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Learning to Live with Anxiety

Learning to Live with Anxiety

I don’t even know how to begin this. I guess I can start with what happened: while leaving work back one day in February I felt this horrible pinching/pressure in my chest. Figuring that it may just be my bag being too heavy, I shrugged it off and continued across the parking lot to my car.

The pain hadn’t subsided after sitting in the car for a few minutes, so I texted my fiancé asking him how he knew when his chest pain was heart related. He suffers with some heart conditions (that I don’t know how to spell so please don’t ask what they’re called), so I figured he’d be a good sounding board to calm me down.

While driving I started to feel flutters in my chest as if my heart was vibrating. Panicking, I called Cam to talk to him and try to calm down. All of a sudden I felt this horrible squeeze, as if someone had grabbed my heart and gripped with all their strength. I couldn’t breathe, and I felt a “whoosh” of blood rush once the squeeze went away. At this point I reached full out panic mode, told Cam I was hanging up to call an ambulance, pulled off the road and called 911.  This was all within five minutes of leaving work.

In the ambulance I was convinced I was dying. I was dizzy, kept having the pains, and I was cold and shaky. It felt like I was going to pass out but I did everything in my power not to because I was convinced if I did I would never wake up. Heart attack, heart failure, blood clot…all of these scenarios were running through my brain with the worst-case possibilities seeming to be the most likely.

In the ER they monitored my heart rate, and I watched as it once more went up to 136 bpm and I felt everything all over again – the pain, the shakes, the cold.

I really thought it I was a goner.

After ruling out other possibilities with an x-ray and some blood-tests, I was still a little shocked when I was told I had most likely just had a panic attack. I’ve had an anxiety attack twice before, neither time being so bad that I thought my life was ending. Never during those first two attacks – one in college and one about three years ago – did I feel any severe chest pain. I was almost convinced they had missed something or made some kind of mistake.

Since the initial incident I have been to the emergency room two more times. I have also seen a cardiologist to rule out any possibility of heart conditions. I have even met with a therapist to try to get to the root of why all of a sudden I’m in full panic mode. The good news: my cardiologist says I have a perfectly healthy heart and can with great confidence say that it should remain that way for forty or so years. You thinks this news would bring me such joy and peace and calm, and I’m so sad to admit that it doesn’t. While I am glad to hear I don’t have a heart condition, my mind has decided to move on to other possible illnesses.

So what does this make me? Crazy? No. Well, maybe a little.

My type of anxiety can be classified as “Illness anxiety disorder”. I am constantly convinced something is wrong with me and I am dying. A harmless pop in my chest becomes a busted blood vessel in my mind. Pain in my shoulders are chest are obviously a heart attack, even if I did go to the gym recently. Even at times where I think I am at peace and I can live normally, my brain is running constantly in the background scanning my body for issues. The slightest twinge or twitch sends me back down this horrible spiral.

Until that first panic attack, I was never like this. Illness anxiety disorder can surface in anyone. It can come about due to major stressors in life (such as planning a wedding, and buying a house, and a whole bunch of other stuff all at the same time). Symptoms of illness anxiety disorder can include:

  • Constantly worrying about having or getting a serious disease or health condition
  • Thinking that minor bodily functions and actions are due to a severe illness
  • Being easily alarmed regarding health
  • Finding little or no reassurance after doctor’s visits end with a clean bill of health, because you’re convinced that they missed something or that you may have forgotten to mention an important symptom
  • Frequently searching online for symptoms and possible related illnesses (we are all guilty of this for sure)

For me, I know this started because of that first panic attack. And I know that first panic attack was caused by my stress over finances for everything going on in my life right now (house, wedding, etc). But despite the doctors’ claims, I still have that nagging voice in the back of my mind saying no, it’s a heart attack. It’s cancer. I’m dying. The thoughts never end, no matter how hard I try to keep them at bay.

