7 Essential Books That Will Transform Your Anxious Life

anxiety treatment

Mastering the art of anxiety reduction takes time.

You might be anxious and frustrated but the process of recovery doesn’t care how you feel.

It doesn’t care what you want. And it doesn’t care how long it takes you to get it right.

Recovery demands that you take certain steps first. Steps that you cannot skip.

And if you try to skip steps you will pay a price.

The price, of course, is eternal stagnation. A never-ending loop of short-term relief followed by more anxiety.

So what is the first step towards recovery? The answer is education. And not just any old type of education, either.

The kind that requires you to actually open a book and act like you care.

First, let me just say that internet research is not all bad. The internet is a useful means of looking up information quickly.

The problem is that if this is your only means of gathering information most things that you learn will become disorganized and unrelated in your head, which renders the information useless.

Books on the other hand, are well organized and hammer a single topic. This is what you want: Expertise, structure, accuracy and focus.

Over the years I’ve read a lot of books about anxiety but only a few stood out.

Here are my favorites:

1. Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Claire Weekes

This is a classic anti-anxiety book. It was written by an MD with bad nerves. What else could be better?

She provides an informative but easy to understand picture of anxiety. She defines it so well that you’ll be nodding your head at least half the time.

Buy this book on Amazon

2. Pass Through Panic (Audio book) by Claire Weekes

I told you, this lady is awesome. I bought this CD about 8 years ago and it never let me down.

She has a no nonsense way about her that tends to bring you back to reality.

Buy this CD on Amazon

 3. At Last a Life by Paul David

This guy has a huge following for a reason.

Paul David will school you on how to accept anxiety and move forward with your life. The book is not well polished but the message is.

Buy this book on Amazon

4. The Science of Fear by Dan Gardiner

Anxious people develop fears about a lot of things, which of course only serves to worsen their anxiety.

Dan Gardiner dives into the human mind and explains how we develop irrational fears.

Buy this book on Amazon

5. Misunderstandings of the Self by Victor Raimy

This book was written in 1975 but remains relevant.

It breaks down how misconceptions develop and provides critical insight into the therapeutic process.

Buy this book on Amazon

6. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns

Do you want to change your negative thinking? Then read this book.

Buy this book on Amazon

7. The Anxiety and Worry Workbook by David A. Clark

Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective only when you work at it.

This book will help keep you organized as you work towards strengthening your CBT skills.

Buy this book on Amazon

Obviously there are many other books that you could read to educate yourself about anxiety. However, these are a good start for anyone that feels stuck.

I read some of these books when I was really anxious and others I used as research material. But they all provide something of value.

As you embark on your journey toward recovery don’t forget that the first step is to understand what you’re up against.

Blind hope is not a solution to your problems. You have to arm yourself with the right knowledge because it will light the path towards ultimate freedom.

What are your favorite anti-anxiety books? Comment below!

3 Types of Anxiety Medications That Work Fast

anxiety, blog

When it comes to curing abnormal anxiety you have to keep your head on a swivel; always on the lookout for a permanent solution to your problem.

How you do this will vary but an important part of healing, regardless of the method, is managing the physical symptoms of anxiety.

The reality is that it’s difficult to make progress when your body is under constant assault by chest pain, palpitations and other symptoms.

Anxiety symptoms breed terror and ferocious mental unrest making it hard to do anything much less get better.

I always tell people and firmly believe that the key to stopping anxiety is confronting anxious thoughts.

But how are you supposed to confront your thoughts when you can’t even be sure that you’re going to survive?

If you are consumed with fear or lost in rumination you will remain immobilized and held hostage by rotten ideas and aimless worry.

Okay, cool, so anxiety symptoms are bad. What can you do about it?

One of the most effective ways to calm the body during a bout of acute anxiety is through the use of fast acting anxiety medication.

Now I don’t want you to think that medications are a flawless solution because they are not. They are, however, a powerful tool that should not be ignored.

Especially because certain medications can bring relief within 30 minutes preventing a downward spiral into a world of false beliefs and perturbed navel-gazing.

Remember that anxiety medications can be taken on an as needed basis which does not require a lifelong commitment to big pharma.

And although medication represents only one part of the recovery process it should always be considered when making an honest effort to get better.

Here’s the menu:

Benzodiazepines: A Swift Kick to Bad Nerves

Perhaps the most powerful, and tricky, type of fast acting anxiety medications are known as benzodiazepines, or benzos for short. These medications relax the body by slowing nerve impulses.

They work well but have been linked to a high incidence of dependence and abuse; especially when they are used for more than 6 months.

This means that if you select a benzo you should exercise caution by working closely with your doctor to prevent physical dependence.

