You Can Be Anxious AND Have Courage!Courage. Where do we find it? How do we get it? And, once we get it, how do we keep it? In this era, being courageous or brave comes with great expectations. Men are expected to show their “brave face” ALL the time, or they run the risk of being called a “sissy.” That is a lot of pressure! Women (and many times men too) are expected to multi-task multiple difficult things at once, but also must look pretty and be smiling while doing it. But, to top it all off, we humans (men, women and children) with anxiety are often expected to meet all of the above criteria AND keep our anxiety to ourselves. Where did we get this from?! I cannot tell you how many times I have heard stories about family members or partners or parents who have told someone struggling with anxiety or depression (or another mental health struggle) to “be braver” or “toughen up” or “you gotta be stronger through this.” While I do understand what they are trying to convey, today’s podcast episode is all about approaching courage and bravery with a new (more reasonable) perspective. You see, I like to think of bravery and courage as something you can experience WITH anxiety. I actually think they go beautifully together. We can feel dreadful fear AND be courageous. We can feel overwhelming sadness AND be strong. What we have been told about bravery and courage is all off. It limits us and makes us feel like we must not try things until we have no fear and we can “hold it together.” I like to believe that the person who decided to go to the party, despite their tremendous social anxiety, is the brave one. I believe that the person who does that really hard thing (even if it happens to be easy for other people) is the courageous one. I believe the one who has a tear running down their face as they face their fear is a brave rock star! I hope you enjoy this podcast episode and begin to challenge your view of what bravery and courage looks like. As always, thank you for supporting me with this podcast and with CBT School's online courses. Enjoy!
Value-Based LivingHello there CBT School Family Welcome to another episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast. As you may know, each week I do my best to bring you a new tool or idea for you to put in your toolkit, in hope that it will give you some skills to manage anxiety, panic and other difficult thoughts, feelings and sensations. I always envision that I am slowly handing you one tool after another and that you are carefully packing those tools into your toolkit or tool belt, so that you feel ready to face your day, with or without anxiety. This week, I want to discuss with you your metaphorical toolkit; the box or belt in which you hold dear to your heart and use daily to help you live your best life. The most important thing to understand in today’s podcast is that carrying a tool belt/toolbox/toolkit is a choice. Every week, you freely join me for a weekly discussion about recovery and living a great life, while having anxiety. You don’t have to carry your toolkit and all the tools around. Many choose not to carry a tool belt or any tools. But you, you do. It’s pretty cool if you ask me. You see, the tools your put in your toolkit are your mindfulness skills. Your toolkit, the place you hold these tools, is your values. If you are on a mission to be a better human, you obviously value your wellbeing. It is a value that you stand by. You value your recovery. You value your quality of life. Using these tools of yours contributes to value-based living. Values are very important to our recovery. The only problem is, that sometimes fear can come in and stomp all over our values. Sometimes fear can lead us away from our values and away from our toolkit. Sometimes fear can lead us towards other problematic behaviors, such as compulsions including checking, counting, avoidance, reassurance seeking and mental rumination. Fear can also lead us towards anger and saying mean things to ourselves. Today, we talk about identifying our values and ways to use the tools you have to help you lead with values. We use concepts from Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, also knows as ACT. ACT is a very helpful treatment modality that beautifully compliments Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP). I hope you find it helpful! Forward we go, Kimberley
Surfing the Worry Imp's Wave
In this week's episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit, I had the pleasure of talking to Sharon Selby, Marriage and Family Therapist and Author. Sharon has written an amazing children’s book called Surfing the Worry Imp’s Wave and this book is simply amazing.
Before you turn away thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me. This is about kids stuff!”, wait up! Since reading Surfing the Worry Imp’s Wave, I have been using these techniques with some of my adult clients and they LOVE them too. This episode brings some helpful tools and tricks to manage anxiety and perfectionism (at any age). Surfing the Worry Imp’s Wave is a science-based book using the same mindfulness tools and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tools I use with some of my clients and members of the CBT School Campus with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Health Anxiety, Social Anxiety and Phobias.
During the episode, Sharon discusses her inspiration behind the book, her work with young children who have anxiety and what tools she has found to be super helpful. As I mentioned about, I have found that these tools are helpful for us BIG kids too (adults). Sharon also tells us about some of the games involved in the books and some helpful tools to manage fear, perfectionism, separation anxiety, and panic.
