#14DaysOfMe

Over the years I have tried numerous techniques to help me handle my anxiety and panic attacks. Yoga, praying, counseling, medication, meditation, exercising and diet changes, just to name a few, are all practices that I have tried/still do, but there’s one that I rarely talk about because it’s a little embarrassing and pretty silly. MANY professionals and fellow mental healthy sufferers swear by it… positive self-talk.

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“Self-talk” is your inner-voice. It’s that little person in the back of your mind constantly telling you what you can and can’t do, what looks good on you, how much you should weigh and giving or taking away your confidence and self-worth. It’s powerful, that little voice. Small, but mighty. So mighty, that it affects how you see yourself, how you behave with others and even how high you set your goals. The power it has over you, is exactly why it is so important to recognize how you talk to yourself, and if needed, change it.

It isn’t easy to change your self-talk, but the fastest way to recognize the negative thoughts is to recognize your negative feelings. Next time you feel anxious, depressed or unworthy, stop and listen. What are you thinking? What are you telling yourself? More than likely you are dwelling on the negative and it’s time to change what you are telling yourself. Flip it around, look for the positive and tell yourself more realistic and positive things.

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All of this thinking about how I think, has really got me thinking… how can I create better positive thinking habits? 

Then, this happened. (The time I chose myself as my #wcw).

Then, Dove released this incredible video. (Imagine hearing the words you say to yourself being said out loud to someone else.)

Finally, I read about the #100happydays project.  This is a project being shared and spread like wild-fire through social media. It’s simple. Just post a different pic of something that makes you happy for a 100 straight days, using the hashtag #100happydays. (I love this idea, and plan to do it very soon.)

Each of these added up to my answer. To help myself create a habit of thinking positively and changing my inner-voice I am going to find and share something I love about myself for 14 days.

For 2 weeks, I will look at myself, inside and out, and find one thing each day to share on Instagram. I will share my photos with the hashtag #14DaysOfMe, starting tomorrow. My goal is to begin changing my self-talk and make positive thinking a habit.

I’ve got to say, that I’ve given this challenge a lot of thought over the weekend, and already begun looking at myself and debating what I love enough about myself to share on social media, and it’s challenging. Hopefully, it’s less so after two weeks. We shall see.

I’d love for all of you to join me in this challenge and see how it affects your own inner-voice. If you want to try it with me, then please use the hashtag #14daysofme so I can see all of your beautiful photos!

In 14 days I’ll be reporting back with the outcome of the project. To view my pics and thoughts each day follow me on Instagram @PositivelyPanicked.

Cheers!

Do Me A Favor?

Today, I have a favor to ask of each of you. Today, my Dad (the one I told you all about in “Dear Dad“), is having surgery. He has been dealing with a tumor on his skull for too long and today he is finally getting it removed. It’s a big long surgery (like 10 hours), but he’s in great hands at MD Anderson in Houston and I’m positive he will come out even stronger once this is all said and done. After all, the man has already survived 2 cancers and much more!

It is killing me to not be there right now. After lots of debating, we decided to fly to Texas in a couple of weeks. We want my Dad to be able to spend time with his Granddaughter and it wouldn’t be possible if we were there now. I know it’s the right choice, but I want desperately to be there for my Mom who will be anxiously waiting for this long surgery to be over. Thankfully, she won’t be alone. My sister and a few other relatives will be there.

What I am asking of you is this…sometime today, whenever you get a chance take a moment to do one of the following: say a prayer for my Dad and Mom, send some positive vibes towards Houston, send an actual positive message.

I believe prayer and positive thinking can go a long-long way. SO, if you  have a moment write a positive comment to my Dad below, leave a kind note for him on my Facebook page, OR please message my Mom. I know several of you know my Mom so to help keep her distracted and happy today, drop her a line, send her something funny and spread some love! Let her know we are all thinking of her and my Dad. Remind them both that everything will be okay and that their support system is huge. I’ll definitely share every word I receive with them.

Thanks in advance from the whole family!

pawpaw

Cheers!

In Memory Of

Warning: This post is a little sad, but also a little happy. It’s in memory of a friend who passed away in October. He passed unexpectedly in a car crash leaving behind his beautiful wife and baby boy. I have debated writing about him and the impact he had on my life for months. It’s been weighing on my heart and tonight it feels right. Tonight I want to share the story of our friendship.

