Tag Archives: anxiety

Intent of the Day: Settle with Gratitude

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Feeling anxious? It’s no surprise. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety disorders, making it the most common mental illness. The likelihood that you or someone you know is battling with some form of it, especially as the holidays approach, is tremendous. If it is part of your life, perhaps the holidays have become a mixed blessing of happy memories and a struggle to keep your feelings at bay. Knowing that so much can contribute to anxiety, we want to start by developing a practice of combating it with the simple and beautiful act of gratitude.

You too? Here are 3 resources to help: Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Forget the FOMO

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Our intent sounds silly. FOMO is the ‘fear of missing out’ and maybe it sounds like something reserved for kids in grade school, but it extends beyond social events. It is the creeping fear that you should be somewhere else, which can lead you to miss where you are right now. Part of this intent means making mindful choices about where our time goes and then being okay to miss out on other things. But that is easier said than done.

If you’re like us, battling the FOMO, here are three resources to help: Continue reading

What You Didn’t Know About the Science Linking Yoga and Stress Relief

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Nearly everybody suffers from anxiety. While it’s frequency and intensity varies from person to person, it effect is universal. Chronic anxiety can take an extensive toll on the body. Anxiety often drains energy resources and keeps the body in an almost constant state of stress. Anxiety’s negative side effects are often proliferated when the body is not exercised. While general or basic exercise can serve a venue of stress relief, one exercise in particular stands out for creating this spectacular effect: yoga. Continue reading

The Nowhere Between Two Somewheres

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The Roman Stoic Philosophers, Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger (4. BCE – 65 ACE), made this observation about human planning gone awry:

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.

Not knowing what harbor you are making for is what transition feels like. It is that in-between place where you cannot go back to a season in your life where the door has closed, and the new door has yet to open.

We often get stuck in-between the chapters of our lives when one chapter ends and the new one hasn’t begun yet. We tend to look for immediate and quick fixes to alleviate the dis-ease of uncertainty we feel when we are in what William Bridges calls “the neutral zone, the nowhere between two somewheres” in his classic book “Transitions”. Know this, that dis-ease is a form of anxiety. Also realize that you have crossed a threshold, and the anxiety is the sign that you have. You can turn your anxiety into anticipation (because it’s the same chemical reaction in your brain), however the former is fear-based “what if” thinking, whereas if you can shift to thinking and acting “as if” your future is determining your present, you will find new motivation to move forward!

In the space of the neutral zone, the “nowhere” zone, you have to learn to be with your anxiety and not attempt to fight it. Fighting it only gives it power. Being with it allows you to embrace the uncertainty and release your creative energies by learning how to ask new questions that free you from the limitations of the former chapter that came to an end precisely because it took you as far as was possible. You outgrew it! Yet you still have a future, and it is waiting for you! Continue reading

The Gifts Within Anxiety And Depression

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When you feel anxious or depressed, do you try to get rid of these feelings, or do you learn from them?

Getting rid of anxiety and depression is big business – especially for the pharmaceutical companies. Drug sales for anti-anxiety meds and antidepressants are huge. This is very sad to me, because, while there are circumstances where these meds are medically called for, much of the time they are prescribed in an effort to simply get rid of our painful feelings. The problem with this is that it leaves us without the roadmap we need to navigate life in a loving, meaningful and joyful way.

Anxiety and depression have major information for us. Let’s compare these feelings to the pain you would feel if you grabbed a hot pan with your bare hand or cut your finger slicing your veggies.

The physical pain of the hot pan or the knife cut is giving you important information. It’s telling you to STOP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING! If you numbed your hand before grabbing the pan or cutting the veggies, you could badly burn your hand or badly injure your finger. We NEED these painful feelings to let us know when we are doing something that is harmful to us.

The same is true of anxiety and depression.

What might these feelings be telling you?

One of the main things they are telling you is that you are abandoning yourself in some way. There are many forms of self-abandonment that result in anxiety or depression: Continue reading

Are You a Worrier? Three Tips to Worry Less.

8422339152_4403e7cd77_zI worry to some extent, of course, but I don’t think I worry as much as a lot of people.

