Let’s get REAL about how we FEEL. Life is not a highlight reel.

Last night, I shared a post on social media about a bad day that I was having. I’ve been taken aback by the outpouring of support and solidarity that I have received in response to this post, and I wanted to share a little bit about this here on my blog.

You can click here to see the FB post I am talking about and read all of the comments.

Here is what I shared:

Today was not a good day. I had terrible anxiety. I cried about 12 times. I argued with my husband. I got angry at people (mostly myself).

For the last 10 years I’ve been coping with anxiety in all natural ways, and it works really well about 90% of the time. But the other 10% of the time, on days like today, I feel crazy and wonder if there’s something really wrong with me.

And still, there’s a big part of me that believes that it’s really normal, and really HUMAN to feel a little bit crazy sometimes. To have ups and downs. To experience the full spectrum of emotions that the human experience affords us… even when they are uncomfortable.

So tonight, I’m ending the day the best way I know how… with beach walks and hugs from my little family. Tomorrow I’ll try again. I’ll do some more yoga. I’ll take some supplements. I’ll use my essential oils. I’ll get outside. I’ll eat more veggies. I’ll work a little, read a little, and relax a little. I’ll enjoy some alone time and then some family time. I’ll try to have a better day and give myself grace even if it doesn’t work out that way.

I don’t know why I’m sharing this. Maybe in hopes that this helps someone out there who feels similarly. Maybe in hopes that someone says “me too” and lets me know I am not the only “crazy” one. Maybe just because I needed to get this out so I’m not bottling it all up inside, and writing is my best outlet.

Either way, this is me today. My life is not a highlight reel. We all have good days and bad days. If you happen to be having a bad day, you’re not the only one. And we might both be just a good night’s sleep away from our next good day. I certainly hope so! Goodnight, friends. Be well!

 

In just the 12 hours since I shared this post, I have received hundreds of likes, comments, and personal messages.

And here’s the thing. What I wrote is really not that special! I think that the reason that so many people felt called to respond is because they saw a piece of themselves in what I had written. We ALL have bad days! We ALL have feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, and sadness. It’s just that we don’t always talk about it.

This is the downside of social media. We are surrounded by people sharing the very best parts of their lives. And there’s nothing wrong with that… I do it too, and I get it! We all want to remember and hold onto the good days, the happy moments, the great times.

But, the shadow side of that is that in ONLY acknowledging the highs, we make ourselves wrong for feeling the lows. And in doing that we do everyone a disservice.

The human experience is not all good, no matter how much we wish it could be. We are meant to feel ups and downs, highs and lows, elation, sorrow, and everything in between. This is all a part of life! We need to get real about our life experiences and normalize not just the good, but also the bad.

When all that we see around us are shiny, happy moments, we feel that there is something wrong with us when we do not feel shiny and happy. But the truth is that there is NOTHING wrong with us. We are perfectly normal in ALL of our human experiences, in all of our feelings, in all of our shortcomings, in all of our imperfections.

This does not mean that we should stop striving to be happy. In fact, just the opposite. In having the courage to acknowledge and feel ALL of our feelings, we are able to move through them more quickly. We are able to get curious about our patterns and begin to truly heal them. We learn to appreciate the good moments even more. It is in this process that we find TRUE happiness.

So, what can we do about this?! How can we start to normalize the not-so-happy feelings?

I have 3 suggestions –

1) Be as kind to yourself as you would to a (Facebook) friend. I think that part of the reason why my Facebook post received so many interactions, is because as humans, we are naturally programmed to want to help one another. (And I am so grateful for that!)

When we see that someone is struggling, it is in our nature to want to help, to reach out with a comforting word, to let them know that they are not alone, and that whatever they are going through is perfectly normal, and that things will get better.

But, the problem is that we don’t always extend these same niceties to ourselves! How many of us judge ourselves for having a bad day? How many of us beat ourselves up after making a mistake? How often do we obsess over arguments and past hurts?

We are all our own worst critics. It’s time for us to work on the relationship that we have with ourselves. It’s time for us to start treating ourselves just as kindly (if not moreso!) as we would a friend, acquaintance, or stranger who is going through a hard time.

2) Talk about how you feel. – The ONLY way that we will every normalize anxiety, depression, anger, rage, and sadness is by talking about it! We have to get real and start talking about ALL of our feelings, NOT just the ones that we think are “good” ones! They are all good. It’s all good. We are all good! We need to stop labeling ourselves, judging ourselves, and compartmentalizing ourselves. We need to stop hiding parts of who we are. We need to start speaking up about all of our experiences.

You don’t have to talk about it on social media. But you can talk about it to your close friends, parents, husbands, partners, and other loved ones. The important thing is that you get it out there. Make it a part of your everyday conversations. Let the people you love and trust see ALL of you. I promise they are strong enough to handle it. Chances are, they will relate. In sharing our struggles, we give others around us permission to share theirs, or at the very least to see that they are not the only ones going through something.

So, start talking! It’s the only way to normalize these feelings and start creating a change.

3) Be your own advocate. – YOU are always the #1 expert on YOU. When you are going through a difficult time and begin sharing about it, you may receive advice and suggestions from others who want to help, which is great. However, always trust yourself and tune into your own inner wisdom. YOU are the one who knows what’s best for you.

