We live in a society that tends to dismiss mental health and self-care, but with a large percentage of the population now suffering from moderate to high stress levels...
Taking GOOD care of yourself should be your first priority!
I know we've talked a lot recently about balance in your life. We've also covered the long term damage that stress can cause. Making yourself a priority is more important than ever!
The tips I'm providing today may sound very familiar - because they ARE! Mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health are related. Which means that taking action to improve any one area – improves them all! Win. Win.
In the interest of keeping this short – I'm not going to explain why each of these tips is important or why they are effective. I'm just going to list them and if you'd like more detailed information please feel free to shoot me an email.
I'm also providing a spiffy little infograph image at the bottom of this post so you can print these tips and put them somewhere you will see them every day. Remind yourself that you deserve the best life ever!
(right click on the image above and choose 'save image as')
Supporting you on your journey,
The Holidays. Family. Shopping. Finances. Social Demands.
Loneliness. Travel. STRESS!
Yep, it's the time of year when stress levels can shoot through the roof! Stress that comes from situations we consider difficult or 'negative' AND also from FUN and exciting situations as well. It's Exhausting!
No matter how organized we might be we all tend to put too much on our plates (figuratively and literally...lol) during the holiday season.
I know you're saying, "Okay Gia - increased stress - blah, blah, blah - I don't have time for all this nonsense. Get to it!"
We've talked many times about the seriousness of prolonged stress and the damage it can create - so I'm gonna skip right to the Good Stuff!
Ways to Stay Happy, Healthy, and Energized during the Holidays:
Simplify where you can. Give yourself a break. Have fun. You CAN experience more peace and joy during the holidays. That's my hearfelt wish for you - more love - less stress!
Supporting you on your journey,
I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for many years before I created a personal health plan that reduced stress, embraced a healthier lifestyle and emphasized a firm dedication to self-care (well most days..lol). I share this with you straight off, so you will know that not only have I been there, in the throes of overwhelming panic (Somebody Help me!) but I also have an arsenal of tools to help.
Anxiety – you know - that sudden constriction in your chest as your body moves into fight or flight response. Once the difference between returning to your cave or being eaten by a saber tooth tiger – today, this response can still be a healthy tool to alert us to a dangerous situation or motivate us to excel ( such as studying harder for an exam). When anxiety turns into an episode of intense panic or fear though– it is no longer a healthy tool but a signal from our bodies that something needs to change. Anxiety (and stress) is by far the number one symptom my clients all have in common.
Anxiety attacks, sometimes referred to as panic attacks, usually occur suddenly and without warning. Sometimes we can determine the trigger (being stuck in an elevator) but more often than not – they happen with no obvious cause. Symptoms can include chest pain and heart palpitations, panic, trouble breathing, hyperventilating, trembling, sweating, chills, feeling like you’re going to lose consciousness, nausea, feelings of detachment or loss of control. Yep, it’s scary even reading them! So let’s get to the tips.
1) Stay – When you realize that anxiety has seized control of you – don’t run away from it. Panic attacks typically peak within 10 minutes and they will subside more quickly when you can signal your brain that there is no danger. If you flee the scene your panic response will associate that location with the panic which creates a whole new issue. When you stay in the situation, your panic response receives the message that this is a false alarm and it will return your body functions to normal. Whew! But how do you get through the fear… great question! Read on….
2) Breathe – When we move into anxiety our breathing becomes fast and shallow. When we deepen and lengthen our breaths we reinforce the message that this is not an emergency and our bodies can return to normal. Slow your breathing by first holding your breath and then slowly breathing in and out…breathing from your diagram (lower tummy). If you’d like more on this – please feel free to email me and I’d be happy to send you more information.
3) Keep Thinking – During times of panic – the thinking part of our brains becomes less active – most of our resources are dedicated to becoming more physical. Doing something methodical sends the message to your brain that “this is not a real emergency” so it can stand down and stop posturing!
b) Name 4 things you can hear (people talking, television)
c) Name 3 things you can smell right now (something cooking, fresh air)
d) Name 2 things you can feel right now (feet on the floor, cushion at your back)
e) Name 1 thing you love
4) Tapping - this technique can be a very effective tool during anxiety attacks (this is one of my personal favorites) and has proved very beneficial to many of my clients who not only suffer from anxiety attacks but chronic pain, fibromyalgia, fear and many other symptoms. Here is a great Tapping through Anxiety video by Brad Yates that can help get you started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6kq9N9Yp6E (If you’re saying to yourself, “Gia – what the heck is tapping – shoot me an email and I’d be happy to explain – just know – it’s good stuff!)
