Are You Really Going to Be Okay?


You’re probably not always confident about your ability to be okay.

And I understand why. You are filled with doubt, negative anticipation, and fear, which isn’t exactly a recipe for confidence, right?

When you’re calm you can tell yourself a hundred logical reasons why you are going to be okay, and in the moment things feel manageable.

But the minute that anxiety knocks at your door, you freeze and wonder if this is the end – the day that your worst nightmare comes to life.

This happens for several reasons, chief among them is the fact that high anxiety is not within your direct control.

That’s why being struck by anxiety usually feels like an ambush, because it operates primarily through the same system that controls your heart beat – it kind of just happens.

This, of course, is scary. Your lack of control fosters racing thoughts that usually culminate in two simple thoughts that jump into your head at almost the same time and they are: “I’m okay” or “I’m not okay.”

The problem is that the human brain has trouble holding two opposing thoughts at the same time. This leads to something called cognitive dissonance, which is a form of mental tension.

It’s often what’s responsible for your avoidant behavior as you strive to dodge situations that could trigger anxiety.

But those aren’t the only issues. You also have to contend with the fact that anxiety is super negative. I imagine that if anxiety were a person it would be the type to complain about everything.

All this taken together makes anxious thoughts stand out in your mind. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to listen to those negative thoughts.

In today’s episode of The Anxiety Guru Show, I explore what you can do to boost your confidence and win the fight against cognitive dissonance.

I discuss:

  • The role that low confidence plays in high anxiety
  • How to understand your anxious thoughts
  • Why you feel out of control when you’re anxious
  • What steps you can take to believe that you will be okay

Listen to The Anxiety Guru Show

To listen, you can click the listen button below or visit my iTunes page.

anxiety, podcast

9 Ways to Stay Motivated During the Recovery Process

motivation, stress

Are you sick and tired of feeling anxious and unmotivated at the same time?

Millions of anxious people just like you experience terrible symptoms every day but struggle to do something about it.

What if I told you that there was a better way? Well, there is, and today I’m going to tell you how it’s done.

First, let me back up a bit – when I was at the height of my anxiety I convinced myself that feeling other emotions was bad.

Sure, I got anxious, but I couldn’t control that. So, to maintain what little control I did have, I bottled-up the rest of my emotions.

I never got too high or too low. People often said that I was “even-keeled.”

What they didn’t know was that I was afraid to lose control, so I kept everything tight. I didn’t let myself feel anything as intensely as I did anxiety.

But I don’t want you to feel more anxiety. Instead, I want you to feel more anger, despair, or even fear, because feelings drive change.

Today you’re getting helpful tips on how to motivate yourself during the recovery process – which is great, but not enough.

In reality, there’s only one thing you absolutely must do if you want to stay motivated and recover 100%.

And that is finding the right counter-emotion to anxiety. Whether it’s anger, fear, or something else, always remember that recovery is fueled by feelings.

I felt anger. I let myself feel frustrated, disappointed and impatient, and unleashed it on my anxiety.

Like Claire Weekes, I’ve always advocated that anxious people try to accept their anxiety to reduce its impact. I still do.

But over the years I’ve realized that acceptance alone isn’t enough, especially when you’ve just begun the recovery process.

To be honest, anger kept me focused and fed my curious analysis of anxiety. It gave me the courage and strength I needed to break the zombie-like trance I was in.

Take a moment to think about what emotion will drive you to work on your anxiety. Once you’ve done that use that feeling to make good use of this list:

Way #1: Create a clear vision

There’s a good chance that you spend too much time being surprised by your anxiety-related problems. That’s despite seeing the same ones every day.

They keep shocking you over and over again. So, for starters – try something different, like creating a new vision of you.

What would it feel like to not be anxious anymore? What new things would you do? How freaking cool would that be? Being problem focused isn’t helpful, but imagining yourself at peace is a good start.

Way #2: Exercise your personal power

Once you have created a clear vision, take action. Otherwise, what you end up with is a set of vague goals and unmet expectations.

This, of course, isn’t the easiest thing in the world to pull off. Anxiety is all about overthinking rather than overdoing. As your first power act, take out a pen and paper and apply the steps below to your own situation.

Way #3: Decide what you want

Unfocused wants feed doubt and keep you on a path to nowhere. Having clear, laser-focused goals however, make recovery more likely.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always liked Christmas gifts that I asked for ahead of time a lot more than any surprise I ever got. So take the guess work out of the process and determine what direction you want to go in.

Way #4: Write down what you want

If you don’t write down what you want, it won’t happen. In my view, if you don’t take the time to write down your goals, they don’t exist.

