  and it is located off the coast of California – the size of Texas
  • 100,000 Birds, marine mammals, sea turtles are killed from plastic in our oceans or have been seen with plastic growing around their bodies.
  • Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).
  • Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA
  • Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects

This month, I am focused on the 5 R’s by Bea Johnson.

Refuse

  • Stop the use of produce plastic wrap or any kind of 1 time use plastics- instead use reusable bags, mason jars, steel containers when shopping.
  • Stop asking for straws and refuse the straw if you can – steel or paper are best.
  • Start a garden and refuse to purchase items that you can grow yourself.

Reduce

This is where I have focused a lot of my intention on, and I think I am really starting to get the hang of it. I have included some links to items that I have purchased this year to help reduce my plastic consumption.

  • be a minimalist – reduce the STUFF and those impulse buys
  • Pare down and give items a 2nd life through donations, Goodwill or selling
  • Start using a French Press or Loose Tea to reduce the amount of plastic single serve pods, paper filters, or tea bags entering landfills
  • The paper towel use and paper napkins by purchasing cloth
  • Order your toilet paper from eco-friendly companies like Give a Crap– not only do they send you bulk, 100% recycled or bamboo toilet paper by mail, but they also do great things with the $.
  • STOP buying bottles of water and look for water that comes in cardboard like Flow hydration or Boxed Water
  • Stop using your dryer so much and put your items out on a line – let them dry by the sun – PLUS it always makes clothes smell better. (reduce energy use, dryer sheet use)
  • Or use wool balls instead of the dryer sheets
  • purchase your toothpaste without the plastic at BITE
  • Find a local Farmers Market
  • purchase bamboo toothbrushes instead of the plastic ones at zero waste cartel

Reuse

If you have embraced Reducing, then this will go hand-in-hand pretty easily.

  • The cloth rags, napkins, and shopping bags can be reused over and over again- wash and line dry when needed.
  • reuse those glass jars from jelly, salsa, apple butter etc… to place leftovers in
  • buy in bulk by using your mason jars at the store – Whole Foods allow you to Tare (weight) your mason jar before adding in the almond butter or other bulk items. When you check-out the cashier will subtract that weight from the item before pricing it.
  • reuse the coffee grounds from your French press in your compost piles or garden – worms LOVE coffee grounds
  • Reuse food scraps and eggshells to add to your compost pile

Recycle

I have always believed in recycling but, to be completely honest, I thought everything could be recycled. Just toss and stop thinking about it. Unfortunately, you have to do some sorting and cleaning before just tossing items into that green or blue bin. BUT, good news, If you have embraced the Refusals, Reducing and Reusing steps- you shouldn’t have that much to actually Recycle.

  • separate your trash – most plastic lids can’t be recycled
  • Wash out all containers – if there is grease or food particles DONT recycle
  • If it has been microwaved – DONT even try
  • pull out the plastic liner from the cereal box (that is trash, and can’t be recycled)
  • Plastics numbered 1-7 Can be recycled
  • Most curbside pick ups won’t take plastic sacks, but most grocery stores will
  • Recycle your aluminum cans and glass jars after cleaning out
  • Buy Recycled

Rot

COMPOST!!!! – I am hoping to start this new project next week as I have asked for a composting tumbler bin, aluminum indoor bin, and compost starter for Mother’s Day. (I know… not your typical Mother’s Day gift).

  • shredded papers
  • grass clippings
  • food waste

The combo of nitrogen from the grass and the carbon from the food waste is a composting heaven- your garden will thank you.


The 5 R’s Challenge – May Intention

Happy May Day!!!!! In honor of the ‘official’ spring holiday my children and I have bought flowers, seeds and candy to deliver throughout our neighborhood. This has been a tradition of mine since I was little. My husband and I wanted to make sure that this was something we did with our own children. They look forward to it, and they are getting better at the traditional ‘door dash’.

Since this is the first day of May, I wanted to write briefly about my May intention- Going Green. I feel this is something I need to make a priority, an intention, because what I put into my body is very important, and I want to make sure more of the items in my home are also good for my body. I also know that the current status quo is very linear: we take from the Earth and dump it right back in – this time with toxins that are destroying said Earth. I don’t want to be apart of that system. I want my children to know that I did what I could. “I want to aim to send nothing to the landfills, reduce what I need, reuse as much as I can, send little to be recycled, and compost what I cannot.”

