Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes, and General Mental Mayhem


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10 Ways I Handle Stress, Anxiety and Sleep Issues

sleep mask

Me—in a nutshell

When I was younger, I never would’ve imagined that I’d become a person with ongoing stress, anxiety or sleep issues. Then I hit my 30’s, and was introduced to this terrible trio. And instead of having a steady, committed, long-term relationship with sleep, we became more casual friends, and sometimes acquaintances. We started drifting apart. I think on several occasions it even became that person that you think might be your friend, but doesn’t acknowledge you in a public place so then you’re not sure. Yeah, we have our issues.

Sure, I’d known stress and anxiety before, as part of being a perfectionist, but it wasn’t something that stuck around for very long. And to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what triggered the sleep issues. That was the first, and started happening early in my 30’s. The others were mostly results of high-pressure jobs that I’d had, I think, but probably combined with other things too. But they all started hanging around like leeches thinking that I owed them something before my chronic health issues of the past four years, that’s for sure. And they’ve certainly worsened with the decline in my health, because I can’t handle them as effectively as I would if I was healthy. Things get to me more easily. They take longer to sort through, and irritate me more . . . which, by the way, doesn’t help. #Cycle And my personality is one that just has a harder time letting go of things. We are big feelers with long memories.

However, one of the things I find most fascinating about humans is our ability to adapt. So, like any representative of my species, I’ve found a few ways to cope:

  1. The Five Minute Journal (also an App): I am not a negative person, but I am a perfectionist, so being critical is something I struggle with. I use this journal every morning and evening to take stock of moments of gratitude and highlights in my day.
  2. Essential oils: I personally love and use doTerra. I have many favorites (Breathe), but for tackling this issue, I’m all about Balance. I diffuse it or put it directly on my skin when I need it’s calming benefits. Just reaching for the bottle makes me feel better.
  3. Supplements: I get these either directly from, or recommended by, my naturopaths. I currently have one to help with anxiety and one to help me sleep that I take periodically. I think they help a little, but they’re still new to me, so I’m evaluating. But, of course, they aren’t the only things I’m doing, and I think that helps.
  4. A sleep mask: My first one is pictured above, but I have this one now. When I first started having sleep issues, I tried all kinds of things. I never thought I’d like a sleep mask. I always thought of them as making me kinda claustrophobic. But I was at my end, and gave it a try. And loved it! I’ve been using them for years, and also have a separate one that lives in my luggage for travel. I don’t think I could sleep without it now.
  5. Calm meditation app: I did several free trials of apps, and had it down to this one and Headspace. In the end, I liked them both, but this was cheaper. I like the sound of the waves, as well as the woman’s voice. I’m not practiced enough to do it on my own yet, so I like the guided meditations. And yes, they do have them for stress, anxiety and sleep. I’d wanted to start meditating this year already, so these blended together well. I try to do it for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night.
  6. Walk outside: I usually love nature from a distance, but I really do love to walk outside, especially on a trail or somewhere to shield me from the city a little. We also have beautiful mountains in Georgia. I find these walks really calming. I listen to an audiobook, or podcast or pray, but usually a mix. I definitely feel a sense of restfulness and renewal, not mention accomplishment, afterward.
  7. Friends: I spend time with people who fill me up. This usually means grabbing coffee or a meal or frozen yogurt. I hate talking on the phone, so that’s usually my last resort, or if the friend lives far away. But there is just no substitute for a good conversation with an even better friend.
  8. Mentor: I never knew I needed a mentor until I had one. I sort of stumbled into it with a group of girls and two women about 10 years ago. That lasted for about two years, and was awesome, but we all moved on. Then I spent another couple of years trying to find a new one, and was introduced through a friend. My mentor Holly and I meet about once a month, and I guess it’s been about six or seven years now. She’s awesome, and advises me on all kinds of things from business to personal. I’m currently looking for a new business mentor as well. Holly has mentors for different areas of her life she wants to improve in, and I think that’s really cool.
  9. Movies: I love TV, too, but sometimes I need the “away” that a movie in a theater brings. It’s a quick escape, super enjoyable, and only takes a couple of hours. I have a deep love for movies on many levels, and this is certainly one of them. I actually just rewarded myself with the new Star Trek movie last Friday morning after a stressful work week.
  10. One to grow on! Candy Crush: This is a weird one for me. I’m not really one to play games on my phone, but somehow I started doing this one at the beginning of the year when I had a full-on anxiety attack. I play it because it helps me focus on one thing at a time. I don’t have the flood of emotions and thoughts while I play this. I’m sure other games do the same thing that take strategic thinking, but this one works for me.

