how to overcome anxiety while traveling

how to overcome anxiety while traveling

With so much travel in both the personal and professional aspects of my life, it may seem surprising that I haven’t written a blog on this topic yet (I mean, my blog is named after my love for adventures!). While I’ve posted a little bit on Instagram about this, I’ve recently felt the need to expand further on the impact that travel has on my mental health – both the good and the bad.

I’ve touched on the tools I, personally, need to handle my anxiety on a regular basis and while on the road (therapy, supplements, food) … But sometimes, those things are simply not enough. And for me, right now? They are not enough. 

So far this year, my life has been filled with exciting personal events (weddings, babies, and more!) that have allowed me to explore new places, and I’ve been traveling more often for work. Lately, this has taken its toll on me mentally … I’ve been feeling downright sad with how much I’ve been away from my husband, my pup, my family, my routine, and my home.

Now, this is in no way a complaint. I am so, so fortunate to have the means to travel and to see new places – and for that, I am forever grateful! Discovering new places has pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to see life from new perspectives … But if I’m being real, recently, this constant go-go-go lifestyle has put a strain on me physically and mentally, and on my relationships.

When I find myself in this less-than-ideal headspace, when I am far from my therapist and even farther from my comfort zone, I’ve been forced to dig deep to find peace of mind and mental clarity. On my most recent trip, I identified a few things that helped me to get through moments of anxiety and sadness, and I’m excited to share them with y’all.

Traveling for work? Do your best to carve out time for Y O U. This is something I’ve learned from a mentor of mine, and it has made all the difference in being able to enjoy the professional side of travel. If you have a travel-heavy job like myself, I encourage you to work toward setting boundaries around these trips. What do I mean by that, exactly? Amongst the long work hours, dedicate time for you. Wake up an hour early to go for a walk outside. Take 10 minutes to meditate before bed. Maybe you’re a foodie? Look into local restaurant(s) to try! Think about what makes you happy, and prioritize time in your schedule to fit in at least one of those things (if at all possible, of course!).

my co-workers and I woke up early one morning prior to a work event to explore Mount San Jacinto State Park in CA

Let go of the need to control every situation. I’m a planner, a fixer, a Type-A worrywart, so ~ going with the flow ~ is not exactly something that comes naturally to me. But when it comes to flight delays, last-minute cancellations, and other travel obstacles, there is really no other option than to do just that. Learning to shift my mindset and accept this has proven to be imperative to pushing through some especially tough times.

And on that note … Focus on what you can control, especially how you react to these situations. Feel, process and re-center. Then, tap into what you know works for you: meditation, breathwork, a good cry, journaling, or calling your bestie!

Practicing gratitude will never get old. When I get too in my head and start thinking negatively, I do my best to balance those thoughts with things I am grateful for. I am beyond appreciative for a career that allows me to travel to new places, network, build relationships, and more. Sometimes, even a simple phone call or text to my husband, parents or sisters will bring me an instant feeling of gratitude.

Prepare, prepare, prepare! If you’re able to plan your trip(s) in advance, dig deep, identify what triggers your stress/anxiety, and make sure to do everything you can to feel great before leaving town: prioritize quality sleep, eat nutrient-dense foods that make you feel good, don’t skip a therapy session, etc. Oh, and right before you head out? Pack your bag with healthy snacks, download your favorite podcast(s), pack comfortable clothes, and do your best to relax (easier said than done, I know).

Travel is a common anxiety trigger. And most of the time, it’s a tough one to be fully prepared for, since most aspects of travel are out of our control … So, if you’re feeling bogged down with work trips or additional stress from being away from home for too long, I encourage you to try these tips! They can help you to overcome stressors while away, and prepare you to make your next adventure that much more enjoyable.

Safe, happy travels! 🙂


xoxo,

Lisa


Please note that I am not a mental health professional. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition.

mental health on a budget: 4 ways to help with anxiety that cost absolutely nothing

mental health on a budget: 4 ways to help with anxiety that cost absolutely nothing

One of my biggest issues with the health and wellness industry? The costs.

