Five ways to naturally lower stress in your life

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DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. The information in this post isn’t meant to treat or cure anxiety or depression. I am simply sharing my story and what has worked for me. If you are struggling with your mental health, please go see a professional! Take care of yourself, babe. <3

Recently on Instagram I shared that over the last few months, i’ve intentionally focused on lowering the stress in my life. I got so many questions on what i’ve done to lower the stress in my life so I thought I would write about it here!

Let’s face it, life is unpredictable and can often be stressful. In today’s society the “busy badge” is worn as a badge of honor, but even though we’re all busy, why are we dealing with chronic stress and anxiety? Being “busy” and “stressed” often go hand in hand. But why? That’s what i’ve been trying to figure out.

I think everyone deals with stress/anxiety in different ways but I do think it impacts us all and so it’s important to discuss. Unresolved stress over time can turn into debilitating anxiety and/or depression. I’ve been there. There was once a time in my life where I was having multiple panic attacks a day. If you haven’t read my story of working through anxiety, you can read it here.

Over the last few months i’ve really been studying the specific stress response in my body. When I start to feel tense, nervous, and anxiety begins to cripple in, I stop myself and reflect on WHY i’m feeling this way. I’ve realized that most of the stress I deal with in my daily life is self-inflicted. I’ve learned that there are certain things/events/people that trigger the stress response in my body. By figuring out what these are, i’ve been able to greatly reduce the daily stress in my life. My life isn’t any less “busy” but i’m able to manage it better because i’m self-aware enough to know when i’m pushing myself too far or entering into the “red zone”.

Here are five tangible and practical changed I’ve made in my life to greatly reduce my stress. Through the realization that most of the stress I feel is self-inflicted, i’ve been able to figure out exactly how I let myself get into a stressful situation. From there, I create boundaries in my life so that those situations don’t come up as often and i’m able to experience more peace. My hope is that you will make your OWN mental health a priority and identify ways you can lower stress in your own life! If you would like to hear more on this topic or my personal story to wellness, I would highly recommend my book, Live Well & Love Yourself. You can get it here.

  1. Identify your triggers-

    Like I previously mentioned, knowing what triggers the stress response in your body is so crucial when aiming to lower the stress in your life. What makes you stressed to begin with?

    -Is it your job? Get specific. What specifically in your workplace brings you stress? Do you procrastinate or fail to effectively communicate which could contribute to the stress you feel? Do you lack organization or time management which could contribute?

    -Is there a specific person in your life that makes you stressed? Do you LET someone else make you stressed? If so, maybe it’s time to put in some healthy boundaries in place to protect yourself.

    -Are you a people pleaser? Does the stress of what others may think make you stressed? Are you constantly measuring and comparing yourself to others? If so, it’s time to stop consuming content that makes you feel like you aren’t measuring up. It’s time to get laser-focsed on your own life and create boundaries for yourself.

    -There could be SO MANY other triggers. These are just some examples to get you thinking of the personal stress-triggers you have in your own life! Whatever your triggers are, take the necessary steps to eliminate them or limit them from your life!

  2. Develop morning and evening rituals-

    Our bodies work on best routines and rhythms. For someone who is NOT naturally organized or routine-driven, i’ve had to really grow in this area. That being said, I think creating morning and evening rituals is so crucial to giving yourself time to rest, recharge, and reset for the next day. I’ve learned to be really intentional about my evenings. I don’t make plans that I know will end late, because I know that sleep needs to be a priority for me. I start winding down around 7pm most evenings and aim to put my phone away around that time too. Evenings are for reading, journaling, drinking tea (chamomile is my favorite), and unwinding in every way. These evening rituals ensure that i’m ready to face the next day! As far as mornings go, I drink a ton of water, do a short stretching/yoga practice, and read or do a devotional every single morning. I also don’t sleep in very often because I know that if I start off my day early, I have time to do my morning ritual and really set the stage for the day. Your morning and evening rituals may look different than mine, but I think that being intentional during these two specific times in your day will help you gain better balance in your life which will greatly contribute in lowering your stress levels!

