A Drama-Free Way to Get Rid of Your Kids’ Halloween Candy

how to get rid of halloween candyHi friends! I hope you all had a happy Halloween week celebrating with your families!

After a fun filled week full of trick or treating, friends and family, we’ve hit a turning point related to the sugar consumption in our household. That’s what I want to talk to you about today!

I’ve always been really conscious of the effect that sugar has on our little ones. I’ve seen firsthand how quickly it can affect my 3 year old daughter, June, and have noticed that whenever she has too much sugar she becomes hyper, a little crazy, and really emotional. I’ve also witnessed the addictive nature of sugar, and how one treat quickly leads to a desire to have another, and then another, leading to an unhealthy cycle.

As a result of this, we try to limit sugar in our house. We drink water instead of juice unless it’s a special occasion and try to make healthier choices with snacks. I believe in moderation, so we still have treats and desserts but we make a conscious effort to choose them wisely.

Due to the nature of Halloween we’ve had more candy than usual in the house this week. This is the first year that June really understands Halloween so I’ve let her indulge a bit more than usual. On Halloween day, she had way too much candy which led to a terrible night where she was hyper and rambunctious in the bath, which was not only chaotic, but also dangerous, and then she refused to go to sleep. It was a rough night that reminded me why I usually limit her sugar intake.

At the end of the night, I felt terrible because I knew that this was something that could have been avoided. I felt guilty seeing June not acting like herself and knowing that it was a direct result of my permissiveness with the candy, so I decided to throw the remaining candy away.

I knew that this would lead to tears the next morning when she inevitably asked for more candy, but luckily, I heard about a Halloween legend called the “Switch Witch” and that saved the day!

The Switch Witch is a witch that comes on Halloween and switches out your kids’ candy with a toy or present! I LOVED this idea and knew that it was the right choice for our family since we were all at the end of our rope with the candy consumption.

The next morning when June woke up, we talked about what happened the night before and how eating too much candy can make us feel a little wild and crazy, and can even make us sick. I told her that the Switch Witch had taken her candy, but would be coming back to replace it with a gift while she was at school. She got really excited about it and forgot all about the candy, instead talking about the toy she hoped she would get.

When I picked her up from school, the first thing she said was “Mommy did the Switch Witch come?!” I told her that she had and then when she get home she opened her present and played with it the rest of the afternoon… candy long forgotten!

I love the idea of the Switch Witch because I believe in rewarding ourselves for making smart choices.

If you are a candy hating mom like I am ;), I invite you to try this idea! Talk to your children honestly about why giving up their candy is a good idea. Tell them about the Switch Witch and see how they react.

Seeing the negative effects of sugar on my little one has also made me more conscious of the effects that it has not just on children, but on all of us. I have always had a sweet tooth and as a result, it is something that I try to limit in my diet, however, it’s also something that easily sneaks back in. Watching the addictive effects of it on my daughter has caused me to reflect on my own addictive tendencies with sugar, and I’ve started to really clean up our pantry and start my own sugar detox.

If sugary snacks and candy are something that you struggle with yourself, I invite you to use the Switch Witch idea for yourself! Clean out your pantry of excess candy, sugar, and sweets and reward yourself with something that you have been looking forward to! I am treating myself to a new pair of sneakers as a way to symbolize the healthier lifestyle that I am embarking on.

Please let me know if you try out the Switch Witch idea and how it goes for you!

Wishing you a happy and healthy week ahead!

Be well,
Ambar

P.S. If you are looking for other ways for you and your little ones to stay healthy, I am teaching a FREE Mommy & Me Yoga class at Athleta in Shrewsbury later this month. If you are a local NJ mom, I’d love for you to come! Click here for all the details and sign up! 🙂 I can’t wait to see you and your little ones in person!

Are You an Emotional Eater? 4 Steps to Food Freedom

emotional eatingHello my friends! Today I want to talk to you about a topic that feels a little bit vulnerable to talk about… emotional eating!

Can you relate to being an emotional eater? Do you ever turn to food for comfort instead of nourishment? If so, then this is for  you.

I have had my own share of struggles with emotional eating since I was young. I’ve always had a sweet tooth and remember sneaking cookies and sweets as a little girl, or grabbing a pile of snacks and sitting in front of the TV whenever I wanted to veg out after a long day. As I grew up, I found myself continuing this habit which started to lead to a bit of an unhealthy lifestyle.

What started to happen was that I found myself in this constant pattern of yo-yo dieting. For years, I would either be on a diet or off a diet. When I was on a diet, I would try to be meticulous with my eating and only eat things that I considered “healthy”. And, when I was off my diet, it was a total free for all of cookies, chips, and processed foods. This would continue until I would either notice that I was gaining too much weight, or just start feeling physically ill to the point where I had to stop… and then it was time to get back on a diet!

This unhealthy cycle consumed me for many years, until I became pregnant with my daughter. I suffered from terrible morning sickness during the first 4 months of my pregnancy, and had no choice but to start developing a relationship with my body and listening to it for clues as to what it wanted me to eat. Sometimes this was a cookie or a chip, and other times it was fruit and veggies. For the first time in my life, I started to find balance.

