Boundaries are the most important foundation for healthy communication. If you start applying some of these tools, you'll notice a shift almost immediately. Remember that you can only control your side of the street.
Karpman Triangle: Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer roles lead to a chaotic dance in relationships.
(Turn Off Autoplay so you can stay asleep)
In this guided meditation, I’ve incorporate elements of Jon Kabat-Zinn's mindfulness work, the 4-7-8 breath technique, guided imagery and grounding techniques.
Headspace app. There are several free meditations and other specific ones for a small price you might enjoy (work stress, falling asleep, kids, …). Each one also has a video with helpful descriptions about mood and the mind/body’s reaction to distress.
Insight Timer app. This one feels like you’ve stepped into a meditation center (plus you can find the meditations I recorded on there too! 🙂). They have an online community to connect you with other meditators meditating in live time, and many guided meditations.
Weighted Blanket. This is great for lowering anxiety and to help improve sleep!
4-7-8 Breath: Take a slow deep breath in as you count to 4, hold the inhale for 7 seconds, and then slowly exhale as you count to 8. Repeat. This is part of Pranayama, a breathing technique you may remember doing in yoga class.
Stop future tripping and get present. Getting into the here-and-now can be be pretty tough. Here’s a way I help clients (and myself) to get there a be in the moment. Orient Times 4: Slow down your thoughts by re-orienting yourself and directing your attention to the very present moment and focus on:
1. Person (are you alone; take note of who is around you)
2. Place (identify where you are: starting from the country you are in, city, street, building, room, furniture you’re sitting on)
3. Time (identify the year, month, date, day of the week, exact time of day)
4. Situation (what’s the current circumstance, purpose, what are you doing there)
Senses: Go through each of your senses and name what you experience (I’m feeling the couch underneath me and the blanket against my skin, I’m smelling the coffee from across the hall, I’m hearing the cars driving by outside, I’m tasting the mint in my mouth, I’m seeing the bookshelf on the left and windows on the right).
Change environment: Step outside, shift your seated position, stand up and stretch, look outside a window, go for a walk, go to a different room momentarily
Move your body: Exercise is a natural medicine for your body and mind. It increases the feel good chemicals in your body and brain to help you calm down, get clear headed and be in a better mood. So go for a light jog, take a walk or hike, or do some light yoga right there in your office or room.
Label the thought or feeling: Practice naming it, “That’s my anxiety.” Track where it’s at between 0-10.
Train/Clouds: Imagine sitting on a train and think of your anxious or racing thoughts as scenery going by. Imagine laying down on a beach or at the park, and think of your anxious thoughts as the clouds moving across the sky. Imagine sitting outside at a coffee shop, and think of your anxious thoughts as the cars driving by.
Calendar charting of successes: Instead of identifying yourself as an anxious person, begin tracking moments in the day where you felt less anxious or no anxiety.
Replenish your mind and soul with books, YouTube videos, and music that are inspiring and empowering. Anything by Brene Brown, Maya Angelou or Glennon Doyle Melton are a good start. Click on this one -> Brene Brown TED Talk
Slow down: Anxiety is rapid. Meditation is a great way to start training yourself to slow down your nervous system, practice redirecting your thoughts, managing stressors more effectively, improving patience, and decreasing reactivity. You can try this one right now. Do a one minute mediation by setting your timer on your phone, closing your eyes and think about every inhale and exhale moving through your body.
Give yourself permission to have your feelings: Even if no one understands or they get disappointed, remind yourself that you have every right to feel whatever you’re feeling. Don’t wait for someone else to validate your feelings.
“What do I really think about this?”
“Does what I’m about to do really benefit me?”
“How do I feel when I’m not around those people/that person?”
When you receive very difficult news or a big change happens, remember that often “the lowest points in our lives create our highest opportunities.” – Dr. Jeff Blume
As therapists, we assess and diagnose clients based on the criteria mapped out in the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). It’s the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health providers in the United States, and it gets updated every few years. It contains the diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the United States health care system.
“So what is anxiety?”
To start off, anxiety is a natural feeling that most of us get from time to time. It’s that worry, nervousness, or unease we experience about a circumstance or something that has an uncertain outcome. Yes, it’s a normal reaction to stressful situations. Although, when that feeling becomes obsessive or overwhelming, it can affect many areas of our lives, and can make it unbearable to do everyday things or handle relationships. This is the point at which some of you might have found yourselves googling symptoms of anxiety or how to deal with anxiety.
