5 Steps to Determine When to Make the (physically) Healthy or Unhealthy Choice

This was me in NZ a few months ago, having more booze & less sleep than usual, feeling the effects, but loving every minute of it!

This was me in NZ a few months ago, having more booze & less sleep than usual, feeling the effects, but loving every minute of it!

I wrote about the fact that our physical health isn’t the be-all-end-all in the context of our overall well-being here, and this can be a difficult concept to grasp for those who’ve spent YEARS—or often decades—chasing physical pursuits.

The obsession with aesthetics can easily translate into physical health neurosis, and this can be equally as damaging.

“But Jess, how can an obsession with feeling my best be a bad thing?”

In a nutshell, it isn’t. However, we have to look at what you’re sacrificing to get there.

Fearful of spontaneity?

Cling to your food and fitness routines and experience anxiety or fear when you deviate from them?

Constantly turning down social invitations in an effort to “stay on track”? 

Beating yourself up when don’t feel physically well, despite all the effort you put into your health?

Experience frustration when you make decisions that leaving you feeling run down, tired, or sick? (Hungover, as an example).

The negative emotions and feelings experienced from making choices that leave us feeling less physically well—but enhance our well-being in other areas of our lives—are an indication that we’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.

  • You decided to stay up past your bedtime with your partner or girlfriends to share some laughs or watch movies and feel exhausted the next day.

  • You chose the boozy date night or night out with friends that left you feeling hungover, but damn—you really value those light and fun times with them.

  • You skipped the workout in lieu of a spontaneous happy hour with some of your favorite people.

  • You ate the food you know your body doesn’t like, because you wanted to get the full experience while traveling.

You forewent an action that contributes to physical health—or even engaged in one that’s detrimental—in favor of emotional, energetic, and mental health.

Which is the correct choice?

That’s for YOU to decide, and it requires awareness, experience, and the willingness to make the less ideal decision on occasion (which will still be incredibly useful, as it gives you data to make a better decision next time). 

You need to be willing to take risks and discover your own “physical health tipping point.” 

What is a Physical Health Tipping Point?

It’s the point at which greater physical health no longer contributes to our overall well-being, and at which lesser physical health diminishes our overall well-being.

For me, this often looks like 80-90% physical health. This encompasses high energy levels, optimized brain function, strength and cardiovascular fitness, efficient digestion, and balanced hormones.

For you, this might include the state of your skin, endurance abilities, or flexibility.

We can all value and prioritize different elements of our physical health.

Using myself as an example, this percentage ebbs and flows depending on my priorities at the moment (i.e. work projects due vs. vacation mode), but through experimentation, I have determined that my overall well-being peaks when I hover around 85% physical health.

Does this mean that I go out of my way to decrease my physical health if I’m over 85%? Absolutely not.

It simply means that I’m willing to sacrifice some of my physical health for my overall well-being to an extent. 

If I’m consistently living below 80% physical health, my overall health begins to suffer. My energy levels drop, my brain doesn’t fire well, I don’t perform well in the gym, my digestion goes to shit, and my hormones are bonkers.

As a result, I’m then not able to show up as fully as I want to for the other aspects of my life that contribute to my well-being, and it creates a vicious cycle of diminished quality of life.

On the flip side, that extra 10-20% of optimized physical health can mean sacrificing time with loved ones, unique experiences, and other meaningful (to me) elements of life. And foregoing these just isn’t worth it to me.

In an ideal world, we’d be able to have our cake and eat it too, right?

Be able to enjoy all the social gatherings, amazing food, late nights, the extra boozy drinks, in addition to amazing energy, a strong and fit body, and optimized digestion, brain function, and hormones.

However, this isn’t our reality most of the time. So, we have to pick and choose our priorities while being mindful of the BIG PICTURE of our health.

How do you find your physical health tipping point?

1.     Write down your priorities for the current season of life you’re in.

Career or big work project, building relationships, healing physical health ailments, going on adventures and experiencing more freedom, upcoming physical challenge or competition, raising children, etc.

2.     Assess the current state of your physical health.

What feels good and what doesn’t right now?

3.     Identify how the current state of your physical health is impacting your priorities identified in Step One.

For example, if connection with loved ones and being adventurous is at the top of the list, then you likely don’t need to be at tip-top physical health, and sacrificing some physical well-being in lieu of spontaneity and late nights may be a sound option.

