Job demands, relationships, life events, and social media drama are daily occurrences. These things can often have you feeling like you are traveling down a never-ending, bumpy road called LIFE. It’s easy to see how stress can suck you in and not let you go.
While stress can help some people perform under pressure, too much bad stress can negatively impact a person’s mental and physical health. It’s common for most people to focus on the negative side of stress, but sometimes stress can actually be a good thing. Good stress can motivate a person and help them achieve more goals. BUT how can a person tell the difference between good stress and bad stress?
Good Stress vs. Bad Stress
Good stress, often called eustress, is stress that pushes a person to accomplish more. It helps a person achieve those hard-to-reach goals. Good stress also helps a person learn new things, adapt to change and engage in creative thinking. In a situation where a person is experiencing good stress, they always have control over the outcome of the issue.
Bad stress, often referred to chronic stress, can slow a person down and prevent them from doing the things that they need to do. It can often lead us down a winding road of helplessness and despair.Bad stress can be things like staying in an unhealthy relationship long-term, living with a difficult person, continual high paced (stressful) workplace, taking on too many things and continuously unable to complete them. That continual saying “yes”, when you should be saying “no”. When the body feels like it is under too much bad stress, symptoms such as excessive sweating, anxiety, headaches and rapid breathing begin to appear.
As a yoga teacher, I encourage others to live a life where they can stay grounded, focused, balanced and content. However, sometimes I fail to implement these strategies into my own life. I take on too many things, try to please everyone else, and neglect my own personal health and self-care. It’s a downward spiral and before I know it, my daily life is fueled by bad stress. Can you relate?
Unfortunately, the bad news is that stress is inevitable. It’s just a part of daily life. The good news is that stress IS manageable. In order to manage the stress in your life, you must relax your body and mind.
Here are 3 ways to manage stress so that you can live a healthier, stress-managed life.
1. Take a Break
When I say take a break, I don’t mean a break where you are scrolling through social media or watching videos on your phone. I’m talking about unplugging and walking away from all the distractions in your life. Do something for five to fifteen minutes that requires very little of you other than for you to just be yourself and to be present. Sit outside, take a quick five or ten-minute walk, play a quick game of “Go Fish” with the kids, or engage in meditation. Counting Breath for Stress Relief & Relaxation is a guided meditation that helps focus the mind and relax the body.
2. Put Away Your Electronic Devices
If you think about it, we live in a world where we have immediate access to almost anything we need. Instant information is available to us with the simple touch of an app on our phones or tablets. But at what expense? Being over connected has created a huge epidemic in our world today. An epidemic that has produced anxious, stressed, and technology-addicted teens and young adults that are not ok with doing nothing or being alone. The only way to break that cycle and bring more Zen into your life is to put the electronic devices down and slowly back away. Have a no-phone rule at the dinner table, limit screen time, keep your device in your pocket or bag when you are out with friends–whatever you need to do to stop looking at your device–do it. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Be Positive
Is your glass half-empty or half-full? If it’s half-empty, it’s time to change your thinking. Keeping a positive attitude, shifting your negative thoughts to positive ones, and keeping your self-talk encouraging are great ways to reduce stress. For example, instead of thinking “I can’t believe I made the same mistake AGAIN” think “Everybody makes mistakes. It’s ok. It is something that I can fix.” Developing an attitude of gratitude toward the people, things, and events in your life is also a good way to reduce stress. Write it down or just take time to tell the people in your life that you appreciate them–trust me, it goes a long way! Finally, smiling and laughing also helps to reduce stress. I guess laughter really is the best medicine.
AND if you are ready to get crystal clear on your life priorities, health needs, and how to achieve your goals, myPractices for a Positive and Productive Life Masterclass is for you! In this sixteen-week program, we cover three key areas: Breath, Body and Belief. All three of which are necessary for sustainable success!
Hopefully, these three tips will help you begin to walk down the path of life a little less stressed and with a bit more positivity.
Much of my life has been as an addict. And many of us on some level are all addicts. But for others, their addiction becomes who they are: their identity, their only lifeline.
It may be slowly killing them, but it is also what is keeping them alive.
For me, there is no question that yoga saved my life. Yoga found me when I couldn’t pretend to save myself any longer. Ever been to a high-security prison? That is what a full-blown addiction feels like-24/7, except you are trying to live a normal life at the same time. You are usually trying to hide it or pretend it doesn’t exist. My life was much to this drum, a ten-year battle with a wide variety of eating disorders, depression, drugs, and anxiety. Ten years ago I would be asking for your pity, now I am hoping to help.
