from anxious to balanced: my anxiety story
if you’ve been a bananas & bellinis reader for some time now, you know that i typically post about a variety of topics all within the health & wellness world. everything from eating healthy to yoga to woo-woo sh*t to clean beauty… i’m into it. you probably have also picked up on the fact that i’m very much aligned to the finer things in life… traveling, cheese, netflix binges, late nights out on the town with friends…. & maybe a cocktail or two [or five] here and there. and even though some people might say you can’t have it both ways, i’m not ashamed to admit any of this. at all. i strive to live a balanced life in every aspect, & with that comes the ability to be a little woo-woo & a little boujee… all at the same time.
but, balance hasn’t always been present in my life. in fact, for as long as i can remember, my life was the opposite of balanced. and it wasn’t until recently that i came to the realization that the majority of my “issues” were simply side effects of my struggle with anxiety.
pretty much my entire life i’ve been worried. constantly. worried about what? pretty much everything. i was also a perfectionist… i put pressure on myself to be “perfect” at everything i did, no exceptions. i was a hypochondriac. i spent more time wondering about “what if’s” than i did thinking about what was actually happening in my life.
and naturally, with high levels of anxiety came unhealthy coping mechanisms. i was a nail biter. i remember having a stage where i would sit in class & pull my eyelashes out… like… excuse me, WHAT?! it would take me hours to fall asleep every night… freshman year of college, falling asleep was no problem, but staying asleep became impossible almost immediately. on top of alllllllllllll of this, my stomach was always upset. you know that nervous feeling you get sometimes, maybe before a date or a big presentation at work? i had that constantly. i’ve also experienced my fair share of full blown panic attacks… the kind where i’d start crying & wouldn’t be able to catch my breath. sounds fun, huh?
freshman year of college is when sh*t started to get really interesting, though. about 3 weeks in, i got sick. like… really, really sick. i ended up in the hospital & it took a misdiagnosis & several doctors to figure out what was wrong with me. it turns out that i had pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas… i won’t get into the details, but holy sh*t did it f*cking suck. i was in the most physical pain i have ever experienced in my life. i spent about a week in the hospital hooked up to an IV that pumped painkillers [hellooooo morphine], anti-nausea medicine, fluids & calories into my system… i wasn’t able to eat or drink anything for days, & i ended up losing about 15 pounds… once i was released, i still had to be on bedrest for another week or so.
while i was in the hospital, we learned that i fell into the 10% of pancreatitis cases that have “no known cause” & my mom speculated that it was brought on by the stress/anxiety of starting college. my doctor shot that idea down pretty quickly & just simply said that was impossible, but years later i would learn that stress & anxiety do, in fact, manifest in the gut, & it’s pretty likely that i literally “worried myself sick” that year.
somewhere in the middle of all of this, i had become particularly interested in health & wellness. specifically, i got really into clean eating after reading the book skinny bitch. i became vegan, started paying attention to the ingredients in the foods i was eating, taking supplements, & going to the gym. totally harmless, right?
well… sort of. my interest in health & wellness eventually became an obsession. i had an extremely regimented “diet” that consisted of pretty much only fruits & veggies… until i would get drunk & demolish an entire pizza by myself. i became obsessed with the number on the scale & definitely toed the line between being in really great shape & being too skinny. i was obsessed with my appearance & being the “skinniest” & the “prettiest” girl in the room. i compared myself to everyone. i spent hours at the gym every week even though i hated being there. i still wasn’t sleeping. i was a f*cking mess.
this went on & on & on for far too long… i started going to counseling during my junior year of college, & figured some of my sh*t out… but even after college i still experienced anxiety on a daily basis. i was uncomfortable in my body… i had low self-esteem… i hated what i saw when i looked in the mirror… i talked sh*t about myself out loud & in my head constantly… but luckily, in the midst of all of this, my interest in health & wellness continued to grow & evolve in a way that was positive.
i found yoga which has done more for me than i can even put into words. instead of being obsessed with my weight & appearance [for the most part] i became obsessed with taking a holistic, balanced approach to life… & over the last few years, i’ve been able to shift my entire perspective & live my life how i want to live it… not how my anxiety tells me i should be living it.
and wow does it feel good.
and while i can’t pinpoint just one thing that did the trick, there are many “little” things that have all come together perfectly [yet slowly] for my lifestyle. i’ve tried lots of different approaches, but what i’ve found has worked for me are things like yoga, meditation, spending time outdoors, following a morning routine, eating well but still allowing myself to enjoy my favorite “guilty” pleasures, just to name a few. and while it’s typically pretty consistent, some things work better in different situations than others… it all just depends on where my anxiety is coming from & what my mind, body, & soul are craving at the time.
