Do you suffer from anxiety or know someone who does? Most likely. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, reports anxiety is the most common mental health disorder affecting over 40 million people in the U.S.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 37% of those suffering receive treatment. That's why Jess and her guest, Elyse Laing, LPC, take a moment to explain why, and how, anxiety shows up in our thoughts, emotions, and bodies. They de-bunk common misunderstanding and share strategies for coping with anxiety symptoms.
Produced by Jessica Warpula Schultz
Music by Jason A. Schultz
Welcome to Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-based mental health podcast. We're your hosts, Jessica Warpula Schultz and Jeanne Kolker. Whether you've tried everything to feel better and something is still missing or you've already discovered the wisdom of the body. This podcast will encourage and support you in healing old wounds, strengthening relationships, and developing your inner potential- all by accessing the mind body connection.
Please know, while we're excited to share and grow together. This podcast is not intended to be a substitute for mental health treatment. It doesn't replace the one-on-one relationship you have with a qualified healthcare professional and is not considered psychotherapy.
Thanks Jess. And thank you for listening. Now, let's begin a conversation about what happens when we take an integrative approach to improving our wellbeing. Welcome to Insight Mind, Body Talk. My name is Jess. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, trauma informed fitness expert, and your host. Our topic today is anxiety. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States.
Over 40 million adults in the us, meaning approximately one in five of us, have an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, approximately 7% of children age three to 17 experience issues with anxiety. Each year, we'll discuss the experiences of children and teens in episode five of season two, but for now, today we're gonna talk about adults living with anxiety.
And really the topic is so vast that two episodes is not nearly enough to fully cover the subject of anxiety, but we're gonna try. My guest today is Elyse Laing. Elyse is a licensed professional counselor and the clinical team lead at Insight Counseling and Wellness. She's specializes in anxiety and ADHD treatment for children and adults.
Elyse places a strong emphasis on the relationship in the therapeutic process and works from a strengths based perspective utilizing various approaches within her practice to meet the client's needs. Elyse believes in the power of play, laughter and authenticity in the therapeutic process to encourage growth and change.
I can personally attest to Elyse 's therapeutic processes because little known fact she and I are housemates. , not in the normal sense of the words, but inside counseling and wellness has a branch office located in Verona, Wisconsin, and each day Elyse and I come to work in a beautiful 19th century Victorian home that has been transformed into a mental health clinic.
So the two of us, we visit back and forth most days of the week, laughing, consulting and talking about things like anxiety. Elyse is a perfect fit to have on our show, not only because of her strengths and skills as a clinician, but because she and I are already talking about anxiety most days of the week.
And you know what? Why not just drop a microphone into the conversation? So that being said, let's get going. Welcome to Insight Mind, Body Talk Elyse. Hi Jess. Thanks for having me. I'm happy you're here. Isn't it true that we talk about anxiety a lot? Like in between, client sessions, our lives Monday through Friday?
Yes, very much . Here we are recording our topic's, anxiety. Our episode is titled Anxiety Giving A Small Thing, A Great Shadow, which is an anonymous quote I stole off the internet because I found it very fitting to be the title. But before we get, What's that? I was gonna say, I think it's a great title.
Yes it is. Because I think that's, There's so many ways to describe anxiety, but just the idea that it really, sometimes I always talk about at least, externalizing anxiety and saying that it really influences us and it can take small things and make them feel really big or get cast a very large shadow over things.
And yeah, I thought it, I thought was fitting too. Yeah. And actually I talk about that later on in the show, ooh. Yay. Okay. Awesome. So we're gonna get into the nitty gritty soon, but I would love for you to share with our listeners how you became interested in treating anxiety, both adults and children.
Yeah. So I guess really. Starts with me having anxiety myself and just the struggles that I've gone through throughout my life with my anxiety and really not knowing that those struggles were anxiety until I became a clinician. And so I think I am interested in it and have chosen that as like my specialty because I know how it feels.
And if I can help just one person understand and recognize that's what's going on, they're not crazy or they're not irrational by any means. . I'm helping. Agreed. Agreed. And like we said, it's very, it's the most common, disorder diagnosed, but I have experienced so many people who say what?
That's anxiety. That's anxiety. That's anxiety. And I've shared this before in the podcast that, my first experiences were with anxiety, were in the fifth grade and I had no idea it was anxiety. I had no idea that I had experienced a panic attack after this kid puked in the library and everyone was freaking out.
And it was so overwhelming cuz like every fifth grade class was like, put in the library to listen to this guest's story. And my heart just started racing and I was clammy and I had to get up and get outta there. And yeah, I remember my teacher, Mr. Olsen of just walked me outside a little bit.