5) Using peripheral vision - Let your field of vision broaden until you can see from the outside corners of your eyes. Relax your jaw muscles and breathe deeply. This exercise activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your body to cut out the drama and calm down.
Although you may be experiencing anxiety and stress from a demanding schedule, pressure at work, relationship issues, lack of sleep, health problems or even too much caffeine – the bottom line is that your body is telling you it needs balance and that you need to make some changes.
Here are a few things to remember:
1) Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. (you know why this is so important – it’s when our bodies do the most healing and balancing!)
2) Eat foods that help balance your mood and energy: nuts, soy, milk and yogurt, dark green leafy and orange vegetables, broth soups, legumes, citrus, wheat germ, tart cherries, and berries. Avoid too much processed flour, sweets and caffeine.
3) Schedule relaxation time and STICK TO IT! – Make time to relax and unwind. Meditation doesn’t have to mean an hour in the lotus position, chanting “Om”. As little as fifteen minutes of meditation a day can have a huge impact. Try a short Chi Gong session. Take a walk and enjoy nature.
4) Learn to say NO! - Be discerning and eliminate some of those activities that you have crammed into your schedule and that are welcoming OVERWHELM to step right up and take you for a ride!
5) Get emotional support – I know it can sometimes be hard to talk about your anxiety attacks and that it can also be hard for some people to understand the panic and fear. Find someone you can trust to support you. I got through many panic attacks by picking up the phone and having a dear friend talk me through it!
6) Remember that this is a signal from your body – the panic is not going to last and you are okay. With some modifications to your lifestyle you can wave goodbye to these attacks for good! Tell yourself, “Anxiety – bring it on cuz I’ve got this!”
There are many more tools to help with anxiety, stress and panic attacks but these are some of the ones I have found the most helpful. I hope that you do too!
**These techniques are recommended for anxiety – if you are not sure your symptoms are those of an anxiety or panic attack please see a health care professional to determine the cause.
Supporting You on Your Journey,
How is your body feeling - right now - in this moment?
Are you feeling tension in your Neck? Low back ache? Headache?
Whether you're suffering from these subtle symptoms or battling a more serious Dis-Ease..
Here's something your Doctor probably won't tell you.
Your Body Knows Exactly What To Do To Heal!
Your body has very efficient self-repair mechanisms. Mechanisms that we influence with our feelings, thoughts and beliefs. We have the ability to eliminate toxins, fight infection, slow aging, and even kill cancer cells! Here’s the deal though – for many of us these mechanisms don’t function properly MOST of the time. Here’s why…
When your sympathetic nervous system is in ‘fight or flight’ stress response then the parasympathetic nervous system cannot be in the relaxation response which is needed for HEALING. It’s no wonder we experience so much disease and illness! The average person moves into the flight or fight response 50 times a day.
How can that happen? The amygdala portion of our brain recognized the negative stuff…. the beliefs and feelings that run through our minds all day long. In the cave man’s day it was whether he was about to be eaten! We’ve graduated from worrying if we’re going to be a snack to worrying about so many other aspects of our lives. Too many! Is there going to be enough money to pay all of the bills? Are there going to be more layoffs at work? Can I meet this deadline? Is my child going to get over this cold? Does my husband/wife still love me? When will I meet my soulmate? And of course the amygdala hits the red alert button, we rush into fight or flight response and now….our bodies can’t repair themselves!
The good news is that you don’t have to be at the mercy of stress. Here are a few simple steps that can help ensure your body’s self-repair mechanisms are working to bring healing and balance to your life.
STEP 1: TUNE IN - So who knows your body? Sure, your Dr may know all about the inner workings of human anatomy – but YOU know what’s best for your body-better than anyone else!
It’s time to slow down, relax and listen to what your body is trying to tell you. One way your intuition ‘speaks’ to you is through your body. So Listen Up. Ask your body what it’s trying to tell you with that pain, nausea, dizziness, tingling… you get the idea. Your intuition or ‘sixth sense’ will always deliver truth and wisdom. Tune in and take note.