There’s also a tendency for these drugs to cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop using them abruptly. However, if benzos are used only as needed you’re less likely to develop problems with withdrawal.

For all their drawbacks though benzos do have an upside. They offer a rapid means of stopping acute anxiety symptoms which is both practical and reassuring. Even the act of carrying these babies in your pocket could ward off a panic attack.

That matters because when people get locked into long battles with anxiety they tend to develop negative thinking patterns that dog them for years.

Benzos are not a panacea but they can stop unnecessary suffering while you seek a long-term solution.

Examples of Benzodiazepines:

  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Klonipin (clonazepam)
  • Valium (deazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)

Adrenaline Cork

Beta-blockers are common medications with a variety of uses; chief among them is the control of high blood pressure, chest pain and migraine headaches.

Beta-blockers help to block epinephrine and norepinephrine at adrenergic receptor sites which are primarily located in the heart.

Translation: This stuff slows down the heart. They also decrease sweating and tremor.

These medications have been used for some time as a kind of performance enhancer by musicians, public speakers, and others that may encounter stage fright.

Of course, these medications also come with a set of drawbacks. Beta blockers may cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, cold hands, or vomiting. You may also experience rash, blurred vision or fatigue.

What’s nice about beta-blockers though is that they are not habit forming and effective at treating anxiety symptoms.

They can provide hours of relief and are safe for people that don’t have underlying health issues.

Examples of Beta-blockers:

  • Inderal (propranolol)
  • Sectral (acebutolol)
  • Brevibloc (esmolol)
  • Coreg (carvedilol)
  • Tenormin (atenolol)

Antihistamines Are Not Just for Sniffles

When you think of antihistamines you probably think of stopping allergy or cold symptoms but they are also used to treat anxiety. They work by blocking histamine receptors in the central nervous system which produces a sedative effect.

Sedation may cause you to feel sleepy or develop a headache but otherwise these medications are well tolerated by most people.

One of the upsides to using antihistamines is that you can buy certain brands over the counter.

This can make anxiety management cheap and convenient. But I encourage you to not treat yourself with these medications long-term.

Besides, the more effective versions of these medications are prescription only and it’s always better to err on the side of caution and consult with a doctor about what you’re taking to manage your anxiety.

Examples of Antihistamines:

  • Atarax/Vistaril (hydroxyzine)
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)

It’s Not Just About Drugs

It’s important to understand that it is difficult to heal abnormal anxiety while experiencing intense physical symptoms. They make it hard for you to focus on solutions because they cause an OCD like obsession with well being.

However, through the use of fast acting anxiety medication you can calm your body and eventually your mind thereby limiting the amount of suffering that you have to endure before you get better.

Unfortunately, reducing your physical symptoms alone won’t be enough. Once you get your symptoms under control you still have to do the hard work of learning how to manage stress.

That means developing effective coping skills, taking care of your relationships, and addressing long-term problems that are contributing to your anxiety.

If I could do it all over again I would have at least tried a fast acting anxiety medication to deal with the intense symptoms that I experienced.

Maybe then I could have found my way out of the woods sooner.

What’s been your experience with these medications? Share your ideas with me in the comments section below.

How to Create Coping Skills That Don’t Suck

If you’re still hoping to find a quick fix to abnormal anxiety, stop.

I understand your frenzied hunt for answers; why you spend so much of your time looking for special solutions that will put your mind at ease, but that’s not how it works. There’s nothing special about fixing bad anxiety.

You need to search for a solution, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s no way that you should spend years on that search. Instead, find coping skills that interest you, make them your own, and then practice them. That’s it.

Good anxiety management leads to decreased symptoms, fewer negative thoughts, and guides you towards full recovery.

So if random Google searches won’t work, what will? It depends. It depends on what works for you. What I can say is that your solution, your coping skills, must be simple. If they require a lot of steps, or fancy equipment, forget about it.

The second thing is that your coping skills have to be original. That doesn’t mean starting from scratch; it means adapting coping skills to suit your needs – whether that’s through mixing, matching, increasing, decreasing, whatever it takes until it works for you.

Here’s 3 Coping Skills that worked for me:

1. Morning Nirvana

Meditation has to be the best coping skill nobody uses. This is because people assume it’s hard, or that you need to be connected to Buddhism to make good use of it, but that’s not true.

You don’t need to shave your head and sell all your furniture to benefit from meditation. What you need is patience. People suck at being patient because the world is an adderall driven mess. That, however, is no excuse to ignore this silent blessing.

Here’s my version:

Step 1.

Meditate first thing in the morning. You’re busy all day and all night doing god knows what, so take away all potential excuses for not meditating by setting your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier than normal, wipe the crust from your eyes and you’re good to go.