I had no idea. That was like panic, right? . And after that, anytime a kid coughed in class, I would have this like hypervigilant response of my heart started racing. I'd wanna, I'd have to make up a reason to leave the room. I was always after that really preoccupied and worried that someone else would get sick because it was so distressing for me.
Yeah. And it and probably we could go back further and look at childhood separation anxiety disorder as well. Definitely had that one going on. But, Yeah. And so until people talk about it, until someone else maybe can say that is anxiety, humans are just wonderfully creative and they adapt and they make sense and they're resilient and they survive.
But they may not realize that they don't have to work so hard. To survive. Yeah. My first experience with anxiety was in second grade. I know we were doing popcorn reading, which I'm sure we can all agree is the worst thing ever. Especially isn't that where they like, jump around or you all have to take turns reading and Yeah.
Yeah. Out loud and I refused to read when it came to me, and so I ended up having to go through like a reading assessment with a reading specialist because they thought I couldn't read. Yeah. But turns out I just completely shut down and I was able to read, but because I wouldn't, in front of people they thought that, Yeah.
I was, they just assumed it was like a learning concern versus potential, anxiety or social anxiety to have to be put on the spot like that. Front of everyone, right? Yeah. Yeah. And then going through the testing, having panic attacks cuz they want me to identify a word and I don't wanna say it out loud and Oh yeah.
So seven years old and I had no idea. Oh, I feel for a little lease. Yeah. That's hard. Yeah, definitely. Like we said earlier, it's a huge topic. It could anxiety that is, it could be several podcasts, it has its own podcasts, several of them, right? It's probably the star of many specifically themed podcasts.
So we're gonna do our best, we're gonna do our best to explain from our clinical lens and through our life experiences what anxiety is how it shows up in our mind and in our body. And give some strategies for coping with it as well as maybe. Identifying what if therapy could help me? How do I know if therapy could help?
. So we'll review all of those, but so let's start at the beginning. Let's say when you first meet someone, either, they sit down in, in your office and they talk, they think they might have anxiety. How do you begin to explain what anxiety even is? Yeah, so I think that's a great question.
As I was thinking about it, I was doing some reading and everything. I found out that Renee Brown, in her book, Atlas of the Heart, she describes anxiety as Willy Wonka's shit tunnel. Oh my God, that image gives me anxiety. I was not a kid who liked that part of Willie Wonka . I know many parts are disturbing, but that tunnel I'm having a somatic response to the memory of that tunnel right now.
Yeah. No it's creepy. But in reality, like anxiety is really difficult to explain because it can present so differently in each person. I guess I like to start with telling them the facts, right? You already said this, Just, it's the number one mental health concern in the us. 40 million adults are diagnosed with anxiety disorders and it is just, it's very prevalent and there's a lot of misconceptions around anxiety too.
So Jess, have you ever experienced butterflies? Yes. Yes I have. How do you know if butterflies are good or bad? Even this has like a developmental timeline attached to it. When I was little, butterflies were, I was told butterflies mean you're excited, right? , that you're a little nervous.
I know that as I aged, I was in theater growing up and even though I loved it, the, like every night, the very first time before you walk out on stage, typical situation butterfly, but at a certain point it became like a racing heart more than butterfly , and now I know a lot more about, and we can get into it later if we want, like how, anxiety sometimes is the butterflies, but even that, the brain has a hard time distinguishing between fear and excitement.
And so I'm guessing for some people butterflies are like, Oh, I'm really excited. And maybe for other people, butterflies are like, Oh shit, I'm like freaking out right now. Yep, exactly. So anxiety is excitement. . It comes from our nervous system, as you mentioned, so our nervous system being aroused and some of us are naturally wired and some even conditioned to have a lower threshold for that arousal state out of the high arousal state, anxiety is born though.
So don't get me wrong, anxiety is normal and can actually be really helpful. There's a healthy level of anxiety. It's what motivates us to accomplish tasks, achieve our goals. It's what keeps us moving forward. But typically clients don't come to me because they have a good state of arousal going on, right?
, they're not like, Oh, wow, my anxiety's just propelling me forward. I'm just like feeling really in flow right now. I'm pretty sure that's not what's happening, at least at the start, , right? Yeah, no, that's pretty rare. Anxiety can become unhealthy. It becomes unhealthy when it crosses the line into overwhelming, and it's not talking about.
I'm not talking about when it crosses the line into overwhelming every once in a while, I'm talking about when it crosses that line and it stays there, it literally unpacks its bags and lives in the overwhelm. That's a good way of saying it, right? Because all humans will experience fear, we will experience excitement.
