Sunday, March 28, 2010

old habits die hard

now i know i say it a lot... anxiety will never go away.  it's an emotion.  but what does go away?  (i can practically hear everyone saying it with me) the ability of anxiety to control your life.  so why, even knowing this, do we still get frustrated when anxious situations come our way?

i never hide the fact that early mornings tend to cause me stress.  i still have two early AM classes a week and every now and then i find myself in an anxious struggle while i get ready for the class.  it definitely doesn't happen every morning (insert psyched emoticon here!) which is absolutely a step in the right direction.  however, i still tend to get hung up on why it happens at all.... still... even though its becoming more and more rare.

so i did a little mental detective work.  am i giving myself enough time in the morning?  no.  even though i get up at 5am for a 7am class that's 20 minutes away from my apartment, i still find  that for me i need more time.  so this week the alarm is getting set for a respectable 4:45am wake up call.  am i burdening myself with too much to do once i'm up?  yes.  before that class you can find me feeding all my pets, walking my dog, sweeping the hallway, wiping down the sink, attempting to make the bed if my hubby gets out of it before i head out the door.... i'm putting too much on my plate.  so now the bed will wait for  me to get home.  if i see a little ball of cat fuzz hiding in the corner of my hallway i'll make sure to make a mental note to tackle the chore first thing when i get back.  and as for the pets... they can  wait till i'm back from class too.  - KIDDING!  my 4-legged loves will be the only things i take care of in the morning besides myself.  i already prep hubby's breakfasts and lunches the night before (now if that doesn't deserve wife of the year award, i don't know what does!). 

and lastly, while a lot of things are directly in my control.... waking up earlier, delegating responsibilities, altering my schedule.... there's one thing that's not so easy to control.  and that's my habit of anticipating a panic attack in the early morning hours.  i had to think long and hard about this one.  what really makes me anxious in the mornings?  what's underneath the surface... because usually that's how we can best help ourselves.  understanding where the panic comes from.  mine can be traced back to my days spent climbing the corporate ladder.  i used to stress about my commute and the work ahead.  i was obsessed with trying to have everything be perfect and be the ideal worker bee.  in reality, all that pressure used to make me sick with anxiety every morning.  so now, even though the job has changed and the schedule has changed, my mind and body still anticipate having anxiety -sometimes- when i'm up really early and getting ready to head out.  i used to experience anxiety and panic attacks near daily around that time... 5 days a week.  it was routine.  as routine as showering and brushing my teeth and packing my lunch for the day.  it was habit.  it was just a part of the plan.  it just shows me that even though i can change things around me, there's always an element of breaking the cycle that has to take place.  it's not enough to just change places and things around.  we have to go right to the source.  so i'm also, in addition to all my other changes, going to make one more that tackles this problem right at the sweet spot of it.  i'm going to aim to wake up and get going by 5:30am each morning.  little by little i'll wake earlier and get my day started, so whether i'm going to class or not is irrelevant.  the point is that i'm going to create a new routine and a new healthy, happy habit.  early mornings won't be my enemy anymore.  and even though the anxious feelings i have are rare, i still don't want them at all.  i don't want to be back in that old school mindset (if even for a minute!) of stressing before heading out to work.  so i'm going to make every morning a nice one and therefore help change my outlook before anything else can! 

if you have a nagging sensitive anxious time, do you know what causes it?  can you make changes to help or do you have to dig a little deeper?  sometimes we gotta really get into it before we can get outta it. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

up and at 'em

Today is another early day for me. Up and out the door by 6:30am. My 7am class is PACKED out! And I have people there that already did a spin class or lifted... Love their dedication. Its not easy to stay committed to diet and lifestyle changes. I admire 'em and literally feed off theier energy as I'm not as bright eyed and bushy tailed as I'd like to be when waking at 5am. But, I do find on days like this I am more motivated to accomplish more than when I have a slow morning. It all works out in the end!

I had a great weekend. I taught a lot of yoga, spent some QT with my mama and settled in for a Saturday night full of movies with my man. I was very much looking forward to some down time. And, since my injury is all healed up, I spent a lot of time working out and testing new things. When I was on bedrest I found myself very anxious with lots of pent up energy. I definitely need to get my sweat on and relieve all that energy. It took me a loooong time to figure that out, but I do believe everyone can find a healthy outlet.

Some fun ways to relieve stress/anxiety:
1)Yoga/working out
2) Walking/running
3 gardening
4) Cooking
5) Painting/drawing
6) Time out w/ friends + family
7 writing/journaling

You have to take time to figure out what works for you and create a balance. I've worked with a lot of people that find something they enjoy that relieves stress but the moment they get anxious again they become overwhelmed and totally forgo their stress relievers. Make 'em a priority! Nothing (well, very little) gets in the way of my workouts and yoga. And you know what - not everyone understands my commitment to it. Some people think I just do it to lose weight or I eat healthy bc I'm counting calories, but there's so much more to it than that. Looking beyond the sweaty surface, exercise offers SO many physical AND mental benefits! And one of the top mental perks - it rids a person of anxious and depressive feelings. That's all I gotta hear! I get my mind and body healthy all at once - I'll take it!

