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be a part of the revolution
Jun 3 2009 2:21PM

i'm starting a revolution. a relaxation revolution. a movement that focuses on the importance of relaxation and rejuvenation. people are inundated with stress, anxiety, worry, pressure... the list is never ending. i say we stop it. i believe in taking a time out. and i want people to know that just because they take time out for themselves doesn't make them selfish or lazy. it makes them smart... and healthy!

become a relaxivist with me!

a relaxivist embodies a stress-less attitude, understands and knows the detrimental effects of stress and anxiety on the body and, when faced with pressure, knows how to alleviate it. a relaxivist is also always willing to be a shoulder to lean on when others are suffering with anxiety and loves to share helpful tips and advice with those that need it.

become part of the revolution and be an activist for relaxation!


re-lax-a-vist:
(noun)

1) one that promotes the importance of relaxation and stress reduction; 2) a person that understands the health risks accompanied by chronic stress and anxiety and shares knowledge on how to alleviate it

Comments (1)


art of procrastination
May 11 2009 6:58PM

I know a lot of people that fall victim to procrastination, myself being the biggest one of all! I'm going to confess - I hate when I realize that I've left something for the very last minute and am forced to drop everything else I want to do to tend to something I'd rather forget about!

Having gone through the stress and anxiety of procrastination one too many times, I've decided to make a commitment to myself. No more procrastination. It'll definitely be a challenge... keeping up with this commitment is an act of non-procrastination in and of itself. I realize that a lot of people (again, myself included) seem to procrastinate the most with personal things. I'm more prone to keep a promise or commitment to someone else before I'll keep one to myself. I'll work my bum off trying to motivate someone else into doing something positive before I motivate myself. I'll promise myself that I'll make it to the gym, but then spend so much time taking care of errands and to-do's that by the time I wanted to go to the gym, I'm beat and I bail out. I encourage people to pamper themselves and treat themselves every now and then, but neglect to treat myself.

This week has been an eye opener for me with my tendencies to put things off until "later." When I came home to a stack of bills, a pile of laundry and a flooded inbox after my trip I realized that I inadvertently left everything on my to-do list until after I got back. I spent a lot of time before the trip running errands, shopping and pretty much getting everything in order for the trip. Anything unrelated to the trip fell into my "I'll do it later" category. As you can see, I tend to fall short on the ability to balance multiple things as well. I was consumed with going away, rather then balancing what was going on at home with what needed to be prepped for florida. I didn't even realize how much I left for myself to do until I actually sat down and got everything done this morning! I had yoga and gym classes planned for this week, a visit to the park with the dog and some fun stuff I wanted to get done... and most fell to the wayside because i over packed myself without realizing it.... all thanks to my superior procrastination skills.

So this is my promise to myself- no more procrastinating. No more putting things off until tomorrow. And this holds true for fun things too! Leaving everything until the last minute or putting off so many tasks that you're inundated with work by the end of the week causes immense stress and anxiety... and avoidable stress and anxiety!

If a project or task seems huge and you just don't want to deal with it, break it down into parts. Then try to accomplish at least one of those parts each day until the task is complete. If you have a few things to get done and some are dreaded things for you, spread them out... don't leave all of the dreaded tasks for the end. Do some fun stuff, then some stuff that has to get done, then the stuff you really don't want to do but have to do and then repeat that cycle until you're finished with everything!

Make a commitment to yourself to not procrastinate. Write out everything you need/want to get done and go do it! And schedule "you" time in there too! I have officially blocked out two full hours of "me" time for the gym tomorrow. Honor your promises to yourself as you would to a friend. We have enough stress in our lives... why let procrastination add to it!?

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memories stress me out
Mar 24 2009 2:09PM

It's been quite some time since I've had to drive a long distance (which for me, long qualifies as anything over 30 mins!) and even though I've opened up my life more than ever and never turn things down due to anxious feelings I find that sometimes those old memories of anxious feelings come creeping up on me.

