Is that you having an anxiety attack? What happens when the body and mind cannot move in sync with each other?


I felt tense and my stomach was very unsettled.

It was 4 p.m.

I needed to be somewhere at 8 p.m.

But between 4 – 8, I had a list of 8 things to do, which altogether required about 6 hours.

My body became anxious because my brain was screaming at me to “SLOW DOWN” because it could not keep up with my physical body trying to accomplish all the things I planned to accomplish before 8 that evening. My agenda was tight – I needed to shop for an outfit, go to the gym, pick up a friend, take my daughter out to her friend’s house, have a telephone interview and prepare dinner for the kids… all before 8p.m.

My heart was beating faster than normal and my hands were sweating. My body felt like curling up and never walking up. My phone was beeping constantly and I knew if I picked it up, it would delay my evening even more. Someone else needed my attention while I was falling apart trying to keep to my agenda. I suddenly started getting upset at myself and everyone.

My chest got tighter and tighter and my breathing became very shallow. I felt that my body simply could not move with the normal agility which I am used to. My head felt lighter – almost dizzy.

What was that feeling? Anxiety? Stress?

As I shopped, I kept monitoring my body and I got the signal from my brain to “just stay with the shopping… that is all we can do today… don’t do anything else… if you do, you will crash.” After my shopping expedition, I decided to listen to the signal and I stopped. While the rest of the stuff were all important, it was better to go home, get a bath, relax and just get to the event at 8:00p.m. The rest of the stuff, were not life threatening.

Interestingly enough, as soon as I made the decision to go home, my entire body relaxed. My breathing pattern changed. I got home, relaxed in the shower, took my time to dress and felt much better. My friend whom I had to pick up called to say that she could no longer make it to the event with me. I felt sad but at the same time, it freed some more time. At the end, I had an enjoyable evening and all the stress that seem to have been captured in my body got released (especially after dancing to some reggae music!).

My brain said, “Thank you Magdalene for listening. You don’t have to do everything all at once. Learn to pace yourself. You need to get the brain and the body to work in sync.”

I thrive living a high pace life. I get bored if I don’t have several things going on at the same time but I had never experienced that high level of anxiety before (or maybe I have but simply kept going) so I decided to do some research around anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population). Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.”

As I read through the article, I took a few moments to analyse what triggered such a high level of anxiety and came to the conclusion that my brain and body simply went off balance in trying to manage my expectations within a timeframe that was not physically practical. Therefore, the best way my brain and body could protect me from harming myself further, was to shut down. How could I have not known that? But as I studied my own behaviour patterns over the last few weeks, I also realize that as I picked up some new activities, I let go of the most important ones which are necessary for my wellbeing: exercise, lots of water, lots of fruits and vegetables and lots of time to relax. My patterns changed and this anxiety attack became a positive clue for me to take stock of myself again.

Some of the things that also heightens our anxiety levels are over commitment, procrastination, not making decisions quickly enough, lack of sufficient exercise, not having enough time between activities to unwind, expectations which do not match reality and  lack of planning. In my case, I should have realized that I could not do 6 hours of stuff in 4 hours!

If the studies are true about how anxiety affects so many people, then we are all bombarded at some point with someone who is literally falling apart. Here are a few things which the the Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends to help you feel better:

  • Learn to manage stress in your life. Keep an eye on pressures and deadlines and make a commitment to taking time out from study or work.
  • Learn a variety of relaxation techniques. Physical relaxation methods and meditation techniques really do help.
  •  Look after your physical self. Eat healthily, get regular exercise and try to keep a regular sleep pattern. Avoid alcohol, cannabis and junk food.
  • Practice deep abdominal breathing. This consists of breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose, taking the air right down to you abdomen.
  • Learn to replace “negative self-talk” with “coping self-talk.” When you catch yourself thinking something negative like “I can’t do this, it’s just too hard,” try to change it to something more positive, like “This is hard but I can get through it.”

TuneIn to how you feel on a regular basis and note when your body is sending you signals that something may be a bit “off.”  StepUp and become aware of what triggers your anxiety. With small changes, you can work way back to feeling better.

What triggers your anxiety? How do you manage your anxiety? Is the expectations of others higher than you can manage? Is social media a cause for anxiety? Do share your thoughts!



Who Inspires You To Be More Of Who You Want To Be?

She calls me Pretty. I call her Pretty too. We don’t know each other’s names but have silently admired each other for over eight years since we first saw each other periodically at the gym. I admire her gorgeous, lean, sculpted muscular body – she is the envy of every woman who works out at the gym. 8 years ago she looked aggressive and I felt intimidated by that strength and aggression she exuded. Unknown to me, she wanted to like me – calm (as she says).