  • Therapy session: $$$
  • Appointment with a medical specialist: $$$
  • Organic, better-for-you foods: $$
  • Vitamins and supplements: $$
  • Yoga class: $
  • Self-help book(s): $
  • And the list goes on

Full transparency, I’ve paid $150 for one therapy appointment more than once. And yes, I usually spend more for organic produce and grass-fed meats. This is a personal choice, of course, but I know firsthand that prioritizing both physical and mental health can be expensive – and honestly, that frustrates me. Dealing with a health obstacle is already hard enough, so why put another barrier on things that are imperative to our everyday lives? Sigh.

The silver lining here? While some things can be costly, there are plenty of ways to amp up your wellness game for FREE (and we all like free things, am I right?), and I’m pumped to share them with y’all!

Let’s dig in.

  1. Try therapy. Wait, what? Therapy costs money! Allow me to explain … While seeing a professional does cost money, I believe therapy means something different for everyone. The textbook definition of therapy is: a treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder. Ask yourself, what makes me feel relief? What is healing for me? I’m a firm believer that expression in some form or fashion is therapeutic. Don’t want the expense of seeing a professional? Reach out to a friend or family member that you feel comfortable opening up to. Not ready to talk through things just yet? Write it out. Not a fan of writing? Go for a walk. Sweat. Breathe. I encourage you to look at therapy a little bit differently; there are so many ways to express yourself to feel relief from life stressors and anxiety. **Note: if you are currently a college student, there may be free mental health resources available on your college campus. I started therapy and had my first psychiatry appointment free of charge as a student at the University of Florida through the UF Counseling and Wellness Center!**
  2. Rethink what you’re consuming. I’m talking food and drink here. Try lowering your sugar intake. Studies show that sugar and other sweeteners may contribute to a number of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Reduce or eliminate caffeine. Limit your alcohol consumption (more on that here). Not only are these things free, they might even save you some money!
  3. Stop aiming for perfection. We live in a high-pressure society, where perfectionism is desired and failure is shamed. While most of us strive to do our best in everything we do, the key is to hone in on doing YOUR best, not necessarily aiming to be THE best. Set realistic goals, work hard toward them, and be kinder to yourself if reaching them takes time. … This is something I am working on daily, as I have habits and thought patterns of a perfectionist for sure.
  4. Download these free apps. Okay, okay … I’ll throw a modern-day tip in here, too 🙂 Most of us have heard that mindfulness meditation is great for those who deal with anxiety on the reg, but that doesn’t make it easy. Don’t worry – there’s an app for that! I highly recommend looking into meditation apps, such as HeadSpace, or my personal favorite, Insight Timer. Insight Timer is my go-to resource for guided meditation, and I probably use it once or twice a week! It’s a game-changer when I’m having trouble falling asleep at night. I’ve also read that the app TalkLife, a peer-support community where you can talk about your feelings, can be super helpful, too. These three apps are free, with in-app purchase options to amp them up a bit.
Here’s a screenshot of Insight Timer, featuring my FAV Guided Meditation by Sarah Blondin.

While I’ve had success with all of these zero-cost ways to help relieve anxiety, I do realize that none are a replacement if you want or need additional and/or professional help. I take a prescribed antidepressant every morning. I pay for therapy with a professional. These things costs money, and I prioritize them in my budget. Please don’t ever feel ashamed if you do, too!

Knowing that many of us are on a budget, I’m hopeful that at least one of these methods can relieve your anxious feelings … and your wallet. 🙂


Do you have any tips to add, or know of any other free apps? Please do share in the comments!

xoxo,

Lisa


Please note that I am not a mental health professional. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

5 facts to help you understand and overcome fear

5 facts to help you understand and overcome fear

Fear has always played a big part in my life, unfortunately.

I had many fears growing up, including being late (I was known for constantly asking my mom, teachers and friends what time it was), being alone (thank goodness I had sisters!), or change of any kind.

But, my biggest fear as I grew older? Failure.

I’m sure many of you can relate to the fear of failing. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I truly believe my fear, worry and anxiety around failure actually has a lot to do with my successes – and for that, I am grateful. But if I’m being honest with myself, fear has controlled way too many decisions in my life.

While I do my best to include some lightheartedness in every blog post, this one may get a little heavy here soon … Fair warning for what’s ahead!