Step 2.

Sit on the edge of the bed and give yourself a few minutes to wake up. Once you’ve powered on take a few deep breaths – no fancy positions, or chants, just continue to breathe normally and, with purpose, relax.

Step 3.

The goal is to be still for 10 minutes, never-mind the thoughts bouncing around in your head, never-mind your job or whatever is ahead. Whether it’s with your eyes open or closed, the goal is to be tranquil.

What makes a good coping skill is something that brings you peace with the least amount of resistance. For example, there’s no way that I’m going to roll out a yoga mat, stretch, light incense, then get busy on meditating. That’s not me.

I’m too lazy for that. Instead, I just adapted a quick meditation skill that now works for me. Now morning meditation may not work for you at all, maybe you need to do it at midnight in your garage; the time and place is irrelevant, what matters is that it works for you.

2. Stepping On Anxiety

Walking isn’t just great exercise; it creates space for clear thinking.

The only hard thing about taking a walk is overcoming laziness. One easy work around is to try and take walks somewhere you’ll enjoy like a park, hiking trail, or any place that fits you.

I tend to walk in a park because it’s nearby and away from a major street that runs near my place. I don’t know about you, but I’m not walking down a high traffic street, but I will walk in a quiet park. I took the “take a walk” tip and adapted it to my style.

3. Mighty Slayer of Fear

Have I ever told you how much writing about anxiety helped me to recover? No? Well, it did. Writing was far and away the most effective way of processing my fears and understanding my problem.

It revealed a lot of my thinking flaws and allowed me to sort out all the gibberish my brain produced. There’s something special about writing down your thoughts and then going back to deal with the guy who wrote that stuff!

Heh. Yes.

You are complex. There are parts of you that you don’t understand and writing about your issues will help you gain a clearer picture of yourself. You can do a lot with clarity; with it you’re pretty much guaranteeing an honest conversation with yourself about what’s going on and how to put an end to it.

You don’t have to go public with all your inner thoughts, either. A good journal will suffice.

Keep It Simple

The coping skills I’ve used are dead simple. They’re also mine. That’s not to say that there aren’t hordes of people using these coping skills for themselves, but I made them my own, which made them doable.

In that regard, what makes a good coping skill is something that brings you peace with the least amount of effort.

I have no clue what coping skills would work for you and I certainly won’t pretend like I do. But getting better is not about copying someone else and hoping that you’re lucky enough to get the same result.

It’s more helpful for you to remember this: If you’re focused and creative with the information that you consume you can create coping skills that work, and more important, that you will actually use.

If you have any questions please post these in the comments section below.

The Story Behind Your Anxiety

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I was on my knees, tears surging from my eyes, when my uncle told me I was going to die.

I felt something like despair, even pain, when he explained to me that all people vanish from the Earth.

I can still see the 7 year old me slumped over two bony legs wondering how I could avoid this calamity.

And you know what? I still don’t want to die – not now, not ever.

My desire to survive death has always been at the heart of my anxiety. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that, and couldn’t deal with it, until much later.

That’s why it took me so damn long to recover. I was too scared to confront what I feared most.

I’m here to tell you that there’s a better, faster way to expose your deepest fear. That’s the key. Once you know what you are really afraid of you can confront it, accept it, and move on.

I have to warn you though; if you do this you’re going to feel anxious (seriously). And you know what? Good. It’s time that you stopped tip toeing around your anxiety.

And yes, it’s hard. But so is being a victim of fear. So let me explain exactly how this is done.

Note the Time

You can approach this process with fear, hopefulness, or even glee. You can feel however you want about it. But you better take it seriously. Let me say it again: you must take this seriously.

It’s because you’re a flake. All of us are. Can you remember how many times you’ve come across a promising anxiety solution only to never try it?

Yes, of course you can. I can too. It’s a complete mystery to me why we sometimes do that kind of thing, but it happens. So I’m going to ask you to try this for your own good.

So the first thing we have to do is find out what made you anxious.

Step 1

Grab a sheet of paper and draw a line across the middle. The line should stretch across the entire sheet of paper.

Step 2

On the far left, make a small dash and write the word born. On the far right of the paper make another dash and write the word now.

Step 3

Create a time line of all events in your life that you feel may have caused your anxiety to develop. This could be anything, including: panic attacks, illness, drugs, alcohol abuse, divorce, loss, or whatever you think started it all.

Step 4

Now rate each event from 0-10. Zero means no impact and 10 represents maximum impact.

Then select the event with the highest rating. If there’s a tie between any two events choose the one you think is most related to your anxiety problem. Next, circle that bad boy and move on to the next step.

