Entrepreneurs, Business Owners and Mountain Living

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It wasn’t surprising for me to discover such a large number of entrepreneurs and small business owners living up here in Nederland when I started the monthly meetup group for women. Mountain people and entrepreneurs in many ways seem to be cut from the same cloth.

Here are some similarities I’ve found.

  • Both don’t shy away from hard work. We’re willing to roll up our shirt sleeves and do what needs to be done. Even when it’s particularly “breezy” out there. Speaking of...

  • “Breezy”. Entrepreneurs and mountain dwellers know the power of the reframe. Challenges or difficulties are ‘reframed’ in a way that puts less emphasis on the negative and supports forward motion. The word delusional might be a little too strong but you get the idea.

  • Both groups are self-sufficient but know the value of having relationships with others. Successful businesses don’t occur in a vacuum and mountain living requires the ability to lean on neighbors in a pinch. Both are built on relationships.

  • Both groups are passionate and don’t settle. We choose to live in a beautiful environment and we choose to create our own jobs and jobs for others. Something deep calls from within and we respond.

  • Lastly, both being an entrepreneur and living in the mountains can be tough and unpredictable. Perseverance and flexibility are routinely called upon. Learning tips of the trade from more experienced folks can be invaluable.

Can you think of other similarities? 

3 Ways Meditation Makes You a Better Person

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It took me awhile to get into meditation.

And when I say awhile, I mean years. I can’t blame my environment, I was living in Portland, OR at the time, and it wasn’t that I didn’t have time, single no kids. I just wasn’t into it. Which was weird because, full disclosure here, I’m the type of person who gets into things just because I know they’re good for me. Even if sometimes I don’t like them. For example, eating brussel sprouts and flossing every day. So meditation seemed like it would’ve been one of those ‘good-for-me’ things to add to my list. But it wasn’t.

To be honest, I don’t know how that changed? Peer pressure? FOMO? Who knows. I think I was just worn down after repeatedly hearing about all of the benefits of meditation and just kept trying it until one day it stuck. Fast forward 15 years and it’s still stuck. Fortunately, it has graduated from the brussel sprouts category.

Here are 3 reasons why I’ve kept it up, despite my initial misgivings, and even think I’m better for it. Who knows, these reasons might help you give it another try, despite your misgivings.

  1. Meditation gives you a buffer between feeling irritated and ‘losing it’. Ever feel like you have too short a fuse or wish you had a tad more patience, especially when something irritates you? Me too, and actually I now do. I credit meditation but who knows actually what happened. Maturity? Nah, it’s gotta be the practice of being able to sit while tons of thoughts swirl through my head and not letting them get a rise out of me. And that is what happens after meditating for awhile. Getting in the habit of taking deep breaths, not clinging to each thought like velcro, and being able to become an ‘observer’ to our experiences allows us to better pick and choose our reactions. All of that contributes to developing the helpful thing called patience and buys us some time before losing it.
  2. Meditation helps you strengthen your ‘don’t freak out’ muscle.Although the systematic study of meditation is still in its infancy, research is suggesting that an active meditation/mindfulness practice strengthens our emotional self-regulation, or as I like to think of it, our ‘don’t freak out’ muscle. It has something to do with meditation increasing the gray matter volume in our orbitofrontal cortex and hippocampus regions of our brains. Okay, so technically it doesn’t strengthen a muscle at all but important regions that help us keep an even keel when we need it most. And that even keel feels pretty good!
  3. Meditation helps you stop your ‘broken-record’ loops in your thinking. It’s been estimated that we have tons of thoughts per day and most of them are repetitive. I actually had a hard time finding research behind the often quoted 50,000 or so thoughts a day but I think we can all agree that we have a lot. Most of them, we can probably also agree, are not unique snowflakes of thought but ones we have over and over all the time. If mediation does something really well, it’s that it highlights our active mind and helps us have greater awareness of thoughts as they happen. With practice, this increased awareness of our thoughts can help us interrupt them when they seem stuck. The more we interrupt them, the more we stop them. This was one of the first benefits I noticed.

4 Steps to Stop Playing Victim that Anyone Can Do

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Nothing sends our defenses up faster than the notion that we may be ‘playing the victim’.

