088: Reducing Anxiety

I wanted to share one of the reviews I’ve received about this podcast.  I’m so grateful for those of you who have taken the time to do that for me.  Today, I want to thank Lil lo Higgs for this review:  Listening to Marla is like a chat with your best friend.  A friend who has valuable advice to share with actual steps and ideas and workshops that help you get where you want to go-feel how you want to feel.  Marla’s heart is so big and she is so sincere.  I take her along on my morning walks and feel inspired to get it together on all levels.

Before I start today’s episode, I want you to know that what I’m sharing today is in no way intended to gloss over the pain and suffering that many experience with Anxiety.  There are different levels of anxiety and I have friends and loved ones who suffer with the high end of how anxiety manifests itself.  What I want to share today has to do with ways to cope with it.  I fully support the use of medication to help with Anxiety, just like I do with depression.  My hope is that what I share today helps with what’s left when a person is taking medication and doesn’t experience complete relief or will help someone who has lower levels of anxiety and will help them feel more peace.

I have experienced anxiety.

I think most of us have.

But not all of us have what is diagnosed as Anxiety.

That is true with depression as well.

Most of us experience periods of feeling depressed but not to the extent of being diagnosed with Depression.

It’s important for us to recognize the difference and not put them in the same category.

Before I had clinically diagnosed Depression, I didn’t understand the difference and for that reason alone, even if I didn’t learn many, many other things from it too, I’m grateful to know the difference.  It’s helped me show up differently and with more compassion for those who suffer daily from these and other conditions.

Mental health is a beast, or can be, and doesn’t get the help that it needs.

I’d like to offer a few things I’ve learned about Anxiety today as a small way of helping.

Last week I shared with you my conversation with Jessica Rydalch where we talked about Anxiety.  She gave us some really good tips on how to handle anxiety. If you haven’t listened to that episode, make sure you listen to Episode 87.  She taught us three truths about anxiety which were that

#1.  Anxiety is an emotion

#2. We all experience anxiety, although at different intensities

#3. We have the power to manage our anxiety.

I was grateful to learn these 3 basic truths and then to learn some techniques to deal with anxiety.  I hope you’ll go back and listen to Jess and her insights.

Today, I have a few techniques I’ve been learning that help reduce anxiety that I’d like to add to what we learned last week.  These have been clinically proven to help manage anxiety just as well as some medications do, which is why it peaked my curiosity. If I can handle it without the medication, then I want to be able to do that.

I’m going to stress again, that I’m not saying to stop taking your medication that a Dr has prescribed to you.  I just want to help those that aren’t on medications yet or aren’t feeling complete relief with the medications they are taking. I really want to make sure you understand that.  My advice will never replace that of a Dr you’re working with.  I hope that they just help you along with it.

We’re going to start with what I’ve been using for quite a long time to help me fall asleep. 

It’s something I learned when I was in High School when I was having weeks of Insomnia. 

I don’t even remember who taught it to me, but it definitely helped. 

Now I’ve come to learn that it can help you when you’re feeling anxious as well.

It’s called the Body Scan Technique.

It’s pretty simple and I’m going to give you a quick rundown of how it works and what to do.  It’s similar to breathing techniques I’ve shared with you in past episodes, but this can take a little longer, so we won’t actually do it together today.

I think the best way to do it is laying down, but if you need to use it, it can be done sitting in a chair too.

Get comfortable and close your eyes.  If you’re cold at all, cover yourself with a blanket.  You don’t want your attention going to being cold.

If you’re laying down, put your hands either to your sides or on your stomach.  If you’re sitting in a chair, put your hands gently in your lap.

Start at the bottom of your feet.  Direct all of your attention to the bottoms of your feet.  Do you feel any tension there?  Do you feel any pain?  Send all of your attention to that spot, really focusing on the bottoms of your feet until they feel completely relaxed.

Next you’ll move up to your ankles.  Direct all of your attention to your ankles.  Do you feel any tension there?  Do you feel any pain?  Send all of your attention to that spot, really focusing on your ankles until they feel completely relaxed.

Do you see what I’m doing?  I am doing the exact same thing to every area that you direct your focus.  You will slowly move up your body.  From the bottoms of your feet, to your ankles, to your shins, to you calves, to your knees, to your thighs, etc, etc, until you reach your shoulders.  Then go out to the tips of your fingers and up your arms until you reach your shoulders and continue up to the top of your head.  You’re going to find some areas that are holding lots of tension and stress, and others that aren’t.  Spend enough time on each area until it feels relaxed. 

