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Hello, Friend – Transforming Anxiety Into Strength For Modern Women And Mothers

Written by: Iva Perez, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Iva Perez

There is a hidden strength inside this often-misunderstood emotion. Harnessing its true power is a game-changer.

Mother and daughter playing inside the house

In a world saturated with information, life still comes without a user-friendly manual. For women and mothers navigating the realms of caregiving, careers, and social lives, this often translates into a relentless juggling act, where a lack of clarity and predictability activate anxiety into a hypervigilant guard 24/7.

This sense of anxiety manifests daily like a favorite barista, greeting women with a sense of foreboding each morning, persisting throughout the day from the challenges of demanding workplaces, and casting a long shadow of mental and physical exhaustion at home.

But is anxiety a foe to conquer, or does it contain a hidden brilliance that women and mothers can harness to their advantage?

While women have made significant strides in recent decades and some glass ceilings have been shattered, successfully managing anxiety is still an unchecked task in a long list of to-dos for most. Anxiety appears like a quiet yet pervasive undercurrent lingering among many women. The World Economic Forum even provides this stark fact: anxiety affects women twice as much as men, signalling a collective silent struggle.

Anxiety: Friend or foe?

According to Karla McLaren, the author of the book Embracing Anxiety: How to Access the Genius of This Vital Emotion, anxiety is neither a mistake nor a problem expanding on a refreshing take on this emotion: Anxiety is an essential source of foresight, intuition, and energy.

Additionally, she shares the idea that many of us might mistake feeling anxious with more serious mental health issues like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, and various phobias. While the above do involve anxiety, McLaren affirms, they are not solely caused by it.

The scope of this article lies more as an invitation for modern women and mothers to befriend anxiety in a way that empowers them and moves them forward as a useful emotion for getting things done – as long as the anxiety isn’t linked to any existing medical conditions.

However, as a practising Licensed RTT Hypnotherapist, I bring the following encouraging news: numerous mental health conditions are highly treatable, and seeking assistance early leads to better outcomes. If a present mental health issue is causing long-lasting anxiety or panic, or if the intensity of emotions surpasses an individual's coping abilities, it is advisable to seek professional help promptly.

Because anxiety is very much a forward-looking emotion, it tends to put us in the ‘what if?’ state of mind. When the ‘what if’ leans towards the negative, we feel anxious. When the ‘what if’ leans towards the positive, we tend to call it excitement.

McLaren explains that “anxiety helps you identify problems and opportunities, and it brings you the energy and focus you need to face them” while it also aids in completing tasks and projects, giving the needed push to meet deadlines.

Understanding your anxiety style

We all have unique ways of dealing with tasks and deadlines. Doctor Mary Lamia, a clinical psychologist and educator, has observed two common responses to anxiety:

The breakdown of the two categories is as follows:

  • Procrastination, where individuals focus on deadlines and act only when anxiety intensifies, and

  • Do-it-ahead, where people concentrate on completing tasks sequentially.

Women are encouraged to pay attention to their anxiety style as it can shed light on their own interactions with anxiety on a day-to-day basis.

Basing the following example on a previous illustration by Dr. Lamia imagine two women needing to pick up their child at 3:00 pm and knowing they have to leave the house at 2:45 pm. The task-driven mom may accomplish quite a few tasks before leaving the house because she just wants to tick off several items off her to-do list. By contrast, deadline-driven mom uses the 3 pm pick-up time as a deadline to do the tasks.

They way these two styles create and approach to-do lists is also an indication of how they interact with anxiety when it arises. A task-oriented do-it-aheader breaks down projects into smaller tasks, prioritizing each step, while a deadline-focused procrastinator takes a more holistic approach, setting key elements first before intensive last-minute work.

Even though society often favors task-focused behavior, it's essential to recognize that deadline-focused individuals can still produce remarkable results, challenging the notion that procrastination is synonymous with laziness.

By understanding and supporting their anxiety style, women and mothers can begin to understand it – and to some extent – embrace it, leading to increased productivity and a sense of control.

Entering the motherhood maze

Women seem to enter a heightened level of anxiety with the arrival of their children. Their motherhood journeys are full of unknowns, regardless of how many parenting books they read or the number of seminars and lectures they attend. Most mothers would agree that the early years seem especially chaotic.

Because women take on mostly the lion’s share of caregiving, they are required to be present AND plan ahead in almost every task at hand. Within the motherhood maze, fear and anxiety are siblings, each with a specific job. Fear grounds us in the present, ensuring our children's immediate safety. Meanwhile, anxiety takes on the role of a visionary, projecting into the future, meticulously crafting lists of potential challenges and issues.

