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How to Run Your Own Freelance Business With Anxiety

how to run a freelance business with anxiety

 

First of all, it sounds counter-intuitive, but owning a freelance business can be therapeutic for someone with anxiety.

Think about it…

Much anxiety can come from…

  • Having to report to people when you don’t need “managing.”
  • Un-sureness about your job, even if you’re a good worker, because you just never know.
  • Office politics and cliques and wondering about what’s being said behind closed doors.
  • Difficult people who just aren’t satisfied with anything.
  • Commuting, which may make you lose an hour of your day every work day!
  • Time pressures of deadlines and launches.
  • Emails. Emails. Emails. Communicating with computers.
  • Leaving children behind, as they cry with arms outstretched to you (ouchy!)
  • Gray cubicles deep inside a building with overhanging artificial lights.
  • Not seeing the light of day…

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Those are MAJOR anxiety triggers! Major triggers that all went away when I decided to start my own business. Ah, the freedom of that alone! It changes a person!

People have commented about the difference they see in my face even!

Hubster even says I’m quite a different person. And noticing things like that aren’t his strong suit. But even he noticed.

Now, you know in your mind what being location-free might look like.

But it’s an entirely different life shift when you actually experience it.

 

Ok, get real woman.

Being my own boss isn’t all glitter and polka dots all the time, but it’s mostly that same feeling you get inside the polka dotted party store.

It speaks of opportunity and togetherness and celebration and pretty things.

Sometimes a kid walks in and throws party favors all over the floor like confetti.

Yeah, that happens every day around here.

And sometimes someone walks in with a glum face and needs to return hundreds of dollars of party supplies for a celebration that was called off.

Or someone passes out from breathing the helium.

But there’s still glitter and polka dots everywhere.

Ok, moving on from that analogy.

 

So, being self-employed has filled me with gratitude for the way it plays out…

  • When you wake up and you can’t wait to get started.
  • When you get to work in the comfort of your leggings next to lit candles (a fire hazard at most jobs).
  • When you take as many breaks as you need to readjust your focus.
  • When you can tend to your medicinal herb garden on your lunch break.
  • When your babysitter can give your baby access to you for boo-boo kisses through the office door.
  • When you can take a personal day anytime you need to. Oh wait, I haven’t needed to since there’s nothing to escape from! Just one day when I developed an infection, nbd.
  • When you don’t have to go anywhere! Hallelujah, no more commute! No more facing blizzards and rush hour and endless endless driving.
  • When you can set your rates and your use of time on your terms.
  • When you can spend a week with your husband in a semi and still get your work done.
  • When you can work from a picnic table at a local park with a view of the river and changing trees.
  • When you can roll backward on your medicine ball for a good stretch without looking like a moron.
  • When the coffee and tea and cheese (and wine) are just a few rooms away. No more desperate afternoon searches through the drawers to find a completely unappetizing snack. Ha, I can drink on a workday if I wanna! I don’t, but I could.
  • When you can listen to the rain and thunderstorms through the screened-in door.
  • When you can check on your dog and kitties and caterpillar collection at regular intervals.
  • When you can keep a tighter ship around your house because you’re there. Even though I don’t clean during work hours (although it IS hard to ignore the laundry), I’m still able to keep it cleaner around here, because I’m here, which makes me a much less anxious person.
  • When you don’t have to leave the house during snowstorms, or a day or two after.

IMG_3681.JPGMonarch caterpillar

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IMG_2397.JPGMore time with these two


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This guy needs supervision


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Seriously…

Okay, okay…you get the point.

Not trying to gloat, just show my gratitude.

 

My purpose in listing all of that — and that was just the stuff off the top of my head — was to stir up some emotions and desires inside of you. If you long for that type of life, this is for you.

If you have a desire, and you see that it’s possible, and you see that someone else is doing it, you might just realize that you can have it for yourself.

And if you’re really serious about it, you’ll actually do something about it;)

So, you can see how these pieces of glitter could make a person less anxious, right? How it could lift that heaviness and melt that nervous energy.