Way #5: Set realistic goals

When you set unrealistic goals it means hoping for one thing and getting something else on a regular basis.

This could create a tremendous sense of hopelessness and kill your progress, so please don’t do this.

Way #6: Start with baby steps

Don’t make yourself crazy with big goals. Start small and work your way up. That way every time you meet a small goal you’ll see progress and stay motivated enough to move on to the next phase.

Way #7: Don’t be a perfectionist

On some level high anxiety is about control – having it, keeping it, even craving it makes anxious people happy.

But if you want to recover from abnormal anxiety you’re going to have to practice having less of it.

While you work on your anxiety you will experience all kinds of setbacks and things will not always go your way. Expect things to go wrong from time to time and celebrate when they don’t.

Way #8: Build a support system

Okay, so this has nothing to do with complaining to your mom. We all need to do that sometimes, but it’s not actually a solution.

What is an actual solution is being connected to others. Spend time with your friends and family and don’t talk about your anxiety while you do it. Simply enjoy their company and get out of your head.

Way #9: Let yourself feel

As you do all of this, don’t forget why you’re doing it. Let yourself feel all your emotions, no matter how bad, so that you are reminded of why you need to exercise, eat right, meditate, or whatever you decide to do to lower your anxiety.

In this week’s episode of The Anxiety Guru Show, I explore how you can stay motivated as you work towards decreasing your stress and anxiety.

Listen to The Anxiety Guru Show…

To listen, you can click the listen button below or visit my iTunes page.

anxiety, podcast

This Simple Change Will Double Your Chances of Recovery

podcast, radio

My earliest memory of abnormal anxiety centers on my first panic attack.

I remember everything about that night, including how confused I was afterward.

I imagine that you must have felt something similar when this all started for you as well, right?

You ended up confused, mentally paralyzed, and worst of all, stuck in a useless, unproductive cycle of worry and reassurance seeking.

This, of course, is a problem if you ever intend to get better. You need direction; a firm expectation of full recovery.

Not everyone would agree with me though. Some think that having high expectations is a recipe for anger, disappointment and even failure.

The idea being that if you hope for a particular outcome, and are unable to attain it, you end up with little more than frustration.

I guess not having expectations sounds good, even ideal, in that case, but who goes through life without expectations?

It’s in our nature to imagine the future; bottom-line, you can’t abandon your expectations, but you do need to develop the right expectations.

You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”            Michael Jordan

When most of us start our journey towards recovery, we focus our attention on the end goal – full recovery, right?

But what about the space between anxiety and recovery? You know, the hard part. This phase can’t be ignored.

And this raises two big questions: Do you have the right expectations? Do these expectations drive your behavior?

Let me explain. Let’s say that you expect to recover from anxiety 100% but don’t take targeted action that would make recovery a reality; what then?

I’ll tell you what, nothing. Total and utter failure awaits your desperate hopefulness. It’s ugly.

In my experience most people hope for recovery, but don’t expect it. And, in turn, don’t do much to make it happen.

But what if you tweaked your expectations? What if you aimed to lower a single symptom rather than scoring a Hail Mary?

Therein lies the key to the whole thing. Stop looking for the glorious end to your anxiety.

Train your sights on short-term, realistic goals and you will not only stave off disappointment, you will double your chances of recovery.

Anxiety has fooled you into believing exaggerated notions of what your symptoms might do to you.

It has also caused you to exaggerate what you can achieve without effort, without planning, and without consistency.

In this week’s episode of The Anxiety Guru Show, I explore how you can develop the right expectations for your recovery and how this can help you shape a future without abnormal anxiety.

Listen to The Anxiety Guru Show…

To listen, you can click the listen button below or visit my iTunes page.

anxiety, podcast

You Are Not Alone

podcast, radio

Everybody feels alone sometimes.

But you face loneliness on a higher level because of over-thinking.

You analyze and re-analyze every anxiety-riddled thought, symptom and experience which keeps you in perpetual contemplation.

The problem is that as you muse away the day you create real distance between you and the world.

That’s why whenever you take the time to look up from your disaster fantasies, you might notice that you feel, or are, alone.

But understand that the anxious thoughts you cultivate are responsible for this.

The fearful thoughts swimming around in your head are what keep your anxiety alive.

It’s where you create false ideas, assumptions and generalizations.

It’s where you fantasize about getting better while you do nothing in the real world to achieve recovery.

It’s where feelings of loneliness and hopelessness are born.

In this episode of The Anxiety Guru Show, I explore how you can reach beyond anxious thinking and back into the real world.

