Tag Archives: self-care

Self-Care When You’re Anxious

Three weeks ago I was writing this post, sitting with my Grandma during the final hours of her long, extraordinary life. Since that bittersweet day that we said goodbye to our matriarch, there have been countless opportunities to meet anxiety’s embrace.

Isn’t that the case everyday? Not just during the extreme moments, but in everyday life there is so much outside of our control, and there are some circumstances that trigger me to fight harder against some circumstances than others. All the while, Life seems to keep gifting me with just the right packages to highlight my own personal triggers and issues.

For as long as I can remember anxiety has been a constant companion. Being a vigilant Virgo, and the daughter of a vigilant Virgo, I am a first rate worry-wart. The way that anxiety grips my body and mind when I’m in its clutches is unmistakable – and yet, for much of my life I didn’t have a name for it.

People experience many different sensations with anxiety, some of them might be:

-Muscle tension
-Rapid heartbeat
-Irritability
-Shallow breathing
-Recurrent thoughts
-Trouble sleeping
-Restlessness
-Panic attacks

When we’re experiencing anxiety, it’s important to know it’s not just an emotional experience or a physical one – it’s a mind and body phenomenon. It can be helpful to attend to both.

First address the body

What you’re feeling in your body when you’re anxious is the result of your fight or flight response. When your brain interprets information as dangerous, it sends a message to your body to act on in order to keep you safe. This floods the body with chemicals, which we feel as emotions and physical responses. Addressing the body is like giving first aid. You can do this by:

First put one hand on your heart and one on your belly and take a deep breath.

Tune inward – give your full attention to yourself, as you would to a friend who’s hurting.

List any sensations you notice. It’s helpful to list them on paper, as this depersonalizes the emotions just a bit, but listing them silently in your head works if necessary.

Give your brain a steady flow of oxygen – which is the fastest route out of fight or flight and back into the thinking part of your brain. An easy way to do this is by “square breathing” – Count your breathing evenly 4 in, hold the breath for 4 counts, breathe out for 4, and then hold for 4 again. Repeat for 4 cycles.

Square Breathing. 4 in - Hold for 4 - 4 out - Hold for 4.

Leah Brock, LMSW. Michigan Health.

Essential Oils 

The next way to address the body and soothe the fight or flight response is to reach for your oils. Essential oils directly affect the amygdala – the flight or fight part of brain – helping to calm the central nervous system. Some oils to try:

Pressure Points

By gently applying pressure to certain points on the body you can stimulate the parasympathetic response to help your body calm down. Here are some points you can use in conjunction with your oils:

  • Hall of Impression – or third eye – on your forehead, between your eyebrows
  • Union Valley – between thumb and first finger – do not use this point during pregnancy until you’re ready to stimulate labor.
  • Base of skull

Address the mind

Often thoughts or fears are behind anxiety. Our brains love to concoct fears of “what if?…”, stories about what others think or feel about us,  and imagined catastrophies of the future.

As you tend to your mind, grab a pen and paper and freewrite-style make a list of everything on your mind – the fears, the worries, the catastrophies, the imagined judgements.

Once it’s safely on the paper (things are less scary when you bring them into the light and pin them down in ink), start by asking the question:

Can I know that this is absolutely true?

Sit with yourself, in an exercise of presence, as you give attention to your body’s signals and your mind’s stories. As you stretch the edges of what you’re able to hold, a surprising transformation begins to unfold. You deepen and strengthen the relationship you have with yourself – the love, trust and care you give to this one precious person you get to spend your life with – and that is what self-care is about.

For Us: A Love Note for Struggling Parents

I wrote this for myself, to lovingly and boldly address the part of me that sometimes believes I’m not doing a good enough job as a mother. May it feed the soothing voice in you and help to turn down the volume on your own worries.

xo, Breana

Right now is a particularly challenging time in your parenting journey, and that’s ok. Your kids are growing a lot – transitioning through adolescence into adulthood. This is new for all of you, you are all learning how to meet this new time in your lives, to grow and expand into it. Sometimes you’re at a loss — you feel scared and helpless and like you’re messing it all up — and that’s ok. It’s better than ok, it’s perfect. This is your brain, working to create new connections. Growing and evolving, pressed to its edge and actively working out new creative solutions. This is your heart, opening and expanding, becoming bigger and even more able to hold all that Life presents you.

