Anxiety Superhero: Erin Craig

Today I’d like to highlight Anxiety Superhero Erin Craig. Check out this BBC video of Erin taking on Scuba Diving certification! I love how she talks about not letting her panic disorder get in the way of trying something challenging and way out of her comfort zone. But also be sure to read the post which describes her experiences with travel and anxiety and how she found herself in Thailand in a scuba suit in the first place. Go Erin!

Image from Posieonthelamb.com

 

Scuba-surface

 

 

 

A Few Resources for Anxious Parents and their Kids

Recently I’ve had a number of friends ask about resources for their anxious children.  Most of these friends deal with anxiety themselves & are either beginning to see signs of anxiety in their kids or are worried they’ll somehow pass down their “crazy genes”.

I’m a big fan of Lynn Lyons who co-authored Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents with Reid Wilson. Check out the website with links to the book  and Casey’s Guide (a companion book for kids & teens – find the free download here and “real” book for sale here). Each chapter has info you can use right now with your family.

And this is the video I’ve been sharing with everyone. I listened to it a few weeks ago while making dinner and it’s excellent.   Lynn has years of experience working with anxious kids and their parents, and I love that she’s a straight shooter and delivers information with humor.

Wanting more? If you haven’t already, check out this article, plus this one and the exciting research about using CBT to prevent anxiety disorders in children before they can pop up. Anxious parenting behavior, it turns out, is more indicative of an anxious child than genetics. That’s not to say genetics and an anxious pre-disposition aren’t at play, but it’s nice to know there is much we can do to help educate and build skills within the whole family.

The video is just under 90 minutes. Why not make it a movie night, along with some stove popped popcorn and limeade spritzers? (Jenn’s recipe: Fill glass with ice. Pour 3/4 glass with seltzer water & 1/4 limeade – pop in a straw & enjoy!)

Enjoy & let me know what you think!

A Loving Kindness Meditation for Facing Anxiety

If you’ve dabbled in meditation before, you’ve probably come across one form called Loving Kindness. I was saying these beginning 4 lines, from Sharon Salzberg’s “Real Happiness”,  in my head the other day and thought, “What would I add as I prepare to face anxiety in my day? What would I wish for others?”

A Loving Kindness Meditation for Facing Anxiety:

May I be safe

May I be healthy

May I be happy

May I live with ease

***

May I be brave

May I be clever

May I have courage

moving toward my dream

***

May I show up

May I be willing

May I step forward

Living bold and free

Then again, maybe that’s too sweet and soft when you’re about to take on Anxiety. Let’s add one more stanza:

May I kick ass

meeting my challenger

taking my life back

because fuck you anxiety!

That’s more like it.

I’m not saying to ditch the supportive voice.  You need both the supportive voice inside your head and the one that’s ready to take your life back by kicking some serious ass. Both are important, but stepping up to do the work takes a different kind of energy.

How do you talk to yourself as you prepare to take on anxiety? What tools do you use?

**And, if Loving Kindness meditation interests you, be sure to check out these Sharon Salzberg links:  Street loving kindness video series & her book Real Happiness.  I meditate about 20 minutes most mornings and started out with her book & CD – something about her voice & messaging is so real & just right for me.  Also, here’s a great article about the scientific benefits of Loving Kindness meditation and a video to try.

Namaste!

Stopping the Noise in Your Head

Remember when I told you guys how great Reid Wilson’s new book was?  You still have to read it – it’s that good – but check out this series of six videos as well.  Here’s Episode 1 for your Sunday morning viewing.

Three books and a podcast

If you’re a fan of Mrs. Doubtfire, you will love listening to Dr. Claire Weekes in Hope and Help for your Nerves on Audible or CD.  Yes, some of the terminology is a little outdated, but I found the information very relevant and couldn’t help being charmed as she cheered me on.  Little known fact about Claire is that she had anxiety and panic attacks as well throughout her life.

Chronic worriers, Dave Carbonell is at it again. His latest book is called The Worry Trick and follows the popular workbook, Panic Attacks Workbook. I’ve read and enjoyed the workbook and have just begun making my way through The Worry Trick.  You’ll find expert advice inside on how to deal with chronic worry with a healthy dose of skill and humor.  Happy reading!

