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Three Things You Need to Know about Anxiety and Self-Talk

Anxiety is closely related to negative self-talk. The thoughts we have can trigger a response in our body and in our emotional state. If we have negative thoughts, then we will likely experience accompanied unwanted feelings and physical sensations.

For example: if we think of something stressful we have coming up (perhaps a final exam), then we are likely to have a physiological (body) reaction, such as increased heart rate, sweaty palms, etc, as well as a negative emotional response. The negative emotional response could be fear, anger, or anxiousness, to name a few.

The tricky part is: usually we are not aware of the thought that precipitated the physical and emotional response. When we start to use our awareness to link them all together, we realize that our thoughts really do create our reality.

Here are some things you need to know about negative self-talk:

1. You don’t have to believe your thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. The only power they have is the power you give them.Unfortunately, most of the time we are not filtering our thoughts with this level of intention. Instead, we are simply accepting them as truth (with a capital T). We believe all the mean, nasty, cruel, and unhelpful things that we say to ourselves.With practice, you can learn to develop awareness of your thoughts. Then, you get to choose which ones to believe and which ones to let go. I recommend only holding onto thoughts that serve you.

2. Negative self-talk causes avoidance, and avoidance causes suffering. If you talk yourself out of doing things because of fear or worry, you only reinforce your anxiety. You also put off being proactive about things that would actually help to alleviate the anxiety. Here’s an example; let me paint a picture for you. Let’s say you have some social anxiety. There is a networking event that would provide you with a great opportunity to meet new colleagues and gain recognition for the new book you just wrote. However, you experience negative self-talk that tells you nobody will like you or people will judge your work. This may lead you to avoid the event. You then start having more anxiety about the avoidance. You know you should go, but you can’t bring yourself to do it. Your colleagues ask why you’re not attending, and you go to great lengths to explain or justify your reasons for not going (none of them are true).

Now you have just exerted a tremendous amount of energy, avoiding something that probably isn’t all that scary in reality. Now it has become a big thing in your mind, and the anxiety around it has gotten much worse. All of this is because you believed your negative self-talk and allowed it to create avoidance, instead of taking action toward what you really want.

3. Negative self-talk is a learned behavior that can be changed. You can re-wire your brain to operate differently. Here’s how it works: what you think about the most creates deep grooves in your brain’s feedback loops. If you often revert to negative self-talk, that is the feedback loop that will be the strongest (or have the most well-worn pathway).

Re-training your brain to focus on the positive or helpful thoughts will carve out a new, healthier pathway in the brain’s circuitry. Once you practice utilizing this new feedback loop more and more, the easier it will become. Thinking positive or affirming thoughts will become your new norm.

It is possible to overcome negative self-talk and develop supportive mental habits.

The take home: By first bringing awareness to the thoughts, then taking action toward what you want, you can begin to change your reality. Because negative self-talk is usually deeply ingrained, I recommend working with a professional who can help guide you through these steps of the process. You don’t have to do it all on your own.

Click here to watch an in-depth video on how to re-wire the brain.

How to Relieve Anxiety in 3 Minutes or Less

There is an exercise that I often like to use with my clients and yoga students. It’s called “Five Things.” The purpose of the exercise is to bring your awareness fully into the now.

This is very useful during times of stress, anxiety, and even panic. If you ever get to a point where you are overwhelmed and things feel like they are swirling around you, then this practice can be especially helpful.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Plant your feet firmly on the ground. Notice how solidly they are connected to the floor.
  2. Now, notice 5 things that you notice. The idea is to engage as many of your senses as you can.
  3. If possible, notice one thing you can see, one thing you can hear, one thing you can smell, one thing you can touch, and perhaps a taste in your mouth.

For example, “I notice a white lamp, I notice the sound of people talking. I notice the smell of food cooking. I notice the texture of the shirt I am wearing. I notice a sweet taste in my mouth.”

You get the point…

This is an exercise designed to ANCHOR you in the present moment, even if everything around you seems to be chaotic or out of control.

