Friday, February 27, 2009

Taking Time To Notice The Good

When is the last time you felt good? Do you remember? Is it hard to even think about because you're always fearful of your next anxious episode or panic attack?

It's easy to always live in the fear. It seems natural to always have something to worry about or feel guilty about. But what about the times we feel good? When do you feel your best? Do you love going to the movies, the gym, out for a long drive or to a new restaurant? Do you take time to notice when you're happy and when you feel strong?

I never used to. Now I always do. I used to live in constant fear of my next dreaded panic attack. But the thing is, if you're always worried about the next attack, you're not living in the present moment. You're all the way in the future dreading something that may or may not happen. You're recreating those emotions and body symptoms and causing yourself distress.

Try something this week... the next time you're just sitting watching tv or hanging out with friends or reading a great book, take time to engage in the present moment. Completely immerse yourself in what's going on and how good you feel. We're so good at the negative anticipations, let's try something new and focus on the good days. Know when you feel good and allow yourself to feel empowered. And if you find yourself suffering with a bad bout of anxiety, bring your mind back to a memory of when you felt really good. Completely focus on that memory and recreate those feelings.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Time Tips

I always thought I was a morning person. I can wake up early with the best of them. So I logically thought it would benefit me the most to make all of my plans as early as possible, that way I'm operating at my best. However, even though I'm up at 6am, it doesn't equal stress-free.

This concept took me a long time to grasp. I used to wake up and rush out the door to work, the gym, to meet up with friends for breakfast, to run errands... whatever. But I always felt some nagging stress and pangs of anxiety. After journaling my anxious episodes I realized that I was best with laid back mornings and busy afternoons. Now, when I can, I always schedule things according to when I feel I am most able to handle them. Some people get their best work done in the mornings... so aim to fit in the gym or a walk or a business meeting in the AM. Others feel the best at night... so perhaps an evening yoga class or late dinner date is your best option. If you find you're always falling asleep in your dinner plate, don't plan to answer late night emails... this will just cause anxiety. If you're lethargic during lunch, don't plan a noon time gym session... aim for the morning or on your way home from work. You know when your body and mind are well rested and ready to go. You also know when they are tired and overworked.

And don't worry- I know there's always deadlines, and emails and reports, and soccer games and such to tend to. But just the act of being aware and assertive with your time is a nice stress-relief in itself.

This also holds true for the office. Can't bear to bring yourself to face a giant report first thing in the morning? See if you can adjust your schedule and carve out time in the late morning to get the job done. If you always seem to get swamped with emails after lunch, try to get big projects done in the morning, that way once the afternoon email barrage hits, you can tend to those and also complete the smaller tasks you saved for this time.

It's Monday Already?

I had one of those perfect weekends where time seems to fly and even though you didn't plan to do anything, you wound up having a blast.

The only thing on my agenda was teaching a Saturday morning yoga class and then a client meeting. But hubby P and I went out to dinner with some friends of ours Friday night and had the best time! Before we knew it it was close to 11. Then Saturday evening I got swept up hanging out with hubby P and his friend (even though it was designated boys night) and Sunday I had a fabulous brunch and much needed girl talk and then dinner and a movie at night.

The funny thing is that my agenda book had so much white space for the weekend that I thought it was going to be a bust. I didn't make a lot of plans and what plans I did have were followed by a "?" because nothing was definite. Having very little expectations and plans actually worked in my favor and leaving my weekend fun in fate's hands was well worth it.

I know we always want to be in control... never want to waste a minute or fly by the seat of our pants, but sometimes it's really worth it in the end. I have found the phenomenon of "less expectations, more fun" to hold true in quite a few circumstances. So the next time you find your expectations spiraling sky high, take a step back. You'll have way more fun with life's curveballs.


Laughter Yoga FUN-raiser

Reduce Stress, Enhance Mind, Body & Spirit with Bruce Katlin

Learn how to laugh for health! Benefit from this unique and scientifically proven concept. Improve stamina, lower blood pressure, REDUCE STRESS, increase endorphins, enhance interpersonal relationships and more.

WHEN: Saturday, March 7th, 2009
210 East Main Street, Huntington NY
PRICE: $15 (donation)
TIME: 2:00 PM


Sponsored by Discover & Recover

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Motivation in a Minute

One of the most important things to me is motivation. Since I spent a good part of my life without it, I'm now obsessed with it. Motivation gets me out of bed in the morning, helps me sink a little deeper into an intense pose, it makes me push that much harder when I hit the treadmill, it keeps me positive when life decides to take a detour I didn't plan on...

