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Got Anxiety

Ep #32

Got Anxiety

I’ve been having trouble quieting my brain lately. It’s like the volume in my head is so loud that I can’t hear myself thinking. Making plans, staying motivated, and remembering conversations all seem so hard. And I know I’m not alone. This is anxiety and it plagues 230 million people. I know many of you are struggling with it, too.

Anxiety is a normal bodily response to danger. Our brains sense danger and send hormones throughout the body to prepare it for fight, flight, or freeze. That process was super important when saber-tooth tigers lived, but less so today. Collectively, our anxiety is a response to a global health crisis on top of our everyday stresses and that’s normal.

The prefrontal cortex is what I call our modern brain. If we can access it, we can better manage our anxiety.

In today’s episode, I’m sharing how my experience of anxiety has been lately in hopes that some of you can relate and we can move through it together. I’m giving you some steps you can follow when you’re in anxiety as well as some simple mindfulness practices you can add to your self-care routine and start to better manage your anxiety. Remember, none of us are alone in this experience and feeling anxious is completely expected given the circumstances.

What You Will Discover:

  • What anxiety is and why it causes discomfort in the body.
  • How to access your modern brain.
  • What you can do when you’re experiencing anxiety.
  • How resonating with the stories of others can help relieve your anxiety.
  • Some daily practices to help you manage your anxiety.
  • The power of allowing the feelings of suck to happen.

Resources Mentioned:

Enjoy the Show?

Renegades… How are you?

Okay, Kanye. Shut the fuck up. I mean. If you're. Going to do it at least be serious about it. WE THE PEOPLE CANT RIGHT NOW. Honestly, I'd take Kim Kardashian seriously right now. Without a doubt. She's fucking brilliant, knows how to manage money, hasn't sexually harassed anyone- or lied about sex life, is studying social justice to become a lawyer. You know what they say, bitches get shit done. I'm officially nominating Kim. Come on girl. Get after it. She straight up sent her kids on a plane to be with her husband so she could have a break and everyone got all upset. Are you fucking kidding me. She's running shit over there. I don't have a 1/16 of what they have going on and I'm overwhelmed by 2 kids and a podcast. And don't tell me she's got a staff to help her. I'm telling you. She could fucking run this world.
I don't know why everyone wants to shame her. I was talking about this the other night. There is an actress that uses the Kardashians on her platform as a way to speak out against body shaming - while she is blatantly shaming the Kardashian's. It makes no sense. I've never understood why women are so cruel to other women. And also, I will argue until the day I die, if a sex tape would make you famous and worth hundreds and now billions of dollars everyone would do it. Or we would all know at least 22 millionaires. Did they use the sex tape to their advantage? Maybe. But it's been more than a sex tape, y'all. I'd fucking post a sex tape if I thought I could market it and make anything remotely close to their earnings. ZERO shame. I know that I don't have the marketing power or genius that they do. Anyway. Kanye, just sit there and look pretty. Kim, shake it up!

Man, does anyone else feel like the volume is so loud you can't hear yourself think?

I was in my car recently and I found myself asking Nick to turn down the music so I could focus on the directions… I think I was looking for an open car spot at Wholefoods or something and he called me out- saying it's an old person move. I was like bruh. What the fuck, I'm 40.
I'M NOT OLD.
But it didn't stop me from questioning why it is that when I'm driving and getting closer to the destination or looking for say the specific address, I lower the volume down in my car. It was true. I was that person thinking and saying 'turn it down, I can't see where I'm going. Like my vision would become more clear….

I've also noticed with Faith, we will be having a convo- you the usual, remember mom, you said I could do this when I asked last week. Does anyone else even know what last week means anymore? Time means nothing. This has year has been the longest day of my life. It's all bleeding together and it takes some serious investigative archaeological work for me to dig into our - I'll admit- very simple life - to deconstruct when I said what she's saying I said she could do.
I'm like, no- I wouldn't have said that and she says but you did… on Thursday before I went to work. And I'm like Thursday? Did I have the dogs that day? That's not possible- if it was before you went to work I was on a walk with them logging my 9546 step of my day on our loop that we take at this time which is the same time that would have been before you went to work.
Here, let me check my STRAVA to confirm.