Within the last few years, I’ve lived the highest highs and the lowest lows I’ve ever known. I’ve experienced tragic loss and painful grief, but also discovered a new level of love inside of me that I didn’t know I was capable of. These experiences—the good and the bad—have brought me to where I am today. But these experiences, specifically those that were tragic, ignited a level of fear inside of me that I’ve never felt …

Not just the fear of failing or the fear of being late, but I felt plagued by intense, irrational fears. For example, for a week or so, I was scared to walk my dog alone in the evenings for fear of being attacked, hurt or even killed (a little irrational, I know … But I couldn’t control those thoughts!). Where did this fear come from? I, along with my therapist, identified that it was how I was processing loss + the additional stressors in my life at the time.

And while that explanation makes so much sense to me, these borderline-irrational fears have seemed to follow me for a lot longer than I expected. There was even a day where I made myself physically sick over the fact that I thought I left my stovetop on while at work. Spoiler alert: I asked my step-mom to go to my house and check the stove … And it was off.

This intensified fear had started to negatively affect the quality of my life. And while I am still working through this phase, I am determined to conquer it.

So, I’ve been reading up on facing fears and fear + anxiety recently, and I’ve compiled these five facts that have helped me to start overcoming this challenging time of my life.

  1. Fear is a part of our survival kit. By definition, fear is a response to a perceived threat. Fear activates our fight-or-flight response by stimulating the hypothalamus, which directs the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system to prepare our bodies for danger. Basically, since the beginning of time, fear has kept us alive … Literally. So, fear is instinctual and we all feel it in our lives.
  2. Anxiety is a type of fear. Sure, this sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve honestly never linked these two feelings so closely. Anxiety is a word used by health professionals when they’re describing persistent fear – how you feel when you’re frightened and anxious are very similar, as the basic emotion is the same. So, anxiety-prone folks like myself are much more likely to experience higher feelings of fear (*lightbulb!*). With that being said, tactics to overcome anxiety and panic can also help tackle fear. I finally saw positive progress with my fearfulness after I re-focused on what I know helps with my anxiety levels: regular exercise, nutrient-rich foods, quality sleep, regularly taking my medication, and mindfulness.
  3. Get to know your fears. Instead of avoiding your fears and pushing them to the side, dig deep to find the root of these worries. Start by asking yourself how you got to this feeling, followed by determining the next steps you will take to move forward. Getting to know your fears deeply may actually soften them.
  4. Facing fears is really, really hard … But also really, really worth it. Per The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook (highly recommend investing in a copy!), continuing to avoid a situation that frightens you, more than anything else, is what keeps the fear alive. No, this doesn’t mean curing your fear of heights by going skydiving tomorrow (unless that’s your thing). But, while facing a situation you’ve been avoiding may seem impossible, it can be made more manageable by breaking it down into smaller steps. Start small and gradually work your way up. For instance, I’m an anxious driver, especially on crowded highways that include bridges. While I’m still working toward conquering this obstacle in my life, I take the highway to work every morning as a way of de-sensitizing myself to this experience that I’ve begun to dread. So, every weekday morning is a reminder that worry does not control me, and I can do this.
  5. You don’t have to face your fears alone. Last, but certainly not least, you’re not in this alone. Tap into your support system—your tribe, your therapist, or maybe just your partner—and don’t hesitate to lean on them, open up and ask for help.

While there is no immediate cure to feeling bogged down by constant worry, fear and anxiety, I’m done letting fear rule my life. How about you?


xoxo,

Lisa


Please note that I am not a mental health professional. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

8 effective tips to manage stress as a bride-to-be

8 effective tips to manage stress as a bride-to-be

If you follow me on Instagram or have communicated with me in the last 10 months or so, you know that I was in the midst of planning my wedding. My now-husband Bobby (husband, AH!) and I got married on Saturday, March 30, 2019. And yes, it was the most magical day of our lives. 🙂

We are definitely still processing all of the emotions from the big day, but we have taken the time to reflect on the outpouring of love and joy we felt on Saturday, and still feel in this moment. Shout out to every single person who celebrated with us – WE LOVE YOU!

While our wedding day was something out of a fairy tale, it’d be unfair to all of us if I didn’t say that both Bobby and I feel relieved that it’s over. In the moment, we didn’t want the night to end, but now that the wedding is behind us, we are both so content and noticeably more relaxed. It’s a great feeling!

