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The Top Way I Stop a Panic Attack

This post is an email from the October session of the free BreatheEcourse; mindfulness to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD. Enjoy! 
4 Day BreatheLet’s work on DBT!. But first a quick word about journaling.

If you’re struggling with the journaling, as I know some of you do, set a timer. Set the alarm on your phone. Write just for ten minutes. I know that sometimes we pressure ourselves to  write down every single thought and then it feels like we started an avalanche.

There are no rules to journaling. You don’t have to capture every thought or every moment of your day. You write what and how much you want.

It’s like being on the mat. You’re in the moment and you notice what you notice. We don’t have time for every pose during a session and that’s okay. We don’t even get in every pose we know and usually we don’t get to practice a pose for as long as we’d like. So just write and don’t get overwhelmed by thinking it has to be a certain way.

Okay, so we’re just going to talk about my favorite dialectical behavior skill. It falls under TIP.

Temperature change
Intense Exercise
Progressive relaxation

I know you think we’re going to talk progressive relaxation. Nope! My favorite TIP skill is temperature change. It works like a charm for me. Before DBT no one ever told me that I could stop panic attacks. i was just supposed to get better at enduring them.

Yuck!

Remember, our goal is to move into Wise Mind. (Wise Mind is when we’re not engaging in black or white thinking, but settling into the place in the middle; the plaid place) When emotions are feeling big, we want to run towards Wise Mind.

Let’s take two people. Let’s pretend they’re in a relationship and they’ve had a huge fight. And they happen to be complete opposites. One is very analytical and fact-based and the other is very creative and feelings-based.  The person who swings towards Emotion Mind is crying and feeling sick and feeling like everything is over and is completely in their feelings. This person my seem hysterical and beyond talking to. The person who tends to Reasonable Mind is having trouble accessing their emotions, is gathering facts and weighing pros and cons to decide the next step. This person may seem like they’re not engaging cause they’re already analyzing the facts and already thinking about the next step.

So it’s January and one person goes for a walk in the cold and the other hops in the shower. A cold shower. This blast of cold shifts both their brains’ chemistry and soothes their nervous systems. Individually, they move towards Wise Mind.

termperature changeThe Emotion Mind person is able to quiet the big feelings, be not quite so much in the high emotion of the body, but into what is really true for the body, move a bit into the head and gather some facts, moving more towards that middle ground. They realizes that despite this being hard and feelings being hurt their partner is generally kind and loving and they have survived fights before and this will pass.

The Reasonable Mind person is able to get out of the head so much and move into the body/heart. They feel the hurt and pain of fighting with their love and can say, I really don’t like this feeling. I don’t want to do this anymore.

Because they were each able to move into Wise Mind, they were able to come to a place where they could value each other and the relationship and maybe even take some steps to ensure this fight doesn’t repeat itself.

Now, I just like that outcome. It didn’t have to be that way. They could have moved into Wise Mind and the Emotion Mind could have gathered facts and decided that these fights are happening way too often and this isn’t the kind of relationship they want. Reasonable Mind could have got into their emotions and decided that it hurts too much to fight like this and it’s not worth it.

Both are valid outcomes because they came from Wise Mind. The opposite might be that Emotion Mind, crying and screaming ran out of the house and called all the friends that were going to say that their  partner is a louse and doesn’t deserve them. The Reasonable Mind might have started a pros and cons list, leaving out emotions and decided that the best thing is to break up. In a few days when they moved more towards the middle ground they might both regret their decision. Some regrets can be fixed. Some can’t.

I’m a huge fan of Temperature Change. Years ago, before I took DBT I was in the beginning stages of a panic attack. I couldn’t catch my breath, I was sweating, my heart was pounding, I was nauseated. I got afraid, which is the worst thing you can do for a panic attack. If you start to fear it coming on, you just make it grow. So I was snowballing fast.

