Balance, Self Care, Women's Health

Diaphragmatic Breathing: The Most Underutilized Tool to Counteract Stress

Life is filled with an ebb and flow of ups and downs and there isn’t anyone on this Earth immune to the obstacles life can throw at us. Life is sometimes a smooth path and other times it is a bumpy, winding road. There is no way to control the obstacles in our path but we can control how we handle the ride. Embracing and surrendering to the flow of life truly changes the way we perceive our journey. There are so many different tools that can help us navigate tough times but the one that I believe is most underutilized is simply breathing. Intentional, diaphragmatic breathing that is. Diaphragmatic breathing can be done anytime, anywhere to ease any emotion; trauma, anxiety, stress, grief, irritability, or just because…life. There really doesn’t need to be a reason because there are so many benefits to a regular breath work practice. There are also many different breathing techniques but diaphragmatic breathing is a great starting place. It has been studied that this type of breathing can have beneficial effects on physical and mental health, stress and negative emotions can be counteracted, and can enhance sustained attention.

When our body holds becomes stressed or anxiety ridden we, unknowingly, establish a short, shallow breath that encourages the anxiety we are trying to relieve. This a mentally and physically detrimental cycle to continue. This deep breathing technique, anatomically, activates the parasympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for the body’s rest and digestion responses) by compressing the vagas nerve (which can assist in lowering your heart rate). This is significant because stressful situations or even everyday stressors can trigger the “flight or flight” mode. If this physiological response is repeatedly activated it can lead to chronic stress that can contribute to high blood pressure, cardio-vascular issues and can lead to depression, anxiety, obesity and addiction.

Not only can diaphragmatic breathing lower stress responses the body produces but it can also improve pelvic floor musculature which should be a focus for women’s wellness. The diaphragm and the pelvic floor are synergists, they work together with inhalation and exhalation. They are both hammock like muscles that do the same thing at the same time. So, with inhalation, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor both drop, creating space in both the lungs and the pelvis. With exhalation, these muscles lift with the vacuum effect that takes place in the body. These two important muscles work best when the body is properly aligned. So, this is where posture becomes important for the pelvic floor and lungs to work autonomously.

How to take diaphragmatic breaths…

  • If you are seated, align your posture, head over heart, heart over pelvis, with a neutral spine. If standing, continue hips over knees, knees over ankles.
  • Place a hand on each rib cage, fingers on front side, thumb around back. As you breathe in through your nose, feel your ribs and lungs expand 360 degrees. You don’t want your chest moving much. Your belly will expand but it’s not the focus. Focus on fill up your lungs from the lower part up.
  • Then exhale through your mouth, completely drawing the navel toward the spine gently to help empty completely. This can be done at any time of the day just to relax and center yourself. Diaphragmatic breathing immediately triggers the vagas nerve which is directly related to our parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Practice in a mirror to visualize and become more self aware of the flow.
  • This can be done anytime, anywhere for as many repetitions as you need to feel more at ease. You can start with at least 3 breaths.

Using this as a tool to calm, relax, fall asleep, use during exercise and yoga, whenever you need a little refresher to re center. This tool can keep the mind and body functioning at optimum health. Breathing is something that we don’t have to think about doing, but when we, occasionally, put a little intention behind our breath, it can create less resistance in the flow of life.

Balance, Self Care

What You CAN do During Uncertain Times

Throughout life we experience times that can be uneasy, uncertain, and down right scary. No matter the situation, we need to be able to have the tools to move forward even when we aren’t sure of the outcome. Our whole world is going through this together as COVID-19 becomes the forefront of our vocabulary. Schools have shut down, events cancelled, social distancing will be our norm, all for the greater good of society. This extreme societal break is really nothing we have experienced before so in this prevention of mass spreading of this virus, mass hysteria has infected the country. Grocery stores can’t keep up with essential supplies, people are stressing over the uncertainty of their jobs and who will watch their kids since they will be home indefinitely. While these may be valid reasons to feel heightened, for the sake of our health, humanity and because this could become a temporary season, we need to recenter ourselves. Focusing on what you can do versus what you can’t do is the first step to refreshing your outlook. The better our outlook, the better we manage our stress with the unknowns.

What you can do…

Educate yourself. Ignorance may be bliss but knowledge is wealth. Limiting social media and news can eliminate some of the mass hysteria, try not to get caught up in overwhelming yourself in loads of triggering posts. Understand the facts and know your local resources so you can plan accordingly. This alone will take a load off of the misconception and stress of not knowing what to do if it hits your household.