I understand that this can be challenging.

Your monkey brain has a hard time focusing on any one thing for very long.

But keep at it.

The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

It is a fantastic way to settle yourself down if you don’t talk yourself out of it!!

How do I know you’ll do that???

You can bet that it’s from personal experience and from clients who try to tell me that they can’t do it.

You can do it!

NO, you won’t be perfect at it at first, no one is.  Just keep at it and when you realize you’re thinking or worrying about something, gently bring yourself back to the last spot you were focusing on and keep going!

You’ll see progress every time you do it.

The next thing I’m going to suggest is Gratitude Journaling.

Time in your gratitude practice MATTERS!!!

It’s actually doing something for your emotional health!  It’s not just fluff.

The power of a gratitude practice is that it brings you back into what you’re experiencing right now.  When you’re thinking about things you wish you had (that’s thinking about the past) or thinking about what you hope happens (that’s thinking about the future) then your mind can become anxious because it wants to help you get what you want. 

When you focus on ALL the things you already have in your life RIGHT NOW, the anxiety fades because there isn’t a problem that needs to be solved. 

You are grateful for what is in the now.

Makes sure you spend time focusing on all the good that is in your life right now and physically write it down somewhere.

I have a place in my Connection Planner where I make sure to write down 5 things every day that I am grateful for.

If I have days when they don’t come easily to me, my brain goes to work solving that “problem” by searching for things to be grateful for.  That gives it a task that is positive, looking for the good in my life.  Pretty cool huh!!

If you’d like one of my Connection Planner, you can find that at hunkeedori.etsy.com.

It goes along with my Camp Connection course that you can take at Hunkeedori.com/Camp.

If you register for Camp Connection, the planner comes with it free.

You can create your own gratitude journal as well. 

Just find a regular place where you can write what you are grateful for.  And then put it where it will remind you to do it.

Refocusing the mind when anxiety is signaling that something’s going on and you need to have some reassurance that everything is going to be ok.  Anxiety usually takes you immediately into the future and that something bad is going to happen.

If you refocus your mind onto something that you’re grateful for, stopping the thought and beginning to write about what you’re grateful for, you’re activating a different part of the brain than the one that takes over when you’re anxious.  It pulls you back into the present instead of the future.  You’re not in the present moment when you’re anxious or having a panic attack.

So using this with the medication that you may be taking, could double the effects or maybe even make it so you don’t need to take it as often.

It also changes the areas of your brain that are active.

Research has shown that by using either of these two techniques can create a drop in the anxiety you feel by 30% which is equal to Lexapro… a medication commonly given for anxiety.

Research is great but personal application is even better to me!

I have used both of these techniques to help when I feel anxious.

The body scan technique is something I use more than just when trying to fall asleep.

I use it when I notice that my brain is beginning to spin or when I feel the signs of anxiety coming on.

I have also used writing down things that I am grateful for as a way to stop the anxious feelings that I feel build in my chest. 

Sometimes I can’t identify WHY I’m feeling anxious, I just identify that I am feeling anxious and when I can catch it, and refocus myself to write things I’m grateful for, or take deep breaths or do a body scan, I have witnessed anxiety stopping in its tracks before it blows up beyond my ability to deal with it and start in a negative spin.

We all know and love someone who has Situational or Generalized Anxiety.

These are tips that I hope you can pass along with love to them.

I also realize that offering these tips when they are already experiencing anxiety isn’t always well received, so it may be something you want to offer during more calm periods.  Then, when they need help refocusing their thoughts, they remember something they’ve already practiced and it is more helpful.

This is true for you too.

Practicing the body scan and gratitude techniques daily make it easier to use in times when you feel anxious and are a safe place to go when you’re really in need of them.

I hope you remember that feeling anxiety or any emotion isn’t bad and they are not a problem.  When you recognize them as a feeling and that you have the choice of how you want to handle them, you have more power than the feeling does.

I think that’s very empowering and knowing you have a choice is half the battle!

I’m grateful for you.

I’m grateful you have chosen to spend this time with me today.

I’d be very grateful if you’d leave me a review of something that has helped you from this podcast on iTunes.

I’d be grateful if you’d pass along something that would help a loved one that you’ve learned from this podcast.  It will help you learn it better too.

Thank you for joining me here today and remember:

I see you.  I understand how hard you’re trying, and I’d like to help however I can.

Have a wonderful day and I’ll see you back here next week.

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088: Reducing Anxiety
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