Aaaaarrrrghhhh do something!!!!!

Recently I’ve been thinking about how great anxiety is at ruining a potentially peaceful state of mind and making you feel like shit, and why that is.

giphy 2

I think in part, it’s down to anxiety being linked with a ‘fight or flight’ response.

Think about it. If you’re in a fight or flight situation, your brain is dealing in absolutes. It is latching onto anything that might be a threat, that it then has to get away from. It’s ACTIVELY looking for threats… or in daily life, potential negative events.

While that is happening, the other part of your brain …. your true, more logical self … has to deal with all its focus being shoved towards the ‘what ifs’ … the stuff that your fight or flight part of the brain is shouting about.

You need to break the loop.

If you force yourself, even for a few minutes, to step away and realise what your brain is doing, you can stop the fight or flight automatic response in its tracks.

The way I do it is to think about something nice that I can reward myself with later on in the day. Like a Netflix special, or maybe a super indulgent snack.

Suddenly it’s like my brain says “oh yeah, that stuff I was worrying about is silly” because I’ve ignored it.

Meditation is also good. Visualise a stream with all those worries and problems floating down it. Then just let them go.

However you do it, you need to zig when your anxiety is telling you to zag.

What The F*** Was That Dream About?

giphy 1

Two nights ago I dreamt that I had a second wife, who looked identical to my real wife, only she was an alien. Somehow I was disturbingly living the life of an interplanetary bigamist. Also, we had kids that looked like little squid people. I had to carry them around in a bucket and unfortunately left one of them on the beach.

Other than indicating that I watch far too much sci fi and am possibly worried about being a good enough parent, this dream might have been my brain’s way of telling me about the state of my emotions and my anxieties.

Dreams have long interested psychologists, and are often penned as the ‘window to our subconscious’. Dreams occur during our REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle during which your brain is undergoing a high amount of activity. It is thought that they not only tell us our deepest anxieties and desires, they also contain clues to our personality (like me being a massive sci fi nerd).

Freud himself developed a guide for interpreting dreams, which I’ll link to below. There are some really interesting interpretations. For instance, did you know that men and women dream differently? Men dream about other men twice as much as women and women dream about both sexes equally. And that’s just one of the differences between our dreams.

But a very interesting aspect to dreams are studies that suggest they are responsible for problem-solving, memory formation, or that they occur simply due to random brain activation.

I’m a firm believer in ‘sleeping on it’ when you have a problem to solve. It’s part of the reason that I keep a little notepad or my phone near the bed, because I often wake up with ideas.

So remember to try and sleep at regular times, to allow your brain to enter REM and solve problems. It may be more beneficial to your state of mind that you think.

The Endlessly Chattering Monkey Voice

One of the topics covered by a book I’m reading at the moment (see my last post) is something related to mindfulness.

Essentially it talks about the premise that every person has a ‘continuous chattering voice’ that has always been there, and is constantly commenting on their current situation or life, often negatively.

giphy

It won’t shut up, and is invariably wild in its musings. It might comment that someone doesn’t like you, or you’ll never get to the end of your run because you are tired, or that you are going to screw up your school play.

However there is another layer to your being. The quiet observer. And it’s this real you that so often goes unobserved.

If you think about it, you’ll realise that this quiet observer is actually your ‘true’ self. And the endlessly chattering monkey voice isn’t.

Let me give you an example.

Today I was sat at home, trying to handle all my life admin. And I was getting stressed.

At some point I thought “hang on, I need to listen to what’s going on here” and all at once, I realise my chattering monkey voice had been telling me that I wasn’t going to handle my admin stuff and that it was all too much. But as soon as I noticed it (and the fact that I had been reacting to it), it was like I had shone a torch on my naughty anxiety voice. And all at once, it died down. I literally felt my body relax.

So just be aware, and mindful, of the fact that there is this chattering monkey voice inside you, and sometimes it really isn’t in your best interests to listen!

It’s F**king World Mental Health Day!!!

I almost forgot to post, on one of the most relevant days of the year for this blog.
Iโ€™ve focused today on telling all my negative thoughts to shut the fuck up, and I hope you have too :).

Iโ€™ve also started reading a new book called The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer.
itโ€™s a really interesting book about getting to know your inner self. I know that sounds wanky, but I actually think it’s a quite special read … and forces you to think about how misguided your little internal anxiety voice is.

I’ll be posting more about it soon.
But for now my friends, I hope youโ€™ve had a great World Mental Health Day!

๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

No Filter on Anxiety

I was listening to No Filter podcast the other day and they had a very interesting episode on anxiety.

No Filter Podcast
No Filter Podcast

Mia Freedman who runs the podcast is herself a sufferer, and actually begins by talking about her own struggles and also the fact that she takes medication for her anxiety.

She then goes on to interview Dr Jodie Lowinger, the psychologist who founded the Sydney Anxiety Clinic. Jodie goes onto share some great insights about ways people can cope with anxiety, including one of my favourite methods: exercise! But she does point out that different people have different ways to approach it.

Check it out at: https://www.mamamia.com.au/podcasts/no-filter/do-i-have-anxiety/

Ps. If you imagine the voice of a trained, very calm mental health professional with an Australian accent, Dr Jodie is basically that voice.

Calm your tentacles

octopus psychology

Octopuses have been studied extensively for their intelligence. They are said to have the smarts of a golden retriever, which is pretty impressive.

In studies scientists have found that individual octopuses display different personalities. Some octopuses were shier than others (!) Even more interesting – the personality traits seem to be inherited by their offspring.

