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Last Updated on May 9, 2019

How To Overcome Anxiety and Feel More at Ease (Part 2)

How To Overcome Anxiety and Feel More at Ease (Part 2)

As we’ve discussed in How To Overcome Anxiety and Feel More at Ease (Part 1), anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health challenge we face.

If you’re feeling anxious, you are definitely not alone. Anxiety is highly common, and it is highly treatable.

This is Part 2 of my series on how to overcome anxiety. And in this article, you’ll hear real stories from those who have been through anxiety, and expert tips and strategies from some incredible mental health professionals in the field.

Advice from Sibyl Buck, a Yoga Instructor and Therapeutic Yoga Practitioner

First, meet Sibyl Buck, a yoga instructor and Therapeutic Yoga Practitioner.

    Here, she shares her story and recommendations:

    I grew up moving between my parents’ houses, spending a lot of time alone at home until they got home from work, watching television to learn how to be, and developing some socially unacceptable behaviors.

    By the time I was a young adult, I felt decidedly weird, uncomfortable in my skin in social situations, and often even when alone.

    I developed anxiety, and especially when I felt I had made a mistake, that anxiety could be punishing and debilitating.

    When I moved to Topanga, California 10 years ago, finally leaving my urban jet-set lifestyle as a model and a touring musician, I studied to become a yoga teacher and found myself drawn to the more therapeutic aspects of yoga.

    As I learned all I could about yoga therapy, I read books on a number of different trauma healing techniques, and was especially moved by Waking The Tiger, by Peter Levin e on Somatic Experience healing, and Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction technique he developed for hospital use as patient therapy.

    I followed my intuition and guidance from wise minds and books, and ended up addressing my anxiety and what I believe to be mild, undiagnosed PTSD.

    I used lots of questions to learn to listen to a small, quiet voice from within me, who seemed to have all the answers I needed such as, “Where am I holding tension in my body?” and, “What am I avoiding feeling?”

    I learned recently, from Richard Miller who developed a trauma-healing modality called iRest (integrative restoration), that a big cause of anxiety is the separation caused when we try to avoid something we are feeling or noticing. His techniques are rooted in ancient yoga practices, and shaped by his medical background and a keen understanding of neuroscience biology.

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    The techniques I had intuitively compiled for my own self-healing were essentially the same as what he was using to treat veterans, victims of sex trafficking, and post-incarcerated populations who suffer from PTSD.

    Effective Yoga Technique

    Here’s a technique I used and still use regularly for myself and my students:

    Not much healing can happen to anyone actively suffering stress, since too much of the body’s resources will be being directed to larger muscles of movement for fighting and fleeing. This process will help you drop into relaxation response, or the parasympathetic nervous system.

    To get started, use blankets and pillows to prop up the body in an extremely comfortable position. Bend your knees, with your thighs and shins supported; your whole body should be supported anywhere it naturally lifts off the earth such as the neck, lumbar (low back) spine. Have a heavier folded blanket or pillow over your middle torso and lap, which helps to calm and balance the nervous system.

    Once you’re comfortable, follow this process by directing your attention to the:

    1. Earth under you. Start by feeling where your body is in contact with the floor and props. Really feel yourself being held up by the ground and the pillows and blankets, so you can surrender any way in which you’re holding yourself up.
    2. Breath moving through you. Notice the movement of breath, and the shape of it in your body; expanding when you inhale and flattening a little when you exhale.
    3. Brightness behind your eyelids. With your eyes closed, notice the brightness that’s visible there, especially noticing any color, shadows and layers.
    4. Sounds all around you. Open your ears to all the sounds around you. Instead of identifying the sounds, open to the whole soundscape.

    You can remember this by EBBS. (Think ebbs and flows.)

    Your attention will probably swing from noticing these sensations and being distracted by thoughts pulling you forward and back in time. Whenever you realize you aren’t noticing sensation, return to the four steps.

    Practice Breathing

    If you find your mind races or it causes anxiety to lie still, practice this breath:

    Take a short shallow inhalation through the nose, and exhale with a long sigh. Repeat this breath for as long as you are experiencing an anxious state. In my experience, this breath pattern is very helpful for calming anxiety.

    Letting yourself feel is a powerful healing modality, and the biggest challenge to it is setting aside the time to essentially do what is considered ‘nothing’ by our modern culture. However, this kind of slowing down can restore the natural healing capability contained within each body.

