PSA: We are almost sold out of our YBC Mantra Boxes. The healthy living subscription box will go out the first week of September and it is packed full of goodies from small businesses in the health, wellness and fitness industries. Snag yours while you still can!
If you've been reading for a while, you know that I recently took a week off to deal with some health issues that had reared their ugly head in the wake of the stress I'd been feeling for the last few months. It hasn't been an easy year for me. At the end of last summer, I moved from LA to the Czech Republic, then a few months later went back to the US, lead a retreat in Costa Rica, moved back to Europe (Germany), traveled to Dubai for work, went back to the US (homeless, crashed with our parents), traveled to Miami for a retreat, traveled to Costa Rica for a retreat, finally found a place to live (had no furniture, not even a bed), went to Greece, Italy and Morocco to lead retreats, went back to the US to move into our new place (office tour, home tour), lead a retreat in Upstate New York, and then crashed and burned.
My body was falling apart, my anxiety and stress levels were high, and depression was creeping its way into my life. I was told I needed to get myself together or things were going to get worse.
In tears after the longest day ever in New York City, I sat in the car at the train station, feeling like a complete failure. I felt like my body was betraying me - I mean I blog for a living - I'm not curing cancer over here, so I felt it was absurd that the stress was getting to me. But I realized that I have honestly been going non-stop for months. A lot of travel, time change, and giving of myself (retreats, while I absolutely love them, are not a vacation for me) had worn me down. It was a good reminder that my body, while it has been healing from longterm antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease for just over a year and a half, still has a very weak immune system. When a friend pointed out that I'd never actually taken any time off from my work, I realized I needed to drop everything and tend to my health.
The past week that I took off was about lowering my stress levels, and finding ways to develop a work/life balance because when you work from home, it's hard to just shut the door to the office and call it a day. It's going to be a goal of mine to continue to find this balance and keep my stress levels in check because I did a lot of research over the week and found that emotional and situation stress actually has a physical effect on the body. It can raise cortisol levels which can raise inflammation. And inflammation is the root of so many diseases, so it's extremely important to me to get myself back to a healthy space. This morning I'd like to share what I did over the last week, and the changes I've made to help meet my goal.
Over the week, I tried to learn more about stress and how it affects the body. In my research, I learned that being out in the woods and smelling the fresh air (I know, it sounds nuts), can actually reduce the stress hormone cortisol significantly more than taking a walk around an urban environment. I grew up near the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut, and I haven't been there in years, so I jumped in the car with the pup on one of the hottest days of the week, and hiked through the woods. He had a blast, and I enjoyed myself, too. It's funny because I am the least outdoorsy person alive, but I feel like I turned a new leaf (see what I did there?). I took the time to listen to the hollow sound of my steps on the trail, looked up at the towering trees, and listened to the river rush by. I took some deep breaths in and tried to soak up the moment. By the end of the hike, I actually wanted to go camping, haha. We'll see how long that desire lasts. #notoutdoorsy
After our hike, I went to visit some of my cousins (are cousins not the best?!) and spent some time with my uncles and my mom. I never really get to see any of these people, aside from my mom, so it was really, really nice to catch up and I drove home feeling so uplifted.
I worked out every day - because I love it and it's my happy place. And also because, according to The Gratitude Diaries, the book I was reading, exercise may help to decrease inflammation.
I have been focusing a lot on weight lifting, and I am really loving my workouts lately. I feel like I'm getting stronger, and it's positively impacting my yoga practice, improving my posture, and the overall way I feel. I can't really describe it, but I just feel good. Yesterday's workout, in case you were interested in switching up your own routine was:
Front squat 5/5/5 at 65/75/85 pounds
Then 200m row sprint, 10 pull ups, 15 wall balls 5 rounds for time.
I tried to get outside as much as possible, exploring new hiking trails with the dog....
...who clearly enjoyed it!
And I tried to really take the time to do things that made my body feel good. Like I love fresh juices, and the GAPS diet talks about the importance of drinking them often, but I don't usually take the time to make them myself. Instead I buy them from Whole Foods which is just a waste of five bucks and they taste better and probably contain more nutrients when I make them myself. So I busted out my juicer and got to work. This one was made with a handful of parsley, romaine lettuce, 1 whole lemon, 1/4 apple (gotta do low sugar for me right now because of inflammation), 1 in piece of ginger, 2 stalks of celery and a cucumber.