So since I tend to be a little micro-focused when it comes to things, I've decided to really try and devote equal time to everything I want to do instead of all my time into one thing I want to do. A lot of my time lately has been spent on my yoga classes. I really try to fine-tune them to every class and every person I work with. This means that my devotion to running has fallen to the wayside. Fortunately for me, I just found a reason to get my butt into gear and get back into running. I'm going to partake in a 5k fundraiser. I'm super excited for this! Not only is it running - but it's running for a cause... what could be better than that!

It's time to put the sneaker to the pavement and dig deep. It's time to ramp up my time management and get used to fitting everything in. I know I can do it. I just have to have focus, determination and motivation.

It's time to take everything I want to do and hit the ground running!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Day In The Life

I was happy to sneak in a spin class this morning. It's amazing how I get the best ideas when I'm running or spinning or losing track of time on the elliptical. I think it's because I'm able to fully immerse myself in the moment during a heart-pounding workout. After the class, I raced home to get my ideas on paper and felt it was time very well spent. I was also able to unload tons of pent up energy... I really dislike the cold. All I ever want to do is curl up under the blankets and remain immobile but that's when I get antsy. After some breakfast I ran some errands and then grabbed the pup and took him to the park to enjoy this fleeting 50 degree weather... it's been a somewhat brutal NY winter this year. Unfortunately the dog park caused my blood pressure to rise when my dog found himself in the middle of, not one, but two fights... the stress of that totally knocked me out of my relaxed post-workout haze. For a little dog, he sure has no fear!

When I got home I decided to dedicate an hour to myself and indulge in some restorative yoga... felt so much better! The stress from the dog park dilemma was successfully put behind me and right in time for hubby P to get home.

I really like the fact that instead of zoning out when stressed I get active and listen to what my mind and body need. Feels so much better. And to follow on my theme of relaxation tonight, I'm couch-bound, under a blanket with a movie ready to go!

I know sometimes it seems like a lot to make time for you to just indulge in something... with errands to run, dinner to make, pets & children to take care of, emails to check, phone calls to make... but when you take a time out it really helps set you up for success (whether your success is to de-stress, clear your mind or just have some fun). You dedicate time to taking care of everything else in your life - don't forget to dedicate time to taking care of you too!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Current Mood: Excited!

I am happy to announce that I've been offered the opportunity to serve as vice president on the board of a wonderful organization that has a truly beautiful mission. I met the inspirational founder during my teacher training and have been working with her ever since to help further her mission. The organization is Discover & Recover, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating the community, hospitals and schools as to the many benefits of Yoga, Meditation, Hypnosis, Qigong, Taiji, and Oriental Medicine. It is their mission to offer healing arts programs to individuals, schools, outpatient facilities, and aftercare patients.

So this weekend is packed with exciting things... a mini board meeting with D&R, teaching a Saturday morning group rock yoga class, a dinner date with hubby P in honor of V-day and celebrating a very special family member's birthday with breakfast and a movie on Sunday.

Packing out my schedule used to fill me with sheer panic... but it doesn't anymore. The main reason? I started packing it out with things I enjoy rather than things I "have" to do or "should" do. Makes a monumental difference!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Let's De-Stress!

Here are a few of my favorite things-

*hot baths
*massages (heaven!)
*running in the park (nothing clears my head like a nice, long run outdoors)
*walking my dog
*green tea
*red wine
*watching movies under a blanket on my couch
*reading an awesome book or flipping through a magazine
*chocolate... dark chocolate!
*good music
*time spent with good friends and family

Whatever helps you de-stress - do it today.

And enjoy every minute of it!

I'm off to teach a class now and help some other yogis get their 'relax' on

Enjoy your weekend... and your YOU time

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ready for Raw

I've recently become interested (read obsessed) with the idea of raw foodism. The health benefits seem neverending and since I haven't eaten meat in years I'm halfway there. I've always been interested in food and how it effects the body... I think most people with anxiety should be aware of it. Food can increase anxiety and anxiety-like symptoms and when you're already dealing with so much - why add fuel to the fire.

Example: I used to be a HUGE coffee addict. For the holidays I would inevitably get Starbucks and D&D gift cards attached to my presents and stuffed inside birthday cards every year. It was a much loved gift and I still remain infamous for going through $65 worth of Starbucks giftcards in a week and a half (my family loves to tease me mercilessly for that one!). However, there was one day at work when I went through 3 venti caps and by the time I dialed into my end of the day conference call I was talking at warp speed and my breath was so rapid it seemed as if I'd fit in a few laps around the building before taking the call. I did a little research and was able to make the connection between my massive coffee intake and my panicked feelings. The coffee mimicked the effects of anxiety on my body - rapid breathing, heart pounding, excess of energy, jumpy, disconnected thoughts.... and I was voluntarily doing this to myself everyday! Needless to say, Starbucks gift cards now go unused - unless of course I indulge in a grande green tea.

