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Stress Management 101

Stress isn’t always bad.  Good stress motivates us.  It propels us forward in our life and makes us achieve our goals.  It’s called eustress.  Good stress helps us meet challenges is everyday life.

But then. . . there’s the bad stress.  The bad stress can wreak havoc on your life.  It weakens the immune system, boosts cortisol levels in the brain, causes weight gain.  Yuck.

Here’s the thing – stress in life is inevitable.  But the way you respond to it and your coping techniques can drastically reduce the problems it causes in your life and health.  Here are a few ways to manage stress so it doesn’t become bad stress and take over your life.

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It’s my favorite tip again! This decluttering is a little different.  This time, it’s about decluttering your relationships.  Get rid of the people in your life who are littering it with negativity.  You can’t eliminate all negativity, but if there are people who are causing you more harm than good, trim them out.  If they’re your family, cut back on your interactions with them. Surround yourself with positivity.


I am just as addicted to my phone as the next girl.  But have you ever sat at a table where everyone at it is on their phone, looked around and thought, ‘What the f*ck are we all doing?’ And social media can cause tons of stress because it brings up feelings of comparison (the killer of joy). Give yourself an hour or more every day without your phone and computer. Doesn’t have to be the TV because, hello, Gilmore Girls is the solution to all stress.  But don’t stare at the TV to close to bedtime either.

Manage your time.

I had this friend who was constantly late, constantly stressed out, and never planned properly for anything.  She was miserable most of the time and could not figure out why.  Nothing is more stressful than not having enough time in the day/week to complete all of your tasks.  I know it makes me sound like an old, boring person, but “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” has a point.  Wake up a little early if you need extra time.  Don’t rob yourself of sleep, but plan out your day in advance so that you have structure.  The busier you get, the more time management becomes a hugely important activity!

Make to-do lists.

Confession: I make to do lists and sometimes put things I’ve already done that day on them just to cross it off because it feels so good. Which lowers my stress.  See?  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, write down the stuff you’ve got to accomplish and tackle things one by one.  If you focus on one task at a time, everything becomes more manageable. It will help you feel organized and focused. And it doesn’t have to end with to-do lists.  Make a grocery list.  A chore list. A list of your blessings.  Go nuts!

Practice yoga and/or meditation. 

Does this sound familiar? It should.  I harp on this sh*t all the time.  Meditate for a minute a day.  Then increase to two.  Then five.  It will improve the quality of your life so much.  And if you don’t know where to start, check out my post on the best meditation podcasts. I also firmly believe in the healing power of yoga.  There are many different disciplines within yoga, so if you try one and don’t like it, try another.  I’m a huge fan of Ashtanga, but some people prefer Hatha.  Find your niche.

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Get outside.

Go for a walk.  Get some vitamin D (*cough* wear sunscreen *cough*) Sunlight and fresh air helps with depression and anxiety, but it will also help clear your head and help you deal better with the stress in your life.

Clean a little bit every day.

Okay, I’m bad with this one, admittedly.  My day often runs away with me.  But if I do one chore every day, it doesn’t save cleaning everything for one day of the week, and it makes my environment more pleasant.  Vacuum one day.  Clean the kitchen the next.  Do laundry on the third day.  Nothing will make you feel more a mess than being surrounded by a mess.

Set up a budget.

Hooooly hell.  I set up my first budget just a few years ago, and I cannot believe  I made it through so much of my life without one.  Stressing about money is the worst kind of stress.  It can make you feel out of control and a failure.  So again, plan.  Know exactly where your money is going to go.  Give yourself some wiggle room, if you can swing it.  And put together a savings.  You never know when your car’s going to break down or your cat’s going to get sick or whatever.  Microsoft Excel has a few great budget templates.  I took theirs and just tailored it for my life.

Get a massage.

I don’t know about you, but I localize stress in my shoulders.  This is common.  I know when things are out of control because my neck starts to feel immobile.  Getting a massage helps release all that crap and is kind of like pressing a reset button.  Read my article on the benefits of massage here.

Get enough sleep.