Photo by Karla Korn Photography

I’d like to think I was a pretty chill bride-to-be for most of the planning process (or at least I tell myself that, LOL). But about two weeks out, I finally learned firsthand that the term “bridezilla” exists for a reason … Planning a wedding + processing the fact that you’re getting married is OVERWHELMING to say the least. In fact, marriage was listed in the top most stressful life changes by Inc., coming in at No. 7.

The final few weeks leading up to the big day are filled with the little details piling up, family coming into town, finalizing the day-of itinerary, and more. Throw in my full-time job, worrywart tendencies and natural anxiety, and let’s just say I was a hot mess. I definitely had a handful of panic-stricken moments and even a few sleepless nights.

But when the day arrived, I was surprisingly calm and genuinely excited for the event ahead of us. I did my best to be as in-the-moment as possible and to embrace this beautiful time in our lives.

Your wedding day should be enjoyable … And not just for the guests! So, if you are in this chapter of your life, congratulations! Here are the 8 things I learned throughout this process that will help to manage your stress levels and allow you to have some fun on your big day:

  1. Hire a wedding planner/coordinator. I cannot emphasize this enough – HIRE. A. WEDDING. PLANNER. Our planner made all the difference on our wedding day. We didn’t even have to think about the flow of the event, the decor, or if our guests were happy and taken care of. She did all of that! Our planner also guided our decision making throughout the process, as she has put on hundreds of successful weddings.
  2. Don’t wedding plan right before bed. I learned this one late in the game, after a few sleepless nights in a row. About a month out, I was coming home from work and would dive right into wedding-related details, like the seating chart or the reception playlist. And while these are relatively fun things to work on, I could not calm my mind in order to fall asleep afterward (and we all know I need my sleep). I recommend setting aside time to wedding plan, like weekend mornings with a big cup of coffee!
  3. Discover what truly matters to you and prioritize those things. This sounds simple, but it took me awhile to figure out what I should really focus on. The flowers? Eh, I knew I wanted sunflowers and neutral colors, but that was really all I knew. I trusted my florist and she did an amazing job! Believing in the professionals we hired, such as our florist, photographer and wedding planner, to do their jobs, allowed Bobby and I to focus on what really mattered – like the food, of course! We met with our caterers multiple times and were able to customize the menu exactly to our liking. It was perfect!
  4. Put yourself first. Everyone knows someone who has been married, and has seen this or that at a wedding … And you will hear about this and that throughout planning, trust me! Definitely take into consideration input from family and friends, but ultimately, remind yourself that this day is about you and your partner-to-be. Put your wants and needs first!
  5. Include your partner in the planning process. I definitely did most of the work when it came to the wedding decor and color palette, but I made sure to keep Bobby in-the-know throughout the time leading up to the wedding. He was a big help with the guest list, seating chart and ceremony playlist, among other things. Making sure we were both happy with those details is super important, too!
  6. Do your best to let go of the details that are out of your control. I started checking the weather more than two weeks out, and I even Googled “average temperatures in Jupiter, FL, on March 30“. I was driving myself NUTS and my anxiety was through the roof over it! Shout out to my Bridal Party for getting me out of my own head and letting nature do its thing. Our weather was PERFECT (and even if it wasn’t, our wedding planner had a foolproof Plan B).
  7. Don’t crash diet. Please just don’t. You are perfect and beautiful exactly how you are! It made me miserable and more stressed than ever trying to add on calorie-counting to my to-do list (which I already knew wasn’t a good idea). Stay hydrated, eat your veggies, get your sleep, and you’ll be good to go!
  8. When the day comes, let the mistakes go and simply enjoy it. Let me tell you – something will go wrong. Our DJ played the wrong song as I walked down the aisle AND my dress strap broke during the dance with my dad (my wedding planner sewed it back together!). But in the end, none of that mattered. We still had the time of our lives!

If you are planning a wedding, you are bound to feel the pressure of this life event and all the details that go along with it. So, I’m here for you when you get to that point!

Here are some more pictures from our big day from the amazing Karla Korn.