I was with my ex, who grabbed the biggest bowl in my cabinet, fill ed it with ice and water and told me to plunge my face. I really don’t like super cold, so I resisted. He was adamant. I did it once, came up gasping and he made me do it again. I did it again and when I came up it was like someone had covered me with a heated blanket. I felt this warm calm. My breathing had slowed down. My heart stopped pounding. I wasn’t sweating anymore. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe that a panic attack stopped completely. It sold me on DBT. I signed up a few months later.

I highly recommend DBT to anyone who’ll listen. It honestly changed my life.

I love what I teach and believe in it, but the DBT program is amazing. If you’re interested in learning more DBT skills from a yoga teacher consider signing up for BreatheOnline, which starts January 21st.  If you like the group therapy vibe, check out your local mental health facility. Occasionally some therapists teach it one-on-one, but Marsha Linehan says if you’re not getting it from a team of therapists, it’s not DBT.

2018BreatheOnlineWhat can you do to shift your brain chemistry? Try a few things. Change your Temperature. Run around the block as fast as you can for some Intense Exercise, especially great for anger emotions. Go to YouTube for some Progressive relaxation recordings. Keep a list of the tools that work the best for you.

Post that list somewhere you will see it over and over again. The fridge, the medicine cabinet, on your dashboard.

Happy Managing!

Contact me to sign up for the Free BreatheEcourse. Drop me an email. Or, if you’re ready for deeper work and an opportunity to practice the skills and tools while getting support, community and connection, join me for BreatheOnline!

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What If You Planned For The Unexpected?

Wednesday!I’m in the middle of teaching BreatheEcourse, the free seven day course to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD with mindfulness skills and tools. In a little over a week, I start teaching BreatheOnline, the six week version I developed from Yoga for Anxiety and Depression to do the same, but slower and with more depth and opportunities to practice the skills and tools.

So, I’m thinking a lot, everyday, about managing stress, mental health, life.

Over at BreatheOnline, we check-in on Wednesdays to pause and take an assessment of the week.

How’s your week going so far? You probably had an idea on Sunday or Monday of what the week would look like. Take a minute to pause, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. How does the reality of the week measure up to the intentions set at the beginning of the week?  Are you feeling worried about getting everything done this week? Are you feeling like you’re on track to have a successful week?

This is the day that you can pivot, shift or keep on keeping on.  This is the moment to set intention again. Wednesdays get a bad rap, but they the perfect day to reset, to begin again, to redirect.

Life happens and things are out of our control. People get sick, there are snowstorms, cars break down. We anxiety, depression and PTSD people can let that derail us. Rather than be surprised by the unexpected or stressed or upset that we can’t control life, what if you planned for the unexpected?

What if on a daily basis you left blank places in your calendar as cushions for the unexpected? So when your kid calls during a meeting to tell you that she forgot her cello, you actually have space to shift things around and help her out. What if daily you said to yourself, I need to prepare for the unexpected and you meditated and drank an extra glass of water? What would preparing for the unexpected look like for you?

Join us January 21st for BreatheOnline. Get six weeks of practicing mindfulness tools and skills as well as connection and community! At the end of six weeks you have a plan to help you manage stress, mental health, life. Get a free one-on-one session with me to help you create that plan and receive custom yoga poses and breath work to ensure your success!. 

 

 

 

 

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Final Friday, What Are You Celebrating?

Friday!It’s THE Final Friday!! What are you celebrating? This is the question I ask every week over at BreatheOnline’s secret Facebook group. Every Friday we celebrates the wins.

So, what are your wins? We’re talking the whole year. We’re talking the new job/love/marriage/house, but we’re also talking the healthy choices you made this year. What have you done that’s good for you body/mind/spirit this year?

I posted the Final Friday check-in at the blog this morning and had some answers. The podcast is new

One listener shares,  “My win: getting involved in politics again with Brand New Congress!”

Someone else shares, “I started treating my business like a business instead of a hobby.”