You know how when you’re tired, everything irritates you? Yeah, there’s a reason for that.  Enough sleep is so, so vital for managing your stress level.  If you need 10 hours, get 10 hours.  They say 7 to 8 is the ideal amount, but everyone is different.  Pick what works for you and aim for that.  My magic number is 9; I can do 8 but my body naturally sleeps for 9 when I set no alarms. Figure out what you need and honor that.

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Let. It. Go.

Hate your ex? Let it go. Mad at a friendship that imploded? Let. It. Go. Guy cut you off in traffic? Don’t let it ruin your day! There are things in this life that you can’t control. Remember, how people treat you is their karma; how you react to it is yours.  And letting things go will help with this immensely.

Get a day planner.

You guys, I’m such a nerd.  I LOVE MY PLANNER. It makes me so goddamn happy writing stuff in it.  And it has stickers.  This links right up with managing your time – there are tools out there to help you with this.  Amazon has toooonnnns of cute planners.  Pick one that makes you happen when you look at it as an extra bonus

Focus on what you CAN control.

There is something innately human about stressing over things that we cannot control.  I don’t know where that comes from.  But if you focus on what you can control, you will stress less about what you can’t. Reality is, we can’t control everything.  But we can control some things.

Practice kindness and positivity.

Trying to stay positive will become second nature if you practice it, just like everything else.  And random acts of kindness are amazing.  If you’re feeling stressed or shitty, but the person behind you in line a cup of coffee.  Or send your friend a card to let them know how much you love them.  These small acts can create a ripple effect that changes the energy of the world, I truly believe that. The result? Way less stress.


Endorphins are real. They make you feel better.  And that reduces stress.  Boom. Science.

These are just a few of the ways I manage and control my stress.  And don’t get me wrong, my life is not stress free.  But there are practices you can implement to help keep this under control. I hope some of these help you as well!

Thank you for reading! If you like this, please subscribe!

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Coping With High Functioning Depression and Anxiety

Oh, boy.  This one…well, I’ve hesitated to write about this because I kind of out myself.  I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 20, and weirdly enough, that seemed to make sense.  Why, as a child, I would obsess over things and be unable to just stop thinking about them.  Why, as a teenager, breakups broke me.  Why, as a newly minted adult, I couldn’t sleep to save my life.  For months.  And why, as I got into my early 20s, I started having these wonderful little episodes called panic attacks.

So what does this all look like?

I think everyone experiences these things differently.  For my experience, depression means worry.  Worry, worry, worry all the time.  What if? What if this happens? What if it doesn’t? Is it ever going to be okay? How will I get through this?  All. The. Time.

It means extreme nervousness about social situations.

Am I talking too much? Am I not talking enough? Oh my god, they think I’m boring.  Oh, sh*t, they hate me.  Or worse, what if I go to that networking event and have no one to talk to?

Also? Compulsive behavior. Super fun.  I don’t wash my hands a thousand times a day, but I do chew my lower lip to the point where it bleeds. The only thing that kind of helped for a while was smoking, but the tradeoff was obviously sucky.  So I stopped.  Now I chew lots of gum, and sometimes it helps.

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Fear of failure.

Jesus, the fear.  I wanted to start this blog back in 2013. What stopped me, you ask? What if people think I’m stupid for doing this? What if people don’t like it? What will my friends think? Surely they will think this is a trivial, frivolous, pointless endeavor.  And now that I’m actually doing it, those thoughts aren’t far away.  I just. . . shush them.

And the overwhelming feeling that this is all pointless.  Why? What are we all doing? Why struggle just to have it all end so spectacularly in a way that no one understands or can really articulate? And feeling alone in this because, oh my god, why can’t you just be happy?

Depression makes everyday life harder.

Sometimes it’s okay; other times it’s a struggle to just get out of bed and brush your teeth.

Anxiety is a little different. My first panic attack was nothing short of spectacular.  I was having dinner with a former professor of mine, and all of a sudden I felt really tingly.  And really panicky.  And unable to focus. I had to be driven to a parking lot where my mother picked me up because: a) I couldn’t drive and; b) I felt so foggy could barely put a sentence together. The result of which is laying in bed for the rest of the night trying to put together what the hell just happened, while at the same time praying that it never happens again (spoiler: it did).

Coping With High Functioning Depression and Anxiety - Beauty Chaos

Depression creates a sort of moat around you, especially when the people you love don’t get it.