Focus on controlling your own actions and plans. Anxiety can stem from us trying to control things that are simply out of our control. This can be detrimental to our peace and heighten emotions. The best thing we can do is stay calm so we can make rational decisions in this challenging time.

Prioritize your family’s needs. Plan ahead and tend to you and your family’s physical and mental health. This is a time that the world is giving everyone to prioritize health, so please, take it if you are able. Re evaluate your priorities and say no to everything else. This can eliminate any unnecessary guilt that may arise. Get the essentials you need for the moment, the mass hysteria is driving people to buy in an extreme bulk. We are not being productive as a whole if we are buying stores out of supplies that everyone needs.

Gravitate toward the help. Whether you need help or maybe you have help to offer others, reach out to the organizations and individuals who you see joining or needing help. It is amazing how quickly people can come together in time of need. There are people who want to help and there are people who need it. If you are one of those people who need it, speak up, do not feel ashamed, everyone needs help at some point in life. Maybe this is a time for you. If you are someone who wants to help, check in with others you think may need it.

Stay healthy. Practice good hygiene, stay hydrated, eat nourishing foods, get rest and stay moving. This is a good time to ground in nature and get some fresh air. Set your body up for success, the more consistent we can be with making healthier decisions, the better prepared we are to handle or even prevent an illness.

Allow yourself some grace. This isn’t something we experience often and can be challenging. Give yourself patience and allow time for self care. What do you need in this moment? How can you make this stressful time easier for yourself? What do you need help with? Who can help you with this? What activities can you do to lighten the situation? Checking in with yourself often can lead you down a more calming path. Feelings will arise, and that is OK!

Find the silver lining. What good is coming out of this? What are you grateful for in this moment? My favorite activity to put my life in perspective is thinking of 3 things that I am grateful during intense times. This can really pull yourself out of a bad mental space. Social distancing can really be a good time to go within, spend quality time with family, and find creative ways to stay busy. You might actually create a new normal that sparks a new interest.

Know, this too shall pass. This is a new situation for most, but nothing lasts forever and we are all in this together. Rely on your support system, enjoy the time you are given, and get creative in your new definition of fun time. Time will pass and it will go by more pleasant if we can move forward as our best selves.

The ebbs and flows of life continue on even when we aren’t prepared for what’s to come. We aren’t able to prepare for an outcome but we can prepare for the way we handle it. Our actions are the key to how this season looks and feels. COVID-19 may be the culprit this time but we will always face times of uncertainty, none of us are immune. How will you move forward during this season of your life?

Balance, Self Care, Uncategorized

Balance, Wellness, and Self Care; Behind the Buzzwords

Balance, wellness, and self care, oh my! Literally, everywhere we turn this is slapped in our faces. Words that most will roll their eyes to, because how can anyone be balanced, well or even have time to take care of them selves in this tightly wound, fast paced, busy lifestyle that is enabled every where we turn?! We live in a world where taking time off of work for even just necessary appointments, parental leave, or God forbid, a sick child, we are looked down upon, sometimes reprimanded for. We are expected to have a thriving life, career, and children with little support getting there. Cue the shame, comparisons, and insecurities that eat away at a thriving life, career, and children.

It’s true though, the world we are in now is not the grounded, disconnected, simple life we might have grown up with. But we have gotten a lot of what we wanted, like more conveniences (hello, Amazon Prime), technology at our finger tips (literally glued to our hands), and connection to anyone, any place, at any given moment. What was hugely missed was the opportunity to keep some of the “down” time because of the fast paced lifestyle. But we didn’t, we filled it with more meetings, work, and/or mindless social media scrolling. We are now being indirectly rewarded for running ourselves ragged. Getting ourselves farther from balance, wellness, and self care. So, yea, when someone comes at you with get balanced, well and do your self care, that may be triggering.

These words, balance, wellness, and self care are buzzwords for a reason, because the world needs it more than ever. These buzzwords fly left and right, but when you can see the intention that they have behind them and how, maybe, just maybe, the world needs a little more of them, they might actually bring something positive to your life.

What do I mean?

Well, start by evaluating your life, what area of your life could use a little more balance? Where could you be more intentional? Maybe self care for you, in your hectic life, just means taking a five minute walk in fresh air or maybe even just taking in some deep breaths to calm your nervous system. It doesn’t have to be trips to the spa or getting your nails done, unless that is something that lights up your life. You do you!

