May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
My heart has been heavy of late as I read weekly about another teen who decided to take their life, or another's.
I am extremely grateful to have found Inner Peace. That doesn't mean I exist in that state every minute of every day, but it does mean is that it is my new baseline, which is something I could not have imagined 10 years ago, nor dream of in my teens.
As I drop my kids (8th & 9th grade) at school in the morning I watch the body language of all the students as they make their way in the gates and see in some of them, my younger self. That look of wanting to dissolve into the concrete before anyone would notice your existence. I want to run out and hug them and tell them how much they MATTER! But instead I take a deep breath and exhale my love and a prayer.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness month I am sharing some of my own story. Scroll down for more or hit play below for this month's free featured Take 5 Stretch & Breath Break designed to help you with your Mental Health by building Baseline Resilience.
When practicing breathing exercises like this one regularly for just a few minutes, you will reprogram your nervous system and experience both immediate and long-term benefits. Breathing exercises like this are one of my DAILY practices for Well-Being and have quite literally saved my life.
The breathing technique we practice in this Take 5 Stretch & Breath Break is shown to offer a variety of healing benefits with regular practice, including:
• Reduced inflammation
• Strengthened immune system
• Decreased anxiety and depression
• Increased resilience
• Improved sleep
If you are not a Take 5 Member and want to join to access the entire Take 5 Library join us here.
How I Took my Power Back
I am sharing my story in the hopes that it can inspire someone who might find themselves struggling to reach out for help, to keep searching, keep trying different options, different counselors, different techniques. Help is out there & you will find a fit.
I wasn't always this ZEN.
I used to wear my anxiety like a coat of armor. Always on high-alert, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop, or in my case, my body to drop to the floor.
While diagnosed in my early 30s, my anxiety symptoms started in early childhood. At two years old I started having episodes where I lost consciousness with my body then becoming rigid or at times convulse. Never knowing when this might occur resulted in extreme anxiety. While initially diagnosed as grand mal seizures, 40 years later it was re-diagnosed as extreme neurocardiogenic syncope, a form of dysautonomia (nervous system dysfunction).
As I grew up and the stresses and conditioning of the world did too, the anxiety of never knowing when I would next hit the floor unconscious multiplied into a full fear-based lifestyle that I tried to outrun by overachieving. To the outside world I looked fine, in high-school the tennis playing student with the high GPA, the girl who was recruited by a Fortune 500 Company right out of college. All this achieving seemed like a girl who had it together. But this was RUNNING disguised as performing and achieving, and it was exhausting.
Pause for a moment and think about the teens and young adults in your life. Could they be silently at war with themselves and overwhelmed by the pressures of expectations and society?
Fast forward a few decades and I found myself as a working mom caught on the hamster wheel of productivity. My anxiety showed up in my body as severe gut issues (IBS-C) and chronic tension in my neck & shoulders, when severe it showed up as a rapid heart rate and shortness of breath.
In my behavior it showed up as perfectionism, angry outbursts on my family and self-medicating with alcohol. With years of negative self talk contributing, it manifested in my mental state and a dense fog- almost as a paralysis, not being able to take the action that I needed to take but withdrawing and shutting down instead.
Do any of these sound familiar?
“You’re addicted to stress!” one therapist told me.
Breaks? Self-care? Who has time for that? As part of the sandwich generation I had work deadlines, kids and aging parents to care for and was so busy taking care of everyone else’s health that I neglected my own. I wasn't ready to listen to my therapist, nor anyone else, I was just too busy being busy. Until, my body and mind said no more and I had a complete breakdown.
My road to FREEDOM
While I am extremely grateful for the help pharmaceuticals offered me during some of my most challenging times their side effects, whether anticonvulsants, SSRIs, or benzodiazepines were just too much for me, so I started seeking out alternatives.
In recovering from my breakdown, I had to start small, taking just 5 minutes a day. hence the name of my business, Take 5 and the 5 minute Stretch & Breath Breaks. It was a slow start but I kept trying. I discovered breathing exercises, tried guided meditations and started making dietary shifts. I also continued to get guidance and support by both licensed therapists and certified coaches. As I started to see improvements, I continued to explore on a decade-long journey to reach the Inner Peace I enjoy today.
Today my “wellness toolbox” has evolved into a Well-Being Lifestyle. I start and end my day with meditation, mindfully move my body and connect with nature daily. I consume that which nourishes my mind & body in a mindful fashion and am acutely tuned into what my nervous system and body as a whole are communicating to me daily.
My journey was a long one but yours doesn't have to be.
I want every teen to know it is possible.
I am here to tell you it is possible.
So there's a little of my story. Please share it with anyone you think it might inspire. I am working on creating some content to help teens and will be offering some workshops this summer. Please subscribe if you haven't already to stay posted on those offerings
As the demand for Mental Health Care has grown so have the offerings. There are so many talented therapists, coaches and mental health resources out there for you!
Here are a few resources to check out as well as links to the Well-Being Coaching and Private Instruction I provide.
Family Caregiver Alliance (Caregiver burnout support): https://www.caregiver.org/
Substance Abuse Support: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
Alcoholics Anonymous: https://www.aa.org/
Fresno Area Mental Health Professionals: https://www.omegamentalhealth.com/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
LGBTQ Youth Crisis & Suicide Hotline 866-488-7386
Meditation is the doorway to inner peace. I have created this offering for those who like I used to, find meditation challenging.
I’ve had lots of guides that have helped me along the way. If you or someone you know is ready to find Inner Peace. I’d love to be your guide, and help you take your power back.
I love teaching Yoga, Meditation & Ayurveda. If you are looking for guidance I'd love to curate a custom set of lessons based on your intentions and needs.