Poster Presentations and Performance Paranoia


How to overcome performance anxiety from either stage fright or a poster presentation

Stage fright and the fear of public speaking are incredibly similar. Whether you are a dancer, painter, author, pharmacist, physician, or nurse you will more than likely be asked to get on stage and give a performance or presentation at some point. It is common to have performance anxiety.

For healthcare workers, most public speaking will be at conferences when presenting a research poster or lecture.  (Although why limit yourself to just that!) This environment, while traditionally low key, can still be anxiety inducing. As a dancer, the expectation of getting on stage is much higher, and so are the number of people watching you. This can make the situation equally as terrifying. So what are some healthy ways we can overcome this fear of public speaking?

Deep breathing:

Deep breathing may make you roll your eyes as one of those “wholistic” voodoo techniques that doesn’t really work, but trust me, it does. More importantly, trust the research behind it. A recent study out of australia evaluated Heart Rate Variability or HRV (one of the more negative and measurable side effects of performance anxiety) as well as self-reported anxiety. They had three groups of trained musicians. One control group, one group instructed to take 30 minutes of slow breathing before their performance, and another group using slow breathing and HRV target biofeedback. The slow breathing groups showed improvements in HF (High Frequency) heart rates, meaning their heart rates were lower. They also showed less variability if LF/HF (low frequency/high frequency) ratio measures, meaning they did not have as much heart rate variability when compared to controls. The addition of the biofeedback did not provide any statistical benefits than just the slow breathing alone.

So why does deep breathing work?

Deep breathing works because when you use your diaphragm to breathe, you are activating your parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for your flight or fight response. Your parasympathetic nervous system, is responsible for you rest and digest response, and directly contradicts your sympathetic nervous system. So when you activate your parasympathetic nervous system right before a big performance, you have already activated all the rest and digest pathways. So the fight or flight pathways have a much harder time overcoming this and you don’t have the heart rate increases typical of the nerves associated with performance anxiety.


The trick with tea is looking past the fancy labels and what they claim to do on the box, and read the actual ingredients.  There are many natural herbs that have proven medicinal benefits, and a lot of teas designed to take your money and may even cause you harm. To learn more about herbs in general, check out this article written by Rose all about cooking with herbs!

When it comes to tea and performance anxiety however, the real trick is avoiding caffeine. It pains me slightly to say this as I absolutely love my caffeine in any form, but the research is undeniable. Caffeine may give you a slight energy boost, though more than likely that energy boost is from the sugar in the caffeinated drink. That small energy burst will be short lived, and lead to a crash in the end. Caffeine can more than double the amount of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine your body is producing. It also decreases your GABA neurotransmitter which acts as your bodies natural ‘brake’, and slows down and relaxes your body. I hate to be the one to tell you all of this. But it is true. Caffeine really should be avoided before a larger performance.

What you can find in tea however that will help, is camomile. Camomile is a common ingredient in ‘sleepy time’ tea, however it does more than just help with sleep. It contains many antioxidants including flavones. Flavones have been shown to lower blood pressure, something which is incredibly beneficial when you are about to get on a stage!

Practice Practice Practice:

Another simple technique is to make sure you are as prepared as possible, so nothing can cause you additional stress on your big day. Nothing is worse than getting ready to get on stage and realizing there is a large tear in your skirt. The number of times I have had to frantically search for push pins to mount my poster is higher than I care to admit.

By making sure to pack your performance bag the night before, you have the opportunity to check your costume for any last minute tears you may need to fix, or find some safety pins to make sure you have them on hand. Read your emails carefully to know what will be provided to set up your poster. Map out the location of where you are going and know how long it will take you so you won’t get stuck in traffic. Memorize your speech so it comes off as seamlessly as possible. Practice your choreography with and without music, with and without mirrors, and make sure you practice at least once in your full costume so you know if you can wear bangles without having them fly off your wrist and into the audience. (Nothing will ruin a performance faster than hitting an audience member in the head… trust me I’ve been there and you don’t want that to happen to you.)

When to talk to your doctor about medication?

Before I start talking about medication, please remember that while I am a pharmacist I am not YOUR pharmacist. This article is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your physician and your pharmacist before starting any medications.

If none of the above techniques work for you, it may be time to talk to your doctor about medication. Medication can be used in addition to any of the above techniques, but it should not e the sole technique used to overcome anxiety. Try different combination of both pharmacological, and non-pharmacological techniques. Deep breathing by itself may not be as helpful as you need, but deep breathing, tea, and lots of practice may work in combination. If there is one type of medication that should be added though, it should be a beta blocker.

Beta Blockers:

Beta blockers act on the Beta 1 and Beta 2 receptors and block adrenergic stimulation. This means they can decreases heart rate, myocardial contractility, blood pressure, and myocardial oxygen demand. Nonselective beta-adrenergic blockers (propranolol, nadolol) reduce portal pressure by producing splanchnic vasoconstriction (beta2 effect) thereby reducing portal blood flow.

No medication is FDA approved for performance anxiety, however propranolol has been the most studied. It comes in an immediate release formulation that will work quickly when used. This medication will not stop you from being nervous, but it will block the physiological response to nervousness. By not having the rapid increase in heart rate and blood pressure it is easier to focus on the performance itself, rather than your nerves.


Clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan) all fall into a category of medications called benzodiazepines. These drugs can be used to reduce anxiety. However, they carry a high addiction potential, and are only recommended for short term use. Long term use of these agents has not been studied. If the beta blockers and other techniques do not work this could be considered, however this is an absolute last line agent and must be used in close collaboration with a physician and pharmacist. This drug class is one of the most abused controlled substances we have. That being said though, they may help with anxiety under the right conditions.