This one really gets us. Maybe it’s because it sounds like we’re so weak. Or it feels discounting of our past experiences. Or it subconsciously reminds us of the times when we possibly were in a disempowered position.

Regardless of the reason we dislike this notion, one thing is consistent across all situations. ‘Playing the victim’ is just a set of behaviors, reactions, and emotions we’ve adopted over time that create a sense of ‘personal helplessness’.

The good news is that it isn’t a hard-wired personality trait and it isn’t set in stone. It’s a habit we’ve slipped into. And then strengthened without thinking about it over time.

It is most evident when we find ourselves blaming others or situations when we are unhappy, when we find ourselves feeling inconvenienced or taken advantage of, or when we behave in a passive way. But it can sneak into other areas as well.

Here’s an effective 4 Step strategy if you find you’ve fallen into this habit.

  1. Recognizing our behaviors, reactions and emotions as the habits they are, is the first step to correcting them. And the beauty with habits is they just take the slightest disruption to start producing changes in a massive way.
  2. When you recognize you are repeating some of your ‘victimy’ behaviors or feelings, take a deep belly breath. Let your exhale be longer than your inhale.
  3. Then label these behaviors or feelings as ‘habits’ and turn your attention onto something else. Literally placing your attention onto anything other than these ‘victimy’ behaviors, thoughts and feelings will do the trick to start disrupting this old habit and creating a new reaction.
  4. Repeat the steps-deep breath, label, turn your attention- until you have turned yourself onto a different path.

Notice, you don’t have to psychoanalyze why you’re doing this or how you got this way. Our brains and bodies are remarkable in that they respond to positive course corrections without asking any questions! They will literally follow your lead on this one!

11 Hidden Hooks Of Anxiety


Do you feel that despite your best efforts at overcoming your anxiety you are making two steps forward and three steps back? You’re not alone.

After working with many people with anxiety, I’ve uncovered some “hidden” beliefs or reasons why one may stay hooked to worry, fear and anxiety, despite hating these feelings. The following hidden beliefs are extremely common. Don’t feel bad if they are tripping you up too.

Worry Myths

We’ll start with the Top 5 Worry Myths. Many people are surprised to learn they’re hooked by one or more of the following beliefs:

1. Worrying will stop something bad from happening in the future.
2. Worrying about a negative outcome will prepare me for it.
3. Worrying helps me come up with all my options for a particular situation.
4. Worrying helps me feel as if I’m doing something about the problem.
5. Worrying sometimes helps me avoid thinking about something else.

Patterns That May Contribute To Your Anxiety

Here are a few others that may resonate with you and keep you holding on to your old patterns:

  • Your success at work demands that you’re constantly thinking ahead, juggling, planning, problem solving. You don’t want to risk messing up, and you feel your worry and anxiety make sure you don’t.
  • You are the hub that holds your busy family together. Getting everyone to where they need to go, when they need to be there, with what they need to have, and completing what they need to have completed. You need to be thinking all the time, or things will start to fall apart. Worry and anxiety just come with the territory of being a good parent.
  • Worrying shows that you care and are keeping problems, yours and others’, front and center in your mind. If you stop worrying, it’ll be like you stop caring.

Or how about these:

  • You’ve always been really sensitive and intuitive. Although it has its downsides, you’ve always considered it something that made you special. When you feel anxious or worrisome thoughts, it may be a premonition, and you don’t want to risk not listening to it.
  • Your mom or dad seemed to worry a lot or have anxiety. In a way that is hard for you to explain, you feel more connected to them when you worry or have anxiety too. Especially if they are no longer with you and you miss them.
  • You grew up vowing not to be __________ (i.e., poor, alcoholic, overweight, sick, unhappy, etc.) like your family. If you aren’t constantly worried and thinking of these things, you’re afraid you may follow in their footsteps.

We humans are complex creatures. At the most core level we operate around two principles: avoid pain and seek pleasure. What we view as pain and pleasure aren’t always obvious. Subconsciously we may “hide” important pieces of information from ourselves, or start reinforcing behaviors based on erroneous beliefs.