After I had my daughter, my mentality around food had shifted, and I decided that I was never going to go on a diet again. I didn’t want my daughter to grow up with a mother who has an unhealthy relationship with food and is always trying to lose weight! I want her to grow up learning healthy habits from me, and seeing that I love my body and treat it well. I know that our children learn more from what we do than from what we say, and so the only way to teach her to love her body is by loving my own body and treating it with kindness.

I’m proud to say that I’ve stuck with my non-diet mentality for the past 3 years. However, the one thing that has continued to plague me is the instinct to use food as a coping mechanism. When times in my life get stressful, I still find myself wanting to turn to food for comfort. This is something that I continuously have to work on.

Last week, I was talking to my friend Angelle who happens to be a women’s health and nutrition coach. I was talking to her about how I had been in a bit of a slump the past couple of weeks. As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, I have been feeling really emotional about my daughter starting school this year, coming to terms with the fact that the baby years are over, and that both she and I will be starting on a new journey this fall.

I started to realize that I had fallen back into my old patterns of emotional eating because I didn’t really want to deal with all of the emotions that I was facing. For the past few weeks, I had fallen back into the habit of using sugary and processed foods to numb out and avoid coping with my feelings.

This in turn, had caused me to fall into a little bit of a slump where I was feeling really anxious and a bit depressed. Angelle helped me see that the food that we eat really affects our mood. When we use unhealthy food to cope with our feelings, it leads us down this vicious cycle where we are eating too much sugar, processed foods, salt, etc… and then the food has a physiological effect where it physically makes us feel even worse… which then leads to us feeling even more anxious and depressed, and going back to the unhealthy foods to try to cover up those feelings!

It’s really a crazy and harmful cycle.

Once I recognized that this was what I had been doing, I started to realize that I could interrupt this pattern and take steps to change it.

Now, just one week later, I am happy to report that I have stopped my emotional eating cycle and am feeling SO much better! My anxiety and depression have completely lifted! I have lost 4 lbs. And, I was able to handle my daughter’s first day of school with grace. I still shed a few tears, but I didn’t feel completely consumed by anxious thoughts as I had been the past few weeks. All of this after just ONE WEEK of eating well and giving my feelings a voice.

If you can relate to this unhealthy cycle of bad food causing a bad mood, then here is a 4 step process that you can use to help stop the cycle of emotional eating:

1) Notice your patterns – Take a nonjudgmental look at the actions that you’ve been taking. Have you been using food as a coping mechanism instead of as a source of nourishment? Do you ever turn to food when you feel sad, down, or anxious?

2) Take stock of your emotions – How are you feeling? Are you trying to avoid feeling difficult emotions? When you are honest with yourself, can you admit that you have been feeling angry, overwhelmed, or depressed?

3) Make a commitment to feeling your feelings – Next time that you find yourself wanting to turn to food for comfort, make a commitment to being with your feelings for a few minutes instead. Get out a journal and write out anything that is bothering you. Give your thoughts and feelings a voice. Let it all out and don’t hold back. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is that you are feeling.

4) Decide how you will move forward – Now that you are conscious and aware of your emotions, it’s time to decide what to do next. Ask yourself: what will REALLY make me feel better? Be open to new ideas such as talking to a friend, going for a walk, taking some alone time, or getting some fresh air. See if you are willing to take one of these actions instead of turning to food for comfort. If you still want to turn to your comfort food, you can, but this time you will be fully conscious of what you are doing, which will create a completely different experience.


I hope that you find this process helpful!

The thing about these 4 steps is that they are fairly simple and straight forward, but they are not always easy to do when we are feeling stuck in old patterns or deeply entrenched in a vicious cycle.

If you would like some additional support as you navigate your relationship with food, then I have a really great program to share with you!

My friends Angelle and Jill at the Nourish to Flourish Society are running their seasonal 14 Day Reset this fall!

This is a program that I do every year to help me get back on track with healthy eating and set myself up for success!

The 14 Day Reset includes:

  • 14 day meal plan including recipes, prep lists, shopping lists, & seasonal fall food chart
  • Full menu plan including – smoothie guide, breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, eating out guide, and no recipe needed, simple & easy meal ideas
  • Daily emails with soul practices and self care strategies to support you on an emotional level
  • 2 live coaching calls on how to handle cravings
  • Group support via a private FB group for community, encouragement, and inspiration from hundreds of other women who are going through the program with you

I love this program so much and will be going through it for the 4th time this fall! If you are ready to get to the bottom of your emotional eating for good and stop this negative relationship with food from taking over your life, then I hope you’ll join me!

After my first two times going through this program and noticing how different I felt, I decided to become an affiliate because I found it to be so well rounded and helpful. As I mentioned before, I am not at all into starvation cleanses or fad diets, and I find the 14 Day Reset to be a really holistic way of taking care of our bodies as well as our minds. If you need help in this area, I know that you’ll love this program as much as I do!

