the holiday gift guide for the anxious friend in your life

the holiday gift guide for the anxious friend in your life

I love the holidays, but my goodness the pressure of gift-giving is stressful.

I pride myself on being a good gift-giver, so naturally I put pressure on myself every holiday season to crush the gift game for my family and close friends. In the past, that’d mean spending a ton of money and using my credit card more than I’d like to. As of last year, while I still take pride in my gift-giving skills, I’ve taken a more practical approach and ask myself a few questions before hitting the stores … What does my family need? What will they use and benefit from on a regular basis?

Working for a vitamins and supplements company has definitely changed the Christmas-gift game for my family and friends, as I have easy access to a lot of amazing products (turns out, including probiotics in homemade self-care kits goes over really well!). And while my loved ones definitely appreciate my new holistic style of giving, I also feel good giving them things that they will benefit from and enjoy.

I’m sure many of you are deep into holiday shopping already, but I’m hoping I can still inspire a few! Let’s dig into my favorite products that I use to help balance my emotions and tame my anxiety that I think would make great gifts for anyone struggling with similar symptoms.

Without further ado, these are a few of my favorite things

Brené Brown book(s): I was fortunate to hear Brené Brown speak and meet her at HubSpot’s 2017 INBOUND Marketing Conference – her speech changed my life. Then, I immediately purchased her book Rising Strong and that changed my life all over again. Rising Strong touches on what it takes to get back up after falling down – how owning our stories of disappointment, failure and heartbreak gives us the power to write a new ending. Brené writes that struggle can be our greatest call to courage, and rising strong our clearest path to deeper meaning, wisdom and hope.[1]

I have many, but one of my favorite quotes is:

“The opposite of recognizing that we’re feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.”

I truly believe this book allowed me to see the bigger picture in life, and helped me to dwell less on my problems, and instead own them and move forward. I’ve heard Daring Greatly is amazing, too!

anxiety-busting supplements: What better way to treat your best friends, parents or siblings than with the gift of health? I hit hard on this in one of my first blog posts, but a holistic approach to anxiety disorders definitely makes a positive difference. Also, quality vitamins and supplements can be expensive! I highly recommend a good probiotic for digestion, an adaptogen such as ashwagandha, and a magnesium supplement to help support a good night’s sleep.

skincare for self-care: Daily stressors can add years to your skin through wrinkles, blemishes and dark circles. The stress hormone, cortisol, is known for breaking down collagen, which is bad news for your skin.[2] So, what better way to treat a stressful week than pampering yourself with green beauty products? Pouring a glass of wine while I let a face mask work its magic is one of my favorite evening rituals to relax (my go-to mask is only $19 and the jar lasts forever!).You know that friend who doesn’t make enough time for him or herself? Well, this makes for an affordable, great gift for that person in your life.

essential oils diffuser: While I touched on lavender specifically in a previous post, there are so many essential oils with a variety of health benefits, including stress relief. Scents like frankincense, clary sage and of course lavender = stress relief in the form of aromatherapy. I got my mom a pretty diffuser and an essential oils starter kit last year, and she uses it daily to help her relax! I highly recommend this gift for anyone in the fam. There are a ton of options on Amazon!

herbal tea gift set: Coffee is a trigger for me and for many who struggle with anxiety. Caffeine stimulates your “fight or flight” response, and studies show that this can make anxiety worse and can even trigger an anxiety attack.[3] So, encourage your anxiety-ridden gal pal to try replacing a cup of joe for some herbal tea! My personal favorite is this ginger and turmeric blend. Make it a gift set with a cute mug (because who doesn’t love a good mug?).

Considering anxiety is the most common mental health illness in the U.S., affecting over 18 percent of adults each year[4], I’m hoping at least one of these products will be a fitting gift for a friend or family member in your life! Also, don’t forget to treat yourself to something too. 🙂

Do you have anything to add to this gift guide? I’d love to check some new items out.

Happy holidays!

xoxo,

Lisa


As many of you know, I work for a vitamins and supplement company, so I’m fortunate to have easy access to some of the products in this blog post. I did discover many of the mentioned items through simple research and/or family and friends. I hope you enjoy!