I  started working out again at the gym and so we meet each other…same gym after 8 years! Now, we talk to each other. She is calm. She smiles at me and my intimidation of her melts away. She looks happy. I want to look like her – sculpted and tough! I am curious about her and asked her about life. She shares with me that she is a single mom and raised 4 boys who are all young adults now. She told me that working out regularly kept her sane in the midst her own problems. She told me that 12 years ago, she was over 200 lbs and people teased her about her weight. She left an abusive relationship 10 years ago and she decided to get in shape.  She has kept her routine for 10 years – running and doing weights 5 times a week. She models for a magazine, is a certified hairdresser and a security guard. She loves the combination of things she does and does not feel that she has to choose only one career path.

“I am pretty…” she teases herself as she looks into the mirror. “I am 49. I have to take care of myself – as I get older, I realize more and more, my health is all I have… I am pretty…” I am amused by her teasing herself. She slips on very simple but sexy clothes. When she is dressed she looks 20 years younger. She is not the typical image of “Pretty” but somehow, the way she says it, she OWNS it! She OWNS who she is.

“You are pretty too,” she teases me too. “When you work out, you get even prettier!” She has this gorgeous smile!

It is a nice exchange. As we shared our own life journeys and our impression of each other 8 years ago, we both laughed at our own judgements of each other. She looked aggressive back then because she was fighting trying to save herself and her kids. She was unaware that she left that aggressive impression on others.

It is always interesting to mw how our body language communicated our thoughts without our awareness.

I look forward to seeing her at the gym. When she runs next to me on the treadmill, I push myself harder. I realize that I have “wishy-washy” goals about weight loss and working out but I am not consistent. Pretty makes me think of being consistent and keeping at something, even when I don’t feel like it. We laugh at each other when we both arrive at the gym and express how we did not feel like coming. She says “I come because I know I will feel prettier when I am finished.”

Everyday she reminds me that I look prettier after my workout. She looks prettier too. Exercise has that calming effect on our bodies….I feel prettier!

Maybe one day we will get to know each other’s names. For now, just thinking of myself and her as Pretty, pretty much does it for me.

Who inspires you to reach for more of what you want to be in your life? Sometimes, our heroes are the ordinary people in our midst.

TuneIn to see the support system  that you attract  to yourself. StepUp to be a support for someone who needs you.


Lose 10 pounds by writing!


Writing helped me to lose 10 lbs! How can this be so when I sit to write?

I accumulated 20 extra lbs. over the last 8 years which seemed impossible to get rid of no matter how many diets and exercise routines I kept on trying. During that time period, I felt overcommitted, overstretched and overwhelmed  most of the time. I felt that I was constantly reacting to situations instead of being in control of my life.

With my LookGood!!!FeelGood!!! blog in 2011,writing provided a strong anchor for me to express my emotions and re-program my mind to some of the LookGood and FeelGood messages that I was writing about. I developed a habit to write each morning for about an hour and by the time I was done, I felt more grounded.  I felt that I had touched a part of my soul that was longing to be nurtured. I paid more attention to what I ate, drank more water and added more fiber to my diet. I developed a consistent exercise routine of running and light weights at the gym at least 3 times a week. On days I could not go to the gym, I walked for at least half an hour a day. Over 6 months I actually lost 10 lbs. I still have 10 more to go but I am quite confident that it will go away as well. Now I am not on a rush to lose weight – I am just taking more mindful care of myself and it feels great!

One can argue that I did physical exercise to lose the lbs and it is definitely true. But I think that the most important thing that led to better self-care was being able to ground myself emotionally through writing. That led to being consistent about changing a few of my daily habits. What I have learnt from this experience is that my soul needs creative expression. Actually, consistency matters when we are trying to change something in our lives. I had to push myself to blog several days a week, go to the gym, prepare my lunch and stop comforting myself with chocolate when I am anxious, until those things became a consistent part of my daily routine. It is harder than it looks but I know that it works and I am more proactive in making choices for my life and less reactive.

What nourishes your soul and gives you a strong anchor? It doesn’t have to be something grand – sometimes it is just the simplest things you do that leaves you feeling “Wow! This felt really good!” TuneIn to that feeling and Step up to do more of it.

If you are interested in writing as a daily activity, Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artists Way” provides some really good techniques. She too lost weight from size 16 to size 10, through writing.

Write your way to an amazing life!!!