Creating Mental Space to Overcome Stress

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but do your days feel merry and bright?

Here in the U.S., stress is on the rise. Forty four percent of us are more stressed today than we were five years ago, and it’s leading to everything from the common cold to heart disease.

Our modern lifestyle is often fast paced and busy. With online access 24/7, a constant overload of information, things to do, and people to please, chronic stress has become a part of life, and the symptoms related are often viewed as “normal”.

Here are some common symptoms to look for:

Cognitive symptoms:

  1. Constant worrying
  2. Racing mind
  3. Forgetfulness/disorganization
  4. Inability to focus
  5. Poor judgement
  6. Being a pessimist

 Emotional symtoms:

  1. Easily agitated, frustrated, or moody
  2. Overwhelmed, losing control
  3. Difficulty relaxing or quieting your mind
  4. Low self esteem and depression
  5. Isolation, avoidance

Physical symptoms:

  1. Low energy
  2. Headaches
  3. Stomach upset (stomachache, diarrhea, constipation, nausea)
  4. Aches, pains, tense muscles
  5. Chest pain and rapid heart
  6. Insomnia
  7. Frequently getting sick
  8. Low sex drive and/or ability
  9. Anxiety, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands/feet
  10. Clenching jar and/or grinding teeth

Behavioral symptoms:

  1. Change in appetite – too much, too little, not at all
  2. Procrastination/avoiding responsibilities
  3. Increased use of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes
  4. Nervous behaviors – nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

Regardless of what symptoms you’re experiencing, I’m pleased to tell you that those unpleasant feelings are only temporary, and you don’t have to live the rest of your life suffering.

Awareness is key.

When was the last time you remember sitting in silence and doing absolutely nothing? A time when you didn’t have somewhere to be, something to do, or someone to please?

Can you think of a time like that? If so, that’s amazing, and I am happy that you are making your health a priority. If not, you have some work to do, but that’s okay. You’re definitely not alone.

The easiest way to take action today is by taking control of the lowest hanging fruit – your physical environment. This includes the physical spaces that you spend time in, the air you breathe, the sounds you hear, the sights you see, and light you’re exposed to. By intentionally making tweaks to your daily surroundings, you will increase your satisfaction, see a rise in your productivity, and improve your mental capacity to handle your responsibilities with greater peace of mind, focus, and clarity.

I want to highlight some changes you can implement today for each environmental category. Take a moment to order your stressors from least to greatest and tackle them one by one. I am confident that once you get started you won’t want to stop!

Here are 5 environmental stressors that could be impacting your life.

Crowding

When trying to clear space in our minds, the first step is to get rid of clutter. If it’s taking up space externally, it’s most likely taking up space internally as well. Clutter drains us of time, energy, and money. Here are some tips to make a clean sweep!

  1. Adopt a minimalist lifestyle. This will give you less stuff to manage daily.
  2. Get rid of anything that hasn’t been used in a year (and anything else that doesn’t bring you joy – read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. It’ll change you.)
  3. Stay organized by doing small tasks every day. And get the whole family involved!
  4. Find time and space to meditate. This will help you organize your internal clutter. For some of my favorite meditation guides see Danielle Laporte, and apps such as Head Space.
  5. Get outside and breathe that fresh air! Feel the freedom of endless space in the vast world around you.

Noise

Too much noise in our mind can cause feelings of overwhelm, nervous behaviors, and insomnia. Are you aware of the noises interrupting your natural flow? Do you live in an area where traffic noise is an issue, a loud household, or have you simply considered the noises in your space? To keep noise pollution in check, try to implement some of these tips:

  • Reduce TV usage (and get the TV out of bedroom as it can interfere with sleep)
  • Silence electronic notifications
  • Meditate
  • Listen to relaxing melodies – soft music/nature sounds
  • Invest in a white noise machine to drown out audible disturbances. I personally like this one.
  • Use ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones whenever necessary