I used to go through severe panic attacks and episodes during my commute to work or while visiting family members and friends that didn't live around the corner. My hands would go numb as I tightened my death grip on the steering wheel and my breath would catch in my throat at the first sign of traffic.

I've found that I'm much more relaxed now when I drive, but every once and awhile, when a "longer" drive comes up, I can't help but notice my mind wander back to those super stressful times. I can almost feel my stomach clench and my palms sweat. It's not quite anxiety.... it's not quite anticapatory anxiety (because I'm not shying away from the drive or scared of it). My memories just come on strong and remind me how fearful I once was. And that memory freaks me out a little. The memories temporarily put me back into that feeling of immense dread and fear.

I guess the closest comparison I can think of is say you once took a tumble down a flight of stairs...nothing serious, just enough to get shaken. Then imagine every once and awhile when coming up to a flight of stairs your memory of that fall comes on so strong that you can practically feel your body ache like it did after the actual fall.

It's intense! And it's something I'm still finding myself working on because it's not a matter of working through a panic attack or anxious episode... it's about reprogramming my brain (in a way). I can't breathe through a memory or switch it to a positive because it's an actual thought of something that used to happen.

If you find this is something familiar to you, here's what I've found helpful: Instead of switching my thoughts or trying to ignore them (which, who am I kidding, ignoring thoughts is hard!) everytime I come across something that used to stress me out or cause me anxiety I make it a point to completely focus on how good I am now feeling. This way, when I get behind the wheel for a "long" drive my last memory of the car was me singing my heart out to some of my favorite songs with the windows down. I'm not changing my bad memories - I'm just focusing on creating new, happy ones to recall. Because if you can recall one memory, you can recall any memory. So why not make it a good one?

Take time to create new memories and focus on when you feel good and strong. Draw on those memories when you need a little boost of strength.

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Expectation Creation
Jan 9 2009 12:10PM

Do you consider yourself a person with high expectations?

I never used to... but after forcing myself to take a deep, down look inside I realized my expectations were sky high... Not that I'm knocking expectations! I think expectations are great. They serve as a helpful reminder to go after your goals or to allow you to gain the respect you know you deserve. They help you strive for things in life. But, as with most things, there is a flip side to this idea.

When expectations take on a life of their own, it could mean trouble. I've often found this to be the case. Sometimes I have such high expectations for things around me I'm almost definitely setting myself up for an inevitable letdown. And let's face it, I can't control what happens around me. So why do I EXPECT that I can? I subscribe to the notion that everyone will treat me with kindness and respect, I'll get raises and promotions because I work hard, my husband will always want to spend time with me because he loves me so much, my friends will always call me first in a crisis for advice and good things will come to me if I put good things out there. Now at this point, you're probably doing one of two things: 1) nodding your head feverishly in agreement and thinking that is absolutely the way things should work or 2) rolling your eyes so far back into your head they practically disappear. I'm basing a whole lot of my feelings on the way I feel things SHOULD be and how I EXPECT them to be. You can almost see the disappointment awaiting me in the future. Now I also tend to hold myself to sky high expectations. I expect my work to always be right, I expect to know the answers to people's questions, know the right thing to do should a problem arise and I always expect to land anything I pursue.

I think it's easy to see how unreasonable expectations can set you up for disaster. And a lot of people with anxiety tend to have unrealistic expectations... perfectionism is one big one I've noticed. Anxious people want things to always run smoothly, to always be perfect. They want the world to be fair. They want praise from their bosses and kudos from friends. And they bust their butts trying to get it all. I know I did... for a very long time. I would spend hours obsessively beating myself up if I thought I said something stupid at work or incorrect at class. When I went for my yoga certification I was terrified that everyone would judge me because I couldn't touch my toes. I over analyzed every move I made (and every move everyone else made!) and caused myself immense anxiety and pain.

