5 Ways to Counter your Anxiety without Breaking a Sweat

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Let me be blunt about this. A real long-term sustainable anxiety change requires work on our thoughts. A strategic, focused and repetitive approach to wrangling up, challenging and putting problem thoughts out to pasture has to be part of a solid anxiety treatment plan. I don’t want to pretend this isn’t critical. What I do want to convey, however, is that there are many things we can do to support our ability to address our thoughts and overcome our anxiety. Best of all, many of you will agree, they don’t require even breaking a sweat! 

Here are 5 ways we can set up our successful anxiety counterattack:

  1. Belly breathe more often. Breathing is a necessity of life that usually occurs without much thought. When you breathe in air, blood cells receive oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a waste product that is carried back through your body and exhaled. Improper breathing can upset the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange and contribute to anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue and other physical and emotional disturbances. Most people often get into the habit of chest breathing, that is breathing in a way that expands the chest and shoulders. Typically, this is a shallow and rapid habit of breathing. In order to make sure we are fully oxygenating our bodies, properly expelling carbon dioxide and soothing our central nervous system, we need to belly breathe more. To do this, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should expand, and your chest should rise very little. Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth as your belly pulls back in toward your spine. Repeat this as often as you think to do so. With time and practice, you’ll slowly shift from your autopilot chest breathing to this healthier way of belly breathing. 

  2. Apply pressure on your wrist. Acupressure is an ancient Chinese healing method. It involves putting pressure with your fingers or the hand on certain points of your body to unblock the flow of Qi and release tension to restore inner harmony. I think we all agree, when we’re feeling anxiety we are definitely not experiencing inner harmony! The great thing about acupressure is that it is something you can do on your own so subtly that you can use this technique wherever you are when anxiety strikes. This is just one of many acupressure points to help with anxiety. Apply pressure with your thumb at the point where your wrist forms a crease with your hand. Press on the pinky side of your wrist. Hold the acupressure point for about 2 minutes, applying a generous amount of pressure. 

  3. Cut down on caffeine. Okay, full disclosure, I’m writing this sipping on a coffee… But, taking anxiety and other things into account, I’ve begrudgingly figured out my caffeine limit and this coffee is my last one of the day. I’m what one might call a practical health nut. That is, I need pretty convincing and good reasons to limit things I like. Caffeine, and for me that almost entirely means coffee, definitely falls into that category. As a powerful stimulant, caffeine revs up our system and often creates physiological effects similar to anxiety: agitation, restlessness, twitching, dizziness, increased heart rate to name a few. So in order to help your anxiety without lifting a finger, simply acknowledge that caffeine may be increasing your anxiety and experiment with cutting back. 

  4. Sing a song (inside your head). I stumbled into this one by accident when I was a kid visiting my cousins. My cousin Katie had a stuffed animal that sang the song “I Whistle a Happy Tune”. For some reason, I loved that song, committed it to memory and sang it (inside my head of course) whenever I felt afraid. It worked like a charm! I expanded that experience from fear of the boogeyman and continue to use that song to disrupt my looping, worrisome thoughts or to switch tracks when I catch myself overanalyzing things I just said to someone. As a little aside, it was almost 40 years later that I found out was from the popular 1950’s musical King and I. 

  5. Reach out and make a social connection. One solid way to help us with mental wellbeing that ranks as high as good sleep and eating our veggies is to make and maintain connections with friends and family. Well, assuming family doesn’t totally stress you out. We are social beings and the need for a connection to others is built into our DNA. Unfortunately, and I know from experience, makes social anxiety particularly difficult. But taking time out of your busy day to catch up with a friend, join a book club and prioritize their meetings, or talk to the cashier as you’re checking out will help you with your anxiety. And totally worth turning these little connections into a routine or habit.

These 5 things aren’t the ‘silver bullet’ type of anxiety help. But they are totally in the ‘it takes a village’ type of help.

It’s easy to underestimate or blanketly dismiss this type of help without even trying. For some counterintuitive reason we tend to overvalue big, hard to do things and brush off easier things as not being worth it. If you feel like bucking the system, give these a try! You’ll be pleasantly surprised! 


5 Unusual Questions for Successful Meditation Onboarding

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Welcome! I was expecting you. You’ve always struck me as the meditative type. Even so, you’ll probably need a little assistance to get up to speed. It’s not personal. These questions aren’t what people typically associate with being important to a meditation practice. 

