10 Opportunities for You and Your Anxiety

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We all have a certain level of anxiety. Some of which is totally normal. However, when anxiety begins to affect your life, it is time to do something about it! During my maternity leave and over the past several months, anxiety and depression were something I dealt with daily. In all honesty, it is something I still deal with and sometimes there are daily stretches. However, I have made significant changes in my life through this opportunity. Below are the following opportunities you have to take a step toward healing and a more intentional, purposeful life!

Exercise

Yes, I am sure you have heard it before. Exercise lowers stress levels. Now, I know what you are saying to yourself. I do not have time or I do not have the money to get a membership. Yes, I hear you and I understand. There are options that are affordable and do not need to take much time.

  1. Take a walk
  2. Download a free app
  3. Purchase some equipment, such as free weights for your home
  4. Purchase a DVD
  5. Get a gym membership – Planet Fitness is great for a simple, inexpensive membership.
  6. YMCA – They have daycare and are reasonably priced.

Get REST

Rest is truly one of the top ways to feel more in control and better equipped to handle what life throws you. Yes, I know it is challenging to get enough sleep. Take a nap, if you need it or go to sleep early. You may need to leave the dishes one night or not fold the laundry. It will be there in the morning. You will be more productive and more relaxed with rest. My favorite tricks to help you wind down.

Eat healthy

Again, I know easier said than done. You can purchase healthy food items, such as fruits, veggies, or granola. Below are some of my favorite options – recipes to follow.

  1. Overnight oats
  2. Smoothies
  3. Trail mix
  4. Salads
  5. Raw veggies
  6. Avacado toast
  7. Baked Snap Peas with garlic salt and butter
  8. Raw fruits
  9. Popcorn

Your Environment

Your environment greatly impacts your mental health. Everyone has a different threshold for what they can handle and different needs in their environment. I personally need a fairly neat space, with limited clutter, and pretty things. Yes. Not lofty goals at all. But important to me. For my husband, he likes a little bit of clutter. He actually has a song about. He does not necessarily care about the decor. BUT this is our home. Our children need a place for their toys and their imagination to grow.

Take a moment and sit down with your family to determine what is important to you. Than make small steps to create that environment. Have a cleaning schedule and strategy.

Meditation

Meditation is hard. In all honesty, the first several, hundred times it was suggested for me to meditate, I scoffed at the idea. I mean anyone that knows me, knows that I cannot be quiet for very long. My brain is always moving. I have a thousand ideas per second. How can I make my mind be quiet? Should I make my mind be quiet?

Well, it has been a year in to a regular meditation routine and it helps. Being quiet with myself is wonderful. It is SOOO challenging, but it is important. It helps me be in the moment and really understand my thoughts.

There are great apps, YouTube videos, and more for guided meditations. There are different kinds of meditation. I think something for everyone. So, just try it. Be consistent. See if it helps.

A Morning Routine

The way you start your day impacts the rest of the day. Seriously, think about it. If you get up late, rush around, maybe throw some yelling in, and searching for stuff – your day will likely continue with more anxiety. Your day may feel like you are always behind and you are in a place of agitation.

Plan out your day the night before. Make as many decisions as you can the night before or at the beginning of the week. Pick out the clothes, meal prep, etc. This will help reduce decision fatigue and stress.

Take time for you. Start your day with meditation, hot coffee, yoga, a run, whatever makes you happy. It your routine. Create it, gift it to you, and consistently make it happen.

Self-Check

Throughout your day, you will find yourself triggered, anxious, and struggling. You may feel like you need something or want something. You may feel yourself spiraling. Our energy level fluctuate and change. Our anxiety levels range. Check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you are feeling and what you need.

If you need a few minutes or a few seconds, give it to yourself. Go take a walk, use the rest room, or close your eyes. Just check out for  a short time. Breath in positive energy and breath out the anxiety. This is something you can do in a meeting or at work. You can and should give yourself a break.

