Beautiful You: Ways to Stay out of the Fear Zone

When you trap fears inside your head and you never release them, those fears are only going to grow more powerful and strong. They’ll take hold of you and, probably without knowing you’re even doing it, you’ll take root in them.

Disclaimer: These are not medical opinions, but my own. I am not a doctor. These are the things that I’ve practiced and realize help me.

But you don’t have too. When you’re trapped inside the fear-space (or “the fear zone”) in your head, here are a few ways to snap back to the present:

1. Kick the icky feeling by looking at something in front of you: your dog, a friend, grass outside the window, a flower, or a new tab on your computer, or refocus on what you’re trying to work on.
2. If you have the chance, I like what Gabrielle Bernstein suggests: write it down. Really think about where you were traveling off to in fear-land. Write down those thoughts. What Gabrielle suggests is to then change the fear into something positive.
3. Do a downward dog. Yoga has completely changed my life when it comes to coming back to the present and releasing fears. If you are able to, turn on a short yoga video, do a couple of stretches, or simply stand up. This gives you the chance to do something different; you’ll be able to change your thought pattern. (If you’re looking for a yoga teacher, I always suggest going to Tara Stiles’ yoga channel.
4. Say it out loud. Whether you believe in God or not, say your fears out loud. I like to pray. And then I try to meditate afterward, or simply focus on taking a few deep breaths. I also like to pull out my Bible and read a few quotes of Scripture that ease my worries, or I grab my small notebook of encouraging and uplifting quotes from people I admire.
5. Take a deep breath. Speaking of taking deep breaths, just taking one can change your whole mindset. Often and without knowing it, we’ll begin to breathe shallowly. This can lead to anxiety or panic attacks, or just an overall feeling of nervousness. Sit up straight and take a slow, deep breath. Then see how you feel afterward.
6. Drink a cold glass of water. The refreshing coolness will help wake you up and drag you out of that fear way of thinking. And sometimes, the nervousness I feel just goes away after drinking a glass of cold water.

I hope these tips will help you be able to release your fears (or being trapped inside future-tripping fear thoughts) and return yourself to the present, so you can live fully and happily.

Beautiful You: Ways to Ease Anxiety and Help Sleeplessness

Happy Thursday everyone! As promised, I want to share a few tips and tricks that I’ve played around with and that work for me to help ease anxiety and help sleeplessness. (Though I am sorry this wasn’t up on Monday.)

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. These are non-medical opinions and tips that have worked for me to ease my anxiety, panic attacks, and sleeplessness.

1. Supplements. Every day I try to take passionflower (calms the nervous system), and Vitamin B Complex (balances moods, gives you energy, etc.).

2. Prayer, devotional, and journaling. This works for all hours of the day, but I like to do it morning and night. Take a moment, it doesn’t have to be long, to write down the things that are making you anxious or unable to sleep, or just say them out loud. And I mean everything. Even the things you may consider silly, not really a problem, etc. If you keep those thoughts in your head, they will continue to only grow bigger and more scary, causing more anxiety. Release them through prayer and meditation or through writing. Be as specific as you can. God will hear you.
Read some of your favorite quotes, passage from a book, Scripture, etc. Read something that connects you to God. Read something that just makes your relax.

3. Move. I practice yoga for calming my mind, and I recently bought a mini trampoline to help get some cardio in throughout my day. Jumping on the trampoline also helps clear my mind, get my heart pumping, and energy levels up. Do something that can get you to clear your mind and tire your body out. I like to choose a time when my anxiousness sometimes feels the highest (usually around that 3 p.m. slump)

4. Avoid Caffeine. I hated to admit this to myself, but caffeine really increases my anxiety, especially in the morning. It’s not that I’ve had to say goodbye to my cup of Joe, oh no. It means that I’ve become mindful of the days when I need to avoid it. When I wake up calm and relaxed, I may enjoy a cup. But not everyday. Try to avoid things with caffeine, because it will increase your anxiety and it can create sleeplessness.

5. Shower or take a bath. This is relatively new to me, but it’s a great way to calm the mind and ease the body into a restful night’s sleep. I’ve been taking a quick shower at night. It helps clear my mind and by rinsing off I feel I’m washing off the day I’ve had and clearing my mind for a good night’s rest.

