In the fall of 2018 I woke up in the morning to prepare for the school day, but as I was getting ready, I noticed I felt really weak and short of breath. I thought to myself, I’m 35, and I work out all the time, so maybe I am just getting sick. As the school day went on, I was traveling to different schools as a behavior specialist trying to meet with teachers and observe students for behavior assessments. I stopped into one school to observe a classroom and as I walked down the hall, I had to stop and sit on the floor. I was so out of breath, and I just felt like my heart was beating a million miles per hour. The princiap had to call for the nurse, because I told her I felt like I was going to pass out! The nurse then proceeded to check my pulse and my heart rates was beating 190 beats per minute. With that in mind, they immediately sent me to the emergency room to get medical help. It turned out, I was suffering from atrial fibrillation. I had a cardiologist appointment set up the next day, and the doctors told me I have what you call loan afib, which can be brought on by stress and anxiety! A long story short, that 2018-2019 school year I had eight emergency hospital visits, because of Loan Atrial fibrillation attacks induced by anxiety and stress. The doctor kept telling me my heart was healthy, and their where no blockages, and that he couldn't really know for a fact what was happening to trigger my atrial fibrillation. The only thing he could tell me was you need to reduce the anxiety and stress in your life!
“REDUCE JOB TITLES THAT DON’T PAY EXTRA MONEY”
With the doctors advice, I began my journey on studying ways to reduce anxiety and stress in my life. At first I thought this was the dumbest thing ever, because I was like.. I am young, in shape, and I feel like I never get stressed out! That’s the mind set I had, but my body was telling me differently. With thousands of dollars spent to medical bills for all my emergency room visits, I was desperate for answers! I was averaging a hospital visit at least once a month! So I decided to visit a holistic health and wellness doctor. What she told me, was not what I wanted to hear! Her first piece of advice was you need to change your diet up! The coffee, the caffeine, and sugars need to be cut big time out of your daily diet. She told me water is my best friend, and you should be drinking plenty of it throughout the day. She also asked what kind of job I was in, and if possible is there any way you could change that job, or find ways to reduce the amount of stress that is triggering your heart to get out of rhythm? At first, I was thinking, did she just ask me to quit my job? I was thought how can I quit my job, when this is the only thing I have been doing for over a decade! I asked her how can I quit my job, and she said I am not asking you to quit your job! I am asking you to analyze your job and find ways to cut thing out of your job that are causing you stress. After the visit, I went home to break down pros and cons of my job. What I realized, is sometimes schools do not have enough resources to fund more staff, and so they like to promote you by adding a better tittle to your position. My title was a behavior specialist, but the behavior specialist job paid the same as a campus behavior teacher position. The behavior specialist position had more responsibilities then the campus behavior teacher. So, I decided to drop a title and just accept a campus behavior teacher position for the same pay. This help reduce my stress immensely! Instead of being responsible for four school districts as a behavior specialist, I now am in charge of just one school. Sometimes we have to cut back on the responsibility we have working in schools. Its easy to take on a lot of different responsibilities because we have a hard time saying NO! Trust me, by reducing the number of hats you wear throughout the school day, you are doing your body a favor! As a professional, you need to respect your time. Time is the number one asset you will ever have in life, and you never get more of it! Respect your time, you need to get paid for your time. Don’t let stress and anxiety destroy your body for FREE!
“DELETE SCHOOL EMAILS FROM YOUR PHONE”
The next thing I did to reduce stress, was delete my email account from my personal phone. I would find myself looking at my emails during my personal time. This is not good for your body! What ends up happening, is that once you check your emails outside of work you start thinking about that email. I don't know about you, but out of all my years in education I don't get much emails that are about good news! Most of my emails are about problems. What I have learned, is that you are not going to be able to solve that problem on your personal time. The only way you are going to be able to solve that problem is at work. The idea of me deleting my email account came to me as I was sitting in a mindfulness professional development. The message that I couldn't get out of my head was, you are the happiest when your mind and body is present. When you start thinking about the future or past, that’s when you start to worry and experience feelings that are keeping you from being the happiest. Knowing this, I always ask myself, my body is present, is my mind? When my body is experiencing personal time outside from work, why would I want to open an email about problems that I can only solve in the future? This is why I deleted my email from my phone! Thinking about problems that need to be solved at work will ruin your personal time that can be spent in more positive ways!
“GET INVOLVED IN YOGA AND MEDITATION”
On a third visit to my doctor, she asked me if I ever did yoga, or meditated? I thought to myself how uncool is yoga and meditation! I do cross fit, I work out hard and train like a top athlete, why would I ever mediate or participate in yoga? Well, the doctor told me, think of yoga and meditation as a workout for your mind! She said, you need to focus on relaxing and if you don’t allow your body to take time to relax, then your body will eventually shut down. She told me think about it like this… If you drive a car at top speed for a long period of time, eventually the motor will catch on fire! She said this is exactly what is happening to you! You keep pushing your body a million miles per hour throughout the day, and you give your body no time to relax! So, I listened to her advice and attended mindfulness yoga classes and learned how to meditate! What I learned, was your mind needs several breaks throughout the day. Meditation is very hard at first, especially if you never do it. My advice is to take three to four two-minute breaks throughout your day and just close your eyes and practice taking deep breaths. Since I have loan afib, I picture my heart breathing in and out slowly, so I can train my heart to stay in rhythm! I also like to attend mindfulness yoga, because this helps me relax so much and it defiantly gets me ready for the week. There are tons of books and videos on meditation and yoga. My personal advice, is pick out programs that work for you. I will even take time throughout my school day to have yoga sessions with my students! This allows them to have several mind breaks throughout the day, and it also benefits me was well.
“ALLOW MOTHER NATURE TO DECORATE YOUR CLASSROOM ”
One a 5thvisit to the doctor’s office, I asked the doctor if she had any more advice for me on how to deal with stress and anxiety. The words that came out of her mouth about made me fall out of my chair. She asked me with a straight face, “do you walk outside barefooted in the grass?” I started laughing and said what do you mean by that? She said the way we live in our society keeps us from experiencing the outdoors and how nature can benefit us when it comes to stress and anxiety. She told me you need to put plants in your classroom, and use more natural lighting. Experience with earth tone colors. Make your classroom represent the outdoors. I thought to myself this won’t work, but I decided to give it a try, and I can’t tell you how much it works. My room feels so peaceful! I spend most of the day in my room, and I can tell you from experience, you need to be in a stress reducing environment!
I am still learning on how to reduce as much stress and anxiety as I can in my life to keep me from having my episodes of loan atrial fibrillation. These are just some of the top interventions that has helped me reduce my irregular heart beat! Keep in mind stress and anxiety are toxins to our body, and we need to respect our bodies better, if we tend to live a long successful enjoyable life!