Inhale. Exhale.

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By this time of the year it can feel like you have been running a marathon and you are at the last mile before the finish line. You have resolve and find the inner strength to push through to get that final project finished, get the last item checked off the 2017 “to do” list and to find your closure to the year.

Sometimes it is striking how we put ourselves in this mind set—the state of mind that we (per the Merriam-Webster definition of “finish”) have to come to an end or come to the end of a task or undertaking.

For many, this mind set is perpetuated by the work or school schedule, social norms and arbitrary expectations that get ingrained in our psyche. It seems that the years of our lives are approached as if we are in some race. But a race for what? A meaningful relationship, a career, a promotion; to take time off and rest; to be somewhere else, to be someone else? It is time to ask yourself what are you rushing from and what are you rushing toward—and why?

We tend to lose sight of the continuum of our existence. We get caught up in looking well beyond the horizon. We have this constant inner voice telling us that once something is done or checked off the list, once we go through a series of milestones, once we get to the next level that we will have time to rest, be content, try something different or be ready for what is next for us. winter nite bird

But we do so in the mind set of endings—that something has to end before something else can begin. I think as most of us have experienced life is just not that neat and tidy and there is more of evolution then revolution. Life for the most part flows and blends, and often when we are so laser-focused on finishing something or getting to the next thing, we miss the beauty of that flow and the blending.

I recently got back from an intense week of meetings—full of wonderful opportunities. The week was full of preparing for the immediate next session and rushing from point A to point B. As I boarded my flight homeward bound, and sat in my seat and exhaled, there was a sense of relief and calm. I told myself that when I get home I will relax and take some time off—but then I quickly went into making a mental list of the things I will do to relax.

In reflecting on this, I realized all the planning leading up to the event and the intense schedule while at the event was worthwhile, but in running my marathon I missed out on enjoying just being there and meeting some amazing people; and admittedly was probably a bit cranky at times. While at the event, I drew hard lines between one session to the next and actually was checking the sessions off the master list as the days passed. I did not take the time to inhale what I had created and what I was part of, and I did not take time to exhale the stress or pace I put myself at.

This one week sums up how many of us function (at times or generally)—putting ourselves in the mindset of a race with an arbitrary finish line that we drew. Life is a continuum—with many paths for us full of new people and experiences. So as 2017 blends into 2018, remember to inhale what you have created and exhale so you can let your life flow.

Tis the Season

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Here we are once again in December and the year end rush is on. It is quite common to find ourselves feeling a bit stressed, overwhelmed and anxious. And it is not just the approaching holidays. For many it’s year end performance reviews, year end job attrition (layoffs) worries, final exams and papers—and the rush to finish the “to-do’s” that somehow accumulated throughout the year.

Plus, we start putting pressure on ourselves about how we will or should celebrate New Year’s and that post January 1 we will hit the reset button with all sorts of improvements and changes. nyc-holiday-lights

That sure is a lot. For some of us, we push through and try to ignore our symptoms, and for others it can be a daily battle as things seem to pile up and feeling anxious or sad becomes predominant.  Either way, not healthy and time to take action.

As always, it is good to keep tabs on how you are feeling and why. If you are experiencing the following it is time to take some steps to reset and focus on yourself.

  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Being easily tired
  • Feeling sore or achy
  • Having a hard time concentrating or staying focused
  • Being irritable
  • Having a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Over planning
  • Seeking assurance and answers from others
  • Having anxiety attacks

Anxiety can take its toll and if it is really getting to a point where it is inhibiting you and your life, there is professional help and you should never feel embarrassed to seek and get help.

There are some holistic and natural remedies that can help.

  • Exercise, even if a brisk walk around the block
  • Get outside—sunshine and air make a big difference
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol
  • Eat healthier—fresh fruits and vegetables, good protein sources and less sugar
  • Stay hydrated (lots of water)
  • Find time to clear your head—give yourself some mental time-outs
  • Deep breathing
  • Explore herbal tools such as mint tea, chamomile or St John’s Wort (always talk to your doctor before you try herbal anxiety treatment)
  • Learn to think positive—remember the old adage that you create more of what you think about more
  • Explore a creative outlet
  • Change up your routine
  • Let things go—sometimes good is good enough
  • Set boundaries and limits—your time is precious and your health and well-being even more precious

So if you are feeling anxious and stressed, don’t ignore it and think post January 1 it will all dissolve. Start to take some steps that can become part of your daily practice and contribute to your overall well-being.