Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Problem and Solution Starts with YOU

People way underestimate the value of pushing themselves. Almost everyone has some kind of fear or limit that they set up for themselves and then convince themselves its ok to never tackle the things outside of their comfort zones. Now I love my comfort zone. I’m a big fan of my comfort zone…. Mainly because I find staying in keeps the anxiety at bay. But what I’ve really come to realize is that my comfort zone, while familiar and safe, is also a lead weight around my ankles. I’ve learned that everyone gets something out of their anxiety. I know its hard to believe, but its true. Most anxious people use their anxiety as a way to justify staying in their little comfort zone. Its important to see how much your anxiety and fears hold you back from your life. And what may be even more important is realizing that YOU have control over your situation and can actively choose to not let your anxiety hold you back.

I’ve recently been putting this concept to the test when, for the past three days, I woke up terribly sick. Now usually my first instinct is to grab immodium or pepto or whatever pill I can to keep the stomach aches and nausea at bay. But for some reason, I hesitated when reaching for the medicine cabinet. I told my hubby that I was feeling anxious and that I took medicine to “get me through” yoga class on Sat and didn’t want to take more medicine so soon again. I hate messing with my system and I know deep down I’m making myself worse. Rather then come at me with multiple questions and telling me to just calm down, P actually talked me through it. He asked me questions about what I wanted to do when I got home from work (so I could concentrate on something fun) and he said to just take one pill with me and take it if I need it. His words hit me hard and I didn’t take any medicine. I went to my car armed with my anti-anxiety CD and some yogic breathing practices and drove the 50 min drive to work. I was exhausted by the time I got to the office, because this stuff is tiring! But that’s OK. I did it. And you know what? I did it the next day too! And the day after that! And NOTHING is more empowering than knowing you have the power to feel the fear and do it anyway. I put myself in this little box of comfort and now I have to take myself out, because if I don’t, I can miss out on so many opportunities.

Find out what you love to do. Something just for you. And go out and push through the fear and anxious feelings and take a step towards it! Do as little or as much as you can, but do something. Don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ time or opportunity, because you will wait forever. And you can’t feel better until you realize that you have the control. It all starts with you – hard pill to swallow sometimes. But your anxiety keeps you as a spectator in your own life. And if you find yourself overanalyzing or stressing over something (which we often tend to do!) then just jump in head first. Make your actions override your thoughts. Trust your instincts.

So do one thing today. If you want to run, then go to one sports store and ask the sales people for recommendations on equipment. If you want to write a book, look online and see if you can find a local library or school offering an inexpensive writing workshop. If you want to take a yoga class, call around to some studios and talk to an experienced teacher that can tell you which classes would be best for your ability level and go do it! Just do it! Trust me, I know this isn’t easy on any level. But YOU are in control and YOU make the choice. Don’t let your whole life slip away or your goals because you felt anxious. With anything you want to do, there is always a first step, which is usually the easiest. Conquer it and conquer your fear.

YOU can do this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Near the Breaking Point

I cried this morning. Not so much a can’t-catch-my-breath, mascara-running-down-my-face type of crying, but I shed a few tears. I felt frustrated that I let my exhaustion come out thru my eyeballs, but a release is a release and I needed it! I was in the kitchen around 6:30 in the morning feeding all our pets and I just felt overwhelmingly tired and before I knew it – tears. There’s no hiding it, I’m tired. I’m burnt out. And I don’t know what to do. Every morning, when I hear that dreaded alarm clock go off, I squeeze my eyes shut and will there to be an email on my blackberry from my boss saying that somewhere along the line we had forgotten that today is actually some obscure holiday and we have off – enjoy! Then of course I drag my butt out of bed in a haze and try to shower without drowning.

I tried to focus on my relaxation CD while driving to work and it didn’t help. I actually felt a panic attack creeping up, so I quickly switched it off and focused entirely on breathing. It helped and I avoided a full blown attack, but my body is telling me to slow down. The part that I’m unsure of is how I do that. I knew when I decided to commit to yoga I would have to sacrifice a lot. And it’s been fine so far. What I didn’t anticipate was the exhaustion. I can’t afford to take any days off of work, I can’t miss any yoga classes, if I cancel one more time on my personal trainer she’ll probably reach thru the phone and kill me and my husband is about to have a sheer breakdown because what little I have time for around the house isn’t nearly enough to ease the burden on him.