It’s not hard then to imagine that humans inherit certain personality traits from their parents. And if these traits include a propensity for introspection, or dwelling on their situation, someone’s genealogy could affect certain psychological traits, and aspects of their mental health.

Just something to ponder on.

Anxiety is a Bully

giphy 1 1

I donโ€™t know about you, but Iโ€™ve got a strictly no tolerance policy on bullying.

I remember one of my first jobs in a call centre. It was fricking horrible and I’ve never worked in such a toxic, cluster-fuck-of-a-place since – not even in my career in advertising!

Anyway, there was this supervisor who had way too much BDE and acted like he was our overlord (which in call centre terms, he kind of was). If you wanted to get off the dirty data entry desk and onto the much sexier call operator desk (where you would get your own cool headphones), you had to play his game. However playing his game meant sucking up to him and being his bitch, which he rewarded by stamping on your ego with constant snide jokes and remarks in front of your colleagues, on a daily basis.

This bullying continued for a while until staff complained about his tactics, and he got quietly ‘moved on’, which was good, because we all know that bullying will continue if no one does anything about it.

Which is why being a bully, is the perfect metaphor for anxiety.

It can put you down and make you feel like you’re not good enough. It finds your weak spots and prods at them, on a daily basis. Many people stay quiet and suffer its attentions in silence … and arguably that just means anxiety’s bullying continues and gets worse.

Which brings me to my point: you have to call out your bully.

Because if anxiety was a real person, constantly pushing you around, controlling you and telling you that you were a failure, why would you tolerate them?

The answer is you wouldn’t. You’d find some way of dealing with them, for self preservation.

I know it’s not that easy, you can’t exactly punch anxiety in the face, or run away from it.

But you can face it. Talk about it’s shitty attitude to a colleague or a friend. And take steps to give yourself a break and some much-needed self care.

Ultimately, bullies are cowards. They hate it when someone calls them out.


Headphones On, Chill Out

Right now I’m suffering from man flu brought on by being a bit stressed about looking for work, so this weekend I went into full ‘self care mode’ and found some great tunes, care of the Tune In app.

The All Lounge Experience
The All Lounge Experience (T.A.L.E.)

The All Lounge Experience is a super chilled listen with various mixes available, thanks to different guest DJs. It’s perfect (in turns out) for plugging into as you read a good book under a blanket on a Sunday. I was listening to Episode 58 with guest DJ Spike Deep.

Oh, and while I’m at it, if you are a sci fi nerd like me, you could do a lot worse than this book (at 99p on Kindle, an absolute bargain) which goes really well with aforementioned radio show:

Triggers Should Be Handled With Caution

In the realms of psychology, the word trigger refers to something that elicits a cognitive event. Or put in layman’s terms, something that has an affect on the way you look at the world.

Triggers can be anything, and depend on the individual in question. They can be a social circumstance (shit, I said something dumb and now I’m going to be chucked out of the tribe!), a smell, something the person has consumed like alcohol or a certain drug.
The list goes on.

A fellow student at my old University had a fairly unusual trigger. Every time she saw an image of Rolf Harris, she’d have a nightmare. Okay so we didn’t know at the time, but her subconscious thoughts were scarily on the money.

Personally, if I drink too much beer after a heavy work week (which in advertising was pretty much an occupational hazard on a Friday night) I wake up very anxious the next day. For me, alcohol and work-related fatigue don’t mix well, but that’s not necessarily a rule of thumb for anyone else.

When it comes to being aware of your own ‘triggers’, the ones that cause you anxiety or otherwise, you have to be your own detective. A good detective sticks to the facts, and tries not to be too emotionally-led (difficult when you’re actually in the throws of an anxiety attack), by analytically and systematically compiling evidence. I know this because I’ve watched shitloads of detective programmes.

Think about the days that surround your most anxiety-ridden moments.
Was there a specific type of stressor? Work deadline? Did you eat before you went out drinking? Did someone say something that pushed specific kind of buttons? Did you get a sense of deja vu? Did you compound several things together (eg. being naked + on a busy bus + in the middle of Trafalgar Square)?

In the end, you’ll hopefully work out your triggers then adjust your lifestyle to avoid them.

Failing that, remember these sage words….

main qimg ea59ec45075cc458a07075043e611b3c

Your Mind is a Muscle

Everyone knows that working out keeps you in shape, and not working out means getting all flabby and untoned.

The same goes for your mind. If you just go on automatic all the time and never apply any thinking, never push yourself creatively or intellectually (like learning a new language or doing a sudoko) your mind gets…. rusty.

Edward De Bono is an author and philosopher, and pretty much a solid thinker. I’ve seen him talk and read a few of his books that focus on ways of thinking that are a pure pleasure to read. I think if you suffer from anxiety you more than likely are an overthinker, so to divert your attention to a different, constructive way of thinking has got to be beneficial, instead of just turning your wheels.

q? encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=GB&ASIN=B073RW3RPJ&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format= SL250 &tag=stfuanxiety 21ir?t=stfuanxiety 21&l=am2&o=2&a=B073RW3RPJ

The above book got me into De Bono. It covers a pretty cool way of thinking that helps construct everyday thinking tasks into a cast-iron process. It entails splitting up thought processes into different ‘hat colours’ – from emotional, to factual, to critical thinking and up to seven different thinking types.

It forensically examines the way the west and east differ in their corporate thinking – from western meeting where everyone shouts their opinion in a group discussion, to eastern meetings in Japan where each person around the table has their facts and the conclusion is reached after everyone has said their piece. Neither are wrong perhaps, just different ways to think.

Anyway, my point is that exercising the mind takes many forms. But just like physical exercise, you need to change your routine sometimes, and do something new.