5 Steps to Happiness Through Xin – Heart & Mind

Heather Edwards HappinessThe quest for health and happiness today seems like an uphill battle. Each day, the national and international issues gracing our headlines challenge the equilibrium of our hearts and soul. Breaking news alerts of yet another terrorist attack, policemen murdered in cold blood, and the battle between Trump and Clinton for the White House burdens our psyche, sending shock waves through our collective central nervous system. It’s unnerving and overtime, with repeated acts of horror and chaos, it depresses our sense of peace, love, and hope for a better tomorrow.

We’re further misaligned by our own personal demons. Whether it’s illness, relationships, or finances each of us has a complexity of individual struggles. At times, it’s overwhelming.

Let’s go back to base camp. Hit the reset button. Clear your mind of the negativity that surrounds you. Refocus. Try these five basic acts of goodness for your body and mind to revisit the quest for health and happiness in the short and long term…

  1. Honor your body. When you need rest, rest. When you need hydration, hydrate. When you need movement, move. Ignoring your basic physical needs leads to illness overtime. Sleep cleanses the neural pathways in your brain. Water cleanses your blood stream of toxins. Healthy meals provide essential nutrients to your organs, muscles, and bones that keep them strong. Don’t skip meals because you’re too busy.
  1. Surround yourself with people who lift you up. Healthy relationships support healthy lives. You need to feel supported, loved, and connected to those around you. Get inspired. People who dream, aspire, and grow help you do the same. Shed the toxic relationships in your life. They will inadvertently kill you through negativity and stress. 
  1. Focus on gratitude. Noticing what you already have creates a sense of peace in your life. When you stay focused on the positive, you naturally shape your entire outlook toward the good around you. The way you think affects the way you feel. The way you feel affects the way to behave. The way you behave affects your character. So who and how do you want to be?Heather Edwards Happiness
  1. Get out into nature. There is evidence that staring at a tree reduces anxiety. It takes you out of your head and into the moment. Nature is awe inspiring. That’s an expansive, open, gracious experience. Go to the beach, look at a flower, google pictures of a mountain. It’s calming and can reset your mindset.
  1. Mindfulness = Heartfulness. Be truly present. In Chinese, heart and mind are the same word – xin. It is believed that if we are functioning with an open mind, we are also functioning from the heart. When you let go of opinions, wants, and judgements you experience freedom. Approach each moment with curiosity, openness, and generosity. Accept the reality of what is, instead of fighting against what you already know to be true.  Just be.

These actions won’t directly change the circumstances of your life, but they will change your relationship to them. Just a moment of peace, love, and joy each day cumulatively strengthens your body and psyche. In the end, it makes a healthy heart and mind. And that makes the world a better place for everyone.

What Makes You Come Alive? Find Your Flow

flow heather edwards

I recently gave a speech at New York Toastmasters. The attendees were moved and asked me to post it online. It’s about integrating Mindfulness & Positive Psychology into your everyday life…. See the YouTube video here…

What makes you come alive? I mean really alive. When you feel the flow of energy moving in your body. When there’s excitement on a visceral level and a calling of your attention to a particular person, place, or activity.

It’s thrilling, calming, and you’re in love with the moment. Nothing else matters. Call it passion, finding your flow, or just plain fun.

Let’s go with flow. Let’s take a ride together.  Let’s explore wellness, the universe, and gratitude.

Flow heals you from the inside out. It reduces the stress hormone, cortisol. It increases serotonin, which helps regulate mood, memory, sleep, & body temperature.

It can reduce pain and inflammation. It increases energy and a sense of being mentally awake and capable.

It helps to improve relationships by developing shared, meaningful bonds with others. It makes you healthy, strong, and really alive!

When you experience flow, you’re free. You’re immersed in an activity, and feeling like you’re exactly where you’re meant to be…

There’s a lightness, completeness, and connection with someone or something outside yourself that transports you to a new place.

It’s an alignment of sorts. An experience of awe, wonder, and curiosity.  

You’re no longer in your head. You’re fully present in this moment – right here, right now, at the intersection of this time and place.

There is a novelty and oneness with the intricacies of the moment. One foot is planted firmly in the safe and familiar, and the other dips freely into the unknown, exploring uncertainty, & tempting vulnerability… You’re stretching.

Your senses are attuned. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your face and the weightlessness of the wind in your hair. You absorb the fresh life-giving oxygen of the flowers, trees, and mother earth with each breath. You’re awake, aware, alive! It’s sublime.