Becoming more balanced doesn’t have to be complicated. Start simple with something manageable. You don’t even have to spend money, get creative. The best place to start is to think about things that put a smile on your face, refreshes you and makes you feel good. Following those instincts lead you on the path to a better well being. Another little insider tip, balance is something we have to actively work on and give attention to. Life can hit us hard when we aren’t looking so it becomes a give and take. I call this action, Balancebuilding®. What feels balanced to you is not always what feels balanced to someone else.

We can’t change societal stigmas without first changing ourselves. If we want the world to have a better balance we need to first find our own. If we want the world to be well, we need to prioritize wellness as individuals. If we want the world to acknowledge self care, we need to take it. We can only give the energy we have.

Where do you go from here?

  • Acknowledge where you are. Hold yourself accountable.
  • Meet yourself where you are.
  • Show yourself some love and grace. A journey to one’s self is never easy but always worth it.
  • Reach out for help and communicate your needs clearly. Whether that is to a family member, friend, or even a professional to help get you where you want to be.
  • Communicate from a place of love. Sometimes we can be so overwhelmed and anxious that we can sound harsh. Speak from your true feelings and exactly what you need. Understand that people are not mind readers and you can not hold them accountable for what you didn’t communicate.
  • Organize your priorities. Making a list of your top priorities daily or weekly will help you say no to things that are getting in your way of being your best self.
  • Take action! Again, balance and true wellness take intention. Plan your day according to your priorities.

These steps will encourage the feeling of accomplishment, self confidence, and your authentic self. Doesn’t that make for huge successes? Behind the buzzwords are actions that could truly save your well being. Aren’t we all just trying to be truly happy as our authentic selves? What are you waiting for?

Balance, Self Care

End of a Decade, Beginning of a new Birth Year

It’s New Year’s Eve and also the day I have made 34 trips around the sun. I never really thought of my birthday on New Year’s Eve as very special until I got older. What is most people’s end of a year is my beginning. And it is such a self reflective day. I’m not sure there has been any other year that I have had this much personal growth.


Last year, I started a new tradition of picking a word for the upcoming years. These words act as affirmations and can be a motivation to resolutions. It is something to come back to when you find yourself off track. My word was DHARMA. Dharma is a sanskrit spiritual word for your personal truth or duty, life purpose. I have dedicated this year to that and it has been a year full of digging deep within myself to focus in on the energy I put into the world. I have found the more you give the more you receive.


My year consisted of…

-Quitting my corporate job to be a stay at home working for myself Mom

-Lots of yoga training-RYT200 Yoga Certification

-Pre/Postnatal Yoga Certification

-Pelvic floor Yoga Certification

-Teaching my first yoga classes/workshops

-Went on 2 vacations

– One sans Maddux and the other was Maddux’s First vaca

-I finished breastfeeding after 15 months 🎉 #freedom

-I won 2 life changing experiences on Instagram–One was a 60 min consult with Heaven Sent Sleep- it was definitely heaven sent. For the first 14 months of Maddux’s life he NEVER slept through the night. Like I’m talking multiple wake ups! I couldn’t do it anymore. Since then, he has slept through the night, every night! The other experience I won was an Akashic Record reading from Melita Mollohan. Wow. What an experience. She gave me insight into my life and also reassurance into other parts. The main thing I appreciate is the peace she gave me for the upcoming challenging parts. If you ever get the chance to do so, do it!

-Started writing a book

-During a challenging matter (a later blog post will explain) I actually created one of my proudest creations yet, my Postpartum Wellness Recovery Course. This is when I realized I was put here to help women and moms navigate through life with the best of tools. Balancebuilding was perfected in this moment.

-Sold our home

-Moved to a rental

-Found a home in Buckhannon

-Found a little more “go with the flow attitude”

-Found the difference between myself as a Mom and as an individual.

-Discovered detachment to material things/situations/and whatever does not serve me any longer is the key to really living life.

I look at this list and I am astounded and proud of how much I have done and how far I have come! I also notice that most of this list can be mapped back to my word of the year for 2019, DHARMA. I really stuck to it even though sometimes it might not have seemed that way. Progress over perfection. This is why reflection is so important to where you are headed.

