Quieting the churn

This year has been one of great personal transformation for me. I am about to wrap up a year long program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which has kickstarted a whole new passion and career as a health coach. It’s been busy and hectic, but manageable for a number of reasons.

First of all, I had a lot of support from my friends and family for pursuing something completely new. My main motivation was to keep me on track with my own wellness journey. I’ve maintained my weight loss from bariatric surgery for over a year now, with my second surgiversary coming up on July 5. So — mission accomplished there.

I’ve acquired a great deal of knowledge about coaching behavioral modifications and helping my clients find their own definition of health. It looks very different for each of them, and they all have different goals and different areas of focus.

One of the main reasons I got through all of this has to do with mindset. I am winding down my career as a government worker bee, so I have the motivation to be successful in this new chapter. But it’s not always easy. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for many years now, and while it’s a lot more manageable now post-surgery, I still have to work at it.

Meditation, not medication, has been my secret. Oh yeah, I am medicated too, but that’s not what has kept me focused. Mindfulness is such a buzzword these days, but it was my gateway to meditation.  I found the podcast 10% Happier in 2016 while contemplating weight loss surgery, when I was overcome with depression and grief after my dad died. The host, Dan Harris, is an ABC news anchor who had a panic attack live on TV which ultimately led him to meditation. I love his irreverence and skepticism about nearly everything, but the thing that sold me was his interview with the Dalai Lama. (Definitely check this out for all of the feels!) I didn’t actually decide to practice meditation however until I started my health coach training.

Journaling was an amazing outlet for me (we won’t talk about my office supply and journaling materials fetish) and I had already established a gratitude journal which really transformed my mindset. But I never really tried meditation because I figured I couldn’t shut that damn voice up in my head — that voice that is always churning. I started with some breathing exercises that I learned at a stress management training I took at work. Then when my Apple watch upgrade introduced some mindfulness apps I tried a few out. First it was Headspace, then Calm, then Simple Habit. After a bit of experimentation with longer form guided meditations on YouTube, I settled on Calm as the one I liked the most. Ten-ish minutes a day I can fit in. It quiets the mind, even mine with the spinning hamster wheel squeaking away.

I don’t get panic attacks very much, but over the past few weeks, I have been awakened out of the blue from a dead sleep with that horrifying chest tightness and heart palpitations which for me are a telltale sign that a panic attack is happening. It’s odd to wake up in the middle of the night to something so scary, so I am definitely looking into what that is all about, but it’s made me appreciate knowing that if I bring everything back to the breath, I can get them under control.

I’m normally encouraging people to step away from their phones and get some sunshine and fresh air, but this week, I thought it would be good to recommend something that really can enhance your health and get control of those damn hamsters churning away in your head.

Do you have any apps that have helped you on your health journey? Let us know what’s your fave!

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