You Don’t Take it Far Enough

Have you ever listened to yourself explain your anxiety to someone else?

You probably sound like this: “I get chest pains that send me into a panic and I don’t know what to do about it.” And you wonder why no one understands you.

Where are the details? Where is the description of what it feels like to have your heart slam into the inside of your chest?

Today you’re going to write it all out – every chill, tingle, and ache, all of it.

Why would I ask you to do this? Well, it’s simple. You need to identify what you’re afraid of, in detail, so you can learn to numb yourself to it.

You ever wonder how homicide detectives, coroners and undertakers work with the dead without losing their lunch? The reason is this: exposure.

If you expose yourself to something gross often enough you will reduce the gross factor over time. You adjust.

People with anxiety don’t adjust. They run, deny, lie, hide – whatever it takes to not deal with their fears. Don’t do that.

Here’s how:

Step 1

Pull out another piece of paper and draw a vertical line (up and down) down the middle.

Step 2

At the top of this paper write out the event that you selected from your time line.

Step 3 (aka the hardest and most important step)

First, take a deep breath. Then in the left column write out the entire event, what happened, in bullet points – don’t just do a vague retelling, either. That’s not good enough. You need to write it out second by second, no detail is too small.

If you feel your anxiety rising to a level that is uncomfortable, stop. Come back to it when you’ve calmed down.

After you’ve finished the entire story go back and circle the bullet points that scared you the most – the moments in time where you thought you would go mad or die.

Step 4

In the right column you’re going to challenge every single anxious thought linked to the bullet points you circled.

Go back and think about what you told yourself at that time and write it down. Now, right next to your self-talk write all the reasons why those thoughts are wrong, exaggerated or even impossible.

Step 5

Repeat the process on multiple days until you feel little or no anxiety when you rewrite the event.

Fighting Anxiety is a Contact Sport

To say that you need to face your fears is cliche. It’s a stale idea that’s been repeated so much that it’s been rendered meaningless.

Yet, it’s true. You need to make time to sort this out.

I hate to say it my friend, but there are times when you have to go through it – through the pain, the fear, the memories, all the crap that you repress so that you can get up in the morning and go to work, it all has to be dealt with.

When you write it all down your issues will stare back at you with eyes narrowed, ready to fight. And that’s a good thing. At least now there’s something to see, a clear target, a reason for all the absurdity.

The next step, the hardest of all, is approaching your fears without preconceived notions or backup plans. It’s about allowing yourself to sit with it, all of it, until it doesn’t bother you anymore.

In other words, getting better is about exposure to the fine details of fear. Exposure leads to adjustment, comfort and peace, and is only achieved through honesty, clarity and a willingness to embrace what you fear most.

It’s not easy. It wasn’t for me. But you’ll soon learn that the more you confront your fears the easier it gets. Until one day you’ll look back and wonder why the hell it took you so long to get better.

Are you going to flake on me?

You better not. You’re going to sit down and write this out, day after day, until you truly feel peace in your heart.

If not, nothing will change for you – nothing.

For those of you that prefer a visual experience I’ve included a short video. Click here.

I hope it helps.

If you have any questions please post those in the comments section below.

How Relationships Boost Anxiety (and What To Do About It)

relationships, anxiety, stress

Have you ever wondered where your anxiety comes from?

Have you ever thought about what keeps it alive?

Some people think that it occurs in a magical moment, but let’s not forget one important detail – magic isn’t real. Abnormal anxiety doesn’t just appear.

There’s usually a trigger, like a panic attack, in most cases though that’s not enough to animate full blown abnormal anxiety.

What if I told you that your family had something to do with it? Yup, you can even add your friends to the list.

One of the biggest, and most ignored, parts of developing abnormal anxiety is linked to your past and present relationships.

We often talk about our problems as if they’re separate from other people. But nothing could be further from the truth.

What, you haven’t noticed? Well, I’m going to point out why this happens and how you can restore your relationships so that they don’t add insult to injury.

Did Your Family Really Mess You Up?

Although your family loves you to pieces they can still do harm. Here’s why: your mom loves you but she probably said something to you when you were little that screwed up what you think about yourself.

It’s not because she’s evil, it’s because that’s what moms do. Hell, that’s what families do. Family feels comfy, like an old pair of shoes, so it’s easy for family members to abuse that sense of closeness and tear you a new one.

On the other hand, maybe your mom spared you and aimed her vile words at your father, in which case you weren’t spared at all. It’s not just you, either. A lot of children have emotional problems rooted in parental conflict.

What’s eye-opening is that the impact of marital discord follows children into adulthood.

Growing up with miserable parents can affect how much money you make, the quality of your intimate relationships and your psychological well-being way past your 30th birthday. Sucks right?

