By default, I’m an anxious human. When not in check, my subconscious mind has the ability to get the best of me. And if I’m not careful—I’m in deep before I even realize. At that point, it can be a steep uphill climb to move beyond the bundle of nervous energy that has come crashing down on me.
For those (millions) of us living with anxiety, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing. That said, anxiety is something that we must live with and manage so it doesn’t cause our bodies harm, or have a negative impact on our relationships (with ourselves or others).
Although some seasons of my life are more anxiety-ridden than others, the following methods and activities help me cope and live with a clearer mind regardless of what is happening externally.
There are a number of reasons I love running, but one benefit of running that oftentimes goes unrecognized is its stress-relieving properties. When I start my day running, it sets the tone for the whole day—clear mind, energized body, focused spirit. This is true for every single run, whether it’s a strong 10 mile training run that’s invigorating and empowering, or a 2 mile shuffle that’s so miserable I can barely keep my feet moving. When I follow up my work day with a run, it’s a similar scenario. A post-work run allows me to reset my brain and shift my attention away from work before the evening begins. No matter how intense, or what time of day, running provides me with instant decompression and gratification. It gets the blood flowing, not only to my brain, but to each and every part of my body.
TIP: If you hate running, try another aerobic activity. What do I mean by aerobic? I mean cardiovascular exercise, be it biking, hiking, swimming, dancing, or even simply taking a speedy walk with your dog— anything to get your body moving, oxygen flowing, and your heart rate up. I find that getting my heart rate up while exercising helps me have a lower resting heart rate, which also means my body is less likely to store up nervous energy to be released in a negative way.
I’ve been a bit quiet lately for a number of reasons. The number one reason being, I’ve been dealing with some growing pains.
Let’s face it. They don’t call them growing pains for nothing. They’re called growing pains because they cause a significant amount of discomfort.
Each season in my life that has produced monumental growth has been accompanied by pain. I’ve learned the presence of the pain isn’t associated with age, but rather, your level of motion, action, and movement. What I mean is, so long as you’re growing, there will be some level of pain present. It’s a part of the process, and a valuable one at that.
There have been countless points throughout my life—both in seasons past and present—I’ve avoided facing up to the pain it takes to grow. In these moments, it’s no wonder I’ve experienced feelings of defeat, or felt as though I was running in a circle.
Having decided to step up to the [growth] plate once again, I’ve recently been met with the following types of growing pains. Continue Reading…
If you would have asked me a couple of weeks ago what my spring training and race plan looked like, I would have told you that it looked like training heavily, in preparation to return to Nashville for the St. Jude’s Country Music Marathon, this time to run the half marathon. I would have told you that this was exactly what I needed to do for me, for my running, for my season, for my support of the race series, and most of all, for the nostalgic, sentimental part of me that longed to return and celebrate the one year anniversary of my first ever full marathon, alongside friends I love and miss. I would have told you I was sure about all of this.
The problem with this response is that my answer was all about “me,” and not at all about “we.”
At various points of my life, I’ve felt like I was the most independent person I knew (and this very well might have been true). I’ve proved to myself I can do anything alone.
For years, I’ve strategically worn my independent spirit as a strength. Deep down, in a lot of ways, my tenacious efforts to be as independent as possible, have underneath the surface, always been a defense mechanism of sorts. They have always been tied to a resistance within my heart. A resistance toward being completely vulnerable with anyone—until Andrew.
Andrew has shown me that although I am totally capable of existing as a “me,” there’s something incredible about choosing to sacrifice a part of your own self-interest to exist as a “we,” when it is loud and clear that someone else was made for you. In the case of Andrew, it’s been loud and clear from day one, even when I wasn’t ready to hear it.
Last year while I ran the full marathon, Andrew tracked me every single step of my run—all five hours. He shipped me popsicles and an art piece in the form of a card as a congratulatory treat for after the race. He wasn’t even my boyfriend at that point, yet he was already believing in my every step.
A week ago Sunday I was running down the streets of New Orleans with thousands of fellow runners. It was my third time participating in the New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.
These 13.1 miles took me through downtown, along St. Charles and back, through the French Quarter and toward City Park. I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:04:09, soaked in a mixture of ice cold water, salt, and sweat.
Before offering a play by play of the race, I feel I must first acknowledge the moments leading up to the start line, and the love that supported me along the way.
This photo was taken Friday night at the expo. Stopping by the expo just before it closed on night one, rather than waiting until Saturday, meant we were able to walk through and see everything without the crowd, and take our time being silly.
A 5:30 a.m. wake up call. Coffee in the dark. Watching the sun slowly rise up to greet the day. Nervous energy boxed up, ready to be released. National Anthem blaring. Hands over hearts. Feet inching closer and closer to the start line. Bending down and checking your laces one last time.
The rush that envelops your entire body as you take off, step by step.
These are feelings each runner gets to know all over again, at every single start line.
These are feelings I will never grow tired of.
This time last week, I was “Revving up to Race in the Ancient City,” and eagerly awaiting my mom’s arrival in St. Augustine.
Though the St. Augustine Half Marathon Weekend has come and gone, it’s now time to relive the details and document them while they remain fresh. Recognizing it’s impossible to capture each and every moment, here’s my attempt at recapping this bright and beautiful, mother-daughter race weekend.
The premise of the two day rule is simple.
Don’t let something you love become absent from your life for more than two consecutive days.
The idea for this rule came in the form of a realization. When I spend more than two days away from the things I love, I feel out of sorts. There’s a blanket of uneasiness that surrounds me. I grow resentful toward anything that’s separating me from the things that make me feel most “me.” And then I start resenting myself. Realizing I’m the only one who allows this pattern to occur, I established the two day rule as a way to keep the things I love from falling by the wayside.
Want to live a life you love? Make time for the things that make you feel alive.
A Guest Post By Maureen McCartan (Sarah’s mom)
In September of 2013, my daughter Sarah asked if she could move back into her old room for awhile, during a transition time in her life, and of course I was happy to have an adult roommate. Also, being the excellent vegan cook that she is, she offered to prepare most meals, and I jumped at the chance to sample whatever she created and even to clean up after. I have been a vegetarian/pescatarian for many years, but decided that eating whatever vegan concoctions she made was fine, and I could always throw some cheese on it. I told her repeatedly that cheese was the one thing I didn’t think I could give up. When she explained to me about casein, the stuff in cheese that sits like glue in your tummy, my feelings began to change.