Do you find yourself backing away when anxiety makes it’s move?  Reid Wilson teaches us the new rules of the game in his latest book “Stopping the Noise in Your Head”. I’ve been reading a little bit every day and find myself underlining something on each page.  If you’ve read about my experience in his weekend workshop, you have an idea of what this looks like.  His style is very strategic, crosses over all anxiety disorders and you’ll feel like he’s coaching you personally along the way.

And finally, have you ever been listening to a podcast while driving home and it’s so good you just sit in your car in front of the house, until it’s over? In this section of This American Life, Paul Ford imagines what if anxiety were an IT problem to be solved?

Ping!

Have a great weekend!

Reading Material

Here are a few reads for your weekend or to start your week off right.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee or green tea and cozy on up.

ABC News talks about which exercises are best for anxiety. Although, the ADAA reminds us that just getting your body moving – especially cardio – makes a big difference.

Research shows that mindfulness meditation can reduce overall anxiety and rewire the way our brains work. Here’s a nice overview as well.

Speaking of meditation, have you read Dan Harris’s book “10 Percent Happier”?  A national news anchor, he talks about having a panic attack on live television and what he did to get to a place of confidence again.

I’ve been meditating a lot more these days, so that means more links for you!

Love this infographicSharon Salzberg, and this great article on the reality of taking up a meditation practice.

Improv Classes – a New Therapy for Social Anxiety?

Check out this great article from The Atlantic about the effects of Improv on people with social anxiety.  Dave Carbonell, from anxietycoach.com, is featured.

Breaking the Rules

Early last week, I took my kids to the dentist for their 6 month check ups.  Afterwards, there was a promised stop at Starbucks for breakfast and we began making our way toward drop offs at three different schools.

High school was closest and our first stop. Then we took the youngest to her elementary school. And, finally the middle and I set off for middle school.  As we got closer, I saw one of our favorite parks.

I got quiet and my daughter instantly read my thoughts. (I do believe that’s one of her super powers!)

“Mom, what are you considering?” she asked with a smile in her voice.

“Hey, do you want to go to Maymont instead of school? I mean, what class are you missing right now? “ I said half joking, half serious.

“Science”, she responded, “but I’m ahead on my work and wouldn’t be missing anything.”

We laughed while I kept driving toward school, but then turned on my blinker and pulled into the park.

We both smiled big and talked about how we used to come here all the time when she & her sisters were little.

“How about we run around for about 20 minutes? That work for you?”

“Yes! Let’s go!”

I let Z choose where she wanted to go. We visited with the donkeys, goats and bunnies.  Walked past the cows, moo’ed loudly to get their attention and spotted deer hiding in the meadow.  The weather was gorgeous, so at some point we kicked off our shoes and enjoyed the feeling of bare feet on the warm ground.

We found the statue that the kids always climbed on when they were tiny, took it upon ourselves to climb it again and took photos.  I sent a picture of Z laying on the park bench to her Dad, saying, “Science class is the best!”

When it was time to go, I got a big hug from my girl.

“This was awesome, Mom!” she said.

“It was awesome. I love getting spontaneous time with my girl – and, well, sometimes you’ve just got to break the rules a little.”

“I’ll remind you of that quote when I’m older! “

—–

With anxiety, sometimes it’s important to let loose and break the rules as well. What kind of rules do you set for yourself?  You know the ones you create in your head to create the illusion of protection:

*I’m safe if I drive in the right hand lane, but might freak out if I get stuck in the fast lane

*Movie theaters are ok, but only if I get the aisle seat.

*Glass elevators are pretty safe, but I take stairs in all other situations, unless for some reason my anxiety is low and I’m feeling particularly confident.

*Yes to lunch dates as long as I can hide in a group.

*I’ll only fly if I have a few drinks ahead of time.

This week, why not experiment with breaking the rules?  Get curious. What happens when you do the opposite of what anxiety tells you to do? Drive in that middle lane. Go to lunch with one friend.  Release into the swell of adrenaline instead of tensing up to fight it. Keep going instead of running away.

It’s time to live a bigger life and break the rules. Join me?

 

 

 

Ready

“I’ll try it, but I may turn around and come back down. Don’t try to make me go!” I said with forced speech to my teenagers as we climbed the steps higher and higher. The water slide was in sight, but still about fifty feet away and up.