I know I’ll get past this. I know that the cold weather isn’t helping and that spring will help clear my mind and make me feel more alive. I know that if I put more effort toward exercising and making my body stronger my mind will become stronger as well. I know that I’m going to be okay. I just have to continually convince myself that that’s the case. And that’s okay.

Anxiety is an unbelievably common issue. Kevin Love’s recent story with his personal bout with anxiety surfaced and brought to light this issue that so many of us face but don’t necessarily understand or discuss. It is a brutal thing, and it is comforting to know that you aren’t alone and that you aren’t indeed crazy, thank you very much. If you struggle with depression or anxiety (or both), I strongly encourage reaching out to someone. Having someone beside you who can understand and support you through it all is so helpful. I’m unbelievably blessed to have an understanding fiancé and family and friends. If you aren’t struggling but you know someone who is, find out how you can help. Talk with specialists to learn how to handle anxiety and depression and be there for your friend or family member. Be there for them when they just need a shoulder to lean on while they sort through everything in their brains.

Take each day one step at a time. I tell this to myself every morning. One hour, one minute, step by step I can get through this day. Focus on one thing at a time: your work, a puzzle, coloring, reading a book. Don’t multitask everything by looking at your phone while doing something else. Take time to live in those moments. It’ll help slow things down and make the day more manageable. At least, it does for me.

 

Xo Karli

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/illness-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20373782

10 Steps Toward a Healthier Heart

10 Steps Toward a Healthier Heart

February is Heart Health Month! Taking care of your heart is crucial to living a heart-healthy life, and can help manage or even prevent certain forms of heart disease. Luckily there are some simple steps to help you take better care of your heart health. Note, I am not a nurse or doctor or healthcare professional in any way. Listed below are simple suggestions that can improve the general health and well-being of any person. Please see your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your heart or heart health!

Without further ado, here are ten steps you can take toward better heart health, according to Harvard Medical Center:

  1. Take a ten minute walk once a day. This is quick and easy to fit in to any schedule. Take your dog out for a brisk stroll around the block, or go and take a quick walk during your lunch break at work! I personally take my dog for a 10-15  minute walk every day, even in the winter (unless temps are below zero). It’s great exercise for the both of us, and Willow loves the chance to be outside!
  2. Strength training is also important to heart health. Do some light exercises for your arms at home by lifting some light weights a few times a day. If you can, move on to the gym and start increasing your strength by lifting a little heavier. Right now I’m using the Sweat app by Kayla Itsines. I just started, but I will let you know what I think of the program and whether or not it’s worth the investment. (This is not sponsored, I paid for the program and am genuinely interested to see how it works!).
  3. Eat one extra fruit or veggie a day. This is a given in any health management routine. Reap maximum benefits by making sure to eat at least five servings a day combined of fruits and veggies – at least two servings of fruit and at least three servings of veggies is ideal. Do you absolutely HATE eating veggies? Sneak them into a fruity smoothie with some of these sneaky smoothie recipes.
  4. Start off your day with a heart-healthy breakfast. A serving of fruit with a whole grain such as whole-wheat toast or oatmeal will provide you with a good boost of energy to get your day started.
  5. Stop drinking your calories! Swap at least one soda for carbonated flavored water per day and you could save 100+ calories.
  6. Have heart-healthy nuts as a snack throughout the day. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other kinds are all a great heart-healthy substitute for cookies or chips.
  7. If you can, replacing red meat with fish or sea-food once a week is also good for the heart. I’m actually debating switching to a mostly veggie/pescetarian diet with a red meat allowance once a week. Let me know if you have any recommendations for making this switch! If you’ve done it, did you find it easy to switch or was it rough? I don’t think it would be too bad until I start smelling a cheeseburger or steak!
  8. Take some time throughout the day to breathe deeply for just a few minutes. There are a lot of great apps for guided meditation and breathing, a very popular one being Headspace. Deep breathing can help you relax if you’re stressed and may even help lower blood pressure. One of my goals this year was to start practicing meditation and breathing routines. I haven’t started yet, but no better time than today!
  9. This almost goes without saying, but washing your hands often helps prevent the spread of germs and diseases that can be hard on your heart such as the flu.
  10. Practice gratitude! Taking time throughout your day to think about all the things you are grateful for in life that fills your heart with joy can help tap into other positive emotions. Anger, worry, and hostility can contribute to higher blood pressure and heart disease, and practicing gratitude can help combat that negativity. I like to keep a gratitude log in my bullet journal, and when I move I want to make or buy signs with positive affirmations to place around the house. It’s important to remember the happy parts of life, especially when the nasty parts try to get you down!

