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Anxiety.  You hate it.  I hate it.  We all hate anxiety!  Yet, here it is, walking into my office for the third time today.  And there it is, just around the corner at the coffee shop.  Gross.

Unfortunately, we live in a time and place that produces copious amounts of anxiety.  Whether you tend to be an anxious person or not, I’m sure you’ve been hit by the anxiety sneak attack at least once.  And we can all agree that anxiety doesn’t feel so good.  Let’s try something together, shall we?  First, imagine you’re in your happy place, be that a cabin in the woods, or lying on the beach, or walking through a mountain meadow.  Go ahead, let your body and mind really get into it.  What does it sound like in this happy place of yours?  Are the birds singing, or is it that perfect quiet after a snowfall?  Can you hear the ocean waves lapping, or the wind through the trees?  What does it look like?  Is the sun bright and hot, or is it dark, on a moonless night?  How does your skin feel?  Is it humid or dry where you’re at?  Hot or cold?  Windy or still?  What are the tastes associated with this place?  Hot chocolate around the fire?  Cool watermelon on your tongue?  Trail mix crunching as you hike?  Can you smell the ocean salt or the mountain sage or that crisp, cold night?  Are you all the way to your happy place?  Down to your bones?  Okay, now that you’re there, what does your stomach feel like right now?  How’s your breathing?  How do your shoulders feel?  Got a good sense of how your body feels, as a whole, in your happy, calm space?  Good.

Next, let’s think about anxiety inducing moments.  You got the job, but you feel under-qualified and overwhelmed.  You’re about to close on the house, but you’re afraid you’ve made a huge mistake.  You just realized you won’t be able to pay all your bills this month.  You’re waiting for the results on the tests your doctor ran.  Your lease is up and you don’t know where you’ll live next.  You feel undervalued at work and you’re sure it’s only a matter of time before you’re fired.  Your kid is in big trouble and you don’t know what to do about it.  You’re sure your boyfriend is about to dump you.  Pick a scenario.  Whatever makes you feel the most anxious.  Then, go for it.  Step into it, just like we did before.  Where are you sitting, or are you pacing?  Are you talking to your best friend on the phone, or are you holed up in your bedroom with the curtains drawn?  Are you eating a pint of ice cream or throwing up in the office restroom?  Are you crying yourself to sleep or lashing out at the UPS guy and the neighbor’s dog?  Wherever you go when you’re stressed, go there.  Go all the way there, with all five senses.  Then, check in with your body.  How’s your stomach feeling?  What’s your breathing like?  How do your shoulders feel?  Notice a difference this time around?

Obviously, stress sucks.  There are a gazillion studies to prove it shortens your life and makes your body unhealthy, but after our little exercise, do you really need a study to tell you that?  Just from writing that last paragraph, I feel like I need a massage to help me relax.  I’m going to go back to my happy place for a second to reset.  Maybe you should, too.  Ahhh…that’s better.  Let’s continue.  So we know stress sucks.  Now, what to do about it.  Here, in no particular order, are 17 things that work for me, and work for people I know.  Hopefully, they’ll work for you, too.  Hopefully, you’ll tell me all the other tips that you use to deal with stress.  And the world will be a happier, calmer, less-anxious place.  Nothing wrong with that, in my book.