However, if you have a big work project or competition coming up and really need your body and brain to be functioning optimally, then you’ll likely need to contribute more to your physical health.

4.     Start experimenting!

Now that you’re clear on your priorities and what is truly important in this current life season, and you understand whether or not you have more leeway with your physical health in reference to your overall well-being, you’re ready to throw yourself into the wild and gather data!

Throw in the late night or an extra drink (simply examples) if you want to be more spontaneous and develop relationships with new people. How does it impact your overall well-being the next day?

Decline the party in favor of more sleep and a solid meal so that you can be productive while working the next day (ideally work you actually care about). Feeling fulfilled with this choice? 

Just want to feel damn good the next day so you can fully engage with whatever you want to participate in? That’s a sufficient enough reason to prioritize your physical health, too. Simply wanting to feel good is perfectly acceptable (and understandable).

5.     Assess the data & adjust as needed.

You should be doing this in the short-term as part of Step 4, but you also need to take a step back and consider how this impacts you in the long run. You may find that you thought a late night with friends was fulfilling in the moment—and even the next day—but your inability to work towards your long-term goal of starting your own business is being impacted due to feeling unwell. 

As part of this step, you may find yourself rearranging your priorities listed in Step 1. This is a good thing! It’s a constant process of learning, re-evaluating, adjusting and experimenting further.  

Our priorities will continue to ebb and flow throughout our lives—in tandem with the season of life we’re in—so flexibility and adaptability are key.

Our relationships with our physical health are no different.

Learning to be mindful of what we’re willing to accept and sacrifice regarding our physical health is incredibly empowering, and remember that it’s YOUR choice—and yours alone—to make.

There’s no shame in making a choice that leaves you feeling less physically well at times, in the same way there’s no shame in making a choice that supports your physical health.

Just ask yourself, “Are these choices elevating my overall well-being?” THAT is the kind of health worth pursuing.

You're Still Stuck with Food & Body Changes because You Hate Change

I've been bearing witness to a lot of resistance to changing patterns lately, both within myself and others, and I see this a TON with clients and their relationships with food.

The beautiful thing about healing our relationships with food is that everything else in life gets an upgrade as a result. Yet, without this realization—or even sometimes with it—we still remain stuck.

My face when initially feeling the impact of making a change.

My face when initially feeling the impact of making a change.

  • It will work itself out.

  • I have other things that take priority.

  • I can’t afford a coach.

  • It’s not that big of a deal.

  • I’m afraid of what’s unfamiliar.

  • I’m afraid of losing control.

  • I can do it on my own and don’t need help (yet you’ve been repeating the same patterns for years).

  • If I don’t micromanage everything like I always have, then the wheels fall off the bus!

  • And the list goes on.

GIRL, humans are averse to change! WE ARE AVERSE TO CHANGE.

It always feels uncomfortable. That’s why we cycle through our own versions of hell over and over again, regardless of the pain we know we’re in.
 
I used to look at people who were making bold moves in their lives and think to myself,

“I wish I fearless like them. I wish I was wired that way, but I’m just too afraid.”

I quickly came to realize that every almost single person feels resistance when doing something new and different.
 
Almost every single person is uncomfortable when presented with change.

The differentiators between those who DO and those who simply WISH are the 1) acceptance and 2) action in spite of this discomfort.

 This realization is simultaneously liberating yet burdensome.

          We’re all the same! If they can do it, so can I!
 
          Shit, if I’m my only roadblock, then I have to accept responsibility for my situation.

Don’t get me wrong—I still have to call myself out regularly!

And I make it a point to surround myself with and hire people who will do the same.
 
Truly.
Get yourself friends who will push you to reach your potential and pursue your dreams, even when you’re filled with doubt and hesitation.  Hint: these are usually move-makers themselves; not victims.
 
Take the leap and invest in the coach, the program, the therapist—anyone who will see through your bullshit and your desire for comfort.

As a coach, here is your call out.

It’s not *just* your relationship with food.

It’s everything!


How you interact with food & your body is a reflection of how you interact with life & yourself. 


And those aren’t things to take lightly, amiright?
 
If you don’t know how or where to start, you’re in luck!

