“I will not run from me”

Ok, so the screen grab is kinda crazy, but this video is so powerful! Watch as Steven Hayes, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy psychologist and researcher, tells the story of his journey into and through panic disorder.

 

 

I am excited!

 

Video from The Atlantic

What do you think? How powerful can a change in attitude be? Will saying those three little words help you in moments of anxiety?

Taking a Facebook Break

Photo credit: unsplash.com

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law & I went to a talk on happiness by Catherine Sanderson. She was an informative, engaging and fun speaker. And one of the things she talked about that can detract from our happiness is comparing ourselves with others on social media like Facebook – or what she called “Fakebook”.

Rachel, my SIL, had recently taken a break by deactivating her account and I’d been meaning to try for a long time. It’s not that Facebook is all bad. I love keeping up with friends and family who I don’t see regularly. Sometimes it’s a great source for news and articles I may not have seen. And, I think it can be a powerful way to spread ideas and advocacy.

However, after that talk I intentionally checked in with my feelings when I was scrolling through FB. What I found was that it regularly made me unhappy and that I used it when I was bored, procrastinating or numbing out.

And, for the most part, my connections online didn’t feel like they translated to seeing people in real time. So why not just connect with people I love in person, through a letter or on the phone?

In real time, I want to know what is good and joyful in your life. But I also want to know what you are carrying inside that feels heavy. And I want to share those things with you about my life, too.

We don’t do that with everyone, but when we choose to share well rounded, real stories from our lives, it helps us connect and have intimacy. And, as Catherine Sanderson reminded us during her talk, it’s in the hard work of building and maintaining relationships with real people that we find the greatest happiness.

If or when I go back to Facebook, I’m going to do it with more intention and less frequency. I can ask myself – Why am I going online right now? Is this making me feel connected and engaged? Or am I feeling unhappy and numb?

What do you think about Facebook and how do you use it in your life? Have you taken a break before and how did that go?

Here’s Catherine Sanderson’s talk on “The Science of Happiness” and be sure to see her speak if she comes to your town!

 

 

Flying this weekend

I took this myself! Photo by anxietygirl.net

So, my sweet 97 year old Grandma just passed away on Sunday and I’ll be boarding a plane tomorrow to fly to her funeral service. She was a strong and gentle soul who gave the best hugs and loved us all unconditionally. Flying kinda terrifies me. But I loved my Grandma & it’s important that I show up to support my Dad and family so I’m doing it anyways.

If you’re someone who experiences anxiety/panic, especially around flying, you know that I’ve been a hot mess of anticipatory anxiety this week. Upset stomach, waves of adrenaline, moments of sheer terror as I imagine being up 35,000 feet in the air.

What’s frustrating is that, just like any anxiety producing situation, it will all be fine no matter what. “Good gracious”, I tell my brain – “All this fuss and distress over a 2 hour plane ride is ridiculous!”

What terrible thing has happened in the past? Sure, I’ve felt waves of panic while on a plane before. The feelings and thoughts are scary when you can’t leave the situation, but they pass. And, really, what are you going to do? To the best of my ability, I ride the waves of adrenaline – I work on allowing the feelings as much as possible – and sometimes I even get bold & ask for more (paradox). After that, I return to what I was doing before. Sometimes I have to do this over and over until the sensations go away, but they always do. Promise. And honestly, on every flight I have a moment where I love looking out the window, admiring the beautiful clouds.

I’ve also felt super anxious before a flight only to feel fairly calm during the whole ride. But in both cases, I’ve lived to tell the tale and the worst thing that happened was I felt scared. I have never gone all Ricky Bobby on a plane or impersonated Kristen Wig in Bridesmaids.

So what am I doing to prepare & cope? I’m not a big meds person, but I always take a little xanax when I fly. My doctor prescribes me just enough to get me there & back. It’s not perfect, but does help relax my body. Maybe someday I’ll choose to fly without meds, but for now I’m totally ok with it.

I’m also watching flight videos to try and quickly desensitize and have skimmed Capt. Tom Bunn’s book about flying without fear. In between I may have sent out a few prayers to God that I wake up with an on/off switch for my amygdala. I just think that was an error in our design.