Once you become a freelance writer, it doesn’t mean the anxiety will automatically fall away though. You still have to have use some proactive strategies to steer your mind. Because when that one kid walks in and destroys the glitter and polka dots, you need to know where the vacuum is.

 

These are my strategies, the practices I do Every.Single.Day to tame that beastly worrier inside my head.

 

Top 10 Strategies for Tackling Anxiety as a Freelance Writer

  1. Journal every morning: I journal every morning for at least 15 minutes, no matter what. I journal about what I want my day to be about, what I’m going to do today to make progress toward my goals, what’s holding me back, etc.Now, this might seem like an easy task to disregard, especially when you’re short on time, but actually journaling gives me more time. I feel like I have more time and space to create meaningful work after journaling because it makes me more intentional with my time rather than reactive to whatever happens to me.

    I also use journaling to turn around my entire vibe. If I’m feeling low or flat, I’ve learned how to use journaling to reverse it. I get to choose how I feel! I get to proactively change my mental state. This is one of the most momentous tools I’ve found for my anxiety. That’s why it’s number one!

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    If everything abou
    t your time management and day originated from your journaling, you would be far more productive and focused than you ever imagined.

  2. Take hourly breaks: I have a Fitbit Charge 2 that’s literally changing my life right now. It vibrates at me every hour to get up out of my desk. It also has a meditation function built right in. So, if I’m feeling particularly charged up, I can breathe for a few minutes to refocus.Everyone who suffers from anxiety knows how miraculous meditation and deep breathing are…if they actually do it. Breathing in and out with that little expanding circle is somehow really effective at calming that nervous energy. Well done, Fitbit.

    Breathing and mindfulness make a huge difference for managing anxiety, so try all the tools you can.

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  3. Exercise: I exercise 6 days a week consistently. Always. No exceptions. Some days, I can feel my runs or weight lifting squeezing the anxiety right out of my body. Other days, I know my body needs yoga and I feel noticeably rejuvenated afterward.Countless studies show the affect of exercise on mood. A quick Google search will lead you to plenty of material about exercise being a great mood stabilizer.

    You can even step the benefits up a notch by taking your workout outdoors. Even more studies point to the benefits of being in nature and sunlight. Combine exercise and nature to really turn your mood around.

    Make exercise a non-negotiable part of your day.

  4. Get out into nature: Okay, I mentioned this above, but I think it deserves it’s own mention. I make it a point to get out into nature every day. In winter, when it’s more difficult to get outside in WI, I use my sun lamp every day to charge myself with light.Nature has such a profound grounding effect. So much so that it’s becoming a “thing” to go forest bathing. Earthing re-calibrates your body. The sun pushes away the blues. There’s just something about being outside that makes us feel good and it just happens to melt away frenzied energy.

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    View from my lunch break
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  5. Be selective: Only take clients that you love. Only say “yes” to events that will truly make a positive difference in your life. Overwhelm is a problem with us anxious types, and this is a great way to tame it.We anxious types also find gratification in doing what we love, which translates into all kinds of mental health benefits. Writing about health and fitness, my bread and butter, all day gives me fewer things to be anxious about.

    This could be an entire different post (or book) but there’s something to be said about doing your life’s purpose work that heals that underlying anxiety that stems from knowing you’re not doing the work you were meant to be doing.

  6. Build in social time: Working alone every day is the bomb dot com when you’re a professional introvert like me. Answering customer calls is just about the last thing on earth I’d want to be doing, and it just causes anxiety thinking about it. So the nature of my job is perfect for me and my fragile spirit.However, being with friends is also paramount and lifts the spirit in indefinable ways. I miss being with my people. So, I make sure to get into town and plan social activities regularly because there’s no one on the other side of my desk to tell about the weird thing that just happened to me.

    Although one side of me loves being a homebody, another side of me knows that making time with friends feeds that energetic part of me. Social time is healthy, and I’m all about healthy.