I created a FREE video training series—7 Steps to Food Freedom—that walks you through the seven steps I use with my clients (and used myself) to build a foundation of freedom with food. And therefore, your life.
 
If you’re ready to take even bolder steps, apply for coaching here to work with me in a highly customized way with accountability and constant support!

New Year's Goals? You MUST get clear on this first!

Doing the deeper work might seem like the longer road, but it will actually get you to where you want to be MUCH more quickly (and more enjoyably) than superficial diets will.

Doing the deeper work might seem like the longer road, but it will actually get you to where you want to be MUCH more quickly (and more enjoyably) than superficial diets will.

This time of the year makes us ripe for the picking. 

All of the New Year, New You talk—especially when it comes to dieting—can make us feel like big ol’ piles of shit if we’re not mindful of our consumption, our responses to advertising, and our own internal narratives.

By targeting our insecurities, the gyms, diet programs, social media mavens, and supplement companies hit us where it hurts.

They serve to remind us of our physical “imperfections” and double-down on the notion that we’re here to be looked at. Nothing more.

Conversely (and as an unpopular opinion), I don’t believe there’s nothing wrong with using January 1st as a time to bring renewed attention to certain areas of our lives.

The important piece, however—the one most don’t discuss—is the intention behind the actions.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to lose weight.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with paying more attention to the food we put in our mouths.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to move more or differently than we have been.

The intentions and motivations behind these actions are what determine their health, value, and longevity.

If you have physical, health, or aesthetic goals, I ask you to consider the following:

  • Am I doing this from a place of loving myself currently? Or do I believe I’ll be able to love myself once I achieve my goal?

  • Are my choices rooted in shame, either from others or myself?

  • Is the desire to change my body due to my own preferences? Or have they been imposed on me by someone else, society at large, or both?

  • Am I striving for a different version of myself because I believe I deserve to feel amazing today and also something more? Or is it due to believing I’m inadequate and unworthy as I stand today?

  • Is my desire to make these changes rooted in a foundation of self-respect? Or self-loathing?

**Note that every single one of these takes time to unpack and differentiate between the truth, your ego (i.e. the monkey brain), and the voices & opinions of others.**

If you don’t have clear answers to these questions OR it’s clear that your motivation for change is rooted in fear, self-loathing, unworthiness, lack of self-respect, etc., then THAT is the work.

Not your physical body.

Difficult and unglamorous as it may seem, the internal work should always be the first stop.

This—of course—will indirectly impact the choices you make when it comes to your health and physical body. 

They’re the byproduct though, not the main event. 

The New Year is a magical time of the year if we choose to see it that way, and I’m a huge fan of goal-setting, getting clear on intentions, and laying the foundation for magic to happen. 

This can happen on any day of the 365 we have in a year, however. But we all know this to be the case:)

If you’re getting geared up for revamping your diet and/or exercise regimen in January 2019, and you’ve been doing the same song and dance year after year with overly restrictive diet rules and excessive exercise, consider the notion that there’s a better way.

A way in which you’re addressing the uncomfortable emotions and internal narratives on a deep level while simultaneously learning how to treat your body with love and respect. 

Isn’t that what we’re all really seeking anyways?

Let 2019 be the year you double down on yourself from the inside out, and don’t let any external influence convince you that you’re not worthy of this change.

I’d love to guide you through this empowering journey of doing the hard work—the only work that will lead to meaningful and long-lasting results

I still have a few more slots open for FREE 30-minute coaching calls, so grab yours now to kick off 2019 on a grounded and empowered foot!!

Why You Need to Hire A Coach (& Why I Did Too!)

IMG_6408.jpg

Is this too much fat?

How many carbs should I be eating?

Am I allowed to eat this?

I truly understand where these questions are coming from, because I’ve asked many of them myself.  

And there’s certainly merit to asking some of these more detailed questions to those with experience once the foundation of our relationship with food has been built.

However, when it comes to making decisions about how specific foods fit into our bodies and lives, we’re the one with the answers.

As a coach, my job is to guide you—to teach you how to tap into your own physical and emotional intuition and biofeedback, while also monitoring how foods affect your interpersonal relationships, enjoyment with food, ability to implement in a stress-free manner, etc.

You might be thinking, “Well if I have all the answers, why am I still struggling? And why would I need a coach?”