And then we’re blindsided when we experience bumps in the road. Do any of these hidden hooks resonate with you?


Severe Blushing Stinks! One Legit Strategy to Make It Go Away.

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Fear of blushing is a prominent complaint by many with social anxiety. We can hide many things with our anxiety, but blushing totally exposes us. Our body seems to betray the fundamental laws of loyalty and self-preservation. It’s embarrassing and all-around miserable. 

The physiology of why some of us turn tomato-red at the drop of a hat, and others don’t, isn't totally understood by researchers and doctors. But one aspect that seems to play a big role is how we respond to that dreaded physiological arousal called blushing. 

When we feel that familiar flush and sudden onslaught of warmth fill our cheeks we instantly get self-conscious. Many times we’re filled with some hierarchy of self-hate. If we can escape a situation we will. If we can hide, even better.

All our thoughts get lassoed into one big self-focused bundle and only intensifies the more we think of how red our face is. It creates a vicious cycle. The more we think of how much we’re blushing, the more we blush. The more we blush the more we think of how much we’re blushing. And since it is soooo noticeable to everyone around us, we think about it even more… and want to crawl under the nearest rock. 

Needless to say, that’s not the response that’s helpful. 

2 Effective Ways to Combat Severe Blushing

In all my research, I’ve found two effective ways to help curb severe blushing. The first is an expensive and sorta crazy sounding surgery. Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is a surgical procedure where the nerves that cause the facial blood vessels to dilate (widen) are cut. Um. No thanks. 

The second is teaching those who experience severe blushing to explicitly focus their attention on to anything else but their blushing. 

Seriously. This is simple strategy an extremely effective way to help people decrease their blushing and cope with their blushing at the same time. 

Self-focused Attention

Since blushing and self-focused attention mutually reinforce each other, if you redirect your attention outward (to whatever you’re doing and your environment) you’ll be able to break through the vicious circle!

Were you hoping there was some secret intervention to stop your blushing in the first place? I know I was years ago when I began my research into this in an effort to help me with my own blushing. But I have to tell you, since I’ve been practicing turning my attention away from my ‘self’ and turning it outward onto what I’m doing, it has become the next best thing!

I can definitely vouch for this one. What has helped you? 

3 Novel Ways to Change Your Anxiety

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We are both complex creatures and waaay too simple for our own good. For the sake of time, I’ll skip the complexity and jump right into the simple stuff. More specifically, the simple stuff around our anxiety. And for that, it all drills down to our mental model. 

Mental Models

A mental model is the framework we use to understand the way things work, make decisions, and conceptualize challenges. We create them as we grow up and they become just “who we are”. 

When life is going great we don’t seem to have reason to explore our mental models or question them. We pretty much just rock. 

However, when life stinks we still don’t explore them…

That’s a problem. Mental models offer the key point of intervention for creating good things in our lives and extinguishing the bad things in our lives. 

Let me show you how to get started exploring your mental model around anxiety. And changing it.

Take a moment to think about these questions.

  • What happens when you start to experience that panicky feeling?
  • What are the negative thoughts that your mind has when you are feeling anxious?
  • What do you remember being your worst time with anxiety and what are you fearing is going to happen next time?
  • How much do you hate having that anxious pit in your stomach and racing mind?
  • How often do you avoid certain things to try to avoid feeling anxious or get that impulsive feeling to bolt from situations to feel better?

The answers to these questions contribute to your anxiety mental model. They make up how you view your anxiety. Plain and simple, without changing things within your mental model, it’ll continue to fuel your anxiety. 

To create change in your anxiety do these 3 things to start altering your mental model.

