It's past your bedtime as you review the day in your head, ticking off all the tasks accomplished and begrudging yourself for what didn't get done.
At night from the comfort of your bed, it's easy to agree to start on your goals tomorrow. It's so simple in fact, you're confused about why you haven't already begun.
The next morning you're planning the day out in the heat of the shower, telling yourself today might actually be the day.
But it never is, is it? That magical day when you finally get motivated and take action is always just a day away. Tomorrow you'll start your exercise routine. Tomorrow you'll begin tackling that project. Tomorrow you'll finally say what you need to say. But tomorrow never arrives.
At your best, you can apply your goals for a few days before collapsing back into the day-to-day routine of purposefully ignoring what needs to get done.
Are we masochists; do we purposefully set ourselves up for failure?
Are we afraid to fail, is that why we don't try?
I'm not sure I have the answer, but I'm confident I have proof of this; walking by the same used fabric softener sheet on my kitchen floor a hundred times and never picking it up. I delay taking my vitamins for no good reason at all. I'll find myself immensely busy with nonsense when I should be sitting down to write. And if you're human, you probably do the same things. But why?
How do we get out of this rut of great intentions and great inaction?
The majority of folks I speak with are overwhelmed, and since I suffer from extreme anxiety myself, I live daily with cases of the "too muchness".
As an added benefit I'm a woman, so I can't just roll over at night and go to sleep, I get to toil in my misery for at least thirty minutes before falling asleep. My brain can simultaneously stress about eight different things, coming to four different conclusions, to produce even more tension until the tightness in my chest is paralyzing. But usually, I just agree to go to sleep and try again tomorrow.
I was a stress-a-holic and became too overwhelmed to do anything. My to-do list only grew longer as my self-esteem continued to falter. If you're breathing, I know you've felt the same way, or maybe still do.
Here's what I did to de-stress, de-clutter my brain, and unchain myself from the guilt of being overburdened.
1. Write It Down
Are you super stressed, have a lot to do, unsure of where to start? Then write it down, whatever it is. All of it, everything you need to do. Transfer them from your brain to paper. When your worries are written down, you don't have to carry them around all day. You can fill your brain with other things to work on. You don't have to think about the end of the world at all until you're ready, and when you are, you whip out your list.
2. One At A Time
How do you walk a mile? One step at a time.
How do you eat healthy? One bite at a time.
How do you change the world? One person at a time.
How do you change yourself? One try at a time.
Nor you or I, or anyone, can do everything immediately. It's all critical, it all needs to get done, but you're not going to walk that mile any other way than one sneakered step at a time. Consider it the cost of your humanity.
You don't have to try to get up early, eat clean, exercise, and start meditating all at once, but you can start one, just one. And laser in on it.
3. Be A Laser, Not A Lamp
Look, no one's telling you not to freak out mentally. I'm a huge advocate of over worrying, delaying, and ignoring my problems. I'm even capable of turning a five-minute project into an all-day affair in my head, then conveniently running out of time to do it. I'm all about sleepless nights and long drawn out conversations covering all possible outcomes.
All I'm asking is for you take that overwhelmedness and focus it like a laser beam on that one problem or task. Don't be a lamp and worry about everything all at once, it's not useful. Take your stress, your anxiety, and freakouts and hone in on one thing at a time.
Is taking vitamins actually on your to-do list? If it is, take all your energy for the next week and laser focus it on one simple thing: swallowing a pill. And hey, all your other worries and stressors will still be there when you're ready to tackle the next one. Before you know it, you will have walked a mile, started eating healthy, tried more, and procrastinated less.
4. Start Adding On
If you're overburdened, then step four should be the easiest of all, you're already great at stacking things on top of each other. Sure, maybe it was a cascading mountain of failures, self-loathing, and fear that you were able to pile up; but you were able to add one thing after another and keep them all floating around in your head, right?
Why not try doing the same thing, just differently? (Is that an oxymoron?) If you've made a list, chosen to laser focus on drinking more water, and succeeded, that's pretty awesome. Now let's add another goal: taking your vitamins. Can you stack drinking enough water AND taking vitamins together? Can you do both?
Worrying about overeating every day AND feeling like a worthless sack of potatoes for not exercising, is proof you can do two things at once. Why not use that power for good by drinking 64oz of water a day and taking vitamins? If you can add on bad habits one after another and carry them around for years, you can add on good habits as well. See? It's the same thing, just different. Now you get it.