I discuss:

  • Why you feel like you’re alone
  • How to seek reassurance the right way
  • How to move past thoughts and into action
  • How to connect with people just like you

Listen to The Anxiety Guru Show…

To listen, you can click the listen button below or visit my iTunes page.

anxiety, podcast

9 Ways to Take Charge of Your Insomnia and Get To Sleep


It’s 2am when I suddenly awoke from a rare but deep sleep, well, deep for me at least.  Of course, I can’t simply fall right back asleep because now I have to use the bathroom.

I notice that I’m still pretty tired so I am telling myself to focus on this feeling instead of thinking about what I need to do the next day.

That pesky To Do list is lurking in the corner of my mind and doesn’t like to be put in time-out.

As soon as the fog lifts from my tired brain worry is front and center and plagues me for the next 2-3 hours.

A few nights of bad sleep have now turned into many years, so many that I can’t even remember when it started. It has become utterly agonizing at times.

If I am lucky I fall asleep around 5am and get another hour or two of sleep in, however, this means I won’t get a workout in because I am too tired to get out of bed.

Exercise is one key step in relieving anxiety and improving sleep and now I am again skipping something so vital to managing my own anxiety.

If this is your story, or something similar, I want you to know that you are not alone.  I am right there with you.

I know all too well what it’s like to not get enough sleep night, after night, after night and how it affects the next day.

When I can’t sleep no matter how bright blue and sunny the Southern California sky is, and how warm and balmy the ocean air feels , everything looks grey and dull.

I obsess over when I will be done with what I’m doing so I can sneak in a nap.

There have been many, many days where I have even taken a nap in my car during my lunch break.

I have had to drive to quiet, hopefully deserted, but hopefully safe, parking lots just so I could get some sleep to make it through the rest of the day.

I can’t think clearly.  I am not creative at all.  I have no desire to make any decisions or try to do anything that requires concentration or forethought.

Everything I do feels like I have an extra 30 pounds of weight on me.

Lack of sleep can cause you to feel hopelessness, anger, frustration, sadness, irritability to the point that you are just sick and tired of trying to manage this gorilla on your back.

When I do get a good night’s sleep it’s amazing how wonderful life is. I feel like I can conquer the world.  Everything is brighter and more colorful then usual.

I laugh and have fun. Life has a happy glow about it and I am motivated to do more, achieve more and accomplish my goals…until the evening descends…and I never know what to expect.

From the many clients I have had over the years the one  thing I have witnessed over and over again is that change does not occur until you are REALLY, TRULY sick and tired of being who or how you are.

I’ve decided that it’s time to take charge of my insomnia rather than allowing it to control me. In my search for answers this is what I found:

Surprising (well surprising to me anyway) causes of Insomnia

  • Cortisol

What is it?  Cortisol is a hormone that is released when we are faced with a stressful event whether it be real or imaginary.  Low levels of glucose in the blood also known as low blood sugar can increase cortisol levels as well.

One of the purposes of cortisol is to awaken us so we are ready to fight or flee the metaphorical tiger that is attacking us.

The problem with the insomniac is that they remain in a state of constant wakefulness because they don’t get the deep, restorative sleep necessary to bring cortisol levels back to normal.

Therefore, cortisol levels build up in the blood and keep the insomniac in a constant state of hyperarousal.

  • Hyperarousal

What are the physical effects on your body?  Cortisol, Norepinephrine and Epinephrine are released into the body to aid in the “fight or flight” response.

Norepinephrine raises the heart rate, which causes glucose to be released as energy and blood to flow to the muscles.

Epinephrine also raises the heart rate, constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils and suppresses the immune system.

Respiration is faster, blood pressure and levels of blood sugar are also increased.  You are in a state of extreme alertness which means all of your senses are heightened.  You are ready to fight.

When the stressful event has passed though, your body should be able to release these hormones and go back to normal, of course, this isn’t always the case.

If you are someone with chronic anxiety then you may be in state of hyperarousal most of your waking hours which makes it nearly impossible for your body to calm down and release these stress producing hormones.

  • Low Blood Sugar

I would have to say that this was the most surprising fact I have recently discovered.  According to an article written by Dr. Flannery the reason we wake up at 2am is due to low blood sugar levels.

Because our bodies are fasting throughout the night our blood sugar levels lower which kicks cortisol into gear to get those levels back to normal.

Now our bodies are in a heightened state of awareness which can jolt us awake.

  • Thoughts are Things

Be mindful about sleep related thoughts.  According to clinical Psychologist Steve Orma, author of “Stop Worrying and Get To Sleep” , how we perceive our sleep situation and the association we have with where we sleep (i.e. bed, bedroom) plays a huge part in getting a good night’s sleep.

