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Your Anxiety Toolkit

Your Anxiety Toolkit aims to provide you with helpful tools to manage anxiety, stress and other emotions that get in the way.
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Now displaying: January, 2017
Jan 31, 2017

RAIN: A four step Mindfulness tool

Welcome back and Happy New Year everyone! Today we are discussing a very valuable mindfulness tool called RAIN. It can be a super helpful way to manage strong emotions and sensations.   RAIN can help manage anger, shame, guilt, sadness, depression and pain.   I have found this tool to be a particularly helpful tool for those experiencing anxiety or panic, but is also a very helpful tool for strong hair pulling or skin picking urges. RAIN is an acronym. Each letter represents one step and is a part of a 4-step mindfulness tool.

R is for RECOGNIZE:

  • The first step is to recognize what is going on in this present moment.
  • Recognizing gets us to slow down, or stop.
  • Often, we are so reactive that we don’t stop to notice if there might be another solution or another was to respond.
  • An example of this might be “Oh, I am feeling hurt right now” or “Oh, I am having a thought about the possibility of me panicking very soon”
  • We stop to recognize things for how they really are.

A is for ALLOW or ACCEPT:

  • First, start by saying “YES”
  • Do not fight that this is what is happening.
  • By allowing, you are not denying it. You are making room for it in your day
  • By allowing, you are also not invested in its removal or exit. You are staying present.
  • An example of allowing and accepting is, “I am going to allow the sensations of anxiety in my body right now. They will not hurt me” or, “This urge to pull my hair is very strong, but I am going to just allow it to come and go. I wont last forever”

I is for Investigate:

  • When we investigate, we take note of what is going on
  • We become aware of the real details.
  • It is IMPORTANT to know that this does NOT mean that you should be thinking about the perceived problem. This does not mean that you should be trying to figure out the perceived problem.
  • Let me explain using a few examples
E.g. #1. Lets say you have OCD and you have had the thought “What if I go crazy and go on a shooting rampage” (a typical harm OCD thought). Before using this tool, you might immediately feel anxious, and then go into a long process of trying to get rid of that thought and find proof that you would NEVER EVER, EVER do such a thing. You might spend hours going over and over in your head if that would appeal to you or if others would think you are capable of such an act. Using the I of RAIN, which is investigate, you would investigate what it feels like to have that thought. You would NOT investigate the validity of that thought. The goal is to investigate by saying something like, “Oh, I notice that thought makes my anxiety increase. Isn’t it interesting that my brain and body is responding to this thought this way?” Example #2: Lets say you have an Eating Disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge-Eating.   It is common for someone with an eating disorder to “feel fat”. When someone “feels fat”, they immediately feel fear, guilt and shame about this experience. Using RAIN, the goal would be to Recognize, “Oh, this experience is here again”. Then, one would work on allowing that experience to be present. Using I for investigate, one who experiences the feeling of “being fat” would then investigate what sensations come along with this experience? Do I feel a sense of my body that is different to normal?” or “Do I notice that this feeling immediately makes my heart begin to race?” The goal of investigate is NOT to investigate if that feeling has any validity by checking in the mirror or body fat checking. Investigate is about asking yourself, “what’s going on for me right now? “How does this feel in my body in this moment?”

N: Non-identify:

  • Non-identify is the act of not taking the experience personally.
  • When we are uncomfortable, we often identify with the emotion
  • If you felt anxiety, you might say, “I am an anxious person”
  • Instead, say, “I am anxious in this moment” or even better is. “There is a lot of anxiety here”
  • If you feel sad and depressed, you might non-identify by stating, “I notice sensations of sadness” instead of, “I am depressed”
  • A trick here is to notice if you ever label yourself as one thing. We are never one emotion or one identity. Our work is to not put ourselves in an identity
One last time, RAIN is a super helpful mindfulness tool.