These are just a few tips to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. Proper diet, exercise, and attitude have a very strong effect on your overall well-being. Start following some of these steps to work toward a healthier lifestyle!

Do you have any simple healthy living tips to add? Let me know in the comments below!

 

xo, Karli 

 

 

Holiday Hustle

Holiday Hustle

The holidays are upon us! More than upon us…it’s only five days until Christmas! *insert shocked emoji*

Seriously this month is FLYING by for me. I’ve done so much and had so much fun, it hardly feels like I’ve been able to keep it all in one month. December is usually stressful for me with everything going on, but this year it’s felt exciting and fun.  

What better way to ring in the holidays than with a delicious Starbucks drink in their holiday cups? I love the design this year. My go-to holiday drink from Starbucks is the gingerbread latte. I absolutey love it! I usually get it in a tall, but sometimes I’ll spoil myself with a grande if it’s going to be a really hectic day. In the picture above we were on our way to pick out our Christmas tree at a local tree farm, a family tradition since I was a child. One of my least favorite things about living in an apartment is that we can’t have a real tree. I’ll have a house of my own some day, lol!

 

Christmas tree day was a ton of fun. My dad moved a few years back and his new home has super tall ceilings, so we can pick out any tree we want without worrying about height. The one pictured here isn’t what we went with, but was the lighting not perfect for the photo? I’ve been super extra this year with photos. Ever since I bought the iPhone 8 plus, I’ve kind of been crazy about taking pictures. The quality is just so good for a cell phone! I love love love it. It’s so fun!

One thing I thought was pretty cute were all the pine cones clustered around the tops of some of the trees. It just made the trees feel so rustic! The tree we picked didn’t have any I don’t believe, but it’s still perfect anyway.  

Ever since starting my photography business earlier this year, I’ve really been keen on supporting smaller and local businesses. I purchased these super unique ornaments from an acquaintance of mine. She runs an Etsy shop called TheMintyOwlCreations, and she does a lot of custom vinyl work. I especially love the holographic detail on the matte black of these bulbs. Definitely some of my favorite ornaments!

Along with trees and seasonal decor, there are always so many parties during the holidays. So far I’ve attended three! My company Christmas party was first. Trust me when I say that party is a bit of a whirlwind! We get out of work around 4 pm to head over to dinner. This year I was smart and got a hotel room to stay in downtown. Even though I only live 30 minutes away, we had seen quite a bit of snow that week. Better to be safe than sorry!

 

Literally three days later we had my dad’s Christmas party, and on the EXACT SAME DAY was Cameron’s family party. It was a bit exhausting after the crazy work week, but it was so wonderful to see so much family in one day. I’m thankful to have such a large family! At my dad’s party we built a fire and strung lights up between the trees to create a festive atmosphere. And by “we” I mean my dad and my brother. They did a great job, it was so fun standing outside and being warm and surrounded by Christmas lights! There was food galore, and the ever-enjoyable White Elephant gift exchange. I won a hanging shoe rack this year, which I’m genuinely excited about. I keep meaning to hang that up, but I’ll get there eventually.

I know this post has been mostly a photo dump with some rambling, but I promise I’m almost done. One thing I’m really proud of this year is my venture into wearing lipstick more often. Actually, into wearing lipstick period. I’ve never been one for makeup, not nearly as much as my sister. In fact, earlier this year there would be days upon days that I’d go without wearing more than maybe some eyeliner or mascara. And here I am at the end of the year and I do the whole thing! Foundation, contour, lipstick, setting spray…the works! Even though I’ll do the same eye makeup every day (no joke, my sister hates me for it. “do something fun!” she says, and yet I stick to this comfort zone of nude shades lol), I’ve begun to enjoy switching up my lipstick colors.

