Thursday, September 7, 2017

Anxiety Resources

One of the best things about releasing my 3 part journey with anxiety and sobriety has been the outreach I have received with questions, comments, and tips/tools on how to live life a little better.

I decided I wanted to put together a separate blog post talking about all my favorite tools, and the questions I have answered over the past few weeks. Because chances are, if one person has asked then a few more have probably thought to ask the exact same thing. So, here we go. This post will be broken down into helpful books, a question & answer section, as well as other helpful resources such as YouTube videos and activities that helped me during my reawakening.

Before I ever tried any anti-anxiety medication, I was a big advocate on reading self-improvement books. Let's be real, I am still a big advocate on reading these books, but now I don't have that pressure that this is my only solution to "getting better". Books are wonderful.  Especially self help books...which I like to call self-improvement! Self-help books have such a stigma around them. I remember the first time I purchased a self-help book I immediately felt a little embarrassed that I was reading a book for "sad people". Then I realized, what's inside these books can help give you a different perspective on things.They are a way to connect each day, in hopes to love yourself and understand yourself a little bit more.

So that being said, I wanted to share some of my favorite books along my journey.


-Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss-

This book is a short, quick read that introduced me to the power of positive thinking. On the back of the book it states that from reading this, "you'll learn how to adapt to life's inevitable changes, how to deal with stress in a healthy way, and how to nurture a mindful happiness in your daily life." I always recommend this book for beginners

-Be who you want, Have what you want by Chris Prentiss-

This was my first self improvement book that I purchased right after my break up. I was in a place where I needed help, and this book definitely gave me a platform to change my way of thinking and offer hands on exercises. I know the title of this sounds cheesy, but this read really was my gateway book that opened me up to a whole new world. 

It has a lot of exercises throughout the chapters, and was even responsible for teaching me how to meditate. You can best believe that it's covered in highlighter and dogeared pages. Seriously love this book, and recommend it to anyone looking to change their life for the best.

-The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz-

This is another great short read that is a "Toltec Wisdom Book" I have had a few friends in recovery that state they have read this book after treatment, and continue to read it every year for a refresher. I started reading this book before I stopped drinking, and the 4 agreements still ring true regardless of if you are in recovery or not.

-Woman Code by Alisa Vitti - 

This is a recommendation for any woman that has issues with their monthly cycle, fertility, or even sex drive. I started reading it due to my diagnosis with PCOS, and I still refer to it every once in a while when I'm trying to figure out what to eat or what type of supplements to take to alleviate certain pre-menstrual symptoms.

Alisa Vitti is so intelligent, and broke down everything in simple terms. She talks about the science of what is happening in your body, and how to help it along with healing foods and nutrients. I learned so much about feminine cycles, it truly was fascinating. 

I even recommend this book if you are just trying to better understand how to best care for your body (healthy periods, optimal fertility, and a healthy sex drive)

-The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein-

I freaking LOVE Gabby Bernstein. I can't quite remember how I found her, but I am so happy I did. She is a quote on quote "Spirit Junkie", that is stylish, straight-forward, and seriously WOKE. This book is all about how to feel safe and trust your life no matter what. I love this book because it talks all about turning your fear into faith. And it doesn't have to be a religious faith, it can be a spiritual one. Again this book has a few exercises throughout, and even some references to her website for guided meditations. 

I recommend looking into her website and instagram page, because she is just so real. I love how she is so spiritual, but still is just like every one of us. She admits to having fear in her life, but tells you how she remembers at any given moment she has the power to choose again. 

-The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson-

I have to admit I am not done with this book quite yet, but I know I already recommend it. I love how Mark Manson is so real, and communicates in such a way that most self improvement books aren't written in. It is groundbreaking and seriously has made me laugh out loud during certain chapters.

I love how it makes me feel confident to be uncertain in life because as Mark Mason states, uncertainty is the root for all progress and growth.