If you are feeling mad, sad, anxious, or depressed, it’s time to advocate for yourself and give yourself what you need. Do you need to go for a run? Do you need to take a break? Do you need time alone? Do you need a night out with your girlfriends? Do you need a hug? Do you need to talk to a therapist? Do you need outside help? What do you need?

Figure out what you need and then don’t be afraid to ask for it.


To be honest, it was a little scary for me to share this post yesterday, but now I am so glad that I did. It certainly helped me see that I am not alone, and that even more people than I was aware of share in similar struggles.

I was a little bit nervous to share about my own struggles, not only because they are not often talked about publicly, but also because I thought it might damage my credibility. I mean… part of my job is helping women who are struggling with stress and anxiety! Would anyone trust me to help them if they see that I still struggle myself?

But, now I am starting to see that the reason why I am an expert on anxiety relief is BECAUSE I still struggle with it myself! The fact that I still have my own challenges, but am 100% committed to working my way through them is what allows me to relate to my clients and support them in the ways that I want to be supported myself.

In my experience, the best kind of coaching is about getting support and guidance from someone who is just a few steps ahead of you, not about learning from some sort of holier than thou superhuman who has every aspect of life figured out! (Does this even exist?) I understand these struggles firsthand. I am always learning, always growing, and always devoted to living my best, happiest life, despite whatever challenges I may be facing. I am here to help you do the same.

So, if you are struggling with feelings of stress and anxiety and are looking for some support… here are some resources to help you:

1) I currently offer 2 different ways of working with me privately. One is a one time strategy session and the other is a 3 month package for women who are looking for ongoing support. Click here to learn more.

2) If you are a mom with young children and you want to teach them healthy ways of coping with their feelings (while learning them yourself), my Yoga With Littles course is currently open for enrollment at a special presale price of 50% off! This special offer ends tomorrow 7/31, so click here to check it out now before the price goes up.

I started teaching yoga to my daughter when she was just 2 months old, because I didn’t want her to grow up with the same struggles with anxiety that I did. If you can relate to this, this course may be the perfect gift for both you and your child(ren)!


I hope this message serves you in some way. Let’s go out into our lives and create change. Let’s be brave enough to stand up for ourselves and our wellbeing. Let’s be real and share how we feel. No matter what we see pictured around us, life is not a highlight reel!

Take good care and be well my friends.

Lots of love,
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

 

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

 

 

Top 5 Essential Oils for Anxiety

Top 5 Essential Oils for Anxiety

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this week, my sister reminded me of the Lao Tzu quote that states that “If you are anxious, you are living in the future.” This is so true. When we feel anxiety arise, it is because we are worried or fearful about the future, and thinking about something that has not yet happened. When we focus on the present moment, we are able to see that all is well as it is right now, and that even if things are difficult, we are capable of managing whatever is happening in this moment. The present moment is really all we have, so it makes sense that this is where we should be focusing our energies and efforts.

Using essential oils is a great way to get grounded into the present moment. Essential oils have many healing properties, many of which are beneficial and helpful for coping with anxiety. By using these oils, we are able to bring our attention back to the present moment, and also reap the plant medicine of the oils.

These are my top 5 favorite essential oils for anxiety:

1) Lavender – Lavender is often called the “gateway oil”, because it oftentimes starts people off on their essential oils journey. I always recommend starting with lavender when dealing with anxiety. I like to diffuse this oil while I sleep to help promote a good night’s rest, and bring about feelings of calm and relaxation.

2) Frankincense – Frankincense is another great oil to use for anxiety. It is a special and grounding oil that can bring about feelings of being more peaceful, rooted, and grounded. I often mix frankincense and lavender in the diffuser before bed, and I also like to put a drop in my moisturizer, which feels really luxurious.

3) Clary Sage – Clary Sage has many soothing and calming properties. It is one of the most relaxing and balancing essential oils. I like to keep clary sage on hand and use whenever feelings of worry or anxiety pop up. I usually put this oil on my pulse points; wrists, back of neck, and over my heart, to help ease tension.

4) Vetiver – Vetiver is a lesser known oil, but it is one of my favorites for combatting anxiety. It has a very earthy scent that makes me feel more connected to the earth, which is something that I crave during times of high anxiety. Vetiver is very calming and has many stabilizing properties. I’ve recently started putting a couple of drops on the bottoms of my feet every morning, and then going for a barefoot walk in my backyard. This helps me start the day feeling calm and grounded.

5) Console – I tried to stick with mostly single oils in this list, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Console, doTerra’s comforting blend. Console is my #1 top essential oil for battling feelings of anxiety. It is extremely nurturing, comforting, and soothing, and feels like a hug in a bottle. I adore this oil, and it has been my saving grace through many anxious situations. I apply it topically several times a day whenever my anxiety starts to feel unmanageable.

Do you use essential oils to promote feelings of relaxation and reduce anxiety? What are your favorite oils to use? I would love to hear in the comments below!

If you are not yet using essential oils and want to learn more about how they can help you manage anxiety, or any other challenges you may be facing, I would love to help! These oils have been extremely helpful to me in managing my anxiety, as well as in countless other ways. I signed up as a Wellness Advocate with doTerra so that I can help spread this knowledge, since it has helped me so much in my own life.

If you want to learn more, you can head on over to my doTerra website here: https://www.mydoterra.com/mamabirdwellnest/  or send me an email by filling out the contact form below. I would love to help you get started on your own oily journey!

Wishing you a week of peace + calm.

Be well,
Ambar