Even while things are scary and hard, may there be parts of your parenting that you feel good about and love. May you love how lighthearted you can be with your kids, and how much fun you are able to have together. May you like how much you enjoy them and care about them deeply as people. May you appreciate your practice of seeing them as they truly are. May you acknowledge the example you set for your kids of consistently moving toward what feels better, listening to your heart and following where it leads. May you find something new everyday to love about yourself as a parent.

May you know that even while you’re scared or hurting, it’s your birthright to cultivate a space of peace inside, to know you’re doing your absolute best in every moment, and to trust that you can set down the reigns of your vigilance so that you may rest and care for yourself. You get to be human along this journey of parenting, and you get to allow your kids to be human, too. You are all fumbling forward together, learning, growing, messing up, and being people on this earth together.

Sometimes it feels so overwhelming and big, but for now, in this moment, you can do this. You can handle the unknown, the fumbling through, the worry that calls you back to presence. You can love your children fiercely, and enjoy your life and take care of yourself — even when you’re not guaranteed that they are safe or happy.

May you be willing to meet all of this. May you be willing to feel the pain of stretching and growing. May you be willing to walk yourself through right now. May you be willing to remember to let go of what you can’t control. May you be willing to catch yourself doing it wrong and course-correct. May you be willing to get better at letting things be what they are. May you be willing to learn through daily practice to take nothing personally. May you be willing to show up in love for and with them, over and over, knowing there are no guarantees. May you be willing to fall in love with the process of parenting — this journey of a lifetime. May you be willing to let them fall, let them feel the weight of their actions and to be there to love them as they deal with the consequences.

These moments can feel gut-wrenching, and you know other parents on planet earth sometimes experience circumstances with their kids that push them to their very edge. It’s ok for you to have this experience too. You’re just one more human being to know this particular painful circumstance, and you’re in good company. May you be willing to feel your oneness with all kinds of people all over the planet having this experience on different levels. You can feel compassion for them. May you flip that and extend it to yourself.

May you consider how you’re feeling now to be a part of your guidance system. Worry and guilt do not serve, and yet they call us to look at the pain — to not ignore it…to take action to relieve it. May you know that this experience serves you, that it is perfectly orchestrated for your evolution and you can trust it. May you see all of the ways that Life has carried you through so far, and know it just keeps getting better and better, the more you open and trust.

And so, may you just be in this moment — feel breath fill you with life, and smile with the joy and gratitude for getting to know these amazing beings so intimately. With appreciation for the ways Life constructs the perfect lessons to draw you toward the next right step on your unique path. And with trust that you can endure, survive, thrive-through, open-to, learn-to-love any experience Life brings.


*This piece was born out of a homework assignment given by the brilliant Jaya The Trust Coach, taken from her Expansion! class. If you’re in a time of life where you feel pressed to your edge, her wisdom and guidance can help you return to the truth of yourself and this loving universe.

Minding My Business: How I’m Making 2017 My Year

I don’t know about you, but right about now I’m more than a little concerned about the state of our country and our world. There are any number of terrifying scenarios that can (and do, sometimes) keep my brain running late into the night. At times the heaviness mounts to a pressure that threatens to crush my little spirit. How can we make a difference?
In these moments, especially, I lean heavily on my self-rescue toolbox. I push the pause button on my fear and I practice what I preach. I take a deep breath and channel Byron Katie: What’s my business? And I start there.
Some may wonder: How does this help? 
Well, let me tell you. When your airplane is going down and your cabin is losing pressure, you just must absolutely put on your own oxygen mask first. There is no way to be a hero, no way to comfort those around you, no way to make one smidge of difference until you are breathing yourself.
And so, here we are. In our plane which some might say is dangerously close to going down….and I’m putting on my mask.
What does that look like? You ask.
I’m happy to tell you.
Getting a Brighter Focus: Self-Rescue Blueprint
 
When I’m in need of a recalibration, this is my jam. There are probably millions of billions of ways to do each of these steps, so that’s where your own unique creativity comes in. Play with them, make it an experiment, and let me know how it goes!
 