I have my sister to thank for this recommendation. Someone who is NOT a reader of self-improvement books but yet found this one extremely helpful, and refreshing.

Questions & Answers

"I've stopped drinking in excess (I haven't been drunk in over a year I'd say), I'd like to give it up for good - What advice can you give on going out with friends who like to drink? As of late, I've just been backing out of plans or not responding to invites to avoid drinking all together."

Seriously, an AWESOME question and I got my cute, and sober boyfriend, Maxwell, to help me come up with an answer.

Passing up on socially drinking can be so hard! I think I had it "easier" than some because my friends knew medically I needed to stop drinking due to my anxiety. So thankfully they never pressured me or guilt tripped me into drinking.

However, Maxwell mentioned 3 great things to hopefully help

1. Give yourself a break from that type of environment while you are building a foundation of living a sober lifestyle. Try not to feel pressured to go out just because everyone else is. I know that is sometimes easier said than done, but make sure to take the time to treat yourself, relax and ease into this new lifestyle.

2. Try doing something else with your friends. So instead of saying "let's go grab drinks" suggest going on a walk, trying out a yoga class, or even coming over to cook a meal together. This not only helps you get out of the drinking environment, but it also helps give you and your friends the healthy option of nourishing your body with love and care. But let's be real, you can also suggest to go out and get some ice cream...because it's all about that moderation people ;)

3.Most importantly, be honest with your friends. The transition of no longer drinking can be difficult. Tell them your reasons why you don't want to drink anymore, and if they try to guilt trip you, it's usually because they themselves feel guilty for not taking the step you are. 

I remember I was really nervous to no longer drink in front of my friends. I was scared of losing that "fun" connection with them, but thankfully a new connection has grown in place. Something that is still fun, and adventurous.


In regard to managing stress and/or anxiety, what are your favorite resources for meditation? I'm a newbie and don't know much.

In the beginning of my meditation journey, I very much needed a guided meditation. Simply because I didn't know what I was doing, and I wasn't sure if I was doing it "correct". And to address that issue, there is no one correct way to meditate. Of course it can sometimes take practice, but the benefits always outweigh the little work it can take to get there. Scientifically, meditation changes the expression in our DNA, and ultimately alters your actual response to stress, and essentially quiet down the signals in your brain that make you feel bad.

One great resource for beginners is the app Headspace. I have used it for close to a year, and I love it. The first 3 lessons within the app are basic guided meditations that teach you how to breathe, and sink in to your relaxation. Then after you complete those 3 courses, you can customize your meditations however you please. So there are meditations that focus on Change, Anxiety, Stress, Regret, Anger, Self-Esteem...the list goes on and on. There is even a guided meditation called SOS for when you're in panic attack mode and I have definitely had to use this once or twice. I really love this app and can't say enough great things about it. 

Other guided meditations I enjoyed are from Gabby Bernstein's YouTube channel, and from Deep Eddy Psychotherapy's website. I love the forest relaxation one. Any meditation that includes visualization is the easiest, and most rewarding for me. I'm very much a visual person, so I love imagining being in the forest, and smelling and breathing in the mountain air.


What are some other ways that reduce your anxiety or ways you're able to find stress relief and calmness besides meditation?

The best way for me to relieve stress and anxiety include

1. Journaling - Write down all your feelings. Whatever they may be, and don't hold back. I always feel better once I get out all my emotions and fears out on paper

2. Be Active - Hello, endorphins. Working out is a great way to kick stress and anxiety to the curb. According to Dr. Robert Bilder, a neuropsychologist, the best thing you can do for your brain is exercise. Even more than meditation! 

This is due to the increase of oxygen flowing to your brain. Physical activity is also that the best way to grow new brain cells. So if you're in a state of depression or anxiety, your brain cells are harboring an environment for those sad, and scared emotions. Then when you start to become active, your brain is creating and forming new cells that create a new environment for a happy and healthy body. It's awesome because in studies you can actually see neurons change in size and volume as a result of being active. 

