Anna Maria Locke


5 ways to protect your energy when you're a sensitive empath

2017Anna Locke

Let’s face it. There is a LOT of really horrible stuff happening in the world and sensationalized in the news these days, and it’s easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed by the constant onslaught.

For those of us who are sensitive or empaths, we FEEL everything that much more intensely and can go into shutdown or paralysis mode, or else be tempted to go stick our head in the sand and pretend everything is ok in our own little bubbles. Neither option is healthy or productive!

It's important to stay aware of what's happening so we can take positive action and do our part to make a difference, but equally important to protect our own energy so we aren't swept away in the current of despair.

Today I’m sharing a few self care techniques that you can practice to protect your energy while still taking action.

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5 ways to protect your energy when you're a sensitive empath (and the world is going to sh*t)

1. Set boundaries

This is so freaking important, especially since we live in a time where we’re bombarded 24/7 with news and social media updates. We’re constantly consuming so much information and have to be very intentional with where we spend our attention and focus!

On social media, set clear boundaries around how you use your apps and what people you follow. Unfollow anyone who does not add value or positivity to your life.

Be very aware of how you feel when you consume news from TV, paper, magazines, radio, etc. I personally don’t watch news on TV because it’s so sensationalized, and I try not to read the paper first thing in the morning when I’m most sensitive.

Where is your energy throughout the day? When do you feel more resilient, and when are you more vulnerable to negativity or anxious thoughts?

I try to start my mornings unplugged with journaling, meditation or affirmations (if I am rocking at life) and personal development reading so I can fill my own positivity and love cup before opening my inbox or facing the world. It gives me so much more resiliency to better respond to the rest of my day instead of going through on autopilot, reacting to whatever happens to me.

If you have people in your life who trigger you, remember that no one can “make” you feel anything so get curious about where your negative feelings are coming from. Work through whatever comes up (get help from a therapist or coach if you need to!) or else remove yourself from situations that don’t allow you to be your best self.

2. Turn guilt into gratitude

It’s easy to feel guilty for everything. Being white, being privileged, being safe and unaffected by the latest tragedy du jour, etc etc etc.

Guilt comes when we feel that there is something wrong with us. And there is nothing wrong with you!! If your heart goes out to someone or something, do what you can to help by sending donations or volunteering your time, but try flipping your guilt into gratitude.

Be grateful or at the very least appreciateive for everything you have, because the world needs more positive energy!

3. Feel your feelings

It’s ok to not know how to feel, or how to react or respond. It’s ok to be an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes we just have to sit and marinate or process our feels. Again, seek help via a therapist, coach, or counselor if your feelings are too intense for you to process on your own!

4. Get support

I’ll say it again because this is so important: get support! Whether that’s your friend, mom, or a professional. It’s easy to feel like we’re all alone in whatever we’re dealing with, especially on social media when it looks like everyone else has their lives together. Instead of falling into an isolation trap, reach out. Spend face-to-face time with your friends, family, and people who love you. Talk stuff out. If your friends or family have different opinions or views than you, please don’t build walls but rather be open minded and curious about their beliefs. If we seek to understand each other instead of building walls, we can realize we all belong to the same common humanity. We’re all in this together and whatever you’re going through, you are NOT alone.

5. Keep your cup full so you can be the light.

What does this mean?

We all have a limited amount of mental and emotional energy in our "cups" to spend each day. It’s so important to keep our cups full so we have extra energy to show up in our lives and pay it forward to others. We can’t contribute positive energy to our jobs and families, much less the world, if we have zero energy to give and that's what leads to burnout and feeling resentful or depleted.

We can replenish our positive energy stores by spending more time doing things that make us happy. It's pretty simple, really! Easy to do, but easy not to do since we tend to put our own needs on the backburner.

So let me officially give you permission to BE SELFISH in a good way! What do you need?

Get out into the woods. Drink too much wine with your besties. Snuggle your baby or peet. Go out for date night and leave your phone at home. Call your grandma and let her talk to you for as long as she wants. Try a new recipe that looks ridiculously complicated and see what happens with a backup plan so you don't have to worry if it is an epic fail. Blow bubbles. Watch the sunset or sunrise.

There's that Mr. Rogers quote about "look for the helpers" but maybe we should ask ourselves how we can BE the helpers -- in our every day lives, not just in an emergency.

Be your own best friend.

xo Anna

Why I quit the birth control pill

2017Anna Locke

This post has been a year and a half in the making, and it’s only the first of more to come in a “cycle love” series because I have so much to share with you!