    Up next – strategies, techniques and insights from Mental Health Professionals…

    Advice from Dr. David Carbonell, The Anxiety Coach

      Anxiety disorders are counterintuitive problems; our common sense responses to them are likely to make problems worse rather than better.

      I rely on the Rule of Opposites, which states, ‘My gut instinct of how to respond to panic and anxiety is typically dead wrong, so I’m better off doing the opposite of my gut instinct.’

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      For example, people with Panic Disorder will avoid the circumstances they fear, only to see the fears grow worse, and will do better with progressive practice with, and exposure to, the feared situations.

      Someone with Social Anxiety Disorder will fear being judged by others, and come to avoid being in situations where they can be observed by others; they will actually do better by practicing with being around people.

      Overall, people will get better results by working with, rather than against, the signs and symptoms of chronic anxiety disorders. This is why exposure methods are the best available type of treatment.

      I want to direct your attention to two particular techniques, described in detail on my website

      1. Belly Breathing

      Note the centrality of the Rule of Opposites. People having panic attacks find themselves short of breath, and struggle to inhale, when they get much better results by first exhaling.

      2. AWARE Steps

      As an overall strategy, accept that it’s common and easy to get tricked by anxiety – to feel afraid in the absence of danger, even when you know there’s no danger.

      Work with that situation rather than struggling to “stop feeling afraid”.

      If you’re suffering from anxiety, please:

      • Don’t avoid things, locations, and activities you fear – find ways to approach them, one step at a time.
      • Don’t try to hide and keep your problems a secret from loved ones – find ways to discuss and undo the secrecy.
      • Don’t struggle alone without help or a knowledgeable plan – seek professional help because these problems are very treatable.

      I had one client, a woman in her late thirties, who had been almost completely housebound, afraid of all travel (local travel by train or car) and being in stores.

      She is a very bright and talented, gregarious person whose life was being stunted by the agoraphobia. She made a wonderful recovery, step by step, practicing with an expanding list of situations and activities, and ended up accepting a job as chief of the crossing guards in her hometown.

      She was able to travel cross country and visit relatives she hadn’t seen since childhood, and even had the experience, in her forties, of seeing a cow for the very first time.

      Advice from Marisa Peer, a Celebrity Therapist & Pioneering Hypnotherapy Trainer

        Marisa Peer is a celebrity therapist and pioneering hypnotherapy trainer. She shares that anxiety is most often caused by not feeling good enough, pressure to perform, or feeling judged.

        Here are her thoughts and recommendations:

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        One of the biggest symptoms is the feeling we’re not enough.

        The number one way to feel good about yourself is to believe in yourself and fill yourself up with positive thoughts. That’s why you won’t see small babies scared of flying, because they haven’t formed the words or pictures that create anxiety.

        Their only fear is of being rejected. This is the number one fear, which will definitely cause anxiety until you understand that no one can reject you but you.

        For those of you suffering from anxiety, I recommend:

        • Taking deep breaths, pushing down your shoulders and fill your mouth with saliva. It has an almost immediate effect.
        • Do not judge yourself harshly. Hurtful, critical words that you say to yourself on a regular basis will continue to cause stress, anxiety and unhappiness.
        • Take advice from professional therapists to make you feel calm and at ease.

        I once worked with a client who had tremendous stress and anxiety, and believed she had no coping skills. She was sensitive to noise and people and felt inadequate.

        She practiced saying, “I have phenomenal coping skills, I have extraordinary coping skills, I have exemplary coping skills.” She said this over and over and noticed a rapid and permanent change in her stress levels. And then, she began to feel calm and indeed able to cope.

        Your mind does not care whether what you tell it is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, true or false, it lets it all in regardless.

        When you tell yourself better things, you feel better.

        We make our own beliefs and our beliefs make us, so we might as well make better beliefs. Your mind acts on the words you tell it, that’s it’s job. Your job is to tell it better things that help you not hurt you, that elevate you not diminish you.

        Advice from Jennie Morton, MS Psychology, Certified Anxiety Treatment Professional and Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider.

          Jennie Morton is an Osteopath, MS Psychology, Certified Anxiety Treatment Professional and Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider.