  3. Practice stillness-

    There is so much clarity we can find when we STOP to gain clarity and perspective. I think a lot of us believe the lie that we have to busy ALL THE TIME in order to be productive. Or maybe you have a crazy schedule that doesn't allow for much stillness. Either way, I think its important to make stillness apart of your daily routine. For me, I practice stillness during my morning yoga practice. For you, it may look like evening meditation or simply, taking five minutes of deep breathing in your car before heading into work. When we allow our minds to be still, we are able to better process our emotions. This will lead to less emotional build-up and “clutter” In our brains, which ultimately leads to less stress that we experience.

  4. Express how you feel-

    This goes along with practicing stillness. It’s imperative that you find away to express your emotions. Stuffing or ignoring emotions will only add stress to your life in the long run. For me, whenever I feel stress from “emotional build-up” I know its time to take out my journal and let it all out on the paper. Maybe for you, it’s talking your emotions through with a trusted confidant. Maybe it’s going on a long run. However you best express yourself, make sure you make time to do that on the weekly basis. This is one of the best preventative measures i’ve been able to take to keep stress from building up in my life.

  5. Prioritize your well-being-

    Your health is sacred. Truly. If you aren’t taking care of your body, mind, and soul, you are letting unnecessary stress build up in your body. If you aren’t eating nourishing health-filled food or moving your body to release endorphins (hello NATURAL stress inhibitor), you aren’t prioritizing your well-being. YOU ARE WORTH IT! You get ONE body and ONE life. Treat yourself with LOVE! You can’t truly succeed in other areas of your life if you aren’t succeeding at taking care of yourself. Prioritize your well-being. Do what it takes to create healthy habits and boundaries in your life. If you need more help in this area, I would HIGHLY recommend picking up a copy of my book as it goes over all of this in-depth.

I really hope that these tips motivate and inspire you to take action on some areas in your life that are causing you stress. I know what it’s like to be spread thin, unable to cope with massive amounts of anxiety, and paralyzed in the expectations you put on yourself. I want to encourage you that whatever stress you are coming across in your life right now, there IS hope! You WILL get through it! You are STRONG!!! Let me know if you have any other questions on this topic because it is something I am super passionate about and I would love to help in any way I can!

xo, Lo

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5 ways to get out of a personal or professional funk

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If you are anything like me, its hard to stay motivated ALL of the time. Lets face it, we are human and sometimes we may find ourselves in a funk or a rut that is hard to shake. Because I work from home, it's super easy to get into seasons where I don't feel as motivated or the passion for my career is hard to find. There are definitely times when I don't FEEL like working or going after my dreams. There are also times when I get down on myself for personal issues. We aren't perfect and things will come up! Life happens. We all have those days where it seems like everything is going wrong and we aren't happy with where we are at.

I want you to know something...

If you are in a lull season or even just having a tough week, let me tell you a secret, YOU WILL BE OKAY. We all get into a rut sometimes and its very normal to have a rough day every once in awhile. It's important though that whenever you are facing a personal or professional rut, that you work to grow yourself so you don't stay in that rut forever!!

*I feel like it is important to say that being in a personal funk or professional rut is different than suffering from anxiety or depression-if you feel like you are facing something more than occasional mood swings, you should seek professional help. If you want to read about my journey through debilitating anxiety, you can read that here.

When I am in a funk, there are a few things I do that help get me back on track! 

1. Process how you are feeling:

Oftentimes when I am feeling down and out, its really because I am feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes there can be so many ideas, to-do's, or projects swimming around in my mind that it can be hard to feel grounded. The very first thing I do when I am in a funk is journal out all of my feelings! I write out EXACTLY how I feel and I do my best to try to figure out WHY I'm feeling that way. I've found that oftentimes, the things we perceive as insurmountable in our heads are actually pretty trivial when you put them down on paper. I like to do a "brain dump" and literally list out every single possible thing that I need to do or accomplish. This helps me to clear my mind and refocus on the present.