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  7. Write about anxiety: I’ve written a few articles for The Mighty and I’ve discovered that every time I try to put my anxiety or depression into words, I learn something about my anxiety on a little bit deeper level. Finding the lesson in the scary parts, finding the sense in the nonsense, discovering the blessings in the darkest times–writing gives you that!Even if you’re not a writer, you can pretend to write an article like 4 Ways Anxiety Makes Me a Better Mom or This ONE strategy nips my anxiety before it ever starts. This is kinda an extension of the journaling listed above. Putting your experience into words and working through your thoughts in a real tangible way like this gives you better awareness of your anxiety.

    I always hope my published words resonate with and touch other people too. I like to think that my articles might give people the reassuring sense that “someone out there gets it.”

  8. Get dressed: Taking a shower and getting dressed are part of a healthy self-care routine. A healthy self-care routine you’re sometimes too overwhelmed to perform when you’re in the midst of a panicFor that reason, I get dressed and shower every single day. Even if I don’t want to. It’s kinda one of those fake-it-till-you-make-it scenarios where you take care of yourself like you would when you’re in your best states of mind. Anxiety can cause a snowball effect in your life, right down to self-care. So showering and getting dressed are two controllable factors you have at your disposal to push back on that snowball.

    Sometimes I put earrings on even if I’m not leaving my house. I even work better when I’m dressed. It’s good for my productivity and it makes me feel human. Feeling icky is not good for mental health. Showers are.

  9. Keep a schedule: Knowing what I’m doing and when helps on those days when I need to work on autopilot because I can’t work any other way. I have a set of routine tasks I do in the mornings and a pretty predictable way of working each day/week.That way, if I come upon a day, or an entire phase, of anxiety, I can just go through the motions rather than skip life those days entirely. Make sure, when you’re feeling good, that you establish this set routine so that when you come upon an anxious phase, you can “just do it,” as Nike so famously coined.

    I also find that there’s reassurance in having predictable habits. Anxious people don’t necessarily thrive on change, so having a regular schedule helps keep our nerves on a steady keel.

  10. 3, 2, 1, blastoff strategy from Mel Robbins. I’ve pulled out this strategy when I’ve needed to, on those days when I just can’t get out of bed and my mind is screaming at me to get some ish done while my body is not cooperating.All you do is count down, like you’re a spaceship about to launch, “3-2-1 blastoff,” and you jump out of bed. It sounds stupid. Even Mel Robbins admits it’s stupid. But somehow, you just get out of bed, which is the hardest part. Once the hardest part is out of the way, you can get to living.

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So my strategies are pretty textbook. Except maybe that last one or maybe my approach to them. A therapist would suggest many of these. So would every anxiety guidebook out there. So, if you were looking for something more profound, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you don’t practice these regularly.

The trick is to actually do them. To actually practice them.

Try the silly little expanding circle breathing exercise on the Fitbit. And keep trying it for several days in a row, and you might start to experience noticeable effects.

Look, I know some of them sound rudimentary, but they’re freaking effective! The most effective. There’s a reason you hear about them all the time. Because they work.

My anxiety is at an all-time low right now. I feel amazing. It’s a combination of warm weather, autonomy, goal alignment, and personal fulfillment. Yes, I take medication to help temper some of my biological anxiety, but my lifestyle adjustments contribute immensely.

I hope something in this article strikes you and helps you. Maybe even just hearing it from someone who’s gone through it makes you feel a little better. I want to let you know that you are definitely not alone.

I’d love to connect with any other anxiety warriors out there. Tell me in the comments who you are and what you do to tame your wild anxiety;)

How the First Hour of the Day Can Transform Your Life

Success Habits for the First Hour of the Day

Ok, this post is a little bit different take on the “Change Your Life on Your Lunch Break” series, but this topic is super important.

What you do in that first hour upon waking will set the tone for the rest of the day.

Most of us wake up, snooze, wake up, snooze, finally get up, shower, coffee, off to work, meanwhile wondering exactly how you got to work because you can’t quite remember your drive in. Right?