And coffee isn't the only thing that does this to me... or to other people. Gallons of soda, tons of sweets or multitudes of sugary juices and sports drink also mimic the effects of anxiety. So, my interest in raw food is not only for my physical health, but also my mental health. It supposedly helps you dsetox and clear your mind. It makes your body strong and resiliant.. what's not to love!?

So I'm destined to hit the food store sometime in the next few days and I've been spending lots of time researching some things I can make. I've already tried strawberry and orange smoothies and I made raw cookies that looked like snowballs. So perfect seeing as I'm still slipping and sliding on ice patches every time I step outside my door (I'm beginning to doubt Spring will ever come!). My husband scoffed at them - but then his scoffing turned to scarfing and he downed half of them.

I need to stock up on TONS of fresh veggies and fruits seeing as they make up 90% of the diet. The rest is beans, tofu, soy stuff..... and I'm finding that the key to this lifestyle (hate the word 'diet') is creativity. Eating the same salad every night sounds near torturous, so it's crucial to spice it up.

So wish me luck - I think this is going to be terrific for my husband and I. As a longtime health nut he's totally game. And I'm pretty excited about detoxing my body and enjoying wholesome, natural foods the way they were meant to be enjoyed.

If you want to check it out, here's some sites I've been logging lots of time on:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Opposites Attract

I love the fact that my husband and I were so different. He was always more of a "glass half full" kind of guy, while I found it remarkably easy to see the doom and gloom side of life. I used to tease him on his polly-anna outlook and now I find that I subscribe to the same positivity that's kept him so happy for so many years - and I can see why he loves it so much!

I guess my outlook was a result of how I grew up. I never really pushed myself to succeed. I kind of just floated through things and let life take its course. I did well enough, but I always could have done better. There was this one incident in high school that will always stick out in my mind. I had an honors class when I was a sophmore. The teachers were very sophisticated and allowed the class to be like a college class - we could eat in the class and they had coffee machines so we could have coffee if we'd like. We'd look at art and how it connected to history and they would read us articles from the New York Times. I didn't feel like I belonged in a class like that so I just slacked. After about 2 months I asked to be transferred out and I had to get a signature from one of the teachers. The one I went to didn't even try to hide her frustration with me. She pulled out her grading book and showed me my marks.... zero, A, zero, A, zero, A, etc. She said to me "when you apply yourself, you do wonderfully - but you don't commit."

I blew her off, got her signature and left the class.

I missed the lesson than, but I understand what she was saying now. I never followed through, never pushed boundaries, never reached for stars. And therefore, when I missed an opportunity or didn't get something I wanted, I got down on the world for not making it happen. My husband always pushed and strived to succeed. He had his first job when he was 12. He doesn't settle. When he wants something he goes after it. He's always been like that. And it was interesting to see how those past experiences shaped us.

We learned from each other. I think he learned from me that it's ok to try new things and you don't have to master everything you attempt. It's ok to try something and not like it and move onto the next thing. I tried so many things people often thought I had the attention span of a fruit fly. But it was really that I just never found anything I was super passionate about so I just kept looking.

I learned from him that it's ok to push yourself for something you want and it's ok to be successful and believe in yourself. High self esteem is such a beautiful thing and not nearly enough people have it. I never thought I was worthy of anything - and that teacher tried to show me that I sabotaged myself. I felt I wasn't good enough and I "proved" it to myself by getting bad grades (even though with a little effort I got great grades).

More often than not, people that suffer with anxiety also find it easier to get down on themselves than give themselves the credit they deserve. It's so easy to fall into the habit of negativity. It's comfortable and it's safe. You feel like you won't fail if you don't try... but not trying is the failure. It's not giving yourself a chance. It's holding back. Anxiety tends to build up walls and fences around people and locks in dreams and aspirations by threatening failure or anything short of perfection.

It took a long time, but I'm now a "glass half full" kind of girl. Yeah, I get self conscious and unsure... but I know deep down it's always going to be ok and it's always going to work out. And this way of living is much more fun!

Think about the messages you give yourself everyday - are you falling more on the negative side or positive? If you get down on yourself a lot, try to make an effort to ease up. Talk to yourself the way you'd talk to a bummed out friend. Or take 10 minutes out of your day to appreciate yourself. Say one empowering thing to yourself every night before you go to sleep or say something positive about the day ahead when you just wake up. Be your biggest supporter!

And while you're at it - spread the wealth. Make someone else's day by saying something nice and pumping up their self esteem too. Not only will they feel great, but you'll feel pretty good too.