At this point you are probably thinking, alright, I have a good idea about the effects of insomnia, but how do I overcome this obnoxious habit I have gotten myself in to?

Here are 9 steps you can take that may help relieve your state of fight or flight and get you back in balance. 

#1.  Take time each day to worry

I know…I know…this sounds crazy especially to an insomniac.  Yet, giving yourself permission to worry actually provides some small sense of relief.

Have you heard of the cliche “Whatever you resist persists?” As anxious people we are prone to this and get into the habit of worrying about EVERYTHING.

Rather than fight it do something about it. Start with giving yourself permission to take 10 or 15 minutes a day to write down all of your worries.

When you do this two things happen, for one, when that worry starts to suck you can tell yourself that you have already over analyzed the thought and beat the hell out of it, so you can give yourself permission to let it go until the next day.

Two, in Psychology there’s this phrase “Prescribe the Problem.”  The theory is that when you are given permission to act out the problem you get the opportunity to take control of it.

And once this happens you might just get bored of the problem behavior and dump it altogether.

#2.  Take time to process your day

Worrying suppresses your ability to process what is going on in the moment.

This could be a major contributor to how or if we go to bed.  I know for myself the end of the day is when I seem to run through my day and the next.

This might be because I can finally stop and relax which allows all my suppressed thoughts to pop into my mind.

Journaling is a simple, yet effective technique that lets your thoughts stream out of your head.

You are taking control of your thoughts rather than being run by them.  You are probably thinking, I don’t have time to write down every negative thought  and every situation that happened that day.

I hear ya!  I am probably the busiest person you will meet (as my friends like to tell me).

But you can choose just one or two situations that caused you more anxiety then normal and write about those.

What happened?  Why did that particular situation bother you?  How can you resolve this issue and move on? Keep it basic.

#3.  Plan out your day

This is a step that hands down works for me.  I have been using this technique since undergrad.  I start with the deadline, work my way back, and write in my calendar when I will begin working on a particular project.

I also write out the steps that I will take so that I know exactly what I need to do when the time comes.

This way I am not under pressure to figure out my best course of action.

Establishing deadlines and planning out my action steps gives me comfort by knowing that the task will be completed and I don’t have to obsess over it right now in this very moment.

#4.  We are what we eat

I have tried almost all of these and eventually my body becomes immune to the remedy, however, I would rather keep trying the all-natural way then get to the point of popping pills every night.

Here are a list of foods, vitamins and herbal options that can help decrease cortisol levels and help increase sleep:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Turkey Meat
  • Nut butters
  • Bananas
  • Multi-grain crackers and cheese
  • Whole Grains
  • Lentils
  • Hummus
  • Tuna or Salmon
  • Tart Cherry Juice
  • Omega 3
  • B vitamins
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium (you can get this in a powder form and drink it as a tea)
  • Valerian Root
  • Chamomile tea
  • Melatonin
  • Power To Sleep PM by Irwin Naturals

#5.  Exercise

Exercise is essential for the anxious person because it releases endorphins which act like morphine by diminishing the perception of pain.

They also work like a kind of natural sedative which will help you sleep better at night.

According to Steve Orma exercise elevates our body temperature.  Afterwards our body temperature drops faster than normal which can also help you get to sleep.

I live by the beach and there are a series of stairs along the coast you can take to get to the sand.

I have noticed that after a 30-45 minute run on the beach and up and down a couple flights of stairs I am exhausted for the rest of the night.

Working out give me a sense of euphoria. My head feels clearer and I feel more motivated to get through my day.

#6.  Hypnotherapy

I will keep this point brief and refer you to a Hypnotherapist I found on iTunes that has worked well for me.

You can try it out and see if it works for you. Glenn Harrold’s hypnotherapy session’s called “Relax,” “Inner Peace,” and “Wisdom” have helped me fall asleep fast and stay asleep.

In my experience as an anxious person having something to focus on other than my racing thoughts helps me calm down.

#7.  Guided Meditations and White Noise

There are a number of guided meditation apps that I found via the App Store.  Here are a few I have on my phone that have worked for me:

#8.  Meditate   

There is so much research out there about the benefits of meditation and it’s easy to find via the internet that I am not going to rehash it here.  What I want to address is my own experience.

What I know is I have had high blood pressure for the last year which I have never had before and it doesn’t run in my family.

I believe this is largely due to insomnia and having an overabundance of cortisol levels in my blood.

For the anxious person sitting in a chair for more than 5 minutes trying to calm your thoughts can be agonizing until you really get good at it.