So let’s just cut to the chase: in February 2016 I quit the birth control pill after taking it for 9 years, and I’ve been on a very interesting and empowering adventure ever since as I’ve regained my natural cycle and am re-learning what it’s like to be a woman with all the crazy cyclical changes each month.

I’m usually an open book and love to share what’s happening in my journey from the trenches but I’ve more or less kept this chapter private for the last 18 months because I had to give myself permission to LIVE IT before sharing it.

I’ve finally reached a place where I’m ready to share my story and everything I’m learning because as a life and wellness coach, almost every woman I talk with has experienced using hormonal birth control, hormone related issues, cycle imbalances, mood swings, fertility struggles to some degree, or simply the mental and emotional suffering we go through from not understanding why our energy fluctuates throughout the month.

By making our menstrual cycle an awkward or taboo topic and not talking about it, we isolate ourselves and each other and perpetuate the message that it’s not right to be female and have a cycle, or that having extreme emotions is wrong, or that anything relating to our periods and fertility is something we have to hide and keep secret and discuss in half sentences and whispers and allusions and slang and WOW the world needs all of that to be shattered and obliterated into dust, right?

I guess I need to start from the very beginning.

I started my period later than most of my friends, when I was 13 on a family trip to Holland the summer after 8th grade. My mom helped me borrow some pads from my aunt and I don’t remember it being a really big deal. If anything, I was relieved because (A) I’d avoided the embarrassment of starting in the middle of a school day and (B) I got it before entering high school which was important because I knew that “period talk” was big among the girls at band camp since we lived in cabins together for a week. Awwwww, high school.

18 year old Anna! So cute.

18 year old Anna! So cute.

Throughout my teenage years I was known to my close friends as being highly sensitive and an emotional rollercoaster. I was easily triggered into sudden inner rages or breakdowns. I didn’t realize this wasn’t normal (because is there anything normal about being a teenage girl? Ha.) and buried myself in school and extracurricular activities and being an overachiever.

By the time I started college, I started to wake up and get curious about what was happening to me. Well, it wasn’t as much of a “wake up” as it was being slammed in the face...

I was busy with my pre-med course load, admissions job, and as usual way too many extracurriculars to keep my scholarships. I had joined a music sorority, was making some great girlfriends, and had just started dating my crush, a cute pole vaulter named Ben.

From the outside, my life looked perfect.

On the inside, I still felt like something was off. I had phases of anxiety that made me feel like a crazy person, I was struggling to keep straight-A’s for the first time in my life, and I was consumed with paranoia about my relationships, convinced that I wasn’t worthy of love and that Ben would leave me for another girl. It was like I was intentionally trying to create non-existent drama or conflict to sabotage myself.

These episodes were usually triggered during times I was sleep deprived or under extra stress and made me feel completely alone and isolated even though that was the farthest thing from the truth when you're in college literally living in a dorm with hundreds of people.

Most of the time I felt completely normal, so I didn’t really tell anyone what was going on because I felt like I was going crazy and didn’t even know how to explain it.

I remember the day everything started to click.

I was the fall of 2006, I was home visiting my family and I started having one of my manic/depressive episodes. I stood on the stairs to the kitchen sobbing uncontrollably to my mom “I don’t even know why I’m crying.”

In my old room I had all my journals from high school and something in the back of my head told me to go through them to see if there was a pattern to my crazy breakdowns.

Sure enough, these episodes all happened about the week before I started my period, although they didn’t fit the typical definition of PMS I’d been fed my whole life (bloating, cravings, feeling minorly irritated). Once my period started, I almost instantly clicked back to my normal self.

I started Googling and almost immediately found a condition I’d never heard of before called PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

I could identify with almost every single symptom (mood swings, depression, hopelessness, anxiety, intense anger or conflict, feeling out of control, all linked to my period), and I literally felt this huge weight lifted off my body. I wasn’t crazy -- I just had PMDD! I told my mom and we set up an appointment to see the gynecologist.

While 85% of women experience PMS, only up to 5% deal with PMDD.

Back in 2006, PMDD wasn’t widely studied or accepted as anything different than PMS or a minor inconvenience of being female (since then it’s been added to the DSM as its own category of mood disorder), but there was a new birth control called YAZ that was formulated to treat the symptoms.

I started taking YAZ (or generic formulas) when I was 19 years old and didn’t stop for almost a decade, even after my gyno switched me to a different formulas because the risk of blood clots and stroke was so great.

I will say that this is NOT an anti-birth control post. I loved being on birth control!
My periods were so light, I never had cramps.
My mood swings and PMDD disappeared.
I didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant, huzzah!
It was what I needed at the time.