[1] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23317538-rising-strong

[2] https://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/a21270470/how-stress-affects-skin/

[3] https://www.everydayhealth.com/anxiety-pictures/7-surprising-causes-of-anxiety.aspx

[4] https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/why-you-should-stop-saying-you-have-anxiety-if-you-really-dont

5 natural ways to ensure a good night’s sleep

If you read my last blog post, you know I’m a morning person … suggesting that I’m most likely not a night owl. Well, I’m here to confirm with all of you that I am not, in fact, a night owl – not even close. If I’m awake past 10:30-11 p.m., it’s either my best friend’s wedding or something is terribly wrong.

As much as I love the early morning, I love sleep even more. In my opinion, a good night’s sleep (along with a solid sweat and some chocolate) can cure almost anything, including an anxious mind.

I’ll never understand those who say, “you can sleep when you’re dead!” Like, NO. STOP. I need sleep; you need sleep; we ALL need sleep!

Really though, sleep is so important for our physical and mental health. Research shows that depriving your body of the sleep it needs is just as harmful as not exercising and can even be as harmful as drunk driving.[1]

While I’m a self-proclaimed “good sleeper” most of the time, I do struggle some nights. Having anxiety, there are evenings when I just can’t turn my mind off – my racing thoughts make it difficult to fall and sometimes stay asleep. I’ve tried many things on these sleepless nights, and have found a five holistic methods that help me to get at least 6 hours, if not 7-8!

  1. STOP THE EMAILS: These days, iPhones make it nearly impossible to simply stop working once the clock strikes 5 p.m. Being Type-A and all, it’s hard for me to ignore that little red number indicating unread messages on the email app. I used to answer emails until I fell asleep pretty much, but have recently set a boundary to not check my emails after 6:30PM on weeknights. If my boss needs me for anything urgent, he knows he can text or call.
  2. Wind (and wine) down: I’m a go-go-go kind of person, so it’s crucial for me to actually put effort into winding down. Sounds ironic, I know, but I have my ways! Reading, journaling, or yes, even a glass of wine (or two), all help me to unwind and to calm my mind. I recently discovered Dry Farm Wines, which are organic, gluten-free and sugar-free wines. If you enjoy wine, I highly recommend trying some out!IMG_0007.jpg
  3. Take magnesium: This is a relatively new discovery for me. I take magnesium about 30-45 minutes before bed and it helps tremendously. Studies show that maintaining healthy magnesium levels can lead to deeper, more sound sleep.[2] Also, magnesium deficiency has been associated with higher levels of stress and anxiety[3], so this is an amazing supplement to take for most of us. As you know, I work for a supplement company, so I take this one.
  4. Essential oils: Ah, I love essential oils. I use them to clean, to simply freshen up the house and to relax in the evenings. Lavender essential oil is known for its calming effect, making it a natural sleep aid.[4] I rub a lavender and clary sage oil on my chest at night, and also diffuse lavender by the bed – even my pup loves it!
  5. Guided meditation: I’m not the best meditator, but I recently discovered the app Insight Timer and its guided meditations are so good! This is my “if all else fails” trick, and it usually works.

Of course, not every night is the same. Some evenings, I pass out on the couch watching The Bachelor (don’t judge – it’s my guilty pleasure!) and don’t need to do any of these things. Some evenings, I need to take all of these steps in order to get a good snooze.

I cannot emphasize enough how important a good night’s sleep is to mental health. If I’m running on empty, my anxiety spikes significantly – so, I do my best to avoid sleepless nights.

And honestly, what’s better than snuggling into bed after a long day? (Oh, if anyone is wondering, my fiancé, 65-lb dog and I all share a queen-sized bed.)

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Do you have trouble sleeping? If so, what steps do you take to make sure you get your rest?

xoxo,

Lisa

[1] https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-29363/is-sleep-more-important-than-nutrition-exercise-mindfulness.html

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201805/what-you-need-know-about-magnesium-and-your-sleep

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/well/mind/does-magnesium-help-you-sleep.html

[4] https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/essential-oils-for-sleep#research

anxiety medication + natural supplements: why I take both

anxiety medication + natural supplements: why I take both

This is a really tough topic to discuss openly, so bear with me on this one.

