Managing Travel Anxiety: My Best Tips

Managing Travel Anxiety: My Best Tips

So I’m headed to Austin tomorrow for my bachelorette weekend (eeeek!!). As excited as I am, I have to admit I’m a little anxious too. Leaving home for an extended period of time always makes me feel a little on edge, and so does flying. Not a huge fan of either, yet I manage to do a lot of both haha. You’d think I’d be more used to it by now, but, every time I’m about to leave, saying goodbye is always so hard. Especially when I know I’m about to board a plane. Flying with Dan is at least a little easier since I have some extra support with me, but then I worry about the animals more. When he’s home with them I know they’re good, so at least I’ve got that peace of mind. This is turning into one long ramble- basically what I’m saying is that I love traveling and seeing new places, but leaving home and flying are a bit tough for me. I feel knots in my stomach leading up to it, but once I’m at my destination I’m ready to have the time of my life lol. Can anyone relate? If so, here’s some tips I’ve learned along the way for managing travel anxiety: 

RESERVE TIME FOR A PROPER FAREWELL

I know when you’re in a rush, taking the time to say bye to the fur babes can seem a little silly. The pilot won’t wait for you just because you needed an extra 20 minutes to say bye to your cat (this is a joke but also I’d argue it’s necessity). Whenever I’m about to leave the house for a trip, I always find each fur baby and give them a little love and tell them I love them, I’ll miss them and that I’ll be back soon. When I haven’t set time aside for this I feel rushed and bad about how I left, but when I do set aside time I’m able to really be present with them and that actually helps calm my anxieties about travel- seriously animals are so therapeutic. This also allows me extra time to go over my checklists to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Then you can leave to the airport feeling at ease, with plenty of time to make it to your gate. 

ENJOY A GLASS OF WINE 

Okay so this isn’t something I do every time I travel; it depends on what my destination is looking like, but I will say it does help when the nerves are really kicking in. Sometimes I’m able to hop on a flight with a healthy dose of anxiety that I’m able to quiet down, but for those times when that little voice of doom just won’t shut up, a glass of wine really does the trick. It helps me get out of my head and release control, so that I can take a nap, talk to another passenger, or watch a movie, without a second thought. 

BRING ACTIVITIES FOR AIRTIME 

One issue I had with flying was the lack of things to occupy my brain with while I’m in the air. If I think about the fact that I am literally in a chair flying ridiculously high up in the air (doing myself a favor and not even looking at how high that is actually) then I’ll be borderline panicking the whole freaking time. That’s not fun for me, the person next to me, or anyone for that matter. This is actually one reason I prefer to sit in the aisle seat now. I know it sounds creepy, but if I’m not amused by my own activities, it’s a much better spot for people watching. Plus, I like to observe the flight attendants. I figure that if they have a panicked look on their face, I probably should too. Otherwise, we’re smooth sailing. Some activities I enjoy while flying are reading books or watching movies, but both need to be fictional and happy. I can’t watch some super stressful action movie or I’ll really be a mess.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BREATH

That last point brings me to watching your breath. When we’re in situations that we feel are threatening, we tend to respond with short, rapid breathing. We may not realize it at first (I know early on in my anxiety journey I had NO idea), but before long we’ll be feeling lightheaded, a little tingly; kinda like we’re about to have a panic attack. I had this happen while watching a stressful movie on a plane once, and learned my lesson real quick. Surround yourself with some happy, inspirational material and focus on taking full, slow breaths, and you’ll be in a much better place than you would be otherwise.

BRING COMFY THINGS

Whether it’s a certain fuzzy blanket, a picture of your cat, a favorite movie or essential oils, bring whatever is going to get you to a happy mental place as quickly as possible. If there’s turbulence or an annoying person next to you, this is the thing that will help you through. I personally have my three favorite movies downloaded onto my iPad. They are as follows: Crazy Stupid Love, This is 40, and La La Land. All of these are about everyday real life where nothing that terrible ever happens. They bring me back to planet Earth (figuratively, since I’m actually flying way above it) and put me in a pleasant mood. I also bring an essential oil roller ball and put that on my inner wrists. Whenever I start to feel myself tense up, I hold them up to my nose and take a big inhale. This also reminds me to focus back on my breath- sometimes that means stopping the movie to ground myself and breathe. 

It’s also helpful to remember how safe flying really is, and that, though leaving home can be hard, it’s also a very healthy thing to do. We can’t live our lives holed up in our homes forever; there is so much to see and experience in the world! I know some of you may be struggling with leaving home and flying more than others, especially as we emerge into a post-pandemic life, but either way I do hope you find some of these methods helpful. I really only became an anxious traveller about 4 years ago, so this is still kind of new for me too, but my last piece of advice is to not let the anxiety stop you. There were so many times I questioned going somewhere because I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with the worry, but I went anyways and had the BEST time. We’ll miss out on so much if all we focus on are the things that could go wrong. Think about how much fun you’ll have on your travels and let that fuel you to keep going. Managing travel anxiety is just like riding a bike, you get better as you go. So keep going. And safe travels! 

Do you have anxiety around traveling? Have any of the above methods worked for you? What other tips do you have to calm yourself?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: Let Fear Move Through You, So You Can Move Forward.

