Learn how to free yourself from anxieties with these 8 easy steps
March 3, 2017
1. Take a deep breath.
“The first thing to do when you get anxious is to breathe,” said Tom Corboy, MFT, the founder and executive director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, and co-author of the upcoming book The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful anxiety-reducing technique because it activates the body’s relaxation response. It helps the body go from the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system, said Marla W. Deibler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, LLC.
She suggested this practice: “Try slowly inhaling to a count of 4, filling your belly first and then your chest, gently holding your breath to a count of 4, and slowly exhaling to a count of 4 and repeat several times.”
2. Accept that you’re anxious.
Remember that “anxiety is just a feeling, like any other feeling,” said Deibler, also author of the Psych Central blog “Therapy That Works.” By reminding yourself that anxiety is simply an emotional reaction, you can start to accept it, Corboy said.
Acceptance is critical because trying to wrangle or eliminate anxiety often worsens it. It just perpetuates the idea that your anxiety is intolerable, he said.
But accepting your anxiety doesn’t mean liking it or resigning yourself to a miserable existence.
“It just means you would benefit by accepting reality as it is – and in that moment, reality includes anxiety. The bottom line is that the feeling of anxiety is less than ideal, but it is not intolerable.”
3. Realize that your brain is playing tricks on you.
Psychiatrist Kelli Hyland, M.D., has seen first-hand how a person’s brain can make them believe they’re dying of a heart attack when they’re actually having a panic attack. She recalled an experience she had as a medical student.
“I had seen people having heart attacks and look this ill on the medical floors for medical reasons and it looked exactly the same. A wise, kind and experienced psychiatrist came over to [the patient] and gently, calmly reminded him that he is not dying, that it will pass and his brain is playing tricks on him. It calmed me too and we both just stayed with him until [the panic attack] was over.”
Today, Dr. Hyland, who has a private practice in Salt Lake City, Utah, tells her patients the same thing. “It helps remove the shame, guilt, pressure and responsibility for fixing yourself or judging yourself in the midst of needing nurturing more than ever.”
4. Question your thoughts.
“When people are anxious, their brains start coming up with all sorts of outlandish ideas, many of which are highly unrealistic and unlikely to occur,” Corboy said. And these thoughts only heighten an individual’s already anxious state.
For instance, say you’re about to give a wedding toast. Thoughts like “Oh my God, I can’t do this. It will kill me” may be running through your brain.
Remind yourself, however, that this isn’t a catastrophe, and in reality, no one has died giving a toast, Corboy said.
“Yes, you may be anxious, and you may even flub your toast. But the worst thing that will happen is that some people, many of whom will never see you again, will get a few chuckles, and that by tomorrow they will have completely forgotten about it.”
Deibler also suggested asking yourself these questions when challenging your thoughts:
“Is this worry realistic?
Is this really likely to happen?
If the worst possible outcome happens, what would be so bad about that?
Could I handle that?
What might I do?
If something bad happens, what might that mean about me?
Is this really true or does it just seem that way?
What might I do to prepare for whatever may happen?”
5. Use a calming visualization.
Hyland suggested practicing the following meditation regularly, which will make it easier to access when you’re anxious in the moment.
“Picture yourself on a river bank or outside in a favourite park, field or beach. Watch leaves pass by on the river or clouds pass by in the sky. Assign [your] emotions, thoughts [and] sensations to the clouds and leaves, and just watch them float by.”
This is very different from what people typically do. Typically, we assign emotions, thoughts and physical sensations certain qualities and judgments, such as good or bad, right or wrong, Hyland said. And this often amplifies anxiety. Remember that “it is all just information.”
6. Be an observer — without judgment.
Hyland gives her new patients a 3×5 index card with the following written on it: “Practice observing (thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, judgment) with compassion, or without judgment.”
“I have had patients come back after months or years and say that they still have that card on their mirror or up on their car dash, and it helps them.”
7. Use positive self-talk.
Anxiety can produce a lot of negative chatter. Tell yourself “positive coping statements,” Deibler said. For instance, you might say, “this anxiety feels bad, but I can use strategies to manage it.”
8. Focus on right now.
“When people are anxious, they are usually obsessing about something that might occur in the future,” Corboy said. Instead, pause, breathe and pay attention to what’s happening right now, he said. Even if something serious is happening, focusing on the present moment will improve your ability to manage the situation, he added.
10 Ways to start loving yourself the way you deserve to be loved
March 3, 2017
1. Stop All Criticism
Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.
2. Forgive Yourself
Let the past go. You did the best you could at the time, with the understanding, awareness, and knowledge that you had. Now you are growing and changing, and you will live life differently.
“Forgiving yourself and
those who have hurt you, opens
your heart to a new level of loving yourself.”
3. Don’t Scare Yourself
Stop terrorizing yourself with your thoughts. It’s a dreadful way to live. Find a mental image that gives you pleasure and immediately switch a scary thought to a pleasant thought.