Maybe the biggest thing I’m doing to cope, however, is committing to showing up tomorrow. When my sweet brother (who loves to fly) picks me up to go to the airport I will get in the car. He’ll drive & I’ll be shaky for a few hours as we head to DC. But along the way we’ll sing, play the license plate game and together we’ll board that damn airplane.

Here’s what I’m carrying on board for some healthy distraction tomorrow. And following are some videos I’ve watched this week to get ready.

My carry on bag of goodies:

*Journal and pen -inside the journal I’ll write myself some reminder notes about how to handle anxiety when it shows up

*Grown up coloring book and pretty pencils

*Laptop with a few movies downloaded, plus Harry Potter on Audible.

*Magazines with pretty pictures

*Knitting – I may knit something mindless or start another one of these cute hats.

*Some homemade Cowgirl Cookies, plus other snacks, gum & mints

*A picture of my family

Some games I like to play on a plane:

*Choose a stranger on the plane and write a quick story about who you think they might be. You know, like  mini-bio or where they’re headed after the plane lands. When I flew with my buddy Allison this past summer we alternated paragraphs, which makes it even more fun.

*Any game that involves the alphabet – an ABC list of names you would never name your baby, a list of places where you’d like to travel, a list of your favorite book characters.

*Who farted? Yeah, this is getting pretty mature. But laughter is the opposite of fear and this is a funny game. Can you tell who may have just farted on the plane?

A few resources I’ve used this week to prepare:

*These videos are great for info & desensitization.

This video is amazing – a Dad who works for Southwest created this video for his son who is on the autism spectrum:

Another great training video for anxious kids and their parents

Lynn Lyons has another fabulous training video for anxious kids and their parents on YouTube. It’s also a must see for teachers. No kids you say? Guess what – these skills are also great for anxious adults. I hope you can carve out some time to make a cup of tea and watch Lynn as she educates us about building emotionally healthy human beings. Thanks Lynn!

 

 

 

 

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!

#FearParalyses

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.

Movie night!

If you haven’t been introduced to Lynn Lyons yet, today is your lucky day. She & Reid Wilson co-wrote a book called “Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents” which is filled with skills building information that’s helpful for both kids and adults.

This video was filmed during a training she did for teachers and is just under 2 hours. I’ll wait while you go pop some popcorn, get a notebook & pencil. Go on. It’s totally worth your time whether or not you’re watching to build your own skills and/or those of your kids and family. I’ve forwarded this video on to a few friends with kids who struggle with anxiety and they’ve all raved at how much they learned and how excited they were to have a game plan.

Enjoy & let me know what you think!

This too shall pass

Ok, so no one could ever accuse me of being current with all things hip. I understand that this video was “everywhere” in January, even though it came into my universe this morning. My husband couldn’t believe I had never seen it and pulled it up on YouTube. When we should have been finishing the kids lunches and getting shoes on, the five of us watched and danced a little before heading off to work, school and the playground. Everyone lovingly rolled their eyes when they realized that the end of this song brought tears to my eyes. I’m not sure why – maybe it was the big band finish (I was in the high school marching band), the fabulous creativity or the fact that music bypasses my brain and goes straight to emotion for me.

I love the message of “this too shall pass – let it go” and thought it fitting to share in this space. This phrase reminds me to be ever present and move slowly through all of life’s moments. We can find comfort in the fact that emotional turbulence will not last forever. And, an equally, if not more, important message is to wake up to the joy and beauty in our every day lives, because those moments pass, as well. We don’t have to feel calm or “together” to be awake to our lives, we only have to show up.

What moments have you been awake to today – what beauty have you seen?

Hugging my girls, looking into their eyes and telling them that I love them; laughing with my handsome husband this morning; holding my 3 year old’s soft, tiny hand; watching clouds roll through the breezy sky; taking time to listen to the sounds of outdoors and feel the crisp morning air; making home made pizza dough at my child’s pace as she stirred the flour up to her elbows and snitched dough; children racing through the grass to see brilliant green caterpillars at our school garden; listening to a foreign language being spoken; people connecting and reaching out to one another; etc.