The reality is though... that there is no such thing as perfect. But there is such a thing as expectations being too high, too unrealistic, too unobtainable. The fact is, life is life. You can't control it. You can't predict it... and sometimes that is half the fun. Things aren't always fair and things won't always turn out the way you want them to, but what you can take control of is how you perceive it when things don't go the way you expect them to. Don't beat yourself up if you think you said something stupid because no one else even noticed. Don't get down on yourself for not losing 10 pounds in a week, celebrate the fact that you're working out or that you lost one pound or that you're doing something good for yourself! Don't expect the world... because you might never get it. Instead, try to look at things with no judgement and no expectations and look forward to whatever is thrown your way.

And if you do find yourself caught up in a high expectation... bring yourself back down. And then be proud of yourself for doing so!

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my new blog home
Jan 5 2009 7:33AM

Sorry I haven't updated in awhile - have some big things going on. All of which cause immense excitement and some anxiety! But it's ok, because I'm confident that I can deal with my worries and anxieties.

In case you're wondering, I am still blogging! You can follow it here at
www.anxietytozen.com


I would LOVE to hear what some of you guys have to say... how the new year went, what are some goals you have for 2009, how you are doing with your anxiety... so feel free to leave a comment!

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My Announcement!
Dec 22 2008 3:55PM

I'm following my dream of combining yoga philosophies and practices to aid in stress management and anxiety relief!

Life's too short.

It's time I do something I love and feel passionate about.

I launched a web site (which is what I feel those universal signs were leading me to) and I feel ready to start the next phase of my journey...Chat Icon

So here's to 2009 and good things to comeChat Icon

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Who Knew?
Dec 8 2008 9:17AM

Well it finally happened. I got my sign from the universe. I made a very important decision over the weekend that I believe is one of my last steps on the journey to freedom from anxiety. I can’t post just yet, but hold tight – because I can’t wait to shout it from the rooftops. I do consider myself 95% healed. The thing is, anxiety never goes away. What does go away are the mind blowing panic attacks, the heart palpitations and the absolute belief that your next attack will kill you if you don’t make it to a hospital in 10.6 seconds. I haven’t had a panic attack in a long time… a few months at least. I still do get knots in my stomach over things, but I really am thankful for how far I’ve come. Part of my announcement is that I get to share my experiences with people. I shake with excitement just thinking about it. And I have the support of some very important people in my life.

I feel like ’09 is my year. It’s my time to make my life happen. Have you ever felt that way? Kind of stagnant… stuck. It sucks. Since yoga started, I’ve become a lot more spiritual. Actually, that’s a gross exaggeration. Since yoga started I’ve become spiritual, period. I had no belief system in place and felt really lost. Now, before you freak and stop reading right now thinking I’m about to go off on some belief/spiritual rant, don’t worry – I’m not. I don’t even really know what my belief is (I am resistant to the word faith because I don’t think my feelings are that strong as of right now). However, when in yoga class we are asked to dedicate our practice to something or someone, set an intention and open to grace (LOVE Anusara!). Now, at first, I resisted the last step. I refused to open to anything. I had an internal dialogue running throughout my head that sounded something like this “you may open to grace, but I’m not. I don’t believe in anything so there’s nothing to open to. I don’t even know how you can ask someone to open to a greater being/cause. What if someone doesn’t have this? Is their practice forever flawed? Will my yoga be empty? Am I the only loser without the ability to open to grace…?”

As the weeks went on, I learned to stop being uptight (yeah, if you can imagine!) and I slowly began to open up. I opened up my mind to the possibility of something greater than me out there. I opened my heart to the ability to try something new, even if uncomfortable. And I opened my soul to the opportunity to see if I could feel spirituality. It took awhile, but after I fully opened, with no stings attached (like, I’ll ask for a sign, say a $10 bill on the floor, and should I walk outside and see $10 on the street in front of my car I’ll start believing) things started to happen to help me embrace the idea of spirituality. And I will only go so far as to say spirituality, because I feel that does a good job of explaining what I’ve accomplished. You can’t go from zero to sixty. So since I’ve started being more open-minded and open to seeing signs, they’ve been sent. And I got the biggest one of all over the weekend, the one I’ve been waiting for. And I’ve been glowing ever since. If there’s currently something you’ve been battling with, I hope you see your sign to.