I know a lot of people would add pets to this list, but I am too selfish, cheap and OCD to have my own pets. I enjoy other people’s pets from time to time and that works just fine for me.

I will also, for good measure, throw depression into the mix here as well. Though I’ve struggled with it much, much longer. I will also lump my own depression and anxiety here because they often don’t look the same as what is usually portrayed. I didn’t realize I had depression for a long time because I wasn’t sad, therefore, I didn’t know the way I lived was any different from anyone else. Depression is more of “a lack” for me. I just feel less than myself. Kinda like a dull, rather than shiny penny. And I definitely get Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is one of many reasons I’m always considering moving to Southern California. Likewise, full-fledged anxiety is new for me, and thank you God, I’ve only experienced it a couple of times after it developed this year. More often, my anxiety is very mild, mostly resulting in a flood of thoughts when my mind should be still, like sleep. It’s nothing very emotional. Usually just t0-do lists and things like that. I love lists. But, of course, these things do contribute to a larger overall picture.

Side note: I will also say that I believe these kinds of issues, especially depression and anxiety are more common to creative, feeling people. I keep asking my friends who study psychology to do papers on this! It’s nothing formal I’ve found, just my own research through my experiences and conversations with others. And the worst part, especially with depression, is that it makes you feel very isolated, like you’re the only one who’s living a less than ideal life. If that’s you, I’m so sorry, and I’m here to tell you that you aren’t alone.

And yes, I do also have a prescription for Ambien, and take it occasionally, especially when I travel. I do believe there is a time and place for traditional medicine. But I try to take the more natural road when possible to put better things in my body and have less long-term effects or dependency which I believe come from many medicines. I know I am luckier than some in that I haven’t handled these issues with stronger substances, or been consumed by them. I’m incredibly grateful for that.

And I’d like to say that these 10 things work without fail every time, but that’s not true. I started writing this blog post in my head at 5:00 a.m. this morning, practically the middle of the night for me, and finally got out of bed to start writing it a little after 6:00 a.m. So, tonight, I try again. But by in large, they’ve been very helpful and allow me to lead a more normal life.

If you deal with any of these issues, how do you handle it? I’d love to learn from you, and keep adding to my list!

PS: Dear, sleep – I thought we had a good thing going. I don’t know what I said or did, but I’m sorry. With all my heart, I’m sorry. Please come back to me.

 

(Note: All Amazon links are affiliate links.)


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Biofeedback: What It Is and Why You Need It

Screen Shot 2013-09-14 at 9.50.25 PMI first talked about biofeedback on my blog back in October. It’s been a lifesaver for me the past year. And I’ve had so many conversations with people about it since then, I figured it was worth posting on here again. This is an updated version of my previous post.

After reading, you’ll see what a huge cheerleader I am for this technology. If you have ANY sort of health concerns or conditions, I would absolutely encourage you to check into it. It’s meant a lot to me, and now several of my friends are seeing the benefit as well.

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I wanted to let you all in on a secret that should be shared with the world: biofeedback. I’ve done this at least half a dozen times now. The first time I did it was about two years ago to fix my gluten sensitivity (it worked, by the way). I started gain last fall because of all my health issues the past few months. (mono, kidney infection and gallbladder removal. It was a rough 2012.)

Anyway, I would love for those of you who have any kind of health issues (or simply are interested) to consider going. I plan to start going every year like a physical. After reading, you’ll probably think it sounds like magic, or too good to be true, but of course, I’ve seen it work on myself—more than once.

If you don’t live here, you can find biofeedback all over the country but they may each work a little differently. I go to Atlanta Medical Institute in Buckhead.

Here are some of the things I’ve already asked about with a few of my friends and family in mind:

  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones/issues
  • Eczema
  • Food allergies
  • Indoor/outdoor allergies
  • Stroke
  • Autism
  • Diabetes
  • Depression and mood disorders
  • Fertility issues
  • Detox/cleanse
  • Liver issues
  • Heart disease
  • Hormones
  • Children’s issues (safe for kids/babies)
The process:
Sit in a recliner. While sitting in the recliner, she puts sensors on your wrists, forehead and ankles. These measure the electrical flow of energy in your body and look for problems. While monitoring on a computer screen, she looks for emotional, environmental, internal and physical issues. So, it’s kind of like seeing a bunch of different doctors all at one time, and in a much friendlier environment. Depending on how long of a session you book, this could be anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. If you opt for a long session, the second hour she uses the biofeedback to help correct the energy blockages in your body. The first part is just for diagnosing. You can barely feel it. Then, if you tacked on the ionic foot bath, which I’ve done three times, you put your feet in a container of water with a little machine that sends ionic particles through the bath. This process pulls toxins out of your body through your feet. The water turns different colors depending on what its pulling out. It’s crazy. (I’ve even seen parasites in my water—yuck!)She always sees more than I ever tell her. She can see what emotions your struggling with as well as foods, environmental stressors and physical issues. I had told her about the mono, kidney infection and gallbladder. She also frequently asks about things I don’t bring up such as tooth pain or lower back pain or sleeping issues, etc. She could see how shot my immune system was, vitamin/mineral deficiencies and major lack of energy. And unlike my regular doc, she could explain why I had headaches when the weather changed for the past year or so. (Turns out it was when my gallbladder became swollen and sensitive to humidity, and that was the result. Since I’ve had the surgery, I haven’t had the weather headaches!)