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*For privacy reasons, I will call my friend “Jack.”

Jack and I met in the summer of 06’. We worked at a large fitness center together and quickly become close friends. Jack was sad and pining for his ex-girlfriend (the love of his life) and I was sad and missing Husband (boyfriend at the time) because he was temporarily living in China. Jack and I decided to keep each other company while we missed the ones we loved.

Jack was one of the most honest and open people I have ever met. While getting to know each other he told me all about the struggles had been through recently. He had gotten himself mixed up in the wrong crowd, felt stuck in a bad place, and lost his girlfriend as a result. He fearlessly chose to turn his life around in a powerful way. He literally threw out his phone one night to lose all of the negative “contacts” in his life and made an immediate decision to live healthily and happily. He wanted a fresh start and vowed to surround himself with positive people. Jack was dedicated to his new lifestyle and determined to win his girlfriend back. He knew they were meant to be together.

His passion for life and willingness to share his story with me opened my eyes and helped me see my own struggles. Jack was very easy to talk to about any and everything. I began to open up to him and it felt great. I told him things only my closest girlfriends knew, and some things they didn’t know. I never felt judged. No, Jack made me feel special. He made me feel like it was okay to be a little broken.

Jack was also a workout enthusiast! We spent many, many mornings, days and nights training together. I love exercising, but my passion for fitness doesn’t hold a candle to Jack’s! He is the motivator of all motivators. I think of him almost every time I step into a gym, no one could get me pumped up for a workout like Jack. In fact, over the last few years Jack became manager of the fitness facility where we met, and even ran his own sports performance program. I never doubted he would do great things.

Jack was the kind of friend who cared deeply and worried endlessly.  If I was sad, he called. If I was happy, he celebrated. If I was bored, he entertained. Once, I worked late, pulled an all-nighter studying, and met him at the gym at 6 A.M. for a morning shift. I was drained and trying to prep for a big college class presentation. Jack had an energy supplement he took before each workout and I BEGGED him to share. Jack refused saying it was too strong and I couldn’t handle it…

Obviously, I insisted that I could, and repeatedly hassled him until he had to give into my pleads. Even then, he would only give me half.

In class, I felt great and had tons of energy! About ten minutes later a friend pulled me to the side and said, “What is wrong with you?” She then explained to me that I was talking so fast she couldn’t understand me, I was tapping the desk continuously, and my pupils were so large that I had no irises.

Jack never forgave himself (or me) for sharing his supplement with me. He fretted for weeks over that incident.

Jack was also a sensitive guy. We both used music to match our moods, and often discussed how the right songs can be a form of therapy. He gave me a CD of his favorite group, Keane, and told me how every song reminded him of a significant time in his life or of a significant person (most often his ex-girlfriend.)

We spent a lot of time together for about 5 months. We talked on the phone often, went to movies, workout together, and worked together regularly. People began to question if we were dating, but Jack and I never would have dated. We knew we were not each other’s lobsters.

No. We were exactly what each other needed during that short time in our lives. Husband came back from China and I graduated and began teaching. Jack won back the love of his life, and was happier than I ‘d ever seen him. We still talked often, but even that faded. I moved away and we both moved on with our lives. We remained Facebook friends, and commented or messaged each over the years; a “congrats” here, a “happy birthday” there, but nothing more.

When he married the girl he pined for that summer, I know it must have been the happiest day of his life. I celebrated for him when I heard the news. I’m sure he did the same when I married Husband.

I wanted to write this as a thank you. Thank you Jack for being my best friend the summer of 06’ and teaching me to be honest, live life to the fullest, and to surround myself with positive people. You are a true inspiration and are dearly missed.

Your friend,

Hil

A Few Steps Towards Recovery

Living with high anxiety is not easy for anyone, but simply recognizing and accepting this struggle can make the battle that much easier. When I admitted to myself, and the world, that I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. That weight was heavy with all my secrets, lies, and tears over the years. I cannot explain the feeling; I had to let it all go. Being honest and open is much easier than living under pounds of secrets.