You guys know how much I LOVE a good story or metaphor, and there are plenty in this book. Here is one I want you to think about. In the book, Sharon talks about how our brains need to make mistakes to grow. If we make a mistake, it is like water on a plant. Mistakes help our brains grow into smarter and kinder people. I just adore this part of the book and it is something I have implemented with my young (and old) clients (and me too!). When I make as mistake, I now close my eyes and imagine my brain neurons growing and thriving. This is just one of the wonderful tools that Sharon talks about.
I cannot wait for you to listen to this week's podcast, and read this book. Surfing the Worry Imp’s Wave is a bookshelf must have, if you have kids with anxiety. But don’t forget, THIS big kid loves it too!!!
See the link below to get your hands on Surfing the Worry Imp's Wave:https://www.sharonselby.com/product/surfing-worry-imps-wave-reducing-childrens-anxiety Sharon Selby's free e-book 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Your Child Is Anxious is available at: sharonselby.com/free-ebook You can also hear more about Sharon on her Website HERE
Thought Suppression Doesn't Work!!
Anxiety-Related Exhaustion is NO JOKE!One of the most common struggles I hear from my clients and the members of the CBT School Campus is how EXHAUSTING anxiety and depression can be. If you are barraged daily by exhaustion resulting from Anxiety (or any other mental health issue), you are NOT ALONE! Experiencing Anxiety is a full-time job. No one can argue with that. Anxiety can drain us of our physical energy, our emotional energy and can cause us to have nothing left to give at the end of the day. It can make us too tired to be social and make us want to sleep the day away. Anxiety-Related Exhaustion can make us feel alone and like there is no hope for us. If this is you, this is the episode for you. Because you know what?! There IS hope for US! In this podcast, we talk about some mindfulness tools to manage anxiety-related exhaustion. We talk about learning to observe your thoughts and correct them to thoughts that are more helpful and less draining. We also address a few very important mindset shifts you may need to make. You see, when we are overwhelmed with tiredness and anxiety-related exhaustion, we often will begin to feel hopeless and start to believe that there is no end in sight. Everyone tells us, "Just keep going", but we can sometimes feel like we barely have the energy or faith that we need to "just keep going". In this episode, we talk about specific mindset tools that I use with my clients who struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Anxiety, Depression and Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB's). And last of all, I use one of my favorite metaphors for managing Anxiety-Related Exhaustion. You guys know me! I love to use silly metaphors. That being said, I really believe in it and it works. I promise you that it will make you take better care of yourself if you put it in place and prioritize it. Please don't hesitate to let me know what you think and if this is helpful. Also, if you listen on iTunes, please do leave a review. Good reviews help me reach more people and help me get the really important (and inspirational) people on the show. Forward we go, Kimberley
How Advocacy "Keeps Me Well": Interview with Ethan Smith OCD AdvocateDo you ever wish you had someone to inspire you and give you hope about your recovery? Maybe you wish there was a story about OCD or anxiety or mental health that looks similar to yours and you wish you knew how the story turns out? Well, today I give you Ethan Smith OCD Advocate. Ethan Smith (OCD Advocate) was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Annual International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (IOCDF.org) Conference, the International OCD Foundation National Ambassador, a writer, director, producer and OCD Advocate. Amongst these incredible talents and accolades, Ethan is hilarious and kind and VERY informed about the ins and outs of OCD and the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). During this interview, Ethan talks about his struggles to find correct therapy, his experience with finding evidence-based treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Ethan also opens up about his draw towards advocacy work, stating that advocacy "keeps him well" and how being honest and open is considered advocacy work. I think we often feel that we have to write a book or start a campaign or a fundraiser to be mental health advocates, but Ethan shares his belief that we ultimately just have to share our story and use our story to help others not feel alone. One of the things I love the most about Ethan is his ability to express compassion and humor in the same sentence. Discussions around Mental Health can feel very heavy, and Ethan has a way of making light of a very heavy topic. Thank you, Ethan, for all that you do. If you feel like sharing your mental health struggles with others is too big of a step right now, consider joining our Facebook Group, CBT School Campus. This group is filled with brave, supportive and compassionate people and was created so you could feel support and connected to others who are working tirelessly on their mental health in a safe and supportive platform. Click here to be taken to the FB group. Click here for Ethan's Keynote Speaker Video DO YOU WANT TO REALLY IMPROVE ON YOUR MINDFULNESS SKILLS FOR OCD? CHECK OUT CBT SCHOOL'S ONLINE COURSE, MINDFULNESS FOR OCD.