Anxiety is here. It keeps us alive. It's one of the Yeah. Responses our brain and body put into action if there's a threat, if you weren't anxious, your, tension wouldn't show up in your body. You wouldn't propel yourself to flee, to fight, to do all those things.
, but you're right it's really hard when it unpacks its bags and. Live with it. When it moves on in it, it's not fun. And I know we make light of it in the, in our metaphor right now, but at, I have anxiety too, as both of us who have anxiety. Some, sometimes you have to joke about it, but it truly can be completely disorienting and IMing for many people.
And so when it lives in the overwhelm or when you live in the overwhelm, actually I like to talk about anxiety as something that is not you. It's something outside of us. Good point. Good point. Its own identity basically. But when it packs, unpacks its bags and lives there, it starts to impact us really negatively.
Yeah. It can and it will interfere with every part of our lives. It's uncomfortable and it doesn't feel good. No. I'm sure you spend a good amount of time, or at least I do, having to debunk common misconceptions of anxiety. Things people hear in the media, things they've been told by family members or even just like the general assumptions that we all create that kinda have to be addressed.
So in your opinion, what are some of the biggest misunderstandings about anxiety? Another good question. I was thinking last night, and have you ever been told to stop being anxious? Yes, I have. I have a little inside. Story about an inside it's not a cert. Yes. Nevermind. Yes, I have. Yep. Or to calm down.
Yeah. So how many people on the face of this planet have calmed down when told to calm down? . But no, so I think, I speak for everyone who has anxiety that when we are told to stop being anxious or to just get over it, it is incredibly upsetting. Sure. Cuz you're like being denied.
You're, you have a need, like you have an unspoken need in that moment. , like you need help either through yourself or through others and to be told just to stop don't exist as you are. That, that doesn't help anxiety go away. You're right. No one has ever calmed down by being told to just calm down.
It's. It's so unhelpful, and it's probably the opposite, or it's probably going to do the opposite of what they intend to do. I don't think people come from mal intent when it's No. When they care about is feeling anxious and they say just stop. Stop thinking about it. Stop being anxious.
. . Or just go to sleep, write it, , write it down. Yes, journaling can help, we often give like simple strategies for anxiety management and sometimes those are helpful, but oftentimes, it does go a lot deeper. And we don't want to tell someone to stop being anxious or to just get over it because it does unfortunately cause us to feel shameful and feel as though we can't be ourselves, feel like there's something wrong with us.
And. We're unable to control how our brain is processing a situation or an event, and it just, it doesn't work that way. Yeah. Yeah.
Cycles are pretty difficult to break. The anxiety cycle starts with the trigger, which then sparks a thought. That sends a signal to our amygdala, which is the alarm system in our brain. The alarm system will tell our body to start filling with adrenaline, and that is when our fight or flight freeze or FAW kicks in.
That creates even more worried thoughts. And before we know it, we're in a spiral. So it does make anxiety very difficult to just stop on command. . Because there's a whole cycle, there's a whole chain reaction in place. It's not like you're driving a car and you can hit the brakes.
Like it's many cars driving down the interstate all at once. You can't just say stop. And they all pause in that exact mo moment. It, and this happens in a matter of milliseconds that you know her, all of a sudden we are in our trauma brain, we're in the fight, flight, freeze, spa response, and we might not even know how we got there.
So another misconception of anxiety is that it's just worry, there's so much more to anxiety than just worried thoughts. Anxiety can show up as a desire to control situations, people, outcomes. Just about anything we can control will be controlled. Anxiety can also show up as people pleasing perfectionism and irritability, but in reality it's a feeling of being overwhelmed and full of fear.
. So anxiety can show up in a ton of different ways because it is different for everybody. As I mentioned, it can show up as people pleasing perfectionism and irritability, and it can show up differently each time too. It's not consistent or typically it's not consistent.
Another really common misconception or misunderstanding is the whole avoidance piece that comes with anxiety. When somebody is avoiding an interaction or avoiding a situation, we want to reassure them that everything's okay. . Actually reassurance can reinforce that anxious thought or anxious behavior.
And so knowing how to support somebody with anxiety can be challenging too. Yeah. Yeah. I would assume so. Because, I think whenever our anxious thought, the anxious thoughts arrive, right? Often they do need support and want to check in with someone. Will everything be okay?
Will I be okay? And of course we naturally seek reassurance, right? So when do you think, what cr, when, how do you identify like when you're giving too much reassurance or when you're seeking too much reassurance, I think. When it becomes your only skill. Ah, yeah. There, that makes sense.