How To Fast Track Your Mental Bounce Back

How To Fast Track Your Mental Bounce Back

So I know I mentioned last week that I had been feeling fairly sluggish. Traveling + big life events means lack of sleep and lots of emotions, which left me exhausted. Which is weird, because I expected to feel the exact opposite in this moment in time. We’re 31 days out from the wedding now (eeeek!), my bachelorette is next week, and I thought I’d be flying up in cloud 9 with no end in sight. Instead, I’m feeling a lot of anxieties popping up and it’s leaving me drained. And now I’m realizing, it’s not the big life events or lack of sleep that’s the issue. Perhaps partly, sure, but not the only. What’s really been dragging me down is my mindset. And, typically, when I’m running on low vibrations, I stay there. For a while. It can be SO hard to get out of it. But once you stop blaming it on outside forces, you can get to the bottom of what’s really going on and turn things around. Here’s how to fast track your mental bounce back:

SLEEP

If you’re tired and groggy and lack of sleep is part of what originally got you to this place, then the logical thing to do is prioritize getting MORE of it. Yet, for some reason, we tend to do the opposite. When I’m tired I’m more likely to give into cravings, less likely to be productive, and typically have a difficult time falling asleep, which makes me REAL anxious. It’s a vicious spiral and the best way out is to rest. Give yourself the time and space you need to make it happen.

SCHEDULE

I’ve been slacking hard on my calendar scheduling. Everyday I have a list of things to do, but in order to give some structure to my day I put them in my calendar so that I have a step-by-step plan. Lately, I’ve been winging it and just getting things done (or not getting anything done at all) when I get to it. Which is always later in the evening and means I go to bed later and get less sleep. See how this is all connecting? It’s like I subconsciously want to feel like shit or something… but I really think it just comes down to habits. If we make a habit of scheduling our days, sticking to those schedules and keeping promises to ourselves, the process will only get easier and easier. And if you fall off the wagon, just hop back on and keep going. 

WAKE UP EARLY

Okay so this is a BIG one for me, and one I really don’t feel equipped to speak too much on since I am a self-proclaimed night owl, but it’s made such a difference for me that I have to mention it. A few weeks back I was in a great routine of waking around 6am and using the extra time to journal, read, meditate, or whatever the hell else I was into that day. The difference I felt in my mindset and productivity levels was undeniable, but then a trip knocked me out of it and I’ve had a hard time getting back. So, as I said above, if you fall off the wagon, down’t sweat it. Get back up and keep going. This morning I woke up at 6am for the first time in two weeks and I feel so damn good.

Also, side note, I’m about to start reading a book called The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma that’s all about the benefits of early rising. I listened to him speak on Rachel Brathen’s podcast, and I’d HIGHLY recommend you do the same. Will keep you updated on the book and on my early rising journey! 

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

Sometimes when you’re in a rut, all you really need is a moment to wallow. It can’t always be rainbows and butterflies and meditation and waking early and all the positive quotes you can think of. There’s gotta be natural highs and lows for us to be human, so if you’re in a low, know that it’s okay. The only way to go lower in the low is to beat yourself up. But if you acknowledge where you’re at, and remember that it will pass, you’re on your way up already. You may not be able to do every single thing you would normally do to be on your A-game, but don’t forget to do the things that truly make you feel good. Nourish your body, nourish your mind, rest and recover. 

I’ve been feeling so off these past couple of weeks and part of me feels so guilty because this should be such an incredibly happy and exciting time in my life. But just because I’ve been feeling a little low doesn’t mean that it isn’t. I can’t continuously be jumping up and down all giddy-like ready to run off and have this damn wedding. Real life is still happening in the in-between, which is well worth acknowledging. This isn’t the movies where we only see the big moments; this is life, where we look forward to the big stuff and nourish ourselves in the in-between. The highs and the lows, they’re all necessary and they all make up a beautiful life. And although it may seem like there’s no way up when you’re in the low, try to remember that it will pass. So long as you’re committed to your journey and yourself, you will move forward and brighter days will be just around the corner. And the better we get at doing that, the more we’ll be able to fast track our mental bounce back. 

What do you do to bounce back when you’re feeling low? Would love to hear your thoughts! 

If you liked this post, you may also like: Practicing Affirmations And Staying Open.

Find these outfit deets on my Instagram.

How To Deal When You’re Sentimental AF

How To Deal When You’re Sentimental AF

This past week I felt pretty sluggish. There’s been a lot of emotions to process with all the wedding festivities starting to happen/getting closer and it’s making me a bit of an emotional wreck to say the least lol. Not totally in a bad way, I’m just super sentimental and I spend a lot of energy trying to soak in every last drop of every special moment I possibly can. It adds a lot of pressure to these moments; before during and after. And I hate it. But at the same time, I appreciate the perspective of knowing these moments won’t happen again and wanting to be fully present for them. The fact that I’m like this when the wedding hasn’t even happened has me thinking I should really prioritize finding the balance between soaking it in and letting it flow. Here’s what’s helped me so far, on how to deal when you’re sentimental AF. 