My wins? I shared a bit on the podcast, but there were so many more! I encourage you to grab your journal and just start a list.

What are you celebrating? What are your wins?

Mine?

This year I moved to New York, a lifelong dream. You can check out my pics on Instagram to see just how much I love it. It exhilarates me, energizes and makes me smile every day. Every. Day.

A Yogi Kitchen grew. I helped more people find balance, learn more tools to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD and heal more backs than ever.  This is my dream and my passion. I love healing people, teaching people, offering love], support and guidance.  I couldn’t ask for more out of a career. Everyday IO am happy to do what I do. Everyday i look forward to what I do. It’s a good life.

I didn’t plan this, but while I lost a major source of income by circumstances outside of my control, I also let go of someone who violated my boundaries over and over. The relief about it all ending has been immense, a sure sign that I wasn’t listening to myself. Last year, I had a client ask for more and more from me and because she’s in her 80s, doesn’t have kids or relatives near by, I was consistently saying yes to her. She was asking me to do things that I wouldn’t ordinarily do. While our reasons for parting ways was surgery and a long rehab stay, the relief was huge. So, I’m having to scramble to make up this lost income, but it’s still a win to have this stress and disrespect end.

My dad is dying. I talked about this in the podcast. Not only is the win the sense of peace and closure we have, the two of us, but I am able to be still and open with him. Today my sister had the end of life talk with him. He’s a peace with most of their conversation. My sister just this moment texted me that my dad is worried about everyone being okay. So, I’m sitting at a bar typing and crying. It’s actually a win. My dad can be an ass and hearing that he is worried about us when he’s dying is more than I expected of him. It’s sweet and kind and selfless, not words I would use regarding my dad before that text two minutes ago. My sister and I are a great team. We are respectful and kind to each other, are on the same page about everything, and haven’t had hostile word yet. Win! We will be able to walk my dad home. Win!


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My love and I are feeling closer and stronger than ever. This year I got THE ring.  It is gorgeous in a way I never anticipated. We’d talked about a completely different kind of ring, one that we both liked. He asked if I wanted a diamond and I don’t. Not only do I not want to wear anything with the ethical issues on my finger, but it’s not really me. We shopped together and never found THE ring. I thought we were putting it on the back burner until we found something perfect. AND THEN,  he saw this one. It’s not a great pic and you can’t really tell that it’s sapphire, but believe me, it’s beautiful. And it’s perfect. It is so me, without me realizing that it’s me. I love it. A friend who has known me since childhood, says that he knows me better than I know myself. So, just to calm any gossip. I am not engaged. This is the walk down the aisle for us. This is us for the rest of our lives. This person is perfect for me, knowing me better than I know myself. I am a happy woman. =

Health is good, that’s a win.

I have the best of friends, who love me and support me, letting me talk and listen and check-in with me through everything I’ve been through this year. Win! I attended my 30th year HS reunion this year. It was SO much fun and SO full of deep connection that I am making more of an effort to stay in contact with this family. I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

So, this is my win list for right now. I could go on. It’s not to say that there weren’t parts of the year that sucked, that sweetie and I never fight or that everything is simple and easy. Life is hard. There’s no playbook, no rules. We’re all just figuring it out as we go along, but focusing on the wins makes life feel so much richer and sweeter.

 

The wins are so big and important that over at BreatheOnline‘s secret Facebook page, we check-in with wins every single week of the six week series. Join us January 21! 

 

 

 

 

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Tis The Season for Connection

It’s December and this is when our lives are full of connection. Connection is why we look at this time of year so fondly. It’s when we made cookies with Great Grandma, when we went with our parents to see Santa, when we schemed with our siblings to figure out what we were getting for Christmas. Later, it’s when I spent late nights whispering with my husband about what would bring that look of delight into our daughter’s eyes.

Years after those childhood baking adventures and well after my marriage ended, I still feel connected by engaging in those same activities. I learned how to make pepper nuts from my former Mennonite MIL and I feel connected to her and my daughter, who loves pepper nuts,  by baking them every year, even though my ex’s mom is no longer family.