Click here to learn more about the reset and sign up!

I am wishing all of us a year full of good health and happiness!

Be well,
Ambar

 

The ONE Question that will ALWAYS Help You Make the Right Decision

one question to make decision making easy

Hi friends!

I spent most of the day yesterday at a half day yoga retreat and it was so wonderful! Taking this uninterrupted time for myself to practice yoga, connect with my spirit, and meet other like minded women was exactly what my soul needed.

However, I almost didn’t go… I had signed up for this event a week in advance, and as it got closer and closer I started second guessing myself and asking myself if I really wanted to go. I started to feel guilty that I would be missing out on a whole morning of activities with my husband and daughter. I started worrying that I didn’t really know anyone going to the event and would feel awkward or uncomfortable. I was a little anxious because I had never been to a retreat like this before and didn’t really know what to expect.

Does this happen to you before doing something new? Maybe you can relate…

But, then I asked myself the one question that always helps me get clear in situations like this:

“Who do I want to be?”

Who do I want to be?! I want to be a woman who goes on yoga retreats! I want to be a woman who takes care of her mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing. I want to be the kind of mother that shows her daughter that taking good care of herself is absolutely necessary. I want to be someone who takes time to nurture her own needs, wants, and desires. I want to be someone who has local friends who are interested in yoga, spirituality, and share similar interests. I want to be someone who is brave enough to try new things. I want to be someone who knows that taking good care of herself is just as important as taking care of others. I want to be a woman who has a strong connection with God, who knows how to quiet her mind, who listens when she is being guided.

These are all things that yoga does for me… and so, from this place of looking at the person I most want to be, it became crystal clear that I needed to go on this retreat!

This could have gone a different way… If my answer to the question, “Who do I want to be?” was something along the lines of: I want to be someone who spends every waking moment with her family. I want to be someone who feels safe and comfortable and isn’t interested in trying new things. I want to be someone who has a solid home yoga practice and doesn’t feel the need to be part of a community… if this had been my truth, then it would have been clear that this retreat was not something that was in alignment with the person I want to be.

It all comes down to asking the question, “Who do I want to be?” and then taking time to answer it truthfully. Deep down, we all know who we most want to be… what our best selves look like. We just need to make the space in our lives to answer this question and then do the things that help us move forward as this true version of ourselves. When we do this, we can rest assured that we are making the right decisions. Our desires are always guiding us in the right direction.

And so, after spending the morning at this yoga retreat yesterday, I am feeling peaceful, connected, and inspired. I am proud of myself for trying something new. I returned to my family feeling refreshed and spent the afternoon being fully present with them. I am glad that I took this much needed time for myself.

Next time that you are feeling a little stuck or anxious about doing something new, ask yourself this question: Who do I want to be? And then go forward and do whatever you need to do to start being the person who you most want to be! This is the path to fulfillment.

Be well,
Ambar

 

3 Reasons Why You Need an Evening Routine

why you need an evening routine

Hey friends,

I’ve talked a lot about why having a morning routine is so important. Now I want to share why having an evening routine matters just as much!

I have found that having both morning and evening routines is a beautiful way to start and end the day feeling calm, centered, and well taken care of. Taking just a few minutes for ourselves at the beginning and end of our day goes a long way toward decreasing stress and anxiety.

Now that you’ve learned about the importance of morning routines, let’s talk about 3 reasons why you need an evening routine:

 

1) An evening routine helps you shift from “go” mode to relaxation mode.

Many of us spend most of our days running from one activity to the next without taking a moment to rest. This can make it incredibly difficult to wind down when it’s time to go to sleep, as our minds are still running and processing all that we have kept up with that day. Having an evening routine gives our minds white space and allows our bodies to slow down and get ready to rest.

2) An evening routine promotes better sleep.

Every mother knows that having a bedtime routine is critical in order to get young kids to go to sleep and stay asleep. The same is true for adults! Having the same evening routine night after night creates signals in our brain to let it know that it’s time to go to sleep. Taking a few moments to relax before bedtime helps promote deep relaxation which allows us to get a better quality of sleep.

3) An evening routine sets you up for success the following day.

Better rest equals better sleep quality, which equals a more productive morning! When we are well rested, it becomes easier to wake up feeling happy, positive, and energetic the following day. Having a solid evening routine is where our rest cycle begins.

Now that you are starting to see the value of implementing an evening routine, here are 3 ways that you can start your own evening routine, no matter how tired you are:

 

1) Set a shut down time for electronics

Our phones and tablets are the enemy of sleep! Scrolling through Facebook or Instagram can seem like an easy way to wind down at night, but it really does more harm than good. The lights from our devices can be stressful, and scrolling mindlessly can lead to comparing ourselves to other people’s highlight reels, or clicking on articles that are anything but relaxing. Also, it is all too easy to lose track of time and find ourselves up way past our bedtime because we were on our phone. Put an end to the temptation to scroll through your phone by setting a strict curfew and shutting your phone down or placing it in another room at least one hour before bedtime.