You may be thinking, “What possibly do I need to think about in order to totally bliss out?” As it turns out, 5 critical things. Answering these will set you up for a legit long-term meditation practice. So before you even try to convince your hip flexors into that zen-like cross-legged lotus position check out the following. 

  1. Know your motivation. This isn’t a riff off of Simon Sinek's, “Know your why.” It’s more basic than that. Are you being told you should do this or are you coming to meditation on your own volition? Have you tried other solutions that didn’t work? Does meditation seem like it’s the easiest thing you can do to get the results you’re looking for? Are you doing it to impress some hot so-and-so at work? Your motivation is what it is. BUT it will be extremely helpful to the success of your practice if you are honestly aware of what is driving your interest to meditate. 

  2. Know your level of trust that meditation will actually help with what you’re wanting to see happen. For many, the practice of meditation seems too simple, boring, stupid (or fill in your own blank) to really be helpful. On the other hand, many think meditation is the holy grail to achieve what they’re looking for and trust it wholeheartedly. Both sides of this spectrum have their downfalls. Know your level of trust going into this. It will directly impact what your brain will ‘see’. It will also put a spotlight on where your biases, both pro and con, will influence your experience. 

  3. Know your history of sticking with things that don’t show immediate results. Most of us totally stink at persisting with things that are more of a marathon than a sprint. Or we stink at sticking with things that are more subtle and nuanced than overt and plain to see. Unfortunately, meditation falls into both these categories, marathon and subtle. These aren’t problems in and of themselves, just super important to know ahead of time. Recognize your normal operating preferences and where they might be counter to what meditation offers. If needed, calibrate your expectations taking into account where you might have to do things counter to your preferences. 

  4. Recall your past attempts at meditation. Dwelling on the past isn’t what we’re talking about. What we are talking about is that knowing your past can help you be more strategic in the future. Think about what your experiences with meditation were like in the past. Frustrated you couldn’t get your brain to turn off? Totally fidgety and bored after 2 minutes? Didn’t feel rested and rejuvenated after sacrificing 20 minutes of your day that you’ll never get back? Again, this beta is critical. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

  5. Define specifically what ‘success’ and ‘successful timeline’ looks like for you. You gotta think about this. You may not be in the habit of thinking along these ‘specific’ lines. On the other hand, you may have pretty strong expectations and specific benefits you’re looking for. Knowing what you’re setting yourself up for will help you. Are your signs of success realistic? Is your timeline realistic? Look at your expectations here and tweak where needed. 

Meditation really does offer all the benefits you’ve read about so don’t let these questions deter you. Use the information you’ve uncovered about yourself to offset any meditation surprises that may pop up and set up a practice that will truly last.

Does My Breathing Make My Stomach Look Fat?

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Embarrassing to admit but this thought has crossed my mind. It has even stopped me from breathing properly at times. And even though this feels incredibly shallow…I know I’m in good company.

We start off breathing correctly as babies. Watch a baby sleeping sometime and you’ll see what I mean. The belly rises on the inhale and lowers on the exhale, over and over.

As we grow up, however, that breathing changes to mainly chest breathing. With chest breathing, our chests expand and our shoulders rise as we inhale and the opposite happens when we exhale. Our bellies? Well, they stay as sucked in as possible. Totally different than when we were little.

The end result? Two totally different types of breathing with two totally different physiological experiences. Both types keep us alive but if we were to keep breathing as we did when we were babies we’d be so much healthier than we are today. Physically and mentally. To highlight my point here’s what Dr. Andrew Weil says on the topic.

“If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip,” says Dr. Andrew Weil, “it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.”

What thuh?!? Yes, you read that right. Breathing correctly would be the single most pivotal improvement, the biggest domino effect, the greatest…well you get my point.

Why do we change our breathing from those glory days of belly-breathing babyhood? Do we consciously choose our looks to the detriment of our health? It’s tempting to blame the patriarchy or curse the beauty industry but that doesn’t help us. So, let’s just chalk it up to bad posture, sitting too much and ignorance. Because it doesn’t really matter why we are breathing this way.

What does matter is that when we know better we do better.

Bottom line, one of the biggest reasons to switch to belly breaths is to give our nervous systems a break. When we breathe from lower down in our bellies, it informs our parasympathetic nervous system that we are safe and can relax. Chest breathing, because it typically is shorter and shallower, constantly signals to our nervous system that we are ready to respond to whatever fire needs to be put out. Additionally, with shorter shallower chest breaths we aren’t getting the full O2 inhalation and CO2 exhalation that our bodies need to thrive.