That, my friends, is exactly what they mean by “life on autopilot.”

But you don’t actually want to live on autopilot, do you? You want to live with purpose!

What you could do instead is be more intentional about that first hour of your day to really transform then way you enter life day-by-day, over the course of a lifetime.

You can change your entire mood, your vibe, your drive, everything, if you do it correctly.

I did my first Facebook Livestream on this subject. Have a listen:

 

 

Success habits for the first hour of the day:

Light therapy or sun: I am drawn to the sun. I think we are wired to be drawn to light. There’s got to be a reason why light and mood are so interconnected. In the winter, I do at least 10 minutes of light therapy or sit in a sunny window to stay ahead of my anxiety and depression.

Daily devotions: God comes first, always. Instead of trying to fit God into my busy schedule, I need to build my schedule around God first. So, I try to make sure I get my nose in His Book every day with guidance from a daily devotion reading.

Workout: I work out 6 days a week religiously: 3 days of cardio, 3 days of strength training. Fridays are usually barre and Saturdays are a long run. Working out immediately in the morning wakes you up, pumps you full of endorphins, and makes you feel ready to take on the day. Working out improves everything about life.

Journaling: my “adult” type journaling consists of asking myself questions about what I need to work on, focusing on my goals, and really stretching myself. The repetitive nature of doing this every day is important so that goals don’t just get ignored like when they’re written on a note posted to my computer.

Water: We all wake up dehydrated, so getting water into your system first thing gets the motors all greased up and running.

Apple cider vinegar shots: I use Tone It Up’s Bombshell Spell from their nutrition plan. I’ve seen so much research about apple cider vinegar. And for some reason, even though acv is harsh, the way they make the spell is addicting.

Self Development: filling your mind with thoughts of potential and empowerment will make you a better person. This was a habit I picked up from my network marketing days. One of the three essential habits was personal development and I really felt like it was powerful. If you can make yourself just a tad bit better every day (read The Compound Effect), you will be amazed how far you can go after a year, or even a few months.

 

***Another thing I didn’t mention on the video is music. I have several playlists on Spotify that are meant to lift my spirits. They’re all songs that personally make me feel inspired and uplifted. My favorite thing to do right now is to listen to “Rebel Beat” by the Goo Goo Dolls while I journal. That song is like my theme song right now. I also like to listen to upbeat music while I’m working out. It changes everything! The difference between a silent workout and a music-ified one is drastic!

 

Most of these morning habits can be done simultaneously. For example, I’m usually listening to music and drinking water while I workout. Then, I use my light box while I’m getting ready or doing my devotions. Journaling takes about 10 minutes, while I’m listening to Rebel Beat. And then self development is typically ingrained in every part of my day. When I have my ear buds in at work, I’m typically listening to some type of personal development content.

If you layer your day this way, and remain intentional about what you’re doing with your body, what you’re feeding your mind, what you’re surrounding yourself with, how you’re feeling, you can see how this would elevate just about everything, right?

And I know when I’m starting to feel crummy about something, all I need to do is turn to this list to refocus and elevate my mood again.

Once all these things are out of the way in the morning, the feeling is euphoric! These habits put everything into perspective and give me a compass for the rest of my day that leads straight toward fulfillment.

Add value to your life by being intentional with the first hour of the day.

 

Let’s hear it…

Do you have specific morning habits that you do to start your day?

Does this inspire you to try being more intentional about your mornings?

Free New Year’s Health and Fitness Program

Workout Program for New Year

Pin me, Tweet me, Share me!

 

Hey #Flashers,

I’m in charge of putting together a wellness program for my corporate job for the month of January. Since I’ll already have all the materials put together, I thought I’d invite you to join too!

It’s called Full Force because we’ll be going into the new year with full force toward our overall wellness goals.

This plan will cover fitness, nutrition and mental health.

What you’ll get:

  • A training plan
  • Printable trackers
  • Meal planning ideas
  • Daily tips emails

The entire program is based around using what’s already available to you. It will help immensely if you own a smartphone and a Fitbit, but they’re not completely necessary.

