Treat Anxiety From a Lifestyle Approach

I see many clients struggling with anxiety and I like the practical advice in this blog. Take a deep breath and read on. Contact me if I can help.

I truly believe everything happens for a reason. A recent weekend was the perfect example. I was able to experience and witness the inner workings of an individual’s mind that was riddled with anxiety directly related to a recent traumatic event. I spent hours differentiating how this person and I deal differently with stress and conflict, and no matter what advice I offered, it was apparent that this person was continuing to struggle as if they were locked inside their own mind. The more they thought about the trauma, the more stress they endured; it was a toxic cycle of obsessive thoughts followed by fear. All I could do was offer love and support, and the more I thought about this individual, the more I realized how our medical society falls short in treating anxiety and related disorders.

The human reaction to fear

As humans, we are naturally driven by fear, anxiety, stress, and peer pressure to perform to the best of our abilities in order to prevent failure. Many of us live in fear of failing—failing at our jobs, failing in our relationships, failing within society, or even failing as individuals. For many, the fear may not be the driving force to succeed, but rather the driving force to become obsessed with thoughts leading to actions that can hinder our happinessself-worth, and overall success. Anxiety is often prompted by some sort of fear or stress factor that enters our life and results in a flight-or-fight physiological mode in our bodies. Anxiety for most people is normal, short-lived, and can be overcome, but for many, anxiety can take over their life, hindering relationships, work performance, and personal happiness.

Anxiety disorders in the United States

General anxiety disorder and all other anxiety disorders affect approximately 30 percent of adults in the United States and is the leading cause of mental illness. Other anxiety disorders include panic disorders, PTSDobsessive-compulsive disorder, specific phobias, acute stress disordersocial phobia, and agoraphobia. In general, treatment consists of psychotherapymedication, and lifestyle changes. I personally have treated many individuals with anxiety by prescribing medication and referring them to a therapist or psychiatrist, but we often fall short in addressing the lifestyle modifications that can also help resolve symptoms of anxiety.

Kristen Fuller
Source: Kristen Fuller

The importance of gratitude

The power of positive thinking and gratitude can help replace toxic negative thoughts harboring anxiety. Even when our lives are turned upside down, there is always a positive outlook an individual can take, but it is their choice whether to engage in this type of thinking or to continue to engage in their anxious thoughts. Expressing gratitude for your health, your safety, your job, your best friend, the roof over your head, or the ability to walk, talk, and accept human touch is one of the easiest ways to gain a positive outlook on life. Even if you feel like you have nothing left in your life, there will always be some individuals who are better off than we, and we will always be better off than some others—it is a spectrum, and it’s your choice to look at which side of the spectrum you are on. Choose wisely.

Lifestyle modifications for overcoming anxiety

Although medications and psychotherapy are considered the first-line treatment approaches for anxiety disorders, there are other avenues to keep symptoms at bay. These may seem easy at first to conquer, but for many, adopting these as part of an everyday lifestyle may take years.

  • Keep a clean, uncluttered living space. Doing so has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase calmness and happiness. Make your home your sanctuary, a place where you feel the safest.
  • Seek out positive people in your life who will support you throughout your journey. We have all met toxic people who have tried to tear us down, and many of us have learned to dissociate from them; however, many continue to allow toxicity into their lives. Be aware that the people you keep in your life as friends and loved ones are a direct reflection of who you are as an individual. Positive people can reduce anxiety; toxicity will worsen it.
  • Eat well and exercise often. Exercise increases endorphins, which simply make you feel good. Keeping on a regular exercise routine can help balance your cortisol levels, prevent heart disease, and keep you in shape. Regular exercise should partner with eating a balanced and nutritious diet. Salty and sugary snack foods can become addicting and change your brain chemistry by altering your dopamine levels. Introducing whole foods that consist of produce, whole grains, and lean meats can increase your energy, concentration, and alertness, and make you feel good.
  • Engage in a passion outside of work. Whatever your interest—adventuring outdoors, cooking, or music—it is important to set aside a specific amount of time to engage in activities outside your work that make you happy.
  • Discover the perfect balance between work and your personal life. Many individuals who are riddled with anxiety are often stressed out due to their job and do not know how to create a healthy work-life balance. Taking your work home with you, and talking about work when you are away from the office, can worsen your anxiety. It may take time to figure out this balance—the sweet spot where you can be successful in your career without being so stressed by it that it affects your entire life.
  • Meditate, journal, take a bath, and use essential oils to relax and calm your mind. When anxiety starts to creep into your head, it is easy to get lost in the racing and destructive thoughts and to jump to the bottle holding your anti-anxiety medications. Try to take a moment first to concentrate on your breathing, go for a walk, use your favorite de-stress essential oil, play with a puppy, or take a warm bath. Try to engage in these natural calming remedies, instead of becoming overwhelmed by your thoughts. Scents that are known to have calming effects on the body include lavender, lemon, frankincense, rose, chamomile, and ylang ylang. These methods can be used as preventive measures in addition to symptom relief.

