Let Anxiety In…

Given all my years of experience with anxiety (hello, childhood friend who gave me stomach aches and the shakes the night before a presentation!), I have actually built a solid repertoire of tools to help me deal with anxious thoughts.

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In fact, this tool actually was brought to me during my second pregnancy when I went to my prenatal yoga class. I saw a sheet of paper pinned to a bulletin board, and on it was printed the following poem.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi

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After reading the poem, I chose to put it into practice. My yoga teacher once told the class that emotions, just like labor pain, come and go like a wave. The premise is to treat anxious thoughts like a guest.

Invite the emotion in, welcome it instead of pushing it away. Observe it with curiosity instead of trying to avoid it. And let it go as opposed to fearing anxiety and desperately trying to rid yourself of feeling anxious (which actually makes it worse because then you spiral into those ruminating thoughts that start spinning in your head and where you feel you have lost control. See, told you, I knew what I was talking about :D)

In fact, in moments of anxiety, I would actually envision a scene, where anxiety takes a human form (like a decrepit, weak, trembling, scared old man) knocking on my door and I picture myself inviting him in a cozy, warm living room with a fireplace.

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I proceed to ask him to take a seat and stay for tea and we sit for a while. It might sound cuckoo, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It may take some practice and your own twist to it but the more you get comfortable with your uncomfortable emotions like anxiety, sadness, anger, etc. the more you have a handle on them and then they stop controlling you.

You are always in control of the way you feel. Anxiety can happen to everyone at some point. Slow down when it happens. Slow down your thoughts. Don’t fear it. Acknowledge it. And always breathe and keep breathing… inevitably, the guest will decide to leave you be.

How do you keep your anxious thoughts in check?

Why Hitting the Snooze Button can Kill

…your peak productivity.

OK, now that I have your attention, I want to let you in on an important fact that I recently learned about snoozing. Take it from an ex-professional snoozer like myself, I thought you might find it interesting to know that bypassing the alarm once, twice, three, fifty times may actually be detrimental to your health. Let me give you the deets…

I’m sure you already knew that getting a good night’s sleep works wonders on your productivity level but did you also know that how you wake up is equally important? Based on neurology studies, scientists have discovered that hitting the snooze button actually has a negative impact on brain function and productivity… and furthermore did you know that the effects can last up to four hours!!! Now, that might explain my blanking out at the last work status meeting (just kidding!… then again…)

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Here’s how it works. We sleep in cycles, right? Usually each cycles runs 90 to 100 minutes to complete (kinda like charging our Smartphones). About two hours before you wake up, these sleep cycles end and your body starts to slowly prepare to wake up. When your alarm rings, your body is in wakeup mode, ready to go (even if your brain isn’t). If you hit the snooze button and drift back to sleep, you force your brain to start a new sleep 90 to 110 minute long sleep cycle. Then when the snooze alarm goes off 15 minutes later, the cortical region of your brain responsible for decision-making, alertness, attention, and self-control, is still in the sleep mode! It won’t be able to snap back awake so easily – it would – get this – take another 75 minutes to finish what that snooze button started.

Read more on the effects of snoozing

After that, it can take up to four hours for the grogginess, sleep fog feeling to subside and for your cognitive functions to return to their full capacity. Wowzer, right? So now, you’re probably thinking, sh*t how many years did I shave off my life by snoozing???!!! Don’t worry, there are ways to remedy this problem.

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Here are some tips to avoid hitting the snooze button the first time the alarm goes off:

  1. DON’T TOUCH THE SNOOZE BUTTON. Get up. Not negotiable. It may take some practice but IT CAN BE DONE!
  2. GO TO BED EARLIER. If not getting enough sleep is the problem, set a bedtime for yourself. Or do what I would do when I did postpartum, go to bed when the kids go to bed. It might suck at first but you’ll feel so much better in the morning. The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, take that into account to set your bed time. Plus, your iPhone has a cool Bedtime feature in your Clock app that can help you stay on top of your bed time and set you up with a bed time alarm too!
  3. TURN OFF ALL SCREENS at least 1 hour before bed for a deep, restful sleep. That’s right, no more Netflix binge watching, or late-night social media trolling 😛 Read an actual paper book, magazine or get your meditation on always helps.
  4. PUT YOUR ALARM CLOCK ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM to avoid the temptation to hit the snooze button once the alarm goes off in the morning.
  5. HAVE KIDS*, trust me, either you won’t have a choice to get up to feed/hold/sing to them once they start crying (unfortunately they DON’T COME with a snooze button) or you will want to get up before them just to get some peace and quiet 😛

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How many times do you hit the snooze button before getting up?

(*Try option 5 only once all other options have been exhausted. Fabmindfitbody.com is not responsible for any births resulting from reading this post. ;P)