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Silver Lining?
Dec 3 2008 4:30PM

I’m having one of those weeks were I think it might actually be less painful to impale myself on a rusty nail then do the things I need to get done. My life right now kind of resembles the movie Groundhog Day and I’m coming dangerously close to believing that I am continuing to live the same day over and over. Well, the same day between the hours of 9-5. I’ve stumbled into some alternate universe where I’m being forced to re-work the same day over and over again until I figure out the trick to ending it and perform the necessary task needed to complete the mission. This monotony lead to my nervous breakdown this morning which resulted in me screaming and cursing at my email inbox and crying/hyperventilating on my husband’s shoulder.

It’s a good thing we’re already married because that meltdown would’ve sealed my single girl fate had we been newly dating. Lucky for me, my husband was totally cool and completely understood. Apparently I haven’t exactly been hiding my frustrations over the past few months – oops – and P. was awesome. He totally talked me out of my hysteria and we both came away unscathed… he successfully avoided the inanimate objects I propelled across the living room in anger and I avoided a full blown panic attack.

...sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

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Big Thanks to Fido
Nov 21 2008 11:53AM

I feel like I’m finally starting to understand how my brain works. I believe for the longest time we had a very love/hate relationship. Through high school I completely slacked and my brain pretty much enjoyed a four year hiatus. Once I hit college, I came out swinging and totally immersed myself in my studies. My brain, therefore, spent a good chuck of the time hating me. Then I thought we worked out a good compromise when I landed a mind stimulating job… but then, as I progressed within my personal and professional life, anxiety began to plague me almost daily. So I decided to sit down and listen to what my brain, now feeling like I was completely disconnected to it, had to say.

So it turns out, I’ve been bored. I really, truly think that’s what can be traced back to months and months of agonizing anxiety. When I was running steadily (now it’s a pipe dream with my sched and this freezing cold weather!) I was happy. When I’m doing yoga I’m happy. But when I’m in spin class, weight training, or entrenched in a Vinyasa I’m downright elated. I kind of equate this process to when we first brought home our puppy. He was 2 months old and a terror. I cried every time I saw him. I really thought he was brought into my life to drive me over the edge of insanity. These feelings are similar to how I felt in the throes of anxiety. Aggravated, tired, at my wits end…

Then we figured out this four-legged fiend and found that when we walked him extensively and took him to the park and played ball with him, that night (and sometimes even the next day!) was a complete pleasure with him. He snuggled and cuddled and resembled a normal dog – not the out of control, ADD, ball of fur he was for the first 12 hours of the day.

So here’s my analogy - when my pup got exercise and stimulation he was much happier in the end. He was calm and loving and fabulous. When he wasn’t played with, he turned into a ten pound tyrant. So, when I pretty much went into autopilot and checked out of being active within my life, my brain went haywire. It caused massive distress that leaked out in all kinds of “fun” ways. When I’m in a spin class, working out with my trainer, doing challenging yoga poses… I’m in the moment. My body and brain are one for a moment and they are both getting out loads of pent up energy. The end result? A much happier girl. I’ve become somewhat obsessed with my Vinyasa classes. It was one of the first times that for the entire hour and a half I never once peeked at the clock. Boredom is near torture for me and its so relieving to not only know it, but understand it. I’m happiest when running around from work, to gym, to yoga class then coming home and making dinner while simultaneously dusting the house and folding laundry. The word ‘busy’ used to be synonymous with ‘medieval torture device’ for me, but now I know I’m so much better off with lots to do! And this in turn has been CRUCIAL for me in overcoming my anxious episodes.