Yeah. And I know we'll talk about some different tools to use when we're feeling anxious in a little bit, but if we're constantly providing reassurance or we're constantly seeking reassurance in those anxious provoking moments or whatever it may be. That, that's when it becomes reinforcing. , one of my clinical supervisors once told me that. She helped me point out as I was developing into a new therapist, we are talking about reassurance seeking and when is it like valid and like such a wonderful tool to use cuz you should consult and you should check in with your peers and you should process and when you're right.
Does it become your only tool to know you're okay? Is that someone else has told you no, that's okay. You did and okay. Job there or you are okay. That makes a lot of sense. And we see that a lot with parents and children. . And so we'll talk about that in the next episode, but, okay. Okay.
Awesome. Awesome. As a body center therapist myself, I find that, sharing education about our body and the brain's responses to stress can better, help explain anxiety. We've already started talking about like the nervous system and fight and flee and those defensive responses, defense strategies that every mammal has.
Really I think once, once we bring the body into the conversation, we start setting the stage for somatic, which means body somatic strategies for anxiety management or anxiety resolution. So let's just take a moment and kind of discuss how anxiety is experienced through the body and through the nervous system and through the brain.
Yeah. Like I mentioned earlier, there's a cycle of how it begins. It shows up as a worried thought. It starts to create kind of a physical reaction, and then it just spirals. Anxiety happens because your brain is telling you there's a threat happening. , you're not safe. You need to get ready to react.
That right there, there's a threat. , and I anything can be a threat. Right in, in our world it can be a thought. What if I don't get this project done on time? It can be a glance of a scowl from someone you care about. It can be, bigger threats. It can be just, the pen obviously we've talked a little about how the pandemic is an ongoing threat or was an ongoing threat.
The 21st century, we just aren't chased by like bears anymore. We have threats coming at us all of the time. So it's important to know how anxiety is showing up in our body because we want to be proactive versus reactive. And I can just imagine all of my clients rolling their eyes right now because I see that so much in sessions.
Anyways, But it's true. It's so true, right? Because if we think about even anxiety, let's say as a wave it starts off smaller, right? It starts with just, the water being calmer, then picking up speed, and then you can almost imagine it cresting. And at least for me, I was feel anxiety when it, like washes finally over me.
Like p like a wave hit. But that wave started as a slight little part of the wind influencing water Yay. Back there. And if I can catch it there and put proactive strategies in place, I don't have to then put in the strategies that help me when I feel like the wave has pushed me under, so getting to know your anxiety is so important in learning to manage it. I like to start with identifying those somatic symptoms, which can be easy for some people, but difficult for others. . So anxiety I've heard shows up as, and I've also experienced it shows up as headaches, stomach aches, having to use the bathroom really frequently.
Which is one that some people don't know, I've found. I've never heard that before. Really? Yeah. Let's see. It can be like, our hands are our leg shaking. It can be being really jittery too. Being easily startled. I know that's one way I know that my anxiety is high, is because I'm startled very easily.
I can tell my, I'm anxious when my feet and hands start tingling, like just them, they start tingling. I get a little bit of tightness in my throat. Yeah. My face flushes a lot. It'll get red like a tomato real quick. And when I was little, it was always in my stomach, so I was always like this kid who was like rubbing her stomach.
Just an gentle, calming, soothing self touch circles, because that would quell, probably I was like doing something that regulated my nervous system and didn't know it, but, yeah. Yeah. It's, Or I drop things. I drop things all the time. I'm like, Oh, getting hyper aroused. I drop that pencil for no reason.
And I have. I've had so many people come to me and say, I thought I was having a heart attack. I went to the emergency room and they told me it was an anxiety attack. . So chest pains too, can be Oh yeah. Can be a symptom of anxiety. , when your chest gets really heavy and it's hard to breathe, that is another common anxiety symptom that we feel in our body.
Blushing, like you said. , I used to deal with blushing significantly when I was younger. My mom would drop into my classroom and she'd pull me out in the hallway and we'd be talking and she'd be like, Oh, are you feeling okay? Your face is really flushed. Yep. No, I'm totally fine.
I'm fine. I had this teacher, I thought he was so cool. He was the art teacher and I really respected him. And then one time he called on me and I didn't expect it and I was surprised and my face turned bright red and he commented on it. It never happened before. Literally every time he called on me or walked over to me the rest of the year, I.
Turned bright red and it started becoming like this psychological where I noticed I was avoiding contact with someone who was giving me lots of positive feedback and that I wanted to have this, relationship with because it was so enriching and I wanted to learn from him, but I wanted him to come nowhere near me after worrying would he comment again on, the color of my face.