 

Remember that everyone’s mind is uniquely different, and the treatment for this disorder is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Offer support, listen, and comfort someone you care about in the most positive way possible. Your personal approach for dealing with stress may or may not be beneficial to another individual.

Facebook image: Radharani/Shutterstock

Las Vegas Shooting: Accepting Riverside Clients through Victim Services

Were you or someone you know at the Las Vegas shooting? Our County of Riverside Victim Services will cover the fee for counseling (also medical bills, burial costs) for Riverside , CA residents that were at the Las Vegas shooting. Jeanette Hunter is our contact person assisting victims at the Riverside District Attorney Office. Call her at 951.304.5684 and ask for the application for counseling. Let her know you were at the concert. Victim Services will pay 100% if  you have no insurance or your policy will not cover. And also the co-pay if your insurance covers counseling.

Counseling is the healthiest treatment to address the trauma you experienced, allowing you to move on. Take advantage of the resources available. Take the time to heal. Time for self-care.

Contact me at:

Sue Bushrow, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

951.249.3774

suebushrowmfti@gmail.com    suebushrowcounseling.com

6 Tips to Help Kids Manage Anxiety

Here’s a very helpful article on helping kids manage anxiety by Dorlee Michaeli, MBA, LMSW :

We all experience stress and worry. Sometimes emotional stress can cause pain or other symptoms such as headaches, repetitive stress syndrome, stomach upset and more. Both the emotion and the ways in which it manifests itself in our body are uncomfortable. READ MORE

The Beginning of the End

We are on the home stretch of our walk! I have loved having my daughter Sarah walking with me these last 10 days! 

The body is truly showing the wear & tear of miles upon miles of walking and pounding. Other pilgrims are in the same boat and many have had to stop to rest or go home. When I fell the other day and bent my knee back, for a moment I was devastated. I’m so thankful I will be able to continue. Then yesterday I got stung or bit by something on the rear! Very humbling to have to go and ask the Pharmacist how to treat it! 😩 Bottom line… I’m not giving up!

The “Way” has changed drastically since Sarria. This city is where many “tourist Pilgrims” hop on the path. One has to walk 100kilometers to achieve a Compestella or certificate of achievement. These folks are easier to recognize, they walk faster, in big groups, wearing new shoes, and they smell better than the 500k Pilgrims. It is hard not to be judgmental and want to have preferential treatment for being a “real pilgrim”. A beautiful lesson about this whole journey is to be accepting, gracious, and loving towards every person walking “The Way”. Every age, walk of life, nationality, language and gender is represented and we are all in this together! 

As I look back over the last 37 days of being on Pilgrimage, I can say with a grateful heart, this has been a life changing experience! My Camino coach says it took him a month to process all he needed to! We have 3 days left of walking and I want to treasure every moment! I am anticipating walking into Santiago on Sunday morning after a short 10k walk! I have heard from our friends who are already there, that they have experienced overwhelming pride and joy, and others have said it was not what they expected! I’m not sure what I will feel but gratitude will be at the top of my list! Gratitude for a family, friends and colleagues whom have supported, encouraged and made possible this journey! I have relied on others to help me succeed! Grateful to Jill (my Camino buddy) who put up with me and all our differences! 

