Intentional Living — How To Not Panic In the PANIC

Intentional Living — How To Not Panic In the PANIC

Intentional Living — How To Not Panic In the PANIC

Living Intentional 

As an online therapist and life coach, and strong proponent of intentional living, I am keenly aware that we all are being greatly impacted by COVID-19 and feeling the collective stress all around us. This may be a good time to take heed of our own behavior and how we choose to engage this unsettling reality unfolding daily, without spiraling into a panic. 

The Antidote To A Panicked Mind Is An Intentional Mind

1. Be intentional with what you allow in.

 As a therapist, I like to encourage my clients to stay informed yes, but try limiting the amount of time that you spend on social media sites. The antidote to a panicked mind is an intentional mind.

Before checking the latest coronavirus pandemic updates, doing this one thing can make all the difference in keeping your stress at healthy, manageable levels. Set the intention to answer the “why” before you start spending an inordinate amount of time scrolling through your newsfeed.

I have clients, for example, who tell me that they find themselves frantically reading articles streaming across their computer screen, hoping to assuage their fears. Mindlessly reading distressing information can produce even more anxiety.

When we let our minds fall into a fear trap, without us even realizing it, we are giving our power away. We are relinquishing control over our choices, which can leave us feeling even more helpless. We do have control over our minds and how we take care of our mental diets. 

2. Set An Intention That Helps You To Be Clear About Your Choices

Set an intention that helps you to be clear about your choices, such as why you are choosing to read “this” article, so that you aren’t unconsciously engaging with a worry-mind from the outset. (Here are more tips for managing coronavirus anxiety.) Otherwise, you may be making yourself vulnerable to “downloading” insurmountable amounts of stressful information with no protective self-care parameters in place. 

By setting an intention, this can help you make deliberate choices that serve your overall wellbeing. Your intention may be: I am taking the necessary precautions to keep myself, loved ones, and others safe. 

Then determine a healthy time-limit for watching or reading news, maybe it’s no more than 30-minutes (your vagus nerve will thank you; more on this in a minute.) And be intentional about deciding what information is helpful and what information is not helpful, so that you are not causing unnecessary stress, as this has been shown to weaken the immune system, which is not what you want.  

3. Emotionally Regulate Yourself

Now let’s talk about the vagus nerve as I mentioned above. This nerve plays such a huge role in our stress response, as it is connected to the parasympathetic system, the part of the nervous system working synergistically to allow for optimal and harmonious functioning – essentially the queen “regulator” influencing your stress response. Which is to say that it is important to take care of your vagus nerve so that it takes care of you! One way you can do this is to start your day with an intentional, mindfulness breathing meditation. 

Deep breathing helps us to calm and regulate our “emotional control center,” so to speak. And the more we emotionally regulate ourselves, the more we can respond to stress – something a panicked heart simply can’t do. 

4. Check-and-Balance Yourself Often

So intention setting is like having a “superpowered” way to check-and-balance yourself often. You can ask yourself:  Am I acting from a place of fear? You can start doing this with every activity, like eating. If you think: I have to eat more whole foods or I’m going to get sick! This can actually work against your well-meaning intention and bring on added stress.

Practice setting pure intentions and affirming when you eat healthy foods, for instance, I am nourishing and replenishing my body and supporting my body’s innate desire to take care of me. (Check out: Developing a Healthy Relationship With Food)

5. Get Into The Habit Of “Intentionalizing” Your Day To Keep Panic At Bay

Now is a really good time to focus inwardly, establish self-reflecting routines, act more consciously, accept the as-is showing up in your life right now, so that you can navigate the isness of your present situation while allowing a new context to emerge. 

As you practice calm and acceptance, you are inviting the wherewithal to adapt into your life. It may mean establishing new routines, discovering new ways to stay connected and relevant. 

This is all made possible when we start by quarantining ourselves for any “emotional viruses” that are keeping us from being the superpowered, creative shapeshifters that we are – and that is so essential to cultivate into our lives right now.  

I hope that you read this and start “intentionalizing” your day. 

Warmly, 

Amy-Noelle Shih, M.A., LPC

PS. Connect with me and join the conversation on Instagram @growing_self! Also, my colleague Dr. Lisa created a short video demo-ing a great breathing technique to help lower stress available for you on Instagram too.