If you missed last weeks episode 50 5 Lessons Learned from Hosting Your Anxiety Toolkit
Thank you again for supporting me with this podcast and with CBT Schools online courses. Please click here to find out more about Mindfulness School for OCD.
Today is a special day. Today I share the FIVE LESSONS LEARNED FROM HOSTING THIS PODCAST!
Today marks the 50th episode of Your Anxiety Toolkit Podcast. I get a little sentimental during this one, but please stick with me.
Let me start by saying that I am so grateful for reaching 50 episodes. When I started this podcast, in my pjs in my kitchen with my sleeping baby next to me as I recorded my first episode, never in my wildest dreams could imagine what it would become. From this podcast came CBTSchool.com, and from CBT school came a community that I could never have imagined.
So Today, on this 50th episode, I celebrate YOU! And, today I want to talk to you about what I have learned and a few of my favorite quotes that I live by (and I promise this will apply to you).In this episode, I share 5 lessons learned by hosting this podcast and I have lived by as I hosted this podcast. I have to be honest. I have learned SO much and I cannot wait to share the lessons with you. I won't pretend it has all been easy. It hasn't. There was a couple of time that this podcast nearly didn't get made. And, there were quite a few times it was made OVER AND OVER! All I can say is that I am so grateful for your support and compassion as I bumped along. If you missed last weeks episode 49 The Content of Your Thoughts Are Not Important Thank you again for supporting me with this podcast and with CBT Schools online courses. Please click here to find out more about Mindfulness School for OCD.
One of the biggest struggles my clients have is when they get caught up in the belief that their specific intrusive thoughts or fears warrant LOTS of attention and moral weight.
This is one of the most difficult things to manage when you are struggling with significant anxiety. We can see that other peoples fears are irrational, but when it comes to our specific fear, we become unglued, confused and reactive.
Here are a few questions that I want you to ask yourself before listening to this podcast.
Have you caught yourself saying any of the following?
1. “It's easy for you to say to, "just accept the thoughts". You don’t have thoughts about hurting someone all day like I do (insert here whatever thought you are obsessing or ruminating on). This thought is WAY worse than other thoughts.”
2. “This isn’t any old thought. This would destroy my life if this thought came true.”
3. “I know I have to accept the uncertainty, but this isn’t just a thought”
These are all examples of getting caught up in our thoughts content.
When we get caught up in the CONTENT of our thoughts we can get stuck in a cycle of anxiety.
When we give our thoughts all of this attention and value, our brains become hypervigilent and get even more worked up about the presence of these thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Please note here, I am in NO WAY telling you this is your fault. This is just the way our brains work. We also have be to careful about our narrative about this thought. If we tell ourselves the thought is "bad", that triggers self-judgment, shame and self-doubt. Then we are off and running, judging ourselves more and putting ourselves down.
Listen to the podcast to hear my FIVE STEPS to help when you are getting caught in the content of your thoughts.
At the end of the podcast, I offer a little Challenge for you.
Observe your thoughts and ask yourself if you could start to make any of these changes in your life.
Thank you again for supporting me with this podcast and with CBT Schools online courses. Please click here to find out more about Mindfulness School for OCD.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I attended and was honored to present at the Southern California OCD Conference ran by socalocd.com. It was such an incredible event and I left with my heart feeling full and mind inspired.The thing about these conferences is that the energy of the attendees is so infectious. At the beginning of the day, the room is filled with anticipation and hope. These conferences are held in hope to give tools and support to those in the community with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. After listening to the keynote speakers and breaking into group sessions where attendees learn tools to manage their OCD (I spoke on Mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for OCD), we meet at the end of the day for a final Q&A with the panelists. The room was filled with togetherness. There was a sense of community and cohesion that warmed my heart (and it lasted for days). The next day, I posted on Instagram how honored I was to attend such a beautiful conference and I sent out the message that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I knew a lot of people were not able to attend such a wonderful event and I wanted to spread the love and connection that I was feeling. The response flawed me. Direct Messages and emails came in from those who are struggling with OCD and Anxiety and Depression, reporting how alone they feel. It got me wondering.