2. Give yourself a mental vacation & do something creative:

After a good brain dump, give yourself a mental vacation! Remove yourself from your normal day-too-day and do something to give yourself a reset. For example, if you work from home, go on a spontaneous adventure to somewhere outside of your norm for an hour! If you work full-time, ditch the gym after work and go on a hike or bike ride. If you are a student, step on the brakes with studying and instead spend an hour painting or doing something creative. 

When you can remove yourself from your normal day-to-day routine, you allow your brain to reset and process. Oftentimes when I do something to intentionally go on a mental vacation, I come back feeling so refreshed and rejuvenated that I WANT to start working towards my goals again. 

3. Tune into personal development:

If you are still not feeling inspired after step two, it's time to dive into personal development! There's nothing that fires me up like a personal development book or an inspiring podcast! I will link my all-time favorite personal development books down below but some of my favorite podcasts to listen to are: The Goal Diggers Podcast, Rise Podcast, or Second Life Podcast! There's few things I love more than going on a long walk and listening to a podcast! 

4. Write out possible solutions to the problem you are facing:

After completing steps 1-3, you should be feeling pretty good! Now is the time to problem solve any potential triggers or issues that could be causing your stress or "funk". Is there a toxic relationship in your life? Are you always finding yourself overwhelmed because you don't know how to manage your time? Is there a personal insecurity that is keeping you from the next level? Asking yourself these types of questions and then creating an action plan to find a solution is one of the best ways that you can move on from the rut you are in and begin chasing your dreams again! 

5. Set daily small & achievable goals to get you back on track:

At this point, you should be feeling pretty good about yourself! You have reflected, rested, re-gained clarity, & problem solved! Now is the time to put your reflections to ACTION! What is one thing that you can do TODAY to make your life better? Maybe it will be to call an old friend to reconcile a broken relationship. Maybe it's choosing healthier eating habits. Maybe it's completing specific tasks that is going to move the needle in your business. Whatever small goals you have, create new habits to help you achieve those goals to improve your life and just DO them! It doesn't have to be anything drastic or life-changing but I'm a believer that developing small habits each and every day have the power to create massive change in your life. 

I really hope that these tips help you problem solve and gain clarity so that you can truly live the life & calling you were meant to! I believe that we are ALL called to do great things with our lives and so don't let a funk get in the way of you being your BEST self!!

All my love,

Lo

 

My Favorite Personal Development books: 

The Summer I Didn't Sleep: My Journey through Anxiety

 

*Disclaimer: This is my unique story with anxiety and how I treated it. I am not writing this to give medical advice or recommend a certain treatment plan. I am simply sharing what I did to help heal my body and overcome anxiety. 

It' been a full year since I experienced one of the hardest seasons of life I have ever been through. A full year since I thought my body was failing me. I know this may sound dramatic but I truly felt like I was dying. It's something I have kept to myself for the most part, no one could understand. I went to multiple doctors, counselors, and good friends and even though I got great wisdom & guidance, no one could truly help me. It's weird to write about because it's still something I have no explanation for. I still don't quite know exactly why I went through it or what lessons have come out of it, but at least I'm starting to process it. 

It started last May. I remember the exact day. Danny was gone for training (he was gone basically that whole Summer) I had friends visiting Oahu and I had spent the day with them at Waimea Bay. It was a normal, Summer day in Hawaii until I got home and it hit me. I started feeling clammy and dizzy. I thought I was dehydrated and so I drank a ton of water and laid down. About an hour later I was feeling even worse. I had this dooming fear that if I stood up, I would pass out. My heart was beating outside of my chest and it felt hard to breathe. I didn't know it then, but now I know, that was the first time I experienced a true panic attack. 

From that day forward, everyday seemed to get worse. It started with one panic attack a day, then three, then up to five, and then eventually, all day long I would experience panic symptoms and I stopped sleeping at night. I have never had troubles falling asleep in the past and so not being able to fall sleep was a new thing for me. I would get ready for bed, lay down, doze off, and as soon as I would doze off a bit and my body relaxed, I would get an adrenaline rush and the panic symptoms would come back. There was truly no rhyme or reason for it. I did not feel stressed. It would just come up out of nowhere. The entire night would be a constant struggle of trying to relax and then an adrenaline rush would hit me and it turned into a vicious cycle of sleeplessness and crippling anxiety. I was home alone for the most part because Danny was away at training and since I physically felt pain during these attacks, I was even more anxious being by myself.