  1. Question your lynchpin underlying assumptions, the driving forces that perpetuate your anxiety. It’s frustrating, often we can’t figure out why we have anxiety. But frankly I think spending a lot of time trying to uncover the why is a waste of time. Better, start with identifying the main thoughts that perpetuate your anxiety. Do any of these sound familiar? “I’ve always been anxious, that’s just how I’m wired”, “I can’t help it”, “I don’t have time to do anything differently”, “I shouldn’t be like this”, “I’m weak.” Those underlying assumptions that you’ve subconsciously taken in as “facts” and built your anxiety upon, need to be changed and replaced. Manually. As in saying to yourself, “I no longer believe that I’m hard-wired to be an anxious person.” Period. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to support that statement with examples. You will lose that game. In order to change your lynchpin underlying assumptions you just need to declare to yourself that you no longer believe that to be true. And repeat the new assumption when you feel your anxiety rise. 
  2. Seek out individuals and information that offer a different interpretation of anxiety. It’s human nature to want to surround ourselves with people who think like us. It’s comfortable and takes little mental energy. Two high priorities for humans! It’s such a natural way for us to operate that we’ll even subconsciously discount or reject opposing opinions in our effort to find others that confirm what we believe. Psychologists call this ‘confirmation bias’. So in order for you to make strides in eliminating your anxiety, it’s important not to fall into the confirmation bias trap. Read from different sources of information than usual, listen to different interpretations about anxiety and it’s treatment than you have in the past. If you find you’re just hearing what you already knew or suspected…look for something that totally contradicts it or suggests something different. Talk to different types of professionals. The point here is if your anxiety isn’t going away on its own or with the strategies you’ve tried, it’s time to figure out a different mental model. The only way to do that is to expose your thinking to new ideas AND notice when you are clinging tightly or looking to confirm your original beliefs. 
  3. Pay attention to novel experiences. In order for us to deal with the amount of information and stimuli we are exposed to each day, our brains consolidate things and opt for the most energy-efficient strategies. This is the reason why we have confirmation bias so badly. Our brains don’t want to invite anything that is going to be a drain on its energy. As a result when it comes to our anxiety, we fall into the practice of glomming all of the times we feel anxious into one known quantity. When x happens then y happens then z happens… Our brain’s think “Here we go again!” and don’t have to give it any more thought or energy. In order to change our anxiety we need to disrupt this ‘autopilot’. We need to pay attention to the times and things that are different. We need to be curious about how long our panic attack lasted or the fact that we didn’t get a tight chest like last time. When we pay attention, even though it takes more energy and sometimes more uncomfortable, we get a more accurate and undistorted view of our experience. It is in this place that true opportunities for effective interventions lie!

Our mental models pretty much dictate how we see the world and how we are in the world. The good news, they’re not set in stone. It’s in disrupting these previously held frameworks that new and improved ones can take hold and our anxiety can finally start taking the backseat. 

Do have any mental model busting strategies you’ve tried? I’d love to hear about them. 


If you’re the DIY, super busy, dip-your-toe-in-before-diving type and would like to overcome your anxiety in the comfort, convenience and privacy of your own home, check out my 4 week online mini-course.

5 Ways to Focus When Your To-Do List Has A Million Things On It

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Part of the solution to focusing better is letting go of the strongly held “anti-focus” beliefs you may not even realize you have. Here are the top 5 that make us lose valuable time and keep us feeling swamped. And what you can do instead.

5 Focus Beliefs and How to Change Them

  1. Belief: If I don’t do something as soon as I think of it, I’ll forget it. Antidote: Write it down on a running list you keep on your phone (or notebook) and do it after you finish what you’re working on. Don’t change tasks each time you remember something and don’t bog your brain down trying to remember this type of information. Write it on something and stay the course.

  2. Belief: Working on a few things at once will help me get through my to-do list faster. Antidote: To see for yourself, this may take a leap of faith. You need to actually put the blinders on, ignore the other things needing to be done, and do only one-thing-at-a-time to see for yourself. Go ahead, set your stopwatch. Science is on your side.
  3. Belief: Distractions of my choosing are okay, it’s the other ones that eat away at my time. Antidote: Micro-time losses add up over the course of the day regardless of whether we are consciously initiating them or not. Each time we stop what we’re doing to quickly zip off this email, check the notifications on our phone, or look up that one little thing, even if we are choosing to do so, we lose time transitioning back to our original task. Bottom line, fight the urges to interrupt your attention to what you’re doing. Squirrel!
  4. Belief: There’s not enough time in the day to do everything but I’ll pretend there is and waste energy on stressing about getting everything done! Antidote: Hate to get all tough love on you but you’ll truly benefit from coming to terms with reality here. Even if you have folks knocking down your door, when it’s literally not possible to get everything done, don’t get pulled into crazytown over it. Stress takes up valuable time and energy so allocate it wisely to things in your control. Take a deep breath and know your sense of what you can do is based on reality. Calmly press on forward.
  5. Belief: I don’t know what to do first and since I need to do the absolute first thing first if I don’t know what that is, what do I do? Antidote: Do the hardest thing or the part that you are least looking forward doing first. If a priority order isn’t readily apparent, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with this strategy. Your plan B should be doing the thing at the top of your list. Your plan C should be doing them in alphabetical order. Plan D close your eyes and point to one and do it. Plan E…you get the point, just do something. When you continuously work on your list, prioritization becomes more apparent. It’s sorta like magic.