I hope this information has been helpful! Let us know how you overcome your nerves before a big presentation or performance! We would love to hear from you! You can contact us anytime here.

Performance Anxiety
Performance Anxiety

Happy Holi!

Buddha Eyes in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo by Rose Auflick. Happy Holi!

Happy Holi!

This delightful Hindu festival of colors originated in India as a way to celebrate love, forgiveness, and the triumph of good over evil, and I was blessed to get to see it firsthand 11 years ago in pre-communist Nepal.

A Little Backstory

Back in 2008, my dad was working for the oil company, Aramco, and my mom and I were living with him in an American compound in Saudi Arabia. Due to our proximity to many exotic locations and the extensive perks offered by Aramco, the middle schools developed a tradition of chaperoned trips for kids to choose from every Spring Break. I remember that I had wanted to go on the Italy/Switzerland trip that year, but I ended up “settling” for the Nepal trip (spoiled, much?) since my closest friends were going there. I had no idea I was going to love it so much!

Our group for the chaperoned trip to Nepal in 2008. Happy Holi!

Our group for the chaperoned trip to Nepal in 2008.

What Holi Was Like in Nepal

We arrived in Nepal just in time for the celebration of Holi, so it was a good thing we had a lot of walking planned for that first day. Even though it was glaringly obvious that we were a group of foreign tourists, the locals wholeheartedly shared their traditions with us, throwing water balloons at us from their apartment windows and even dousing a few of us with entire buckets of water. One of our guides explained that this was a great kindness, as the water was considered a form of blessing.

Play Video

Water balloon fight/war at Nepalese apartments in celebration of Holi. (Don’t worry about the girl who looks hurt in the video; the balloon stung a little, but she was totally fine just seconds later!)

As we continued to walk the streets of Kathmandu, we saw people dancing and singing, and every once in a while, a young child would run up to our group to peg us with more water. We also encountered several people carrying brightly-colored powders, and if they held their hands out to us, it meant they wanted us to let them put some of this powder on our faces, another type of blessing. This quickly became my favorite part of Holi, and I got so excited every time I saw another powder-carrier, especially if they had a new color for me to wear.

Young me with a couple of the Nepalese locals who powdered my face in celebration of Holi.

By the end of the day, we were tie-dye-dripping messes, but we were happy and grateful to have been swept up in this wholesome tradition.

The transition of my appearance throughout Holi, from just a dash of color to a full-on wet rainbow. Happy Holi!

The transition of my appearance throughout Holi, from just a dash of color to a full-on wet rainbow.

Have you celebrated Holi before?

What’s your favorite part of this holiday?

Happy Holi, readers!


To learn more about the cultural significance of Holi, check out this website: click here


For more fun reads by us, click here!

Why Advocacy Matters

Texas State Capitol

Yesterday may have seemed like just an ordinary Tuesday, but in reality it was one of the most exciting days for Texas and Tennessee pharmacy! In a random coincidence of happenstance, yesterday was both the Texas and Tennessee Pharmacy Day on the Hill. Our team member Catlina is a pharmacist in both of these states. She has helped coordinate multiple hill visits and has been involved in advocacy her entire pharmacy career. But the real question is why does advocacy even matter?

Congress has historically been one of the least trusted professions. Gallup polls rate members of congress at the absolute bottom of the list even with used car salespeople. Healthcare workers however, are among the most trusted. Nurses, medical doctors, and pharmacists have consistently been the top three highest ranked professions in regards to trust. Yet even though there is such a large gap it is important for the professions to work together. Pharmacy is THE most regulated profession in the entire world. No other profession has the licensing requirements, board oversight, laws, rules, and regulations that dictate how pharmacists practice each and every day.

Picture any activity you do in a pharmacy. Patient counseling? Mandated by OBRA 90. Displaying licenses? Mandated by board of pharmacy rule. Verifying orders? Mandated by the most complex combination of laws and rules imaginable. These lawmakers do not work in pharmacies. While there may be a few pharmacists in the legislature (Tennessee has 3, one of which is the lieutenant governor), these individuals are the exception rather than the norm. They do not understand the typical workflow of a pharmacy, and how we operate.

Tennessee Advocacy

As an example, here in Tennessee we had a bill proposed that would make it illegal for a pharmacist (or anybody) to eat behind the counter of a pharmacy. A patient had come to the pharmacy counter to pick up her medication, and she saw a pharmacist eating some peanuts behind the counter. While she was not allergic to peanuts, she got very upset by this, and called her local congressman. He then introduced a bill that would make it where no food would be allowed in the pharmacy for fear of contamination. This was a valid concern, as it is estimated that anywhere from 0.6%-1.3% of all people are allergic to peanuts.

However, what was not understood by this individual and the congressman who introduced the bill, was the extensive process we go through in a pharmacy to ensure a safe environment. The workflow of a pharmacy was also not well understood. As it is very common for a pharmacy to have only one pharmacist. This pharmacist is typically working through their lunch due to the need to counsel patients. It is very possible that those few peanuts the pharmacist ate were the only food she was able to eat all day. She then would have been legally required to wash her hands before handling any medication, and would have sanitized any counting trays used before counting any more prescriptions. When viewed in this light, and with the already existing sanitation laws in place, a few peanuts may not seem so harmful.

One person was able to potentially change the practice of pharmacy forever. This individual did not have any special relationship with the congressman. She was simply a concerned citizen who made a phone call. This is exactly why days on the hill are so important. Both Texas and Tennessee pharmacists were able to meet their elected legislators yesterday, and discuss issues that were important to them. When we show up at the capitol building in numbers like we do on these days, it is hard to not notice.