I would love to tell you that this went on for only a short time and I found my anxiety triggers and overcame them quickly, but this was my life for seven long months. I could not sleep at night for SEVEN MONTHS. it didn't matter if I was at home in Hawaii or back in California I. could. not. Sleep. I felt like a crazy person. I was afraid to leave my house because I never knew when a panic attack would kick in. I got sick all the time because my immune system was so compromised from no sleep. I had to miss the bachelorette party of one of my best friends because of this. The worst part was, my husband Danny had army training pretty much throughout this entire season and so not only could he not be there for me, he didn't even know it was happening. 

During this time, I had a list of people who I would call/text at night at 1, 2, even 3am when I couldn't sleep. On an average night, after going to bed at 10pm, I would be able to finally fall asleep around 2am. Thinking of these sweet friends and mentors who were there for me and constantly checked in on me brings me to tears. Looking back, I don't know how I would have gotten through this without them. I am blessed with the most amazing people in my life and even though no one could understand why this was happening, they sat with me in the trenches.

I am sharing all of this not to bring attention to myself or have a pity party. I am sharing this because sometimes in life, bad things happen and you have no explanation for them. Sometimes horrible things come up, and there is no logical answer as to WHY. During this season in my life, I couldn't figure out why it was happening.. I was eating healthy for the most part, there were no HUGE stressors on my life (except my husband being gone, which actually is a huge life stressor that I didn't realize at the time) and I don’t have a particularly stressful job or life and so I couldn't comprehend how this anxiety could be so bad.

After experiencing what I did, I 100% agree that there are hormone imbalances in the brain and some people need professional guidance and medicine to help them keep balance. I also believe whole-heartedly that God is in control and he could have taken this pain away from me. That being said, there seemed to be no amount of praying that could be done to pray my anxiety away. It wasn't going anywhere. I was offered sleeping pills, anti-depressants, etc. and for me personally, I knew that my anxiety was a deep-rooted issue and I wanted to get to the bottom of it, holistically. 

*Before I share what I did to help balance out my hormones, I want to share a disclaimer that I still to the day don't know WHY I went through this. It's something I struggle with every day. Yes, I changed my eating and supplements and rested and did ALL THE THINGS and eventually the anxiety became less crippling, but I still do not know what initially caused it. THAT is what I want to talk about in this post because I think we all have things that happen in life that we can't explain, comprehend, or reason with. If you are in a season like that, I want you to know, you are not alone.

I'm not sure why God had me go through this season but I have sure learned a lot of healthy coping mechanisms that I can use now to calm myself down when a bout of anxiety hits.  Here's what helped me...

1. Routine:  Sticking to a routine, especially at night, helped me calm down my system. During this season, I was so overstimulated that even watching TV or going to the movies would make my body panic (again, I have no clue why) and so for me I knew that I couldn't go out at night and I needed to spend time every night drinking herbal tea, reading and journaling. I journaled ALOT during this season. 

2. Diet: At the time of all of this, I had added gluten back into my diet, which I knew my body wasn't happy with but I tried to reason my way through still eating it. It was when I fully took gluten out of my diet again that I started to feel back to normal. How crazy Is that! I also took out most sugar and limited grains. I am still eating this way and I feel SO good! 

3. Gut Health: This was HUGE for me. From doing some testing, I realized my gut was not healthy and had candida and bacteria overgrowth. Your gut produces your mood hormones! Did you know that?! So through diet and supplements I worked on cleaning up my gut. 

5. Herbal Supplements: One of the things that gave me immediate support and helped me sleep was a homeopathic remedy that my naturopathic doctor recommended for me. It worked WONDERS in calming down my immune system. I couldn’t sleep without taking this for seven months. Even though I didn’t like the idea of having to take something to calm me down, I knew I needed to sleep and I knew that this would help me heal. It's called Relax Tone and I will link it down below! I also drank LOTS of herbal teal; bedtime tea, chamomile, and rooibos are my favorites. 