My brain cannot, I repeat, cannot function the way it used to. Making plans. Staying motivated. Remembering conversations. Manufacturing positivity.

It's too fucking noisy in here. I need someone to turn the volume down on my brain so I can hear myself think.

It got me thinking; just what the hell is going on in mind? I've noticed at night my thoughts playing like a background song that I can't stand. It's like ruminating nation. A conversation will happen and I'll obsess about it for days; what I said, should have said, what did they mean. My kids will make plans and I'll imagine worst case scenarios - phone rings and I'm convinced it's bad news. Someone has died. When people started going back to work and things were opening up again I felt this rush of urgency. To get it together. To keep up with everyone else…

The smallest of problems feel like a threat to my safety… Everything feels like a threat…

And there it was, hello darkness my old friend, my sweet Anxiety how have you been.

I'm anxious. All that noise in th background is my nervous system telling me that things aren't okay.
Ironically I've been talking about having anxiety this year- pre pandemic but thought it was caused by hormones than drinking - I've been trying different things thinking to fix the anxiety thinking it would go away but It doesn't.

I've accepted that I live it. And in order to live with it, I feel the need to understand it and proactively work with it. Turns our 230 million people are diagnosed with anxiety. There is a large % of the population going undiagnosed.

So What is anxiety? It's your brains alarm system to keep you safe. On one hand, you want this bitch on your side. She's leaking inside information- I'm not just talking thought messages, but chemicals Renegades. That's right. That sensation you feel in your body- that discomfort is your brain releasing hormones in your body to get you ready to take flight, fight or freeze. Anxiety is letting your body know that danger is lurking.

I used to teach my clients that Anxiety was/is necessary-it's how humans have stayed alive and evolved. Think back to cave days. It's what kept you safe from snaggletooth tiggers looking to snack on the likes of your limbs.

In modern day, our brains are still designed to react this way-to look for trouble -even though our lives aren't in cave day danger - it responds to our everyday problems around money, dating, parenting -your job -public speaking… not actually life threatening- but your brain freaks out.

Then we entered a pandemic.

Now our brains have an insane amount of information coming at it everyday proving that leaving the cave actually could be dangerous. There is concern around the instability of our economy- fear as we witness civil unrest -violence. We are collectively experiencing a health risk. And then you add to your usual problems everyday personal problems you had and will continue to have.

Much like interest in the bank, your thoughts about all the things going on, compound your creating feelings anxiety. We are having a lot of stressful thoughts and if we don't examine our minds, we are subconsciously believing them.

Most of our brains are undergoing some for of anxiety and trauma right now. We are experiencing uncertainty in a way we never knew possible- and anxiety thrives on vagueness Renegades. This is a very real human experience.
The good news is that we can tame our brain. We can actively relax our nervous system. We can manage it.

All we have to do is get access to our prefrontal cortex-the part of our brain that has developed and evolved us since cave days. The problem solving part of our brain. Our modern brain. When you access your prefrontal cortex, you leave your primitive brain better known as survival mode. Gaining access to your modern brain requires effort, your attention and mindfulness.

Oh, and there's also this; if you're in a panic or experiencing anxiety, you can't get to it. Your modern brain is like upper VIP entry. She isn't going to grant you access when you're in a panic. No. You have to take a deep breath and process that anxiety first. Then she will work with you. Here are some options when you are in your anxiety.

Step One. Sensations without Stories.
Narrate what is happening in your body without attaching a thought to it. With no judgment. What is happening physically? What is the sensation going through your body? Are you short of breath? Is your heart jumping out of your chest? Mind spinning out, feeling shaky, snappy, buzzing from within wanting to crawl out of your skin. Does it have a shape? A color? How does it move? Can you just watch it? Like a movie? The sensation- is it moving in a certain direction? Can you reverse the direction it's moving?
Now label it. This is my body feeling anxiety. This is me feeling anxious. That sweat is because my body is experiencing anxiety. Remind yourself that my brain thinks I'm in danger. My brain is trying to keep me safe. Allow it to process through your system.
Spinning feelings. Richard Bandler found that feelings usually spin in a certain direction and that reversing the spin can be powerful in decreasing your anxiety.