And trying to explain it to them usually leads to some iteration of, “But why can’t you just be happy? Have you tried meditating? Are you sure you need that medicine?” Yeap, I do. I tried to wean off of it once and boy, did that not go well. Got to the point where those same people encouraging me to try my life without meds were practically shoving them back into my hands.

Anxiety tells you that you’re not good enough.  It whispers in your ear that you’re not worthy.  Makes you doubt yourself, your decisions, your life.  Tells you that you will never win.

Depression is not something that’s fully understandable, even when you have it.

I don’t know why there are some days that I feel awesome and other days when I can’t get dressed.  When the only thing that seems to quell the impending panic attack is curling up with my cats and watching “Friends.”  And just when I feel like I’m starting to get it, another curveball happens.

Anxiety and depression also manifest themselves in the form of extreme irritation with everyone around you.

“I just want to be positive,” you think.  “But if he/she  does/says that one more time, I’m going to scream.” Every little thing bothers you and it’s like you’re an exposed nerve, but no one can tell that and you look human and fine, but little does everyone know that you’re not. And you can’t stop it and you can’t make it better and oh my god, why can’t I sleep? Are my legs moving? Why is he breathing so loud? Why is this so easy for everyone else?

But here’s the deal.  After coping with this for the good part of 15 years, I’ve learned some wisdom I’d like to impart.

  • You are not crazy, and you are not alone.
  • It isn’t your fault, and you can deal with this.
  • You can get through this. You will succeed. You will face your fear.
  • In. You.

And in the spirit of helping my fellow depressees (not a word), I’ve come up with some coping methods that sometimes help me.

How to Cope With Depression and Anxiety:

  1. Chew gum. I know, this one sounds crazy.  But psychologists say that chewing gum is calming because it basically convinces the body that you’re eating, and that primal part of humans knows that you wouldn’t be eating if you were in danger. Weird but cool, right?
  2. Meditate Even for a few seconds. Do the 4-7-8 breathing exercise (in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, out for 8 seconds). I swear, it helps.
  3. Talk to someone you trust. Doesn’t have to be someone who completely understands.  Just has to be someone who’s willing to listen without judgment. Personally, I love therapy for this very reason.
  4. Exercise. This one’s pretty elementary, right? Endorphins. Exercise high. Increased serotonin.  And don’t wait until you feel shitty.  Exercise regularly.
  5. Go home. Look, if you’re in a situation that you can’t handle, just leave. No shame in taking care of yourself.
  6. Journal. Sometimes, just getting it all out of your brain into a different medium can help you reset.
  7. Stay off of social media. Hey, I need social media as much as the next guy, but sometimes, looking at what other people want you to think their life is like makes you feel bad.  So don’t.
  8. Go outside. Breathe fresh air. Get some sunshine. Clear your head.
  9. Stay hydrated. Dehydration can trigger panic attacks.  Seriously. So stay hydrated and if you’re hungover, drink more water 😉
  10. Take up a new hobby. I live in LA now so I feel like I don’t have a lot of need for knitting, but I learned it back when I was having a serious bout of depression and boy, did it help.
  11. Listen to some music. Something upbeat. No Sarah McLachlan. Something that always makes you smile. For me, ‘Walkin’ on Sunshine’ always does the trick.
  12. Be kind to yourself. You’re smart. You’re beautiful. You have a great ass. Tell yourself these things. They’re true and you need to hear it.
  13. Take a bath. Or a shower. Like I’ve said before, baths aren’t really my thing. Or float around in a pool, if you have access.  Just give yourself some time to breathe and chill for a bit.
  14. Focus on the positive. Gratitude journaling is huge now for a very good reason. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on what you’re grateful for when it feels like everything is terrible, but even writing down a few simple things that make you happy can turn your whole day around.  That flower you saw.  The fact that you have shelter and food and your needs are met. Your great husband.  Whatever it is for you, focus on it for just a bit.

Hopefully, these tips will bring you some relief in the midst of feelings of helpless/hopelessness.  Remember, you’re not alone. What you’re going through is real.