Texas Advocacy

Let me give you another example from Texas. Texas is one of only 5 states that does not currently allow for physician dispensing. This means that all prescriptions have to go through a pharmacy, and meet the strict requirements placed by the board of pharmacy and our state and federal rules, ensuring that safety measures are in place such as washing hands and sanitizing counting trays. There was a bill 3 years ago that would have allowed for limited physician dispensing for certain medications, completely avoiding these safeguards. When this bill was brought up in committee, I organized a group of 33 student pharmacists to go to the capitol. All we did was sit in the back of the room, in our white coats, and register in opposition to the bill. One signature and one seat was all we needed. Because of our presence in that room the bill was voted down in committee, and physician dispensing was not passed.

Catlina and Congresswoman
Catlina having a terrible hair day as she meets with her San Antonio Congresswoman

What Can You Do?

These stories show just how much of a difference you can make on the legislative process. All it took was one phone call about peanuts to get a bill introduced. All it took was a few signatures and showing up to get a bill to fail. My current position has me following 26 bills, and going to committee and subcommittee meetings almost daily during our legislative season. I can tell you from experience the majority of meetings have no members of the public attend. The majority of legislators have not heard from the people they represent. When a member of the public does show up it is noticed, and it has a large affect. That one phone call, that one letter, that one meeting that you show up for, really do make a difference.

So to all the pharmacists who attended these inspiring events yesterday, we here at Poise and Potions congratulate you. The difference you make may not seem like much, but every chance we have to get our voices heard is critical. We have to start advocating for ourselves as a profession. Pharmacists must insist on getting fair lunch breaks, and reasonable drug prices for our patients. We cannot let those who are not pharmacists dictate the practice of pharmacy.

Every profession, no matter if it is dancing, medicine, painting, nursing, architecture, or anything else is regulated in some way. So why not control the way we practice our profession?

Catlina and Taylor
Catlina at the Texas Day at the Hill 2016

Even if it is not through an official event you can still meet with your legislator at any time. Don’t hesitate to make those calls, and stand up for what you need. You would be surprised just how easy advocacy is.

I hope this article is inspiring, and encourages you to reach out. You can also reach out to us at any time, by contacting Poise and Potions. We want to hear how you have interacted with the legislative process and advocated for YOUR profession!


Another Generic Top 5 Valentine’s Day List:


Top 5 Things To Do If You’re Single

Oh boy, it’s that time of year again. Oversized teddy bears, mountains of chocolate, and about 1 million people professing their love for one another on every one of your social media accounts. In a lot of ways, Valentine’s Day can be really sweet – Unless you’re single (and not entirely happy about it). Despite being a day about love, it isn’t uncommon for a lot of individuals to feel utterly alone. If you’re reading this article, I can only assume that you, dear reader, are soloing Valentine’s Day this year. Fear not, my friend! For I have come prepared with a list of things to do or consider if you’re worried about being alone on the 14th. As a single, female counselor at a Texas university I not only have experience working with people who are in distress, but also have had to address my own reservations about the dreaded ‘singles awareness day’. Here are 5 things I have learned over the years…

1.       Cry

Yes, you read that suggestion correctly. And before this becomes a screenshot taken out of context, let me explain: As a counselor, I often encourage my clients to express their emotions. All of them. I don’t limit my clients to acknowledging (and expressing) the emotions we in society have deemed as ‘positive’. It’s absolutely normal to feel a wide range of emotions – And you do yourself a disservice to not embrace that. It’s okay to feel disappointed or angry or just plain sad if you’re single on Valentine’s Day. The key here is to acknowledge the emotion, let it all out in a preferably healthy manner, and then process it while moving forward. What we want to avoid is becoming consumed by this emotion to where it ruins our chances of bouncing back. So go ahead and cry, scream, or be a little bitter – At the end of the day, you’re allowed to feel what you feel, and all we can do is try to process through the emotions and move on.

2.       Lose Yourself In A Hobby or Passion

This suggestion is a lot more to the point. Do something that you genuinely enjoy. Maybe you’ve been neglecting your video games on Steam or you’ve been putting off making those double fudge brownies you saw on Pinterest. Or maybe you’ve thought about trying something – gardening, cooking, wood burning, anything – but haven’t made the time for it. Now is the time. Get out of your zone and try something that you normally wouldn’t do.

3.       Plan A Date Night (For Yourself)

Look. I get it. Most of you reading this would much rather be with someone on Valentine’s Day, and I can completely understand that. Unfortunately, the fact that you’re reading this tells me that you’re probably powering through this holiday solo. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost! I often encourage my clients to ‘do what you wish someone would do for you in a partnership’. (Yes, technically even that for those of you with minds in the gutter…) In therapy, we often discuss the concept of an ideal partner and the things that they could offer my client – Take a moment to imagine your ideal partner. Now try to reproduce that in a solo setting. You like a person who makes you laugh? Spend the evening watching your favorite stand-up comedian. People who can cook turn you on? Google your favorite food and try to replicate the recipe. Do you miss feeling physically close to someone? Throw a blanket in the dryer for about 10-15 minutes and snuggle up on the couch. Treat yourself!  Will this totally replace being in a partnership? No. But we’re trying to make some sweet lemonade with these bitter lemons life gave us.