I'd love to hear from some of u guys! What works for you? What doesn't? What have you tried and why?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

getting into the swing of things

I'm so excited to be able to settle back into my routine. I love mixin' it up every now and then, but having a schedule helps me stay on track with workouts, errands, volunteering, teaching, etc. Between snowstorms, week long black outs, injuries and travel my schedule has pretty much gone south.
Today was the first day I am able to get 100% back to normal. My day kicked off with a great yoga sesh at 7am. I teach this class, but I was finally able to participate in it since my injury. BLISS. I had a great playlist and just fell into the flow with the students. I don't know what others' preferences are but I find the most success with walking around and adjusting students and also doing some of the class with them so they can get visual cueing and not just verbal. I thoroughly enjoyed the energy.

Now I'm relaxing in my car blogging on my blackberry before hitting up some elliptical action. First cardio sesh since injury. LOVE. Then I'm gonna teach again and head out on a mission to restock my 'fridge. Going back to healthy, homemade food... HAPPINESS.

We're finally getting some great weather in NY so I plan to get out with my pup again. I'm so much more centered when I'm active and eating right!

How do you feel about routines and schedules? There's a level of comfort involved with routine. Does it cause you anxious feelings or stress when your days are disrupted?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

sans power...sans sanity

Its been a crazy couple of days. If you follow me on twitter (@anxietytozen) you know I've been without power since Saturday. I'm blogging on my beloved blackberry right now. I've had no access to internet, phone, no heat, no tv, no lights... And I've been living on take out since I have no way to cook or store food. Boo!

But I didn't want to disappear for too long... So how are you all doing loves? Hopefully you're warm and cozy!

And even though NY was slammed with a crazy storm I still managed to have an awesome weekend. On saturday I took a 9hr kickboxing certifcation training called turbo kick. We had a blast! And even though at times we feared the ceiling would blow right off the building we managed to get our sweat on hardcore and have fun while doing it. Since my back/rib injury a week and a half ago I've had to lay off everything, but I did the most I could Saturday and felt amazing. Then hubby and I braved the torrential downpour and winds and met up with some friends for 'ritas and laughs. Was just what I needed...then we came home to a dark, freezing house ... Again, boo!

Sunday I managed to get ready by candlelight and headed out to a workshop with Dharma Mittra. Although I couldn't do all the asana with my injury it still felt good (and loooong overdue) to stretch my body. The workshop was a fundraiser for the non-prof I'm a part of - discover and recover. So fun! And Dharma Mittra has us cracking up as we went through our pranayama and sipped tea on our mats.

Ah-mazing weekend all in all.

Well, since its warmer outside than it is in my apartment, I'm off to take my pup for a super long walk.

If you aren't already, check me out on Twitter. And if you don't already follow my blog, please do! Would love to connect with all of you! Leave comments, say hi, share experiences... I love to hear from you guys!

And I'm excited to announce that a guest post is in the works! Keep an eye out.

Monday, March 8, 2010

allow for aparigraha

sorry for being MIA the past few days.  i actually got injured in class last week and have been on bedrest.  yikes! it was wicked painful and totally knocked me out of commission.  i need to focus a lot of time on healing because i'm super pumped for an awesome weekend.  saturday i have a 9 hour kickboxing certification workshop and saturday i get to indulge in a 3 hr yoga intensive with dharma mittra.  so a fully mobile body is crucial.  anyway, i wanted to sneak out a blog really quick, so let's touch on the last of the yamas - aparigraha.  this means greedlessness.  and again, easy to see how we can incorporate this into our daily lives, but what about our anxiety.  how can this help us when dealing with chronic stressors and panic attacks? 

have you ever looked at someone else and become insanely jealous that they are able to be carefree and don't seem to have any trouble doing things that cause you immense stress?  are you upset because someone else that you know is dealing with anxiety also but seems to be healing and progressing so much quicker than you?  this is how i remember to bring a little more aparigraha into my  life.  don't wish for someone else's life or journey.  don't desire another person's experiences because you think they are better or more valuable than yours.  we are all on our OWN journey and that journey must be honored at every bump and turn. 

i hope you enjoyed the focus on the yamas and how they help me keep my anxiety and stress in check.  i used to write these down affirmation-style and refer to them daily, trying my best to practice at every chance i got. 

try it out.  some may click with you and some you might already be doing, but take time to introduce them into your life and see how they impact you. 

next up......... the niyamas!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

bring on brahmacarya

yama number 4... brahmacarya.  this is to remind us to practice moderation.  after all, sometimes we can definitely indulge in too much of a good thing.  and on the flip side, we can also linger in too much of a bad thing.

i tend to relate this to negative thinking and 'spinning.'  spinning for me is when scary thoughts get out of control.  i wasn't able to get out of the loop so i would say i was 'spinning.'  we indulge in so much negativity by habit.  this also ties back to ahimsa... and not beating ourselves up.  so putting the breaks on too many negative thoughts or scary thoughts is practicing moderation in our thinking habits.