If this is the case for you here are some suggestions that have worked for me and my clients.

For some taking a walk is meditative. So is being creative such as dancing, cooking or crocheting/knitting (all three are my personal favorites).

Another idea is get some Mandala’s and crayons and act like that 5 year old you once were. Color away. Be creative.

These activities force your mind to focus on the present moment which stops your mind from racing and worrying about the past and future.

There is a quote I really like and it goes like this, “If you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future you are pissing on the present.”

Remember that when your thoughts get away from you.

#9. Stop fighting so hard

Probably one of the hardest things to do EVER. Accept that anxiety is something that must be managed just like managing your finances or your weight. It takes time, planning and practice.

Now I look at anxiety as something that is concrete and not abstract. As something that I must give energy to on a daily basis if I want to sleep better and lower my blood pressure.

Know that you are not alone.  If anything you have Paul and I to support and guide you through this maddening condition.

There may be hope…what current research has to say

A Harvard neurologist, Patrick Fuller and his team, may have discovered an area of the lower brain stem that he calls the parafacial zone.

The lower brain’s main function is to be a highway sending signals to the upper brain and cerebellum.

Fuller and his team have found that this area could be triggered to rush Gaba to the upper brain. Gaba is a neurotransmitter that aids in sleeping and calms down our nervous system.

These findings are still in the very early stages but if this is the case scientists may be able to develop a drug that can help us insomniacs get into a deep sleep without the repercussions that many drugs.

Until these sleep aids are produced though, I hope that the tips and information here give you hope that you can wake up in the morning and feel energized rather then beat down and exhausted. I hope that you can conquer your insomnia and Get To Sleep.

To learn more about how to improve your sleep listen to this week’s episode of The Anxiety Guru Show. Paul spoke with clinical psychologist Dr. Steve Orma to get the details about better sleep.

anxiety, podcast

How to Lower Stress and Anxiety Without Taking Drugs

cortisol, stress

Let me guess. You want to get better without taking drugs? Yes, of course you do. I did too. It sounds pretty good, right? No side-effects, no one questioning your toughness or stability; it would be perfect.

What’s crazy is that it isn’t some wild dream. You probably agree, yes? That’s why you’re busy trying to imbue this dream with life.

You eat right, you exercise, you meditate; it’s all perfectly reasonable. And that’s exactly why you feel so frustrated. No matter what you do, you’re not making any progress.

Even those of you that overcame your doubts about drugs and use them now probably still struggle.  So why is this happening?

If you’re doing anything wrong it’s that your approach is too generic. It’s not your fault though. Everyone pretty much does the same thing.

But the old advice doesn’t work. My advice: focus on lowering your stress levels through targeted action.

Here’s an example: if I asked you what is a healthy diet what would you say? What exactly does that mean?

Are we talking about preventing obesity or are we talking about using food to target and decrease specific stress hormones? This is why specifics matter.

You can use specifics, the details, to develop more effective goals and actions. Let’s take a look at how this approach works.

Discovering the magic of precision

A few weeks ago I told you that I was going to provide you with a list of foods that can help you decrease the stress hormone cortisol (see below).

I explained that your primary problem is related more to chronic stress rather than phantom emotions like anxiety.

For me, this makes sense. If a person is stressed, then they will have higher levels of cortisol in their blood. This in turn will lead to sleep problems, palpitations, nervousness, even paranoia.

So instead of saying that you should “lower stress” I urge you to “lower your cortisol levels.” Instead of saying that you should exercise, I will steer you towards useful exercises – when to do them and how to do them right.

Doing the right thing at the right time is how you get better. Unfortunately, the “right things” change depending on what stage of change you’re in. If you move too fast, or skip steps, all progress stops, and you end up stuck.

Moving from one stage to the next requires that you learn new skills, and actually use them, which always stinks. Most of us like learning a lot more than we like doing, but learning alone isn’t going to solve your problems.

I’ve worked with hundreds of anxious people and this seems to be a major problem for most of them. And if it’s a problem for you too you might be screwed.

The solution: identify specific things you can do and break them up into smaller tasks. You should start by calming your body.

The truth is that if you want to get better you have to reduce your physical symptoms first. Once your body is calm(er) then you can move on to the next phase, which is addressing your anxious thoughts.

To help you get started, I will explain how you can use food to lower cortisol levels. Let’s dive in!

Learn to Understand Cortisol

First, let’s talk about what cortisol is. In short, it’s one of the most destructive hormones in your body when elevated.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is released into the body when your stress response is triggered. Once your adrenal glands fire off cortisol into the blood you can develop much more than just anxiety.

