“Stress Doesn’t Have a Face”- 5 Takeaways from #PressPause

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“Stress doesn’t have a face.”

Those five words smacked me upside the head in the packed lobby of The Handle Bar in Harvard Square.

I, along with 30 other women, had taken the time out of our weekend to #PressPause with the Wellness Collective & The Handle Bar – for a 35 minute spin class with Sarah Maguire and a discussion about self-care practices and practical tips to boost your mental health. The Wellness Collective Co-Founders, Ana Alarcón and Kerri Axelrod, moderated the conversation, as The Handle Bar owner and founder of Handle with Care, Jessica Fracalossi, and holistic mental health counselor, Rachel Duda, spoke with us about mental health and the importance of checking in with yourself.

The holiday season is such a busy time. The act of GIVING is so ingrained in the season, that often times we forget that we can’t just continuously give – gifts, time, or energy. At some point, we run dry and we need to take the time for ourselves to RECEIVE the love and energy that we are giving.

So, here are my five takeaways from #PressPause. This is not an extensive list, and if you ever feel like you are TOO overwhelmed, remember to ask for help – from family, friends or a medical professional. No one can help unless you ask.

“Stress Doesn’t Have a Face”

We’re starting right here.

Everyone experiences stress.

Stress doesn’t care if you are a hot shot, or a nobody. Stress could care less if you have a date, or are exhausted.

Understanding that everyone gets stressed is the first part. Realizing that you can help relieve that stress is the next hurdle.

So, how do you combat stress? Well, the answer is different for everyone. For me, my biggest stress reliever is a good workout. Being able to take out my stress by lifting heavy, rowing hard, going to a yoga class or spinning, has been a MIND saver. Seriously – I don’t think I could have gotten through this year without my workouts. And yes, I have been known to shed a therapeutic tear or two during some yoga classes and spin classes.

Other things I’ve done to help battle the stress have been journaling (obvi I like to write) and coloring (those adult coloring books are no joke). The key here is to find something you enjoy and that helps you manage YOUR stress.

Admit to yourself when enough is enough

This is probably the most difficult thing that was spoken about on Sunday. You can have all the tools at your disposal. You can have the most supportive tribe.

But if you can’t admit that you need help/a break – then nothing will change.

It’s so ingrained into us that “YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL – YOU JUST HAVE TO WORK HARD FOR IT”. But… just like I mentioned at the top, you can have it all, but eventually you’re going to either burn out or run into a wall.

Practice standing firm on your limits. Practice admitting to yourself that you need a moment to breath. Practice admitting to yourself when enough is enough. And most importantly – practice admitting that you might need a helping hand.

Just. Say. No

This is something I need to get better at. I’m guilty of saying “YES” to almost every opportunity that comes by.

Want to speak at this event? OF COURSE.

Can you get this done by tomorrow? IF YOU NEED IT, YOU GOT IT.

Can you travel to XYZ for a meeting? I’ll BE THERE.

Anyone else feel me?

The holiday season, “Yes” overload can easily happen. Feeling like you SHOULD go to an event/party can make us feel exhausted. So, one of the things that was talked about was just practicing saying “No” to things that don’t make you go “HECK YES.”

If something doesn’t excite every fiber of your being, and will cause you more stress, then try saying no. Take the time for yourself, and energize yourself for the exciting opportunities that may arise.

 

Be mindful of where you spend your time

Mindfulness is a buzzword that you might see popping up. When our minds are going a mile a minute, it can be hard to really focus on how you are spending your time, and if you are being TRULY present.

I have a bajillion tabs open on my computer virtually all the time. I have NO clue on how many times I will mindlessly open up Instagram and just scroll. Literally, big thumb swoop, scroll – passing photos, captions, friends, strangers. Just mindlessly passing the 60 seconds away, before I click out and head to another app and do the same thing.

Sounds exhausting right? Turns out, it is.

So, this holiday season, I’m going to try to be a little bit more mindful every time I do something. The panel spoke about doing every action with a purpose and a goal – “what is it that you are going to get out of this”. So, whether it’s opening Instagram to see how many likes a post got, or to see what a friend is up to, my social media habit will get a slight revamp this holiday season. I’ll report back on how it goes.

Which leads me into…

Unfollow Social Media Account That Cause You Stress

We live in a tricky time – social media is a BIG part of what I do. From curating posts, working with influencers and brand, to sharing part of our daily lives, social media is part of our every day lives.

However, there is a dark side to social media that people don’t always talk about.