The cost:
The long process I’ve done twice (outlined above) is $250. If you have to do follow-up sessions they are usually the one-hour sessions at $75, I believe. And then, depending on what she finds, you’ll have nutritional supplements as well. I took home six things supplements last time and it cost around $120. I’ve have to do multiple follow-ups to get my immune system back online since it was completely shot, and there are more supplements to complement the biofeedback each time. Usually the rounds of supplements are about 30-60 days, from my experience.

A lot of people ask about insurance, of course. Currently, I have an FSA card through Blue Cross Blue Shield. My primary care doctor can’t do anything medically for the immune system issues and mono, so she’s been very supportive. So, I pay for my biofeedback and supplements with my FSA card and then email my doctor what I had done/purchased. She then writes me a perscription which justifies the charge to BCBS. I fax that in, and that session is taken care of. I have to do that each time. It’s a hassle, yes, but the folks at Atlanta Medical Institute are super helpful in getting me receipts, and it’s important to me to have it paid for with my FSA card and not out-of-pocket each time. Why not? It’s money I’ve already set aside.
I know it sounds expensive, and maybe time consuming, and it is, for those of us without a lot of extra funds or who can’t get insurance to cover it. However, my only regret is not going back to her earlier so I could’ve possibly avoided some of these issues, or shortened the length of them. Several hundred could’ve saved several thousand, when I include the gallbladder surgery.  And also I’d rather be on supplements for a while then all kinds of Rx meds, short or long-term.
I really do think this would benefit so many people. I can’t understand why more people don’t know about it! She had an answer for everything I threw at her. I know the process sounds a little crazy, though. I’d be skeptical if it hadn’t worked for me. For those of you who are not into the homeopathic thing, I’d encourage you give this a try if what you are doing now isn’t working or is only managing your issue and not curing.

The lady who does my biofeedback here locally has some really remarkable/amazing/unbelievable stories of how biofeedback can help others, both personally and first-hand as well as stories she’s heard. I named all kinds of afflictions and she had a biofeedback answer or story for them all.Quick story:
She did biofeedback on her brother, even though he was resistant. His heart area showed a lot of issues during her session, and she told him he need to go to a specialist right away. He told her he was feeling fine and put it off. She bugged him and he finally went to his general doc, who said he was fine. She kept telling him to see a specialist. So, he finally did, and was admitted to the hospital right away with a 95% heart blockage! He was a heart attack waiting to happen! She has all kinds of cool stories like that.

Final update:

I’d mentioned that she fixed my gluten intolerance, but since I started seeing her last year I have also gone off my allergy and acne medications! Let me repeat in case you missed—I went off ALLERGY meds LIVING IN GEORGIA! It’s amazing!

Other issues have, of course, come up during my treatment so health is always a process. Sadly, I’m not yet through with my mono, and it’s been almost 17 months at this point. But I’ve improved a ton. I was an absolute zombie there for a while. Unfortunately, after everything my body went through last year, I’m basically having to rebuild my immune system. It’s not uncommon to take this long. I’ll be way better on the other side, though, and in a much better place to move forward. With biofeedback, I’m not putting band-aids on symptoms like most other traditional medicine treatments. I’m working on repairing my body so it does what it was created for. It’s really quite remarkable.

Oh, and she also told me recently that several major Atlanta healthcare systems are now exploring the technology! That gives me great hope that this might be incorporated into regular medicine. That is super exciting to see the worlds of natural and traditional medicine intersect.

Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll answer anything I can, but I am a huge believer as you can tell.
Stay healthy!


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Biofeedback: Better Than Medicine

This post was updated on September 14, 2013. For the updated post, please click here.

____________________________________

I wanted to let you all in on a secret that should be shared with the world: biofeedback. I went to have this done for the second time in my life this past Friday. The first time I did it was about a year and a half ago to fix my gluten sensitivity (it worked, by the way). This time I went because of all my health issues the past few months. (Five+ months of mono, kidney infection and gallbladder removal. It’s been a rough six months.)

