Tag Archives: Anxiety

Break Before the Breakdown

I spent my #MDW doing absolutely nothing. No predetermined plans. No beach trips or barbecues. Instead, I slept. I exercised. I shopped. I caught up on my favorite T.V. shows. And it. was. blissful!

Because sometimes having your life scheduled to military precision drives you insane. Sometimes you need a weekend to exhale.good vibes only

This weekend was the first weekend I’ve been home, in my apartment, in six weeks. Five business trips along with one week at my dad’s house. Traveling is one of my favorite hobbies; my curiosity is instantly peaked when I’m in a new place. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve experienced.

But…

It’s exhausting. Early mornings, late nights, always being “on.” As extroverted as I am, even for me, six weeks was enough. I took the weekend to unwind, unplug and reflect. Schedule time to think my friends, it’s extremely important.

During week five while at my dad’s house, I literally had a breakdown. Think panic attack meets three-year old tantrum. One minute I was typing an email, the next I was hysterical. And I had no idea why until I took time this weekend to figure out what happened.

I am a creature of habit: I love having a game plan, a routine. I want to know how my day, week, month is going to be spend…loosely. Every hour does not need to be scheduled. When I break my routine, I lose control. I tell myself stories that are completely untrue. And my anxiety goes through the roof. Enter childlike breakdown.

Upon further review of the situation, here’s what I know:

I need sleep. This isn’t a new thing, even in college, I couldn’t pull all nighters. Without an uninterrupted six to seven hours, I’ve miserable. I also need to exercise regularly, better if it’s in the morning. It starts my day off right and prevents the spin.

I noticed that all of areas of energy are connected. For example, if I exercise, I am instantly in a more positive mood. Physical energy connected to mental energy, easy example I know. Then there’s emotional and spiritual energy, which is a bit harder. Writing in my journal every Sunday night is how I refill my emotional energy tank. I include things I am grateful for and other reflections from the previous week. Spiritual energy means finding your church. It could be an actual church, it could be your yoga mat, whatever is good for your soul.

All of these examples were missing the week of my breakdown.

surround yourself

The people in  your life are also a source of energy. It can be very easy to catch the energy that’s around you. You should only surround yourself with good people, positive people, people who want to make a difference. Negativity sucks the life out of you and negative people steal your joy. No bueno.

Sometimes I need to distance myself from people I love so that their energy doesn’t consume me. Sometimes that means taking a time out and walking away. I’ve done this at work, where I’ve gotten up from my desk and gone for a walk so I don’t lose it. If you feel a breakdown coming on, stop what you’re doing (it’s not that important), change your scenery (outside is recommended) and breathe. Break before the breakdown!

My new goal is to communicate this with the people around me. I can’t expect people to be mind readers. Share your routines, boundaries, plans for progress with anyone who could impact them. It will save you the headache later.

I’ve been much more intentional about controlling my different energy level since my breakdown earlier this month. So much so that I now track it my journal. I know when I need to sleep or need to meditate or need to talk to someone.  I can literally feel it and I’ll never ignore that feeling again.

If you’re energy is depleted in any way, you’re no good to those around. And with everything happening in the world right now, we can’t afford to be anything less than at our best.

Stopping the Spin

Whirling: A verb: move or cause to move rapidly around and around. That’s how I describe it. Constant, continuous whirling. All. The. Time. Thoughts whirl in, out, through and around my head. And for a while, I had no idea how to manage it.

To my recollection, the whirling dates back to when I was 2 years old. I would rip paper up, put it into a plastic bowl and spin it around with my hands. At the same time, I would chant. Yes, you read that right. A buzzing, humming chant that increased in volume over time. While I don’t have proof that this was the start of the whirling, it certainly looks that way.

As I grew up, the whirling turned into anxiety. The floodgate of thoughts would open at any given time, rush through my brain and leave me anxious and unsure of what to do. It wasn’t alway as paralyzing as it sounds. I figured out ways to focus, especially when the topic was of interest to me. While the chanting did stop, the fussing and fidgeting did not; I would constantly twirl a rubber band (or Mardi Gras beads, or a hair tie, etc) between my fingers. I could control it to an extent; if I was comfortable around someone or in someplace, the rubber band would appear.