5. Goose, Gander, That Whole Thing
If it's possible for a goose to set aside 30 seconds every morning to tell herself she's fat and ugly when she looks in the mirror, why can't the gander take 30 seconds out of his morning to say to himself he's capable and worthy?
Think about all the things you take time out of your day to do that you don't actually need to do. Add it up. How can you better spend your time and energy? If you can spend your time one way, you can spend it another- goose, gander, that whole thing. What are you telling yourself every day?
6. Bruises Are Okay
If you're capable of worrying, you're capable of hope. The only difference is choice. Choose to keep trying when you fail, mess up, or procrastinate. Don't let your second-grade teacher warp you into thinking mistakes are bad. Mistakes are just a normal part of life.
If you're walking a mile and trip on your own two feet, you don't stop in the middle of the road and give up; you accept that you have bad coordination and keep going, one step (or trip) at a time.
If you make the mistake of enjoying a double large Twix bar from the gas station, that doesn't mean it's all over. It was a mistake that tasted awesome before the headache started, and you begin eating healthy again- one bite at a time.
You're human; you have to keep trying. I can't even think of anything natural in existence that's perfect. Even after an apple tree grows and ripens its fruit, the apple still has to fall and bruise upon landing. It's just what happens when you're alive. Be okay with that and keep trying. Mrs. Richardson in grade school was a rotten liar when she told you that you'd never amount to anything in life. Look at you now; ripe, bruised, and ready to be of use to the world. One person at a time, one bite at a time, one step at a time.
One try at a time.
There are a few steps to better understanding how allergies work.
An allergic response is an overreaction to an allergen by the immune system. There are different types of hypersensitivities that compound and comingle, and today we're going to discuss how allergens are contracted.
It's possible to have several allergies at once, like a food and pollen allergy, and allergens are contracted in a handful of ways.
Like mother, like daughter; like father, like son. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and neither do allergies. If your parents have/had allergies, there's a 75% chance you will too. It's just genetics baby.
While I'm sure you're not running around injecting yourself with poisonous chemicals, many people contract allergens through injections like vaccines, insect bites, beauty serums and the like. If there's a needle coming at you, there's a chance you'll get more than just what's in the syringe or stinger.
Yes, the word "consumption" here obviously means to eat, but it's relevant to note that most allergens contracted through consumption are hard to diagnosis because of the delayed reaction time.
Someone who has recurring sinus infections plausibly has more staph bacteria in their nasal mucus. At some inevitable moment, they'll swallow that staph laden snot, and it'll travel directly to their intestinal tract where the immune system lives. The staph bacteria then flourishes and creates more complications; that's a lot different than just eating a cherry and having a scratchy throat.
When you leave your house in the morning, you'll probably walk through grass and inhale pollen spores. Hopping in the driver's seat with an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror, you'll drive off in the enclosed car wearing perfume on your neck all the way to your destination.
If you let the windows down, you'll smell chemical fumes and oil, and the ragweed is more potent from the city's toxic air. Your nose will start to feel stuffy from swollen nasal tissue, and you'll be off and running towards a great day of congestion, headache, and fatigue.
There may be countless ways we inhale allergens every single day, but it's how our body responds that unique to each person.
It's not just allergens like poison ivy that you have to recognize as a skin allergy. Pets, detergents, hair dyes, wrinkle creams, and soaps are all included. Not all allergens produce the same results in their victims either. When two people are exposed to the same allergen, one person can break out in hives while the other has an asthma attack. Finding an explanation as to why you're allergic and others aren't, is the real challenge.
If allergies are a learned immune response...
Imagine being able to teach your immune system not to overreact when it came in contact with an allergen. Is that even possible?
Real life studies give us hope that healing is possible. People with an allergy to birchwood pollen were given just a dab of it with honey in the off seasons (fall, winter) and by the Spring they had fewer allergies.
The participants in the study retrained their immune system to accept birchwood pollen as a non-threat by changing the method of contraction. This policy isn't definitive across the board, but it does prove that how we acquire allergens matters in our response to it, giving us all a little more optimism for the future of allergy treatment.
Fifty million Americans suffer from allergies. Stephany is allergic to peanut butter, and Brent sneezes every time he visits his grandmother's house. Six million kids wheeze daily and struggle to retrieve oxygen. Ironically, six million kids also have food allergies, with those numbers more than doubling in adults.
Broken down below, are what I deem to be the most common allergy types and a couple of intriguing details on each. How many of these categories do you fall into?
