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Living Well With Anxiety

Written by: Dr. Gigi Arnaud, 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.

 

Let’s start by getting clear on what anxiety is.

Here’s Dictionary’s definition: a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome or a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks (I would say sometimes, instead of typical. There is no typical when it comes to anxiety).

Here's another one:


Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually (I prefer often) have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns.

The first definition refers more to a one-time thing, ie: public speaking. Maybe you have to give a presentation at work or give a talk to a group. Did you know that public speaking is the 1 fear in the USA, even more than death? It is understandable to be a bit or even, mildly anxious in these situations.


I do a lot of speaking and notice that if I name my anxiety as ‘excitement,’ in other words, rename it, then I can use it to focus and to get my energy up and positive. I did the same when I was an actor. Energy and excitement are necessary for both speakers and actors, so changing anxiety into energy and excitement is a positive thing. Most speakers and actors are nervous before they start performing, and they have to learn how to use their nervousness (and anxiety) for increased energy and concentration… and to learn to trust the process.


I believe that many of us with anxiety have a difficult time when it comes to trusting: ourselves, others, life and the universe. And this is often, for good reason. It can be because you come from a family who modeled certain behaviors for you: ie: inability to regulate emotions, inability to be there for you, in a nurturing and understanding way, or trauma, of any kind, that causes your nervous system to become dysregulated and to continuously be on ‘high alert.’

As for the second definition above, many with anxiety are in a state of fairly constant unease, even dis-ease and apprehension. As for compulsive behaviors, we’ll talk about some anxiety disorders below.

There’s another explanation of anxiety that’s important to understand. Here it is:


Anxiety isn’t the same as stress; it’s your mind and body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous or unfamiliar situations. It usually manifests itself as an excessive, intense, persistent worry and fear. Of course, a certain level of anxiety is normal, ie: public speaking.


Anxiety (and trauma) get stored in the body, as ie: a hyperactive nervous system, or becoming nervous and fearful in a situation that’s not really dangerous in this present moment. It’s incredibly helpful to become aware of our anxiety, so that we can look for its source and let it go from submerged and suppressed, to conscious, free and thus, changeable.

ANXIETY DISORDERS:


Everyone experiences occasional anxiety; it’s just a part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have excessive and persistent worry and fear or even terror (ie: panic attacks), that can reach a peak within minutes.


These feelings can interfere with daily activities, are hard to control and are out of proportion to the actual danger. You might find yourself avoiding places or situations to prevent these feelings.


Symptoms may start during childhood or in your teen years, and continue into adulthood.

Many of these anxiety disorders (and depression), can often be signs and responses to earlier trauma (both Big T and small T trauma).

Here are some of the more common anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): persistent and excessive worry and anxiety about activities or events ‒ even routine, ordinary issues. The worry is usually out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and can affect how you feel physically. Often, it occurs along with depression or other anxiety disorders.

  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia); involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations, due to self-consciousness, embarrassment and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.

  • Specific phobias: major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific situation or object and a desire to avoid it.

  • Separation anxiety disorder: a childhood disorder characterized by excessive anxiety (for the child’s developmental level) and related to separations from parents or those with parental roles.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: involves unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions) ‒ to perform certain routines repeatedly to an extent that generates distress or impairs general functioning.

  • Agoraphobia: you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel helpless, trapped or embarrassed.

  • Panic attacks: involve sometimes repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes. You may experience impending feelings of doom, shortness of breath, chest pain or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (palpitations). Having a panic attack can lead to worrying about them happening again and/or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.

Just know that you can have more than one of these and sometimes, anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.

CAUSES: of anxiety disorders aren’t fully understood. Trauma seems to trigger anxiety disorders in people already prone to anxiety. Inherited traits can also be a factor.

For some, anxiety may be linked to an underlying medical (health) issue.

