Effective Steps for Managing Anxiety

100_2838Have you ever been in a situation that brought on sweats, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath? You probably weren’t having a heart attack but an anxiety attack. If you suffer from anxiety disorders, learning to manage it is the first step to overcoming it.

Anxiety is characterized as extreme reactions to fearful situations. When someone follows you into a dark alley, those anxious feelings of a racing heartbeat and sweaty palms gives way to heightened senses and a rush of adrenalin that can save your life. This is the fight or flight syndrome.

In the case of frequent anxiety, the fearful feelings are dread of a particular situation and not the situation itself. Getting caught in traffic can cause an anxiety attack over what might happen when you get to work late. Starting a new job can bring on anxiety attacks. You don’t know anyone and fear of that unknown can send you into a panic.

Everyone experiences panic or anxiety in small ways. Like the fight or flight example, it can save your life. In new situations, we get panicky but when the outcome we fear fails to materialize, the anxiety stops. For someone with chronic anxiety, this is not the case.

Every situation that brings anxiety is not life-threatening. More than likely it is an extremely stressful situation that has brought on the anxiety as a way of dealing with it. Unchecked anxiety of this type can lead to depression.

If you suffer from anxiety attacks on occasion or a more frequent anxiety disorder, there are steps you can take to keep your anxiety under control.

1. See a professional. This is always a good first step. Self-diagnosis of any type of physical or mental condition is unwise and can be dangerous. A professional psychologist can help you understand your anxiety and prescribe medication or other effective techniques.

2. Get a good night’s sleep. During the sleep cycle, your body repairs itself. You feel more rested after several hours of restorative sleep, reaching the REM stage. Most people need eight hours a night which varies within an hour or two each way.

3. Exercise on a consistent basis. Exercise helps you to use oxygen more efficiently. It helps to get more oxygen to the brain. It also increases focus which may help you see solutions to problems rather than simply worrying about them.

4. Meditate. Meditation is more than chanting mantras. Yoga is an exercise that involves quieting the mind and controlling your breathing. Simple mediation such as taking 5 minutes to clear your mind everyday can work wonders in the fight against anxiety.

5. Manage the worry. When you feel your pulse start to quicken, count backwards from ten. As you count, focus on the situation. What has actually happened? Resist the urge to read anything more into the situation.

6. Avoid alcohol. You might think that the glass of wine is relaxing your tension but alcohol is a depressant. In anxious situations you could rely too heavily on it and gain another problem in the process.

7. Find some relaxing activities. Stress can rob you of your energy. On a regular basis, do something you like such as gardening, painting, reading or listening to music.

Anxiety can come into your life at any time. It’s normal. When the anxiety becomes frequent you could be at risk for more serious conditions. If you feel your anxiety is starting to take over your life or increasingly causing you problems, seek professional help immediately. There is no need to suffer this terrible condition in silence.

Share some tips that have worked for you.

Decide What You Want

happyI don’t know about you but deciding what I want has always been a challenge for me.

Crazy, right? It doesn’t make any sense. Just decide what you want. Simple.

I’m constantly indecisive. Avoidance is my M.O. It doesn’t serve me well. I know this but still…

So why don’t I just change it you ask…hell, I ask myself that daily. Just change it and make a bloody decision.

Yes, I know indecision is a decision. But, really, what’s my problem? Too many choices, too many what ifs, too many negative thoughts? Maybe I’m a perfectionist. Who’s to say.

I could trace this back to childhood. That’s always a good excuse. But just for the record it seemed that no matter what choice I made as a kid…I was wrong.

Not a great way to instill confidence in decision-making. Might as well let someone else decide and just go with the flow. I did just go with the flow so that is a learned skill I still use today.

But let’s get back to why I was always wrong…at least in the eyes of one parent. (I’m not getting into the blame game here. We’ve all had issues. I’m just providing a bit of back story.) According to dear ole dad I was never right.

Here’s a quick example: One day, just before I was about to go out with friends, he told me not to come home late. Tired of his ambiguity I asked what he considered late. No answer. I waited. Still no answer. So no matter what time I came home I was late. See, always wrong. (Making him always right.)

Now here’s the thing. I knew this. I was well aware that he was…uh, a bit off.

Yet, I’m still gun-shy when it comes to decision-making. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve made zillions of decisions large and small. The big decisions seemed easier in a way. Move out…that decision took only seconds. And, I acted upon it immediately.

