So many times we feel a lack of control over our day-to-day, stressed with everything and feeling powerless over our lives. Yet, there are so many things that are in our control. It is empowering to know you have ownership of your life and to remember that others' thoughts, expectations, and beliefs do not control us.
1. The words you choose to speak
2. The relationships you maintain or don’t
3. How you spend your time
4. Whether you take care of yourself
5. Your personal finances
6. The amount of physical activity you complete within a day
7. How nice you are to yourself in your head
8. Affection you give to others
9. How organized your car is
10. Your facial expressions
11. The time you wake up in the morning
12. Whether you worry about what others are thinking about you
13. Your body language
14. What you choose to think about
15. Whether you complain about things or don’t
16. How often you check or post on social media
17. The clothes that you wear and how you feel in them
18. How you nourish your body
19. How you believe people perceive you
20. How many risks you are willing to take
Pick an item on this list that has felt out of your control and spend this week focusing on how you can bring back the ownership.
Amber Reed, LSCSW, LCAC
Does what we eat really have an impact on our anxiety?
How could our diets possibly affect our emotions?
Think about this for a moment: Are you contributing to your anxiety by eating certain foods?
Although anxiety may not be directly caused by our diets, our food plays a major role in our emotions, how we feel, interact, and cope, day-to-day. Oftentimes, when we struggle with panic attacks and anxiety, research shows it may be worth adjusting what our ‘fuel food’ of choice is.
Everybody is unique in their biological makeup, so this is not a one-size-fits-all magic answer for everyone, but it can’t hurt to give it a try.
Ask yourself a few things:
When you’re anxious, do you just feel like eating a bowl of ice cream? Maybe a pint of ice cream?
Drinking excess caffeine or having a soda?
Overload of sugar?
We all have our guilty pleasures and a lot of us love our satisfying treats, especially when we’re stressed.
BUT, what does comfort food really do to us when we’re already struggling with anxiety?
3 REASONS TO STAY AWAY from comfort foods:
Comfort foods can actually increase our anxiety and depression within minutes of eating them, and ultimately, decrease our self-esteem.
So what foods should we eat?
An anti-anxiety diet includes some of these foods [Schnorr & Bachner (2016)]:
So, why do we do this to ourselves?
And why do we cause ourselves more anxiety, when we’re just trying to get rid of it.
It seems to be a vicious cycle.
4 simple ways to counter stress without turning to ‘comfort foods’:
Additional Articles and Readings:
The Antianxiety Food Solution : How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood, and End Cravings by Trudy Scott
The One-Day Anti-Anxiety Diet This Doctor Prescribes To His Patients Instead Of Meds
Schnorr, S. L., & Bachner, H. A. (2016). Integrative Therapies in Anxiety Treatment with Special Emphasis on the Gut Microbiome. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 89(3), 397–422.
Brittany Harty, MSW Intern
We may not be able to sleep at night, sleep too much or develop headaches. We may have a low appetite or want to eat more and more to numb the pain of the events that just happened.
When bad things happen, we try to make sense of it. We tend to look for a reason it happened or try to find someone to blame. We want justice to be held - someone to be punished. We want others to feel the pain that we feel. We try to control our actions or the people we put ourselves around. And if we don’t do these things, if we, for some reason, internally combust, others are doing these things.
It somehow gives us a piece of mind if there is a reason. If there was a cause and thus effect. If there was a way we can somehow prevent this from happening again. If we just didn’t go to certain events, if we stayed away from certain people, if we are cautious and careful and prepared than maybe we won’t experience the bad things.
The hardest part when bad things happen is understanding that it can happen to anyone at any time. Just because we have given to charity, eaten our vegetables, or lived a life of morals, doesn’t mean we are exempt from experiencing trauma or pain. I think that’s what so frustrating and scary--that other people or mother nature have control sometimes. This, for me, was a hard lesson and quite the wake up call when bad things started to knock on my door.
Loved ones die. We are in the wrong places at the wrong time. Cancer happens. Car accidents happen. Other illnesses and freak accidents happen. Natural disasters happen. And as we recently have seen now, mass murders happen. With the most recent event that has struck American history, we are all enthralled in the event that took place in Las Vegas on October 1.
When I heard this news, knowing I was going to be there hours later on a layover back home to Kansas City, my body had a physical reaction. I began shaking like I needed to eat. My teeth were chattering; I became light-headed. Time slowed down. I became panicked. Weirdly enough, I also became obsessed. When finding out, I wanted to watch all the news clips of this. I wanted to watch the video footage and read all the news articles because, I think, if somehow I could find something that would have predicted this, I could be more in control and be more prepared to prevent it from happening to me.
When getting into Las Vegas later Monday night, it was evident that it was a different city. It was somber, as if there were a grey cloud lurking above the entire city even though it was sunny. The locals I met told their story of people they knew that were there or supposed to go there - their neighbors, sons, spouses, friends. Some were even supposed to be there themselves and couldn’t go for some reason. When this happened, we begin to feel something else once the shock wears away, and shock, I think, is what we were surrounded by that evening.