  1. Prepare accordingly and manage your expectations. Instead of ruminating over every little detail that could go wrong, or obsessing over making sure everything goes perfectly, try letting go and lowering your expectations instead. That doesn’t mean just assume it’ll all go wrong (cause that’s real depressing), but more so trust that it’ll all go perfectly, regardless of whether or not it goes exactly how you thought it would. I know this is something I’ve been writing about a lot lately, releasing control so you can find joy. Clearly it’s something I’m still working on and I’m pretty sure it’ll be a lifelong thing. 
  2. When the event has finally arrived, and you find yourself in the midst if it, try to remind yourself that what is happening is very special. In other words, bring your full awareness to the present moment. Doing this keeps me from getting lost in the rush and grounds me so that I really can appreciate everything for the fleeting moment that it is. Which leads me to…
  3. Take a moment alone if you need. I’ve heard this advice a lot leading up to our own wedding; that a favorite memory from many weddings was the time couples snuck away, just the two of them, to observe everyone enjoying themselves on their special night. I 1000% plan to do this with Dan, and I think it will help me a lot during the comedown afterwards. If you don’t take those moments to slow down, the whole event will fly by and be over before you know it, without you ever taking the time to let it sink in.
  4. TAKE PICTURES/VIDEOS. Anyone who knows me will confirm that I’m taking way too many photos on any given day at any given time. I love to capture moments so that I can look back on them whenever I want and remember the feelings in those frames. Same goes for videos. Whatever helps you relive the memory and cherish it forever! 
  5. Try not to stress it. I know the sentimental life can be a tough one, but better to have these worries now than 10, or however many, years down the road when you can’t get those memories back. Sure, I may be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to sentimental stuff, but I have no shame in my game. I want to remember all of the special things that have happened in my life, even the most mundane, tiniest little treasures. I mean, why not? Life is hard and if I can keep things around that remind me of my most magical moments, then I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

These pieces of advice are easy to dish out when I’m sharing them through writing, but actually implementing them effectively in my own life is quite another thing. Our wedding is 5 weeks away now, so wish me luck on this journey. From now until then, and for as long as I live most likely, I’ll be learning how to deal when you’re sentimental AF. 

Are you super sentimental? How do you handle big events? What do you do to enjoy yourself and take it all in?

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: What Makes Life Meaningful?

What Is Meant For You Will Always Find You

What Is Meant For You Will Always Find You

You know the feeling when you want something SO bad and you hope and pray it works out exactly like you’ve dreamed? Question… has it ever worked? Has it ever turned out EXACTLY like you pictured? Was it worse? Or.. was it better? Life is full of lessons, but one of my favorites (and most challenging to accept) is how little control we really have. We spend so much energy worrying about things with the illusion that this gives us more control than if we were to just let it all flow. And yet, it doesn’t give us any more control at all. I actually think this whole life thing becomes much more enjoyable when we do learn to let go and realize that it’ll all turn out how it’s supposed to; that what is meant for you will ALWAYS find you.

When I think of finding this level of acceptance within myself, I know it’s already there; even if I don’t currently feel it. The last summer I spent in Portland is a great example of this. I was 23, had just moved back in with my parents, was finishing up my Bachelor’s degree and spending lots of time having fun with friends and enjoying life. I didn’t have much, but I actually remember that being one of my most enjoyable summers. I found myself in a state of complete trust in the universe and, though I didn’t have a whole lot and there was so much to look forward to, I was so. damn. happy. I just kinda got in the headspace of trusting my path and knowing that, even though I wasn’t where I dreamed of being at the moment, that this was a necessary step that would make more sense and that I’d be grateful for one day.

I didn’t have to wait too long to reach that day. Even though moving home didn’t sound like the most exciting thing ever at the age of 23 (after being out of the house for 5 years), somehow I knew it was the right move. I felt so loved and safe and close being at home with my parents. It was fun to be back in their house with so much new perspective. How much more appreciation I had for them!

And now that my Dad is gone, it makes so much sense why that step was truly the biggest blessing. I was able to spend a year of my adult life with my parents; an amount of time that most might spend with their families over the course of many years during their adulthood. And, had I not been able to accept exactly where I was, I would have wasted all that time wishing I was somewhere else. 

You never know where life will take you, or what you’ll have thrown your way. We’re all on borrowed time and it’s our job to make sure we use it well. Where you are right now may not be exactly where you want to be; that’s NORMAL. If you were exactly where you wanted to be and had no dreams or aspirations for your future, that’d be another problem. But there’s something pretty special about being able to see the bigger picture, and cherish the chapter you’re in for exactly what it is: a necessary stepping stone that one day you might look back on with extreme gratitude and fondness. And there’s quite a bit of magic in trusting that whatever is meant for you will come your way. 

Whether it be a wrong turn while you’re driving, a new home, or a new relationship with someone special, everything that comes your way is meant for you. It may not be meant for you forever, but it is there to teach you and help you grow. Trying to control it doesn’t change anything but make your own experience worse. So whenever you find yourself wishing things were different, remember that where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be. It will be more difficult to do some times than others, but seeing a world where things happen FOR you instead of TO you, is a much better place to be if you ask me. Remember: what is meant for you will always find you.

When was the last time in your life that you’ve felt that kind of trust in your journey? What tips do you have for getting back to that headspace? 

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy Finding (And Holding Onto) Contentment.

Let Fear Move Through You, So You Can Move Forward

Let Fear Move Through You, So You Can Move Forward

A little while ago I wrote about staying open and practicing mantras. I’ve been reading the book The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer, and it’s gotten me thinking a lot about what it means to “stay open.” I feel like that’s such an easy thing to say you should do, but how do you actually practice it? How do you stay open, and what exactly are you staying open for? This book does an incredible job of breaking down such a vague, easily misinterpreted idea into actionable steps you can implement at any time. The lesson that has stayed most with me since beginning this book (if you couldn’t already tell), and that I work to practice daily now, is staying open. Not just for the good stuff, but to things like fear as well. It all has to flow for us to be in flow. You must let fear move through you, so you can move forward. 

This kind of staying open requires us to let go. When unwanted thoughts/feelings, such as judgment, jealousy or fear come up, we don’t have to follow them and mindlessly go along for the ride. The second we give attention to these thoughts/feelings, we’re sucked into their grasp and all of our focus goes there. Instead, what if we saw these emotions arise, sat back and let them come and go? Acknowledge them for what they are and let them pass through, without giving them any more energy than that? 