My favorite go-to brands and shades are all pictured below. I gravitate towards easy, low-maintenance formulas. Especially velvety matte shades! Those are my ultimate fave.

 

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Lipstick in Loyalist

See me wearing it over on this Instagram post!

NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick in Kitten Heels

Such a bright fun red! I like to wear this when I’m wearing a lot of black. It gives my look a fun pop of color!

NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick in Vintage

This color is pretty dark, but I wore it the other day and received a lot of compliments! It dries a soft deep burgundy/brown, and I really enjoyed it.

NYX Liquid Suede Lipstick in Cherry Skies

This is probably my favorite red right now. It’s the one I’m wearing in the photo in this post! It dries such a lovely, soft red and really compliments my skin tone.

So the great news about all of these options are less than $10! The Maybelline SuperStay collection is actually a steal of a price, and it really does last as long as they say it does. Not even kidding, I fell asleep without taking my makeup off once (whoops!) and it was still there in the morning. Truly wonderful stuff.

And for the holidays, the NYX colors I mentioned here are available as a set for $15 ($9 on sale at Ulta during the time of this post!). They normally run $6.99 a piece, which is still a great price. I only have to reapply the lipstick once after eating lunch and I’m good for the rest of the day!

What are some of your favorite lipsticks? Let me know in the comments below!

 

xo, Karli 

Coffee Talk & Catch Up

Coffee Talk & Catch Up

As always, it’s been a minute! Life always manages to snag me up in this whirlwind of non-stop activity, and every time I let so many hobbies fall to the wayside. Upon returning home from our vacation to Cape Cod, I spent a week preparing for my sister’s bridal shower. I’m so happy with how everything turned out! It ended up being a beautiful day. I may make a separate post about it soon so I can share some photos! 

After the shower was said and done I really started dedicating more of my time to studying for the FAR section of the CPA exam. It’s unbelievably brutal. I had originally planned on taking the test on October 16th, but I’ve now rescheduled for November 11th. I was starting to burn out studying three hours every single day and somehow still falling behind. And as much as I enjoy learning and strengthening the skills I need to succeed in my profession, it was exhausting to do so much and never feel caught up. Maybe there’s an important life lesson here, but I rescheduled nonetheless and some of the weight has lifted off my shoulders. I feel a lot more confident that I will be able to cover all of the material and revisit tougher areas before the exam. 

There’s been more than just studying and wedding things going on, though. I’m so happy to say that I’ve finally taken the leap to start my own business! Since I was a child I’ve loved taking pictures. I started off with my little pink Barbie film camera, and that has escalated to being a photographer for families, engagements, and weddings. I haven’t done too many yet, but it was enough of a taste to realize I enjoy it. After debating for almost a year, I finally opened up shop! You can check me out over at www.karliskandids.com . I’m so happy with how everything is coming along so far. I’m really excited to see where this adventure takes me, and I’m so so glad I finally made the leap of faith to get the ball rolling. 

Starting a business is definitely a lot of work. I didn’t expect it to be easy, by any means. But there are so many things that never really crossed my mind, either! For example, I need to come up with fun little ad campaigns and design them to match with my brand. And while I have no doubt I can do it, it will definitely take time to make everything perfect. Luckily, I’m a firm believer in enjoying the journey. And this journey is bringing me so much joy and excitement. I’ve never felt this lighthearted and giddy about ANYTHING, so whether anything comes of it or not I’m just glad I tried. Bonus, everything I’m learning about branding will be able to translate over into this blog as well. Yay!