SYMPTOMS: (this is not a complete list):

  • feeling tense, nervous or restless

  • having a sense of impending danger, doom or panic

  • having an increased heart rate

  • rapid breathing (hyperventilation)

  • trembling

  • sweating

  • feeling tired, weak

  • difficulty concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry

  • sleep difficulty

  • having gastrointestinal (GI) problems

  • having challenges or difficulty controlling worry

  • an urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

TIPS for Living with Anxiety:


1. Move your body: Exercise is a very important part of your physical ‒ and your mental health. It decreases your feelings of anxiety and increases your sense of well-being. Try for 3-5, 30-minute workout, walk, dance, movement sessions/week. You can walk vigorously, do yoga, have a workout or get on a bike ‒ it should be a movement that you enjoy so you look forward to it.

2. Restful sleep: you want good quality and good quantity. The average is 7-9 hours/night. You may want to try an evening routine. I ask my clients to do these exercises:


Gratitude: Find 3 things, people, situations to be grateful and thankful for (ie: that you have a bed to sleep in, people you love; the small things add up) &


Self-gratitude: Find 3 things to be grateful for, about yourself (this can be more challenging than you think): ie: Thanks for making me strong, resilient, loving, creative…etc. ‒ You get the idea.

I wrote a short book a few years ago, for both my clients and my former dental patients, with tips, tools and techniques for better sleep: ‘Sleep Glorious Sleep’. You can find it on Amazon Kindle. (Dr Gigi Arnaud)


Here are some of the TIPS:

  • leave all screens before you go to sleep (try one hour before): ie: iPhones, iPads, laptops, TV, etc.

  • keep your bedroom temperature on the cool side

  • your bedroom is your sanctuary; only 2 things to do there: sleep and sex

  • do not look at the clock, phone, etc. to see the time, if you get up in the middle of the night. This can cause lots of anxiety. This tip has helped me a lot over the years…

3. Stay away from caffeine (an upper) and alcohol (a downer); the use of these can cause additional anxiety. By the way, here are some other items that contain caffeine:

  • soda

  • tea

  • diet pills

  • some headache medicines

  • chocolate

I could never tell you to completely stay away from coffee or chocolate (my French background); Just ease off it a few hours before sleep.

4. Deep breathing. There are so many different breathing techniques you can use. I teach these to my clients regularly. Hatha yoga is also good for helpful breathing techniques.

5. Progressive muscle relaxation

6. Volunteer or help out in your community

7. Schedule ‘worry time’; I call it NTT: negative thought time.

8. Be aware of what ‘triggers’ you: Write it down; get it out of your head and onto paper.

9. Learn how to master your thoughts (and consequently, your life): mind and self-mastery. In my work as a mindset coach and hypnotherapist, this is the work; to change your unhelpful and negative thought patterns into more positive and healthier ones ‒ or you.

It’s worth facing your anxieties and fears and working through them; they don’t disappear on their own. If you want to change your mindset, beliefs, fears, to live a more positive and less anxiety-driven life, you just gotta do the work. Whether you do it alone, or with help (which I suggest); just do it! It will change your thoughts and subsequent behaviors, actions and… your destiny, for the better.

With smiles and love,

Dr. Gigi

You can reach me @www.gigiarnaud.com or DM me @drgigiarnaud: Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Change your Thoughts (Mind) to Change your Life! Read more from Dr. Gigi!

 

Dr. Gigi Arnaud, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Dr. Gigi Arnaud is an award-winning, NYC-based Mindset Coach, Hypnotherapist, and Speaker. For over thirty years, she worked as a dentist in her own private practice and, 17 years ago, also decided to become a certified life coach and hypnotherapist. For so many years, she had been that smiling person who looked sunny and successful on the outside yet was quietly suffering on the inside. Through her own discovery and years of training and treatment (i.e., coaching, therapy, and more), she did the work to change from the inside out and unlock the traps inside her mind. Now, she helps others do the same and change their negative and unhelpful thought patterns to those more aligned with who they authentically are, what they truly want, and how to get there (actions). She uses her unique ‘art and science’ background, intuition, and practical tools to help her clients hear their own unique voices so that they finally flourish in their personal and professional lives. Her mission is to transform your thinking to transform your life, become the real you, and thrive!

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