4.       Plan A Date Night (With Friends)

So, this is more of a suggestion for those of you with other single friends. I happen to be friends with quite a few people that are already in committed relationships and sometimes the struggle is real. However, making time to hang out with other people who are in a similar position can make Valentine’s Day a lot easier. Make a party out of it… Kind of like those wild divorce parties you hear about, but with less burning ex-spouse clothing and more chocolate. Sometimes isolating ourselves is the worst thing we can do when we’re feeling down/off about something – This suggestion offers you the chance to enjoy a night connecting with other single friends who are probably feeling the same mixture of emotions that you are.

5.       Recognize This Isn’t Forever

I can already hear the groaning after reading that statement. I hear some of you saying ‘But Sun, I’m sick of hearing about how when it’s the right time I’ll find someone’. I know, and I completely agree with you. The time statement is crap and doesn’t feel very good, especially when you’ve been single for quite some time. But I really want you to pause for a second and hear me out: This really isn’t forever. This is a moment in time… A sucky, not-so-fun moment, but a moment nonetheless. This is a period in your life where, unfortunately, you’re not attached or committed to someone, and while that can feel like the end of the world some days, just know that it isn’t. You know, a lot of people struggle with severe mental health issues, and they can become discouraged with their anxiety, depression, etc. Sometimes they are only able to see themselves as the illness. I want to tell you what I tell my clients: You are so much more than just this moment. They may have anxiety or depression or body image issues, but that does not mean that that’s all that they are. It is a part of them, but not all of them. And so I say to you, reader who is presumably single, that you may be single, but you are so much more than that.

In all honesty, this article was put together in hopes of making someone laugh. For all my single readers out there, I hope you were able to take something away from this article and apply it to your own life. For all my non-single readers out there… I’m a little impressed you read this entire article. A+ to you. Hopefully you can share this with your single friends if they seem a little down on the 14th. Overall, regardless of your current relationship status, I hope that y’all have a wonderful holiday – Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to shoot us a message. We are always interested in hearing feedback.

Much Love,



Scientifically Proven Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Scientifically proven ways to keep your resolutions

Happy Boxing Day!

Today is a day traditionally celebrated in the UK and Ireland, where you can give back. On this day masters would traditionally preset household staff with christmas boxes, or presents. Boxes would be collected for the poor and given to churches or places of need. The name is also connected to a nautical tradition. Ships would set sail with a sealed box of money or gifts for good luck. If the voyage was a success, the box would be donated to a priest. This box would then be opened on Christmas, and given to those in need. But today, is also a day for planning for the future.

We have just celebrated some happy holidays, eaten a bunch of food, and had some good holiday cheer. Now with a belly full of delicious food, good drinks, and the lights of the christmas tree still twinkling in the background, I have set down to start planning for the next year.

After all, Benjamin Franklin said “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” So we know we should plan, but the question is how.

If you are anything like me you have set new years resolutions for many years. Some time you are more successful than others. Sometimes you are able to make it all the way until february before breaking them. You spend extra on gym memberships, clean the sugar from your pantry, and have grand ambitions to make this year your best year yet. Then a few months later you open the bill for the gym membership you never use, while you grab the box of sweets from the cabinet. Sound familiar? Me to.

But there are ways to make New Year’s resolutions more successful than others. Research shows that only 8% of goal setters are able to maintain their goals long term. This may seem like a small percentage, and very discouragingly small number. But there is hope in that 8%. The real question is what are those 8% doing that the other 92% of us are not? They have found the secret to setting successful goals, and they have done it using some of the techniques below. Now I cannot guarantee that using these techniques will ensure that you keep your goals. However, these scientifically proven ways to keep your New year’s Resolutions will get you a heck of alot closer.

One of the best things you can do is to create SMART goals. SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.




We have a tendency to set goals such as “I want to lose weight”. The problem with goals like this is that there is no clear way to measure success. How much weight do you want to lose? How do you want to lose the weight? Through diet or exercise or both? The more specific you get the higher chances you will have of obtaining it. If our goal was instead something like: I want to work out 5 times a week. This provides a much clearer, specific way to reach the goal. This provides a journey. A path from A to B rather than a mysterious B that seems far away and unreachable. The path is now there, we have a way to reach it.


Continuing on with our weight loss analogy, we also need a way to know if we have reached our goal. How can we know if we have lost weight or not? With weight loss we have a very measurable way to see if we reached our goal. With weight loss, we have numbers on the scale. We can change our goal to say “I will lose 20 pounds by working out five times a week.”


Humans are ambitions creatures, and we like to shoot for the stars. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with reaching for a goal, making sure the goal is attainable is an important step in keeping your new year’s resolution. If you want to lose weight, and weigh 300 pounds, getting to a goal weight of 150 may not be attainable in one year. The recommended weight loss is a pound a week. Studies have shown that when losing weight at this rate people are more likely to keep the weight off. Weight loss pills or fad diets that promise rapid weight loss are typically counter productive. You may lose weight rapidly at first, but then you gain it all back and then some in just as short an amount of time. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to most goals. It’s good to think of your resolutions as targeting bad habits. Bad habits required many repetitive actions done again and again to become habits.


Just as our bad habits were built on many small repetitive actions, small repetitive actions will break them down.

As zig Ziglar says: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing- that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Setting realistic, small repetitive goals is the best way to go for setting a great new years resolution. Going to the gym 5 times a week may not be realistic if you have essays to write, children to care for, dinner to cook, and work to do. Take the time to truly figure out what is feasible with your schedule, and then stick to it.


This one is last but certainly not least. One of the most important ways to know if you reached your goal is putting a time limit on it. Putting a time limit on your resolution makes it harder to procrastinate putting it off. This can be setting a goal such as: I want to lose 4 pounds every month. Another example would be: I want to lose 10 pounds by the end of the year. There are many ways to do it, but pick whichever one works for you and your particular goal.