This can help greatly to calm anxiety and panic, because (generally) when you are fully present, there is no immediate threat in that moment. It also helps you momentarily let go of all the to-do’s that exist in the future.

When you become aware of your immediate surroundings, you tune into what is real in the moment. Most of what we worry about only exists in the future or the past.

Planting the feet is ALWAYS good practice, no matter what the situation. If you are skipping the rest of the exercise and only doing step #1, you are still going to find some benefit.

However, if you are able to do the “5 Things” exercise in it’s entirety, then you are well on your way to finding relief.

Give the exercise a try and comment below on your experience!

What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic Therapy Defined

The word somatic is derived from the Greek word “soma” which means living body. Somatic therapy combines ancient mind-body practices with the latest research in psychology and neurobiology.

The idea is that many of our emotions and memories are stored in the body, especially with trauma. Therefore, in order to access and heal our emotions and memories, we need to work with the body, not just the mind.

Due to cutting-edge research in these areas, somatic psychology is increasing in popularity as it’s efficacy is becoming more well-known and understood.

Psych Central states that, “According to somatic psychologists, our bodies hold on to past traumas which are reflected in our body language, posture and also expressions. In some cases past traumas may manifest physical symptoms like pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, sexual dysfunction and immune system dysfunction, medical issues, depression, anxiety and addiction.”

The Goal of Somatic Therapy

The goal of somatic therapy is to utilize the body in releasing stored tensions. Basically, it all comes down to regulation of the nervous system and the fight or flight response. The fight or flight response gets triggered under stress or perceived threat, such as being late, reaching a deadline, or getting cut off in traffic. This occurs DAILY for many people, resulting in chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. jenna-griffith-somatic therapy-yoga

There are many forms of somatic therapy. If you have been in therapy before, you may recognize it. A somatic therapist will often ask a client, “where do you notice that in your body?”

In my practice, I often focus on breath work and yoga as a way of releasing tension and restoring balance in the nervous system.

Tai chi, qigong, and other forms of mindful movement are equally effective.

By practicing mindfulness through somatic (body-centered) approaches, you are:

  • Re-wiring your system toward increased balance
  • Creating an internal clarity and calm
  • Learning to stay present and keep breathing, even under pressure
  • Becoming less reactive.

These skills continue to strengthen with regular practice over time, and can have a significant impact on reducing stress and increasing health in the long-run. This is why many people are turning to somatic psychotherapy as a form of treatment.

I highly recommend trying out some mindful movement (ideally with an experienced practitioner) as soon as you can.

You can also check out my introductory blog post on the benefits of yoga for mental, emotional, and physical health.

Want to speak with me directly to see if somatic therapy is a good fit for you? I offer a free 15-minute consultation. Click here to schedule one today.

 

 

Three Steps for Surviving a Breakup

Why is the old cliché of “breaking up is hard to do,” so true? Experts in the fields of neuroscience and Attachment Theory now have hard science that can tell us just why a breakup can be so painful.

In the book, Attached, by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, the authors state, “Studies have found that the same areas that light up in imaging scans when we break a leg are activated when we split up with our mate. As part of a reaction to a breakup, our brain experiences the departure of an attachment figure [such as our mate] in a similar way to that in which it registers physical pain.”

In simple terms, studies show that breaking up is painful. Literally.

In your brain, pain = pain. It doesn’t differentiate between emotional pain and physical pain.

The authors of Attached also say, ‘the emotional circuits that make up our attachment system evolved to discourage us from being alone. One way to nudge us back to the safety of our lover’s arms is to create the sensation of unmistakable pain when we find ourselves alone.”

This explains why even if you know (in your logical mind) with 100% certainty that the relationship is not good for you, it can still be so hard to leave. Evolution has hard-wired you to stay paired up, rather than risk being single. Dang wiring!

All this to say that the excruciating, heart-wrenching pain you feel during a break-up is REAL. Nature made it so.

There is good news: the brain is plastic. So, you can overcome old habits, patterns, and wiring with properly directed conscious awareness.

Here’s how:

Step One: Be gentle with yourself, no matter what.

