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.

*I had posted a fabulous training video of Lynn’s, but it’s been taken off of youtube. In it’s place, check out this 30 minute interview with Lynn where she talks about how to begin educating ourselves & our  kids about anxiety and tips for working with it when anxiety shows up. Enjoy!

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?”

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 f*** 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.

Travelogue Part Two – In Flight Adventures


So I’ll be honest with you. I was not happy to be sitting on that first plane before 7am in the morning.

As the aircraft sped up to takeoff speed & gradually lifted off the ground, soaring upward towards the clouds, I felt waves of anxiety coursing through my body. I figured that I had two choices: freak out the whole way to the Carribean or do my best to accept that I was going to be 35,000 feet in the air for a few more hours and get as comfortable as possible.

I thought about my tool belt of coping skills and started saying to myself, “I want this anxiety. I want it to get stronger.” And, you know what? It was working. I couldn’t make the symptoms any stronger than they already were.

Then, I thought about Dave Carbonell‘s “Rule of Opposites” – doing the opposite of what feels “safe” in an anxiety provoking situation. So, instead of pulling down the shades & pretending I wasn’t on a plane, I started looking out the windows. I found that I really do like to see the tree tops, little tiny houses, and the outline of roads. Who lives in those homes & what is their story, I wondered.

Something else that really helped was the Truth Based Technique I read about in David Burn’s book. I wrote in my notebook:
*How many times have I gotten so anxious that I ran down the aisle of the plane screaming?
*How many times have planes had to land for me because I absolutely couldn’t handle symptoms of anxiety?
*How many times have I curled up in the fetal position under my chair & cried until it was all over?
Ahem, I think we know the answers to all of the above.

There were more moments with waves of fear and extended periods of time where I felt that pit in my stomach , but it was all manageable & my skills came in handy. Before I knew it, we were in Atlanta & preparing to board our second flight.

For our second flight, the longer flight, our seats were in the back of the plane. I’m not sure why the back of the plane is worse, but I kinda feel more claustrophobic back there. Our flight time was 3 hours & 12 minutes (but whose counting) & in my head I felt like a 2.5 hour flight would be so much easier. Isn’t it funny how our brains make up rules about what’s safe & what’s not?

Once we found our seats, we looked at each other at the same time — we were definitely in the “party” section of the plane. Three babies were in the back with us & some rowdy folks were starting the party early with cocktails. I wondered if some of them were drinking to cope with their own anxiety. A moment before take off, the 5 year old cherub behind me started to giggle & said, “Hey Mom! What if the plane catches on fire & we crash? Wouldn’t that be cool?!”

Hey kid – who asked you? Huh?

Finally, we landed in St. Thomas, USVI – just a ferry & a few taxi rides away from our final destination, St. John. The whole plane cheered & clapped at the successful landing. Steve & I stepped off the plane, walked down the roll away staircase out onto the tarmac & just kept grinning. This was going to be a blast.

So, let’s recap. What helped?

*Showing up & being willing to try something that creates anxiety
*Paradox/Bring it on mentality/Make the symptoms stronger
(Reid Wilson, Don’t Panic – newly revised)
*Truth based techniques (David Burns, When Panic Attacks)
*Rule of Opposites (Dave Carbonell, Panic Attacks Workbook)
*Supportive mate
*Engaging with others/humor
*Being ok if none of these worked

Stay tuned! The next installment will be about our adventures in paradise!

Learning to fly

I’m preparing for a trip & am choosing to fly after not flying for almost 3 years. Here I am a few months out & I’m starting to feel the anticipatory fear already. You know, some images here & there of the plane going down in a fiery ball & me thinking – Oh no, if I knew this was going to happen I wouldn’t have come – it’s not worth my kids being raised without their parents! Yikes!

Luckily, it’s not consuming, but it is somewhere in the background of my mental landscape & comes up when I start to think about the trip. Rationally, I know that it will alright once we’re off the ground and the flight is underway. I am really looking forward to getting away with my handsome man. And, I know that air travel is much safer than driving a car. But anticipatory anxiety & an active imagination team up to get me into trouble sometimes. So, I’ll be writing about this current anxiety & how I’m preparing. I’d love to hear your feedback about what works for you when it comes to anticipatory fears or flying.

Here’s my prep plan so far:

*Write down affirmations
*Take time to listen to my fear of flying CD
*Plan as much as I can to be comfortable on the flight
*Talk to my doctor about an Rx to relax (I don’t love taking meds, but flying is an exception!)
*Begin sitting with the anxiety – not spiraling into the what if thoughts, but sitting with & inviting the anxious symptoms that accompany the thoughts.
*Use my imagination to call up images of having fun & thoroughly enjoying the adventure.