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Working at Home: How to Stay Sane, Productive and Happy in Your PJs

Listen, we all have that friend that seems to have more time in their day than everyone else.  You know them – they work like crazy people, sometimes more than 90 hours a week, then show up at your house on Sunday looking perfect and having baked a cake and made you something out of needlepoint.  They also have time for fun and can party with the best of ’em.  I have two friends like this and I’m still trying to find their Time-Turners (Harry Potter reference).

Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you blink and the day is over.  More often than not, I look down and think, “Oh my god, am I still in my pajamas at [insert insanely late time of the day here]?!”  Part of my problem is that naturally, I am not a morning person.  I thrive at night.  However, I love mornings.  But my habit of hitting the snooze button and not motivating myself to get out of bed and get started lessens my love of those mornings.

And I hit that snooze button until there’s a struggle and instead of waking up and conquering the day, I wake up feeling behind.  So if you’re like me and you need an extra kick in the ass to get going in the morning, here are a few ideas to help motivate you and be your own best ally in the fight to conquer mornings!

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1.    Morning yoga or exercise

Here’s the thing: I am not a morning exercise person.  I know, I know, it’s supposed to be easier and make the day better and yada, yada, yada.  It just doesn’t work for me.  What does work, however, is some morning yoga.  I do about four sun salutations before I have my coffee, and just that little bit to get my blood flowing is essential in kicking off my day.  If you can do it, research shows that exercising in the morning is very beneficial and sets the tone for your entire day.

2. Set a consistent morning routine.

By far, one of the most important steps for motivating yourself is having a morning routine.  That way, if you feel like you need to be on autopilot for a minute, you have ingrained a series of steps in your day that feel like they take no effort.  A good morning routine not only helps you wake up and shake off the sleep, but it also sets you up for success in your day and motivates you. For example: After waking up, meditate for 5 minutes, write down (at least) three things you’re grateful for in a journal, exercise, brew coffee, shower.  Establishing positive, continuous morning habits is a huge step towards motivating yourself to conquer your day!

3. To-Do Lists

Soooo, I’m one of those people that will write something that I’ve already done on a to-do list just to cross it off. It makes me feel so good.  If I keep a list in my mind, everything seems scattered and really overwhelming. But if I have everything I need to do written out in front of me, I am much more motivated to get it done because it feels achievable.  I make lists in my day planner, but a piece of paper works just as well.  Wherever works for you, be it on paper or an e-list, I would recommend listing as a way to keep your motivation flowing!

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4. Keep a decluttered and clean workspace

There is nothing that is more motivating for me than having a clear and clean workspace.  I set aside time every weekend to declutter the crap on my desk to make my life feel more organized.  Even if everything else is in chaos, a clean desk makes me feel like I have a handle on everything. If I can extend this order to my entire house, all the better.  Because here’s the thing: if my house is clean, I can work without thinking that what I really should be doing is cleaning my house. And believe me, I never feel more motivated than when I invest a little bit of money and have the house cleaners come.  Talk about productivity!

5. Invest in Yourself

And by this, I mean save your money.  I have a hard time with this one too; I’m a spender! But I wasn’t always this way.  As a kid I saved and saved, and I loved the feeling of watching my savings grow.  Now, if I have even a little bit of money saved, it actually motivates me to put more away.  Which is good since I’m getting older and retirement is becoming a real thing in my future.  Welcome to your 30s!

6. Find a guru

Or it doesn’t have to be a guru.  I listen to a couple of podcasts by women who I really respect and admire, and I always turn to them when I need a motivational boost.  And, hello, I also read blogs! There are tons of wonderful and amazing women out there just killing it in the blogging world, so if I need a boost, I’ll find a topic and fall down that rabbit hole for a while.  Or I’ll scroll through Instagram for an hour or five for ideas.  Anything that helps you will do!

7. Make a Vision Board

Oh my god, can I tell you I didn’t know what a vision board was until like a year ago?  Now, I did spend my childhood making collages, so I suppose that kind of counts.  But really, vision boarding with a purpose is so beautiful! It really helps me hone my vision of what I want my life to look like, and they’re pretty to look at, too. Doesn’t have to be fancy; even taping some pages ripped from a magazine can help, but vision boards can be a serious motivator to work towards your goals and see what you want to achieve.

I hope some of these strategies will help you motivate yourself to get to your goals in 2020! Make 2020 your year! I’m going to make it mine 😉

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