do i still have panic attacks? from time to time, yes. do i still catch myself pacing back & forth while waiting for my Uber? absolutely. do i struggle to get a full night’s sleep? most days, yes. do i spend time replaying things i said or did months ago that might have come across the wrong way in my head? you better believe it. do i worry about things that haven’t happened or might never happen? all the effing time.
but, over the years, i’ve learned to manage my anxiety so that its impact on my day-to-day life isn’t so significant. some days are certainly easier than others, & certain situations can still send me into a panic… but overall, i feel better now than i have in my entire life, & have experienced the biggest shift of all in the last 2 years. something just clicked. the pieces all came together & i work every. single. day to keep it that way. most of the time, i can acknowledge that my anxiety is present, make a joke about it, laugh it off, & move. the f*ck. on.
and bananas & bellinis is where my passion for health & wellness, my pursuit of anxiety-free living, & my obsession with living a life that’s healthy, fun, authentic, spiritual, & balanced all come together. i love sharing what i’ve learned with others in the hopes that they, too, can come to find balance in their lives. what’s the point of having figure all this sh*t out if i don’t share it with others, right?
so, you can expect to find a little bit of everything here. it’s a little cheeky & a little woo-woo, & always real AF. you’ll find everything from anxiety hacks to yoga & meditation tips to natural, clean beauty advice & maybe even a travel post or clean cocktail recipe here & there.
and i’m very excited to announce that i’m now working one-on-one with clients to help them overcome their anxiety & pursue a life of balance in the same ways that i have. if you experience anxiety… or if anything in this post spoke to you on any level… sign up for my newsletter for more details to come… & to make sure you never miss a post!
photo courtesy of Jessica Husted Photography
3 tips for a zen vacation
so… i’m leaving for Cuba tomorrow… CUBA. i literally never dreamed this day would come… that i, as an American citizen, would EVER be able to visit Cuba… so i’m pretty damn excited to say the least! i’m desperately in need of a vacation, so in keeping with the theme of the moment, i thought a travel-related post was necessary. let’s get right to it.
the term “vacation” has lost a lot of its meaning in 2017 america. i’m always reading about how many people don’t use their vacation days, how few vacation days many employers even offer in the first place, & how even when we do take vacation, we have a hard time actually vacationing…
you know… we check our email, we take work calls, we text with our bosses… some people will actually sit in their hotel room & work remotely because they feel so strongly that they can’t get away or everything will fall apart.
thankfully, i’ve never been one of these people. i love travelling, understand the importance of taking a break from things to reset and recharge, & just generally love being able to live life for a week or so a few times a year as if i have no real responsibilities.
so, if you’ve ever found yourself doing any of the above… or even if you’ve actually taken your vacation days, decided to check out, & had crippling anxiety over not knowing what was going on back home to the point that you couldn’t even enjoy your vacation… you’ve come to the right place.
here are my 3 tips for a zen vacation:
1. pack a journal. journaling can be really therapeutic. putting pen to paper & just writing, not even about anything in particular, can do wonders for a racing, anxiety-ridden mind. i always pack a journal when i go on vacation, & it serves a few purposes. first, i love being able to write down all of the amazing experiences i’m having, so that i can look back on everything in detail years later. sure, pictures will help keep the memories alive, but those little details can easily be forgotten. second, it’s a great way to pause, take a step back, & really start to process and get clear on things that might be going on in your life… ya know like your feelings, emotions, where you want to go with your life, if you should or shouldn’t break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend, if you should make a big, risky career move… whatever. i also love the practice of using a gratitude journal to put things into perspective & remind myself how great my life is, even when things aren’t going my way.
2. swap out your daily coffee for tea. as a society, we seriously rely on coffee to get us through the day. when you’re on vacation, you should be relaxing. sleeping in and going with the flow. sure, you might have tours or dinner reservations at specific times, but other than that, vacation is about taking it easy. instead of running to the closest Starbucks to get your daily fix, pack some herbal teas instead**… especially those of the calming variety [think chamomile, lavender, ashwaganda]. it’ll help to ease the mind & reduce all of the stress you have about not being at work… which will help you be more present in the end.
[**of course, if you’re going someplace like Columbia, Italy or Bali, where coffee is a huge part of the culture/cuisine… DRINK ALL THE COFFEE YOU WANT.]