1. Take a walk.  Anxiety is generally a mental thing.  We get really caught up in whatever’s spinning around in our heads.  Doing something physical, outside, where we have to pay attention to more than the thoughts in our head, can be a great way to snap out of it.
2. Sit on the ground.  I think of anxiety as this tornado with the base being in my neck and it just spins out and up from there.  When I’m anxious, my thoughts are usually rotating about 12 feet above the top of my head.  Anything to get me grounded, like physically sitting on the ground, can help stop this madness.
3. Meditate.  A lot of times, when I’m anxious, it’s because I don’t know what to do next.  Which path to take.  Meditation brings me very quickly in tune with my intuition and therefore in tune with the answers to my questions.  A 15 minute meditation can usually solve the problems I’ve been wrestling with for weeks.
4. Drink some tea.  Because really, who doesn’t feel just a tiny bit calmer with a warm mug of tea in hand?
5. Exercise.  Again, anything to get you out of your head and into your body is probably a good thing.  Also, if you’re still wrestling with those questions, or you haven’t gotten around to meditating yet, you can sometimes get your big epiphany answers with exercise.
6. Put your bare feet on the earth.  I cannot repeat this enough.  Physically grounding is super-duper helpful.  Physically connecting your body to the actual earth is one of the quickest ways to do this.
7. Think about opening your pelvis.  When we tense up, we tend to tense our pelvises without even noticing.  Where do you think anal retentiveness comes from?  So, to counteract this, notice your pelvis, then allow it to open and breathe.  Let your sit bones get a little farther apart.  Let the floor of your pelvis sink low and heavy.  Think about your pelvic floor as a clock face and take the time to relax each segment.  12 to 1, then 1 to 2, and so on, until your entire pelvic floor is open and soft.
8. Do some gentle sacral rocking.  Lie on your back on the floor, with your knees bent and your heels close to your butt.  Focus on your sacrum (that awesome triangle-shaped bone at the bottom of your spine, in-between your hip bones).  Imagine your sacrum is a stamp and the floor is an ink pad and you need to get ink all over your sacrum-stamp.  Roll your pelvis forward and back, left and right, until you’re sure you’ve got it all inked.
9. Hang out with a dog.  But not if you’re allergic.  Dogs can provide an endless source of positive energy, if you’re feeling a little low.  Also, they loved to be walked (see number 1).
10. Hang out with a cat.  But not if you’re allergic.  Cats can ground an endless amount of negative energy, if you have an excess.  Besides, a purring cat is a pretty calming influence.
11. Do simple, grounding activities.  Try sweeping the floor, or weeding the garden.  Chopping vegetables for soup, or apples for apple sauce are good ones too.  Knitting or spinning yarn are simple, grounding activities.  Cleaning’s generally good (although I’d stay away from noisy stuff like vacuuming), as is cooking, or organizing, or simple crafts.
12. Dance.  Shake it off.  Sweat it out.  Laugh at yourself.  Dancing also prevents dementia, so you can stop worrying about that.
13. Spend time in nature.  This is my go to stress reliever.  Nothing like a hike (and we’re back at number 1) in the mountains to make my problems seem small and insignificant.  Even a few minutes in the garden can bring my stress level down from a 10 to 4.
14. Take a bath.  Not everybody’s a bath person.  But if you’re a water-lover like me, this may do the trick.  Especially if you really let yourself have a bath.  Light some candles, use the fancy bath salts or essential oils (see number 15), put on some soothing music and just enjoy.
15. Get some lavender in your life.  I’m not a doctor.  I can’t prove this works.  Please don’t get me in trouble with the FDA or the AMA or any other acronyms.  But I know that lots of people think lavender is calming.  You can put lavender essential oils in your bath, or in a diffuser, or just take a whiff from the bottle.  Dried lavender can be sewn up in an eye pillow for super-zen sleepy-time or a satchel to throw in your car to counteract road rage.  You can even eat lavender with strawberries and balsamic vinegar and fresh whipped cream!
16. Remove distractions.  Turn the TV off.  Turn the radio off.  Turn your computer off.  Turn your phone off.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, “You know, I was super stressed out, but then I watched the news/checked my email/heard a commercial on the radio, and now I feel so much better.”  Do what you can to limit the input you’re getting.  You have enough going on as it is.  Try to keep things as simple as possible.
17. Remember your happy place.  You know, that one you went to in our little exercise a few minutes ago?  Take a few minutes to go there whenever you need it.  It might not solve your problems in the long term, but it will get your shoulders out of your ears for a minute or two, and that counts for something.

So, what’s your favorite way to put anxiety in its place?  Got a good one that I missed?  Send me an email with all the details, or leave it here as a comment on the blog.  Thanks for reading and I’ll catch up with you next week!

Once upon a time I wrote an article about plantar fasciitisWhile I found it absolutely brilliant at the time, I have since realized it’s lacking in the practical application department.  Sure, you can get a great basic understanding of what plantar fasciitis is and why you might suffer from it.   And those things are very helpful and all well and good and a wonderful place to start.  In fact, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go here and read the article now, before you continue on with this little ditty.  But then what?  Yeah, it hurts.  No, I can’t run anymore.  Theresa, are you ever going to tell me what to do about it?