Yoga Showed Me Addiction is Not a Choice
Imagine having an evil twin that never leaves your side. Imagine that every move you make, every bite you take, every breath you take is being ripped apart constantly by someone else.
Addiction is not a choice, you don’t wake up one day and decide, “Hey I am going to start bingeing and purging all my food from now on,” or “Maybe today I will starve myself to get attention.” Addiction doesn’t work that way. As an addict forever in recovery, I get this.
I did not choose to starve myself, to drop 32 pounds in 60 days at the age of 15. I didn’t choose to relapse and binge and purge up to eight times a day, as I put stress on my heart, rot my gums and teeth, kill my stomach lining, messed with every system in my body. I, like many struggling with addiction, spent many hours, days and months in this horror. I was trying with all I had to be normal, to fit in, to hide the only thing at that time in my life I could control.
As an addict, you realize that the numbed feeling or “high” you get from your drug of choice (food, alcohol, medications, exercise, restriction of food, smoking) is what you have been searching for. Nearly half my life I spent in addiction, where I cycled anorexia and bulimia. I dabbled with drugs, found myself binge drinking (under age of course), made several attempts at suicide, experimental cutting, and was obsessed with calorie counting, exercise, my weight, my size, every pimple on my face, every imperfection possible… I was obsessed with it.
And at one of my lowest points, this craziness wound me up in the hospital with gastric obstruction surgery after I swallowed a toothbrush, desperate to purge just one more time. To many, you may not understand, but for some, this rundown seems like a horrible mirror.
Yoga Was My Path to Recovery
If you are struggling with addiction and are at a place that you know you want to move forward, you probably already know that it’s one tough uphill battle. Yoga was what kept me holding on to that tiny microscopic string. My Wednesday night yoga class kept me hoping and praying I could do this. I could survive. In my first few classes, while still struggling with an eating disorder, my mom and I attended yoga together. That one class each week was a new chance. I remember many nights walking out praying to God, “Please help me to go home and not binge and purge, praying with all my might that tomorrow I’d wake up and be normal.” I probably wouldn’t have gone each week if my mom wasn’t going. Not knowing, she kept me accountable and kept giving me my string of hope each week.
You can’t think straight as an addict. The Yoga Sutra talks about eliminating the dualistic mind – you ask any addict, and they totally understand the double mind. You have your “eating disorder mind” saying one thing and your “sane mind” saying the other. For many years, I couldn’t even hear my sane mind.
Yoga has saved my life. Yoga has given me a second chance, and has taught me to live in the most in-touch, real way possible. Yoga has taught me how to breathe again, feel again, and somehow someway it has helped me loosen the grips on life a little and trust a little more.
For a long time I didn’t believe that there was anything from my past that could have triggered this experience in my life, but yoga has helped me to realize that some of this was learned behavior. Some of this was the reaction to cruel kids in school, and some was simply fear of not being enough in my life. At some level, we have all been there. We have all cried tears of fear, control, sadness, imperfection. And to all of you out there still walking up hill – it’s way easier with a yoga practice.
Yoga teaches you to want to live again. It teaches you what it really means to be in the moment. Those struggling with addiction know better than anyone what a moment is. Because on the same note, you are trying to stay alive or sober for just a moment.
Yoga lets you know it’s not your fault; even when you feel alone you are feeling, and that is a start. Don’t stop feeling, let the feeling pass, and they will.
Yoga gives you a second chance a million and one times. It reminds you that your life is just as valuable as everyone else’s, in your own unique way.
Today is a call to action.
If you struggle with addiction, I beg you to try yoga.
Be careful – us addicts gravitate to that which can feed the need. So mix it up, most recovery programs that incorporate yoga use styles like Yin, Hatha, or Restorative. These styles are great to really help you learn how to be present, be still and be in the feeling. Don’t throw in the towel and don’t hate your first class because it asked you to step out of your comfort zone. Keep at it. If you want to live, if you want to come out on the other side… for me it wasn’t a choice anymore, it was a matter of life and death. And I chose life, and I continue to choose life each day.
If you are an outsider to a person with addiction, most likely they know there is a problem. Don’t shove food in their face, point out their appearance, or tell them they are killing themselves. Ask yourself this: “Am I helping or hurting?”
Addiction hurts loved ones too, but be a forklift as a friend, bring your friends up with you.