You feel connected to beauty & a wider purpose. You seem insignificant and immensely integral to this beautiful tapestry of life. You’re uniquely distinct from it and one with it, at the same time.

When you pan out to the universe and observe yourself in this world, the one that we know, you’re tiny, invisible even. Yet, without your presence here many things would be different. In that sense, You’re huge in this life to those around you. It’s all about perspective.

What connects you to something larger than yourself?

Whether it’s a country road & the low rumble of my Harley, the crispness of the glittering snow beneath my skis, or the thump of each excited foot step exploring unchartered territory, it reminds me of the preciousness of every breath.

The stillness of my meditation within the frenzied activity of New York City amplifies and soothes the chaos of everyday life.

It calls my attention to the details of everything around me – shapes, colors scents, sounds, textures, people & my interaction with them.

I notice the lull of the crashing waves in Fire Island, the grandeur of the NYC forrest of buildings, & the gentle smile on my husband’s face behind his handlebar mustache. It makes me grateful.

Gratitude and meditation have all the health benefits of flow plus developing regions of your brain responsible for kindness, compassion, & peace.

It creates a complete and total presence. It’s transcendent. It’s time passing without your knowing it.

Eleanor Roosevelt said – “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Try to live by that, at least once in awhile.

It makes you grow. It is living authentically to your fullest potential. It’s not merely surviving, it’s thriving at the pinnacle of existence.

When it both excites and frightens you, you need to pursue it. This is your life history in the making.

What excites you? What will you pursue?

Passion. FUN. Flow. Inspiration. Losing track of time. Getting lost in a person, place, or activity that awakens and nourishes you keeps you alive.

The latest research proves that flow develops healthy brain activity, supports learning and memory, and increases your overall health & resilience in the face of stress.

Laugh. Shout. Whisper. Love. Be. Here. Now. Live like you’re still alive!

I’ve taken you on this journey to inspire you to find the thing that connects you to your flow. Your life depends on it.

I’ll ask you again – what makes you come alive? Go do it.

Neuroscience, Narcissism, & Humanism

neuroscience heather edwardsHave you ever had an experience that was so attuned to your core essence that you felt completely content, aligned, and inspired? Well, the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium did just that.

This year, neuroscience and attachment theory for healing were the stars of the show – along with other hot topics in psychotherapy like story telling, yoga, & power posing.

It fed my intellectual appetite and at times, felt like being a kid in a candy shop – I was joyfully shoving colorful treats into my mouth, riding the sugar buzz, and continuously craving more! It was Willy Wonka minus the little blue men and scary boat scene. Just the good stuff – lots of candy & neuroscience!

Sex, intimacy, and the Tango were keynote subjects. Susan Johnson, EdD, the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy shared her methods and data which prove sex is more than just a physical act. What better? Sex, intimacy, AND professional training – um, yes, please.

Neuroscience brain scan data backed up her claims of efficacy.  James Coan, PhD shared how certain calming regions of the brain are activated and blood glucose levels are lowered by specific types of supportive interactions between people. It was fascinating.

I was blown away when Dr. Johnson revealed that her clinical framework is Humanistic Psychology, Carl Rogers’ theory of Person Centered Therapy – and exactly the same as mine.  This therapy assumes that change can only happen when non-judgement and unconditional positive regard exist in the therapeutic relationship. Every clinical concept and intervention she proposed rang with perfect resonance in my ears. [Ohhhhhhm. Insert birds chirping and angels singing.]

“But what if your client is a narcissist?”, an audience participant asked. It seemed to imply that nothing could help them.

Dr. Johnson’s answer filled me with joy. She referred back to her clinical roots and stated that as a Humanist, labels are very limiting. Humanists move beyond naming, classifying, and judging people.

The Humanist believes each client is a human being functioning the very best they can within the context of their reality. What they’re doing makes perfect sense to them in their world. It serves a definite purpose, albeit not always the most effective one. 

The Humanist meets the client where they are, and supports them in finding a better place according to them at their pace and in their way. Each person is met with openness, acceptance, and non-judgement. She stopped herself short when she said, “…and if you can’t handle that!”. I quietly smiled and felt at home again.

Labels, therapeutic tools, and therapist interventions are worthless without first developing a therapeutic relationship based on positive regard and unconditional acceptance. Once the client is heard and validated, real lasting change can happen. There’s finally hard neuroscience that proves it.

The narcissist can be extremely difficult – even abusive and/or exploitive – that’s the nature of their personality. But one must ask, what purpose does their behavior serve for them? What circumstances had to exist for the narcissist to develop this type of personality?