  1. Get Quiet
  2. Think Big
  3. Start Small
  4. Give Thanks
Get Quiet
For me, this requires taking intentional space and time, alone, to just breathe and be. I absolutely must by comfy, so you’ll likely find me in slippers, soft pants, and a hoodie. I suggest you do the same. I might be biased.
Bre comfy
Spend some time, in this quiet alone space, with your breath. You might meditate. You might light a candle and sit in the dark. You might lie on your back and stare at the ceiling with your hands on your belly. You might be in a hot epsom salt bath. Whatever it is, just tune in to yourself and relax. Whenever I do this, I’m astonished by how much tension my body carries out of habit; and as soon as I notice it I feel it start to melt away. It is so magical, and so worth the 10 minutes!
During my quiet time I experiment with fun ways to help me get in touch with my spirit and the loving nature of the Universe. Pick one and start there. Some of my favorites right now:
sticky note affirmations
Think Big
 
Once I’m centered in myself and feeling calm and good, I want to take full advantage of the theta waves I’ve produced. I get to work. What to do while in this headspace?
Start Small
 
After getting all creative and big picture, it’s time to break it down. Teeny tiny bite-sized chunks is what we’re going for here. Whatever it is you just thought Big about, come up with the very smallest, very first thing you’ll need to do to scooch toward it.
Ask: What is the very next step?
 
And now, the hard part: Do that. At the very least, make a non-negotiable date in your calendar to get it done.
Give Thanks
 
Sometimes it’s easy to focus on all that didn’t go right, or what we wished we had, or on all that we’ve lost. When we can shift our focus, even just the tiniest bit, to what we do have, what went right, what gifts the challenge brought us, then a magical thing happens. We begin to take control of our own happiness. We transform our reality by changing our take on it. And it feels really fricking good in the moment. So now’s your chance…try it.
Ideas for finding gratitude:
i am only one
This process could take days or weeks, or it could take minutes. If you’re pressed for time, but committed to shifting your energy and effectiveness, make friends with your timer.
Let’s make 2017 the year we did not refuse to do the something that we could do. Will you join me?
 

Got Stress? Try This.

This is the most wonderful time of the year…right?

Jori van der Linde Illustration

Jori van der Linde Illustration

For some, it may be one of the most stressful.

If you’re feeling the pressure this holiday/election/winter/fill-in-the-blank season, here are some out of the ordinary stress-relief suggestions. If you try them, I’d love the full report!

1. Smash away your stress in an anger room.

2. Melt your holiday stress with these adorable animal live cams.

3. Invest in a smart patch that fights stress.

4. Embrace this ‘Less Stress, Greater Choice’ approach.

5. Spend 5 minutes with this neat visual meditation. 

If all else fails….curl up with a soft blanket and Will Farrell.