Then, of course, there’s everybody else. Your sister(s), your brother(s), even your grandparents might have gotten in on the act.

There are a lot of people that may have had a hand in screwing up how you think about yourself and the world, but nobody, and I mean nobody, does it like family.

They know almost everything about you, they know how to press your buttons, and unless you move far, far away, they’re always around criticizing, judging or tying you up in their drama.

Yes, we love family, but the fact is that they can do a lot to build the basis of our guilt, shame, stress and poor self-worth.

But you don’t have to let your family turn your life into a hot mess.

You can fight back.

Why You Should Open Up That Can of Worms

Yes, I’m going to go there, so you better not chicken out.

You need to talk to your family.

You can decide how much of that can of worms you want to open, but I think it’s vital that you chop up issues you all know exist.

Reminds me of what my older sister once told me. She said “If we all got in a room and talked about some of the things that happened to us as kids I think we’d all probably fall apart.”

My question is: What’s so bad about that? We were all wounded in the same way. It’s not like my sister saw something different.

She watched my dad walk down the same street, with the same old Navy duffel bag slung across his shoulders when he abandoned our family just like I did.

It was painful.

And guess what? We never uttered a word about it.

But talking about our parent’s divorce wouldn’t destroy us or create a crisis. It would give us a chance to share our perspectives and offer support for each other.

Instead, we started talking around important topics while we looked each other in the eye with the understanding that things weren’t okay.

The reality is that there are probably a lot of family members that want to tell you about not just what happened back in the day, but how they were affected by it as well.

So don’t be afraid to ask tough questions, even if that means pulling off old scabs.

If diving into the past seems too risky though, then you can discuss something more basic, like the fact that you all don’t talk enough and how that affects you.

There’s always something happening between family members that you guys have agreed to not talk about, so there’s something to talk about.

The code of silence that exists in most families is stronger than it is in most police departments. It’s stupid.

If you’re okay with that then you better be ready for more feelings of isolation.

Maybe you think it’s not worth dealing with your family because they’re crazy. Okay, so your family is dysfunctional, whose isn’t? The question is why are you okay with letting things stay that way?

There’s a distinct connection between you and your family. That connection matters. If you feel loved and supported by family then all the crappy things that happen in life aren’t as crappy.

There’s no doubt that family is a double-edged sword. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy. But if they’re the latter, most likely it’s due to bad communication, pride, and impatience.

People often get distracted by the behavior of others and rarely take the time to ask: Why? Why did my sister do that to me? Or why did my father say that to me?

If you sat down with someone, like your mom for example, and tried to understand her motivation for something you didn’t take kindly to, you’d be surprised at what you might find.

All human behavior is goal driven – even if the goal is unknown. Work with them to deal with, think about, what it is they need from you or others.

My dad died in 2002 when I was 22 years old. He never knew I struggled with anxiety and I regret that. Had I told him I could have borrowed from his insight and strength.

I would have felt less alone, vulnerable and probably more hopeful about fixing my abnormal anxiety. Don’t make the same mistake.

The Thin Line Between Love and Hate

You ever wonder why there are so many marriage jokes floating around? Like this one:

Man is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished.

That joke is messed up but it’s funny because there’s some truth to it. I know my wife drives me nuts, in both senses of the word. She stirs my emotions like no one else because I love her dearly.

Life is fantastic when we’re happy, but the moment one of us feels misunderstood, disrespected, or underappreciated we disconnect momentarily.

That feeling of distance, even if it’s temporary, is agony. Now throw anxiety into the mix; the isolation, the worry, the stress, and what you’re left with is disaster.

Anxiety makes you retreat into yourself which kills any desire to interact or talk about anything else except how crappy you feel, which isn’t exactly sexy.

At the same time you have this person that loves you and just wants you to be “normal.”  You’re both trying to figure out what’s going on while attempting to carry on a relationship. Sounds like drama huh? Well, it is.

So while your heart is racing between love and hate what might be happening to your stress level? You bet – it’s sky high. But all is not lost.

The Truth About How to Save Your Relationship

The key to all good relationships is communication. But what should you be communicating about? Clearly, it shouldn’t be the finer points of anxiety symptoms. If you want to smash your relationship into little pieces keep doing that.

If you want your relationship to survive though, you need to identify the feelings causing all those dirty looks you keep shooting at each other.

Here’s how to do that.

Step 1.

Start by saying “I feel” when describing things that upset you. If you were to say “I hate when you ignore me” that’s too vague. But if you said “I feel angry and hurt when you ignore me,” well now you’re talking.

Step 2.