Example: I started my day late. Normally, I would have flown out of bed, ran around, yelled, and acted like a crazy town person. This would have set the stage for my day. But I checked in with myself. I needed to sit down, wake up, and drink some coffee. It was 10 minutes worth of time, but my morning went better. Everyone’s morning went better. Honestly – we got out the door at the same time.

See someone

Get in touch with a coach, a counselor, someone. Someone that can help support you walk through this. You are not alone, but it is so hard to do one your own. There is nothing wrong with therapy. It is something the most “normal,” seemingly not anxious person should do. It is does not mean you are crazy. It means that you are taking care of yourself and you are choosing not to suffer in silence.

Journal/Talk about it

For some, journaling can be really helpful. Sometimes writing out your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings. However, for others, verbally processing their feelings helps. I am a combination of both, but lean more toward verbal processing. Talk to yourself, to your therapist, to your spouse, or to your friend.

Journal for more than 20 minutes. Write whatever comes to you. Or choose a guided journal with questions. This can help you work toward change.

Challenge your thoughts

I made a mindset change at the beginning of this chapter in my book. I decided to see my anxiety/depression as an opportunity for growth. When I am anxious, it is often because I am letting my thoughts run me. I am letting them swirl around and dictate my actions. When I take control and make change, I feel better. If you are feeling anxious about something ask yourself why? I am anxious because I have so much to do. Okay, do you have to do it? Ummm. Yes. Do you really need to do it all today? In the next hour? Write down all of the things and declutter it. Give yourself permission to table it, to delegate it, or stop obsessing about it.

Intentional Living Tip: 

I think many people carry some level of anxiety with them. Different ranges of anxiety. But so much of your schedule, your thoughts, or time can be controlled by you. Although it feels outside of your control, but it is in your control. Take some time to take care of you and determine what you need. Then do it.

You are worth everything you need. You have control and you can work through this. There will be challenging days, but you can do this.

Thank you,

Ashley

 

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Are You Making These Cleaning Mistakes?

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Yes, cleaning is a necessary evil. Yes, in many respects there are no right or wrong answers. BUT there are a few things that you may be doing that are not serving you. YIKES! I said it, you might be cleaning wrong. DUN DUN DUN DUN.

Your Appliance are USED to Clean, but they are NOT clean

Here is the thing my friends are washing machine and dish washers have water running through them daily right? There is some soap, so in theory they are clean, right? Wrong. Your washing machine and dish washer need to have a cleaning routine as too! Without this routine, they may not be efficiently cleaning your clothes/dishes and they may not last as long.

Never fear there are super simple solutions. For the washing machine, you can run a bleach load, run a vinegar load, or use an actual washing machine cleaner. Build this into your cleaning routine. See your appliance manual or look online to see the best option for your machine.

For the dish washer, simply put a cup of white vinegar on the top rack and run the dish washer.

Clean top to bottom

Now, this seems obvious, but in action sometimes it does not go this way. We start with a quick vacuum of the floor, then we remember that we haven’t wiped off the counter, and oh look at that cabinet. In this scenario, I have cleaned bottom to top. The problem is that now I pretty much have to start over. The stuff I rubbed off on the cabinet is now on the counter and the stuff I cleaned off the counter landed on the floor. Clean with a strategy and move top to bottom.

Clean clockwise or counterclockwise

We often get overwhelmed by cleaning. We start in one room, find something wrong in another and bounce all over. We have spent a lot of energy cleaning, but have no attainable results. Again, clean with a strategy move clockwise or counterclockwise around the house. If you find something that belongs to another room, place it in a pile or in a basket. It can move with you, until you reach its destination.

Clean your Vacuum

Yes, the vacuum gets super gross. If it is not maintained, it does not clean well. Read the manual or look it up online. It will tell you how often and what parts to clean. Note that you may need to clean yours more often than suggested. For instance, our vacuums says 3 months, however, I clean ours about once per week. A lot of hair!

