Aromatherapy: Top 7 Essential Oils for Anxiety

Can the power of a simple scent instantly change your mood?

I’ve recently looking into the practice of aromatherapy as a method to reduce stress and enhance mindfulness. According to doctor of natural medicine Dr.Axe, aromatheraphy is the practice of using essential oils that derive from healing plants. The practice dates back to over 5,000 years ago! Generally, when essential oils are applied to the skin or inhaled, they may help you overcome various health problems, such as anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, PMS, and depression. At the moment, I’ve tried essential oils that promote relaxation. My favorite was lavender oil- I just added a few drops in a warm bath and the scent really had a calming on effect on me. I would recommend trying a number of different essentials oils to discover which one helps you the most.

Here are Dr.Axe’s top 7 recommendations of essential oils for anxiety:

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Have you tried aromatherapy before? What is your favorite scent that helps you relax?

Have a great Sunday!

Barbara

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3 Tips When Stressed Over Change

Lately, I can’t help but wonder what will come next after I end my studies. I developed a routine in graduate school that keeps me focus and track toward my goals. What is the new routine that will unfold once I’m outside of the comfort of school? The fear of the unknown is an incredibly stressful feeling. I suppose the root of my fear is change.

At the end, we can’t always control the changes that occur in life. Yet, although so much can change in a minute, I feel like part of that is the essence of life. In the middle of change  we have to find comfort in something – routines, family, friends. Otherwise this world is just messy and disorganized. I’ve learned that staying in and enjoying the present moment is so important when tackled with the anxious fear of future changes. Although not knowing is terrifying, I think the ultimate safe place is having faith that what’s meant to happen will happen. I like to try to overcome stress with reflecting on my blessings and what makes me happy. I want to share with you three tips that have helped me:

Practice gratitude 

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Take time each day to reflect on what you appreciate in life. It will help you put situations in perspectives.

Do something you enjoy every day

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Make time for activities that make you happy. You deserve time to focus on yourself rather than on the stressful situation making you anxious.

Laugh

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After all, laughter is the best medicine. Just by smiling or laughing your body releases stress. 

 

Hope this helps!

 

Barbara

10 Essential Yoga Poses to Combat Stress

On a typical late Monday night, I rushed over to a Power Yoga class with the goal to relax after a busy week. In a sea of perfectly coordinated Lululemon outfits, the class took deep breaths together as we transitioned through Downward Facing Dog to Chaturanga and every other flexible pose our teacher instructed. At the end of class, I felt refreshed and energized.

Over the years, yoga classes have helped calm my body during times to stress over work or grad school. The peaceful and non-judgmental atmosphere allows me to work on myself and let go of negativity.  Yoga helps me create a pathway to the greater good by spreading harmony and reflecting love onto others, by finding my inner peace. I want share a series of yoga that will give you similar stress-reliving benefits of yoga. Enjoy!

(Please note: Listen to your body as you try out these poses. If something does not feel right, take a step back and move on to a more comfortable position:) )

 

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Daily Affirmations For This Week

Happy Sunday!  As the relaxing weekend is coming to a close, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the week ahead. I bet your mind immediately jumped to the responsibilities and appointments on your calendar. I do it too. Even when we try to plan the week, we can’t always control what may occur. Although the week is often filled with surprises, we can control how we react to the changes along our path. Remember that things happen for you and every experience that comes along is a lesson. Maintaining positive thoughts helps determine the tone of your life. I want to offer some encouragement for the times you may feel overwhelmed this week– affirmations for each day of the week:

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

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What other affirmation would you add to the list?

Have a great week!

4 Ways to De-stress the Work Day

Career Stress?

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Career stress can keep you up at night and contribute to health problems. Ideally, the workplace should be a space of creative aspiration that lead us to work hard to obtain our long-term career goals. On the road to reaching our goal one often encounters responsibilities and deadlines that impact your well being. Feeling worried or stressed in the workplace happens. However, when the feelings are overwhelming they can have a negative impact on your workload and health. I set high expectations for myself because I want to deliver high quality project. My perfectionist tendencies lead me to worry over many details of my work. Over the years, I’ve learned strategies to manage the stress that comes with any job. I recently read an article by the Reader’s Digest that provides helpful tips to manage career stress. I’ve used these techniques before with great success. I hope they provide you with the same de-stressing benefits!

Give yourself credit

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When is the last time you praised yourself? Completing a goal no matter how big or small is an accomplishment! Often, I tend to move from one task to the next without reflecting on it. I’ve learned that giving myself time to acknowledge my achievements is an important motivational factor. Give yourself time to give yourself credit for a job well done. You’ll feel more confident and it will help you stay positive in the workplace.

Self-Reflection

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If you feel an overwhelming sense of worry, schedule time to reflect on what is causing the stress. Try to step away from your desk for a change in scenery and stretch your legs. On a piece of paper create three columns: “My Worry”, “Why It Worries Me”, and “Worst Thing That Could Happen”. The act of writing your thoughts will help you process what is troubling you and develop an action plan to go back to work with less worry. Also, you may find that the worst case scenario is less likely to happen. (If you are interested in tracking your long-term stress patterns, check out how to create a Stress Tracker here.)