 

Let me know in the comments if you would like to join, and I will hook you up! No strings attached.

You want in?

Change Your Life on Your Lunch Break: Read a Children’s Book

Change your life on your lunch break

I’ve been toying with this idea for posting about how to change your life in small increments. I’ve even mentioned it on the blog before. And now, I’m bringing it to fruition because this is something I believe so intensely in.

You do not have dedicate hours and hours at a time to make changes in your life. Small pockets of time each day are enough to bring about major changes in your life. A half-hour here, 10 minutes there is enough to transform!

Welcome to my new series:

Change Your Life on Your Lunch Break

Let’s get started with our very first installment…

Today, I want to talk about children’s books.

That’s right!

Children’s Books are gold!

If you want to mine our human existence for little nuggets of truth, you need only visit the children’s section at your local library or bookstore.

We can’t truly appreciate the depth of the meaning packed into these tiny beautifully illustrated wonders until we’re older after all. Like all the best Disney movies, with their references that only the adults in the room understand. You can’t fully appreciate it until now.

What children’s books have to offer:

 

Golden nuggets of life advice
Children’s books distill some of the best paradigms and advice in life down to the most precious little stories. Kinda like fortune cookies: all the best little nuggets might have become cliche and overused over time, but usually their truth runs deep.

I still have a copy of Emma’s Pet that I found when I was younger about a little bear that goes out on a search for the perfect pet. Come to find out, her own daddy is the perfect pet. Tears me up every time. So precious. Family is everything.

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Teach yourself Bible stories and history:
K, so I’ve never been good with history. This coming from the model A student. I mean, it’s embarrassing really. But when I need to know about certain battles in history, I turn to the children’s section at the library. All the bite-sized explanations help me wrap my head around what happened.

And Bible stories? Make soooo much more sense when explained in a children’s book. I like to start with children’s renditions of Bible stories when I’m learning about them, because then I can go back to the Bible and glean a whole lot more after the scene has been set for me (usually in kid-friendly illustrations).

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Learn how to draw. Or knit.
Is it just me, or do adult DIY books sometimes seem a little convoluted? If I want to learn how to knit, I will pick up a children’s book on how to knit. Talk to me like I’m 12 so I can get the hang of it first. Hehe. Then, I might graduate to an adult book once I’ve got the technique down. I’ve learned other forms of art this way too, by picking up a kids’ book to teach me. I don’t need fancy techniques, I just want to learn the basics.

Feel all the feels
Seriously, children’s books are downright funny and adorable and heartwarming and they distill the most important life lessons down into the most beautiful words. If we could all understand the world like a child, how peaceful we would be.

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And magic-filled.

The Stars Beneath Your Bed is about how wondrous dust is. As adults, dust is a nuisance. But from a different perspective, there could be dust particles from stars underneath your bed! Paradigm…shifted! Magic.

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Maple is one of our newest favorites from the Imagination Library (thank you Dolly Parton!). It completely exemplifies the magic of being outside and hugging trees, like, literally. It’s totally hipster and just perfect.


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Children’s books say everything you wish you could say so eloquently.
This book, On the Day You Were Born just drips my melty heart into pieces all over the floor. It’s so special. I bought it for my son for his very first birthday and it’s about how the entire world is aligned on the day each person is born. The stars are in a particular arrangement, the tides are at a particular spot, the sun takes its rightful place on the horizon, and the world whispers in your ear “we are so glad you’re here.”

Ahhh, gets me every time.

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Promise me you’ll read a children’s book on your next break, will you?

I hope, even if you don’t have kids, you take a minute to stop by the kid’s section the next time you’re at the library or bookstore. The stories are always quick. And always potent.

I didn’t revisit children’s books until I had some little ones of my own, but I realize now how much I was missing out!

Just remember, when everything in life gets confusing…

The world seems so much more approachable in kid’s format.