Huge to-do lists and distractions are here to stay. These 5 strategies will help you replace work-overwhelm with work-momentum!


If you’re the DIY, super busy, dip-your-toe-in-before-diving type and would like to overcome your anxiety in the comfort, convenience and privacy of your own home, check out my 4 week online mini-course.

Boom! Mic Drop on Your Social Anxiety

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It's confusing. All we hear about these days is self-awareness this and self-awareness that. Everywhere we turn there’s another self-help article on the importance of getting in touch with our thoughts and feelings.

And yet, research shows that heightened self-focused attention plays a huge role in social anxiety.

What’s right?

It turns out both are, but the devil is in the details. Let me explain.

Self-Focused Attention and Social Anxiety

First, the down-low on self-focused attention and social anxiety. Research has found that when a person suffers from social anxiety, they direct too much attention on themselves during (or in anticipation of ) social interactions or performance situations. They pay too much attention to their emotions, their self-thoughts, behaviors, their physical appearance, nervous system arousal, etc. and pay too little attention to what they’re doing, to the other people they might be with, and their environment. With social anxiety, a person becomes acutely and overly aware of themselves.

It’s like a giant spotlight has been turned on and focused right. On. Them.

Can you relate? I know I can. There are many times in the past when I became so self-obsessed, so self-focused that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees! Miserable. And anxiety provoking.

Scientists have also found that when we become so acutely self-focused, we often do worse at the things we‘re anxious about doing in the first place! Add to that, because we aren’t focusing on the other people and things around us, we end up relying solely on our own negative impressions, thereby confirming… we’re a loser.

It is a vicious cycle and it totally reinforces our anxiety.

Breaking the Anxious Cycle

But once you realize it’s a cycle you can break it. The way to get out of this loop is to disrupt it. And the best way to disrupt it is to start turning your attention away from yourself. It’s the opposite of self-focused.

Yep, I know this also flies in the face of what we think of as being self-aware.

So to help with this, let me be a bit more clear about what self-awareness actually means.

Self-awareness is just that, being more aware. That’s it.

Like, “Oh, I’m aware that there’s a lot of traffic today” or “Oh, that felt really crappy” or “Oh, I feel my body starting to feel anxious.” Self-awareness is merely noticing and noting what is happening or what you are feeling. And it can end there. No need to figure it out or dwell on.

Contrary to popular belief, the major benefit to self-awareness isn’t an increased ‘feeling of our feelings’ or ‘thinking of our thoughts’. Actually, that’s often totally counterproductive.

The major wisdom of increased self-awareness is to notice our feelings and thoughts and not get pulled in by them.

A great way of not getting pulled in by them, after we notice them, is to turn our attention onto whatever we’re doing.

Instead of being totally self-focused, we become totally task-focused.

We turn our attention outward onto the specific task we’re doing. By doing this one little strategy, we release our tendency to become overly self-focused thereby releasing our anxiety… all while being self-aware!

Boom! Mic drop.

A Whiff of Lavender for Anxiety? C’mon, Really?

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(Before you read this, ask yourself if there is anything I can tell you or research I can show you that will make you believe that taking a big whiff of lavender will help ease your anxiety?)

As with many things, we selectively apply our experiences and logic when it comes to helping ourselves feel better.

We’re funny creatures that way.