2) Keep a notebook next to your bed

Having pressing thoughts or items to add to our to-do list can prevent us from falling asleep, as we feel like there is still something left to do, therefore we can’t fully relax. I like to keep a notebook next to my bed, so that if something comes to mind as I’m trying to wind down, I can simply make a note of it for the next day. Getting our thoughts out on paper keeps them from wreaking havoc on our minds so that we can start to truly rest and relax.

3) Start slow

If you are starting an evening routine for the first time, it is unrealistic to think that you are going to take an hour or more to relax each evening. Start with taking just 15-20 minutes each night to do a relaxing activity before bed. You can choose to take a bath, read a book, write in your journal, or anything else that feels calming and relaxing to you. Choose something that will help you unwind from the day and get ready to sleep.

I hope that you are starting to see the benefits of having an evening routine. In the comments below, I’d love to hear about your evening routine! What do you like to do right before bed? Do you currently have an evening routine in place, or is this something new to you?

Wishing you a week full of rest and relaxation.

Be well,
Ambar

 

 

How to Process Grief

how to process grief

Hi friends,

I am coming to you with the heavier topic of how to process grief today. My community of friends from college was hit hard this week with the tragic and untimely death of one of our own. I know that some of you who follow my blog and read my emails are currently coping with this massive loss. I imagine that others of you in other parts of the world may be dealing with your own experiences of grief. Whether you have experienced grief in the past or you are grieving right now, the truth is that grief is a human emotion that every single one of us will face from time to time. I am writing this for all of us.

I have experienced a lot of loss in my life. I don’t say that so that you feel sorry for me; it’s just the facts. Throughout the years I have lost many people who I loved and cared about. I have learned a lot about grief from going through these experiences, and I want to share this knowledge with you in hopes that it will make your grief process a little more easeful. At the very least, I hope that this will help you see that whatever you are feeling is completely valid, and that you are not alone in this process.

You may have heard about the 5 stages of grief. I will briefly outline them below:

1) Denial – The first stage is often denial. When we face a major loss, oftentimes the first emotion that we feel is denial. We think “But that’s not possible, I just spoke her to yesterday”, or “this can’t be real”. We shut ourselves off from the pain. These thoughts are the natural way in which our minds process the shock.

2) Anger – Anger is often thought to be the second stage of the grief process. After the initial shock wears off, it’s natural for us to feel angry and pissed off. We think about how unfair life can be. We get angry at God. We wonder how we can live in a universe where things such as this happen.

3) Bargaining – The third stage of grief is said to be bargaining. We start to think thoughts along the lines of “Maybe if I had stayed with him last night, this wouldn’t have happened.” or “I should have called her.” or “Why didn’t we get medical attention sooner?” This is part of the grieving process as our minds are trying to make sense of a senseless situation and process what has happened.

4) Depression – The fourth stage is often described as depression. We fall into a deep, dark sadness over the loss that we are experiencing. We cry and mourn. We are slowly coming to terms with our loss and realizing it that it is real and there is no going back.

5) Acceptance – The fifth and final stage of the grief process is acceptance. By this point, we have processed many of our emotions and are starting to come to terms with what has happened and starting to accept this new reality that we find ourselves in.

For anyone that is coping with death or loss of any kind, I have 5 suggestions for how to manage this difficult time as gracefully as possible.

1) Know that these 5 stages are not linear. The 5 stages of grief are often thought to be a linear path where you go from denial to anger to bargaining to depression, and that by the time you get to acceptance, you have completely moved on.

In my eyes, it’s not quite so simple. Grief is such a personal process and you may find yourself returning to one of the earlier stages at any given time. I believe that time lessens grief and makes it easier to cope, however, it is very natural to get to a point where we are living in acceptance most of the time, and then something happens that triggers us to feeling angry or depressed again. This is all part of the process and does not mean that you are doing anything wrong, that you are moving backwards, or that you are not on your way to healing. It simply means that you are on your own individual journey.

2) Don’t judge yourself. A common thing that happens when we are grieving is that we begin to judge ourselves and our feelings. If we find ourselves lingering in the depression stage, we may start to think thoughts like, “But, it’s been 2 years, I should be over this by now.”, or “I wasn’t even that close with them, this shouldn’t be hitting me so hard.” Other times, we judge ourselves by thinking that we are moving on too quickly. We find ourselves laughing and enjoying life, and we instantly feel guilty and think that we should not be feeling anything other than sorrow.

There is no place for judgment in the grief process. Each one of us grieves in our own unique way. There is no set time limit for how long it should take to feel better. There is no hierarchy in the grief process; all feelings are valid. It is completely valid to feel grief for the loss of not only our closest friends and family members, but also acquaintances, old friends who we lost touch with, and even celebrities who we never met personally. Life is about connecting and touching other people’s lives. Grief is a sign that you were emotionally connected to someone; that their life mattered to you; that they made an impact and touched you in some way. Also, it is perfectly natural to be enjoying a happy moment laughing with your family one moment, and then be hit by a wave of sadness over the loss of your good friend in the next. This does not mean that you loved them any less. This is all normal. It is all natural. There is no right or wrong. In life, there are moments of beauty even in the midst of darkness. Try to soak in every light-filled moment you can get, especially when you are grieving.