Now that I am less focused on hiding, I am more focused on staying healthy. There are many actions I take each day to keep myself from venturing into the dark-side.

#1 Think positive. I have to constantly remind myself that everything is okay. Because there are so many negative thoughts and scenarios constantly scrolling through my mind, I have to stop them with numerous mantras: “I am happy and healthy.” “I can do this.” “Breath.” “Everything will be okay.” It may sound ridiculous but repeating these thoughts, writing them down, or saving them in my Notes app, helps me everyday.

#2 Exercise. This is just a given. We all know that, “Exercising gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” Wise words from Elle Woods. After the terrible heartache I went through years ago, my doctor suggested I take anti-depressants. I was very leery of this route so he made me promise to do some form of exercise everyday and check in with him every couple of weeks. Done. It did me wonders.

#3 Make time to do things I enjoy. I learned how important this is while living in Albania. It is still a challenge to make time for things like reading, dancing, writing, movie watching, and especially relaxing, but I am so much happier when I do. I tend to feel guilty when I take time for myself, but it gets easier and easier with practice, which is why I have a Weekly Dose of Glamour.

I typically pick one day a week to really relax. This day is usually a no-make-up, pajama kind of day. By 5 pm, Husband is so ready to get out of the apartment that he will do anything I am willing to do. This usually involves Starbucks, a walk, some fancy stores, and maybe an exhibit.

This Sunday we walked a few miles, all around the Upper East Side. We window shopped down Madison for at least an hour and I used my new Aviary app to snap some shots of the beautiful items we spotted. I love this app so much more than Instagram.

I love walking down Madison. There is no better street for window shopping.
I love walking down Madison. There is no better street for window shopping.

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Why, hello beautiful
Why, hello beautiful.

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I walked really fast during our 3 mile window shopping adventure so I counted it as my cardio for the day, and went home to put my pj’s back on….what a great day.

I still have other skills to practice like getting enough sleep and seeing a doctor regularly…I’ll get there. One step at a time.

Cheers!

My Resolution

For the last week I have been racking my brain for the perfect resolution. My ideas are pretty typical…workout, eat healthy, write everyday, be nicer, get over irrational fear of going to the doctor, travel more, stop going to Starbucks so often blah, blah, blah. Everything just sounded so boring, so overdone, and so typical. I decided I needed one simple not too unrealistic resolution.

Stay positive.

After all, I do write a blog titled “Positively Panicked”. Everyday (give or take a few) I write to all of you about my daily adventures, the good and the bad, and do my best to focus on the positive, the silver linings, and the humorous sides of every little event. Outside of my virtual life though, I forget where I should focus. In my reality, my negative thoughts have been out weighing the positive, and it is time for a change. I want to adapt a more Zen approach to life.

Like Luke, when it comes to all things life I’m adopting a Zen attitude.

On January 1st, we flew home and I did not think a bit about resolving anything. I slept late, ate fries for lunch, and drank coffee after 4pm. Everything was fine and dandy until our flight. When we got to the airport we had a 45-minute delay, which turned out to be the perfect introduction to the rest of our trip.

In one day of traveling my computer crashed, my Nook crashed (every single book was deleted), our plane seats were malfunctioning, the airport tram broke down three times, the third time we were forced off, we stood in the cold to wait for a bus, missed our train, waited an hour, took 5 more trains to get home, ordered dinner at 1am, and they were out of my entrée.

Somewhere between getting kicked off the tram and waiting for our missed train I remembered my New Year’s resolution. “Stay positive”. I was extremely pissed off at this point, especially since I had nothing to read, but I did my best to search for a silver lining.

That silver lining turned out to be a hidden box of Triscuits in my backpack and some quality conversation with Husband. We talk a lot everyday, but during the 8-hour trip home we had real quality conversation, and made real adult like decisions about our plans for the next year.

Another benefit from our unlucky trip is that my willpower to keep this resolution was quickly put to the test, and I am happy to say I made it home without throwing a fit or taking a very expensive cab ride. I even had a few laughs.

I just have to keep reminding myself: deep breaths, think happy thoughts, everything will be okay. I can do this.

Is anyone else adopting a positive New Year’s resolution?

Cheers!