Usually we choose to close when these feelings come up. We separate ourselves and spend all this time in our minds trying to solve all the issues we think we, or others, have. Our intent is to think our way through to the solution, when all we’re actually doing is trapping ourselves with all these negative feelings with nowhere else to go. This is what it means to close, in this context. But what if you didn’t attach to it? Or go inward with it? Just relaxed into it, and kept yourself open for the next feeling to arise? 

When we relax and observe in the face of tension, we’re creating space between us and it, which is one of our greatest superpowers. To recognize that we are not the negative thoughts/feelings, and neither is reality. The moment I realized that my thoughts did not actually reflect an accurate reality, nor did they need to determine what reality was, I was able to begin managing my anxiety. But what really did it for me was when I realized that I could accept and heal from these feelings instead of fighting them, and that the more I did that, the more at peace I’d become. 

For example, I used to get so anxious on Sunday’s because I knew a new week was about to begin and I didn’t know if I was ready for it. I didn’t trust that more good times would come, all I could see was the dread I felt for a Monday morning. I would ruminate on it all day, and on the Sunday’s I didn’t feel that way, I would make sure I did everything I could to keep it that way. My reality focused around my feelings of unease, instead of just moving through the day and taking in each moment for what it was; trusting the ebb and flow. 

We don’t have to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. Our minds can be a very busy place, but we can learn to quiet them. When fearful or negative feelings come up, relax and observe. Let them pass through. Try not to attach or identify with them; they are not you. They are created out of the very limited construct of reality you’ve used to protect yourself with. But all it’s doing is closing you off and trapping you in the negative. Stay open, and, if you start to find yourself closing with unwanted thoughts/feelings, relax and observe. No need for judgement or analysis, just watch it pass by. Practice this regularly, make it a habit, and watch your inner and outer worlds transform. 

Is this something you practice? What else do you do to stay open?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: Let The Bad Days Be Bad Days.

Living With And Healing From Health Anxiety

Living With And Healing From Health Anxiety

I remember the first time I realized that something could be really wrong with me and I’d possibly have no idea until it was too late. I was probably about 18 years old and, ironically enough, my Dad was the one to comfort me as this reality set in. We had been discussing something else and all of a sudden the unpredictability and unfairness of life hit me HARD. My Dad understood where I was coming from, but he simply said “You just can’t think like that.” He was right. We’ll drive ourselves mad if that’s all we ever think about, so I barely revisited the idea until about 6 years later; when living with and healing from health anxiety became my everyday experience and endeavor.

If you’ve been following along for a bit now, you’ve heard that my Dad’s cancer felt like it came out of nowhere. I had just moved to San Diego in March, and by May the cancer had been detected. He went through surgery to remove a kidney and we thought that was that. Then in November the cancer came back, and that’s when he was given a year to live. I, not for a single second, saw it coming. I thought he’d just have surgery again (if his not feeling well even had anything to do with cancer) and we’d all be back on our way to normal. 

Unfortunately, this was not the case. Instead, we watched him go through all the trials of someone with a serious cancer diagnosis. Never did I think that this would be our life, but it was. Here we were and nothing could change it. 

During this year, I travelled between San Diego and Portland fairly often. I felt grateful to have a life elsewhere; one where my Dad was not dying and life was just going on as normal. And as guilty as I felt for those feelings, I think it was all in God’s timing for it to happen that way because it allowed me to be so fully present while I was there, and it made those moments so much more special and meaningful. 

One day, while I was in Portland, I went to a bookstore and picked up When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. If you haven’t heard of or read this book, I would HIGHLY recommend. It’s written by a man who, at 36 years old, and while training to become a neurosurgeon, is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. When he finds out his time is limited, he begins to write this book. 

Feeling particularly close to this part of the life experience at this point, I was fascinated in other’s experiences with it too. Many of us have never helped walk someone to the end of their life, let alone experienced it ourselves. To read the words of someone who knew they were dying; what an eye-opening experience. And what a gift for him to leave us with, a raw look into what makes life meaningful. 

But, as fascinated as I was, reading this book made me EXTREMELY anxious. It was another reminder of how unpredictable and unfair life can be. I had already been struggling with my health anxiety coming back, but this definitely didn’t help. A few months earlier, I’d experienced my first (and only, so far) panic attack. About a month after that, my doctor had me go in for an ultrasound to examine a lump in my breast. I was convinced I had breast cancer and that I’d die soon. Or that I’d have a blood clot and I’d die in my sleep. Even as I type these things I’m somewhat embarrassed and I do understand how ridiculous they might sound to some, but this was my reality. My Dad had been given a year to live, and as far as I was concerned this was just how the world worked now. I needed to be aware of every single little thing happening in my body because my awareness and obsession over it would save me from dying too soon. 