Minutes before, we were getting ready to go home. Walking past a big slide on the way out, I said nonchalantly, “Oh, that looks really fun. Too bad we have to get home. I’ll definitely do it next time.”

“Mom, there’s literally no line. We should do it right now!” said my older girls.

“Yeah, go on Kris!” added my husband and his best friend, smiling. They knew I hadn’t meant a word I said.  “We’ll wait right here for you.  Give me your stuff & have fun!”

Our eight year old spoke up with passion.  “Mom, you do not have to do this!” She and I had happily spent the day together hitting the lazy rivers and kiddie areas while the others sought drops and thrills.

The teens urged me to give it a try.  Grabbing a raft and heading up the first flight of stairs, I hesitated and looked back.

“Mom, just think of this as exposure work. This is good for you!” said E smiling and making sure I didn’t make a run for the exit.  My 15 year old, who had heard me a million times talk about how exposure work is the very best way to deal with anxiety, was pushing my own advice back in my face.

“Come on Mom, you can do this,” said Z, taking another angle. “You’ll love it. It’s so easy. I was nervous the first time, but it’s fun!”

“It’s just that this is not relaxing for me,” I said, still fretting and considering my options. “The lazy river is just my speed. It’s ok. We all have different things that make us happy.”

“You know, my little brother who is 9 AND my Mom did this ride last year and loved it,” added their buddy, upping the pressure.  “Come on Aunt Kristin, if they can handle it, so can you.”

“Girls, you cannot shame me into riding this water slide.  I’m not embarrassed. I just don’t like being up so very high.”

But I knew that the ride would be smooth and pretty easy once I overcame the anticipation of walking up the high, open air stair case.  Every other minute or so, I imagined what would happen if I panicked on the stairs. Would I run back down? Crawl? Would someone need to carry me?

All ridiculous thoughts, but typical of the anxious brain frantically searching for escape routes and answers to “what if” scenarios.

I also knew that making my way up the flight of stairs was good role modeling for all the girls – both the ones encouraging me to go and the one who also found it scary. Trying to look up and not over the edge, I kept climbing, making the decision to keep going with every step.

When we got to the top, there were four slide choices. The girls were quickly talking about which slide was best and which was the slowest, meaning a good choice for me.  I asked the ride workers (who were maybe 20 years old) which of the 4 slides was the easiest. “I’m a little nervous and this is my first time,” I said.

A young man, with a thick accent and name tag showing he was from Ukraine, smiled and said, “Yes, it is good. You sit here.”  And, with a little push, I was on my way.

I heard the girls cheering as I took off down the slide. It was relaxing and beautiful like they said it would be.  Late afternoon sunlight made it’s way through the tree tops and sparkled on the water.  I found myself smiling, feeling the breeze in my face and leaning into the curves with contentment. Going down the “big” drop at the end was exciting and, all in all, the ride was over too quickly.

Getting out, I received cheers from my family & friends. I was a little shaky from the anticipation, but genuinely happy.

There’s a scene in Lemony Snicket that resonated with me, reading it the day after my ride.

“Are you ready?” Klaus asked finally.

“No,” Sunny answered.

“Me neither,” Violet said, “but if we wait until we’re ready we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives. Let’s go.”

I wasn’t ready to go on the ride or deal with being nervous.  Putting off things like that until tomorrow or the next time or when we’re ready is an attempt to feel brave without action.  But underneath there is a part of us that wants to experience all of life and urges us forward, whispering alongside the fear – yes!

Saying yes to my girls and to life felt good. Saying yes to anxiety and facing it almost always feels very good after the fact. It’s the saying yes part, the feeling of shaky legs and racing thoughts that has to come first.

We walked out of the park as afternoon turned into early evening, hand in hand retelling stories from the day.  Turning back toward the entrance, we saw our friends at the top of the Colossal Curl, a stair case rising 70 feet above the ground, waving like crazy and smiling.

“That was an awesome ride,” my teens said with their father agreeing.  I love that feeling of being both scared and excited, they added.  We all jumped up and down and waved back.  It had been a glorious day just being together, laughing and creating memories. We were good tired, happy and as we hopped into the car, I said, “Let’s go.”