Excessive cortisol can also impair your memory, digestion and cause mood swings.

Cortisol is at its highest during the morning, which could explain why so many anxious people feel crappy when they wake up.

Taking concrete steps towards lowering your cortisol levels is one of the most important things you can do to decrease your physical symptoms.

Top 4 Cortisol Killing Nutrients

 1. Water - One of the most overlooked ways to reduce stress

Did you know that being dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels? Turns out that if you’re even a little dehydrated not only can your cortisol levels go up, but it can also cause your heart and lungs to race. Drinking more water can help reverse this.

The other benefit of drinking lots of water is that it flushes out toxins and helps carry nutrients throughout the body.

So how much should you drink every day? The answer is: it depends. Your daily intake will vary based on your size, weight and level of physical activity.

I looked around for an exact value and found several recommendations. Some say 91 ounces per day for women and 125 ounces for men. Others stick to the old 8×8 rule, which says you should drink 8 cups of water per day. To be honest, I couldn’t find a clear-cut answer.

I was amused by how many opinions there are on this one issue. You could… oh, to hell with it. Drink enough to make your pee clear. The end.

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Just for the Halibut!

Known as essential fats, omega-3 can only be obtained from food as the human body cannot make its own.

Foods rich in omega-3 include fish, nuts, flax seeds, flax seed oil and dark leafy greens.

Fish is probably your best bet when it comes to filling up on omega-3. You’ll want to shop for specific types of fish though as different species contain varying amounts of omega-3.

Fish high in omega-3 include anchovies, wild salmon, mackerel, and bluefin tuna. You can also eat shrimp, lobster, or clams, but expect much lower doses of omega-3 in the latter.

You can also find omega-3 in foods like steak and eggs but you should obviously try to avoid foods high in unhealthy fats.

Although most researchers have focused their attention on how omega-3 benefits heart health, there has been an ongoing interest around whether or not it helps mood, as well.

A French study from 2011 found that omega-3 from fish oil lowered anxiety and boosted brain function in mouse lemurs, a kind of primate.

Some researchers think that omega-3 has a positive impact on serotonin and dopamine transmission, which could explain the decrease in anxiety seen in the mouse lemurs.

It worked for me. I started taking fish oil in 2007 and haven’t stopped since. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I’ve always felt like fish oil helped regulate my mood.

3.  Magnesium – The ultimate relaxation mineral

Magnesium is a vital nutrient responsible for the proper function of many systems in your body, including your bones, nerves and muscles.

Low levels of magnesium can lead to problems with fatigue, anxiety, irritability, irregular heart rhythms, insomnia and even depression.

One study showed that magnesium deficiency caused “enhanced anxiety-related behavior” in mice.

When you start to untangle the effects of magnesium in the nervous system, you touch upon nearly every single biological mechanism for depression.”  – Emily Deans, M.D.

Many foods have magnesium in them so you don’t have to look far to get your daily magnesium needs met.

Foods high in magnesium include dark chocolate, bananas, figs, avocado, soybeans, fish, nuts and seeds.

4. Vitamin C – The rapid mood booster

According to a study published in 2010 hospitalized patients given vitamin C for 7-10 days showed a marked improvement in mood compared to patients given vitamin D instead. More recent studies pretty much say the same thing.

This might make you want to run out and stock up on oranges but keep in mind that there’s also plenty of vitamin C in other foods like guava, bell peppers and kale.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will more than cover your vitamin C needs. For adults, it’s recommended that you have between 65-90mg of vitamin C per day.

It’s also important to remember that you want to get most of your nutrients from food rather than supplements. And if you take supplements try to avoid synthetics and focus your attention on supplements derived from either plants or animals.

It’s time to take your needs seriously

A lack of nutrients isn’t the only reason you suffer from chronic stress. But eating like crap destroys your body’s ability to heal itself. Not exactly what you want to do when you’re under stress.

The good news is that you have control over what, how, and when you eat.

I know you want to do better. Here’s your chance. Anxiety has robbed you of control for too long. Now is the time to take it back.

By eating right you’ll be reducing cortisol levels, stress, and anxiety (in that order). It’s a no-brainer.

As promised I have also created my very own food list (actually infograph). It focuses specifically on omega-3 and magnesium and I want you to share it with at least one friend. You can download it here.

In this episode of The Anxiety Guru Show I discuss:

  1. The top cortisol crushing foods
  2. Why you should be more focused on your diet
  3. Specific foods you can eat to lower cortisol and stress
  4. And why most anxious people hate drugs

To listen, you can either click on the icon below or browse AG show episodes on iTunes.

anxiety, podcast

Why It’s Bad to Focus All Your Attention on Anxiety

anxiety, stress

If I asked you to tell me what anxiety is I’m sure you’d do a fine job.