Amy-Noelle Shih, M.A., LPC is a powerful, dynamic, couples counselor, individual therapist and life coach with a direct, authentic approach to personal growth. Her style is as affirming and positive as it is effective, and all about helping you create alignment and joy in yourself and in your relationships.

Let’s  Talk

 

 

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Burnout Prevention + Recovery

Burnout Prevention + Recovery

Burnout can happen to anyone and right now, it’s happening to a lot of us. There are so many people who are feeling the pressure and overwhelm of work, relationships, and life in general. Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is talking with Eileen McDargh, executive coach and CEO (Chief Energy Officer) of the Resilience Group on the Podcast to discuss why burnout happens and how you can create a burnout prevention plan for your own life. Listen here…

Moving Forward

Moving Forward

Moving forward and achieving authentic personal growth happens when you know how to turn what feels like a breakdown into a breakthrough. Learn how, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

Signs of Low Self Esteem

Signs of Low Self Esteem

Do you feel good about YOU? In this podcast, we’ll explore the signs of low self esteem, and effective strategies to raise your self esteem and feel good again.

How to Stop Your Anxiety, Right Now.

How to Stop Your Anxiety, Right Now.

Ahhh Anxiety. The sleepless nights. The pit in your stomach. The worries, ever swirling. Anxiety is the experience of being traumatized by bad things happening… before they actually happen. Not fun, and yet so common. Many of our Denver therapy clients and online anxiety therapy clients struggle with this same thing, before they use how to learn evidence-based anxiety management techniques to turn things around.

In efforts to help you manage the very real and understandable anxiety about Coronavirus that so many of us are experiencing, I’m re-posting this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. In it, I’m going to teach you how to stop mentally time traveling into DOOM, and restore your sense of inner peace through evidence-based therapy and mindfulness techniques.

First, I’ll help you understand what anxiety is, and the mind-body connection that keeps you trapped in it’s clutches. Then, I’ll be teaching you my four favorite techniques for stopping it. They’re all mindfulness based, and in my experience very effective. They work for my clients, and they work for me. I have every confidence that they’ll help you, too.

For much, much more on this subject, be sure to check out my online Happiness Class which is chock-full of even more practical cognitive, behavioral and mindfulness-based strategies to help you feel good again: Mind, body and soul.

 

How to Stop Anxiety: Listen Now

(Music Credits: “Anxiety Attack,” by Jeffrey Lewis.)

Key Points:

The Problem With Perfectionism

The Problem With Perfectionism

The Problem With Perfectionism

Keep The First Picture

After a long run in the blistering Texas heat with my friend, she looks at me and says, “Let’s take a picture!” Instinctually I said, “sure!” and smiled for the camera.  Then I saw the photo… After pausing to think about the state of my face (I looked like Sloth from The Goonies), I frantically asked, “Maybe we should take another one?” And then she said something that I found remarkably empowering… She said she was starting a new personal goal to keep the first picture. 

Puzzled, I asked her why. “It seems like everyone takes about ten pictures and funnels through at least five different filters before they’re satisfied with the photo they’ve recreated. Why don’t we just appreciate the raw moment we captured the first time?” she asked. 

Wow, why don’t we?…

The Problem with Perfectionism 

It seems like there is an unspoken expectation that we should always be happy and healthy. We should always be perfect.  Even when we’re going through some of the darkest moments in our lives, there’s an underlying pressure to keep it hidden. “I can’t talk about this. I must appear like I’ve got it all together” we tell ourselves. Whether you’re a single parent, having trouble at work, or dealing with a mental or physical illness, somehow it’s a lot easier to post a photo of you smiling than one that shows what’s really going on… 

The problem with perfectionism is that it’s not only impossible but fleeting. The second we feel like we’ve achieved the slightest perfection in one area of our lives, we’re paranoid about the mess we’re hiding in another corner.  And there we go: around-and-around this cycle of striving, failing (while making the appearance of succeeding), feeling disappointed and ashamed, and then doing it all over again. Even in my own life, this cycle has deceived me into missing out on some pretty great moments, which to me is the most disappointing outcome of perfectionism.

We’re Missing Out on The Moment!