SMART goals are the start of how to achieve your New Year’s Resolutions. However, there are a few other scientifically proven ways to keep your New Year’s resolutions that you can do to increase your chances of success.


Piggybacking is a technique where you tie a habit to one you already do. When you start taking a medication for the first time, a good pharmacist will tell you to put your medicine next to your toothbrush. This way, every day when you (hopefully) brush your teeth, you see your medicine right on the counter and remember. You can do the same thing with your new year’s resolution. If you want to make it to the gym, put your gym bag right next to whatever it is you can’t leave the house without. Putting your gym bag on top of your purse, or your keys, wallet, schoolbag, etc will remind you to take it with you when you leave. This way when you are on your way home you will see the bag in your car. Seeing the bag will make you more likely to go.

You can also do the exact opposite to help avoid bad habits. If you are wanting to save money this new year, don’t make it easy on yourself. Take your credit card out of it’s normal, easy to reach place. Put the card in the deep dark depth of your purse rather than in the wallet that’s attached to the cell phone that is always in your hand. Or go to the bank and withdraw the exact amount of cash you need to live until your next paycheck, and don’t carry your card at all.

Even things like filling up your gas tank will be inconvenient now, because you will have to go inside the gas station, estimate how much gas you need and how much it will cost, and pay them in cash before you pump. This forces you to think about how much you are spending. And when you have to count bills at the checkout line rather than just insert a card and go you are much more likely to save money, because it is no longer piggybacked to your easy, normal routine.


Get out of jail free

Another great way that you can help keep your resolutions is to understand that you don’t have to be perfect. A study published in the Journal of Marketing Research focuses on a study done at UCLA (University of California, Las Angeles) where Marissa Sharif and Suzanne Shu showed the benefits of cutting yourself a break. They offered participants $1 for every day they went online and completed 35 annoying tasks. Participants were able to receive a $5 bonus on top of their already earned income for reaching a goal.

This goal was randomly selected and could be one of three. Participants could be asked to complete their tasks 7 days out of 7, the most difficult to reach goal. They could be assigned the easiest goal of completing 5 days out of 7 but were still encouraged to reach all 7 days. Or be assigned the mulligan group, where they were asked to complete 7 days out of 7, but were given up to two ‘free’ days in case they needed it. You would think that the group that only had to complete 5 days out of the 7 would have had the most success, but it was the third group, the mulligan group that was the most successful. 53% of participants in the mulligan group reached their goal, compared to only 26% in the 5/7 day group, and 21% in the 7/7 day group. Thinking about how our minds work this actually makes alot of sense. We like to set high goals for ourselves, reaching for the stars is what we do. But it is also very easy to get discouraged, and by allowing ourselves to have a free pass without failing makes us much more likely to reach our goals.

Tell people about your goals, but tell the right people:

There has been conflicting research about if telling people about your goals is helpful or harmful. However, a meta analysis by Jennifer Lerner and Phillip Tetlock tells us that telling the right person your goals who will give you the right type of praise is most important.

Telling a friend is more likely to help you reach your goals than telling a stranger, however it has to be the right friend. According to this study you want a friend who can give you process praise, or praise based on your effort and the process you have taken on; rather than person praise, or praise based on who you are as a person. This means you want to find a friend who is capable of saying something like “Hey you’ve been to the gym 5 times this week and are able to lift 10 more pounds than you used to, that’s really great!” This is more helpful than a friend who says, “Hey you’re doing great! Way to be a beast with those weights!” You want your feedback to be due to the actions you have completed, rather than who you are because then you are more likely to continue with those actions.

When you believe it has something to do with who you are as a person than you risk thinking that if you fail it is due to an inherent deficiency on your part rather than the result of your actions. If you think you can’t lose weight because you’re just not strong enough, than the problem is internal, and cannot be overcome by external factors. Most things that we would have as resolutions can be changed however. Thinking I can’t lose weight because I didn’t go to the gym enough means that you have an easy solution to the problem. Go to the gym more. This thinking makes you more successful.

Start off with a bang:

Start with a bang

Being overly ambitions is not a bad thing. A study done by Gary Charness and Uri Gneezy created an experiment about exercise habits and financial rewards. They divided participants into three groups randomly. The first group was paid $175 for attending an info session and allowing the researchers to track their exercise habits. The second group was only given the $175 if they attended the info session, allowed the tracking of their exercise habits, and went to the gym at least once in the next month. The third group got paid if they went to the info session, allowed tracking of their exercise habits, and went to the gym at least 8 times in the next month.

This third group had the highest number of people exercising of course, but what is the most fascinating, is that this trend continued, even after the financial incentive went away. Those that were in the third group and experienced a month of higher amount of exercise, went to the gym on average 9 times in the 7 weeks after the first month. The other two groups went about half as often. This shows how important those first few weeks of building a habit can be. And having a friend who can be encouraging in those first few weeks is crucial.

Just like what we talked about above, having the right friend that knows how to push you is critical. You not only want someone who can give you the process praise we talked about above, but someone who can give positive reinforcement during the beginning of your journey. In that critical first month when you are building the habit you are more likely to respond to positive reinforcement, but once the habit is formed, negative feedback is more helpful. For example, in that beginning month you want a friend who will say, “Great job going to the gym 3 times this week, let’s watch the game later to celebrate (positive reinforcement).” Then once you have been going to the gym have them say “I’m going to text you every day until you go to the gym so if you don’t want me to keep bugging you then you gotta go.” Connecting the activity with a positive at the beginning, and removing a negative once the habit is formed can be very beneficial.