After all, you know your stuff.

You could probably tell me a lot about what your anxiety feels like, what fear feels like, even what terror feels like.

I’m confident that you could give me all the intricate details.

In fact, I’m sure you and I could easily get lost in the details of your latest complaint, but what would be the point?

I know why you do it. You’re on the lookout for danger. You’re anticipating, calculating, always watching.

To be fair, I understand this tendency quite well. I was the same way for the better part of a decade.

But I can assure you that this approach is a dead end.

One of the most important things I ever did to get better was to take a step back and look at the basic details.

basic (adjective) \’ba-sik also – zik\

: forming or relating to the most important part of something.”          -Merriam Webster

I got away from my moment to moment safety analysis and instead took a dive into the engine that drove my fear.

Because you see, your real problem is fearfulness.

But here’s the kicker, the thing that generates your scary symptoms isn’t fear. It’s stress. But not just any old kind of stress.

Fearfulness (noun)

: the emotion experienced in the presence or threat of danger.”

– Merriam Webster

Over time I realized that what I had to address was chronic stress, rather than its more mysterious cousins anxiety and fear.

Of course, stress and anxiety are not the same. Believe me, I know that you’re not simply stressed out.

Chronic stress is different though. It comes with some serious side effects. Actually, they look pretty familiar, right?

  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • depression
  • social isolation
  • stomach problems
  • sleep problems
  • problems concentrating
  • hypertension
  • back pain

Now, if you stay stressed long enough you can indeed develop abnormal anxiety (long-term anxiety and fear).

But what I want you to understand is that fighting anxiety directly is like fighting a ghost.

That’s why most of your recovery efforts must target anxiety indirectly. And today I’m going to show you how to do that.

In this episode of The Anxiety Guru Show I discuss:

  • The difference between stress and anxiety
  • Why you should be more focused on stress reduction
  • Specific ways of lowering stress
  • Benefits of stress reduction

To listen, you can either click on the icon below or browse AG show episodes on iTunes.

anxiety, podcast

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Valerie Murphy

I am psyched to introduce you to AG’s first full time contributor Valerie Murphy. I met Valerie over 3 years ago at my first internship. I always thought that Valerie was a blast to be around, but I later found out that she also happened to be an anxious person! I had so many questions.

Over time we became friends and eventually I asked her to share her knowledge and experience with my audience here at AG. Over the past few months we have been working hard to develop new material and even plan to start a free webinar series to strengthen your understanding of stress and anxiety. Please join me in welcoming her to AG! – Paul Dooley

As I look back over my life I think there’s a theme developing.

What used to be Carpe Diem for me, or “Seize the Day,” has turned into “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!”

I was born anxious. I have an anxious family. I even attended a fundamental Christian school for 12 years.

Due to my background I’ve often heard people talk a lot about what you can’t do, what you shouldn’t do, about what if’s.

I’ve heard even more said about minding other people’s, or even God’s, opinion about the things I do. No pressure, right?

After trying out a number of different careers, and not succeeding at any of them, the fear began to grow.

That is, until I decided to finally follow my passion for helping others become a better version of themselves.

I have seen more success in the field of Psychology than any other, which has lessened my fears.

But don’t get me wrong, there are many times when I have been so anxious about a task that all I could see was a blinding white light.

In those moments I couldn’t even think straight and there were even times when I would call in sick for the sheer fact of being overwhelmed.

When I taught my first class of 27 students this was my experience. I still remember standing in the hallway waiting for the classroom to open up for us to enter.

I remember thinking that I wanted to run away, but also knew that there was no way out. I was committed.

I remember telling myself that I could not believe that the weight of a 2 hr class was on my shoulders. I had to lead this classroom of 27 students for 2 hours and I had no idea how this was going to go.

Now 4 years later I have taught 4 hour classes for anywhere from 15-25 students and I sail right through them. In my student feedback survey’s I often score 98%-100% in student satisfaction.

At the same time I started Toastmasters, a public speaking club. It probably took me at least 10 speeches to not have the thought of canceling only days before and making up some lie to get out of it.

On the way to Toastmasters on the day of my first speech, I was so nervous I kept rehearsing the speech over and over again in my head to the point that I missed my exit to get off the highway!

I thought for sure I was going to be late for my first speech. In the beginning I would always use notes, prepare for a speech a month ahead and talk so fast that the audience couldn’t process everything I was saying.

Now 4 years later, I am the president of my local Toastmasters club.

