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!

Improv Classes – a New Therapy for Social Anxiety?

Photo credit: The Atlantic Magazine

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.

Anxiety Humor

Hi there! It’s been a while, but I found something I had to share. Dave Carbonell has started a new page on his website called “Anxiety Humor” and it’s fantastic. I’ve been known to sing my worries while driving or anticipating some panic provoking situation, so this is right up my alley. Imagine the difference in your practice sessions if you’re breaking out in silly songs, perhaps loudly with the windows down? Anxiety messing with you in the work place or social settings? Why not sing these ditties in your head – no one will be the wiser.

I’d love to hear how it goes or if you have humor techniques that are already part of your repertoire!

The Phobia Workshop Sketch

My Dad sent this to me and it’s really cute!

However, this sketch has had me thinking about the stereotype of someone with an anxiety disorder. Most of the people I know with anxiety and panic are outgoing, empathic, bright people. They aren’t actually afraid of things like driving, elevators or public speaking. Those are just the situations where they have experienced a panic attack before and conditioning has quickly set in. They’re afraid that when panic shows up, it will be so intense that something catastrophic will occur like death or insanity. That’s how intense these thoughts and sensations can be.

My husband once suggested that I write a post about all the things that don’t create anxiety for me (or that are important enough to do anyways), so here are a few: I’ve given birth naturally three times – twice at home; I like to rock climb; I’ve run a marathon and completed a handful of triathlons (2 in open water); Riding on the back of a motorcycle is big fun to me; I like to get past small talk and really connect with people; I teach childbirth classes; I spent a year living on top of a mountain taking kids through caves, behind waterfalls and on long hikes; I can ask the hard questions and sit with other peoples pain; I’ve talked to my older girls about sex; I have attended about 20 births as a doula.

So, while this is really cute, it’s important to remember that anxiety is just one piece of what makes you who you are. Or, as a friend says, “Anxiety is just the Side B to being a highly passionate, creative and empathic person. I wouldn’t give one side up for the other.”

I’d love to hear what defines you outside of your anxiety!

A Recipe for “Anxiety Stricken Chicken Soup”

Ok, so I saw this video on Paul’s Anxiety Guru blog & had to re-post it here. It’s laugh out loud funny & Nadia G. is my new favorite anxiety super hero!

Super Powers

Are you an anxiety super hero? Sometimes we need to appreciate some of the super qualities that may increase our anxiety, but also make us compassionate human beings.

*Empathy – Are you someone who can walk into a room filled with people and instantly feel everyone else’s emotions? Without talking, can you intuit who’s struggling inside?
*Intuition: Do you consistently get gut feelings about things that usually end up spot on?
*Cat-like reflexes: Fight or flight? No problem. Burning building? You’d be the first one out with someone on your back.
*Courage: Do you regularly choose to practice with intense feelings of anxiety in an effort to accept, surrender and allow anxiety to loosen it’s grip?
*Humor – Do you have the ability to laugh at yourself and find the humor in absurd fears?

Why Anxiety Girl?

A few years ago I was hanging out with my sister in law Hilleary at a bridal shower. We’re notorious for scoping out the dessert table and behaving badly at “formal” family functions – making raunchy jokes in the back of the pack; laughing out loud at inappropriate times.

Hilleary also wrestles with anxiety and has a great sense of humor.

So, there we were nibbling anything we could get our hands on and talking about feeling claustrophobic. You know how showers can get – too many people shoe-horned into a small space, oohing and aahing over houseware products, going on for hours on end. As much as we adored the hostess, we were just over it.

Noticing a sliding glass door, we had the following conversation.

“Oh my God, I’m so ready to go home. You think we can just sneak out the back door?”

“Well, if I was a super hero, I would fly right through that glass door and get out of here!”

“Yeah, how about an anxiety super hero!”

“Able to flee social situations in a single bound!”

Over the years, I’ve had lots of fun visuals of Anxiety Girl fleeing social situations in a single bound; running away at lightening speed from speaking engagements; using her super powers to transport herself to California instead of flying in an airplane.

Of course, Anxiety Girl’s real power comes from staying in the feared situation. Her real courage is in feeling the wave of fear build up – feeling the dread that something very wrong is about to happen – and, despite her worries, diving head first into the swell and floating on the other side. Avoidance is her kryptonite and exposure breaks those chains.