Uncovering Anxiety

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When we’re talking about anxiety, it’s important to uncover the various shades of what creates those wide-eyed, tight chest, cat-got-your-tongue feelings. When we learn to identify the specific feelings more, we can be more proactive in addressing some of these all-consuming sensations. The way we’re going to do this is by looking at some old Eastern perspectives on emotions and their associated channels in our bodies called meridians.

  • Lost or vulnerable. These are the emotions associated with the Small Intestines meridian. If you can think of different times when you’ve felt the interruption of those anxious feelings, have you ever noticed a correlation with them in situations when you’re doing something totally new or performing?

I often feel this leading up to a presentation I’m about to give. By knowing my pattern, I work on this meridian by gently breathing in and out this feeling of vulnerability. Then I shift my focus to breath in and out the feeling of accepting my best. I do so while massaging the Small Intestines 3 point. When you make a fist, it is located by the knuckle of the pinky where the skin pouches out.

  • Frightfully overjoyed. This is an unfamiliar term in our Western society, so the way I describe it to patients is that it’s when we look happy and just fine, but don’t feel that way inside. It’s like the feeling when also we laugh nervously. This is the emotion of the Heart meridian. I see this most often appearing in more of our close-knit relationships. For example, when a loved one may have hurt our feelings or misunderstood us, and we’re not sure how to address it, so we just try and play it off.

With this “frightfully overjoyed” feeling, its best to first breath in awareness for the hurt or anticipation of being hurt. Then, when you feel ready, you can shift to breath in the feeling of being safe and authentic. You can do so while massaging over the Heart 7 point. With the palm up, this is located on the inside of the wrist, on the pinky side, in the crease where the hand connects to the wrist.

  • Food for thought: in Eastern medicine we also focus on nourishing the mind and body through specific foods. Here are some good foods to add:

Cinnamon
Honey (in moderation, teaspoon-amount)
Berries
Leafy greens
Olives/olive oil
Cucumbers
Papaya
Garlic/onion

If you want to really enjoy diminished feelings of anxiety, also avoid processed and sugary foods. (Hint: foods that have come out of a drive-through window or box.)

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By practicing these breathing and acupressure points daily, you’ll be able to train your reflexes to breathe and expand when you start sensing those anxious feelings of constriction. Add some fresh air into your practice, either by going outdoors or opening the window to continue to flush out those congested sensations further. The food suggestions will also help calm and tone your nervous system. If you’re looking for more info on creating safe places for yourself, check out our Boundaries blog series from last fall.

Hope you enjoy some of these Eastern options! Post if you have any thoughts or questions, and share the health with your friends 🙂

More info on locating those acupressure points :

https://theory.yinyanghouse.com/acupuncturepoints/si3

https://theory.yinyanghouse.com/acupuncturepoints/ht7

Morning Rituals: The Sunscreen of Boundaries

Do you have a story that ever began with, “and then I realized I forgot the sunscreen”? As a swimmer growing up, I remember this feeling when I saw myself in the mirror after swim meets. I think the best descriptor would be a cotton-candy colored raccoon, with pink covering my face except for the stark white rings around my eyes and white band across my forehead.

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Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

A morning routine can have a similar impact on our day as remembering or forgetting to pack the sunscreen. Imagine planning a sunny beach day trip, arriving, automatically applying your sunscreen, and then being able to fulfill all the fun activities you’d hoped to. On the other hand, a day with forgotten sunscreen may seem just fine, but when you get home to shower and finally feel the burn, it sinks in how impactful that one early choice could have been. Just like we can remember to pack the sunscreen next time, we can remember to make early morning choices that will impact our day for the better.

 

When we start our day off with choosing healthy routines, it tends to set the tone for the rest of the day. Below are 4 morning rituals to set a boundary for and enjoy a more fulfilled day. I’ve also included a great takeaway tool to help you feel more organized and enabled to apply these routines daily.