The pressure we feel to be perfect can cause us to miss out on the moment. Perfectionism convinces us that there’s an even better moment to be fabricated and if we believe it enough, then it’s that fabricated moment that actually happened. 

There are two problems with this lie that Perfectionism tells us: First, believing a moment is perfect doesn’t make it so. Second, who says the moment that actually happened wasn’t worth cherishing even if it wasn’t “perfect?!”

Even messy moments have a purpose. It’s the messy moments that have brought you where you are today. These moments should be celebrated! Not hidden. It’s the failing that teaches us the most, gives us the humility to try again, and ultimately allows us to grow. 

Speaking as a chronic perfectionist myself, I know how hard it is to actually flip the switch and just sit in imperfection.  The truth is, there’s a fine line between being okay with imperfection and being apathetic to personal growth. That’s why “keeping the first picture” can be such an empowering tool for us perfectionists! It’s a simple action that creates change little-by-little, picture-by-picture. 

What “Keeping the First Picture” Can Teach You

  1. It teaches you to appreciate the moment for what it is…sweat and all! Looking at that photo can show you exactly what was happening in your life at that moment that eventually led you to this moment. The candid nature of life can be harsh and daunting, but it is also sweet and transformative. When you look back on that first picture, you can use it as a window to reflect and then grow. 

  2. It empowers you to let go of Perfectionism. Keeping the first picture can give you the courage to slowly let go of the “ideas” of perfect moments you’re chained to. To look at your tired face and say “Man, that was a crazy day”, but know that you hold the power to say “No” to Perfectionism. You don’t have to put on a show or a filter just to appease Perfectionism. You can be authentic! One picture at a time. 

As a therapist, I have seen so many clients who struggle with the desire to have the perfect life (perfect relationships, perfect job, the perfect body), or at least seem perfect on the outside… In their search for perfection though, they’ve missed out on the moment! Although it seems simple, keeping the first picture can help you take one step towards appreciating what you have and letting go of what is unachievable and frankly not as perfect as it seems. 

After I kept that first picture I didn’t see how red and sweaty I was, I saw two friends who hadn’t seen each other in months, after a long run, talking about our lives, our future, and our friendship.

What do you see in your first picture?

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

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How to Release Control and Let Things Go

How to Release Control and Let Things Go

How to Release Control and Let Things Go

Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFTC is a therapist, life coach and couples counselor who helps you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.

The Control Crisis

Have you ever found yourself on the receiving end of the advice “Just let it go!” or “There’s nothing you can do about it, so why worry?” How difficult is that to hear!? This is especially true if you’re a proactive person who is good at thinking through different scenarios. Shouldn’t you do everything you can to avoid possible problems, or have things go the way you want them to?

So when people tell you to back off, you might start to wonder; “Don’t they understand what I’m going through?” Maybe you even start to think, “There must be something more I can do.” You probably notice worry, anxiety, and stress start to build, as you rattle over your different options, accounting for all the unknown variables.

The Relationship Between Anxiety and Control

I commonly hear folks discuss intense worry and distress because of circumstances we can’t control ranging from that friend who just won’t take your helpful advice to family members who don’t respect your boundaries. We are constantly being confronted with unpleasant situations that we often have little to no control over. This is especially true in relationships. What do we do with the anxiety this produces?

First, you might start to notice the paradox that takes place: we attempt to control circumstances to alleviate anxiety or stress, but in holding onto control (especially when we try to control what we have no power over) it only serves to increase anxiety and stress.THEN to compound the situation, the circumstances we most deeply desire to control are usually the ones we can’t! What a mess! [More on this: Are You Stuck in a Codependent Relationship?]

Well, here’s the good news: First, you’re not alone and secondly, there are some things you can do about it! I want to share with you three quick tips to let go of control (and in letting go of control, you may actually start to feel more in control… I know it sounds crazy).

How to Let Go Of Things You Can’t Control

Tip 1: Identify Situations Where You Have Control… and Where You Don’t

The What: An easy rule of thumb is: you are in control of yourself. It may also be helpful to create the distinction between what you can control and what you may be able to impact.

For example, you can’t control if your coworker is willing to be a team player, but you may be able to impact this behavior by voicing your needs (i.e. you are in control of how you want to respond and how you want to manage the stress your coworker’s behavior causes you). [More about Emotional Intelligence in the workplace].

