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When It’s Good to Go With The Flow

When It’s Good to Go With The Flow

Ever have one of those days where all you want to do is work on “that thing” but life has other plans?

Yes, we all have. How do you deal with them? Do you let them get under your skin or do you go with the flow?

We’re having work done at home and I’ve chosen to stay here to answer questions as they come up. I also don’t trust our dog Kaida enough to provide her the opportunity for adventure through an open door or gate.

The work is something we’ve wanted to do for a while – so it’s a great thing.

Me trying to concentrate and write with pounding and clanging on the other side of the wall – not so much.

When I found myself irritable and deleting more words than I was adding, I took a break and went for a round of fetch with Kaida. She had no interest. She was too distracted and busy guarding the house from “intruders”.

Kaida’s Bunker

My next go to is a speed bag. The hand-eye coordination required to hit the bag repeatedly is a great way to reset my brain and get it back into focus mode. As a bonus, it’s a great workout. I went to the garage ready for battle. Rather than cry, I laughed when I saw the path to the speed bag blocked by tools and materials.

That made me stop and assess. Would the world stop spinning on its axis if I didn’t work on my writing during that specific time? Nope. Was there anything preventing me from writing in the evening? Nada.

Time for a mindset adjustment – what COULD I do that didn’t require as much concentration?

There were several things on my to-do list that were no-brainers. I renewed and re-evaluated services I was using. I made changes for the better, including one that led to a great connection for a project I’m working on. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t caught myself and changed direction.

That said, this wasn’t a case of walking away from a critical deadline, or not writing because the “inspiration” wasn’t there. Most times, inspiration isn’t there – you sit down and write, anyway.

This was the awareness to let go of the normal routine to stay in the right mindset to be productive.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. Lao Tzu

We live in a time where it’s easy to keep our life under control. Apps remind us of appointments, tell us when to be there and the best way to get there on time.

The tough part is when things don’t go according to plan.

That’s where it’s critical to know yourself. What are your triggers? How do you catch yourself before you go completely off the rails?

Everyone is different, especially when it comes to coping skills.

That’s something only you can answer. It comes from observing the way you feel and react to whatever is causing you to feel anxious or irritated – anything that’s not your happy place. Different things work for different situations.

These are the things people most often tell me have helped them:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation/yoga/Tai Chi
  • Music that makes you feel happy
  • A safe place that allows you to relax
  • A trusted friend/coach or advisor

The better you know yourself, the easier it will be to keep yourself from getting too stressed.

It may take some time to get good at catching the subtle changes in your mood before they get out of hand. On a good day, how do you feel? Whats the first thing you norice when that changes?  Is there something you can do right away to stop it, or get it under control? Is there something on the list above that you haven’t tried?

Let me know what works for you – or what your triggers are, I’d love to help.

Don’t Let your Body Wreak Havoc on Your Mind

Don’t Let your Body Wreak Havoc on Your Mind

An Asthma and Allergy specialist introduced me to the Mind/Body connection when I was six years old.

After a series of tests, he told me it was hard for me to breathe because I had Asthma and allergies. He explained what Asthma was and showed me pictures of what happened in my lungs while I was having an attack.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I can show you ways to train your brain to help you and your lungs relax when you’re having an attack.”

I got nervous when I couldn’t breathe and it made my asthma worse.  He told me there was something called “belly breathing” which I thought was hilarious. I went into a laughing fit, followed by a coughing fit – which triggered my asthma. It was the perfect opportunity to teach me how to slow down my breathing and relax.

It took a while to get the hang of belly breathing, but I loved the idea of training my brain to help my body.

As I got into my teen years, our family dynamic became more and more chaotic. I stopped using belly breathing. The stress got worse and my Asthma flare-up’s were getting harder to control. I realized that instead of belly breathing, I constantly held my breath.

Debilitating migraines that made me throw up became a norm. Asthma squeezed my lungs while migraines kept my head in a vice grip. I let myself get stuck in a vicious cycle.

My Body was Wreaking Havoc On My Mind

At sixteen, an asthma attack kept me in the hospital for a week – something that hadn’t happened in years. Once again, my doctor reminded me to not let my symptoms get out of hand and to stay calm and relaxed.  I was too embarrassed to tell him about my home life.  I didn’t see the point, there wasn’t anything I felt I could do to change it.

The hospital stay was the first time in years I had felt good. While I was there, I didn’t have a migraine and my Asthma was under control again.

After a few weeks at home, I was back to asthma flare-ups and migraines. I was better about using my inhaler and calming my way through the attacks, but I wasn’t able to escape the migraines. They brought me to tears.

The body-mind chaos came back with a vengeance when a migraine hit at the same time as an asthma attack.

I fell into a trap of hating my body for being sick. I couldn’t imagine feeling like that for the rest of my life. The more negative feedback I gave myself, the worse I felt. I knew what I was doing, but I couldn’t stop.

Instead of decreasing my meds at the follow-up appointment, I had to increase them. If I didn’t get myself under control, I would end up in the hospital again. The sad part, is that I wouldn’t have minded it.

After another lengthy conversation with my doctor, I went back to belly breathing. He added one more technique. When my lungs felt tight, he suggested I close my eyes and imagine that my airways were opening.

This helped me when I used an inhaler. I’d never gotten used to the jittery feeling it gave me. This technique gave me something else to think about while the medication got into my system.

Fast-forward to the present.

I haven’t been hospitalized for asthma in twenty-three years.

In what once felt impossible, I started running even though I had exercise-induced asthma. A few months later, my lungs felt amazing. My lung capacity was at an all-time high and with the consent of my doctor, I stopped taking asthma medication.

The greatest gift my doctor gave me was a positive coping mechanism that helped me understand that I did have control over my body. It gave me the confidence to run 5k’s and half-marathons, back-pack through Yosemite and live a healthy, happy life.

*Please consult your physician before making any changes to your health regimen!

How have you stopped your body from wreaking havoc on your mind? Let me know in the comments.