Quit my job and go sailing for a month with a man I’d only recently met? No problem…I’m outta here. (No, I never sailed before.)

Move to Florida…really, not a big decision.

Write a book and finish it…decided, did it, done.

But decide what it is I want when I’m not up against a wall? Ugh…I’d rather be force-fed HFC-laden, gluten-loaded white biscuits until I’m pounding my fists on the floor crying uncle.

I’m not going to leave this confession without making a decision. It’s not a big one.

So here it is: I’m painting the bathroom Bahamas Underwater Green! Whew. Finally, I picked a color.

How about you? What decision are you making today?

Three Words to Live By–Prosperous, Creative, Fulfilling

Prosperous creativeProsperous, creative, fulfilling. Three words I’ve chosen for this year. Three words to keep me on track no matter what project I’m immersed in.

Prosperous, creative, fulfilling.
Tacked to my magnetic board with glamorous shoe magnets, it’s the first sign (omen?) I see each morning as I power up my laptop.

Green, red, blue. Prosperous sports sturdy typeface in money green. Creative tickles my senses in Curlz MT–circus red, of course. Fulfilling is lofty in sky blue Ravie.

Practical. Expressive. Gratifying. On track. Off track. Start again. Ask the question. What can I produce that is creative, fulfilling and prosperous? Writing? On again. Off again.

Practical…yes and no. Expressive…yes and no. Gratifying…yes and no. Seems about right!

How about you? What’s your three words.

I’m off to write again.

How to Overcome Emotional Eating

Eat When You're Hungry Not When You're Angry!

Eat When You’re Hungry Not When You’re Angry!

Eating is a part of life. Your body gets its nutrients from food. Sometimes we can go overboard with our eating habits and it can result in gaining weight. One issue with food is emotional eating.

The problem of emotional eating may end with the scale but it begins in the mind. Stress takes its toll on your life. When your defenses are compromised your health takes a hit and so do your emotions.

Everyone has good days and bad days. How we deal with the bad ones brings emotional eating into play. We often look for comfort for our hurts. People who turn to food for comfort find a coping mechanism that won’t judge them, hurt them or tell them “no.” To complicate the issue, eating pleasurable foods can stimulate the release of endorphins just like exercise. So, after you eat, you feel better.

Emotional eaters use food to relieve stress. We may hide behind food instead of seeking solutions to our problems. This is not uncommon when the stressor is something horrific such as physical abuse or death of a loved one .

But, how do you know you are using food in this way? The first sign is obvious. You will gain weight if you eat too much. In light of the weight gain, examine other areas of your life:

* Have you been under stress lately at work or at home?
* Has anything traumatic happened in the last year?
* Are you dealing with a problem but haven’t found a solution?

Answering “yes” to any of these questions could mean that you are an emotional eater. You eat but you are not necessarily hungry at the time. The foods that you choose are what we term “comfort foods”:

* High fat foods like French fries, fried foods
* High carb foods like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes
* Sugary foods like ice cream, donuts, cookies, cake

There is help for emotional eaters. The first step is recognizing that you have a problem. You’ll experience feelings of helplessness and guilt. The guilt you feel comes from knowing you are potentially ruining your health and the helplessness lies in the fact that you don’t see a way out.

Secondly, seek counseling. There are many types of counselors out there that can meet your need. Emotional eating has nothing to do with dieting or changing your eating habits but gaining control over your emotions.

A counselor might suggest things like visualization, practicing problem solving skills, relaxation techniques and family support. Visualization helps you to see your problems in a realistic way and not blown out of proportion. You will also learn to see food as nutrition for the body and not an emotional crutch.

Thirdly, your family can learn your triggers for stress and be on the lookout for changes in your eating habits. They can help you be aware of the foods you are eating, assist you in making healthy food choices and exercise along with you. Proper diet and exercise increases immunity, blood flow and positive thinking. Yoga enhances the mind/body connection so you don’t eat when you aren’t hungry.

Finding new ways to solve your problems and deal with stress will push food out of the equation. You’ll feel good about finding solutions which will replace the dependence on food.

What’s your solution for overcoming emotional eating? Good a great tip? Leave a comment below.

Five Easy Toning Exercises you can Do Anywhere

Post Workout Smile

Post Workout Smile

Exercise is an important part of our lives. Staying in shape is one way to increase your life expectancy. Weight bearing exercises are important also for increasing muscle mass and bone density as you age.