What fundamental safety, survival, and/or bonding need was absent or threatened as they were developing as a young child?  And what can be done to shift those factors so that the narcissistic person can live a happier, fuller, more authentic, and intimate life? …and thus, those around them.

The point at which curiosity ends, judgement begins. I’m not suggesting that anyone wait around for a narcissist to change their ways, or tolerate abuse or mistreatment. You could be waiting a very, very long time and living in a toxic relationship that is unhealthy for you.

But anybody who wants to change, can change. We are constantly evolving and adapting on a neural and molecular level. Be curious. Be open. Be cautiously optimistic. Know your boundaries and limitations. Believe that anyone can change if they want to. It begins with unconditional positive regard, acceptance, and a lot of determination, desire, and time. The data proves it.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” – Carl Rogers

 

 

photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by atibodyphoto

Psychology Today: 5 Ways to Happiness

Heather Edwards Happiness Psychotherapist CoachTime to get inspired. 5 Ways to Happiness.

This Psychology Today piece is by guest blogger: Heather Edwards. It is meant as wind behind your sails. It’s poetry, an action plan and modeling.

And, yes, it’s time to get going.

——–

Throughout the years, people have asked me how I do the intensive work that I do. This question perplexes me. I wonder the opposite.

How could I not do what I do?

Power Of Inspiration:

I am inspired by the healing, wanting, dreaming, changing, and transforming that happens in the therapy and coaching room everyday.

The person who leaves my office is not the same person who entered it 45 minutes earlier. They have a new insight, idea, peace, or focus to carry with them into the world.

Yes, it is sometimes difficult work. And it is always challenging. It ebbs and flows. But when you meet someone where they are — whether it’s a high point or low one — it validates them. It invites them to go somewhere else – somewhere better with you.

The Art Of Listening:

Non-judgment. Open awareness. Empathy. Compassion. Belief. That’s what I bring to the room.

Sure, I have a toolkit of therapy and coaching techniques, but those are rendered useless without the former as a foundation. With Carl Rogers as my teacher, I learned how to listen. When you truly hear someone, you can help someone.

Manifest Positive Intentions:

My mother is a birdwatcher, wildlife painter, and lover of life, family, and friends. I consider myself to be very similar in my passions. I’m not in the woods with binoculars, or in my artist studio with a paintbrush, but I’m in my office with eager people ready to stretch their wings and fly. They want to create. They want freedom. They want joy, purpose, and relevance. So do I.

It’s exhilarating, unpredictable, and yet, grounding.

Stay Grounded:

Trust. Authenticity. Courage. Hope. Intention. Abundance. Expansion. That’s what happens in the therapy and coaching room. It’s moving. It’s life changing. It’s what keeps me there and invites me back.

Balance:

Two sides of the same coin… Frustration/Hope…  Sorrow/Love…  Fear/Safety… And so on…  Spin it however you want. Whichever side of that coin faces up when the spinning stops, remember its source. A positive place, a wanting of light.

Embrace what you want.

Go deep down inside your gut.

Live. Love. Glow. Give.

Gratitude. Abundance. Positivity.

Believe in it. Embody it. Make it your truth.

 

Photo Source: iStock

When Did Life Get So Hard? 10 Reasons Why & What to do …

Heather Edwards Inspired

1. When you stopped believing you are worthy – and quit taking inspired action. Tune into what you value about being you and write it out. Give yourself credit. If you don’t see it, who will? Dig deep into your core self and embrace what matters most.

2. When hardship took over – and you stopped leading with your heart. You gave up your power and lost trust that things will get better. Like a Tsunami of overwhelming emotion, things may seem unbearable now but, this too shall pass.

3. When you started avoiding, numbing, or ignoring the pain you dampened the opposite, too – joy, love, & positivity. You must tolerate the darkness to see the stars.

4. When you forgot the glass was beautiful – not half full nor half empty – whole regardless of its contents. Practice open awareness and acceptance. Stop judging yourself and others.

Heather Edwards Inspired5. When you stopped feeling gratitude – and only noticed the negatives. Gratitude creates a mindset of abundance. It changes neural pathways and the attitude you apply to everything. Notice what you would miss if you didn’t already have it. Pause. Reflect.

6. When you stopped cultivating self compassion –  nurture YOU. Soothe yourself. Forgive yourself. Be flexible, patient, and kind to yourself. Treat yourself like a friend.