Because there is a LOT to unlearn, and most of us have lost touch with our ability to tap into ourselves for answers.

Chances are that you have a myriad of rules you’re trying to navigate in your head every time you sit down to eat. 

  • I shouldn’t be having this much fat before a workout, should I?

  • Can I digest all of this protein in one meal? Isn’t this too much?

  • I’m really craving beans, but cavemen didn’t eat them.

  • Are white potatoes considered paleo? What about rice?

  • I can’t eat any gluten; it will give me a leaky gut.

  • Maybe I should try going vegetarian—so-and-so did and she looks great.

  • What if this meat isn’t grass-fed?

  • I hate this almond milk in my coffee, but I know dairy is bad for me.

  • I can’t eat carbs after 3pm.

There is no shortage of rules out there in the land of social media, magazines, and the internet at large. While there is a time a place to really leverage knowledgeable and evidence-based expertise, most women don’t need macro adjustments every week.

They need a foundation built on sustainable and mindful behaviors and a solid mind-body connection.

They need to learn how to effectively navigate their thought patterns and enrich their relationships to food and their bodies.

This is where I come in!

The vast majority of women are focusing on the wrong things.

They’re focused on the surface-level, tactical nature of food and macros while neglecting the foundation.

It’s no wonder most women struggle to maintain any weight loss achieved! Even when they do, they’re often left unfulfilled, miserable, and obsessed.

Rather, the focus should be on building a long-lasting foundation we can turn to again and again as our lives shift, our bodies change, and priorities adjust.

A foundation that encompasses deep introspection and self-care, awareness of self and our environment, and a partnership with our bodies where we’re working in tandem.

Women often go through years of struggle while attempting to do this alone. 

But why not leverage the guidance and expertise of someone who has not only helped other women overcome these challenges, but has overcome them herself?

When we hire an effective coach, we’re able to:

  • Quickly identify our blind spots

  • Leverage the coach’s personal experience and proven methods of success achieved with other clients

  • Lean on someone else for support and accountability

  • Be seen by and connect with someone who has been where we are

  • Shorten the road to freedom tremendously. The coach has already learned what does and doesn’t work—take advantage of this!

There is absolutely an investment involved, both financially and energetically, but the moment we decide we’re worth it is the day the rest of our lives change.

I decided to invest in my own health coach years ago, and I still invest in coaches proficient in other arenas (i.e. business) today.

When I was struggling with amenorrhea, I was sick and tired of spinning my wheels while I believed I was doing everything right.

SO, I hired a coach who had a reputation in the wellness industry for helping women get their menstrual cycles back and who had overcome the same thing.

Within three months, I got my cycle back, and I learned a very important lesson through that experience.

While I trust my work ethic, dedication, discipline, and thirst for knowledge, I don’t have all the answers. If I’m not willing and committed to accepting help from others and investing in myself, the only person I’m harming is me.

When I tell people about my investments in myself when it comes to coaching—currently business—I am often met with confusion and disbelief.

“Why would you spend money on that when you can spend it on travel, eating out, shopping, etc.?”

Because I believe I’m worth the investment, period.

My well-being and my dreams are worth the investment 1000 times over.

And yours are too!  

Our emotional, mental, and physical freedom around food sets the foundation for us to live fully elsewhere in our lives.

Despite our best intentions, we can’t afford to waste any more time (our most valuable resource) and energy running in circles.

If we truly want to live lives of purpose, meaning, and freedom, we have to be willing to invest in ourselves.

If we don’t, we certainly can’t expect anyone else to.

I’d be thrilled to partner with you on your journey of building a stress-free relationship with food based on freedom and self-trust.

Learn more about my one-on-one coaching sessions here!

3 Simple Steps to Keep Your Sanity With Food During the Holidays

I understand this is also a completely non-magical time for many that can be filled with painful memories, reminders of what is lost, financial stress, and complete overwhelm. However, the tips included in here will hopefully serve as a reframe of what this time can bring to you! Which can always be a time of giving to yourself, first and foremost.

79FA8D7C-7447-4326-ACFF-CCF8DCD00238.JPG

The winter holiday season has special air of magic.

Children are over the moon about the festive decorations and the thought of Santa arriving, the streets are filled with magical lights and decorations, parties are in full swing, people are putting on their holiday best, and there are more indoor social gatherings than any other time of the year.