Air

On average, 90% of our time is spent indoors. Considering that we all breathe nonstop, our air quality is very important to our health. Have you ever considered what harmful compounds or irritants could be flying around in your air your inhaling? From upholstery and carpeting to pet dander and personal products, many particles in the air could be causing eyes, nose, and ear irritation, and other allergic reactions which are messing with your internal systems. Here are some ways to promote clean air:

  • Include green plants in your home – the plants absorb gases through their leaves and roots! (NASA recommends 1 per 100 square feet)
  • Invest in air purifiers
  • Diffuse essential oils to clean air and promote relaxation. Tea tree, lavender, and lemon are a few of my favorites. I’m a huge fan and advocate of DoTerra. Please comment below or email me through my website if you’d like to add some essential oils to your medicine and cleaning cabinets.
  • Open a window
  • Go green! Consider making healthy and environmentally friendly swaps in your cleaning and beauty cabinets.

Color 

The use of color to heal, referred to as chromotherapy, has been used since ancient times. Colors can impact mood greatly and have the ability to reduce or exacerbate stressful symptoms. What colors are you often surrounded by? Do they bring you peace and comfort, or do they provoke anxiety and overwhelm? Here are some ways to take control with the use of color:

  • Use soft neutrals in your home and office. Blues, greens, violet, and soft shades of pink are best for promoting a calm body and mind.
  • Decorate with calming pictures. Waterfalls, ocean views, and forests are great options.
  • Make desktop background a calming photo or color. Use the beach, sky, stars, or an earthy tone, such as green, to cause less strain on the eyes.

Light 

In today’s age, we do not follow the patterns of the sun. We often wake before the sun rises, and go to bed far after the sun falls. Because our schedules do not coincide with nature, it’s important to make adjustments to our surroundings to establish a schedule and natural rhythm for our bodies to follow. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Get outside in the natural light. Nature is always the answer!
  • Invest in smart bulbs to create scenes in your home/office to reflect your desired energy level and mood. Warm tones will promote calm states, while cool tones will evoke energy.
  • Use a bright light therapy lamp during cold/dark months. This has been shown to ward off season depression.
  • Limit screen time, especially in the evening. The bright blue light in our screen sends the signal that it’s day time to our brain, and can interrupt our natural sleep patterns. You could also use blue light blocking glasses.

The best method of managing stress is to control what you can so that you can better manage what you can’t. Altering your physical environment will do great things for your mind, and clear mental space needed to successfully navigate through life’s unavoidable stressors.

If you enjoyed this read, please share to help inspire others to take back control and promote optimal health for their mind, body, and spirit.

Have a wonderful, stress-free day!!!

With love and gratitude,

Brittany

* This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend things that I personally use or that I fully support. Thank you.

Weight, Bloat, & Skin Problems? I Have a Solution.

woman measuring her waist
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

As I sit here in my new favorite coffee shop, I am thinking a lot about my goals as a health coach. I explained in my last post what a health coach is, but while I am trained in all of those areas of coaching, my main focus is elimination diets and women’s nutrition.

I follow the belief system that there isn’t one diet and/or lifestyle suitable for everyone. As a coach, I will get to know you, your habits, and your preferences and together we will design a nutritional program customized for your unique needs and specific health goals.

I believe that the struggles we endure are insights into our life’s purpose. Struggling with food in my personal life started as a major frustration, but turned into my biggest passion. I want to share my story with you in hopes to inspire you, give you hope, and let you know that if you share in any of these feelings, you are not alone.

Throughout my late adolescence and into my early twenties, I struggled with disordered eating. Initially it was all about losing weight, but then it became more of a mind game. I loved the feeling of having power over my body and felt proud for being so “disciplined”. I thought I was in control, but in truth, my disorder took complete control over me. After years of treating my body poorly, filling it with artificial sweeteners, fat free and low fat garbage, counting calories, and eating just enough to keep my heart beating, I passed out off the toilet. This was my wake up call. I started to educate myself about whole foods, real foods, the importance of proper nutrition, and the relationship with food and wellness.