7. When your expectations weren’t met – you hoped for something different than what you got. Suffering comes from wishing things were different. Enjoy the journey. Every bit of experience changes you and helps you grow. Find the nugget of wisdom in everything.

8. When you stopped claiming your life as your own – everything and everybody else’s needs took priority. You forgot say, “No.” and ended up feeling taken for granted. Know and assert your boundaries.

9. When you stopped noticing the natural beauty around you. Just looking at a tree and experiencing a sense of awe and wonder for a moment takes you out of your head and into the moment. It measurably reduces anxiety and worry.

Heather Edwards Inspired10. When you started believing the cruel things others said about you. We naturally notice negatives in our environment. It’s kept us alive as a species since the beginning of our time. So you have to work harder to consider the positives. Question and refute tired messages. You don’t have to hold onto them.

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Aleksa D, Gualberto107, and dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net, and Mark Robert Turner.

 

At the Table (Podcast)! With Nutrition Expert Jessi Haggerty

heather edwards nutritionNutrition experts, Allison and Jessi invited me to join the conversation, “At the Table with Allison and Jessi.”

At the Table is the love child of two nutrition experts who want to help others improve their relationship with food by making eating a sacred and enjoyable experience again.

Allison is a Holistic Nutrition Counselor and blogger behindwww.friskylemon.com. She specializes in empowering people to heal their digestion by creating their personalized healing diet based in the Paleo Diet framework.

Jessi is a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer who provides an excitingly educational, deliciously nutritious, and slightly sarcastic sustainable approach to food and wellness. To boot, she’s my amazing cousin! You can find Jessi on www.jessihaggerty.com

In this episode of At the Table, we discuss everything from mindfulness and positive psychology to a milkshake-a-day diet I followed as a teenager, and our Mastermind group!

Find out about how Jessi and I find our flow by getting lost in our favorite activity.

There’s a secret and goofy holiday mix up revealed, too that will get you rolling with laughter at the chaos we call family. The one rule in Fire Island is bantered about.

Jessi asks me questions like, “What’s your favorite food memory?”, “What was your relationship to food like growing up?”, and “If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?”.

It all ties into health, wellness, and being the best version of yourself. You’ll find that it’s light, fun, and entertaining! Kick back in your comfy chair and listen to a conversation about food and wellbeing that’s exciting, educational, and inspiring.

Stop reading and check it out here!  Please let me know what you think about it and if you’d like more posts like these… audio blogs, podcasts, and videos.  See you at the table!

 

 

 

It’s Not Too Late! Set Your Goals for 2016

Heather Edwards GoalsWe’re still in the first half of 2016! But the fourth month & second quarter have begun. Where do you stand with your 2016 goals? If you didn’t write them down, draw them out, or mentally obsess about them, it’s not too late.

When you consider celebrating New Year 2017, what do you want to have accomplished? I heard a rumor earlier this year that 2016, according to numerology, is the year of personal development.  So I ran with it. I won’t bore you with my plans, but it helped me shape what is important to me.

If you’re still waffling, try out the following tips to start improving your life…

    • Choose one task to do differently each day. Yes, mix up your routine. My yoga teacher encourages this with our poses and breathing. When things become automatic, we do them mindlessly. We lose our passion and connection to them. Since we aren’t robots, practice staying engaged and thoughtful in the art of doing things – whether it’s exercise, drinking coffee, or petting your cat.
    • Go slow to go fast. Breathe. Take a moment to slow down and check-in with yourself. This gives you the space to clear your mind, and gain clarity and momentum. It’s paradoxical but it works. When your mind is racing, let it be your cue to focus on the basics. Take three deep breaths. Notice how it feels. Enjoy the 30 seconds of “me” time  you just found in your hectic day.Heather Edwards Goals
    • Be curious. Where curiosity ends, judgement, blame, defensiveness, and burnout begin. Wonder about stuff – textures, people, sensations, colors, sunsets, ANYTHING! Just wonder. It promotes an open mind and creative thinking. When you’re feeling stuck for an answer, pose a question. It opens you up to possibilities you might not have considered otherwise. The human brain can’t stand an unanswered question.
    • When you imagine yourself in your most peaceful and fulfilling place, what do you see? Notice the details of where you are, who’s with you, and what you look like. What do you feel, sense, and think about? Witness your life as you would like it.  What needs to change in your life now for you to be in that peaceful place? What is in that picture that doesn’t exist now? How did you get there? Identify one step you can take today to get the metaphorical ball rolling toward your future self. Spend a few minutes each day with that image.
    • Write it out! Putting your ideas on paper makes them real, observable, and tangible. When you do, they’re no longer just ideas swirling around in your head. When you can see them, clarity is gained, and actionable steps emerge.