Plan Ahead

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When work is challenging, make a to-do list for the week to prioritize all your tasks. It is helpful to place check off boxes next to each task once completed. I’m a huge note taker so I love making colorful lists to keep me organized and focused.

Bring a Piece of Home to Work

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When we spend most of our day in the office it is easy to get wrapped up in the fast-paced environment. If you want a quick break, make a display at your desk with pieces that are important in your life. For example, a picture of family and friends, a souvenir of a special occasion, and your favorite plant. When you feel overwhelmed, you can devote a few minutes to enjoy the display and remind yourself of the things most important to you.

What other effective de-stress techniques have you used at work?

Until next time!

Top 5 Amazing Stress-Busting Super Foods

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The nutrients we put in our body can reduce the tension we feel in stressful situations. Currently, I’m in the middle of midterm season wrapped up in studying. The long days in the library are tempting to venture to the vending machines for my favorite snacks, Doritos and Twix. I’m guilty of resorting to comfort foods that aren’t good for you. Despite the delicious crunchy-caramel goodness of Twix, the lack of nutritional benefits can’t provide the energy boosting and stress-reducing benefits I need. Over the years, I learned that certain foods have an impact on stress levels.  I want to share with you my top 5 foods to munch on at school, work or in other stressful periods:

Whole- wheat pretzels

The carbohydrates in whole-wheat pretzels or crackers provide an energy boost to the brain by releasing a feel-good chemical called serotonin.pretzelCarrots

Crunchy nutrient-rich carrots and fresh veggies help ease stress because it releases a clenched jaw.

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Oranges 

Commonly known for its cold-fighting powers, vitamin C can curb the levels of stress hormones, while helping the immune system.

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Fatty Fish

Salmon contains a steady supply of feel good Omega-3 fatty acids that can prevent surges in stress hormones.

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Avocados

Did you know that half of an avocado has more potassium than a banana? Avocado help reduce high bold pressure.

Avocado slices

What nutritional foods do you eat when stressed?

Best,

Barbara

The best way to spend 10 minutes

The last few weeks I felt like the Energizer Bunny with being a tour guide for relatives visiting from Italy,  meeting deadlines for graduate school, presenting at meetings and everything in between. Even though I’m participating in moments that I deeply care about (family time and schoolwork), I still felt overwhelmed and unbalanced. When we try to juggle many responsibilities to help others and accomplish our goals, it’s easy to forget taking care of ourselves.

However, taking care of ourselves can be as simple as just committing 10 minutes of the day to mindfulness (um, sign me up!). According to mindful expert Andy Puddicombe in a TedTalk, the power of doing nothing for 10 minutes a day will promote a happier and healthier life. He motivates audiences to develop a deeper appreciation for living in the present moment.  Puddicombe explains meditation is about stepping back and understanding the thought and emotion with a relaxed focused mind. I found the video to be an  enlightening talk that can lead to a more mindful life.

 

All the best,

Barbara

Do you know what is causing your stress?

Have you tried creating a stress tracker to find the answer?

The source of stress can be triggered by different situations faced throughout the day. Some events may have a deeper impact on your emotions than others. I find it helpful to write down my feeling when dealing with stressful events because it gives me time to reflect.  By understanding the source of stress, you develop greater self-awareness. An article on WebMd illustrates the benefits of creating a track record of the times you feel stressed. A track record helps learn about how you react with stressful events. When writing in your tracker, the article suggests you ask yourself a few questions to determine stress patterns:

  • “Did you find that there were certain times of the day when you are more stressed? What was going on during those times?”
  • “Were your reactions related more to thoughts, like worrying, or were they more physical, like headaches?”
  • “Did you notice that certain people or certain situations triggered your stress?”
  • “Which ways of coping with stress work best, and which ones don’t work or have other effects you don’t like?”

I used a similar tracker last semester during graduate school. The transition to graduate school presented stressful situations while trying to balance assignments, projects, work, and maintain a social life. I felt very overwhelmed! Therefore I created my own tracker for a week to learn more about my stress patterns. It pushed me to really reflect on my experiences and my responses helped me understand myself better. You can use any method to create your tracker (WebMd Example). I used my colorful Orange Circle Studio tracker to help find better ways to cope with my stressful experience. From time to time, I create a new tracker during different life phases to understand how they impact my stress level.

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Did creating a tracker help you find stress patterns?

See you soon!

Barbara

 

Begin & Believe

Hello!

Throughout my life journey, a theme that resonated with me was “begin with the end in mind” from Stephen Covey. I interpret this phrase to mean that in pursuit of our goals it’s important to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It inspires me to overcome the challenges that cross my path and to stay on track.

However, the road to your dreams is never a straight path, rather you often encounter obstacles that make you question yourself. Over the years I found that stress is one obstacle that makes me feel unbalanced and overwhelmed. Although stress is a natural response and even useful in certain situations, if it happens too often it can have negative effects on the body, mind and soul.  The good news is that we have the power to relieve stress with useful resources. Although I’m not an expert in the field, I’ve come across helpful stress management tips over years and continue to learn healthy strategies today.

My goal is to share personal experiences we can learn to breathe with ease and calmness when faced with nerve-wracking situations! I hope my posts provide inspiration on ways to help find balance and achieve stress management in your career and everyday life.

Stay tuned!

Barbara

peace