Put all these tips, tricks, and scientifically backed theories into practice and you’ll have a pretty great shot at keeping your new year’s resolution. Keeping your resolutions is difficult. There is a reason why we re-do them every year. But if you keep working at it, and use these scientifically proven ways keep your New Year’s Resolutions, you will increase your chances of success drastically. Comment below and let us know how what your new year’s resolutions are. If losing weight or being healthier are part of your resolutions you can always check out our recipe section for quick, healthy recipes to help you reach your goals.

Looking forward to writing for you next year!


Sincerely, Thank You!

Thank you

What a week this has been!

I cannot believe how much Poise and Potions has already taken off! We have had a week of wonderful content, and started letting the world know who we are.

I cannot thank Rose enough for her hard work and great article. I cannot thank our tech mastermind James enough for helping with the website and the amazing work he has done behind the scenes. We have told the world who Poise and Potions is. We have discovered the truth behind the left brain, right brain dominance theory. We have learned about bellydancing costumes, and launched our Words to Live by and Recipes sections of our website. But most important of all, we have gotten great positive feedback from you, our readers.

P&P has already meant the world to me. Every time I see a comment on one of our posts, I know that we are truly reaching our audience. Thank you for being such great readers! We hope to hear from you so please use our contact us form to really tell us if there is something that you wish to see or a particular topic you want us to address. We want to hear from you! You can also join our email list and get updates sent straight to your inbox.

We are also always looking for guest writers and contributors so if you have a topic that you are passionate about we would love to hear about it! Let us know by using our contact us page. If you have missed any of our articles this week you can always check out our blog page for some interesting reads. You can also look at our recipes for quick and healthy ideas for meals. 

Thank you!



Can You Really Eat Healthy?

Veggie Fried Rice

Have you ever wondered why people set alarms to remind themselves to take a pill but they never set alarms to remind themselves to eat?

The answer is simple. Our bodies tell us when it is time to eat. We don’t need external alarms because we have internal alarms going off already. When we don’t eat we don’t feel like ourselves. Our blood sugar drops and we get hangry. We have been eating since the day we were born. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. As much as we love food, America has a public health crisis with staggeringly large numbers of obese and overweight individuals. The World Health Organization has called this an obesity epidemic.

Having a little extra weight is not always a bad thing. I am by no means wanting to body shame or critique any body figure. I am strictly looking at this from a health perspective. Some of the best dancers I have known have had more robust figures, yet I have seen many patients have early deaths from perfectly preventable causes. There are 160 million americans who are overweight or obese. And my goal is to do what I can to help them lead healthier lives. I am not concerned about fitting into a particular size of jeans or how you look. I am concerned about how diet and activity levels are directly correlated to your overall health.

According to the CDC, 31% of Americans are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes. While diabetes may seem like a relatively harmless disease, there is a study based in the UK that claims type 2 diabetics have a decreased life expectancy of 10 years. Another example is heart disease.

Heart disease is the number one most common cause of death in America, and is directly related to our diet and activity level. Put Heart Disease and Diabetes together and they are responsible for 26.3% of all deaths in the United States, and this doesn’t even include decreased quality of life. This means that one out of every four deaths in america could potentially be preventable with diet and exercise. Now this is a large generalization and I am fully aware that not every diabetic is a diabetic because they have eaten poorly. However I would challenge you to find any other intervention that can have a larger impact on health than diet and exercise.

Eating right and exercising are the two single best things we can do for our health.

Now you may be thinking that we have medication to treat diabetes and heart disease, if there are that many deaths than are the medications not working? That is a great question, and let me answer it this way.

Most people will consume about 2,000 calories a day in food and drink. An average tablet will contain only 0.5 calories. We are able to do quite a lot with that 0.5 calories, and or medication are very good at reducing blood sugar and blood pressure, but they cannot be used alone. A blood pressure pill is considered effective if it is able to reduce your systolic blood pressure by two points. Decreasing the salt in your diet reduces systolic blood pressure by an average of 10 points.

So when it comes to what we put in our bodies it is easy to see how food can have such a large effect on our wellbeing. In America we are fortunate to be a developed country with easy access to food. Most of this food, however, is not healthy. While we do have medications and medical procedures that can and do help with these conditions, it is hard to see how taking an expensive medication every day, and having an even more expensive surgery every couple of years is better than evaluating the food we eat.

This is why we wanted to include recipes into our blog. We want to provide healthy, truly healthy alternatives to fast food. Eating healthy starts at home. So please enjoy these recipes from our home, to yours.

Veggie Fried Rice

Veggie Fried Rice

My favorite Veggie Fried Rice recipe! 🍚

1 cup uncooked brown rice, prepared, OR 2 bags ready-rice, microwaved

1 bag (12 oz) frozen peas and carrots, microwaved

3 eggs, scrambled

1 can (15 oz) corn, no salt added

1 can (15 oz) black beans, no salt added

Reduced sodium soy sauce


And well, the rest is self-explanatory!

~Mingled Vitality, January 22, 2018

What Makes a Phrase Motivational?

Why Motivation Matters

When I was young, young enough to pull off two cute pig tails in my hair, my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought about this, and said “I want to play with ponies all day”. She laughed the way all adults laugh when little girls talk about ponies, and moved on. But the question stuck with me. When my mom picked me up from school that day I asked her what I should be when I grow up. This started our first conversation about goals.

My mom told me the best advice she ever got was that her goal should be to become an interesting old lady. This made a lot of sense to me. I didn’t want to be the old lady in the nursing home that her grandkids didn’t want to visit. I wanted to be the old lady that her whole family wanted to visit because they never got tired of talking to Grandma. The type of grandma that was traveling, and making memories and telling new stories. I still remember this almost 2 decades later.