6. Adaptogens: Ashwagandha is known to help with regulating hormones and so I put a 1/2 teaspoon in my smoothie every morning and I definitely noticed a huge difference! I still put Ashwagandha in my smoothies a couple times a week and I swear, it helps me feel so much more balanced.

7. Setting boundaries: During this season in my life, I had to say "No" a lot. It took pretty much everything I had inside of me to be a wife and run my business. I wasn't a great friend during that time and I didn't have energy to do much at all. The only way I can describe how I felt was that it I felt like I had a radio on LOUD in my head all the time. My thoughts would race, my thinking would be muddled, and I couldn't focus on anything with all the static going on in my head. I stayed home a lot and journaled, prayed, and read. 

8. A Strong Community: During this season more than ever, I really needed people to encourage me & stay in the trenches with me. A few friends really stepped up the plate and covered me in prayer. Even though they couldn't understand, they were there, and that meant the world to me. 

Slowly, month after month, I begin to heal. Danny came home from his crazy season of work travel and I got really good at self-care. Again, there was no true rhyme or reason of why I got better but slowly it was getting easier to fall asleep at night and the anxiety during the day slowly faded as well. As I made lifestyle changes, I think my hormones began to re-regulate, my gut healed, and I began to feel “normal” again. About five months ago I began to feel like myself again and this season has been so sweet since I’ve been able to reintroduce things back into my life. I also have a renewed sense of peace and joy in my life that I no longer take for granted!

 

I wish I could tell you that I found joy in my dark place, but I didn’t. I wish I could tell you that I learned a ton of lessons during that season, but I don’t think they’ve revealed themselves to me yet. Like I said before, sometimes your world gets turned upside down and you are left with a lot of question marks. I don’t know WHY but I do know that I am stronger because of it. 

 

If you are facing anxiety, I hope my story encourages you to never stop seeking true healing. Everyone has their own unique journey to healing and yours may look very different than mine and that Is OKAY! I hope that my experience encourages you to keep going and take care of yourself. If I learned anything this past year it was that hard times don’t last forever, it’s just a season. Things WILL get better.

 

If you are facing something else that is hard to wrap your mind around, I hope my story encourages you that you are not alone! It’s okay to not know why. It’s okay to be mad about it. It’s okay to hurt. Just remember that this too shall pass and you WILL get through it and come out on top.

 I’m not sure how to end this post because I’m not sure my story has an ending and yours doesn’t either. Keep going, babe. You got this. <3 

xo,

Lauren

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Stress: 5 tips on managing stress and keeping balance

Oahu-hawaii-beach-travelblogger

 

I'm not sure about you, but stress is very much a part of my everyday life.Stress has seemed to follow me since I was a child and it’s something I have dealt with my entire life. I absolutely hate saying this, but I don't know what life looks like without stress. It makes me sad to acknowledge this. It's not that I like being stressed, but it’s all I have ever known. I am used to it. It is a part of my daily routine and it has been a tough character flaw to release of mine. Stress is something I have clung to when I need to get something done. Stress is something I crave when I feel "unproductive". Sometimes, I even get high off the adrenaline rush of stress. It's insane. I hate it. If you are a type B person, you will probably have no idea what the heck I am talking about. If you are a type A person, you probably know EXACTLY what I am saying and this may hit you to your core. 

 

Let’s talk about what the definition of stress is before we go into more detail. Wikipedia says that, “Stress is a feeling of strain and pressure.” Stress is a normal reaction in our bodies and when we get stressed, our bodies react in a “fight or flight” response which triggers cortisol levels to go up and puts strain on our adrenal glands. Stress, quite literally, puts strain and pressure on the body and nervous system. When we are stressed to finish an assignment, complete a project, run a mile, do the dishes, engage in an argument, or simply keep up with social media, it puts STRAIN AND PRESSURE on us. In small doses, like running a mile for example, stress can be beneficial; but for most of us, we are stressed out way more than we should be. 