i also practice this when i'm sweating out my stress.  i usually gravitate towards sweaty, heart pounding yoga and workouts to totally alleviate my anxiety.  for some, restorative yoga and meditation helps, but for me i need to be physically challenged in order to completely absorb within myself and reconnect.  so at first, when i discovered this, i would pile on the workouts.  sometimes my total time spent working out would total 2+ hours a day.  i'd hit up a spin class, then fit in some yoga, maybe some weights or go out for a jog to clear my head.  i didn't realize i was doing this until i literally made myself so exhausted that i barely had energy to climb out of bed in the morning.  moderation.  when i was totally stressed and it was really bad, i used to hide in my apartment for days and only emerge to go to work.  i spent all of my time worrying and staying curled up on my couch... again, moderation.  either i wasn't doing enough to regulate my energy or i was doing too much.  it's all a balance.  it's not all or nothing... and i CONSTANTLY remind my students of this. 

look at your life and notice if there's something that you're doing too much of.  maybe you're drinking 4 cups of coffee a day and those jitters are just increasing your anxious episodes.  maybe you're spending too much time not talking about your feelings and staying closed off to people... maybe you're looking for ways to stop thinking about your anxiety and you're throwing yourself into work and sacrificing important family time. 

there's always a place in our lives that could use some moderation.  where do you want to add a little balance in?   

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Yama #3 - asteya

welcome to the wonderful third yama - asteya.

i heart asteya.  it means non-stealing... or practicing generosity.  now it's pretty obvious how we can include this in our daily lives, but how does this relate to anxiety?  easy!  SHARE WHAT YOU KNOW!

knowledge is powerful.  it's what helped me realize that panic attacks wouldn't kill me and that there were actually holistic healing options for me out there.  i loved reading blogs and books about other people's experiences with anxiety because, not only could i relate, but i could learn from what they went through because they were further along in their journeys. 

so that's what brought me here.  that's how my Present Moment Workshop was born.  that's how i began to develop and introduce classes.  that's how i found where i fit in the world.  everything i do is based on sharing.  i live my life to share my experiences and what worked (and didn't!) work for me.  i relate to others by being open and honest.  i saw no benefit to holding on to everything that i was learning about and everything i was going through.  i knew i wasn't alone with anxiety.  i reached out to people, i talked to anyone that would listen and i share, share, share as much as i possibly can.  so as you begin to dive deeper into your journey, begin to share everything you learn and experience.  be generous with your knowledge.  let someone else potentially dealing with the same things know that you've been there... and what you did to help yourself.  sharing our knowledge is so powerful.  we can impact people in ways we never knew possible.  i live for seeing people's faces break into smiles and nod as i break down what a panic attack is and all the reasons that -while scary- won't actually harm them.  i love seeing a look of acknowledgement when i mention an anxiety that i had had that they are currently dealing with.  and nothing beats seeing reactions to learning about how yoga and exercise and diet all work hand in hand at helping people heal from anxiety.  and while those aren't the only things that help, they are definitely a piece of the puzzle and i make it my mission to share that with everyone.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

shedding some light on satya

touching on the next yama can be challenging.  satya means truthfulness.  we always have the chance to practice this with others, but what about with ourselves?  i never realized that when i hid my anxiety i was lying about a huge part of my life.  i ended a friendship with a very close friend just so i wouldn't have to tell her about my anxiety.  and i lied about it when she questioned me.  of course my growing distance seemed to come out of nowhere... especially from her perspective.  but rather than be honest with her, or myself, i just lied and made up reasons why i could never meet up or have time for a chat on the phone.  if i was anxious about going to dinner with family i would lie and say i didn't feel well to get out of it.  and if something scared me even though i knew it logically shouldn't (like driving to a store down the block), i lied to myself and tried to justify my fear rather than work through it.  i accepted the anxiety as a part of me and instead of changing, i just defended myself.  that defensiveness was me just lying to everyone, including myself. 

so take time to be honest about what's going on.  you don't have to scream it from the rooftops, but if you find friendships or relationships are suffering under the weight of carrying this secret around, then find someone you trust and share with them what's going on.  its often a huge relief to both you and them.  and i found that people didn't judge me, even if they didn't understand.  once i shared my anxieties i was able to talk through them with friends and lean on supportive family members when i found myself struggling on my journey. 

and most importantly, be honest with yourself.  understand your fears and stressors and work through them.  be honest about the intensity of the fears and the reality of them happening.  be honest about what helps you feel calm... is it yoga or reading or talking to a friend on the phone?  be honest with yourself if you find that you're having a panic attack... you know it's just a panic attack and it won't hurt you.  and if being honest out loud is too intense right now, then spill it in a journal.  get it all out.  write passionately, honestly and from your heart about your feelings and emotions. 

sometimes we find that honesty really is the best policy.