A legit photo of future me still traveling and making memories

Why is it that some things we hear just stick with us like this? In contrast, how many times have you seen one of those stark, traditional motivational posters and rolled your eyes at it? How many times have you scrolled through yet another inspirational saying with a pretty picture on social media? What is the difference between the sayings that stick with us and inspire us 20 years later, and those that don’t?


Part of this is your personality, and part of this is the saying itself.

Motivation is made up of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are those that come from within you. You wake up and go to work in the morning because you enjoy the work that you do and genuinely want to do well. Extrinsic factors come from outside of you, from your environment or from other people. You go to work because you want to support your family, or don’t want the neighbor to call you lazy for not working. Intrinsic motivation is much more effective than extrinsic motivation.

The self discrepancy theory is another way to look at motivation. Higgins came up with this theory in 1987, and argues that there are 3 versions of one’s self. There is the ‘Ideal’ self, or the person that we would like to become. Then there is the ‘Ought’ self, or the way we should behave to become one’s ideal self. Finally there is the ‘Actual’ self, or the self that we really are. The ideal self inspires us, gives us goals to strive for (Ie: wishing we were 10 ibs lighter). The ought self stops us from straying from these goals (Ie: making us eat a salad instead of stopping through a drive through). Yet this process takes motivation.


So if we need motivation how do we get it?

There is a whole science to why motivational sayings are effective. Part of it is how the saying is phrased. In 2000 there was a study by McGlone and Tofighbakhsh that proved a saying that rhymed was more likely to be considered true than one that didn’t. Ward Farnsworth is dean of the University of Texas School of Law, and he evaluates many principles of good writing in his book Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric.

“People have an appetite for well-expressed wisdom, motivational or otherwise.”

– Ward Farnsworth

No discussion about motivational sayings would be complete without looking into the power of social media. Social media has the benefit of easily allowing us to share thoughts, quotes, and pictures. We love sharing our journey to our ideal self. There is a reason why #goals has 65.2 million posts on instagram. We have a chance every day to run across that saying that is going to stick with us and mean so much to us. Yet it can also work against us. For if we see something everyday then it becomes common place, and no longer sticks out. It loses the specialness it had. Balancing the ability to inspire and the potential to get buried in news feeds is the true challenge of motivation on social media.

This is why I started a quote journal not soon after that inspirational conversation with my mom. Any time I have run across a quote that has motivated me, or made me laugh I write it down. I don’t look at it every day, but when I do it inspires me, lifts my spirit, and brings a smile to my face. I hope to share that experience with you. We will be adding a new section on here known as ‘Words to live by’. We hope that these words will encourage you, and brighten your day. For as William Shakespeare once said:

“A light heart lives strong”.

Let us lift your heart with our ‘Words to Live By’ series.


Right Brain, Left Brain, and Everything in Between

What happens when beliefs are challenged? 

Humans crave organization. We like to categorize things, and put them in nice neat little boxes, especially if there are only a few boxes to go into. Some of these things are easy: Are you a guy or a girl? Republican or a democrat? Child or adult? But what happens when you get the response: I’m transgender? I’m an independent? I’m a senior? Suddenly something that was easy to classify before is no longer easy. We have been doing the same thing with our brain. Asking the question: are you left brain or right brain dominant? The theory of left brain vs. right brain dominance is based on the thought that those who are right brain dominant are creative. They have a natural tendency to better understand rhythm and art, are more imaginative, and more intuitive. Those who are left brain dominant tend to be more logical. They have a better understanding of language and math, are more analytical, logical, and science focused. This is a great theory, and a great way to organize people. However it also completely false.

Where did this theory come from? 

Brain dominance came from research done all the way back in the 1860s, by Broca and Wernicke.


You may recall from your bio classes that Broca’s area of the brain is responsible for production of speech and language, and is located on the brain’s left hemisphere. Wernicke’s area is also located on the left side of your brain, and is responsible for comprehension and understanding of speech. Since both of these areas are on the left brain lobe, this lead to the idea that language is controlled by the left side of the brain. Author Robert Louis Stevenson took this theory and ran with it. In 1885 he used this logical, language heavy left side of the brain and balanced it with a more creative and emotional right side, in his popular characters Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think that maybe, just maybe, Dr. Jekyll isn’t the best person to go to for medical advice. This theory became so canonized that it took over popular imagination. After all, back then we did not have the evidence to dispute it. We have learned a lot in the roughly 140 years since then, and one of the huge medical discoveries in that time is the development of MRIs (or Magnetic Resonance Imaging). These machines allow us to scan people’s brain while they are still alive, and get pictures of different parts of the brain. Broca and Wernicke were having to do all their brain research post-mortem. This advancement and many others gave us much more information than Broca and Wernicke were able to get. Fast forward to the 1960s and we start to see multiple studies looking more at this right brain left brain split. Roger W. Sperry actually won the Nobel Prize for his research on this topic in 1981. He was able to prove that certain traits are linked to particular areas of the brain, including how the Broca and Wernicke areas on the left side of the brain are related to language. Now I know what you are thinking. How can a nobel prize winner possibly be wrong? That’s the thing, he wasn’t exactly wrong, he just wasn’t specific enough.

What do we know now?