Sorry there isn’t really much to this post. Although I keep telling myself I’ll get back on track with this blog, I suppose we have yet to see if that will happen. Fingers crossed that I will find some more inspiration and get back into this! As well as sharing my sister’s bridal shower, maybe I can also share a little makeup haul from my recent trip to Ulta? That would be fun! We’ll see.. 😉

Anyway, thank you so much for stopping by. Hopefully I’ll have more content up soon!

xoxo, Karli

 

 

Road Trip Warriors

Road Trip Warriors

For as long as I can remember, I have camped every summer. According to my Dad, they took us camping even when we were so little we couldn’t remember. Even to this day I go camping annually with my family. The only difference now compared to when we were kids? The fiancé comes along for the ride!

Our family is pretty big on using tents. No campers for us! Not that there’s anything wrong with them! There’s just something about the way the zippers sound early in the morning and the smell of the air when the only thing separating you from the open sky is a thin layer of canvas. So until I have the money to shell out for a vintage trailer and the SUV to pull it, tents it is.

I love pretty much everything about camping. I like the detachment from “the norm”. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep you’re outside. Charging electronics becomes difficult, so sometimes you go without. Cell service may be patchy anyway, so might as well leave it in the car. You forget to check Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and instead focus on the silence and beauty of nature around you, and the friends and family beside you.

I also particularly enjoy the road trip. Our family always chooses a location out of state, and usually it ends up being 8 or so hours away. We shock people with the stories of our crazy road trips. One year, we drove from our home in Ohio all the way to Yosemite National Park in California in only two and a half days! On that same trip, we went to a wedding in Monterey, CA, and hightailed it back to Ohio in just two and half days yet again. People still think we’re insane for that one (and maybe we are!). We’ve also driven to Glacier National Park in Montana, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and Bar Harbor, Maine (just to name a few).

Due to all of this “experience”, I like to consider myself a road trip warrior. I always know exactly what to bring to make the ride a little bit easier. This year we are heading to Cape Cod, MA. From home, it’s about a ten-hour drive to our campsite. Per usual, our family will do a straight shot drive stopping only for restroom breaks and food so we can arrive with plenty of daylight to set up camp and relax for the first evening.

For most people, this is crazy. For us? It’s tradition!

Here are some of my tips for preparing for a big road trip:

Always come prepared with a reading list!

If you’re a book nerd, a road trip is the perfect time to catch up on a series you’ve been dying to read or a novel you haven’t had time to finish. I read quite a bit, averaging two books a month this year so far. Mind you, some of those books are 500+ pages! So yes, I’m proud of this average thank-you-very-much. I’m changing it up a little on this trip by downloading books onto my iPad on the Kindle app to help save space in the car. I normally bring a bookbag with about 5 or so books from the local library, which takes up a lot of space when you’re putting five people in a Toyata Forerunner for 10 hours with blankets, pillows, food, drinks, shoes, etc.

For the trip this year, I chose to download the following books:

 

  • Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Mass (560 pages) (third in the Throne of Glass series). I picked up the Throne of Glass series after reading her Court of Thorns and Roses series late last year. I actually just finished the third book of that series last month! Even though Throne of Glass is the older series from her, I didn’t discover it until I’d finished the second Court book and gone looking for the third. I’m very excited to see when the next installment comes out! Until then, I’ll be pecking away at the ToG series. For some reason, it’s a little harder for me to get through. Maybe because all of the books are so long! But I do enjoy the story and can’t wait to pick it back up on this trip.
  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Mass (661 pages) (fourth book in the ToG series)
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (863 pages, first in its series). I’ve been torn for the past few years about whether or not to pick up this book. I finally decided that this would be a good trip to do it, given I can get through the others on my list. If not, it’ll be sitting in my Kindle app waiting for when I’m ready! I know nothing about this series at all (although I do notice it is also a TV series), so it’ll be exciting to dive in to something new.

Wear something comfortable!