 

Whatever you learn or piece of gold you extract from the book might be a great starting point for your daily journaling practice or a topic for your own blog post. I hope you’ll share!
 

What’s the last children’s book you read? Do you even remember? What were some of the memorable nuggets you took away from it?

DIY Lemon Balm Tincture

Lemon balm tincture recipe

Pin it or forget it! 😉

How to Make an Anti-Anxiety Potion

I first learned about the anti-anxiety properties of lemon balm from a postpartum anxiety forum that I am in. Some of the women swore by its Xanax-like effect (I don’t know if I buy that, but it’s worth noting). I never realized that lemon balm had such medicinal anti-anxiety effects. You always think of lavender and chamomile when you think of herbs for anxiety, don’t you?

So, this spring, I made a point to plant an anti-anxiety garden for myself. Sadly, the chamomile and lavender got choked off by mad weed growth, but the lemon balm has been doing mighty fine. It’s a perennial that is pretty darn easy to grow. In fact, I’m pretty sure in a year or two, our whole front yard will consist of lemon balm.

But I digress…

 

lemon balm

 

We’ve loved having lemon balm at the ready. All through the summer, whenever Kayne and I had a cup of tea, we always put lemon balm leaves in it. It, of course, gives tea that lemony twist that is so delicious. But add it to my Tension Tamer tea, and it makes me feel all good inside.

Since we’re creeping up on frost season here in Wisconsin, I wanted to save whatever lemon balm I could before it freezes.

And by the way, I did this just in time because only two days later, we had our first frost!

I tried recording the process on Periscope, but our Wifi in the country stinks, so it didn’t work very well. But you can see the process on video here:

 

My exact process for making lemon balm tincture:

Gather lemon balm leaves in a colander. I only harvested the leaves that still looked healthy and didn’t have bug bites in them because that gives me the heebie jeebies.

 

lemon balm tincture

 

Rinse the lemon balm thoroughly, but try to do it carefully as you don’t want to accidentally press the medicinal essential oils out of the lemon balm yet.

Load up a sterilized glass jar (aka, a jar that has gone through the dishwasher) with the rinsed lemon balm.

As the jar fills up, use the handle of a wooden spoon to really pack the lemon balm down into the jar. Be sure to “rough up” and muddle the lemon balm a bit to help it release its healing oils into the tincture. In fact, you may want to give your lemon balm a rough chop before putting it in the jar to release the oils even more.

Once you’ve filled the jar to about an inch from the top, fill the jar up with 80 to 100 proof vodka until it completely covers the lemon balm. You don’t want any of the leaves to be exposed. Using strong vodka and covering the leaves completely will help prevent potentially harmful bacteria from forming.

Screw the lid on tightly, label the jar with the date, and store the jar in a cool, dark place for about a month, shaking the jar often. After a day or two of settling, you may have to add a little more vodka to cover the leaves again as all the pockets of air fill in.

After a month, you can repeat the process to make the tincture doubly strong. Since we already had our frost and the lemon balm will likely be gone in a month, I won’t be able to do this. Otherwise, after a month, it’s ready to use. Just strain out the leaves!

 

How to use lemon balm tincture:

Common advice states that 1/2 to 1 tsp of tincture is the proper dosage for anxiety and tummy aches. There are other recipes out there for making this tincture with gelatin for a more kid-friendly tincture as well.

And there you have it…

I felt like some kind of medicine woman making a potion or something! I think it’s so cool that God has tucked so much “magic” away in nature for us to use. There’s nothing more fulfilling than making a medicinal concoction from something you’ve grown in your own yard.

I can’t wait to try it! The more natural remedies I can use for my anxiety, the better.

 

How about you?

Have you ever made or used a medicinal tincture before? Have you ever used lemon balm for anxiety? Any other natural remedies for anxiety that I should try?

 

*Please exercise caution and consult your own medical health professional before using this tincture. I am not a doctor or natural health practitioner and this article is purely based on personal experience. 

Walking Barefoot in the Grass

I found out something fascinating today.

Walking barefoot in the grass is magical. Like literally and figuratively.