Of course, this drove me mad. I was in ultimate fight or flight mode constantly. Any little pain I felt in my body meant something terrible would happen. I was afraid to be home alone because I was worried I’d die and no one would be there to help me. It was terrifying… but eventually, with intentional healing, I was able to crawl my way out, for the most part. Here’s what helped me live with and heal from health anxiety:

  1. Remember that your thoughts are not your reality. The second I truly recognized that I didn’t have to give attention and power to every single thought I had, my whole world changed. I could disassociate from a panicked spiral and talk/breathe myself through to the other side. 
  2. Ground yourself. When you do start to feel those thoughts speeding up and becoming darker and darker, you’ll start to feel disassociated from reality. You’re so in your head that you’ve lost touch with what’s real and what’s not. All that matters is what’s happening inside, and that’s a quick way to a panic attack. To combat this, think about your 5 senses and name something you are currently experiencing with each one. Right now, I feel my fingers tapping on my keyboard, I can see my screen and the letters appear as I press each key, I can hear cars driving down the road I live on, I can taste the sip of water I just drank, and I can smell the lotion I put on earlier. Focusing your attention on these things helps to redirect and bring you back to the present moment. 
  3. Develop a relationship with your body to build trust. When my health anxiety came on full force, I became inspired to take better care of my body. Here I had felt so disconnected from it that I had no trust for it at all. I felt it would betray me, which accomplished absolutely nothing other than just making the situation worse. So I began being even more intentional about the kinds of foods I put in my body. I began reading ingredients lists and taking supplements. I also started working out more regularly which made me feel more in tune with my body and more connected to it. 
  4. Become your own advocate and be proactive about your health. Go in for your annual check-up’s, and if you do feel that something’s off, get it checked out. Staying on top of these things won’t make it so scary when you do have to go to the doctor or when you do feel something’s off, because you’ll be more in tune with what’s already happening.
  5. Identify what is truly driving your fear. Is it a fear of lack of control? Of being sick? Of disappointing your loved ones, or not seeing them grow? Of not living out your purpose or using your time how you’d always wanted to? Putting your finger on exactly what it is that’s causing the anxiety will help you get to the root of it. Instead of wasting time trying to not feel your feelings, see what’s driving them and counteract it. If you fear a lack of control, do what you can do make peace with that and be intentional about letting things flow more in your life. If it’s of being sick, start treating your body better. If it’s disappointing your loved ones or not seeing them grow, have an open and honest conversation about this with them so that you both can make sure you do special things together while you’re all alive and healthy, and so that you can hopefully understand that in no way are you a cause for disappointment if anything were to happen. Keep that open dialogue going so you never leave what’s in your heart left unsaid.
  6. For me, I was afraid to get sick and die before I’d done something with my life that felt purposeful to me. So I’d say, if you’re in the same boat, try to make peace with the idea that you don’t have control and that someday yes, your life will end. Let this fuel you to use your time wisely and do what gives you purpose. Once I began using my time for things I was passionate about I started to feel like I was fulfilling my purpose and that even if I died tomorrow, at least I would have left my mark in the way I was meant to and that could potentially help someone, even when I’m gone. 
  7. Give yourself time. I know it’s so damn scary, especially in the beginning, to experience severe anxiety in any form. There’s no amount of reason or logic that can pull you out of it. I know it feels like it will never go away, but I promise you, if you are intentional in working through it, it will. And in my experience, the longer you deal with it, the more power it loses. Once you see your worst fears never manifest as you thought they would, you can apply that same information the next time those fears arise. 

While I was in this place in my life, all I wanted was to feel normal again. I couldn’t stand that all I saw was the worst, most negative outcomes in every scenario. I missed believing and trusting in my journey and feeling like I had support through it. Not necessarily support from friends and family, I had lots of that, but more so support from the universe and whatever greater things were at play. I think if we can see the bigger picture: that we are here for a reason and we won’t leave before that’s complete, we can begin to make more peace with the unpredictability of life and that eventually, it will come to an end. We can’t control that part. What we can control is how we use the time we have. Use it to do what you love with who you love; it’s a small but powerful start in the right direction of healing from health anxiety. It’s not about living forever, it’s about feeling good, both mentally and physically, while we’re here. And I think, with that in mind, my Dad’s advice is pretty spot on: at the end of the day, we really just can’t think like that. As often as we possibly can, we must choose to see and trust the good in all things.

I would also highly recommend seeing a therapist if you have the resources to do so. If not, find a trusted confidant you can confide in. I know being able to talk my feelings out has helped (and still helps) get them into the light, so I can truly deal with them. This is an ongoing process and having that support can make such a positive difference. Please keep in mind that I am not a professional and the above suggestions are merely what has helped me in my experience. 

Have you dealt with health anxiety? What did you find helped you most in those times? 

If you enjoyed this post and are looking for more ways to heal from health anxiety, you may also enjoy Meditation, Simplified.

Practicing Affirmations And Staying Open

Practicing Affirmations And Staying Open

When my anxiety came on full force a little over 4 years ago (wild to think I’ve been working through it for this long already) I had zero idea how to deal. After all, I’d never really had to before. I’ll admit, I always had anxious tendencies, but I wouldn’t spend much time thinking about them. My thoughts didn’t rule me- anxious or not. And I’ve come to learn that that’s the main difference. Here I was thinking that I just wasn’t an anxious person prior to my first panic attack, but that’s not true. I was. I just hadn’t experienced real trauma yet, and that’s what sent me off the edge. Since then, a couple things that have helped me tremendously have been practicing affirmations and staying open to welcome the good in my life. 

I remember long before I ever thought of myself as an anxious person, I’d get nervous before a car trip or a plane ride, but as soon as I’d think about it I’d be off thinking about something else. I wasn’t attached to my anxiety and I didn’t pay it much attention. It was not my reality. But when my Dad got his diagnosis of one year to live, my panic attack and loads of generalized anxiety rose to the surface. And all of a sudden, my world was completely flipped.

Instead of a hopeful, abundant world full of love and possibilities, I suddenly lived in a world where I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Someone might try to hurt me, someone might try to hurt someone I love, someone might die. Everything I did revolved around keeping myself and my loved ones as safe as possible. I’d try to challenge myself to get out of this space by traveling or keeping my mind busy with school and work, but nothing really seemed to help; at least not for very long. 