Do you feel ALONE in your suffering?Do you feel like no one understands just how hard it is for you? Do you feel like no one could possibly understand what is it like to experience such anxiety and fear and panic?
I am also wondering, Do you feel alone in your bravery?Do you feel like no one understands or appreciates how incredibly brave you are? You get up every day and do your best to get through the day with anxiety and depression and dread. You face your fears, not because you want to, but because you HAVE to. Do you feel so alone that you feel angry? Maybe you are so angry and hurt because no one else you know has to face their fears every single day, day in and day out.
Do you feel alone because everyone else seems to do the thing that you fear so easily?If any of this describes you, this episode is for you. You are NOT alone! Click the below link to be added to the group. I would LOVE to have you join us.
Link to OCD So Cal Below:OCD SoCal is an affiliate of the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation (IOCDF)
Why can't I just distract myself from the thoughts?
Can I just Listen to music to drown out the thoughts?
Can I imagine a Stop Sign when having intrusive thoughts or worrying?
What about squashing thoughts like a bug?
If I think it, is it my unconscious mind trying to tell me something?
My Doctor told me that I just need one really heavy period for this anxiety to pass
My Doctor told me my Anxiety is due to not being breastfed
OCDbaltimore.com The OCD and Anxiety Center of Greater Baltimore
Facebook: @JonHershfieldClick here to read about how Mindfulness can help you.
We must come to accept that much of what we think is incorrect.
I want to introduce you to TWO words that could change your life and make you more present if you put it into practice enough.
Before I share the words with you, I want to encourage you to first get used to observing what you are thinking, feeling, experiencing.
It could be emotions such as sadness, anger, frustration, irritability etc.
It could be thoughts, such as "I am so angry- I am so upset- I am not getting better- I cant do this- I cant handle this- I am feeling hopeless......"
It could be sensations such as panic and anxiety-related sensations, increased heart rate, shaking, sweating, depersonalization etc
It could be sensations related to Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (Trichotillomania and Compulsive Skin Picking) such as tingling fingers, itchiness or throbbing.
Once you are able to notice and observe these experiences, I encourage you to click on the link and add these two little words to your narrative.Enjoy! I hope they bring you as much peace as they bring me. I have even added a short meditation to help you with this practice. :)
Chances are, you have done these behaviors a million times
They sound like this....“Just to make sure”
“I would prefer to be certain”
“I cant handle my anxiety if I don’t....”
“Terrible things will happen if I don’t.....”
If you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you might check doors, stove knobs, hair dryers, crock pots (new for those who watched the TV show, This IS us),
For those with Health Anxiety, you might check your ailments, sores, blemishes, degree of pain etc
For those with Perfectionism, you might check emails, texts, phone messages, assignments for school etc
For those with social anxiety, you might check Evite lists on who is going to an event, check your clothing or teeth in the mirror repetitively.
Checking is an attempt to control our surroundings in hopes to avoid possible bad things from happening. We might be avoiding the uncertainty of knowing if we will get sick or not. We might be trying to eliminate entirely the chances of the house burning down or being robbed. Or, we might be trying to eradicate any chance of being seen as anything less than perfect. We might be afraid of embarrassment.
But let's be honest!
The chances are, you are mostly just trying to eradicate THOUGHTS about these events. Or, maybe you are trying to eradicate the presence of anxiety around these topics.
I understand this conundrum. It is not uncommon to want to make sure you aren't going to burn down the house or miss a deadline or leave the door of your house wide open. We all do checking behaviors from time to time.
However, let's be really honest with ourselves. If you find you are doing these activities over and over, chances are that you are mostly in the fight against uncertainty….and let me let you in on a little secret. You won’t will this one. Fighting uncertainty is like trying to get a toddler out the door on time for school. The more you rush it, the longer they take. True story!
Some might say, but when I do it, after some time, I DO find relief. I get it. Some are lucky to find those moments when the anxiety is lifted and you can walk away with a sense of, “Ok. I can move on”
Listen to the episode to learn about how to work on reducing compulsive checking behaviors!
When it comes to anxiety, WE CANNOT CONTINUE WITH THIS. We must change the arm in which we are strongest.
And lets be honest. Uncertainty is all around us. It is something we have to deal with even if few don't have anxiety. It comes in every stage of our lives. Let's work to strengthen our ability to make space for discomfort in our lives.
As always, have a wonderful week!