In 2013 the University of Utah did a large study scanning the brains of over 1,000 people. And discovered there was absolutely no dominance of one side of the brain over the other. The sheer volume of people in this study, and the fact that it was done in multiple countries capturing multiple ethnic groups and ages, makes it a good study. With these results we would have been able to detect if there were any differences between the two sides of the brain. And there was none. Even when they looked across gender, age, and different sub-populations. What there was however, was localization. For example, if somebody was asked to complete a task involving language, the Broca and Wernicke areas on the left side of the brain would ‘light up’ the MRI. However, so would areas of the brain responsible for attention and capturing external stimuli. These areas include the frontal eye fields, area MT, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and are on the right side of the brain. So even someone extremely gifted with languages, someone that we may expect to have a super buff left side of the brain, is relying on both sides of their brain to work. And even if those language areas were stronger, that did not lead to the left side as a whole being stronger, only those specific areas showed up as stronger. We were not able to see these distinct areas of the brain in the research of old. And the mistake of capturing a local area as an entire half of the brain is what lead to the mistaken conclusion that people can be more dominant in one side of the brain than the other. The authors of the 2013 study also said that if we were to generalize our two sides at all, it would be better to say the left side is more associated with language and internal stimuli, while the right side is more connected to attention and external stimuli. But even with these larger generalizations we know that these are more connected to specific areas rather than whole hemispheres. With updated technology such as MRIs we know research in this field will continue to grow. We will be able to learn even more about the specific areas that are responsible for making us… us. In the research that has been done, it is interesting to note that almost all tasks that are ‘sided’ have at least some overlap. Just like we talked about before you cannot use your Broca and Wernicke’s area to properly speak if you weren’t using your attention centers to listen to the question in the first place. How many times have you been talking to your friend and realized they asked you a question, and you give a generic ‘Um hmm’ because you have no idea what question they asked? This chart from the 2013 study shows just how many different areas of the brain there are and how they all connect. They say art comes from the artist’s experience. You write what you know about. That’s why there are so many songs about heartbreak. But we know recognizing internal stimuli and language come from the left side of the brain so creativity can’t be completely right sided. Ask almost anybody who has been through a doctoral program and they will tell you just how much attention and focus was required to get through their classes, or just how much writing they had to do to write their thesis. This combines both the right and the left brain strengths.   While the theory of left brain or right brain dominance is not supported by scientific evidence, I think that you wouldn’t want it to be true even if it could be. Why limit yourself to half of your potential? The best people in any field are the ones that have a multitude of skills. The best nurses know how to read the needs of their patients, but they also know how to understand the medical language used in patient charts. The best painters are those that can see things from a different perspective, and challenge those viewing their painting to do the same. But they also have the communication skills to market themselves. More research needs to be done on specific areas of the brain rather than the two hemispheres themselves. And with more and more advances in medical technology I am sure we will be able to get there.

But First, Let Me Explain

But first, let me explain

Welcome to the first post on Poise and Potions!

I am so excited to be writing this blog. I want to use this blog as a way to connect two different worlds, and have them merge as one. But what does that mean? Who am I? And why should you read this blog? I will answer all these questions!

My name is Catlina, and I am a current pharmacy resident focusing on mental health, and a bellydancer. You can read my Bio here, but let me give you the short version.

I completed 8 years of higher education to be able to call myself a doctor. For my goal is to be able to use medication to help my patients. I have also been a semi-professional dancer almost my entire life, only taking a break when I put myself in a knee brace for a year. 

**PSA: if you are going to ride a horse, make sure that horse is not running full force into another horse. You will tear your knee right open if you do this! Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…**

Being both a pharmacist and a performer I have been lucky enough to see two completely different worlds. I have laughed, cried, screamed, and persisted through 8 years of higher education, only to have one more year of residency still left on the horizon. I have giggled, sweat, and grit my teeth through more stage performances than I can possibly count, and have the dimple on the top of head where my bellydancing sword rests to prove it. I have seen the best of both worlds with incredibly gifted pharmacists grappling with some of the most complex medical topics, and talented performers gliding gracefully from position to position that I could never move my body into.

I have seen the worst of both worlds with pharmacists speaking too scientifically to a patient leading them to be confused and taking their medication incorrectly, and performers unable to participate in shows because they are struggling in school.

What I have rarely seen however, is a balanced merger between these two worlds.

I believe that if these two worlds can learn from each other we can truly create a better place. For a pharmacist, being able to put your knowledge about medications into terms a patient can understand is just as important as the knowledge itself. For a dancer, mapping out the 8-counts of your music and understanding the simple math of your choreography is vital to make sure you balance your performance.

My goal with this blog is simple. I want to create a safe place where the two different worlds of medicine and art can live in harmony. I want us to be able to learn from each other and prove that the two truly do belong together. And if writing this blog will help in any way then I am willing to use every tool I have to write to the best of my abilities.

I hope to make this blog informative, educational, and fun! I will post about pharmacy, bellydancing, medicine, art, and everything in between. While I have many ideas of my own I knew I could not tackle a project like this by myself. I reached out to some of the best people I knew, and landed with a team of truly talented clinicians and artists contributing to this blog. Between the work of Mingled Vitality, Cooper, and Sun we hope to provide the best resources for healthcare workers and creative souls alike.

Together we will create resources for both groups to learn from each other. We hope to expand and make this space not just home for bellydancers and pharmacists, but all scientists and artists alike. If we learn from each other and use our connections made through this blog to help even one patient, to inspire one person with our music, than all the effort will be worth it.

Our vision is to be an interdisciplinary collaborative, home to artists of science and the aesthetic alike, containing practitioner and patient in one voice; seeking to lend our lived experience towards the enlightenment and inspiration of others.

We strive to challenge perspectives, break down barriers, and increase collaboration for the betterment of all. I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I do. But more importantly, I hope you dance like nobody’s watching.


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