When you live a more authentic life, the benefits are many! By putting time and effort into this endeavor, and learning to be yourself, you are rewarded with an opportunity for real happiness and an ability to achieve your true potential. To get started on this worthwhile journey, give these five practices a try:
5 Ways to Live a More Authentic Life NOW:
1. Be Honest with Yourself and Others.
We often think that the little white lies we tell ourselves and others will make things easier. We think we are doing a favor to others by saving them the time or emotion of the truth. But the reality is, it makes things much more complicated and incredibly dishonest. These lies snowball until you can’t remember who you’ve told the truth to. Find your authentic truth.
2. Stop Saying “I Can’t.”
We look out at life and say that we can’t do this or that, and what we say becomes our truth. What we tell the Universe is what we get back from the Universe.
Erase “I can’t” from your vocabulary and replace it with “I can, I have, I know, or I am.” Take life and start living in the moment.
3. Take Risks.
I’m not saying jump off a cliff, but rather, live boldly. I would rather fall a million times than never fall once and have never tried. We learn through hardships and risks, and the only bad risk is the one not taken. Sometimes you need a little clarity to feel more confident to take that risk…
So are you willing to take that risk if you know it will bring you clarity? What if there was something you could do to aid that clarity creation and feel more confident in that next step?
4. Speak up.
I often speak what is on my mind and what I desire. And yoga has taught me how to channel that in a positive, more helpful, loving way (better than I could years ago). I often hear people say: if only, or I didn’t know, or I wish someone would have told me, but the truth is, unless you speak up, why should anyone come running to your aide? Don’t blame others for your unspoken wish list. Don’t say, “I should have” when you know you could have. We all have a voice and the right to speak up. So when you don’t, it’s no one’s fault but your own.
5. Be a Leader.
We need not be trendsetters or inventors, but rather leaders in our own lives. You may not be famous, but when you live 100 percent each day with no regrets — truthfully and positively — and speak up in a kind manner, you become the authentic leader for others to follow in living their lives that way too.
Each and every day we must work to be more mindful and work to be the best version of ourselves in all that we do. When we step outside our comfort zones and work just a bit harder than the day before, things get easier and we start to enjoy life more. Seek to live an authentic life and reap the rewards.
No words can describe how I felt that day. It’s interesting because it’s over a decade later, but I still have that feeling of what it was like. I don’t think that ever goes away. For those of you who have lost a loved one—that numbness, that void, you don’t even know what to feel, or how to explain what you’re feeling. I remember walking out of the hospital thinking, “Every mom walks out with a baby. I’m a fraud. I’m not a mom.” And that process of grief, and learning how to live with loss, really settled in that moment.”
– Hope Zvara
In an episode of the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, I was interviewed by Heather Stang. Through my own experience, I have learned firsthand how yoga and mindfulness can help calm the mind and help us take a step or two away from self-defeating behaviors, such as addiction and eating disorders. I have also learned how to cope with the reality of loss by living my life in honor of my daughter, Faith, and helping other people live their best lives.
But all that didn’t come right away.
What my daughter Faith has shown me is the HOPE Process: Helping Others Purposefully Excel. This actually came to me at a point where I always say when we see a butterfly, it’s Faith saying hello. One afternoon I was thinking about her, and thinking about what a butterfly means. I Googled it and to my surprise, it means hope.
For those of you who lost someone, it’s not a textbook experience. It’s not, “you’re gonna go through this, and then you’re gonna go through this, and then you’re gonna go through this.” It is such raw emotion. What yoga has taught me through working through addiction and being in recovery now for 15 years, and losing my daughter, and finding life after the loss of my daughter is that you have two choices… You either choose to live, because they don’t get to anymore, or you choose to die with them.
No words can describe what I felt that day. For those of you who have lost a loved one, that numbness, that void. You don’t even know what to feel or how to explain what you are feeling.
If you are going through grief, loss, or addiction, I have a special meditation of Hope for Grief & Loss. I also have a course in my online studio that I offer to you for free, so that you may find a way to transform… to see your butterfly. Here is a Practice in Mindfulness that will help you move beyond grief.
Yoga Found Me and Saved Me
First came yoga. For me, yoga has transformed my life. I remember walking out of my first yoga class… and thinking “Oh my gosh. I have no thoughts.” Once I befriended my breath and was able to get back into my body, I began the journey of rediscovering my life’s meaning. I had to choose life because my daughter didn’t get to. Every single day after she had passed away, I had to wake up and tell myself that. I had to look in the mirror and say,
I have to live because she didn’t get to. Please give me my purpose.”
I always say that my Wednesday night yoga class became my weekly ritual of second chances. Those second changes eventually lead me to a yoga teacher training. That training became a platform for me to really heal and feel. Not only that, it put me in a position to teach others what I had learned through the HOPE process.