I’m often wearing leggings and a tshirt or tank top on the road trips (if not for the entire duration of the vacation) and my go-to shoe for the car is obviously flip flops. This makes it easy to be flexible in the car and stay comfortable. It’s always a good idea to have a hoodie in case your driver likes it a little chilly (ahem, Dad). For our trips, we usually leave around three in the morning, so we will also have our pillows and blankets and whoever isn’t the copilot and staying up with the driver quickly falls asleep for the first leg of the trip.

Have a good, reliable pair of headphones!

For longer trips, I don’t recommend wireless headphones. Having a pair die halfway through a road trip and needing to re-charge can be painful, especially if the driver has a taste in music you don’t necessarily love (ahem, Dad with the jazz). This year I’m excited to have my Steelseries Arctis 5 headset. I bought them at PAX East earlier this year, and I love that they can be used for pretty much any device. I primarily use them for gaming on my desktop! Luckily, they came with two adapters: one USB and one AUX. I simply swap out the adapters based on my needs. The sound is really good and they are the only over-ear headphones I’ve ever owned that don’t give me headaches because of my glasses. Also, the cloth strap is interchangeable and comes in a bunch of different designs! I have the black and white geometric standard strap and a hot pink one that I purchased at the trade show.. I can’t wait to have them on this road trip!

Stay hydrated!

Although the potential extra restroom breaks may seem annoying, it’s so important to remember to stay hydrated on long trips. I’m guilty of not drinking water because I don’t want to be “that person” asking to pull over to the next rest stop. Unfortunately being dehydrated is very uncomfortable, and really really not good for you. This year I’m definitely going to try to do better. I’m bringing my 25 oz S’well bottle with me to refill at each stop. I never expected these bottles to actually work as good as they say they do (I’m a skeptic, what can I say). Well trust me, they work. And they’re awesome. I had ice water in my bottle one day and left it in my car on a 90 degree sunny day for four hours, and the ice was still solid when I came back! I was floored. I love this bottle! I have the limited edition S’well bottle that came with my Winc / Societe Summer Water summer club subscription, but I’ve been eyeing this Milky Way design for a few weeks now.

Have healthy snacks!

It’s so tempting to stock up on chips and candy and junk food when traveling. Those foods always come in convenient packaging and taste really good, and hey it’s vacation so why not right? If you’re trying to be a bit more conscious about your health, consider bringing a variety of more nutritious options:

  • Beef jerky (or any jerky). I know it’s not always necessarily “healthy”, but as far as quick snacks go it’s good in protein and generally more satisfying. I always feel fuller after a few pieces of jerky than half a can of potato chips!
  • These are convenient because they can travel at room temperature and still taste just fine. Honeycrisp are my personal favorite.
  • Trail mix. And I’m not talking about the ones loaded with candy. Try finding a mix that has unsalted nuts and dried fruits in it!
  • PB&J. If you don’t mind having a little cooler near your feet, having a PB&J sandwich on hand could really hit the spot. Again, not the healthiest thing in the world. But it sure beats a burger from the drive-thru!

Study!

If you have anything you need to study for, take advantage of this time! I know it’s vacation, but you will feel so much better when you reach your destination knowing you took care of a less-than-desirable task. I’ll be studying for the FAR section of the CPA exam during this trip. I’m sitting on October 16th, so I have a lot of review to do before then!

Play some games!

If you aren’t big on reading, you could always bring a portable gaming device with you. My sister, her fiancé, and my fiancé are all bringing their Nintendo DS and games with them. That’s definitely a fun way to spend some of the trip! And if you’re not into that either, well. I’m not sure what to tell you. Maybe keep sleeping until you arrive at your destination? Play travel games with other people in the car? My family is pretty quiet, so reading, sleeping, and gaming is pretty much the extent of our trip. Obviously, there will be conversation sprinkled in of course to keep the driver occupied as well!

This year will be our second time visiting the Cape, and I couldn’t be more excited! It has been a handful of years since, and my memories of it are waning. I can’t want to re-live some of the experiences we had before, as well as create new memories!

If you want to follow along with the trip, make sure to follow me on Instagram (@stylegeeknaturefreak)!

 

Xo, Karli