I have purchased two books to guide me on my path this month…

you can follow the author @zerowastehome
I hope to gain knowledge on how to detox the body of the toxins that we use daily.
  • I plan on finding a few tricks to reduce my carbon footprint that does not add to my consumption.
  • I will be experimenting with natural, holistic cleaners and other that will decrease the toxins in my home
  • I will be following a few tricks from the authors to help me be more conscious and aware of the waste we are creating in our home.
  • I will challenge myself to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot throughout this month to create a better lifestyle for my family and our environment.
  • Take on the 48 hour No Single-Use plastic challenge
  • Create a composting system at my home

No Single-Use Plastic Challenge

This weekend, I will be challenging myself to with the “No Single-Use Plastic Challenge”. Can you go plastic free for 48 hours? Take the challenge with me!

  • Grocery store- tote bags
  • Farmers market shopping – to reduce the plastic wrapping
  • Bulk purchases into mason jars
  • No plastic water bottles
  • Say “NO” to plastic straws
  • no food packaging

I will be taking pictures along the way and of the Plastic that I do use 😦 to hold myself accountable. @omnivore2herbivore


7 Day Hygge Challenge #hyggechallenge

As the month of April comes to an end, I want to challenge each of you to fully embrace the comfort of the hygge that you have created in your home.

In my home, we have added, lighting, natural plants, my hygge space, a sense of harmony and gratitude. I am trying to be in the present more every day and, by doing so, has brought me even closer to my family. I wanted to include them in this last week of hygge intention.

Let the count down begin…

#hyggechallenge throughout the week of pictures of you and your family as you embrace the intention and the challenge.

7 Days of Hygge – Candlelight and Gratitude- Every night this week, I will cook dinner, turn on music, and eat by candlelight. Throughout dinner, each family member will be able to share what they are grateful for. (I remember doing this as a child, and it made dinner time even more special)

6 Days of Hygge- Tea time- As our evenings come to an end, I will drink a hot cup of lavender/chamomile tea (my 7 year old is really starting to enjoy this with me).

5 Days of Hygge- Reading cozied up in blankets- I enjoy my time with my book, but I usually wait until my children are asleep. I believe they should see their mother as a reader, so they will grow up to become readers as well. The boys and I will snuggle up on the couch this evening and read through our books.

4 Days of Hygge- Pleasure- The boys really enjoy helping me in the kitchen. Maybe while I am cooking dinner, they can help make our dessert. After dinner, and with our tea, we will enjoy the pleasures of a sweet treat.

3 Days of Hygge- Gathering- We have organized a nice neighborhood Creamed Can dinner party for this evening; music, games, twinkle lights, and friends.

2 Days of Hygge- Taking it Outside- With the boys on their bikes, we will head outdoors to the local farmers market and park for fresh air.

Last Day of Hygge intention- Unplug- This will be an evening without phones, without the television, and without ipads. I want to focus on my family, on my gratitude and the present moment.



3 Ways Hygge can Calm Anxiety

first attempt at macramé

As Saturday and Sunday roll around, my anxiety starts to bubble up even more than normal. I think the idea of having 48 hours without ‘official’ work makes me nervous. Trust me, I have plenty to do at home; laundry, meal-prep for the week, picking up the house over and over AGAIN, feeding the family multiple times, grocery shopping for the week, soccer or flag football, and hopefully there is even some time for me to workout. Even with all of that, I get anxious- and if I am away from home, running errands, for too long it gets even worse. So, this weekend, to embrace my HYGGE, I crafted. Two birds, One stone – work on something that would bring both coziness and calm- macramé.

I have, recently, read a lot about macramé.

  • first started in China in the 3rd century
  • 13th century in Northern Africa, created to cover horses and camels to keep flies off their backs
  • brought to the world by sailors who made it even more intricate with their knotting techniques
  • Most popular in America in the 1970’s, every GROOVY house had these hanging art pieces
  • Millennials have Intagrammed them back into trend
  • known for their calming benefits- redundant cutting, intricate knots, and repetition – Meditation for the mind and hands

My sister-in-law just started selling some on her Etsy page. I wanted to see if I was up to the challenge.

