Thank You Spring, You’re the Best: 7 Ways to Clean out the Stress

Another Monday is here, and another gorgeous weekend in the books. I sometimes think that Spring has an unfair advantage over all the other months for being the one that brings the sweetest relief to the depths of winter (clearly, I don’t love the cold).  I’ve been pretty under the weather the last little while, still mostly trying to chug along, and I’m looking forward to being fully on the mend with some sweet spring air change fully what’s in the air.

Recently, despite even being down of the count, the stress in the air has been palpable all around.   End of the 1st Quarter means anyone on a (fiscal) business cycle is feeling the pressure. The varying schedules for spring break brings travel, uprooting, and re-settling to the surface for folks all around, usually impacting schedules of the whole collective to piece together what would be normal life and timing.  In all things small business (in my life), the coordination of all the little pieces, all the schedules (human and otherwise) and all of the competing timelines that need to somehow magically merge together have brought some anxieties to an all time high.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of not only my own life, but of those around me and the collective whole — and then I think to myself, ‘Frankie say RELAX.’ Because sometimes, you’ve just got to take a pause from all the noise to figure out what’s really a priority — and reset on what sanity means to you.fuel sweat grow: relax

I came across this article about Second Hand Stress and it couldn’t be more spot on.  Stress always has a snowball effect; whether it’s taking on other peoples stress, building more of our own, or just feeling the avalanche of ‘ALL THE THINGS’ at once, sometimes it’s most important to pump the breaks and get back to our own baseline.  I’ve found that the more you do, and the more you have going on, the more frequently you’ll find yourself in a second-hand struggle, and you’ve got to have your own coping/recovery methods for getting through it.  I’ve got some what I’d call, first and second level stress recovery tactics that have gotten me through some of the worst energy vortexes I’ve ever known:

First Level Stress Recovery [immediate options for the small bumps]:

1. Stand up from wherever you’re sitting. Log off of all social media. Turn on music. and dance.  Seriously, just dance.  Increasing the volume will directly increase the effectiveness (of decreasing anxiety).

2. Play with a dog.  If you have a dog, play with it, walk it, do something that brings you freedom (mind and distance) from your stress.  If you don’t have a dog, borrow someones or walk one at the SPCA (there are a lot of them there just wishing someone would show them love too).

3. Workout. Go somewhere and sweat.  If you’re really in a stress bubble, go for a long run, a walk, or do yoga.  Find a place where you can escape into your solitary mind with minimal intensity and lots of movement freedoms (maybe check out Yogavibes.com and get in a little at-home class).  If you’re needing to really sweat it out, maybe do something like MAD, and rather than finding the solitary moment, find some comfort in community and the folks that just won’t let you get out of there without a conversation and some laughter — that works too.

Second Degree Stress Recovery [when it feels less like a weight on your shoulders, and more like a sword through your brain]:

1.  Move furniture.  Literally re-arrange your life via your living space.  It’s cathartic, fun, and will allow for a pretty quick sense of accomplishment. You can ask my college roommates — this was a pretty frequent tactic for dealing with my multi-level life at the time.

2. Take a day off and go off the grid.  Maybe you take a long weekend and go visit your best friend, maybe you need to just go for a ride.  Whatever the distance is that you need, take it, and don’t apologize.  Sometimes physical distance is necessary to create the space to let go.

3.  Cook all the food.  Go to the grocery store to stock up on some healthy staples, and then come home and cook some meals for the week (or a big awesome dinner for friends? your call).  Sometimes the process of chopping and prepping is what I need in order to work through whatever is going on, and sometimes it’s the actual organization of packing up prepped and cooked food into a million different containers that helps me feel like there is some order in the world.  If you’re not looking for a marathon cook-fest, just go to the grocery store because just having food can sometimes be relief in itself.

4.  Stop spinning all your wheels, and get organized.  This is my most frequent struggle when things start moving faster than I feel like I can respond, and that’s a sure sign to me that there is a breakdown somewhere in my organizational systems, or I need to do some high level re-structuring.  I’ve been a long-time user of Evernote, but just converted over to OneNote at work and at home, so I’m heavily reliant on having one place to go where I can keep everything organized and accessible.

Those are some of my key strategies to get myself back on point, and honestly, even if there’s nothing particularly troubling in the air, and no second hand stress to be had, these are all pretty cathartic as every day practices to keep things positive and constantly refreshed.  In fact, turning them into more of a practice may actually be the key to avoiding life’s little potholes or getting caught up in the external noise.  So, if you’re up for it, welcome spring with open arms, a little release and re-org, and just coast straight on into summer.

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Time + Trigger Points

You know that saying, ‘where does the time go’? Like a questioning of how time could possibly be evaporating into the ether; mysterious and elusive.  I don’t know if it’s better or worse, but I know exactly where my time is going because it’s all blocked out on my planner between work, to-do’s, meetings, projects, and the inevitable MADness that consumes my week. And I couldn’t live any other way.

I’m front loading this week with everything – sweats, organization, work.  Everything that legitimately needs to get done  from a real life perspective will be happening between now and Thursday morning.  I was slow on registering for MAD this week, so of course I couldn’t get in to the 6am, but luckily was able to snag one of the last spots in the 7am to fully kick off Momentum Month.

fuel sweat grow: Sweat Schedule

The last few weeks have been a complete blur of travel, organization and system completion for the next big thing we have happening around here, and we’re just about at the point of sharing those details with everyone….ALL the details, which is more than what even our new team is aware of.  We just need a few more days to make sure all the details are fully cooked and ready to go, so that’s exactly what we’re working on.  This has been by far the most fun, exciting, and inspiring of all my ventures, and as promised at our 1 year anniversary of MAD, it is the combined product of all of the successes, failures, and learnings from the last 5 years of business owning, operating, buying and selling.  The commitment was to building each one better and smarter than the one before — in both practice and strategy.  And so far, so good.