3. get off your effing phone. i get it. we all want to be connected to our friends & family. we want to share all of the cool pictures we’re taking at all of the amazing places we’re visiting. [#doitforthegram] but, if you truly want to enjoy your vacation, if you really want to experience the culture of this new, exciting place you’re visiting… get off your effing phone. you don’t even have to go totally off the grid… [i know, scary thought, right?] even just limiting yourself to only checking social media in the evening when you’re back at your hotel can make all the difference… i mean… do you really wanna find yourself standing in front of the Taj Mahal or at the top of the Eiffel Tower scrolling through effing Facebook or answering a work email? i don’t think so.
i’m planning on going 100% dark in Cuba… my phone is going into airplane mode from the moment i step on the flight to Havana, & staying that way until i land in LA next week. i’m really craving a little disconnection, and since wifi is hard to come by in Cuba, this is the perfect opportunity to just go for it.
what are your favorite ways to check out & really keep it zen when you’re on vacation? do you have any Cuba recommendations?! leave them in the comments below… & i’ll see you on the otherside… adios!
5 reasons we all need yoga right now
life in 2017… it’s interesting, right? the world is a really, really crazy place right now.
there’s lots of change happening and many of us are getting caught up in the moment of everything… we keep scrolling through the comments of those truly awful facebook posts [i’ve literally lost all faith in humanity doing this]… we’re cutting people out of our lives when their opinion doesn’t align with our own… sometimes, we’re just curling up into a ball, crying our eyes out, and telling ourselves that we should just give. the eff. up. that it’s all a waste of time and we have no control over where anything is going.
it’s easy to forget the big picture. it’s easy to feel hopeless. it’s so easy to be afraid of what’s ahead. but does feeling this way help us rise above the bullsh*t and continue to move forward, both on a personal and societal level?
i’m guilty of feeling all of the things i outlined above. i go through periods where i feel paralyzed by my anxiety… moments where giving up seems like the best option, because why fight a losing battle, ya know? and this applies to my feelings on my personal goals, my professional goals, and where i wish society would go as a whole.
my anxiety pretty much encompasses everything. it’s not picky. if i can worry about it, i most likely will, sooner or later. but there’s one thing that always, without fail, snaps me out of it. one thing that brings me back to the present moment, brings me back to my power…
probably not very surprising, considering that yoga works wonders for a lot of people, and i’ve talked about what it’s done for me personally here many times before. but sometimes, we do need that friendly reminder to put us back in our place.
a few years ago, i wrote an article for elite daily titled “5 reasons why all millennials would benefit from practicing yoga” that really hit home for me when i was writing it… and i think it resonated with others too – it was shared almost 300 times!
i wanted to share it here today, because i think all of these points are still valid… for everyone, not just millennials [although they may hit a little closer to home for us than other generations].
… and then go hit the mat… and take this little piece of yogi wisdom with you…
3 things you can do to improve your health that don’t involve diet + exercise
this time of the year is all about “resolutions” … many of which include diet and exercise. i’m sick of resolutions and sick of talking about “eat this, not that” and “5 moves to a flatter stomach”. let’s mix it up and talk about 3 things you can do every day to improve your health that don’t involve diet and exercise.
1. meditate. you’ve probably heard a lot about meditation… especially in the last year or so. it’s one of those things that’s becoming less weird as more and more people, from every walk of life, incorporate it into their routine.
it’s no longer just something that yogis or crunchy hippies do. that’s because it’s effing good for you. it’s known to reduce stress, help manage anxiety, slow aging, improve sleep, increase happiness, and strengthen the cardiovascular and immune systems. pretty crazy, right?
if you’re new to meditation, i recommend starting out with just 5 minutes per day, and using a guided meditation [you can find a lot of options on youtube… i really like this one]. once you’re comfortable with 5 minutes, up it to 10… then 15… then 20… and so on. i like to meditate first thing in the morning for about 20 minutes… it really helps to wake me up and start my day on the right foot!
2. spend time outside. let’s get real for a sec. most of us spend the majority of our time inside. at work, at home, commuting, at restaurants, the gym… i could go on forever, but i think you get the idea. all of these places are manufactured… they aren’t natural. ever think that actually spending time in nature could be… what we’re meant to do?
spending time in nature can boost serotonin levels, which helps stabilize your mood and regulates a number of bodily functions, including digestion and sleep. being outside also exposes you to the sun a.k.a. the best source of vitamin d there is.
take a 15 minute walk on your lunch break [yes, even if you live/work in a city], sit in the park and read a book, or find a restaurant with outdoor seating for your next boozy brunch. a little bit of time outside goes a long way!