3) Be with your feelings. I think that many times when we are grieving, we want to skip over the unpleasant feelings. But, by not taking the time to sit with our sadness, anger, or whatever else we may be feeling, we prolong the grief process. Unprocessed emotions have nowhere to go, so they get stuck in our bodies, making us feel worse. Take time to sit with and acknowledge anything you may be feeling.

4) Let your feelings out. After you have acknowledged your feelings, it’s important to get them out so that they don’t wreak havoc on your body. Let your feelings out by talking with someone you trust, doing physical activity, crying into a pillow, or seeing a therapist. The important thing here is to give your feelings a way to leave your body.

5) Don’t grieve alone. When we are faced with the heaviness of loss, many of us have the instinct to isolate ourselves. We want nothing more than to crawl into a cave where we can hide out for awhile and not have to face the world. This is one of the worst things that we can do.

If you get one thing out of this post, let it be this: Don’t grieve alone. Tell people how you feel. Write in a journal. Send an email. Schedule a therapy appointment. Join a support group. Speak with others who understand. Create new rituals to honor those you have lost. Do this all in the company of good people who care about you and your wellbeing.

You are not alone.

Sending love and strength to anyone who is grieving right now.

Be well,
Ambar

 

Click below to download a free guide with 50 ways to relieve stress and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. 
decrease stress

 

What are your “Bad Habits” trying to teach you?

what are your bad habits trying to teach you?Do you ever notice yourself falling back into your bad habits and wishing that you could make them go away? I know I do! It wasn’t until recently that I realized that my bad habits aren’t really so bad after all… and that the reason that they keep reappearing is because they are trying to teach me something. Let me explain…

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I’ve had a stressful few months with my grandmother being in the hospital. This last week we made the decision to bring her home, and while it was the best decision, it was also an emotional one. I spent every day this week traveling back and forth trying to get everything settled for her to come home, and then checking in to make sure things were running smoothly once she was discharged. When I wasn’t at my grandparents’ house, I was still doing all of the things I do on a daily basis to make sure that my own life is taken care of; spending time with my husband and daughter, cleaning, running errands, making dinner, working on my blog, meeting with clients, etc.

My week was so busy that I had very little time to do anything for myself, and each night I found myself feeling depleted and exhausted. On Wednesday night, as I was driving home, I decided that I wanted to find a drive-through Dunkin Donuts so that I could get a hot chocolate. This in and of itself, wasn’t really a big deal… it was cold out, and during the winter I occasionally like to get hot chocolate as a treat. But then, when I found myself wanting hot chocolate again on Thursday, and then on Friday… I knew that something was up.

That’s when I realized that I was trying to use hot chocolate as a way of filling myself up, because there was something that was missing from my life. I realized that I hadn’t been making time to take care of myself this week; that I had been running around trying to take care of everyone else, and leaving myself running on empty. I was trying to fill this emptiness with hot chocolate!

Sometimes, when we find ourselves craving sweets, it’s a sign that we need to treat ourselves in other, more fulfilling ways.

Here is my 3 step process for noticing when this is happening to you and using your “bad habits” as opportunities to learn how to take better care of yourself.

Step 1: Notice your habits

In the story I just described, my “bad habit” was my sugar craving. At other points in my life, my habits have been a craving for wine every night after dinner, or a desire to veg out on the couch watching the Real Housewives. For you, they may be something entirely different. Only you know what your own bad habits are. Start to notice the ways in which you find yourself wanting to numb yourself out from the world a little bit. Notice when these habits start to become a pattern.

Step 2: Ask yourself what you really need

Our bad habits are really trying to teach us something; to help us tune in to something that we are missing. Once we start to look below the surface, we can find the deeper meaning behind our habits.

Take some time to sit quietly. Place one hand on your belly, and one hand on your heart. Close your eyes and take slow deep breaths. Then ask yourself, “What do I really need?” Keep asking this question until you get an answer.

You might discover that a craving for sweets is a sign that you need to treat yourself more sweetly; that you need to devote more time and attention to yourself. A craving for wine every night might be your body’s way of telling you that it needs more down time. A compulsion to watch the Real Housewives for hours on end may really mean that you are feeling stressed out and need some time to relax and unwind.

What are your habits trying to tell you? What do you really need?

Step 3: Change your habits

Now that you know what it is that you really need, you can start to change your habits and fuel yourself with activities and habits that make you feel good.

Once I realized that my desire for hot chocolate every day was really trying to tell me that I needed to take better care of myself, instead of turning to hot chocolate each day, I started finding ways to step up my self care. I started going to sleep earlier. I got back on track with my morning yoga routine. I started going for walks everyday. After just a couple of days of taking better care of myself, I started feeling better, and my craving for sweets started to go away!