When I start to feel like this, I try to imagine the people that go through so much more than me and are forced to function on three hours worth of sleep. In the grand scheme of things, my exhaustion seems so irrelevant because there are much bigger things out there people have to be concerned about. It’s times like this when I need a gut check. Eventually, my goal is to teach yoga and personal training, but in the meantime I have to do what it takes to reach that goal – and in order to do that I have to sacrifice.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Current Mood: Grateful

I had a very busy, but terrific weekend. I had yoga on Saturday and then my parents came over and took me out to dinner (you’re never too old to be spoiled by mom and dad!). After dinner, while hanging out we got into the discussion of yoga and how my classes are going. I wound up teaching my mom some yoga moves that I think could really help her recovery from her surgery that she had a year ago. It was very intensive and life altering and the more I learn about yoga the more beneficial I believe it could be to a lot of people. I even got my mom to do a pose on her hands and knees – I could cry just thinking about it! I never even saw my mom walk more than 10 steps without getting winded throughout my how childhood and adolescents. It was really an amazing feeling to get to do that with her. Then on Sunday, which was my anniversary (Happy 1 year to me and hubby!) some girlfriends came over to keep me company since DH was away. We had the best time catching up and reliving some of the wedding highlights – and horror stories – while chowing down on pizza. Towards the end of the night, we somehow got involved in an impromptu yoga session! My friend has some back pain and also holds all of her stress in her upper back –or upper traps if you want to get technical- and her shoulders are always drawn upward because of it. Seeing as I truly am a geek at heart, I was inspired to pick up some anatomy books and a book called “Yoga as Medicine” and I have been devouring them. I was able to incorporate some of those techniques in the routine I did with my girlfriend.

It truly is amazing how yoga can help people on so many different levels. I began this journey as a way to seek a healthy outlet for overcoming my anxiety. Now I use it for stress management, help my mom with it by teaching her postures that will strengthen muscles she’s never used before and reduce swelling, I use it for my friend that has a weak back and shoulder issues and on my husband to help alleviate sinus problems. I love that people are seeing a difference in just the little bit that I touch on with them. I actually have people waiting for me to graduate so I can take them on as clients! And I’ve been so inspired that the anatomy book will give me a head start on my next endeavour… getting certified to be a personal trainer. I think the two compliment each other and I’m so eager to get out there and help people that it doesn’t even seem like work. I really feel like I am finally on the right path. I don’t know where this path will ultimately lead, and I’m trying hard not to have any expectations about where I could end up or how far I could go, but I know I’m doing the right thing because it’s not always the destination that’s most important. If you’re not enjoying the journey, then who cares where you wind up? You’ll be miserable until you get there. And where’s the fun in that!?

Yoga is giving me a gift so far beyond what I ever imagined. I feel empowered on a daily basis and I’m able to SHARE that empowerment with those around me. And I ADORE doing it. It took me awhile to get to this point, but I’d go through everything again to get here. My hubby comes home from his trip tonight and the feeling I get knowing that I get to see him tonight is something I’m grateful for. Almost 8 yrs together and I still get butterflies. Yoga also gives me time to appreciate what I have. I know I have setbacks and I’m not 100% over my anxiety, but I have so much to be thankful for and giving back is the best way I know to show my gratitude.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

Have you ever felt insignificant compared to someone? If you don’t compare yourself to other people, then congrats! You are way ahead of the game. But I however, still fall into this trap. Every now and then I get what it is called a “girl crush.” I’ll see a girl or meet a girl and when I learn her story I find out she’s inspiring. Maybe she can balance a full time job with two kids, a husband, volunteer at an animal shelter and still find the time to happily bake a cake. Or perhaps she’s an entrepreneur that founded her own company, jets around the country, manages a team of employees and in her spare time competes in triathlons. You get the picture.

Now immediately, I’m in awe of these people. Then right after the initial impressiveness wears off I get those nagging feelings of how much my accomplishments pale in comparison. Right now I feel so exhausted from work, yoga and fitting in personal training sessions that I’ve pretty much abandoned my goal of running my first 5k this year and I’ve not seen nor eaten a home cooked meal in days! I wonder why some people have all this energy and enthusiasm for life and are truly non-stop while I’m always struggling to catch up. Some people have more experiences in their teens then I may have my whole life… Now I’m still young and I know I have time to do things, but when I look at what other people do (and automatically decide that I at some point want to do it to) I find that I’m going to run out of time. I struggle to balance everything and when I over-plan I get stressed… before I know it I start to feel pangs of anxiety.

I think this is another reason I’m so determined to rid myself of anxious feelings. In the back of my mind I always wonder… if I had the chance to travel and explore the world or run my own company… would my anxiety mess it all up? Would I blame anxiety for incompetence if I did fail? So many fears and questions…

But I do try to look at this as a good thing. I might always compare myself to other girls that I am inspired by or in awe of, but rather then focusing on the negatives in my life when I do it, I should use it as inspiration to change what makes me unhappy. I know my stressing and anxiety tire me out – but I need to look at these girls and try to embrace their spirit and excitement for life. Something interesting that I learned once was that anxiety and excitement often feel the same – what separates them is how they are perceived. So maybe these girls feel anxious when they are out conquering the world, but they see it as excitement. And maybe, as I work on changing my perception, I’ll see it that way too. I don’t really know if comparing myself to people is good or bad… but I guess the lesson to be learned is what I get out of the comparison. If it’s motivation to strive for what I want and the courage to take on challenges, then maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Maybe “girl crushes” are more valuable than we think! And who knows…. Maybe one day I’ll be someone else’s “girl crush!”