1720_ElfExcited_23

If only CEUs were always this fun to earn…

I have been a staunch zero-makeup wearer and self-proclaimed low-maintenance person for many many years. I think the last time I wore makeup was in the mid-2000s, and it may have been this:
makeup
Not a look I’m ready to resurrect.
So when one of my dearest friends, acclaimed makeup artist and ITP buddy, Meredith De Leon, invited me to be a part of her workshop on using cosmetics as a tool to improve our interpreting work, let’s just say my palms got a little sweaty. I had a flashback to all those years of bad eyeliner and all-the-wrong shades of lipcolor. I wasn’t sure there was any hope for me. But, knowing Meredith, and being the ever-adventurous soul that I am, I decided to give it a go. There was something in me that harbored a tiny speck of hope…maybe I was not a lost cause.
So last week I took her workshop, and I left a changed person. I learned all of the foundational concepts about makeup that I had fumbled through and done without all those years. I brushed up and got some new resources on how to tell if your skincare and cosmetics are actually endangering your health, let alone nourishing the largest organ of your body. And most importantly, my tiny flicker of hope was fanned into a brightly burning flame. I am SO excited to add
this No-Makeup look, to my toolbox as a technique to show up more fully and confidently in life and in work.
I love Meredith’s philosophy that is not about beauty, but rather about bringing forward the best self. Taking the noise away from appearance, and finding integrity–presenting on the outside as you feel on the inside.
I’m feeling so inspired, that as soon as I saw this December offering I wanted to pass it along to you…Another strategy to add to your self-care arsenal!
meredith-workshop

Spring-Clean Your Self-Care

Spring is a time of year for renewal and new beginnings. Whether it’s by planting your garden, decluttering, cleaning house, or just opening up the windows, this time of year beckons us back to life. Around our house, kids can be found playing outdoors in the late evening sun, bags of clothes are being passed on to friends, and the bathroom is getting a deep clean.
spring
After a long dreary winter (especially here in Portland), our psyches & bodies can accumulate just as much dust as our windowsills. This could feel heavy, tired, or like you’re emotionally stuck in quicksand.

Here are 3 easy ways to spring clean your self-care, to blow the dust out of our chimneys, open all the windows, and let the light stream in.

1. Hydrate
A super easy way to help our bodies process and purge the harsh leftovers from our winter indulgences is to up our water intake. You don’t need to drink so much that your bladder feels like it’s going to burst every 5 minutes, just enough to really get things flowing for a few days. When I’m trying to flush my system, I aim to drink enough that I pee every hour. I also like to up the detoxifying effects (and make it super yum) by adding a drop of lemon, lime, or grapefruit essential oil (just make sure it is certified pure!).

2. Take Time for Yourself
Contrary to its name, ‘Me Time’ isn’t selfish, it’s actually one of the most sefless things we can do. As natural givers we are often serving others and helping to meet their needs. In order to do this with authenticity and love, we must be taking care of ourselves regularly. This spring, commit to adding one small act of ‘Me Time’ to your daily routine–and if you don’t already practice it, make it a Morning Ritual.

A Morning Ritual is a bit of time that you devote to your own self-care (and if this is a new concept to you, read this awesome book!). You may do some yoga or stretching, read a passage from an inspirational book, mindfully make a cup of tea, sit quietly in reflection, write in a journal, or any practice that connects you more fully with your own aliveness in the present moment. It can be as little as one minute (seriously), but I promise you will be amazed at what a difference it makes to your day!

A good morning. #affirmations #doterralove #morningritual

A photo posted by @breanacrosshall on

3. Sweat
Any way you do it, movement that raises your heart rate is an excellent way to release the bad stuff we’ve stored up and make more capacity for the good stuff. Start with 5 minute segments: power walk around the block, hula hoop, jump rope, dance to your favorite song, have a horse stance competition with your kids, or plank. The increase in oxygen and blood flow, and the endorphins that exercise releases will turbo charge your next several hours…it’s a better high than coffee!!

Do you have a self-care habit you’d like to share? Please leave it in the comments below!!


If you’re in need of a more serious self-care intervention, check out this post. 

And if your body could use some extra help coming back to life, join me for a free essential oils class (in person or virtual) to learn about my favorite natural way to supercharge my health. Just shoot me a message here and we’ll work out a time to talk!

Hope you feel the vibrancy & aliveness of this magical season!

My #1 Tip for Sore Arms & Shoulders

Your arms work so hard! Give them some extra love.

If you attended my Morning TLC for Interpreters workshop at TerpExpo, you learned about this simple and effective technique that provides instant relief to sore muscles, breaks up adhesions, and reduces trigger points. If you didn’t, watch this short video to get started.