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I have long been drawn to taking my shoes off and walking through the grass. There’s just something so calming and gentle about it.

Turns out, there’s also something scientific about it.

So today, I found this entire article about how walking barefoot through the grass (officially called “earthing” btw) resets your entire body through electron transfer with the earth. It helps regulate our body rhythms.

Ok, even to me that might sound a little woo-woo. But there’s got to be something to this right? Because doesn’t just the suggestion of walking barefoot in the grass make you want to do it right now?

If you really think about it, shoes do insulate us from the world, don’t they? They disconnect us from the Earth one level.

And that’s before you add flooring and rugs and carpet and cars and concrete….

And if I really start to think about it, my feet barely touch the actual ground during the day and my face barely gets shone the sun. I wake up, get ready (vinyl) and go to my car, which is parked in the garage (concrete). I get a bit of sun through the windshield on my way to work.

Drop off the kids (sidewalk). Go into work (concrete). Don’t see any nature for 8 hours, except when I take a break outside (all paved). Then I go home and I might, only might, go outside. And I might, only MIGHT run my bare feet through the grass.

That’s a whole lot of disconnect between me and nature. And between me and the real actual earth in particular.

Guess what I did on my lunch break today? I totally kicked off my shoes to try and absorb a few electrons…er…run my feet through the tickle of the grass.

Whether or not this reset mIMG_1169.JPGy body, it was an enjoyable experience. Research says it may have lowered cortisol and inflammation levels. I do know that it provided gentle stimulation, it provided a dose of green, it gave me a real connection to the earth, it gave me a little stress relief, at least for a few moments.

 

I challenge you too, dear #flasher, to kick your own shoes off and allow your feet to “feel” and experience something living and be part of the flow of Earth’s electrons.

Alright, #flashme your bare feet in the grass!

 

Plant Your Own Backyard Anxiety Garden

Every year for my birthday, my mom buys me plants for my garden. Best gift ever!

At our new house though, we have deer, which does not bode well for a vegetable garden. So I wasn’t going to plant anything this year.

But then I realized we had a few garden beds that were filled with only weeds, so I did have some space to fill, with flowers at least.

We are also obsessed with butterflies and hummingbirds at our house, so the more butterfly- and hummer-friendly flowers we could find, the better.

Our backyard is becoming quite the magical fairy land.

We’ve seen at least four different hummingbirds on our feeder, we now regularly have lightning bugs and deer and caterpillars and all kinds of whimsical things.

 

I also created an anti-anxiety garden kind of by accident.

 

At the nursery, I thought, oh it would be amazing if I had lavender. So, on my quest to find it, I found a section called the “tea garden” where I also found chamomile and lemon balm. They not only sounded fabulous for fresh homemade teas, they are also all renowned for their anti-anxiety properties. I need all the nerve calmers I can get!

 

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Quick profiles of these amazing anti-anxiety herbs:

 

I love that I can go heal in my own garden!!!

I won’t stop taking my anxiety medications, but these are a great natural way to supplement my anti-anxiety regimen.

These plants were super easy to find at my local nursery, so they should be for you too.

As I gather and try out new recipes, I will share what works on here. Last night, I put a sprig of the lemon balm in my chamomile tea and it was delightful! I certainly felt relaxed afterward.

What are you favorite natural calming techniques?

Make Your Own Sunshine

Can we just put that in quotes and attach my name to it please? Haha! Cuz I just made that up, but it’s so true!

I have always has a strong connection to the light. The first time I remember coming to my own realization that sunshine is medicine was in high school. One day, we had a study hall out in the courtyard, and I just soaked up the sun for about 45 minutes. I remember going back into school and feeling…different. I can’t quite explain how it made me feel except to say I felt lighter and refreshed. I made a conscious connection then between the sunshine and the satisfying feelings I was having, long before people started talking about seasonal affective disorder.