10% HappierTwo weeks ago, I ditched the rubber band. Sometimes, it feels like I threw out my security blanket. The twirling and fidgeting was a release for me and although it isn’t detrimental to my health, it was distracting, to me and those around me. This is thanks to Dan Harris and 10% Happier. Harris, an ABC news anchor, talks about his struggle with his version of whirling. He’s real, relatable and was a skeptic of meditation. Now, after seeing a change, he is one of its biggest advocates.

We all have the whirling..worries, to-do lists that are never done, etc. But, how we manage it is unique to us. What mindfulness does, as Harris describes, is helps people identify their thoughts to create space in their heads. This helps you be less anxious, less responsive and overall less stressed. Yes, there is scientific research that backs this.

I’m also finding that other activities provide similar results to meditation. Activities like working out (especially yoga and strength training) and cooking relax my mind and provide something specific to focus on. Cooking also unleashes a stream of creativity that excites me. Maybe try these activities (if you like them) as a start.

I get it, it sounds a bit crazy. I know. I was there. But I encourage you to start small, a few minutes a day and use a guided meditation app (I recommend 10% Happier, Happify or Headspace). I use these to fall asleep, which is when my whirling is the worst. Overall, I fall asleep and stay asleep longer, can stay in the present more easily and when I can’t, I use my breath to regain focus.

Now, I am not perfect and some days, all I do is whirl. But, it’s progression, not perfection, that’s important in this mindfulness journey. Corny? Maybe. But it’s accurate and life changing. Give it a try and start living your best life.

 

 

Starting the Conversation

For those who don’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. An entire month is dedicated to these debilitating diseases that impact approximately 57.7 million Americans over the age of 18. The first step is truly generating that awareness and starting the conversation.

The problem we face today is the stigma around mental illness. It should be treated like any other disease. Just because the symptoms aren’t always visible doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Anxiety, addiction and others paralyze people in ways that are indescribable. Unless you’ve experienced it, you should not judge.

I apologize if this post sounds like a rant; that’s not my intent. I know too many people who suffer in silence from mental illness. Mental health is just as important as physical health and people should realize that. Without your mind, you’re just a body wandering around. Talking about it will ultimately help save lives.

Over the weekend, a Temple alum and successful professional athlete, died at the age of 25. The cause of death was confirmed as a suicide yesterday. This was someone who had everything going for him. What could have possibly been that bad?! We will never know. If he only would have talked to someone and been vulnerable enough to admit something was wrong, could that have saved his life?

kindnessI think about him and others and wonder: If we as a society embraced mental wellness more, would people suffering be more comfortable talking about it? Today, I am inviting you to start that conversation with me – share experiences, offer advice or just listen. The quote to the left is our reminder that you just don’t know what people are experiencing. Approach your day with empathy and a smile – it could change someone’s world.

Little “A” Moments

Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.

During one of our team meetings at work, a colleague asked us to share a great adventure we’ve had. She explained that it could be a little “A” adventure instead of a big “A” adventure. This icebreaker inspired me to participate in Jess Lawlor’s second Get Gutsy essay content.

What I’ve realized after a year of reflection is that getting gutsy or stepping outside of your comfort zone comes in many forms, some grand obstacles that you overcome (like running my first 5K last year) or smaller, more personal moments. For me, all of them can be described as adventures.

All of these adventures happened towards the end of my 2014. It was like the universe knew I’d need material for this essay contest! But regardless of the contest, I hope you’ll see your own meaningful moments that push you outside of your comfort zone and can happen in the most ordinary of circumstances. These are my moments, adventures that defined getting gutsy.