Step 3: BELIEVE – Scientific studies prove that once you believe healing is possible, it is. Don’t believe it? The Medical Community has been proving it for more than 50 years, with - The Placebo Effect. In clinical trials, patients who were given a sugar pill, a saline injection and even fake surgeries had complete resolution of their symptoms – as if they had been given drugs or had undergone typical surgery!
Not to mention the ever increasing cases of ‘spontaneous remission’ that continue to be reported for almost every illness and dis-ease there is.
How do you change your belief systems about illness and dis-ease? A great place to start is to erase the words ‘chronic’ and ‘incurable’ from your vocabulary. Watch what you say – you’re listening!! Instead of announcing to the world and everyone who’ll listen that you’re sick and listing your symptoms and your fear of a dire outcome – speak words of recovery, health, wellness and a positive outcome. Positive belief can radically affect your health! Belief is the cornerstone of ‘Imaginal’ Healing – the Healing of the future!
STEP 2: INVESTIGATE - Put on your detective hat and grab your spyglass – it’s time to search for triggers. What is happening in your life that is ‘triggering’ stress responses in your body? Illness is often a signal. A warning that something in our lives is not in alignment with our truth and our core values. It can also be an amazing catalyst for change and growth.
The question is, “What does your body need to heal?” It might be a combination of western and eastern medicine but it could also mean a change in jobs, ending an unhealthy relationship or following your passion. It might take some courage – but take a step – one small step and put a healing plan in action!
What relaxation and stress reduction techniques are you using? Or not using?? Meditation, yoga, art, laughter and massage, to name a few, are all great practices for stress relief and some can even help develop a stronger connection with your intuition. I have lots of great stress reduction tips here.
The point is to give your body’s self-healing mechanisms a chance to do what they were made to – HEAL!
You can see why it’s so important to keep a healthy balance - mind, body & spirit, to facilitate optimum healing. So grab that positive attitude, listen to your intuition AND your body, find the right healer or healing team, and move beyond your current beliefs into the healthy, vibrant life you deserve!
Supporting you on your journey,
At one time or another we have all experienced fear. Whether we are afraid of heights, spiders or failure, we’ve felt that cold, hard knot of anxiety in the pit of our stomachs. The good news is…we have a choice…we can let fear rule us and prevent us from moving and growing – or – we can look fear straight in the eye and see it as an opportunity to move forward. To move right through it and into a new place in our lives! We choose.
Although fear can sometimes be paralyzing, literally, it is not always a bad thing. There are some things that we should be afraid of…and we should react with extreme caution and care. When fear controls and defines us though – we can cheat ourselves out of a rich and full life!
The emotions we feel are created from the thoughts that we choose to focus on, consciously or unconsciously. So if we focus on fear… yep… MORE fear!
Here are 6 tips to help put fear in perspective:
1. Breathe and Observe
Bring your awareness to the present moment by taking several deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. As you exhale force the air through your teeth. This aides in processing heavy emotions and shifts your focus. It also allows you to detach from your fear. You can remind yourself that you are not your thoughts, emotions or body – you are an infinite being having a human experience!
It’s NOW, in the present moment that we are empowered and can consciously choose the thoughts we engage.
Our minds respond powerfully and quickly to images. When we’re experiencing fear we can imagine all kinds of negative scenarios. It’s part of our brain’s ‘hard wiring’ to process the negative first. When cavemen fought daily for their lives – the ones who processed the negative scenarios the most thoroughly and quickly – survived. Thankfully – we can handle these fear based reactions differently.
Find a quiet place where you can be alone for 5 minutes. In your mind see the ideal outcome to the scenario. See the outcome you would love to have manifest in your reality. Feel the feeling you will feel, see the bright colors, hear the sounds, smell the air as you bring the image to life. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your mind will calm down!
You Are Not Alone… everyone is afraid of something.
Although you might not share the same exact fears – everyone has something that they are afraid of and understanding this can help you deal with feelings of isolation and self-judgment. Talking with others about your fears can help you see things in a different light, feel supported, and possibly share a common way to work through them.