To the contrary, when I worked third shift in college, I started to feel the effects of sunlight deficiency. I never got used to third. Our bodies are not naturally in rhythm with that schedule. I had trouble sleeping during the day, I was morose about missing daylight, and I was so unhappy it made my teeth itch! To feel this opposite end of the spectrum was just as enlightening. I knew exactly how much the sun affected me and I knew that I never wanted to return to this darkness.

I’ve noticed too, that all my worst bouts of anxiety have happened in December, February, etc. So, at my last appointment, I asked my doctor what she thought about light boxes. She gave me an enthusiastic, “I love them!” She whipped the one she carried in her purse out to show me, and a few minutes later I had a script for one in my hands and am now the proud owner of a light box to remove the SAD from winter in Wisconsin, where exposure to sunshine is scarce. And my preliminary observations are that it’s working:

There’s a whole lot of science behind this. Here’s an enlightening article about the sun and health.

So, here I am with a therapeutic 10,000 lux sun maker. I really am making my own sunshine!! I love the sunshine and being in the light. I’m drawn to sunny windows like a cat (new poem about that to come). The sun’s energy just penetrates me in places that no other drug or uplifting tool or mood-boosting strategy could touch. And that, my friends, is a great metaphor for anyone who strives to make each day a little better…and brighter. Heh! Make your own sunshine!

Just thinking out loud, but now that I’m starting to make videos, I’m wondering if my new light box will make a good light box for shooting videos too. Haha!

Do you use a light box? If so, how has it affected you?

Surviving My Long Drive to Work

Our recent move to our country home took us far away from the city, from work, from my mom’s house, from stores, from everything. That’s what we wanted, of course! To be away from the frenzy of the city. But the drive is something that is taking some getting used to. I shouldn’t complain, but when you go from a 1 mile commute–walking distance–to a 25 mile one, you really have some adjusting to do.

While I’m not too keen on driving in general (I LOVE being a passenger) or paying the astounding extra gas costs, I’m trying to find the positive aspects of this long drive. Since I’ll be making this long drive for the foreseeable future, I might as well learn to love it, right?

Now, when I’m driving, I’m trying to really “see” what’s going past the windows. I’m trying to not take the passing scenery for granted and really notice the cool fog effects, the waking animals, the sunshine. Oh, the sunshine! One of the most pleasurable parts of my drive now is lifting my face toward the sun. Now, I am potentially getting 60 minutes of sunlight on my drive versus the quick flash of light when I was only going 2 miles and sitting inside the office all day.

Thinking and decompressing before walking in the door has been another benefit of a long drive. That 1 mile commute sometimes left me feeling bombarded. All the thoughts that I had rolling around in my mind at the end of a day weren’t processed in that short of time, and I had to shift focus within seconds to children and husband and pet, all converging on me. This new drive is a more gentle transition and leaves me time and space to process all the information of the day and leave what I don’t want behind me. I have been coming up with great ideas while driving now, and think I’m going to have to invest in a recorder soon:)

No haters please, but I’ve also been catching up with friends on the phone since I have 35 minutes of uninterrupted air time. I am a much better friend now because I have that time to chat without feeling guilty that I’m neglecting anyone at home. It’s hard to find that uninterrupted time to call long-distance friends, but my new drive has opened up chat time for me.

I have also been catching up on podcasts. At first, I was really excited because we have an old CD player in the car and I thought “great, now I can catch up on myriads of books on CD from the library.” I was so excited to catch up on all the classics and some self-development–it was really one of the only things I was looking forward to. Well, wouldn’t you know, right before we moved, the car CD player seized up and no longer works. Total bummer!!! Well, to make up for it, I found an FM tuner at Best Buy and I have been downloading podcasts with free Wifi at work to listen to with it, and it doesn’t cost me data on my phone either.

And finally, when I’m not listening to podcasts, I’ve been listening to uplifting or informational radio, like KLove and NPR, which satisfies my constant need for information and positivity. I never thought about it before, but there is not one single “downer” song on Christian radio, making it a great way to feed my mind good things.

What do you like to do on long drives alone? What other options might I have?