You don’t realize how much a year can change your life until you reflect. My new word for this upcoming word is EXPANSION. I want to expand on what 2019 brought me. I will soon be starting 2020 off in a new town and I am excited to see what it has to offer! Change can be scary but it also can create growth like you have never felt.

If you haven’t done some self reflecting on 2019, I suggest you do so. Focus on the good and look at how far you have come. This will help you create your goals and intentions for 2020 and a positive mindset for starting the year.

Journaling prompts for self reflection…

If I could tell my 2018 self about 2019, what would I say?

If I could pick 2 pivotal moments from 2019 what would they be?

What was the greatest improvements I have made this year?

How can 2020 be even better than 2019?

What do I plan to bring to the table in 2020?

I would love to hear from you! Let me know if something resonates, and keep being your best, true self! Thank you to those who have reached out on my special day and I hope you all have the best New Year!

Mom Wellness, Self Care

Motherhood Mantras to Get You Through the Day

As mothers, we have a tough, thankless job that doesn’t come with any handbook with directions on how to navigate motherhood. We are forced to tap into that divine feminine intuition that sometimes can be tough to listen to when we are tired, working, trying to raise kind, responsible human beings and juggling all life throws at us. That can lead to opportunities for negative narratives filling up your mind. Then comes the comparisons to other mothers, without much help from social media. It then leads to focusing on what we did wrong to what a horrible parent we are. You can head down a rabbit hole of despair fairly quickly.

But there are some things we can do to stay centered and close to the Goddess Mother within you. The more we work on our own narrative, the more others will catch on as well. If anything we need more now, it’s to support each other in this motherhood journey even if situations are not the same. We need to unite as mothers because, let’s be honest, it takes a village to raise a child!

So how can we do that?

Changing the narrative.

Sounds easier said than done, I know. But don’t complicate it because it is a simple task, we can all do. When you find negative thoughts flooding your mind, instantly turn it into something positive. Whether its immediately thinking of 3 things you are grateful for or just saying something positive about yourself instead. This will train your mind into releasing the negative and focusing on the positive. Instead of thinking about everything you did wrong, think about everything you did right! I guarantee that list is longer!

Something else I love, love, love are Affirmations.

Affirmations are positive, unique mantras or statements about you or your situation that you can play on repeat in your mind daily. You can choose one daily or a few different ones to repeat throughout the day. I suggest starting your day, upon waking, with an affirmation that will set the tone for the day. Write it down so you can be reminded of it often.

If you are having trouble coming up with your own, here is a list of 30 Motherhood Mantras that will get you through the chaos that motherhood comes with.

  1. I love myself enough, to nurture myself, so I have an abundance of love to give to others.
  2. I trust my intuition to lead me in my motherhood journey.
  3. I am capable of amazing things because I helped create life.
  4. I love the body that created and carried my child(ren).
  5. My body is beautiful and deserves grace in this season of healing.
  6. I am centered and focused on healing my postpartum mind, body, and soul.
  7. I am strong because I helped create, carry and birth my little one(s).
  8. Peace begins with me. The more peaceful I am inside, the more peace I have to share with others. – Louise Hay
  9. This is just a season of life that needs me to nurture and be nurtured.
  10. I love myself because_____________.
  11. I am filled with an abundance of love.
  12. Today I will find peace in knowing that the sun always rises and so will I.
  13. Even the littlest thing I do, serves the greater good of my family.
  14. I parent with confidence, without guilt or comparisons. Other mothers are not me, as I am not them.
  15. I give myself permission to do something that nourishes my mind, body and soul.
  16. Loving my child(ren) is more important than loving every moment of motherhood.
  17. I am a good mom, even as I work to become a better one.
  18. I was chosen to parent my child because I was exactly what he/she needed.
  19. There is an abundance of love and peace in this home, even in the midst of chaos.
  20. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my child(ren).
  21. I will do my best as a mom, and that is always enough.
  22. I am more than enough for my baby.
  23. I am present and grateful in this moment.
  24. I will model self-love to my child(ren) without guilt.
  25. The struggles I push through today will be the strengths I gain tomorrow.
  26. My love is given from my full, heart centered, cup.
  27. I will let go of how I think today is supposed to go and accept how it flows.
  28. I am grateful for my ability to create and carry life.
  29. I was brought to this moment because I am strong enough to thrive through this situation gracefully.
  30. I am going with the flow of life and I am peaceful knowing it will all be OK.

I hope starting this affirmation practice gives you the confidence you need to be your best Goddess Mother self, even when life challenges it.