In conclusion: my dog has brought me closer to understanding how my mind works

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No One Said It'd Be Easy
Nov 11 2008 9:26AM

Hubby P got mad at me this morning. For some reason I had a bad bout of anxiety about going to work…which resulted in a flood of tears and muttered cursing all morning. Hubby wanted to have a calm morning I guess and my sudden freak out left him unnerved. I’ve yet to understand why some mornings I’m alright and then on other mornings I make myself sick to my stomach about work. I don’t know what makes one day different than the next. And I hate more than anything the effect it has on P. He picks up on it immediately. And I try to stay calm and breathe, but the truth is I’m crying in his lunch as I make it and he hears me hyperventilating as I get dressed in the bedroom. I put on my relaxation CD and it barely helped. I (unfortunately) took some medicine at the last minute, cried out all my tears of frustration and headed out the door. I’m at work now and even as I write this I get upset. I know P has a lot on his plate right now. But I do as well. He texted me about 10 mins ago about being stressed out and my anxiety didn’t help any to motivate him to go to work. The thing is… sometimes I really can’t help it. My stomach is still in knots and I still feel really sick.

I just don’t know what the solution is. I know his life would be easier if I were home more. I know his life would be easier if I could be the one to go home on breaks and let the dog out, or be home on the weekends to do the food shopping, or even be home long enough at night to clean up a little and just take a little off his plate. But I can’t because I’m not. I’m never home anymore. And out of everything I do, it’s work that makes me the most unhappy, yet it’s where I spend almost all of my time. It’s such a paradox in life. I’ve met so many people unhappy with their jobs, yet they clock in more hours at work than with their families.

I still do try to see a positive. If I didn’t have setbacks I wouldn’t realize how far I’ve come. If I didn’t continue fighting, then how could I expect other people to fight. I do look forward to the day when I’m completely healed, but I guess I just have to accept that I’m not there yet. I will be. But until then we’re going to have days like this. And P will be mad at me. And I will be frustrated. And we’ll argue. But that’s life. I don’t expect this fight to be an easy one, but I do expect it to be worth it.

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Finding my paradise
Nov 10 2008 11:46AM

This weekend was pretty amazing. I had yoga class on both Sat and Sun and was mentally prepping for the sheer exhaustion that was inevitably going to set in. However, it turned out to be the most eye-opening experience I think I’ve ever had (so far!) A swami came in to talk to us about life. It’s funny how we spend so much time existing and not living. Well that’s the case for me anyway! It wasn’t until I felt unbelievable anxiety that I sat up and paid attention to my life. It wasn’t until then that I started questioning things. Much like when you run yourself down you get sick because your body is telling you to “stop!” for a minute, my anxiety was knocking on my head seeing if anyone was even in there anymore. My dissatisfaction with what I let me life become manifested into anxiety.

So this swami sat with our little group and we talked about life. We talked about what we did and things about ourselves, but he caught us off guard when he asked where our perfect place to live would be or what we’d ideally like to do. Almost everyone’s breath caught in their throat and the silence was palpable. No one knew. And even if they had a small inclination as to where their paradise might be, they had no way to get there. It was just a dream that was destined to stay buried under the “I should’s” and “I have to’s”… We have been so swept up in the daily grind that we forgot what brings us happiness. Talk about me being meant to have this man in my life… wow! This has been my struggle for months and months! I know I’m currently unsatisfied with where I am right now, but I didn’t know how to “fix” the issue. Swamiji helped me realize where my passions lie and also how to go about obtaining them. And there was something so therapeutic about having a person filled with nothing but joy and love believe in you. I think that is something that people are starting to lose. I was a huge doubter of almost anyone and anything. Anytime someone wanted to step off the “right path” or working 9-5 and clocking in the hours, I thought they were crazy. What it really was was that I wanted to do the same thing and didn’t have the courage or belief in myself.

I walked away from my weekend filled with faith. Not so much from the religious aspect, but more like the faith one has in one’s self. There have been some dreams and goals that my hubby and I have talked about but I never really believed in the goals. Well, I didn’t believe they would happen for us the way we wanted. Now I have faith. Hubby and I aren’t going to make any rash decisions (as we’re prone to do!) because I have faith that we’re going to be offered opportunities that lead us in the direction we’re meant to be in. I also walked away from Swamiji with so much love and admiration that I wished my family could’ve met him. I wish I could’ve shared this mini-miracles I felt with the people I care about. Even my blog is mushy! I had no anxiety last night or this morning even though I had work. I have no anger about work situations or co-workers. I am at peace inside. And I think this is truly the first time I can honestly say that.