So, next time you find yourself falling into some “bad habits”, have some compassion! Your bad habits aren’t there to annoy you or frustrate you. They are a sign that there is something deeper missing from your life. Become a detective and start to uncover the lessons underneath your habits! I know that you’ll start to feel so much better once you start building healthier habits and giving yourself whatever it is that you truly need.

I hope that you find this helpful! Have you had any revelations about your own habits while reading this? Please share in the comments below!

Be well,
Ambar

 

Stop Stress with this One Simple Step

how to stop stress and overwhelm

 

Hey friend!

I have a question for you… how do you handle stress and overwhelm?

I’ve recently had the realization that there are two major ways in which most of us manage stress in our lives.

The first way that many of us manage stress is by shutting down. Many of us feel a need to retreat when we feel overwhelmed by the world around us. We feel like there is just too much to manage, and so we choose to close ourselves off and take a break from dealing with the stressors at hand. We may isolate ourselves from the people that matter to us, avoid responsibilities, and feel a bit rundown and lethargic.

The second way that many of us manage stress is very much the opposite of the first. Instead of shutting down, many of us decide to add as many things as possible to our to-do list. We turn into overachievers and spend every second of the day checking things off our list. We believe that by being productive, we are proving that we can handle it all, and oftentimes handle it all by ourselves. We overextend ourselves so much, that we don’t have time to even think about our stressors. We may feel a bit exhausted and drained as a result.

The truth is, neither one of these two extremes is particularly helpful. In both instances, we are avoiding the very difficult task of coping with our feelings. Whether we choose to avoid our stressors by laying on the couch, or by adding on to our never-ending to do list, we are still very much avoiding something that needs to be addressed. And avoidance never leads to us feeling good. The only way out of stress and overwhelm is through these difficult feelings. We must take the time to figure out what is causing us to feel this way, do what we can to change the circumstances that are within our control, and accept and let go of the ones that are not.

So think about it… which of these two habits is your natural method of coping with stress and overwhelm? Do you tend to avoid and isolate, or overextend and overachieve?

Once you have figured out your natural tendencies, you can start taking small steps towards balance. The best way to do this is to notice when you catch yourself falling into your old patterns, and start to take a small step in the opposite direction.

If your natural tendency is to shut down and retreat from the world, you might decide to meet a friend for coffee, go for a walk, or have a dance party. These activities will uplift you and may give you the extra bit of motivation that you need to keep moving in a more positive direction.

If your natural tendency is to add on to your to-do list, you might instead decide to slow down by drinking a cup of tea, listening to some soothing music, or binge watching your favorite show on Netflix. These activities will encourage you to give yourself some space to breathe, rest, and recuperate.

I hope that you find this helpful! In the comments below, I would love to know which of these two tendencies do you naturally gravitate towards? I personally am more of a lay on the couch and avoid the world kind of girl, and I am well aware that this behavior is not serving me so I am going to be taking steps in the other direction. I hope that this encourages you to start noticing your own patterns and start taking steps towards more balance in your life.

Wishing you a peaceful week.

Be well,
Ambar

P.S. If you enjoyed this conversation, you would love my new Facebook group, The Stress Free Society. It’s a private space to connect with other women who are working to find inner peace in their busy lives. We have daily discussions on simple ways to decrease stress and anxiety and would love for you to join us! Click here to join the group now! 🙂 I look forward to connecting with you more personally in the group!

 

Want some help reducing stress and increasing peace? Click the photo below to download my FREE e-guide, 50 Ways to Feel Good Fast!

 

3 Steps to Bust Through a Bad Mood

How to bust through a Bad Mood

Through the years, I’ve learned many different ways to relieve stress, decrease anxiety, and cope with the stressors of life. You might think that I’m walking around in a little happy bubble all the time, but that’s not the case. I have challenging days just like everybody else, I get into bad moods, and sometimes I have trouble snapping out of them. The most interesting thing I’ve noticed is that the times in which I am feeling particularly stressed or anxious are usually the times when I am most resistant to doing the things that I know will make me feel better!

Things like taking an hour long yoga class or going in a quiet room to meditate are my go-to ideas for getting out of a bad mood and feeling better. But, they are not always conducive to my life. So, I’ve developed a simple 3 step process that I use to clear my energy and bounce back quickly whenever I find myself in a bad mood. The whole process does not take very long, and when I take the time to do it, I find myself feeling better immediately. I wanted to share with you, so that you can give it a try too!

3 Steps to Bust Through a Bad Mood:

1) Breathe

Many times when we find ourselves in stressful situations, our breathing gets shallow. When we are not taking big, full breaths, it sends a panic signal to our brain, that makes us feel even worse! Whenever I am feeling stressed or anxious, the first thing I do is bring my attention back to my breathing. I take deep belly breaths and imagine that my belly is a balloon that I am filling up with air. I breathe in and out slowly, counting to 5 on each inhale and exhale. Bringing the focus back to our breath is the simple first step to feeling better.