And I’m just now realizing that it’s because I was running from it; running from myself. Those negative thoughts and feelings were such a constant in my mind because it’s all I paid attention to. And because it’s all I paid attention to, it was difficult to truly understand that I could change it without having to fight or try to run from it. The more time I spent trying not to feel anxious, the more and more anxious I became. The more time you spend on the negative stuff, the less time you have to attract more good stuff.

Recently I listened to Oprah’s podcast, an episode where she interviewed Jennifer Lopez (I mean… who doesn’t want all the life advice from JLO, right?). In it, they spoke of affirmations and ones they practice daily. Jennifer listed off her favorites, and the one that really stuck with me was “I am open to all the goodness and abundance the universe has to offer.” Such a simple string of words changed my whole perspective. See, what we give our attention to is where our consciousness goes. If all we see are negatives and all the terrible ways things could go wrong, then that’s what our reality will become. But, if we practice what the affirmation mentioned above says, our world becomes so much more inviting and safe. 

And when we see the world as loving and safe, we allow ourselves to stay open for more good stuff to come in too. Maybe a good job, a good relationship (with ourselves and/or others- I think about this with my meeting Dan all the time), good eating habits, a good book at just the right time. Whatever it is, the more we choose to stay open, even in the face of anxiety, the more we’ll attract the good. All you have to do is stop trying to control it. Flow with it and follow your gut; it’ll point you in the right direction. 

Yes, bad things do happen, but so do good things. It is up to us where we choose to focus our attention and hope toward. We can either calculate every little move around making sure these bad things stay far away (which never works), or we can trust that we are loved and safe and that good things are coming our way. Even if we don’t understand and it seems the complete opposite right now, the world is good and we are loved. Unconditionally and constantly. 

What affirmations do you practice daily? What else do you do to attract the good in your life?

You can listen to the Oprah & Jennifer Lopez podcast I mentioned above here.

If you liked this blog post, you may also like How To Steer Your Mind In The Right Direction.

How To Build Trust In Yourself

How To Build Trust In Yourself

I by no means am an expert in building trust in myself; it’s a forever journey that takes constant reminders and discipline, but I wanted to write a bit about this topic because I only now am realizing the difference it can make when we do. I’d argue it’s one of our biggest road blocks in life. It’s rarely outside interference keeping us from our dreams and ambitions; usually it’s our own internal insecurities and dialogue around them. We search for all the answers outside our selves, assuming others will have the answers. Who are we to have the answer? Well… when you build trust in yourself, you’re actually the perfect person with the perfect answer.

Some examples I’ve begun to notice of how I breed distrust in myself: I’ll look at my daily to-do’s and become anxious that I won’t get all of them done (or know how to do them at all), and instead do everything BUT the things I’m stressing over, which only makes me more stressed about them. When I eat something I normally wouldn’t because I know it won’t make me feel well, but then do it anyway. When I don’t drink enough water. When I search for an answer to something that deep down I already know, or when I look for concrete instructions from someone else on how to accomplish something, knowing full well I can figure it out. 

The list can go on and on, but I think you get the point. When we plan to do something or make a promise to ourselves, and then break that promise, we are engraining within us the idea that we cannot be trusted. We suddenly think that if we can’t even accomplish our daily tasks that we set for ourselves, then we’re probably not going to be able to reach all the other goals we dream about. We tell ourselves that everyone must know better than us, so what they have to say must be more valuable. But that’s not true! And, the more disappointment we feel towards ourselves over eating a damn breadstick or buying a wayyy too expensive online course that claims it will teach you everything you need to know, we’re only digging the hole of distrust deeper. So, because we are perfectly, imperfect humans, and we’re bound to fall short of the wildly high expectations we set for ourselves at some point, here’s a couple things to do instead, that will help you continue building trust in yourself:

  1. Start small. If your to-do list is causing you anxiety, it’s probably too long or you haven’t broken it down into actionable steps yet. Don’t give yourself 10 things to do in a day that actually are more like 50 when broken into steps. When we focus on actionable items and set a reasonable amount of them for ourselves, we can approach the day with more purpose and confidence which will help us get it all done. 
  2. Take it step-by-step. Try not to obsess over the big picture and how this one little action is going to forever impact it. Newsflash: it won’t. It’s just another step within the many steps that will form the big picture later on; find some perspective and comfort in that. Just focus on the next thing you can do that better aligns with where you want to go, and go do that. Then, do it again. Expect to mess up sometimes- it’d be weird if you didn’t and we ALL do. 
  3. Remember that this is your journey, not anyone else’s. Yes, it’s definitely helpful to learn from others and apply those lessons to our paths, but it becomes the exact opposite when we try to duplicate what someone else has done in hopes of getting the exact same results. It’s impossible to duplicate someone else’s journey, and trying to only takes away from the magic of your own.

For me personally in my daily life, these steps take place in many ways. When I look at my to-do list and break it down into more actionable steps and give myself a timeline, I feel more ready to take it on, which means I actually do. When I do inevitably eat dairy or gluten or copious amounts of sugar from time to time, instead of shaming myself and feeling bad about it, I think about my next meal and how much I’ll enjoy and appreciate something more nutritious. When I realize I’ve gone all day with barely any water, I focus on the next actionable step and drink a glass right then and there. Instead of ruminating on the missed opportunities, I focus on what I can do about it now. 