Repeat step 1. You need to connect on an emotional level and work towards showing empathy for each other. If you’re both empathic you will increase your capacity to think clearly and problem solve.

Step 3.

If you don’t already have goals for healing your anxiety make them now. Next, create goals for your relationship.

I’d start off with short-term goals that are easy to achieve, like this one: Don’t give me dirty looks when you’re mad. Tell me how you feel and what you need instead.

The important piece is to never retreat into your respective corners . Instead, keep an open line of communication and listen to each other.

Don’t just wait to talk again, either. You need to sit up, lean forward, and actively tune in. As long as that’s happening you have a shot.

Why You Need to Get Rid of Your Frenemies

Let me guess. Your friends are always there for you? They don’t disappoint you and they understand this whole “I’m anxious” thing. Yeah right!

No, the truth is that friends add to your stress levels just like family does. Much of the drama friends add to life is subtle and sprinkled on you over time but it stings nonetheless – especially if you’re a dude.

Men don’t like to talk about feelings. What can I say? It’s awkward. Spilling guts to a male friend can make you feel like your worst fear is true and you are in fact a girly man. What makes it worse is that this all happens like it does in families, namely in silence.

You’re left with your own thoughts about whether or not you should have spoken up about how bad you feel because the moment you do – nothing. You get no support, direction, or sense that they even care like you think they should.

What’s more likely to happen though is that you won’t say a word about how you feel, which leaves you with an even bigger weight to carry around.

If you’re a woman, then you’re far more likely to gain a sympathetic ear but even then it may not be safe to share your inner most fears – or so you tell yourself.

Maybe your friend will use this information against you? Or maybe your BFF just doesn’t know what to say so they offer a limp hug instead of something you can hang on to. It’s well intentioned and all that, but you crave more than that.

This is why people feel alone in their anxiety. Friends are the ones you think will understand you no matter what and when they don’t – then what?

Well, I’ll tell you what. Get rid of them! Surround yourself with people that will understand. You’ll thank me later.

Don’t Be Afraid to Spill Your Guts

If I were you I wouldn’t go into a crowded place to declare that I have a stress issue. That would be weird. The bottom-line is that you don’t have tell everyone what’s going on.

The fact is, most of us have at least one friend that will understand – you probably know who that is already. If you’ve never explored your anxiety openly with them give it a try.

I know you probably walk around with your dukes up to prevent the release of harsh truths, but it’s not healthy to carry the weight of suffering alone.

Now before you go off and try this out I would tell this friend of yours what you need from them.

Usually, that means you want someone to listen, offer advice, or both. Make it clear which one you need.

Look; at the end of the day no one wants people to think they’re some kind of cockeyed-freak, but if you have a real friend this won’t happen.

Educate your friend about what you’re facing and let them help you. Give them permission to hold up the weight of your pain even if it’s just for the duration of your talk.

Don’t be a jerk and use them as a dumping ground for your problems though. You definitely want to share in this equally.

Remember that a lot of your feelings of loneliness are self-inflicted. You have control over how much support you get or don’t get.

Don’t Ignore the 800 Pound Gorilla

When it comes to relationship problems most people suffer in silence because it seems risky to confront someone they care about. Okay, I get why, but does avoidance work any better?

Imagine what happens when you keep secrets about how you feel? It truly is a destructive force that heightens stress and turns manageable problems into monsters.

It’s not wrong to tell someone you care about that they’re annoying you or stressing you out. It’s not a crime to express your concerns and share your needs with people that you value.

Remember that it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes all the difference.

In the end, relationships are hard work. There’s no doubt about that.

But you can make your anxiety, and your life, a hell of a lot more painful if you don’t nurture your relationships.

If you have a question regarding this article, post it in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to help you.




3 Reasons Why Memories Make Anxiety Worse

Memory is really a gift when you think about it. The bad news is that for all the good memory brings into our lives it also has a dark side.

Memory feeds anxiety, tangles the truth, and stays with you forever. If you understand how this happens though it won’t happen as much.

1. Misery Enhances Memory

When you experience a profound emotional event you’re more likely to remember it. There’s more clarity, detail and impact involved with memories based on strong emotional reactions.

Situations that call into question your safety (Or sanity) cause you to remember far more because the emotional impact is far greater.

This makes anxious memories sticky and more likely to play a factor in future feelings of anxiety.

2. Memory Activates Fear

Studies have shown that when people undergo fMRI brain scans while looking at images that provoke strong emotions the amygdala becomes activated.

This is crucial because the amygdala is responsible for regulating fear, secreting stress hormones and forming emotional and long term memories (endless implications).

Fear based memories build up over time and strengthen your feelings of fear and vulnerability. It’s a vicious cycle.