As someone who just adores quality time with the people I care about, this time of the year is incredibly special to me! Plus, I’m a sucker for the festive decorations and seasonal foods & treats. 

While there are so many special things about this time of the year, it can also be a trigger for:

  • Emotional eating

  • Stress about losing control around food

  • Bingeing as we anticipate starting a new diet come January 1st

These completely remove us from the present moment and any potential magic.

What a shame, right?

Rather than spending all of our precious time and energy on tightly controlling our bodies and food consumption or stressing about how all hell is breaking loose, we can vow to commit to just a few practices throughout the holiday season.

These aren’t rules—they’re the building blocks to a relationship with food that is based on FREEDOM. A sense of freedom that transcends the holidays and empowers us to turn inward for the answers.

1.     Get Present

This is a non-negotiable, truly, and it’s the difference between success and struggle with my clients. This can be especially difficult during this hectic time of the year, which is why it’s even more important to give this gift to yourself!

Meditation is my preference (as you likely guessed if you follow me), but even a few minutes of deep breathing alone, journaling, or a walk outside can bring you back to yourself. Connect to your inner landscape, and you’ll instantly find yourself back in your power.

2. Ask yourself this simple question: Does this choice 1) empower me physically or 2) up-level my soul experience?

Don’t get caught up in the nuances of what “soul” means—it’s simply a term that defines the deep, meaningful desires of our mental and emotional selves.

If you’re clearly not hungry and/or don’t anticipate needing additional food energy (empowering yourself physically) and/or it’s not really lighting you up from the inside out (up-leveling your soul experience), then pause and sit with the desire for a moment.

If the desire to reach for food isn’t prompted by one of the two driving factors above, then it’s likely caused by an emotional trigger:  

  • Stress

  • To numb or distract

  • Boredom

  • Loneliness, etc.

While food is appealing in the moment, it’s a band-aid solution that will only lead to us feeling worse in most cases.

Our intentions behind our choices are the focus here.

3.     Mind Your Business

It can certainly be frustrating to find ourselves justifying our decisions to family and friends if we’re not going overboard on food, booze, and treats—or if we are. Oftentimes, we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t, so it’s important to keep your focus on you!

While it’s important to draw boundaries from the judgment and opinions of others, we also need to ensure we’re not allowing the choices of others—especially if we deem them to be “healthier” or “better” than our own—to derail us from our own intuition and responses to Number 2 above. 

Someone will always be eating more vegetables, drinking less booze, eating less dessert, or eating smaller portion sizes. Those choices have absolutely nothing to do with your own, so keep your focus inward when making your food choices—mind & body.

These are similar to my recent thoughts on traveling, as the holidays are also fleeting with so much potential for magic.

However, this time of the year shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to harm ourselves with the guise of celebration.

Gorging ourselves with processed foods and booze in an effort to numb or circumvent discomfort isn’t serving us in any way.  

It’s certainly not up-leveling our physical or soul experiences—it’s detracting from both of them!

Get yourself grounded in the present moment, assess the motivations and intentions behind your impulses—physically and mentally—and maintain this inward focus in the face of external influences.

We only get to experience this amazing season once per year, so don’t let the opportunity to make the most of it while feeling your best pass you by!

How to Not Lose Your Sh*t with Food While Traveling

584BFAB0-40F7-4FD6-B1EE-205A2586034D.JPG

I just returned from a two-week vacation in New Zealand for the wedding of two wonderful humans, and it was refreshing as all hell!

It was also exhausting, but I (mostly) accepted that as part of the journey. Only some complaining about it:)

As someone who loves to travel internationally and experience new cultures, cuisines, cities, and adventures, I was forced to face my fear of losing control and going off the deep-end years ago.

In fact, when I backpacked throughout SE Asia for three months in 2014, it was the beginning of a very healing journey for me—in all aspects of my life, but especially food. 

I succumbed to the lack of routine, the unusual (to me) foods, the lack of sleep (those overnight buses were ROUGH), and the absence of gyms. I decided that if there was ever a time to release the reigns and really double down on trusting myself, that was the time.

And so I did.

I committed to honoring my body and treating it with kindness and respect—a completely foreign concept to me at that point in time.