The thing is, since any number of things can cause plantar fasciitis, it’s awfully difficult to give generic advice about.  But I’m going to try.  ‘Cause I’m an overachiever.  So, first things first, we need to figure out where the root or roots of your particular plantar fasciitis may be hiding out.  Let’s start with the most obvious.  Have you injured your foot lately?  Stepped on a big pokey rock while barefoot?  Gone a bit overboard with the salsa dancing?  If so, it’s probably best to use the RICE method for a while.  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation; just like you would for a sprained ankle.  And we all know that with ice we’re doing 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off, right?  After 20 minutes of icing something, you start to increase the inflammation, so don’t go pushing this, trying to be an overachiever, too.  After a week or so of the chowing down on your RICE, you can start pushing around in there to see if you’re ready for some soft tissue work.  If it’s still super sore to the touch, keep RICEing ’til it doesn’t.  If you can get a moderately deep foot massage without pain, you’re ready for deep work, if you need it.  If your pain’s gone completely, congrats! you just healed your own plantar fasciitis!  Otherwise, use a tennis ball, standing on it and rolling slowly, slowly over the owie spots to get them to loosen up.  You don’t want to bring back that inflammation, so be careful.

Now, let’s say you have not injured your foot, but you still have plantar fasciits.  This is where it gets tricky.  Naturally, we’re going to be looking along your back line for a super tight spot that could be causing your foot pain.  Starting with your heel and using your fingers (or someone else’s) or a tennis ball dig into your soft tissue (not the bones) slowly working your way up your calf.  Be careful as you get to the knee ’cause there’s a whole bunch of juicy, yet delicate stuff right there in the open at the back of the knee.  In fact, just don’t press into the back of the knee.  It’s not worth the risks.  Then head up your hamstrings, which could take a while as those are some meaty suckers.  Speaking of juicy meat, head north through your glutes, going slow and savory-like.  Next up, low back, heading up to mid, then upper back.  Again, you should be able to manage all this while lying on a tennis ball on the floor, but having a friend do the work for you is extra nice.  If you still haven’t found your “ouchy!” spot, head up (gently!) to the neck, then over the head, all the way to your eyebrows.  If you haven’t found any especially tight spots, you’ve got a catch-22 to deal with.  On the one hand, you’re the only person in the whole country who doesn’t have a single tight spot along their back line.  You should get a prize!  On the other, you still have no idea where your plantar fasciitis is coming from and you’re probably going to require some help from a professional.  Can’t win ‘em all, I suppose.

If, instead, you have found a tight spot, or six, you now know where to focus your efforts.   Loosen up that fascia, nice and slow and easy-like, using that same tennis ball if your hands get tired or you can’t quite reach.  Little bits at a time; like 5 or 10 minutes a day.  Max.  Again, I’m the only overachiever allowed here.  I don’t want you doing more damage than good.  Don’t go pretending you’re a Rolfer.  Besides, when Rolfers work on themselves they tend to get all messed up ’cause they don’t respect their own boundaries and stop when they should.  Better not to go there.  Trust me.

After a week or so working on your trouble areas, you should start to notice a shift in your plantar fasciitis pain.  If not, reevaluate.  Retest your back line and see if maybe your tight spots have moved.  If you feel like you need the help of a professional, give me a call.  You may also have some energetic blockages that need to be cleared and we’ll go into that next.  But if you’re noticing a difference in the right direction, keep up the good work!  Remember not to overdo it, but consistency can go a long way here.

Energetic gunk and plantar fascia.  I don’t have a logical explanation for this, but I do have a story.  My mom called me and told me she had plantar fasciitis and she needed me to fix it.  Lucky for her, I was flying into Chicago the next week and I could take a look.  We did a session.  All went well, but I couldn’t find any outstanding tightness in her back line that pointed to causing this foot pain.  So after the session had a day to settle out I asked how her foot was feeling and she said the pain was still there.  I was heading back to Denver that evening and didn’t have time for another session, nor did I think that would help.  Instead, I asked her to do some energy work on her heel, whenever she could.  I told her to pretend to draw the stuck energy out of the bottom of her heel, as if she were pulling yarn out of a ball.  Just an inch or two at a time, over and over again.  Maybe only 3 minutes at a time, but several times a day.  I told her to do it whenever she sat down.  So she did.  And 2 weeks later, she said it was completely gone.  That was in November and she hasn’t had any problems with it since.  So, hey, why not give it a try?  It’s free, it’s easy, and at least for one person, it worked.

Yes!  I did it!  Practical tips for dealing with plantar fasciitis!  Done.  Bam.  Oh, and one more.  Call your favorite local Rolfer, if you don’t seem to be making much progress on your own.  She might be able to help you out.