Mentally, this chest breathing pattern has the additional effect of contributing to anxious and worried thoughts, feeling edgy and just all around unsettled. Weird that our breath can directly impact our thoughts but it can!

Check your breathing right now. Are you a chest breather?

If the answer is yes, there is good news. Changing your breathing pattern is totally within your power and probably the easiest way to improve your health and mental wellbeing!

Two of the biggest improvements:

  1. Getting in the habit of breathing deep, rhythmic belly breaths can calm you by helping keep your O2 and CO2 in the perfect balance.

  2. It can improve your physical health by counteracting the wear and tear of stress.

So, does proper breathing make my stomach look fat? With my mental and physical well-being at stake from improper breathing I have to say…I don’t care!


Anxious and Super-Glued to Your Inner World? Try these 3 Things

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In every situation in life, we have the choice of where to put our attention. It comes down to three main options. We can put our attention on ourselves, the task we’re doing or our environment. In research terms, we call those three options self-focused attention, task-focused attention and environment-focused attention.

  • Self-focused attention is defined as attention towards aspects of yourself which aren’t necessary to perform a task, such as your arousal (am I blushing?), your emotions (do I feel anxious?), your private self (how am I doing?) or public self (how do others see me?).

  • Task-focused attention is defined as attention towards whatever you are doing or whatever is necessary for a specific task (typing a compelling story, facilitating a meeting at work, talking self through a challenge), including paying attention to the other people that may be in that situation (why did Joe do this and not that?).

  • Environment-focused attention is attention put on those aspects of the environment which aren’t necessary to perform the task. It’s attention on the place where you are or the things that are around you (the conference room, restaurant or how hot it is).

These 3 delineations are important to point out because we get into ruts with where we put our attention. And then those ruts start steering our ship and guiding our reactions to things.

Often when we’re having a hard time with anxiety, we’re caught in a self-focused attention rut.

We’re caught thinking inwardly on things that aren’t necessary to what we’re doing or need to do. Many times we’ve misjudged these things as helpful. But in reality they are only helpful if we can touch on them and then turn our attention back outward. With anxiety we get super-glued to our inner world and feel as if it is our only choice.

If you’re super-glued to self-focused attention here are 3 things to try to loosen its grip:

  1. Recognize that you have a choice as to where you put your attention. You can put it on yourself, your task or your environment. With anxiety, it’s hard to feel we have this choice…

  2. Notice where you tend to put your attention throughout the day. Notice where you put your attention when you’re feeling stressed out, sad or anxious.

  3. Experiment with changing your focus. If you’re focusing on your environment shift it to your emotions (self). If you’re focusing on what people will say about you (self) change it to the task you’re working on.

The more you practice noticing where your attention is and consciously changing your focus, the more you’ll be able to shift your attention outward when you’re anxious.

 

Is this the Hidden Hook Keeping You from Being More Mindful?

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I’d uncovered a hidden hook that was keeping us from becoming more mindful, being more present in the here and now. It was so provocative, different, and spot on that it was going to be the breakthrough everyone was looking for!

It was just the piece of the puzzle that had been missing up to now and I couldn’t wait to share it and relieve the collective frustration. I confidently presented it to my meditation and mindfulness workshop this past weekend.

Before I get too ahead of myself, let me bring you on board with the actual provocative thought I’m referring to. My huge insight was inspired by a quote I had read of British philosopher Alan Watts on the phenomenal website brainpickings.org. It was in the scope of a larger paragraph but this is the sentence that illuminated everything for me. He wrote:

“… If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life.”

Secure but separate is definitely not present. Right?!? Are you with me?

It seems most of us are wanting to be secure and protected from the flux of life. We’re wanting to feel secure in our ‘okayness’ right now and secure in our future ‘okayness’. Wanting to feel secure and assured that our kids are going to be okay, secure and assured that our performance at work is considered good, secure and assured that our health is strong and finances are going to be enough… now and forever. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many facets of our lives for which we seek to feel secure and assured that everything is going to be okay.

But what if it is this very desire to be secure that is keeping us separate from life, from being in the here and now? From being able to be more mindful?

This. I think this is why being more mindful is such an elusive goal to so many of us. It requires us to hold all of these insecurities and non-assurances at bay in order to be able to turn our attention onto the here and now.

It requires us to have the trust and confidence that we can be in the present moment without messing anything up, dropping any balls and keeping all our plates spinning in the air.