          One of the great relievers of anxiety is information. My first approach is to provide education about what is actually going on in the body when we experience anxiety.

          The brain is simply running a software program based upon previous experience, but the fear response is now likely to be inappropriate or disproportionate to the current level of threat.

          What we need to do is create a new software program that removes the “unsafe” label from the trigger. However, when the amygdala responds quickly and seemingly irrationally to an event, this response exists beneath the level of the logical, thinking part of the brain.

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          It is not something we can necessarily talk our way out of. The response must be reprogrammed through experience, not by cognitive logic. The tricky part is that the amygdala has to be ‘online’ in order for any changes to be made.

          To do this, we can use a form of exposure therapy where we are placed in the presence of the trigger and allow our anxiety to rise to a level of 50-60/100 (where 0 equals no anxiety and 100 equals panic). We then need to stay with this anxiety experience until the level drops by 50% (to around 30/100).

          Use deep slow breathing to calm the heartrate, but do not try to rationalize or minimize the situation (as this will rob the amygdala of the opportunity to learn a new outcome). Eventually, the anxiety response will lower and the amygdala has learned that the situation poses no threat. If you always avoid the triggering situation, it will never have an opportunity to learn a new experience and therefore response.

          If you suffer from more acute anxiety, it is recommended to work with a mental health professional to guide you through this protocol.

          There is a wealth of other strategies with a proven track record for managing anxiety including yoga, breath work, exercise, mindfulness practice, somatic experiencing, and EMDR therapy.

          Our brains have an amazing capacity to be rewired given the right conditions. If you constantly rerun the same programs in your mind or avoid triggering situations, you will simply reinforce the perception of danger.

          This doesn’t have to be a Herculean task. Studies have shown that eight weeks of daily mindfulness practice can actually shrink the size of the amygdala. Science proves that we have the capacity to get back in the driving seat of our anxiety responses.

          I urge you to reach out to find a practice that works for you.

          Conclusion

          Thank you to the incredible experts who contributed to this article. You might have noticed they share a similar sentiment – anxiety is common and highly treatable.

          Your next step? Take a step forward — any step. That may mean trying one of the techniques you’ve read here or reaching out for help.

          There are many forms of fantastic therapies that can support you – but they can only work if you do.

          I know it may be hard, but if you can summon up the strength and courage to take a few steps out of the darkness, you will find light.

          As you may have read in Part 1 of this series, when I was suffering from anxiety, I tried everything I could get my hands on. I kept what worked for me and let go of what didn’t.

          It was a very challenging time but I was able to work through my anxiety, and my experience has helped me evolve into the more conscious, thoughtful, connected and compassionate person I am today.

          For those of you facing anxiety on any level, my hope is that these stories and recommendations support you in working through your process too.

          Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

          More by this author

          Tracy Kennedy

          Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

          How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit 9 Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Live Your Dream Life How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here

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          Last Updated on October 15, 2019

          How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

          How To Be Successful In Life? 13 Tips From The Most Successful People

          What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

          To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

          All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

          There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

          With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

          What follows is a list of thirteen of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these 13 tips are essential:

          1. Think Big

            From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

            “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

            There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

            Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

            Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

            Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
            Instead be ambitious.

            2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

              From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

              “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

              This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

              Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

              If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

              Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

              Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

              Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

              3. Learn How to Balance Life

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                From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

                “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

                All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

                If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

                However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

                If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

                In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

                To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

                4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

                  From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                  “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                  There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                  Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                  His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                  He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                  Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                  Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                  If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

                  5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                    From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                    “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                    This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                    It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

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                    If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                    Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                    6. Be a Person of Action

                      From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                      “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                      Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                      Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                      When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                      You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                      All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                      Applying this to you?

                      Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                      7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                        From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                        The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                        The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                        People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                        This is key to good leadership.

                        It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                        But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                        What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                        As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                        8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

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                          From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                          “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                          It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                          Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                          If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                          9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                            From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                            “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                            Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                            It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                            Keep dreaming!

                            10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                              From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                              “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                              Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                              Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                              If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                              However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                              11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                                From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                                “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                                It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                                When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

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                                Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                                If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                                This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                                12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                                  From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                  “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                  You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                  Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                  True success comes from work.

                                  You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                  Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                  13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                    From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                    “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                    In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                    If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                    It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                    Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                    Final Thoughts

                                    What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                    Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                    More to Help You Succeed in Life

                                    Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

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