In the years to follow, I began another health journey. I was suffering from bloating, breakouts, IBS related symptoms, joint pain, and fatigue. I saw many doctors and all left me with same useless diagnosis. They said I had “IBS”, but provided me with no information regarding why I had it or what I could do to help myself. This is when I began to be my own best health advocate. I was discouraged by the professionals and new the one person who cared the most about me getting well was me. I began researching holistic ways of healing, and it always came back to the same thing – food. The quality, the source, the ingredients, and the food groups. To make a long story a little shorter, I discovered that I was intolerant/sensitive to dairy and gluten. When I cut these from my diet, my skin never looked better, and I had no more belly bloat, painful gas, and irregular bowels. I felt light, lively, and free for the first time in a long time.

After years of researching for my own wellbeing, I realized that I am not unique. Hundred of thousands of people suffer with discomfort on a regular basis and accept it as normal. I have something to tell you. While this may seem “normal” because so many people experience it, it certainly isn’t natural. You are meant to feel alive and nourished after you eat, not sluggish and in pain.

Now that you know my story, do you consistently suffer from acne, eczema, bloating, or IBS? Are you unhappy with your weight or do you often feel lethargic? By learning about your body and discovering your unique nutritional needs, you can get to the root cause of these symptoms and begin to feel comfortable in your skin from the inside out.

Everything comes back to what we eat. When we eat well for our bodies, we feel well in our bodies. Treat yours well and live the beautiful life you deserve.

With love & gratitude,

Brittany

 

P.S. For recipes, tips, and support follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

Is All Exercise Created Equal?

rope jumping ropes human training
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

I am a huge advocate for physical activity, and believe that moving our bodies daily has a tremendous impact on our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. But, as with diets, there are many different theories around exercise and the types we should be doing. From yoga to running, CrossFit to spinning, there are many opportunities, so which is best?

I approach exercise just as I approach eating. Everyone is different so individual preference, age, personality, and many other factors need to be considered. Ultimately, find something that you enjoy doing, that way you will be far more likely to make it a habit.

There are four categories of exercise. Try to find something from each category that feels right for you. Here are some examples:

  • aerobic/endurance – increases your heart rate, works cardiovascular system
    • running, walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, hiking, rowing
  • strength – increases lean muscle mass
    •  weight lifting, push ups, pull-ups, crunches, squats, lunges, tricep dips, yoga
  • balance – improves ability to control your body’s position, find center of gravity
    • yoga, tai chi
  • flexibility – improves range of motion, stretches muscles
    • yoga, tai chi, stretching
woman exercising bear body of water
Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Aside from promoting heart health, losing weight, and toning up, exercise has many other great benefits. It can calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, create feelings of happiness, boost energy, and improve memory and thinking skills.

When considering what exercise will be best for you, think about your personality and your typical day to day activities. Are you always go, go, go, with a busy schedule and a restless mind? Perhaps yoga or tai chi would be a great option to help eliminate physical stress and promote relaxation. On the other hand, if you are often sedentary and have low energy throughout your day, something more energetic may be good for you, such as spin class, zumba, or brisk walking. The key is to find balance.  Too much energy in our days will eventually burn us out, and too little energy will facilitate the growth of disease in our bodies.

If you are a person living a sedentary lifestyle looking for ways to increase your mobility, there are ways to encourage yourself to keep on track. Many watches and fitness trackers are a great tool to track steps, count calories burned, and allow you to compete with friends/family if you are a driven competitor. It is recommended that people take around 10,000 steps per day, and trackers are a great way to give you an estimate of your progress. If you respond well to group training rather than going at it alone, perhaps you could get together with friends, family, neighbors, or members of the community for group walks and activities. Trying out state forests, parks, and local trails may be a fun way to start.

Be easy on yourself when adopting any new lifestyle. Moving even a little bit is better than not moving at all – and keep in mind that you don’t have to be pouring sweat and out of breath to have done wonders for your health and wellbeing.

 

With love,

Brittany