Thanks to all of you! You’re a blessing to me! 
Sue

Horseback and a Fall

June 3

Las Herrerias to Fonfria ! Mixed it up with riding horseback to OCeberio ! Very fun way to climb a mountain! Of course, I got the horse who had gas, poops and atitude!


June 5

The last two days have been so beautiful! Some of the prettiest walking through Galicia! We are beginning to count down the days as our bodies are showing the wear and tear of lots of miles/kilometers!

Today I slipped down a steep gravel hill, my leg got some gashes and my knee bent backwards! Thankfully the knee is okay and I’m treating the scraps with topical antibiotics! For a moment, I was scared that my ability to finish walking might have been threatened (feelings of heartbrokenness) but I think I’m good to go for a 22k day tomorrow! Prayers for both mine and Jill’s legs appreciated!

Sue

How’s Your Camino Heart?

Hello my dear friends, 

I’m sorry I’m not blogging more but I have come to realize that at the end of the day I’m exhausted and I forget all that I want to share with you!

After 13 days of walking, 3 days of riding bikes (which was not easier) through the rain and 3 days of rest, we are walking again! It is truly amazing how much your body begins to crave it! We thought the bike riding would be easier but NOT!! It’s much more a cardio workout and the butt soreness was something else! It was a great/different challenge but I’m glad to be walking again. 

This morning I got a text from my “Camino Coach”; asking “How’s my Camino Heart?” 

The first few weeks emotions were flooding me but now after 22 days there is a normalcy setting in. 

I truly believe I have an open heart each day. What will today bring? What meaningful conversations will I have? Who will I meet etc. So today, I was processing that question with a fellow Pilgrim and I heard or recalled the Bible verse; “Cease striving and know that I am God”. What did that mean for me? Then we see a Camino marker with a heart painted on a rock…hummmm? Is this a message for me?


One of the reasons for my Pilgrimage is to have the time and head space to seek God’s direction for the next step in my personal life; more schooling, do I want to teach, specialize in something, start a new ministry? Not sure the direction I should or want to go. 

My husband says that I am driven and always working on something or trying to accomplish some goal. But the “Cease striving” felt loud and clear from the Lord today. But what does that look like? I have no idea! 

I asked God to bring clarity for me. The things he brought to mind were;

  • *I love it in the mornings my oldest daughter & I have a cup of coffee together before the day starts and we go our own direction
  • *I love to just sit & chat with my husband & girls 
  • *I love to listen to my husband play the guitar
  • *I love to be able to walk with a friend
  • I love to BBQ, have family & friends over
  • I love some spontaneity 

You get my meaning!  

So I guess my question is “How’s your “Life Heart?”  Is there something that you need to “cease striving” for ? Maybe like me today, it’s just to have an open and still heart to see what God may bring your way! 

Buen Camino my dear friends & family… I truly do love & miss you! 

Sue

Half way Compestella

“How Are Your Feet?”

We just finished day 13 of walking! For Mother’s Day we decide to stay in a hotel converted from a hospital! Ironic really! 


Belarado. May 14

I have seen a real switch in conversation with people! It has moved from “why are you doing the Camino” to “how are your feet?”. I am intimately aware of how everyone’s feet are around me! Even when we stop for coffee/lunch, the shoes and socks come off , and the examination of the blisters are now table talk! 

Granon. May 13

We have figured out that if we go 13 to 15 miles a day we are good but anything after that the body really starts breaking down! I have a shinsplints and about 4 blisters but otherwise, I’m doing pretty well! 

Villafranca Montes de Oca. May 14

It really a must to be in tune with your own body! We need to listen to yourself and gauge what your body can tolerate day after day! 

Castidelgado. May 14

Isn’t  that so true and daily life? Why do we not pay more attention to our own body, mind and spirit!? We need to nurture, care and know our limitations so we can be the best we can be! 

Sue
Sent from my iPad

Let It Go!

Hello from Spain! 

 

We are eight days in of walking and 32 more to go! I’m in a little town called Torres Del Rio. We pushed through today and did about 39k (18-19 miles) ! I am physically doing good with only two blisters on some toes! 