Most of us have learned what to do when it comes to exercising. The problem is where and when to get the job done. With a busy lifestyle, making time for exercise is a challenge.

Weight bearing exercises aren’t just for bodybuilders. As you age, especially once you hit the age of forty, you begin to lose muscle mass. For women especially, bone loss becomes a problem. When the body is in need of calcium it can rob it from your bones. Building muscle not only increases their mass but your strength.

Here are five easy toning exercises that can be done anywhere and whenever you have time. At home, at the office, or on vacation, you can do these easy yet extremely effective exercises.

1. The Bridge Butt Lift – Sounds like a plastic surgery technique but it is an easy way to tone your buttocks. Lay down with feet flat on the floor, legs shoulder width apart. Place your hands, palm side down, on either side of your body. Pushing with your feet, squeeze your gluteal muscles and lift your butt off the floor. Hold the position for a count of five to ten and release down to the floor.

2. Squats – Squats work the butt, the hamstring muscles and the quadriceps. If you aren’t sure of proper form, you can use a chair. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and feet firmly planted. Push your butt back as if you were preparing to sit in a chair. Keep your abs tight and your upper body straight. Once you reach chair level stop and hold the position for a count of two to five and release. At the lowest point, place all of your weight on your heels for balance and maximum toning.

3. Reverse Lunges – Lunges work the quadriceps muscles. They can be hard for people with knee problems. A reverse lunge still tones the right muscle groups but with less pressure on the knee. Stand with feet together and arms at your sides. Take one leg and move it backwards until you are in lunge position: front leg bent at a 90 degree angle and back leg extended until you are on the ball of your foot. From this position lower yourself down until the back knee almost touches the floor. Hold for a count of two and return to starting position.

4. Pushups – This is a classic toning exercise that works all areas of the arms plus the chest muscles. If you aren’t comfortable or strong enough to perform a pushup on your toes, lower your body to your knees. Be sure your arms are tucked into the body and your back straight as you lower and lift your body.

5. Crunches – Abdominal muscles can be worked every day to build strength and muscle tone. Lying on the floor in sit up position, lace your fingers behind your head. Squeezing your abdominal muscles, lift your upper body until your lower back is about to come off the floor. Hold for two to five counts and return to starting position.

These five exercise moves can be done whenever you have time. The best thing about exercise is that its effects are cumulative. Even five or ten minutes at a time will work to your advantage.

Try it and then comment about your favorite exercises!

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross – Speaks to a Dying Patient. What Would it Take to Engage Your Compassion at this Level?

Grads- Words of Advice

Open Your Eyes

Just for today look at the world through the eyes of forgiveness!

Communication — A Better Life through Word Play

I believe in words. I believe in the power they hold. I believe in the story a single word creates.

Bouquet. Tendril. Secret. An encounter with my junk drawer unearthed a buried book of Magnetic Poetry – that simple but ingenious invention—affirmed my faith in words.

My Magnetic Poetry book—a  chunky spiral bound tome—is filled with refrigerator cryptograms and provides the perfect opportunity to tell a story. Magnetic words can be used anyone—anyone big enough to reach the icebox and with enough digital dexterity to separate the tiny words from their magnetic home base.

Precocious toddlers, stooped elders and funny kids can participate. Lovers, newly-weds and the long married have equal access. Universal in its appeal, you can love it or hate it and still partake in it.

It’s Scrabble without the stress, a crossword without the clues or hangman without the noose. The object is to embrace all of poetry’s shapes—odes and lunes and tanka and tercet. Forced to create from limited resources compels us to pare down to essentials.  It requires the sentence creator to wholeheartedly do their job.

In this game the words take center stage. I have my favorites among the magnetic options.

Summer and song and secret.

Liquid and love and leave.

I love the creativity of put-together words like out-let and song-bird.

I love vivid words like summer and plums.

I love lexis that buzz and jump and make you look twice while pretending not to.

I love Haiku and tiny tales that jump off the board and send tidal waves of Oh’s to passersby.

liquid songs pronounce

morning shower so lovely

summers secret sound

Or

teach from here you said

bruised tongue staggers over his page

dark red book blossoms

Pure expression and creative endeavor—pick up a few words today—tell a miniature story.

Leave your poem below!

(original post Aug ’09)

Have you laughed today? Don’t miss this>>>

Christine Kolenda, Laugh Yoga Instructor can be reached 914-272-7171