2) Feel

When we are in a bad mood, there is usually a reason behind it. It can be a simple irritation or aggravation, or result from weeks of pent up frustration. Instead of trying to forget about the things that are bothering us, it’s best to allow ourselves to feel them out. Take a few moments to try to recognize what you are feeling and try to give a word to it. It might be anger, sadness, guilt, anxiety, or something else. Notice what you are feeling and let yourself feel it. Sometimes I end up crying when I sit with my feelings, and other times I just breathe into them. The important thing is to give them permission to be there and actually FEEL them. (I have another blog post on How to Feel Your Feelings that you might find helpful if this is something that is difficult for you).

3) Move

Now that you’ve focused on your breath and given yourself space to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling, it’s time to move! Our emotions can get stuck in our body and make us feel worse if we don’t do something to get them out. Doing some sort of physical activity is a great way to move that negative energy out of your body. If you have some time at hand, this would be a great time to go for a long run or take your favorite exercise class. If time is limited, I might put on an upbeat, high energy song and have a dance party in my living room. (June and I have made dance parties a part of our regular routine for this very reason!). It’s almost impossible to stay stuck in a bad mood when you’re dancing like a maniac to Pharrell’s “Happy” or Katy Perry’s “Firework”. Other quick ways to move the energy out of your body might be to do 20 jumping jacks, jump on a mini trampoline, or even just hit a pillow. A few minutes is usually all it takes to get things moving and flowing through you.

And, there you have it; 3 simple steps to help you bust through a bad mood. Next time you are feeling a little bit off, I encourage you to take a few minutes to Breathe, Feel, and Move your way to feeling better! Please let me know how this goes for you in the comments below.

Be well,
Ambar

Opening Up About My Struggles With Anxiety + Depression

my struggles with anxiety and depression
This photo was taken 12 years ago, at the height of my struggle with clinical depression. If you knew me back then, you would have thought I was fun and carefree, but really I was miserable and careless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi friends,

I have a really heavy topic to talk about today. An old friend of mine took his own life this week and left a lot of people heart-broken. He was the kind of person that had a sparkling personality; charming, charismatic, always befriending everyone he encountered and making people laugh. We weren’t the closest of friends, but we were friends, and his life had an impact on me. This news has been really saddening and shocking. He was the last person that you would ever think was fighting their own inner battle.

But clearly, he was suffering. A lot. And it’s gotten me thinking about mental illness. And about how many people are suffering in silence.

I want to open up about my own struggles with anxiety and depression. As someone who has fought through the darkness and loneliness of mental illness, and come out the other side, I’m now learning that it is my responsibility to share what the experience is like, in hopes that someone else out there reads this and knows that they are not alone, and that happiness and healing are possible.

The photo above was taken 12 years ago at the height of my struggle with depression. If you knew me back then, chances are, you would not have known that I was depressed. Quite the opposite, really. I was in college, I was in a sorority, I had a lot of friends, and an even more active social life. I went out almost every night and spent the nights dancing on top of bars and laughing with my girl friends. I appeared happy and carefree on the outside.

But, on the inside, I was a mess. I was so miserable that I felt like I had to go out every night and drink as much as I possibly could to numb the pain that I was going through. I was dropping out of all of my college classes because my anxiety was so severe that I couldn’t make it to class. I was losing my job because I woke up depressed and hungover everyday and stopped showing up to work. I had stacks of unopened mail because I had so many unpaid bills piling up that I was too anxious and overwhelmed to even open them. At night, while I was drinking, I would engage in really careless, self destructive behavior. I was reckless with my life, because I didn’t think it held much meaning. I would wake up every morning filled with shame and anxiety over my poor choices the night before, and I would start figuring out a way to numb myself from my feelings all over again.

This is the darkness of depression. You care so little about yourself that you do things that you are not proud of, and then that makes you even more depressed. It’s a vicious cycle.

Just as we don’t expect a body that is fighting an illness to function the same as a healthy body, we cannot expect a mind that is ill to function optimally. Mental illness causes us to do things that we would not do if we were mentally healthy. And then we feel ashamed, or guilty, and we are too embarrassed to talk to anyone about how we are feeling. Many times, we think that our problems are trivial, or that no one will care, or that we are bringing these problems onto ourselves, or that we have privileged lives, so we have no right to feel this way. And so, we hide. And the pain gets worse.

This is what mental illness does to you.

As humans, we all experience a wide array of emotions. But we judge them as “good” or “bad”. We think that we should be walking around feeling good and happy all the time, and we feel like we are doing something wrong if we aren’t.

We ALL go through hard things. We all have parts of our lives that we wish were different. We’ve all done something that we are ashamed of. Even those of us who seem to be happy all the time, are not. Nobody is.

In this blog, I talk a lot about natural healing. I’m really proud of the fact that after struggling with my anxiety and depression for the better part of a decade, I was able to get off medication, and continue feeling better by practicing yoga and meditation, changing my mindset, and developing somewhat of a healthy obsession with self development.