What I have learned from these experiences is how to feel the fear and do it anyway. What I want to share with you is that eventually the fear will subside and success, competence, and confidence will take its place.

I fully experienced this for the first time this year. During one meeting I noticed that my heart wasn’t racing, my hands and feet weren’t sweaty and I could think when they called on me to explain my role for the day.

Most recently, what I come to fully realize is anxiety is a thing I have to work on every day.

On a daily basis I have to consciously choose to work on my anxiety the same way I have to work on getting in shape or having a deeper relationship with my Higher Power.

When Paul asked me how I balance having the clinical knowledge that I do with my real life, in your face anxiety, the following steps came to my mind:

1. Make a plan and WORK the plan

I think two things happen when you tend to be an anxious person. One checking off a “To Do” list gives us a sense of accomplishment but two, decreases anxiety because there is one less thing to think about.

The plan must have 2 elements: 1) Be specific and 2) Realistic. By specific I mean time block tasks that need to be done.

I have even taken an inventory of how many working hours I have in a week and then how much time each task I want to accomplish that week will take.

For example, I will schedule when I work out, meditate/pray, my hobbies and actions steps needed to further my knowledge in my career.

I take this schedule with me to the office and back home so I can reference it throughout the day to stay focused.

Anxious people tend to lose focus easily and having this plan with me keeps me on track. All that being said, just remember this: whatever you track will improve.

2. Have a goal larger than yourself

Being hired on as a professor scared the heck out of me! Then I added on another challenge by joining Toastmasters.

I had to teach to supplement the minimal wages I was making as an intern, so not teaching wasn’t an option. I was terrified that I would have 27 strangers staring at me thinking, “Who is this chick? And why doesn’t she go teach First Graders!”

It’s this fear that kept me going back to Toastmasters until one day the fear went away and now I offer my expertise to new members.

Next time fear seizes you and all you want to do is hide, call in sick or lie your way out of it, remember fear is just a thing.

When you face your fear head on then what can fear really do to you?

Facing your fears is like shining a floodlight in a dark closet. Once there is light there is no darkness.

Also, can I just say something? I am so excited to be a member of the AG team.

I look forward to hearing your stories, getting to know you and walking with you on your journey towards recovery.

If you’d like to drop me a line please send it to

And take a listen to my interview with Paul below!

anxiety, podcast

How the Right Foods Can Improve Your Mood

anxiety diet

One of the biggest concerns for the average person with anxiety is figuring out how to decrease their physical symptoms.

For the vast majority, that means endless hours researching deep breathing, yoga, or feel good quotes.

Now, there’s no doubt in my mind that if you take meditation and yoga seriously that you will see results, but how many people do?

That’s why the motivation factor is all-important. Rather unfortunately people get discouraged if they don’t see results within a few days.

Bottom-line is that if it takes too long to master their chosen means of improvement people abandon it.

That sounds strange, but when you consider how hard it is to grasp meditation, for example, you start to understand why so many people give up on it (I still recommend it though).

But what if there were something a little easier?

What if I told you that changing your diet could seriously improve your mood and thereby decrease anxiety symptoms as well?

See here’s the thing; you already know how to eat. You have to do it anyway (or die), and obviously you can read a food list.

All the main ingredients you need to make this plan work are already in place. What you need now is a basic blueprint that you can build on.

Now I know that this isn’t exactly earth-shattering information. After all, it has been mentioned on AG before.

However, I never got into the details. I basically didn’t give you a reason to care about food as a means of reducing anxiety.

So what I want to do is make it up to you. I’m going to start by sending my newsletter supporters specific tips that they can use to turn their diets into a weapon of mass improvement.

You see, I recently sent out a mass email asking my listeners what they were struggling with the most and I got over 100 responses.

I want you to know that I heard you loud and clear.

I plan to provide you with actionable tips over the next several weeks to help you reduce palpitations and other physical symptoms.

And not just through diet advice, either. I’m putting together an assortment of tips that can be implemented on a daily basis.

So if you’re not already on my email list I strongly encourage you to get on it (see the black box below).

To kick things off this week I interviewed Evan Brand of Not Just Paleo.

Evan was kind enough to come onto the podcast and give us an overview of how diet impacts stress and anxiety levels.

In this episode, Evan and I discuss:

  • His personal story of success
  • How to use food to balance mood and energy levels
  • Specific foods that you can start eating today to lower anxiety
  • What you need to know about how the body processes food
  • Why modern diets can add to stress levels
  • Evan’s one critical piece of advice for anyone that wants to regain balance in their life

To listen, you can either click on the listen icon below, or browse AG show episodes on iTunes.

anxiety, podcast