Listening to hunger signals and eating when I needed to, not when my three girlfriends were hungry. 

Listening to fullness cues most of the time. When I decided to eat beyond the point of satisfaction, it was a very conscious choice.

Not eating to numb or distract from feelings of discomfort.

Asking myself if and when I truly wanted to consume alcohol. On that particular trip, I had maaaybe one drink every couple of days, and that was the perfect amount for me.

Developing this trust in myself around alcohol was one of the most liberating tools I acquired during that time.

Exercising when I wanted to—not due to any feelings of guilt or unworthiness. This usually meant bodyweight workouts or runs after long, overnight bus rides or when I needed to process energy.

To be clear, this wasn’t comfortable right off the bat. It was VERY uncomfortable in the beginning, and I feared that I would blow up from the lack of rigidity. To my surprise—the opposite occurred.

I lost weight—seemingly effortlessly!

While this wasn’t my intention whatsoever, it was incredibly eye opening for me.

I realized that I had it wrong all along.

My body is actually on my side, and it will settle at the weight it feels most comfortable with given my lifestyle and priorities at the time.  

My job is to let it do its thing.

My journey with food and my body endured additional ebbs and flows once I returned to the states, but that extended period of travel taught me that travel is nothing to fear and has everything to teach us.

My Recent Trip

This most recent trip to New Zealand was a very different kind of trip from the one described above. I traveled with around 15 friends for a significant portion of it, had zero alone time, was constantly on the move, drank a significant (for me) amount of booze, and ate quite a bit of processed foods.

Yet, I didn’t doubt myself, my intentions, or my actions once.

Why?

Because I’m now able to see the bigger picture, and I trust myself and my body.

I don’t follow “rules” about filling up with protein and veggies, drinking a ton of water, not standing in particular parts of the room near food. NOPE.

I focus on ensuring my mind is right, that I’m actually living—not preparing for it—and that I’m being mindful of both my body and soul.

These are my top mindset tips and approaches to keep in mind while traveling, especially this holiday season!

  • Allow Room for Change – Our bodies are ever-changing on this journey, as are our lives. If you don’t want a stagnant and boring life (I don’t), then you can’t expect your body to exemplify those traits. Essentially, loosen up a bit!

  • Play the Long Game – Trips are temporary, and healthy foods and opportunities will be more readily available once you return home. What you do the majority of the time is what matters.

Interestingly, this isn’t even comforting to me anymore. I trust my ability to adapt to these situations so much now that I look forward to the change and excitement of the new!

  • Prioritize Your Mental Energy – Using mental energy on the unhealthy choices or the calories you’re consuming will instantly take you out of the present moment. What a tragedy it is to miss out on creating memories for such trivial matters!

I experienced this on a trip to Machu Picchu in 2015, and I vowed to never make that mistake again. 

  • Weigh the Balance of Body & Soul This is the big kicker, right here. Listen to what your body is telling you, and weigh that against what your soul is craving.  

Does your body want rest and a night off from alcohol, but your soul is calling for another night out on the town with friends and a couple drinks? Which is more important to you in the moment, and is the payoff the next day worth it?

You won’t always get this answer right (you’ll know the next morning), but keep asking yourself these questions, and you’ll hone the skill of balancing these competing priorities.

The only “rule” I tend to follow is the last one, where I listen to both my body and soul, consider the action that will balance both of them (although they’re usually aligned), and act accordingly.

It’s tempting to cling to rigid rules that make us feel safe and in control, but the experience of travel should feel anything but. It’s the whole point!

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to travel to various parts of the state, country, or world, then don’t let the amazing opportunity to go waste by playing small.

You already have everything you need within you. 

How I Navigate My States of Anxiety & Take My Power Back

Disclaimer: I do not have clinical anxiety, nor am I formally educated in this realm, so please don’t take this advice in lieu of that of a medical professional.

4473A67B-80C6-43D4-B727-D88E1BF3A202.JPG

I was struck with intense sensations of anxiety a few weeks ago, and this was due to a multitude of factors. 

  • A few weeks of continuous travel with very little alone time (which is essential for my well-being)

  • Sleep deprivation

  • More alcohol than usual

  • Too little nutrient-dense food

  • Work stress

  • The energy of those around me

Several of these things are within my direct control.