This type of trust and confidence is extremely difficult and doesn’t feel natural to most of us westerners. We’re taught to be strivers, doers, summit-conquerors. All. The. Time.

We’re culturally and somewhat evolutionarily wired to be at odds with the very mindset that holds the key to being more mindful.

Fast forward to after the workshop when I was eagerly reading the feedback forms, excited to confirm my excitement. Hmmm. Well, let’s just say it’s wasn’t totally back to the drawing board but it wasn’t all-systems-go either! The participants ranked it only as ‘helpful’ but had ranked everything else as ‘very helpful’. So not a complete loss but it totally surprised me because I had thought it was amazing and yet it didn’t seem to have the same impact on the others.

What about you? Do you think our sense of security and wanting to be assured everything is going to be okay has anything to do with our ability to be more mindful?

5 "Must Try" Strategies for Anxiety

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It is waaaay too easy to be anxious these days.

As we become tethered to our technology, we are bombarded and overwhelmed with more input than our brains and bodies can handle. As we get older our responsibilities seem unflinchingly complicated and arduous. Dreaming of being on a deserted island takes on a surprising appeal.

Well, the deserted island may evoke even more anxiety, so let’s slowly back away from that last one.

We all lead busy lives so I’ll keep this simple and brief. If you are struggling with anxiety, here are 5 things to keep in mind to help you start finding relief and regaining your confidence.

  1. Know that your anxiety comes from strong associations, sometimes even unbeknownst to you, that your brain has formed. When anxiety starts to appear you've got to 'name it to tame it'. Say to yourself, “I’m feeling anxious because of the break in”, “I’m feeling anxious even though I don’t know why”, “I’m feeling anxious because of things happening in politics”. Don’t enter into a long conversation with yourself. Name it and move on.
  2. Shift your attention to something else when you feel the first inkling of anxiety. Anything. But not in a panicky, ticking time bomb kind of way. Practice doing this as calmly as you can manage. My “go to” is to turn to my breath because it is always with me. I take deep breaths and just try to pay attention to how it feels. I try to breathe twice as long “out” as I did “in”. After a few deep breaths, I turn my visual attention to something in the here and now. My goal is to keep myself in the present and disrupt rising anxious thoughts as soon as I am aware of them.
  3. Know it will pass. Seriously, this is legit. Even if you don’t do anything, this overwhelming feeling of anxiety WILL pass. Experiment with it. Next time, try to just observe what it is doing. Your thoughts, feelings in your body, the time it takes, the level of discomfort. Don’t do anything and just observe it pass through. Sorta like that unexpected and inconvenient couch-surfing friend of yours from college. Phew, that visit was brutal…but they’re gone!
  4. Know that any new association, thought, action or choice you can make when you are feeling anxious will start a new neural pathway. These new neural pathways strengthen with each repetition. The key is in the reps. The ultimate goal is retraining your brain away from your past anxious associations. Repetition of new associations will do it.
  5. Self-compassion. Your first inclination may be to hate yourself for “doing this” to you again. Actually, your second and third inclinations may be the same. As soon as you possibly can muster it, you’ll need to forgive yourself and be gentle with yourself. I would bet the farm that you’d never say to a friend the things you are saying to yourself. Turn that understanding inward A.S.A.P.

There you have it in a nutshell. Minus the effort and practice.

Leave a comment and let me know if you have any other "must try" strategies to add to this list. 

Your Thoughts Run the Show. This Happened Just Yesterday.

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This happened just yesterday. We’re driving along, literally I-80 from Colorado to Minnesota, when a neutral conversation got turned on its’ head…by me. The actual back and forth conversation isn’t helpful to replay but recognizing the thoughts going through my head is.

The conversation outwardly was about the airbnb we were going to and all of a sudden, the thoughts in my head were, “That’s not how I’d have done it”, “I’d have said this” and “That’s wrong, why aren’t we doing it this way?”

Before I knew it, blammo, the easy going conversation came to a screeching halt and became, shall we say, not so easy going. 

It was a total bummer and the way the conversation deteriorated could’ve been avoided altogether had I not fallen prey to the obvious but slippery fact: what’s going on in a person’s head effects how they respond to people and situations. 

Obvious? Yes. But why is it so hard to keep this front and center? Better yet, why is this fact of life so hard to actually use in the moment and stop us before we make things harder for ourselves? I have a few ideas why we have such a hard time with them. And a few suggestions on how to change them.