  1. Start with being inspired. Read or listen to something that enlightens you. This can be as easy as a positive quote or a 30-minute-study from a spiritual text like the Scriptures or a moving author like Wayne Dyer. It’s vital to start with wise reminders and truths to anchor yourself in through the ups and downs of the day.
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    Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

    Harmonize your thoughts. It’s best to start with an inspiring read, then delve into meditation or prayer because you can now consciously internalize those lessons. You can ponder a question you’ve been considering, seek for inspired support, express gratitude, or just work on creating mental boundaries for your thoughts to be intentional. It can be time used to apply some of this month’s mindfulness suggestions. Begin to gently let go of negativity and embrace strengthening beliefs.

  3. Create your day. I love how the creation story shows how God started each day with a plan. One day was light day. He said it and dedicated Himself to it until He completed His vision for that day. If we go forward with a clear vision in mind, writing down what we want to accomplish in doable actions, we’re much more likely to achieve it and feel “it is good” at the close of the day. If you write your day’s plan the night before, it’s even better. Researcher, Brian Tracy, explains that your energies focus on accomplishing those actions through the night, and you’re better prepared to achieve them the next day.
  4. Break fast. Start with drinking water that isn’t cold. This stimulates bowel motility so you can eliminate and feel lighter starting off. Then eat real, hearty foods. We’ll cover this more in detail another time, but examples include green smoothies, turkey bacon, (unprocessed) oatmeal with added seeds and fruit, or a variety of egg combinations. The more the food resembles the form it came out of the earth rather than sugary cereals with look-alike four-leaf clovers, the more sustained you’ll feel through the day.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 7.53.22 PMYour takeaway tool!

Here’s a wonderful app to help you set goals and organize your day. I’ve been amazed that I can jot down my to-do lists, and it’s automatically populated into my iCalendar. It’s really helping my husband and I to enjoy life more just because we have more defined order and vision. The bonus is that it’s free!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/goal-setting-brian-tracy-life/id901800555?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Weekly Challenge:

If you want to look back on your day with joy rather than feeling burned, pack your sunscreen by trying these out:

  1. Create a time boundary to implement 1 new item to your morning rituals: be inspired, harmonize your thoughts, create your day, or break fast.
  2. Set a goal to make the 1 new item a habit this week, and work towards having each become part of your morning routine. You’ll likely need at least 30 minutes to effectively implement all of them. I believe you can do it as you grow in setting healthy boundaries for yourself.
  3. Share! You are a whole woman and the world needs you to link your wholeness to those around you. You can either share with us a great routine you enjoy each morning, or share with others what you’ve learned so they can pack their sunscreen and enjoy their days more too.

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    Photo by Leo Rivas-Micoud on Unsplash

Internal Boundaries: Key to Balance & Freedom

This year I turn 40. Like many hitting midlife, I have been reflecting on what l have learned so far and have yet to learn. I’d like to share with you one truth I have learned, “I am not a victim!”.  Although I cannot control the things that I face on a day-to-day basis, and you can bet at times I’ve tried, I can control how I respond and that is where my true power lies.

The late Dr. Viktor Frankl was a Holocaust Survivor, suffering some of the most inhuman treatment in history, and yet he rose to teach others a powerful process to find deep purpose and meaning in life and a simple truth that we all have the ability to choose our internal response to difficult circumstances. He wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.” While nearly all boundaries can be broken by forces outside of us, there is one boundary that is uniquely ours, our internal boundary! I would like to begin my discussion here as all other boundaries flow from it.

Having an internal boundary is essential to personal balance and a joyful life. We often feel shame and anger when this boundary is being violated.  This is the first clue to us that an internal boundary needs our attention.

Some choose to return the darkness with more darkness both toward themselves and others. This violates our internal boundary and increases suffering. Imagine a space within you where your personal light is held. This space needs an inlet for light and an outlet to expel darkness that is foreign to our true nature. Sadly, when we have been injured we often flip this process in reverse and take in negative influence (darkness) and block the light that is trying to get in.