When I first found yoga, I did not realize I was holding my breath all the time. I don’t think anyone ever told me that I was breathing. Until that point in that first yoga class, and then in my training, I didn’t realize that this whole breathing thing was really important.
Helping Others Purposefully Excel – The HOPE Process
My marriage not only survived the death of her child, but it thrives because of mindfulness and mutual respect. We can grieve differently, but we don’t have to grieve alone. Losing a child can strain a relationship, but in our case, it brought us together.
Through all of these struggles, through all of this challenge, through middle school and high school and through my early twenties, something always kept telling me to keep pushing forward and keep going. At the suggestion of a caring soul, I found yoga.
Breath, Body, and Belief
Breath, Body and Belief are the pillars of the HOPE process. These three things are the cornerstone of everything that I teach. Everything to do with yoga, with healing, and with finding your path and life beyond grief.
Get in tune with your breath every day. Practice meditation. Practice just noticing your breath for a minute a few times a day.
Use your body with purpose. Move it every day. If you need a place to start, my Mindful Movement Online Studio is only $9.99/month and has a variety of classes, tailored to your needs.
Finally, it comes down to your belief. Pray, meditate, and give thanks to the universe for the life that you have. Live your live in honor.
How to Ditch Your To Do’s and Start Thinking in Results!💥💥
I have struggled for years feeling like I would always get so close to what I wanted, and then, I don’t know how else to explain it, but I just couldn’t get there.
What the heck was going on?
I could start the engine, but boy oh boy, why was it not taking me across the finish line?
Maybe you can relate. You see the vision, you know what needs to happen (at least most of it), you get it started, then WAMO! Something happens and all this other stuff starts to get in the way.
I mean, sure, it’s kind of important stuff. But none of it ever seems to help you reach your goal. There is just always MORE stuff piling up.
Yesterday morning I was gently reminded this morning that it’s not about a to-do list it’s about a results list.
For most of my life, including most of my adult life so far, I’ve only looked at the tasks in front of me.
AKA the overwhelming mountain that is just about impossible to climb up.
I pondered for a quite some time about the idea of looking at what you want versus what needs to be done.
And was reminded again just yesterday morning, through a morning motivation, that looking at the tasks in front of you as to-do items- already frustrated, complicates things, and build an even bigger mountain.
It’s like: “Someone help me, I’m drowning!”
But here’s the kicker and it’s not fancy. Things don’t change because of external circumstances. Things change because of internal circumstances.
Where instead, if you think about the results that you want to happen in your life. And then ask yourself, what do I need to do to get there?
Your focus is no longer all on the items that you have not yet done.
But on the positive result of that what you want to achieve.
Not to mention how many of us always pick the easiest to do list items and avoid the big ones that are going to push us towards our Dream results anyways?
I know I do this.
Why work on a big project proposal when I can clean the kitchen?
Total transparency… My brain often wants to choose the easier tasks, because then if by chance I fail, I’ve already protected myself from it.
I’ve had to train my brain to just start looking at life this way. To stop sympathizing with the side of me that likes the overwhelm, that validates my frustration with a mounting to do list. And a poor me mentality.
👉What do I want? 👉What are the results I’m trying to achieve? 👉If I keep my eyes focused there, I’m going to stay more positive, and probably make better choices.
Remember this, change is hard. But it’s not impossible. It’s only impossible if you’ve already told yourself it’s going to be…
So today make it a point to physically write out your “Results List”... What do you want!? Keep that list handy and in easy sight. And when you start to engage in tasks, ask yourself “are these tasks, activities moving me towards my end game? Towards what I want most?”
After you write out your Results List reflect on why you want these things in the first place.
I wanted to land a big partner for my Mother Trucker Yoga company. I had one in mind. I thought about that partner all the time. And knew that would be a home run for me. Everything I was doing I was working to gain the notice and respect of that company. Then I landed an opportunity to work with them on a trial basis. I could have felt defeated in that I had to do a lot more than I had thought initially. And it was frustrating at times. It could have been easier to just do the minimum required. And when I got frustrated, I a few times found myself doing things that had nothing to do with landing this partnership.
HOPE WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING! I got so overwhelmed in those moments with other things, that in the end didn’t really matter. And would actually go away, and get handled later if I could land this partnership. But I let myself get distracted by those small tasks. Because achieving those small tasks gave me temporary happiness. Where climbing that mountain towards my BIG WIN, required a bit more grit.
DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this website is to provide community support and knowledge of various lifestyle topics. This website is for informational purposes and should not be seen as any kind of professional advice unless stated otherwise. We are not physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, or therapists. All our advice is based on our own experiences. This website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new diet or exercise program.