There’s evidence based research suggesting that both biology and environment can contribute to anxiety disorders. Many adults with anxiety disorders have often reported memories of feeling anxious early on in life during childhood. Anxiety is defined as a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.
“If that’s anxiety, then what’s a panic attack?”
The exaggerated thoughts, and obsessing over “what if” in unknown situations, are often accompanied by physical symptoms. A panic attack is the sudden physical and emotional acute feeling of overwhelming fear and anxiety. Your body will give you strong messages, such as rapid heart rate, hyperventilating, flushed face, sweating, tense muscles, and headaches. Because of its physical symptoms, it’s often confused with being a heart attack, and it’s indeed important to rule out any medical issues (particularly with difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations). Some people feel like they can’t talk or it can be so intense, they are feeling like they are dying. Panic attacks usually feel like they come on out of nowhere, and they typically reach their peak at 10 minutes. Some people just experience it once in their lives, while many others have recurring panic attacks over the years. It may be an isolated event, or a symptom of a specific phobia or anxiety disorder.
The DSM-5 lists several diagnostic categories for Anxiety Disorders:
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition
Other Specified Anxiety Disorder
Unspecified Anxiety Disorder
“I can relate. Now what?”
The most important thing to keep in mind is that anxiety and panic attacks are treatable. If any of these symptoms feel familiar, the next step would be to have a consultation with a therapist or mental health professional. Assessment and treatment for anxiety and panic attacks can range from individual weekly therapy sessions to more intensive therapeutic support, based on each client’s needs. Treatment includes the use of various therapeutic approaches (such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Based Therapy, Exposure Therapy) that address cognitive functioning and mood management. Some cases require medication or a higher level of care, if the symptoms of anxiety are severely impacting daily functioning.
Trauma and abuse are experiences during childhood or adulthood that are less than nurturing. This can range from covert to overt trauma. A person can be distracted by the symptoms (such as alcohol abuse, rage, love addiction, anxiety, depression, process addictions, chemical addictions) and end up switching from one addiction/symptom to the other if the underlying core issues, traumatic roots and faulty belief systems are never addressed. This leads to relationship issues and effects of daily functioning.
Covert trauma: emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, spiritual abuse, financial abuse, intellectual abuse, covert incest, enmeshment
Overt trauma: physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse
Process addictions: eating, work, spending, gambling, love, sex
Chemical addictions: recreational drugs, prescription drug abuse, alcohol, nicotine, laxatives
Inner Child Reparenting work is one method I use with clients to help in the healing process. Here’s a taste of it that you can try out with this meditation:
One way I like to organize the trauma framework is applying Pia Mellody’s Model of Developmental Immaturity. I’d suggest reading her book Facing Codependence, as it’s helpful in being able to see how unresolved trauma leads to the symptoms we experience today.
Amen (2015). Change Your Brain Change Your Life.
Cohen (2017). A Course In Miracles Made Easy.
De la Rosa (2018). The Monkey is the Messenger.
Duhigg (2012). The Power of Habit.
Ferriss (2008). The 4-Hour Workweek.
Gaiman (2013). The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Gilbert (2015). Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
Gilbert (2006). Eat Pray Love.
Grace (2015). The Naked Mind: Control Alcohol.
Heller (2010). Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find And Keep Love.
Hollis (2018). Girl Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be.
Junger (2016). Tribe: on Homecoming and Belonging.
Junger (2010). War.
Kabat-Zinn (2006). Mindfulness for Beginners.
Lamott (2013). Bird by Bird.
Leman (2009). The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are.
Leibowitz (2015). Miracle Man.
Newport (2016). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.
Perel (2006). Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic & the Domestic.
Shepherd (2017). Stepping Out of Depression and Anxiety with CBT.
Tatkin (2016). Wired for Dating: How Understanding Neurobiology and Attachment Style Can Help You Find Your Ideal Mate.
Thomas (2015). Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After.
Yalom (2016). Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy.
Yogis (2014). The Fear Project.
Most of these books were either ones that touched my life, or they were told to me by clients who said they were very impactful on their lives. If there’s a book that’s really impacted you, please let me know so I can read it and share it here so you can Pay It Forward.
Copyright © 2018 LAMindSpa - All Rights Reserved.