Whenever there is a need to process too much at once, both in the outer world and the inner realm, this state is known as overwhelm. When anxiety and fear converge, they brew the perfect storm of overwhelm and from this overwhelming need to sort everything out, confusion arises.

McLaren explains in her book that we often mistake confusion for anxiety, particularly when our minds are swirling with facts, ideas, and concerns that give this sense of everything, everywhere, all at once.

Confusion acts like what McLaren refers to as a masking state. It steps in to either slow things down when fear is overloaded or provides a break when anxiety becomes burdensome.

Feeling confused is, therefore, a golden invitation that allows for a reframing of responses, leading to relaxation and a better ability to navigate the intersection of anxiety and fear.

Mind-body connection and empowering language

What tends to happen for many women is that when anxiety and fear stick around for a long time, the overwhelm and confusion makes them feel like their self-control is running on empty.

The busy, always-on-the-go, have-a-million-things-to-do, don’t-have-time, where-are-my-keys type of pace women and mothers experience on the daily, impacts their internal bandwidth. This can lead to a dual response:

  1. Avoidance. They want to avoid examining their internal state altogether looking for ways to disconnect from their body and how it feels.

  2. To seek more control. Since they can’t seem to manage what is happening inside, they will try to control the outside instead.

This is where the Mind-Body Connection is important for women. When a tired mother plunks down on the couch after a long day to scroll on her phone, most likely, in a very subconscious way, she is running away from the discomfort of her emotions. But when she goes to bed at night and the nonstop thinking keeps her awake, her psyche is trying to exert some degree of control by thinking about every possible scenario she might encounter to be prepared.

The problem with Avoidance is that when a woman’s internal bandwidth seems to be adversely impacted, she might willingly step into the Netflix trap. This is the avoidance aspect. McLaren explains that while screen time may provide a sense of zoning out to avoid examining the overwhelm brewing inside, it doesn't offer the same restful benefits of true rest or taking a real break. Which is what is this state actually requires and what will provide the most benefit at that moment.

Because confusion arises from overwhelm, it’s purpose is to slow things down for us and provide a break from what is happening.

However, accepting and understanding these emotions, and truly embracing the discomfort of going inwards and noticing what is happening in our bodies will reap double rewards.

Only from that place of true introspection and quiet, can our bodies feel safe enough to access true rest and fully recharge.

Safety is an important keyword for the restful activities that confusion is inviting us to engage in. When anxiety and fear are always running on high, they release large amounts of stress hormones in our bodies, like cortisol and adrenaline. Feeling safe doesn’t happen in the mind. We cannot think ourselves into feeling safe. The only way to truly feel safe is to embody it, so it’s crucial to connect with our senses and allow the body to feel it.

In other words, feeling safe is a precursor to being able to feel calm and engage in rest. And to feel safe, we must nurture the mind-body connection.

True rest, or the ability to allow oneself to zone out is vital. Contrary to popular belief, lazing around offers healing benefits similar to those of sleep. Taking aimless breaks throughout the day, especially in high-demand situations, supports mental and emotional well-being for women and mothers. While counter-intuitive, we must prioritize rest over productivity when overwhelm is present.

True rest should also aim to avoiding any type of blue light as much as possible. Passing on Netflix is a good idea because while screen time may provide a sense of zoning out, it doesn't offer the same restful benefits as lounging and lazing around without the focus and constant inputs that screens require of us, providing a necessary respite to periods of intense concentration that our busy lives require of us.

With regards to incessant need for external control, Marisa Peer, founder of the Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) Method, offers a very simple approach to the Law of Control:

The law of control begins and ends with our thinking.

When women take control of their thinking, they can stop feeling anxious.

After all, anxiety is fantasizing about something mostly in the future, that most likely is not true.

A 2019 study at Penn State University found that 91.4% of the worries from people suffering from GAD did not come true. The takeaway is that the only thing anyone can control is their own thoughts.

Women and mothers can benefit from understanding that the way they can control their thinking comes down to just two things:

  1. The internal pictures they create in their mind.

  2. The words they tell themselves

By controlling their thoughts, women can unleash a powerful chain reaction that transforms their lives for the better.

Our thoughts create feelings; feelings lead to actions, and our actions determine our behavior which ultimately impacts our destiny.