And it just I was so sad when he moved away. He moved at the end of that year, but I was also so relieved because I couldn't imagine like four more years of it. Cuz I loved art. So I was like, every time I go into the place I love, I'm so anxious because of this dynamic, and you didn't even know it was anxiety.
Ugh. Again, we're young and we have no idea what's going on. We just think oh, I'm just really easily embarrassed. . But that is your bodies. Defense mechanism, right? , it is saying there's a threat he might make fun of you again, he might, not even then he made fun of you, but he might comment on your face being flushed.
He might randomly call on you. . , which then includes like peers looking at me, other people noticing other people later commenting, yeah. Yeah. And with anxiety can come a state of paranoia as well. So we are very hyper vigilant like you had mentioned. . If you think about it, I try to exter, like I love externalizing anxiety as well.
One of the ways I, to unblend from it, right? So that we are not the anxiety, we just notice anxiety. . But also when we externalize it through the body to de pathologize it, like you're not at fault. There's no flaw. Every mammal's survival response system, your heart is supposed to be faster to a threat.
Tension is supposed to be in your muscles and your body is supposed to, your eyes dilate and your hearing changes and your hypersensitive or to stimuli in the environment because you are about to either flee or fight or freeze. You know it, your brain is constantly trying to figure out how to survive and that's not you.
And I like, so that's why I like to externalize it in that way. This is just a really natural response. And there's all sorts of strategies we can use. We can use body strategies, thought strategies, other types of strategies to really learn, You're right. Get to know your version of this.
Like what is your brain and body doing? What is the story you've created about what it's doing? And how can we work with it? So you feel safer, right? So it feels more manageable. And anxiety is a primitive response. , it has helped keep us alive. . , and so that, so to talk about the body aspect of it.
Yep. It does show up. So then if, it also lives a lot. So much so much in our thoughts, in our emotions. In our belief systems our narratives of our life experience. What are some of your approaches to working with the thoughts and the emotions and the beliefs? I think to understand and work with anxiety and to really know what direction to go in, you need to know where anxiety thrives, and that is comfort and control.
Anxiety has demands and it demands certainty and comfort, right? So it loves reassurance and it really seriousness because that's predictable. That's safe. Wait, say that again. It likes seriousness. It does. Oh my gosh. My brain is like,
Dude, that is so true. I always frame it as, it's hard to be playful if you don't feel safe, cuz play is part of what we call the vental vaal state. Like it's you can't play unless you're feeling calm and safe. But I never thought about how much, if someone is not feeling calm or safe, they want things to be serious so that they feel like there's more control and more predictability.
Cause play is also spontaneous. Oh my gosh. Yeah. And there's very little control in play. True. Oh my gosh. I'm just thinking about so many times in my twenties and in my teens, people would tell me that I was like too serious and I was so serious, especially in peer groups, like I was always so serious.
It's Oh my God, I have to now go home and think about this and also reflect on that there is more play, so go more play. But Wow, I never thought of it that way. And see, I already feel better about those serious parts. Yeah. Like I already feel less shame for being like a Debbie donor and things like that.
I just needed more seriousness so I could feel more in control. Yes, you could feel safe participating in a group or engaging with those peers. Wow. I never thought of it that way. Okay, so anxiety thrives and comfort control. Seriousness, certainty, consistency, , reassurance, all of those areas and anxiety has think six thinking and belief patterns that really drive it.
So avoidance is best in and internally focused thinking that this moment or this experience or this feeling will be permanent. This is catastrophic. It has black and white thinking patterns and it's rigid. I really like those. That's almost something you could just sit with as journal questions, for yourself or, to explore with someone.
Yeah. Yeah. And so sometimes we struggle to identify like what patterns are showing up for us or what. What pattern we're experiencing in a different situation. And that's okay. It could be a mix of things, but it all comes with awareness. So the more we start to sit with our anxiety and not be afraid of it, we become more aware.
We , we're able to recognize those patterns. We're able to slow ourselves down. , and it's, we realize it's not something that we always need to get rid of. , because anxiety's not going away. . . But maybe then, so what do you do? It's not going away. So we just work with it. . So I asked them of the listeners for some real life scenarios for questions having to do with anxiety and anxiety management.
So I guess let's start there with how I work with it. All right. So listener one submitted their question, How do I go out into the world and socialize when it's the people and the act of socializing that makes me so incredibly anxious? That's a good one. That is, is such a good one, because it's like the chicken versus the egg.
Like socializing will help me. Expose myself to socializing and I'll feel more connected. But the fear is the socializing, the anxiety is the socializing. So how do you, I'm curious what did, what do you think? So my thoughts are let's lean into your support system, if you have one. Let's go out into the world with someone you feel safe with.