Same thing when I’m feeling insecure or unsure of my next move/purpose in life; instead of always looking to others for advice, I also take the time to look inward and think about my own journey. I take note of how far I’ve come and all that I’ve been able to accomplish. No, I may not be where I dream of being yet, but I am exactly where the me a few years ago dreamed of. Taking stock of your journey and reminding yourself of all you really are capable of, will help diminish insecurities and build trust in the fact that you are capable of so much more than you think.

Trusting yourself feels good, and the more trust we instill in ourselves, the better we feel and the better we do. But this doesn’t mean that at times we might veer off course, and who’s to say that doing so isn’t part of the course? Without the lows, there’d be no highs. We wouldn’t appreciate what it feels like to really trust ourselves to make the right choices, and what it feels like to actually make those choices, if we never did the opposite. Just break it down, take it one step at a time, trust your journey, and more importantly: trust yourself. You have everything you need to get where you’re going.

What other tips do you have for building trust in yourself? Would love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Importance Of Trusting Yourself, And What To Do In Moments Of Self Doubt. 

Finding (And Holding Onto) Contentment

Finding (And Holding Onto) Contentment

When you Google the definition of contentment, you’ll see that it is defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction. Sounds like the kind of state we’d all like to be in permanently, right? To always feel good, right where we are, never wondering what it might be like if we were somewhere else. I think this is the goal we all reach for. It’s why we work hard and do the tasks we don’t enjoy. We picture a better, brighter, more enjoyable future if we can just get through “this next thing.” But, the truth is, if we are constantly in this mindset of chasing contentment, we’ll never end up finding it at all. 

I’ve come to learn that we as humans have the capacity to find something wrong with pretty much anything. That little voice in our heads pops up and will start going on and on about how the temperature isn’t quite right and the way you did your hair looks stupid or whatever other nonsense runs through there without proper supervision. It just rambles on through all the negatives which amplifies them and creates a reality you may not feel so great in. Or it rambles about bigger stuff, like how you could have made your relationship turn out differently if only you hadn’t been so “you,” or how you hate your job and really should have done that internship 5 years ago. Whatever it is, it’s a constant chatter in our minds that creates that feeling of discontent. The feeling of unease that makes us feel disconnected from ourselves and our true purpose and leaves us feeling irritable and maybe a little bitter. 

I’d argue that feeling discontent is a natural part of life (because it most definitely is), but there are some things you can do to find some feeling of content during those times as well: 

  1. Remember that life is cyclical and that highs and lows are natural and necessary. If we didn’t experience the full spectrum of these emotions, we’d have nothing to compare them to. How would we know if we were truly happy and content, if we were never unhappy and discontent? When you catch yourself in a low moment, go easy on yourself and remember that it’s okay to be right where you are. You’re human, after all, and it’s healthy to experience a range of emotions.
  2. Don’t let yourself dwell in those emotions though. In fact, don’t let yourself dwell on any emotion. Emotions come and go and we experience them in waves. If we clung on too tightly to any one emotion we’d experience fear and anxiety about any changes at all, and then be sorely disappointed when other emotions inevitably pop up. Nothing is permanent; don’t get too attached.
  3. Remind yourself that you’re not bad for feeling unhappy with where you’re at. It’s healthy to feel a little discontent, so that you always have drive to do better. I also think we learn and grow the most in the low times. They force us to reevaluate ourselves and the lives we lead, which hopefully makes us more human and compassionate in the long run. 
  4. Look around you and point out all the things you’re grateful for in this moment. It’ll help you recenter and realign with what really matters and direct your focus in a direction of greater abundance. 
  5. Adjust your perspective and try to see discontentment as a necessary stepping stone to your next exciting moment. What comes up, must come down, and what goes down, always has the ability to come back up. If we wallow in our down points we may never allow that opportunity to arrive. Remember that the feelings you’re having right now are just that: feelings. They do not determine your reality; not right now and certainly not the future. 

When we feel unhappy or uneasy, we typically do whatever we can to claw our way out and escape the emotions. But what if we sat with it? What if we didn’t judge it? Or judge ourselves for feeling it? As if it makes us less human to feel emotion? Or do we just want to be the least amount of human we possibly can? Why do we feel so much shame around negative feelings? Because it’s uncomfortable to feel them?

If we can work to accept life on life’s terms, I think this all becomes much easier. We no longer work off of specific expectations of how things “should” go or “should” be, and instead understand and accept ourselves and our emotions a little more. This creates space for us to call in our next magical moment and remain open to it when it arrives. With pain comes beauty, and this is no exception. We can choose to focus on the negatives and wish we were somewhere else, or we can appreciate the exact place we’ve found ourselves in; embrace it, learn from it and trust that it’s a stepping stone to the next amazing stage. Contentment is something we must stop chasing, and instead learn to find it within ourselves, no matter the highs or lows. 

A Few Ways To Remember, You’re Never Alone

A Few Ways To Remember, You’re Never Alone

I experience many days where the feeling of loneliness creeps up on me. It’s never a conscious effort to bring it up, it just has a lovely little way of doing it all on it’s own (lol). And it says a lot that it happens without effort, because it shows me where I’m at within myself. What the world reflects back to you is more a reflection of yourself that it is of the world, because it’s how you’re processing in that moment based on your own experiences and biases. But guess what? Just because your perspective may have changed momentarily, doesn’t mean the world has. 