No. Matter. What.

This is first on the list AND the most important.

If you slip up and contact your ex, forgive yourself. There are often layers of letting go that need to happen when you are in the process of ending the relationship for good.

If you are feeling grief or sadness, show yourself some compassion. Losing a relationship can feel like a death of a loved one. In a sense, it is a death. It’s the death of what was. It ‘s natural that you might have to grieve the loss, not only of the person, but also of all the hopes, dreams, and ideas about what could have been.

If you find yourself ruminating on all the ways you might have messed up, then hit the pause button. Do not resume that thought stream until you can center yourself. Once you are centered, you will be able to think clearly from a more loving point of view. For tips on how to get centered and why it is important, proceed to step two.

Step Two: Stay Centered

 Staying centered can help you think and act from your wise mind. When you are centered, you have the internal spaciousness to respond in a balanced manner from the most developed parts of your brain, rather than react fearfully from your primitive brain.

You will know when you are connected to your center because you will feel calm, grounded, and at peace with what is. You will trust that everything will work out, and you will be able to speak your truth with love if something is not right in that moment.

Disclaimer: This is a “do your best” type of step. Very few of us are able to stay centered 100% of the time. We all have triggers that can send us off-track. If you are going through a breakup, then you are probably particularly raw and vulnerable. Your nervous system has been under a lot of stress (as explained earlier in the part on attachment). So, again, be gentle with yourself as you experiment with getting centered.

Taking long, deep, slow breaths is a simple way to get centered. You can also try closing your eyes and breathing into your heart space.

The bottom line is, do what works most effectively for you. It need not be complex.

Step Three: ______________ Like Your Life Depends On It

 Fill in the blank here: ________________ like your life depends on it.

Pick one thing that you can pour your whole self into. This includes the happy parts, the sad parts, the ambivalent parts, and the parts of you that are hell-bent on a better future without your ex.

Do whatever it is that you love most with vehement fervor. If you love cycling, then cycle like your life depends on it. If you are a rock climber, climb like your life depends on it. If you love gardening, garden like your life depends on it.

If you have always wanted to go back to school, then do some research and make a plan to fulfill those educational needs.

Set goals, and stick to them.

Choose one thing to really focus on. For example, training for a half-marathon got me through a tough breakup. It gave me something (besides the relationship) to really work for and channel my energy into.

Often, when we are in relationships, we make it the center of our universe. Choosing one thing to focus on will make it easier to make yourself the center of your universe again. It will happen naturally as you stay committed to the one thing, and thus stay committed to yourself.

In addition, make sure you nurture yourself in every way possible. Take long walks, exercise, eat well, enjoy time with friends and family, listen to your favorite music, connect with pets, and get out into nature. These are all things that can bring greater balance and joy to your life, regardless of a breakup. So I recommend practicing them early and often.

Over time, these new activities and ways of being will become second nature. One step at a time, you will begin to see your life transform. It’s possible that you might even become the best version of yourself in the process. So while it’s painful at first, breakups can have a silver lining.

Strategies for Surviving Holiday Stress [Video]

I thought it would be appropriate to re-post this video from last year. If you are a highly sensitive person, this video is for you!

Kindra and I provide our top 5 Strategies for Surviving Holiday Stress.

This video was specifically created for the introverted and/or highly sensitive person who tends to feel easily overwhelmed and stressed around the holidays. We offer useful (and practical) tips for maintaining your health and your emotional well being during this busy time of year.

WATCH HERE: http://youtu.be/CjhiB5-YG9Y

 

Welcome!

Welcome! I am so glad you found me.

This website will be all about everything related to mental health and wellness.

Please check out my About page to get my story and learn more about my approach. I am committed to providing you with valuable information that will leave you feeling inspired, grounded, and motivated to pursue your own personal truth.

I firmly believe that we are each meant to travel a road that is unique to us. I encourage you to share your story an experiences in the comments of this blog. We grow through hearing from others, so please help grow this community in the way that only YOU can.

Thanks again for stopping by.

Stay tuned for more to come.

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