4. You don’t have to overcome your fear all at once.
It’s difficult enough to deal with fear without adding overwhelm to the equation. There are no rules. There are no musts and must-nots. There is no panel of judges. It’s okay to break things down into manageable steps and move forward at a pace that resonates with you. Baby steps are fine…. Choose three small steps you could make to overcome your fear and choose one to try. Do it.
5. Shift Your Perspective.
What would your life be like without this fear? Let’s take a look beyond the fear to the benefits of overcoming it.
Make a list of the pros and cons of dealing with the thing that you’re most afraid of:
If you can objectively envision the advantages of moving past your fear, you can now see it as an opportunity for growth.
6. Be careful what you say…you’re listening.
It can be far too easy to convince yourself that your reasons for being afraid are all valid. We can imagine all sorts of negative things when we’re afraid, but this doesn’t make those things real. The more we let our fear fuel our words – the more we reinforce their stranglehold on our lives!
Although it’s perfectly natural to be fearful of the unknown, why not imagine the best outcome? What if instead of believing the worst – we anticipate the best. Speak those words. The words of possibility and success! Take That, Fear!
Also, keep in mind that there really is no such thing as failure – only successful learning. Since having a goal to be fearless is not realistic or possible – when fear shows up (and it will) look it straight in the eye and tell it to SHOVE OFF!
Our focus determines where our energy flows, and what we create in our lives. It’s time to release fear and limitation and choose happiness!
Supporting you on your journey,
The answer is a resounding YES and here's why!
We've all experienced it...the screaming and crying on the kitchen floor because Mom said no cookies before bedtime. Okay, so that WAS quite a number of years ago and we have all developed better ways of coping with our anger. (Not to mention that we now control the cookies!) The feelings of anger and rage can still rear their ugly heads though and bring frustration and overwhelm along for the ride.
Granted, these thoughts, feelings, and the actions they spur aren’t very desirable or well-received in social situations. Yet, as tempting as it might be to repress our ranger, doing so can have negative health consequences. Studies have found that suppressing anger can amplify pain and put stress on our bodies. Repressing anger has also been tied to anxiety and depression .
The benefits of acknowledging and harnessing this "angry energy" can be a motivating force that can make people feel more optimistic and confident. In laboratory studies accepting our anger has been shown to help lower stress on the heart and manage pain.
So what is the key to accessing and processing our anger - Moderation. Totally loosing control of our anger (screaming in rage, and physical violence) is literally bad for your heart — and has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease .
There’s a clear difference between anger and mismanaged anger. The key to reaping anger’s benefits is learning to cope with it in a healthy way. The basic steps for acknowledging our anger are the same no matter what your age, situation or circumstance.
TIP #1: Breathe
Breathe. Realize that you're getting angry. Watch for muscles tensing, your face heating, hands shaking, shallow breathing, your voice rising.Think about the consequences if you lose control — will you feel bad, be embarrassed or make others feel this way? Will you hurt someone - perhaps someone you love?
TIP #2: Question
What are you really angry about? Is there a need that isn’t being met? Is this self-protection? Is this 'current' anger or could it be something from the past? Although it might feel safer taking out our anger on the ones closest to us, it’s important not to misdirect feelings. Focus on identifying your needs (after all - anger is all about unmet expectations). Figure out how these needs can be met in a healthier way. If need be, after you've calmed down -talk to that person about it — take time to hear each other's point of view.
TIP #3: Cool Down
Take the time to cool off and calm down. Listen to music, take a walk, call a friend, work out, hit a pillow, meditate, take a shower, or do a few yoga poses.There's no time limit here - if it takes a few hours or a whole day - it's all okay! What’s important is handling the situation calmly and communicating your needs to negotiate the conflict. Use “I” statements (“I felt hurt by” instead of “You always hurt me”). Really Listen. This helps minimize the chance of things escalating into more anger.
Congratulate yourself! You've not only managed your anger - you've harnessed the energy into a motivating force! We won’t get this right every time and that's okay. So celebrate - take a long bubble bath, see your favorite sports team, take a trip to the planetarium, take in a movie!
As always..., be gentle with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up because of what you feel or don’t feel… or about what is happening in your life. Embrace it all and know these experiences could very well be the key to releasing blocks and moving into a more balanced state!
Supporting you on your journey,