The How: You might try doing a check-in with yourself when you notice stress is on the rise. Ask yourself what am I in control of right now? I sometimes encourage folks to actually write out an exhaustive list of their concerns and go through each item and identify what they can control. Once you identify the “uncontrollables,” you can start to practice the next tip!

Tip 2: Give Yourself Permission to Let Go

The What: Sometimes we feel worrying is one way we can control for the uncontrollable. (As in, “If I worry about it enough, I’ll be prepared,” or “Worrying is better than doing nothing.”) Instead of churning in worry, try giving yourself permission to let go. Let go of the need to hold on to the unknown. Remind yourself that you will know what to do if a crisis arises. Trust yourself. You’ve got this! Even in moments where that feels impossible.

The How: Try reciting mantras such as:

“It’s okay for me to let this go.”

“I don’t need to hold onto this.”

“I have done everything I can do.”

You can also ask a loved one for support with this. Sometimes we might need reassurance, that we have indeed, done everything we can do, until we’re able to provide this reassurance to ourselves.

Tip 3: Radical Acceptance

The What: When we are unable to reframe or change the experience, we may need to rely on radical acceptance. This concept tells us there may be times we need to accept circumstances that we don’t like. (I know, yuck!).

The key with this is knowing that acceptance does not mean approval or giving up. Simply put, it means we can see the circumstances for what they are. In doing this; we reduce the suffering we experience. (I get that this sounds counterintuitive).

The How: Try slowing down (for example: deep breathing) and creating room for the reality of the situation to exist as well as the idea that accepting that situation is uncomfortable (there’s room for both of these things to exist).

Think of it this way: If you’re stuck in traffic maybe you start to feel angry, and you notice yourself questioning “Why isn’t that car moving!?” Or perhaps you try switching lanes or honking. You might notice your pulse is quickening and the frustration is surging through you.

OR if you embrace Radical Acceptance you could try saying to yourself, “I’m doing everything I can do, I can’t control the car in front of me, and I’m stuck in traffic right now and that stinks.”

Which experience results in less emotional stress? (Pssst…it’s the one where we accept what is, while simultaneously acknowledging it’s not enjoyable).

Managing Anxiety + Releasing Control = Inner Peace

The key with all of these tips is to practice, practice, practice and go slow. It can be incredibly challenging to let go, especially in situations that aren’t comfortable. Take your time, and give yourself credit for what you’re already doing. I hope through using these strategies you may find yourself regaining control by relinquishing it.

Remember- everyone is doing the best they can in the moment (this includes you!).

All the best,
Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFT-C

How to Feel Safe in a Scary World

How to Feel Safe in a Scary World

How to Cope, in a World Where Bad Things Happen

Like so many of you, I too was shocked and horrified by the events of last week when so many innocent lives were taken in the Las Vegas shooting. Among other things, it led me to scrap last Monday’s podcast plans and create this one for you instead: Some advice for how to deal mentally and emotionally when terrible things happen.

I hate it that we live in a world where this even needs to be addressed, but it does. Together, over the past years, we’ve been through so much. Shootings. Natural disasters. Terrorist Attacks. War. Human Suffering. In our day-to-day lives we’re all under assault; choking down an endless barrage of information about all the latest horrors … but with no guidance for how to cope with it all, emotionally.

Death is the only wise advisor that we have. — Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan

Our counseling and coaching clients here at Growing Self have the luxury of being able to process all of it, and get actionable advice for how to manage the grief, the fear, and the anger. And most importantly, our clients have support in channeling all those dark feelings into something positive and empowering.

I believe that you deserve the same. So today, on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I thought I’d offer you some of the same ideas we’ve been teaching our private clients lately about how to cope, during these dark times.

Listen now, and learn:

  • Strategies for dealing with grief and horror in the days after a tragedy
  • Ways to regain your sense of empowerment, safety, and control
  • How to use difficult times to get clarity about your core values
  • Anxiety management tips to ground yourself
  • Inspiration for how to be a force of good in the world

Theses ideas help me personally, they help our clients, and I sincerely hope that they help you, too.

With love and respect,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

How to Feel Safe, in a Scary World

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Circus Marcus, “Búsqueda exploratoria #010 – A Ernest Delahaye”
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