Let's create a little sense of safety for you and go out in small spurts. You don't have to go to a big event right away and give a speech or be on a podcast , you don't have to do that right off the bat. Let's start small and work our way up. Let's be intentional. Let's set a goal, a small goal, and we're going to push you a little bit out of your comfort zone.
So let's say you say hi to someone in the aisle at the grocery store, right? That might be, that might cause you to be anxious. It might be like a three out of 10. . So let's start there. Let's identify something that would be a four out of 10. Then, ask an employee at Target where something is even if you already know where it is. It's just exposing yourself to doing these uncomfortable tasks. Because anxiety treatment or managing your anxiety or learning to live with it, we have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It's very true. It's very true. I wish it wasn't , but it, but who likes to be uncomfortable, but.
You do. You really do. And there's a, honestly, it becomes really empowering after a while when you find that maybe it was nervewracking but it wasn't, your heart wasn't racing this time. Or maybe you were able to like stay a little bit more mindful with it and walk away, feeling, feeling less overwhelmed.
And as we progress, progress we feel really empowered and confident. And so remind yourself that little gains they add up to big ones. They do. They do. They really do. Yeah. Another question that we have from a listener. Listener. Number two, my partner is diagnosed with anxiety. And most of the time I'm fine with supporting her, but occasionally I find myself annoyed that I always need to accommodate her.
I don't wanna feel resentful. What do I do? Ooh, that's a good one. Remind yourself that you're human and it is okay to feel annoyed every once in a while, basically. I agree. Yeah. And it's a normal human emotion. It's a normal experience, and it can be frustrating to always feel as though you're accommodating.
. So what I would suggest is talking to your partner, right? Yeah. Explain how you're feeling to them and let them know that you really want to support them. , but you also don't wanna lose sense of yourself. Agreed. Agreed. It's probably like any dynamic in relationship, honestly. Where , we sometimes you can frame it, let's take anxiety out of it and frame it as someone has a strong preference for something. Does that preference always lead right or what if someone has a more vocal personality so they let their preferences be known and then they accidentally are always the one making choices, or it's their needs and wants that are being met.
It can also happen with mental health. That in our efforts to support our loved ones, sometimes we can create a system that functions solely around that person's desires and needs and wants. And we have to remember that a functioning system has, a feedback loop that's, Both ways, right?
That everyone's needs are being met and everyone's voice and identity is being honored. It is okay for you to ask your partner to help support you as well. Yeah. Just because they have anxiety doesn't mean you can't ask them for help. , they might not notice that you are feeling frustrated or annoyed at times.
So speak up to avoid the resentful Yeah. Feelings. , and, who knows? Maybe the partner will actually want to join in the dance party when they get home from work at six o'clock or , join in the jam session that you're having. . . So when one person always like, Puts away parts of themselves to make space for all of the other person.
You're right, it leads to resentment and it decreases the opportunities of the other, both of them growing, right? . And so we have to challenge ourself with our partners. So if one partner feels like they come home with a lot of anxiety and needs a quiet house, that you can state that need and you can say, I have this need.
And I think it would be good if your partner tries to accommodate that need, but they also get to say I have a need to blow off steam to like dance and play loud music when I don't have to work. And I love music. And so how can you also be like, All right, I'm gonna work through that. This isn't what I prefer and I'm going to try and maybe be a little more spontaneous as well, and try and help their needs be met.
Again, get comfortable being uncomfortable. Conversations can go a long way. , especially if they're done in a calm, supportive manner and they're done with someone who feels safe and , they trust like a trusting relationship. . Agreed. Agreed. So the last question that we had submitted from listener number three, I found at times my anxiety is stopping me from allowing my child to have a new experience or to have new experiences.
What do I do? This one is complex, it all depends on the age of the child, what the new experiences are. But first I think it's important to, to offer yourself some compassion, right? Yeah. Parenting in general is difficult. Adulting is difficult. And parenting with anxiety is difficult.
It creates another set of challenges that you have to overcome. I would tell this listener to get out of your head. Let's do some bilateral stimulation. It's a great tool. So this means like I want you to do some cross body work. Create an X with your body basically. Going for a walk is a great and very simple tool.
It's a simple form of the bilateral stimulation. So if an opportunity for your child to have a new experience comes up, pause. Take a five minute walk around the block. Focus on your surroundings. So doing some mindfulness, Let's listen to the birds. Let's feel the breeze. Let's smell the fresh air or , however it smells for you at that moment.