Yes, I work for a natural product company. Yes, I take vitamins and supplements. Yes, I believe in healing holistically … And YES, I also take a prescribed antidepressant (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)) every morning for my anxiety and panic. And I’m 100% OK with it.

I wasn’t always OK with it, though. I was hesitant to even try medication. When I started, I only told a couple of people who were close to me. I didn’t even tell my sisters initially. I was embarrassed. I was scared.

I had this idea in my head that taking medication would change who I was, and honestly, that was my biggest fear. I liked myself – anxiety and all.

Unfortunately, I was at a point where I couldn’t get out of bed without having or fearing a panic attack. I had gone to therapy; I had done yoga; I had meditated. And guess what? I was still an absolute mess. So, I made an appointment with a psychiatrist and was prescribed a low dose of an antidepressant.

I remember her saying something along the lines of, “Diabetics take insulin because their bodies need it, right? So, what makes taking an SSRI different for someone like you who needs the serotonin?” (SSRI’s block the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, making more serotonin available.[1])

I had never thought of it that way. So, I gave it a go.

My first week taking the SSRI was an adjustment. It gave me a little bit more energy, which I immediately associated with anxiety. So, I thought it was having the opposite effect on me that it was supposed to – UGH. I was lucky to have a very close friend who could relate to my situation, so she talked me through it. Eventually, after maybe 5-7 days, that feeling went away and I started to feel relief. I started to feel like ME again.

The doctor told me it would take 4-6 weeks for the SSRI to build up and really be effective, and she was right. About a month in, I was thriving. Let me elaborate: I was still me, I still had a tinge of anxiety, but I wasn’t having panic attacks. The SSRI gave me what my therapist called a “ceiling.” I could get anxious, but my body would stop itself before getting too far – too far as in an anxiety or panic attack. THANK GOODNESS.

Since then, I’ve upped my dosage, brought it back down, weaned off of my medication temporarily, and also got back on it. Currently, I take it every morning after breakfast.

I can honestly say that my medication has improved the quality of my life, and I am grateful for it every day.

But, taking an antidepressant wasn’t the cure to my anxiety – I needed more.

Of course, diet and exercise (blog coming soon on that!) along with other healthy habits have a lot to do with mental health – and yes, I do exercise regularly and eat balanced meals. But, after I started working for a supplement company, I learned that certain vitamins and minerals could help with levels of stress and anxiety.

So, here’s what I take daily in addition to my medication:

  1. Probiotics: Along with helping digestion, there is emerging support that probiotics can help boost mood and protect the body against the negative effects of stress.[2] SIGN ME UP! This one is my personal fav.
  2. Adaptogens, like Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used for centuries for its therapeutic qualities. It has been clinically studied for its impact on the stress hormone, cortisol, and its ability to support a healthy response to stress.[3] I don’t necessarily take Ashwagandha every morning, but I do take it when I’m feeling a little extra stressed out … And it helps!
  3. B-Complex: You’ve probably heard that B-12 can boost your mood and energy levels, which is amazing! Well, B-complex vitamins can also be helpful when it comes to keeping your mood lifted and stabilized.[4]

This blend of natural supplements doesn’t erase my anxiety completely (heck, it’ll always be part of who I am!), but I always feel noticeably better and more balanced when I’m consistently taking them alongside my medication. I plan to continue to test and learn about the natural supplements that can help with my mental health.

While anxiety medication, such as an SSRI, doesn’t work for everyone, I’ve found it to be super beneficial for me. I am grateful every day for giving it a chance, and have learned to never be ashamed of doing something for myself.

xoxo,

Lisa

*Please note that since I work for a vitamins and supplements company, I do have easy access to the vitamins listed above.

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/ssris/art-20044825

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201809/can-probiotics-help-reduce-anxiety

[3] https://thethirty.byrdie.com/vitamins-for-anxiety/slide9

[4] https://thethirty.byrdie.com/vitamins-for-anxiety/slide6