But, it took me a lot of years in traditional therapy and on medication to get to a place where I was stable enough to heal naturally. I think that there is tremendous value in mainstream treatment such as therapy and medication. In some cases, it can be life-saving. I don’t know where I would be today if I had never asked for help by going to therapy.

I don’t often talk about it, but I still struggle with depression and anxiety from time to time. The only difference is that I now have so many more tools to manage it, that it does not feel as extreme as it once did, and it doesn’t last as long. But, I’ve come to terms with the fact that anxiety and depression are something that my mind is naturally prone to. It’s a battle that I’ll likely be fighting every time my life gets a little too stressful.

If you know me personally now, at this point in my life, you know that I’m a really happy and positive person. And the reason for that is that I’ve had to fight to get to this point. I am so grateful that I’ve been fortunate enough to heal myself and live a happy, healthy life. I feel extremely blessed. I’ve experienced the darkness and it is impossible not to be giddy with happiness that I now live in the light most of the time.

I personally believe that healing from mental illness starts by taking baby steps, and that the best approach is a holistic one. We can take medication to stabilize our symptoms. But if we are not also doing the deep inner work of talking about our feelings, learning healthier coping skills, and finding new ways to manage our feelings, medication alone is not enough. It can feel overwhelming to think about all of this when you are in the midst of a clinical depression or a full blown panic attack. But, the good news is, you don’t have to know all of the answers. It all starts by taking one small step: opening up to someone and sharing how you are feeling.

Mental illness thrives in the darkness. It takes on a life of its own by being kept in secret. It grows and festers in the darkness. It becomes all consuming when it is hidden.

What would happen if we all decided to stop suffering in silence? What if we stopped sharing only the good, happy-go-lucky parts of our lives, and started to let people know where we are struggling? What if we shared how we are really feeling? What if it could become normal to ask for help?

We might save each other. We might save ourselves.

If you are struggling or going through a hard time in anyway, please tell someone. It doesn’t have to be a big, major thing that you are going through. Even the smallest challenges deserve to be brought to the light. And when we get in the habit of talking about our small challenges, it makes it so much easier to talk about the bigger ones.

Reach out and talk to someone today. Share your struggles, and ask them what theirs are. And then, really listen. We all need each other more than we know.

Thank you for listening to my story.

Be well,
Ambar

 

 

How to be Holistically Happy and Healthy (Mind, Body, & Spirit)

holistic happy and healthy

Hi friends!

Mama Bird Well Nest is all about encouraging you to live a holistically happy and healthy life. To me, this means making sure that ALL parts of our well-being are being cared for; mind, body, and spirit. I believe that if one of these areas is not being met, it is simply not possible to feel truly happy and healthy.

September always feels like the beginning of the year to me; a time to refocus and set some new goals. This fall, I’m taking some small, doable actions to work toward a healthier mind, body, and spirit. I wanted to share the simple goals I’ve set and the small steps I have been taking to encourage you to set some simple holistic health goals of your own.

Healthy Mind

I am someone who always likes to be learning. One of the ways that I most enjoy learning and keeping my mind working is by reading. I have committed to reading a little bit each night before going to bed. My husband just bought Rich Dad, Poor Dad to encourage me to get more interested in our finances. Have you read it? By reading this and other self development books I am learning something new and keeping my mind working. A working mind is a happy mind. 🙂

Healthy Body

I have started meal planning for the week each Sunday and am focusing on eating whole, fresh foods. Starting next week, I will be participating in the Nourish to Flourish Society’s 14 Day Reset, which is all about eating seasonally and having the tools to feel good in our bodies and figure out the emotional reasons behind our cravings. This will be my third time participating in this cleanse, and I learn something new each time!

Healthy Spirit

If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you may have seen that I am participating in a 30 Day Yoga Challenge throughout the month of September! After letting my yoga practice become nonexistent this summer, I am easing back into my practice by committing to getting on my mat for a minimum of 10 minutes a day. To me, yoga is so much more than a physical practice; it’s a way to take time for myself and tune into my spiritual side. I’m a week into the challenge and already feeling so much better!

As you can see, setting holistic health goals does not have to be earth shattering. Small, consistent steps are all it takes to live happier and healthier lives. I made sure that these goals are achievable by making sure to keep to the SMART goal criteria, and making them specific, measurable, actionable, results-oriented, time bound.

Now over to you! What small goals can you set to be a little happier and healthier this fall? Let me know in the comments below! Let’s support one another and keep each other accountable for reaching our goals! 🙂

Be happy. Be healthy.

Be well,
Ambar

P.S. If you would like to join me in the 14 Day Reset that I’m starting next week, you can get all the details here! After participating in this cleanse last spring and fall, I’ve now become an affiliate for the program because it has helped me so much! If you are looking to lose weight, feel great in your body, and finally do some inner work to figure out the emotional side of your eating habits, this cleanse might be perfect for you! Get all the details here and let me know if you decide to join so that we can support each other! 🙂