We believe that the smell of bread baking in the oven can make us feel warm and cozy, even a bit nostalgic, and the smell of pumpkin spice can have us instantly jonesin’ for our favorite fall latte, but we don’t believe something like the smell of lavender can legitimately help us feel calm. Or the smell of lemon and eucalyptus can seriously increase your energy when you’re feeling over it.

Most of us go through life thinking we are in the driver seat carefully architecting our experiences. Yet, often we have huge blind spots when it comes to feeling better emotionally. We somehow don’t connect some of the easiest dots and overlook some of our most accessible sources of help.

Let’s get back to the smell of bread baking in the oven. I want you to feel warm and cozy so you are more open to the idea I’m about to throw on you. And here is the idea: you can use certain smells in the form of essential oils to help you feel better. It’s called aromatherapy and it can help you.

The accurate mechanisms of aromatherapy have not yet been identified. Which basically means that scientists don’t exactly know why or how it works. That’s a bummer because we like to know why and how things work in order to believe in them.

But here’s the catch…scientists don’t know how and why most things work! Some theories, however, gain ‘culturally accepted status’ as valid and others don’t. If a theory fits into your ‘idea’ of how you think a mechanism should work, “Bingo!” it’s believed. While other ideas, for whatever reason, are relegated to a lesser status and are ignored, even with research behind it.

So, forget about lavender or lemon for a minute.

“Feeling better” comes down to doing things differently than what we were doing before. Plain and simple. It requires change of some sort. It requires trying some new things and giving up some old things.

Aromatherapy may not be “your thing” but it just may symbolize how strong resistance to change can be. If it is your thing, you’re in luck! It is a very effective way to help curb anxiety and can safely enhance your current go-to strategies!

Is It Anxiety or 'A Shot in the Dark'?

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A couple years ago I got a coffee ‘to-go’ from the neighborhood coffee shop on my way to work. I usually have my own mug with me but didn't that day. No problem.

Not too long after arriving at work, my body started freaking out. I was sweating, my heart was beating out my chest, I was jittery, my mind was racing and I started feeling panicky like never before.

It came out of nowhere and was totally scary. My day was busy and there was a lot on my mind but this was weird.

I started taking some deep breaths to try to calm myself down. That worked marginally, but I could still feel my heart and my mind was still racing. I didn’t know what was happening. Was this a panic attack? I’d never had one before but definitely knew about them.

At some point, I glanced at my paper coffee cup and noticed the barista’s markings for my order. It read “shot in dark”. “What?” I thought to myself, this was supposed to be just a regular coffee.

I then realized that my reaction was a result of accidentally picking up the wrong coffee order at the coffee shop that morning! Instead of my usual coffee, I had drunk one with two extra shots of espresso! No wonder my body and mind were freaking out! I had just bombarded it with a super high jolt of caffeine and it was reacting as I would’ve expected it to.

I felt better instantly. Well, my body was still a jittery mess due to the caffeine coursing through my veins and my mind was still faster than usual but once I realized this logical reason for my reactions, I was at ease. It was a false alarm brought on my a ‘shot in the dark’.

Upon labeling it a false alarm, all of those symptoms that had captured my full attention and had me so worried soon became a fading-into-the-background noise. My symptoms were still happening but they no longer gripped me with their power.

I got back to work and waited it out.

You can do this too with your anxiety. There are so many similarities.

  • If you start to feel your body anxiously amping up, check in. If something isn’t immediately requiring your “fight or flight” reaction label it a false alarm.

  • Anxiety triggers false alarms. Teach your mind to settle down with the realization that this type of experience can be attributed to ‘anxiety’ just as my type of experience could be attributed to too much caffeine all at once.

  • Just like my accidental coffee with a double shot of espresso, your anxiety is something real and once it has been activated it needs to quietly run its course in the background. Important point: In the background! Label it a false alarm and then turn your attention back on to what you were doing or need to do.

  • Remind yourself periodically if you need to that you’re experiencing a normal reaction to something that just triggered your anxiety (usually a thought) and that you can let it dissolve.

  • Your anxiety is super uncomfortable because it captures your full attention and usually spirals to become even bigger. Check it. Label it. Forget it.

Have you ever had an experience that mimicked anxiety? What happened? How did you deal with it?