Intentional Living Tip:

Examine what you are doing when you are cleaning. Is there room for improvement? Do you need a better strategy? Do you need to add anything to your cleaning schedule?

Thank you,

Ashley

 

Stop Living a Life that is not Yours.

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Time and time again, I have jumped, wiggled, squatted, and danced around to get into my jeans. Honestly, it looks a little bit like a sumo wrestler getting ready for the big fit. I do not really like lose fitting clothes, especially jeans. BUT my experience, I also NEVER feel comfortable with wearing pants that are too tight. Today, I am wearing jeans that I purchased before Bella was born. Low rise jeans. The size is not necessarily the issue (most days). It is the fit. Post C-section and two babies later, these jeans are not comfortable for me today. Maybe in another season, but not today. Yet, I still wear them!

Why? I feel restricted, uncomfortable, lumpy, and all the things. My self talk starts getting louder and less positive. Yet, this is self inflicted… Confusing I know.

The same thing applies for life. You may be thinking this is a stretch. Another Ashley over exaggeration, but it isn’t. At least, I do not think so.

In today’s world, we get a sneak peak into another woman’s world via Instagram, Reality TV, Facebook Posts, etc. We are inundated with images of what women, moms should look like, act like, talk like, etc. Some of us are told we are too loud, are too bright, too pretty, to wild, etc. All of these create expectations. These expectations drive decisions and actions.

Have you ever found yourself acting a certain way or taking on an emotion that was not yours? For instance, have you felt guilty about going to the gym or not going to the gym and wondered why? Maybe you have felt guilty about how you raised your children, but did not know why? Or maybe you have felt guilty about being a working or stay at home mom and can simply not explain it?

Are there things that you do not share because someone else may think negatively about them? Maybe you are not pursuing your dream because you are fearful of what someone may think?

All of these questions, these mindsets are holding us back from the life we were intended to have. The life that He promised us. The life that is ours. It is not someone else’s. It will not look like hers or mine. It will look like yours alone. It will be beautiful and full of joy!

Who suffers when you are wearing that pair of jeans that doesn’t fit? Well, likely everyone. I mean you will feel awful. You may get agitated and lash out at others. Maybe you mock a pretty mom that looks put together because you do not feel it. Its not pretty.

Who suffers when you are living a life that is not yours? EVERYONE!

The people that you were meant to serve. You were given a gift that was meant to be shared. It hurts you because you will suffer with out sharing your gift. You will not feel aligned and your best self. You may not take care of yourself. Your children will not see you live your joy, so they may not either. Your relationships may suffer.

No one is well served by a poor fitting pair of jeans or a poor fitting life. BUT in both cases, we ultimately have the control. The power to make these changes.

No matter how big your dream is. No matter what that looks like. It is yours. It is beautiful because it is yours. Shine your light! You were given a gift from God and he has a beautiful plan for you. Why would you be ashamed of it? Why would you not shine the light you were given?

Your dream is yours. It is beautiful. It is not selfish. It is not wrong. It is not too late.

You have a life time to get it right. It will not always turn out the way you thought, it will not always look pretty, and it may be challenging. BUT it is yours. It is worth pursuing and it is worth consistently striving for.

Join me in my quest to live my dream, my life, and to serve as the best version of me!

Please reach out to me via email or on Facebook, if this resonates with you. If you are working to accomplish your dream or have ever felt overwhelmed by your light. I am here to help support that light in you.

Thank you!

Ashley

Modeling Positive Behavior

 

Its okay for them to see you lose your sh__. They will lose theirs someday and they need to know how to respond..pngI was a little frustrated the other day. I was trying to keep it in and not show my anxiety to my children. I thought I was masking it fairly well. BUT Bella noticed and said, Mom, it is going to be okay. Do you need to breath and count?

Now, I am not one that believes in sugar coating everything. I actually believe in being very honest with my children (age appropriate of course). BUT I do not want my children to pick up on my anxieties or frustrations. For the real reason, that I do not want them to pick up anxieties that are not their own.