This is the season we connect. But let me suggest a better solution to this one-time-of-year-connecting. Let me suggest, that most of us take these weird MIL and extended family connecting

as a way of getting the big fix to carry us through the year.

Let me suggest that while this holiday connecting is a wonderful, wonderful thing, it is not where we should be planting all our connection energy. How many of us go into hyper-mode for the holidays and then feel like we need January to recuperate. Then we’re depressed in February?

Why are we depressed in February? We’ve taken a step back from everyone and lived on the couch for month. Our brains need consistency and stability. Choosing to connect in December and then disconnect in January is not good for us.

So, how can you do this differently? As humans we are really big into binging. Netflix makes billions off of this habit.  We love eating ice cream until we can never eat that flavor again, drink until we need a whole day to recover and work until we need TWO WHOLE DAYS to restore.

What if we found some moderation? What if we took tiny bites and baby steps interspersed with some deep, loving, self-care? What if we coped ahead and saw busy times ahead and planned ahead for the ups and the downs. What if we thought about balance and moderation? What would that look like?

What if you did the most healing yoga pose you know, every day for the next 3 weeks?

What if we didn’t feel obligated to do everything everyone else thinks we should do during the holidays? What if we did special things just for ourselves? What if we snuck away for an hour or two every weekend till the end of the year and did something that we really enjoy, like look at the windows in the department stores with a cinnamon hot chocolate. No kids. Go to a favorite restaurant and have a glass of prosecco and the most decadent appetizer. No partner or bestie. What if we did special fun things just for ourselves? What would that feel like?

If this makes you cringe or start to get edgy just thinking about it, don’t worry. In February we’re going to work on love. SELF-LOVE. Stay tuned for the Self-Love challenge. If you don’t like A Yogi Kitchen on Facebook, Go There Now and Join us!

 

Until February, think about joining me for the Free BreahteEcourse! We start January 7th!

 

 

 

 

 

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Kicking The Fuck-its In The Ass

So it’s a new day and the fuck-its passed. They always do for me. I’m lucky in that they are never around for days or weeks and they haven’t spiraled down into hopeless often. It has happened, though, and that’s not pretty and it feels awful, so I work really hard to kick the fuck-its in the ass as soon as I recognize them and not move into hopeless.

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The fuck-its passed, as always, and I got to do a little work with cava before meeting friends for drinks.

One of the things that I do, that I didn’t write about earlier in the week,  is find inspiration that helps to kick the fuck-its.  Inspiration has been on the back burner, simmering, for a long time. Years, I think. Talking about inspiration feels really vulnerable to me. Maybe it’s because inspiration; what you think about, where you find it, what you like about it is so highly personal. The song that makes me jump out of bed and want to kick-ass, may be the track that makes you laugh and say, “how can anyone like this song?”

So I’m going to stick my toe in the inspiration pool. If you go to A Yogi Kitchen’s Facebook page this holiday weekend, I’ll be sharing songs from my Melissa playlist.

I’ve always had a Melissa playlist. Even back when it was on Napster (oh, Napster. Sigh.), the Melissa playlist was songs that could get me out of the fuck-its. They are songs that make me feel most like me. They are songs that make me want to jump out of bed and write a bestseller, run a marathon and  open a new restaurant all at the same time.

Do you have something like the Melissa playlist? Do you have something you read over and over? A song you listen to? A place you like to go that makes you feel calm and grounded and most like you? Share here in the comments. Share on the FB page. Feel free to text or email me.

If the fuck-it’s  happen a lot for you, I’m teaching both the Free BreatheEcourse and BreatheOnline in January. Join me for skills and tools to manage anxiety, depression and PTSD using mindfulness, yoga, dbt and nutrition. All are welcome, you need not have a diagnosis and it doesn’t matter whether you are medicated or not. These tools are helpful for everyone. 