Anyway, I would love for those of you who have any kind of health issues (or simply are interested) to consider going. I plan to start going every year like a physical. After reading, you’ll probably think it sounds like magic, or too good to be true, but of course, I’ve seen it work on myself–twice. Here’s the link to the page of the place I go: www.atlantamedicalinstitute.com/Stress-Reduction/biofeedback.html with their contact info.

(If you don’t live here, you can find biofeedback all over the country but they may each work a little differently.)

Here are some of the things I’ve already asked about with a few of you guys in mind:

  • Gallstones
  • Kidney stones
  • Eczema
  • Food allergies
  • Indoor/outdoor allergies
  • Stroke
  • Autism
  • Depression and mood disorders
The process:
Sit in a recliner for two hours and then get a foot bath. While sitting in the recliner, she puts sensors on your wrists, forehead and ankles. These measure the electrical flow of energy in your body and look for problems. While monitoring on a computer screen, she looks for both emotional and physical issues. This part is about an hour. The second hour she uses the biofeedback to help correct the energy blockages in your body. You can barely feel it. Then, the last part is the ionic foot bath which pulls toxins out of your body through your feet. The water turns different colors depending on what its pulling out. It’s crazy. (I even saw parasites in my water this time–yuck!)She always sees more than I ever tell her. She can see what emotions your struggling with as well as foods, environmental stressors and physical issues. I had told her about the mono, kidney infection and gallbladder. She also asked if I’d been having lower back pain and sleeping issues–both true. She could see how shot my immune system was, vitamin/mineral deficiencies and major lack of energy. And unlike my regular doc, she could explain why I had headaches when the weather changed for the past year or so. (Turns out it was when my gallbladder had become swollen and sensitive to humidity, and that was the result. Since I’ve had the surgery, I haven’t had the weather headaches!)

The cost:
The long process I’ve done twice (outlined above) is $250. If you have to do follow-up sessions they are usually the one-hour sessions at $100, I believe. And then, depending on what she finds, you’ll have nutritional supplements as well. I took home six things supplements last time and it cost around $120, I think. I’ll have to do some follow-ups to get my immune system back online since it was completely shot, and there will be more supplements to complement the biofeedback each time. Usually the rounds of supplements are about 30-60 days, from my experience.

The day before I saw her, one of her clients had been working with Blue Cross Blue Shield for over a year trying to get it covered by insurance. It finally happened! She said if your primary doc would write the prescription, you could get it covered by your insurance provider–terrific news! I’m going to contact my doc soon.
I know it sounds expensive, and maybe time consuming, and it is, for those of us without a lot of extra funds or who can’t get insurance to cover it. However, I would’ve rather done this six months ago than having mono for so long and my gallbladder removed. Several hundred could’ve saved several thousand. Now, unfortunately, I’m doing both. And also I’d rather be on supplements for a while then all kinds of Rx meds, short or long-term. She told me she could’ve fixed my gallbladder issues and I wouldn’t have had to have it removed. I could kick myself because I truly believe her.I really do think this would benefit so many people. I can’t understand why more people don’t know about it! She had an answer for everything I threw at her. I know the process sounds a little crazy, though. I’d be skeptical if it hadn’t worked for me twice. I just saw her on Friday and have already had noticeable improvement in energy and sleeping. For those of you who are not into the homeopathic thing, I’d encourage you give this a try if what you are doing now isn’t working or is only managing your issue and not curing.

The lady who does my biofeedback here locally has some really remarkable/amazing/unbelievable stories of how biofeedback can help others, both personally and first-hand as well as stories she’s heard. I named all kinds of afflictions and she had a biofeedback answer or story for them all.Quick story:
She did biofeedback on her brother, even though he was resistant. His heart area showed a lot of issues during her session, and she told him he need to go to a specialist right away. He told her he was feeling fine and put it off. She bugged him and he finally went to his general doc, who said he was fine. She kept telling him to see a specialist. So, he finally did, and was admitted to the hospital right away with a 95% heart blockage! He was a heart attack waiting to happen! She has all kinds of cool stories like that.

And it is safe for children for those of you who wondered. She is currently doing biofeedback on her two month old grandson because he gets frequent earaches.
ALSO, if you live here and would like to go in the next couple weeks, I got an email I can forward you for 20% off during October. It doesn’t say new customers can’t use it.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll answer anything I can, but I am a huge believer as you can tell.By the way, they also have a really good vanilla-flavored pea protein shake mix (that’s gluten free) if you like to make protein shakes. It definitely dilutes the taste of the supplements! 😉

Stay healthy!