The comparison. The competition. The stress of “keeping up”.

So, all the panelists said the same simple thing: “Unfollow”

Unfollow the accounts that make you feel lesser than you. Unfollow the accounts that stress you the eff out. Unfollow those accounts that cause drama.

You’re in control of your feed, and you don’t need to CHOOSE to have that kinda stress pop up right now.

I started the unfollow game. It’s been pretty liberating to say the least.

 

Do you have any tips on how to practice #PressingPause? Leave a comment below and let’s share the mental wellness love together <3

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Alive. Thrive. Revive. The Power of You

I’m Amanda. I’m a passionate human, who wants to hear your stories and watch your story unfold

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On Friday, the air was crisp and the sun was shining as the Sweat Fixx team headed to the Lynnfield Meeting House for a lululemon Sweat Collective event. After a 4:30AM alarm, I was looking forward to being able to focus inward and see what the day had in store.

I don’t think I was prepared for how much I needed it.

The luluemon team from Market Street Lynnfield organized an amazing afternoon. I’m going to try to recapture the afternoon, and re-insert some of the magic that happened.

ALIVE

The “Alive” part was the first part of the day. Once everyone arrived and met each other, Lizzie told us that the first part of the day was going to be a silent nature walk. Silent being the key word. So, after a few uncomfortable laughs, I filled up a cup of coffee to keep my hands warm, and we all walked outside… in silence.

I would be lying if I said it was a welcome silence at first. It was uncomfortable. It was challenging. Twenty people walked in a single file line down Main Street Lynnfield, in complete silence. Friends, strangers, it didn’t matter – you couldn’t talk.

After a couple minutes, I felt myself started to ease into the silence. Looking at the houses around, the fall colors and enjoying the crisp air that surrounded us. It was really the first “fall” feeling day, and having a warm cup of coffee in my hand was really heightening the feeling of the season. It was a moment to be alone with my thoughts and enjoy the fleeting nature of each and every thought.

We turned off of Main Street onto a small nature path, and instantly, I felt my heart feel FULL. I LOVE the trails and the forest, especially when it’s alive with the colors of fall. In silence, you could hear the soft squish of the pine needles, the snapping of twigs underneath, and the rustle of the wind in the swamp reeds.

You could also hear my fantastic spill off the boardwalk.

It was like falling in slow motion – but nothing about my back hitting the edge of the boardwalk was silent.

But it was a shock.

Similar to life, we all have that “slipping” moment. When things seem to be going too perfectly, when we get a little too comfortable, life often goes “HEY PLOT TWIST”. Sometimes that “slip” comes in the form of a break up, a lay off, a big fight or a hard stop from your body.

But, just like any time, you have to get up. In front of me and behind me, team mates reached back to help me up. To make sure I was ok.

And for the first time, I was thankful for the shock. It was a stark reminder that no matter what, I’ve surrounded myself with some of the most amazing people, who will always be there for me when I fall.

Literally.

So, with an embarrassed ego and a grateful self, we continued to a little clearing where we could see the tops of the buildings of Market Street. We talked about what it was like to be alone in our thoughts, before we headed back. As I came face to face with the edge of the boardwalk that I had JUST slipped on, I went around and climbed back up. We walked in silence back to the road, and brought conversation back all the way to the Meeting House.

ALIVE wasn’t about being perfectly silent. It wasn’t about being perfect at all. It was a chance for me to stop and take a moment to listen and to realize the small part that I play in the greater world around me. That I have my place, a strong community, and a team that I’m grateful to be a part of.

After a quick lunch, we took on the next phase – Thrive.

THRIVE

IMG_9276In order to thrive, you need to come face to face with who YOU are, and we drove head first into the deep end. We created our purpose statement – who you are, what you love to do, why you do it, and how it helps transform. In my signature chicken scratch, I started to dig into my WHY. I have always loved to write and hear about people’s adventures, troubles and wins. It’s that love of storytelling that made me want to be a journalist, then a social media manager, a blogger and eventually a fitness instructor. I wrote “STORY” in big capital letters… and came up with the statement that I started this post with.

With our purpose, we would start visualizing where we wanted to be in 10 years.

Now, this has ALWAYS been a struggle for me. I don’t even know what I want for dinner right now, how the heck was I going to know what I wanted to be doing in 10 years?!

10 years from now, I’ll be approaching my 40th birthday. Where did I want to see myself in 10 years?!

Honestly – it’s scary to think about.

The idea that what I’m doing right now, can help set me up to where I want to be in 10 years?! Can it really? Absolutely.