By changing the way we perceive the collaboration between fear and anxiety, women can opt not to view this emotional intersection as an overwhelming space. Recognizing the influence of words, we can empower ourselves to consider fear and anxiety as a dynamic and energized state to be in.

Women can effectively train their mind to believe this is a crucial state for effective decision-making, especially in situations that demand both present moment focus and future planning.

Tools for empowered action

This article is an invitation for women and mothers to befriend anxiety and embrace a life where authenticity and well-being take center stage. McLaren's book asserts that anxiety is rooted in beliefs, and changing these beliefs is the key to overcoming anxiety.

It’s important to change the narrative from silent struggle to a hopeful journey.

There IS a life on the other side where women can be their own authentic self; waking up in the morning feeling refreshed, spacious, mentally calm, with a sense that there is always enough time for every important thing in their lives.

Balancing priorities becomes key, allowing women to set boundaries and prioritize self-care and rest without guilt.

Here are a few other ways women and mothers can start loving anxiety instead of seeing it as a flaw.

  • The power of naming and engaging empathically

Empowering language and imagery play a crucial role in shaping thoughts. As stated above about the Law of Control, the practice of naming emotions in a precise way is very beneficial.

By doing so, women can focus and stabilize themselves. Engaging empathically with their anxiety provides the ability to understand its gifts and skills, turning anxiety into a helpful companion rather than a distressing presence.

  • The biggest weapon at your fingertips

Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt to stressful situations and cope with life’s ups and downs. It does not eliminate stress or erase life’s difficulties, but allows you to tackle or accept problems, live through adversity, and move on with life.

The importance of cultivating emotional resilience for modern women cannot be overstated.

It is important to understand the impact of stress on our mental health as it is the first trigger that invites anxiety to appear. By acknowledging and processing emotions, most notably anxiety, women can navigate their multi-faceted roles with greater intelligence and authenticity.

  • Reframing the time dilemma

In a world of multitasking, many women grapple with the feeling of not having enough time, especially when dealing with ‘momxiety’. Recognizing and working with your anxiety style, especially in time management, is crucial for regaining control over time, according to McLaren. She suggests using the mantra "There’s always enough time for every important thing" to serve as a helpful reminder in anxious moments. This echoes Marie Forleo’s idea that time is an emotional experience, and we are in control of shifting from scarcity to abundance regarding our perception of time. Focusing on what's truly important reduces the sense of overwhelm guiding women toward their intended direction throughout their busy days.

  • Brain purge for better sleep

Research on anxiety suggests that writing out your concerns and tasks has a double advantage: it signals to the brain that active steps are being taken while it also quelches the anxiety making it feel that you are addressing the issues. Making lists before bedtime can significantly impact sleep quality, help organize and express any anxiety, and it leads to a more restful and rejuvenating sleep.

  • Unravelling trauma and adverse past experiences

Marisa Peer's insights distinguish between beneficial anxiety – one that has a beginning, a middle and an end versus lingering and persistent anxiety or feelings of overwhelm, often linked to past trauma or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Hence, the importance of recognizing trauma-related panic responses while seeking appropriate support. Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT Hypnotherapy) proves a viable approach for trauma-related anxiety and emotional well-being through its pioneering and award-winning framework.

In offloading some of the mental and emotional load that modern women and mothers carry throughout their daily lives, learning how to harness its true power is a game-changer. May this article serve as a friendly reminder to forgo the added pressure of having to manage anxiety and will it into submission. Rather, women and mothers can learn to befriend it, understand it empathically, and unleash the hidden strength within this often-misunderstood emotion.

Have a taster of what an RTT Hypnotherapy session is like and Uncover the Biggest Belief Holding You Back in Life Bypass the guesswork and the online quizzes. Your subconscious mind already knows what is holding you back. This audio helps you uncover core limiting beliefs in minutes using soothing 396 Hz frequency background music. It includes a Re-Patterning Session to lose blockages and negativity. Instructions booklet included.

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Iva Perez Brainz Magazine

Iva Perez, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Iva Perez is on a mission to help 1,000 women and entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success, confidence and freedom. She has successfully merged 20 years of corporate experience with her studies on the Science of the Mind into her role as a Licensed Transformational Hypnotherapist and is endorsed by UK’s No. 1 Therapist, Marisa Peer. She helps women and entrepreneurs drop the overwhelm and anxiety and, instead, create new subconscious beliefs to facilitate powerful transformations. This way, mothers can successfully navigate the overlap between work and family life. Iva is the co-host of the Top Ranked podcast, Mom Bosses Abroad as well as an avid speed reader and matcha evangelist.



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