So this blog is dedicated to swamiji – thank you for helping me find my paradise and opening me up to the faith that my paradise will find me.


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The problem and solution starts with YOU
Oct 29 2008 9:12AM

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. That’s a mantra I love (and learned from Lucinda Bassett). Feel the fear and do it anyway. Just repeating that to myself is comforting. 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! Feel the fear and do it anyway. 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.

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Take The Good With The Bad
Oct 21 2008 1:51PM

Did you ever have that kind of day that is almost perfect? You didn’t have any standing plans or obligations, no one to answer to, nothing to work on… and you just took the whole 24hrs and spent them exactly how you wanted to? I had that on Sunday. Since I really only get one full day off every 2 weeks, hubby P and I try to max it out with fun stuff and spending time together. This past Sunday I slept in until 10 (which is pretty on par with me saying I spent the day skydiving), P and I walked our pup in the gorgeous fall weather, we had breakfast together and pretty much had a fabulous day. We finished off our day of R&R with a couple of cocktails and picked out our wedding album.

I’ve come to really appreciate my time at home and my free time. I think not having a lot of it makes it more precious in a sense. But what it also does is make me more anxious when I have to give it up again. On Monday, I felt a little sick. The good news is that what used to send me into a sheer nervous breakdown doesn’t knock me out as hard. I felt sick, I dealt with it and was only 5 mins late to work – as opposed to my normal routine of crying, not being able to catch my breath, seriously contemplating quitting my job and definitely not going into the office. So it’s kind of bittersweet in a way. I am used to running around and having very little personal time, but am OK with it until I get a taste of it. I don’t do well with transitions. I tend to get very anxious when my routine changes for an ongoing amount of time. When I first started yoga, I was sick to my stomach nearly every morning before I went. Now I’m used to it and have no problem. I’m really starting to learn what my ‘triggers’ are and thankfully I’m learning to better control them.

Now I’m very much looking forward to my next day off with P, but I’ll know the real accomplishment is not having anxious feelings the next day!

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Two Paths
Oct 16 2008 9:48AM

I find myself at a very interesting crossroads in my life. Having found something I am passionate about, I jumped in head first and ran with it (I’ve always been more of a floater in that sense, so when I found something I loved I knew it was too important to let go). And I’m not going to lie, I often find myself daydreaming about pursuing this passion full-time. Now while this thought is totally exhilarating – it’s also amazingly scary. And my anxiety does nothing to calm my hesitations. However, I’m continuing to push on and sacrifice for this dream. Now here is where I meet my murky crossroad. On one hand, I’ve found full support from people. I’ve had people tell me I could do this, I’ve had people express interest in helping me accomplish this and even people tell me they’ve seen a change in me (which is good, because I needed to change in order to do this!). BUT, I’ve also come across some nay-sayers. I realized that some of the people I’m closest to don’t think I’m going to succeed. And it’s not just because I’m me, it’s because they believe extraneous circumstances will stand in my way and I won’t be able to prevail. And as soon as these people planted that seed, my anxiety watered and cared for it until it became full grown. Can I really do this? Is it too much to ask to have a job or career that follows your dreams or passions?

The scariest part of all… when I think about it, I’ve BEEN that negative person before. I’ve been the one to stamp on dreams and tell people why things won’t work. It’s almost as if I was predestined to find the flaws. Am I a product of my environment? I don’t know… maybe. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these negative people were (and still are) huge influences in my life. I’ve never stepped off the safe path of working hard and earning things the tough way because I thought it worked for so long that there was no reason to go off and try to change it. Then my anxiety did a good job of keeping me “safe” in a little box, always afraid to step outside and try something new. I never really had a passion. Now that I do, I can see why people do crazy things -like leave the comfort of a steady paycheck- to pursue them. I still do think that there is a limit to how “crazy” you can be, especially during tough times, and responsibility is never far from my mind, but it’s hard not to get swept up in the dreaming.