. Drink Tea. Though this can be done throughout the day, drinking chamomille, lavender, or peppermint tea has greatly helped with me getting a good night’s rest. I like to drink these calming teas whenever I feel sleepless or anxious. DO you ever feel nauseous because of anxiety or lack of sleep? Ginger is a miracle worker.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that drinking any decaffeinated tea that you really, really love will help ease anxiety. I’ve noticed this myself. My favorite teas include:

Yogi Lavender and Honey
Twinings Peppermint
Twinings Chamomille
Good Earth Sweet and Spicy
Stash Ginger and Lemon

6. Lights out. Quit using a computer or other screen within an hour or so of bedtime. For me, this works because my body seems to know that when I put the computer away or turn the television off, it’s time to get ready for bed. I also use a fan (if you don’t like a fan and don’t want to buy a sound machine, I’d consider using a sleep app. The background noise you can focus on and it will help you fall asleep.)

7. Deep breaths. Practicing yoga has helped me learn when I’m breathing too shallow, which can stir up anxious feelings. When you learn about deep breathing, and how we do too little of it, you’ll realize just what you’ve been missing. I’ve used this technique from Gabrielle Bernstein many times when feeling anxiety creep it, and it re-centers me and helps me get back on my way.

8. Drink water or eat. It may seem sily, but avoiding a snack or a meal could be causing your anxiety or keeping you from sleeping well (going to bed with a growling stomach is not fun). I’ve heard eating a banana about a half hour before bedtime helps, because of it’s melatonin content. (Melatonin is the chemical our body releases to help us relax and sleep.) In general, if you are starving by the time you get to a meal, you’ll probably notice your anxiety will be up. Try to avoid this by choosing good-for-you snacks, like an apple and a piece of cheddar cheese, and avoid sugary stuff. Sugar is not good for anxiety. And before diving into a snack or meal, try seeing if a glass of water will fill you up. (Sometimes my anxiety will creep in simply because I’m thirsty!)

And that’s it for now. I hope these tips will help you in some way. Remember, everyone will have different tips and tricks that help them in some way. These, in no particular order, are mine.

Peaceful minds and sleep-filled nights to you! (I love how Kris Carr signs off on her newsletters this way.)

Ashley

Happy New Year!

Hi, everyone! Can you believe it’s 2014? It felt like 2013 went by so fast. And what a fantastic year it was! 2013 was a very transformational year for me. I was able to move forward doing work that I love, I learned how to knit, I fell in love with yoga, and even tried a meditation or two.

I haven’t made any specific resolutions this year, except to continue doing what I’m already walking on the path of: a healthier, happier life filled with love, laughter, and ease.

What are your 2014 resolutions? Did you make any this year?

Wishing everyone a blessed, blissful, and beautiful new year,

Ashley

Beautiful You: Alternate Nostril Breathing

Don’t be alarmed by the name. It’s this wonderful breathing technique I first heard about from Tara Stiles in her book, “Yoga Cures.” She lists it under the section for anxiety, and it’s so good for when you just need to take a breather or unwind from a stressful situation.

Since I just finished doing this a few times a few moments ago, I realized I hadn’t shared with all of you yet!

I like to practice alternate nostril breathing in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, and before bed. It’s amazing how great I feel afterward.

Here’s the video tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxpIXX1dQDo

Connecting with your breath might sound a little crazy, but it’s definitely helped me move from a stressful to a much more calm state.

Side note: My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan. One of the best ways to help yourself when you’re in a stressed state is to take the focus off yourself and help someone else. (I love this. What a wonderful perspective.) To help relief efforts, here’s a collection of places where you can help: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/11/how-to-help-the-typhoon-relief-efforts.html

Burning Candles, Early Mornings

Burning_Candles_Wallpaper_zi3hcIn the soft glow of the morning, I light one of my three candles sitting on my desk. I pull out my journal, begin to write, or just close my eyes and sit in stillness. The quiet of the morning appeals to me now, though just a few years ago the thought of getting up early for anything would have seemed impossible. And to enjoy it? Not a chance.

But now I love my early mornings, where I can get up calmly, relax, and linger. I can ease in to my work day with joy and gratitude.

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately about living with ease (thank you, Tara Stiles). How we can create the right amount of space in our lives for the things to make us live with ease if we want too. The only thing stopping us? Being willing. So many times, we want things without being fully committed to being willing to do them.

I’ve made space in my morning to start it quietly, rather than rushing around, because that’s what I find lifts my spirits, eases me into my work, and opens me up to feeling grateful, loved, and worth it.

What space do you need to make in your day to day life that could help you live more at ease?

Burning Candles Wallpaper image from here.