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So why did I decide to quit?

After my rocky post-grad school “quarter life crisis," I decided to pivot career paths from environmental science to life and wellness coaching and dove into the world of holistic wellness, spirituality, emotional/mental health, and learning how to view my sensitive nature as a gift instead of a curse to be numbed with medication.

My lifestyle slowly shifted towards habits that made me feel my abolute best from the inside out. Eating healthy, working out, journaling, reading personal development, working with life coaches and energy healers, and surrounding myself with new friends online who were equally passionate about living their best lives.

I had been married for several years, was tuning into my energy and emotions, learning how to slow down and balance my over-achieving drive with my feminine energy and creativity, and all of a sudden I started to wonder why the heck I was still pumping my body with synthetic hormones?

I also knew that I wanted to have a baby within the next couple years and wanted to make sure I had a healthy cycle before we started trying.

Then in fall 2015 two things happened.

  1. I started experiencing heart palpitations and had a couple of random anxiety attacks.
  2. I listened to this podcast episode interviewing womens’ health practitioner and hormone specialist Alisa Vitti, where she talked about the importance of hormone health and how we can heal our imbalances with lifestyle changes and immediately ordered her book WomanCode to learn more. 

I went to the doctor to make sure I didn’t have a terminal heart condition since I'm a hypochondriac She told me I was perfectly healthy and gave me a prescription for an anxiety medication, which was another wake up call because again, I didn’t want to be dependent on drugs to be happy and healthy. 

So I decided to quit two things: caffeine and birth control.

I think I took my last packet of pills in January 2016.

What happened next was quite the adventure. Stay tuned for Part 2 :)

xo Anna

Heads up: This post includes an Amazon affiliate link that may earn me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Gracias!

Homemade Nutty Crunch Granola

2017Anna Locke

Hello friends, and happy September!

Oh my gosh this has been a whirlwind summer. I’m currently sitting on the deck listening to the mariachi radio coming from the apartment building across the alley (seriously), soaking in the last bit of humid summer-y weather here in Chicago where it lasts. I’m more than ready for some fresh crisp fall air but NEVER ready for winter trying to stay present and enjoy the moment!

It’s been a while since I blogged regularly, and I miss it so much. I’m not sure why I haven’t been writing, other than the usual perfectionitis and being distracted with everything happening in life and biz lately. You know, excuses ;)

I owe you a big juicy life update letter and will send it soon I promise! If we aren’t already virtual penpals you can subscribe to my semi-regular newsletter here.

This weekend I was inspired to bake, and decided to make granola. Homemade granola used to be a staple in my kitchen back in my grad school days, and it’s so freaking good and easy to throw together. The only trick is to NOT over-bake, and don’t add dried fruit or chocolate chips to the mix before you bake it. Just don’t. 

The fun part is that you can mix in whatever ingredients you have on hand and make your favorite flavor combos using this basic recipe.

This granola is healthy, but it’s not low calorie...and it’s incredibly addicting. So proceed with caution !

Homemade Nutty Crunch Granola

Inspired by Health magazine


  • 2 ½ c old fashioned oats
  • 3 c mixed nuts and seeds (I used sliced almonds, walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, and millet. Coconut would also be delicious. This is perfect if you have a lot of nearly empty bags of random baking nuts in your pantry!)
  • 1 ½ T cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt


  • 3 T melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • ½ c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 300*F.

In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients.

In a smaller bowl, whisk wet ingredients until combined

Stir wet into dry until the granola is evenly coated with the syrup/oil mixture.

Spread mixture evenly in 2 large baking sheets and bake 30-40 minutes, stirring and rotating pans every 15 minutes.

Take granola out of the oven and let it cool before transferring into large jars or bowls for storage. It will get crispy and toasty as it cools, so don’t worry if it doesn’t seem “done” when you take it out of the oven!

OPTIONAL: once cool, stir in dried fruit or chocolate chips!


Serve with yogurt, top your smoothie bowl, eat by the handful. I've been loving it on top of a pumpkin spice smoothie bowl, or with frozen cherries and Greek yogurt. NOM!

There are so many flavor combos you could try.

  • Almond and dried cherries
  • Walnuts and banana chips or apple chips (I'd add the fruit chips after baking)
  • Coconut chocolate chip
  • Pumpkin spice (instead of cinnamon) and pumpkin seeds

I can't wait to keep experimenting!


Basic Homemade Granola
Apricot Nutty Crunch Granola

xo Anna