15 million people are allergic to foods due to proteins that cause an exaggerated immune response. But the more interesting fact is that most -about 70%- of people who are allergic to birch wood pollen also exhibit allergic reactions when eating foods with cross-reaction proteins that birch pollen shares. Foods like apples, celery, carrots, and peaches all share the same plant proteins with birch wood. Just a neat fact.
About 10% of the world's population has a drug allergy of some kind. To top it off, many pharmaceutical drugs are terrible for you. If your immune system is reacting to protect you, can you really call that an unnecessary immune response? Afterall, an allergy is considered an overreaction by the immune system. But if you're being poisoned by Accutane (click HERE to learn more), I don't really think your body is "overreacting." There are serious drug allergy reactions, and then there's toxic chemicals.
Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is the most common eye allergy which anyone with pollen allergies can get. Indoor and outdoor allergens like cat dander or exhaust fumes can spark eye allergies as well. But if I've learned anything worthwhile, it's that when one part of your body is off track, so is the rest of you. No one just has eye allergies alone; it is a part of a more significant response by your body. If your eyes are itching, then I'll bet ya five dollars your nose is too.
A lot of things can cause skin allergies like drugs or particular foods. It's interesting to note again that the body falls together and heals together. If you ate an allergic food in the spring- let's say shellfish-you could experience several allergic responses. You'd have a reaction to the annual rise in pollen, a response to the allergic food you just consumed, possibly a skin reaction, and maybe even a drug reaction when you're treated in the physician's office.
Did you wake up congested this morning? Is your nose stuffy or running? Sinus allergies are much more than a stuffy nose and can be the cause of recurring sinus infections, headaches and honest to goodness head pain. Here's another example of the repeating theme of allergies encompassing more than just one area of the body.
People who are allergic to latex are actually allergic to a protein in the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) sap that's used to make natural latex. If you're allergic to one plant protein, then you'll be allergic to others that have similar proteins. In the case of latex allergy, most people also have a sensitivity to apples, carrots, kiwi, melons, and tomatoes.
The same amount of people who have drug allergies also have pet allergies, that's 10% of the population. To prove that allergies aren't lacking humor, twice as many people are allergic to cats as they are dogs; maybe that's why more people like dogs.
If you're allergic to pets, you're actually reacting to the proteins found in the animals:
Dander (dead skin cells)
Yellow jackets, hornets, fire ants, bees and even mosquitoes can ruin your day if you're one of the two million people who are allergic to them. Most of us are just responding to the venom, but it IS venom, it's supposed to make you swell and itch, that's kinda the point. Few people go into anaphylactic shock from insect venom, but it's entirely possible.
A significant portion of asthma cases involves dust allergy. But people aren't allergic to dust, they're allergic to dust mites- the tiny creatures that eat dust. If folks were allergic to their own dead skin cells that would be terribly peculiar; instead they're allergic to the hundreds of thousands of tiny bugs that are living in their towels, beds, pillows, sofas, and even clothes. Maybe mom was right when she said it wasn't healthy to have an unkempt room.
Did you know that mold allergy often shows up as muscle pain? How would you ever know? People suffering from airborne mold allergy also have reactions to common foods containing mold. Fermented foods, dried fruit or cheese can cause an allergic response.
Folks suffering from a mold allergy don't just have to worry about keeping their bathrooms clean, they have to watch out for the foods they consume as well. If Andrea has a perfectly clean house, she could still get fatigued and endure muscle pain from cheese, wine, and crackers that she ate with the girls on Saturday night, from an unknown mold allergy.
Saving the best for last, pollen allergy is the most common allergy worldwide, with ragweed, birch wood, and grass being the most offensive. Stopping to smell the flowers isn't the only way an allergic response can happen; consuming foods with similar pan-allergens will do the same. If you're a part of the 40% that gets seasonal grass allergies, you may also want to avoid bananas, citrus fruits, melons, and tomatoes in the height of pollen season.
There's a clear link between all allergies,, and most people experience them at the same time. There are compounding factors that can make allergies worse and a variety of factors that make it hard to distinguish the real cause of your ailment.
If it was March and you ate a fruit and cheese brunch in the park with your grandma's old picnic basket, what caused your allergy? Was it the food, the pollen, the mold, or the dust?
When you know that allergies are intertwined, we can make more informed choices to prevent them. And the one thing these allergies types all have in common is that what you eat really does make a difference in how you feel, especially during allergy season.