  1. Conserving resources. Life is so busy and full we often conserve mental energy by just skipping along, taking things as they come without much awareness of our internal state of thoughts and feelings. When our internal stream of thoughts are good, we‘re generally ok. However, when we’re super busy, stressed, annoyed, angry or anxious, “Houston, we have a problem.” 
  2. I’m too good for this. We feel as though by virtue of just being a successful adult we shouldn’t have to pay attention to our thoughts and feelings. Afterall, we didn’t become successful adults by accident! 
  3. I’m right. Yep, common hook. Feeling right feels so darn good! Neurotransmitters and hormones strike again making this one particularly habit forming.
  4. Everything but the kitchen sink. Sometimes we’ve let so many irritations go without healthy communication and problem solving that our need to be right might not have anything to do with the conversation at hand. This one is particularly stealthy and stinky. 
  5. Winner and loser. Seriously, sometimes our competitive nature doesn’t know when to let go or to stay out of things entirely. 

Do you recognize yourself in any of those? I know at least one that reared its’ ugly head during my conversation yesterday as we were navigating our way past Des Moines!

Now, the question we all want answered is “How do we avoid those traps?” 

Here are some suggestions to help you avoid the above that’ll be worth your while attempting:

  1. Each morning or every time you walk through a door or each time you brush your teeth, remind yourself: “I value being happy over being right in my relationship.” If this is statement is more true than not, you need to explicitly remind yourself of this. Regularly. As many times as you can. 
  2. Recognize if you’ve accidentally conflated ‘being happy’ with ‘being right’, meaning you really think those two things are the same. This is a surprisingly common and easy thing to do btw, again thanks to certain neurotransmitters and hormones. If this is your case, realize that there’s work to be done to separate out the two. This will take time but with practice you’ll reap the rewards. When you find you’re getting sucked into a happy=right situation, remind yourself that you’re starting to act out of habit and that you have other choices. Recognize that you enjoy being right and that isn’t the same as being happy. Decide if you want to continue driving your point home to be right or if a different angle would serve your ultimate purpose better.
  3. Know the implications of your ignorance. Our thoughts and feelings will dictate our reactions if we let them. If you aren’t working on recognizing them as they are happening, you’re running the risk of falling into the same traps over and over. It is only when we become more aware of what going on in our head, in real time, that we have the opportunity to choose different ways of responding to people and situations.
  4. Lastly, know you can stop a conversation that is going south as soon as you realize you’re going down that familiar road. It’s hard and it takes humility but it’s possible. You don’t have to pull any awkward about-faces. If you’ve gotten sucked into wanting to be right, gently start changing your words and tone of voice to be more open. As you keep the conversation going, allow yourself to find a way out and take it. 

These things work for me. Well, most of the time :-) Leave me a comment, I’d love to know what works for you! 

Mindfulness Helps When Life Stinks…Seriously?

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Your job is a dead end, your relationship with your significant other is on the rocks, you’re constantly exhausted, and on top of it all you can’t even squeeze into your Spanx anymore. I can hear you (and a ton of other people like you) sincerely and quizzically asking, “Tell me again why I want to be more mindful of the present?”

Mindfulness is a tough sell for this very reason. Why would anyone in their right mind want to be reminded of the fact that they aren’t happy with how things are? I saw this comic the other day and thought it was perfect!

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The mindfulness barrier that no one talks about and probably the #1 reason people avoid mindfulness is that they don’t want to be more mindful and aware of the present when it could make them feel disappointed, frustrated or not good enough. I totally get it.

However, being more present and mindful is part of the antidote to fixing life when it stinks, not part of the problem.

Let me lay out the two major components of mindfulness.

Warning, most people glom on to the first component of mindfulness and totally miss the second one. And the second one is critical! Don’t let that happen to you.

The first one is increased awareness of the here and now, as it is happening. It’s being more present or aware of what you are doing, feeling or thinking in real time, not just after the fact. The second is to be aware of your tendency to automatically classify everything as either good or bad.Everyone does it. You mentally judge everything that comes across your mind as good or bad and it puts you on an emotional roller coaster. And without being aware you’re doing it, it robs you of your ability to control your own contentment and happiness.

Now, certainly, I’m not suggesting that some things aren’t bad and should be labeled bad and avoided, and good and labeled good and encouraged. That’s part of our innate protection system for self survival. It’s not going away.

The problem arises because we judge everything! And we get conditioned into using this judgment of everything being good or bad as a way to inform what we should do or how we should feel. It is exhausting!

