August 2, 2013

August Challenge: Breathe

As you can probably tell from my dearth of posts this week, it’s been a bit crazy around here lately. Despite my knowing that stress and lack of sleep is a major contributor to my stupid neck/back pain, this week has been filled with a lot of stress and not enough sleep. Oops! But I’m hoping that this weekend will allow me a chance to catch up and feel more like I’ve got my act together. (Who doesn’t love opening up Outlook first thing on a Saturday morning? Oh wait…)

This busy week marked the end of July, which also is the end of my GSD challenge. (Though of course I will continue trying to G as much SD as possible!) I definitely crossed a lot off my to-do list this month, though unfortunately a couple key items are still outstanding. I’ll be writing a follow-up to that to-do list post hopefully in the next week, which I know a lot of you are psyched about; I’ll also be finishing my San Diego race report in the next few days. (Danny and Blake, I know you are both excited! I’ve worked a lot on it the last few days so it’s definitely coming along. The post comes with a full explanation of why it’s taken me forever, too.) I’m disappointed in myself for not getting those two things completed in the month of July, but I think generally, I did get a lot more on track with sticking to my to do list, and even making progress on a lot of my long-term tasks.

This month, though, it’s time to take a step back and do exactly the opposite of what I did in July. It’s time to breathe. After seeing just how much stress impacts my body, I’m going to devote the month to figuring out various ways to cut back on stress. I’ve already given a few a try, but I have lots more ideas for the rest of the month, and I’d love to hear yours too!

1. Meditation. Theodora suggested meditating, and I know how she loves Gabby Bernstein, so I decided to try Gabby’s How To Reduce Stress vlog yesterday morning to kick off the month of August. I took it totally seriously, and stayed focused throughout, but when I got to the end and she asked you to reevaluate your stress level – mine hadn’t changed one bit. And I hadn’t enjoyed the process either. I know it was only eight minutes, but what a waste of time! I’m not going to give up on meditation entirely, and my therapist has promised to share some good meditation techniques at our next session, but I think I am going to give up on Gabby Bernstein after hating both that vlog and her book. Anyone else have suggestions for meditation videos/podcasts/etc that aren’t too long, aren’t too woo-woo, and that might actually relieve stress?

2. Yoga. On the physical side of things, I’m looking forward to a lot of yoga this month, especially after having bought a Groupon for twenty classes at Uptown Yoga. That’s a lot of yoga, and I intend to get my money’s worth and use them all! While some of my friends think I hate yoga, I actually really like it – but I prefer highly active yoga to the static meditative kind. Maybe this will change with practice (which is why I’m sticking with number 1), but I find it easier to quiet my mind’s chatter when I can think about something else. Downward dog doesn’t involve so much thought as to be exhausting, but it’s enough that I can (usually) stop thinking about work or my to-do list and allow myself to relax. My friend Jen is hosting a pilates/yoga workout for her birthday tonight, so that’s going to kick off my yoga activities, and I’m pretty excited.

July 2013 Runners' Bootcamp
Here’s a fun group shot from Jen’s last workout event. Isn’t exercise so much fun when you can do it with great friends?!

3. Barre. Flywheel has proven to be a great low-impact workout for me, but I’ve also been dying to get back to weight lifting. Barre is a nice compromise in that it’s generally done with very light weights and high reps, which is exactly what my physical therapists have prescribed. Plus, since I grew up taking a ton of ballet classes (I think I was doing close to 20 hours a week when I was in middle school!), being at the barre takes me back to childhood, when things were a lot simpler and my worries, in retrospect, were not that big of a deal. After taking Physique 57 in Bridgehampton last month, they contacted me to offer a trial of their online video series – which is especially perfect for me to be able to take classes whenever/wherever while traveling! I’ll be giving that a go for the next week and sharing my thoughts with all of you.

4. Therapy. Theodora wrote an amazing post last year to emphasize that she’s not afraid to admit that she sees a therapist, and I thought I’d put it out there that I do too. I used to see one in New York City (where everyone has a therapist and it’s almost weird if you don’t see one), but while I found her incredibly helpful, it was really hard to coordinate appointments with my crazy travel schedule. When Blake pointed out that “Dallas has therapists too, you know!”, it was like a lightbulb went on over my head. Why not schedule my therapy in the city where I know I will be every week, instead of my actual home that I see so infrequently? (And yes, my therapist and I are working on sorting out the weirdness that is my living situation and trying to figure out if it makes more sense for me to move out of New York.)

5. Relaxation. And finally, how about some pure relaxation?? Back when I did the Refine Method challenge at the beginning of the year, I decided I was going to reward myself for finishing with a trip to King Spa in Dallas. Well, I finished the challenge, but I never did give myself the reward of a day to relax! In a few weeks, I’m hoping that I can take a Friday off from work to do just that. A day of reading, soaking in pools, and getting massages sounds like exactly the ticket to help me calm down and destress!

What tips do you have? Anything else I should try?


9 thoughts on “August Challenge: Breathe”

  1. I agree… July was pretty darn stressful and making August a “breathe” month sounds like a great idea! I love everything you have outlined. Your Groupon reminds me that I have a Groupon for a Yoga studio in far north Dallas that I need to use up… on the plus side, the studio JUST moved across the street from where I live… but on the down side, my husband and I are moving this weekend. Bad timing :/

    1. So does that mean you guys found a house??? I’ve been following your house hunting saga and it sounds like you DEFINITELY need a break too!

    2. Not yet, but our condo closes a week from tomorrow, so we are moving out this coming weekend and into an extended-stay hotel. I have a gazillion things left to do like figure out which hotel we’ll be staying in, have our mail forwarded to that hotel, and pack up everything in our place… we started packing on Saturday night, so there’s a lot left to do!

      We did make an offer on another (#4) place and we are super hopeful with this one! We should be hearing back tomorrow! Fingers extra tightly crossed!!

  2. A few thoughts on living in the present, in the order they appeared in my life:
    -Dalai Lama “An Open Heart”
    -Fong Ha “Yi Quan and the Nature of Energy: the fine art of doing nothing and achieving everything”
    -The Bible
    -Leslie Kaminoff “Yoga Anatomy”
    -Denis Waitly (again!)
    -Silent Worship (very powerful!)

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