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Why You'll Want a Zen-List

Welcome to 2019!

I was wracking my brain trying to think of what to write for the first article of the year. On every single health blog out there, it’s probably along the lines of “how to keep your resolutions in 2019” or “how to lose the weight and keep it off in 2019” or “jumpstart your 2019 with this detox”, and on and on and on.

While all of those titles are intriguing, I personally am sort of over this big magnitude of resolutions come the first of the year. LOVE the optimism, but am not such a fan of the mounting pressure it puts on us.

It’s not a secret that anxiety is an old friend of mine. Sometimes he’s a friend that speaks louder, and sometimes he’s a friend that respects my well wishes and pipes down.

Anxious thoughts, self doubt, butterflies, moments of melancholy - all of these are completely normal; they will come and go throughout your life and should never be judged as “bad”. The trick is not letting them overcome you and “take hold” for hours on end.

What every person needs, in my humble opinion, is a “ Zen List,” a resource of health hacks and anxiety tips they can access instantly when the mind races more than normal.

So perhaps a goal of 2019 can be creating your own “zen list”, so you are readily equipped with tools to lift you up when you need them.

Below are some of my recommendations to add to your list for a calmer state of mind. If any resonate with you, include them in your list, but I encourage you to find others specific to you - things that you find help bring you calm. From breathing, to foods, to visualizations, to herbal remedies - there’s no limit of things you can list for instant zen.

  • Box-Breath. This magical breathing exercise activates your parasympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest state) and is an incredible tool to get present and relax quickly. To do: breathe in deeply for a count of 4, hold that breath for a count of 4, breathe all the air out for a count of 4, and hold that out-breath for a count of 4. Repeat for a couple of minutes. This can be done anytime, but I love doing it as I’m walking, and using my steps as the counts.

  • Holy Basil Tea (also known as “Tulsi’). This is a wonderful calming tea, and is known as an ‘adaptogen’, meaning that it helps the body cope with stress. (1). It’s a wonderful grounding tea to have on the way to auditions (from personal experience!).

  • Avocados. Avocados a great choice when it comes to nutrition for anxiety. They're are a great source of the B-Vitamins, also known as the ‘stress-vitamins’, which help convert the food you eat into energy for your body. They’re also rich in good fats, which help balance mood by stabilizing blood sugar! (2) Half an avocado sprinkled with himalayan sea salt (with or without some gluten free crackers) makes the perfect mid-day snack to keep a calm mind and a steady supply of energy.

  • Lavender Essential Oil. This is a great essential oil for anxiety, and one to keep in your backpack or purse that has been shown to reduce anxiety and calm the body. (3) You can sniff directly from the bottle when stress is high, dab some on your wrists or even add a drop to your pillow for a more restful sleep.

  • Magnesium. This is known as the “anti-stress” mineral and one in which a lot of people are deficient. The best way to eat more magnesium for a calmer state is by eating as many green foods as you can (green foods are rich magnesium), or consider supplementation if your diet is green-poor, or if you are under more stress than normal.

  • Smile for a timed 2 minutes. It sounds simple, but it’s free and it really does work to lower cortisol (stress hormone) in your body. In fact, it’s been shown that smiling can actually help you recover from stressful events more quickly. (4)

  • Rescue Remedy. This wonderful combination of 5 flowers offers a gentle instant relief from feelings of anxiety. They come in liquid form, gummies as well as gum!

  • Affirmations. These are a big one. Preferably out-loud, I say to myself any of the following: “I surround myself with love and light, and I know all will be well.” “Everything happens exactly when it’s meant to happen.” “I believe in myself and I friggin LOVE the feeling of believing in myself.”

  • Clear Day by St. Francis. This wonderful herbal combo contains St. John’s Wort and Happiness Bark (cool name right?!) among other herbs, that help alleviate symptoms of depression. *NOT to be used if you are on antidepressants as St. John’s Wort is contraindicated with these medications.

  • Silly Cartoons and feel good shows. These are in my personal zen-kit. I know if I put on an episode of Family Guy or The Mindy Project, that I will laugh and feel somewhat better after the 22 minute episode. Knowing this, I always keep these shows at the ready! What’s your show?

  • Reset Song. Everyone has ONE song (if not more) that makes them feel better, mine is the score-suite from The Devil Wears Prada (if you don’t know, I pretty much exclusively listen to movie scores). But choose a song that you know will always lift you up, and remember it when the time comes!

  • Dark Chocolate. Not only do the polyphenols in the chocolate promote a mood boost, but the high magnesium content of real chocolate (not the crap milk stuff) help physically relax the body.

These are only some of the many tools you can keep on hand in your “zen list” for instant calm; some free, some not, but ALL worth looking into. Stress happens, but it’s how we respond to that stress that determines how we feel.

I encourage you to write down YOUR list, your top anxiety tips, and keep it on hand. The ideal place would be the note section on your phone, so you always have the list on hand for when the time comes. When you’re in a state of anxiety, you might not be at your best to remember all of what’s on your list, which is why having a copy of it on hand at all times is always a good thing!

2019’s gonna be great, and you’ll be prepared for whatever it throws at you!

And breeeeeathe!

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