  • Leading someone more senior than me at work – So this is probably fairly common. I was given a responsibility to train and mentor people at work who have more experience than me. At first, I was a bit intimidated, but I realized that I was more experienced in the subject so it made logical sense for me to train them. Also, these individuals were so open to it, which really helped me. How this is my getting gutsy: I overcame initial intimidation to achieve a team goal.
  • rock wallClimbing a rock wall – For almost a year now, I’ve been saying I was going to climb this particular rock wall. This past November happened to be the time I chose to do it. My first attempt was a train wreck: I only got half way up before I started panicking, shaking and eventually giving up. My co-workers were at the bottom trying to cheer me on, but that just increased my anxiety level. I ended up yelling at them (no bueno) and walking away. I changed my strategy for the second round and had only one person, who was coaching me at the bottom. I rang the bell (proof to the left!) and was SO ecstatic that I did it. How this is my getting gutsy: I overcame my anxiety and fear of failure to complete a personal goal.
  • Going to church where they only speak Spanish: While visiting my friend in California this November, I attended church with her and her family. I think of this as a privilege so I tried really hard to not show that I was nervous. First off, this type of church was completely different from anything I had ever experienced. Second, the entire 90 minutes was in Spanish. Now, I can understand some Spanish and can kind of speak it (on a good day). But I always get really nervous of messing up, especially when with native Spanish speakers. I managed to gleam a couple of provoking thoughts from the mass and by the end, I really enjoyed myself. How this is my getting gutsy: I embraced a completely different setting despite being nervous and ended up learning a lot.
  • Watching a loved one get sick – In the last month, I’ve watched someone very close to me get very sick very quickly. It’s sad, scary, painful and paralyzing all at the same time. But, I go, I visit, I read and pray. Some days, I feed or make jokes or sing songs. I do anything to make this person smile. Most days, I dread walking into the room, wondering if this time is the last. But, this is bigger than me, than any of us. How this is my getting gutsy: Being selfless and sacrificing is the best way to be pulled out of your comfort zone.

I walked into 2014 eyes wide open, excited at all of the possibilities this year that to offer. The possibilities and lessons were endless and certainly caused me to grow up. The biggest lesson of them all: little “A” moments sometimes teach us the biggest lessons that put us so far outside our comfort zones that we don’t recognize our old selves. I leave you with one of my favorite songs of 2014 that truly captures all of my getting gutsy moments this year.

Professional F.O.M.O

FOMO

F.O.M.O or fear of missing out is something we’ve all experienced. Personal F.O.M.O gives you that annoying little pang of pity. Oh my friends are at Coachella and I’m not. Boo hoo! But professional F.O.M.O leaves you feeling anxious, frustrated and confused. The consequences are much more far-reaching when you feel like you’re missing out on your career.

First, let me state that I love my current job. The projects I work on challenge me daily, I work with some of the best people around and I’m doing work that helps people. I don’t want to leave my job, I just don’t know if I want to stay forever. Fear. Of. Missing. Out.

The plan all through college was to enter the public relations industry upon graduation. It felt (and looked on paper) that I did everything right. But the road took me elsewhere and for that, I’m beyond grateful. Still even with a great job that includes traveling, I still feel like I’m missing out. I look at my two best friends as well as pretty much everyone I graduated with and wonder about all of the what if’s. Such a short time ago, I had everything figured out. Now I have no clue where to go from here.

Admitting my professional F.O.M.O isn’t easy. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for my current job nor do I want to sound like I’m complaining. Life is good and I’m certainly developing a wealth of transferable skills. But someone please tell me how I build media contacts when I do not work with the media?

What also contributes to my F.O.M.O condition is my inherit need to plan. It’s just in my blood: the color-coding, making plans, setting goals, knowing what’s next. But right now, I have no idea what the future holds and am desperately trying to become comfortable with that.

I’m trying to manage this F.O.M.O by recognizing it’s normal not to know exactly what you want. I’ve also written professional goals to achieve at my current job. As far as keeping my public relations edge, I utilize Feedly to compile a great list of PR blogs and publications to check on my commute home. I’m also trying to network through social media to possibly set up informational interviews. Hopefully, all of this will help keep my F.O.M.O at bay!

Throughout this F.O.M.O journey, one thing is evident: comparing yourself to others will just drive you crazy. Everyone’s path is different and unique to them; it doesn’t make one way right and the other wrong. I need to figure out what I want and how to get there without worrying about what my friends are doing.

Have you experience professional F.O.M.O? How did you cope? Please please please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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