RAIN

R is for recognize A is for Allow or accept I is for investigate N is for Non-identify
Jan 5, 2017
  YOUR MINDSET MATTERS: How being in "Yes Mind" can be a game changer for you! My main goal for this podcast is to create a new approach for handling Anxiety and other difficult emotions and sensations. During today’s podcast I am talking about being in YES mind, NO mind and MAYBE mind and what that all means in relation to how we approach anxiety and other emotions. We will conclude with a short mindfulness meditation to help you take on some of the mindfulness skills discussed today. Some may have heard me speak about this idea of YES NO and MAYBE, but during this podcast I am going into greater detail and discuss why this concept is so important when you live with anxiety, depression or other similar struggles such as eating disorders and BFRB’s. In order to make this easy to understand, lets pretend you have been asked to present at the annual conference for the industry you work in and you are terrified of public speaking. You can insert your own story into this story (Contamination OCD and you have to go to the hospital for a family member, for example) You have 3 OPTIONS: You could say YES:
  • PRO to saying YES: You might meet new people or make new connections in your industry, it looks excellent on your resume, and MOST importantly, you are not letting anxiety make your decisions.
  • CON: You have to prepare, and have to manage and tolerate your anticipatory anxiety until the event occurs and the emotions related to worrying how it will go
You could say NO:
  • PRO: You get the relief of not adding this challenge to your plate.
    • While that is a pretty sizable PRO, given that anticipatory anxiety can be hard to manage, try to stay open minded about the fact that saying no gives your short term comfort, but leads to longer term discomforts.
  • CON: You miss out on a huge opportunity to build your public speaking skills and your reputation in your industry.   Colleagues might stop asking you to these events and not give you these opportunities in the future.
  • Biggest CON is that Anxiety wins. Anxiety makes your decisions.
You could say Maybe:
  • We end up spending the entire time mentally ruminating
  • You go back and forth, with no real relief from your emotions and feelings and no real success.
  • Its Repetitious and exhausting.
For those of you who have heard this concept before, or for those of you who are guessing, I am hoping that we can agree that of all the choices, MAYBE is the most dangerous. For those who thought Maybe was a good choice, lets take a closer look at each option.
  • When dealing with emotions such as fear, anger, sadness or physical discomfort, even pain, when we choose NO or to be in “No Mind”, we push away our feelings as if this will allow us to move away from the “problem".  The problem isn't the conference.  The problem is that we are saying NO to the conference
  • There is little mental rumination or review about the decision and if this was the correct decision.
  • While saying no to going to the conference might seem harmless (no one needs to know), it is an avoidant behavior (one that is quite problematic when you have disorders like OCD, or Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, Anorexia or other eating disorders), it saves you from having to face your fears or other emotions or sensations. The biggest problem is that your emotions make your decisions and before you know it, the emotion has won. Fear or sadness or anger or even guilt and shame decides where you go, who you meet and prevents you from having many wonderful experiences.
Saying MAYBE is SUPER problematic because it gives you ample opportunity to go BACK AND FORTH and back and forth on the pros and cons of the decision. While some may argue that this is a good thing, it is not for those with anxiety. I like to call this back and forth, “MAYBE mind”. Maybe mind is
  • exhausting, time consuming and doesn’t encourage the skill of positive self-assurance (E.g. “I can do this”).
  • leaves us spending the entire week going over the pros and cons of saying YES to going to the party and the pros and Cons of saying NO to going to the party.
  • The truth is, when it comes to anxiety, the pros and cons are often the same, no matter what the feared event or situation is.
  • As mentioned above, the pros of saying “yes” are that you get to live your life, experience more and not let fear make your decisions. The cons are that you having to be willing to experience anxiety. The pros of saying no is that you DON’T have to feel anxiety for the short term, but the con is that you sided with fear and let fear make your decisions (log term consequence).
  If you are wondering how this applies to you, lets take a closer look at Yes mind and see how it can help you manage fear, pain, or other uncomfortable sensations.  To use the example, saying Yes to speaking at the conference allows you to commit to a life where anxiety doesn’t make your decisions. Being in “yes mind” doesn’t mean you just say yes to all events that scare you. It is you saying YES to anxiety in general. It is an offering to let anxiety come with you on your journey. It is the commitment to welcoming fear, which is a human experience, into our days and lots getting side tracked with its presence.  Being in “Yes Mind” is a mindset. It moves us closer to acceptance of our discomfort and improves our ability to just be in our experience, without fighting it, resenting it or pushing it onto other people. Why is acceptance and willingness important?
  • Studies suggest that accepting your discomfort will actually reduce your perceived discomfort.
  • Some studies have even concluded that when studying patients with severe pain, the acceptance of pain resulted in reports of lower pain than those who were medicated for pain. While these studies are very complex with many complex components, the point is, acceptance works!
  • When we accepted fear, we use our energy appropriately and productively, instead of wasting energy going over and over how terrible things are (or might be). PS: Remember, this is “maybe mind”.
So, lets try to catch ourselves in NO mind and MAYBE mind.  Lets try to stay in YES mind as much as we can, OK?    
Jan 5, 2017
Hi there everyone! This months podcast is a guided relaxation meditation.  I ADORE this meditation and is one that I have adapted from several meditations that I love.  It is super easy and doesn't require a lot of effort, except just staying with me. It is particularly easy to use before, during or after doing exposure for OCD or other anxiety disorders.  I also encourage this when practicing mindful eating or intuitive eating.  It is a great way to direct your attention back to your body and into the moment. Try it and let me know what you think. And Happy Belated Thanksgiving! Warmly, Kimberley
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