I find it comforting that, even when I am in a headspace of feeling like everything is working against me, everyone is mad at me, I’m alone in all my experiences, yada yada yada… it really is just a reflection of my mind. The world didn’t change- I did. The world doesn’t change- WE do (well, most of the time). And I can say 1000% percent that you are not alone- in this experience, or any other. Here’s a few ways to remember, you’re never alone:

  1. Breathe. Sit somewhere comfortable and consciously slow down for a moment. Quiet the mind. You may not realize it, but, if you’re feeling lonely, your brain is likely in overdrive and headed down a rabbit hole you’d probably rather avoid. I mean, the fact that you’re reading this shows that you’d like to avoid it, so good on you for being here. Anyway, our brains like to think. A LOT. With or without our consent. And we have a choice to put some skin in the game and tell it what direction and at what speed we’d like it to go. So take this opportunity to let it know you’d like to take it down a few notches and go in a more pleasant direction. I personally like to breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 2, then breathe out for 8. You always want to make the outward breathing the longest part. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which will let your system know that there is nothing to be worried about. This also stops your mind in it’s tracks and gives you an opportunity to redirect and focus on something soothing- like counting your breaths. 
  2. Meditate. The more I meditate the more and more I become an advocate for it. There are times when I feel I totally suck at it and literally think about stuff the whole way through, but even being aware that I am thinking is a great practice (and is really the whole point- to be aware if your internal dialogue). This helps you learn how to tune in and really sit with yourself when you’re feeling lonely or down. When those feelings creep up, don’t ignore them. Check in with yourself and ask why it is you’re feeling this way. Where do you feel it in your body? Once you’ve answered these questions, meditate. This will quiet the mind and give you a moment of pause and reflection. It’s like hitting the reset button. Seriously, it’s the best. 
  3. Read an inspiring book. Loneliness isn’t just about feeling physically alone. You can be surrounded by people and still feel like you’re the only one in the room. If you’re feeling alone in your experiences, it can be incredibly helpful to read about someone else’s experiences. Read a memoir written by someone you admire. Learn about their failures, successes and lessons along the way. Doing this always makes me feel connected to the whole of the human experience. It allows me to get into someone else’s mind, in the privacy of my own home, without having to actually talk to anyone, and really connect with them. That’s what I love about writing; it allows you the opportunity to share a part of yourself you wouldn’t ordinarily share, and that people might not ordinarily ask about. And those who do read it get a special glance into that part of you, leaving both parties feeling more connected. It’s pretty cool actually. 
  4. You might be able to guess what that last point leads me to… Journaling. I have a designated notebook for free-writing and the main time I use it is when I am way too in my head. If I feel lonely or not good enough or whatever, I get my notebook out and literally just start scribbling words. Whatever words are in my head I get them out on paper. And you know what’s funny? Not even a few minutes into writing some less than favorable things about myself, it turns into something really beautiful and inspiring. Sometimes you just have to get all the bullshit out of the way first, before you can access the really good stuff that makes you feel all fuzzy inside. But it’s there, even when you can’t feel it. All the surface stuff that comes before it isn’t you- it’s what you’re subconscious thinks the world thinks of you. And, since most of our subconscious beliefs are formed when we’re children, I think it’s safe to say not all of them are entirely reliable. Just be nice to the inner child within you, let them have their moment to express themselves in writing; your real voice will follow. 
  5. Talk to someone. I know it’s the last thing you probably want to do when you’re feeling lonely, because you feel vulnerable and alone in those emotions, but trust me, you are no where close to alone. Ever. Call up a trusted friend you feel safe with and share how you’re feeling with them. My guess is they’ll be so relieved you called, either because they’re currently feeling the same way and you can both help one another feel connected, or because they recently felt that way and they want to be there to help you out of it too. Human beings are so funny; we act as though we don’t need anyone, when in reality we really do. We are happiest when we feel a connection to our community, whether they be near or far. 
  6. And lastly, go for a walk. Get out into the world. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lonely, I’ll purposely make myself go out for lunch, or chai, or to walk Remi at the park, just so I can feel connected to the world. I spend a lot of time at home these days, which can leave me feeling very in my head. And sometimes, the best thing for you is to go out and be a part of the bustling world around you. It reminds you how big the world is and how small we really are (in a good way). That, even if we feel this way in our minds, it does not mean the rest of the world feels the same. You can still go out and have positive interactions with others and it’ll challenge those thoughts and remind you that you, in fact, are never alone. 

Knowing what you need and when you need it, when you feel alone, can be a challenge. The key is to really listen to your body and let it lead the way. If you’re feeling like curling up and reading a book, do that. If you’re thinking it might be nice to get out and feel the fresh air on your face, then do that. We all need different things at different times. Some of these suggestions may work for you, others may not, and that’s perfectly okay. Just try them out when you get those unwelcome feelings of loneliness, and see what helps.

One other tip I’ll give is to ask yourself whether you’re seeing things through a lens of fear or of faith, when you’re feeling lonely. Asking yourself this crucial question will help remind you that your lonely feelings are not based in reality, they’re based in fear. It’ll also help you move toward a more faith-based mindset, where you can see the world as a more loving place full of opportunity and abundance. 

The most important tip I can give on this subject though, is to always remind yourself that you are never alone. Our brains like to trick us into thinking that feeling this way is bad and that no one else ever does and that we’re lesser for doing so, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is completely natural to feel these feelings. Try to see them as your body communicating to you that it needs something. Maybe you’re a bit disconnected and a little too in your head at the moment, and this is your body’s way of telling you to come back. To look around and take in your beautiful life. You’re not bad for that, it’s actually a good thing. It’s an opportunity to come back and be here. To feel connected to the world around you. Because, when you feel connected, you know you’re never alone.

What do you do to combat feelings of loneliness? Share your tips!