My favorite lube to use with this technique is the Deep Blue Rub, made by doTerra. I use this heating/cooling cream daily on my arm and shoulder, and get wonderful instant relief. Try it today to reduce your pain and inflammation! 

deep blue benefits

What’s your favorite way to care for your shoulder and arm pain? 

With love and bright focus,
Breana

do something today

Christi Brittain: Interpreter with Bright Focus

Christi Brittain
ASL Interpreter and Artist

Christi Brittain, Interpreter & Artist at Freckles N' Toes

Freckles N’ Toes
christibrittain@yahoo.com

Describe the work or activity that you are passionate about.

I am an artist. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I used to draw pictures of aliens when I was young. I remember being in summer camp when I was about ten years old and I saw a teenage girl drawing a giant picture of a woman’s eyes. I studied the way that she drew the eyes, fascinated with each little detail. I was determined to draw eyes too. After practicing and practicing I finally got it down. I began drawing eyes on everything, including my aliens. Eventually I ventured into drawing full faces. I would occasionally draw pictures of men and children but I favored drawing portraits of women. I drew images of fictional women as well as portraits of people that I knew and photos from magazines. I also liked to mesh human features with nature.

I recently discovered paint and fell in love with it instantly! I have no idea why it has taken me so long to get my feet wet. After my first painting I knew that I wanted to try to sell my art or at least share it with others. I have wanted to be an artist since I was very young, but always put it on the back burner because of my confidence in my work as well as a fear of not being financially successful. People have been asking me where I got my sudden courage to pursue my dream. After some reflection I’ve realized that it began when I married my amazingly supportive partner last year and then fully bloomed when I finally got the courage to chop my hair off! I know that it sounds a little bit simplified, but it’s true.

Freckles N' Toes PaintingsHow do you feel when you are engaged in it?

I’m a mother of two beautiful girls, a spunky four year old and a giggly four month old. I interpret in the evenings and come home exhausted. When I get home at 11:30pm to a quiet house, I stay up and paint. All of the tough VRS calls, the exhaustion, the teething baby, all goes out the window. I can engage in something that is all my own. It is very freeing and relaxing. The only way that I can describe it is pouring my soul out on paper. It feels similar to when I hear a song and it carries me away to an old feeling or memory. The one problem is that I sometimes paint until 2:00am and then tend to the baby all night. I often get lost in the process and lose track of the time.

Christi Brittain paintingWhat aspect(s) of yourself does it allow you to express?

My art mainly focuses on the empowerment of women as well as the abstract quirky thoughts that I have from time to time. I was raised by a very strong mother and her beautiful lady friends. I also have a group of women that I am very close to. By being there to watch these ladies blossom, and sometimes struggle, I have been inspired and empowered. I incorporate my life experiences as well as theirs into my work.

6 year-old Christi and Mom

6 year-old Christi and Mom

How has this work affected or changed your life?

I feel more centered and connected to those around me. I think that a large part of this is because I get a chance to really relax and unwind during my painting time. It has helped me to stay spiritually connected and it gives me something new to be excited about.

How does it inform your interpreting?

I have more patience and compassion when I am not stressed out. When I come to work I feel more at ease and I’m able to direct my thoughts to ideas for my next painting in between jobs/calls. This helps me to let go of the last job/call and be mentally prepared for the next. I’m also learning new art vocabulary, which is never a bad thing when it comes to interpreting!

Free Your Spirit Freckles N' Toes Painting

Why do you do this work? What’s your motivation for doing it?

I paint because it is fun and it makes me feel amazing.

Which of your values does it represent?

All of them! That is the neat thing about art. I can incorporate anything I want into it.

What advice do you have for someone just beginning to align their work with their heart?

Embrace it! Don’t be scared, just trust the process. As one of my paintings says,

“Believe in Possibility.”

Believe in Possibility Freckles N' Toes Painting

This is the third post in a series on interpreters who are putting their hearts back at the center of their work. To read other stories and get inspired toward the life of your dreams, click here. If you’d like to be featured or know an interpreter who’s doing something great please email me!