Here is the deal. Children are so perceptive. They pick up on everything. They feel our emotions and they know when we are happy, sad, etc.

In my situation above, I was both impressed that Bella has learned breathing/counting it out. She was perceptive and coaching me. I was also feeling awful that she picked up on my anxiety. How does that affect her? How do I proceed?

Here is the thing. The Life Experience is HARD! There will be many things that we experience and that our children experience that are uncomfortable, that are unpleasant, and maybe even cause pain (physical or emotional). We cannot protect them from everything. We may try or want to. It will not happen.

We will be dealt with challenging things. Sometimes painful, awful things. I firmly believe that we are not given anything we cannot handle and it always happens for a reason. There is a lesson to learn or growth to occur through this. We have control over very little. That is a fact. We do have control over our responses to these things.

It is not about masking challenges from our children, but using these as teaching moments to help them grow into success adults. If you are praying that your children do not become you OR that they do not inherit ________ trait; then you need to do some work in this space of your life. It is not just for you. It is for your kids.

Here are some spaces in your life that you can/should improve upon to share with your children how to positively work through challenging situations.

Selfcare:

It is absolutely not SELFISH. It is ABSOLUTELY necessary to take care of yourself. This will help your children take care of themselves the way you want them to. You need to show your children that you are better, stronger, healthier when you serve yourself first. You need to exercise, meditate, etc. It helps fuel you. It makes you a better parent, wife, business woman, etc.

Make space in your calendar, in your day to take care of yourself. It will help you make better decisions, etc.

You would never tell your child or friend not to care for themselves. So, be a leader and show them how to do it. Show them why you do it.

Anxiety:

We all have various levels of anxieties about different things. I get anxious when I do not know what the plan is. For example, when I know that I am going to be off or someone is coming into town, I become anxious. This is because I know that my routine will be different and I am unsure of things. When this happens, I simply want to shut myself in. This is not possible, especially with kids.

If you are worried about your children taking on similar anxiety responses, do not shut down. You know it is an issue. You cannot just hope that they will not see it or become it. Take the initiative to determine why this causes you anxiety and then come up with a plan to tame this anxiety. This is a process. It will take time for you to develop your tool bag. BUT this helps your children too.

I tend to work toward anxieties through verbal processing, journaling, meditation, deep breathing, and exercise. Again, I have control over how I respond. Your kids will model your action more than they will listen to the things you are saying.

Pain:

Physical pain is something easier for people to work through than emotional pain. However, it is important for our children to learn how to work through this. There will be many scrapped knees and stubbed toes to work through this.

For me, my primary responses to pain formerly were to yell out naughty words OR to hold my breath. Neither are really productive substitutes to handling pain.

Deep breathing has actually shown reduce the pain. The other day I broke my toe. Legit. It was pretty painful. It was the baby toe. All bad things. BUT I responded with deep breathing through the pain. It did help!

Bella fell the other day and hurt her knee. She started breathing deeply through it with some prompting. It actually reduces the amount of crying and time recovering from the pain. It works!

Sadness:

We do feel sadness or other emotions from time to time. There are times you will cry. I do. I used to try to hide it like a “normal” person. You know the kind that melts down the moment they get into the car or when they get into the shower. It works great, right?

No one knows you are sad. Wrong! They will know.

Now, I do still cry from time to time in the shower and car. BUT if I do feel sadness around my children, I feel that it is okay to show it. It is an emotion they will feel and I do want to share with them how to work through it. They know that I am sad. So, I start to say I am feeling sad today. Can we snuggle a moment? Can we watch a movie? Or mommy just needs to sit here a moment.

This again shows them that they do not need to hide emotions, but we can work through them in the family.

Anger/Frustration:

We all have this from time to time. Underlying issue is often due to fear. Our kids get angry. Especially in their younger years. There is a lot of frustration in not being able to do the things that they want to do. As parents we have to say no a lot. I have to tell Bella that she cannot jump into the tub like a pool. Not safe. BUT it still frustrates her.