 

Much of my childhood was very stressful. I don’t remember many times as a child that I wasn’t stressed. I did not have a care-free childhood which meant that my body was used to experiencing a high amount of stress on a daily basis. I plan on publishing a whole piece on my health story but in short, all of the stress caught up to me and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, leaky gut, and adrenal fatigue at 19 years old. 

 

I am the first to know how damaging stress is for the body, yet I still engage in the act of being stressed every single day. It’s like a drug that I cannot quit. I choose to over-extend myself, take on too much and put unnecessary pressure on myself in order to feel like an accomplished person. Feeling accomplished and feeling stressed go hand-in-hand for me and it’s taken me a long time to realize that it is not normal or healthy. 

 

I think of stress like I think of grocery shopping. Little stressors add up just like I add items to my shopping cart. A new weekly commitment? Add it. A new goal to achieve? Add it. Someone else’s opinion? Add it. Something I SHOULDbe doing? Add it. A bed full of clothes to fold? (my current reality) Add it. Little stressors add up and up and I don’t even realize it until I am having a panic attack for no apparent reason. Do you ever find yourself at a grocery store with a cart full of items that weren’t on your list? That’s kind of how stress is, you add unnecessary stressors to your life without even realizing it until you have an overflowing cart. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. There are people DYING everyday over stress-related illnesses. We need to get better at managing stress before it completely consumes us. 

 

I am by no means an expert on managing stress but over the years I have developed a tool kit of things I do to manage my stress. I would encourage you to experiment with your own ideas and find things that work for YOU.


 

1.   Check in with yourself: This is probably the best way that I am able to manage my stress because oftentimes I am dealing with stress and I don’t even realize it. Every morning check-in with yourself. How are you feeling? What do you have to accomplish that day? Are you anxious or overwhelmed in any way? Asking these questions to myself helps me to pay attention to any stressors in my life that I may need to get rid of. It also helps me gauge if I need to change anything in my daily schedule in order to not take on too much. 

2.   Take breaks: No matter what you have going on during your day, it is vitally important that you take 1-2 breaks to do absolutely nothing. Allow yourself to be “unproductive” for 10 minute increments and see how amazing you feel. My favorite way to take breaks during my day is by stopping everything I am doing to do a 10 minute meditation. Truthfully, I am not good at taking breaks and so this is one that I need to get better at! 

3.   Create Rituals: This has been a game changer for me. Creating rituals in my everyday life has allowed me to think less and be still more. I have a morning ritual to prime myself for the day, a nighttime ritual to prepare to rest, and a self-care ritual (sauna + drybrushing) that I aim to do every day to keep me balanced. 

4.   Tea: This may seem pretty minuscule but never underestimate the power of a cup of herbal tea. Sipping on herbal tea reminds me to slow down, to not take things so seriously, and to enjoy the simple things in life. Below I will list my favorite herbal teas. I try to sip on tea 2-3 times a day! 

5.   Un-freaking-plugging: you guys I cannot stress this one enough. Working entirely online keeps my stress levels high pretty consistently. I release so much stress and gain so much clarity when I put my phone on airplane mode for simply 3 hours. THREE HOURS. That’s it! Unplugging doesn’t mean you are disengaging from your phone for a week, it simply means you are giving yourself a little break. I am also not great at doing this but I aim to do it a couple of times a week and whenever I do, I feel SO GOOD. 


 

Here are some other ways I treat stress: 

 

-Going for an evening walk

-Swimming in the ocean

-Painting or doing a craft

-Journaling

-Reading outside 

-Stretching

-Talking about what I am feeling with my husband or a close friend


 

I truly hope this helps you find more balance and manage the stress in your life. My encouragement to you would be to implement stress-balancing activities in your life and make them a non-negotiable part of your routine. Stress is a nasty beast to master, I’m right with you sister! Together, lets pledge to take off the busy badge in order to live lives of more meaning, more space, more inspiration, and less stress. 

live well,

Lo

PS- these are my favorite herbal teas... I always have a stash of all of these and I switch off depending on my mood!