I want you to do, I want you to use your senses, engage different parts of your brain, and then when you return, I want you to challenge yourself to be uncomfortable. I want you to challenge yourself to focus on the potential joy that the experience could create for your child and for you. . I think that's a big motivator for parents, at least the ones I talk to that, how many of you, and I'm sure every parent feels this way, , which sometimes does do things outside their comfort zone for the benefit of their children, right? , and it's a huge external motivator, and sometimes anxiety.
We, it's hard to find the motivation from within because in some ways you are paralyzed or their, the motivation is to seek, cover, or rest, or to avoid, because that keeps you safe. . And so to think about your loved ones and how they'll benefit or their experience can be just enough sometimes to push through and pull upon those parts who are really invested in developing that resilience to the anxiety symptoms because they know how much it will benefit their, their young ones.
Yeah. Yeah. And I know it can be extremely difficult to get out of your head and to even just take a pause from a conversation. Because kids want answers right away, right? They wanna know if they can go to that new friend's house, or they want to know if they can go to the mall with their friends.
Do kids go to the mall anymore? I,
but that's what we need to do. We need to take a moment and we need to regulate ourselves. It's co-regulation, right? We don't want to respond from a place of anxiety that is only going to then cause anxiety and send the message of fear or mistrust or any kind of negative thing to our child or to anyone that we're talking to at that moment.
, you once said something to me, you were like, We don't wanna let the anxiety lead. And I was like, Oh, that's such a good reminder. Because it may be there, it may be one of the passengers on the bus, but, and it doesn't have to leave, but maybe we don't let it drive. We don't wanna make choices from that.
Anxiety and often regulation strategies, mind and body are ways we can get back to that place where we feel like our centered calm self is driving the bus and might be making different choices than what anxiety would do. We don't want to do the disorder is what I've always been told.
So we don't want to reinforce that anxiety and let that anxiety take the lead. . So interesting. So what if a listener's identifying with what you are saying today, Elyse, what we're talking about, what are some coping strategies for working with symptoms of anxiety? One strategy that can be helpful and is very like C B T focused is looking for the evidence of your feelings, right?
So looking for the evidence of your thoughts and trying to really then challenge your anxiety and see if it helps shift your thinking and your feelings. Anxiety has a really great imagination that really likes to tell us stories. It likes to paint pictures in our head, so in. So C B T Cogniti, which is cognitive behavioral therapy, it's a model of therapy that focuses a lot on cognitions, which are thoughts, right?
And one of the things you're describing is find the evidence, disprove the thought. So if the thought is like, what if when I go to school everybody hates me, right? Let's really think about has that happened to you before? Have you walked in a room and everybody has hated you? Or what is the likelihood one out 10 that you will not make one friend this year?
The likelihood let's really challenge, let's find the evidence. Cuz you're right, anxiety has a great imagination. It will tell you anything. It can dream up, right? And we have to come back to ourselves and challenge. Challenge that story. Challenge that wild imagination with reality sometimes.
Exactly. So I like that. Looking for the evidence. . . Yeah. And that is one that I often use with adults because it can be humorous trying to trying to find that evidence, so it's just, it can be a fun one cause then you get to play you to play detective and you get to laugh at yourself alright, yeah, I know that's not all that likely, but and another great tool, and I think you and I have talked about this before, Jess, but. Using cold. One thing that is cold holding it against your chest. Helping take deep breaths. , it helps stimulate our nervous system. It gets us out of our thinking brain.
, you're probably much better at describing how it impacts our nervous system. And I've told this story before, so our lovely loyal listeners, they get to hear on repeat like the five most I don't know, influential things in Jessica Wara, Schultz's life, but so when I was little, when I was having these panic attacks starting after the fifth grade, I would walk downstairs, and I grew up in Minnesota, so it was cold.
I would walk downstairs and I had a little bit of a ritual around it, but I would walk downstairs and I would walk through our front door, walk through the screen door, and I would open the screen door just to stick my head out far enough and I would take three deep cold breaths, and then I would wait, and then I would breathe again if I needed to.
But usually that settled the anxiety. Little do I know my little brain was going and searching out cold to call my nervous system. Because what we now know is that the cold can reset, like a strong reset. They're starting to encourage people who are calling in with suicidal ideation or thoughts of self harm to dip their face in an ice bath, for 30 seconds on and off for five minutes because that can truly reset that strong of emotions and that strong of defensive responses. So cold at the end of your shower just on a daily basis can help reduce anxiety. I have one very creative intuitive client who will go into the waters here in Madison certain times of the year and do some, late night dipping or like a little bit of swimming to reset.