2nd piece

I haven’t mastered the square knots, but I am working towards it.

When people think of Hygge they might think of the Winter. Unfortunately, here in Texas, there is not a lot of Winter to be had. So, I experimented with some Hygge ideas for our Spring weather. The idea of Hygge is about staying aware, in the moment, feeling calm and comfortable. This was exactly what I needed this weekend.

Plants

Other than plants in my home to keep the air clean, I also make sure to have plants on my patio and over Spring Break, I planted my garden. There is something calming and Hygge about being in the dirt, creating something that will be editable for my family later on. During this time in my garden; pulling weeds, watering, harvesting (kale was added to my sweet potato curry), adding ladybugs etc… I am able to listen to a podcast (currently listening to American Scandal or Brook Castillo). , catch some rays, and hangout with my boys who love helping me in the garden.

  • My garden is usually filled with all kinds of cruciferous plants; kale, romaine, arugula, lettuce varieties, broccoli.
  • Zucchini and squash
  • tomatoes
  • beans, edamame
  • herbs; rosemary, lavender, dill, cilantro, thyme

Lighting

Knowing how important lighting is to hygge, I played with the lighting this weekend as well. I am also very aware that I am more cheery and energetic on bright, sunny days and on days when it is overcast and dark I am not as eager.

I have a great patio in the back of my house that I have hung patio lights on, and, conveniently, a great rain storm came through (hygge). So, I stopped my chores, held off on running my errands to sit outside with a blanket, a book and enjoyed the storm under the ambiance of the lights.

I also worked on my side table in my hygge seating area. I found this great whiskey barrel top and bought some tall iron legs to create this perfect side-table. I kept this lamp lit throughout the day while everything else was dimmed. Calm lighting does wonders to the atmosphere of your home and your mood.

I love natural lighting in my home, so I have these very thin, linen panels that hang in front of my windows that give just enough privacy but allows the light to shine through.

This week, focus on the hygge – try to be present and mindful.

#hygge @omnivore2herbivore When you discover your HYGGE.


Key to Happiness: Hygge Manifesto

“Danes are the happiest people in Europe according to the European Social Survey” (The Little Book of Hygge). Denmark is also known as one of the happiest countries in the world.  Why?  Hygge (pronounced   hoo-ga)

This month, I am on the journey of hyggestund – A moment of hygge- ‘well-being’ and happiness.  I plan on incorporating the 10 ideas of hygge in my life this month as I pursue a month of gratitude and savoring the simple pleasures in life.  In short, I plan on finding the happy. First, I must get my environment and mindset ready for a month of COZY!

1. Atmosphere

turn down the lights

use natural lighting (fireplace, windows, let the natural light in)

Use dim lighting (candles, lamps)

2. Presence

meditation of mindfulness

turning off my phone alarms

3. Be kind to yourself- give yourself a treat and give yourself a break

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Sun Salutation A

4. ‘We’ over ‘me’

Sharing tasks – cooking, laundry, cleaning

5. Gratitude 

show it to your tribe, co-workers, challengers, and self

say ‘Thank you’

Smile

journal

6. Harmony 

finding balance in your physical and mental health

find your Sparkle

Do everything with Passion

7. comfort

cozy blanket

warm bath

music

yoga pants

8. truce

End the fighting within yourself

leave the negative, the drama, and the hostility

9. Togetherness

Focus on your village, your tribe

Find time to build relationships, connect, and be together

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 reading nook

10. Nook- hyggekrog 

comfy space

So, my plan is to spend time outdoors gardening, hanging-out with my village, evenings with my family, Sundays working together on chores, and reading in my nook. I plan to Continue my yoga practice.

I am also going to start a macramé wall art project and prepare for an evening with my friends- outdoor fire, BBQ, TREATS, and being together.

All of this in the hopes to bring together all of my favorite things into 1 month of gratitude, well being, and HYGGE!

I hope you follow me on my journey this month. Please send me pictures of your HYGGE on Instagram. 

@omnivore2herbivore #hyggelife