3 Words to Stop Stress in its Tracks

 

3 words to stop stressStress is something that we all experience from time to time. It’s a part of being human. However, in today’s modern world it can be all too easy for feeling stressed to become the norm. Our lives our busy, we are constantly stimulated, and many of us can feel pressured to keep working harder, do more, or respond to every little thing that calls out for our attention.

When this starts to happen, the stress response in our bodies starts to go off as a way of telling us to slow down, be quiet, and take a moment to breathe.

When we ignore that voice, we can get into trouble.

What exactly is stress, and why does it happen?

Stress is our body’s way of keeping us safe.

The stress response developed back in primal times as a way of keeping us away from danger. When our bodies noticed that we were faced with a life or death situation, such as being chased by a bear, it would signal the stress response in our bodies. When the stress response was triggered, our adrenaline would spike up so that we were able to run faster, fight harder, and have a better chance of survival.

The problem is that we no longer live in a world where we are faced with this type of dangerous situation, but our bodies continue to fight everyday stressors in the same way.

When it comes down to it, stress is just trying to keep us safe. It is not our enemy or something that is working against us. It is our body’s way of making sure that we are out of harm’s way.

Knowing this, we can start to recognize that the best way to keep stress at bay is by showing our bodies that we are safe.

The first thing that we should do when we feel stressed is to give a voice to how we are feeling. Say, “I feel __________.” (Fill in the blank with a word to describe how you feel).

It sounds so simple, but it really works!

Most of us respond to stress in the opposite way… we hide from it, ignore it, try to numb it out, or keep going despite of it, pretending that everything is fine.

The problem with doing that is that when we ignore our body’s stress signals, they continue getting louder. They are trying to keep us safe so the stress response keeps getting stronger until we feel so stressed out that we can’t ignore it.

On the other hand, if we start to recognize our body’s stress response quickly and give voice to it right away, it starts to quiet down.

Why is saying how we feel the first step to managing stress?

1) It gives us permission to feel whatever it is that we are feeling. When we state our feelings out loud and acknowledge them, we immediately feel seen, heard, and understood. We stop making ourselves wrong for not being happy-go-lucky all the time and give ourselves permission to feel human. The simple act of giving ourselves permission to feel our feelings helps to validate them, and as a result, we start to feel better.

2) It empowers us to do something about it! Once we have recognized how we are feeling by stating it out loud, we are put back in the driver’s seat of our lives. By voicing how we feel, we take responsibility for our life experience. We recognize that we are capable of changing how we feel and we are empowered to do something to feel better!

Next time that you notice that you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, try it for yourself! Stop whatever you are doing and take a moment to say how you are feeling. Say, “I feel __________.” (And insert a word to describe how you feel; i.e. stressed out, anxious, overwhelmed). Notice what happens next. Do you feel better now that you got that off your chest? Are you now thinking of the next steps that you can take to feel better?

Getting into action and doing something that makes you feel better is the second step toward relieving stress, but it always has to start with acknowledging how you feel first!

Yesterday I lead a workshop on using meditation & mindfulness to relieve stress. I taught 11 different meditations, breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices to relieve stress and anxiety in just minutes. If you want to learn some simple, practical, and doable steps to take to stop feeling stressed, you can still sign up! Just sign up for the workshop here, and you will receive immediate access to the recording, + a printable worksheet of all of the different exercises that we covered.

I hope that you find this helpful!

Wishing you a stress-free week ahead!

Be well,
Ambar

 

 

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

 

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