I can make better food choices. 

I can consume less booze.

I can enforce stronger boundaries around my sleep habits and travel plans.

I can ensure my energetic boundaries are stronger when in the company of certain people.

However, work stress is an example of a type of stress that is seemingly unavoidable for many people.

For you, work might be a breeze, but the real stress comes from personal relationships, finances, or health concerns, just to name a few.

While we may not be able control situations like this (at least immediately), we can control our responses to our thoughts and physiological reactions.

The physical, anxiety-ridden reaction might be:

  • Knots in the stomach

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Sweating, everywhere

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Shakiness

  • Or any other manifestations specific to you

Our bodies believe we’re in a state of distress, so our “fight or flight” mode kicks in.

Logically, we may be able to tell ourselves that there is no reason to be fearful if we believe this to be true, but this doesn’t mean the physical sensations will subside. 

Therefore, our only option at this point is to witness these physical sensations. That’s it. Notice and observe them. The minute we try to fight them, they intensify and persist. 

Does this mean the feelings of discomfort immediately dissipate with this observation?

No, but it changes our relationship to them, and this is everything.

(**Does this sound similar to our relationships to our thoughts we aim to achieve during meditation? It should, because it’s the exact same concept!)

Our bodies and minds are strange entities, and they’re often doing their own things without any input from “us”. Yet, we identify with their ebbs and flows so deeply and without hesitation.

Feeling anxious usually involves both our minds and bodies—the incessant thoughts that send us down a spiral of fear and the physical sensations noted above.

All of this forms a seamless narrative that leads us to believe we’re not safe.

In reality, these physical sensations and the accompanying thoughts are transient. They’ll leave, and they’ll return again—as they do for all of us—and they’ll drift away once more.

Rather than jump on this bandwagon and allow these thoughts and physical sensations to control us, we can identify, witness, and accept them.

We can acknowledge that we are not them.

They’re simply part of the human experience.

Where to start

I have experienced great relief by implementing the concepts of my meditation practice regarding my thoughts and applying them to the physical sensations my body experiences during stressful situations. This includes:

1.     Identify the Sensations with Neutrality

Approach the thoughts and physical sensations with a sense of curiosity, and try to simply identify them without labeling them as good or bad.

They’re only negative because we perceive them through that lens, but many of the physical sensations experienced with nervousness or anxiety are the same as excitement. A neutral lens is best.

Whatever you do, do not to label yourself as “anxious”. This indicates a permanent state, which will lead you to believe you’ll never experience reprieve.

2.     Accept the Sensations

The phrase “what we resist, persists” can’t be truer in these situations. I find that the more I fight these feelings, the more they intensify and the longer they last. Rather, I have learned to simply notice and accept them.

3.     Get Curious – Are They Teaching You Something?

This one can be tricky, because our minds and bodies are often sending fearful signals simultaneously during these states. However, if we follow the first two steps, we can then approach them with a sense of curiosity.

Ask yourself—what are these feelings trying to tell me? Have I been burning the candle at both ends? Am I in a job I hate? Am I surrounding myself with negative or dramatic people? Have I been neglecting my nutrition and movement? Journal your ass off and see what comes up!

4.     Control What You Can

Based on the answers you obtain from your curiosity, start implementing measures that will help you course correct onto a path of increased well-being. Personal relationships and financial woes may seem too daunting to change immediately, so start by making a plan if all else fails.

Some ideas include:

  • Time in nature or outdoors

  • Quality time with uplifting and growth-minded individuals

  • Solitude and self-reflection

  • Removing negative or “toxic” people/energy

  • Meditation

  • Journaling for introspection

  • Creative pursuits

  • The quality of your diet

  • Sleep patterns

  • Movement – dialing it back or increasing as needed

Remaining stagnant will only serve to make you feel more powerless.

As I continue to learn and grow, the more I’m accepting that nothing in this life will remain the same.

Our lives will ebb and flow as we move through seasons in life, and the same is true with our states of well-being—physical, emotional, mental.

Meditation continues to reinforce the notion that there is so much power in simply paying attention, observing, and accepting that we have a choice in how we perceive these experiences.

Our feelings and emotions—especially the seemingly unpleasant ones—may just be our best teachers yet if we’re willing to perceive them this way.