As we all worked to grasp this 10 year concept, there was a resounding consensus that we wanted to be happier and have less worry. But, we acknowledged, that the constraints that we had to achieving this revolved around two big things – time & money.

As one man eloquently put it, “A squirrel still knows to collect nuts for the winter.”

We spent a good amount of time, talking about striving to balance our need for a safety net and our need to make our soul happy. We agreed that when our soul and true being is happy, the people around us felt it. When we were happy, our lives reflect that.

We we are stressed, that comes back at us, too.

We shared our dreams, our fears, and our aspirations in a circle – bouncing ideas and stories around the circle. People who had been strangers 3 hours before, were now delving into their deep selves and sharing with each other.

As we worked through our visions of ourselves, we also talked about setting positive goals for ourselves. But not just any goals. Goals with a “by when”.

Literally, my new favorite term.

Setting a goal with a “By When” sends you and the universe a little note. That this is something you are serious enough about wanting, because you put a deadline on it.

Fresh with the excitement about tackling our “by whens”, we cruised into our final period of the day – “REVIVE”.

REVIVE

“The moment you value yourself, the world values you”

Lizzie lead us through a Kundalini yoga meditation, where I’m pretty sure my soul found it’s happy place.

The circular breathing. The stillness. The self-reflection and love. It was the complete opposite of the world that was happening outside of the Meeting House.

We pushed away the negativity and let in the universe with each breath. As we laid down in savasana, I started to feel an uncomfortable feeling in my right lower back.

Oh right. My fall.

Laying with my legs out straight made electricity flow through my veins, so instead, I modified. I came into my Supta Baddha Konasana, and instantly felt at ease.

I was listening.

As we ended the practice and ended the meeting, I felt at ease.

My soul needed the reminder that no one else is in charge of your life. My heart needed the fresh air. My mind needed the jolt of the fall to come back to its senses.

As we parted our ways, and I headed back to the studio to teach a 5PM class, I started to feel a little more sore but a little more grounded.

I checked in with the rest of the team later after someone had asked how I was feeling. After I let them know that I had a bruise the side of my butt cheek – one person responded back with a text that reminded me why I do all of this.

“If you hadn’t fallen, one of us would have. You saved the rest of us.”

If I can help one person, change one life. Then I’ve done my job.

Thank you lululemon, thank you crew, thank you to everyone who came into my life yesterday for the resounding grounding that you helped me with.

I can’t wait to see what life has in store for us in the future, and I hope our paths continue to cross.

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Nourish Your Roots

I snapped this photo a couple weeks ago at the Topsfield Fair. My husband and I had gone out on a rainy afternoon to enjoy a date day, and to see the Monster Truck Rally.

If you know me, going to 4-H styled events and Monster Truck Rally’s is not up my ally.

But, for my husband they are a yearly tradition, deep with childhood memories and full of meaning. So, I pulled on my boots and we went.

And, I had a blast.

In between rain showers we would grab some fall fair food, take a look at the different booths around the fair grounds, and when it would pour, we would take long-winding walks through the fair’s themed barns. One had poultry (never knew there were so many different kinds of chickens), another had bunnies (we almost left with a new family members), and one was full of flowers.

That’s where I snapped this photo.

The blooms originally caught my eye. The vibrant colors popped against the stark white background. Then my eyes moved down towards the clear, see-through vase.

Carrots.

Roots.

All of the other flower arrangements hid the roots and stems – the “non-important” part. The part that isn’t “pretty”. We are all here to see the pretty blooms, right?!

The moment I saw the roots, I was captivated and even a little humbled.

How many times have we ignored or pushed away our roots and what grounds us, in order to try to focus more on our prettier bloom? Those roots, stems, thorns all help those blooms grow – so why do we hide them?

While I may not have grown up going to fall fairs, being close to farm animals or competing in 4H activities – my husband did. To be able to go to the fall festivals together (whether they are in Indiana or in Massachusetts), allows me to get to know another side of him. For me to learn more about who he is, and what his roots are.

And in doing that, I learn a little bit more about myself.

We ignore the roots sometimes because we don’t hear the compliments, we don’t get the likes, and we don’t get the “good job” for having a strong conviction, good soul and good roots.

Today, I want you to give yourself those compliments by digging deep and doing something that feeds your soul today.

Not for the likes. Not for the ‘gram. Just for you.

Show off those carrots, roots, and stems that have helped you bloom into the marvelous human that you are right now.

Do it for you.