Many people worry about how much they worry!

Today, the New York Times had an interesting article by Roni Caryn Rabin, “Worried? You’re Not Alone.

In it, Rabin points out several intriguing findings in a Liberty Mutual Insurance research paper, the “Worry Less Report.”

Apparently Millennials worry about money. Single people worry about housing (and money). People worry less as they grow older.

Some people — for instance, like my sister Elizabeth — feel that if they do worry about something, they’ll somehow prevent a bad thing from happening. Rabin points out, very sensibly, “Researchers say this notion is reinforced by the fact that we tend to worry about rare event, like plane crashes, and are reassured when they don’t happen, but we worry less about common events, like car accidents.”

Rabin also distinguishes between “productive worry,” which helps us solve a problem, and worry where you’re just, well, stewing in worry.

According to the report, here are some ways to tackle worrying: Continue reading

How Meditation Can Help Anxiety

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By Deepak Chopra, MD

Fear is a negative emotion unless you are facing an actual threat and need to fight or flee. The usefulness of fear is minimal in daily life, particularly in the form of anxiety. Stressful events can produce short-term anxiety in almost everyone, which disappears after the event. But for an estimated 6.8 million Americans with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), anxiety is a chronic condition they can’t shut off. All of us know people we accept as “born worriers,” but in reality being in a state of chronic anxiety can severely limit their daily activity.

You probably know already if you worry excessively. Almost nothing is free from worry, in fact, if you have chronic anxiety, even the smallest thing can trigger it. You find yourself with fearful thoughts about finances, family, your health, and what’s happening at work. Some days you’d rather hide under the covers.

The first thing to realize is that reality isn’t what’s actually worrying you, but it’s your fixed habit of mind that is causing you to respond to everything with anxiety. Second, you need to look rationally at the anxiety response and concede that you are not improving it by feeling anxious. This seems obvious to non-worriers, but somewhere inside, many “born worriers” believe they are taking care of situations that others are overlooking, like whether they remembered to lock up the house or turn off the gas stove. Any trigger can provoke worry, so the question is how to prevent this from happening. Continue reading

Name It to Tame It

A Powerful Tip I read about in “Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain” by Dr. Dan Siegel

I was dropping off my 12 year old daughter to her 7th Grade retreat, and I could see that she was nervous. It was a 2-night trip with new classmates from her new school. She is not one who is keen on retreats – in fact, she generally doesn’t like sleep-overs and has never wanted to go to a sleep away camp. At the same time, she was excited with the discovery of independence at Middle School, and knew that the retreat was a great opportunity to make new friends.

I reminded her that when she is feeling anxious, the first step is to breathe. Pause. Take deep breaths. One. Two. Three. Let the air coming in help push the anxiety out. She didn’t smile exactly as I spoke, but I could see her slowing down with deeper breathes as she listened.

I added a new twist to the exercise – something I had just read about in Dr. Dan Siegel’s book, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain.

“In the brain, naming an emotion can help calm it… Name it to Tame It.”

He explains:

“For all of us, as teenagers or adults, when intense emotions erupt in our minds, we need to learn to feel them and deal with them… Learning to deal with emotions means being aware of them and modifying them inside so that we can think clearly. Sometimes we can name it to tame it and help balance our brains emotional intensity by putting words to what we feel… There are even some brain studies that show how this naming process can activate the prefrontal cortex and calm the limbic amygdala!”

As Tara was away on her retreat, I found myself practicing the Name It To Tame It technique, and the effects were dramatic. When feeling stressed or upset, I would pause, breathe, recognize the sensations in my body, name the emotion (frustration, anger, anxiety), and continue.  In fact, in a particularly frustrating work situation, I named my feelings through my negotiations, and felt I was much more calm, clear headed and non-emotional.

Tara returned from her trip with a big smile and lots of stories about their adventures. She noted that there were moments when she felt alone and anxious, but she reassured me she took deep breaths, recognized her feelings, and proceeded.

Dr. Dan Siegel is a prolific author and presently a clinical professor of Psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine. Learn more about him at his website or purchase your own copy of Brainstorm: the Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain and let us know what you think!

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