3. drink water. okay, okay, maybe this technically has something to do with your “diet”… but not really. so i’m going for it. how many times in your life have you been told you need to drink more water? how many times have you told yourself that you need to be drinking more water? probably a lot. so, why don’t you just effing do it?
not to beat a dead horse, but water is like… SO good for you. water IS life. your body needs to be fully hydrated to operate properly. seriously, pretty much none of your systems can work the way they are supposed to without it. it aids digestion and kidney function, flushes out toxins, keeps your skin glowing, energizes the muscles, and can help manage hunger, which ultimately aids in weight loss.
and luckily, drinking water is really easy. we just have to make sure we’re actually doing it. i recommend buying a nice reusable water bottle [m obsessing over these swell x gray malin bottles] and taking it with you literally everywhere. having a nice water bottle actually makes me want to drink more water. kinda how buying new workout clothes motivates me to start working out more. also, keep a glass of water by your bed, and drink it first thing in the morning. you need to get re-hydrated after a long night of rest!
implement these 3 things in your daily routine [or even just one of them at a time] and you’ll notice a difference in how you feel… physically and mentally. you will improve your health… and your body will be so happy with you!
obligatory “new year, new me” post… or whatever.
happy new year, guys! i hope that everyone had an amazing holiday seaon… i certainly did!
it’s been a while, hasn’t it?! i took a little hiatus from posting for a while… not for any particular reason, except that i just needed to do it. the end of 2016 was a whirlwind for me [in the best way], but i’m excited to be back in action!
2017 is here. and you know what january means… resolutions. lots of ’em. we’re only in week two of the new year, so resolutions are definitely still a hot topic regardless of who you’re talking to. personally, i’m not really a fan of new year’s resolutions. i’m not into the “new year, new me!” mentality for a few reasons.
first, why now? just because the year on the calendar changed, suddenly you’re going to change, too? you don’t have to wait until it’s a new year… or month, or week, or day even… to make a change. do it whenever the eff you feel like it. the sooner you start taking action, the better.
second, have you thought about how you’re going to make that change? a lot of resolutions are empty. they aren’t thought out. there aren’t any action plans to go along with them. there aren’t smaller goals set and timelines created to help get to the large, overarching goal. and how can you seriously expect to be successful without a plan?
and finally, i don’t like resolutions because they don’t work. they just don’t. why is this? because with resolutions, one slip up is often discouraging enough to make us throw in the towel. and that’s not what life is about. i think the mentality of having “goals” to work towards, rather than having “resolutions” to stick to makes all the difference. looking back… i don’t think i have ever, and i mean ever, accomplished one of my new year’s resolutions.
[DISCLAIMER: if you’ve had success with making resolutions in the past, then by all means, keep going for it! i’m just speaking from my personal experience.]
this year, i have about 5 things that i really want to accomplish [it’s important to not be working towards too many goals at the same time… it gets hard to focus and can be discouraging] and in the spirit of the new year excitement, i figured i would share them with you here. i mean… everyone’s doing it… right?
1. get back to blogging regularly. after my hiatus [and about a year of posting really sporadically] i want to put more time and energy into bananas + bellinis this year. i have a lot of ideas… so i’ll be focusing on taking things one step at a time… as always… baby steps!
2. start teaching yoga. i’ve taught a few classes here and there, and quite a few private sessions since i completed my teacher training in 2015, but i really want to work my way onto the schedule at at least 3 studios this year.
3. get back to a more balanced workout routine. i’m obviously all about balance, but when it comes to working out… i tend to be a little off. i’ll have a week where i workout 4-5 times… followed by a week where i don’t work out one. single. time. this year, i want to maintain a consistent workout schedule [without getting carried away], while still mixing my workouts up. i’m hoping that my new classpass membership will help me with this!
4. read 2 books per month. reading is something that i have always loved to do, and when i lived in new york, my time spent commuting on the subway was dedicated to reading. i would fly through books, and no matter what, always had at least 1 hour a day to read. now that i drive to work, i don’t have time automatically worked into my schedule for this… and i miss it! i’m kicking the year off with born a crime by trevor noah [#swoon]. what are your other recommendations?! leave ’em in the comments below!
5. have the most fun ever. all the time. although i listed this last, i think it’s the most important thing… my “theme” for 2017, if you will. if i’m not having fun, i’m just not gonna do it. and on the flipside, when it comes to the things i have to do [you know, the things involved with being an “adult” like working, paying bills, doing chores, etc.] i’m going to make an effort to not hate every second of it. if i have to be doing it, might as well have fun in the process right?
so, to wrap up here, i’m back. i’m ready for 2017 [only took me about a week to wrap my head around the fact that we’re even in a new year to begin with]… and i hope you’re all excited to see where bananas + bellinis goes this year! so happy to have you along for the ride.
what are your thoughts on goals vs. resolutions? and what are your goals for 2017?! leave them in the comments below… i always love a little inspiration!
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