3. Emotions Recall Memory

When you feel anxious you’re more likely to recall anxiety related memories. This in turn enhances the effects of anxiety, turns your judgment upside down and suspends your ability to think logically.

In this state, you’re more likely to see your anxiety as threatening which sustains your anxious mood and the never ending cycle you’re stuck in.

Can You Make It Stop?

Something sparked your abnormal anxiety and the memory of that ‘thing’ continues to feed your fear. That being said, I hope you don’t remain in awe of it because there is something you can do.

Learn to leave the past and the future out of your thoughts when anxiety strikes. It’s a game changer.

3 Strategies For Stopping Anxiety

Pulled in Too Many Directions Signs Stress AnxietyAre the things you do to reduce anxiety working? I’m going to take a wild guess and say that they’re not. One reason for that is that you’re relying on a one trick pony. It’s called reactivity.

Chances are that you tend to be reactive and explore solutions to your anxiety problem only in the heat of the moment (or soon after).

But is jumping on Google to read more about what you already know really going to help you? If not, what can you do, right now, that will help you get where you want to be?

Here are a few thoughts…

Identify the Problem

What is your problem? To say that it’s “anxiety” is too vague. Get specific. A helpful way to find out what your specific problem is to ask yourself the miracle question. Here it is: If you went to sleep tonight, and woke up anxiety free tomorrow, how would you know that you were anxiety free?

What would tell you that everything was different? Would it be that your palpitations were gone? Or that your racing thoughts had disappeared? Pick one.

Obviously your anxiety is complex and may not boil down to only one symptom but, there’s usually one major problem that is fueling your anxiety. Find out what that is and work on that one problem until you defeat it.

I know “anxiety” is the overarching issue, but think about the benefits of tackling something singular like chest pain. Any diet change, exercise routine, or whatever you decide to use, that heals your chest pain will undoubtedly also have a positive effect on your overall feelings of anxiety.

It’s also less overwhelming to focus on a single problem versus trying to tackle “anxiety.”

Focus On Using Solutions

When you have a big problem it’s easy to get sucked into the “problem vortex.” You get sucked into a world of sameness; the same information, the same pattern of thinking, or the same behavior. But it’s important to ask yourself, “What can I do differently?”

Take palpitations for example, here are a few articles on how to stop them:

Is there a way to stop heart palpitations

How to stop heart palpitations

Natural home remedies: Palpitations

Wonderful, found three great articles on how to stop palpitations. The question is, what do you do with this information? Do you simply keep surfing the net looking for the next interesting tip or do you stop and think about how you might use this information?

Brooding about your anxiety is a waste of time. Getting locked in your head about how much you hate your life, how much anxiety is ruining your existence benefits you how? You need to get pissed and use that energy to find a set of tools you can use on a regular basis.

Small Improvements Are Okay

Folks with problems want quick fixes – that’s normal. It’s also unrealistic. Instead, as you work on your main problem look for small improvements that tell you things are changing. The goal is to make something different.

That could mean having 2 panic attacks per week rather than 3. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You’ll progress one baby step at a time. Plus, you won’t be filled with disappointment every time someone’s advice doesn’t turn your life around on a dime.

The tips I laid out here are simple but effective. If you want someone to give you some magic pill or bullet proof advice then I’m afraid you’re going to be anxious much longer. Don’t fool yourself. Instead, make a plan and stick to it. Time will take care of the rest.



Have You Heard That Meditation Can Ease Your Anxiety?


Today’s guest post is brought to you by David Starikov of blisslotus.com.

According to a national survey, over 40 million Americans are dealing with anxiety disorders right now.

The truth is though, you don’t have to be a statistic. Whether its handling day-to-day stress, balancing work and home, or dealing with the overwhelming and debilitating fear of handling it all, there is a natural way to provide relief for your body and mind.

Research proves that meditation has the power to teach you to live in the here and now and not get stuck in the stress that takes over.

It is often helpful to understand that stress, in moderation, is just a normal part of life. However, the problem begins to present itself when the stress accumulating over time takes over your thoughts literally stunting you from succeeding.

When that stress interferes with your ability to cope and function, it can then create havoc such as full-blown anxiety or anxiety disorder.

Physical symptoms brought on by anxiety include a myriad of health issues that often contribute to a long-term poor quality of life. Increased heart rate, stomach issues ranging from constipation to diarrhea, muscle tension all over the body, incapacitating headaches and insomnia are just a few of the challenges stress brings into your life.

Often, people unable to handle the fear and the anxiousness self-medicate through food, alcohol or even drugs to deal with their stress. But, these ‘band-aid’ techniques do not solve anxiety at its core and do not teach a person to alleviate the anxiety from within.