When she is getting upset, I work with her on deep breathing and counting down from 4. I do the same thing myself. Sometimes it take more deep breathing or walking around from the situation. Or asking for help. Bella does display this on a daily basis and does very well with this.

Intentional Living:

All of these are different emotions that I experience and have needed to build a way to work through these. This was the opportunity I found, when working with postpartum depression. You can make the decision to work through things anytime you are ready. Do not delay or wait until you fall or experience something like I had. Journal out the things that cause you anxiety/frustrations, etc. I would encourage you to really dig deep on this. Write beyond 20 or more things. This will help you get more comfortable and realize any issues that are out there. Then make a plan to develop these skills.

I would be happy to assist you with this process as I have been there. You will need to be open to be uncomfortable. You will find joy in this!

Thank you,

Ashley

 

Make Cleaning a Little Easier

Achieving this should not be hard, if it is your goal.pngThrough my personal experience and experience working with clients, one of the number one reasons people struggle to maintain their homes efficiently is that they do not have a strategy. You have to know where you what your objects are and how you plant to  meet them. Often we treat cleaning as an objective – goal clean the house. Holy Moly that is a big goal that means a variety of things to many people. By doing this, you are actually potentially slowly down progress and making cleaning a necessary evil.

So, here is the secret sauce to a cleaning strategy:

Create a Plan

Everything must have a place and a plan. I recommend creating a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly type schedule. Daily you may want to clean the kitchen by wiping it down, doing the dishes, etc. Weekly, you may actually break out the mop and deep clean all the floors. However, cleaning the ceiling fans may only be done monthly. Quarterly, may want to clean out the gutters. Feel free to download the copy below for inspiration.

 

Weekly Schedule (1)Cleaning Schedule

Define Expectations

Now, this seems obvious but we all grew up and created different expectations and rules for what clean looks like. Let me tell you, although simple, these different opinions can lead to a little or a lot of frictions in relationships.

I recommend sitting down with your family (spouse, significant other, children, whomever you live with) and talking about the expectations. Come to compromise. Although, yes you are always right, you do need to compromise about how all of you will maintain your home.

Divide Labor

After defining expectations, open it up for everyone to select the tasks for the week, month, or day that they would like to do. Now, if there were things that you were challenged to agree on, maybe one of you decide that they will always do that task. I really do not enjoy doing the dishes, so my husband primarily does the dishes. This does not mean that I cannot, but in most cases that will be his task. He does not like to fold and put away laundry, so this is my job. I am particular about it and find it somewhat relaxing.

Break it down into reasonable sections

Yes, there are days that I would love to clean the entire house top to bottom, re-organizing, de-cluttering, and doing a good deep clean. This is my therapy. BUT the reality is that in my season of life this is not going to happen. In order for me to maintain what I consider clean, I need to do a little bit at a time. That may come in the form of 20  minutes in the morning or in the afternoon. Maybe it is 10 minute breaks throughout the day. Or for some, it is an entire hour a couple times a week. It does not matter what it looks like, just that you agree on a plan.

My recommendation is using my non-negotiable rule. Pick 1 -3 things that you will call your non-negotiables. These are 1 -3 tasks that make your home feel a little cleaner and more organized.  Set a timer and focus on those tasks alone. If you get more done, great.

We have to maintain our space as a family. I am a firm believer that it takes an entire family to make a mess, so it should take an entire family to clean up. The more people involved, the less time it should take in theory. Having a strategy and clear expectations goes a long way.

Intentional Living Tip:

Take some time to work with your family on defining a routine, a schedule, expectations, and a plan. Now, it is a process, so it will take time to build a new habit. Organization and clean is a lifestyle. Take action steps. Do not worry about perfection. There are no wrong answers. It needs to just make sense for you and your family in their current season. Let me know how I can help!

Join the Facebook group – Home Intentionally!

Ashley