So of course, when we are conditioned to judge everything we aren’t happy with as bad, the idea of being more mindful of that does seem like a buzz kill.

But, here’s the thing, we can learn to ditch our habit of classifying everything as just good or bad. Let me introduce the magic of “neutral”!

We can learn to view most things as what they are…neutral. By doing so, we regain control of our emotions and we stay in the present. Even when we don’t like certain things!

Wait. We’re just supposed to start thinking of things as “neutral” that we formerly thought of as bad?

Yup.

Labeling things as “neutral” doesn’t mean we are pleased with them, it just reduces their hook on us. When we are hooked by negative things we are less likely to make effective changes on them. Most people think the opposite. They think that hating things will motivate us to change those things.

For example, when you hate how you look because of your weight, you think that hatred is going to motivate you to lose weight. But it doesn’t work that way, and if you are in this category you know this by now. Labeling things as bad and being upset about them, fires up our fight or flight response system and diminishes our ability to think clearly about solutions and take the very actions needed to change those things. By labeling that same thing as “neutral” we are much better off.

The way we make long term, sustainable changes when life starts to stink is by neutralizing the way we classify the majority of things and by being more aware of the present, as it is happening.

Seriously, give it a try. I’d love to know how it works for you!

What do 6 Blind Men, an Elephant and Your Anxiety have in Common?

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In some form or another, The 6 Blind Men and an Elephant parable has been passed down through the millennia reaching every corner of the world.

Well, probably every corner. Never heard of it? Okay, so maybe it missed a place or two. So here goes twitter style.

6 blind men all touch different parts of an elephant. Each get an incomplete picture of the whole but think they have an accurate picture.

For a longer, more poetic version, definitely check out John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887) version but my synopsis gives you the gist.

What do 6 blind men and an elephant have to do with your anxiety? Anxiety touches on a particular fear or worst case scenario that has entered your thinking and then thinks it totally “knows” the situation. Trying to talk sense to it or fill out the picture with a more balanced perspective is often disregarded because your anxiety insists it knows the real story or has the full picture already.

So what can you do once your anxiety starts to rise to help it keep a more open mind than the 6 blind men in our parable?

Picture an elephant and 6 possibilities. The next time you start to feel your anxiety, allow a couple of your fear thoughts to enter the picture. Acknowledge these panicky possibilities but then come up with at least 3 thoughts that allow for the outcome to turn out okay or even great.

The #1 Question You Need Clarity on In Order to Stop Your Anxiety and It's Not What You Think.

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What are you not willing to do, change, start or stop to transform your anxiety? That should be the first question a person figures out when they’re wanting to overcome their anxiety. Not in a judgmental way. Just in a be-honest-with-yourself way.

I recently came upon this realization after reading a ton of “healthy blogs” to help me be, well, healthier. Despite all the good information I was reading, there were suggestions that I simply just wasn’t. willing. to try.

The biggest example of this was the idea of giving up my morning cup of coffee. It was weird. I was reading a ton of compelling information on the benefits of giving up coffee and caffeine. And although I found myself nodding throughout,

I got to the end and thought…hmmm, no I’m not going to do that.

The evidence was clear. The arguments were objective. The intention was pure. Yet, the part of me that wanted to be super healthy totally overrode that piece of advice and wasn’t going to even give it a try.

On the anxiety front, you’ve probably read a lot of information online, listened to suggestions from your friends, family and maybe you’ve even seen a therapist or two. All offering solid advice and persuasive testimonials of ways to overcome your anxiety.

But in order to figure out what really is going to work for you, you need to get clear on what aren’t you willing to do in order to change your anxiety.

Why? Being honest with ourselves is the only way to destroy barriers to growth and be empowered to change. It allows us to be real with ourselves. We can move from sweeping generalizations of how we want things to be to the more nuanced and specific reality of how we’re choosing things to be.

In the case of coffee, my choices right now don’t mean that I’m never going to give up coffee or caffeine. And they don’t mean that I don’t think giving up coffee is a bad idea. It just means that right now, I’m at the point with my health that I’m not willing to do everything I know to do to be super healthy. Or to put it another way, my health isn’t bad enough to make me want to try everything. Good enough is ok.

Anxiety is the same way. We can tolerate a high level of daily anxiety. This high tolerance often leads us to not doing everything we know to try in order to relieve it. Good enough is ok.

If this is your situation, there’s no need to beat yourself up over it. You just need to be honest about your current choices and remember that when/if things change, there are more strategies for you to try.

Green tea anyone?