This is where meditation comes in. Meditation offers a holistic alternative to other coping mechanisms in decreasing and often mitigating these health issues altogether.  Decreasing anxiety actually creates a healthier person.

Meditation’s deep breathing techniques, posture and focus allow the anxiousness building to suddenly lose its grips on the mind and body. Daily meditators and medical professionals have reported for years the tremendous health and mental benefits they see and feel after a meditation session.

Transcendental Meditation, a technique that incorporates sitting comfortably in a chair for just a few minutes a day, with the eyes closed inside the mind, allows you the opportunity to quiet stressful thoughts, calm fears, and shut out anxiety.

As the mind quiets and thoughts flit in and out, they are allowed no control over your body as you concentrate only on deep breathing and focus. The body will immediately respond with a deep state of relaxation, as all of the stress seems to dissolve instantly. All of this can be achieved in less than twenty-five minutes a day.

Guided meditation may be a great option to explore as well. For someone new to meditation, a meditation guide via an mp3 download, cd or actual voice, aids the meditator to imagine a focal point. It could be anything from a sea of splashing waves to a full-blown mind relaxing adventure that takes the meditators thoughts right to a warm and stress-free zone.

Meditation’s tremendous wellness benefits have contributed to thousands of people joining the stress relieving revolution.  Mental health professionals are constantly teaching patients the techniques or recommending a meditation class.

Learning to take control of your thoughts and recharge your batteries allows you to become a more productive and healthy person. Even when it seems that there isn’t enough time in the day – taking those few moments to meditate and create a soothing environment from the inside out with actually pay for itself by allowing you more time to focus on the task at hand and less on your anxiety.

Thanks for reading! My name is David Starikov and I run a website and blog about self-help and meditation. If you are interested in learning more about how to meditate and the different techniques then come to www.blisslotus.com

Does Talking About Your Anxiety Help?

anxiety, talk therapyDoes it really help? If it ever works for you the reason boils down to two things: You have someone you can trust and you’re ready to talk.

But to tell you the truth, even trust and motivation isn’t always enough to help you come clean about your anxiety.

Think about it. What’s easy about baring your soul? It can be hard to do, especially if it goes against your nature.

After a few months as a student therapist I can attest to the difficulty some people have with sharing how they truly feel about their problem(s).

Adults are masters of disguise. We wear at least a dozen of them on any given day.

The problem, of course, is that this makes it hard to be ourselves.

We aren’t used to being authentic. I see it in my clients all the time.

They often walk in smiling from ear to ear and tell me about semi-problems, or about irrelevant memories. They talk about everything except the real problem.

And although I find this annoying, I also understand where it’s coming from. It’s a defense shaped by years of not wanting to be seen as weak, stupid, or crazy. Yet, even if this is a common reaction, I don’t think it’s productive.

Obviously you’d need to find someone you can trust before you spill your guts, but once you do I think it’s critical to “let it out.”

That’s not to say that talking works for everyone. Actually, in 2003 the radio show This American Life aired a segment about a 31-year-old man who had the chance to “let it out.”

He talked about his lack of joy, his unwillingness to let other people tell him how to live, and about how much he wanted to die.

Sadly, that man took his own life. Talking was of no use to him. He wasn’t able to, for several reasons I’m sure, get in touch with “it.” As sad as that is, it doesn’t change the fact that talking can be useful for most people.

Is talking useful because it can make you cry? Well, crying can be a stress reliever, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

See, sometimes, actually a lot of the time, we get stuck in circular thinking. That doesn’t mean you don’t understand the problem, it means you tend to get stuck on the problem and forget, or don’t know how to, solve the problem. That’s the equivalent of cognitive quicksand.

In terms of solutions the key is this: You have to find a way to re-frame your anxiety

and you need to understand how you got where you are, how you can improve, and how your anxiety is related to the circumstances of your life.

Talking things out can help you accomplish all of this.

Yes, there is indeed more to it, I’m not trying to minimize your anxiety. What I am saying is that if you’re the kind of person who keeps their stuff bottled up inside you’re not doing yourself any favors whatsoever.

I’m not coming down on you for being mum if in fact you are one of those kinds of people. Just saying that talking can and does help many to filter their fears through another person’s eyes, which can turn your thinking around for the better.

Plus, simply hearing your thoughts out loud, with a person that isn’t there to judge you, can give you a tremendous amount of insight into your anxiety and how it’s affecting you.

And by God, if there was ever a golden ticket to peace of mind it does indeed ride on the wings of insight.

I bet you have someone in mind. Give them a call. Just do me a favor and don’t make it about your symptoms. Try to make the conversation about what you fear.

That’s the way out of this mess.