Heather Edwards GoalsIt can be simple to get out of a rut. Spring is here! Summer is coming! Get outside. Notice your surroundings. Find something new to wonder about.

Breathe. Mix up your routine but stay grounded. Slow down to speed up. Spend a few minutes everyday focusing on what you want.

If you’re like most people, too much time and energy is spent on what you don’t want. They say that what you think about you bring about. Allow your mind to wander and revel in the possibilities. Get real about your goals. It’s not too late!

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” -Earl Nightingale

Bipolar Awareness Day!

Heather Edwards BipolarBipolar Disorder is a mental health condition that affects about 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population 18 and older, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation estimates that at least 750,000 American children and teens may suffer from bipolar disorder also.

Bipolar Disorder, formerly known as Manic Depression, is characterized by mood swings that interfere with healthy functioning in some or all areas of life. People living with bipolar disorder have symptoms of depression alternating with symptoms of mania, to varying degrees.

The depressive part of the cycle typically includes depressed mood most of the day, significant unintentional changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and/or weight, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, loss of interest or pleasure in all or most activities, recurring thoughts of death, and difficulty thinking and concentrating.

The manic part of the cycle typically includes increased self esteem or grandiosity, increased impulsivity and goal directed behaviors, increased involvement in pleasurable activities that may have negative consequences – i.e. shopping sprees, gambling, sexual indiscretion, drug and alcohol use – and sometimes angry, violent, and unpredictable behavior.

People with Bipolar Disorder are loving, creative, passionate people! As the manic phase is ramping up, they are the life of the party. The problem is that when it is not managed well, it can become destructive to their quality of life and those around them.

“I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate.” – Vincent van Gogh

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

The bright side is that it is treatable! Typical treatment for bipolar disorder includes mood stabilizing medication and psychotherapy for smoothing the rough spots.  Like any wellness plan, the basics of self care are essential:

  1. Stay mindful of your moment to moment experience.
  2. Recognize the signs of mood swings early.
  3. Get adequate rest.
  4. Engage in regular exercise.
  5. Eat balanced meals.
  6. Consult with professionals for support and follow their recommendations.
  7. Develop a strong social network.

If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, reach out. Get help. It’s possible to stabilize your/their life with medication and support. You don’t have to live a life that feels like a roller coaster ride that’s inescapable.  Help is available. You can feel better!

Start by calling your local mental health center or hospital, insurance carrier, or do a google search for therapists and bipolar disorder. There are tons of resources to help you get the information, care, and support you need. Take a proactive stance on your life!

 

 

Photos courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net by stockimages

Fun From The Inside Out. Living in the now.

Heather Edwards FUNWhen I experience fun, I’m free. I’m laughing, playing, and feeling like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be… There’s a lightness, completeness, and connection with someone or something outside myself that transports me to a new place.

It’s an alignment of sorts. An experience of awe, wonder, and curiosity.  I’m no longer in my head. I’m present – right here, right now.

There is a novelty and groundedness with the intricacies and curiosities of the moment. One foot is planted firmly in the safe and familiar, and the other dipping freely into the unknown.

My senses are attuned. I can feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the weightlessness of the wind in my hair. I absorb the freshness of the flowers, trees, and earth with each breath.

I feel connected to beauty and a wider purpose. I seem insignificant and immensely integral to this tapestry of life. I’m uniquely distinct from it and one with it, at the same time.

The low rumble of my Harley, the crispness of the glittering ground beneath my skis, and the thump of each excited foot step exploring unchartered territory remind me of the preciousness of every breath.

I notice everything around me – the shapes, colors and grandeur of the mountains, the architecture of the NYC forrest of buildings, the gentle smile on my husband’s face behind his handlebar mustache.

Heather Edwards FunIt is complete and total presence. It’s sublime. It’s time passing without my knowing it. It’s my life history in the making. It’s yesterday’s future, and tomorrow’s past.

Eleanor Roosevelt said – “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” I try to live by that, at least once in awhile. It makes me grow. It is living authentically. It’s not just surviving, it’s thriving at the pinnacle of existence. When it both excites me and frightens me, I know I need to pursue it.

FUN. Inspiration. Flow. Losing track of time. Getting lost in a person, place, or activity that inspires and nourishes you keeps you alive. The latest research proves that FUN develops healthy brain activity, supports learning and memory, and increases our resilience in the face of stress.