I'm also pretty much like I come from a finished background like Finland and they all go on that sauna and then they roll around in the snow. And so I think maybe just my genetics were onto something needing that cold. But really you can put your wrists under cold. Water. Use an ice cube.
You're right. Put the, it's really, it's a big thing on TikTok right now. Putting like an ice pack or a cold cup, like in on your chest, like on your, sternum and allowing it. Cuz what's happening is you're shifting the nervous system to down it's just such an ancient response that it's primitive.
When it was cold out, we really didn't move very fast. We weren't searching and hunting and fighting off threat. We were like shutting down and cuddling. So our brain and body go, Oh, I'm really cold. I better calm down right now. There's no need to like, beat fired up. It's gonna calm down.
Yeah, I think cold is a great tool to use for anxiety. And if you're in a place or a situation where you can't go grab an ice pack from the freezer. There's nothing better than having an emotional support water bottle with ice water. . . Oh yeah. Just drinking the cold. Yeah. Yeah. So it's really cool. The last strategy that I'll say is using imagery to channel a different body sensation, a calm, a sense of safety. Do you want me to lead you in one? Yeah, let's do it. All right. So I got this off TikTok, actually, I. I was having about, of insomnia and yeah, it really helped me actually.
good. Okay. If you're driving, Oh, wait one second. Yeah, I was just gonna say, let's be Tara Brock. Cuz in her meditation she, cuz they're recorded. Now if you're driving, please don't do this meditation right now. . Exactly. So if you're driving, don't, you can just skip ahead or something. Yeah, I know. But I want you to close your eyes and settle into the space you're in.
I want you to visualize what your life would be like if your problems didn't exist. I want you to imagine that whatever is bothering you doesn't exist. What would it feel like if you felt better than you do now? I want you to imagine what it would feel like in your body. Maybe you would feel relaxed, maybe you'd feel happy, maybe your jaw would relax.
Maybe your chest wouldn't be so tight. What would it feel like in your mind? Would your mind be clear? Maybe you would have a sense of relief. What would this be like in your life? What would you be doing? Who would you be with? Imagine all of these things and really try to imagine it in as much detail as you can, and just lean into what it would be like to not have this problem, what it would be like to be relieved of this problem.
When you're ready, take a deep breath and open your eyes. How do you feel? There's less tension in my body. I know that it's good. Um, I feel. A little more grounded and I feel good.
I feel good. Yeah. That's what I'm gonna share. I feel good. Yeah. And of course, it's always if you feel comfortable sharing, and let's talk about it more if we were in session, so . . Yeah. I think that's a really good exercise for noticing how much power our thoughts have over our response.
So when we think about the ideal scenario, when we feel like that problem or that anxiety is maybe not present, my body relaxed, , I had a slight smile on my face. I. My thoughts just naturally turned towards gratitude and those are all responses to imagining, an ideal scenario.
And maybe I don't live that ideal scenario, but I still think that's pretty powerful that you have those types of responses just by even imagining it, you're starting to think about it. Yeah. Just being able to realize that you can have that sense of calm and sense of safety within yourself and working toward, towards achieving that feeling.
agreed. It's a great self-regulation tool, so there's anxiety, can, we can help our anxiety sometimes by co-regulating, like you've talked about, where you rely on your supports and you of engage with others and you find your nervous system regulating and feeling calmer. But also, like you mentioned earlier, we don't want that to be the only way we regulate.
And imagery can be a really strong self-regulation tool. You can call upon a positive memory and kind of act, explore that through your senses, or you can go to your happy place or you can use the miracle question like, if I woke up tomorrow and everything felt better, what would that be like?
And use that as like a self regulation strategy for anxiety. . Yeah, exactly. Well,
as we pause our conversation, and I do mean pause because don't forget, Elyse and I will continue next week when we discuss children, teens, and anxiety. I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being here, Elyse, and for starting this conversation. I really do appreciate your vulnerability in discussing your personal story as well as being willing to put your therapist self out there and try to tackle one of the most expansive topics in our field.
It's really not easy to organize how. Structure this episode, right? Because like we said, there's so many different ways anxiety shows up that it would, it is really challenging to talk about it, but I'm just really thankful that you sat down with me and started the conversation.
And like you said, hopefully if anyone out there is realizing like, Oh, hey, I have anxiety, reach out to a therapist. There's so many things you can do to manage and free yourself from worry and from anxiety. So thank you for being here and sharing some of them. Thank you, Jess.
Thank you again for joining us on Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-centered mental health podcast. We hope today's episode was empowering and supported you in strengthening your mind-body connection We're your hosts Jeanne and Jess. Please join us again as we continue to explore integrative approaches to wellbeing. Until then, take care.