So I’m standing at this crossroads, not really knowing where to turn. Do I take what I’m learning and what is my dream and put it aside for something safe? Or do I take a calculated risk (the calculated part is important because I would never up and quit my job or move to another country without having safety of SOME sort)? What’s a girl to do? I can’t be mad at the negs (my term for negative people/influences), I used to be one! But should I heed their warning? Am I just setting myself up for disappointment? Or, are negs people that (like me at one time) don’t understand what it feels like to go after a dream? Experience is everything in life – it shapes your beliefs, feelings and emotions. It’s motivation. I think I’m going to just sit and think for awhile and not run down any one path right away. And maybe if I’m really lucky, I’ll get a sign that will point me down the path I’m meant to be on…

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Near the Breaking Point
Oct 14 2008 9:22AM

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.

I just have to make sure that out of everything I sacrifice, my sanity isn’t part of it.

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Currently Loving This: Website Recommendation
Oct 13 2008 9:49AM

I recently saw this on iYogaLife.com. I adore this website. It’s really helped me review things I’m learning in class, whether it be Sanskrit words for poses or just an easy breakdown of the different branches of yoga. These 5 tips are ways to alleviate anxiety – from both a yoga view and therapist view – so interesting!

1) Do What You Can
The yoga teacher:
I’d rather you do yoga for 5 or 10 minutes than skip practicing because you don’t have a spare hour. Even if it’s only a few easy Down Dogs, just enjoy it.

The therapist:
Even giving yourself one minute to breath and tune into your thoughts is going to reduce anxiety because getting in touch with your feelings allows the body to relax.

2) Start Small
The yoga teacher:
If your mind tends to wander during yoga class don’t beat yourself up. Showing up for class means that you are focused. Finding one moment where you aren’t thinking about what you’re having for dinner will evolve into two or three hour’s worth of moments. Do what you can.

The therapist:
Being kind to yourself and not focusing on what you’re doing wrong gives you the space to be comfortable.

3) Make Conscious Decisions
The yoga teacher:
Get away from your habits. Try putting on your pants with the right leg if you always start with your left. Brush your teeth with your opposite hand. Use pranayama to breathe differently. Thinking about what you’re doing rather than drifting through a routine, you’re making a deliberate decision to be in the present.

The therapist:
Consciousness is a well-deserved break from our fast-paced lifestyles. Start by noticing details like the color of the room or how you feel when you brush your teeth.

4) Write It Down
The yoga teacher:
Write 5 good things about every single day in a gratitude journal. These reflections will connect you with your world.

The therapist:
Journaling is a very healthy coping measure for anxiety. Seeing your thoughts on paper sometimes is a much clearer representation than seeing them in your mind. When you write, see if what triggers your anxiety is revealed.

5) Replace Negative Thoughts With Positive Ones
The yoga teacher:
After every class she teaches, Townsend reminds students that “Namaste” means, “The Divine Light in me bows to the Divine Light in you.” Take that belief outside of yoga and notice the positive qualities of someone rather than just looking for the negative. Actively releasing negative thoughts makes anxiety subside.

The therapist:
It sounds obvious, but the more positive you are, the less room you have for anxiety. Negative predictions can exacerbate anxiety. Create new pathways in your pattern of thinking with positive thoughts.

I particularly love #4. I’m a big fan of journaling. That was one of my main reasons for starting this blog. Writing, especially free writing, can really help you uncover things in your life and see patterns. Nutritionists suggest food diaries for those looking to overhaul their diets, therapists suggest journaling to see if you can uncover things from your past that may be impacting you at the current time and even some personal trainers will ask you to keep a log of your activities so you can see how you are progressing and train accordingly.