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The Fuck-its Or, Double Fisting on Monday

Happy Monday! I started my social media interaction this morning sounding more bright and cheery than I feel. If you don’t know me personally, or haven’t figured out by my online presence, I’m a pretty happy person. Bubbly, I’ve been told. People think that I’m one of those people who whitewashes my FB feed so my life looks perfect, which is really surprising to me because when I look at my posts I don’t see perfect. At all.

This Monday, I’m not feeling it. I’m not feeling bubbly or even energetic. I’m dragging, I’m sad and I’m feeling a bit….it’s not hopeless, cause that would be bigger than this. I think I have a case of the fuck-its. It’s that place where I feel like I’m the only one who cares about the holidays, so why bother. I just had to postpone my workshops and two of my clients with depression are really struggling, so why bother? The whininess goes on.

It’s a crappy place to be, but I’ll get to the other side. I always do.  The thing about the fuck-its, is that they can lead us to some dangerous places. They can lead us to some pretty destructive behavior.

Getting Quiet

Getting Quiet and finding connection are two great ways to chase the fuck-its away.

So, what do you do? Here’s what I know. Catching the fuck-its as soon as you can identify them and doing something about them is way easier than pulling yourself out of a bottle of gin and another bad-choice-sex-encounter. Catching the fuck-its before you get to hopeless is going to save you a lot of billable hours at your shrink’s office.

I also know that the more aware you are of your ups and downs, the more honest you can be with how you’re feeling body/mind/spirit in any given moment, the easier it’s going to be able to see the fuck-its and move around/through/past them.

Managing the fuck-its means loving yourself and nurturing yourself with self-care. It means doing for yourself first. It’s time to stop putting yourself on the back burner and taking care of everyone before you

So, here’s what I’m doing today. I’ve been on the run for a few weeks and dealing with my dad being hospitalized twice in the last two months, and is on his second acute care facility. I’ve been working long hours, flying a lot, driving to Salem every weekend for four or five weeks. I’m tired. So, today, I’m not juggling. I’m just doing some work and taking it easy. Cause when we’re constantly in multi-=tasking mode our brains get tired. Really tired. When I’m in Lawrence, I have out with friends and drink more often than I normally would, over a shorter period of time.

Double fisting

So, today, I’m double fisting it. I’m having hot, strong, black coffee, cause i love it and it doesn’t feel like morning if I don’t have some. I’m also drinking Gingerade Kombucha, cause I’m probably dehydrated and because living foods helps me bounce back. It helps even when I’m just flying, it’s a super-tonic when I have ALL these things going on at once in my life.

Dehydration makes everything bigger and harder. It makes your physical ailments harder to manage. Pain is worse, tight muscles get tighter, tension gets more tense. Dehydration can be the cause of sleepiness, fogginess, even inappropriate hunger.

I’m sleeping extremely well these days and I’m not someone who likes to or believes in over-sleeping, so I’m letting myself just do it. I’m letting myself just sleep as much as I find prudent. Now, if I were someone who really likes to sleep, who finds sleep a welcome escape, I would do the opposite. Hypersomnia can be a real problem for those of us with depression and anxiety and indulging in too much sleep can be a slippery path.

I’m making sure that I hang out with friends and family a lot., The fuck-its like two options; isolation or hanging out with other people with the fuck-its. That makes the fuck-its sing and dance.

So, for today, I’m double fisting coffee and kombucha at the library. I have two friends I’m waiting to hear from to see if we’ll meet for lunch or a drink later. Until then, I think I’m going home to nap.

 

Want to connect with me more? I’m all over. Join me on Facebook for tips, tools, skills to make your life more manageable with mindfulness and yoga. Work with me one-on-one. See my travels, cooking and eating on Instagram or see what I’m thinking on Twitter, search A Yogi Kitchen for either @BreatheBostonNY or @BreatheLawrence. Looking forward to getting to know you better!