My favorite ways of being active include riding my bike, going on walks or hikes, yoga, swimming and rock climbing.

3. Go outside! This kind of goes hand in hand with Being Active, but seriously the great outdoors changes everything for me. Since I work from home, I definitely get cabin fever a lot. If I feel as if I am getting too much in my head I will go outside and just simply soak up the sun, or read a book. Of course going outside and being active is a double whammy so that's usually what I try to aim for. Whether it be a 10 minute walk, a bike ride, or even a swim. Something that wakes up my senses, and helps me get out of my head and start over again with a clear slate.

3. Treat yo'self - Usually when I am in a state of anxiety, I like to try and create an optimal space for relaxation, and calmness. That being said, I'll take the time to light a candle, or even fill up my diffuser with some calming essential oils. Some of my favorite from the Young Living line include, Lavender, Peppermint, and Peace & Calming. My girl Emily Recker, has a great Instagram and Facebook page to learn all about oils, and how to use them. I seriously recommend it!

I also have started a new Instagram account called CleanLiving.LPOH to share and document my journey with oils.

*If you are interested in learning more about Oils I just signed up for a Membership with Young Living. They have seriously changed my way of living. I use them every single day for all types of things. Sleep, anxiety, headaches, immunity, you name it, and I probably have an oil for that.*

Here's the link in case you want to sign up on your own.


When you eliminated drinking alcohol and coffee how did it make you feel? Did it help with your anxiety?

I believe I eliminated drinking caffeine before I stopped drinking alcohol. I have always been really sensitive to caffeine, so when I realized I was having anxiety troubles I did some researching and found out that it can be helpful to lessen the amount of caffeine and sugar in your diet.

So immediately I stopped drinking coffee, soda, energy drinks, and even green tea. Granted my anxiety was severe, so any type of caffeine would trigger my mind to race and then I felt as if I had a ton of energy and I didn't know how to process it all correctly.

Every now and then I will have a few sips of some CLEAN Sparkling Energy (which is very lightly caffeinated) and I can always tell if I have had too much. It still triggers that feeling of "Oh sh!t, I'm about to HULK out." So usually I still skip out on the caffeine, unless I know I am about to do a physical activity such as rock climbing, or biking.

As for alcohol, I first stopped drinking it due to the fact that I realized that it was just a temporary fix for a problem I knew was bigger than booze. Once I eliminated drinking, it was almost as if I had to face my problems head on rather than skirt around them, and numb myself for a few hours with a cold brewski. Yes it was scary and intimidating but it was something that needed to be done, and I truly feel mentally stronger from it.


YouTube Videos

I loved this series with Camille Rowe and British Vogue that is all about wellness. I learned a lot, and I think it's good for everyone to get a little glimpse into what the heck wellness really is. Plus it's awesome to hear how many times Camille Rowe snorts throughout it. Seriously the best. 

It covers topics from nutrition to meditation and even movement, and how each are integral for the optimal level of health. 

I also love the Wanderlust YouTube channel. One of my favorite series they do are the speakeasy lectures that they put on for each Wanderlust Festival. My favorite speaker to watch so far has been the late Wayne Dyer in regard to manifesting. He is seriously such a vessel for information and love.


"We all get dealt cards. Some of us get better cards than others. And while it's easy to get hung up on our cards, and feel we got screwed over, the real game lies in the choices we make with those cards, the risks we decide to take, and the consequences we choose to live with. People who consistently make the best choices in the situations they're given are the ones who eventually come out ahead in poker, just as in life. And it's not necessarily the people with the best cards"
- Mark Manson - "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" - 

I hope you all have enjoyed this post, as it seriously is FULL of the resources I use whenever I'm feeling a bit anxious.

Comment below if you have a tip, trick or tool you use when you're experiencing anxiety.

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