I also called up an old friend and got together with her at the beach. It was such a great afternoon to sit and chat and being around her and her sweet kids, and being at the beach lifted my spirits.
On another day, a friend invited me to come over. She had booked a massage therapist for us by the pool! I'd never had a massage outdoors and it was such a different experience to feel the soft breeze and hear the birds. It was heaven.
By the end of the week, I felt so much better (see above, hahahaha). Not 100%, but far less stressed. My efforts to get outside, be with friends, and do things that I knew my body loved had started to pay off. But when it came time to think about getting back to work, my throat started to hurt (I get this weird choking feeling when I'm stressed) and my jaw pain started to come back. So I decided to make some changes.
Resolutions for Self Care
1. Social media shut down. I turned off all notifications on instagram, twitter and Facebook. YBC has a combined total of 38,000 followers just on those three platforms. Like I said, I'm not changing lives here, my job isn't really that serious, but I am in the business of helping others and I really love the community we've created. I feel like somehow we've attracted the kindest, smartest people from all over and I'm happy to answer questions and make connections - but I need to have a balance between work and my personal life. It's extremely important to me to connect with people, but the notifications were happening at all hours. I felt like if I didn't answer someone's question immediately that they'd feel offended... but it was getting to be too much, so I just decided that I need to only answer questions when I have the time and energy for it. So now, when I sign in, I'll answer what I can given the time and energy I have, and let that be enough.
2. Be more thankful. Years ago, I read The Secret and one of the things that has stayed with me over the years is this paragraph about this guy who got up every morning and as his feet touched the ground, he'd mentally say, "Thank you." And as he walked to the bathroom, his left foot would touch the ground and he'd say, "Thank" and his right foot would touch the ground, and he'd say, "you." What an amazing way to start your day, right? And it was the exact opposite of how I'd been living over the past few months.
Before I took my week off, I had fallen into this victim mentality. Ugh, I never have enough time. There's no way I'm going to be able to secure this deal. Why am I always having to prove myself on these conference calls?
Over the week, I realized I really needed to flip the switch because feeding myself negativity was just going to bring me and my team down. Instead, I needed to feel thankful. Thankful that I have so much work that my entire work day (and then some!) is filled. Thankful that I have the opportunity and the ability to take sales calls and work my butt off to secure deals so I can pay my bills. Since I wasn't working last week, I practiced with other things.
Before I ate, I'd take a second to feel thankful to the farmer that grew the veggies in my soup, and raised the duck for my broth. And when my neighbors kept me up till 1:00am on Saturday night, I switched from feeling irritated that I wasn't getting quality sleep, to feeling thankful that I had my hearing (hey, these are the things we take for granted). And I did this because 1) I remember how good it felt when I was practicing The Secret years ago, and 2) because I know our emotional state affects our physical state, and if I'm feeling angry and irritated, I'm probably raising my stress levels, and if I'm feeling calm and grateful, I'm probably decreasing them.
3. Stop negative self talk. Ok this one will probably take a while to stick, but I am going to fiercely work on this. I am guilty of putting a lot of pressure on myself. I'm hard on myself and nothing is ever really good enough for me. If I do something well, I might take half a second to feel proud and then I'm like, 'Well, actually, if I had done it this way, it would be that much better." I suppose from the standpoint of an entrepreneur it's good to have that quality, but at the end of the day, when it's constant and it's about nearly everything I do, it's just tiring. Can I just, for once, be happy with what I've done and let what I've done be enough? Let who I am be enough? Yes, yes, I can. I think. ;)
I'm considering these things my mid-year resolutions, and if you'd like to join in and share what you're struggling with and how you'd like to overcome those issues, I'd love to hear. We can share the progress on instagram, too, using #YBCresolutions...but if you ask a question I probably won't get back to you for a day or so.... cuzzzzzz #selfcare :)
On another note - I wanted to thank you so much for the support sent my way when I announced I was taking a break. The outpouring of kind words, encouragement and love from places near and far was so unexpected and moved me to tears. You guys are truly the best and I'm so thankful for each and every one of you reading this. Thank you. xo
Shop the look below