Experience joy, humor, and connection from the inside, out – from my heart to yours, and vice versa. It’s healing. It’s life changing. It’s courageous.

Laugh. Cry. Shout. Whisper. Love. Be. Here. Now. Experience life in this and every moment. Find the thing that connects you to your essence. Commit to it. Share it. Live it.

Anxiety & Panic are Ruining My Life

Heather Edwards anxiety

“I feel like I can’t breathe.” “My chest is tightening.” “I’m afraid I’m going to faint or die.”

You might be wondering if you’re having a heart attack, or other medical crisis. It’s uncomfortable, even frightening.

You don’t know what to do or how to make it stop. It seems unpredictable. You feel helpless. You’re avoiding certain social situations, or even leaving your home because of it.

Anxiety & panic are ruining your life.

The paradox is that the more you focus on it, the more you feed it.  And the more you fight it and avoid it, the  more you feed it.  

So what exactly is happening? And what can you do about it?

I’ll start by defining anxiety and panic, providing some statistics about each, and offering a few strategies for managing them.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by persistent unrealistic…

  • worry & unease
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • mind going blank
  • irritability
  • muscle tension
  • difficulty sleeping

It’s typically accompanied by an elevated heart rate and central nervous system activation sometimes triggering your fight or flight response.

It affects 6.8 million adults in any given year, or 3.1% of the U.S. population. Women are twice as likely as men to be affected.

Heather Edwards AnxietyPanic Disorder, it’s mischievous twin, is characterized by all the same symptoms plus…

  • sweating
  • trembling
  • sensations of smothering or choking
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • chills
  • numbness
  • abdominal distress
  • feelings of unreality
  • fear of “going crazy” or dying

About six million American adults experience panic disorder in a given year. It typically develops in early adulthood. Women are twice as likely as men to experience it.

Over time, your central nervous system develops patterns, or habits that become harder to change because of chemical and neural networks that are self-reinforcing that anxiety & panic cycle. The only way to alter the way your body responds to stress without medication, is through awareness, non-judgement, and conscious intentional action.

Here’s what you can do…

  1. Start by Identifying a trigger. When you consider the times and places you experience the symptoms, notice the common threads. Is there a typical scenario, person, or place where you get triggered? Often, there is an element of uncertainty or unpredictability in the situation. 
  2. Intervene early with a calm awareness of your trigger before the symptoms are full blown. Be prepared to talk yourself down, engage your wise mind, use strategies like breath work, positive reframing, and self validation to calm and soothe the thoughts that lead to anxiety and panic.
  3. What did you say to yourself about the trigger? This is a basic cognitive therapy tool. Our thoughts affect our feelings, physiological responses, and behavioral reactions. Except in the case of life or death circumstance, situations in-and-of themselves don’t cause our reactions, our thoughts about them do. Notice your internal monologue and adjust it. Remind yourself of all the times you’ve experienced this and survived it.
  4. When there isn’t an easily identifiable trigger, there could be a subconscious negative belief coloring your experience. At your core, what do you truly believe about yourself? When you fill in the statement, “I am ___”. What words come to mind? What is the tone of that self statement? If you started with,“I am unworthy.”.  Can you change it to, “I am equally important.”?  If your belief is, “ I am helpless.”.  Can you change it to, “I am strong and capable of setting boundaries.”? Through noticing and reframing your automatic thoughts, you can begin to reclaim your life.
  5. Heather Edwards AnxietyOngoing positive self care is essential to your health and wellbeing. 
  • Eat balanced meals. They provide nutrients that improve mood and energy.
  • Exercise regularly (at least 3-4 times/week). It reduces stress hormones.
  • Get adequate sleep (for most adults 7-8 hour/night). This is when your brain cleanses itself of toxins.
  • Practice mindfulness through meditation, yoga, or walking. It develops the regions of your brain responsible for peace, calm, and compassion.
  • Maintain healthy relationships. We are a social species. We need people in our lives to feel connected and loved.
  • Indulge in inspiring activities where you get lost in the flow. This takes you outside of your head and into the moment.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) are effective treatments for changing this anxiety and panic cycle. Both address the underlying belief system, often based in traumatic experiences, that are linked to your current distress.

In summary, through awareness, information, and massive action you can reclaim your life: You CAN feel better. Anxiety and Panic do not have to be a life sentence.

In the words of Rumi, “Remember, the entrance to the sanctuary is inside you.”

 

 

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by stockimages, ambro, & nenetus.