Since the build is always the hardest part, things have been a little nuttier than normal, and I’m so thankful for the community and support that everyone provided through The Whole Damn Thing.  Seriously, it helped to stay motivated and on track when organization seemed was most challenging and most necessary.  In tandem with that, we had some amazing community vibes happening around here hitting up class at Opal Yoga, Hot Yoga Charlottesville, truPILATES, and  back in the MAD house for a little Yin Yoga/Myofascial Release with Mia Hamza on Saturday.  And some day soon I’ll fill you in on where I’ve been going when I’m NOT in Charlottesville, because that has been the most fun of all.

fuel sweat grow: Myofascial release Yin Yoga

fuel sweat grow: yin yoga myofascial release

We had an awesome crew join for the 2 hour (2.5 if you were really counting) workshop after 4 crazy packed MAD classes, and we most definitely found some release.  For our athletes at MADabolic, and athletes anywhere, it’s so critical to remember that their health is a full circle lifestyle — we’ve covered a ton of the eating part, and in our intervals we cover the strength, cardio, endurance and stabilized training methods, but we can’t forget the nuances of what we still need and often overlook — it’s the strengthening, challenging, and lengthening the smaller and more attention needy muscles that allow us to play big when we want to.

We started with Yin Yoga to warm up our muscles and get a few of the kinks and cobwebs out, and then went right into the education and practice of myofascial release, and finding the trigger points that our bodies crave to have worked out.

fuel sweat grow: Yin Yoga + Myofascial release with Mia Hamza

The hardest thing to adapt to is the very apparent feeling of nausea that can sometimes come out of releasing a point where stress has been building.  The feeling is different for everyone, and so is the trigger.  I’ve always known through my perpetual massage habit that my traps and neck carry tons of stress for me in my life, but what I sometimes forget is just how much of a load lands and stays in my quads.  That’s my most sensitive and trigger rich area, so it requires the most breathing and conscious relaxation (yep, that’s a thing) to get through….always with the hope of not barfing.

While I was just so thrilled to be offering this to the community (and some other stretch options soon to be hitting the plate of our MAD members), there was still the question of how everyone would respond to it.  We’re of course always trying to figure out what our clients need more of, less of, and what additional resources and education we can provide to make sure they’re LEARNING the WHY and not just going through the motions because we told them to.  After a short recovery coffee and some food to keep the machine functioning, I received a text from our awesome friend and client Abby with the following text: ‘I was just able to bend over with my legs relatively straight and touch the ground.  It has literally been forever since I could do that!!!’ which was an awesome testimonial after just one workshop, and really great to know that it’s not just Dar and I who believe in, and benefit from it.

Of course the hope is to make this a habit to have lasting and not just feigning results….so expect to see some more deep, loving, and in the words of Robin, ‘yummy’ stretch sessions happening around MAD – very soon.

So with that all behind me, including this morning’s 7am MAD class, we’re about a third of the way into the ‘get ‘er done’ section of the week.  Here’s to hoping I made enough of a dent in the to-do’s today to prevent any heavy back loading on Wednesday so I can stay on top of where all my time went, and where it’s going from here.

Recover + Recharge: Holidays in Charlottesville

There have been years when the holidays have been hectic; lots of travel, gift hunting, and a million to-do’s that all collide with each other generating a little more stress than usual.  Since this year has been full of all things hectic (plenty of travel and to-do’s included), it was a nice change of pace to stay planted in Charlottesville, and take the time to recover, recharge, and settle fully into the warmth of a holiday at home.

With work winding down, I took a couple extra days off to do all of the things I love about living in such a locally driven town; exploring locally owned businesses, hand picking gifts, coffee with friends, and of course, one of my favorite treats: sweethaus cupcakes.

fuel sweat grow: sweethaus cupcakes

Tuesday night was filled with mini-cupcakes, great friends, and warm holiday spirit. This time the party was at HOME, which was a welcomed change from the crazy holiday party circuit that has dominated the last few weeks.  This year has been one with challenges, change, and so many amazing people, old friends and brand new, that make it impossible not to have an (over) full heart.

After a great night of celebrating, the 7am class at MADabolic Cville followed by 75 minutes of Rasa Yoga Lab / myofascial release at Opal Yoga with Mia paired up to be the perfect complement for a little extra recovery.

fuel sweat grow: Christmas Eve Opal Yoga

The more I put on myself, physically and mentally, a load that seems to increase by the year, the more important it has become to know what it needs to recover.  Years ago when I started exploring different practices, methods, and the balance of them, my main goal was to figure out the perfect compliments for my own body and lifestyle.  While that’s still the goal, over time I realized that there’s no ‘perfect’ forever combination, but there’s a definite formula for the intelligent pairings of building and releasing strength, stress, and space.  The formula forces self-education, intelligent pairings and cyclical change over time.

The combination of Mia’s class – the yoga (flow + yin) to warm the muscles, and the myofascial release with blocks and tennis (or lacrosse) balls to release – was exactly what I was needing this week, and allowed so much more of a mental release than hurried stretch or foam/PVC rolling on my own (pre or post sweat).

We found our post-sweat / post-release recovery bliss in an almond milk latte at Milli Joe, nerdish conversation about the body, fitness philosophies, and life’s evolutions – in both body and mind.  It was a great Wednesday out of the routine, and a sweet recharge to kick off the holiday.

I’m excited to get back to a little routine and structure tomorrow, but it will definitely be nice to have a few more days off from work to enjoy the easy balance before real life weighs back in.