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When discussing internal boundaries, I often picture a balance like the attached picture with love for self and love for others on either side. When feelings of anger and shame start to well up inside of us, it is important to mindfully look inside and see if our balance, which is personal to each of us, has been disrupted.  Two opposites, love for others and love for oneself, are meant to serve as guideposts.  We should not live at either of these extremes, but find a balance between them.  We have the power to restore balance by choosing to add weight to the side of that internal balance that is lacking attention.

For example, although serving others is a worthwhile practice, we must use that sense of internal balance to notice when serving others has gained too much weight in our lives, and attention to our own self is lacking. We will need to use that internal power that Frankl discussed to choose to set a boundary for how we respond to our emotions, thoughts, and circumstances in a way that balances honor for both ourselves and those around us. The mindful practice of stillness discussed in a previous post is key to owning our emotions, learning from them and then choosing to act in a way that restores balance. We can stop, breathe, reflect, and then choose healthy internal boundaries that honor our highest values and restore a joyful balance to our lives.

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Weekly Challenge: Setting Healthy Internal Boundarievs

Use the following process to assist in setting at least one healthy internal boundary this week:

  1. Identify when you are feeling either anger or shame
  2. Use the mindfulness skill: Stop, Breathe, reflect and choose.
  3. Visualize the picture of a balance in your mind
  4. Mindfully place a “Yes” in the area of the balance in your thoughts that is of greatest value and lacking on the scale
  5. Set an Internal Boundary so you can rebalance

 

Remember the following:

  • When I say “yes” to one thing I am in turn saying “No” to something else”
  • Balance is personal and the power to choose it lies in each of us
  • We are not victims and we can choose to love, serve, and live in ways that increase joy and freedom no matter our circumstance

Mindful Eating: A Restorative Boundary

Let’s talk about some food basics. My understanding in nutrition didn’t start in academia learning about magnesium’s effect on sleep and cramps, or enzymatic malfunctions when we eat trans fats.  It was much more of an elementary beginning (well, technically high school). It all started with a cookie.

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Photo by Jade Wulfraat on  Unsplash

My immune system had tanked when I was 14. As I was working to regain my health, I began to detect suppressive patterns. One eureka moment I had was during a church youth night where they had my favorite treats—cookies. After finishing one cookie and biting into a second, I noticed my nose started to run. Soon enough I was sneezing, had a sore throat, and my eyes were swelling and watering from the ensuing congestion. The next day I had yet another cold. I remember thinking how strange it was to come on so strongly and with such immediacy. I then began to notice every time I had a sweet treat, the same downward spiral would occur.

 

No matter our age, we can each begin to detect the positive and negative effects food has on us. Learning to recognize how foods make us feel can have a powerful impact on our health, emotions, and longevity. In fact, there is a poignant adage from ancient Eastern medicine that depicts the beautiful freedoms the foods can allow us:

If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.

If diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” 

One simple way to know what diet is wrong or right for you is by paying attention to how it makes you feel. By learning how cookies made me feel back in my youth, I began to recognize that pastas made me feel bloated and drinking from plastic water bottles made my throat itch. I also perceived what foods were “correct” for me. Sunflower seeds became a snack that kept me satiated longer and fresh fruit curbed my sweet tooth and strengthened my immune system, thus letting “food be [my] medicine” (Hippocrates).

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Photo by Brooke Lark on  Unsplash

At our most recent seminar, I shared that the way we feel affects how we fill, and vice versa. This is putting that principle to action. So for example, if we’re feeling frail either emotionally or physically, instead of further depleting ourselves with sugar spikes or caffeine, we can savor a hearty soup, like vegetable quinoa. If we’re feeling heavy, a nice avocado and berry smoothie or salad can help us feel lighter. The other side of the coin is noticing that how we fill affects how we feel. You can check in with yourself after eating and see, “Did this make me feel sick, bloated, jittery, or did it make me feel comforted, revitalized, and healthier in some way?” This is practicing mindfulness in eating.