“Defuse the power fear has over you
and trust that life is taking care of you."
4. Be Gentle And Kind And Patient
Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself as you learn new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would treat anyone you really love.
5. Be Kind To Your Mind
Self-hatred is hating your own thoughts. Don’t hate yourself for having the thoughts. Gently change the thoughts to more life-affirming ones.
6. Praise Yourself
Criticism breaks down your inner spirit. Praise builds it up. Praise yourself as much as you can. Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.
7. Support Yourself
Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends and allow them to help you. It is being strong to ask for help when you need it.
8. Be Loving To Your Negatives
Acknowledge that you created them to fulfill a need. Now you are finding new, positive ways to fulfill those needs. Lovingly release the old, negative patterns.
9. Take Care Of Your Body
Learn about nutrition. What kind of fuel does your body need in order to have optimum energy and vitality? Learn about exercise. What kind of exercise do you enjoy? Cherish and revere the temple you live in.
10. Have Fun!
Remember the things that gave you joy as a child and incorporate them into your life now. Find a way to have fun with everything you do. Let yourself express the joy of living. Smile. Laugh. Rejoice, and the Universe rejoices with you!
“The power of positivity can
change everything for the better.”
How a small decision can turn your life around
February 11, 2017
Most of us are well aware of the big decisions we have made and the significant impact those decisions have had in our lives. The decision to attend a university and graduate is a big decision that most people would agree had a positive impact on their life (with the exception of the student loan that came along with the degree).
The decisions to get married or have children most likely have a significant impact on your happiness or unhappiness. The decisions to take a new job, quit a job or start your own business are all examples of big decisions that have most likely had a big impact in your life.
What many of us aren’t as aware of is the power of all the little decisions we’ve made in our lives each day. John Wooden made a great point about decisions: “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you!”
The sum total of all these little decisions determine outcomes such as our:
In so many ways, you’re exactly where you’re at today because of all the decisions you have made, big and small. Larry Winget, a professional speaker and author, wrote a book titled, You’re Broke Because You Want to Be. The title is offensive to some but when you look at all the decisions broke people make, Larry is right.
To achieve success on the attributes listed above, put the power of decisions into the right alignment.
Clarify and crystallize your vision and goals
You need to know exactly what your vision is, then you’ll need to set goals that will help you turn your vision into a reality. Without a clear vision and goals, you are just like Alice when she ran into the Cheshire Cat and pleaded with him, “I just wanted to ask you which way I ought to go.” The cat responded, “Well, that depends on where you want to get to,” to which Alice conceded, “Well it really doesn’t matter.” The cat rightfully concluded, “Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.” Without a vision, you won’t know what goals to set, what decisions need to be made or what actions need to be taken.
Recognize that you always have a choice
We have all heard the expression, “What can I do? I don’t have a choice.” But, by not making a decision or taking action, you’re still making a choice, one that could impact you significantly the rest of your life.
Understand the power of little decisions
When you see the many choices you make each day as too small or insignificant to matter, you aren’t seeing the big picture, aka, the overall impact of your small decisions. Making a one-time decision to eat a candy bar instead of an apple is not a big deal. But if your goal is to be physically fit, making that decision every day won’t help you achieve your vision.
Start now and do what is tough for you
If your goal is to meet and build new customers or new friendships, you’re going to have to start connecting with new people. For many people, meeting new people increases the possibility of being rejected. Most people don’t get excited about being rejected. So, start now and make the choice to take the necessary actions to achieve your vision and goals, especially when it’s tough. It’s been said that if you have to swallow a frog, don’t sit there and look at it.
Do the right thing
Every day we are faced with decisions that are either going to take us closer to our vision and goals or, push us further away from our vision and goals. Some decisions are really easy: don’t touch a hot stove or you will be burned. Other decisions are harder: do I stay late and write this blog or should I go to happy hour? One of these choices is less immediately rewarding, but will bring me closer to fulfilling my goals, while the other is immediately rewarding but actually undermines four of the attributes, listed above, which are parts of my vision. Since most people tend to gravitate towards the immediately rewarding choice, by choosing the hard choice, you’ll be that much more ahead.
The good news is when decisions are hard, most people make a decision to take an action that brings them closer to their goal and accomplishes the attributes listed earlier.
Don’t give up
Sometimes, despite the best intentions, things don’t go as planned. If you’ve made some bad decisions or choices, forgive yourself. Learn from the difficult experience. Pick yourself up and make a conscious decision to acknowledge the challenge and figure out a better path moving forward. Although your past decisions define who you are today, they do not define your future. Often, the difference between highly successful people and those who just get by is not the number of failures they have experienced, but what they did in response to the challenge to address the situation. Make the choice to see your setbacks as temporary distractions and not permanent roadblocks.
Wayne Dyer said, “Our lives are the sum total of the choices we have made.” To feel the benefits of the attributes listed above, clarify your vision, set goals, take action, understand the power of little decisions, do the right thing, and don’t give up. Make the right decision and take action.