Cheers!

xoxo,

Lisa

how prioritizing diet & exercise made my anxiety worse

how prioritizing diet & exercise made my anxiety worse

I know, I know … I don’t need to tell you that a healthy diet and regular exercise are extremely beneficial for both your physical and mental wellbeing.

You’re most likely familiar with the research that reads something along the lines of, “exercising 30 minutes, three times per week releases ALLLL the endorphins and decreases stress, symptoms of depression and anxiety, etc.” (OK, so maybe it doesn’t say exactly that, but you get the point!)

You’ve seen the before-and-after #transformationtuesday posts on Instagram (and yes, I’ve posted a couple #guilty). You’ve seen the ads promoting weight-loss products popping up in your Facebook feed. You’ve heard the “New Year, New You!” resolutions that revolve around dropping a few pounds to kick-start that healthy lifestyle.

Look, I’m all about supporting those who reach their goals, but what if I told you that the years I followed a strict diet and exercise routine were the most anxious and panic-attack prone times of my life?

It’s true. In my early 20s, my appearance and how others perceived me was the main thing I cared about, which somehow translated to “I must be fit to be worthy!” in my brain. I was not only an employee at the local gym, but I worked out at least five times per week. I’m serious when I tell you that even if I was bedridden with bronchitis, I still made myself believe that getting a workout in was the best choice (I won’t even begin to elaborate on the germs I spread. Ick!).

During those years, I counted my macros. I planned my workouts weeks in advance. I made sure to take plenty of group fitness classes to “get in more cardio.” I did all of it, ALL OF THE TIME. And that was not necessarily the issue … The issue was that for years, I made that the priority in my life.

The thing is, even though physical activity and wholesome, nutrient-dense foods are beneficial for those dealing with depressive disorders, forcing workouts and depriving myself of the foods I love when I was SO FREAKING HUNGRY was not good for me. In fact, it was only making my anxiety worse. Like, way worse.

To dig a little deeper, let’s recap daily occurrences during this chapter of my life and my feelings associated with them:

I didn’t hit/I went over on my macros. Anxiety.

I ate too many sweets. Guilt.

I skipped my workout. Shame.

And god forbid my pants were a little bit tightPURE PANIC.

This lifestyle consumed me. No matter what diet I was on, no matter how many miles I ran a week (spoiler alert: not many), it never seemed to be enough. And that in itself pushed my anxiety and panic to the next level. So, after years of living it, I finally decided to step away to focus on what’s really important: self-care and genuine happiness.

Now, don’t get me wrong – healthy foods and regular sweat sessions are still a significant part of my life and they play a big role in progressing in my mental health journey, I just look at them a little bit differently now.

Instead of calorie-counting and dwelling on how s l o w minutes seem to move on the Stairmaster, I make it a point to focus on these three things:

  1. Eat the foods that make me feel good. I elaborate more on my relationship with food here. I highly recommend aiming for a balanced diet including protein, fat, fiber and yes, carbs! … And dessert. Don’t forget the dessert!
  2. Exercise for enjoyment. I like lifting weights, but not every single day. Yoga for longer than 20 minutes bores the hell out of me. I’ve recently discovered boxing and not only is it fun, it’s seriously therapeutic. Basically, I make the time for the exercise that I enjoy and I’ve noticed that I get A LOT more out of it.
  3. Stop comparing myself and my body to others. It’s hard to ignore the fitness models and the overall perfection on Instagram. I find myself making comparisons to others all too often and I’m working on that daily. But, there is no other YOU in this world, so own it! You are enough just as you are.

My approach to diet and exercise is not perfect by any means, and I am definitely still a work in progress. There are some days when I emotionally eat and days when I judge myself for not being “active enough.”

I am fully aware that everyone, every body and every mind is different. Even though a simple mention of Whole30 gives me anxiety, it may work well for you!

Regardless of what you choose to do or if you agree with me, I do recommend taking a step back and asking yourself, “is this making me happy?”

Friendly reminder: ultimately, it’s not about looking a certain way, but about feeling a certain way … And that starts with your mindset (not in the gym!).


Do you follow a certain diet or exercise routine? Or maybe you’re into intuitive eating? Please do share!

xoxo,

Lisa


Please note that I am not a professional in mental health, fitness or nutrition. Always seek the advice of your qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have.