I can honestly say the last couple of days have been emotionally difficult. I dropped my phone and broke it! I was truly beside myself! For over two days I had nothing to communicate with or even how to navigate! It was also my camera, so no photos. I tried to not be discouraged but to no avail. I was a mess! The tears came unabashedly as well as the frustration. 

I bused it into Pamplona alone and navigated the city only to be told, yep, it’s broken and ten days from now it might be fixed. They had an iPad mini refurbished for half the price, so I got it.  Cool, here we go!

NOT!  I forgot my passwords because I had taken a picture of them with my phone! So, again ten days for Apple to recover the settings because I was now locked out. 

Do you see how I am being sifted? I’m beginning to get Gods message for me… “Let it go and focus on me!”  

So today, through my letting this go, the encouragement of my walking partner and a great group of people, I had a new attitude.  So today was a great day! I felt like all those “crutches”  I have are being striped away! And we walked longer today because we were with great people. 

We got to our hostel and I was sitting by the pool. One of the guys asked how it was going with the solution to my broken phone. I told him about how I have been locked out of all my accounts. He said “I used to work at the phone store. Give me that. I will figure it out!”  And so he did! And I am back online, without a phone, but have access to apps! 

I can’t begin to tell you how true it is that the Camino provides! I had the privilege of helping a lady who had pain today and in turn,  I was helped immensely. It wasn’t until I was able to lay it all down that I got it back!

I wonder what distractions we need to lay down so that we can hear or listen to what God or our minds need us to hear!?

I am exhausted today but invigorated by God and people’s goodness!

Sue

Sent from my iPad

Day 4. Walking for 9 Hours.

Today was day 4 of our journey on the Camino! I’m so sorry that I’m not writing more… I’m exhausted from 9 hours of walking each day!

We made it to the famous old city of Pamplona where the running of the bulls takes place!

I’m doing okay but hurt in places I never knew existed (I’ll spare you the details)!

We have been staying in hostels/albergues with other Pilgrims. I am meeting some amazing people along “the way”! Everyone has a story of why they are doing the Camino and for the most part are willing to share; the 18yr old gal who has worked so hard in high school but not quite sure what she wants to do in college, or the gal deciding whether to end her 42 years marriage after finding out  her husband is having an affair. But the most profound story I’ve heard this far, is the 43-year-old man with 10-year-old twins who has spent the last years suffering from cancer. Three months ago he was unable to walk after spending six weeks in the hospital. And today, three months later he is walking the Camino to try and live joyfully! I am moved by all of the stories!

Today we went to the top of a hill (one of the many) where a church was. We went in for a time of prayer and was given the Beatitudes of a Pilgrim. We then could write a prayer and leave it at the foot of the cross!

I have had time to think and it’s amazing with the rhythm of walking where my mind goes!

My fitbit says 16 miles!

My new best friends have become my walking sticks.  Almost every Pilgrim has a set. These sticks provide balance, stability, keep me from falling, absorb 30-40% of the pressure my knees and hips, push me up a hill and keep my hands from swelling. I have come to depend on them because one fall or twisted ankle and the walk could be over!  We all have some sort of crutch in our lives…. but the question is, does it help you live a healthier, happier or holier life… then I say use them!!

Tomorrow we are going to take it a little easy and let our bodies rest and adjust!

Buen Camino,

Sue

The First Three Camino Days

MAY 4  The first 3 days have been extremely hard, but exhilarating! I’m learning that one has to do the Camino your own way! As I climbed the Pyrenees, I sensed I was the last in the pack. The innate pressure to keep up with everyone else has to be let go. Hearing about how to do the Camino and actually doing it are very different things!

MAY 4  They said it was only 13.9 miles today but it was really 19!  Hard but great day! Knee was yelling at me about but staying strong! Meeting the best people!

MAY 3  The first 2 days of walking have been amazing! These are claimed to be the hardest Camino days! Yesterday, it rained, was all uphill and today about 75% uphill and the last 25% straight down! I have learned how quickly people get hyperthermia. I am meeting people from all over the world who are walking for many different reasons.

The 2 most powerful things today were getting to the top of the mountain pass and walking into the monastery after 13 miles! I must admit, I’m exhausted! I would write more but fatigue has set in… well it could be the wine too! Buen Camino for tonight.