We had an Iyengar class this weekend – for seven hours! It was intense, and at times I questioned if I would make it, but I came home feeling more alive than ever. I truly loved the teacher that came in and am very much looking forward to taking a class with him at his studio (another girl in my class and I have plans to go together!). It was amazing how he is able to see people restricting themselves in poses and he is able to open them up. My hamstrings spent a good chunk of the morning cursing me out – but I’m addicted and can’t wait for his next class with us! Plus, by spending all of my time completely immersed in each posture, I didn’t have time for a single anxious thought! And that in itself was completely worth every downward dog I did.

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Current Mood: Grateful
Oct 7 2008 9:41AM

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.

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Push Through the Pain (or anxiety!)
Oct 3 2008 12:07PM

It’s finally Friday – it’s been a super long week! I have some fun plans to look forward to so I’m eager for it to be 5pm! But since it’s not, I thought I’d search around for a fun quote and I think I found one:

Eighty percent of success is showing up.
- Woody Allen
This speaks to me because it is so important to think about this when you are having any kind of anticipatory anxiety. Those of us with anxious feelings tend to tune into them and be hyper-sensitive to the point that sometimes its easier to avoid a situation to calm the feelings rather than face the fear and push through the feelings. Very rarely are things as bad as we imagine them to be. I tend to have a lot of anticipatory anxiety. I have a flight next Oct?… I’ll start worrying about it now. Meeting in two months? That will consumer my every thought from here on out.

Take yourself out of the present and knock down that wall of fear. I think Woody hit the nail on the head with this one.

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Inspiration Comes In Many Forms
Oct 2 2008 4:46PM

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 giving seminars, 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… Take for instance a co-worker that had a friend that, while in college, volunteered her summers in India working with children. Girl-crush! That’s amazing! When I was in college I was wondering what movies were playing or if I was going out to dinner with my boyfriend on Sat night. 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!”

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Looking for a Sign
Oct 1 2008 12:06PM

First off, Happy October! I’m beyond excited that it’s Oct – it’s my favorite month! It’s also almost my one year wedding anniversary (still can’t believe how fast that went!). Before we know it the holidays will be upon us. I always try to think back to when I was a kid and a week seemed like an eternity. Now years fly by in what seems like a matter of days.

Today I find myself battling an internal struggle. I work in a small office with just a few people and my boss. There is one guy that, although on the surface we can chat about stuff and make jokes, we are fundamentally different. He has actually commented to ME on how he feels women cannot do certain things as well as men and has recently become comfortable spewing his elitist point of view within any conversation we have. One part of me wants to choke him, the other feels sadness at the ignorance that someone can walk so proudly with these thoughts. I know I judge – I’m not innocent by any means, but I try to acknowledge it when I can and work on it. I’ve tried to turn a blind eye (or deaf ear) to his comments but they bother me nonetheless. He actually believes that people are inherently stupid (but he quickly followed that insightful comment with saying “but not the people I know”). I don’t want to have this burning dislike anymore. It frustrates my progress and slows down my personal growth. I’ve learned about the term “tapas” in yoga. It literally means ‘to burn’ but in a deeper sense it means to burn out or suffer through something to obtain purity. Kind of like going through the pain, before getting to the pleasure. Many people have to do this in life and it makes them stronger. I thought this was my tapas. I’m trying to accept that I have to burn through my anger and dislike for him in order to get to a more pure and serene state. I also know I should have sympathy for him because going through life thinking the way he does must cause pain. Or maybe it doesn’t… but I guess I’m basing this on the fact that when someone is mean to you people normally react with “it’s jealousy.” And I don’t think he’s jealous, just immensely insecure. Since it is a small space and I don’t have the option to remove myself from the situation, I need a way to come to terms with this.

Maybe it’s through tapas, maybe sympathy, maybe just reaching my breaking point and biting his head off (yikes!) but hopefully I’ll find the peace I need soon. I take this burden home with me and when we take our frustrations home with us we invite the people or the problem into our lives on such a personal level. I don’t want to take this person home with me…. I don’t even want to sit next to this person… so I need to leave the anger behind. I’m hoping that I have some kind of sign that tells me how I should do this.

Has anyone else had to burn through the pain before getting to the pleasure in a similar situation? What has been your tapas?

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