Thoughts like “it should have been me” or the moments where you remember all the times you were in that exact location of where it took place and when everything was fine. You start to think about the things that you have done wrong that would make you somehow deserve to go through it, instead of all the other people. You start to think they are completely innocent and lead perfect lives simply because they are gone.
We, again, try to make sense of it in whatever way we can. Our brains continuously are looking for clues, hints, or reasons why such horror can happen. We think there has to be a reason as to why bad things happen.
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be doing anyone a favor by saying that nothing bad is ever going to happen if you just do X, Y, and Z. We may believe some of these things or have learned that if we just do the right thing, good things will come. And while that may be true in some sense, it would be an injustice to ourselves to think that bad things can’t happen to us...because they do.
You know this because you have experienced bad things or know someone who did. Bad things are bad things. Not one is greater than the other. We can’t control the weather and whether hurricane hit our quaint little town or whether it stays in the sea. We can’t control other people and whether they choose to make bad and hurtful decisions. We can try to protect ourselves all we want, but we will be missing out on the life that we have if we do.
We can’t make sense of the hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico or Florida or Houston. We can’t make sense of the mass murder that happened in Las Vegas because these things don’t make sense. In the last week, I have tried to conceptualize, predict, control in my head, and view all of these events differently or more effectively...and it’s not working. We, like many of the world, are grieving for the people’s lives who will never be the same.
Yet in these moments, we have a few choices: we can continue to dwell and read every article or watch every video regarding the murders; we can continue to look at the pictures of the homes that were demolished and of the now hungry children; we can continue to wonder how these bad things happen to good people; or, we can choose to live our lives to the absolute best and most fulfilling that we know how--not because we aren’t grieving, but because we know how fragile life is and how quickly it can change. We can tell our loved ones how much they mean to us. We can live with more vulnerability in hopes of connecting with one another versus pushing them away. We can love. We can give. We can hope. We can live our lives not only for ourselves, but for those who have there’s taken from them.
When bad things happen, we want to blame, find a root cause, or find a reason so we can predict and prepare and prevent these things from happening to us. However, when bad things happen, we can also choose to live our lives wholeheartedly for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for those who have tragically had their lives taken too soon or for the lives that have turned completely upside down.
So go on. Stop obsessing over the media and the new video footages of the next bad thing. Go on, live your life for yourself and for those who no longer can.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
4 Traffic Tips for Life
Have you ever driven down an unfamiliar road at 65mph and suddenly realized there is a curve ahead!?
You instinctually react by taking your foot off the accelerator and putting it on the brake. This unconscious action probably saved your life!
The road of life is sometimes similar, as we move along at our day-to-day fast pace, a ‘life-curve’ may surprise us. Life-curves come in many forms. It may appear as a call from a teacher announcing your child has fallen, a text from your spouse saying the ‘company car’ will be discontinued next month, or your discovery that you have high blood pressure.
No matter the unexpected or sudden ‘curve’, your body, mind and emotions react with a heightened state of awareness. This survival instinct is a true gift. However it is not healthy to remain in this hypersensitivity.
One of the amazing things about our physical, mental and emotional systems is that it is their nature to return to a sense of equilibrium or homeostasis. When we learn to partner with this organic process, we may avoid getting stuck in trauma and return to balance with more ease.
Road signs are designed to keep drivers safe, create order, and provide essential information. Signs along the road of life may also assist us in the same manner. There are ‘4 Traffic Tips for Life’ that will help you move more smoothly through life’s curves.
4 Traffic Tips for Life – Moving from reacting to responding
1. SLOW DOWN
2. Observe ‘WHAT IS’
Body: Is there tension? Heart racing? Injured? Breathing labored?
Thoughts: What are the concerns in the moment?
Emotions: Is there fear? Anxiety? Anticipation? Confusion?
‘WHAT IS’ the Situation?
Clarify the Facts you know, in the moment. (Example using previous scenarios)
Child fell: not injured; resting in nurse’s office until end of school.
No business car: spouse at work, not able to talk now
High blood pressure: confirms how you’ve been feeling; have medical information to review
3. CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSE
No business car: text spouse to acknowledge information; affirm together you will find options
High blood pressure: call a friend to talk about your thoughts/feelings
No business car: write down options to discuss with spouse and clarify plan
High blood pressure: review medical info; adjust diet/exercise; clarify other options
4. PROCEED with FOCUS
To move from a state of unconscious reaction to conscious responding allows you to proceed with focus. Life-curves give us the opportunity to reevaluate what is important to us. It is as if a spotlight illuminates an aspect of life so we may observe ‘what is’ of present value to us. With this renewed awareness we can make choices that serve our well-being.
On the road of life, there are guiding signs along the way. Slow down so you may see the signs, enjoy the view and appreciate those who are on the journey with you.
Ilene Kimsey, PhD