I know from experience anxiety can feel like you might actually be dying. Keep talking yourself through the sensations until in runs its course. Do your best to not think any additional thoughts. That's when you compound the experience.
This process gives you authority over what is happening. You want to learn to accept anxiety rather than reject it.
Once you've processed the initial reaction you can bound and ground.

Step Two: Breathe. I've been reading The Wisdom of Anxiety and she recommends a buddhist breathing practice called Tonglen that Pema Chodron teaches. She says 'when you do tonlgen on the spot, simply breathe in and breath out, taking in pain and sending out spaciousness and releif.' This trains our minds to actively welcome pain rather than trying to reject it.
Next, breathe into the pain that everyone else is experiencing on the planet… fear, grief sadness, heartbreak and breathe out love connection. She says "if you think you're the only one having a hard time with life, thing again. In some strange and beautiful way, we're all in this together and when you can connect to the invisible web of heart strands that connect us in pain and beauty, something opens up inside and anxiety quiets down.

Renegades. I love that. I truly find comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in this experience right now. SO often we feel isolated and alone in our struggles. When my slips into victim mode I'm quickly reminded that we are all facing this collectively and together we will move through it.

Step Three: Full Stop. Drop an anchor where you are. Ask yourself What am I sitting on? What's supporting my body? Can I feel my weight ground into the chair or in my bed? Can I feel my weight ground deeper? To the belly button of the earth. I like to imagine an anchor dropping from my body in to the center of the earth and then I take in the surroundings of my room. A sound. The feeling of my hands.

Step 4: We want to become aware of our thinking. Journaling or as I refer to it - your daily Brain drain-not only materializes the thoughts but it shifts you from primitive thinking to modern. You get all your thoughts out of your Brian and on paper allowing you to see them objectively. Look at each thought and ask yourself if it's a fact-\ would the whole world agree? Can your prove it in the court of law? Or is it a thought?
If it's a thought, decide on purpose - do I want to believe this thought? When I think this thought, how does it make me feel? How is it serving me to think this thought? Could I believe the opposite? This process allows you to clean up your thinking. It's like organizing your drawers- you take it all out and decide what you're using, need, not willing to give up. The choice is yours. You do not have to keep thinking the thoughts and can choose to delete them.

Here are some simple mindfulness practices and tools you can practice daily- as part of your self care routine to help you manage and get to know your anxiety.

Meditate on feeling grounded. Make a list of things, thoughts and feelings that create a grounded feeling in your world. Ask yourself;
When in life did I feel grounded? What was happening to me? What activity was I engaged in? Who was I with?
Now answer those same questions but swap out grounded for anxious. When did I last feel anxious? Who was I with? What were we doing? What's great about this practice is you can learn how you cope with your anxiety… How did I react? Did I reach for a drink? For food? Did I avoid feeling it?

Visualize.
You can use your imagination to create anxiety or possibilities.

Breathing exercises- a simple sigh breath in through your nose and out your mouth signals to your brain - relax.

Choose mantras and affirmations the bring you peace and comfort -and repeat them 10x a day

Be present as often as possible. When you are in the shower- feel the water on your body. When you are drinking water, feel it flow through your body. Water is a powerful visual for me when I do guided meditations.

Lastly, Renegades. I don't think this is a time in our lives where we are supposed to feel great. We are feeling uncomfortable and there is nothing wrong with you for that. I personally am not going to spend my brain energy trying to fake happiness and produce positivity - and I struggles with that. That I should be grateful for my circumstances - which I am. That others have it way worse. And they do. But it doesn't dismiss what we are going through and the way my brain is responding. I have found the more I allow the feelings of suck, the easier I'm able to move through the world. It's authentic to what I'm experiencing. I came across a quote from Michael beck last week and he gave me the word I needed- as well as the language to help me feel better about not feeling great. The word is optimism
he said;

"would it surprise you to learn that optimism is not a synonym for positivity, nor an opposite of negativity? Optimism transcends both. The etymology of optimism is from the latin, optimum, meaning that the present moment is an optimum state.
Being optimistic ultimately means that an individual expects the best possible outcome from any situation. Such a person's mindset and heart-set responds to whatever arises in the moment- uplifting or challenging- knowing that within it is a grace, an opportunity for their souls evolutionary progress"

This is where I want to be. Always for sure. But right now, as I swim through the river of suck and navigate my anxiety I will remain optimistic. What about you?

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