 

Our challenge this month is the same that I start with every patient who sees me, whether for hormonal balance, emotional stability, or digestive support: add foods that are healing. We aren’t going to focus on cutting foods right now. As Sommer mentioned in the recent seminar, we want to build off our strengths. When we start being our own barometer, we don’t have to follow fad diets, but instead be self-regulating. We can then continue on the track of keeping healthy boundaries that nurture our well-being rather than feeling pulled or torn by other’s opinions.

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Photo by Jenn Evelyn-Ann on Unsplash

Weekly Challenge

As we discuss boundaries this month in order to create more healing environments, the same end goal can be applied as we set boundaries for eating. Consider applying these goals for the next week, and work them into a new habit:

 

  • Have the end goal of being healthy so I can fulfill the measure of my creation
  • Perceive how foods make me feel—well or unwell. (Be honest with yourself)
  • Create a boundary to add and eat more foods that make me feel good

-Dr. Crystal Nix Dayton, DC, CAc

Boundaries: Holding space for things you value most

As we round out our summer vacations and think about gearing up for the fall, boundaries feels like the right topic for the month.  At our recent Whole Women Link conference in July, boundaries seemed to be on many of your minds as well. After all, “How does one hold space for personal growth and healing in the face of overwhelming new school schedules, activities, holidays, and the demands of loved ones?”

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It seems ironic and out of balance that when nature is starting to wind down and slow down in a methodical preparation for a winter rest, we defy the laws of nature and embrace a fast-paced society that too often speeds up for an end of the year push. Yep, I can feel my own anxiety stirring just thinking about it!

The late Dr. Stephen R. Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule, but schedule your priorities.” I feel very blessed to have the privilege to sit in a sacred space with women as they examine their lives and seek to create new behaviors to change their current direction. I can honestly say I have never found even one of these now hundreds of women to be lazy, careless, or lacking in their ability to exert the changes they want in their lives.  Yet, so often these same women feel paralyzing shame as they catalogue how they are not achieving their goals which keeps them stuck.

 

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Although we need to schedule time for the things that we value, we need to go even deeper to look at the beliefs and emotions that are holding us hostage to old behaviors and that do not serve us or the loved ones we nourish. Throughout this month we will look at ways all of us can cut ties with shame based beliefs that are inhibiting our freedom to establish healthy boundaries, and in turn, hold space for the things we value most.  I agree with Covey that we need to schedule time for our priorities, but what I have discovered in my work is that the most effective time of my day is actually scheduled time to be still and reflective.

Mindfulness is the ability to step back and reflect on one’s emotions, experiences, and interactions.  Through this process one increases the power to direct one’s life. It is all about being still and learning from ourselves.

  • How can I know my priorities for this upcoming fall season unless I allow myself some time to reflect on what I value most?
  • How can I schedule time for my priorities if I don’t give myself permission to hold space for my own selfcare and believe that in so doing I will be a better person in all areas of my life?

Ladies, we are all in this together.  Personally, I often slide back into less than powerful thinking patterns, but never is this more likely to occur then when I neglect my daily mindful practice of stillness. I know that each of us has the ability to create the life that we want no matter our current circumstances. It will start with small and simple changes, such as creating a little space each day to be still and reflect. Of course, I hear all you action-oriented ladies (and I truly love you) saying, “Yes, but what will that change?”

Keep reading this month and I promise to show you how mindfulness can be a powerhouse for change. You can find the personal power to hold space for what you most value by creating boundaries that are right for you.  I am excited to be part of this conversation.

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Weekly Challenge

Your challenge this week, if you choose to accept it? (yes, I love Mission Impossible)

  1. Take 2 min each day to sit in a peaceful undisturbed place and breathe
  2. Reflect on what truly gives you joy and life meaning
  3. Visualize your fall schedule with no limitations and where joyful and meaningful things are included (your imagination has only the limitations you place on it, so feel your creative power as a tool)

-Sommer A. Seitz, MA, LMHC